Hey there, sports fans. It’s time for the final pre-Mania instalment of SmackDown Live. Due to my housemate’s working habits and the fact we’re going all-out for the show this year after his discovery of wrestling, I won’t be seeing the damn thing until Wednesday afternoon. Still, it’s the first time I’ll have watched WrestleMania with anyone, so I guess it’s worth waiting for. And doing my next SmackDown Report late for (sorry, Widro).
Things kick off with Daniel Bryan in the ring for a contract signing and, presumably, a huge brawl. And the contract is for the Styles/McMahon match, with Shane showing up following putting goddamn AJ STYLES through a table. The crowd chants for AJ, compounding my belief that this match should just involve Shane being punted in the dick a lot, which is still second choice to Styles actually getting a decent match at the greatest show of the year.
Shane says that when he and Bryan conceived SmackDown Live, they envisioned a land of opportunity where management wouldn’t push their own agenda. Not sure how we arrived from there to the point where Styles is getting shafted and a McMahon’s getting a WrestleMania match payday. Shane talks up how friggin’ awesome Styles is, but says that success and the crowd’s adulation caused AJ to become arrogant, which in turn led to his loss of his Championship to John Cena. Wow, way to bury the man’s sixteenth World Title reign, Shane.
Shane says that Styles’ ego wouldn’t let him stand getting looked over at WrestleMania, which makes AJ’s ego the smartest element of this match right now, but warns him that he’s going to have to bring everything to beat Shane in five days. That’s the kind of shade I throw at amazing athletes at the top of their game, usually right before a few of their friends drag me out back and hit me with sacks full of doorknobs (tennis players are famously assholes).
Styles points out that they’re not in a hardcore-style match, but a match with rules, and in a wrestling match Styles is king and he will embarrass Shane on every level. AJ says he’d assume that Shane would have learned a thing or two from getting his ass kicked by some of the biggest names in sports entertainment, besides how to fall off things from a great height without becoming paralysed. He says that McMahon’s never stepped into a ring with Styles, and now he’s going to find out exactly how phenomenal Styles is.
AJ shoves the table aside, prompting Bryan to get between the two competitors before Shane McMahons Styles through another table and causes the audience to start spitting venom. Bryan suggests a handshake, being a trollish little bitch, but AJ declines and leaves the ring. I guess they’re all brawled out, the little scamps.
Bliss vs. Ellsworth: make the match
And it’s a Women’s Division match now, with Becky Lynch facing Carmella in advance of this Sunday. Last week, Becky’s match more or less imploded in the face of massive interference, and with Alexa and Mickey sitting on commentary, we may be in for more of the same.
Here comes James Ellsworth, prompting JBL to become bitchier than either Alexa or Mickey could dream of being. He’s got a new cocky promo to throw at us, containing the words “handsome physical specimen” of all things. Carmella arrives, making her way to the ring after Ellsworth’s introduction.
Carmella ducks away from the lock-up, going out onto the apron to give Ellsworth her gum. He puts it in his mouth, which prompts Bliss, James and JBL to essentially become high school girls in their vocal disgust. Becky can’t be fucked with this, so rocks Carmella with uppercuts before she leapfrogs into a knee to the gut. Carmella chokes her on the ropes, then smashes the back of her head off the mat. Carmella dodges an enzuigiri, but sells it anyway. Enthusiastic lass.
And now I’m not sure what’s going on, because the footage we’re seeing is now of Bliss and Mickie insulting each other: something you absolutely need video and audio for. They then get up to square off, and Bliss smashes Mickie right across the gob with that badass forearm. Mickie rallies, flapjacking Alexa more or less into the ring. Carmella takes exception to more of this interference bullshit, but ends up eating a slap from Mickie when she tries to put a stop to it. Becky follows that up with a Bexploder as the women all start brawling.
Mickie rocks Alexa with a kick, faces off with Becky and then POINTS TO THE SIGN…prompting a commercial break apparently. Sure, that seems like it wouldn’t be a weird place to stop.
When we come back, it’s a tag team match because they have Teddy Long in a vat backstage. Mickie and Becky vs. Alexa and Carmella. Alexa eats some kicks to the face, then Mickie tags in Becky, who lays down some leg drops. Mickie’s tagged back in but Alexa breaks away, forcing Carmella to get into the ring to the point of actually shoving her towards Mickie. Ellsworth defends Carmella, until Alexa screams at him to shut up and he immediately backs off: delightful.
Carmella tells Mickie to come at her, sis, then misses a slap and eats some more kicks. Mickie kicks Alexa off the apron, but pays for that with a forearm from Carmella. She chokes Mickie against the ropes, leaving her open for a knee to the face from Bliss. Bliss tags in, wrenching on Mickie’s head with a European headlock. Mickie punches her way out, but gets caught by Bliss. Alexa drags Mickie up whilst stomping on her hair, then locks in the sleeper. Again, Mickie fights out and then escapes with a roll-up, but Bliss’s forearm just lays a gal out.
Natalya shows up right before a commercial break and hops onto commentary, because it’s a crime if there’s not any more interference. Meanwhile, Mickie is rallying with a neckbreaker, leaving the Champ prone. Becky and Carmella tag in, with Lynch taking Carmella to task with kicks and clotheslines. Bexploder dumps Carmella on the mat, then she takes a forearm and a springboard kick.
Natalya gets up on the apron, ending any hopes of a clean decision in two weeks of women’s matches. Becky manages to avoid the DQ, but gets tripped up by Ellsworth, allowing Carmella to get the win via roll-up.
It’ll be nice to get these ladies in a straight match-up just to deal with this interference issue. After a while, you’re basically waiting for it to happen. 2 Stars.
Brawl breaks out until Naomi arrives! Naomi hurricanranas Natalya on the ramp, because fuck Natalya’s head, neck and spine, then takes out Carmella and then Alexa! So she could have held the Championship the whole time? It’s been a month and eight days! Naomi officially enters herself into the match, though that probably would have been an awesome unexpected pop at the live show in her home town.
Daniel Bryan is backstage and Tyler Breeze, who is still dressed as Nikki Bella, says that he’s free to enter the SmackDown Women’s Championship match. Based on how he’s been booked thus far, I feel like Alexa could punch him into a coma. Bryan says no, but offers Breeze and Fandango a chance to enter the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. What a sweet guy.
Fuck everyone who doesn’t have babies
And it’s time for another episode of MizTV, which really has to have put in more episodes than most of the other wrestling talk shows: he’s definitely beaten the Highlight Reel, Heartbreak Hotel and Carlito’s Cabaña. Miz and Maryse start things off with recapping their lampooning of Cena and Nikki, which was actually pretty amusing and you almost want to believe that it’s all true.
Except for the bit about John Cena clearly being on the road to domestic abuse. Then again, people are kicking out of the AA left and right, so maybe it wouldn’t be so terrible.
We see another clip, with Miz!Cena and Maryse!Bella having a scripted dinner, featuring Miz also playing Daniel Bryan! Also, it’s unclear whether Miz is trying to mock Cena or is trying to convince us that Cena has some kind of mental disability. Is Miz trying to perform an intervention the only way that he knows how? The show ends with Maryse!Bella popping the question to Cena, and I have to say that I’m way more likely to watch this fake show than the actual Total Bellas.
After a Hall of Fame commercial, we get to see the second half of the fake episode, which shows Cena staying more loyal to his brand than his girlfriend, rejecting her proposal. Man, if Miz actually believes that this is how Cena thinks, then I can absolutely understand him trying to expose all of this. Then again, if Miz literally believes this about John Cena, then he might be thinking about all of this way too much.
The clip finishes with a really grave promo from Miz and Maryse, the pair of them abandoning their characters. Miz really seems to feel like a single wrestling loss is going to destroy Cena’s entire life. And this is the Miz: his win/loss record has got to be pretty depressing and yet he manages to pull himself out of bed every day.
John Cena and Nikki come out to the ring, and Miz and Maryse don’t immediately run away. Miz says he’s surprised that it took this long for them to interrupt, and Cena responds by admitting that the skit was actually pretty funny, though he does point out that the whole unmarried thing is really being hammered down. Cena says the real joke is what Miz and Maryse think about themselves.
Cena says that the Miz himself has made movies, though they are just sequels of the ones he’s made, whereas he doesn’t know why Maryse is even here considering that women are actually allowed to wrestle well now. He says that the only reason she’s back was because Miz begged for her to be back so he could be on Total Divas. Well, that story’s full of holes: why would anyone want be on Total Divas?
And then they bring it back to the whole marriage and having kids thing, where now Maryse not plopping out babies on the regular apparently makes her a monster. Is everyone in WWE a Catholic? And I’m asking that as a Catholic.
Cena then gets deep, saying that Miz’s strange version of reality isn’t real or healthy, and eventually life is going to punch him in the face. That’s probably code for Cena punching him in the face. He takes off most of his clothes, which is always always an aggressive move in any situation. He says that he’s going to beat the hell out of them at WrestleMania, because one of them isn’t even a wrestler for God’s sakes.
John challenges Miz to hit him, then threatens Maryse that if she slaps him, Nikki will kick her ass. Remember in the old days, when wrestlers could defend themselves against suicidal women? Miz and Maryse both leave the ring, and we are not having the large amount of brawls I was expecting tonight. Everyone scared of chipping a nail before WrestleMania?
And just to show how goddamn prestigious the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is, all of the competitors in it are going to be in a ten-man tag team match, featuring the Tag Team Division, Ziggler and Rawley. Luckily, I’ve got my once-a-year “I Don’t Have To Review This Match” token for 2017, and seeing as I have a tonne of shit to do today, I’m cashing that in and zipping right to the ending.
Mojo Rawley won by beating Tyler Breeze: a man who’s dressed as a woman for comedy for two weeks running and who is in a match intended to honour a dead legend.
Urgh. 1 Star.
Luke Harper is backstage with his Edison bulbs, babbling insensibly. BOY OH BOY, I HOPE THAT BECOMES A REGULAR THING.
Here’s Bray Wyatt, making his way to the ring. Last week, he had the chance to straight-up murder Randy Orton and passed up the opportunity. Guess a WrestleMania payday is a tough thing to pass up, even for an insane, demonic cult leader.
Facing Bray Wyatt tonight is Luke Harper, who is desperately finding something to do since I assume Strowman doesn’t want to team with anybody right now and Rowan’s probably dead.
We kick things off with a slugfest, which ends as Bray barrels the fuck into Harper with a crossbody. Harper comes back with a running dropkick, then goes after Wyatt on the outside to hammer on him some more. He clotheslines Bray over the barricade, then stands on the table as we go to commercial.
When we come back, Bray is in control and wants a ura-nage. Harper counters, catching Wyatt with a sideslam. Bray rallies, hitting the ura-nage this time, followed by two back sentons. Harper suddenly catches Bray out of nowhere, looking for a Sister Abigail of his own, but Bray bails right out of the ring. Harper doesn’t let him get away with that, but instead hurls himself through the ropes at him not once, but twice! He sentons onto him back inside the ring and hits a big boot for a near fall!
Running back elbow hits Wyatt in the corner, and Harper counters a Sister Abigail attempt with a roll-up! Superkick! Discus Clothesline puts Bray down, and Wyatt has to grab the ropes to stop the count! Harper hauls Bray up to his knees, and hesitates as Bray stares at him. And suddenly Bray barrels into Harper, hitting the Sister Abigail to end things. Right, so Luke Harper’s stupid and Bray Wyatt’s a bitch: strong ending, chaps.
This started off strong, and then ended in a really dumb way. Litmus test: if you’ve been in the ring with Brock Lesnar, then you’re not going to be afraid of anything that Bray Wyatt can do to you. 1.5 Stars.
And then Orton appears on the screen with his own video package, because WHY THE FUCK NOT? Oh, and he’s talking about Sister Abigail’s powers, which is just…just fantastic storytelling. Oh, and what’s that? He’s driving a crucifix into the earth where Sister Abigail was buried?
I don’t often say this, but don’t feel the need to watch this SmackDown. All in all, that did the exact opposite of what it should have done: psyching people up for WrestleMania. Instead we got contract signings, ten-man tag matches and stupid. Fucking. Video. Packages. For fuck’s sake. 4/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, dean ambrose, James Ellsworth, jbl, John Cena, Luke Harper, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Mickie James, natalya neidhart, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, The Miz, the usos, Tom Phillips