Well, hello there. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are girding yourselves for a hell of a new year. In the comedown between those two events, let’s take a moment to laugh at the ridiculous nature of professional wrestling.
Speaking of which, here’s Hulk Hogan. I mean, he’s not dressed as Santa this time, but taken entirely at face value, Hulk Hogan is an absurd human being. Michael Cole says that there’s no place he’d rather be on Boxing Day than Sioux City, Iowa, and considering that at least one of those other places contains a) his wife and b) his kids, I’m guessing that it was a terrible, hypocritical Christmas at the Cole household.
Well, let him tell us something, brother. Hulk Hogan’s running SmackDown tonight, so that probably means we’ve got to hear him talk. He namedrops Daniel Bryan, which is the wrestling promo equivalent of saying ‘think of the children’: people will act like what you said was important, but it just makes it obvious that you’ve got nothing really to say. Edge and Christian are also running RAW this coming Monday, and at least one of those two is an active wrestler. If you can’t remember which one, you’re in good company.
Seth Rollins does the honourable thing and interrupts Hogan’s meaningless babble so that he can…shake hands with him. He says that with all of Hulk’s accomplishments, people might start calling him ‘the Seth Rollins of the Eighties’, which is unlikely considering that Rollins 1) has more than five moves 2) is physically attractive 3) didn’t scar my childhood with “films” like Mr Nanny. Also, Rollins’ gloves are hanging from his belt, which is…odd, I guess. He says that, all kidding aside, Hogan was the reason Rollins got into the business, which seems like kidding to me. But he gets mad and tells Hulk he’s got no business being in his ring, who threatens him with his TRANSIENT EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY. He plays the whole ‘we want the Authority back’ thing, which is at least some genuine motivation for the guy. Rollins tells Hogan to tell the audience that Rollins is the future of the company: see, now if Hogan does it, he’s a heel; if he denies it, he’s Michael Cole.
Hulk gets pissy and even threatens Rollins, which is proof that Hogan will never stop being Hogan. Then he says that there are loads of guys who are better than Rollins and, thankfully, he brings out Ziggler. Because there seriously wasn’t a better option.
Ziggler comes out, doing that whole face thing of pathetically kissing up to the old and not-relevant-in-this-decade person in the gym. Seth and Dolph discuss the future, which quickly devolves into random threats, which I guess is how science-fiction writers collaborate. Big Show comes out, with his motivation of providing for his family, which he apparently plans to do by knocking out Hulk Hogan and Dolph Ziggler. Man’s like the fucking Wolf of Wall Street over here. Reigns then shows up, because fuck Big Show’s stupid family (which is, like, the greatest motivation he could have in this feud). He tells Show not to try it, because he’ll kick his ass. Hogan makes a tag-team match between the four of them and drops one of his godawful catchphrases. Seriously, WWE didn’t have the common decency to have Rollins beat the shit out of Hogan as a way of getting some heat?
I Mean, Without The Chairs It’s Like…Just A Wrestling Match
Kane’s in the ring when we return, awaiting the arrival of and his brutalisation by Ryback. The Big Guy shows up, marching up to the ring. Apparently his entrance music is called ‘Meat on the Table’, and I can think of about seven snarky comments and about nine innuendoes stemming from that title. We relive the slow slide into cringe that is Rowdy Roddy Piper nowadays, but the spinebuster to Rusev was almost worth it.
Kane gets pounded into a corner by Ryback, but meets the Big Guy with a boot as he comes off the ropes. Uppercuts and knees to Ryback in the corner, then a hard Irish whip into the opposite turnbuckle. Ryback tries to come back, but eats a back elbow to keep him on the mat. Ryback’s not going away, however, punching at Kane and sending him off the ropes before hitting a spinebuster to literally no comment by the commentary team…because they were just waiting for Rusev’s music to hit..
Rusev rushes the ring (or as near to doing that as he can get to), and Ryback keeps a wary eye on Kane when he should be ripping out his femur and using it to shank the Bulgarian Brute: entertaining and efficient. Ryback kicks Rusev off the apron, avoids a chokeslam, hits a Meathook to Kane and finishes it with Shell Shock.
Colour me surprised that a wrestler getting on the apron did not end the match in a DQ in this day and age, especially because the Big Red DQ Risk was involved. Not much to talk about in the match, although if they’d just had Ryback run through Kane like this at the PPV, it would have been a lot more watchable. 2 Stars.
Rusev’s still down on the outside, and if I was Ryback I’d be busy injuring him ahead of time for our match, but then I’m not a WWE face, am I? Michael compares Rusev to the Russian economy, and that is nowhere near fucking okay, Michael: at least Rusev only injures people; he doesn’t kill, starve or incite war or revolution in them. Rusev gets on the apron, and actually gets into the ring. Kane is a distraction, allowing Rusev to superkick Ryback, then Kane chokeslams Ryback twice before Rusev applies the Accolade. Ryback is left motionless, and I’m honestly shocked that Michael Cole doesn’t compare him to an Ebola patient.
Rusev and Lana walk around backstage, exchanging sweet nothings in Russia. Then Hogan shows up, because where there’s foreigners the Hulkster is there to ‘fight for what’s right’. Which, as we’ve recently learned, apparently includes torturing people so Rusev better watch the fuck out. But it turns out that Hulk’s just making him put the title on the line.
Damn It, Naomi Could Have Done This With The Title
Alicia Fox is in the ring, and she’ll be facing Naomi tonight. Holy hell, two women who aren’t the Bellas. I will take that. We flashback to Naomi almost winning the Divas Title before Jimmy Uso got all ‘I don’t trust my own wife around other men’ up in her face. Seriously: he either doesn’t trust his wife, or believes Miz is a genuine threat to her (and in which case he should probably contact the cops). Or just hates the Miz so much than anything and everything means nothing to him in comparison to that hate, and I would both accept and love that as his motivation.
Naomi immediately gets Fox in a headlock, taking her over; Alicia scissors the head; Naomi kips up, right into a dropkick. Also, Michael just asked us what we would do if another man (so, not specifically the fucking Miz) cheered our wife on. Well…you know, assume that my wife was capable of thinking for herself and didn’t consistently need me to act as a chaperone/bodyguard, but maybe I’m just a product of a different generation (my Grandma levelled that accusation at me this Christmas for knowing how to work a mobile phone and believing that UKIP shouldn’t be allowed to run a village fair, let alone a nation).
Naomi leaprfrogs in the corner, but Alicia catches her legs on her shoulders before Naomi waggles her ass in her face: considering who her husband is that is technically a tribute to Rikishi. Calf kick knocks Fox to the ground as we see Miz watching the girls wrestle. Probably a good idea: they’ve got more moves than he does.
Naomi wrenches Fox’s arm, but Alicia elbows her way out of it, before catching Naomi in a hard tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Sleeper hold to Alicia as Tom announces that movies are lies and therefore all actors are liars. I’m going to actually use a whole new paragraph for my reaction to that one:
What the fucking fuck, Tom?
Michael Cole is astounded and shocked and appalled that he’s found a man who can spray bullshit more monumental than his own, and Naomi uses the wave of nausea that Tom’s epic mountain of psychotic accusation creates in Alicia to break free, only for Fox to slam her head off the turnbuckle and hit the Northern Lights suplex. She tosses Naomi onto the apron, who rocks her with a kick, then hangs her up off the ropes. She hits an somersault clothesline, then a hurricanrana, then tries to roll her up; Alicia nearly reverses it for a pin, then slaps the taste out of Naomi’s mouth. Alicia’s thrown into a corner, then hoists herself up onto the top turnbuckle to avoid Naomi, who manages to kick her in the head anyway! Fox falls to the floor, then Naomi hits a split-leg moonsault for the win.
Really good match, and two arguments for getting that belt of Nikki and keeping it in the ‘women who can wrestle’ club. I’d have praised this as a title PPV match. 3 Stars.
Backstage, Naomi is walking and Jimmy Uso is right there to make sure she doesn’t run off and leave him. She seems totally okay with him beating up the Miz for daring to take an interest in her.
“Is Big Brother A Rosebud In The Same Way I Am A Rosebud?”
Oh yay, R-Truth is still employed. The one thing I remember him doing which I paid attention to was being crazy, and we’re all done with that. He’s in action against Adam Rose, and the interactions with his Rosebuds indicates that he’s still ruling by fear. He beat the shit out of the Bunny on RAW, which I assume is his version of Room 101. He gets on the apron, but tells the Rosebuds all to back up.
Rose charges at R-Truth, who smacks him, but then Rose gets all aggressive, hitting and stomping. Snap suplex to Truth, then a clubbing blow to the chest and a sleeper hold. When Rose runs off the ropes, Truth catches him with a kick, then with an elbow. Truth fires up, but Rose slides out of a suplex and throws Truth shoulder-first into the post. Party Foul and Adam Rose wins.
Entirely and utterly meh; I don’t feel immodest in saying that the best thing about Adam Rose’s WWE run has been my alternating drug culture and dystopian readings into his activities. 1.5 Stars.
See, this is supposed to be that thing where a failing face finds success as a heel, but you know that almost every person backstage, probably including Divas like AJ, Paige and Natalya and even non-combatants like Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury could destroy Adam Rose if they wanted to. I mean, the Bunny’s probably going to do it when he shows up again.
As Soon As Ambrose’s Music Hits, I Called ‘Wyatt Run-In’
Here’s Rusev and Lana, fresh from whatever the Soviets have instead of Christmas: a pogrom, probably. Lana mics up and says that this is all totes bullshit, but they’re so goddamn awesome that they’re just going to win anyhow. And his opponent is Dean Ambrose, so if Rusev doesn’t triumph then we’ll never see the belt defended again.
Shrillvoice gives the BIG MATCH FEEL announcements, calling him the ‘new’ United States champion, so someone’s behind the times. Ambrose gets backed into the corner by Rusev, but he ducks a punch and starts wailing on Rusev in another corner. Rusev reverses this, beating Ambrose down once again. He chokes Dean on the ropes and then hits some kicks, but Ambrose comes back with a crossbody and then chops at the big Russian, hitting his running front dropkick twice to send Rusev through the ropes and out of the ring. Ambrose then dives the through the ropes and takes Rusev out on the outside.
Back inside, Ambrose trips Rusev up at the legs for a rollover attempt, and then gets elevated right into the ropes by Rusev, stopping the momentum. A multitude of elbows get laid down on Ambrose, and then a sleeper hold to really slow the whole thing down, with a cover getting two off a big kick to the face. Cobra Clutch locked in now, and Ambrose stamps on Rusev’s bare feet to break it, but runs into a knee to the midsection and gets hung up in the ropes as Rusev charges into him.
Back from the break, Rusev is pinching Ambrose’s nerve, or whatever, and Dean gets to his feet before getting knocked into the corner. Rusev runs into some boots, and Ambrose begins his comeback with some punches and chops; he ducks two clotheslines and tries a crossbody, but gets caught with a fallaway slam. Superkick nails the shit out of Ambrose, and he’s going for the Accolade; Dean fights back and makes it to the ropes, only to get punished more in the corner. He avoids a charge from Rusev, who strikes the corner with his skull, and he nearly gets rolled up by Dean. Punches to Rusev, then Ambrose runs him over with some strikes, and a bulldog floors him. Ambrose climbs high, only to have to leap over Rusev, get knocked off the ropes and then he slams back into Rusev with a clothesline. He climbs high again, hitting his standing elbow drop. Dirty Deeds is broken out of, and Rusev rolls out of the ring, with Ambrose in hot pursuit. He hurls the Bulgarian against the barricade, doing so again once Rusev gets him up on his shoulders. Then, from out of nowhere, Wyatt attacks, sending Dean into the barricade.
Interesting combination of talents here; Rusev and Ambrose was an intriguing match-up. Of course, with a title and a streak on the line, they couldn’t let Ambrose win, but with Ambrose in a feud they were reluctant to let him lose. Sad that it’s gotten so obvious recently. Anyway, good match. 3 Stars.
Rusev fucks off, just in case Bray becomes patriotic due to proximity, and Wyatt tries to hit Sister Abigail; Dean fights him off and they end up launching each other over the announce table before Wyatt throws Ambrose into the timekeeper’s area. Wyatt starts to clear off the table, but he takes too long and Dean beans him with a chair, showing that real men put people through a table without clearing it. Bray flees as Ambrose looks on.
Romance Isn’t Dead, But Anyone Who Looks At Jimmy Uso’s Girlfriend Is
Well, that single backstage segment made it feel like a Miz-heavy show already, but here’s the douchebag in the ring. He and Jimmy are going to be fighting each other, because it’ll be a cold day in hell before two tag team wrestlers in a singles match features on a PPV. Miz gets a waistlock, reversed into another by Jimmy, and Miz clubs him to the floor before Jimmy knocks him back down. Miz flees to the outside, then tries to attack Jimmy inside the ring, but gets pulled out and whacked off the apron. Miz is thrown off the ropes and back into a clothesline before Jimmy chops him.
Finally, Jealous Uso runs into a back elbow, but immediately Samoan Drops Miz: fuck karma. Miz tries to run but is pursued by the Samoan, who throws him back into the ring where he begs not to be hurt for just supporting a guy’s wife, for fuck’s sake. Miz says ‘I can help you,’ and at this point I think Jimmy might actually need help. Michael says ‘don’t listen to him, Jimmy!’, because as we’ve established, he’s just great with his family. Tom says nothing, because he’s too busy judging Miz, Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Stewart for being such liars. Finally, Miz tries to do the ‘OOS!!’ part of the Uso chant, so Jimmy kicks him twice. Superfly Splash ends things, with the moral that a woman only gets to talk to her partner and the people he gives the okay on. Great lesson for your young viewers, WWE.
This storyline isn’t my favourite, but the wrestling was okay. I hope this is over now, with a decisive victory. Can we pretend the belts are important now? 2 Stars.
Ascension’s rising. Thought you should know.
Goldust and Stardust are on crack again. I mean…I assume that’s what you do when you’re on crack. I’m upper-middle class with two lawyer parents, and that’s what they tell us crack does.
This Would Have Been An Excellent Moment For Some Brock Lesnar
It’s Christmas weekend, so I’ve been on the wine pretty early, so don’t expect Shakespeare here. I mean…Shakespeare didn’t write wrestling reviews. If they did, I imagine they would go something like this: ‘Enter Seth Rollins, with Mercury and Noble. Enter Big Show. Enter Ziggler. Enter Reigns, through audience. A bell is rung. Diverse alarums. Much celebration as Ziggler and Reigns emerge triumphant. Exeunt.’ And that would be excellent.
Well, everyone gets to the ring, and Seth and Ziggler lock up to start off. Seth gets Ziggler in a headlock, is shot off the ropes and hits a shoulderblock. He runs the ropes again and eats a hip toss before Ziggler wrenches the arm and tags in Reigns. Rollins doesn’t want none of that, and tags in Big Show to give away a PPV match instead. Fucking architect, right? Reigns beats on Big Show, but runs right into a shoulder block. Reigns is worked over in the corner and now Seth gets the tag. He wrenches the arm, but gets flipped over and now it’s Roman working Rollins’ arm.
Ziggler tags in, getting in some shots. Neckbreaker to Rollins, then some elbows, but Cruiserweight Security gets involved, which allows Rollins to take control via Big Show interference. When we come back, Ziggler tries to monkey flip Seth, but Seth turns it into a catapult into the turnbuckle. Tag to Big Show, who gives the prone Ziggler a chop. Whatever The Hell That’s Called to Ziggler (I’d be so good at naming moves), then a chop to the head to keep him down. Also, if Roman Reigns has been taking acting lessons, is he less likely to tell the truth now? Tom, I’m fucking talking to you. Show chokes Ziggler with his freakishly giant foot, then sends him into the corner with a hard Irish whip. He hurls Dolph into another corner with one hand, but then runs into both boots, and Ziggler hits a massive Fameasser!
Rollins unfortunately gets the tag; Ziggler rolls out of a back suplex, dodges a stinger splash and tags in Reigns! Roman is all the fuck over Seth, knocking his ass down and then hitting a massive bodyslam. Superman Punch is wound up, and Mercury tries to grab Roman’s leg; Reigns tosses him and nearly gets rolled up, then Seth superkicks him for a near fall. Seriously, how many people use the fucking superkick now HBK’s gone? Rollins tries for a powerbomb; Roman flips him over; Rollins lands on his feet and kicks at Roman, who ducks and hits an uppercut! Samoan drop is interrupted by a chokeslam attempt! Ziggler superkicks Big Show; Roman spears Big Show! Rollins tosses both Reigns and Ziggler, and Cruiserweight Security attacks Reigns on the outside.
Seth dives out onto Reigns. JBL says that Roman should hire his own security, and if this leads to the APA vs. J and J Security, I will be in heaven. Ziggler clotheslines Mercury and Noble on the outside, distracting Rollins long enough that Reigns fucks him up with a spear to win.
I really enjoyed it. Reigns and Ziggler are probably the two most popular guys right now, so the team made sense. See how fun it is when guys work together when one of them is not John Cena? Rollins is still frigging unbelievable, as he is in every match. Really, Show was the only guy out there who didn’t look awesome, and he still did his job. 3 Stars.
Honestly, this SmackDown has been pretty damn decent. I’m aware that I’m vaguely tipsy (fuck you, it’s still the holidays and I’m a novelist), but I enjoyed this show. Edge and Christian promise to give RAW a reason to be watchable, so there’s also that. This show gets a nine.
David’s Movie Recommendation: I have this weird stance on messing with myths and legends in movies, mainly because what we know as today’s ‘Hollywood Formula’ is usually going to screw up something way more cool and awesome than whatever the movie ends up being. My one exception to the rule, despite some damn big changes, is King Arthur. Clive Owen is…honestly not at his best here, and he still kicks all of the ass. Plus, Keira Knightley’s a Celt, and Mads Mikkelsen is, like, some kind of samurai, and describe to me a world where that is not view-worthy. If you’re kinda drunk, like I sort of am, it’s a fun watch.
Tags: Adam Rose, alicia fox, big show, Boxing Day, Christmas, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Hulk Hogan, Jamie Noble, jbl, jimmy uso, joey mercury, kane, Lana, Michael Cole, naomi, R-Truth, Roman Reigns, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, Smackdown, The Miz, Tom Philips, WWE