Thursday’s hottest show began in unfamiliar fashion as Renee Young was waiting backstage to hear from Dean Ambrose about a supposed statement. Luckily, The Lunatic Fringe’s entrance in a black pickup truck occurred just in time for the start of the show. Ambrose made a beeline toward the ring to state that he was challenging Kevin Owens to a Last Man Standing Match at the Royal Rumble on Jan. 24 on WWE Network.
Sheamus suddenly crashed the announcement, looking to repay Ambrose for the gash on his forehead that required three stitches after their battle on Raw. Just as the two were prepared to settle their differences, Fight Owens Fight finally appeared to accept his rival’s Royal Rumble challenge. WWE’s prizefighter proceeded to join The Celtic Warrior to attack their mutual adversary before Neville raced down to save the unstable one from further damage.
Just three days after Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship in arguably the biggest upset in Raw’s 23-year history, the two Superstars’ rivalry reached new heights on Thursday’s hottest show in an epic United States Championship rematch.
Midway through the veteran ring general and high-flying luchador’s fiery battle, Del Rio’s League of Nations cohort King Barrett made his way down to the ring. After merely watching the contest for a short time, the British brawler got up on the ring apron, distracting the titleholder just long enough for a relentless Del Rio to lock in his Cross Armbreaker submission. The diminutive dynamo would not give up, however, as he valiantly willed his way to the ropes.
The clash continued, but so did Barrett’s involvement, as he later pulled a dazed Del Rio out of the way of the flying Lucha Dragon. The courageous champion’s missed dive to the outside allowed the Essence of Excellence to once again lock in his devastating submission, forcing the United States Champion to tap out.
SmackDown on USA Network’s third main event of the evening could not be contained by the traditional rules of a tag team contest, as Kevin Owens & Sheamus made sure of that. The Celtic Warrior and KO’s relentless attack against The Lunatic Fringe outside the ring — which included the steel steps and the top of the SmackDown announce table — forced the referee to disqualify the brash pair.
The bell did not slow down the heavyweight fighters, but The Man That Gravity Forgot sure did, as he flew over the ropes to the outside, taking out both men. Ending the evening on a high note, Neville then hit a spectacular Red Arrow inside the ring on the fallen prizefighter.
In other action... The Dudley Boyz def. The Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper & Erick Rowan in a Tables Match... The Social Outcasts def. Goldust, Damien Sandow, Jack Swagger & Zack Ryder... and Becky Lynch def. Brie Bella.