Hello hello, my wonderful readership. Tonight finds me in a pretty decent mood, as the university I’m supposed to be starting at in, like, a week’s time has acknowledged my existence, meaning that I didn’t just dream the last six months because I am either suffering from a mental disorder that everyone’s aware of except me, or because I am a brain in a vat.
I mean, both of those were options that legitimately concerned me from time to time.
Also, I’ve just got my monthly free credit from Audible, which means another audiobook to add to my 19 day-long collection of novels (featuring Lord of the Rings, War and Peace and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), a prospect which excites me far, far too much.
And hey: SmackDown!
We naturally start off by recapping Night of Champions, whilst hilariously freeze-framing and blacking out during any actual moves (I mean, for fuck’s sake), and then Kane reminding us that, whatever kind of bullshit storyline the powers that be put him in, he has the practically demonic ability to carry it off. I genuinely don’t know many other performers who could play this role this well.
I’m still not excited for a Kane/Rollins match, even if it does end with Rollins clean-winning the fuck out of the Big Red Machine, but this build at least promises some decent entertainment over next couple of weeks. Even if it does come at the price of Rollins looking like a wuss, because who is really scared of Kane, masked or no?
The show proper starts off with Kane in the ring, which means that SmackDown now actually has an authority figure once again. Black is white, up is down, cats are eating dogs and the apocalypse is nigh: holla holla holla. Apparently Kane’s recovery involved just tonnes of happy pills, and if this whole split-personality thing is revealed to be an effect of Kane abusing pain medication, then I am already sold on this storyline.
The Big Middle Manager says that he was a little worried about coming back, seeing as so much has changed, but then again, he’s very excited to be here because the WWE’s on fire, and it takes someone with his…administrative experience to handle that heat. Holy shit, please keep making these smart-ass jokes. He makes a tag team match for Owens and Rusev vs. Ryback and Ziggler; the crowd really boos and cheers in line with heel and face dynamic during that announcement. Reigns will also face Luke Harper, with Ambrose banned from ringside, as are the Wyatts. Kane seems to be playing this one fairly neutral whilst unmasked.
Rollins shows up, looking antsy, and Kane cheerfully introduces him. Wow, do you know weird it is to use the word ‘cheerfully’ about Kane without following it up with him doing something horrifying? Seth is actually pretty pissed, and says that Kane’s not fooling anyone. So, Seth is basically Jack McGee from The Incredible Hulk (Seventies TV reference outta nowhere!)? Kane says that he’s been trained in conflict resolution, and Seth should come down to the ring for productive dialogue. Rollins gets more pissed, and Kane keeps ducking accusations like a motherfucker. Damn it: I love this already; I don’t care how dumb it gets.
Kane then turns on the Mr Hyde part of his character for a second (except in the novel, Hyde didn’t electrocute a dude’s testicles), before snapping right back. Seth is stuck between outrage, confusion and fear, and then tells Kane he needs help. Kane refuses to stop being happy and professional, and then puts Rollins in a match against Dean Ambrose.
Holy hell: that’s actually what Kane would be like as a politician.
The commentators argue amongst themselves about what’s going on: Booker T and Brennan seem to be favouring the split-personality theory; Lawler apparently is a fan of the ‘Kane is a sneaky bastard’ possibility. Fuck you, WWE: I base my entire life around not agreeing with Jerry Lawler, and you make him the voice of reason now?
This Is All I Ever Wanted From Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns arrives for his match, with all outside parties banned from ringside. Well, here’s one match where we won’t see the Wyatts interfere. Reigns and Harper make their way to the ring as we get shown a recap of Orton, Ambrose and Reigns taking Strowman down a little. Whilst I worry like hell anytime anyone I’m a fan of gets into the ring with that guy, I do like how his dominance has been established; the first time someone pins him clean is going to be a big deal if they keep this up.
Harper immediately goes for his Discus Clothesline, which Roman ducks, and then for a powerbomb. Roman slides out of that, and tries to hit one of his own, but Harper escapes to the outside. Guys, guys…you gotta kiss before you fuck. Reigns follows Luke to the outside; Harper runs back into the ring and tries to dive out onto Roman, only to eat an uppercut instead.
Reigns keeps the action coming, hurling Harper bodily into the barricade, then hitting his Drive-By Dropkick before throwing Harper back into a ring. Amateur wrestling throw has Harper reeling; he almost takes a Samoan Drop, but Harper starts smashing elbows into the side of his head. Roman still almost gets the Drop, only for Harper to turn it into a sunset flip. Reigns rolls out and smacks Harper in the face with and uppercut, and then slams clotheslines into him in the corner.
Reigns whips the Wyatt Family member into the opposite corner, runs into the guy’s boot, but then just uppercuts him anyway. It seems like nothing Harper can do is stopping Reigns right now. He gets thrown to the outside, and tries to run away from a pursuing Roman; when Reigns catches him, he rakes the eyes and lays him out with a boot. Back in the ring, Harper hits a senton and then a superkick before hitting a powerbomb for a near-fall.
Harper winds up for the Discus Clothesline, but turns right into a Superman Punch instead. He still tries to go for it, but Roman ducks and lays him out with a Spear for the win.
Wow, Roman is being booked perfectly right now. Harper got in just enough offence to make Reigns look awesome when he shrugged it off, and the rest was all Roman. Not sure whether this is being done with thoughts of WrestleMania in mind, but I sense big things in the near future for Reigns. 3 Stars.
Pretty Sure Kalisto’s Energy Could Be Harnessed To Power Cities
The New Day is in the ring when we come up, and I miss Xavier’s Rufio hair already. I mean…I genuinely thought it looked pretty awesome. And no, I have not recently watched Hook as a result of that PPV. Except I did; all of us did.
The New Day get on the mics to hype us up for their return match against the Dudley Boyz. I want to invite these three to boring work parties and pay them to remain in character. Neville then shows up with the Lucha Dragons, and whilst I think Neville has kind of dropped out of the spotlight somewhat, I kinda love the ridiculous shit we see when these three team together.
Neville kicks things off against Kofi, before tagging in Kalisto to hit a double-team seated senton/dropkick before we head to the break. When we come back, Kalisto is still in the ring, now against Langston. Big E lays the little guy out with an elbow, then kicks away at him in the corner, and then the New Day hit their rolling stomps with trombone accompaniment. They had better make that shit a mechanic in the video games.
Kofi wears Kalisto down with an arm-lock, but then gets elevated right out of the corner, and is able to tag in Sin Cara as Xavier gets the tag himself. Sin Cara hits a springboard crossbody, then a springboard elbow, then a springboard moonsault. Big E gets thrown onto the apron, with Neville sending him down to the floor, and then all of New Day are ejected to the outside. Neville and Sin Cara hit moonsaults from the top rope, with Kalisto somersaulting onto them from the inside.
Back in the ring, Kofi is able to grab Sin Cara’s leg, holding him up long enough for Xavier to regain himself, hitting a Shining Wizard to get the victory.
Fun match, with a great climax moment from the three high flyers. The New Day were, of course, perfection. 3 Stars.
An Aggressive Bo Is Like A Mass-Murdering Chihuahua
Cesaro makes his way out to the ring, and we recap his match against the Big Show this past Monday. Luckily, this week he gets a breather as he faces Bo Dallas. Well, I never get tired of seeing this guy get suplexed.
Bo pontificates for a little bit, including saying ‘I survived Suplex City!’ with a huge smile: that belongs on a t-shirt. Both NXT alumni lock up, then Cesaro mocks Bo with kip ups (I mean, he actually does) before chain wrestling the guy for some further mockery. He spins Bo around the ring using his legs: SHADES OF EUGENE!! (I’m so sorry). Bo gets a little pissy, hitting a few shots to Cesaro before running right into a clothesline.
Cesaro runs into a back elbow, and Dallas uses the opening to try and attack Cesaro’s back, but he runs right into an uppercut, heading to the outside. Cesaro, like an idiot, gets on the apron, and Bo sweeps the apron right out from under him, letting him crash and burn on the ring surface. More punishment to the back follows, and back inside the ring Bo is showing some aggression, throwing forearms to the spine.
A back suplex gets a near fall, and then Dallas locks in a chinlock, sticking his knee right into Cesaro’s back. Cesaro tries to work his way back to his feet, but Bo slams him back to the mat, turning the chinlock into a headlock. Out of nowhere, Cesaro gets some kind of ridiculous lucha pin, getting the three!
Smartly-wrestled match, all in all. Not often you see Bo being a dominant force, but targeting the back was totally on point. Just wish the guy would get in better shape, but then I judge folks on appearances. 2.5 Stars.
We recap how Paige is a dick now, which I’m totally psyched for. And Charlotte’s the Divas Champion, which I’m even more psyched for. I think that whoever wrote the article I’m about to refer to said it right: this is the point where what people have referred to as the Divas Revolution is actually going to mature. Great matches, strong storylines and a fantastic champion at the top of the division; that’s all I ever wanted from any of this, and I think I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it.
Charlotte’s there to talk, it seems, and she says that, if she had a dream of how to become the Divas Champion, then on Sunday it came true. She and Becky want to thank the WWE Universe for believing in the Revolution, and the future’s never been brighter.
Paige interrupts, and I can’t believe that it took me this long to realise that, with that look, that outfit, that music and that attitude, she is the perfect heel for the Division. I’m still not used to being excited about the Divas. Paige says that she’s never been a team player, and has never apologised for being herself, but she wants to talk. Becky’s glaring at her, but that’s because the Irish are contractually obliged to remember that they hate the British from time to time. Shit, look at Sheamus and Neville. Paige does the traditional Backhanded-Apology of Heel Transitioning, thus making this official.
Things start getting tense…and then Natalya’s music hits. Wow, it’s like my constant chorus of ‘where the fuck’s Natalya when she could be wrestling now’ has summoned her, after about five months. Paige says that this has nothing to do with Natalya. And, let me just say, Natalya? Hate your outfit. Hate it so much. She forms a parallel between Charlotte’s title win and Paige’s own, and says that this whole thing is ridiculous: they’re all better than that.
Paige says that Natalya’s right; she’s better than her. Wait, Paige, that is absolutely not what she said. She slaps Nat, which tends to be the last thing most people ever do. Why do you think we’ve not seen Tyson Kidd in a long time, and why Natalya’s been in hiding? Oh yeah: Tyson Kidd’s dead. Cesaro’s use of the Sharpshooter is both a tribute and a message: he knows the truth. Paige leaves the ring, as Nat is comforted by Becky and Charlotte stares down Paige. Man, just when I thought this couldn’t get any better, Natalya joins the Divas again. Now they need to sign Amazing Kong and MsChif.
Would It Be Too Much To Call Rusev/Owens ‘Bulgaria Eyh’?
Time for our second tag-team match of the evening, and Kevin Owens emerges, followed by Rusev. They are joined by Ryback and Dolph Ziggler, and the match begins. Kevin Owens’ title-wobbling taunt to Ryback is just fantastic, by the way. Ryback wants himself a piece of the portly Canadian, but Owens tags out and gets the portly Russian instead, who then wants himself a piece of Ziggler, who tags in so that we can actually have a fucking match sometime tonight.
Rusev starts off strong against Ziggler, clobbering him in the corner. He screams ‘I beat you on RAW!’ and ‘I’m the best!’ at Dolph a lot, which makes me feel that the guy has a lot to prove, which makes me guess that he’s got a small penis. Ziggler manages to roll out of a back suplex and dropkick the Bulgarian right in the mush. He follows it up with a stinger splash in the corner, but Owens is able to cause enough of a distraction for Rusev to catch Dolph in a huge slam.
Rusev yells ‘I beat you; now he’s gonna beat you!’, indicating Owens, who yells back, ‘yeah, yeah, that’s a great idea! I’m gonna tag your wide back!’ and does so. I don’t know what either of these guys are doing, but I’m getting a kick out of it. I guess someone had to take over the snarky bastard role once Punk left. Both behemoths stomp Ziggler together, and then Owens keeps up the assault solo.
Rusev comes back in, ramming a shoulder into the back of Dolph. Ziggler manages to catch the Bulgarian in a huge DDT, but when we come back from the break, Owens has Dolph in a headlock. Ziggler tries to fight his way out with another DDT, but the wily Owens slams him face-first to the mat and immediately kills any lingering momentum with a senton. A chop in the corner knocks Ziggler down, and Owens pummels him some more. Inverted atomic drop from Owens, following it up with a clothesline, getting two.
Rusev tags back in, and continues to work over the back of Ziggler. He taunts Dolph by letting him crawl a little to Ryback, then goes after him some more, dropping boots and elbows. Owens comes back in, doing much the same thing, then challenges Rusev to what I can only describe as a ‘bodyslam-off’. Rusev goes to slam Dolph, but Ziggler slides out of it and hits a bodyslam of his own! Owens tags in, and gets a bodyslam too! Ziggler crawls over for the final time and tags in Ryback!
Ryback slams Rusev a few times, before running right into a botchy spin kick for two. He catches Rusev’s next kick, however, and plants him with a spinebuster. He is distracted by Owens, however, allowing Rusev to smack him in the face with another kick. Kevin Owens then walks out of the arena with his belt, apropos of nothing all that much. Rusev then decides to bring Dolph in the ring, which is an even weirder idea, and gets surprised by a superkick and then eats Shellshocked to end the match.
I liked both pairings here. Ziggler played a great face in peril, and Owen’s sarcastic comments added some fun. Not that enamoured with the idea of Owens wrestling less, considering he usually has some of the best matches, but maybe it’ll just be this once. 2.5 Stars.
We get a promo from Big Show about him facing Brock Lesnar. Whoa, are you really trying to make Show look like a challenge? Because I was happier with the notion that we were going to watch Lesnar beat the absolute shit out of him again.
Oh, the Dudley Boyz are backstage, bitching about the New Day. Renee interrupts, trying to interview them, but you can’t derail Bubba Ray mid-rant, and he basically just continues bitching into the microphone. D-Von starts to talk, but gets interrupted by the Prime Time Players who just more or less telegraphed either a future programme or a heel turn.
JoJo is in another location, there to interview Seth. Is there anyone who doesn’t tower over this woman? She asks him about Kane, and Seth armchair-psychoanalyses the guy pretty hard. Okay, either the crowd are really passionate tonight, or this is some godawful post-production crowd noise.
We Could Just Replay This Match Forever
It’s time for our main event, and Dean Ambrose makes his way to the ring. Seth Rollins, and we really need to get both of these guys some music that doesn’t sound like a track called ‘Original 008’ on the SmackDown vs. RAW create-a-wrestler feature.
Both men circle each other, and then lock up. Seth immediately grabs the ropes, forcing a break, and then exits the ring, stalking around on the outside. He comes back inside, and Ambrose wrenches the arm, bringing Rollins down to the mat before stomping on the hand. Headlock takeover from Dean, keeping the headlock applied. Seth manages to stand, forcing Ambrose into the corner and utilising the count until he starts stomping on Dean, beating him down.
Dean leapfrogs over Seth’s head, runs the ropes, and then hits a front dropkick to knock Seth down before we go to the break. When we get back, Seth is hitting a bodyslam for a two-count to Ambrose, then locks in a sleeper hold. Ambrose manages to toss Seth through the ropes, but leaves too much time before trying to dive on him, and runs right into a fist. A big knee from the top rope sends Ambrose down hard, and Rollins has full control now, taking his time and hitting chops.
This only seems to motivate Ambrose, who fires up, hitting chops and going for a Tornado DDT, but Seth throws Ambrose to the mat face-first, almost getting the pin. He stalks Dean in the corner, hitting a measured forearm. Dean chases Seth back to his corner, hitting a forearm of his own, gets knocked off the ropes by Seth and hits the Lunatic Lariat!
Seth gets to his feet first, and approaches the prone Ambrose, but Dean leaps to his feet and starts taking Seth to school, culminating in a double-underhook superplex from the second rope! Dean heads up to the top this time, but Seth catches him, wanting a superplex of his own. Ambrose smacks him away, then leaps over Rollins’ head and the pair exchange pinning combinations until Dean says ‘fuck it’ and just elevates Seth over the top rope before diving out onto him.
Back in the ring, Dean catches Seth’s superkick and hits a fisherman suplex for two. Seth manages to pull off a desperation enzuigiri, knocking Dean to the floor and buying him time. Ambrose still fights however, and he and Rollins begin a slugfest, with Seth finally bringing Dean down off the ropes. He wants a Pedigree; Dean almost reverses it into Dirty Deeds, but Seth throws him almost into the referee; Dean does the same thing, allowing Seth to hit a thumb to the eye and powerbomb Ambrose into the turnbuckles.
Suddenly, the fire flares up, putting Rollins on high alert. This gives Ambrose just enough time to roll Seth up, using the tights to get the win!
Another classic from these two, to the point that Kane’s interference was actually a low point in comparison: presumably necessary, of course. Any time these two work together, it’s going to be well worth the money. 3.5 Stars.
Rollins grabs a mic and yells at Kane, threatening him. He asks if Kane saw what Rollins did to Sting. What, rolled him up or gave him a career-threatening neck injury? We see Kane watching on a monitor backstage, none too amused. At least Seth showed some teeth here, and if Kane actually made him snap in a good way, it would be some great storytelling.
This was a pretty fantastic SmackDown, to tell you the truth. Every match was of a very high quality, and almost all of them seemed to serve some purpose. Good stuff. 9/10.
Tags: Becky Lynch, Bo Dallas, Booker T, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, charlotte, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Hell in a Cell, Jerry Lawler, Kane, Kevin Owens, Lucha Dragons, Luke Harper, natalya neidhart, Neville, Paige, Rich Brennan, Roman Reigns, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, smackdown, The New Day