Hello, sports entertainment and article fans. I come to you from Philadelphia by way of Chester-le-Street, and tonight we will see Randy Orton and Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt and Braun Stroman.
But first, don’t you dare be sour: it’s the New Day, fresh off their new beginning as an actual threatening team. Got to love that King blames it on the numbers advantage the New Day held, even though it was four on three in the faces’ favour. The New Day crow about their victory, and how they’re way better than any other stable ever (shout out to Xavier’s Razor Ramon impression). They rip on the city of Philadelphia and their sports team for a few minutes: classic heel banter.
They say that the Dudley Boyz have another rematch, but the New Day is here to improve the WWE and finally beat those damn Dudley Boyz. They start chanting for themselves, but are interrupted by Dolph Ziggler.
Dolph’s all serious and pissed about his beating, even though it offered him both an escape from a Rusev feud and another midcard title reign. He says that he’s getting a match against Big E Langston, which is actually a pretty fun bit of history. Xavier implies massive amounts of interference, so Ziggler summons the Dudley Boyz.
If Only John Cena Had Been Here
Ziggler starts things off with a massive dropkick and a DDT to Langston, sending him right to the outside as we go to the break. When we come back, Langston has the advantage, clotheslining Dolph and then choking him on the ropes. He locks in an abdominal stretch; Dolph fights out of it, but runs right into a back elbow, getting choked on the ropes again. Oh god, Kofi and Xavier are doing commentary: what dark and murky sacrifice did someone in WWE Creative make to turn this gimmick around from vague racism to pure hilarity?
Massive punch to the midsection (‘A shot to the guts! Ladies and gentlemen, here in the WWE anything can happen!’). Dolph throws some hands, dives at Big E in a crossbody and gets caught in a backbreaker. Another big shot to the gut from Langston, and then a bearhug. Come to think of it, why is John Cena not out here?
Dolph fights his way out of the bearhug, then uses kicks and shoulders to keep Langston from closing the distance, then gets himself up on Big E’s shoulders; Langston throws him face-first into a corner, but then misses his charge and blasts the post with this shoulder; Ziggler capitalises with a Fameasser!
Superkick is caught by Big E, and he turns it into a bearhug! Warrior Splash follows that up, getting two. Looks like a Big Ending, but then Dolph slides out of it and slams a superkick into Big E’s face for two! Kingston gets up on the apron, only to be pulled off by Bubba; Bubba tries to smash Kofi’s face in, but misses the kick and hits the steel stairs instead. D-Von runs Kofi off, but this allows Xavier to distract the referee and Kofi to hang Dolph up on the ropes; Big E gets the pin with Kofi holding Dolph’s leg down.
Seems like there’s a lot of faith in this stable. I mean, at this stage I would would absolutely get behind a feud with the Wyatt Family, just to see if Bray and these three could handle it, promo-wise; I reckon they’d be up for the challenge. Good match, with a nice twist on the regular cheat ending. 3 Stars.
We replay Brock beating the shit out of Big Show again on RAW, immediately followed by Rusev kinda sorta ducking Summer’s proposal. I really hope those two are not connected in any way.
Summer is now backstage, getting her make-up done by two make-up people: one is very gothic; the other one’s going for a farm-girl look. Must be confusing for them to work in tandem. Rusev then shows up, and tells Summer off for telling everyone they’re engaged. Except he’s really coming off as the bumbling sitcom patriarch during this, so it’s sort of funny. I emphasise: sort of. But Summer got Rusev a match with Ryback, making sure he’s in the Intercontinental title picture. Rusev is pretty impressed, and gives her a hug. Calling it: one of these two kills the other and keeps the corpse in a fridge for a while. Oh, and then Rusev slaps Summer’s ass as she leaves, which was the most awkward and inhuman way I’ve ever seen that done.
How Does Nat Wrestle In That Thing?
Team Bella is here to face Team C and B, with their choice of partner. I mean, it’s Natalya. It’s absolutely Natalya. Charlotte and Becky come out, and…oh yeah, it’s Natalya. Why the hell is everyone so surprised? Am I the only one who watches this show?
Also, to the guy in the crowd holding up the ‘Fast Forward’ sign, three years ago was three years ago.
Alicia starts off first against Becky Lynch. Fox works the arm; Becky reverses for a roll-up and hits a couple of armdrags, controlling the arm again. Charlotte tags in and they hit a double hip toss, double elbow. Headlock by Charlotte, and then she and Natalya hit a double arm wrench, then Nat runs over Alicia and hits a dropkick to the face.
Jawbreaker by Alicia gives her enough control to tag herself out, and here comes Nikki Bella. She wrenches the wrist; Natalya flips her way out of it, and tags in Becky, hitting a suplex before she leaves. Nikki manages to hit a knee lift, then tags Brie in for a missile dropkick for two.
We got to a quick break, and Team Bella is still in control when we get back in, with Alicia tagging in to hit a Northern Lights suplex, then a tight sleeper hold. Becky fights back, but is backed off the ropes to run into a dropkick. Alicia tags out to Brie, who hits a big clothesline before kicking Natalya and applying a ropes-assisted camel clutch. Nikki hits a kick to the face whilst the ref is distracted, and according to King, Paige acting like an asshole makes her ‘the biggest Diva there is’. Jesus, guys.
Brie Mode Knee misses, and Becky crawls towards her corner. Brie tries to stop her, but in kicking her away, Becky allows her to tag out to Nikki, who blasts Charlotte off the top and wears down Becky some more. Booker T also just mistook Nikki Bella for Alicia Fox, which considering the racial context of that statement…seriously, Book?
Nikki gets her face planted right into the turnbuckles, and Becky tags out, destroying Nikki with chops. Neckbreaker, then a big boot. She runs into a back shoulder and then eats a huge kick from Nikki, who knocks Natalya off the apron. Rack Attack attempt is turned into a spear by Charlotte, and then the Figure Eight, but Brie interferes, allowing Nikki to reverse the move as Natalya attacks Team Bella. Becky Lynch comes in, hitting a dropkick to Nikki’s face in return, allowing Charlotte to reverse the move back into a Figure Eight for the win!
Another good match, and I liked the ending of it. Looks like Natalya’s not missed a beat, though we didn’t end up seeing much of her. 3 Stars.
Paige is interviewed by Renee, and says that Natalya is trying to work her way between Paige and the others: she doesn’t like that, and she doesn’t like Nat.
Turns Out Rusev Really Doesn’t Want To Get Married
Well, here’s Rusev, fighting for…God, I don’t even know. A title? A wedding? Are we eventually supposed to get behind this guy, like we did for MVP? Because I just can’t see it. Kevin Owens shows up to be on commentary. Ryback then arrives, and then we see a pre-match interview with the Big Guy, who looks more or less like he’s about to have a full-face orgasm whilst yelling.
Bell rings and Ryback backs Rusev into the corner, pounding on the guy for a good long while. Rusev fights back, but runs right into a Thesz Press, and gets destroyed again. Ryback doesn’t want that bastard to have a wedding, I guess, but then Rusev takes advantage, taking Ryback to the outside and really working over the arm using the table and the ringpost.
Back in the ring, the Bulgarian keeps working on the arm, every single move targeting the limb. Ryback tries to throw some hands, but runs into a back elbow before he can gain any momentum. Ryback starts wrenching at the face, then wastes some time arguing with the referee, and that allows Ryback to hit a giant belly-to-belly on Rusev.
Ryback fires up now, hitting and moving, finally knocking Rusev down with a shoulder block and with ease hitting him with a bodyslam for two. Ryback attempts a powerbomb, but Rusev turns it into an Alabama Slam! Rusev goes for a suplex; Ryback blocks it and tries one of his own; Rusev slides out of it and applies a sleeper!
Ryback powers up, lifting Rusev off the floor and then drops the guy onto the mat. Ryback wants Shellshocked, but Rusev slides out and hits his side kick. Summer pushes Ryback’s foot off the bottom rope for the win, but Ryback still kicks out. Rusev tries to stomp on Ryback’s back, but Ryback catches the foot, hits a Meathook and then gets the win with Shellshocked!
Fun match with two big men. Ryback is still showing improvement, especially with how easy he makes some of his dynamic moves look. Pretty good. 2.5 Stars.
Replay of Kane’s Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner shenanigans (got sick of referencing Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde), then a Wyatt promo, saying the same thing he’s ever said in these promos ever.
‘Ere We Go Again
Here’s Wade Barrett, for something like his fifth attempt at being relevant and successful. What are we thinking: a month? Two months maybe? He’s facing Neville, who gets into the ring and we get to it.
Neville gets his arm worked by Barrett, but flips out of it and backs Barrett off. Now Neville goes for Wade’s arm, gets backed into a corner, whipped across the ring and somersaults away from Barrett before springboard-crossbodying onto him. Barrett tosses Neville onto the apron; Neville flips over him and gets pulled down to the mat by his hair before eating a big boot.
Back from the break, Neville tries to jump over Barrett, but gets caught with a big kick to the midsection, then is draped over the turnbuckle and gets a tonne of forearms to the back, then a kick to the stomach again for a count of two. Wade tries to keep Neville on the mat, but takes a jawbreaker, then misses a big boot and gets sent to the outside.
Neville heads up to the top and hits a moonsault to Barrett on the outside. They get back into the ring, with Neville hitting a running dropkick to the head, then a German suplex with a pinning combination, but fuck, did Barret just take his head off with that clothesline. Waste Land is countered for a pin, and then Wade goes back to the well, getting a DDT for not learning nothing. Neville wants that Red Arrow, but Barrett can apparently take it or leave, heading to the other end of the ring.
Neville follows Barrett, beginning to choke him against the ropes. The ref backs Neville off; King calls it a good three seconds before it happens, and Neville runs into a Bull Hammer for the three.
We all expected this. We can deal with Barrett for about six weeks, then the WWE will forget just why they brought him back and he’ll be back to fighting R-Truth in no time. Fun match, seeing as how Neville was involved. 2.5 Stars.
We get a Stardust promo, because why. I mean, if you were going to make one of your people a supervillain, could you not make him an awesome supervillain? Cody is a big comics fan, so you’d think that giving the guy a measure of creative control over this comic-inspired character would be all to the good. He seems to hint at…absolutely nothing. At all. So why the hell am I watching him?
We get told about how the pink ropes represent the WWE’s support for a cancer charity. Not sure what men and women being choked using that pink rope is supposed to represent: futility, maybe?
Hah: Stroman and Roman
It’s time for our main event, and Roman and Randy come out first, followed by the Wyatts. Did Harper and Ambrose just not show up to SmackDown? Randy starts off against Wyatt, who backs him into the corner and throws some hands. Orton runs right over Bray with a clothesline and gets attacked again, before throwing Bray through the ropes and trying for his DDT. Bray slides out of the ring, but gets clotheslined on the outside as Orton follows him.
Randy throws Bray back into the ring, and Wyatt immediately slides over to Braun Stroman, who he tags. Orton doesn’t seem to give a damn, and starts blasting him, but Braun runs over him with a shoulder block. Orton tags in Reigns, who wants himself some of ol’ Pubebeard. Fair play to Reigns: he’s playing his part in this programme really well.
Stroman tosses Reigns across the ring, gets caught by some massive right hands, and then takes Roman down with a shoulder press, just like he did to Orton. Randy gets a blind tag, and he and Reigns club Stroman down to one knee, only to run into the SHOULDER BLOCK OF DOOM. Wow, this guy is like 2006’s John Cena, only with less moves. But then, if he tried other moves, he’d accidentally kill someone.
Big boot to Randy Orton, then Stroman tags in Wyatt, who drapes Randy over the apron and launches a boot into his head. Bray sends Orton back inside, then squashes him in the corner, stomping away at him. Orton manages to rally suddenly, hitting a backbreaker to Bray Wyatt. Stroman tags in and charges at Orton, but the Viper dodges, tagging in Reigns as Stroman slams into the corner.
Roman comes in hard and fast, clobbering Stroman. He gets caught for a bodyslam attempt, slides out of it, boots Stroman in the face, clotheslines him and almost hits a Samoan drop, but Braun fights his way out of that. Stroman sends him through the ropes to the outside. When Braun goes to follow him, Roman slides back inside, catching the big man halfway out of the ring and wailing on him. Some massive kicks send Braun reeling, and a Superman Punch sends Braun reeling to the outside.
Roman engages Bray in a stare-down, invites Bray to step in the ring, then boots him in the face the second Bray even tries to get in the ring. Okay, I really love the pragmatism that Roman’s willing to employ: can he please keep that for his character? Roman follows Wyatt, destroying him all around the outside, as Braun takes a moment to lean against the ring apron, apparently totally fine with the leader of his cult getting the shit kicked out of him.
Roman suddenly hits a drive-by dropkick to Stroman, but when he turns around he gets a chair to the throat, courtesy of Wyatt. Instant DQ.
I worry like hell about Stroman injuring a guy, and his lack of a repertoire really gives the guy a short shelf-life (unless they try and pull a Khali with him), but his presence does make for some interesting matches and sequences due to his dominance. In the extreme short term, he’s likely a good thing. 2.5 Stars.
Wyatt smacks Roman with the chair again. I don’t have a damn clue where Orton is, the selfish prick. Bray sends Roman back into the ring, and stalks him with his….oh, looks like Orton’s back! Randy goes after Bray, gets caught in a sleeper by Stroman, who then eats a Superman Punch! Roman elevates Stroman out of the ring, like this is the fucking Royal Rumble, almost takes a Sister Abigail, but shoves Bray into an RKO! Reigns stalks Bray in turn, and then spears the bastard in half. Roll on Hell in a Cell.
This was a solid show. No bad matches or anything, and each one of them managed to further the cause of the storyline. Whilst the lack of some of the bigger stars can hurt SmackDown at times, I’m okay with this being its role for the time being. 8/10
Tags: alicia fox, Becky Lynch, Bella Twins, Booker T, Braun Stroman, Bray Wyatt, charlotte, Dolph Ziggler, Jerry Lawler, John Cena, Kane, Natalya, Neville, Randy Orton, Rich Brennan, Roman Reigns, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, smackdown, Stardust, Summer Rae, Team Bella, The Dudley Boyz, The New Day, Wade Barrett