Welcome to RealSport’s weekly review of Thursday Night SmackDown. You can come here every week to get a recap of both how the show went, and whether or not it’s worth your time to find it buried in your DVR and hit “play.” You’ll also be kept in the loop so that when Monday Night Raw rolls around you can roll your eyes at the sixteen recap segments that show you the stuff you already read about on RealSport. The show opens with Maryse, former WWE Divas Champion and wife of The Miz, standing in the ring with a microphone in hand. She introduces herself in both French and English, only adding fuel to the fire as the crowd isn’t exactly excited to see her. The reaction gets even more heated as current WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz is introduced. After a brief segment, they are interrupted by former Intercontinental Champion Zack Ryder. While Ryder gets a decent pop, all it serves to do is bide a little time before we get our first match. As Miz and Maryse say their goodbyes, Ryder is standing in the ring awaiting his competition when the heavy motorcycle rev of Baron Corbin’s music hits. The newcomer makes his way to the ring to a solid reaction, and proceeds to essentially dominate Zack Ryder. While the match wasn’t as short as some of his sub-30-second matches in NXT, he stays in control before quickly planting Zack Ryder with the End of Days for the victory. Corbin continues his assault on Ryder after the bell rings, but Dolph Ziggler, who faced Corbin in his debut that ended with a double countout, emerges from the curtain to make the save. After a brief brawl, Corbin escapes up the ramp and Ziggler stands tall in the ring. Next up we have a backstage interview with Kevin Owens and Renee Young. Owens is asked about Sami Zayn’s match later in the night against Chris Jericho, which quickly devolves into Owens continuing to be frustrated with Sami Zayn and a veiled threat to interfere in that match, after which the interview is cut short. Our next match involves the women’s division, which is frankly nice to say, and we get Paige taking on Emma. While the two former NXT favorites are both extremely skilled, this match could have done with a little more time and a better finish. It’s still an enjoyable watch, but it could’ve been better. As the two were up on the top turnbuckle and it looked like Paige might attempt a superplex, Emma slipped out and down to the mat before pulling Paige’s leg off the rope and causing her to crash face-first into the turnbuckle. The impact is apparently plenty, as Emma covers her for an easy three-count to get the victory. We get another former-NXT showdown up next and a quarterfinal in the #1 Contendership Tag Team Tournament as Enzo Amore & Big Cass take on The Ascension. The match goes for barely five minutes before the longest reigning NXT Tag Team Champions in history are knocked off with ease after Cass launches Enzo off the top onto Viktor for the Rocket Launcher and a clean pinfall victory. Enzo & Cass advance in the tournament, and The Ascension are officially eliminated. Backstage, we have JoJo interviewing the current #1 Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, AJ Styles. AJ’s bit is great, but he’s quickly interrupted by Alberto Del Rio who claims AJ can’t compete in the big leagues against a competitor such as himself. The segment is simple, but it serves its purpose as Del Rio challenges AJ to a match later on in the night which is quickly accepted by Styles. After a brief commercial break, we come back as AJ Styles is on his way to the ring to take on Alberto Del Rio. One highlight of this match is actually Mauro Ranallo on commentary who effectively builds up the differences in their wrestling styles despite Lawler continuing to be an audible sore at the announce table. The match is definitely worth a watch, and it’s a rare confrontation between two very different, but very good, competitors. Near the end, Del Rio goes to roll through for the Cross Armbreaker, but Styles slips out of it and immediately catches Del Rio with an Oklahoma Roll for the quick pinfall and the win. After this match, backstage we get R-Truth and Goldust apparently getting ready for their Tag Tournament match against The Vaudevillains, but Goldust informs R-Truth that Golden Truth just isn’t happening yet, and he’s found a new partner. In walks Fandango, who states that tonight will be the debut of “Goldango.” This odd bit ends shortly thereafter as we get the entrance of The Vaudevillains followed by the introduction of Goldust and Fandango, but the match lasts about as long as the segment and entrances did. The Vaudevillains plant Fandango with the Whirling Dervish after a short match for the victory to advance in the tournament. Prior to our Main Event, we get JoJo backstage again now interviewing Chris Jericho. He bashes on Dean Ambrose for interrupting The Highlight Reel on Raw, and effectively pisses off the crowd with some negative comments like he always does. They cut to the ring following the interview, and now it’s time for the main event as Sami Zayn’s music hits for one of the bigger pops of the night. Jericho is out next to significant heat. The match is definitely one to be excited about, but we won’t be getting the extended clinic between Zayn and Jericho just yet. Only a few minutes into the match Kevin Owens comes down the ramp to interfere, and seconds later Dean Ambrose is out right after him. Ambrose passes Owens on the ramp and begins handing out flyers to the crowd for the Ambrose Asylum before sitting down on commentary. Owens joins him on commentary shortly after, and we get the continuation of a solid match with two of the best talkers in WWE now on commentary bickering back and forth. Near the end of the match, Zayn manages to send Jericho into the corner with an exploder suplex. As he’s setting up for the Helluva Kick, Owens slides in and clotheslines him causing the disqualification. Owens and Jericho beat down Zayn for a moment, but Ambrose quickly slides in and makes the save. After a brief brawl, Owens and Jericho escape and SmackDown ends with Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose standing tall in the ring.
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