Holy hell, that was a day and a half. If I didn’t have that mate tea, I most likely wouldn’t have made it home; I haven’t used that phrase since Argentina. Still, I’m home now, with my pizza and wine, as any good Friday should be spent (although not Good Friday, which is spent awkwardly thanking and apologising to Jesus for the crazy shit he alleges for have done).
We get a Sting promo, but years of SmackDown being treated just a little bit better than an abused child has taught me not to expect an appearance.
I’m proved to be totes right, because Miz is in the ring. Sandmiz is with him, and as Miz is making a Randy Orton-esque fashion choice using both title belts, Sandmiz is using toy ones. Heh. Miz brags about his victory, and he and Sandow duel cheers briefly. Oh, and Miz is interviewing Big Show, so it’s like a ring full of people I couldn’t care less about. And Sandow. Big Show’s betrayal gets called a ‘shocking moment’ by the commentary team, but it’s really at the stage now when I start a timer going once Show makes a face/heel turn and see how long it takes him to go back. I mean, he’s got gigantism, not multiple personalities.
We recap RAW, and I actually enjoyed Erick Rowan kicking Big Show’s ass; that might be internal anger at the fact that we’re all apparently supposed to be surprised that Show turned heel. Oh, and apparently Cena’s knickers are in a twist about that whole thing. You know, it would be interesting if they tried to keep Big Show as a partway-sympathetic figure during this storyline, due to his easy-to-empathise-with motivations, but I firmly believe that the WWE would reveal that he was an ex-Nazi if they thought it might fly.
Thankfully, before we get too into this, Daniel Bryan shows up and gives us something to be thankful for. Say, when’s he going to comment on the fact that his girlfriend is a manipulative, evil ho-bag? Because it seems like that might be an important feature in his life. Bryan says that he’s got something to say; he asks the WWE whether they’re ready for Daniel Bryan’s SmackDown, and they chant ‘yes’. He’s running the show tonight, and puts Ryback in a match against Rollins and makes a title match between Harper and Ziggler. Miz interrupts, and remember how Daniel Bryan used to be his rookie in NXT? Big Show makes a vague threat, and I’m pretty sure that if Bryan knocked Cena’s ass out, he could probably murder Big Show before any security guards got there. But instead Bryan makes a twenty-man battle royal for the US Title, featuring Big Show, Erick Rowan, Miz and Mizdow. Do you know how difficult these things are to cover?
Isn’t Any Easier To Write About A Battle Royal When You’re Drunk
Lot of athletes who have no reason to hold the US Championship in the ring; surely no foreshadowing there. Bell rings and the brawl ensues. Justin Gabriel and Sin Cara get thrown out, then Rowan eliminates Heath Slater. Curtis Axel gets punched right out; nice to see he’s not suffered through losing Ryback. Rusev’s dealing with Swagger, and Rose gets eliminated, then both Matadores get tossed by Big Show. Fast eliminations here, and then Rowan and Big Show face off. Rowan manages to back Big Show into a corner, squashes him twice and then clotheslines him out of the ring! Momentum doesn’t last long, as Rusev tosses him out right afterwards. Lot of guys try to toss Rusev, but good luck, midcard.
Back from our commercial break, most of the guys whose names you’d actually know are still there. Miz actually defends Sandmiz from Cesaro in a move that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but is still pretty sweet. Michael Cole says he ‘can’t wait to read the Miz’s unauthorised autobiography’, which is the social equivalent of saying ‘I can’t wait to cook and eat a toddler’ to my mind. The Miz gets low-bridged by the Dust Brothers, and Mizdow imitates him, thus being the first man to get eliminated due to contractual obligation. The Dust brothers are eliminated by Swagger, who is then taken down by Cesaro. Titus O’Neil eliminates Jimmy Uso; Jey returns the favour, then gets eliminated very nicely by Tyson Kidd, who nearly eliminates Cesaro to follow up.
Swagger, Kidd, Cesaro and Rusev remain, and hell yeah for a decent finish. Kidd and Cesaro go after Swagger, along with Rusev, but Jack Swagger is thankful for being a badass and deals with those bitches. He throws Kidd and Rusev into Cesaro in the corner, takes Rusev down with a throw and pops both Cesaro and Kidd with a fist. Swagger Bomb to Rusev, and then Cesaro tries to eliminate Swagger, only to nearly get thrown out himself. Kidd’s eliminated by Swagger! Cesaro nearly tosses Swagger out, but Rusev’s lying in wait. The Bulgarian charges, almost eliminating Swagger; Cesaro throws Rusev over the top rope and nearly eliminates him! Swagger backdops Cesaro over the top rope, and gets kicked out by Rusev.
The full-ring element really could have been skipped; the final four men were the entire reason to watch this match and benefited. Swagger got to be the American Hero; Tyson Kidd got to play with the big boys some more; Cesaro nearly got the badass elimination on Rusev and Rusev refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and then blasted through the consequences. 3 Stars, entirely for the action at the end.
Backstage, apparently Kane is selling merchandise to kids, without collecting any money. So…he’s donating gifts to children? What a sweet guy. And then Santino Marella shows up to bully this kind-hearted giant, like a fuck.
We get what I think is another Sting promo, but nope: Bray Wyatt’s in the house. Although that does make me wonder about a Sting/Wyatt feud. It’s a TLC match at…TLC, and apparently the French would call that match a ‘match de Tables, Échelles et Chaises’, which is hauntingly beautiful. Bray gets on the mic, and spews macabre poetry about Dean Ambrose, implying that the two of them both belong in hell. He also uses the word ‘euphoric’, and I let the hat and the facial hair slide, but don’t you bring that neckbeard shit into this house, Bray Wyatt. Wyatt starts repeating ‘tables, ladders and chairs’, receiving an ‘oh my!’ response from the crowd: hah. Bray actually does reference this, so that’s another point to him. He makes the vague prophecy of, more or less, ‘I’m going to kick your ass’ and we cut out.
See, This Is Why The Wine
Oh hell, it’s the Bellas. And Nikki Bella’s facing Emma. Wow, maybe we can have more lesbian kisses; I mean, why else would we watch women wrestle? Nikki tosses Emma to the mat, but gets rolled up for one. Nikki goes back on the attack, powerfully throwing Emma onto the floor. Emma dodges a charge from Nikki and does manage to lock in the Tarantula, making me fondly remember the days of the Cruiserweight Championship. Emma then spanks Nikki, and that seems like way better offence than, I don’t know, kicking her in the back of the head or something. In the interests of gender equality, one of Bray Wyatt’s opponents now has to cup his balls mid-spider walk. Admittedly, the spank Emma then gives Nikki’s face was pretty badass, but the Bella twin shuts her right down with a kick from the second rope. Rack Attack strikes for the win.
The commentators called it ‘impressive’, which isn’t entirely or even a little bit true. Still, in a less-than-perfect world, I could see Nikki as champ. I don’t want to, but with her power moves, she has a better claim than some in the Divas division. Match gets 1.5 Stars.
Nikki gets on the mic, and goddamn it, I just watched her wrestle and now this bullshit? She says it’s time everyone knows the truth about AJ Lee. Nikki says that she’s worked harder, and sex with Cena is probably more energetic than with Punk. I mean…I don’t want to think about it, but I assume. And I sort of want you all to think about it.
AJ has heard enough, which I think is true for everyone watching and was from the moment Nikki said her first word. She rushes the ring and takes out Brie, who bails along with Nikki.
We see that the merchandise stand backstage is destroyed. Kane’s probably back to electrocuting testes already.
Ryback’s Still Sore About Those Shield Run-Ins, I Guess
Ryback and Rollins make their way out to the ring, and this should be a good match. Both men lock up, and Ryback shoves Rollins to the ground. Seth manages to cinch in a headlock, gets shot off the ropes; we play move-counter-move for a moment and it ends in Rollins getting driven into the mat. Seth rolls out of the ring. Back inside, Rollins gets some shots in on Ryback, but is thrown into the corner and chopped around the ring. He hits a kick to Ryback’s stomach and chops him, but this just pisses the Big Guy off, and he chops Rollins to the mat. He charges Rollins in the corner, but Seth dodges and Ryback blasts the turnbuckle so hard he falls out of the ring
Rollins smells blood in the water, and works Ryback over on the outside. Inside, Seth hits a running forearm into the corner, and stays on Ryback, keeping him grounded with a beautiful dropkick. Facelock to Ryback; he tries to drive Rollins into the corner, but gets rolled up and thrown face-first into the turnbuckle. Seth goes up high and drops a fist right to the Big Guy’s face. He then dives from the second rope, only to get caught and slammed to the mat. Ryback follows him out of the ring, but Mercury distracts him for long enough that Rollins is able to hurl him into the steps.
When we come back to the action, Seth has Ryback in a headlock, with the Big Guy trying to break out of it, eventually doing so with a slam. Ryback winds up for the Meathook, but Seth rolls onto the apron; Ryback tries to bring him back in with a suplex; Rollins avoids contact and charges, but gets massively backdropped in return. Ryback raises him up in a powerbomb; Rollins slips out and hits a kick to the side of Ryback’s head, stunning him. A superkick to the face gets two as J and J Security scold the referee. Seth stalks Ryback, launching himself at him, only to miss and sprawl over the corner. Ryback tries to hit Shellshock from the second rope, only for Rollins to manage to attempt a rolling powerbomb! Mercury distracts the referee as Noble breaks Ryback’s grip, and Ryback gets powerbombed into the corner. Rollins runs into press, slides out and gets hurled out onto Mercury and Noble! Spinebuster in the ring, then a Meathook! Shellshock attempted, but Kane rushes the ring with a chair for the DQ.
Kane really is that DQ guy, isn’t he? Still, that match was very enjoyable; Rollins’ combination of athleticism and power leaves you in no doubt that he’s something very special, and to my mind the most valuable player WWE holds right now. 3 Stars.
Ryback ducks the chair and hits a spinebuster to Kane, because like fuck he’s taking that sort of sauce from a merchandise salesman. He grabs the chair, but Rollins grabs it too, and the distraction is enough for Kane to hit a boot. Seth hands Kane the chair and leaves as Kane wails on Ryback with the steel. Chokeslam finishes the assault, making you wonder if Kane murdered any of his fellow merchandise employees this past week.
It Feels Like James Brown Should Be Here, Dressed As A Priest
Titus O’Neil, Heath Slater and Curtis Axel, henceforth named ‘Total Bitches United’ are in the ring, awaiting their opponents. And…it’s a New Day? Wait…we’re doing this on SmackDown? Haha…fuck you, RAW. Langston, Kingston and Woods make their cheerful way to the ring, and let’s see what this whole thing is all about. I mean, it’s a cult, right? It’s most definitely a cult. You’re not that cheerful unless you’re in a cult, even via drugs.
Woods starts with Axel, and gets his arm locked, only to flip Axel over. Kingston comes in, hitting a stomp to Axel’s arm and tags in Woods before both men hit boots to the face. Langston comes in and hits the Warrior Splash to Axel, then takes a rag out of his leotard and wipes off his face; okay, I sort of enjoyed that. Back with Xavier Woods, and Langston wheelbarrow-splashes him onto Axel.
Finally Slater distracts Woods long enough that Axel can hit a dropkick, cutting off the New Day’s momentum. Slater comes in to hit some stomps, and then O’Neil comes in, pissed off that he didn’t get asked to join this group. Axel’s back in, and Xavier rolls out of a back suplex and hits an enzuigiri, allowing him to get the tag to Kofi. Kofi hits each member of TBU, rocking Slater’s jaw with a dropkick. Crossbody from the top rope nearly gets three, but Axel breaks up the pin. Langston makes him pay for it with a belly-to-belly, as Woods low-bridges Titus. Slater dives for Kofi, who leaps over him, leaving Slater to slide right out of the ring. Kofi gets hurled by Langston to the outside, taking out all of TBU. In the ring, Xavier and Big E hit…fuck it, you’re going to have to watch that for yourselves to decide what it was, but it looked damn decent. Three count and the New Day picks up their first win.
Fine, I’m impressed. All three guys are talented, and they’re using a system similar to the Shield: power guy, high flyer and some other role (really haven’t seen Woods wrestle enough to know). Tom actually mentioned that during the match, and I really hope they emphasise that with this team. Funnily enough, a thirteen year old David Spain created a three-man stable with that exact same idea on one of the early SmackDown games, and they buried everyone. 2.5 Stars.
Manically cheerful celebration from those guys; I swear, it’s a matter of time until their matches basically become that church scene from Blues Brothers. And I swear, I would be totally okay with it. JBL says he wants to call security on the New Day, which is sort of racist of him.
Backstage, the Dust Brothers have clearly stolen Adam Rose’s stash again. Or, more likely, Bray stole it and is giving out free samples to anyone he thinks is the ‘right people’.
Dolph Ziggler: Moral Victor
Main event time, and it’s Harper vs. Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship. Both men show up to the ring, with Harper’s crazy eyes clearly indicating that Bray believes him to be the ‘right people’. And yay, we still have that ring announcer whose voice I hate, which is a bad quality in a ring announcer. We get the BIG MATCH FEEL introductions, and THE BELT RAISE, and away we go.
Go-behind and a roll-up by Dolph and that’s three! Hah, no, not really, but can you imagine? Neckbreaker by Ziggler, but Harper gets on the apron and tries to suplex Dolph to the outside, only to get dropkicked to the floor. Quick break to be reminded to try wrestling anywhere that isn’t at home or a school, and when we come back, Ziggler has just hurled Harper’s face into the ring post. Back in the ring, Ziggler hits a big crossbody, but Harper throws him face-first into the turnbuckle to kill the momentum. Ziggler reverses a suplex, but gets a straight uppercut right into the face to knock his ass down.
Sleeper hold now, and Dolph breaks out with a jawbreaker, dodges a charge and hits a volley of clotheslines, then a neckbreaker. Big elbow to the chest for a two count, then a fameasser, which is reversed, but then reversed again by Dolph into a roll-up for two! Huge DDT leaves Harper stunned and reeling, and that gets another near-fall. Dolph and Luke rise; the superkick misses; the big boot misses; a sidewalk slam attempt by Harper gets turned into another roll-up, then a side-slam finally stops Dolph in his tracks. Powerbomb looks likely, but Ziggler hits a facebuster, then a fameasser for the nearest fall yet.
Ziggler climbs high, but Harper knocks the ropes to catch him; a big boot and a sit-out powerbomb nearly finishes things, but Ziggler gets his shoulder up at the last second. On the outside, Dolph’s hurled over the announce table and roughed up by the big bearded one. JBL starts saying that Harper doesn’t want to be disqualified, but then realises and says ‘…he’ll walk out with that championship’. Bradshaw, ladies and gentlemen. Ziggler looks like he’s about to rush into the ring at eight, but then hits a superkick to Harper, managing to get into the ring by ten, leaving Harper outside for the count-out victory.
Ziggler got in serious offence. We’ve seen a couple of potential pushes, and I have to believe that this is going to be the one which sticks; Dolph’s never looked better, even when he was world champion. He was practically dominating this match, and that was no bad thing in terms of watchability. Looking forward to a PPV, considering what we’ve seen both men do in that environment. 2.5 Stars.
Harper hits the dick move surprise attack after the match, then licks his belt. Ick, that’s been on Cody Rhodes’ waist. He stalks Ziggler, and tries to blast him with the gold, but Dolph ducks and hits the Zig-Zag! God, I don’t know if I want Ziggler to get the belt back and keep the title relevant, or to move onto better things. All I know is, loving how he’s doing.
Well, they barely mentioned Thanksgiving, which made my premeditated and alcoholic defence a little unnecessary. Show was good: Daniel Bryan, three enjoyable matches, plus a debut on SmackDown; what more does a show need? Eight.
David Spain’s Movie Recommendation: So I recently watched Amélie again, because that’s the film that got me into French cinema, before my university’s film studies course got their shots in (although they got me to watch Singing in the Rain, so fair play to them). It’s been extremely instructive in my screenplay-writing, and the entire tone of the movie makes for a really cheerful evening. Check it out if you haven’t seen it.
Tags: Battle Royal, big e langston, big show, Brie Bella, Cesaro, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, emma, goldust, Heath Slater, Intercontinental Championship, jack swagger, Jamie Noble, jbl, joey mercury, kane, Kofi Kingston, Lana, Luke Harper, Michael Cole, Nikki Bella, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, Smackdown, Stardust, The Miz, titus o'neil, Tom Philips, Tyson Kidd, United States Championship, WWE, xavier woods