3/19 Smackdown: Awesome gauntlet match

Mike Tedesco’s Smackdown Review
March 19, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

That was a very basic by-the-numbers segment to kick off the last real Smackdown before WrestleMania. Roman Reigns came out to an incredible amount of canned cheers. The WWE then did the smart thing and kept his promo incredible short as Mark Henry interrupted and took over the rest of the segment. Henry tried to put over Reigns, but I’m not sure it really worked. I’m having a hard time believing anyone really thinks Reigns doesn’t have a chance against Brock Lesnar. In a real fight, definitely not. However at WrestleMania, that’s about as sure of a thing as there is, unless Lesnar re-signs with the company and a fast one is pulled on the audience. Seth Rollins, J&J Security, and Kane came out and talked a little trash before very quickly booking the main event of the evening. Short, sweet, and fine. If this was RAW, this segment would have been twenty-five minutes.

I really liked the intensity of the Paige vs. Brie Bella match. They showed a replay of what happened between them on RAW with Brie sending her into the ring post. Paige then played off the anger perfectly by immediately knocking her out of the ring. The match was a little too short to really build to something (hopefully we’re not going back to the same old, same old with the divas), but they worked hard in it and made it fun. They had AJ Lee and Nikki Bella on commentary, and the match was so short that they were cut off mid-sentence and that was that. Ironically they were talking about changing the perception of the Diva Division.

Ho lee crap… that Gauntlet Match was absolutely fantastic. Good lord. It started off slow with Dean Ambrose picking up some pretty quick victories over Stardust and R-Truth (he lasted like ten seconds), and then it started really picking up. The match with Luke Harper and Ambrose was pretty decent, but wow did it pick up when Harper faced Daniel Bryan. The last two matches of this gauntlet would be an incredible match on any PPV. You should go out of your way to see both. Bryan and Harper was absolutely ridiculous. From the surfboard stretch Bryan pulled off on him to Harper spiking Bryan on his head, it was a flat-out war. They had a theme for the match with Harper’s injured leg, which Harper played up to perfection, before Bryan tapped him out with a leglock. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a match end with a leglock. Maybe Ken Shamrock? Absolutely fantastic.

Then it was Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler, the one time rumored WrestleMania match for this year. Those two went out to prove why that deserved a spot on the card. These two had a great little match. It was high impact with a lot of one-upsmanship going on. I cringed on a couple of the bigger bumps Bryan took in this one thinking about his neck, but if he’s going at this pace and is in the ladder match next Sunday, his neck must be more than 100%. While this was so good, it’s almost a waste that Bryan is here instead of somehow being involved in the main event, but that’s neither here nor there now. Bryan is doing a great job with what he’s been given, which isn’t much with this storyline. Still, they took this weak Intercontinental Championship storyline and really put something cool together tonight. I just wish they could trim Stardust and R-Truth out and make this a five-way. Those two honestly don’t have any business being involved in this. Really, really great stuff. Give yourself a treat and watch this.

I’m not sure why they advertised the six-being inter-species tag team match on RAW over the gauntlet match. It was every bit as bad as you figured it would be. The Tag Title match at WrestleMania is going to be a complete mess of teams no one could possibly care about.

The main event was so-so. I really feel it’s next to impossible to make any handicap match interesting, especially since it’s been done to death since mid-2013. I’d love to see a segment-by-segment breakdown of the show and see how many people tune out when a handicap match is broadcast. Reigns beat the odds, but they weren’t pumping in any fake cheers like they were earlier in the night. From the sound of this, Reigns is just as cold as he was on RAW. I’m very, very interested to see what they do with him on RAW when he’ll be in the ring with Brock Lesnar. Can they make him interesting at all? The Randy Orton attack on Seth Rollins after the match was nicely done.

All in all, this show was carried by an incredibly strong unadvertised gauntlet match. This was the last real Smackdown before WrestleMania (next week’s show will pretty much be a showcase of all the pretty video packages they make for WrestleMania), but nothing really got advanced storyline-wise. It was just a show, but at least they didn’t completely waste your time. Once again, go out of your way to watch that gauntlet match. It’s that good.

Bump of the Night: Luke Harper spiking Daniel Bryan on his head!
Match of the Night: The Gauntlet Match *** 1/2

Final Rating: ***

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Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.