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SmackDown RunDown (1/7/16): New Beginnings, New Attitude

  
Happy New Year Henrinites! Welcome the first SmackDown review of 2016! You’ve still got Ricky, your generally timid Thursday night reviewer, and hey, I’m back! How was your vacation? Honestly, I still have a holiday hangover. But enough of that, I’m back on duty and, man, what the hell did I miss? Two weeks made my heart grow fonder and somehow, I found the right time to return. A brand new network? A new voice of Thursday nights? TWO title matches? What the hell am I still yammerin’ about? Let’s just get down to it!

Ambrose vs Owens: The Brawl to Kick-Off 2016

In this week’s main event, Dean Ambrose and his arsenal of randomness defended his Intercontinental Championship against the malicious teddy bear Kevin Owens. This is how you start the year. I’m surprised this match wasn’t a tables match, but I guess they’re saving that for the Royal Rumble. Besides, the match was already fun to begin with. After a stellar back-and-forth, the match ended in a double count-out. That wasn’t the end though, as the two kept on fighting outside the ring. The post-match brawl was just icing on top. There’s no denying it: SmackDown is now the Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens Show. These two have been beating the hell out of each other for weeks now. If I haven’t said it already, I’ll say it now. Ambrose vs Owens is the hottest rivalry today. No other rivalry in the roster can match the intensity of these two. If they extend this rivalry to Wrestlemania 32, I’m all in.

Match Rating: 9/10. A new standard for future SmackDown main events has now been set.

Dean's shoulder drop looks like it's really fun to do.
Becky Has to Chase, Charlotte Has to Cheat

Also on the line this week was Charlotte’s Divas Championship as she faced her former bestie Becky Lynch in the co-main event. This rivalry has been boiling for weeks and last Monday, we saw Charlotte officially turn 180 degrees to heel territory. Becky Lynch got her shot at the title sooner than expected, but I’m still glad they had the title match on SmackDown. This kind of importance should be given to the B show more often. Charlotte got the win with an assist from the Nature Boy which is the right call. This will add more fuel to the rivalry and will help both women develop their characters: Becky as the fighting challenger and Charlotte as the cheating champion.

Match Rating: 7.5/10. 2016 may be the year of the Lasskicker.

Meanwhile, the Disarm-Her looks like it really hurts.
#Kalisto2016 Officially Begins

A seemingly healthy John Cena opened this week’s SmackDown by hyping up the crowd with a ‘blah, blah, blah, USA, USA’ speech. He then called out the champion of the United States, Alberto del Rio and tried to challenge him again for his title. Watching this segment knowing that Cena is actually injured made me sad. Get well soon, Big Match John. Anyway, McBerty suggested he would face anyone in the back except for Cena. Who did Cena pick? None other than Kalisto! ADR dominated the Lucha Dragon in a physical match, but in true underdog fashion, Kalisto was able to get the rollup after ADR got himself distracted by taunitng Cena at ringside. I don’t know if this was a passing-of-the-torch kind of thing, but one thing is certain: Kalisto’s flying solo. Next destination: the United States Championship. 

Match Rating: 7/10. I sense a Wrestlemania moment approaching. 
 
See, Cena does care about the little guys.
Dolph Ziggler Makes a Somewhat Bold Statement

We also got an obligatory segment promoting the Royal Rumble in the form of a Miz TV segment. All it did was bring out the New Day, Dolph Ziggler, Goldust, Neville, and R-Truth to segue an 8-man tag team match that didn’t really offer anything until the final minutes. The team of The Miz and the New Day faced the team of Ziggler, Goldust, Neville, and R-Truth in a match that saw New Day losing in a throw-away, bottom-of-the-barrell match and Dolph Ziggler getting the pin, a privilege he doesn’t get that often nowadays. After the match, Ziggler superkicked R-Truth and threw Goldust over the top rope. I guess they are letting Ziggy have this one to redeem himself from that embarrassing loss to the New Age J.O.B. Squad last Monday.

Match Rating: 6/10. Are you excited for the Royal Rumble? 

Just look at that flowing blonde hair.
SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: This episode will set the bar high for SmackDown’s 2016. I’m glad they gave the Blue Brand importance by scheduling two awesome title matches. With a few misses here and there, this week’s show was still fun to watch from beginning to end. I’d give this one an A to start the year right.

The Return of Express Thoughts!

  • So how did the new voice of SmackDown do on his first night? Mauro Ranallo did a decent job on his first night. He immediately felt comfortable with Lawler and Byron and his neutral character was easily established. It took me some time to get used to his voice, but at least he knows how to tell the story happening right in front of him. I’ll cut him some slack this time since it’s his first night. Good job, MR.

  • Speaking of voices, Lawler has slowly wedged his way to the heel commentator spot tonight. I didn’t even notice it myself until the final part of the show. I’m actually excited to see him leave his face persona and return to his roots as the loud, obnoxious commentator. Maybe next week we’ll start hearing him yell “Puppies!” again. Step your game up, Byron.

  • Is it me or is the episode really that short? 

  • We all know Dolph Ziggler won’t win the Rumble, but can they at least include him in the final four?

  • I’m really sorry, but Kalisto really looks like Rey Mysterio. I just can’t unsee the resemblance. 

Did you enjoy the first SmackDown of 2016? Do you miss the Sasha Banks Section already? Who do you think can replace John Cena? Are you ready for #Kalisto2016? Let me know at the comments below.

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