Ring out the bells; Coursework Mountain has been scaled and conquered, with the requisite amount of sobbing and goat-sacrifices that tradition calls for. I therefore emerge from my cocoon of drinking, screenplays and finally playing Arkham Origins in order to touch base with the wrestling world. Huzzah.
‘Quick, Advertise The Rumble!’ ‘But…It’s The Middle Of A Match…’ ‘NOW, GODDAMNIT!!’
We get no flashbacks to RAW tonight, but we do get Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, so I guess we’re flashing back all the way to the nineties. Dogg’s got the mic, and these guys could probably steal Big Show’s father’s corpse, and the crowd would still join in with him. The Rhodeses make their entrance, and it’s Road Dogg starting off against Goldust. Goldust throws some hands in the corner, knocking Road Dogg down, who then offers and handshake, followed by a kick to the stomach and some hands. Goldust fights back, hittigng some punches in the corner and a back elbow. Tag to Billy Gunn, who gets backdropped out of the ring. Is Cody calling for the hot tag already? Road Dogg’s tagged in and tries to knock Cody off the apron, but Cody, with the reactions of a man who wasn’t alive in the seventies, punches him in the face and Goldust powerslams him.
Cody gets the ‘hot tag’ and Billy Gunn’s in as well, and Cody Rhodes is a young man beating up a much older man as someone else films it; in the UK we call that ‘Happy Slapping’ (no, seriously: we do). Roll-up gets rolled-through, but Cody hits the high knee. Road Dogg wants to get himself some, but Cody springboard-dropkicks both Outlaws; Road Dogg breaks up the pin. Goldust takes himself and Road Dogg out of the ring as Cody runs right into a boot, dodges a Fameasser and goes for Cross Rhodes; Billy turns it into a tilt-a-whirl slam and Cody kicks out at two. Fameasser misses again, with Cody scoring with the Disaster Kick…and Vickie Guerrero comes out to remind us that Royal Rumble exists. Fair point: they’ve barely mentioned it so far. Billy gets a roll-up for three and that was weird even if there is supposed to be a conspiracy.
The way that everyone was acting, it was as if we missed the first five minutes of that match. It was exciting and all, but I feel like Goldust really didn’t need the hot tag after two minutes of mostly him on offense. 2 Stars.
Backstage, Renee Young is interviewing CM Punk, and asks him about calling out all three members of the Shield. He says ‘yes’ and walks off before she can ask him any follow-up questions or be allowed to do her job.
Eva Marie is apparently doing some sort of advert-break gig, announcing upcoming matches. Can’t tell if I’m creeped out more by her soulless voice or dead eyes.
We get a recap of Big Show knocking out Zeb Coulter. Apparently he only cries when he doesn’t get to choose which old man to potentially brain-damage.
Wrestling Mysterio: The Perfect Warm-Up To Wrestling Batista
So, we’re getting this match again. Personally, I’m hoping like hell that this Batista-Del Rio thing is going to be a ten-second affair during the Rumble match: Batista comes down, knocks the absolute shit out of Alberto and tosses him. I’d be incredibly surprised if those two could have a compelling feud.
Rey grabs a microphone and says that Del Rio should be worried about him, and I guess Rey is pretty frail these days. Alberto starts off with some stomps, tying up Rey on the ropes and ripping open his shirt. He tries to hit a running kick, but Mysterio dodges, sending Del Rio out of the ring and kicking him off his feet before slide-splashing onto him. Back in the ring, Mysterio climbs up the top rope, but Del Rio catches him in the Tree of Woe and kicks him right in the stomach before just sitting there for like ten seconds. Snapmare’s followed up by a kick to the back and a sleeper. Del Rio locks his legs around Mysterio’s waist, but Rey fights out and hits an enzuigiri. 619’s teased, but Del Rio decapitates Rey with a clothesline and continues to beat him down. Up on the top rope, Del Rio nearly rips of Rey’s mask, but Rey’s got no more relatives to borrow names from and beats him away. Alberto misses a shoulder thrust, hitting the turnbuckle instead, and Rey sentons into a standing Del Rio; that’s not something I’ve seen before.
Del Rio makes it to his feet first, working over the leg of Mysterio and locking the sleeper back in. Mysterio fights out, but Del Rio’s still in control. They fight on the second rope; Del Rio goes down and Rey hits a seated senton, following it up with a headscissors…but gets a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Del Rio. I don’t know what the hell the commentators are talking about; we couldn’t have traded Miz for Bray or Ambrose? Rey gets a kick to the side of Alberto’s head and goes up high, but Del Rio hits the top-rope enzuigiri for the near-fall. He then stands there for a while again: is that a requirement following that move? Mysterio ducks out of the cross-armbreaker, gets the boots up into Del Rio and hits a tornado DDT. Del Rio springs up again, hitting his knees into the arm and goes for the arm-breaker, but Mysterio rolls through and arm-drags Del Rio into position, hitting the 619. He goes for the splash, but Alberto gets the knees up. Kick misses, Mysterio rolls him up and it’s three.
That was an interesting match: it seemed like the tide could change at any time and that’s not something you get a lot of right now. Mysterio played the underdog role as well as he has before, and Del Rio looked predatory (pause to imagine Chris Hansen waiting in Del Rio’s locker room). 3 Stars.
After the match, Del Rio jumps Rey and locks in the armbreaker. Man, that strategy’s going to work great against a guy who could physically rip out Del Rio’s spine.
Recap of Daniel Bryan flipping the bird to the Wyatt Family in the form of kicking Bray’s facial expression out the other side of his skull. I was surprised at how quickly they finished that whole thing, but it’s tough to argue with that crowd reaction.
The Wyatts then make their appearance, and I’m not sure just how much of an ‘ultimate betrayal’ Bryan’s actions were. If I screwed over a group of guys who’d beaten me up week-in and week-out, I’d feel like they should have seen that shit coming. Bryan chants start up as the Wyatts enter the ring. Bray gets the microphone, and I spend enough of my time listening to crackheads to just skim this bit: Bray’s crazy as fuck and is probably going to fight Bryan some way down the road.
Renee Young reintroduces CM Punk, so apparently someone got hold of him and explained that occasionally reporters ask more than one question. Apparently he’s now added the New Age Outlaws to his call-out list, because when Punk commits seppuku, Punk commits seppuku hard.
I Keep Forgetting Tamina’s Last Name
Looks like the Funkadactyls have a remixed theme tune. We see the recap of the Divas match on Monday and then Emma from NXT is in the audience. No idea, really. Tamina will be her opponent, and she starts off by dumping Naomi over the top rope. Tamina follows her to the outside and hits the JACKET TOSS. Back in the ring, she stomps away on Naomi before hitting a backdrop with a horrifyingly Sabu-esque landing. Naomi kicks out of the pin, so thankfully it looks like nothing went terribly wrong there. Catapult guillotine on the ropes, but Naomi starts fighting back, hitting a calf kick and the Bubba Bomb. AJ’s on the apron, talking smack, but Cameron jumps her; Tamina goes to take of Cameron and gets rolled up. She kicks out, but Naomi hits her step-up enzuigiri, following it up with a split-legged moonsault for the three.
Wow. I’d never paid much attention to Naomi before, but I’m impressed, and thank God that backdrop didn’t go worse than it already did. If Naomi will be the new number one contender for the championship, then I’m certainly intrigued by the match’s potential. 2.5 Stars.
We do a very nice tribute to Mae Young, may she rest in peace. Even with the Mark Henry moments, that whole video was very touching.
Switching gears now, here’s Paul Heyman. No Brock with him, obviously. Heyman says the only reason he’s here is to address the smear campaign directed against Brock. He says that Big Show can’t be physically dominant over Brock. I mean, there are tapes proving this. Heyman states that Big Show would never try and knock him out, because he’s with Lesnar…which is like an invitation for Show to come out and punch another non-combatant in the face, which he does. Well, he gets up to the ‘coming out’ part (wait…), but Heyman scoots from the ring with remarkable agility.
Big Show mocks Heyman, saying that Brock and Paul are afraid of him. Seriously? It was one throw. Big Show says he was a Heyman Guy before it was cool, and that kind of talk is how you turn heel, Hipster. At Royal Rumble, Big Show will knock Brock Lesnar out.
Well, there’s a certain tragic logic to Dolph Ziggler doing the ‘Don’t Try This At Home’ advert…
The Bellas do another random match introduction, and maybe CM Punk’s suicide bid is because he doesn’t want to live with this kind of thing.
Terrifyingly-Huge Weightlifter vs. Gutsy Ballroom Dancer
It’s Fandango vs. Big E. Langston, and the more fabulous of the two knees Langston in the stomach to commence. Langston reverses the Irish whip, hitting a backbreaker on Fandango, who then bails. Back in the ring, Fandango slips out of Langston’s grip, hitting punches before running the ropes; Langston dodges and jumps him before hitting a shoulder tackle. Shoulder thrust to the Fandango in the corner, but then Langston runs into a pair of knees and is thrown from the ring. On the outside, Fandango throws Big E. into the corner post and the barricade, then brings him back in the ring, working the arm. Langston fights back, but Fandango hits a dropkick right in the face. Clothesine to follow. Wristlock applied to Langston, but he bridges out of it and hurls Fandango through the ropes and out of the ring.
Fandango comes back, but is hit with clotheslines and a belly-to-belly. Warrior Splash hits, but Fandango slides out of the Big Ending, hitting several kicks before leaping off the top rope, right into a fist to the gut. Big E charges right into Fandango, and now the straps are down and the Big Ending finishes it.
Okay match: nothing special. Langston looked good, as ever, and Fandango got in some offense of his own. 2 Stars.
We redo the announcement that the Ultimate Warrior is the first inductee into the Hall of Fame, then a clip about Batista’s return.
Backstage, Renee Young is with all three of the Shield, meaning that someone’s already added a ‘Brazzers’ logo to this picture. Renee asks about the Rumble, and then doesn’t appreciate Dean’s bullshit answer and she lets him know about that. Seth pitches some bitch, Dean gets mad and Roman is the voice of reason.
We replay both RAW and 2007 in one clip as Orton beats up Cena’s dad. In case any of you care, Mr Cena has a fractured orbital socket, meaning that he’ll next appear wearing the Undertaker’s old mask.
Is This How You Treat Injured Old People In America?
The Usos will be taking on the Real Americans following their victory on RAW. Jimmy starts off with Swagger, taking it to him with chops before Swagger tosses him into the corner. Both Usos are heavily taped up after that cage match, and there’s a tag to Cesaro, who runs a shoulder thrust into Jimmy’s bandaged midsection. Swagger back in, driving knees into Jimmy’s stomach. Frequent tags from the Real Americans, as Jack throws Cesaro into Jimmy. Intense beating from Cesaro, and Zeb’s facial expressions are just damned hilarious to watch. Some sort of abdominal stretch is locked into Jimmy, who hip-tosses Cesaro away. Swagger tags in before Jimmy can make the tag, stomping away on him before hitting the Swagger Bomb and then their stomp double-team.
Cesaro has a waistlock on Jimmy, stopping any escape attempts, and then there’s a tag to Swagger. More tags as the beating continues, with Cesaro locking in another waistlock. Roll-up from Jimmy fails, and Cesaro brings out the Giant Swing. Belly-to-belly slam from Swagger, but Jimmy finally fights his way up to the top rope and hits a corkscrew moonsault. Tag to Jey, who comes in with a full head of steam, knocking Swagger all around the ring. A kick from Jey is caught, but he Samoan Drops Swagger only for Cesaro to break up the pin. As Cesaro has Jey distracted, the Patriot Lock is applied to Jey, but Jimmy kicks Jack’s lights out. Jimmy goes after Cesaro, but he uses Zeb as a human shield before Jimmy throws him into the barricade. Wait, is Jimmy attacking Zeb? What the fuck is wrong with WWE’s morality system? And why is Michael Cole laughing at this? Electric chair drop to Swagger from Jey, and Jimmy hits the splash for three.
If the WWE’s primarily a kid show, then what lessons are we teaching children? I don’t expect that argument to hold much water, but I find it a little sour that we’re actively encouraged to cheer for an old racist (who, let’s face it, is pretty politically correct for a racist) getting beaten up. The match was a lot of fun, though, and the injuries of the Usos gave it a different pace. 3 Stars.
Well, here’s CM Punk, and I haven’t seen a desire for death this strong since I watched the travesty known as 47 Ronin a couple of nights back. Punk assures us that he’s not a masochist or an idiot; he’s just not a coward. He says that the Authority is always going to try to shut him up, because people listening to him is real power. And the crowd seem to agree. Punk then goes after Triple H before the Shield emerges; kudos to Punk for not stopping when the entrance music began. Wow, Dean Ambrose hops the barricade the exact same way that Fandango enters the ring. The New Age Outlaws join the Shield and they surround the ring and, by virtue, CM Punk.
Oh, and here’s Kane, who sounds extremely pissed off. He tells everyone to stand down, and that the Authority doesn’t want it this way. Kane calls Punk paranoid, and it would be an amazingly nuanced story if this was indeed the case. The Authority wants Punk to main event WrestleMania. Apparently Kane is now responsible for making sure that Punk is treated with respect, but Punk’s nothing if not the world’s biggest asshole if he wants to be, so he bitches at Kane. Kane, in quite an awesome move, just says ‘Get him, boys’, and it looks like the assault’s back on. As Punk’s distracted, Kane comes into the ring and hits a chokeslam. Wow, the lengths that Punk will go to in order to get beaten up. His protestations about not being a masochist seem a little tough to swallow now.
Well, that was a fun SmackDown. A lot of moving stuff along, but with the some good matches to help it go. All in all, a solid show, and deserving of a seven.
Tags: aj lee, alberto del rio, Antonio Cesaro, batista, big e langston, big show, Billy Gunn, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cameron, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Eva Marie, Fandango, Funkadactyls, goldust, jack swagger, jey uso, jimmy uso, kane, Luke Harper, Mae Young, naomi, New Age Outlaws, Paul Heyman, Real Americans, Renee Young, rey mysterio, road dogg, Roman Reigns, seth rollins, Smackdown, Summer Rae, Tamina Snuka, The Shield, the usos, Ultimate Warrior, Vickie Guerrero, WWE, wyatt family, Zeb Coulter