Back on Thursday nights, Smackdown got off to a flying start this week as (still) the red hot crowd favourite, Daniel Bryan returned to action. WWE definitely wanted the transition to Thursday nights to feel special, and what better way than having the former ‘American Dragon’ DBryan returning. This, with the impending Royal Rumble gave the WWE Universe a fun Smackdown to enjoy.
Also, the video package from Raw showing Macho Man Randy Savage’s inclusion to the HOF was aired again, which was outstanding, so enjoy;
Daniel Bryan vs his former partner The Big Red Corporate Monster Devils Favourite whateverhisnicknameisnow Kane, who had the Authority at ringside. Right off the bat Bryan showed he was here for a fight as he hit Kane with a dropkick practically as the bell rung. Obviously Bryan didn’t have time to get his mop trimmed during his time away from the ring, but this didn’t seem to impact his tremendous in-ring ability. There didn’t seem to be any significant ring rust as Bryan hit some of his popular offence. The match ebbed and flowed, and as DB locked in the YES lock, J&J Security came in to stop any chance of a clean victory for Bryan. For me, J&J Security are perfect fits for their roles, sniggering pit-bulls that at any chance to attack they will. Bryan managed to fight them off, however as The Big Slow, Rollins and co seemed to have Bryan retreating on the ramp, the two former Shield members, Roman Superman and Lunatic Ambrose came out to help the Goat Faced Superstar. This, unsurprisingly on Smackdown, then turned into a ‘Tag Team Match “Playa”’ which was billed for later in the night.
They should bring out Teddy Long to announce this one line, similar to a Ron Simmons role.
Up next, The Tag Champs, the US-OOO’s and Naomi faced off against The A-lister Miz, his stunt double Mizdow and Alicia Fox. These enemies have faced off numerous times before, but this was still a fun (but short) match. For me though, whenever I see Miz and Mizdow, it is all about the enviable clash between these two, which will hopefully catapult Mizdow back up to where he belongs. A potential elimination of Mizdow from Miz at the Rumble, perhaps due to Mizdow outshining him could be the catalyst for a showdown at Wrestlemania. A victory for Mizdow over a former Champ at Wrestlemania would help him continue to ride this hot streak he is on.
Paul Heyman wandered down to the ring next to hype the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble, however, the beast Brock Lesnar wasn’t in attendance (probably because its Smackdown and not important enough for WWE to waste one of Lesnar ’s appearances). Seth Rollins sauntered to the squared circle to vent his frustration that he isn’t considered to be on Lesnar or Cena’s level. He threatened to Curb Stomp Heyman, to take out Lesnar’s ‘brains’. He stated if he took out Heyman, then he is fighting ‘all brawn and no brains’ at the Rumble and that he will ‘run circles around’ Lesnar. Rollins then reminded Heyman, and everyone that he has hit his patented move on Lesnar not only once but twice and at the Rumble, he will make it a third time. Both men here showed how good they are on the mic. Heyman delivered yet again, and squirmed his way out of a predicament as he hinted to Rollins, that the Authority aren’t the real ‘power’ in WWE. Heyman argued that he is the real power, reeling off all of Lesnar’s accomplishments whilst being ‘A Paul Heyman Guy’. He also stated that Lesnar will hold onto the title for ‘as long as he deems appropriate’, therefore keeping the power in WWE. Heyman signed off by leaving Rollins pondering as he uttered that Lesnar can also protect a new Champion when Heyman decides the future of the WWE. This was incredible. Heyman is a master on the mic, Lesnar doesn’t need to be anywhere near a WWE ring for him to maintain his aura of dominance because of how good Heyman is. Also, this revelation that Lesnar can protect a new champion, but only when Heyman deems appropriate could hint to a coalition with Rollins becoming a ‘Paul Heyman Guy’. Or, in an absolute dream world, Cena could finally make his long awaited Heel turn by becoming a ‘Paul Heyman Guy’. (That will never in a million years happen, but it would be incredible).
The talented Natalya took on one of the Bella’s after this, which felt like a toilet break for the crowd as they were so quiet. Despite Tyson Kidd costing Paige a win recently, she still accompanied her friend to the ring. I can not stand the Bella’s persistent screaming. Anyway Paige hit a hard slap on the Bella and Natalya locked in the sharpshooter for the clean victory over the Divas Champion, probably setting up a title shot soon.
The Intercontinental Championship was on the line next as Bad News Barrett faced Sin Cara. As Cara is (was) one half of the current NXT Tag Team Champions, this was always a foregone conclusion. (SPOILER – Technically Cara and Kalisto have lost the titles to Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake, this will be aired on January 21st). The match was quite short but it was good for Cara to get some airtime. He impressed with a power bomb and the finish in which he was clobbered by the Bull Hammer from a springboard was decent too. Barrett pinned Sin Cara to retain the title and probably end this transitional feud. Hopefully WWE will set up a major feud for the title at the Rumble with someone eliminating BNB.
Whats best for business, and best for the people? Having Daniel Bryan compete in two matches in one night, thats what! Up next was the main event 6-man tag-team match (playa!) Ambrose, Reigns and Bryan faced off against Big Show, Kane and Rollins. The face team, individually are all so over with the WWE Universe, especially Bryan. The match had a good pace to it, and Bryan was going crazy with his usual move set. The heels controlled a lot of the match, and towards the end, everything went nuts, Reigns speared Big Slow over the announcers table, Ambrose took out Rollins and J&J with a diving elbow to the outside, (Ambrose is absolutely unhinged, and its great to watch) this allowed Bryan to hit his former partner with a knee and get the three count. However, the celebration was cut short as HHH came out to announce that he would face Kane next week with his Royal Rumble place on the line.
It was a good Smackdown to kick off the return to Thursday nights, story lines developed and there was some sound wrestling too. I think that Bryan will defeat Kane next week, however the will be the number one entrance into the Rumble, which keeps him as ‘The Underdog,’ and it won’t harm his stock as much when he is eliminated very late on in the match.