Hey there, sports fans. Well, sports entertainment fans, but whatever. We’re a bare hair away from Payback, so let’s get to some rasslin’. Also, my cousin/flatmate is going to sit with me as I type this and add his tuppence worth (because we’re British), so I’ll add whatever comments seem appropriate.
So, hey: SmackDown!
We’ve got pyro and ballyhoo, and the show kicks off with Roman Reigns. Man, hear those adoring cheers from the crowd (which might sound a hell of a lot like vicious booing, but that’s clearly just a technical fault). I swear, I’ve watched every televised show this guy’s been champ on, and I’ve haven’t seen a positive reception yet.
My cousin’s perspective: ‘Why do they never just wear the belt?’
Roman talks smack about punching AJ Styles, without going into the fact that Styles left him laying a few seconds later. We’re still on this conspiracy theory with Gallows and Anderson, because of course we are. Reigns tells Styles to stop lying, get out there, and tell the truth. My cousin thinks that Roman is ‘clearly evil, because he has that goatee’.
Oh look, it’s Human Herpes himself: The Miz. And Maryse, which we’ll regard as a consolation prize. Miz has been going all ‘serious journalism’ on this story, so I guess this makes sense from that angle. Miz asks if Reigns really thought that Styles was coming out here, and claims that he was the first to don the tinfoil cap regarding this whole dirty business.
My cousin’s perspective: ‘They certainly do talk a lot before they start punching each other’.
Roman punches Miz and clotheslines him out of the ring: my cousin has psychic powers. Reigns then gives Maryse the Intercontinental Championship belt, because you don’t even want to touch that thing now.
Oh God, there’s now a match between Roman and the Miz. Just shoot me.
Renee Young is backstage with the League of Nations, asking them about their amazing adequateness. The three foreigners yell a lot and nobody cares, or ever will. Ever.
This is the greatest moment in the history of this great sport
Wow, it’s like the words ‘six-man tag match’ and ‘League of Nations’ had a baby and made the most boring thing ever. And it’s this match, right now. They are facing Kalisto (who my cousin accuses of being ‘a Power Ranger’), Sami Zayn (no complaints) and Cesaro (who’s still doing his stripper routine). Okay, so this might not totally suck.
Kalisto starts off first, and the League of Nations fight over who can start things off (my cousin rightly points out that this is ‘just like the real League of Nations’). Sheamus starts first, and Kalisto uses his speed to kick Sheamus around before the Irishman hammers him, tagging in Rusev. The beatdown commences, combined with a lot of quick tags amongst the League. Bodyslam and an elbow from Rusev, getting two. Bearhug from Rusev, and it looks just sexual enough to be weird from this angle. Kalisto fights back with some right hands, then slides out of another bodyslam, tagging in Sami Zayn.
Zayn hits a hurricanrana to Rusev, then smacks him around a little. Rusev runs into a back elbow, but a distraction from Sheamus allows the Bulgarian to hit a roundhouse, putting Zayn down. Back from the break, Sheamus is in control of Zayn, hitting a leg drop before tagging in Del Rio. Alberto rains punches down onto Zayn, then hits a quick DDT for a two count before locking in a sleeper. Zayn fights his way out for a second, but eats a backstabber from Del Rio. Alberto flexes for a second, which my cousin rightly points out is a tactical error.
Rusev blind-tags Del Rio and the League fights: it is the League of Nations! Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, only in wrestling form! Del Rio leaves! The League of Nations is dead: DEAD!! Sheamus accidentally hits Rusev! Rusev is fucking livid! He touches Sheamus’ hair: he touches the hair! RUSEV LEAVES: THE WORLD IS AS IT SHOULD BE! THIS IS WRESTLING HISTORY, PEOPLE! Hurricanrana and then a springboard corkscrew to Sheamus from Kalisto! Uppercut to the outside from Cesaro, then a crossbody from the top rope! More uppercuts! Running dropkick to Sheamus! He goes for the Cesaro Swing, but Sheamus escapes, and now he’s walking! The League of Nations has left wrestling! God is real, and he loves us!
This was basically just an okay match, but the League of Nations disbanded during it, automatically earning this bout 5 Stars. Deal with it.
The League of Nations is beating the shit each other backstage, and SHEAMUS SAYS THAT IT’S FINISHED!! HE CAN’T TAKE IT BACK NOW!! WE’RE ALL FINALLY SAFE!!
We see the awesome Zayn/Owens video package. I’m still amazed that WWE acknowledged as much of the world outside their own canon as they did.
Here’s Baron Corbin: I’m still making up my mind about him, in all honesty. He and Dolph Ziggler have a match this Sunday, but tonight he’s facing Damien Sandow. Oh dear.
Corbin immediately takes Sandow out of the ring, smashing him into the barricade before just beating the shit out of him. Back in the ring, the beatdown continues for an uncomfortable amount of time, before Sandow actually gets in two punches. Corbin guillotines him on the ropes for that kind of sass, and then goes right back to work on him. Another guillotine against the bottom rope, and the End of Days finishes it.
Short and to the point: no complaints about it, really. 2 Stars.
AJ Styles is backstage, getting interviewed by Renee Young. He says he doesn’t care what Roman Reigns thinks, which is followed by the fakest shocked reaction from the crowd ever. Styles says that Reigns won’t be able to call him a liar after Sunday: he’ll be calling him ‘Champ’.
It’s time for the Ambrose Asylum, with guests Natalya and Charlotte. We replay Dean’s failed assault against Chris Jericho from Monday, and Ambrose looks pissed as he watches that. Dean says that he wants to talk about that Monday, and he says that Jericho made a mistake: he let him go. Ambrose won’t let go; he’s going to beat the hell out of Chris on Sunday. Pretty amped up promo from Ambrose, who then immediately calms himself down and introduces the Ambrose Asylum and its guests.
Natalya comes out first, and Dean welcomes her. He shows the clip of Natalya almost winning the Championship but for a disqualification, and points out that Ric Flair will be at ringside again this Sunday. Charlotte says that Bret Hart will be in her corner on Sunday too, and this brings Charlotte out to the ring, along with Ric Flair. Wow, Ric is looking more spaced-out with every week.
Dean introduces Charlotte and Ric Flair: Charlotte gets boos, and Ric gets WOOOOs. Dean asks Charlotte about the addition of Bret Hart, and Charlotte accuses Natalya of ‘parading’ her uncle around. Because Bret’s always shyed away from the limelight. Nat accuses Charlotte of doing the same thing, calling Ric out on all his creepy behaviour finally. She says that Charlotte would never win without her Dad, and that Bret’s going to make sure that everything’s fair and legit on Sunday.
Ric takes the microphone, and says that he beat Bret Hart in WWE and WCW, and he can still beat him now. Wait, didn’t Bret beat Ric for his first World Championship? Nat says it’s time for a Women’s Champion that the the fans deserve. We have a staredown, and then the women awkwardly separate.
Just Enzo and Cass forever, please
Oh, it’s a New Day (yes it is). They throw the commentators out, and I think that they’re going to be doing commentary for this match! Holy hell, that’s new. Meanwhile, the Social Outcasts are in the ring, and they are going to be facing Enzo and Cass! Enzo mouths off at the Outcasts for a while, and it’s time for this to be underway.
Enzo starts off against Bo, who tosses him, and then celebrates like he just won…everything. Crossbody from Enzo, who hits a running tag to Cass. Enzo tags back in, but a distraction from Heath a blind tag from Axel puts him on the defensive. The Vaudevillains arrive, but Enzo makes the tag to Cass, who cries “havoc” and lets slip the dogs of war. Bossman slam puts down Axel, and Enzo hits a splash for the win.
Enzo and Cass seem amped up: looks like this Sunday could be a good one. 2 Stars.
Cass calls the Vaudevillains SAWFT.
Oh GOD: R-Truth and Goldust are both still alive. I don’t care: I’m not going to debase myself by reviewing this. Basically, Truth and Tyler Breeze are teaming together, because WWE wants Tyler Breeze to take an intentional overdose. My cousin is just staring at the screen.
Just so damn cheerful
Well, here’s Apollo Crews, who should take the bad taste out of my mouth. He’s facing Stardust, who immediately takes a waistlock takedown. Stardust bails, then catches Crews on the outside. Back inside, Stardust takes Crews down at the leg, working the limb over as much as he can. Crews finally fires back with clotheslines: pumphandle slam puts Stardust down for two, but Stardust recovers with a dropkick to the knee. Crews hits an enzuigiri, and another, and then ends it with the spinning sit-out powerbomb.
Lot of squashes tonight. 2 Stars.
We recap the whole McMahon power struggle: this is just begging for another Invasion/Alliance angle.
We never get to see the Women’s Champion compete in Champion vs. Champion matches
Looks like it’s time for our main event, and here’s AJ Styles, ready to observe. The Miz arrives, followed by Reigns. They tie up, and Miz avoids a punch, ducking out of the ring before hanging Roman up on the ropes. Roman just punches Miz before clotheslining the Miz out of the ring and hitting the driveby. Roman gets distracted by Styles, and the Miz suddenly strikes, whacking Reigns’ skull off the steel post as we go to a break.
When we come back, Miz has Reigns in a sleeper. Reigns fights out, smacking the Miz around. Miz reverses an Irish whip before hitting a corner clothesline and then getting a near-fall with a double axe-handle. Choke on the ropes, and now Miz has Reigns by the hair, driving knees into his back before hitting a boot to the face. Rear chinlock applied by the Miz, but Reigns fights out of it. Miz wants a neckbreaker, but Reigns throws him off the ropes and catches him with a Samoan drop!
Roman and Miz take their time getting back to their feet as Styles looks on. Miz runs into a back elbow, and then takes a bunch of shots from Roman. Boot to the chest, then some huge clotheslines to take Miz right out of it. More clotheslines in the corner, and then a huge clothesline. Roman wants the Superman Punch, but then Maryse drags Miz out of the ring. Roman follows the Miz out, but the Miz dropkicks the steel steps into Roman’s knees! He hits a DDT on the inside for two, then looks for the Skull-Crushing Finale…Spear from Reigns for the win!
Decent match, if a little short. Still longer than most of tonight’s fights. 2.5 Stars.
Styles gets in the ring to stare down Reigns, but Gallows and Anderson rush Roman, beating him down on the outside. Styles doesn’t seem to really give a damn, so he might really be in on it. The Usos rush the ring, and Styles lets Gallows and Anderson deal with it, right before Jimmy Uso smacks him. Styles comes back with a big kick, and goes for the Flying Forearm; the Uso ducks, and Gallows takes him out, right before Reigns spears him! Styles tries to catch Roman with the Styles Clash, but Reigns throws him out of the ring, almost hitting the Superman Punch!
That was a really fun ending: I’m looking forward to this match on Sunday: along with Zayn and Owens, this is what I’m actually looking forward to the most. Altogether, this show seemed like they were trying to pack too much stuff into too short a span of time, making it appear rushed. I’d usually give it a 6/10, but this is the show during which the League of Nations disbanded, so it gets 11/10, completely officially. See you after Payback!
Tags: AJ Styles, apollo crews, Baron Corbin, byron saxton, Cesaro, charlotte, Damien Sandow, dean ambrose, Jerry Lawler, Kalisto, Kevin Owens, Mauro Ranallo, Natalya, Ric Flair, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, smackdown, Stardust, The League of Nations, The Miz, WWE