Hola and bonjour, i miei amici. I am your reviewer, David Spain, and I am today embarking on my quest to learn all of the languages. Because, you know, tackling a PhD and writing two novels just doesn’t suck enough time out of the day. I mean…I say that, but my flatmate and I did spend about four hours last night playing Arkham Knight and drinking wine, so that time could probably be better spent.
Like, say, by reviewing SmackDown.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed the New Era while it lasted, because John Cena’s here to put two in the back of its head, Mafia style. And you’d all better cheer for him when he does it as well, because he loves the military like every single soldier orally pleasures him each night and then makes him a high-carb, high-protein breakfast the following day. So if you don’t like him, then you’re basically terrorists, you commie fucks.
And AJ Styles is about to job for our sins, because WWE Creative figure that maybe Cena can turn him heel. Let’s face it: the match is going to be pretty fucking phenomenal, so I’ve no complaints about this apart from the probable result.
So hey, SmackDown!
Colour me surprised, because I was absolutely certain that Cena was about to kick off this show. But no: it’s a New Day (yes it is), fresh off their beatdown from the Club this Monday just gone. They remind us all of the brand extension and SmackDown going live so that the McMahon’s can play havoc with my sleep schedule: those petty, billionaire bitches.
They start to address the chrome-domed Club members, but then Gallows and Anderson show up, saying that they’re going to take the WWE Tag Team Championships at whatever the next PPV is called now. The New Day mock them for being called ‘the Club’, although they manage to avoid making any Nazi-themed, skinhead gay orgy jokes (which would absolutely be my first port of call in this situation). Gallows and Anderson seem bent on a fight, and they bring out AJ Styles: the man who is too badass to be reviled.
Styles gets on the microphone in a frantic bid to lose our affections. He says the world’s talking about what the Club did to Cena and the New Day, and that the WWE belongs to them. Xavier replies by saying that the New Day are the WWE Tag Team Champions. AJ Styles calls Kingston a joke, but Kofi comments that, with all of his Championship gold, he’s a pretty damn hilarious joke, and it took Styles ten years to even make it to the WWE. Fight’s on for later tonight, and that’s a main event I can be emotionally invested in.
There’s a documentary about Seth Rollins on the WWE Network, and you can tell that The Office has ruined me as far as documentaries are concerned, because all I can imagine is Rollins sitting quietly whilst Vince and Triple H argue, glancing infrequently at the camera. And I’d absolutely watch that.
Also, America, your adverts are insane from a British perspective. There is so much hope and optimism, even for insurance companies. State Farm’s commercial starts by making us imagine a world where there are ‘no more accidents, no more disasters’. British adverts just say ‘bad shit’s likely to happen: may as well get some cash out of it, but get it from us, because these other companies are all run by literal monsters probably’.
Okay, so it turns out the main event tonight is Kofi Kingston vs. AJ Styles. If this was five years ago, I’d be calling it a Kingston push, but it’s a nice surprise nonetheless.
Dana has put herself in the worst position to ever receive a title shot
Here’s Becky Lynch, ready to kick some lass. On Monday, she saved Natalya from Charlotte and Dana Brooke, who are being major douchebags without any kind of obvious motivation driving it: see, to me, that’s alarming because it’s sociopathic. Becky is facing Charlotte tonight, and she’s got her own Flair robe, which is a nice touch. Oh, and we’re all still crying about Ric? Great, just checking.
Collar-and-elbow to start off, with Charlotte taking Becky to the mat. Lynch regains her feet, and arm-drags Charlotte twice, locking the arm at the shoulder. Charlotte forces Becky away from her, and hits a neckbreaker out of the corner. Dana claps supportively as Becky gets stomped in the corner. Lynch reverses an Irish whip, gets sent out onto the apron, clobbers Dana Brooke but gets kicked off the apron and into a commercial break.
When we come back, Charlotte is still in control of the match. I’d make a joke about that break being really well-timed, but WWE have literally ended matches during commercials as a means of forcing the WWE App onto us (and even then, they pussied out and showed us the ending in a replay). Actually, as I write that, Becky takes Charlotte down with a flurry, so fuck me, right? Forearm to the corner by Lynch, then a back kick and an exploder suplex, getting a near fall.
Charlotte manages to elbow Becky in the jaw, then hits a neckbreaker. Flair knee drop misses, but Charlotte scores with some chops before Becky hits some strikes of her own. The women exchange roll-ups, but Becky suddenly applies the Cross Armbreaker! Alberto Del Rio just spat out whatever he was drinking, but Charlotte is able to lift Becky right up off the floor to hit a sit-out powerbomb! First Flair’s robe, now Batista’s finisher: is no member of Evolution safe from gimmick infringement?
Charlott heads up top for a moonsault; Becky rolls out of the way, but the Women’s Champ manages to land on her feet, taking Becky down for the Figure Eight, but Becky suddenly locks in the DisArmer! Dana Brooke tries to drag Charlotte to safety, but drags her right into a DQ loss instead. Wow: talk about a lack of faith in your friend’s wrestling ability.
This was a good match, though it feels like a lot of it was eaten up by the commercial. Nice to see that Becky is still relevant and dangerous. 3 Stars.
Natalya shows up as Charlotte and Dana try to walk out, and Becky and Natalya go after Dana and Charlotte! The faces stand tall as the heels celebrate what was technically a loss. A big part of being a heel involves lowering your competitive standards, I guess.
Renee Young is backstage with Sami and Dean. She asks how they’re going to be able to work together tonight when they’ll be doing their best to cripple each other in a few weeks. Ambrose and Zayn get into an argument about how dumb or awesome Canadians are, and then Owens and Del Rio show up so that Owens can sow discord and Alberto can literally stand there and flex his pectorals until someone directly addresses him. And even then, he keeps flexing them. I mean…can he not stop?
This angle makes me share an opinion with Jerry Lawler and I’m not happy about it
Speaking of things that either can’t or won’t stop, it’s the Dudley Boyz. Breezango is at ringside, and the VIP Zone is back! I am more excited about that than the Dudley Boyz, and that’s not hyperbole. The Golden Truth is here, and now they’ve got singalong subtitles so that we can decipher R-Truth’s godawful lyrics, and they even manage to ruin that by having the icon which lets you know where in a song you are (in case there are any three year olds watching WWE, I guess?) be Goldust’s head at what I can only assume is at the exact point of orgasm. Man, just when you think it literally can’t get worse, WWE Creative manage to pull something else out of their hat.
Goldust starts off against Bubba Ray Dudley, who backs the Rhodes brother into the corner. Goldust hits a hip toss and tags in Truth. Truth hits an arm wrench and then an arm drag. Goldust tags in again, as Goldust goes after Bubba’s shoulder. Double suplex to the Dudley Boy, then Truth hits a leg drop for one.
A distraction from D-Von allows Bubba Ray to take control, and R-Truth has managed to bust Bubba Ray open. D-Von tags in to hit a snapmare. Truth fights back, but runs into a European uppercut. Bubba tags back in, then hits some punches before R-Truth lays him out with a calf kick. D-Von tags in and so does Goldust! Goldust knockks D-Von all over the shop, laying him out with a spinebuster. Tyler Breeze gets on the apron to take a selfie, prompting R-Truth to get involved and knock him into Fandango’s arms. D-Von knocks Goldust into Truth and rolls the Bizarre One up for the win.
The match was actually not that bad, so I suppose there is that. 2 Stars.
Breeze and Fandango start by mocking the Golden Truth, but it devolves into the two of them talking about how ridiculously sexy they both are. Fair enough, really.
We recap the rivalry between Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. I always felt like the way they talk about Corbin, he should be way more destructive and, you know, impressive. I did like that Dolph Ziggler was prepared to go so far just to secure a dick shot on Monday.
Renee Young is interviewing Baron Corbin, who apparently asked for an interview outside the arena. Okay, Renee? When someone who looks like Baron Corbin asks you to meet him in an isolated spot with only a cameraman to be of any help, it’s almost certainly a ‘it puts the lotion on its skin’ kind of deal. Corbin says that, after what happened on RAW, the WWE Universe doesn’t deserve his presence. The next time he gets into a ring, it’ll be to end Dolph Ziggler. The threatening sentiment is a little undermined by Corbin walking off into the night, implying that he thinks there’s nothing wrong than hanging around actual people wearing those clothes.
80% of this collective moveset is kicks
It’s time for our tag team match: Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio. Remember when Del Rio was rich? I assume he still is, so why not dress nicely and wear the silk scarf? Has he become disillusioned with wealth? Does he have a desire to fit in with the rest of the roster? Why hasn’t Renee Young addressed this issue?
Zayn starts off, as does Owen, who attacks Sami from behind and clubs him to the ground. He tosses Zayn onto the apron, but Sami comes right back in, headscissoring Owens. Del Rio tags in, ducks a leapfrog from Zayn and eats a calf kick. Both men struggle in the corner, with Zayn dragging Alberto over to his corner to tag in Ambrose. Ambrose hits some chops to Del Rio, then stomps him in the corner. Back elbow to the Mexican, then an elbow drop and a tag to Zayn.
Sami hits a back elbow of his own to Del Rio, getting two. Del Rio manages to block a suplex and, just like that, hits backstabber for two and shoves Dean Ambrose off the apron. He tosses Zayn in the corner and tags in Kevin Owens, who stomps away at his former friend. He tags in Del Rio, who hits his fucking beautiful enzuigiri. Suddenly, Zayn rolls out of a back suplex and tags in Ambrose! Ambrose hits an elbow and a bulldog to Del Rio, throws him out of the ring and dives out onto him! He gets Del Rio back into the ring, but Owens jumps Dean before he can get back into the ring, leaving him laying as we go to a break.
We come back as Del Rio leaps off the top, hitting Ambrose with his fist on the way down. He suspends Ambrose on the second ropes and stomps him before tagging in Owens. KO tosses Ambrose through the ropes to the outside, and he and Del Rio beat down on Dean…before Zayn hurls himself out of the ring in a senton, taking out Owens and Del Rio! He throws Ambrose into the ring and calls for a tag, but Owens catches up with Dean shutting it down. He throws Dean off the ropes, only to get caught with the Lunatic Lariat! Ambrose crawls over to Sami Zayn…but Del Rio gets the tag first and takes out Zayn!
Del Rio winds up the superkick, but eats a neckbreaker instead! Zayn’s still down on the floor; Del Rio goes for the Cross Armbreaker; Ambrose tries for Dirty Deeds, but gets driven into the heels’ corner. He ducks a step-up enzuigiri which nails Owens, and then tags in Zayn, who drills Alberto with the Helluva Kick, and that’s the win!
I liked this match: they did things a little differently and the ending came really suddenly. 3 Stars.
Kevin Owens suddenly grabs Byron’s headset, and yells that he’s sick of his partners costing him matches. If we want to see what’s going to happen at Money in the Bank, we need to take a look. He starts to head after Zayn and Ambrose, but then grabs a ladder out from under the ring, setting it up inside…and then here comes Cesaro! He ducks a clothesline and hits a springboard spinning uppercut in his suit! The Swiss Superman climbs the ladder and symbolically grabs the briefcase.
I have never felt more American
Lana’s in the ring, and she asks us to welcome Rusev. His right bicep looks fucking horrifying, by the way: something’s wrong there. And he’s facing…Jack Swagger. Jesus, the New Day’s time machine had some serious effects on this timeline. Rusev ain’t having none of this shit, and beats the shit out of Swagger outside the ring: good for him, not wanting to relive his past. The ref asks Swagger if he wants to continue the match, and seeing as this is Swagger’s first televised match in months if not years, he obviously agrees to undergo more physical punishment to hang onto this chance just a while longer.
Rusev goes for a superkick, but suddenly Swagger catches him in the Patriot Lock! Jack Swagger 2016! Rusev scrambles out of the ring, but eats a clothesline on the outside! Real American 2016! Swagger gets taken out back in the ring and eats a beatdown. He even rips Jack’s shirt off, which definitely gets Lana’s motor running. Swagger starts showing a little bit of life at this (merchandising only ever made about thirty of those shirts), taking Rusev down with a wrestling throw! We The People! His splash is blocked by a kick from Rusev, but a clothesline gets a two count!
Swagger wants the Patriot Lock again, but gets kicked away and then elevated out of the ring, to slam face-first against the steel steps, and Swagger is knocked out! Swagger is unconscious…no he’s not! He beats the count at nine, and he’s as good as dead! Rusev goes for the Accolade, but suddenly Swagger has him in the Patriot lock! Swagger’s going into business for himself! Swagger’s going to beat Rusev and marry Lana and have sex with her wearing the United States Championship! Rusev kicks out of the Patriot Lock, applying the Accolade and, after an inhuman amount of time inside it, Swagger taps out.
That match automatically gets 3 Stars for making Swagger look like such a stone cold badass: I’ve never been more emotionally invested in him.
Rusev doesn’t let up on the Accolade, because at this point it’s obviously safer to break Swagger’s back than risk a future encounter. Titus O’Neil shows up, but I think Swagger stole all the hype from this rivalry. Rusev runs away, probably because he’s worried Titus is going to do the Millions of Dollars dance. Or Swagger’s going to wake up and hit him with a fucking Spirit Bomb.
We’re still making Darren Young ‘great again’. And that sentence carries one hell of an assumption, I have to say. Also, Bob Backlund hates running. And he apparently thinks that stealing Darren Young’s car keys is going to force him to walk for eight solid hours to the next town. Unless he stole your wallet, Darren, I’d just call a cab. Man, I should absolutely never hire a life coach.
We recap the return of Seth Rollins and his new motivation of ‘hate me, senpai’. Just goshdarned adorable.
It’s a New Era, yes it is
It’s time for our main event, which will see Kofi Kingston and AJ Styles face each other in singles action. Both men are accompanied by their teammates, and let’s get things underway.
Styles takes Kingston over in a headlock, with Kofi returning the favour seconds later. Kofi sweeps AJ’s legs, with Styles then doing the same, and both kip up simultaneously for a face-off. Another tie-up, with Styles applying a headlock and not taking Kofi over this time. He’s sent off the ropes, slides out of Kofi’s grip, and hits two arm drags in quick succession. Another pause in the action, and then Kofi applies a waistlock before capturing the head. Styles sends him into the corner, with Kingston leapfrogging over him; Kofi runs the ropes, slips through AJ’s legs and hurricanranas him into the corner.
Kingston stays on Styles, stomping away at him before hitting a dropkick to Styles’ face and dancing. Both the New Day and the Club storm the ring, and it’s a face-off as we go to a break. When we come back, order has been restored and Kofi hits Styles with a back elbow after dodging several passes. Kofi has a grip on Styles’ arm, who reaches the ropes to break the hold. Styles attacks aggressively, gets sent off the ropes, and is then tripped by Kofi, landing face-first on the mat. The Club approaches the New Day, drawing Kofi and the ref’s attention, and Styles slams Kingston’s head into the steel post.
Back in the ring, AJ rocks Kofi’s skull off the turnbuckle before hitting a hard-looking backbreaker. He pauses to regard the New Day, and Kofi takes advantage of it with a jawbreaker, but Styles shuts him down with some lightning quick strikes, culminating in a big clothesline. Styles applies his own hold to the head of Kofi, then sends him into the corner. He misses a splash, and eats a monkey flip from Kingston! Both men are down and are slow to get back up. Kofi misses a splash, but turns it into a springboard chop to the skull! Somewhat galvanised, he hits a dropkick, then an open-hand chop, and then a Boom Drop!
Kofi stalks Styles, misses Trouble in Paradise and stumbles into the ushi goroshi for a near-fall. Styles drags him up off the mat, looking for the Styles Clash, but Kingston flips out of it. Styles puts him down, but runs right into a pair of knees to the face for two! Kofi puts Styles up on the top rope, looking for a superplex, only for Styles top slip out, dropping Kingston head-first onto the turnbuckle. AJ charges, gets elevated onto the outside, and hits Kofi in the face. He’s in position for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Xavier hops onto the apron, playing a tune at him. AJ is only distracted for a second, but Kofi is able to dodge the forearm attempt; Styles rolls to his feet, and gets caught by the SOS for two!
On the outside, Anderson throws Xavier Woods into the steel steps! Gallows attacks Big E, but Langston turns the tables and hurls him into the barricade! Anderson leaps off the steps at him, but Big E catches him and throws him over the announce table! Gallows levels AJ with a big boot, and Kofi throws himself out of the ring onto Gallows! Styles nails Kofi with a Pele Kick back in the ring, and this time the Styles Clash hits for the victory!
Great match: the teams didn’t get involved too much, and when they did it was exciting. Kofi looked awesome out here, and I wonder if it was something of an opportunity for him. Loved this. 3.5 Stars.
This show was really decent: even the Golden Truth were basically watchable, and I would typically compare the creation and use of that team, in moral terms, to Hiroshima. So…good job, everyone? 8/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Bob Backlund, Breezango, byron saxton, charlotte, Dana Brooke, Darren Young, JACK MOTHERFUCKING SWAGGER, Jerry Lawler, John Cena, Karl Anderson, Lana, Luke Gallows, Mauro Ranallo, Natalya, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, rusev, seth rollins, smackdown, The Dudley Boyz, The Golden Truth, The New Day, titus o'neil, WWE