Hey there, sports fans: it’s time for some SmackDown action, coming at you from somewhere in the United States presumably (I sort of ran out of enthusiasm at the end there). This week, we learned that there is such a thing as an Asylum match, and it’s probably a shade more sane than a Punjabi Prison match: God, that left some scars.
But hey: SmackDown!
So, is Cesaro actually supposed to be James Bond?
We kick things off with the Miz and Maryse at ringside, ready to watch Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro in action. Sami Zayn is also present, so every member of the Fatal Four-Way match will be out there now. Kevin Owens and Cesaro make their way to the ring.
Cesaro and Owens kick things off with a slugfest. Cesaro rocks KO with an uppercut, takes a clothesline and puts Owens down with a dropkick. Owens rolls out of the ring and pulls Cesaro out with him, the brawl continuing on the outside. Back in the ring, Owens takes a bodyslam and an elbow from the second rope. He blocks a suplex, but then ends up taking it anyway, staying down for a two count.
Owens blocks an Irish whip, taking an uppercut. He gets whipped into the ropes, and then rolls out of the ring to escape Cesaro, only to eat an uppercut which sends him out into the timekeeper’s area. Cesaro exchanges words with Miz and Maryse, and Maryse apparently takes exception to that, following Cesaro and distracting him for long enough for Kevin Owens to take advantage, slamming Cesaro into the steel steps.
Owens brings Cesaro back into the ring, taunting Miz before laying down a back senton. Maryse and Sami Zayn banter in French for a while, which is a fun touch, whilst Owens keeps laying strikes down on Cesaro. The Swiss Superman almost catches him with a sunset flip, but Owens counters, going for another back senton, only to slam himself down onto Cesaro’s knees!
Cesaro flips through the ropes onto the apron, boots Owens in the face and goes up to the top rope…only for Owens to rock the ropes, crotching him on the turnbuckle before rolling the cannonball right into him. After a short break, Owens has Cesaro in a sleeper hold; Cesaro tries to fight out, but eats a back elbow to kill any and all momentum. Owens heads up to the top rope this time, but now it’s Cesaro who catches him with a leaping European Uppercut, and then hits him with a standing dropkick, hitting Owens even though he’s on the top rope! A gutwrench suplex brings Owens down the hard way, with both men down from that manoeuvre!
Both athletes make their way to their feet, and Cesaro gains the early advantage with a barrage of uppercuts. Crossbody from the top rope gets the nearest fall so far, and now Cesaro wants the Neutraliser. Owens flips Cesaro over his back; Cesaro lands on his feet and catches Owens’ superkick, and it’s CESARO FUCKING SWING TIME…but Owens grabs the ropes and rolls out of the ring, hanging Cesaro up as he does so.
Owens recovers at the announce table for a moment, before laying Sami Zayn out with a right hand! Cesaro takes him out with a senton from the apron, and then shoves Miz into Maryse! Back in the ring, Cesaro hits a springboard European Uppercut, and now, finally, hits the Cesaro Swing to Owens! Miz jumps up on the apron and gets knocked off, but Cesaro eats a superkick from the distraction! Uppercut to Owens! Zayn runs into the ring, gunning for Owens; Cesaro lays out Zayn to stop him from costing him the match, but Owens rolls Cesaro up for the three!
Loved this match: another advert for how great the Fatal Four-Way should be on Sunday. Nice and genuinely imaginative ending sequence. 4 Stars.
Post-match, Cesaro nails Miz with an uppercut; Zayn scores a Helluva Kick on Cesaro, and then Miz catches Zayn with the Skull-Crushing Finale. Owens applauds as his three competitors litter the ring.
Dana Brooke: closest we’ll get to Beth Phoenix coming back
Here’s Paige, ready to face Dana Brooke. Becky Lynch is at ringside, calling the action alongside the commentators. Eden announces this match as a ‘Women’s Division’ match, which is certainly better than ‘Divas’.
Dana and Paige lock up, with Brooke backing Paige up on the ropes. Another tie-up, and this time Paige pushes Dana onto the ropes before getting shoved away. Paige trips Dana up, slamming a knee into her face. Dana elevates Paige out over the top ropes, and knocks her down to the floor.
Back in the ring, Dana drives shoulder into the gut of Dana, before choking her with her foot (whilst doing a goddamn handstand, no less) and then clotheslining Paige and locking her in a leg-scissors. The beatdown continues, but suddenly Paige catches Brooke with a big kick, keeping her reeling with more, and then hitting a high knee lift in the corner, and another knee to the face!
Dana staggers Paige with a jawbreaker, and then hits a fireman’s carry into a sit-out slam, getting the three!
Every time I see Paige, I want a Women’s Hardcore match: she could fucking do it. I really like Dana so far: she’s got some decent moves, seems physically powerful and can win as a heel without cheating. 3 Stars.
Renee is backstage with Rusev and Lana. She asks Rusev about his match at Payback, and about his psychotic beatdown of Kalisto on RAW. Kalisto’s flexibility is terrifying: Rusev must have thought he’d snapped him. Lana and Rusev say that he is the greatest United States Champion of all time. That’s a ‘thinnest kid at fat camp’ kind of deal, right?
Wait, did a superkick just end a match?
Here’s Dolph Ziggler, fighting someone else this time besides his own apparent irrelevance. And he’s facing Sheamus? Who’s just appeared in a mainstream movie? Poor bastard.
Go-behind by Ziggler into a waistlock; Sheamus grabs the ropes quick enough. Both men wrestle in a tie-up, and Ziggler then locks the arm of Sheamus, getting elbowed off-balance. Dolph leapfrogs over the Irishman, hitting a dropkick, but Sheamus comes back with some powerful kicks, gaining the advantage. Ziggler pops out of a bodyslam, rolling Sheamus up for two. Sheamus puts Ziggler down with another blow, sending him out onto the apron. Ziggler fights out of the Ten Beats, only to run right into a huge clothesline which sees him down for two as we go to a quick break.
When we come back, Sheamus is laying some blows down on Ziggler, fully in control of this match. Ziggler fights back, but Sheamus catches the superkick, rocking the leg before hitting the Ten Beats. Dolph manages to send Sheamus out of the ring, ducks a Brogue Kick and hits the Fame-Asser! Irish Curse backbreaker puts Ziggler down again, and Sheamus hits a throwing suplex. Ziggler suddenly hits a headbutt, has his Zig-Zag countered, but manages to score a superkick, putting Sheamus down for three!
So, at least one person’s superkick can end a match. Ziggler looked really good here, so I’m hoping for a good pre-show match. 3 Stars.
Baron Corbin shows up post-match, telling Dolph that he’s going to kick his ass and all the usual stuff. We also get a fun reminder of the rules of No Disqualifications, because Corbin doesn’t believe that the audience knows their wrestling terminology.
After the break, here comes Chris Jericho, ready to check into the Ambrose Asylum. So, is it like an open-access place and you can leave whenever? Or is it like Arkham, and you can just bust out like the walls are made of tissue paper?
Jericho says that he’s been in every single match in WWE History. Pretty sure we’re forgetting about Buried Alive and Last Ride matches, Chris. Not to mention Punjabi Prison, Texas Bullrope or the Pinkslip on a Pole match. He says that he’ll still win, because he’s smarter than Ambrose. He lowers the cage and starts listing how many days he could hospitalise Dean for with all of the weapons around the cage with the cold and detached demeanour of a complete fucking sociopath.
Unfortunately for Chris, Ambrose was dressed as one of the ring crew, and jumps him from behind! He grabs the kendo stick, and wails away on Jericho! Jericho takes a few shots before managing to escape, leaving Ambrose laughing his head off in the ring.
Bob Backlund is still trying to make Darren Young
belong in the 1950s straight again GREAT AGAIN.
What, no time machine?
It’s time for the New Day and Big Cass vs. the Vaudevillains and the Dudley Boys. I will never not love the Vaudvellains’ entrance: it’s impossible.
Big E and D-Von start things off, with D-Von eating a belly-to-belly, getting two. Kofi comes in, hitting a clothesline to a cornered D-Von. The Dudleys take advantage, with the legal Bubba hitting a bodyslam. Kofi dodges a splash, and the New Day begin a Unicorn Stampede. I like that Cass was too cool to take part in that. The New Day and Cass clear the ring as we go to a break.
When we come back, Xavier Woods is raining punches down on Bubba Ray Dudley, only for the Vaudevillains to take him down via a distracted referee. Gotch tags in, stomping on Woods. English tags in, continuing the assault. Bubba keeps screaming at both of them, and if the Vaudevillains took them out after this match, that would be awesome.
Woods manages to fight his way back to his corner, only for Gotch to throw him back across the ring. The Vaudevillians are refusing to tag in the Dudleys, and considering how useless they were on Monday, that’s a good strategy. Bubba finally does tag in, then wastes so much time talking that Xavier lays him out with an enzuigiri: that’s about right.
Cass tags in, clearing the whole ring. Splash D-Von in the corner, then an Empire Elbow. Gotch breaks up the pin, and he and English get ejected by Langston. Big E throws Kofi out onto the Vaudevillains, before the Dudleys jump Cass. Cass counters the 3D with a big boot, putting Bubba down before dropping the Empire Elbow for the win!
Good match, with some interesting elements in it. Of course, I might be reading too much into Bubba being a dick. Cass is looking good: even King’s praising him. 2.5 Stars.
“Gallows Pole”? Seriously?
This is our main event: Luke Gallows vs. Roman Reigns. AJ Styles and Karl Anderson accompany Gallows, whilst the Usos show up with Roman. Lot of tension for this match, and it’s underway.
Gallows and Reigns lock up, with Reigns sending Gallows off the ropes before getting knocked down. Roman gets to his feet, measuring Gallows, and applies a waistlock. Gallows breaks out, knocking Roman down off the ropes again, before knocking Reigns right through the ropes! God, I just got Enzo Amore flashbacks seeing that.
Roman slowly gets back into the ring, slapping away a kick before starting to pound the shit out of Gallows. A Samoan Drop is countered, but the second attempt isn’t, and Gallows rolls out of the ring, only to taste the Drive-By before we head to a commercial break.
When we come back, Gallows takes Reigns down with a running lariat. Reigns is looking beat-up already, and Gallows starts dropping elbow after elbow onto him, then applies a sleeper hold. Gallows vs. Triple H: WrestleMania 33. Reigns fights back, but takes a headbutt for his trouble, then gets crushed in the corner. Reigns kicks out at a one count, and is locked into a chinlock. He fights his way up, but Gallows retains control. Roman levels him with a kick, hits some back elbows and then hits a flying clothesline!
Clothesline to the corner by Reigns, then a flying clothesline from the top! More clotheslines to the corner and wait a minute: more than half of Roman Reigns’ offence is clotheslines! Boot to Gallows, I suppose to prove me wrong, and Roman wants the Superman Punch! Roman gets rolled up from a distraction by Anderson, but levels Gallows with a Superman Punch! Reigns wants the spear, but Styles grabs his foot, and all hell breaks loose on the outside! Reigns hits a Drive-By to Styles, but eats the Gallows Pole when he gets back into the ring, almost getting the win! Anderson enters the ring and hits the Boot of Doom for the DQ!
Obviously they couldn’t let Gallows win, but that was still a fun match. Love how intense this whole rivalry has gotten. 2.5 Stars.
Styles throws a couple of chairs into the ring, then clears the Usos out of it. He stalks Reigns before dropkicking him out of the ring, then clears the top off the announce table! Roman hurls him on top of it, but gets taken out by Gallows, who’s taken out by the Usos, and Styles and Reigns are brawling again, and that’s the end of the show!
Great show: no bad matches and no complaints. Can’t wait until Extreme Rules: see you all on the other side. 10/10 for tonight.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Big Cass, byron saxton, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Dana Brooke, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Jerry Lawler, Kalisto, Karl Anderson, Kevin Owens, Lana, Luke Gallows, Mauro Ranallo, miz, Paige, Roman Reigns, rusev, sami zayn, Sheamus, smackdown, The Bloodline, The Club, The Dudley Boyz, The New Day, the usos, The Vaudevillains, WWE