Evening all: it’s time for your weekly dose of SmackDown, delivered with some quality British sass thrown in. After the triumvirate of filler PPVs, we’re back to some more intriguing action with the return of Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins finally not running away from something. So, it’ll be interesting to see what the Blue Show has in store for us this week.
Unfortunately, they have a Sheamus promo. Well, fuck. He calls the crowd out for commenting on his appearance, because I guess Celt-shaming is a thing now. Who’d have thought the WWE wasn’t a safe space? He says that he feels like he’s worth way more than a million dollars, and not in any wrestling company where Triple H isn’t in charge of talent you’re not. Sheamus briefs us on the Money in the Bank rules, it being a seriously complex system and all. We’re then shown footage of Sheamus and Kane beating on Orton, in what I guess is supposed to be some sort of threat as opposed to showing that Sheamus needs a surprise attack plus help to handle Orton. Sheamus namedrops Lesnar specifically, saying that even he won’t stand in his way during Sheamus’ rise to the top. Well, I would love to see Lesnar squash Sheamus…
Ambrose shows up to end Sheamus’ babbling, calling him out on…God, pretty much everything, and then challenges him to a match. Sheamus teases putting the briefcase on the line, and let’s just put the Intercontinental Title up there with it whilst we’re slinging useless objects around.
Kane’s next to appear, because he’s just so tired of Ambrose insulting him. Dean chucks some more insults his way on general priciple, which winds up getting him into a 2-on-1 handicap match against Kane and Sheamus. Man, I actually can’t imagine a more boring tag team ever. Dean scoots out of the ring as Kane and Sheamus approach. Sheamus chases him back into the ring, only for Ambrose to dropkick him out onto the floor. Dean turns right into a chokeslam, ducks out of that and low-bridges Kane.
Sheamus is back in the ring now, only to get knocked out by Ambrose, who then dives out onto Kane and hangs Sheamus up on the ropes. Wow, this is genuine strategy: I’m impressed. Dean gets caught on the top rope, with Kane crotching him to gain the advantage for Team Fast-Forward. Reigns’ music suddenly hits, and Sheamus moves to head him off at the crowd, but Reigns scoots into the ring from the other side. He and Ambrose clear the ring, and apparently that technically counts as a DQ win for Sheamus and Kane. Got to love the ref’s iron adherence to the rules.
We review the Ladder match from Sunday, and the commentators hint at controversy before then telling us that Rollins is totes the champion. Can’t believe the WWE just cleared up controversy like that: we at least need a three-month feud out of that.
When we come back after the break, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose have been set to face Kane and Sheamus in an attempt to placate the vengeful spirit of Teddy Long. Holla holla holla, amen.
Dean and Roman are backstage, practicing their pissed-off walk. Renee tries to ask them a question about what happened before the break, but Roman just snarls a threat against Bray Wyatt. Not really answering any questions, Roman, although a motivated and furious Reigns is an entertaining Reigns.
But How Do We Know That’s Really Brie?
Paige is in the ring, who has taken on the task of raising the quality of every Divas matches by being a part of all of them. We recap the WWE preaching their message that women can’t be friends and are all either evil or crazy, and if you didn’t get that just by watching, Jerry Lawler tends to straight-up say that every so often.
Paige is facing Brie, and the two lock up right away, with Brie driving Paige into a corner and hitting a bulldog for a kick-out at one. Dropkick to Paige’s face, but the Brit trips Brie up and whams a knee into her face. The Divas trade dropkicks, with Paige gaining the upper hand, placing Brie on the top rope and smacking her around. Brie fights back, then hits a sunset flip powerbomb! Paige manages to kick out and both women are both down due to the move as we head to the commercial break.
When we come back, Brie is hitting some knees to Paige’s back. Neckbreaker from Brie for a count of two, and then it’s a chinlock to Paige. Paige fights back, but that just gets her thrown into the corner and she takes some kicks before turning the tables. Now it’s Brie in the corner, tasting some strikes of her own, finally getting kicked out of the ring. Paige hits a senton from the apron to the outside, knocking the Bella down. Brie gets thrown back into the ring as Paige heads up to the top and…Alicia Fox suddenly pushes her to the canvas out of nowhere! Brie hits the Bella Buster and that’s all she wrote.
Curiouser and curiouser. Not sure where exactly this is heading: possibly Paige vs. everyone, but it’s equally as likely to be some kind of rushed ten-Diva tag match as everyone takes sides. But it’s a more interesting story than just ‘I want the title’, so let’s see what happens. 2 Stars.
Looks like Alicia might have joined the Bellas, lending credence to my ‘people choosing sides’ guess.
We recap the second step in the Cena/Owens dance. Personally, I don’t mind Cena getting a win: could have worked nicely if Owens has won, but it totally fits the profile for Cena to pick up a victory. The post-match beatdown, coupled with a future Owens win to end the feud will do much the same for Owens as winning now would. We also see Owens powerbombing Machine Gun Kelly through a table and having to apologise over Twitter for giving us one of the best special guest/unwanted musical performance moments this show’s had in years. Seriously, he just had to apologise via social media for physical assault? Goddamn.
Renee’s backstage with Kevin Owens himself, and is probably the only person for whom it’s safe to be around Kevin Owens, considering that never, in her career, has any wrestler ever fucked with Renee Young. She tells him to explain his damn self, to which he says he already apologised, and that Kelly had totally shoved him first. It’s also somehow Cena’s fault, but I’m willing accept that logic. When asked about not making his match against Ziggler a title match, he says it doesn’t matter because he beat Dolph anyway, so who cares? He says there’s no NXT Title Open Challenge tonight.
Owens suddenly notices someone offscreen…and it’s Cesaro, who challenges him to a match. Holy fuck, did that just happen? Damn.
Freaking ‘Blondest Couple Ever’ Up In Here
Here’s Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Lana. So, not yet established: does she still hate America? Because she was the one being the most vocal about that whole thing. I feel like she’s gotten a huge pass for her extremely abusive nationalist views, which I guess does fit in with the tenants of free speech and all, but from a moral angle? Come on.
Dolph’s facing Bo, who comes down to slut-shame Lana. Man, that shouldn’t be funny, but in Bo Dallas’ ridiculous voice and intonation, it damn sure is. I mean…I want Bo to do something more worthy of him, but I will, honestly, miss this.
Ziggler dropkicks Bo, then misses a Stinger Splash, allowing Bo to go on the attack, taking Ziggler to the floor. Headlock to Dolph, who tries to fight out of it, but Bo flings Dolph to the ground. Rusev’s watching backstage, supposedly looking furious at the relationship between Dolph and Lana. Unfortunately, however, the footage at that point is showing Bo Dallas, making it look like Rusev despises inspirational speakers. Dolph ducks a clothesline, hits a Zig-Zag, and that’s suddenly over!
Didn’t really get a chance to get going. Is Bo allergic to winning? 1.5 Stars.
Make-out session from Lana and Ziggler, and Rusev flings down one crutch dramatically. That is the best way to describe that motion.
Neville: Just Likes Flinging Himself At Dudes
It’s the New Day, who look kind of downcast, and it seems that Xavier Woods will be facing Neville. Sweet: finally get to see Woods in singles after a hell of a long time. Both men circle each other, and Woods hits a hard right hand to the Geordie, then proceeds to just stomp the shit out of him for about thirty seconds, not letting him get up: like when my cousin plays Tekken. Knee drop to Neville, then a chokehold.
Neville throws Woods off him, then elevates him over the ropes and out of the ring before flinging himself out onto him. Kofi and Langston approach, because getting your teammate DQ’d is just a great idea. The Prime Time Players then show up, because there are too many DQs and bullshit finishes in WWE. Neville slips out of a bodyslam, boots Woods in the face and then heads up to the top for the Red Arrow. Kofi distracts Neville, who gets brought down hard to the canvas, and then Kingston tries to throw himself onto Titus, who catches him and hurls him straight into the barricade.
Langston runs right over over Titus, but gets smacked in the face by Young. Woods kicks him in the face, but takes an enzuigiri from Neville, and this time the Red Arrow connects for three.
Not a bad match. I’m quite interested to see how these setbacks affect the New Day heading forward. 2.5 Stars.
Seth Rollins is out to give an address of some kind. We get shown a replay of Lesnar being announced as the number one contender, and everything Rollins did: from the sudden widening of the eyes at the sound of Brock’s music to the slow backing away was so on point. Really looking forward to what I hope is somehow a competitive match between these two.
Rollins mics up, and says that he’s the biggest star in the WWE, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and the future of the industry. And because he’s that, he’s under a hell of a lot of scrutiny, for which he gets no praise whatsoever: just a shit-ton of money and fame and, I mean, who needs that?
He says that all he’s been asked this week is how he feels about facing Brock. At first, he felt shocked, because Brock was supposed to be suspended and Steph hated him and non-continuity. But he understands: he’s defeated everyone else, and to cement his legacy, he must beat Lesnar. When Brock came into the ring, he did nothing, and Seth says that’s because he knows how dangerous Rollins can be. Ah, Seth’s playing the delusion card this month: fun times. At Battleground, the crazy diamond that is Seth Rollins will shine on. He says that he can’t wait to face Lesnar, and then drops the mic. If I wasn’t so sure that Battleground is going to be a seriously tainted win for Rollins, I’d be really psyched right now.
We recap Bray making what seemed to be threats against Reigns’ child. I wonder if they’re actually going to let Reigns get his hands on Wyatt before Battleground, because I’m not in the mood for Bray’s usual shtick.
Reigns is sitting backstage in the locker room, staring off into space as Dean is discussing all of the crazy shit he plans to do to Sheamus tonight. He notices Roman’s distracted, and tells him not to think about Wyatt. Roman replies shortly that he’s fine, and walks off.
I’ve Got To Freaking Watch NXT
It is Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro time, and I have been informed that this is the match of the night, which I can well believe. Cesaro tries to roll Owens up before pushing him up to the ropes. Owens throws some hands, puts Cesaro in a headlock and gets thrown off the ropes before knocking Cesaro down. More strikes from Owens, and he kicks Cesaro in the face before eating a big clothesline. He rolls out of the ring, but Cesaro sentons through the ropes at Owens, then uppercuts him to the floor. Holy shit, that was a sick-looking senton. Back in the ring, Owens gets Cesaro in a suplex position on the apron, but can’t get it done and takes another clothesline. Owens manages to pull Cesaro face-first into the steel post, gaining the advantage as he head to a break.
Back to the action, and Owens has Cesaro in a headlock, but Cesaro manages to escape hitting a springboard uppercut to floor Owens. Cesaro runs into a shoulder and, staggered, takes a tornado DDT for a two-count. Neutraliser attempt from Owens, only for Cesaro to counter into a Cesaro Swing attempt! Owens kicks the Swiss Superman away, then gets lifted right onto Cesaro’s shoulders before getting slammed to the mat.
Both men regain their feet, with Cesaro hitting a flurry of uppercuts, dazing Owens before flooring him again with a bigger one. Owens manages to fling Cesaro face-first into the corner, then hits a German suplex and a cannonball. I swear, he has to fight Lesnar: that’s on the wish list and always will be. Owens heads to the top rope, but Cesaro smacks him in the face, and then hits an uppercut. Cesaro looks like he wants a superplex; Owens almost counters it, but then Cesaro dropkicks Owens in the face!
Owens is out on the apron, but is able to crotch Cesaro on the ropes, before hitting the Pop-Up Powerbomb for the win.
Bit of a sudden ending, but still a really good match. The constantly-shifting advantage in Owens’ matches are a great feature, making for some very different matches. 3.5 Stars.
We get some thing with the Miz talking about movies, and they’re advertising some film called Vendetta which, from the trailer, looks to be about 80% punches. Sounds depressingly on point for WWE Films. Also, the Big Show’s in it, so if you were wondering how to make a terrible movie worse…the WWE just did it for you.
Tribute to Dusty Rhodes, following his passing earlier this week.
I Feel Like Bray Needs To Make A Twitter Apology
It’s time for our main event, and all four participants make their way down to the ring. Sheamus and Ambrose kick things off, with Sheamus going on the offensive. Ambrose ducks a clothesline, throwing some hands, and then drives a shoulder into the gut of Sheamus. The Irishman comes back, hitting a gut shot and then a snapmare. A knee to the face sends Ambrose to the floor as the commentators skirt around the possibility that Bray possessing a photograph of Roman’s daughter suggests that the WWE might be about to do a hard-hitting child-snatching programme. It sounds like the kind of thing that they’d get into with the best of intentions and absolutely no foresight whatsoever. Sheamus takes a crossbody from Ambrose, and when Kane tries to interfere, Roman mauls him. Both Sheamus and Kane are ejected from the ring as we head to a commercial break.
As we come back to the action, Ambrose hits a dropkick to Kane, who manages to tag out. Sheamus drags Dean out of the ring, and then bodyslams him onto the announce table. And clearly something weird’s going on here, because we all know that such a move would definitely end the match in a DQ. Back in the ring, Sheamus tags in Kane, who puts the boots to Ambrose before driving him into corner to wail on him some more.
Sheamus comes back in, wrapping Ambrose’s leg around his neck, lifting the man off the canvas, but Ambrose hurricanranas his way free, sending Sheamus out of the ring. The Irishman’s back in the ring before Ambrose can make good his escape, taking him out at the knee and tagging in Kane. Kane catapults Dean throat-first into the ropes, then throws some hands in the corner. This seems to wake Dean up, as he fires back. Kane throws him out of the ring, but gets hung up on the ropes, and then takes a flying elbow from Ambrose!
Kane tags Sheamus; Dean tags Roman! Reigns hits a collection of clotheslines to Sheamus before running into a pair of boots. He slips out of a bodyslam and then starts hitting clotheslines again. Kane tries to interfere and gets smacked for it. Samoan Drop to Sheamus, but then Reigns runs into a chokeslam attempt from Kane. Dean leaps into Kane’s hand as well, getting flung off the ropes and coming back with a huge clothesline! Dean tries to dive onto Kane, but runs into a Brogue Kick! Sheamus ducks the Superman Punch; Reigns ducks a Brogue and then the Superman Punch connects! Reigns wants the spear, but Bray shows up on the screen with his vague threats of child abduction; Sheamus hits the Brogue and wins.
Okay, seriously: can one fucking wrestler have the mental discipline to ignore something that is not immediately their problem when they’re on the verge of winning a match? How’s Reigns even going to save his daughter if he’s unconscious? Aside from this, the match was okay. 2.5 Stars.
Bray says ‘Happy Father’s Day’ and vanishes, leaving a picture of Roman and his kid next to Reigns, who looks at it in horror. Even though that is a screenshot from an advert he shot months ago and is probably pretty damn easy to get a printout of. And if Roman was so worried, he could just have Bray arrested for threatening a minor. Or hell, set Brock on him: there’s probably some mutual respect there considering how much they beat the shit out of each other at WrestleMania. Brock’s a father: he’d understand.
This was a pretty average SmackDown, with the exception of the Owens/Cesaro match and the fact that the WWE is using the image of a pre-teen girl for one of their main storylines. Because this will in no way become horrifying or even darkly hilarious in the four week window they have to work with. Nope. Not a chance. Six.
Tags: alicia fox, Bray Wyatt, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, byron saxton, Cesaro, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Jerry Lawler, Kane, Kevin Owens, Lana, Neville, Paige, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, rusev, seth rollins, Sheamus, smackdown, The New Day, The Prime Time Players, Tom Philips