Location: Laredo, TX
Date: January 7, 2016
SmackDown’s move to USA Network was highlighted by a shocking upset, a controversial Divas Championship Match finish and an Intercontinental Championship battle that intensified into an uncontrollable fight.
John Cena kicked off SmackDown at its new home, in a new year, in a very patriotic mood. Talk of USA Network transitioned to discussion of the United States Championship, eventually prompting the Cenation leader to give a rousing introduction to the current titleholder, Alberto Del Rio.
Despite being called out in front of the WWE Universe, The Essence of Excellence was not about to put his coveted championship on the line. However, he was willing to fight anyone right there and then … except the 15-time World Champion. In response, Cena summoned the high-flying Kalisto to battle the arrogant Del Rio.
Kalisto defeated WWE United States champion Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match
John Cena stayed at ringside to get a good look at the man who took the United States Championship from him while he cheered on Kalisto. The Cenation leader’s presence at times seemed to be a distraction for Alberto Del Rio, who still managed to control the pace of the contest.
Just when it looked like The Essence of Excellence was positioning himself to lock in his Cross Armbreaker submission, the Lucha Dragon pulled off an acrobatic reversal en route to a shocking upset victory. Now how’s that for SmackDown’s very first match on USA Network?
“Miz TV’s” Royal Rumble Special was interrupted over and over again
The Miz appeared ready to make an announcement (his entering of the Royal Rumble Match perhaps?) at the start of his “Miz TV” Royal Rumble Special, but ended up being interrupted by The New Day … and Dolph Ziggler … and Goldust …and Neville … and finally R-Truth. The latter of which arrived thinking he was answering Alberto Del Rio’s U.S. Open Challenge.
After being told by a fed-up Miz to buy a clue, the rapping Superstar responded by hitting the A-lister in the head with the microphone. This prompted a frenzied scuffle resulting in The Awesome One, Big E, Kofi Kingston and a popcorn eating Xavier Woods being cleared from the ring.
Dolph Ziggler, Neville, Goldust & R-Truth defeated The Miz & WWE tag team champions The New Day in an 8-man tag team match
A huge 8-Man Tag Team Match pitting Dolph Ziggler, Neville, Goldust & R-Truth against The Miz & The New Day emerged from “Miz TV’s” wild conclusion. At the height of the action-packed contest, Neville soared over the top rope onto all three members of The New Day outside the ring. This left the A-lister alone in the ring with The Man That Gravity Forgot’s three teammates.
The Awesome One attempted to escape, only to be sent straight into a superkick from The Showoff, who picked up the pinfall. After the contest, Ziggler reminded his tag team partners that the Royal Rumble Match is every man for himself when he kicked the rapping Superstar in the face before tossing The Bizarre One over the top rope. But, no hard feelings, right?
WWE Divas champion Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch to retain the title
Tensions were at an all-time high as former best friends battled with the Divas division’s top prize on the line. Divas Champion Charlotte and Becky Lynch engaged in a heated clash that included numerous near falls and the involvement of The Dirtiest Player in the Game, Ric Flair.
The championship contest ended in controversy after the Lass Kicker appeared to have a career-changing victory within her grasp when the titleholder tapped out to her Dis-arm-her submission. Unfortunately for the challenger, Flair pulled his daughter’s foot to the bottom rope just in time, causing an irate Lynch to turn her attention toward the two-time WWE Hall of Famer. The self-proclaimed “genetically superior Diva” took advantage of the distraction to roll up her former Team PCB partner — also blatantly utilizing the ropes as leverage — and pick up the victory.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens ended in a double count-out – Ambrose retains the title
The very first episode of Thursday’s hottest show on USA Network began and ended with fireworks as Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens’ Intercontinental Championship Match erupted into an unruly battle.
It became apparent early on in the contest that the squared circle would not be able to contain these two fiery fighters as their clash made its way outside the ring and overtop the announce table — giving new SmackDown announcer Mauro Ranallo his first up-close encounter with a WWE match. The Lunatic Fringe and KO took the fight into the crowd, resulting in both Superstars being counted out.
This proved to be just the beginning for both men, however, as they took it upon themselves to completely throw out the rulebook. The bitter rivals fought among WWE fans, on top of the stage and eventually through tables as they were both left lying in the wreckage of their epic brawl as the show went off the air. USA Network, say hello to SmackDown.