It’s David Spain here. You may remember me from a variety of reviews of previous SmackDowns, in which I decry more or less everything and offer insightful, occasionally abusive advice.
We are a couple of nights away from Battleground, and after that wash-rinse-repeat go-home contract signing on Monday, let’s see what the Thursday night crew can offer in order to sell this PPV.
The show kicks off with Roman Reigns, whose quest to murder a fat hobo apparently has no effect on the audience’s love for him. He parades his so-called ‘reasons’ for trying to kill Wyatt before us, then laughs about his preliminary assault this past Monday. Bray then appears on the screen to babble eloquently. Considering he hasn’t tried to call the cops about Reigns’ murderous stalking yet, he has sort of brought this on himself. He implies that his reason for wanting to destroy Roman is Reigns’ perfection. In other words, he’s just like a literary critic.
They yell at each other for a while, and honestly I just don’t care: it’s unlikely that them shouting is going to lead to them not fighting on Sunday. Bray tells Roman to kiss his children which, if someone’s accused you of being fixated with their children, is a dumb thing to say.
The Lucha Dragons Are The Obvious Team To Face To Prepare For The Prime Time Players
Next out are the Lucha Dragons, here for a tag team match. Because in wrestling, literal kidnapping can move straight on to chat about the Tag Team Champions. The Prime Time Players are at ringside, as the New Day emerges to face the Lucha Dragons. Kofi Kingston and Big E will be facing the Dragons, and Kofi knocks Sin Cara down, and they run the ropes for a moment. Sin Cara applies a headlock, then knocks Kofi down off the ropes before hitting a springboard crossbody. Kofi retakes control and tags in Langston.
Big E works the arm for a moment before tagging Kofi in. Sin Cara counters, however, hitting a headscissors and an armdrag to both New Day members before hitting a few double team moves with Kalisto. Langston gets a blind tag, and they catch Sin Cara off a springboard and toss him out of the ring as we go to the break.
Back at the action, Langston and Kofi are stomping Sin Cara in the corner. A running knee to the mask puts Cara down, and there’s a sleeper locked in before Kofi trips him up. Sin Cara nearly gets a roll-up, but Kingston kicks out and decks Kalisto off the apron. Big E comes back into the match, applying an abdominal stretch to Sin Cara. The Lucha finally manages to create separation and tag in Kalisto, who goes into all kinds of crazy offence on both members of New Day. Sin Cara dives through the ropes onto Kofi, whilst Big E goes for a German Suplex on Kalisto, who reverses it into the Salida Del Sol.
Woods distracts the referee whilst Kingston takes out Sin Cara, then a double team ends Kalisto.
Well, at the least the New Day got a little momentum back. I can’t tell who’s going to win this one on Sunday. Still, this was kind of fun. 2.5 Stars.
The New Day bitch at the Prime Time Players for a while afterwards, proclaiming their future victory at Battleground. The Prime Time Players apparently get a little annoyed during all this, so they hit the ring, only for the New Day to retreat. Because, what, a three-on-two advantage was nothing like enough for them?
Backstage, Roman Reigns is brooding on the approaching evisceration of Bray Wyatt, leading to Dean Ambrose of all people having to remind him to keep his mind on business.
It’s Like So Much Irrelevance In One Ring
Wade Barrett is making his way down to the ring, and in a week where a photograph of the Royal Family making the Fascist salute hit the front page of The Sun, he’s still probably got it the worst out of anyone wearing a crown. He’ll be facing Jack Swagger, which is another way that Queen Elizabeth II has it better than him; we don’t even make Princess Anne fight Jack Swagger. At Battleground Wade Barrett will be fighting a black man wearing clothing made from cardboard and carrying a toilet plunger, because the WWE wanted to remind him of his bare-knuckle boxing days.
I’m going to stop being mean to Wade now, because in about ten seconds Jack Swagger’s going to fracture his appendix or something else botchtastic. Swagger takes Barrett down to the mat until Wade grabs the ropes, then takes him out of the leg. This seems like it could be an interesting match between striker and wrestler, but it’ll be over in two minutes. Barrett does hit some strikes, but then gets beheaded by a clothesline. Jack Swagger smells relevance, which is odd, because only he, Wade and the ref are in the ring.
Barrett ducks out of the ring, then catches Jack when they head back inside, hitting a kick to the midsection and then laying him over the top turnbuckle. Swagger manages to fight out of his position, but then takes a Bull Hammer to end it.
This managed to be short enough that Jack Swagger was unable to cripple, maim or infect Barrett with cancer. Unfortunately, Wade’s career already has it. 1.5 Stars.
R-Truth shows up, but Barrett shouts over him, trying to stop him becoming even more of a stereotype. He then rightly calls Truth out on being such a dick about the King of the Ring‘s illustrious history and mediocre present. It actually looks like he’s getting through to Truth, but we’re still having a match on Sunday. Not like it matters: it’s too late for either of these two.
Apparently Lesnar and Heyman are still delivering that busted-up Cadillac to every stadium the WWE comes to. Because if you’ve got the money and you hate Seth Rollins enough, you can make all your dreams come true.
We recap the Lesnar/Rollins feud, just in case you’re one of those freaks who only watches SmackDown and so didn’t even know who Lesnar was.
International Relations (But Not In A Sex Way)
Wow, first Jack Swagger and now Rusev: it’s like the WWE is trying to solve overpopulation via mass suicide. But he’s facing Cesaro, so I partially retract my earlier statement. Cesaro has been completely awesome these last couple of weeks, and I really hope this is a sign better things for him.
The two men have a test of strength, feeling each other out. Cesaro wrestles Rusev to the mat, the rolls him up for a count of one. Rusev reaches the ropes, then goes on the attack when the Swiss Superman’s hold is broken. Rusev is sent off the ropes and kicks Cesaro in the face, but Cesaro returns with a clothesline. Cesaro tries a suplex, but gets beaten down by Rusev, then manages to reverse Rusev’s suplex attempt into one of his own!
Cesaro hits an uppercut, but gets elevated onto the apron by Rusev. He manages to hit Rusev’s face into the turnbuckle, only to get thrown across the ring by Rusev. The Bulgarian stomps on him, foot-choking him in the corner. Rusev is in full control of the match, pounding Cesaro. The blows seem to fire Cesaro up; he sends some back and hits a German suplex. The second one is blocked and Cesaro is hit with a fallaway slam, because who does he think he is: Brock Lesnar?
Back from a commercial break, Rusev is briefly in control, but then Cesaro hits a springboard uppercut to take him down. He hits more uppercuts to the Bulgarian, then slams him down to the mat. A big dropkick sends Rusev to the outside, but Cesaro’s dive attempt is ended as Rusev intercepts him with a smack to the face. A spinning heel kick puts Cesaro right back down, and now Rusev’s in control once again. But Cesaro can’t be held down: he nearly locks the Sharpshooter in, then stamps on Rusev’s chest as the Bulgarian resists.
A Neutraliser attempt is powered out of by Rusev, and he flips Cesaro over himself, only for Cesaro to land on his feet…and take a superkick. Rusev wants an Accolade, but Cesaro refuses to let him take the limb, making a sudden break for the bottom rope and then reaching it. Rusev’s frustrated and, in too much of a hurry, is low-bridged by Cesaro, who smacks a pair of boots into Rusev’s face. With both men outside, Cesaro makes a charge at Rusev, which is unwise as it leads to him running into another superkick.
Rusev slings Cesaro back in the ring, then heads up to the top rope. He goes for a splash, but Cesaro catches him with an uppercut out of nowhere and hits the Neutraliser for the win!
Wow, huge win for Cesaro, and the commentators rightly played up the fact he was only the second man to pin Rusev after John Cena. Definitely the start of bigger things, and a great match. 3 Stars.
Sheamus is backstage, and gets interviewed by that guy whose name I haven’t learned (and never will). He asks whether Sheamus is worried about the challenges he’ll be facing, and Sheamus apparently doesn’t give two fucks: he wants to send a message to Randy Orton tonight.
Like The Shittest Comic Ever
Apparently Neville vs. Stardust is now a feud. I’d be more excited if it hadn’t been for that fairly dull match on Monday night. Anyway, Stardust is in the ring and now Neville makes his way down too. Neville outmanoeuvres Stardust for a moment, hitting him with a dropkick, but then Cody catches him with a forearm and hits some stomps to him in the corner. Snapmare and a knee to the face drop Neville, and Stardust stays on him, applying a sleeper.
Neville fights his way out, then leaps over a charge from Stardust and sends him out of the ring. Springboard moonsault to Stardust on the outside, and Neville has clawed his way back into the fight. Sunset flip is countered by Stardust, who rolls Neville up himself, but the ref catches him with his hands on the ropes, and refuses to make the count. Wow, he’s just furious at the idea that Stardust thought he could scam him like that. Which, in Stardust’s defence, probably seemed like a safe bet. Neville takes advantage, trying to roll Stardust up, and he gets the win.
Not one of Neville’s more airborne matches, considering Stardust’s offence kept them both grounded. 2 Stars.
Unnamed Interviewer runs into Neville backstage and asks him about the win. Neville burbles away in Geordie, whilst Stardust sneaks up to him. As much as you can sneak when you look like the lovechild of Ziggy Stardust, Paul Stanley and a meth addict. He manages to apparently knock out Neville out with one forearm to the back of the head, which makes you wonder how the fuck he just lost his match.
We recap the exciting announcement from Monday, with the three new additions to the Divas Division. And yes, I’m happy that there was a great segment for the women’s roster, and that it looks like there’s going to be some really high quality matches and that this seems to be geared towards taking the Divas Division more seriously. All that’s giving me pause is the fact that the WWE hasn’t had the greatest track record when it comes to female employees, and that whilst there may be some benefit for us and for the competitors this ruling affects, this is likely more to do with them wanting some goodwill for being a part of the fact that everyone suddenly noticed that there are some awesome female athletes out there.
Hey, I might be wrong, and I hope I am. The WWE have managed to push Daniel Bryan despite the fact that there haven’t been centuries of activism geared towards treating Daniel Bryan the same as other men. Which, honestly, makes me wonder about how Emily Wilding Davison, the Pankhursts and Millicent Fawcett would react to seeing WWE Divas. Although if we were capable of that sort of interaction, we could probably loan them Awesome Kong and Ronda Rousey to help clear up that whole suffrage issue in jig time. And Brock Lesnar too, because studying History for my A-Levels would have been so much more entertaining if every chapter of my textbook had ended with the words: ‘…with only Brock Lesnar leaving the room alive.’
Backstage, JoJo is interviewing Naomi, Tamina and Sasha Banks. They seem pretty chummy with each other, and seem hell-bent on establishing dominance for themselves over the Divas Division. Holy shit, honest to God factions in the women’s division: who’d have thunk it?
At This Point It Would Be A Surprise If Bray Didn’t Interfere
It’s time for our main event, because why bother showing off any of the new Divas or anything. Oh, shit the bed: Ryback’s injured. Just when, and there was a time when I never thought I’d ever use these words about him, things were going well. If this leads to a singles match between Miz and the Big Show for the title at Battleground…there’s a minimum defence clause for the title, if I remember correctly.
Well, that’s not addressed, and Ambrose starts fighting Sheamus. I was, probably, only going to be paying half-attention to that match anyway. They tie up, with Ambrose trying to outwrestle Sheamus. Sheamus gets a break via the ropes and starts hitting some strikes, staggering Dean. Ambrose counters, smacking Sheamus around for a while himself. Snapmare, then a kick to the back. Apparently Michael Cole had a sit-down interview with Bray Wyatt, because we’re all about killing the shit out of mystique at WWE. Still, I figure if you were going to send anyone to interview Wyatt, you’d send a motherfucking war correspondent.
Forearm to the face of Sheamus, then a big clothesline off the ropes before Sheamus bails out of the ring. Reigns tags in, slips out of the ring and manages to apron-dropkick both Big Show and Sheamus before Dean dives out on top of them. We go to break as the former Shield members stand tall.
Back from the break, Big Show and Reigns are facing off, with Reigns hitting some heavy strikes to stagger the giant. Ambrose comes in, continuing along the same basic theme, then Big Show runs over him. Sheamus tags himself in, hitting a suplex. Ambrose rallies with some punches, dropkicks Sheamus on the ropes twice, but then gets shit down with some Big Show interference. Irish Curse backbreaker almost gets the pin, and Show gets tagged in.
Big Show throws a huge fist to the gut of Ambrose, then mocks the fact that the man is unable to breathe. Wow: writing that out makes Big Show seem like a sociopath. Bodyslam to Dean, then a big elbow across the throat, but Ambrose stays alive. Show’s riled at this, working Ambrose over some more before tagging Sheamus back in. Sheamus knocks Ambrose around something fierce, then tags in Big Show. The big man misses a leg drop, and here’s Roman Reigns!
Sheamus comes in, getting the shit kicked out of him for a good long while. Samoan Drop plants the Irishman, and now Reigns wants the Superman Punch. Big Show pops up on the apron; Reigns goes for the punch and gets caught in a chokeslam, making you wonder why, when confronted with a man who uses a chokeslam for a finisher, he uses a move which involves leaping towards him with his throat bared. Big Show doesn’t actually follow through, instead tossing him to Sheamus, who hits White Noise. Ambrose breaks up the pin and knocks Big Show off the apron.
When Dean tries to dive out on Ambrose, he gets caught, and Big Show makes to chokeslam him through the announce table. Dean has other ideas, however, and DDTs Big Show through the table! Back in the ring, Reigns and Sheamus are pounding each other, with Reigns getting the upper hand before Sheamus hangs him up on the ropes. Sheamus heads up high; Reigns avoids contact and nails him with the Superman Punch! Roman looks for the spear, and cue a fucking Bray Wyatt run in.
Actually a fairly entertaining main event. The table spot was unexpected, and everyone got their moment here. 2.5 Stars.
Wyatt keeps smacking Reigns around, then goes for Sister Abigail. Reigns counters it, however, Superman Punching Wyatt and spearing Sheamus! Roman stands tall as we end the show, heading to Battleground.
This was a pretty on-point show. Everything fed this Sunday’s PPV, with no meaningless segments. The only part that didn’t have any bearing on Battleground was the Rusev/Cesaro bout, and that was the match of the night. Really pretty good: eight out of ten.
Tags: Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, dean ambrose, Jack Swagger, Jerry Lawler, jimmy uso, JoJo, Lucha Dragons, Michael Cole, naomi, Neville, Prime Time Players, Roman Reigns, rusev, sasha banks, seth rollins, smackdown, Stardust, Tamina Snuka, The New Day, Tom Philips, Wade Barrett