Current Watch List:
- Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow (WWE)
- Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. The Usos (WWE)
- Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Los Matadores (WWE)
- Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Slater Gator (WWE)
- Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. The Ascension (WWE)
- Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show and Kane (WWE)
- Kongo Kong (c) vs. Chris Hero for the IWA-MS Heavyweight Championship (IWA-MS)
Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow
With half of the roster on their way to Abu Dhabi, Smackdown was built around a tag team turmoil gauntlet with PPV opponents Bryan and Reigns forced to team. This opening match in the series was used to establish that Bryan and Reigns were not going to get along. They both tagged themselves in a couple of times, while Sandow and the Miz did their normal shtick. For the ending, Bryan tagged himself in and got the pin which was payback for Reigns doing the same on Monday. Just a match to set up the rest of the gauntlet.
Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. The Usos
This was a long (2 commercial break) match that ran about 20 minutes in total. The story was that Reigns was conflicted about wrestling his “cousins” but did so anyway. However, when Bryan laid in hard kick and hard kick outside the ring, Reigns didn’t think that was kosher and told Bryan to get back in the ring. When they returned from commercial, Bryan tried to tag out put a pissed off Reigns refused to tag in. Bryan worked the rest of the match (5 minutes or so) by himself. I thought the story played out nicely. Reigns did a good job with his mannerisms and facial expressions getting the entire thing across without it seeming overly contrived.
In the ring, this part of the gauntlet was a lot of fun particularly if you enjoy watching Bryan just do his thing. Bryan worked the arm most of the match. He seemed to be angling for a Jim Breaks special a couple of times but never fully got it on (ie. never lifted his opponent off of the ground). He also pulled out the double under hook suplex into the cross arm breaker. He also did it on RAW against Rollins a week ago so maybe its made its way back into the rotation. The Usos lit Bryan up with chops early and the entire match was worked pretty snuggly. I also liked the one extended Regins/Usos segment early on that was built around shoulder blocks and the Usos’ struggle to take Reigns off of his feet.
Strong TV match that more than stands up on its own.
Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Los Matadores
Short match, with Bryan still doing all the work. The little that was there was good. Loved the top rope double under hook suplex at the finish. I am not sure I’ve ever seen Bryan do that before. They need to book a 10 minute Bryan/Torito match just for fun at some point.
Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Slater Gator
Bryan did a nice job getting over how fatigued he was by this point. Short match and really just an excuse to hammer home the idea that Bryan was basically going at it alone at this point and thriving.
Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. The Ascension
Another short match, with the Ascension refusing to back off of Reigns and Bryan until the referee was forced to disqualify them. Again, not much in terms of wrestling but it progressed the story they were going with.
Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show and Kane
About what we’ve come to expect from Kane and Big Show over the past couple of months. Their offense was slow and lumbering. Not terrible, but not good either. I thought Big Show getting upset just because Kane pushed Bryan into him on the apron was a stretch, but after that initial flare up they did take their time to logically escalate the tension. Eventually Show became fed up with Kane and knocked him out. The idea being that everyone though Reigns and Bryan were going to implode, but instead it was the two guys who put the match together that couldn’t even get along. Reigns hit the spear than Bryan made Show tap for his 4th straight victory. Afterwards, Bryan and Reigns bond over the WrestleMania sign, showing some mutual respect for accomplishing what they did.
Thought the entire gauntlet was well put together. In the January Match Guide, I wrote about the New Year Day ZERO1 gauntlet and how it worked because of how each segment was different. I am not sure each segment here was totally unique, but each match did a nice job of building on the others to for a cohesive story. The commercial breaks hurt the flow of the Usos match some, but otherwise it was a fluid hour long presentation that moved along the Reigns/Bryan storyline nicely.
Kongo Kong (c) vs. Chris Hero
IWA-MS Heavyweight Championship
Kongo Kong has become somewhat of a cult figure. He’s a big old throwback in both look and style. Working a Kamala inspired gimmick, Kong is an old school big guy monster heel. He is effective in the gimmick and certainly stands out amongst the army of create-a-wrestler looking guys out there these days. In the ring, he is very solid. I haven’t been sold thus far that he is more than a guy that is effective in a unique gimmick. This match didn’t change my opinion much. Kong was fine against Hero but I didn’t think much of the match. Hero’s striking gimmick is started to wear very thin with me. It’s the same old stuff every time. Loud strikes from bell to bell, but nothing that looks particularly great and no build at all to them. They went way too long in an attempt to work an epic main event. They started off working big guy versus big guy spots but in more of a NOAH style than a good American throwback style that would have better suited Kongo. Kongo might have sold more than he should have as well, but that was unavoidable in a match this length. It just didn’t click. This was a match up calling for an 8-10 minute heavyweight slugfest but we got pretty much the complete opposite of that.