Top o’ the morning, folks. Today just so happens to be St David’s Day, and today the patron saint of snarky SmackDown commentary has another review for you. Let’s get right to it and find out just what the hell is going to happen with SmackDown‘s main event at WrestleMania.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are watching the ending of the battle royal from last week, and apparently instead of just rewinding it themselves they need to tell some guy in a gingham shirt to tell some other dude via his headset to cue the video up for them. That’s just a bloated organisation. Also, AJ’s feet definitely hit the floor first.
Styles himself shows up, getting his lobbying in early. Bryan tells him that he’s facing Harper tonight, with the winner going on to WrestleMania. Styles immediately begins running Harper down on a number of personal and hygiene-related levels, and of course Luke Harper’s right behind him. But if your hygiene is so bad that people make jokes about it, then maybe you should swallow your pride and take a fucking shower.
Styles runs off and Harper thanks Shane and Bryan before leaving. Shane mentions that he doesn’t think that Luke’s all there, yet seems to have no moral qualms with employing the guy in a ridiculously dangerous job.
Team “Dresses Like Adults” vs. Team “Fashion Abortion”
Miz and Maryse arrive, heading down the ramp to the ring. Goddamn, Miz’s suits are one of the highlights of my week, the fashionable son of a bitch. This is going to be Miz TV, and his guest is John Cena. Well, it’s a novel way to commit suicide.
Cena arrives, and seeing him wearing…well, the usual John Cena ensemble just looks even more childish next to a man wearing the fuck out of a three-piece suit. Miz immediately orders Cena’s mic to be cut, which I have no problems with personally. Miz says he’s got ten years of bones to pick with Cena, accusing him of burying anyone he feels threatened by. Careful, Miz: people might just start cheering that one.
Miz says that he’s not the “other guy”, but Cena won’t ever let him be anything else. He remembers beating John Cena at WrestleMania, but Cena managed to negate all that two weeks later because he’s jealous of the Miz. He calls Cena a hypocrite for mocking the Rock’s Hollywood accomplishments before immediately going to do the same thing. The crowd chants “you sold out”, and Miz agrees with them. Miz tells him that he’s a parody of his old self, and even that was a joke. He’s not Super Cena any more; he’s barely-decent Cena.
The crowd does its duelling-chant shtick, and Miz notes that it’s about fifty-fifty. He says that the reason he brought Cena out here is because he’s sick of John wanting to have his cake and eat it. Miz says that he’s the one working to make SmackDown Live the show that it is, whereas Cena is never there and just gets handed a title match when he comes back. Cena stopped Miz from getting to the title twice, and that made Miz want Cena to feel what he’s felt for ten years: that’s why he came back into the battle royal and tossed him out of.
Cena’s microphone is turned back on, and he says that he expected something more that what he’s been accused of for ten years. He tells Miz that if he really was a master manipulator, he’d not be spending the weeks before WrestleMania talking to the Miz; he’d be in the ring with the Undertaker. He says that he’s never tried to fool anyone, and that half of the audiences have never bought into him anyway.
Cena tells Miz that he used the Rock to get into the WWE, that he’s a poor man’s Chris Jericho, that he stole Ric Flair’s finisher and Daniel Bryan’s move set, and now he’s just stealing AJ Styles’ promo material. John finishes by telling Miz that he’s a dude dressed up as a dude playing another dude and he’s got no idea who he himself is. Miz has never gotten to the top and stayed there because he’s an empty suit.
Cena warns Miz that if he gets in his face again, then he’s a dead man. He makes to leave, but Maryse tells him that he doesn’t get to leave until they say he can. Man, I would not get that ballsy with someone whose girlfriend I hit with a steel pipe last week. Maryse tells him that he’s got a huge ego and a small dick, which makes me love that crazy Canadian gal even more. And then she slaps him, so she can goddamn face Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania for all I care.
Cena tells Maryse that she just made the biggest mistake of her life, and then Nikki Bella comes out, because John Cena’s too sexist to fight a woman. Nikki chases Maryse and, I guess, Miz out of the ring and tells her that no-one messes with her man. Oh yeah, this feud is going to be a classic with lines like that.
We’re celebrating Black History Month on WWE, although instead of the usual cool and informative video package, we just get a quote from Oprah. Then again, this is the same week that Betsy “Christian Sharia Law” DeVos said that the Jim Crow laws were awesome for black people, so the bar has been set super low by, oh yeah, the people who run your country. Dear America, the rest of the world thinks that your government is a fucking joke.
Not enough wrestlers wear flares these days
Here’s Becky Lynch, and I assume that DeVos thinks that the Potato Famine was a great opportunity for the Irish to slim down for the summer. I mean…that’s a joke, but I have no way of judging how stupid or racist that bitch actually is. Mickie James arrives, and this is going to be a Two Out of Three Falls match. From what I remember, whoever gets the first pin is usually the winner, so let’s see if that wisdom holds up tonight. Not sure if it’s the lights or I’m only just noticing it, but Becky is almost Paige levels of pale. Like, she actually looks Irish.
The women lock up, exchanging holds to start this off. Becky goes after the arm as soon as she can, but Mickie is just as competent a grappler and is able to turn the tables on Lynch. A headscissors attempt by James gets her thrown onto the apron, but she’s savvy enough to duck the following kick. Becky manages to catch her with a baseball slide to knock her into a commercial break.
When we come back, Mickie is rubbing Becky’s head against the mat, I guess to see whether her sudden and unexplained paleness is really just paint. Results are inconclusive, so Mickie chokes her against the ropes and then applies a sleeper, trapping the right arm at the same time. Becky fights out for a second, but is put down by a knee. Mickie James tries to follow that up with dropkick to the seated Lynch, but Becky rolls out of the way and starts scoring with some clotheslines! Calf kick puts Mickie on her ass, and she receives a flying forearm to the face, but counters the Bexploder and sends Becky face-first into the turnbuckle! A Mickie-DT immediately after gives Mickie the first fall!
We go to a commercial break to avoid having to explain why Mickie doesn’t immediately go for a second cover. I mean, you’ve knocked the girl practically unconscious; it’s worth a shot. Mickie is still in control when we return, sending the Irish Lasskicker hard into the corner. Two quick covers don’t get the job done, but wear Becky down every time she has to kick out. Becky suddenly fires up with a spinning back kick, but her offence is killed when she runs right into a flapjack.
Mickie heads up to the top, but misses a dive at Becky, who rolls her up for the second fall! We’re tied at two apiece (I mean…that was not a surprise at all). Mickie immediately goes after Becky, but the first ever SmackDown Women’s Champ is able to catch her with another Bexploder. Speaking of the Women’s Championship, Alexa Bliss is making her way down to the ring. I guess…to make sure that Becky gets another opportunity at the title? Because that is the only thing that is going to come of this, I guarantee you.
Becky ducks a kick and hits…I actually couldn’t tell you what the fuck that was supposed to be, but Alexa has the referee distracted from making the count. Becky heads over there to complain, and Mickie rushes her but hits Alexa Bliss and knocks her off the apron! Becky rolls up Mickie, who reverses into a roll-up of her own, but gets dragged into the Disarmer! Mickie taps out, Becky wins and my Two Out of Three Falls theory is dead!
Enjoyable match, which managed to pack a lot into the time it had. I guess this means Becky’s getting another shot at the gold, which is a wise move considering how few contenders we have right now. Can we not just bring Paige back? 2.5 Stars.
Meanwhile, Luke Harper is backstage with a bunch of flickering lightbulbs, talking about demons and evil and all kinds of shit. Hah, my electrician does the exact same thing.
And then Bray Wyatt gets his own little steam room segment, so I guess these guys are hijacking the programme to have a fucking conversation. Just call each other.
And in a third part of backstage, Not-Renee is interviewing Alexa Bliss. Bliss is offended at being asked about Becky Lynch instead of being asked about being the first two-time SmackDown Women’s Champion. The interviewer actually then asks her that, and Bliss gives a faux-Oscar speech.
Natalya arrives and shoos Not-Renee away from Alexa. She congratulates Bliss on her victory, and mentions her own win from last week. She hints that she wants a title shot, and then leaves.
Man, we must be running out of backstage areas and interviewers, because Renee is somewhere else with Styles. He calls the whole thing bullshit, but is confident that he’s going to beat Harper and be at the main event of WrestleMania.
What a rollercoaster
Well, we’re going to find out the second component of WrestleMania‘s main event right now: it’s time for Luke Harper vs. AJ Styles. Both men make their way to the ring, and the bell rings. They lock up, and Harper immediately shoves Styles to the mat. AJ looks a little unsettled, but tries a kick. Harper catches it and hoists Styles up onto the turnbuckle before backing away, showing his strength. Styles comes back down, applying a headlock, but Harper just stands before trying a back suplex. Styles flips out of the suplex and Harper runs the ropes before hitting a huge missile dropkick.
Styles bails out of the ring, and Harper follows him. Styles tries to bait Harper into following him back inside, but Luke avoids the elbow that AJ tries to drop on him, drags the former World Champion back outside and hurls him into the barricade. Harper keeps up the offence, slamming Styles’ head off the announce table before throwing him back into the ring. Styles rolls right back out, then scythes Harper’s legs out from under him when the big man tries to follow him, capitalising immediately with a Pele kick to the back of the man’s head.
AJ stays on Harper in the ring, but Harper muscles his way out of the corner, hitting Styles with forearms. Harper misses a charge, leaps over the ropes and puts Styles down. He follows that up with a senton over the ropes, then a big boot to put Styles down for two! Harper catapults Styles throat-first into the second rope, and AJ winds up on the outside once again, only for the former Wyatt Family member to dive through the ropes out onto him!
Harper hustles AJ back into the ring, and he wants a sit-out powerbomb. Styles suddenly whips himself back in a hurricanrana. He goes for the Phenomenal Blitz, but Harper catches him with a Dragon Suplex for a near fall! When we come back from a commercial, Harper hits the sit-out powerbomb for another near-fall! He gets Styles up on his shoulders, but Styles fights his way onto the apron. He hits an ezuigiri for some breathing space, and then takes Harper out with the Phenomenal Forearm! Harper gets his foot on the ropes, but the ref doesn’t see it, and announces Styles as the winner!
Is this just going to be the rivalry cursed by bad luck and poor refereeing? Looks like. However, that was awesome. Harper looked like a fucking beast, and props to Styles for selling the shit out of it. So glad they’re finally using Luke Harper to his full potential. 3.5 Stars.
Shane’s music immediately hits, because fuck this dramatic irony bullshit, and he restarts the match! Holy shit, round two.
Styles immediately goes for the Styles Clash, but almost gets rolled up by Harper. AJ’s sent out of the ring, where he elects to yell at Shane instead of not allowing Harper to recuperate. Harper comes out of nowhere with a superkick, but Styles ducks and Harper lays out Shane McMahon!
AJ shoves Harper into the ring post, then back inside the ring. He waits on the apron before hitting the springboard 450 splash, and getting the pin!
Well, I did not expect that, but way to use the situation to make both guys look awesome. Interesting to see the 450 being used as a finisher. Still 3.5 Stars.
We get the usual WWE Network shtick, but at least they don’t advocate for the mass sterilisation and internment into labour camps for all those who pay for PPVs this time.
Renee is backstage with John Cena and Nikki Bella, when the real it couple arrives: Carmella and James Ellsworth. The power of boners compels Ellsworth to verbally attack Nikki before a match is made between Cena and Nikki and Ellsworth and Carmella. John and Nikki’s very obvious affection for each other is genuinely jarring here, especially after years of never ever seeing them together on this show.
Styles is walking around backstage before running into Bryan, who congratulates him. AJ refuses to shake his hand, because dicks gon’ dick.
Curt Hawkins’ best match ever
Here’s Dean Ambrose, who walks to the ring, hits Curt Hawkins with a Dirty Deeds and grabs a microphone. The real question is, who in-universe made a match between Ambrose and Hawkins? Ambrose says that he’s learned a lot of lessons over the years, and the most important is that when you’re pushed you push back. Sure, that’s a wise lesson for a drama-free life.
He wants to teach Baron Corbin that you never ever want to fuck with Dean Ambrose, and he can’t think of a better place than SmackDown Live. I mean, I’m sure that he’ll eventually think of a better one, and it’ll be WrestleMania. But for now, he calls Corbin out for a fight.
Corbin appears onscreen, saying that he doesn’t
give away awesome matches on free TV just do what Dean Ambrose says. This basically all leads back to Dean pinning Corbin in the Elimination Chamber (with a fucking roll-up, no less), and Baron Corbin is going to destroy Ambrose, just on a suitably huge stage that people will need the WWE Network to watch.
Hah, it’s Neville with his Geordie accent. He sounds way more Northern than I do, and I still live here.
Happy Black History Month
Dolph Ziggler is here for a Chairs Match against Apollo Crews, because Daniel Bryan would punish Leatherface with a chainsaw fight. Ziggler barely sets foot on the ramp, and then Crews is on him, smashing into him and hauling him into the ring. Clothesline flattens Ziggler, who then takes a belly-to-belly to roll him out of the ring. Crews tosses a chair into the ring, then brings one with him.
Ziggler catches Apollo on his way inside, keeping him grounded before he runs into Crews’ dropkick. Dolph is sent to the outside and takes a moonsault from the apron to send us into a commercial break. When we come back, nobody has hit anybody with a chair, because what do you think this is: a PPV? Ziggler runs into a back elbow from a cornered Crews, tries to pick up a chair and has it knocked out of his hands by Apollo.
Boot to the head lays Ziggler out, and he’s sent off the ropes and into a clothesline. He throws a chair to Dolph, who catches it, and then enzuigiris him before moonsaulting onto Ziggler and the chair! Ziggler manages to kick out of the subsequent pin. Dolph tries to slide out of the ring, manages to dodge a charge from Apollo to create some separation and then rolls him up with his feet on the ropes, getting a two-count.
Ziggler tries a superkick, but gets Angle Slammed onto a chair for another near fall. Somewhere, Kurt Angle is fucking livid. Crews sets up a chair, hoists Ziggler up on his shoulders, but has his eyes raked by Dolph and gets slammed throat-first into the chair! Crews is basically dead, but the referee doesn’t really give a damn. Ziggler dumps Crews crotch-first onto the chair, then pins Crews.
Couple of fun tricks with the chair I’ve not seen before, but this was just another mediocre chapter in a story I’m already sick of. 2 Stars.
Thank God Kalisto doesn’t do a run-in, because I don’t think I could personally take that.
What in the actual fuck?
Twelve minutes to go, and here’s Bray Wyatt. Anyone think tonight might be the night? Now that Orton actually knows whose WrestleMania he’s going to be ruining, you think he might actually plant the knife into Bray’s back?
Bray says that it doesn’t matter who gets the title shot, because they’re mortals and he’s a God. Wow, Shane doesn’t care if you’re not all there mentally; he just fucking makes you wrestle. Wyatt goes on for a bit about how he’s Satan and stuff, which you’d think would only motivate someone as Christian as Styles. He should probably say that he’s a member of the Gay Community as well, just to see if that works.
Bray says that Orton’s in hell or something, which really is not the kind of thing that you just skirt over like that. Then Orton appears on the titantron, and Bray greets him with such cheerful enthusiasm that it almost makes you feel sorry for the guy. Orton is apparently at the Wyatt Compound, with some weird mood music going on. Is he filming another episode of Shooter in there?
Orton says that Bray gave him the keys to the kingdom, which apparently means the keys to the Wyatt Family barn. That’s some reward for dropping your WrestleMania match. Randy says that this is not his world, and there’s the face turn. He reveals that he’s been gaslighting Bray for…God, like half a year? And he’s the face in this scenario?
Randy reveals that the Wyatt Compound is important because it’s built on top of the grave of Sister Abigail, who was apparently the sister of Satan. Holy shit, that’s a fucktonne of lore that Orton just dropped on us. Oh God, is he going to dig her up? Is it just going to be a mannequin? Is Triple H going to have sex with it? I need all of this to happen.
Holy fuck, Orton has a pickaxe. This is the most esoteric face turn I’ve ever seen in my life. Also, the footage keeps showing shots of worms in dirt, which I guess is supposed to be the final resting place of Abigail? How the hell did Orton film this without laughing? Randy says that he’s going to burn this place to the ground, so at the least Bray is going to be able to take his ass to court and sue the sweet fuck out of him for arson and criminal damage. I mean, this is all being filmed, like every felony-level crime in wrestling.
Orton says that he’s taking Bray’s title at WrestleMania, because Bray never invoked the rule of no takesies-backsies. By the way, Styles, Shane and Bryan are all watching this with the same expression on their faces right now. Bray is screaming that he’s going to kill Orton, instead of using his teleportation powers to stop the guy.
Randy drops a taper and burns the house down, then poses in front of it. Holy shit, he posed in front of a fucking felony. He posed in front of a house he burned down. Randy Orton is verifiably insane. Bray, meanwhile, has reached foetal-position levels of panic attack, and the crowd are chanting for Orton: the man who isolated and psychologically tortured a man for six months before burning his house down and starting a fire in the middle of a fucking forest.
Pretty talky SmackDown, with a couple of very good matches and some decent promos. I’d normally mock the over-the-topness of the final segment, but I honestly enjoyed that way more than any sensible person should: it was pure pro wrestling cheesy. All in all, this was a fun night. 8/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, apollo crews, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, curt hawkins, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, James Ellsworth, jbl, John Cena, Luke Harper, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Mickie James, natalya neidhart, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, The Miz, Tom Phillips