Well, it’s been a busy week, and I am still entombed under the colossal structure I’ve termed ‘Coursework Mountain’, buried so deep I could legally change my name to ‘Dolph Ziggler’, so it’s time to crack open a Corona and watch partially-nude men grab each other.
We kick things off with a Wyatt promo: bless you, WWE. I swear, I don’t know how Creative came up with the character of Bray Wyatt. He is spooky in a way that is not entirely (for me) explicable, and if nothing else (and there’s plenty else), both the concept and Rotunda’s portrayal are truly excellent.
The Wyatts’ Teleportation Would Probably Be Useful Mid-Match, You Know
We kick off again with a fucktonne of fireworks (metric, not imperial), and this summons the Usos. They’re going to be in tag-team action against the two members of the Wyatt Family who are unencumbered by storylines. I don’t know what the folks in the arena see (anyone who’s been to a live show for this, feel free to clue me in), but their teleportation no jutsu entrance is something I find highly effective. It’s going to be Harper to start off against Jimmy, and he leads with the strikes. Jimmy fights back; Jey gets a blind tag and they get the big man reeling with a combination of kicks. Jimmy’s back in, and he runs the hell into an uppercut. Tag to Erick Rowan, keeping up Harper’s game striking game; Jimmy tries for a sunset flip; Erick turns it into a leg-drop; Jimmy moves out of the way and kicks Rowan right in the face: fantastic sequence. It doesn’t help, however, and Jimmy gets pancaked.
Jimmy gets laid over the turnbuckle (only not in the Deliverance sense of the phrase), and Erick hammers on him before tagging in Luke. The fact that the crowds imitate his ‘yeah-yeah-yeah’ thing is hilarious to me, although it’s probably bullying. Frequent Wyatt tags, and Jimmy tries to get through Rowan, but Harper knocks down both Jimmy and Jey. ‘NO!’ chant starts, and we get flickering shots of some old guy at ringside (this was unexplained: probably something to do with the apocalypse). Rowan’s back in and he is just wrenching back on Jimmy’s head across the ropes. Jimmy tries to build momentum, but Erick doesn’t give him a chance, hitting a fallaway slam and tagging Harper. Jimmy keeps trying to get away, but the Wyatts specialise in stopping things like that. The beating continues amidst the tags; these Wyatt Family beatdowns are about as gruesome as you can get in this era, but Jimmy hits a corkscrew moonsault to put down Rowan. Both men do the crawl and both tag out. Jey comes in hitting anything with a beard, taking it to Harper with kicks and a Samoan Drop. Kick to Rowan, sending him off the apron; Harper hits a bodyslam; Jimmy breaks up the pin and gets tossed. Harper charges Jey and gets thrown over the top, only to have Jey dive on him.
Rowan jumps Jey as he tries to get Harper into the ring; Jimmy leaps onto him and Luke clotheslines Jimmy as the ref counts to ten: double count-out.
Really good match, though at this point that’s hardly surprising. Both teams could do very well with the titles, but I’d rather see them on the Usos; their movement in the ring is very different and they make matches exciting. 2.5 Stars.
Harper and Rowan decide that it’s mugging time, but Jimmy manages to save Jey before the damage can be done…only for Bray and Bryan (Brayan?) to teleport behind them and help with the beat-down. In the ring, Bryan hits the CENASLAYER on Jey, and Jimmy takes a Sister Abigail. Then Bryan lies Jey on top of Jimmy, like the Wyatt Family is now a drunken frat house. Rowan should have taken a photo of it and uploaded it to Facebook: ‘Guess J + J r close even 4 brothers LOL!!!!!’
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero is standing next to the plinth holding Kane’s mask (which is in every arena for what reason?), when Randy ‘Title-Bra’ Orton shows up. He wants to speak to the McMahons, and complains about the ‘Best For Business’ catchphrase: Face. Turn. This Monday, he’ll give the Authority a piece of his mind (in Stephanie’s purse).
Well, here’s Miz to interview the Big Show. Doesn’t he remember what happened the last time? Or was Show’s punch that hard? We replay the Breaking of Henry’s Arm by the Beast Brock Lesnar and the subsequent tossing of the same. I wish they’d stop making a big deal out of this: if a big guy throws a smaller guy, that’s kind of expected in wrestling. That’s why we all got excited when Lesnar F-5’d the Big Show. The first time. Eleven years ago.
Miz brings out the Big Show and does his Lois Lane schtick. Show says that there’s only so much crap a guy can take, despite the fact that both times Lesnar was essentially defending himself from an assault by the World’s Strongest Man. Does Lemony Snicket write the WWE Universe’s laws of morality? He (Big Show, not Lemony Snicket, although I’d order that PPV) challenges Brock to a fight, which brings out Heyman. Are we getting no Lesnar on SmackDown? Because that’s not fair. Match is made for Royal Rumble, and Heyman says that if Show wants a fight before that, Lesnar won’t be a hard man to find (as long as you don’t look for him on SmackDown).
We get a promo for the WWE Network. Are any of us so obsessive that we would use every feature of this service? And did they have to use DX and Austin, famously the most anti-authoritarian folks around, to stand side-by-side with the corporate people for this hype-up? I know it makes perfect sense for the advertising, but it does seem a little off. Now Austin’s rebelliousness is channelled through wearing a hat indoors and refusing to tuck in his shirt.
Other Contenders For Zeb’s Sign: ‘Down With This Sort Of Thing’; ‘Careful Now’
We return to the present (which was actually taped before that previous segment) to see Mysterio in the ring with Hunicara and Los Matadores. They will be facing the Real Americans and Goldberfect. Los 1 is in the ring with Axel and snapmares him before Axel comes back with a bodyslam. Shoulder tackle, but Los 1 gains the advantage by…I actually don’t know. Headstand in the corner by 1, then a headscissors and the tag to 2. 2 comes in with a dropkick, but Axel drives him into the Heel Corner, and Cesaro comes in. Uppercut and a bodyslam by Cesaro, but 2 hits a headscissors and springboard back-elbow. 1 gets the tag, then Sin Cara. On the other side, so does Ryback. Time to find out if that mask really is cursed. And if it’s not, Ryback’ll probably injure him anyway. Hunicara does the smart thing: not letting Ryback hit any moves and tags out to Mysterio. 619 is attempted, but Ryback wants none of it.
Back from break, Swagger is laying into Mysterio, but the Swagger Bomb is countered as Rey gets the boots up. Everyone interferes; Rybaxel gets tossed; Matadores dive out onto him, as does Torito; JBL again considers buying a person in a costume ON A KIDS’ SHOW. Mysterio escapes a Patriot Lock, tries for the 619 and gets caught and slammed. Hunicara breaks up the pin before taking Cesaro out to the outside; Swagger goes for the gutwrench, but is hurricanrana’d into the ropes, 619’d, splashed and pinned. No Sin Caras were hurt in the making of this match, and we are all just surprised as hell about that.
Call it my lack of interest in most of the people in this match, but I didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t all that exciting, and it doesn’t help that most of it involved Los Matadores either. 1.5 Stars.
One Belt: Weaker Than Two Belts
Orton approaches the ring first, followed by Langston. The two men tie up and struggle, but Langston backs Orton into the corner. Orton gets a headlock, but Big E shoots him off and shoulder-blocks him; Orton rolls out. Back in the ring, Randy ties up again; Langston gets him in a headlock, runs the ropes and knocks Orton down again. Randy now tries striking, bring Langston down to the mat as he hammers him. Orton keeps up with strikes, but Langston manages to score again with a shoulder block and hits some strikes of his own. Orton’s driven into the corner and continues to be beaten down before he brings his knee up, knocking Langston down and keeping him down: lots of strikes in this match…and as I say that, Langston hits two backbreakers. Thanks, E. Orton comes up swinging, but there’s no stopping the Big E Express, and Randy heads to the outside again.
Langston’s sick of this, however, and heads out after Orton, slamming him against the barricade like a muscular, black Enjolras. Back in the ring, E’s taking it to Orton on the apron, but a shoulder thrust goes astray and Langston falls to the outside. Orton mocks him as the count begins, then when Langston beats the count he stays on him, stomping a mudhole all around the ring. Sleeper hold’s placed on Langston and JBL tells Cole that stomping on a man isn’t ‘playing mindgames’. Langston breaks out, but Orton puts him down with a knee and it’s back to the sleeper. Well, it wasn’t on for long enough last time. Langston fights out again, but Orton throws him out of the ring to the outside and follows him; Langston’s head meets the steps and he gets thrown back into the ring. Third sleeper. Langston gets whipped into the corner, but explodes into Orton, knocking him down. Big E’s fired up now, hitting a belly-to-belly and a Warrior Splash. He tries to lift Orton, but the Viper hits his backbreaker and his DDT. He signals for the RKO, but Langston pushes him aside and shmushes him in the corner. Thumb to the eye from Orton, then the RKO and the win.
Quality match. Big E impressed here, but I’m happy to see that Orton did get in some offence and didn’t rely entirely on underhand tactics. 2.5 Stars.
Back in the usual hangout spot, we see the four-man Wyatt Family. The Shield and Punk are muttering about there being ‘too many people down here now’ and giggling over the photo of the Usos. Meanwhile, Bray babbles like an incoherent Shakespeare on acid, but then Bryan bellows ‘LIIIIIEEEE’ at the top of his voice; off-camera, Seth Rollins jumps into Roman Reigns’ arms in fright.
You Really Love These Dancing Rivalries, Don’t You, Creative?
Seems that Xavier Woods will be wrestling Fandango, and isn’t giving time to this match neglecting the pivotal Sandow/Khali rivalry? Armdrag by Fandango, then a headlock from Woods, he runs the ropes and hits a headscissors. Fandango comes back, tossing Woods out of the ring, and then he dances. Woods comes back in the ring, rolling Fandango up for the pin in the process.
Not much to say, really. Truth and Woods’ entrance was really quite impressive, though. I’d have been happy for the match to continue, considering what both men could bring. 1.5 Stars for brevity.
After the match, Summer Rae gets in Woods’ face over that clean and legitimate victory, and the Funkadactyls assault her. Fandango beats on Woods, but Truth makes the save and the two hit a double-dropkick to send him running.
An interviewer visits the Usos, and in the UK we only send reporters into a locker room of Samoans if we want him eaten. He asks ‘what went wrong out there’ and, at a guess, I’ll say it was the fact that it was a four-on-two handicap involving an undefeated guy and a former world champion. The Usos seem fired up for their match on RAW, though, which hopefully means there’ll be a bit of a spotlight on it.
Yeah, I Go Into Fights Backed Up By Old Men Too
The Shield are in the ring, and Roman reads the list of the characters in WWE Legends’ House, then proclaims himself the new ‘Best In The World’. Dean takes the microphone and spouts solid gold regarding Jake and Damien; can we just commission Ambrose and Wyatt to write songs? Seth calms him down and rips on the New Age Outlaws and Punk.
Billy Gunn and Road Dogg make their entrance, as does CM Punk, and it looks to be Punk and Ambrose to start out here. They tie up, with Punk backing Ambrose into the corner. They tie up again; headlock takeover; Punk wraps the head and Ambrose kicks out; headlock takeover by Punk and a tag to Road Dogg. Dogg makes the tag to Gunn; Ambrose tags in Rollins and Rollins gets arm-dragged and Gunn works the arm before tagging in Road Dogg. Punk comes in, dropping the elbow on the arm. Cole calls Rollins ‘the architect’ of the Shield. So, Seth builds the dream; Ambrose and Reigns perform the extraction. Ambrose is tagged in and is caught by a drop-toehold. Punk wrenches back on the leg. Ambrose backs Punk up into the corner, throwing hands before Punk comes back and Ambrose ducks out of the ring. Seth tries to jump Punk; Punk gets him up for the GTS; Reigns pulls Rollins away; Punk rolls past the two of them and the Outlaws score with some punches. Reigns is sent out of the ring by the Outlaws and it’s a stand-off.
Back in the ring, Ambrose and Punk circle each other again and tie up. Punk’s backed into the corner and Rollins is tagged in. Punk nearly gets a small package, but Rollins kicks out. Tag now to Reigns, who lays a beatdown upon Punk, wrenching back on his arm. Punk fights back, hitting a dropkick and tagging in Road Dogg; the two hit a double hip toss on Reigns, but Roman overpowers Road Dogg and tags in Ambrose, who chokes him on the ropes. Road Dogg comes back with hands, dropping some, dare I say it, vintage Road Dogg on Ambrose before he tags out and Rollins catches Road Dogg with a flying knee. Reigns comes in, hammering on Road Dogg before tagging in Ambrose. Dean throws some hands before imitating Road Dogg’s punches and hitting a dropkick, followed up by another from a tagged-in Rollins.
Seth locks a sleeper in on Road Dogg, who fires up and fights his way out, but Rollins hurls him into the corner and keeps on the heat, stomping and wrenching the face. Tag to Ambrose and then Reigns, both of them smacking Road Dogg around like they suspect he’s selling mermaid babies (this is an intense and violently-solved problem where I live). Dogg finally scores with a DDT on Reigns, but Roman makes the tag first. Rollins knocks Gunn off the apron, but Punk ducks a wild punch, Road Dogg backdrops Rollins and Punk gets the tag. Ambrose and Punk are in the ring, with Punk knocking the hell out of Ambrose, hitting a neckbreaker and a crossbody. GTS attempt, but Ambrose scoots out of it and both men collide. Both Punk and Ambrose tag in Gunn and Reigns respectively. Gunn knocks Reigns down with a boot and sends Rollins for a tilt-a-whirl slam. Hell, Gunn looks pretty good. Suplex to Roman; Road Dogg is tossed out of the ring. GTS attempt on Ambrose, but he slides out and Punk dives onto Rollins. Gunn tries for the Fame-Asser on Ambrose, but Reigns catches him with a spear mid-jump for the three.
Very fun match. Obviously the nostalgia kick was there, but both Outlaws looked great here. Punk and the Shield, of course, is definitely a help, as ever. 3 Stars.
I rather enjoyed this SmackDown. I was expecting more of a build to the Rumble itself, as opposed to just Batista being hyped for it, but maybe they do have a plan (wow, typed that with a straight face). In any event, that was a fun show with some good matches. Seven out of ten.
Tags: Antonio Cesaro, big e langston, big show, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cameron, cm punk, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Diego, El Torito, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Fernando, Funkadactyls, Goldberfect, hunico, jack swagger, jey uso, jimmy uso, Los Matadores, Luke Harper, naomi, New Age Outlaws, Paul Heyman, R-Truth, randy orton, Real Americans, rey mysterio, Road Dogg Jesse James, Roman Reigns, ryback, Rybaxel, seth rollins, sin cara, Smackdown, Summer Rae, The Miz, The Shield, the usos, The Wyatt Family, Vickie Guerrero, WWE, xavier woods, Zeb Coulter