Another week, another SmackDown and another series of increasingly confused exclamations of “what the fuck?” from your humble narrator. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Back to the Tag Team Division, Woods
Show kicks off with the New Day making their entrance, with Kofi and Big E accompanying Xavier Woods to the ring for the latest match in the United States Championship Tournament. Later tonight, Bobby Roode will take on Mojo Rawley. The New Day run down Jinder from behind a fancy podium, promising to defend the principles that made America great. One of those principles is apparently pancakes, and that sort of thinking is why over a third of American adults are classified as obese.
The whole ‘pancake’ thing turns out to be some kind of melting-pot metaphor, rather than a stirring statement in support of overweight children. The New Day claim that Jinder hates everyone in the crowd, and also that he told Xavier earlier, when no-one else was there, that the crowd look like dorks and he was going to rub his veiny dick all over that US Championship.
The Singh Brothers rock up, with their sexy beards and their slutty necklines. They announce Jinder, who looks like he poured a whole bottle of olive oil over himself. Mahal makes his way to the ring. Bell rings, and the two men circle each other…before Jinder boots the fuck out of Woods. He goes on the assault, grinding his knee into Woods’ face, then hitting some vicious strikes. Xavier tries to fight back from underneath, but Mahal kills his momentum with a hard back elbow.
Woods won’t be put down, however, coming back with strikes and a dropkick before Jinder stymies him again, picking up his assault and continuing with it during the commercial break. When we come back, Woods manages to connect with a jawbreaker and a kick to the knee, but Mahal runs him right over with a big clothesline. Xavier just can’t get more than two moves into the fight right now, and Mahal is punishing him every step of the way. Another attempt at a rally just leads to Jinder dumping Woods chest-first on the ropes before he uses the apron to choke his opponent out.
Woods just beats the count back into the ring, and his reward is getting stomped by the Modern Day Maharajah. Xavier fights his way out of a sleeper, booting Mahal away before attempting the Honor Roll…and Jinder smashes a knee into his skull. Rough night to be Xavier Woods.
During the commercial, Woods continues to get pummeled. I’m running out of ways to write that, honestly. Unless Bobby Roode literally tears off Rawley’s head and plants it on a stick, Lord of the Flies-style, then I really have to favour Mahal in the finals. Woods finally manages to score one big move with a missile dropkick, and proceeds to engage in a slugfest with Mahal, gradually overwhelming Jinder. Mahal rocks him with a jab to the throat, but Xavier fights through it, finally flooring Mahal with a forearm.
Jinder elevates Xavier out onto the apron, counters his tornado DDT attempt and eats a leaping enzuigiri. Shining Wizard strikes, and Mahal just gets the shoulder up. The Singh Brothers get up on the apron, but the New Day instantly run them off into the backstage area. Woods manages to lift and plant Mahal with a back suplex, then heads up to the top rope. The springboard elbow drop misses, and Jinder just hurls Woods into the ropes, practically knocking the poor bastard out. Khallas finishes it: Xavier Woods is dead.
I continue to be impressed by dominant Jinder Mahal, who had to take responsibility for 90% of this match’s offence. Entertaining match. 3 Stars.
We get a little video of Corbin yelling at his phone camera about he’s the Lone Wolf and this somehow gives him an advantage in the Royal Riott and how it’s his time to main-event WrestleMania. Bless his heart.
Renee Young is backstage with AJ Styles, who has only just arrived after spending the whole week chasing Kevin Owens with a steel chair. Owens hasn’t been seen yet on this show, so it’s safe to assume that Styles killed him. Renee asks AJ about his chances at Royal Riott. Styles seems to flub by saying that it’s three against one, and then turns that into a fat joke at Kevin Owens’ expense. Hoo boy. He says that he’s now going to refer to them as “Kami”, in what is rapidly becoming the weirdest promo I’ve ever seen Styles cut. Basically, AJ says that he’ll win, which you sort of have to say in that situation.
Now Carmella cuts her own mobile phone promo regarding the Royal Riott. Oh, all the ladies are doing them. Why is everyone making DIY promos this week? And why is everyone so bad at looking at the camera of their phone and not the screen? And why did you show every woman’s promo? I feel like Tamina, Sarah Logan and Lana’s thoughts on the Women’s Royal Riott are kind of unessential.
He ain’t Hype, but he’s Glorious
But what is essential and always will be is Bobby Roode’s entrance music. It’s time for the second of two semi-final matches in the United States Championship Tournament, as we find who out of Rawley and Roode will face Jinder Mahal next week.
Mojo arrives, and the two men move in and lock up. Rawley throws Roode to the floor, laughing. Bobby applies a headlock, wrestling Mojo to the ground before proclaiming his GLORIOUSNESS. Another headlock to Rawley, who this time drives Roode into the corner. Roode chops away at Rawley, then knocks him down with a back elbow.
Roode applies a sleeper hold to Rawley, keeping him grounded. Mojo works his way back up to his feet, and finally responds with a huge elbow to the face. Mojo follows that up with the Pounce, almost mowing down the ref en route. Rawley takes moment to yell at the referee, then stomps Bobby in the corner, keeping up the strike offence rather than trying to out-wrestle Roode.
Bobby gets tossed to the outside, and Rawley follows him to deliver another Pounce. After the commercial break, Mojo is still firmly in control as he holds Roode in an abdominal stretch. Roode counters with a hip toss, but Mojo comes back with a big boot, putting Bobby back down.
Shoulder thrusts from Mojo punish Roode, and he goes back to working over the Glorious One’s ribs…before a missed shoulder thrust attempt leaves Rawley to blast the steel post! Roode smacks Mojo around, ducks a clothesline and hits a pair of forearms to knock Rawley down. Bobby hits a neckbreaker, then a Blockbuster. Mojo counters the Glorious DDT, slamming Roode to the mat face-first, with Bobby only just getting the shoulder up.
Infuriated, Mojo props Roode up in the corner for his forearm, but Roode gets the boots up into Rawley’s face, hits the spinebuster and the Glorious DDT to win!
Second great heel performance of the night. Rawley’s offence is something a little different that’s always good to see, and he handled himself well here. 2.5 Stars.
Immediately after the match, the Singh Brothers jump Roode and then run for it. One of them twists their ankle on their way out of the ring, which is all you need to know about the Singhs in one little package.
Mahal shows up on the stage and promises to beat Roode next week. Again, you sort of have to say that. Roode calls for a microphone and says that they don’t have to wait until next week: they can do it tonight. Goddamn, Bobby: you light up my life.
Jinder, because he’s an idiot, declines to face an injured opponent, stating that he wants Bobby Roode to have one full week to worry about facing him…but suddenly Daniel Bryan’s behind him, and he makes the match for tonight! Jinder looks furious at the chance to face an injured opponent whilst being able to look like he was trying his best to get a fair fight.
Jesus, even Randy Orton’s recording his promo on his phone. He talks a lot about storms and shit, and it loses some of its impact when you suddenly realise that he’s using a selfie stick.
Only one more week of Riott/Rumble jokes, I promise
Six-woman tag team match time, and it is Charlotte, Becky and Naomi facing the Rumble Squad. The three competent women of SmackDown Live come down to the ring, followed by the Rumble Squad. Is this the Rumble Squad’s SummerSlam 2010 moment, or will they be allowed to win a match of this profile?
Charlotte kicks things off against Liv Morgan. The two women lock up briefly, and Charlotte shoves Morgan to the floor before quickly out-wrestling her. Morgan manages to catch Charlotte with a kick, and takes a moment to taunt her. Big mistake: huge. The Women’s Champ chops her right across the tits and hurls her across the ring, where she tags in Ruby Rumble.
Flair trips Ruby up, keeping her off-guard before wrapping her legs around her neck and taking her over. One of these days, someone is going to get paralysed because of that move. Charlotte follows that up with a kick to the face, and latches on a front facelock before tagging in Becky.
Becky and Charlotte hit Ruby with uppercuts and chops before Naomi tags in for a flying clothesline. Becky tags in to hit a dive onto Ruby from the apron as we go to a break. During the break, Logan hits a blind tag, and a distraction from Morgan allows the Southern Belle to take control, finally letting the Rumble Squad achieve some offence. Oh Christ, another Maze Runner trailer. Who made this? Who wants to hurt me like this?
When we come back and I’ve resisted the urge to shoot myself on account of seeing Maze Runner media, Ruby has just tagged in Morgan. Liv takes Becky down with a bulldog, doing her psycho shenanigans. Becky tries to fight out, almost reaching Charlotte before Morgan grabs her by the hair and slams her to the mat. Morgan tags Sarah Logan in, and she roughs Becky up for a while. She tries to throw Becky out of the ring because of metaphors, but Lynch tosses her out instead and almost reaches her corner.
Logan knocks Charlotte off the apron, but Naomi ducks the punch intended for her and Beck slides out of a bodyslam, clotheslines Logan and makes the tag to Naomi! Naomi runs right over Morgan, kicking some sanity back into her. Liv elevates her onto the apron, which is just another place from which Naomi can kick your damn head off. With Morgan reeling, Naomi hits a springboard crossbody, and Logan only just breaks up the pin.
Charlotte spears Sarah out of the ring, and Morgan tries to roll up Naomi. Naomi counters the pin, but a kick to the face from Rumble allows Morgan to hit a facebuster of some kind, and the Rumble Squad win!
Good for them: nice to see they can put up a genuine challenge. Looking forward to the inevitable feud between Ruby and Charlotte: shit should be cash. 2.5 Stars.
Dasha is backstage with the Usos, asking them about the two-out-of-three falls match. They laugh at the thrown-together nature of Gable and Benjamin and the fact they can’t tell almost-identical twins apart. Gable and Benjamin, apparently taking exception to what was a fairly inoffensive speech, jump them and fuck them up.
Now it’s Shinsuke Nakamura’s time to make a mobile phone promo. I don’t know who told the boys and girls of SmackDown that this was cool, but whoever it was wasn’t looking out for their best interests.
The third match in one night related to the United States Championship
Shane McMahon makes his way out to the ring, apparently to get a front row seat to the United States Championship match. I like the idea of this happening more often when there’s not a storyline going on. Say there’s a dream match or a title up for grabs: have the managers or commissioners show up to watch to sell how big it is. Bryan’s there too, as are Jinder and Bobby. Wait, so Shane was the only guy to get an entrance, and he’s not even in the match?
Post-entrance announcments (Big Motherfuckin’ Match Feel), and then we get things going. Mahal doesn’t have the Singh Brothers with him and Bobby Roode has fucked-up ribs, so it should be an even enough match. Jinder backs Roode into a corner and then roars at him for some fucking reason. Bobby comes out slowly, then catches a kick before pounding and chopping away at Mahal. Jinder takes control back, smashing a kick into Roode’s midsection and stomping on his ribs.
Roode takes control once again, hitting ten punches to Jinder in the corner. Mahal hits a kick to Roode, but is then low-bridged and falls out to the ringside area (Sami Zayn Standard Definition). Bobby makes the mistake of following Jinder, who drives Roode into the apron, slams him ribs-first into the steel steps and then dumps him face-down onto the barricade as we head to a break.
When we come back, Jinder Mahal has Roode wrapped around the ringpost and is trying to utterly break him. A wild charge knocks Roode off the apron to land hard against the barricade, and when he gets back inside his reward is an abdominal stretch. Roode works his way out of the submission, but Mahal hits him with a knee to the gut and a dropkick to the back, before dropping knees on Bobby’s body.
Roode is looking more and more hurt as the match goes on, whilst Jinder’s hair is looking more and more ridiculous. The Mod Maharaj slams some knees into Roode’s back, then wrenches his arms out behind him. Roode battles back, and catches Mahal with a sunset flip pin before Jinder just batters him across the face with his foot. Fuck me, that looked rough.
Mahal doesn’t let up for a second, hitting crossface blows to Roode before heading back to the corner to beat the fuck out of his ribs again. Bobby couters with a back elbow and clotheslines him to the outside, then takes Jinder out with a flying clothesline from the apron! Roode heads up to the top, hits a crossbody to Mahal, who counters the impact into a pin!
Roode kicks out, fighting back the whole time. He boots Jinder away from him, then scores with the Blockbuster! Mahal kicks out of the pin, then counters the Glorious DDT attempt. Roode tries to roll him up; Mahal counters with a pin attempt of his own, and both men clothesline each other to the mat!
Both Roode and Jinder take their sweet time getting up, and Bobby runs into a back elbow before planting Mahal with a spinebuster! He goes for the Glorious DDT; Mahal counters with a roll-up and almost gets the win. Jinder immediately goes for the Khallas, but Roode counters with the Glorious DDT! Bobby Roode is the new United States Champion!
Great match, and another solid showing from Jinder Mahal. As much as I hated his World Title reign, and I despised it, I am very happy to see that in this new position he can be an effective heel and be a component of an entertaining match. Roode, of course, was glorious. 3 Stars.
Tags: AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Bobby Roode, byron saxton, charlotte flair, Corey Graves, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Gable and Benjamin, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Liv Morgan, Mojo Rawley, naomi, Royal Riott, Ruby Rumble, sami zayn, Sarah Logan, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, The Rumble Squad, the usos, Tom Phillips, xavier woods