By Steve Khan, WrestlingObserver.com
- U.S. Airdate: Mar 19, 2015 / Canadian airdate: March 18, 2015
- Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO
Dolph Ziggler pinned Daniel Bryan after a very good gauntlet match involving the IC Title contenders.
Smackdown started with the Brock Lesnar sit-down promo from Raw, which is a fine way to start the program.
Roman Reigns came out. He was about to speak but he stopped for a light “Roman Reigns” chant from the crowd. Reigns said about five words but Mark Henry interrupted. Henry was impressed with Reigns last week and even showed the replay. Henry showing a replay of himself getting beat up seems out of character. Henry said he got what he deserved and he’s putting all his money on Reigns to beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. People cheered and they shook hands, but Seth Rollins came out with Kane, Noble and Mercury.
Kane doesn’t believe Henry. Rollins teased cashing in at Mania but quickly moved on to Randy Orton. Rollins said Orton won’t be there tonight because J&J Security have blocked every entrance. He said it was for Orton’s own good because of what Seth would do to him. Rollins wanted a match tonight, so Kane booked himself and Rollins against Reigns and Henry.
This was not exactly compelling television. And if Reigns earned Henry’s respect last week, why did Henry interrupt Reigns before he could say anything? Reigns never did end up speaking in this segment.
They announced Tatsumi Fujinami for the Hall of Fame. WWE broke their own story this time. Michael Cole said Fujinami was the innovator of the dragon sleeper and dragon suplex. So Cole read the first line of his Wikipedia page.
Paige vs. Brie Bella
Paige immediately tackled Brie to the outside and elbowed her repeatedly. Brie pushed her into the ring apron and hit a missile dropkick in the ring for a two count. Brie was in control but Paige won abruptly with a roll up. Nothing match.
The one positive from this segment was AJ on commentary, trying her best to explain this storyline. AJ said her and Paige represent one side of the locker room. They want to show that they can break the mold and be successful, but also noted that there are women on the Bellas’ side. Nikki called AJ a liar who isn’t happy she is no longer the voice of the divas.
They aired a way-too-long recap of the Rollins-Orton stuff from Raw, even if it did involve Sting. Outside of the arena, J&J Security checked with arena security to make sure they’re keeping Orton out of the building. A few of these aired during the show.
Gauntlet Match 1: Dean Ambrose vs. Stardust
Stardust did an in-set promo where he started by saying, “So many superstars, but none of them matter.” He’s right, even if he was talking about their relation to space, or whatever. Ambrose tried his rebound clothesline way too early in the match and Stardust countered with a disaster kick. Stardust tried a sunset flip but Ambrose countered into a cover for a quick win. Stardust attacked Ambrose after the match and tossed him shoulder first into the post. R-Truth made the save and sent Stardust to the outside.
Gauntlet Match 2: Dean Ambrose vs. R-Truth
Stardust distracted Truth, so Ambrose turned Truth around and immediately hit Dirty Deeds for the win. These first two matches were a waste and nobody looked good here.
Gauntlet Match 3: Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper
Neither guy changed clothes since Raw, so we had a match between two guys wearing a grey tank top and blue jeans. Harper launched Ambrose head-first into the middle turnbuckle and applied a modified crossface to work over the injured shoulder. Ambrose got to the ropes but Harper applied it a second time after hitting a spinning side slam. Ambrose bit Harper’s finger and came back with punches, chops and a dropkick. Harper hit a superkick but Ambrose nailed the rebound clothesline. When they got to their feet, Harper hit a discus clothesline and sitdown powerbomb for the win.
Gauntlet Match 4: Luke Harper vs. Daniel Bryan
This started during commercial. Bryan worked over Harper’s knee, driving it into the post and kicking it repeatedly. Bryan did a surfboard on the much larger man and even raised Harper in the air a couple of times to Yes chants. That was something. Bryan followed with kicks to the chest, but Harper picked him up and tossed him to the outside. Harper (still selling his leg) took control with an uppercut, body slams and big boot. Bryan came back with a suicide dive and kicks but Harper used a German suplex and dropped Bryan right on his head/neck. Yikes. Bryan was able to get Harper in a heel hook and Harper tapped. This was all very good and frightening. Excellent finish as well.
Gauntlet Match 5: Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler hit a neckbreaker but missed a Stinger splash and Bryan hit a running dropkick. Ziggler reversed a top rope hurricanrana into a cover but Bryan kicked out. Each guy tried a crossbody but they collided mid-air. After a break, Ziggler hit a dropkick but Bryan came back with a powerbomb into jackknife cover for two. Bryan tried a back suplex off the top but Ziggler countered into a crossbody for two. Bryan hit a kick to the head for a nearfall. Bryan went for the running knee but Ziggler countered with a superkick for a great nearfall. Bryan used a backslide for a two count and Ziggler followed with a Zig Zag for the win. After the match, Bryan was mad, but they shook hands. I wouldn’t have pinned Bryan, but this was great.
After the match, Wade Barrett walked to the ring and congratulated them for stealing the show, just like they’ve been trying to steal the title. In the middle of his promo, he knocked down Ziggler with the microphone. Bryan tried to save him but Barrett laid him out as well. Barrett hit both men with the Bullhammer elbow. The gauntlet series started rough with Stardust and Truth, who really bring down the level of this IC Title program, but the rest was good.
They had the women on the roster make their predictions for AJ & Paige vs. The Bellas. Rosa Mendes, Cameron and Alicia Fox picked the Bellas. Emma and Summer Rae picked AJ/Paige. Naomi didn’t make a prediction, but instead said she wants the Bellas to win because she wants to go after them next and become champion.
Cesaro, Tyson Kidd & Natalya vs. Los Matadores & El Torito
Los Matadores took most of the match and they laid out the champs with dives. Torito used a spinning arm drag on Natalya, but she caught him off the top rope and hit a powerbomb for the win. This was bad, but it was worth it for Nattie killing the bull.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins & Kane w/J&J Security
Mark Henry was laid out backstage before the match, so Reigns was on his own. J&J also brought some arena security to ringside. Kane and Rollins beat down Reigns for a while but he came back with clotheslines. He knocked J&J out with superman punches. He also got Rollins with a superman punch as he came off the top rope. Reigns won with a spear to Kane. Even though the numbers game was against Reigns, this never felt like much of a struggle. Perhaps because the entire match lasted five minutes.
After the match, Randy Orton’s music hit and he entered through the crowd (in his gear, despite being barred from the arena), attacking Rollins from behind. Orton laid out a security guard with an RKO and two others with a double draping DDT. Orton almost got his hands on Rollins but Noble and Mercury got in the way. Orton hit them both with RKOs and Rollins escaped. This would’ve been an exciting conclusion if we hadn’t already seen Orton get his hands on Rollins last week.
The gauntlet match was mostly very good and it ate up a lot of time. The rest of the show was ok. Also, you might be tired of the comparison, but it was hard not to notice how much more people cared about Bryan in his match than they did about Reigns in his.
Quick Match Results:
Paige beat Brie Bella via pinfall
Dean Ambrose beat Stardust via pinfall
Dean Ambrose beat R-Truth via pinfall
Luke Harper beat Dean Ambrose via pinfall
Daniel Bryan beat Luke Harper via submission
Dolph Ziggler beat Daniel Bryan via pinfall
Natalya, Cesaro & Tyson Kidd beat El Torito & Los Matadores via pinfall
Roman Reigns beat Kane & Seth Rollins via pinfall