Hey hey, good readers. I am here, and I’m ready to review SmackDown and I’m ready for any and all amount of crap that the WWE in its might and majesty is prepared to sling at my eyeballs because I am in a fantastic mood. Why? Well, partly it’s because last night, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the good folks Blair and Kue over at Trashy Ring Attire whilst sipping a generous-sized whiskey and an even more generous-sized Il Papavero red (with my Chemex coffee able to bitch-slap the resulting hangover into total non-existence). And also because the fine people I have been talking to re. maybe possibly sort of furthering my academic experience in the near future have decided that they’re willing to have me. David Spain is going to do a PhD.
People, in three years time, these reviews could actually count as scholarly articles. Which means that Inside Pulse should get funding, totally.
Well, that’s quite enough of that: we’ve got a PPV to barely build towards.
Our opening credits are interrupted by Bray Wyatt, probably because he hates soulless and uninspired rock as much as me. He says that last Monday, Ryback stood toe-to-toe with fate: fate in this case being a portly gent with godawful fashion sense and beard you could hide a badger in. But Wyatt says that Ryback has an Achilles Heel, and that he’ll make an example of the Big Guy at Payback. Imagine if it’s actually an Achilles Heel, and Bray shoots it with an arrow guided by Apollo? Like, the Greek Gods are real, and Vince knew the whole time? Man, I’d watch that show.
SmackDown starts properly, before I get too carried away (I’ve been watching Rome and, shit, the ancient civilisations seem so interesting). We recap Ambrose Dirty Deeds-ing Reigns on Monday as Dean himself comes out to the ring, looking twitchy and totally nuts. Dean says he works best alone, and that’s what he’ll be doing this Sunday. It’s every man for himself on Sunday: him, Seth, Randy and Roman. But he has something to say to Reigns before the PPV, and before he can, Reigns himself shows up, making his way to the ring.
Ambrose says that Roman knows he isn’t getting an apology, and Reigns says he wasn’t expecting it. I love the chemistry between these two: their entire relationship involves not letting their beating the shit out of each other come between their friendship. He says that, tonight, they’re brothers. But at Sunday, they’ll both bring the big guns. Reigns wants a handshake, and Ambrose is sort of leery about that, but Kane shows up before a definitive moment is reached.
Kane accuses the two of them of having a ‘bromance’ (he actually uses the word), prompting Ambrose and Reigns to act all nonchalant and manly. He says that they need to be concerned about making it to Payback, only for Ambrose to remind him of his own stakes heading into the match, and remind the rest of us that this match has only one likely result. Kane tells Dean that he has a match against Sheamus right now. Ooh: brawly.
With Facial Hair Like That, I’m Surprised That Sheamus Isn’t Billed As From ‘The Lonely Mountain’
The two guys circle each other, tussling on the ropes. Ambrose backs Sheamus into the corner, before the ref forces the break. Ambrose works the arm, wrenching it until Sheamus grabs the ropes. Headlock takeover from Sheamus; Ambrose shoots him off the ropes and gets tackled. Sheamus runs the ropes again, and then gets taken down with a toehold. Kick to the back of Sheamus, and Ambrose tries to beat him up in the corner, but the Irishman comes out swinging, laying some blows on Dean before hitting him with a bodyslam. Uppercut sends Ambrose staggering into the corner, but Dean manages to hit Sheamus with a crossbody, regaining control. Sheamus tries to fight back, only to eat a running bulldog, slamming him off the mat face-first.
Sheamus is propped up against the ropes and takes some punches and some chops in quick succession. When Ambrose runs up for his dropkick, however, Sheamus hurls him out onto the apron, quickly grabbing Ambrose to deliver Ten Beats of the Wossname. Dean don’t got no time for that, fighting back, but takes a knee to the face which knocks him to the floor. Sheamus goes out after Dean, and throws him hard into the barricade as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Sheamus is trying to lock the Cloverleaf in on Ambrose, and he gets it. Dean crawls over to the ropes as quick as he can, breaking the hold. That earns him a kick to the face, but then he slips out of White Noise, turning it into a roll-up, only to get hit by a second White Noise attempt. Sheamus is looking for a Brogue Kick, and I can’t believe he didn’t ask us whether or not we were entertained: so out of character. Ambrose drops out of the ring, ducking the kick; Sheamus follows and tries to fling Dean inside, but Dean turns it around and clotheslines the bastard. Ambrose wants to dive through the ropes, only to smash right into Sheamus’ forearm, rebounding back into the ring. Sheamus comes right back inside, looking for the Brogue; Ambrose ducks, clotheslines him out of the ring and dives out onto him!
Back in the ring, Ambrose wants a missile dropkick, but Sheamus avoids it, hitting a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Sheamus hammers away at Ambrose, but that just gets Dean mad, and he beheads the Irishman with his rebound clothesline. He climbs up high, only Sheamus to catch him. Sheamus seems to want White Noise off the second rope, but Ambrose suddenly slips down to the floor, trips Sheamus up and rolls him up for the pin.
This was a fairly good match, but I think these two totally could have done more. Ambrose and Sheamus could have gone out there and kicked the total shit out of each other; this was more scratching the surface. 2.5 Stars.
Kane is backstage, glowering at a monitor, so it’s either showing Ambrose’s victory or some really lacklustre pornography. Then Seth shows up, because it’s Piss Off Someone o’clock. He puts pressure on Kane to help him during his match but, being a libertarian, Kane believes in individual responsibility and minimal interference from authority figures. Honestly, you’d think the guy known as the Big Red Machine would be more of a socialist. He’s still acting all coy about whether he’s going to help Rollins, and puts him in a match against Ryback. Well, have to get Bray Wyatt into a ring somehow.
Rusev’s out here, and we’re still documenting the story about how his two desires are 1) crush America and 2) destroy Lana’s spirit. Lana has a sexy black folder with her, and what does it say about me that, out of everything in the ring, I’m most interested in the stationary? Wait…is she reading a promo? Dude, learn your lines. Oh wait: it’s an apology for Fandango-ing. Well, in all fairness, Lana, that whole thing had kind of run its course: there are more modern dances. Rusev says that Cena lacked focus for getting the shit kicked out of him on RAW. And whilst I hate to agree with Rusev, even I saw that run-in coming. So, yeah: Cena’s a dumbass. The Bulgarian promises to make Cena say ‘I Quit’, and I literally can’t think of anything less likely. I mean…I’m actually trying: alien invasion; giant marching dildo armies; the crucifixion of George Osborne…nothing.
Renee Young is backstage, as is Ryback. She asks if he’s going to be able to focus on Rollins when Wyatt’s hanging around, being all creepy and shit. Seriously, Ryback should be able to literally high school bully Wyatt for an entire match. And I really hope that’s what actually happens during the match, because I’m sort of an asshole.
More Tough Enough videos. Are they passing some of these along to the submitter’s local psychiatrist? Because that seems like it would be some excellent work by WWE.
Ryback, Seriously, It Was A Fucking Shoulder Tackle
Rollins shows up to the ring, and replays his prison-beating at the hands of Reigns, Ambrose and Orton as Kane watches (because free market). Seth says he hopes we enjoyed that, because that’s the last time we’ll ever see it. He says that all the other competitors will fall apart, and with his security, Kane in his corner, and his mad skillz, he’ll stand tall as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He is about to talk about Ryback, but then Ryback shows up…and then literally gets hit by a flying fat hobo.
Oh, wait, that’s Bray Wyatt. Wait, are we getting cheated out of a match? Fuck you, New Face of Fear. Also, what kind of pussy gets that injured off one shot? Ryback’s not got a prayer this Sunday.
Back from a commercial break, Ryback’s still selling that one shoulder tackle like it’s cancer. He says to ring the bell, and Rollins is on the guy, stomping him. Wow, we’re actually going to see a dominant Rollins. Oh, wait, Ryback blocks the suplex, trying for one of his own. Seth blocks it, rocking Ryback’s head off the turnbuckle, and then knocks him out of the ring so Cruiserweight Security can stomp him.
Ryback just beats the count back into the ring, taking a DDT when he does for two. He throws some hands, sending Rollins off the ropes and hitting the Thesz press! Seth takes control back with a neckbreaker, however, and Ryback’s back on defence. Finally, Ryback throws Seth off him, then follows it up with a big backdrop. He avoids a charge from Seth, catches Rollins coming off the second rope and then bodyslams him!
Ryback is hitting Rollins from all sides, and sets up for the Meathook! Rollins is stirring, but then Mercury gets up on the apron, only to get smacked right back down by the Big Guy. Rollins tries to score with a roll-up, but Ryback drops him with the Meathook Clothesline! Ryback goes for Shell Shock, but with the referee distracted by Noble, Rollins is able to claw at Ryback’s eyes and escape. Rollins hits a kick to the face, then a flying knee from the top rope. A superkick leaves Ryback laying as Rollin stalks him, and then superkicks him again for the win. So, I guess the Curb Stomp really is banned. Why?
This was an odd one: I love how terrified WWE is off putting heels over fairly. I mean, just terrified. 2 Stars.
Renee Young is backstage with Naomi and Tamina Snuka, asking about how Naomi finally got badass. And, seriously, getting the shit kicked out of you doesn’t make you a good person: the Bellas are still assholes; they’re just getting beaten up a lot. Naomi makes the decent point that what she’s been doing has got her a title shot and a tonne of exposure, and why are people still trying argue against this. And…you know…can we get Naomi some promo coaching? Maybe some acting lessons? Because…damn.
The Latest Attempt At Building The Tag Team Division
It’s the New Day, and Xavier Wood has a microphone. Fuck. He says that Kidd and Cesaro are cheaters, and they’re…giving them a two out of three falls match this Sunday? Holy shit: face turn by the New Day. Tyson Kidd comes out with his wrestling wife and his actual wife, and he’s facing Kofi in a singles match. He gets a waistlock on Kingston, but Kofi fights him off. Okay, I love Langston in this gimmick. I mean, it’s all funny in an ironic way now that they’re heels, but Big E is consciously trying way too hard. Inverted suplex by Kofi, right into what looks like a half-camel clutch. And now Xavier Wood is making giggle as well: ‘we’re the champions! We’re so good!’ Kidd throws Kingston out of the ring and the dives out onto him, somersaulting through the ropes: I don’t even know how he did that.
Back in the ring, Langston gets on the apron, only for Cesaro to take him down. Then Xavier Woods gets on the apron, only for Natalya and Kidd to double-team him! Kingston nearly gets a roll-up with the tights, then misses Trouble In Paradise and gets caught in the Sharpshooter! He taps! Kingston taps!
Was a longer awesome match too much to ask for? 2 Stars.
We recap Daniel Bryan getting his annual injury and his annual title-dropping. Yeah, I said it.
NXT! NXT! NXT!
Bo Dallas comes out, and I hope to hell that he interferes in the Bray/Ryback match. I swear, not even to join his brother: just to make us all go nuts for ten seconds. Bo takes us through the five stages of grief re. Daniel Bryan’s injury, missing out drinking, complaining and watching SHIMMER matches because Kue sent you some videos and realising you’ve been watching some bullshit women’s wrestling until that very second.
Neville shows up, and it’s a renewal of an old NXT rivalry. We go to break then and come back during the match, because WWE. Neville handsprings into a corner, then leaps off the second rope into a crossbody onto Bo. Barrett is on commentary, wearing the robe but not the crown. Oh, that smug face. Neville low-bridges Bo, standing on the apron, but Bo pulls the apron, tripping him up, and then covers Bo’s face with the apron and smacks him around.
Back in the ring, there’s a headlock from Bo. Neville works his way to his feet and throws Bo off him, taking him down with kicks and some forearms. Leaping enzuigiri to the side of Dallas’ head, and Neville heads up to the top…Red Arrow hits and that’s the win.
We’re really wasting opportunities to have some great matches tonight. I mean, this apparently would have been awesome in NXT. 2 Stars.
Barrett gets up on the table with a microphone, looking like a renaissance faire enthusiast. He says he doesn’t have to deal with Neville, and Neville needs corporal punishment. I have to admit, Neville has a reason to be pissed off with Barrett, seeing as how the Conservatives are trying to make Manchester the hub of the North rather than Newcastle. Someone in the crowd yells: ‘GO BACK TO EUROPE!!’ at Barrett: classy stuff, Yank.
We’re backstage again, and this time we get to see Rosa Mendes and Adam Rose about to kiss, although she gets annoyed because Hot Dog is staring at them. For a moment I wonder how much of Adam Rose’s stash she’s managed to get through, but apparently she actually means the guy dressed as a hot dug. Uh-huh. Oh my God, Adam Rose has not paid his Rosebuds, because he’s creating ‘high art’. Holy shit, what is going on here? And then Kane walks through the scene, looking disgusted, because why wouldn’t you?
Man, The One Match They Actually Gave Time To
It’s main event time, and Kane makes his way to the ring. When Roman comes down, Kane tries to jump him and the brawl begins, with both guys wailing on each other, hardcore style. Reigns gets flung into Lawler, and then the steel steps, and I’d take the steel steps every single time. Kane gets into the ring and waits on Reigns, who crawls his way into the ring.
The match begins, and Roman gets tossed right out of the ring again. Kane tries to crush Roman’s head between the ring post and the steel steps he’s holding, but Reigns dodges, smacking Kane in the mouth, and then pulls a Kendo stick out from under the ring. He smacks Kane around with it, chasing the Big Red Machine into the ring, but Kane manages to get his hands on the cane, and starts beating Reigns with it. He hits a solid blow to the face with it, knocking Roman to the floor.
Back fro the commercial break, Kane lays Reigns out with a big boot for a two count, then hurls him back out of the ring. Kane follows, starting to dismantle an announce table, and then stalking Reigns for a chokeslam. Roman, however, manages to land on his feet on the table, and then kicks Kane right in the face. Flying clothesline from atop the table takes Kane down to the floor, and both men are down.
Both competitors make their way up to their feet, and Roman whacks Kane’s head off the table before hitting a dropkick to the man’s face. He hefts the steps, and then runs right into Kane whilst holding them. And now Roman fetches a table out of the ring, followed by…another table. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Although I’m pretty sure those tables are going to get fucking broken.
Kane rolls back into the ring, and Roman attempts to Irish whip him into the tables, but Kane shuts that down with a blow to the face. DDT from the Big Red Machine gets a near-fall. Kane stays calm, setting up a table as Reigns lies prone. The Director of Communications wants a chokeslam, but Roman elbows his way free of that, punching and headbutting. Reigns looks fucking pissed as he gets ready for the Superman Punch, but he leaps right into a chokeslam through the table! Kane goes right for the pin, and Roman kicks out!
Oh, Kane wants that tombstone piledriver right now, but Reigns wriggles out of it, hitting the Superman Punch! Spear through the table, and Reigns gets the pin!
Best match of the night, which if you look at the proposed card is just so fucking weird. Kidd vs. Kingston? Ambrose vs. Sheamus? Neville vs. Bo Dallas? How does that happen? Still, good match. 3 Stars.
Renee Young is interviewing Seth Rollins post-match, but Seth is pretty chill, saying that he’s got nothing to be worried about. Ambrose suddenly shows up right behind Seth, and Renee just walks away without a word. Whoa, Renee, that is fucking cold, even if you do hate Rollins. Ambrose offers the guys some cookies, and then leaps on Rollins. That goes about as well as three-on-one odds can go, and Ambrose is getting the piss slapped out of him.
But suddenly they’re attacked by a runaway cart, which it turns out was pushed into them by Reigns, who has literally encountered his dream of walking out of one fight directly into another. Brawl’s afoot for a moment, and then Dean and Roman are standing tall. I’m waiting for Ambrose to offer Roman a cookie, but he doesn’t, as they’re both distracted by the championship at their feet. Makes for an intriguing visual. Ambrose looks like he’s going to shake the hand, but then grabs the title and, after a moment, puts it on Roman’s shoulder, telling him he’ll take it on Sunday.
I am so very underwhelmed in advance of this show. I mean, I am still probably going to watch it, but I’m just not that psyched. The two out of three falls tag match should be pretty sweet, and I’m sure there’ll be some nice moments in the Fatal Four Way, but I’m not sold on this PPV. Tonight gets a six.
David’s Movie Recommendation: I sort of stopped doing these, because I had so much work to do that I literally stopped watching movies (which, if you know me, is like the end times). But I’m all better now, with literally no out-of-hours obligations until October, so movies have started up again. And I watched a fucking masterpiece just a few days ago called Babadook. And it might have been because I was watching it in the middle of the night, in a conservatory with all of the curtains open to the black night beyond, but…Jesus, it’s one of the creepiest movies I’ve ever seen. If you’re a horror fan, check this thing out.
Also, my thanks again to the Trashy Ring Attire crew, BD and Kue, for a really fun evening with them on their podcast. Loved it.
Tags: Adam Rose, Bray Wyatt, Cruiserweight Security, Dallas, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Lana, Neville, Payback, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, Rosa Mendes, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, Sheamus, smackdown, The New Day, Tyson Kidd, Wade Barrett