Hey, it’s WWE Smackdown! It’s that show that’s not as long as Raw and isn’t that a mercy these days?

This was the first show back on a Thursday in the US, and so to celebrate they unveiled an all-new announcing team, with Jerry “The King Lawler” and Byron Saxton replacing JBL & Todd Phillips. Poor Todd Phillips. They did a great job. Lawler was better than he’s been in years, and Saxton didn’t do anything bad. A positive!

The show started with Byron Saxton in the ring. He called out Daniel Bryan for a talky piece. When I say he called him out, I don’t mean he offered to fight him – that would be ridiculous.

Bryan said he was happy to be back in his wrestling gear, instead of jeans and flannel. Who picks his clothes? His mom? You can wear what you want, dude! He said that, when they were Team Hell No!, he considered Kane a brother, but when he swapped his mask for a suit he stabbed him in the back, and all the fans in the back. I’m not sure the fans cared one way or another, to be honest.

He said that doctors had told him he was never going to wrestle again, but he proved them wrong. And he’ll prove them wrong when he wins the Royal Rumble, and he’ll prove them wrong when he wins at Wrestlemania. Bryan is a good guy, and good guys never lie. Place your bets now.

Bryan led the crowd in “Yes!” chants but was interrupted by The Authority. They were accompanying Kane to the ring for his match with Bryan which, weirdly, started off the show.

Daniel Bryan is a hell of a professional wrestler. That’s been true for many, many years. But Daniel Bryan, with his current long hair and beard look making his head way too big for his body, looks absolutely ridiculous. I joke that he looks like a gnome but how else can you describe him?

Anyway, they had a decent enough match, considering Kane was in there, and there was surprisingly little interference until the inevitable DQ finish. As Bryan had Kane in the Yes Lock, J&J Security ran in to break it up and the ref called for the bell. Bryan dropkicked them out of the ring, fought of The Big Show, and escaped up the ramp. The Authority were advancing on him, menacingly, but Bryan was joined by Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Daniel Bryan, unlike John Cena, has friends.

HHH then made a six-man tag to main event the show, with Bryan, Reigns & Ambrose against Rollins, Big Show & Kane. A good opening segment.

Bray Wyatt cut a promo from wherever it is that he cuts his promos, and said he was going to contaminate the WWE, and it was too late to RUN!

Hey, it’s the Usos, and Mrs Naomi Uso! They’re fighting Miz, Mizdow & Alicia Fox, because God knows some combination of these men fighting on TV 13 times in the last 48 days wasn’t enough.

Oh, they’re fighting at the Royal Rumble, too. ENOUGH ALREADY!

So, yeah, they had their match, with the usual Mizdow comedy spots, Naomi beating up Alicia, and Miz winning with the Skull Crushing Finale because of a distraction. It’s like they’re on autopilot.

Backstage Renee asked Roman Reigns if he could co-exist with Ambrose & Bryan tonight, given that they’re his opposition in the Royal Rumble. He said he only has problem with The Authority and the crybaby Big Show but that, at the Rumble, it was one versus all, and he’s the one. This was bad but not embarrassing, so there’s some improvement there. Oh, yeah, he did the wink. Don’t do the wink.

Paul Heyman came down to the ring and said that – for the first time in his life – he’s afraid. He said that Brock beat the Undertaker because he felt like doing it. And he beat Cena for the title because he was bored and had nothing else to do. But now he wants to hurt Seth Rollins.

Rollins came out and said he was sick of everyone being afraid of Lesnar. He said he wasn’t afraid and wanted to cash in his Money In The Bank contract right now!

Heyman said that Rollins only did that in the knowledge that Lesnar wasn’t there tonight, and Rollins got mad. He got right up in Heyman’s face and threatened to kerb stomp him.

Heyman calmly talked his way out of a kicking by explaining that, one day, The Authority would be gone again, and Rollins would need protection from someone else, and maybe Lesnar could provide that protection for the new champion? Rollins stared thoughtfully as Heyman made his way out of the ring and to the back…

Rollins has stepped up in the last few days, almost becoming a credible contender. But he needs to junk J&J Security, and rely less on the Authority if he’s going to stop being the chicken shit heel. You can’t do both.

After a commercial, it was time for our third match, Natalya versus Nikki Bella in a non-title match. Natalya had Paige with her, because Total Divas, and Nikki had Brie.

This was a Bad Match, but that’s no surprise, surely? Natalya won with the Sharpshooter after a double distraction spot. I guess this sets up a title match at the PPV? Joy.

Backstage Renee spoke to the Big Show. He told her he was entering the Royal Rumble and that he’ll win because nobody can eliminate him. FUN FACT: The Big Show has entered NINE Royal Rumbles. He has won none.

This attracted the interest of Kane, who said that the Big Show had obviously forgotten he was in the Royal Rumble, too. FUN FACT: Kane has entered FIFTEEN Royal Rumbles. He has won none.

Hey, it’s Sin Cara! Last week on Smackdown he defeated Wade Barrett in a non-title match so tonight he’s fighting Barrett for the Intercontinental title.

Given that Barrett had been feuding with Dolph Ziggler, but Ziggler had been fired, and that Sin Cara wears a mask, I presumed that Ziggler would somehow be under the hood tonight. I was wrong.

Instead, this was a good example of a little feud build, done a bit quickly for my liking, but still. Positives!

It was pretty back and forth, and Sin Cara came off strong. Well, a little bit. He had the spot of the match, herk jerking Barrett up for a powerbomb out of a schoolboy roll-up, but then missed a senton from the top rope. He tried a springboard move but Barrett caught him with the Bullhammer for the win. This was a fun little match.

Backstage, Dean Ambrose cut a talky about the Royal Rumble. He says he doesn’t play well with others, and that nobody tells him what to do. He’s a rebel, is Dean.

Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose versus Seth Rollins, the Big Show & Kane!

The early part of the match was the faces working over Seth Rollins, showing they could co-exist. It broke down and our heroic trio ran off the dastardly heels as the match went to commercial, with Bryan in mid-ring, leading the “Yes!” chants.

The Authority then isolated Ambrose, working over his knee, which is still giving him trouble. He broke his trachea a few weeks back and was back on the next show, but his knee is ouchy.

They teased the hot tag a few times until Ambrose finally made it and brought Bryan in. Bryan hit a dive to the outside on Kane – who wasn’t even the legal man – and then got a nearfall on Rollins. Kane then got a nearfall on Bryan, but Reigns broke it up. Then Bryan had Kane in the Yes Lock again, and Rollins broke it up. Back. And forth.

Ambrose, bad knee and all, took out Rollins, Big Show, and J&J Security with a dive from the top turnbuckle to the outside, and Bryan got the win with the running knee on Kane.

As the babyfaces celebrated, HHH came out to the top of the ramp and said that, next week on Smackdown, Bryan will face Kane again, and if he loses, he’ll be out of the Royal Rumble…

This was a Good Show. It obviously benefits from being half the length of the marathon Raw, but it also built things nicely. And this is supposed to be the runt of the litter…