Sorry for the inactivity over the past few days as I've been very busy. Oh well, it's Smackdown time! After a recap of Sting's appearance on Raw, Daniel Bryan, the most popular guy on the roster, opens the show. He hypes the Rumble before bringing out recently rehired Superstars Ryback, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler. I don't know how much is edited, but Dolph got the biggest pop, Ryback second and not many people care about Rowan. I always get a kick out of the way that Bryan calls him "The Ryback". Each guy cuts a promo with Ryback's being happy to return, Rowan saying he's no longer a puppet and Dolph badmouthing the Authority and saying he wasn't going sit at home and complain on a podcast. SHOTS AT PUNK CONFIRMED! The Authority interrupt, minus Triple H and Stephanie McMahon because Smackdown is still not important enough. Seth Rollins calls Daniel Bryan a garden gnome. They continue to trade insults until Kane makes the three rehired guys all have to earn their spots in the Royal Rumble. So not only does Daniel Bryan have to beat Kane to keep his spot but Dolph Ziggler has to face Bad News Barrett right now to keep his Rumble spot.
This is not an Intercontinental Title match because Dolph is starting as a new employee. These are two of my favorite performers in the company. I like the history as Barrett won the IC Title from Ziggler thanks to the Authority. Throughout the match, Bad News Barrett did a very good job of working the arm and Dolph sold it well. I really liked the finish as Dolph blocked the Bull Hammer with a dropkick and then connected on the Zig Zag to win. I'm no a fan of Barrett losing again, but the match itself was good and I'm so glad to have Dolph back on television. We go to a recap of Roman Reigns and Big Show on Raw before Renee Young interviews him. He talks about how he's going to make his own spot at the Rumble and that he will toss out Big Show. Because he stayed away from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, this was solid work from Roman Reigns. Moving to another backstage segment, Fandango draws his number for the Rumble before Dean Ambrose does so. Fandango likes his and Dean doesn't, so Dean switches them. I love these segments and, even though they aren't on the actual Rumble, I'm glad to have them back.
Next up, Ryback has to qualify for the Royal Rumble and he has a tough task ahead of him against the undefeated United States Champion, Rusev. I can always got for a good old fashioned powerhouse battle and Ryback surprised me by connected on the backpack stunner of his. I have to take a second to commend Rusev though, as he is damn good and doesn't get the proper due. Yes, his gimmick is sorely outdated, but he sells better than pretty much everyone else on the roster and can work. I was shocked to see this go nearly 13 minutes while Dolph and Barrett got less than 10. The fight spilled outside until Ryback ran inside at the last second and won via countout to earn his spot in the Rumble. Good stuff as both guys looked strong. Rusev CRUSH after the bell until Ryback rallies and chases him. Brie Bella, accompanied by Nikki, took on Naomi next while Paige and Natalya were on commentary. Paige always looks fine, but I gotta give it to Nattie here who looked very nice. Quick match as Brie won in about two minutes before they had a staredown with Paige and Natalya. It's a match that I'm looking forward to at the Royal Rumble but I still hate the Bella Twins being friends again. It's so unbelievably stupid.
Goldust and Stardust get their Royal Rumble numbers and it's weird as fuck. With the recent reports that Goldust is on his way to retirement, I rally wanna see him do something of relative importance before he goes. Time for Erick Rowan to try and qualify against his former best friend Luke Harper. Rowan continues to not be very impressive and actually loses here to Harper. I wonder what this means for Rowan. Have they given up on him? Backstage, The Miz is a total dick to Damien Mizdow, but when he leaves the Usos come up to Mizdow to ask if he's going to eliminate himself. They say it's his chance to shut up Miz and become his own star, so Mizdow ponders it. Cool addition to the Usos/Miz and Mizdow angle. Time for the main event as Daniel Bryan takes on Kane in a No Disqualifications match to get his Royal Rumble spot.This was a fun match that I enjoyed. J&J Security got involved a bunch but Bryan fought them off and managed to win with the Running Knee. Good main event but things pick up big time after. Bryan's celebration is cut short by the Big Show. They take him to the ring and continue the attack before Dolph Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback make the save. A bunch of others guys join like Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, New Day and even guys that aren't in the Rumble like Curtis Axel. Also, out comes Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns to their music. With three days until the Rumble, we have to get the giant brawl that resembles the Rumble. They toss everyone out until we're left with Bryan, Reigns, Ambrose, Ryback and Ziggler inside, with Kane and Big Show on the apron to close the show.
Well maybe the move to Thursday nights was a good thing. Here we had another really fun episode of Smackdown. Ziggler/Barrett was good, Ryback/Rusev surprised me and Kane/Bryan was also impressive. The show closing brawl is always enjoyable and that's two for two in Thursday Smackdowns that are good. I appreciate the effort and looking forward to more. 7.5/10.