Well, I’m well on the road to recovery with my new and improved SPECIAL EYES, and they’re working well enough that I can actually watch wrestling properly again. Whether or not that is a good thing is yet to be determined, but I’ll approach this with my usual optimism.
In other news, my dentist did not subject me to his ‘not angry, just disappointed’ treatment after my first visit in two years, which I was actually really stressed out about before seeing him this morning. For someone I see for fifteen minutes per year at most, he does seem to hold an odd sway over my emotions; I’m only vigilant about brushing my teeth because I don’t want to upset him. And because I ascribe a massive sense of self-worth to my own physical appearance, which is probably setting myself for some major therapy in the future.
If nothing else, Monday proved that if you’re nominally on the side of good – even if you’re definitely a sociopath like Randy Orton – then you can easily beat bad people like Seth Rollins, who are all cowards and weaklings to a man. I mean, even Neville was made to look like he could have taken that title away from Rollins the week before. And I have fuck-all issue with that, except for the fact that they’re giving Neville a natural progression to the top via some mid-level feuds with Barrett and Stardust, so he has no business being put in a position where he can beat the WWE World Heavyweight Champion just because he’s a face and the champ is a heel. Shit, say what you like about the days of Triple H holding the belt in his vice-like grip, but he wasn’t getting almost getting beat by Tajiri and Maven.
Rollins actually comes out to kick off the show, because nobody who runs this business even bothers showing up to SmackDown. He says that we need to slow down and recognise what’s happening around us. Vince is killing the business? China’s exploding? Tumblr is making a mockery of what equality is supposed to be? Oh wait, it’s all about Seth Rollins. We’re supposed to worship him or whatever, because he’s just so awesome, you guys. I’m actually looking forward to Rollins’ face turn, just because it’ll be nice to see him really be a fighter.
Apparently our grandkids are going to ask us about the greatest accomplishments in our life, and we’ll tell them that we saw Seth Rollins in his prime. Sounds like the kind of thing that would get me shut up inside a facility, if I raised my kids right. Rollins tells us that it’s just crazy that John Cena doesn’t acknowledge his direction…and magnitude. We then get shown both a clip of Tough Enough and that fucking picture of Cena’s nose, and I don’t know which I object to being shown more. Seriously, stop showing pictures of a broken nose to your audience of children, WWE. What makes you think that this is a good thing to do? And stop showing me Tough Enough: if I wanted to watch it, I’d watch it. And then have myself my committed.
Rollins challenges Cena to show up at RAW and accept his challenge, because it doesn’t count if you do it on Tough Enough. By that logic, what happens on SmackDown doesn’t actually even take place in reality. If I wasn’t reviewing this show, it wouldn’t even be happening, ‘cos of quantum.
Neville makes an appearance, and even Seth Rollins is referring to him as a superhero. Seriously: he’s an acrobatic Geordie with freakish ears and ill-advised sideburns. Also, the fact that a Geordie is tough-talking without resorting to profanity is just fucking weird to me. He hasn’t even sworn on his mam yet. Rollins calls out Neville for failing to beat him, and then Cesaro shows up to berate Seth for talking so much.
Cesaro barely gets a word in before Owens arrives and fucks up his shit. Rollins then manages to powerbomb Neville into the corner, leaving the heels standing tall. No tag team match is made by a short black man, leaving me feeling empty inside.
Paige: Part-Time Revolutionary
Charlotte and Becky arrive for Charlotte’s match, and I love that Paige apparently abandoned her own revolution in favour of being a judge on Tough Enough, which is one of the many ways that Paige does not resemble Lenin, Trotsky or Castro. Charlotte’s facing Naomi, and the PPV match at SummerSlam is going to be a three-team elimination match; I’m not sure if the teams or the team members are eliminated, but either way this sounds good.
Charlotte goes ‘Whoooo’ and Naomi goes ‘slap’. Charlotte takes exception, bring Naomi down with a Thesz press, then hits a knee to the gut and slaps her right back. Naomi ducks out of the ring, but is able to pull scoot Charlotte’s legs out from under her, dropping her on the apron as we go to a break.
Back with the action, Charlotte is trying to work her way back into it, but Naomi is in full control, hitting a pair of knees to the face and then gripping Charlotte by the head. Naomi runs Flair into the turnbuckle head-first, then hits a kick to the stomach, a dropkick and a splits legdrop. It’s quite funny hearing Jimmy being a face commentator, which basically involves him supporting Charlotte over his wife.
Charlotte almost gets a roll-up, but Naomi rolls through and hits her with a boot to the face. Apparently this just fires Charlotte up, and she hits chops, a neckbreaker and then a big spear, getting a two-count off the pin. She runs into a pair of boots, but then elevates Naomi over the top and out onto Sasha and Tamina! Charlotte bundles Naomi back into the ring, and locks in Figure Eight! Naomi taps!
I liked this better than last week, as Naomi looked far more relevant, getting some punishment in on Charlotte. Fun match, really. 2.5 Stars.
The commentators try to convince us that the WWE is not overreaching via making SummerSlam four hours long.
We’re also continuing the superhero narrative with Stephen Amell being in a match. It was kind of odd seeing some honest-to-God acting talent on RAW; you could actually believe that Amell was genuinely pissed. Also, the commentators were a little weird about the encounter on Monday: ‘well, Stardust did physically assault that celebrity spectator, but fuck him for getting inside that ring’.
Ryback’s here for a match, thankfully fine after his staph infection. He gets on the match, and says that he’s back; he feels great and he’s back where he belongs. He then shows us a photo of his staph infection and why the fuck are you showing me photos of a fucking staph infection, you sick fucks? The Big Guy says that he’ll win at SummerSlam, and whatever it takes for me to stop having to look at pictures of WWE employee’s injuries and infections. Christ.
Bad Poetry And A Worse Beard: It’s Bray Wyatt
Here’s Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. Harper gets on the microphone and starts pretending that WWE fans are his own personal therapists. Then Bray gets on the microphone and recites one of Heidenreich’s disasterpieces (that is almost literally what this is). Ambrose mercifully puts an end to this, making his way down the aisle with a microphone in hand. He says he’s just here to watch Reigns murder Harper, which sounds like something Ambrose would be into.
Reigns arrives through the crowd, and the match is on. At least Bray’s stopped making threats towards a child to further this feud; it’s the kind of thing that makes people a little uncomfortable. Reigns starts off on the offence with some punches, taking Harper down with a flying clothesline and then clotheslining him again, this time out of the ring.
Back from a commercial break, Harper has managed to take control, bringing the pain to Reigns. Roman blocks a punch, then hits some kind of throw from behind. Harper still fights back, managing to stagger Reigns enough to hit a sit-out bodyslam. Roman gets his head stomped for a while, then worked over pretty well on the ropes, including getting catapulted throat-first into the second rope. A headlock keeps him grounded for a bit, but you can’t keep Roman Reigns down; he gets back up to his feet and starts throwing hands as best he can.
Harper tries to hit a running knee into the corner, but Roman dodges and Harper crashes and burns, then gets thrown shoulder-first into the opposite corner. Roman’s trying to use the separation to get to his feet, and does, and now the two big men are throwing bombs at each other. Roman almost gets the best of it, takes a kick to the stomach and then manages to take Harper down with a clothesline. Reigns looks to be firing up, but then runs into a huge dropkick, rolling out of the ring.
Harper follows Reigns, but eats an uppercut, and then gets backdropped onto the apron and takes a Drive-By. Bray wants to interfere, but Ambrose backs him off, finally jumping Wyatt when he pushes it too far. Reigns and Harper are both down in the ring, both men taking their time to get to their feet. When they do, they re-engage the slugfest, staggering each other with the blows. When the referee tries to pull Roman off Harper, Harper catches Reigns with superkick, almost getting the pin.
Luke Harper goes for the powerbomb, but gets backdropped and takes the Superman Punch. Wyatt doesn’t take chances, breaking it up.
Fairly basic match, but solid for all that. Decent preview for SummerSlam. 2.5 Stars.
Ambrose gets involved immediately, managing to dispatch Harper with a clothesline, and then Bray in the same fashion. He low-bridges Harper out of the ring, and then dives out onto both Bray and Harper! Wyatt manages to get to his feet, taking Ambrose down, but Reigns leaps in with a flying clothesline and breaks that shit up. They chuck Wyatt and Harper over the barricade, and the two hobos/neckbeards walk out, looking dejected. You know, if this was high school, this would more or less be the star quarterback and his weird stoner buddy he’d known since childhood getting into a fight with the two members of the Warhammer Society. And I’d watch that movie.
Ah! The Unnamed Interviewer! Seize him! And he’s backstage with Sheamus, and God knows why you’d want to do that. He asks Sheamus about his piss-poor attempt at a cash-in. The Irishman doesn’t want to talk; he’s actually pretty furious. He wants to kill Orton, which is fairly understandable.
Even The New Day Hates The New Day Matches
Oh damn, it’s the New Day. I just can’t, man: take my vision away from me or something. Reverse-laser me. They’re facing the Prime Time Players, and at SummerSlam there is a Fatal Four-Way match for the titles, featuring these two teams, the Lucha Dragons and Los Matadores.
Titus starts off against Woods, who gets knocked down and tags in Big E. He takes Titus down, but then gets knocked around by the champ in return, getting squashed in the corner. He manages to dodge a charge from Titus, sending him out of the ring, and Kofi beans him with a big kick.
The New Day do their sensible-but-boring stomp attack, and we go to a break. When we come back, Langston has Titus in an abdominal stretch, then throws him in the corner. When he tries to charge, he gets his head clotheslined off by O’Neil, who makes the tag to Darren Young.
Woods comes in as well, and gets knocked around by Young before getting thrown across the ring. Young hits a back suplex on the apron, the launches an interfering Kofi over his head. Woods almost hits a tornado DDT, but Young manages to reverse it into a Northern Lights suplex before going for the Gut Check. Langston drags Woods out of it, and the New Day retreats.
Los Matadores come out, as do the Lucha Dragons, halting the New Day’s retreat long enough for the Prime Time Players to jump Langston and Kingston. They throw Woods back into the ring, and a Gut Check finishes things off.
Pretty interesting match, considering Titus was the face in peril for a change. Not bad. 2 Stars.
Not being able to put on a full show of SmackDown without dedicating five whole minutes to an Undertaker/Lesnar promo that you played on RAW does not inspire confidence in the four-hour SummerSlam idea. Unless they’re going to film the Undertaker’s autopsy after Brock’s carnage finally ceases.
Goddamn Loving NXT Right Now
Main event time is now, and everyone makes their way to the ring. Cesaro immediately heads for Rollins once the bell rings, hitting a fallaway-delayed-vertical-suplex. Owens tries to interfere, and Neville protects Cesaro mid-suplex. Cesaro finally hits the suplex; Neville hits the shooting star press from the floor to the champ and we go to a break.
When we come back, Owens has Neville grounded in headlock. The Newcastle Native tries to fight back, but just eats a DDT for a two count. Kevin Owens is firmly in control, and tags in Rollins to punish the Man That Gravity Forgot. Rollins hits a bodyslam and a knee to the face before applying a sleeper. Neville hits a rally with a jawbreaker, but Rollins shuts him down again with a hard Irish whip to the corner.
Owens comes back in, applying a sleeper, and again Neville breaks out. Owens runs into a boot; Neville elevates an interfering Rollins over the top rope and almost tags in Cesaro, but Seth manages to grab the Swiss Superman and pull him off the apron before the tag. Owens cannonballs into Neville, only for Cesaro to break up the pin. Owens tosses Cesaro back out of the ring, then clotheslines Neville to the ground.
Owens misses a back senton, tags in Seth, and Rollins tries to keep Neville away from Cesaro, but Neville’s impossible to hold down and finally handspring-somersaults all the way across the ring and tags in Cesaro! Cesaro bursts into the action, flinging Rollins right over his head and booting Owens in the head. And now he lays into Rollins with the uppercuts!
Cesaro presses Rollins, aiming him right at Owens (who ducks out of the way), and then throws himself through the ropes at both Owens (who ducks again) and Rollins (who doesn’t). Neville then flings himself at Owens, taking him down, and Cesaro hits another uppercut to Rollins before throwing him back into the ring and hitting a crossbody from the top rope for a near-fall.
Cesaro tosses Owens from the ring, but then walks into an ezuigiri and a powerbomb into the turnbuckle from Rollins. Cesaro reverses the Pedigree, almost gets rolled up and then applies the Sharpshooter! Owens interferes, almost getting put in the Sharpshooter himself, but Rollins rolls Cesaro up, grabbing the shorts for the win.
Great match, and definitely the best of the night. 3.5 Stars.
Owens goes on the attack after the match is finished, but Cesaro regains the upper hand, slamming Owens to the mat so that he can eat the Red Arrow from Neville.
This was a solid show, but without a great deal of excitement until the main event. Seven out of ten.
Tags: Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, charlotte, dean ambrose, Jerry Lawler, jimmy uso, Kevin Owens, Los Matadores, Lucha Dragons, Luke Harper, Michael Cole, naomi, Neville, Roman Reigns, ryback, sasha banks, seth rollins, Sheamus, smackdown, Tamina Snuka, The New Day, The Undertaker, Tom Philips