– Air Date: February 11, 2016 (Feb 10 in Canada)
– Location: Moda Center in Portland, OR
– The Big News:
Chris Jericho beat AJ Styles in a great match.
– Show Recap:
No fireworks to start Smackdown this week, unless you count Chris Jericho’s entrance. Jericho said he respects AJ Styles but doesn’t like him after Styles punched him in the face on Raw. Jericho wondered who would call themselves phenomenal on their very first night, which has to be a reference to his own WWE debut. Jericho recalled having one his best matches in this building in Portland – the World Title ladder match with Shawn Michaels. Finally, he called out Styles for their match. The crowd liked Jericho but booed when he put down Styles.
Chris Jericho NC AJ Styles
The bell rang but the Social Outcasts, minus Bo Dallas, came out immediately. Heath Slater said Dallas was still making his rap album. Adam Rose did some bad comedy, called the team the “Social Housecats” and made cat noises. Axel wanted the two of them to be called “Axel Rose.” They all bickered until Jericho called them idiots and told them to shut up. He punched Slater with the mic and the Outcasts bailed. Jericho said he and Styles would still wrestle later, but right now they’re teaming up.
Chris Jericho & AJ Styles beat Curtis Axel & Adam Rose (w/Heath Slater) via pinfall
The story early on was Jericho and Styles took turns doing moves on Axel. Jericho hit a delayed vertical suplex, so Styles hit a snap suplex. Styles hit a chop, so Jericho hit a chop. They got into an argument in the ring however, allowing Rose to knock down Styles for the heat.
Styles came back quickly with a Pele kick and strikes. He made the hot tag to Jericho, who hit a double axe handle and Lionsault. Styles tagged himself in and hit a springboard forearm for the pinfall win on Rose. Jericho smirked as he stared down Styles. The referee raised their hands, but Jericho nailed Styles with a Codebreaker. The crowd booed.
I initially didn’t like the opening segment because you could smell angle as soon as Jericho came out for what advertised as the main event. However, the match told a story and it was good by the end. This was probably done to stretch things out thanks to a light crew at Smackdown, but they made the most of it.
The announcers talked about Daniel Bryan. Jerry Lawler said it felt like Bryan was only around a short time but it was unforgettable. Mauro Ranallo said there wasn’t a dry eye in the building on Raw. They showed tweets from Brie Bella, Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. They also announced Bryan would be thanking the fans tonight. Anyone who watches Smackdown regularly would realize this meant they’d be showing a replay from Raw, but I could see more casual viewers thinking this meant Bryan would be there live.
They announced Brock Lesnar would be on Smackdown next week.
The Dudley Boyz came out in street clothes with tables surrounding the ring. Bubba said they made a statement on Raw, but it seemed like people only want to hear about Daniel Bryan. The crowd cheered and chanted Yes. Bubba said they’re sick of hearing about Bryan and sick about a lot of things around here. D-Von said they’re not nostalgia act, they’re the baddest team around.
Bubba told the crowd to take a good look at the tables because it’s the last time we’re going to see them. He called for some stagehands to take the tables away. Bubba wanted the fans to chant for them, not the tables. “What about us? What about the Dudley Boyz?” There was one table left, so Bubba and D-Von folded it up nicely and took it away. This was good.
Sasha Banks beat Naomi (w/Tamina) via submission
Becky Lynch did commentary. The crowd chanted “Let’s Go Sasha” and they went to commercial two minutes into the match. Naomi got the heat after yanking Banks off the apron and she landed back-first against the edge of the ring. Yikes. Banks made her comeback but was tripped by Tamina with the referee distracted. Naomi followed with a leg scissors driver for a near fall.
Tamina and Lynch brawled on the outside. Naomi missed a split-legged moonsault, allowing Banks to go out and knock down Tamina with a big boot. Naomi tried a roll up as Banks reentered the ring, but Banks reversed into a crossface for the win. This was good, and Banks in particular came off really well. Not only did the interference not work, but she took out Tamina and still won the match.
Backstage, Styles told Jo-Jo he might be a redneck, but he’s no rookie. He called Jericho one of the best in the world, and knows what he’s trying to do, but Styles would show Jericho tonight why he’s the Phenomenal One.
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Bray Wyatt and his friends came out for a promo. Bray said men got sent into battle but never returned. He’s the king of gods. Each Wyatt member was given a line, including Braun Strowman saying the earth will shake and the oceans will boil. That’s bad. Bray said the apocalypse is all around us and the war against our gods has just begun.
6-Man Tag Match: Neville & Lucha Dragons beat Stardust & The Ascension via pinfall
This match was like 3 minutes, and consisted mostly of the babyfaces doing their high spots. The bad guys attacked the good guys before the match started, allowing them to get the heat on Neville immediately. Neville quickly made a hot tag to Kalisto who ran wild on the Ascension. Ranallo confused Konnor and Viktor so Saxton had to correct him. Kalisto hit Konnor with Salida Del Sol, Sin Cara followed with a senton, and Neville finished it off with Red Arrow for the win. It was a fun 3 minutes.
They showed more tweets about Daniel Bryan, this time from Becky Lynch, Christian, Jerry Lawler and Stephanie McMahon. They aired a video package of his speech from Raw and spliced it together with his career highlights, as well as the roster doing the Yes chant. They came back to the Smackdown audience doing the Yes chant. Lawler said Bryan’s announcement was the most emotional moment he’s ever seen in wrestling.
Chris Jericho beat AJ Styles via pinfall
Ranallo put this over as a classic battle and the match started with loud dueling chants. Ranallo put over Styles’ past accomplishments, calling him a former IWGP Champion and NWA Heavyweight Champion. They went back and forth early, but Jericho cut off Styles with his springboard dropkick and they went to commercial. During the break, Jericho launched Styles shoulder-first into the barricade.
Jericho very briefly had the heat after the break, but this was mostly a back and forth match. Jericho used a backbreaker and tried the Walls, but Styles countered with strikes. Jericho hit an enziguri and went to the top, but Styles caught him with a dropkick. They traded strikes and Jericho hit a Lionsault for a near fall.
Styles hit a neckbreaker and went for the Styles Clash but Jericho reversed it into a Walls. Styles crawled towards the ropes but Jericho pulled him to the middle of the ring. Styles countered into the Calf Crusher. Jericho was about to tap out but was able to grab the bottom rope. “This is awesome” chants broke out.
Styles dropkicked Jericho to the outside and followed with a flying forearm. There were more dueling chants, but the Styles chants seemed louder. Styles tried for another springboard move, but Jericho tripped him off the rope. Jericho then whipped Styles into the corner and nailed a Codebreaker for the clean win. Great match, which went about 17-18 minutes.
They plugged Lesnar on Smackdown next week one more time to end the show.
– Final Thoughts:
I cringed when I heard Smackdown would have a skeleton crew, but they still pulled off a good show considering. The main event was excellent. I don’t agree with the finish, but we know how this goes.
Also, for whatever reason, this was a much hotter Smackdown crowd than usual.