Spain’s SmackDown Report and Review for November 14th 2017: BRAND WARS

Hi everyone, and welcome to the final pre-Survivor Series SmackDown Report. I’m your reviewer, David Spain, and it’s time to buckle up and wonder A) when (not “if”) RAW is going to invade tonight, and B) whether they were able to bribe Lesnar to come with them. Because if you’re going to declare war, then open with a nuke.

I was genuinely afraid Shane was going to make everyone drink some Flavor Aid

We open the show with every SmackDown Live wrestler crammed up against each other in the backstage area, so there’s every chance that Brock Lesnar has already corralled them like they’re cows and he’s a big, handsome cowboy who doesn’t always wear a shirt and occasionally chews on a toothpick. That’s probably literally what’s happened.

But no: it turns out that this is some kind of pseudo-religious cult/prayer meeting led by Shane McMahon, who asks them whether they can count, suckas. In fact, he pretty much does the entire wrestling version of Cyrus’ speech from The Warriors, though it loses some of its oomph when you have to crowbar a hashtag in there. We get it, WWE: you know what computers are. Now stop referring to your media presence and start smashing those computers over each others’ heads.

Shane says that tonight could be the night that RAW retaliates, so they’d best keep a lookout and the audience had better keep watching this entire episode. He promises that, after Sunday night, then nobody’s going to look down on them anymore. He tells Becky that Asuka said that she’d break the entire SmackDown women’s locker room and also that she said all Irish people were potato-less drunks. Becky responds by promising to break Asuka’s arm, and everyone reacts like she just dropped some sick rhymes rather than making a threat, which is how all of these people communicate anyway. Becky then high-fives Bobby Roode, Baron Corbin’s United States Championship and Konor, which is both a stable I would totally support and a foursome that I absolutely would not watch.

I mean, of course I’d watch it: it’s got Bobby Roode involved.

Shane McMahon is totally down for some chick getting her arm broken, the sick fuck, and then tells us that Sin Cara and Baron Corbin are going to have a match tonight in WWE’s first experiment into how many ways, exactly, a match can end. But this match is for the Championship, and to decide who’s going to face the Miz. Corbin promises to end Miz’s days, and receives some more slaps to his title from Becky. I’m really shipping this now, although not as much as I support Becky having a run with the US Championship.

Shane then addresses the fact that Triple H is in this match, and that it’s finally time for him to take revenge on the man who once raped his sister. But they’ve got John Cena, who’s both never raped anyone and is still more or less an instant-win condition. Shane moves onto the Shield/New Day match, and the New Day get a chant of “SmackDown rocks” going. Holy shit, I keep rewinding this to check how many heels are breaking character to get in on this: this is my favourite SmackDown segment ever, and they need to have all of these guys interacting with each other way more. Everyone starts dancing and chanting, and all this needs is for Breezango to show up dressed as the Blues Brothers and it’s the best SmackDown ever.

Bryan was also clearly worried about the Flavor Aid

Okay, now we’re out on the main stage, and here’s Daniel Bryan, AKA the only man doing any fucking work right now. We see footage from last month of Kane desperately trying to prove to management that his old tag team partner can take a bump and should be cleared to wrestle, the big old Libertarian softy.

Bryan says it’s great to be back after being a casualty in a turf war he had nothing to do with. He takes some responsibility, because he put literally any faith in filthy reds. He says that you can knock SmackDown down and they’ll keep getting up unless a doctor tells them they legally can’t. He says that RAW is rattled, which is why they put Triple H on the team, and then echoes his Cassandraic warning about the possibility of retaliation from RAW. Bryan promises that they’ll be ready, and that he bleeds blue. Jesus, no wonder they don’t let him wrestle.

Daniel says that they will prove on Sunday that SmackDown is a better show than RAW. No need to convince me, Danny Boy; I’ve been saying that for a while now. He mentions the addition of John Cena to their team, in case y’all had missed that, and then introduces AJ Styles.

Styles arrives and gets a hero’s welcome that is fucking deserved. He saved us all from Jinder Mahal and Jinder Mahal matches. Bryan waits until AJ is just about to speak and then stops him: what a dickhead. He tells AJ that they want to treat their Champions here just as well as they do on RAW. Oh, so Styles can just not show up for weeks and then do a ten minute PPV match? Ah, no: Bryan’s offering him an advocate. The crowd are totally up for it, and so AJ goes along with it. I love tonight.

Bryan busts out a decent Heyman impression which gets a pop, and takes issue with Paul claiming a premature victory over Styles. He then calls Lesnar a dumbass and a quitter, because Daniel Bryan is getting back into active competition if Brock Lesnar has to drag him there himself. And AJ Styles is going to give Lesnar every opportunity to quit at Survivor Series: he can’t outlast Styles; he won’t outlast ten minutes. Brock’s not going to be able to keep up with AJ, and he will be conquered by the best in-ring performer of our generation.

Styles says that he wants to add something. He agrees that fatigue will be a factor, but acknowledges that he’s still the underdog. This isn’t a Rocky movie, but an AJ Styles production, and he’ll do anything he can to take Brock Lesnar down.

Goddamn, this is the most intense free show I’ve ever seen. Between these two segments, you really feel like some serious shit is going to go down.

Post-break, AJ Styles is backstage and runs into Jinder Mahal. You know, there’s something about Jinder without a Championship that just…just looks right. Mahal tells Styles that once Lesnar’s done with him, he’s going to be WWE Champion again. Haha: get fucked, you talentless douchebag.

Holy shit, an actual pin

It’s time to put this one to bed once and for all: it’s Baron Corbin vs. Sin Cara MMMMCVIII – This Time It Matters. This has big Survivor Series implications, the implication being that if Sin Cara wins then the match on Sunday is going to suck balls.

We get the post-entrance announcements (dat bigmatchfeel tho), the bell rings, and Corbin gets headscissored off the bat. He tries to use his power, but Sin Cara’s speed and athleticism eventually knocks Corbin out of the ring and into a commercial break. During the break, the two battle on the outside and in the ring, exchanging control. By the time we come back, Baron has seized the advantage and has slowed the pace down. He clotheslines the sweet fuck out of Sin Cara in the corner, then throws him to the mat and punches his damn lights out.

Sin Cara manages to fire back, hitting punches and kicks before a springboard elbow and a clothesline knocks Corbin to the outside again! Sin Cara leaps through the ropes, taking the Champion out. Back in the ring, Sin Cara retains control, countering a chokeslam/backbreaker into a roll-up that almost wins him the match! A springboard crossbody nets another near-fall.

Corbin misses a charge to the corner, dashes out and back into the ring, misses the clothesline but manages to catch Sin Cara and plant him with Deep Six! Sin Cara barely gets the shoulder up, and Baron’s jimmies are rustled. Sin Cara hangs Corbin up, then kicks him in the skull. Baron’s low-bridged and then Sin Cara moonsaults onto him from the outside! Back in the ring, Sin Cara heads up to the top; Corbin manages to sprint under his dive and then hits the End of Days! Corbin wins: a victory for SmackDown Live in general!

One of Corbin’s better matches, and it gives me hopes that we can put that whole Money in the Bank bullshit behind us. Props to Sin Cara: great work following a long absence. 2.5 Stars.

We recap the last few weeks of fuckery, starting from #UnderSiege (urgh…) to Stephanie being a total cow, like, every second of every hour of every day.

That being said, we did get to witness the beauty of Jason Jordan’s crying face, and witness two heels get cheered (and in Wyatt’s case thanked) for their consecutive attacks on him. I think it’s about time to admit that Kurt possibly could have had a better bastard son.

Backstage, Shane and Bryan are having one of their odd-couple meetings. There are some hints that things aren’t all well, with Bryan complaining about Shane going out at night with his friends and starting a brand war. Bryan then leaves before Shane can explain himself, which is not how you address issues in a relationship.

In which the Flairs and the Harts continue their multi-generational rivalry

Second title match of the night, with Charlotte Flair coming down to the ring. We get a recap of Natalya mercilessly beating Charlotte with a chair in a bold act of self-defence. Post-entrance announcements (big, match, match, big, big, bah gawd it’s big match feel!) and we get this thing going.

Charlotte immediately goes for the roll-up, then backs Natalya into the corner. A huge fist from Natty decks Charlotte, and the ensuing brawl takes Natalya out to the floor before Charlotte hurls her cat-loving ass into the barricade. Boot to the face inside the ring sends Natalya out of the ring again, and we head to a break with Natalya sitting on her ass wondering if Charlotte might have been annoyed by that vicious volley of chair shots last month).

When we come back, Natalya has Charlotte in a Mexican surfboard despite being from Canada. Charlotte escapes and starts chopping the false Mexican across the boobs. Natalya clotheslines her down to the mat and latches on a sleeper hold, even though she’s awake! Natalya runs the ropes, heading back for Charlotte, who sees her coming and spears the fuck out of her. Natalya kicks out and Charlotte goes for the Figure Eight after carefully positioning herself in front of the turnbuckles so Nat can kick her into them when she counters.

Natalya gets out of the Figure Four and seems frustrated at not being able to put the challenger away. She slaps her across the face, because there’s no way pissing Charlotte Flair off could conceivably backfire, and then goes for the Sharpshooter. Charlotte counters with a slap of her own, rolling Natalya up. Natalya kicks out, wants a Discus Clothesline, but gets suplexed into the corner.

At this stage, Natalya is a hundred percent done with this shit and has plans on leaving. Charlotte says “fuck that”, and kicks her in the face from the apron. She then decides to moonsault from the barricade, which I wouldn’t fucking do with my WWE 2K18 avatar (WWE 2K18: enjoy the frustration of a barely-finished and glitch-infested career mode!). Natalya also thinks that this is a dumb idea for stupid people, but rather than demonstrating her disapproval through witty prose like what I do, she opts instead for a fucking powerbomb against the ringpost (somewhere backstage Kevin Owens briefly looked up in interest, and then looked down again with a grunt).

The commentators discuss Charlotte’s competitive spirit, whilst I here use the word “dumbass”, as Natalya slaps Charlotte before bundling her back into the ring. She goes for the Sharpshooter once again, and this time locks it in. Charlotte screams in pain, really not enjoying being tortured in front of her home town. Natalya drags her away from the ropes, though doesn’t do that the second time for some reason. Charlotte is able to hurl Natalya through the ropes, then boots the Champion in the face as she returns to the ring. Natalya’s shoulders are down, but I guess we just don’t care about that, and anyway Natalya taps out! Charlotte is the new Women’s Champion! It’s Charlotte Flair vs. Alexa Bliss!

Great match, and the right choice. A heel vs. heel match works great for Corbin and Miz, whereas here it would just make the match feel as though it lacked something. All good here. 3 Stars.

Renee Young pops into the ring to ask about Survivor Series and Alexa Bliss. Charlotte says this Championship is all she’s wanted since coming to SmackDown. The crowd chant that she deserves it, making Charlotte tear up a little. She promises to make Alexa bow down to SmackDown and then rambles a little about Ric. We get it: your Dad’s Ric Flair.

And then Ric Flair comes out to greet her and they hug. This would be sweeter if I didn’t remember all those times the bastard cheated to keep her Women’s Champ on RAW.

Chad Gable is definitely the less-pathetic former-American Alpha member

Gable and Benjamin are in the ring, awaiting the Usos. The Tag Team Champs come down the ramp, talking trash about the Bar. Match gets underway, and Jimmy starts off the singles match by unloading on Gable, sending him to the outside. A distraction from Benjamin allows Chad to take control, stomping the Uso in the corner before going right after the left knee once again.

During the break, Gable continues to work over the knee, keeping Jimmy grounded throughout most of the break. Gable is screwing SmackDown in advance of Sunday’s match, and that’s just not okay. Chad misses the moonsault, gets his legs kicked out from under him and clotheslined all over the shop before getting dropped, Samoan-style. Samoan wrecking ball connects, getting two for Jimmy Uso.

Uso goes for the dive through the ropes, but Gable dashes into the ring and levels Jimmy with a kick to the head before hurling him into the ropes and out of the ring. Jey and Chad get into a bit of shit-talking on the outside before Gable shoves Jey. Jey chases Gable back into the ring before kicking Shelton Benjamin in the face. Gable knocks Jey off the apron, but turns around into a superkick which nets Jimmy the win.

Good match, with some great aggression from Gable. 2.5 Stars.

Shady Sami Zayn is backstage when Kevin Owens shows up so they can bitch about Shane McMahon, which is pretty much all they talk about and they can only talk about it to each other because everyone else is bored by it. They boost their egos by saying “The Sami and Kevin Show” and “The Kevin and Sami Show” a bunch of times, then head out to have a match.

If Owens and Zayn met Miz their combined smugness would destroy the universe

Main event time, and here are the New Day, ready for a match with Owens and Zayn. They mic up, talking about their upcoming match with the Shield, selling it as the Hounds of Justice vs. the Unicorns of the WWE. They compare the two species for a moment, and then Kofi mentions that they’ve always been a cohesive unit, whereas the Shield is certainly going to break apart before WrestleMania.

Owens and Zayn make their entrance, and it’s time for the match. Zayn and Woods start off, with Big E acting as Xavier’s partner and Kofi on the outside. Sami throws his shirt at Woods to commence the hostilities, and shit’s on. Zayn applies a headlock, gets thrown off the ropes and knocks Woods down. Some more rope-running and Sami eats a headscissors before being subjected to the Unicorn Stampede. Missile dropkick takes out Zayn, who nevertheless is able to reach Owens and tag out.

KO enters the match, teeing off on Woods. Xavier manages to drop Owens into the ropes and hit a missile dropkick to Owens. Big E tags in, and the two men knock the shit out of Owens before he rolls his Canadian way out of the ring. Woods turns his attention to Zayn, but this allows Owens to drag him out of the ring, gaining the advantage heading into the commercial break.

When we come back, Zayn has Woods caught and tags in Owens. He latches a sleeper onto the former Tag Team Champion, keeping him grounded and away from Big E. A DDT puts Woods down with more authority, and Owens drags him over to Zayn. Sami chops at Xavier’s breasts, but Woods is able to knock Owens off the apron and hot tag Big E! Zayn gets belly-to-bellied and then Warrior Splashed. Owens is thrown into a boot from Woods, who throws himself out of the ring after Owens, and then…

Sierra.

Hotel.

India.

Echo.

Lima.

Delta.

Shield.

Everyone stops, staring around themselves, and then we see them, in the crowd. Wearing…

Oh dear Jesus, those are the dumbest shirts I’ve ever seen. If those were Kurt Angle’s idea then he absolutely deserves to lose his job for this.

Anyway, Owens and Zayn seem to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the New Day, which is a hell of a surprise, as the Shield get onto the apron…and then both Zayn and Owens roll out of the ring. Ah, boys: never change. And then the Shield get in the ring and start stomping the New Day. The Usos run out and start taking the Shield on too! And then the Bar hits the ring, evening up the odds!

Backstage, the RAW Women’s Division burst into the SmackDown Women’s Locker Room, laying waste to everyone inside! Charlotte’s left standing…briefly, before Alexa Bliss hits her with something. What, we didn’t put any guys on their door to guard them from this? I know: Asuka’s a scary woman, but I’d still bet on Baron Corbin if the two of them had a match.

Meanwhile, some parts of Team RAW must have gotten lost on the way out here, because Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Titus O’Neill and Apollo Crews have only just arrived. Shane’s there too, fighting with his locker room…and here’s Braun. Wait, they played his music? Did they hold the technician’s family hostage? What am I saying: Triple H is on Team RAW, so of course they did.

Strowman gets intercepted by Shinsuke Nakamura who…he just throws out of the ring. Holy shit, there had better be an extended exchange between those two on Sunday, because that is some bullshit right there. And then Shane attacks Strowman, actually doing better than Shinsuke did, and then gets taken out.

Haha, Ziggler’s getting his ass kicked by Braun on the outside. That’s not important; it’s just fucking funny.

Shane is getting the boots put to him by the Shield because, to be honest, fuck you for kicking this whole thing off, Shane. This build towards Survivor Series could have been competitive, dull and polite rather than awesome and violent and slightly uncomfortable.

And then Kurt Angle gets into the ring, and you can tell that the two of them are having serious King of the Ring 2001 flashbacks just from being in the same ring again. I bet that happens whenever they’re in the same town. Angle tells Shane to wait until Sunday if he thinks that this is bad, and then tells the Shield to Triple Powerbomb him, which they do. And then Kurt Angle Slams him, whilst Bryan is presumably backstage, enjoying a whiskey and sitting on a big heap of “I told you so”.

Man, where are Orton and Cena? Actually, where’s Triple H? Why be on the team if you’re not going to show up?

The Shield then hit a second Triple Powerbomb. The audience is oddly hushed, as though even they get that that was a little too far. The show ends with RAW standing on the entrance ramp: a sure reminder that if you start shit then you will, in fact, get hit.

Okay, no point in doing good vs. bad here: that whole show was excellent. Loved the matches (two of which were even for Championships) and loved the invasion. Everything about this show was kicked into high gear, almost like a pre-WrestleMania feeling. I think that this is a sign that all PPVs could be made to feel more important or epic moving forward. Survivor Series has its own gimmick, but the atmosphere of this whole thing was simply amazing and it could be replicated. 10/10. Cannot wait until Sunday. Enjoy the PPV!

 

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