I don’t know where Smackdown was taped for tonight. All I know is that Del Rio is gone, and I liked him. But now there’s a rumor that he slapped someone who works for WWE.com. I try not to put too much weight in internet rumors, but “dot com’s” farewell to Del Rio was decidedly not-so-business-as-usual. They posted a tweet saying that fans should blame Del Rio, and that he conducted himself in an unprofessional manner. Triple H retweeted the message, giving the rogue-flavored blurb a rare and snarky stamp of approval. At first I thought, “Del Rio, I may have to throw down my aristocratic silk scarf in disgust!” Yet more rumors abound that perhaps Del Rio was reacting (albeit violently) to a racist remark from a social media staffer. I think now is the time to gently fold our aristocratic silk scarves, tuck them away, and say “Adios” regardless of what happened.
“Whoops, this is my honey-do list from Roman.”
In-Ring Promo: Dean Ambrose
As Ambrose saunters down to the ring, they replay his shenanigans from Raw, where he basically did everything Alicia Fox did when she was crazy, but did them all better, and into Seth’s briefcase. That’s the mark of a gifted guy right there, because he wasn’t doing anything original, but he made it entertaining. It doesn’t hurt that we all liked Dean Ambrose more to begin with. Sorry, Alicia.
Oooooooh Dean’s going to choose his stipulation right now, and he has a list!!! Chris “Man of 1,001 Holds” Jericho has made me a Pavlov’s dog for lists, so I’m jumpy-clapping right now.
1. JBL’s Cowboy Hat On A Pole Match
2. Coal Miner’s Glove Match
3. Alligators Around The Ring Match
4. Sumo Match
5. Boxing Match
6. Parking Lot Brawl (“but we already did that”)
7. Good Housekeeping Match
9. Loser Washes Triple H’s Car Match (“though I’m sure Seth Rollins already does that”)
The personal dig at Seth brings him down the aisle in his new The Authority t-shirt (verdict: it’s too DaVinci Code). He demands that Dean just cut to the chase: what is the stipulation for Summerslam?
Ambrose beats around the bush, so Rollins insults his intelligence and guarantees that Summerslam will be “the end of Ambrose, on the WWE Network, for the low low price of $9.99”. Ambrose throws down a few nine-ninety-nines of his own, and the joke has gone from obnoxious to old in record time. It also reeks of desperation, which appeals to no one.
“If you’re old school like me, you could call this a Lumberjack Match… August 17 is the day Mr. Money In The Bank goes broke.”
A Lumberjack Match. A Lumberjack Match??!! Picture me saying that with my voice breaking like Jeremy Freedman on The Simpsons. I expected something a lot more creative from SOMEONE THEY CALL THE LUNATIC FREAKIN’ FRINGE than a Lumberjack Match. DAMN, GIRL. There is nothing more uninspiring than watching a bunch of hulking men lean on the ring apron, pretending to look like they give a crap, and then awkwardly taking turns stomping on whoever gets thrown out of the ring (the awkward part often stemming from the tradition of good guys only stomping bad guys and vice versa, which, good luck figuring that shit out these days). I’m having Ring of Fire flashbacks from the last Summerslam.
Btw, Seth informs Dean that he’s gotten power from The Authority to set Dean up in a match against Randy Orton tonight, as they play a clip of Orton destroying Reigns. That will be the main event.
Good clean fun on a Friday night.
Rybaxel vs. Mark Henry/Big Show
Well it’s nice to see them treat the Smackdown fans to something somewhat special, in the Big Show’s comeback, and he’s looking trim and bright-eyed.
I can hear Ryback giggling and carrying on while Axel tries to outfox Mark Henry, which gets Big Show jawing away from his corner. It quickly leads to a hot tag so that both Show and Henry can slam an opponent in tandem. It is not a pretty match. JBL crows that he hopes to see this new tag team face The Usos, and I am not feeling it.
Backstage Promo: Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins
Well this is interesting. I’ve complained about Ziggler never doing free-form promos, since he proudly dabbles in improv and stand-up comedy. I’ve complained that they never give him something to sink his teeth into, never an opportunity to show his personality. I’m giving this attempt a thumbs in the middle: his put-downs of Rollins lack the edginess of his tweets, but by god he was trying. I don’t know what the answer is for Ziggler’s promos. I am in his corner big time, but almost every promo leaves me cold.
Seth challenges Dolph to a match tonight, and Dolph drops the smile. Nice touch. He says the match won’t be anything funny, and calls Seth “kid”, which cracked me up until I discovered that there are 6 whole years between them!
The gloves are just a precautionary measure.
Sin Cara vs. Mr. Border Patrol
A special night indeed for these fans, first Big Show now THIS. Damien Sandow comes out dressed as a border guard, basically cutting a Zeb Coulter promo on Sin Cara. The match lasts a minute or two, and it reminds me of the squash matches from the Saturday morning WWF shows. Two costumed characters, we all know what’s going to happen, and it does.
Drop kicking himself into relevance?
Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins
I was pretty excited for this match, but as Dolph comes down the ramp, I remembered that The Miz will probably show up. Now I’m lovin’ Miz but I also love some good old fashioned wrestling! I’m yet to see much of it tonight, and I know these two can deliver. Let’s see.
Seth starts out as the aggressor, busting out a Three Amigos to no reaction, in Laredo no less. For shame! Dolph turns things around with a series of sweet drop-kicks, and they go to commercial when he’s thrown to the floor. Seth is back on top after commercial, making Dolph look helpless for a while. Dolph gets his third wind, garnering himself several 2-counts and looking like a true contender for that IC title at Summerslam.
The match takes a decidedly dark turn when Rollins starts throwing Ziggler into the ring post, the barricade, and the steps. It all ends with the best Curb Stomp I’ve seen Rollins do so far. It was a good match and I’d say watch the whole thing, as I suspect WWE will chop it up too much on YouTube.
Backstage Interview: Renee Young with Randy Orton
Hee hee, Randy Orton does a good job stringing all his words together, but his emphasis is on all the wrong words and it is super hilarious. It’s like he’s reading a poem and the line breaks are off because the poem was copied from WordPerfect 2.0 for DOS to Google Maps.
Why am I suddenly craving ribs?
Natalya vs. Paige
Do yourself a favor and look up the match between these two women from NXT. I didn’t figure anything on Smackdown could hold a candle to it.
But in a short period of time, they outwrestle any other woman that could have possibly been hanging around backstage. First, they trade some delightfully ferocious slaps, then Natalya squeezes in a discus clothesline, executes a perfect double-underhook suplex AND a sharpshooter. Paige manages out of the submission hold, then gives Natalya a fireman’s-carry slam on the floor. After a kick to the head, Paige gets Nattie into her scorpion cross lock for a submission. Nattie was stellar tonight, and Paige looked like she could easily dispose of AJ next weekend.
All you need to know.
Rusev vs. Big E
When they came back from commercial for this match, my feed was suddenly in Spanish. So I was totally distracted, in a happy way, trying to figure out what they might be saying, using my long-unused college Spanish. I think it was something along the lines of, “Lana is the only one worth paying attention to here, but Rusev has won if anyone cares.”
Then the voiceover translation continues during Chris Jericho’s backstage interview, but the gist of it is “I will shove the buzzards down your throat, Bray Wyatt”. And that isn’t a facetious translation, I did hear Jericho say that underneath all the Spanish. It served to eliminate any hope I’d had left for a Big Surprise during this feud. I don’t suppose it’s a Big Surprise kind of year for WWE, since CM Punk and the Network already did that, and now they’re firefighting stock prices and injuries.
The wrestler equivalent of carrying one over the threshold.
Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose
Both men engage in their own form of mat wrestling, with Ambrose twisting Orton’s ear as part of a hold, and cranking up the velocity of every move. His shoulder is still taped up, and JBL wisely explains that the bandage is the equivalent of painting a target on his injury. Because everyone knows it’s injured, everyone attacks the shoulder, and it’s never had a chance to heal. Should we start placing bets on how long he’ll wear that bandage? Maybe it will become his Bob Orton-style gimmick!
Yep, this is fun. Dean does everything turned up to 11, and it’s so satisfying as a fan to see wrestlers just sucking the marrow out of every minute in the ring. I also realized that the Spanish is gone! And so has Ambrose’s dominant run, as Orton feeds him to the announce table, and drags him back into the ring for more punishment. Hahahaaaaa, Ambrose snarls, “Come on! Why don’t you put some pressure on?” when Orton tries to inflict pain on that shoulder.
Back and forth, super quick, intense, and wicked. Dean Ambrose is making this worth the price of admission, plus he’s getting a big reaction from this quiet crowd, while also giving Randy Orton his ideal opponent.
Seth Rollins interferes to save Orton from getting pinned. DQ finish. Seth pours a fan’s drink all over Ambrose while people chant “You sold out!” and Rollins’ glaring mug closes the show.
Quote of the Night
“What an incredible stipulation! A Lumberjack Match! Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no disqualification! It’s going to be an incredible match!” – JBL reads his lines, but for some reason WWE.com decided to include this photo of him from the moment. My sentiments exactly, JBL.
If you’re going to watch Smackdown, just watch the Rollins/Ziggler match, Paige/Natalya, and the main event. Not only will you not miss anything else, your life will be better for avoiding it. Trust me, friends. And I neglected to give the answer to my big mysterious riddle a couple of weeks ago when Smackdown was in Orlando! The quote that I gave, “What it is, Orlando!” was from WrestleMania 24, when Raven Simone was introducing the Make-A-Wish kids in attendance. I don’t know why I always think of that quote from Raven Simone, but I wish I could purge the other quote related to that moment: Jerry Lawler squawking, “I love Raven Simone!” Gross.