February 1, 2016
From the BJCC Arena in Birmingham, AL
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
The show opens with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar coming out to the ring. The announcers plug the #1 contender match at Fastlane between Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose. Heyman addresses the Wyatt Family and their plot to remove Lesnar from the World Title picture at the Royal Rumble. Heyman lets Wyatt know he failed while telling him he violated the 11th commandment, which is “thou shall not provoke Brock Lesnar.” Heyman brings up how last week, Stephanie did what was “beast for business” by making the winner of the main event at Fastlane going on to face HHH for the World Title at WrestleMania. Heyman promises that Lesnar will suplex and F-5 Reigns and Ambrose all over the place before going on to face HHH at WrestleMania, where he will become the next champion. Heyman then puts over Reigns and tells him he needs to explain the force that is Brock Lesnar to his “brother” Dean Ambrose. Heyman makes fun of Ambrose, even saying he rode the “short bus” to school because he is crazy, then Ambrose himself comes out. Lesnar laughs at Ambrose, who grabs the mic and refers to Heyman as “porky.” Ambrose said before he came out, he told himself this might be a bad idea then tells us Lesnar he is neither stupid nor crazy and that he respects him. Ambrose then tells Lesnar he wants the WWE World title so bad he is fighting his own brother for it and knows Lesnar will give him a beating too. Ambrose then tells Lesnar to take him to suplex city and can toss him all around, hoping he is prepared to give out the biggest beating of his life, because he has proven once and again as he can get up from any beating that comes his way. Ambrose then tells Heyman he does not see what all the fuss is about before leaving as Lesnar laughs, while JBL says that Ambrose is either the “gutsiest man on the planet or the dumbest.” I liked this segment. Ambrose came off well and cutting a promo about getting back up everytime you get knocked down and not being afraid to take punishment is exactly what you want to hear from a babyface wrestler.
Later tonight, Dolph Ziggler will face Kevin Owens. Again. But coming up next is Kalisto vs. Rusev.
Kalisto vs. Rusev w/ Lana
This is a non-title match.Alberto Del Rio is on commentary. We also then learn that Kalisto will defend the U.S. Title at Fastlane against Del Rio, who on commentary says Kalisto winning is just a fluke. The match starts with Rusev backing Kalisto in the corner. Kalisto ducks an attack and kicks away until he gets shoved down. Rusev chases Kalisto outside of the ring and gets hit with a dropkick. Rusev blocks a hurricarana but Kalisto lands on his feet to land more kicks. Kalisto runs into an elbow smash then Rusev takes control. Kalisto takes Rusev to the floor with a rana but gets caught with a super kick in midair while attempting a pescado as we head to break. The match returns with Rusev running into an elbow then Kalisto hitting a swinging DDT as both men are down. Rusev is up first but Kalisto kicks him in the face. Kalisto hits a few springboard attacks until Rusev catches him with an uranage for a nearfall. Rusev misses a charge as Kalisto rolls him up for two. Kalisto snaps off a rana for a nearfall then takes Rusev out on the floor with a dropkick. Kalisto heads out for a plancha but gets caught. Kalisto escapes and sends Rusev into the steps. The referee is counting and stops to yell at Rusev. Kalisto lands on the announcers table then sends Rusev into the barricade with a rana then after lying on the mat briefly, he rolls back inside and just beats the ten count for the win (10:08) **1/2. After the match, a pissed off Del Rio tries to get Rusev up then runs in after Kalisto, who escapes.
Thoughts: Decent match but the end looked bad. The spot where Kalisto sent Rusev into the barricade was way too contrived and the referee just stopping his count then resuming it after the move was just dumb. They were both out there for a long enough time to be a double count-out. With all that said, I’d actually like for a Kalisto/Rusev program to happen. Lana was here but not at all brought up or even focused on during the match and for Rusev’s entrance, kept her distance from him. It was odd, actually. With another Kalisto vs. Del Rio match happening, I expect they finally end this feud. Maybe Del Rio snaps on Rusev, turning him face, as they teased Del Rio was pissed at him for losing. And I am happy that they are giving Kalisto a push with the U.S. Title.
Later tonight, Miz TV with AJ Styles.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon is with Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Stephanie mocks Reigns for being the former champ as Reigns smiles and mentions how it “only took 29 guys” for her husband to win it and to enjoy it. Reigns then lets Stephanie know after Fastlane, either Ambrose or himself will become the #1 contender. Stephanie mentions how Lesnar is in the match before bringing up other partners who never saw their friends turning on them coming, such as Marty Jannetty with Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton with Evolution, and these two with Seth Rollins. Stephanie also says that absolute power trumps friendship but Reigns and Ambrose stop her as they realize she is trying to drive them apart. Stephanie counters by putting them in the main event tonight against the New Day. The crowd started to chant for the New Day. For a guy that lost the title, Reigns did not seem all that upset. And it seems like the idea of putting Reigns in a match with his friend and Lesnar is going to cause him great stress but the simple fact remains that they led off last week with HHH saying the sole reason he came back to win the title was due to the fact Reigns did not deserve to become the champion, only to turn around and put him in this match at Fastlane because it is “best for business.” Its just a bad storyline, plain and simple.
Cole tells us about Nikki Bella’s neck surgery as we get clips from E! News Online and photos from Instagram. After that, Renee Young is backstage interviewing Brie Bella, who tells us that Nikki is recovering in bed, watching a lot of the WWE Network. Charlotte interrupts and tells Brie to give her sister her sympathies. She then reminds Brie how she beat her at Hell in the Cell and might be the reason she needs surgery. Charlotte then said that maybe she should apologize but that she is too bust being the WWE Divas Champion while Nikki is busy online shopping. Charlotte leaves, with her father following, as the camera focuses on an upset Brie. Looks like Brie is going to be a babyface now while Charlotte continues to improve as an arrogant heel.
The Usos vs. Curtis Axel & Adam Rose w/ Heath Slater
The Social Outcasts come out and after calling out Bo Dallas, remember that “Bo Rida” is in the studio this week. In reality, he is with his grandfather, WWE Hall of Famer Blackjack Mulligan, who is in poor health. I should mention that during the Usos introductions, announcer Lillian Garcia accidentally referred to them as Grammy Award Winners. The WWE even pointed this out via replay. Cole plugged a WWE.com Game Night segment hosted by Slater. Match starts with Axel beating on Jey. Rose tags and inflicts some more punishment. Slater lands a few shots behind the referee’s back as the Social Outcasts are firmly in control of the match. Slater yells and gyrates on the apron to get heel heat while Rose works a chinlock. Jey hits an enziguiri then makes the tag as Jimmy runs wild. The Usos clean house them Jey puts Rose away with a top rope splash (5:10) *.
Thoughts: This match died with the crowd. The Social Outcasts try but still come off as really low-rent and the Usos are getting less and less over with each passing week. This felt more like a match you would see on Superstars.
Miz TV with guest AJ Styles. Miz introduces his guest by talking about how he has captivated audiences worldwide with his high-flying ability and has brought a buzz to the WWE since his debut at the Royal Rumble. Miz then says he provides a public service with a forum for storytelling. AJ comes out as we see clips of him beating Chris Jericho last week on the show. Miz says to him, AJ is a man of tenacity before telling his life story. Miz mocks AJ’s Southern accent and how he was scrappy and told he was even too small for the local football team. Miz said AJ was the first to arrive and last to leave as he proved to be the best “footballer” on his football team. Miz then tells us how AJ traveled the world from “Tallahasse to Timbuktoo” but deep down inside, wondered what it would be like to appear in a WWE ring. Miz then asks AJ where his career goes now after he impressed in his Rumble debut and beat Jericho last week. Miz pulls the mic away everytime AJ speaks then compares AJ to Daniel Bryan, a great “wrassler” and a “tiny guy with a huge heart.” Miz then said he mentored Daniel Bryan and is the reason he became a star and is here to offer the same guidance to AJ. Miz tells AJ all he has to do is say yes, which is the opposite of what the crowd is chanting. Miz rags on the crowd for booing him, stating he has been here for a decade, held twelve titles, and main evented WrestleMania. Miz then suggests that the reason AJ never made it to the WWE until now is that the “E” is just as important as the “W” in the WWE. Miz said the WWE is an ocean filled with sharks and AJ will drown if he listens to the crowd, who are chanting for AJ. Miz then asks the crowd if they really think a “rookie, redneck” like AJ can make it in the WWE without his guidance as they chant “yes.” Miz tells them there is no chance in hell but AJ has heard enough and attacks the Miz, who escapes and scurries up the ramp. AJ yells at Miz if he knows who he is now while the Miz holds his head while laying on the ramp. The camera shows AJ looking at the crowd with the WrestleMania logo clearly shown. I thought this was a good segment. It did run a little longer than needed but the Miz shined on the mic here. He was great and should be managing a top heel act ASAP. They are getting AJ over in the “indy darling” role so to speak and so far the crowds are into AJ. It also helps that they are in the South again, where TNA is based and crowds are familiar with him.
We get a replay of Ambrose confronting Lesnar from earlier tonight.
Brie Bella w/ Alicia Fox vs. Charlotte w/ Ric Flair
We are shown boxer Deontay Wilder, who is sitting in the front row. Match starts with Brie firing away on Charlotte. She then hits the “Yes” kicks as the crowd chants along. However, the “Brie Mode” chant that followed fell flat. Charlotte uses Brie’s momentum to toss her outside then brings her back in and slams her face off of the mat. Charlotte taunts Brie about her sister before getting a nearfall. Charlotte works the neck as she rams Brie’s head off of the mat while applying a figure four neck lock. Alicia slaps the apron as the crowd rallies behind Brie, who makes her comeback. Bulldog gets two. Backslide gets two. Brie hits a dropkick then heads up top but Charlotte cuts her off. Brie then jumps on her back to apply a sleeper as Flair is on the apron, with Alicia yelling at him to get down. Charlotte breaks up the hold by dropping Brie then listens to her dad and goes for the figure eight but Brie puts Charlotte in a small package and gets the upset win (4:38) *1/2.
Thoughts: I thought Brie tried hard and did fine as a babyface here. Charlotte’s heel work in the ring is also improving as it seems like Charlotte vs. Brie is the direction for Fastlane at the moment.
Clips from the Smackdown main event from last week, which was Chris Jericho & Ambrose & Reigns vs. Wyatt Family that ended in a DQ with the Big Show running out afterwards to make the save and help take out the Wyatt’s. This leads to the Big Show vs. Erick Rowan match tonight.
Cole brings up the news regarding Bret Hart’s diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Erick Rowan w/ Wyatt Family vs. Big Show
Bray Wyatt is absent tonight. Before the match, Show grabs the stairs and backs off Braun Strowman. The match starts with Show beating on Rowan, who catches Show with an elbow. Show blocks a suplex and hits one of his own then knocks Rowan down a few times. He signals for the chokeslam but has to fight off Luke Harper and Strowman first and does before hitting the chokeslam for the win (1:14) NR. After the match, the Wyatt Family attacks Big Show. This last for a bit and ends with Strowman and Rowan slamming Show onto the steps.
Thoughts: Not much of a match at all. Most of the focus here on the beatdown was on Strowman, who seems to be facing Big Show soon, possibly at Fastlane. Bray Wyatt also was not here tonight as he was with his brother, Bo Dallas, to visit his sick grandfather.
We get a replay of the Wyatt Family destroying the Big Show.
Titus O’Neill vs. Tyler Breeze
Before the match we get clips of Titus surprising honor roll students in Tampa with free lunch and tickets to Smackdown, along with their families. We get an insert promo from Breeze, who doesnt care about Titus being a jock and calls him an “uggo.” Match starts with Titus overpowering Breeze. Titus pumps up the crowd but Breeze takes out his legs. Breeze works a half crab but Titus breaks that and whips Breeze across the ring. Titus flattens Breeze with a clothesline before hitting the Clash of the Titus for the win (2:43) 1/2*. Cole notes how Titus is improving each week.
Thoughts: It appears that Titus is getting a midcard push. There was no mention about his feud with Stardust so that might be over. I have no idea who Titus would be facing in a feud but certainly not Breeze, who seemingly has little future as being featured regularly on WWE TV.
In the locker room, Heyman is pumping up Lesnar until HHH enters. HHH wants Heyman to give them a minute as HHH cannot believe that he saw “little Dean Ambrose” walk up to Lesnar and speak right in his face…….and live to tell about it before questioning if things are getting a little soft in “Suplex City.” Lesnar tells HHH he will have to find out at WrestleMania. HHH said he is looking forward to it, as did Lesnar, as HHH smirks before walking off. Nice tease of a potential Lesnar/HHH matchup for the title at Mania.
This Thursday on Smackdown, AJ Styles will take on the Miz.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
Owens slapped a fan’s sign away before entering the ring. The match starts with these two brawling outside. Owens wins that as he now beats on Ziggler in the ring. Ziggler comes back with a dropkick and follows Owens outside but gets caught and launched into the timekeeper’s area as we head to commercial. Back to the action as Owens works a chinlock. Ziggler breaks free but whiffs on a super kick and gets shoved into the corner. Owens follows with a cannonball as that gets two. Ziggler tries to fight back but Owens sends him back down. Owens mocks Ziggler before stomping away. Owens misses a senton as Ziggler fights back. However, Owens flattens Ziggler with a clothesline. Ziggler pulls up on the ropes then catches Owens with a super kick that sends him to the floor. Ziggler then hits the Fameasser on the floor as the referee counts. Ziggler rolls Owens inside and covers but that only gets two. Owens shoves Ziggler off and hits a super kick for two. Owens heads up top after yelling at the fans but Ziggler leaps up. Ziggler gets shoved off and ends up in the tree of woe. Owens hits a cannonball then goes for the Pop-Up Powerbomb but Ziggler escapes and hits the Zig Zag for the win (11:30) **3/4. After the match, Owens flips out and slaps JBL’s hat off of the table and throws Cole’s papers at him.
Thoughts: Good match but these two fight all of the time. I have no idea why Ziggler won as he has been losing a lot as of late. Maybe they are heating him up briefly for a heel turn?
We get a video package on Mark Henry to highlight Black History Month. They highlighted his weightlifting career and his charity work along with his wrestling accomplishments. This was well done and they also said he will be a Hall of Famer one day.
Sasha Banks comes out to let us know that the “Boss is back” and she will not sit in the back and let others steal her spotlight. Sasha then alerts us that she is on her own now and states no one can hold a candle to her. Tamina and Naomi interrupt as Naomi says it’s a proud moment now that Sasha is on her own. Sasha tells them she is here to be the best. Naomi and Tamina let her know that they are just here to congratulate and not end up like Team PCB. Naomi said they can still be competitors and sisters. Sasha asks them if they support her against Becky tonight as Naomi said of course, unless she wants to go on her own. Sasha asks if they still have unity and they do just that before Becky makes her entrance, just before the commercial break. This promo was a bit odd to me and I was not feeling Sasha’s delivery. It was all over the place.
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
Naomi and Tamina stand ringside. Match starts with Sasha celebrating after a takedown. Becky works a waistlock then they go back-and-forth for a minute. Becky works the arm but Sasha fights out and lands some shots in the corner. Sasha ends up booting Becky to the floor where Naomi and Tamina rough her up. However, Sasha breaks that up and tells he former partners this is her match and she can do it on her own. Sasha then yells that she didnt even ask them to be out there (well, she did ask if they still had her back) and this leads to a shoving match and Naomi & Tamina yanking Sasha to the floor for the DQ (3:40) 1/2*. Becky makes the save as Becky and Sasha clean house.
Thoughts: First off, the action was not too good. Sasha was in the wrong place a few times and she had a bad night. And last, why on earth would Becky help out Sasha, the same person who ran in and destroyed her after the title match at the Royal Rumble? I was not digging this storyline at all tonight.
Renee is with Chris Jericho and asks him about his match against AJ Styles. Jericho quotes Glenn Frey and how “everyone talks about the new kid in town” and puts over the match for being tremendous, proving that AJ is the real deal, something he did again after beating up the Miz. Jericho said he will be paying close attention to AJ and wants to see what will happen when he faces the Miz on Smackdown. Jericho was strongly hinting at a heel turn here.
R-Truth opens up a bathroom stall to find Goldust perched barefoot on a toilet. Goldust’s foot ends up in the toilet as he asks R-Truth to be his partner. R-Truth said he is too weird as Goldust reminds him about his last partner, Little Jimmy, who was imaginary. R-Truth said that hurts and walks off, with Goldust saying he meant “interplanetary” like his weirdo brother. I dont mind these two doing weekly comedy bits. They are seasoned enough to pull it off.
The New Day come out to the ring for their match against Reigns & Ambrose.
Also on Smackdown, we will see Roman Reigns vs. Rusev.
Back from commercial, New Day are in the ring. Woods says that “Bootygate” is putting a lot of stress of Francesca, referencing what the Rock said last week on RAW. Kofi said they shamed the Rock last week and will do it again now. Big E said the Rock has a problem with foul language and to think about the children and the babies as they show a kid wearing a Bullet Club shirt dancing in the front. The New Day said they will get revenge tonight by beating up the Rock’s cousin and his best friend.
Big E & Kofi w/ Xavier Woods vs. Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose
Heyman is on commentary. The crowd is really into the New Day. Kofi eludes Reigns for a bit. Ambrose is in and gets caught in the corner where he eggs on Kofi to hit him harder. Ambrose fires away then tags Reigns, who boots Kofi down. Kofi gets pulled to the floor by his teammates as Reigns set up for the Superman Punch as we head to break. The action returns with the New Day beating on Reigns as we see Big E ramming Reigns into the barricade in a clip that occurred during the break. Big E misses an apron splash and bounces to the floor. Reigns makes the tag as Ambrose runs wild with Heyman putting over Lesnar for being able to destroy anyone. Ambrose taunts Big E by flexing after hitting a tope but Woods sneaks in to hit a dropkick as the New Day are back in control as they use the Unicorn Stampede in the corner. Big E works an abdominal stretch on Ambrose and slaps his ass to the tune of “New Day Rocks.” Ambrose escapes but Kofi tags in and hits a slam. Kofi comes off of the top but Ambrose catches him with a shot to the midsection. Big E tags and Ambrose suplexes him and makes the tag. Reigns runs wild and is met with mostly boos. The match breaks down then we see Big E hit Reigns with a belly-to-belly on the announcers table. Back inside, Big E sets Ambrose up for the Big Ending but Ambrose escapes and shoves Big E into Kofi, who was perched on the top rope. Reigns comes in to hit Kofi with a Superman Punch then Ambrose puts Big E away with the Dirty Deeds (17:23) ***. After the match, Lesnar’s music hits then the New Day attack Reigns and Ambrose from behind. Lesnar then hit Ambrose with an F-5 before walking off.
Thoughts: Good match. The crowd did not care for Reigns tonight at all though, which is not a good sign. Actually, they were more into the New Day than anyone else. Looks like HHH might have gotten into Lesnar’s head a bit with the “going soft” comment as he came out and hit Ambrose with the F-5.
Final Thoughts: They did present Lesnar and Ambrose as strong possibilities to face HHH at WrestleMania tonight and that is a good thing. However, an awful lot of this show felt like filler. Nothing was embarrassing or anything but the lack of roster depth is glaring. Plus, the top storyline with Reigns vs. Authority is not working at the moment and its going to take an awful lot for that to get rolling heading into WrestleMania. I didnt care for the Sasha storyline and Ziggler beating Owens made little sense to me but other than that, I have no complaints. With Fastlane three weeks away, they at least have some direction for that show and can use that for WrestleMania.