The interview, taken by Byron Saxton, started off aiming in a strange direction. Daniel Bryan described Kane as his “brother”, who “stabbed him in the back”. Doesn’t it sound familiar? For a moment there, I was scared that the WWE wanted a Shield 2.0 with Bryan, replacing Rollins. Ambrose and Reigns, appearing to save Daniel Bryan later on in the segment, didn’t help disperse my concerns.
The audience was firmly behind Bryan, who, in my opinion, only benefits from this break that he was forced to have. The fans were starting to turn on him, they had had enough of the repetitive anti-Authority struggle but now it’s all cooled down. People are eager to chant YES! and Daniel Bryan is refreshed, rested & ready to fight.
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
Kane hit a neckbreaker after a neckbreaker. Bryan’s injury was kept in focus but it didn’t take away anything from the match. There was no shortage of rope dives and other Bryan signature moves.
In the end, DB locked the YES Lock, which was the queue for J&J Security to rush in and cause a DQ.
DB outsmarted the Authority and escaped the ring. They followed him menacingly up the ramp and then Ambrose & Reigns came to back him up.
Triple H wasn’t impressed and he set up a 6men tag as a main event.
Eyes were set on Daniel Bryan throughout the match because it’s his first since he returned. If you were looking for ring rust, you must have been disappointed. Bryan was right on point.
The Eater of Worlds came out with another promo on the Rumble match. He sounds so convincing that I almost believe him when he says he’ll win this thing. Then I remember Roman Reigns and drop the idea.
I wonder whether the WWE really has something huge, set up for Bray after the Royal Rumble or if they just don’t know what to do with him at the moment, so they make him deliver promo after promo.
The Usos & Naomi vs. Miz, Mzidow & Alicia Fox
It was a solid match with a healthy dose of comedy in it. Mizdow was doing his thing, tossing himself around, while Miz and Alicia Fox just didn’t want to tag him in.
The action was flowing nicely and I was impressed with Naomi once again. She hit a cross body from the top rope and in the end of the match, she flew over Jimmy to take out Alicia with ease.
However, Miz took advantage of the distractions in the ring and pined Jimmy Uso. It’s a second time in a row but I don’t believe that the titles will change hands at the Rumble.
What’s bothering me more is that Naomi seems to be nowhere near the Divas’ title picture where she should be.
It’s bad when I have to start the review of a segment with a sigh. This promo was plain awkward. It was obviously scripted and Roman was way too cocky in his delivery. It’s a shame, knowing that he was so much better last couple of times on stage.
I would have cut Reigns some slack normally. Not all promos are equally great for anybody but having seen the entire show and the quality of the mic work last night, I have to mark Roman down for this one.
Paul Heyman / Seth Rollins
Say what you want but this was the segment of the night without a doubt. I feel a rush just thinking about it. It was one of those segments that define men.
Rollins interrupted Heyman’s speech on Brock and entered the ring with one thing in his sight – proving that he is the future. Rollins wanted to cash in to prove that he doesn’t need to have the Authority behind his back. The crowd wanted to boo but couldn’t resist cheering for Rollins. It was a natural response to a speech that felt real.
Since Lesnar wasn’t there Rollins went after Heyman. The image of Seth on the ropes, domineering over Paul Heyman with that determined look on his face is something that I’ll remember for a long time. The line “Not original but smart, Paul” is still echoing in my mind.
Rollins’ plan was to take out the brains and then easily defeat the muscle. Heyman’s proposal was to give Rollins the title and to have Lesnar protect him. While the Authority was preoccupied with Bryan, Paul Heyman made a perfect pitch for their must valuable asset.
I was impressed with Rollins’ presence and confidence, rather than anything else. When a man can stand in the ring with a microphone in hand and send chills down your spine, you know that you’ve found someone special.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
The match was weak. Nikki looked more dominating but Natalya was the more powerful woman there.
Nothing of that mattered because in the end Paige’s involvement decided the outcome. She slapped Nikki and Natalya won.
I can see where this is going. Paige wants Natty champion to later turn on her and get the title without having to deal with two Bellas.
Big Show / Kane
I find Big Show and this new “I’ll knock out everybody” part of his gimmick thoroughly entertaining.
The Giant said he was about to enter the Royal Rumble and that nobody could get him over the top rope. Kane popped up and suggested that he was capable of doing that.
Neither of those two will win the Rumble but the segment was fun.
Bad News Barrett vs. Sin Cara
So much for the surprise underdog winning the title. Barrett squashed Sin Car in about five minutes and left with his championship.
That was way too fast. Sin Cara’s win was a nice surprise. We all knew he wasn’t going to come out of this a champion but it could have been a mini feud, rather than a two-match exchange.
That’s a nice promo there. I love the way Ambrose always has a realistic backstory to perfectly match any topic he’s on.
The Lunatic Fringe told us to count him in for the Royal Rumble. It’s just sad that he won’t win it.
But he also reminded the Authority that nobody tells him what to do. That is what’s going to cause him all the trouble.
Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins, Kane & Big Show
It’s true that Bryan was paying double duty last night but Reigns and Ambrose made sure to protect him. Bryan barely wrestled at all before the very end.
Ambrose took most of the punishment. They played the injured knee card. The way Kane picked up Ambrose by the knee looked painful but the Lunatic Fringe still had it in him to make a few saves and a dive off the ropes after that.
Reigns was mostly focused on the Big Show. The Giant tried to put him through the announce table but Reigns tackled Big Show over it, taking both of them out of the game.
This left Daniel Bryan in the ring with Kane. Bryan hit the running knee and defeated Kane for a second time in one night.
Triple H came out and gave Kane a rematch next week. The added stipulation is that if Bryan loses he’s out of the Rumble.
What did you think of the first edition of Thursday Night SmackDown? Share your thoughts in the comment section, on FB or Twitter!