Ottawa! I could go on and on about Canada’s capital city, as I lived there for three work terms throughout university (though I suspect that my fondness for Ottawa comes from it being the first place I ever lived that wasn’t my Mom’s house). I highly recommend a visit in February for their winter carnival: skating down the frozen Rideau Canal, looking at the amazing ice sculptures, and munching on a Beaver Tail (a warm, crispy pastry slathered in butter and cinnamon). If the near-painful cold would tarnish the romance for you, then go for July 1st and enjoy the best fireworks on Parliament Hill.
Fandango vs. Adam Rose
We haven’t see Adam Rose for a while, and this time Summer Rae joins the Exotic Express. Within seconds of the match starting, Summer Rae attacks Layla by the announce table. When Fandango takes too long trying to break up the fight, he is counted out. Thank goodness for small mercies because that was a dried-up turd of a curtain jerk. WWE owes Ottawa a big apology and a fruit basket. That was the worst ringside scuffle I’ve ever seen, as if both women were fist-pumping in each other’s general direction. And then Summer Rae kept wiping the corners of her mouth in a sultry gesture afterwards, as if she’d just been making out with someone. I know they’re not being given much to work with here with Fandango’s Choice, but they’re missing an opportunity to make lemonade: Use some wrestling moves, ladies! Express some emotions other than “enraged” and “horny”. But don’t let the word horny trick you into watching this segment.
Backstage Interview: Renee Young with Chris Jericho
Renee explains that Jericho will face Randy Orton tonight, but that on Main Event it was announced that he will face Bray Wyatt at Battleground. Any picks for the winner of that one? After Bray’s feud with Cena, I don’t feel confident predicting this one either way.
Jericho says, “This has potential to be a classic.” And I really hope that to be true. Like CM Punk, when Chris Jericho is invested in a match, fun things happen. Jericho talks about Wyatt being manipulative, but Jericho has a long history of being manipulative as well, which he doesn’t mention here but I hope comes into play later. He opts for a calm and quiet promo, praising Randy Orton as a talented competitor and warning Wyatt that he’ll crush the spider that he is. “I’m coming,” he says, then blows out an imaginary lantern.
You know, it’s better than him saying B-Ray Wizz-yatt. Jericho’s been giving us Promo 101 stuff and I’m not complaining. Sometimes a promo that expresses a simple message using a measured amount of emotion goes a lot further than one which is trying too hard.
In-Ring Promo: Rusev (w. Lana) and Roman Reigns
Lana says that Roman Reigns is like the leaders of America and Canada: all style and no substance. Before she can finish saying that Rusev will crush him, The Shield’s music interrupts and Reigns comes down through the crowd. As he and Rusev have a silent stare-down in the ring, the arena immediately erupts in “Ro-man Reigns!” chants.
I find it all fascinating, because WWE has happened to focus on a guy who has been embraced by the fans. You never know what’s going to take with us fickle fans – sometimes we complain that they’re shoving a wrestler down our throats, and sometimes we complain that worthy wrestlers are being stifled. And even though it seems we have ALL loved The Shield since the beginning, it’s very impressive that Reigns’ relentless heroic positioning has been celebrated like this. In my opinion, he won’t win at Battleground, but he has to go down looking as good as possible.
He cuts a smooth, intense promo on Rusev, prompting Lana to call it “typical crass behaviour of an American swine”. He gives her a verbal dressing-down, and if anyone wants to spin a steamy fan-fic from that, I’ll gladly write a review. Reigns calls for a referee, which is confusing. Did they not have a match? Lana says no to the referee, that Rusev will not fight on Reigns’ terms. So perhaps they’ll have a match on Raw, but what a silly diversion leading up to Battleground. Sometimes the pacing of these shows defies explanation, but I’ll still take that fan-fic.
AJ Lee vs. Cameron
During ring entrances, they announce AJ vs. Paige for the title at Battleground. It makes sense, as Paige is due a rematch. But their fairly congenial tag match on Raw made no sense. They’re not providing any context or transition, just throwing women out there like it’s a screamy fashion show for Hot Topic.
Cameron keeps trying to apply lip gloss on herself and AJ, and acting crazy a la Alicia Fox. AJ acts crazy in return. When Cameron tries to leave, Naomi runs down and tosses her back in the ring. Cameron yells, “Are you crazy?” at her, right before getting pinned. It’s too much crazy, negating each other and nullifying the effect of AJ’s return.
Backstage Interview: Renee Young with Randy Orton
Orton cuts a cool, confident promo about winning the titles at Battleground at killing the legend of Chris Jericho tonight.
When they cut to commercial, they announce Roman Reigns vs. Rusev later tonight, as well as Summer Rae vs. Layla with Fandango as the referee. This may sound fickle of me, but I’m okay with Reigns strutting his stuff with someone different for a change, and looking strong going into Battleground. That being said, what happens to Rusev if he gets beaten by Reigns? Perhaps there will be a DQ due to interference so that neither man is weakened.
As for the women’s match, I guess I need to go check my thesaurus for alternate ways to say crap.
Titus O’Neil/Heath Slater vs. The Usos
During entrances, they announce that the tag title match at Battleground will be 2 out of 3 falls. I love it! I have a good feeling about these four guys putting on a thrilling match, going all the way to 3 falls of course. I’m really looking forward to it.
JBL is calling this new tag team “Slater and the Gator” and the story is that they’ve both dropped their inferior partners. I realize that I haven’t made any comments about actual wrestling yet tonight, and it’s for good reason. There hasn’t been any! This tag match was less than two minutes, a total squash.
Then Byron Saxton appears in the ring to get their comments on the Battleground stipulation. Jey struggles to make his point, but Jimmy busts out a white-man-doing-a-boxing-play-by-play voice, predicting an Uso win. It was an interesting way to show some more personality, and I’m all for a little experimentation if it means developing the Usos.
Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton
Jericho works his ass off in this match, even though portions of it carry all the plodding hallmarks of a Randy Orton bout. That’s not to say that Orton doesn’t wrestle well tonight; as a matter of fact, he does a cute job of covering what I’d deem a botched Irish Whip into the corner. And once they’re both warmed up, they really deliver on all their big moves – Jericho even hits the Lionsault for a change! But after a Wyatt black-out distracts him, Jericho suffers an RKO (and I think he bit his tongue in the process, ouch).
This match is totally worth watching if you want to gauge whether Y2J is back, baby!
Layla vs. Summer Rae (with Fandango as Special Referee)
At least Fandango is getting more wear out of that bedazzled ref shirt. He takes turns preventing both women from wrestling, so that he can take centre stage to swivel his hips, Ravishing Rick Rude style. It’s enough to finally convince both women that they should be kicking the shit out of Fandango instead. And then the women become best friends and start ballroom dancing together.
Baloney. Bunk. Drivel. Idiocy. Hogwash. Poppycock. Tomfoolery. Twaddle. Ludicrousness. And say it with me: Crap!
Curtis Axel (with Ryback) vs. Goldust (with Stardust)
Okay, I love Stardust’s peppy little backwards jog. But then he stands on the barricade and drapes himself across the announce table and steals JBL’s hat, all detracting from the match. Once again, I have nothing to say about what happened in the ring. After Goldust makes the pin, Ryback tries to Shellshock him, and Stardust blows glitter in his face. The fans bask in their golden-lit celebration, but the best part is Ryback’s bewildered smile on the ramp. He can’t help himself! The Big Guy must like sparkles.
Diego/ El Torito vs. Bo Dallas (2-on-1 Handicap Match)
Bo vows to be “handi-capable” instead of handicapped, because “all of my Bo-lievers will be my tag team partners!” Who is in charge of Bo Dallas?? Give that person a raise.
Another squash, with Diego barely getting a few clumsy moves in and Torito not even making a tag. He does, however, get a mini Bo-Dog off the middle rope thereafter. I’m not sure this is the way to demonize Bo Dallas. It prompts inappropriate garbage commentary, AND it’s not working.
Roman Reigns vs. Rusev
Would this be Rusev’s biggest match so far, in terms of the perceived calibre of his opponent? I’m too lazy to look it up, but I think so.
Hey, a shout-out to Rusev’s Muay Thai background! Memories of their stock phrase for CM Punk. Rusev’s got a mixture of high-powered strikes in his repertoire, and some wear-down holds as well. He makes everything look damaging, and I’m happy to see him get this opportunity to show us what he’s got. Naturally, he spends the first few minutes dominating Reigns, and I want to give Rusev credit for looking awesome doing it. In addition to Rusev having his moment in the sun, his dominance means a gorgeously triumphant-looking Lana… and a Reigns comeback.
I don’t feel all that smart for predicting a DQ finish after Randy Orton interferes. It was pretty inevitable. The show ends with Orton giving an RKO to Reigns, and crouching over the fallen flack-jacketed Samoan. It’s a smart idea to balance out each man looking strong, going into the fatal four-way. I didn’t include the video for this match, since the WWE YouTube channel only shows Reigns’ big comeback and Orton’s interference. It’s worth watching this whole match, and shame on WWE for not including the small fraction of their show worth watching.
Sign of the Night
I curse you, off-topic sign maker! Now I have to go find a Greek restaurant.
Quote of the Night:
Cole: You know Stardust is a major part of the [WWE] Universe. See what I did there?
JBL: Easy there, Stephen Hawking.
I am sorry that this Smackdown review is posted later than usual. Yesterday was my birthday! And now that this review is posted, I plan to sit down for my annual birthday ritual of eating nachos and watching my new Blu-Ray copy of WrestleMania! Follow me @kickyhick or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!