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WWE Smackdown results: two title matches highlight USA Network, Mauro Ranallo debut


- Air Date: January 7, 2015 (Jan 6 in Canada)
- Location: Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, TX

The Big News:

Charlotte and Dean Ambrose are still champions and Smackdown is the same as it ever was.

Show Recap:

The show started with a recap from Raw, including a zoom-in on Sad Roman. Smackdown has the same crappy theme music as before and the intro, for now, includes John Cena. Byron Saxton welcomed everyone to Smackdown and Jerry Lawler plugged the two title matches. Lawler introduced the TV audience to Mauro Ranallo who called this a dream come true.

John Cena came out and welcomed everyone to the first Smackdown of 2016. Cena also plugged the two title matches but said we were missing our “U.S.A” champion. He said it was a new year and new network, so he thought Alberto Del Rio deserved a fresh start. Cena called out Del Rio, giving him out hell of an introduction.

Del Rio told Cena to save it because he knew that “Juan” was trying to weasel his way into a title shot that he doesn’t deserve. Cena tried to get the Laredo crowd to goad Del Rio into defending the title but he told Cena to shut up in Spanish and said he would not defend the title. Del Rio challenged anyone besides Cena to a non-title match.

Cena said someone in particular deserved a chance, and he called out Kalisto. Kalisto grabbed the mic from Del Rio and said he would beat him right now. Kalisto sent him out of the ring and a referee jumped in to start the match.

Non-Title: Kalisto (w/John Cena) beat U.S. Champion Alberto Del Rio via pinfall

Lawler made sure to point out that Del Rio had to bend over to hit a clothesline on Kalisto. After Kalisto spilled to the outside, Del Rio went after him and did the “you can’t see me” gesture to Cena. Cena was offended and took off his shirt. This resulted in dueling Cena chants.

Del Rio got ready for the armbar but distracted himself by taunting Cena. Del Rio eventually went for the armbar but Kalisto reversed into a hurricanrana for the sudden pinfall win. Considering the location, I don’t think this got the reaction they wanted. Although, the crowd was quiet most of the show. John Cena’s last appearance on WWE TV for a long while will be as a cheerleader for Kalisto.

Backstage, Becky Lynch told Jo-Jo that Charlotte was not her best friend anymore. She doesn’t want an explanation for what Charlotte did, she just wants vindication and will take the title from her.

Up next was an awful segment. The Miz hosted MizTV and reminded everyone that the WWE Title will be defended in the Royal Rumble match. New Day interrupted. People usually pop when Big E does the introduction but they didn’t here. Xavier Woods accused Chris Jericho of stealing his light-up jacket idea and said The New Day party like it’s 2016, not 1999.

Dolph Ziggler, with straight hair, came out next. Before he could really say anything, he was interrupted by Goldust, who threatened to give them all golden globes. Neville came out next and said Miz could borrow his accent or Slammy if he wants, as long as he promises to cancel MizTV and never talk again.

R-Truth came out and said if anyone was going to accept Del Rio’s open challenge it would be him. Miz corrected him and Truth said “my bad.” Miz made a bad joke and New Day laughed. Truth punched Miz with the mic and the other good guys sent Kingston and Big E out of the ring. Woods was left alone so Neville kicked him out of the ring too. It’s hard to describe just how bad this segment was. Even worse, it was designed to push the Rumble, which has its highest stakes in years, but was just a joke.

8-Man Tag Match: Dolph Ziggler, Neville, Goldust & R-Truth beat The Miz & New Day via pinfall

The heels worked over Neville until he tagged in Ziggler, who ran wild on Miz and hit a Fameasser. Kingston broke up the cover, so Goldust gave him a powerslam, Truth sent Big E out of the ring, and Neville took out the entire New Day with a dive. This left Miz alone, so Goldust and Truth tossed him into Ziggler who hit a superkick for the win. Nothing match.  

Immediately afterwards, Ziggler superkicked Truth and tossed Goldust over the top. This wasn’t a heel turn. Ziggler told Goldust “sorry,” it’s every man for himself at the Rumble. As this was all happening, Neville just sorta slunk away. This was all bad.

Backstage, Ric Flair told Jo-Jo that Lynch was leeching off Charlotte. Charlotte said her and her father act like champions, and Lynch has never been champion. Flair said woo.

Lawler told Ranallo that he name was hard to pronounce and asked if he could call him “M.R.” like he did with J.R. Ranallo seemed fine with this. Lawler then cackled when he realized that Byron Saxton was “B.S.” That part was pretty funny.

WWE Divas Championship: Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) beat Becky Lynch via pinfall

Ranallo said he has called big fights and this one has a big fight feel. He also mentioned calling Lynch’s matches in British Columbia when she was 18 years old. Lawler dismissed her pre-WWE experience. Lynch had control early on and went after Charlotte outside the ring. However, Flair got in her way to act as a shield, allowing Charlotte to nail her with a sloppy big boot. The referee watched this all happen and didn’t do anything about it.

The crowd rallied behind Lynch as Charlotte took control. Lynch came back with a clothesline, leg lariat, forearm and Exploder suplex for two. Charlotte responded with a neckbreaker and chops but Lynch ducked a big boot and hit another Exploder. Charlotte hit a spear and went for a Figure Eight, but Lynch countered into a small package for a near fall.

Lynch applied the Disarmer but Flair put Charlotte’s feet on the rope. Charlotte tapped but it didn’t matter. As Lynch complained to the ref, Charlotte rolled her up with her feet on the rope for the win. Lynch was livid afterwards and the referee looked like an idiot. This match was alright. Went about 11-12 minutes. The crowd was quiet all show but they liked Becky Lynch.

Backstage, Renee Young asked Kevin Owens for a minute of his time. Owens said she had a minute and made her hold up her watch so he could keep an eye on the time during the entire interview. Owens said Ambrose might be a cockroach, but he’s had to kill a lot of cockroaches in a lot of the terrible places he’s stayed at on his road to the top. Owens said he would take his title back tonight.

They plugged that a Raw replay would air after a commercial break. Yes, Smackdown is still the B-show. The replay was 4 minutes long.

They showed an interview with Roman Reigns from after Raw, where he said the McMahons were trying to burn him down, but they were just firing him up, and at the Rumble he would be the last man standing.

Backstage, Dean Ambrose told Renee that Owens has put him through tables and into steel, but he’s adjusted just fine and was ready for fight.

Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose DCO Kevin Owens

They went to commercial a minute into the match as Owens called Ranallo a moron. They fought to the outside and Ambrose tossed Owens into the barricade twice and did a Russian leg sweep into the barricade. Owens responded with a draping DDT back in the ring and they went to commercial again. During the break, Owens nailed a running cannonball into the barricade.

Owens missed a senton and yelled “Shut up, new guy!” at Ranallo as he slowly got up. Ambrose made his comeback but Owens kicked out after a bulldog. Owens hit a German suplex but Ambrose responded with a tornado DDT off the ropes. Owens knocked Ambrose off the top and hit another cannonball for two. Ambrose countered a pop-up powerbomb into a hurricanrana, and hit a rebound clothesline after an Owens superkick for two. Ambrose hit a suicide dive and Owens went flying over the announce table.  

They did a spot where Ambrose was supposed to back body drop Owens into the crowd, but Owens recognized that fans were standing way too close, so he countered and they tried again - this time Ambrose just whipped Owens over the barricade. Ambrose went after him in the crowd and the referee called for a double countout.

They fought all the way to the stage and Ambrose sent Owens face-first into the giant WWE logo. Owens attacked Ambrose with a laptop and tried for a powerbomb but Ambrose did a back body drop on top some equipment boxes. They kept brawling, ending with Ambrose sending both men through a table. The referees checked on them as the show went off the air. I enjoyed the match but the finish was obviously a let down. The brawl was… fine.

Final Thoughts:

I wouldn’t call this show a disappointment because I wasn’t expecting much. It became clear leading up to this show that they’d already given up on trying to push Smackdown much more than usual. John Cena’s appearance was relatively insignificant and they announced two title matches knowing neither belt would change hands.

Also, I don’t think Lawler is turning heel, but he was sort of in the JBL role tonight. He called Kalisto lucky for beating Del Rio, dismissed Lynch’s previous wrestling experience outside of WWE, and sided with McMahon in the Reigns storyline. If they want him to say stuff like that then go ahead and make him a full-fledged heel.

Mauro Ranallo was good but he might suffocate in this environment.