What time is it everyone? That’s right: time for another episode of SmackDown Live, and another foray into a world in which Jinder Mahal is your goddamn World Champion. I’m throwing a party on Saturday, and every time I have to be reminded of Mahal’s current status I’m going to add another five percent of alcohol to the average of the whole event. If that means Saturday night is going to be spent downing steins of absinthe, so be it.
The show kicks off with Charlotte telling us that she’s going to win the Five-Way tonight. Spoiler alert. The other women all chime in as well, I guess to give us some form of suspense? Except for Tamina. Even in a world where Jinder Mahal is World Champion (5% more!), some things are just too absurd.
The day a Highlight Reel doesn’t end in a brawl is the day I quit
In the ring, Kevin Owens is presenting the Highlight Reel again. He addresses the fact that Chris Jericho, creator of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, never actually won one. Unlike Y2J, Kevin Owens intends to actually climb the ladder and grab the briefcase, one step away from being the Face of the WWE.
Owens then introduces Shinsuke Nakamura. Dear God, that man’s entrance was designed to kill epileptics. Nakamura finally arrives to the ring, and if you ever wondered what a minute-long male orgasm looked like then I think his entrance is a damn decent approximation. Owens tells Shinsuke that this is his show and that he invited him on it because people still want to know so much about him.
KO says that he destroyed the last guy who walked around the WWE claiming to be a rock star. He promises that Money in the Bank will be the day the music died. Baron Corbin arrives, tells Shinsuke to shut up and shows us footage of his inability to handle losing a match. Owens says that he’s been beating up Sami Zayn for fifteen years and tells Corbin to fuck off.
Corbin implies that Kevin Owens is Cartman, despite the fact that he’s clearly either Terrence or Phil and also not your friend, buddy. Nakamura cuts in to say that both Owens and Corbin have terrible memories. He says that the last rock star that Owens was in the ring with actually beat him, and reminds Corbin that he’s been beaten clean twice by Zayn.
Corbin and Owens decide to beat the shit out of Nakamura, I guess in lieu of a suitable reply. Zayn hits the ring and starts smacking the sweet fuck out of Baron. Meanwhile, a right hand from Shinsuke sends Owens right out of the damn ring. Zayn gets on the microphone and says that his rivalries with both Owens and Corbin are far from over, and seeing as how Nakamura’s clearly not up to much then they should have a tag team match. Wait, he can’t do that, can he?
Sami makes whatever matches he wants
Apparently he can, because when we come back we have a tag team match. Nakamura and Corbin feel each other out a little before locking up, with Shinsuke outwrestling Baron before freaking him out with some, to put it honestly, weird shit. Dropkick sends Corbin into the corner and he eats some knee strikes before Zayn tags in. Corbin actually backs the fuck off, tagging Owens in.
Sami leapfrogs over KO before headscissoring the Champ right out of the ring. Owens lets Zayn chase him before catching him coming back into the ring and stomping on him. Corbin comes in now that Zayn’s down, working him over in the corner. Sami fires right back, though, raining fists right into Corbin’s face. Baron blocks a suplex, backing Zayn into the ropes and allowing Owens to catch Sami with a goddamn roundhouse kick.
Owens pops in to deliver a token beating before letting Baron try to cripple Zayn again. Sami almost takes out Baron with a tornado DDT from the second rope, but Baron stops the momentum mid-DDT and bodyslams Zayn as we go to a commercial!
When we come back, Sami is in the midst of planting Owens with the Blue Thunder Bomb. He crawls over the Nakamura, but KO manages to tag out first and Corbin blasts the Artist off the apron. Baron then gets rolled up, with Zayn only a half-second away from getting a third win over the Lone Wolf, but kicks out and then delivers a swift spinebuster for two. He takes a moment to viscerally scream at the referee before getting back to the business of slamming fists directly into Zayn’s face. He runs off the ropes, but rebounds right into a clothesline from Sami, who finally reaches Nakamura!
Owens rushes into the ring, but Shinsuke runs right the fuck over him, hitting him with a flurry of offence. A kick to the gut gets Nakamura a two count, but Owens fights back…right before a spinning kick lays him out and Baron has to make the save. Zayn throws himself onto Corbin, almost having to be dragged off him, and then hurls Owens into a cornered Baron. Corbin, who’s willing to roar angrily at damn near anyone, asks Owens what he thinks he’s doing. Owens shoves Corbin, and that’s his last conscious act before Baron knocks him the fuck out with a right hand. Zayn clotheslines himself and Corbin out of the ring, and Nakamura finishes Owens with the Kinshasa!
Good, solid opener, and it’s good to see Nakamura working with and against various new faces. No complaints. 2.5 Stars.
Every time Jimmy or Jey talk, I die a little inside
Oh Jesus God, the Usos have microphones. What fresh hell is this? Their mouths move and the usual static fills my ears until, blessedly, the New Day arrive. Woods proclaims that they couldn’t think of a better place for the New Day to re-debut than his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
And then the Usos make the mistake of talking. Dear God, it’s like watching Donald Trump try to type correctly-spelled words. Or be President. Big E makes it simple for the Usos. They want the Championships, and they’re going to take the Championships. Woods tells them that they’re so cute, thinking they run the show. Because they know the man who really runs the show: Shane McMahon. And one of the perks of that is that they have a WWE World Tag Team Championship match against the Usos at Money in the Bank.
We look back at Jinder Mahal’s Punjabi Championship Celebration, even though nothing actually happened.
And it’s another episode of the Fashion Files, hardboiled detective style! Holy crap, Fandango even provides the voice-over narration. I love these segments.
Everything about this was perfect
And it’s time for a Fatal Five-Way match to determine a number one contender. No, it’s not Extreme Rules: it’s the SmackDown Women’s Championship Number One Contender match! Charlotte, Carmella, Tamina, Natalya and Becky make their way to the ring, and it’s time to get this on.
Everyone starts yelling at each other, and a brawl breaks out before the ref can start the match. Why the ref doesn’t just ring the bell anyway is beyond me, but I guess that he demands that they acknowledge his authority. Everyone’s kicking the shit out of each other, with Tamina laying Charlotte out with a Samoan Drop and Becky hitting a flying forearm into the timekeeper’s area to take down Carmella.
Man, this referee is the least assertive WWE employee ever. As if to demonstrate this point, Tamina rips apart a table to show that he don’t dare stop her. Charlotte suddenly explodes, slamming Tamina into the steel post and hitting a T-Bone suplex to Natalya on the outside. Then she climbs up to the top rope and moonsaults onto the pair of them, because fuck you, referee. Carmella takes her out with a crossbody, then takes a Bexploder suplex, and then Becky gets superkicked by Tamina, who gets kicked in the face by Charlotte who Natalya dispatches with a Discus Clothesline! Fuck you, referee!
Natalya clears off the table and tries to powerbomb Charlotte through it, but Flair hurls her into the steel steps and puts Natalya through the damn table! FUCK. YOU. REFEREE.
Shane suddenly arrives, apparently set on stopping this even though it’s fucking awesome. Shit, make it a hardcore match: just keep it going. He says that this has got him in the mood to do something historic. On June 18th, all five women will compete in the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match! Oh, fuck yes!
RIP Primo’s ass
And right now, it’s the Fashion Police vs. the Colóns. Fandango is dressed as a PI, and Breeze is dressed as a man in a dress. Primo takes Breeze down and rips his clothes off. The arousal that that inspired in me is something I should probably address at some stage, but no time for that because then Breeze hits Primo with a dropkick and tags in Fandango.
Double elbows from Breezango, then Fandango counters a sunset flip and sprays Primo with a water gun! Breeze gets Epico with his own gun, and then Fandango elevates Primo over the ropes, and the poor bastard lands horribly. Okay, he is in bad shape; he is just clutching his arse as we go to a break.
When we come back, Epico has Fandango in a sleeper. Fandango fights back, rolling Epico up before the Colón catches him with a clothesline. Epico takes Breeze off the apron, then takes a back body drop from Fandango. Fandango has no partner on the ring apron and then staggers into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker which gets two.
Primo tags in, runs the ropes and gets taken right down by Fandango. Breeze still isn’t back on the apron, and Epico takes Fandango down before propping him up on the top rope. Fandango is able to counter, however, and hits Epico with a sunset flip powerbomb! Breeze is back up on the corner, in his janitor disguise! He gets the tag and takes out Primo with clotheslines and an enzuigiri! Epico gets an enzuigiri as Primo tries to bring Breeze’s mop into the ring; Fandango grabs onto it and stops Primo before letting it go and letting Primo get hit with the Unprettier! Breeze takes the win!
I’m never not going to enjoy these matches. Hope Primo’s okay; that landing looked nasty as hell. 2 Stars.
Renee Young is backstage with AJ Styles, and asks how his match against Ziggler later tonight will affect the Money in the Bank Ladder match. He explains momentum to her for a minute and then Dolph shows up to once again talk shit to a guy who is going to kick his ass in the very near future. He asks Styles if he wants to do it now, and AJ says sure and takes his shirt off. Ziggler then backs off like a giant blond bitch.
Because a brown guy being Champion can’t not be about race
Here’s Randy Orton, hopefully to apologise for being such a giant dumbass at Payback. Seriously, what a fucking tool. He gets on the microphone and says that he’s beaten everyone there is to beat in this business and then says that if his Grandfather was alive then he’d smack Orton around for losing to “a guy like Jinder Mahal”. Alright, so that’s edging towards some real racism there.
Orton says he’s not going to talk about beating Jinder; he’s just going to go out and do it. And then he keeps talking, because who do you think he was kidding. Orton promises an “American” asskicking, and it’s just swell that this is slowly turning towards that direction. He says he’s going to stop talking and just win.
And then Jinder’s music plays, because we’re actually going to half-heartedly build a World Championship feud this time. Mahal appears on the titantron and rips on America for being “in decay”. Reaaaaally hard to argue with him on that point, guys. I mean, India’s investing in clean energy and you’re desperately keeping your coal industry alive.
Well how about that?
Main event time, which means Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles. Ziggler makes his way to the ring, followed by Styles, and they get to it, countering and reversing each other before Ziggler grabs the ropes and smacks Styles with an elbow. Styles returns a punch and a dropkick before Dolph throws him into the steel post, sending him out of the ring and into a commercial break.
When we come back, Ziggler in control of Styles…right up until the Phenomenal One back suplexes him. Styles hammers away at Ziggler, finishing up a flurry with a huge clothesline. Flying clothesline slams into Dolph in the corner, followed by a flying forearm. Styles kips up, tries for an ushigoroshi which is countered, then plants Ziggler face-first off a wheelbarrow. He wants a Styles Clash, but Dolph counters into a pin with the ref catching his feet on the ropes. Ziggler protests, but eats an ushigoroshi from Styles.
Styles goes for the Clash again, but Ziggler relies on the ropes this time to save himself. Styles suplex-carries Dolph back into the ring, then hurls him right into the turnbuckles! Styles climbs up the ropes, bringing Ziggler up with him…he wants the Styles Clash off the top! Dolph realises it, fights out and brings AJ back down with a huge DDT!
Ziggler goes for the Fame-Asser, has to counter another Styles Clash, bonks heads with Styles and tries for a Zig-Zag that AJ turns into a backbreaker! Both men take a while getting to their feet, and Ziggler pushes himself up on a rush of adrenaline to take Styles out with a knee to the head. He recovers a little more, bringing AJ up to the second rope. Styles slides out, misses a forearm and counters a stinger splash from Ziggler, locking Dolph in the Calf-Crusher! Ziggler rakes the eyes to escape, then hangs Styles up on the middle rope before hitting the Zig Zag, and AJ gets the shoulder up!
Styles manages to dodge a superkick, gets elevated onto the apron but then gets crotched on the ropes off a Phenomenal Forearm attempt! Ziggler hits the superkick, and he gets the win!
Would never have called that, but I’m pretty ecstatic about it. Great match and a nice show of confidence in Ziggler. I want this to be the start of a huge push for him, but I’ve been hurt before. 3.5 Stars.
So, the bad: the Usos and their mouths and the noises those mouths make. Orton and Jinder seem to be going for another really aimless and flat programme, like the last one we all super-enjoyed.
The good: every match was pretty great apart from the Breezango one, which was just funny. Aggressive Zayn is best Zayn. Nakamura continues to pile up wins. Dolph pinned AJ Goddamn Styles clean. Best match-preventing brawl I’ve seen in a while. And, most of all, Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. 9/10 for the night.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Breezango, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, James Ellsworth, jbl, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, naomi, Natalya, Randy Orton, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, Singh Brothers, smackdown live, tamina, The Colons, the usos, Tom Phillips