Hey there, gang. Apologies for the lateness of this recap; I’ve spent most of this week being nasally and tracheally fucked by this cold. Still, I’m up, drugged to the gills and even a little drunk, so let’s do this.
Daniel Bryan kicks off the pre-show backstage, trying to eat an apple. Unfortunately for him, the Miz and Maryse show up to bitch about the lack of a private locker room. Bryan is cheerfully unhelpful, but finally offers the Miz a Lumberjack rematch for the Intercontinental Championship. Well, that’s a good enough main event for me.
At what point is ‘tough love’ actual abuse?
We see a few clips from the Wyatt Family falling for Randy Orton’s mindgames as though they have the critical thinking skills of literal children. Randy’s only a step away from gaslighting them and, unlike Trump, he might actually be halfway successful at it.
And here come the Wyatts, possibly marking the first time that two competitors have walked to the ring using the same entrance. This is the Orton/Harper ‘Sort Out Our Shit’ match, which we’re getting because the Wyatt Compound does not have an HR team.
Harper and Orton lock up, until a break is forced on the ropes. This occurs again, and then they finally get to punching the shit out of each other. Yep: just going to be the best of friends after this little shindig. Harper bails, but then hits a kick to Orton’s gut on the outside of the ring, following him back inside. Luke throws Randy into the corner, but then eats some lariats. He’s able to avoid a powerslam, but ends up on the receiving end of the Vintage DDT.
Luke Harper rolls out of the ring before Orton can RKO his ass, and Randy follows him to lay down a beating on the outside. Harper’s just trying to fucking run now, but gets back suplexed onto the announce table. He finally catches Randy with a big boot, and Bray gets up to get a better look at things. He then picks Orton up and throws him back into the ring. Harper stares at him for a moment, before Wyatt throws him back inside too.
When we come back from a break, Orton is getting sleepered in the centre of the ring. Otunga says that this is the only way to settle differences, and that’s a disturbing look into his and Jennifer Hudson’s relationship. Orton gets to his feet, but is bodyslammed for his trouble. Luke heads to the top rope but is caught by Orton before he can do squat, and then takes a superplex from the second rope for two.
Hard forearm from Harper and the second slugfest begins, only to be cut off by a powerslam from Orton. Back elbow staggers Randy, and he takes a sit-out bodyslam for two. Harper goes for the Discus Clothesline; Orton has an RKO ready and waiting, but Harper rolls him up for the near-fall! Superkick puts Orton on his ass, but he kicks out at the last second again.
Luke Harper’s looking for the sit-out powerbomb, but it’s Orton’s turn to hit a roll-up, followed right away by an RKO. For a second I thought Randy was going to be a huge dick and hit a punt too, but he covers Harper to take the win.
This was pretty good, and Harper was portrayed as being on Orton’s level, which I’d say was the best argument for having this match. From a ‘we’re all friends now’ perspective, this was bullshit. 2.5 Stars.
Bray enters the ring and hugs Harper. Then he hits him with a Sister Abigail, because Orton will not rest until Bray Wyatt has no recourse but to straight-up Hemingways himself.
We take a look back at the return of Mickie Motherfuckin’ James. Not even mad about Becky getting screwed out of the Championship, although that is also partly because I’ve really been enjoying Alexa Bliss’ run and character.
Renee Young is in the ring, and she introduces Mickie. Sweet: she’s even got her old music. Renee says it’s been seven years since she’s been here, and wants to know why she pretended to be La Luchadora. Mickie brings up her Women’s Championship record, and even brings up the Divas Championship like an asshole.
Renee tries to call her out on not answering the question. Mickie says she never stopped watching WWE, and says that the new girls want to pretend that they were the first to put on good matches. I mean…maybe not, but it’s been a hell of a long time since we’ve had a Bra and Panty match, which is a decent indicator of respect for women.
Mickie admits that she admires Alexa, and says that Becky and the Revolution are nothing compared to the reinvention of Mickie James. Becky sprints out to the ring and fucking dives on Mickie, beating the shit out of her until she bails. When Becky tries to follow, Alexa jumps her, and they throw her back into the ring. Mickie hits a Capoeira kick, and Bliss hits Twisted Bliss to the former Champ. Mickie tells Becky that she should always be one step ahead.
We see a clip from Carmella and Ellsworth’s shopping trip. Was it too much to ask to have Enzo and Cass tag along? I mean, they are friends. Also, Carmella is a genuinely funny straight man throughout all of this: I’m enjoying this more than I probably should.
Also also, what kind of store sells suits, blazers, checked shirts, an Elvis costume (including wig), a The Godfather costume and what Ellsworth ends up wearing?
Sure, why not?
Baron Corbin is at ringside on commentary, and is surprisingly polite and soft-spoken on the microphone. This is your typical pre-Rumble jobber battle royal, featuring anyone who got caught in the giant net they installed in catering. The Vaudevillains are eliminated immediately, and to be honest the announcers talking to Baron Corbin is actually more interesting.
Rawley eliminates the sweet fuck out of Curt Hawkins in a nice spot, then starts beating the shit out of Konor. Heath takes Viktor out, and then Konor puts him out too. Rawley eliminates Konor and Rhyno. Breezango try to double-team Rawley. Rawley and Fandango wind up on the apron, but Breeze accidentally superkicks his partner off the apron and then gets tossed by Mojo.
There needs to be a stronger word than ‘pointless’, just so I could describe this more effectively. 1.5 Stars.
Mojo celebrates and Corbin doesn’t even attack him. Compared to how the guy usually acts, this is damn near a face turn.
We see a recording of Nikki being asked if she thinks her success in the WWE is due to getting thuganomiced on the reg, because that’s clearly an appropriate question to ask an employee. If the WWE acts like this, no wonder Bray thinks that fighting solves your workplace issues.
Natalya then shows up and slams Nikki’s head into the truck, because she’s fucking deranged and needs mental help.
Here’s AJ Styles, who was on the receiving end of an Attitude Adjustment last week. The crowd aggressively chants for him, if that is even possible. Styles says that he’s going to call out Cena, but first he wants to address that he’s right at the back of the Royal Rumble poster. To be honest, that is some primo BS right there. People aren’t showing up every week to see Lesnar, Goldberg and the Undertaker, because they’re only around a couple of times a year.
AJ calls out Cena, who swiftly obliges him. He revels in the duelling chants for a minute or so, then Styles runs over him when he tries to talk. Styles says that he’s had enough. On Monday, Cena was on The Today Show. Man, Cena was the most charismatic person out there, and the other two present a fucking talk show for a living.
Styles is pissed off because he was referred to in that clip as ‘a guy from Atlanta’. Yeah: fuck Atlanta. He reminds Cena that he’s the Champ, and has been running SmackDown all the time that John’s been away. AJ says that he’s the guy who replaced Cena, and that John’s the only excuse that John has this Sunday, because he’s a sorry excuse for a wrestler.
Cena calls Styles a whiner, and says that he’s gone through far worse abuse than Styles ever has. He says that Styles needs to be here for far longer because he can demand respect. Cena goes on to say that he wasn’t built for the indie scene: he was built for the WWE, and Styles isn’t on his level, or even the level below him. He’s had more moments in a day in that Styles has had in his whole career, and Cena caps this off by saying that Styles is just a guy, and he only has the belt because John let him.
Wow, that was a pretty great segment. And the most honest-seeming I’ve ever seen Cena.
In memory of Jerry Lawler
We replay Ziggler attacking Jerry Lawler, which was fucking hysterical. And now Ziggler is taking on Kalisto. Kalisto goes right after Ziggler, hitting kicks to the legs. Ziggler takes him down to the mat with a neckbreaker, and I hope like hell he doesn’t hit one of his elbow drops, because those things can give a man a heart attack apparently. Kalisto backflips under a clothesline and hits a Mickie James-esque kick to Ziggler’s head.
Kalisto springboards off the ropes, right into a Luke Harper-esque superkick. And Dolph Ziggler wins, pretty much killing Lawler’s theory about how changing your morality doesn’t lead to success in wrestling.
Not much at all in this one, but I am happy as hell that Ziggler is finally winning matches. 2 Stars.
Ziggler grabs a chair right afterwards, and gets into a shouting match with JBL. Whilst he’s distracted, Apollo Crews jumps him, trying to smack him with the chair. Ziggler ducks and then runs for it.
Easy night for Naomi
Here’s Naomi, who gets to have a random match with someone involved in a feud with another wrestler. So…lucky her. Actually, she doesn’t even get the match, because Nikki and Natalya apparently got changed and decided to beat the fuck out of each other backstage.
Naomi grabs a microphone and says that she came back for competition, so anyone who wants to try their luck can do so. And obliging her is Alexa Bliss, apparently, although she says she’s not here to answer the challenge. She mocks Naomi for doing nothing with her career, causing Naomi to challenge her for the Championship. Bliss fakes getting in the ring and then leaves smugly.
Dean Ambrose is stopped backstage by Not-Renee, who asks him his strategy. Miz says something along the lines of ‘I’m going to fucking kill him’ and then leaves to, presumably, do just that.
I still think they should have to dress as lumberjacks
The Miz and Dean Ambrose make their way to the ring, with the lumberjacks in place around the ring. The belt’s hoisted, the bell’s rung and we’re away.
Dean immediately throws the Miz onto the apron. Miz returns the favour by tossing Ambrose out to the floor, but Dean darts back inside before the lumberjacks can go for him. Dean throws some punches at Miz, before actually dashing out of the ring to beat on some of the lumberjacks. What a strategist.
The Miz takes advantage, beating on Dean before Ambrose rolls him up and almost takes a Dirty Deeds. Miz rolls out of the ring without thinking about it, tries to get back inside, and then is knocked out of the ring again by Ambrose, where the lumberjacks go right after him as we go to a break.
When we come back, Ambrose has fought his way out of a superplex and goes to the hit the Miz with the Lunatic Lariat, but the lumberjacks manage to catch him halfway through the ropes and drag him to the outside! Ambrose manages to work his way back inside and catch the Miz with a cover, but he’s thrown out again. The face lumberjacks want to leave well enough alone, prompting a brief brawl with the heels. Ambrose manages to get back inside and takes a short DDT.
Miz mocks Bryan with the YES hands and the kicks, with Ambrose ducking the last one and rolling the Miz up. He unloads on the challenger for a second, but Miz is able to hurl him through the ropes out to the lumberjacks. Dean beats the fuck out of all of them, even slamming Corbin’s skull into the ringpost, and hits Miz with an Lunatic Fringe DDT from the top rope for two.
Both men are slow to get back to their feet, and when they do Ambrose has the momentum. Miz is thrown out, and when the heels help him to their feet Dean dives out onto everyone. The faces throw Miz back inside, whilst the heels try not to get in Ambrose’s way after the beating he handed them previously.
Maryse grabs onto Ambrose’s leg, and Miz hits Dean with the Running Knee! Quite well, actually. Dean kicks out, reaching his feet in the corner. Miz hits two Bryan-esque corner dropkicks, but is then elevated out of the ring when we goes for the Awesome Clothesline. The lumberjacks go for him, and then Dean just dives onto fucking everyone and throws the Miz back into the ring.
Miz rolls Dean up, who returns the favour; the Miz kicks Ambrose in the head and takes a Lunatic Lariat on the return journey. And suddenly Baron Corbin is in the ring, stomping on Ambrose! Everyone storms the ring! It’s fucking chaos! The ring clears, with Corbin cleaning house! Ambrose low-bridges Corbin, kicks out of Miz’s roll-up and plants Miz with Dirty Deeds for the win!
Really fun match, and a nicely sideways way to advertise the Rumble with everyone in the ring. Baron Corbin and Ambrose should have a great programme together, hopefully very soon. 3 Stars.
Apparently all it’s taken for me to do a complete 180 on Baron Corbin is Baron Corbin finally being used properly. Because they’re finally, finally doing it.
This was a bit of a let-down show. The Harper/Orton match was pretty good, and the Lumberjack Match was fun, but there wasn’t too much else going on. I mean, Royal Rumble is in a few days. 6/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, David Otunga, dean ambrose, James Ellsworth, jbl, John Cena, Luke Harper, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Mickie James, Mojo Rawley, naomi, natalya neidhart, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Renee Young, smackdown live, The Miz, Tom Phillips