Hey there, guys. Once again, your humble SmackDown reviewer is taking a break from PhD research, writing erotic fiction novels and foaming at the mouth because JESUS CHRIST A FEMALE DOCTOR HER VAGINA WILL SINGLE-HANDEDLY RUIN EACH AND EVERY EPISODE to review professional wrestling. Because I believe in this medium and also because the amount of blackmail information Widro currently has on me could fairly be described as “excessive”.
I actually forgot how stupid the Punjabi Prison looked
The show starts, and we immediately get treated to a promo for the Punjabi Prison. Seriously, the Doctor switching genders apparently is going to bring the Doom upon us all but we’re all just giving the Punjabi Fucking Prison a pass.
In the arena, the Singh Brothers and their SLUTTY SHIRTS are here to introduce Jinder Mahal, who is dressed in a disappointingly conservative manner. You know, except for the Championship belt, which makes him look like a businessman trying to be fly and down with the kids. He approaches the Punjabi Prison and steps into it.
Hang on, I just want to try something out here:
I’m not a racist, but I don’t like the Punjabi Prison match. Structure-based matches have always been steel cages or Hell in the Cells, but I guess using them rather than pandering to the liberal lefties is pretty much racism nowadays. What’s next, replacing Ladder matches with Levitating Rope matches? Replacing Casket matches with a Viking Funeral Boat matches? Congratulations, WWE: you just lost half your viewing audience.
Sorry, just wanted to see what it felt like to be an idiot.
Anyway, the outer part of the Prison is lowered around Jinder and Singhs as the WWE Universe contemplates the fact that someone was responsible for transporting and piecing together that something so heinously stupid. JBL says that the Punjabi Prison “gives him the willies”, that lucky boy. Jesus Christ, I’m getting Great Khali flashbacks just looking at it.
Mahal introduces us to the Punjabi Prison match with pride, which is weird because he didn’t invent it and it’s literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on this or perhaps any show. He makes the Singh Brothers explain the rules of the match, which is a task I wouldn’t assign to my worst enemy. The Singh Brothers make a solid effort, but the crowd’s chants of “what” are getting increasingly more confused than mocking.
Jinder then says that the most important rule is that there are no rules. Jesus God in heaven: all I need now is for him to say that weapons aren’t just encouraged but allowed and I am cracking open the scotch. He promises to smash Orton’s face against the bamboo until his face is as ugly as America. Jinder says that two people will walk into the prison but only one will walk out, and then says that basketballs don’t hold grudges because WHAT ARE WE EVEN DOING HERE ANYMORE?
Orton’s music starts playing, and if anything can save this segment then it’s a dead-eyed monotone promo from Randall Orton. He says that Jinder’s decision to lock himself in a cage with him means he either has a deathwish or is into some kinky shit, and either way he’s getting an RKO. Randy tells Jinder that the only reason he has the Championship is because of the Singh Brothers, and on Sunday he won’t have them to help him.
Randy slowly begins climbing the cage whilst telling Jinder that he has nothing to lose and so much to pay Mahal back for. He talks about how much India – the whole of India – depends on Jinder Mahal and how his loss will lead to economic ruin, apartheid and famine. All the while, he’s climbing up to the top of the cage, and if Jinder was smart he’d just have it raised up and trap Orton on the roof for the whole night. Randy promises to win, because any guarantees about putting on a great match would be pretty easy to call bullshit on, and…that’s it.
I live in eternal fear of a rap battle rematch
Time to make tag team wrestlers work singles matches, because who doesn’t like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs. And then they show us a replay of THAT FUCKING RAP BATTLE AGAIN. LOVE THAT. KEEP SHOWING US THAT, PLEASE.
Jimmy Uso and Kofi Kingston arrive, accompanied by their respective buddies. The commentators keep selling losing a rap battle like it’s on the same emotional level as your wife’s car getting blown up with her inside it.
Jimmy and Kofi start a-tusslin’ in the corner, with Kingston hitting the Unicorn Stampede (with trombone accompaniment). A running dropkick to Jimmy in the corner gets a two count, then Kingston low-bridges the Uso out of the ring. Jimmy dodges Kofi’s dive attempt, but Kofi manages to stop himself at the last minute, lure Jimmy close enough to him before leaping out onto him anyway. Kingston and the New Day celebrate on the outside as we go to a break, during which time Kofi keeps control of Jimmy until the Uso is able to trip him up on the ring apron, seizing the advantage.
When we come back, Jimmy has Kofi right where he wants him, that being in a sleeper hold in the centre of the ring. Kingston manages to catch Uso with a jawbreaker, but an enzuigiri from the champ puts Kofi on his ass. Jimmy stalks the New Day member, but takes a second too long to charge and runs into a stomp from Kofi some-crazy-how, and then Kingston starts unloading on him.
Jimmy counters a Trouble in Paradise attempt, getting Kingston on his shoulders and slamming the back of his head into the turnbuckle. Kofi kicks out and catches Jimmy with a pendulum kick. Both men struggle their way up to the second rope, and Kofi tries his damnednest to fight his way out of a superplex. Jey pops up on the apron for a distraction; Kofi, unfazed, heads up top for a crossbody but is rolled through by Jimmy for a cover!
The Usos were owed a win back, but it’s not often you see a distraction have no real effect and the heel get a clean win. 2.5 Stars.
Shane McMahon is backstage with his own version of the Fox Force Five (otherwise known as Charlotte, Becky, Natalya, Lana and Tamina). He says they need a match tonight and seems to be up for suggestions. Seems like the kind of thing you’d settle on before the live show, but I guess I don’t run a wrestling industry.
Charlotte wants to fight Lana because of her bullshit from last week. Natalya wants to fight Lana because…well, it’s difficult to work out Natalya’s rationale for anything, especially her ring attire. Shane says that no-one is fighting Lana, and I’d call him out for patronising her but bitch is wearing a ballgown.
Becky also wants to fight Lana, and did I miss an episode of SmackDown? Is Lana the Big Boss Man? Has she stolen all of their fathers’ corpses? Tamina steps in to defend her…friend? I guess “friend” is probably the most neutral and acceptable phrase we could use here, especially compared to “unwilling romantic conquest”. She says that no-one’s fighting Lana tonight.
Natalya then suggests that Charlotte should fight Becky, making her a fucking face in my book. Charlotte throws some shade and she and Becky start bickering because every wrestler has the psychology and emotional maturity of a five year old.
The pregnancy test is blue; it’s damn blue
We take a moment to recap the fact that Kurt Angle’s sperm contains his suplexing ability and desire to wear a singlet. Yes: this is the news that Kurt Angle, American Hero, banged a sloot when he was nineteen and twenty-six years later we got American Alpha. This also means that Jason Jordan learned that he was fathered by Kurt Angle directly following the release of the Kurt Angle documentary, which is probably one of the worst times to learn that.
The commentators talk about Jason Jordan’s wrestling ability like that’s a natural result of being a product of Kurt Angle’s testicles, but Kurt Angle also once tried to rape Booker T’s wife and shot Big Show with a hypodermic dart like he was livestock, so I feel like we’re ignoring a lot of future problems.
We see Chad Gable being interviewed by Renee Young regarding Jordan’s parentage. And…why? Is that something that tends to effect friends? Even best friends? This feels like it should only matter if Gable either thought that he was Jordan’s father or he was literally his twin brother.
And props to Gable for inserting the largest possible amounts of irony into his responses to this interview. He promises us that he’s going to support his friend in this endeavour, and this feels like it could be a Lifetime movie with a goddamn tonne of suplexes.
Oh God, not again
Jesus Christ, Mike Kanellis is going to wrestle. This is after Maria slapped Sami Zayn in the face and Mike smashed a fucking vase of flowers over his head. Mike and Maria Kanellis are goddamn psychopaths and I love them.
Sami Zayn arrives. Mike Kanellis has a graphic of Maria on his tights, but it’s a graphic of Maria in her underwear which seems pretty sleazy. Zayn goes right after Mike, smashing his head off the turnbuckles and smacking him around. Jesus God, on the low-angle shots you can see the Punjabi Prison hanging above the ring like the Sword of Damocles or some kind of ominous portent. Kanellis bails to the outside of the ring, and Sami follows him out to clothesline his ass.
Sami throws Mike back into the ring, then gets caught by some shots before running Mike over with a clothesline again before sending him right out of the ring. He follows Mike out again, this time hurling him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Mike catches Sami unawares, pummelling him with shots before eating another clothesline. Exploder suplex to Mike in the corner, and Maria suddenly dashes into the ring to throw herself in front of her husband. Sami, please just Helluva Kick her before this becomes a regular thing.
Maria tries to keep Zayn away from her wuss husband, who of course catches a distracted Zayn with a right hand and hits the Samoan Driver for the win. I hate this and everything about this.
Christ, fuck every single time they try to do this angle. 1 Star.
Well, John Cena’s here and there are two flags in the corners of the ring. I’m guessing that this is going to be a sober and reflective sort of promo, right? Cena says that at Battleground we will see amazing things and includes the Punjabi Prison match on that list that lying fuck. He also says that what we will remember is the Flag Match. He introduces the flags of both nations, and the pop that the fucking. American. Flag gets is actually scary. Seems like every joke Americans make about Alabama and everywhere else makes about America was based at least partially in fact.
Cena tries to tell us that there’s something deeper than it seems going on in this Flag Match, which is another really ballsy lie. He says that we might have to bear witness to – horror of horrors – the flag of Bulgaria winning this match. So now people are booing someone just for being foreign, and this is turning into John Cena’s own version of McCarthyism.
We get a few minutes of John Cena fellating America for being so, like, fucking awesome you guys. God, he just referenced 9/11. He just used 9/11 to market a fucking wrestling match. I am done. I am a hundred percent done. I hope Rusev wins this match and sets that fucking flag on fire because that would be less creepy than this.
Rusev then jumps Cena, and it’s hard to see him as a heel when you’ve just had to listen to that speech. He kicks Cena in the mug and then applies the Accolade. I’m massively on board with that, but of course Cena is able to lift Rusev and almost break out of it because of the awesome power of 9/11. He almost does it again, I guess to commemorate the second tower, but Rusev keeps the hold applied and knocks him out.
Rusev plants the flag at the top of the ramp, which I think makes this one arena in Alabama sovereign Bulgarian territory. Technically that’s their third empire.
AJ Styles is backstage, far away from the insanity that is John Cena’s raging patriotism boner. Shinsuke Nakamura’s with him, and he’d better get out of dodge before he’s hauled out in front of the SmackDown Live House Un-American Activities Committee. Shinsuke points at Styles’ belt and lets him know that one day he’s going to answer the Open Challenge. This is way more polite than Cena’s US Open Challenge: people are actually RSVP-ing.
Just this for a while, please
It’s time for Becky vs. Charlotte. Natalya is on commentary. The commentators are acting like that this is the collapse of a friendship, when these women joined a business which revolves entirely around fighting and have already beaten the shit out of each other a bunch of times.
Both women approach cautiously, feeling each other out before starting to rapidly exchange holds. Charlotte kicks Becky away then they lock up again, jockeying for position. Charlotte goes after Lynch’s legs, then applies a headlock. Becky reverses into her own headlock, is shot off the ropes and does a nice routine with Charlotte before stopping. Becky armdrags Charlotte and dropkicks her.
Charlotte leapfrogs over Becky in the corner and backflips out of it, almost rolling Becky up in a very athletic cover. Becky almost gets rolled up again, nearly catches Charlotte with a Disarmer and Charlotte bails as we go to a break. During the commercials, Charlotte hits Becky with a hell of a backbreaker, taking control. She drops a bunch of knees into Lynch’s back before applying a chinlock. All through break, she continues to attack and wear down Becky’s back. Finally, Becky manages to catch Charlotte unawares on the apron, kicking her onto the ground and leaping onto her.
When we come back, Charlotte and Becky get into a massive slugfest. Charlotte winds up the chops to Becky, following them up with a running knee to the face and a knee drop to the back of Becky’s head. Naomi is watching on a monitor backstage, and Charlotte tries for the Figure Eight. Becky counters, and comes off the second rope to put Charlotte down and hit her with the Bexploder! Firearm hits, putting Charlotte down for the near fall.
Becky wants the Disarmer and Charlotte shuts her down fast. Natural Selection is attempted, countered, and turned into the Disarmer, but Charlotte rolls Becky up, getting a near fall! Big boot fells Becky, but she gets the shoulder up. Charlotte heads to the corner for a moonsault, and Becky rolls out of the way and leaps on Becky for the Disarmer, dragging her into the centre of the ring! Charlotte taps out!
Great match between two of the strongest talents on the show. 3.5 Stars.
Becky and Charlotte shake hands post-match, and then Tamina and Lana walk out. Lana’s in her swimsuit, which is like her final form, and the Natalya attacks Charlotte and Becky from behind. All three heels beat on the faces, which is a great way to make sure they break up, guys.
Then Natalya tries to apply the Sharpshooter to Tamina. Lana makes the save and then yells at Natalya in Russian, allowing Tamina to superkick Natalya. Lana and Tamina stare deeply into each others’ eyes, because what the hell is this even?
Renee Young is backstage with Naomi. She asks her whether this could be her biggest challenge yet, and Naomi says that’s exactly what she wants: bigger and bigger challenges every single time.
Carmella appears to remind Naomi of the briefcase she’s holding, thereby guaranteeing that she will not cash in at Battleground. Because whenever they’re going to do it, everyone acts like they’ve completely forgotten about it.
Another edition of the Fashion Files: The Fashion X-Files. This is the greatest thing either of these two have ever done in WWE. They even reference Se7en, for God’s sake.
Also more of this, please
Main even time, and AJ Styles makes his entrance. Shinsuke Nakamura follows, and Baron runs after him with his briefcase, attempting to smash him with it. But apparently a really large gentleman sprinting at you makes a bit of noise, because Shinsuke hears him and ducks the briefcase shot, unloading on the guy. Owens and Styles run out to assist their respective partners, finally separating so that the match can start.
After the break, Baron Corbin has the advantage over AJ Styles after literally punching him out of the air. He chokes Styles on the ropes before tagging in Owens, hitting a cheap shot to the US Champ. Owens smacks away at Styles before running into a dropkick. Shinsuke tags in, putting Owens in the corner with Good Vibrations before hitting a step-up enzuigiri.
Nakamura drops a pair of knees onto Owens, but gets low-bridged out of the ring with Corbin’s assistance. He sends Nakamura back into the ring to eat a back senton from Owens, then tags in to hit a bunch of stomps to Shinsuke. Owens tags in again, punishing Nakamura before bringing Corbin back in. Corbin applies a bearhug to Nakamura, crushing the man’s core and ribs. Nakamura fights out, ducks two clotheslines and puts Corbin down momentarily with a dropkick.
Nakamura tries to tag out, but Baron catches him and then knocks Styles off the apron. Shinsuke starts battering the fuck out of Corbin with strikes. Owens interferes, taking a boot to the face but allowing Baron to hit Shinsuke with the Deep Six. Shinsuke manages to counter an End of Days attempt, nail Corbin with an enzuigiri and make the tag to Styles!
Styles throws himself onto Owens, firing punches into his face before clotheslining him almost out of his boots. Owens avoids a splash but gets dumped face-first onto the canvas by AJ. Owens sandbags his way out of a fireman’s carry, clotheslining Styles to the mat. Corbin tags in, hurling Styles across the ring. Styles suddenly counters a bodyslam, locking in the Calf Crusher! Corbin reaches the ropes, gets muscled into position for a Phenomenal Forearm, but is saved when Owens trips AJ up on the apron.
Nakamura hurls himself at Owens, hammering him on the outside. Corbin returns the favour to Owens by hurling Nakamura into the timekeeper’s area. He hustles Styles back into the ring, trying for the End of Days. Styles backflips out of it, hits an enzuigiri and Pele Kick. Owens gets a blind tag, catches AJ looking for the Styles Clash to Corbin and superkicks him into a Pop-Up Powerbomb.
Another great match. Both of these teams work really well together. 3 Stars.
The bad: everything Punjabi Prison-related and everything about John Cena’s love affair with the American flag. I also hate this Kanellis gimmick already.
The good: both the Women’s match and the tag team match were fantastic and a great advert for Battleground. Fashion Files, it goes without saying, was wonderful.
Tags: AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Fashion Police, jbl, Jinder Mahal, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Lana, naomi, Natalya, PUNJABI PRISON, Randy Orton, rusev, Shane McMahon, Singh Brothers, smackdown live, tamina, The New Day, the usos, Tom Phillips, WWE