Hey there, gang. First off: apologies for the lack of a SmackDown Report last week. I know, I know: there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. As it happens, I was in Yorkshire with the family, staying in a cottage which, we found out the night before, had no internet access. Or mobile coverage. Or phone service. Or an actual phone. And the key didn’t work when you tried to unlock the door from the inside, because my parents’ idea of a nice, relaxing vacation is the 1970s mixed with a fucking horror movie.
So, needless to say, I’ve seen enough horror films to nope the fuck out of there, and now I’m back to review wrestling. There were other factors, like ‘I’m doing a PhD, so expecting me to go a week without internet is like hacking off my fingers and asking me to give someone a prostate exam’: it can be done, but it’s not going to be pretty.
So, hey: SmackDown!
A reminder that this is the Draft episode, and that excitement is coupled with confusion due to the fact I’ve not seen the previous episodes of RAW or SmackDown. And, as an example of that, the show opens with Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley, so I’ve no idea what the fuck’s going on already. The Draft’s rules also seem to be hugely in RAW‘s favour, so I guess any idea of ‘equality’ is going out of the window.
Steph gets annoyed at Bryan’s ‘pandering’, so gets Mick Foley to out-cheap-pop him. We get into things right away, with Steph picking Seth Rollins. Shane calls Seth ‘Crossfit Jesus’, and Bryan picks Dean Ambrose. I just hope no-one picks Roman Reigns. Like, at all.
Mick Foley picks Charlotte next, and I suppose it would be weird if one show started off with all of the champs. I’m hoping like hell RAW doesn’t, due to this, end up getting all the female wrestlers. Or, even worse, they get all the good female wrestlers and I’m stuck here with Summer Rae and…Eva Marie? She’s still a thing, right?
Next up, Shane announces that they’re taking AJ Styles. As a totally partisan reviewer: fuck you, RAW reviewers. Mick and Steph have the next choice, and they’re going for a pick from NXT: RAW‘s got Finn Balor! BASTARDS!
Cena can’t understand why he wasn’t drafted first
On the heels of this, John Cena shows up. Ranallo mentions that it’s a surprise that he’s not been drafted already, which is a nice touch from an actual competent announcer. We’ve actually got four announcers tonight, with Cole joining the usual SmackDown crew. Trust me, I’m just as disappointed as everyone that Jerry Lawler both still exists and works for WWE. Please GOD, send him back to RAW.
The Club comes out, and then Enzo and Cass show up to support Cena. Thank God they’re finally not playing their theme music over Enzo’s introduction. Cena’s facing Luke Gallows, and takes a shoulder tackle from him to start things off. Throughout the break, Cena gets hammered for a while. Cena rallies with an Attitude Adjustment attempt which goes nowhere, and Gallows regains control again.
When we come back, Cena’s just hit a dropkick, but gets put right back down again off a slam by Gallows. Cena’s down, with Gallows…pinching his shoulder nerve cluster? Seems illogical. Cena catches a boot, comes off the ropes with a flying tackle, and dumps Gallows with a back suplex. Five Knuckle Shuffle connects, and Cena wants that Attitude Adjustment…but that’s not happening, as Gallows slides off Cena’s shoulders and boots him in the face.
Both men are down in the ring, and the Club and Enzo and Cass are on the apron, and they get in the ring! And the ref is all out of fucks to give: he’s just going to let it happen! Enzo and Cass throw AJ and Anderson out of the ring! Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment, and that’s three!
Not much of substance, really: the ending seemed very choreographed. 2 Stars.
We’re back with the Draft picks, and I’ve learned that Foley and Bryan are actually the General Managers of their shows. Foley says that he can think for himself and is not Stephanie’s puppet, and picks Roman Reigns. You sure showed her, Mick.
Seeing as he can’t pick the new John Cena, Shane picks the original John Cena: John Cena. Steph then picks Brock Lesnar, which is in no way a surprise, I guess. I’ve already reviewed two SmackDown episodes with Brock Lesnar appearances, which is more than I ever thought I’d get to do. Bryan uses SmackDown‘s second choice to draft Randy Orton, and…yay? Steph drafts the New Day, and so far it seems like both shows are making out fairly decently. As long as SmackDown‘s lesser quantity can still compete in terms of quality, it’s fine.
Just waiting for Backlund to rush the ring
When we come back, Rusev and the Miz are in the ring, ready to face Zack Ryder and Darren Young. Bob Backlund is also here, and he’s earned a fairly hefty amount of good will from me for making those comic routines actually pretty funny. I’m willing to see where this goes.
Young starts off against Rusev, who slugs Ryder off the apron. Rusev throws Young into the corner, and Miz comes in off the tag, beating on Young. Darren gets him up with a classic atomic drop, tagging in Ryder before hitting a bodyslam, allowing Zack to hit the splash from the apron. Ryder is thrown into a corner, but gets the boots up. He heads up to the second rope, but Miz takes him down hard after a distraction from Rusev.
Boot to Ryder’s face from Miz, and Zack kicks out at two before Miz locks in the front facelock. Ryder works his way towards Darren Young, hits a jawbreaker, but is taken down by Miz’s Back/Neckbreaker. Double underhook suplex to Ryder from the now-legal Rusev. Ryder suddenly counters a traditional suplex, hitting a neckbreaker of his own to Rusev! Young and Miz both tag in!
Darren Young hammers Miz, sending him off the ropes. A clothesline takes Miz out, then an overhead belly-to-belly. Gut Check connects, but Rusev comes in to break up the pin. Ryder is thrown into Miz, taking him out, and Young sends Rusev out of the ring! Ryder hits a dropkick to Miz, and Backlund calls for the Crossface Chicken Wing! Darren locks it in, and Miz taps out!
Genuine pop when Backlund called for the Crossface and again when Young applied it. Not sure what Ryder’s prospects are, but this whole Rocky/Mickey thing with Darren Young is working. Good match. 2.5 Stars.
Xavier Woods probably shouldn’t be a wrestler
Here’s the Wyatt Family, with their patriarch Bray set to go one-on-one against Xavier Woods, who’s already in the ring. Woods is apparently still afraid of Bray Wyatt, and I’ve given up trying to find a reason why. I understand being afraid of the Undertaker: the guy was creepy and weird, but he beat the fuck out of you and you had to be Brock Lesnar or Batista to make him stay down. Bray, on paper, is literally just some guy who, if he didn’t have a compound, would probably be living in IRS’s basement.
Bo’s definitely still there.
Bray starts off by hanging upside down and staring at Xavier. Why does nobody kick him in the face when he does that? Bray then goes down on his knees in the centre of the ring, in the exact position for the Shining Wizard, and Woods does sweet fuck all.
Okay, so Bray has apparently hypnotised Xavier Woods. Woods finally goes for a punch, and gets the shit kicked out of him by Wyatt. He wrenches back on Xavier’s neck in the centre of the ring, before putting him down with a back elbow. Ura-nage puts Woods down hard, then a back senton just makes things worse. Another senton, and I now get why Xavier Woods was scared of Bray Wyatt: because he’s a terrible fucking wrestler.
Woods now tries to literally crawl away from Bray, although he does then get three punches in! More punches to Wyatt, then a high knee! Bray’s down! Woods is finally not a pussy…ah, no: Wyatt stretches up like a spider, and it’s just so scary that Woods stumbles right into a Sister Abigail for the three.
Fuck off. 1 Star.
Oh, here’s Kane. And he’s going one-on-one with Kevin Owens: cool stuff. Owens yells at both SmackDown and RAW representatives…and then Sami Zayn jumps him and it’s a brawl! Fuck you, Zayn: I wanted to watch this match. Kane chokeslams both men, and that was a waste of time if ever there was one.
Draft pick times, and Steph picks Sami Zayn. That probably could have been timed better. Shane picks Bray Wyatt, because he knows what’s popular but doesn’t particularly want it.
Mick points out that there are women available, and that son of a bitch drafts Sasha Banks. Bryan drafts Becky Lynch, and it does sort of come across as if he just picked her after getting called out on sexism. Mick then picks Chris Jericho, which is not the kind of long-term investment I was expecting from this Draft.
WWE informs me that the Big Show is considered one of the ‘Top Superstars Available’, and I’m actually insulted by the magnitude of that lie.
Sasha Banks really needs Team BAD back
Here’s Charlotte and Dana Brooke, ready to take on Sasha Banks in a 2-on-1 handicap match. She’ll be having a tag-team match against Dana and Charlotte at Battleground: couldn’t honestly say why they’re doing that at the PPV.
Sasha Banks shows up to the ring, starting off against Dana Brooke. She throws Brooke into Charlotte, rolling her up for two. Dana elevates Sasha over the ropes, but eats a punch to the face before Banks dives out on Charlotte. Brooke saves Charlotte, running Banks the fuck over with a clothesline, hurling her back into the ring and slamming punches into her face.
Brooke has Banks’ arms locked behind her back, but Sasha breaks out of it, coming off the ropes with clotheslines. Knee to the face of Brooke, and Sasha knocks Charlotte off the apron. Sasha almost catches her with the Banks Statement, but Brooke holds onto the ropes. Dana’s thrown into Charlotte’s corner, with the Women’s Champ getting the blind tag. Sasha didn’t see it, and this times she does lock in the Banks Statement, only for Charlotte to strike with Natural Selection, ending it there.
Obviously it had to end this way. I’m growing to like Brooke’s hard-hitting style. Her and someone like Paige in a Hardcore match would be worth a watch. 2.5 Stars.
And we’re back to the next leg of the draft, with Mick and Stephanie selecting Rusev. Yep: I guess we’ve reached that stage of things. Bryan then grudgingly picks the Miz for SmackDown, that motherfucker. RAW snatches up Kevin Owens, which should not have taken this long. And then Shane…selects Baron Corbin, and I’ve never been so disappointed in a McMahon. Just to rub it in, Foley then picks up Enzo and Cass. Goddammit.
King says that SmackDown doesn’t have a bad pick out of its eight wrestlers, and we’re really just seeing who can tell the biggest lie tonight, aren’t we?
God, I hope we get Cesaro
It’s time for our next match, which is Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho. Cesaro, by the way, will now have been picked after Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt and the Miz: just a reminder for you.
Cesaro starts off with some uppercuts, clotheslining Jericho out of the ring and cannonballing him off the apron! A running European uppercut jacks Chris’ jaw, and a diving crossbody back in the ring gets two. Cesaro wants the Swing; Jericho goes for a roll-up, and then tries to lock in the Walls. Cesaro escapes the Walls, but eats the step-up enzuigiri.
Headlock applied by Chris Jericho. Cesaro fights out of it, sunset flips over Jericho and the pair of them exchange pins. Jericho fires a punch at Cesaro, who flips over the ropes and boots Y2J in the face. The Swiss Superman heads upstairs, but Jericho catches him, keeping him sat on the top rope. Jericho jumps, and hits the Frankensteiner to take Cesaro down to the ground for two!
Chris stalks Cesaro, but the Codebreaker’s blocked! Cesaro uppercuts Jericho away, pounding him in the corner. Jericho regains control with a boot, goes for a Lionsault, but Cesaro catches him with a Russian Leg Sweep from the ropes! Cesaro Swing follows that up, and then a double-stomp to the chest. Jericho’s set up for the Neutraliser; Chris flips Cesaro over his shoulders; he lands on his feet, and springboards off the ropes for an uppercut…right into the Codebreaker! Jericho gets the win!
Great match, with an incredible finishing combination. Hope like hell SmackDown keeps Cesaro.
When we come back, Becky Lynch and Natalya are smacking the fuck out of each other. Hardcore match! Hardcore match!
We’re back for the next round of the Draft picks, and RAW starts by drafting Gallows and Anderson. Daniel Bryan then gets a hell of a pop by drafting American Alpha! And yes! RAW drafts the Big Show! One less thing to worry about. SmackDown keeps Ziggler: maybe he’ll finally get a chance at a real run now. RAW finishes by drafting Nia Jax, just to taunt me with an even more awesome Women’s Division.
Awesome promo for the Shield Triple Threat Match, which is the only match I currently care about at Battleground. Bastards knew they could put anything else on the card and people would still tune in.
More Draft picks: RAW takes Neville, who it’ll be nice to see back again. SmackDown picks Natalya, so we have two women now. RAW then takes Cesaro, which is just irritating, but that’s helped by the fact that SmackDown picks Alberto Del Rio. AND RAW TAKES SHEAMUS!! YES!! YES!! NO MORE REVIEWING SHEAMUS MATCHES!! Oh, I need a cigarette after that: that was the greatest news ever.
I’ve dreamed of reviewing main events like this one
And, just to ride out that wave of euphoria, it’s time for a WWE Championship Match. I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed such a big match, so this is definitely a first for me. Seth Rollins shows up first, hugging Steph, before Dean follows him out. We ring the bell, announce the competitors, Dean raises the belt and Seth jumps him!
Rollins hammers away at Ambrose, and the commentators are saying that the bell hasn’t rung yet: it absolutely did, so what Seth’s doing is dickish, but not illegal. Rollins keeps stomping on Dean until Ambrose rolls out of the ring. Seth follows him, hurling his former Shield co-worker into the steel ring pole as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, apparently now it’s an official match. Rollins wastes no time getting back to what he was doing, stomping Dean in the corner. Sit-out suplex gets two, and Rollins is looking to end this one quickly. He crossfaces Dean on the ropes before slamming a boot into the side of his head. Knee to the face of Ambrose, then a kick to the back.
Rollins wrenches back on Dean’s face, then hammers him with punches in the corner. Hard Irish whip into the opposite corner, knocking Ambrose to the floor. Backbreaker from Rollins gets another two, and the Architect locks in a headlock. Ambrose finally fights out, only to get flung out of the ring. Rollins follows him out, reversing an Irish whip to send Ambrose into the barricade, but Ambrose elevates him into the timekeeper’s area! Dean launches himself off the announce table, but misses Rollins, crashing and burning!
Seth sends Ambrose back into the ring, breaking the count, and nails him with a springboard knee to the temple. A superkick to the side of the head gets the nearest fall yet before we go to a break. When we come back, Seth is stalking the wounded Champ, sending him into the corner before hitting a forearm to the face, and then another. He takes too much time before the third, however, and runs right into a clothesline from Ambrose! Both men are down in the centre of the ring!
Rollins gets up first, but Dean comes up fighting. Rollins runs into back elbows, then almost gets rolled up for the win! Neckbreaker gets two, and Dean has clawed his way back into the fight, but his left arm is troubling him. He heads up to the top rope, but jumps into a knee to the gut! Powerbomb into the corner by Rollins! Seth heads up for the Frogsplash, but Ambrose rolls out of the way! La Magistral pin almost wins Dean the match, but Rollins kicks out!
Ambrose looks for Dirty Deeds, but Rollins fights him into a corner, hitting a thumb to the eye., He looks for the Pedigree, but Ambrose elevates him out of the ring, and dives through the ropes onto him! Dean heads up to the top as Seth rolls back out of the ring, but Ambrose still nails him with the standing elbow! He sends Rollins back into the ring and heads up to the top, but Rollins catches him with a superplex, tries to keep the suplexes going, but Ambrose goes behind him and hits Dirty Deeds! Ambrose retains the WWE Championship!
Awesome match, and I believe that SmackDown also retains the WWE Championship (doubt it’ll last). I really hope this is the calibre of main event I can look forward to reviewing in the future. 4 Stars.
This really felt like a special night, and it was a lot of fun to review. Some of the matches weren’t great, but most of them pretty good. 8/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Bob Backlund, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, byron saxton, Cesaro, charlotte, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, dean ambrose, Enzo and Cass, Finn Balor, Jerry Lawler, John Cena, Lana, Mauro Ranallo, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Natalya, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, rusev, seth rollins, Shane McMahon, smackdown, Stephanie McMahon, The Club, The Miz, The New Day, The Wyatt Family, xavier woods, zack ryder