Salutations, amigos. It’s Wednesday morning, me-time, so let’s dive into another episode of SmackDown Live, where Shane is either the visionary leader of the brand who’s doing what it takes to protect it from Zayn and Owens, or the dictatorial figurehead slowly dipping into his father’s personal brand of madness. I’ve made my feelings on that pretty clear, so it’s time to see whether or not I’m right (I’m right).
And hey, shout out to Alabama for not electing Roy Moore. Nothing like waking up to that news to get me enthusiastic for a Wednesday.
When the show starts, Owens and Zayn are backstage in “YEP!” shirts, handing out posters advertising their “Occupy SmackDown Live” movement. They’re enthusiastic; you’ve got to give them that.
I have no words. I am wordless
Meanwhile, AJ Styles is making his appearance on the main stage, WWE Championship hopefully permanently fucking attached to his waist. I mean it: Jinder Mahal had better not get within fucking feet of the damn thing.
Styles welcomes everyone to the House That He Built (or so he claims; he’s never once produced any documents legally proving that). He says that he’s all giddy at the thought of both thwarting and beating the shit out of Jinder Mahal on Sunday, because he’s a fighting champion and also not a fucking wuss. Styles reminds us that Mahal will do literally anything to get the Championship back…and this apparently summons the Singh Brothers. Oh boys: you could have had some self-respect.
Sunny and Cher apologise for the interruption, and say that usually they introduce Jinder Mahal at this time, bu right now they’re in a sulk and that veiny prick can sit and swivel. They show us the footage of them getting attacked by the man who owes them his whole Championship reign, and AJ says that he feels bad for them; he wants them to come to the ring and hug it out.
Wow, this has taken a weird turn.
The Singhs actually do enter the ring and hug Styles, which is really nice, but they say that on Sunday they’d like to be in AJ’s corner. They bitch about Jinder, which Styles seems to really enjoy, and I have fuck-all notion of what’s going on. AJ finally interrupts and asks them why they were by Mahal’s side in India. Goddamn it, Styles: you know that nothing which happens abroad actually really happens.
AJ demands to know whether they’re pulling his pisser, and the Singhs promise that they’re totes done with Mahal. So AJ lets them shake his hands, and then the Modern Day Maharajah arrives in another one of his boss suits. Styles immediately calls BS and kicks the shit out of the Singh Brothers, throwing them out of the ring.
Mahal gets on the apron to yell gruffly at Styles, then wanders off to check on the Singhs.
Sure, the Singhs were probably going for a trap, but this whole thing was fucking weird.
Jesus Christ, Carmella
When we come back, Ruby Riott (urgh) has been jobber entranced, as has the Women’s Champion. Because that ridiculous Singhs segment sure needed to be seen by all of us. We get a video reminder of who the Riott Squad are, for those of you with amnesia or who only watch this show once a month. At least the Riott Squad are mostly doing a better job of appearing scarily dominant than Absolution seems to be managing.
Oh, and Natalya’s on commentary. Merry Christmas.
Ruby and Charlotte move in, with Charlotte taking Riott down repeatedly with waistlocks. A distraction from Logan (actually more just Charlotte taking a random swing at the gal) doesn’t make her lose the advantage and she suplexes Riott, who rolls out of the ring and into a commercial.
During the break, Ruby seizes control of the match and keeps Charlotte floored. When we come back, she manages to throw herself right onto a pair of Charlotte’s knees, which is a tactical no-no. The Women’s Champ roars back into the action, taking Ruby down before Logan hops up onto the apron to yell at her in Kentuckian. Charlotte knocks her back down to the floor, tosses Ruby out and goes out to fuck over both the Riott Squad and Natalya.
She holds her own for a few seconds before Natalya takes her out with a clothesline, ending in the DQ.
Most of this took place during the break, so why not just keep this match back for a PPV rather than sort-of put it on free TV? 2 Stars.
The Riott Squad then reverts to their primary function: fuck up some shit. Charlotte tries to rally back in the ring, but three-on-one are running-away odds. They wear the Women’s Champion down, and are about to introduce the Flair nose to some steel steps when Naomi’s music hits.
Naomi cheerfully heads down towards what at this stage is a three-on-one-and-a-half disadvantage, taking Morgan and Logan out with a double kicks. She shoves Riott into the ring and does her best to hammer her into a red puddle. A Rear View connects, and Ruby is pulled out of the ring by the rest of the Squad. They head up the ramp, only to get jumped by Tamina, Carmella and Lana! The Welcoming Committee is back, motherfuckers!
Backstage, Bryan is on the phone, telling Shane that everything’s under control. We’ve had two brawls in two segments, you bearded liar. Sami and Owens show up to put up an anti-Shane poster, doing their best not to bother him. Sami Zayn is the funniest fucking man on SmackDown Live.
These guys just can’t have a match
Bobby Roode is now on commentary, which means Corey Graves’ erection is tilting the announce table. This match is Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin, and Dolph’s finally started to act like an adult and use his fucking entrance music again: good to know. And here’s Baron Corbin: the man you keep forgetting is United States Champion.
Corbin and Ziggler lock up, with Dolph getting backed into a corner. Baron shoves him, gets shoved back and smacks Ziggler right in the jaw. Ziggler gets some retribution, hitting a dropkick and a stinger splash before letting Corbin attempt to break his fucking shoulder off as he runs it into the damn ring post.
And now Bobby Roode’s getting up, because you think you’re getting any matches that don’t end in a DQ tonight, you stupid sons of bitches? Glorious DDT hits Ziggler, and then he lays one on Corbin as well.
I guess Breezango haven’t yet parodied 8mm
Meanwhile, on Fashion Files, Breezango has agreed to face the Bludgeon Brothers at Clash of Champions. Well, I guess ending a series with the murder of its two protagonists is a little outside-the-box.
Speaking of the Bludgeon Brothers, they’re right here right now. And they’re facing jobbers, so this is going to be another WWE Studios-produced snuff movie.
Once again, Harper and Rowan make the Riott Squad look positively polite, actually making the match last long enough to show a couple of new double-team moves.
On the money, once again. It’s going to hurt seeing this happen to Breezango, but it’s for the greater good. 2.5 Stars.
Apparently all but two employees are satisfied with how Shane runs the show
Here are Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, still attempting to occupy SmackDown Live. Owens claims that the Yep Movement has arrived. Zayn states that last week management took everything too far, showing us the footage in which Kevin Owens is chained up like a big bad convict and Shinsuke Nakamura gives both men concussions.
KO tells us that Shane McMahon is by far and away the worst McMahon of all, especially with what he’s done to their match this Sunday. He claims that this is all angry impotence from a man frustrated at not being able to defend his family’s honour, and then calls out the SmackDown Live locker room to occupy the ring, like he’s the Enjolras to Sami Zayn’s Marius (there’s a cultured reference for you).
Nobody comes out, meaning that Jinder, Rusev, the Riott Squad et al are just chilling in their locker rooms thinking “meh, I’ve no real complaints”.
Then Daniel Bryan arrives, making his way to the ring. Zayn and Owens welcome him, claiming his as the inspiration for their movement. Bryan asks them what the dickens, and Owens tries to draw a comparison between both of their kampfs only for Bryan to say that the Yes Movement was about the WWE Universe itself: what they wanted and deserved.
Owens and Zayn don’t give up, appealing to Bryan on the grounds that Shane’s a vindictive asshole who only wants to get them fired. Bryan states that he and Shane have an agreement that they will have each others’ backs, but he recognises that talent of Zayn and Owens and so will make sure that the match is called down the middle…and he makes himself the second guest referee.
I’m sure that this is all going to go swimmingly.
Chad Gable probably shouldn’t be allowed a microphone
Aiden English and Rusev are in the ring, with the New Day on commentary. Man, I bet this will have no DQ-esque effect whatsoever on the match like the last two did. English says that he intends to finish the Rusev Day Song, and it’s worth it just to see the big goofy smile on Rusev’s face.
The Usos arrive, criticising English’s early celebration of Christmas. Man, the Usos are strict: it’s already the 12th. They continue to run down everything about English, which is almost enough to be cruel, and then Gable and Benjamin show up. Man, this could not possibly lead to any interference.
Gable says that everyone in the ring or at ringside (using the Official Sami Zayn Definition) is weak, and then says a bunch of other stuff that makes him and Benjamin sound like fucking idiots. The match then starts during a commercial break, because fucking idiocy is contagious.
Rusev and one of the Usos start off, with the Uso in question receiving a pounding from the Bulgarian Brute and his singing partner. When we come back, Rusev has Jey in a bearhug, crushing him. A distraction from Jimmy allows Jey to enzuigiri Rusev’s fucking skull in and tag in his brother.
Jimmy beats the absolute shit out of English, but a Samoan Wrecking Ball is countered by a big kick from English! The Phantom of the WWE leaps into a superkick, but Rusev breaks up the pin! He’s thrown from the ring by Jey, who leaps right into a huge right hand from the Bulgarian Brute! Rusev’s taken out by Jimmy, who has his eyes raked by English, his head superkicked by Rusev and some kind of DDT from English, who gets the pin!
What an accolade (HAH) for Rusev and English. Love the direction this is going in terms of shoring up the Tag Team Division, and liked the energy of this match. 3 Stars.
Renee Young is backstage with AJ Styles, and she asks him how he knew that the Singhs were trying to trick him. AJ says it’s because he’s not four years old and a moron, and is about to say more when Jinder jumps him along with the Singhs.
Wait, hold the phone. Is Jinder wearing a green and red flannel shirt with that tie? Quite the festive look.
Aw, Mojo Rawley got a pre-show match out of his heel turn. Bless his heart.
Byron Saxton may as well sign off with “SmackDown Prevails”
Here’s Randy Orton, followed by Shinsuke Nakamura. Tonight, Nakamura will go one-on-one with Kevin Owens, but first they’re here to talk to Renee Young, who’s feeling cheated that her last interviewee got ambushed at the first question.
Renee asks Randy about the motives of both Bryan ad McMahon this Sunday. He quite diplomatically says that he can’t speak for either of them, but he has his own motivations going into this match: make two people he hates unemployed. Renee asks if Shinsuke agrees, and he says “yep”. You’re a cold man, Shinsuke Nakamura.
When we come back from a quick break, Daniel Bryan is on commentary, admitting that he’s no fucking idea how the whole two-referee stipulation is supposed to work. That is probably the sort of thing you should keep to yourself, Dan. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn arrive, warily approaching the ring.
Owens starts off by clubbing Nakamura as Bryan continues to walk a fine line between being fair and criticising Shane. KO applies a headlock to Shinsuke, keeping it clamped on. Nakamura finally frees himself, but receives a flurry of blows to his trouble. He manages to catch Owens with a big kick, causing KO to dash out of the ring. A distraction from Zayn allows Owens to wrench control back, applying a sleeper to Shinsuke back inside the ring.
Nakamura continues to get worked over, but finally manages to gain some measure of control, propping Owens on the turnbuckle but missing the knee as Owens scrambles out of harm’s way, then pulls Nakamura out of the ring and hurls him into the barricade. During the break KO apparently remained in control of his opponent, and when we rejoin the action he has Shinsuke in a sleeper once again. Man, Nakamura has had about three offensive moves in this match.
Shinsuke finally fights his way free and actually scores some actual…nope, runs into a boot. Jesus. Clothesline puts Nakamura down and Owens continues to abuse him. God, Byron Saxton is practically fellating Shane McMahon right now, the propagandist fuck. Owens lands on a pair of knees, courtesy of Nakamura as Byron Saxton claims that the indies “don’t count”.
Running boot from Shinsuke connects, putting Owens on his ass. KO begins to get seriously worked over, taking strike after strike before receiving a face-first suplex. More kicks drop Owens, and then he takes a bundle of knees to the gut followed up by Good Vibrations. Running knee hits Owens as he’s draped over the turnbuckle. Nakamura heads up to try and superplex KO down from the top rope.
Owens sends Nakamura to the ground and attempts a senton; Shinsuke gets the knees up and tries for an exploder suplex; Owens elbows his way free and accidentally blasts the referee in the face! Bryan gets up and starts undressing the referee, which speaks volumes to SmackDown Live‘s dark undercurrent of sexual harassment in my opinion. He puts on the referee’s shirt as Nakamura avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb and lays Owens out with an enzuigiri. Bryan makes the count, only for a two.
Zayn gets in to yell at Bryan, and gets taken out by Randy. A thumb to the eye and a shove into the ring post disposes of Orton, and then a distraction from Zayn allows Owens to score the Pop-Up Powerbomb and win.
Nakamura looked like an absolute nobody in this match; I get that he’s got no personal stake in the story, but this really hurt his mystique. Byron Saxton’s commentary was like having a nail driven through my skull, which I feel bears mentioning. 2.5 Stars.
As Byron Saxton calls for Bryan’s head, Renee shows up randomly to ask if Owens and Zayn have anything to say to the WWE Universe. Owens says that nobody is going to take this away from them, and that they’re the best in the WWE.
So, the bad: lot of DQs and tomfoolery in this show. I think it was far too early to book Riott/Flair considering the big match potential of it. All in all, this approaching PPV feels a little weak. Plus that whole dumb thing with AJ and the Singhs…urgh. Furthermore, Byron Saxton in general.
The good: the Bludgeon Brothers continue to excel in their role. Sami Zayn is absolutely perfect as a heel, which I’ll admit I’d never envisioned, and the new stipulation for the Owens/Zayn/Nakamura/Orton match (whilst risking overcrowding the contest) has added a new layer of interest. All in all, not a strong exit show. 6/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, byron saxton, charlotte, Corey Graves, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Gable and Benjamin, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Liv Morgan, Natalya, Randy Orton, Ruby Riott, sami zayn, Sarah Logan, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, Singh Brothers, smackdown live, The New Day, the usos, Tom Phillips