Hogan’s Opening Segment
Hulk Hogan opened the last SmackDown of the year with a promo and received the obligatory cheers as a legend. Rollins came out, saying that as much of a legend as Hogan is, he no longer belongs in a WWE ring.
Hogan pointed out Dolph Ziggler as a better representation of the future than Mr. MITB and the Show Off joined them in the ring, only to get threatened by Big Show, who couldn’t just sit in the back. Logically Roman Reigns came out to even the odds and Hulk Hogan set up the expected tag team main event.
It was a generic, by-the-book opening segment but it did raise some interesting questions to consider. Rollins called Hogan “The Seth Rollins of the 80s”. Apart from being a great example of shameless narcissism, it is undeniably true and it represents the change in the pro wrestling industry. Twenty – thirty years ago, characters were much more cartoonish visually and personality-wise.
Back in Hogan’s time, you had to have his size and shape to succeed. Now, smaller, faster, more agile and technical guys like Rollins and Ziggler are the standard. Imagine Hogan debuting today for the first time. He’d probably end up on the Exotic Express. I think this change is for the better. Matches now are more realistic, characters are fairly believable and the pace has quickened. With the new generation of wrestlers taking over, I feel privileged to be a part of the future.
On a different note, isn’t it strange that while Reigns was out, he kept shooting promos at Rollins, saying that he was coming for him, but now he seems to have completely forgotten about it?
Kane vs. Ryback
There was some generic Kane vs. Ryback action for a short while and then Rusev came out to disturb the Big Guy. Despite the distraction, Ryback still managed to pick up the victory.
After the match, however, the Big Russian, aided by Kane, launched an attack on the Big Guy, who ended up receiving two choke slams before he got put in the Accolade.
Backstage, Hogan intercepted Rusev and Lana and threatened them that the US title won’t be theirs for too long. Later, we found the Big Russian was going to defend his title against a mystery opponent.
I’m worried that Rusev’s streak will be fed to Ryback. I think this would be a mistake. The character that the Big Guy is, doesn’t have any personality at all. He’s just big and hits people. How long will this push last, based on those traits? Do you really want to make him the one to end Rusev character, who has been built for a year?
Also, I just want to say that I find it funny that Rusev and Lana speak to each other in different languages. He speaks Bulgarian and she speaks Russian. I’m not sure that the “conversation” they were having when they bumped into Hogan backstage made much sense.
Naomi vs. Alicia Fox
As the commentators pointed out, this was a match between probably the two most athletic divas on the roster. Yet, it wasn’t a gripping face-off. I think the lack of a rivalry made the match so underwhelming.
Naomi had a slight wardrobe malfunction but played it cool and kept going with the match. It’s not the first time she has issues. This is why making the divas wear those skimpy outfits when they are actually supposed to wrestle is plain dumb.
Clothing aside, Naomi did well. She finished the match with a split leg moonsault from the top rope and for the level of divas’ action we see on the main roster, that’s impressive.
Miz was standing in the back, watching the match, and he looked fully engaged. The tag-team titles issues between Miz & Mizdow and The Usos are far from over. If Naomi gets the Divas title while they are at it, I won’t be mad at all.
R-Truth vs. Adam Rose
R-Truth got defeated decisively. All this short match showed is that an angry Adam Rose is a much more effective Adam Rose. When has a happy character ever succeeded at anything? There’s a lesson to be learned here, New Day…
Rusev vs. Dean Ambrose
Rusev’s surprise opponent ended up being the Lunatic Fringe. For a moment, I made myself forget that I knew how this match would end and actually enjoyed the mash up between the styles of those two.
For some reason, they mix well. Rusev is very large but he’s agile and athletic for his size. Ambrose is smaller but actually has a brawling, physical style. Every time Rusev was about to do something based on pure strength, Ambrose would outsmart him but then Rusev would be quick enough to counter. That created a beautifully balanced match.
However, the ending was awfully predictable. Bray Wyatt ambushed Ambrose and caused him the title. I swear, we’ve seen this exact situation before!
Just to add, I’d feel much better if Ambrose was the one to end Rusev’s streak, not Ryback, Then at least, I’d know that Rusev fell to somebody, who’s going to become a legend in the wrestling industry.
Jimmy Uso vs. The Miz
I think this match happened only to prevent us from forgetting that those two have a feud. Nothing exciting happened in terms of wrestling. It was more theatrical than anything.
Miz offered truce to Jimmy in the middle of the ring but Jimmy had no intention to become buddies with the A-Lister and attacked him, leading to a top rope splash and a win for the Samoan.
Gold and Stardust Promo
I might be looking too deep into this but I think that this promo was foreshadowing something big.
When consulting the crystal ball about success in 2015, Goldust got burnt, while Stardust happily named as the guy of the year to come. This, put in the context of Goldust’s recent misfortunes in the ring, could end up being a prophecy.
Roman Reigns & Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins & The Big Show
The booking of this match left a bitter taste in my mouth. It all started well and ended up burying Seth Rollins.
Dolph Ziggler got to show his heart, his passion when taking a beating, while selling his opponents’ moves the way only he can, but then he had his time to shine with quick counters that got him out of trouble and made the audience jump out of their seats.
The Big Show got some heavy BIG SLOW chants but he played along and made sure he hurt Ziggler, while screaming “Who’s slow now?”, so he came off looking fairly dominating, which is good enough.
Roman Reigns started off by being manhandled by the Big Show, which actually is quite good for Reigns because overcoming odds is what turns men into heroes. But when he got to face Rollins, Reigns dominated his former brotherin without breaking a sweat. That’s the superman-like behavior that won’t help your character. First build your opponent as threat and then defeat him, if you want results! However, Reigns did come out of it, looking like a beast.
Seth Rollins, on the other hand, got completely destroyed last night. He was not only scared of Roman, but had to use J&J Security’s help and still had his backside handed to him with ease. On top of that, he took a clean pin by Roman (looking back at Mercury and Noble doesn’t really count as a distraction).
What is the WWE doing with Rollins?! He keeps losing unless he has the aid of 4-5 other men. Why would you make the man, who claims to be the future look weak? Why is the WWE afraid of building a strong heel, who actually keeps his promises and destroys his opponents? Wouldn’t that make the hero’s fight even more fascinating? The fact that I have to face the end of the year, asking these questions is just sad.
What did you think of this week’s SmackDown? Share your thoughts in the comment section, on FB or Twitter!