Hello everyone. It’s me: your SmackDown Live reviewer and British correspondent, David Spain. And, to be honest, quite glad to be in the British office of the Inside Pulse pop cultural review empire, because apparently Donald Trump’s been planting his fleshy, ketchup-stained lips to the cancer-ravaged mouth of Nazism and pumping breath after breath into its lungs whilst, at the same time, slipping it a discreet bit of tongue.
So, instead of watching Fascism’s frantic struggle for rejuvenation with half-covered eyes, let’s turn instead to WWE: that bastion of liberty, freedom and big metal belts. Allons-y.
Jesus, these headphones are more powerful than I’d have thought: It’s like JBL’s voice is emanating from within my actual head, and it’s only now that I realise that this is what’s been missing from my life.
Tonight, John Cena and Jinder Mahal are giving away a match on free TV. You can already feel the presence of Baron Corbin shot through this match like blood in water, and not just because Baron Corbin lives inside our dreams and turns them into nightmares.
Not so much racism as decent taste
The show proper starts with the Singh Brothers, who have been given shirts which are both more culturally linked to India and, devastatingly, aren’t able to be unbuttoned down to their bellybuttons. And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. They introduce Jinder Mahal, who has eschewed the chance to wear a long lace shirt in favour of another bitchin’ suit.
Jinder begins talking about India, who is apparently celebrating its Independence Day. Can’t quite recall whose country they gained independence from; that’s really neither important nor relevant to this topic.
Anyway, he’s decided to throw his own celebration, which means watching a bunch of performers dance for about ten seconds. Say what you like about Jinder: he doesn’t let his personal life interfere too much with his profession. The American crowd boos this, clearly connoisseurs of Indian dancing who are unimpressed with this performance. Jinder then introduces a short lady who is apparently going to sing the national anthem of India. The crowd boos again, and I’m with them here: her voice is all over the fucking shop. The performers start dancing again, and the Singhs start dancing. Shit’s bananas.
Jinder berates the crowed for not handing this sub-par performance a participation trophy, and promises that he’ll piss them off even more when he beats John Cena. He declares that he’ll defeat Cena far more convincingly than Nakamura ever did, and considering what Shinsuke did to John, Jinder Mahal just threatened to literally murder Cena tonight. And WWE would broadcast it: these savages would put the Crucifixion on the WWE Network. Mahal then promises to defeat Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam, and this brings out the Artist himself.
Shinsuke dances his way to the ring, watched by a bemused-as-fuck Jinder. When he reaches gets into the ring, Mahal criticises him for the lack of respect he’s showing for the commemoration of India’s independence from
Britain someone. Shinsuke responds that, in Japan, this is a commemoration of all those who have died in war. Holy shit, did he just out-commemorate Jinder? Did he just pull commemoration-rank? Nakamura then promises that SummerSlam will be the day that Mahal loses the WWE Championship to him. It’s not clear whether he believes that this should become a national holiday, but I assume there’s pretty clear political support for that.
We get an update on the condition of Ric Flair, who is recovering from being cut open by someone other than himself.
Tactics and Strategy: the Carmella Story
Here’s Becky Lynch, getting set to take on someone who actually has a match at SummerSlam: bless. That person is Natalya, who makes her way to the ring dressed like a cross between a gothic lolita and someone wearing a bin liner. Naomi then dances her way out as well, joining the blokes on commentary.
Becky and Natalya lock up, and Natalya latches on a headlock early. Becky gets a headlock of her own, is shot off the ropes and knocks Natty the fuck down. She rolls up Natalya, trying to grab a win before her opponent’s number one contendership kicks in and automatically hands Nat the match. Nat slaps Becky across the face, who has to take a moment to process what exactly the fuck before punching Natalya because who the fuck just slaps someone? Becky Lynch, that’s who: she slaps Nat hard enough to spin her whole head around and send her out of the ring. A baseball slide knocks Natalya into a commercial break.
When we come back, Nat has Becky in an abdominal stretch, that lucky gal. Becky’s not at all up for that sort of thing, and certainly not from someone dressed like Natalya, and fights her way out of it with a hip toss. She elbows away any further advances from Neidhart, then starts hitting her signature moves: clotheslines, calf kicks and a Bexploder suplex. She readies the forearm, but Natalya dashes forward…right into the forearm. It’s that kind of strategy that’s going to win Nat the belt this Sunday.
Becky stalks her opponent, who can probably be counted on to hurl herself into the path of any forthcoming offence. She tries to apply the Disarmer, but Natalya manages to turn it into a Sharpshooter; Becky counters once again into an attempted Disarmer; Natalya turns it into a pin and Lynch just gets the shoulder up. An enzuigiri hits Nat hard enough to drop her into a brain-damaged tomorrow, then Becky ascends to the top rope, not satisfied with merely institutionalising her opponent when she has the opportunity to cripple her too.
Natalya manages to fling herself out of the way of Lynch’s leg drop, apparently possessing enough brain power to comprehend that whole person landing on her = bad. She applies the Sharpshooter, her body working purely on the instincts Bret Hart instilled in her as an embryo. Becky taps out, because nope to all of this.
Not a bad match: always nice to see two submission artists go at it. Natalya has never really seemed like a dominant offensive wrestler, and really didn’t seem to in this match either; could be interesting going forward to Sunday. 2.5 Stars.
Nat then locks in the Sharpshooter again, because fuck Becky for thinking she could have any relevance when she’s not a number one contender. Naomi slowly and almost exasperatedly gets in the ring to break it up, but you can tell she’s thinking the same thing.
Natalya backs off, the sheer glare from Naomi’s outfit enough to blind her. Suddenly, Carmella’s music hits. Of course: Naomi’s been doing a gruelling five minutes of commentary; she’s exhausted and weak! Now is the time for a cash in! it’s incandescently brilliant!
Carmella addresses Naomi and Natalya before reminding them that she’s Miss Money in the Bank. She wishes the pair of them good luck in the match on Sunday, and telegraphs a cash in. I really hope she’s not going to turn up on Sunday, because if she’s actually planning on doing it then she’s an idiot. CM Punk had about ten seconds to realise that Del Rio was about to cash in after an exhausting match with Cena, and even he had the wherewithal to bean the big Mexican bastard in the side of the head and fuck off smartly. If we’re reliving male Money in the Bank history, then that’s a moment that Naomi should recreate.
We revisit last week, when AJ Styles threw himself backwards in a flying kick without looking at his opponent and had the audacity to look surprised when he didn’t hit the right guy. Apparently he’s going to apologise to Shane McMahon tonight, whilst his only response to intentionally and physically beating Shane to a bloody pulp half a year ago was to have a match with him at WrestleMania where he knocked him unconscious. AJ Styles has an untraditional sense of morality, but a career of multiple blows to the head will do that to you.
Meanwhile, Lana is in the women’s locker room. Or a locker room, anyway; it’s possible that she’s just popped into the men’s and is going through their shit. And now Tamina’s here: God, I guess it’s open season for going into the guys’ locker room now. Chad Gable is cowering in the shower, terrified that he’s gone into the wrong room and is going to be put on the sex offender’s register.
Tamina is pissed that she doesn’t have a match tonight, and Lana tells her that she’s not ready. The Snukette, understandably, feels that this is a hell of a thing for Lana to say to her considering the context in which this conversation is taking place, that context being three failed title shots. Lana tells Tamina that “they” don’t fear her. It’s not certain who “they” are; Tamina doesn’t ask, which is something that a smarter person would probably establish before going forward with any of this. Lana promises to make sure that people will fear Tamina, and this is rapidly becoming a very weird mix of The Godfather and a Disney movie.
And a dash of whatever kind of movie it’ll be when Lana transforms Tamina into girl-Rusev and runs away with her. Thelma and Louise?
Daniel Bryan is at another part of backstage, potentially his office but if so that’s a shitty office. The Usos arrive and want to make sure they know which members of the New Day that they’re facing. I think that’s the first time that anyone’s ever actually thought to check that, and this makes the Usos the smartest men in professional wrestling. Then again, since Chris Nowinski left that’s been a “classiest girl at Juggalo gathering” sort of deal.
Bryan tells them that they’re facing Big E and Xavier Woods, and so the Usos ask if they can get a crack at Kingston and Woods tonight in order to gain a measure of revenge for last week’s beating. Bryan tells them that he can make it happen, then blows all Uso goodwill by acting what we’ll call “embarrassingly white”. He actually makes one of the Usos corpse, and you can actually hear Randy Savage slapping him offscreen.
Shoulda stayed in the shower, Chad
Rusev’s approaching the ring, and we have a little look back at Rusev trying to kick the jaw of Orton’s face last week. Tonight he faces Chad Gable, and if I wasn’t on the SummerSlam card I would be doing my absolute damndest to avoid eye-contact with anyone who was. For reference: Becky Lynch.
But Chad Gable is all hyped up and shiny, and still determined to convince Kurt Angle to adopt him and let him share a room with Jason Jordan again. Rusev teases a test of strength, but halfway there switches to a “punch and kick him until he stops moving” kind of strategy. Gable’s able to catch Rusev with a big old kick to the face, then belly-to-bellys the sizeable motherfucker across the ring.
Rusev rolls to the outside, because fuck that noise. He catches Gable on the outside and literally hurls him into the steel steps. That is not good for a man’s ability to not be in a wheelchair. Rusev continues to slam Gable’s head against the steps before launching him over the announce table as the referee makes the fastest count ever, desperate not to prolong the Passion of Chad Gable. Rusev and Gable are both counted out, but one of them doesn’t care and the other one has other things on his mind, like writhing in agony.
Over in moments, but they were violent, exciting moments. 2 Stars.
Rusev clears off an announce table and then applies an Accolade on top of it. My God, imagine how little difference that makes. Apparently Rusev recognises this, and breaks the hold out of embarrassment. He grabs a microphone and gets into the ring. The word “Randy” is barely out of the Bulgarian’s mouth before Orton literally teleports in front of him and nails him with an RKO. I feel like we need to address Orton’s ability to appear out of nowhere like that; it’s like his time with the Wyatts has left him with some bad habits.
LOOK AT WHERE YOU’RE KICKING
And now it’s time for Apology Hour with AJ Styles. I know Styles is the hero in this situation here, but I refuse to entertain the notion that AJ would apologise if Shane wasn’t a huge component of his title match on Sunday. Again: he’s not apologised for reducing Shane to a bloody sack of flesh, motivated solely by his desire for a wrestling match.
AJ asks if Shane can come out, and McMahon joins him. He tells Styles that there’s no need for an apology, and that he’s special guest referee because he can take a hit and keep going. “Keep going” is a pretty generous description for the wussy laying-on-the-ground shtick that Shane was pulling last week, but nice try.
Styles says he just wants Shane to know is that the kick was an accident. But what he wants to know is if McMahon’s still going to be impartial. Shane says no, either through honesty or the most basic level subterfuge. But he also promises to respond in kind to any other kicks or punches AJ sends his way: ah, the Earl Hebner school of refereeing.
AJ Styles, master diplomatist, accuses Shane of threatening him. And you don’t make unsubstantiated allegations without Kevin Owens arriving to top them, because here’s KO right now. Owens asks Styles why he’s getting so pissed off, and points out that Shane is totally right. He assures Shane that if he punches, kicks or strangles him to death during the match then it will be a total accident: purely unintentional. He offers to shake Shane’s hand, but the Commish tells him that this would be inappropriate, instead suggesting that he shake hands with AJ.
Owens actually offers the hand, whilst Styles looks super-duper-suspicious. They immediately begin yelling at each other, and then shoving. Shane tries to get between the pair of them, and almost ends up getting punched in the face by Styles. Shane grabs the hand, yelling at Styles. I don’t know if he thinks that this wasn’t an accident, but if that’s the impression he got then he absolutely shouldn’t be the special guest referee on Sunday. Great choice, Daniel Bryan.
Then KO tries to superkick Styles, who must have been able to spot the approaching kick in the reflection from Shane’s eyes, because that is literally the only way. Shane goes down, again punching a real hole in his “I can take a hit” theory. Sure, they’d be saying the last rites over a real ref, but this still isn’t a vote of confidence right now.
An Uso segment without microphones is an Uso segment worth having
It’s a New Day, yes it is. This is the match that the Usos requested earlier tonight, where they will take on Woods and Kingston: a different combination than they will face at SummerSlam.
The New Day mic up and address the Usos. They seem totes unconcerned with their opponents and are ready to face them anytime and anyplace, promising that they will exit SummerSlam still the Tag Team Champions.
The Usos make their entrance, joining them in the ring. It might just be the headphones, but this is a pretty damn decent new entrance music. Then again, my skull is pretty much reverberating inside my face, so it really might just be the headphones.
Kofi begins the match with a kick to Jey’s tum-tum and another to the face. Woods tags in, hitting a goddamn flurry of offence in double teams. Jimmy rolls out of the ring, 100% done with this ish. The New Day follows them out, leading to a brawl on the outside that YEAH, IS WAY BETTER OFF ON THE COMMERCIAL BREAK, WWE.
When we come back, Jey Uso is smacking Kofi around and JBL is trying to be down with the kids by mentioning the Night King: settle down, Grandpa. Bodyslam to Kingston connects, but he’s not that keen to take a second one, back suplexing Jey instead. Jimmy and Woods tag in, and Xavier fucks up Jimbo’s ish all over the ring. Jey gets into the ring, is able to elevate Woods out on the apron but runs right into a kick to the head.
Staggering to his feet and trying to remember which Uso he is, Jey gets himself upright but misses the blind tag between Kofi and Woods. Both New Day members hit him with kicks to the belly, then two to the skull. Christ, Jey probably thinks he’s Rikishi now. Woods and Jey are dumped out of the ring, and Jimmy counters Kingston’s Trouble in Paradise attempt with a Samoan Drop attempt. Kofi shoves him away, hits him with a backbreaker and waits for Woods to finish the job. But Jey shoves Woods off the top rope, hanging him up in the impact.
Kofi takes a hard shot to the leg, then a pair of superkicks that resets his accent to Jamaican and wins the Usos the match.
Smart move, letting him pin the non-combatant from Sunday’s match. This was full of promises for another awesome PPV match, and I can’t wait. 3 Stars.
Fashion Peaks finale, and I refuse to recap this: you can watch the full thing in all it’s beauty and glory.
Holy fucking shit
Main event time, AND THE SINGH BROTHERS HAVE REGAINED THEIR SLUTTY SHIRTS. Let the trumpets sound and let us give thanks to whatever God is up there, for They are kind. The Singhs introduce Jinder Mahal and his obscene road-map of veins.
John Cena arrives, mere days before the Prince of Calamity Baron Corbin rends the flesh from his bones and devours the marrow therein. But right now he’s standing up for Truth, Justice and the American Way, which depending on who you listen to currently involves either racial genocide or fighting Nazis.
Jinder stares down the man whom earlier tonight he literally promised to murder. Then he goes for a test of strength, seemingly wearing Cena down with his horrifying vascularity. Jinder kicks Cena in a gut and wrenches on a headlock, but Cena shoots him off the ropes and knocks his ass down before getting backed into a corner by Jinder. Samir Singh leaps up onto the apron to give Cena a punch as the referee’s attention is distracted. And yes: it’s the same referee from that AJ Styles/Kevin Owens match. How did you know?
Jinder throws Cena out of the ring so the Singh Brothers can TAUNT HIM. This is way too adult for WWE, so they cut to a commercial break. When we come back, Cena dodges a charge and immediately starts going for the Five Moves of Doom. What, you think Jinder Mahal’s getting the sunset flip powerbomb? The springboard stunner? The Throwback? We get the shoulder tackles, the spin-out powerbomb and the Five Knuckle Shuffle before Jinder uses his own finisher: “The Singh Brothers Drag My Lifeless Corpse Out Of The Ring”!
Cena chases Jinder, who scoots around the ring and back inside to escape, LIKE A CHAMPION. But then the Singh Brothers both grab Cena’s leg and hold him there for Jinder to kick in the face. The ref finally gets that there’s something fucky going on here, and chucks the Singhs out of the ring. They’re not too happy about this, with one of them even ripping his shirt wide open. Phwoar: look at that. You don’t get that on RAW, I’ll tell you.
Once the ref and Jinder stop ogling, and Jinder wonders why he never kept employing the Great Khali, he turns around and gets caught in the STF. He crawls over to the ropes like a turtle who pimped out his shell to look exactly like John Cena (turtles are fucking weird). Cena goes for the AA, but Mahal grabs the ropes as though they’re…I don’t know; let’s go with “steroids”. He hangs Cena up on the ropes and then waits for him to get up before knocking him silly with a knee to the face.
Jinder stalks Cena, goes for the Khallas, but Cena powers out and hits him with the AA! And Mahal kicks out! I guarantee you, Mahal is going to be wrestling with an erection for the rest of this match. Don’t look at his shorts (LOOK). Cena pops Mahal up on the top and brings him down with a SUPER AA. He goes for the cover, is about to get the win and then Baron Corbin (who the ref and Cena were trying like mad to wait for) dashes into the ring and breaks up the pin. Technically the Money in the Bank briefcase broke up the pin, I guess, because Corbin slid the damn thing into the cover.
This seemed pretty by the numbers, but they let Jinder kick out of the damn AA, and that’s something I wasn’t expecting. Ending was visible from space, but then so is Baron Corbin’s perpetual and all-consuming darkness. 2.5 Stars.
Baron stalks Cena, ready to feast, before picking up the briefcase and clobbering him. And then he walks away. From the ring. In which a SUPER UNCONSCIOUS Jinder Mahal is lying. Oh…oh wait…
BARON CORBIN CASHES IN!! Baron Corbin is officially smarter than Carmella! The ref checks that Jinder’s ready; Corbin punches Cena…and Jinder rolls him up for the win!
Okay, I love Baron Corbin (because we have no choice) and I am super-meh on Jinder, but that was phenomenal. I am laughing hysterically as I type this. I have never been more amused by WWE. Goddamn, I love this business.
I’m pretty sure both Cena and Jinder have erections now.
This is the greatest day in the history of this sport.
The Bad: nothing much, really. The Indian celebration was pretty dull, but I guess they couldn’t make it too good or people might not actually boo.
The Good: pretty much all of the matches were decent or better quality, and that ending was some of the best entertainment I’ve ever had in wrestling. 10/10 purely for the last five minutes. God, I need a lie down now.
Tags: AJ Styles, byron saxton, Carmella, Chad Gable, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, James Ellsworth, jbl, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Lana, naomi, Natalya, Randy Orton, rusev, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, Singh Brothers, smackdown live, tamina, The New Day, the usos, Tom Phillips, WWE