Good evening to all of you. I’m your reviewer, David Spain, and as I write this, we have just come from…a really rather lacklustre Fastlane, I have to say. Fuck finishes, lots of heels going over, an overall deficit of WrestleMania-building. And hell, it seems like Rollins and Orton is going to be a thing, and whilst I’d be happy about that match in general, Rollins was the opponent for Daniel Bryan which might, might have lessened some of the disappointment.
On one subject, actually, I have to admit feeling quite cheerful, and that is Roman Reigns. Yes, I’d have preferred Bryan to go over. Yes, I think that Heyman and Bryan coming out to verbally put Reigns over is a desperation move and shows the WWE’s own misgivings. But the way that Roman’s been acting the past couple of weeks in the ring? Furious, violent, roaring? Kicking out of the Running Knee? That’s the Reigns I want to see: not some slightly more badass version of John Cena which, for some godforsaken reason, the higher-ups at WWE seem to think that we all crave. As long as Roman is able to stay 100% pissed off until WrestleMania, I’m happy. And yeah, that would have been more easily accomplished had Lesnar actually featured on RAW, but what am I saying: it’s not like I’m a failed sitcom writer with a job at a wrestling company.
Pyro, ballyhoo and whatnot as SmackDown comes to you not-live from Atlanta. And we’re doing a Fastlane rematch: Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback will face Rollins, Kane and the Big Show.
Daniel Bryan kicks off the show, and I guess he’s still here to tell us all how totally awesome Reigns is, guys (oh, highly relevant). But instead he screams ‘NO!’, intentionally reminding us of when he was a hugely kickass douche rather than a hugely kickass face. He said he used to feel like nobody was in his corner, but the realisation that we’d all sworn eternal, fangasmy loyalty to him meant he won the title at WrestleMania. And even though he lost it due to injury (which I blame entirely on incredibly inventive and terrifying sex with Brie Bella), he got what most people don’t get (unless you’re a failed sitcom writer): a second chance. But he screwed that up too. God, why do we even like this loser? Bryan says that people backstage have been asking him if the Yes-Movement is dead. What, seriously? Did people actually ask that? Had any of those people won the title? Bryan says that the Yes-Movement is not dead, but is interrupted by Barrett’s theme music. Which is an achievement, considering how quietly the first few bars of that music are.
Wade asks how much longer Bryan is going to carry on with this nonsense. He actually says ‘nonsense’ as well, which is how us Brits talk. Barrett is the Liam Neeson to the Liam Neeson’s family that is the Intercontinental Championship, and that should be the fucking programme right there. Ambrose shows up with the title, because he is the worst thief in the history of theft. Dean and Wade immediately brawl outside the ring, and Bryan picks up the title. NO, BRYAN, NO. YOU PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW. IT’S SAPPING YOUR VERY LIFE FORCE AS I TYPE. Wade wants his ‘bloody’ title back, and why, Wade? Why? Bryan gives the title back, only for Barrett to turn into a punch from Ambrose, which turns him back into a kick from Bryan.
Then Ambrose steals the title again.
Apparently Byron had an interview with Roman earlier, and because Byron is still talking, I can only assume that Reigns didn’t rip his jugular out and eat it. Because that’s the Reigns who should be facing Lesnar.
How Many People Went To The Bathroom When They Saw That Mizdow Wasn’t There?
Ambrose is back in the ring as we come back from the break, and he’ll be facing the Miz, sans Mizdow. Michael gives some kind of bullshit excuse for Sandow not being around, and as he does so we see some incredible fan-art of the Mizdow: watch the show just to see that sign. So, it’s Worst Movie Star in the World vs. Worst Thief in the World. I mean, I always end up playing as a pickpocket and burglar in Skyrim, even if I start off intending to be the stalwart, Aryan hero of the age; Dean, stealing shit is not as difficult as you make it look.
Ambrose gets a headlock onto Miz, who backs him off the ropes and takes a shoulder block. Dean comes back for a roll-up, then hits a bodyslam. Strong start from Ambrose, who hits a chop to Miz in the corner, but then runs into a boot. Miz capitalises, hitting his back/neckbreaker to take the control back. Headlock is applied to Ambrose, and this might be a short one if that was our rest hold.
Dean fights out, hits a kick to the face of the Miz. Lots of shots to the Miz, who gets bounced around the ring, and then bulldogged. Ambrose heads up to the second rope, but a wild Barrett appeared! Wade tries to steal his title back, and Ambrose jumps on him in a seriously offended manner (unlike those punks in Skyrim who just report me to the guards: fucking narcs). Ambrose jumps Barrett, taking his title back, only for Miz to capitalise back in the ring. Ambrose counters, attempting Dirty Deeds; Miz tries a reversal into the Skull-Crushing Finale, and Dean breaks out, coming off the ropes for his pendulum clothesline, levelling Miz. Barrett has his title over his shoulder and is running for the hills, just like Liam Neeson. Dirty Deeds kills Miz and Ambrose wins.
Ambrose was pretty damn dominant here, and I definitely enjoy this storyline (let’s just agree now that Ambrose makes most awful ideas kinda funny). If this is leading up to a WrestleMania X8 Hardcore Title-esque anywhere-falls match, count me the fuck in. 2.5 Stars.
Replay of Randy Orton thinking that he’s really subtle about being friends with Seth Rollins, when even the five year olds in the audience know that he fantasises about taking Rollins’ face, Optimus Prime-style (yeah, I watched those godawful Transformers movies; it was that or do coursework).
Barrett’s backstage, only for Renee to jump him with a post-theft interview. Wade is proud of his sticky-fingeredness, and says that he’s better than both Ambrose and Bryan. Now that he has the title again, he’s never letting it out of his sight. I take that to mean that he’s going to shower whilst wearing it, and I demand footage.
Naomi and the Usos are in the ring, and it looks like this is Naomi’s match. Sure enough, she’s facing Natalya Neidhart, and it looks like Nat’s leg is alright after that spill on Monday. This should be a good match, and there has been a lack of Natalya matches in recent memory, so let’s get to this.
Nat takes Naomi right over with a headlock as Byron confirms at that Nat’s leg is okay. Neidhart comes off the ropes and takes Naomi down with a shoulder block, then headstand-flips over Naomi, who then cartwheels over her to roll her up: whoa. Naomi gets pushed down to the map, but kips right back up and takes Nat over in an arm drag. This is already a better match than most of what happened at Fastlane. Nat seems to want a Sharpshooter, but Naomi vines her legs around Natalya’s neck, holding on. Natalya manages to work her way to her feet, spinning Naomi around, possibly looking for the Alabama Slam, but Naomi turns that into a roll-up for two.
Both women come off the ropes as Natalya ducks a clothesline, and they both hit crossbodies for a quick break. They make it back to their feet before the count, and then Naomi slams a kick into Nat’s injured leg, taking her back down. Tyson is up on the apron, acting for all the world like he’s a normal human being and a decent husband (that mask’ll fucking slip in time) and the ref backs Naomi off. Jimmy superkicks Tyson whilst on the apron, and then Cesaro leaps to his defence, getting flung into a superkick. Meanwhile, I think both Nat and Naomi are depressed about the fact they’re both married to angry man-children (albeit angry men-children who are everything that’s good about the tag-team division right now). Naomi suddenly explodes off the ropes with her spinning clothesline, getting the three off that.
This was a really tight match, even with the time constraints. This is why I get annoyed when Divas matches get the ‘bathroom break’ moniker, or when the women are written by men who think that women are a different species, or reviews just talk about how hot the women are or, as AJ Lee informs me, female WWE employees get paid a lot less than their male co-workers. Because they can put on matches like this. They have a really great crop of female wrestlers at the minute (AJ, Paige, Alicia, Naomi, Natalya, Charlotte, etc.), and they could seriously do something great with that resource; I just really hope they do. 3 Stars.
Apparently we’re going to all take time to reflect on the majesty that is our lord and saviour, John Cena, after the break. Rusev and Lana are also heading to the ring, which seems just a tiny bit contrived.
When we come back, Rusev and Lana are in the ring: I KNEW IT. I swear, that medal looks more and more fake every single week, which is weird because it’s the same medal. Rusev and Lana spout propaganda, with what is honestly a tremendous grasp on the English accent for massive jingoists. Seriously: these guys hate America and the UK and most other places, and they probably speak better English than about ten percent of this audience. Although both Rusev and Lana both say that Rusev ‘don’t have to answer to no-one’, which makes them both sound like 1920s gangsters.
Apparently Rusev received an email from Putin, which is actually put on the screen in Cyrillic. Okay, at least one person in that audience can read that script, and is either trying to make sense of meaningless gibberish, or is blushing because that is just a page of the Russian-language version of Fifty Shades of Grey. I wonder what the Russian is for ‘kinky fuckery’. Rusev says that he will have a great match with someone way more awesome than Cena, and that summons Jack Swagger. Okay, can we get Swagger tested for delusions of grandeur? And get that fucking microphone away from him?
Ah, too late. Swagger is out there to randomly spout patriotic buzzwords and talk about how Atlanta is the most American place since apple pie. Also, apple pie was brought to the colonies in the seventeenth century, after being invented in the 1300s, so what is with that saying of yours? And I’ve just realised that Swagger’s shirt makes it look like his left boob is being constantly and gently fondled and now I can’t unsee it. Rusev obviously wants none of Swagger’s patriotism and throws a punch…before Swagger kicks the shit out of him? Seriously? Rusev is tossed out of the ring and Jack goes after him, but the wily Bulgarian slides back out, managing to gain the advantage on the outside, and then continues the mugging back in the ring. Big kick and the Accolade more or less finishes Swagger off, who is in so much pain he forgets that it’s not a match and taps out. Rusev keeps reapplying the hold, even as the referees beg him not to injure that guy that keeps injuring people.
Why Do People Want This Belt?
As if it wasn’t obvious enough that the Intercontinental Championship was so cursed that they should lock it in that big warehouse where they store everything that Indiana Jones has ever fucking found, Barrett’s facing Daniel Bryan in a match tonight. Oh, and he’s just leaving the title in the corner, despite promising not to let it out of his sight. This is exactly how Liam Neeson’s family keeps getting random locations non-consensually added to their passports. Also, R-Truth is on commentary, and mistakes Byron for Coach. Ladies and gentlemen, the WWE just made a joke about how a black man is unable to distinguish between two other black men. Somewhere, Vince McMahon is laughing in an otherwise-uncomfortably-silent room.
Bryan is all over Barrett, trying to apply some holds until Wade kicks him away. Barrett then starts off on some offence, clubbing Daniel into the corner. I think Truth is going insane again, unless he was always doing that gimmick and is just so unimportant that I never noticed. Bryan back in control, vining the leg and then trying to apply the surfboard. Barrett fights back, and manages to suplex Bryan for two. Bryan pops right back up with an uppercut, right as R-Truth says that ‘stealing isn’t in my vocabulary’. Good thing they weren’t talking about drug-dealing. Bryan gets caught in the Winds of Change, and Barrett tosses him out of the ring after a two-count as we go to break.
Back in the match, Barrett is in control, beating Bryan down on the ropes and then applying a sleeper hold. Bryan fights out, backflipping over Wade out of the corner and hitting a clothesline. Big kicks to the chest of Barrett as Byron says that if Bryan wins, he could claim an Intercontinental title shot; wash your mouth out, Byron. First dropkick to the corner hits Wade, but the second one misses as Bryan crashes and burns. The title gets knocked off the apron, and Barrett goes all ‘a dingo ate my baby’ (I never really looked into that thing). Bryan dives out onto Wade, but back in the ring Barrett almost hits Wasteland. Bryan reverses for the Yes-Lock as R-Truth really obviously steals the Intercontinental Championship. I’d say that means he’d lose all of his matches now, but he’s sort of there already. Barrett reaches the ropes, hurling Bryan into the turnbuckle, shoulder-first. He calls for the Bull Hammer, but gets a Running Knee instead.
This was alright. I’m wary about Bryan being anywhere near the Intercontinental Championship, because that fucker is just looking for a more powerful host to possess and destroy. Having said that, I’m still holding out for a Hardcore Title thing at ‘Mania. 2.5 Stars.
Post-match, Barrett can’t put two and two together, despite the fact that R-Truth is acting so massively suspicious that the CIA’s probably going to arrest him for “questioning” after the show. Afterwards, Wade Barrett sits back, looking like a broken man as opposed to one who doesn’t have to carry around a big chunk of metal and leather.
We see an interview between Byron and Roman Reigns. Serious is definitely the best way to portray this guy, although bloodthirsty and furious would be better. By the way, Roman’s eyes are just so goddamn piercing; I have never noticed that before. All in all, I thought that was a good segment: Roman is looking more and more like a legitimate competitor. Although, as I wrote that sentence, he just made a joke, which he should not be allowed to do. Also, Roman, I don’t give care that you’re doing this to provide for your family; I’m twenty-three years old and cannot relate to the fact that you’re making hundreds of thousands and could be making millions. Just say that you want to spend the night after WrestleMania drinking whiskey out of Lesnar’s skull, and that’s all I need to hear. ‘Because my daughter can go to a better school’ is a great reason for you, but not for me; I didn’t care if Rey Mysterio’s kid ended up with Eddie Guerrero or staying with his family, and they showed that child on television.
Backstage, R-Truth is high-stepping around backstage with his title before he runs into Dean Ambrose. Oh my God, they both seem to think that stealing a belt makes you the champion. Oh wow, can we make this the new rule? Literally just for that title? Can we please make SmackDown the greatest wrestling show ever?
Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma’am
Meanwhile, Fandango is in the ring, having PG-rated dance sex with Rosa. And here’s Curtis Axel, who actually has a clock to show how long he’s been in the Rumble for. I have to admit, I’m smiling whilst watching this; at least he’s running with this Axelmania thing.
Fandango gets a waistlock and Axel just stomps the shit out of the guy, throwing him right out of the ring. Please let this guy win the Rumble next year; how bad could it literally be? Fandango comes back with a suplex and his big legdrop to win.
If you were going to put Fandango and Curtis Axel in a match together, this is honestly how I’d want it to go, so no complaints. 2 Stars.
Oh wow, Sandow actually is in the building, shooting a commercial. The last line is ‘this little pill will set you straight’, so we’re talking either Viagra or some Republican thinks he’s made the anti-gay pill. Miz, staunch supporter of floppy penises and the men who love them, interrupts. He mocks Mizdow for not having his own identity which, actually, is kind of a fair accusation to level at the guy. Oh wow, Miz stole the guy’s commercial gig; that’s a WrestleMania match if my WWE history knowledge is correct. And, may I just say, the guy who’s acting the part of the director is probably the most awful actor I’ve ever seen. Like…ever. Seriously, I could do a better job than this guy. Fly me up there, and I’ll blow you away with my excellent delivery of three lines of dialogue that this hack just butchered. Speaking of butchered, I think Mizdow is on the verge of shivving his employer.
For the love of God, WWE, we know. We know that Mr McMahon is on the cover of a magazine and looks terrifying. We’ve known for several weeks, and most of us still haven’t bought the magazine. But, to add my two pence, I would say that if Vince uses the same ethics to run his business that he does to work out, as he claims, I’d say that the state of the WWE is absolutely definitely his fault.
We have a good look at Sting; I like this video package, but then the guys who make these things are, like, freaking geniuses. And they actually made WCW not look like the trainwreck that every single WCW employee’s biography claims that it was.
Stardust Has To Be The Least Worrying Of All The Rosebuds
Here be Adam Rose, ready to fight Goldust. We replay Stardust’s really awkward feud with his brother, in a world where apparently there are no therapists, and Goldust shows up to the ring.
Rose jumps Goldust, like a dick, laying a beatdown on the guy before taking an uppercut. Apparently Goldust don’t take too kindly to getting beaten up, hitting the Rosebud with a powerslam for two. Adam Rose makes his way back to his feet, hitting a kick to Goldust’s stomach, which he turns into an enzuigiri. He leaps over Goldust’s head, charging at him, but gets caught with the Final Cut, which the commentators totally ignore.
Not really much to this. Goldust’s longevity is something to be marvelled at, I must admit. 2 Stars.
Goldust makes his back up the ramp, and one of the Rosebuds jumps him. Oh wait, it’s Stardust. Seriously, why did he feel the need to disguise himself? He’s more Rosebud than any of the other Rosebuds. He beats the shit out of Goldust for a good long while before finishing it with Cross Rhodes. Holy hell, that guy’s facial expressions are terrifyingly good.
Here’s Bray Wyatt, calling out the Undertaker. Too bad the guy’s busy shooting charity videos with Michelle McCool. And, honestly, I’d love it if that was the reason he wasn’t showing up: he decided he’d rather retire and do some good for the world rather than risk his body by fighting a younger man just for glory. Wouldn’t that be the greatest moral WWE ever taught us? Anyway, Wyatt’s all lyrical and stuff when, really, he should just beat the hell out of Kane, absolutely out of nowhere, and that should call Undertaker back.
Cruiserweight Security Earned Their Money Tonight
Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback show up to the ring, ready for this rematch. The Authority arrive, and apparently Rollins has got some kind of beef with Jon Stewart, who is totally a better WrestleMania opponent than…Daniel Bryan. Although if this meant we got Rollins hosting the Daily Show, I could stand to watch this. Actually, I finally watched the video Jon Stewart sent, and I did start laughing. Could we not get Colbert to tag with him and take on Mercury and Noble?
Rowan and Kane start off this match, with Kane applying a headlock. He hits a shoulder block off the ropes, not taking Rowan off his feet, and Rowan hits some strikes to get Kane reeling. Fallaway slam flings Kane across the ring, and then a back elbow from the second rope drops him. Apparently there are cameras in the turnbuckles now; I don’t quite see the point, but whatever. Ziggler tags in, sliding out of a suplex and drop-toe-holding Kane into the turnbuckle before hitting a dropkick. Kane backs Ziggler into the corner and tags in Seth.
Rollins takes it to Ziggler before eating a kick and a stinger splash. Okay, fine, the turnbuckle cam made that look pretty sweet. Elbow to Seth; the Fameasser misses and Rollins tags in Big Show. Ziggler dropkicks Rollins before Show takes him down, hurling him right across the ring.
Back from a commercial break, Kane has Ziggler in a sleeper. Ziggler works the midsection, only to get taken to the mat. He dodges an elbow drop, but does run right into a big boot. Rollins comes back in laying Dolph out with a punch. Has anyone else forgotten that Rollins can cash in? I actually did; I knew he was Mister Money in the Bank, but I forgot that he got a guaranteed title shot. The real question is, is that a positive? I feel like it might be. Anyway, Big Show comes in, headbutting Ziggler and pulling him to lie in front of the heel corner he heads up top, calling that he’s going to ‘hit his move’: that’s a goddamn ring general right there. His move appears to be the Banzai Drop, which will definitely kill Dolph, but he hits a splash instead. Big Show then yells ‘I hit my move!’, and I have to pause the feed because I’m laughing too much. I resurface in time to see Big Show fall prey to a Fameasser. Kane comes in and decks Rowan off the apron, which is fine, because the crowd wasn’t going to pop for that guy, and Dolph DDTs Kane, making the tag to Ryback.
Ryback and Rollins are in, and the Big Guy is all over Seth. He slams his head off the mat before hitting a belly-to-belly, and then runs into a boot, but still catches Seth for…a military press-bodyslam? Holy Goldberg. Ryback looks better than I’ve ever seen him, which is probably a side-effect of not being around John Cena. He calls for the Meathook, and the crowd are into it, and he hits it. J and J try to interfere, and Ryback fucking annihilates them. He goes for Shellshock on both Rollins and Mercury, but they slide out after what I’m told was a distraction by Big Show. Rowan takes Show out of the ring, before Rollins dives out on him. Rollins comes back into the ring, only to get set up for Shellshock yet again, but Kane goozles Ryback, and gets Zig-Zagged! Rollins hurls Ziggler out of the ring, and then superkicks Ryback. Curbstomp is called for, and Rowan provides a distraction by throwing Noble into the ring. The referee is distracted, but Rollins goes to deliver the Curb Stomp…and leaps right into a superkick from Ziggler! Shellshock is delivered to Rollins, and that’s the match.
Hell of an inventive final act. Ziggler, Ryback and Rollins all looked awesome; Rowan looked pretty good as well. I don’t doubt Ryback is going to take the ATGMBR this year, and I hope Ziggler gets something as well. Great main event. 3 Stars.
This was a fun show, with a great women’s match and a good main event. The Intercontinental Championship story has the potential to be freaking hilarious if they play their cards right; my only quibble is that they’re way behind on the build to WrestleMania. Remember in previous years: we knew what was likely usually by the end of the Royal Rumble. Hopefully they haven’t left things too late. Eight for tonight.
Trashy Ring Attire posted a tweet earlier this week saying apparently they needed to do a podcast with me again. Well, boys, here I am: we can set up some kind of meeting around our ridiculous schedules and time-differences (seriously, I had to use an algorithm to work that shit out). What are you afraid of, that I’m going to drink cocktails and make inappropriate jokes? Because that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
David Spain’s Movie Recommendation: God, it’s rare that I’ll recommend a movie that makes me actually fucking angry, but I’m doing it this time. Watch The Riot Club. It’s an interesting look at the privilege of upper-class British males, and the damage that it’s capable of causing. I will admit, someone sold it to me on the initial comedy, and some lines are truly hysterical (‘Right, let’s carpe some fucking diem!’). But when the seriousness of the movie kicks in, you see just how horrifying the existence of a ‘rich old boys club’ is. You might not enjoy all of this, but you should watch it anyway, especially if you’re reading this and you’re British.
Oh, and Natalie Dormer has a cameo as an escort. Which, I’ll admit, made things a little better.
Tags: #axelmania, Adam Rose, Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Cruiserweight Security, Curtis Axel, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Goldust, Jack Swagger, Kane, Lana, Mizdow, naomi, natalya neidhart, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Rosa Mendes, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, smackdown, Stardust, The Miz, The Uso's, Tyson Kidd, Wade Barrett