Hey there, SmackDown fans. I’m your humble-ish reviewer, David Spain, here to bring you another episode recap and review of your…I guess third-favourite WWE show? And, let me tell you, after spending today reading a novel for my thesis which contains torture, murder and child rape, and which is set in the city I live in, I could really go for some tired comedy and adequate wrestling right now. Anything, honestly, except finishing that book.
And there’s your tagline for SmackDown: ‘Somewhat Better Than Child Abuse.’
Sponsored by Subway.
No recap to kick off this show; instead we begin with Charlotte and Ric getting into the ring with Becky Lynch at ringside. I honestly can’t remember the last time a woman not named ‘McMahon’ opened a WWE show, but nice to see that it doesn’t never happen. Charlotte says that we are just over a week away from WrestleMania, and she can’t wait to put Becky and Sasha behind her. She and Ric WOOOOO for a while, until Sasha comes out to a decent reception, being from Boston and all.
The Boss in Boston
Looks like this is set up to be a match between Charlotte and Sasha: I suppose that’s the charm of a Triple Threat match at the big show, advertising-wise. Charlotte immediately rolls out of the ring, starting the mind games early, and a quick reminder to everyone that Sasha has yet to be defeated in her WWE career, so there is something else at stake in this match. Sasha can’t be havin’ with Charlotte’s shit, so chases her back into the ring, taking her down once they both get back inside, and then WOOOs at Flair before doing the patented Flair Strut right at him, and then slapping Charlotte! Awesome.
Dropkick from Banks gets a one count, and Charlotte slams a knee into her gut as she gets to her feet. Sasha catches the Champ with an elbow, but Ric grabs her foot as she heads off the ropes. The ref didn’t see it, despite him actually facing it at the time, and Charlotte boots Sasha down to the mat. She smashes Bank’s head off the mat a few times, then attempts a suplex; Sasha lands on her feet some crazy how, but Charlotte’s ready for it, twisting her around into a neckbreaker before kipping up: I know she’s a heel, but I feel like the crowd should have given that sequence a better reception.
Charlotte locks a neck hold in on Banks, who steadily works her way up to her feet. Sasha surprises Charlotte with a headscissors schoolboy pin, followed by a jackknife pin; Charlotte bridges out of it at two, immediately hitting an exploder suplex to throw Sasha over to the corner. Charlotte charges, eating an elbow and a boot before Sasha runs into a big chop. Sasha and Charlotte exchange blows, with Sasha gaining the upper hand; Charlotte goes for a big kick; Sasha catches it and smashes a knee into Charlotte’s face.
Sasha comes off the ropes, hitting what almost looks like a Thesz press pin for two. Charlotte finds her feet in the corner, and Sasha smashes a pair of knees into Charlotte’s face; Charlotte tries to bail and takes a baseball slide to send her out of the ring. She gets to her feet, facing Becky Lynch, who’s stood up to greet her. Sasha grabs Charlotte, who sends her into Becky Lynch. Using the distraction to recuperate, Charlotte catches Sasha when she gets back into the ring, hitting an Arn Anderson spinebuster!
Charlotte goes to lock in the Figure Eight, but Sasha suddenly catches her with an inside cradle for the win! Sasha keeps the winning streak alive!
Loved this match, although I feel like an inside cradle was a bit of a cop-out: hopefully WrestleMania will have a more definitive ending. 3.5 Stars.
Becky immediately storms the ring, hitting a Becks Plex to both Sasha and Charlotte before walking off, looking pissed. And then Sasha nails Charlotte with a Banks Statement, leaving the Champ laying.
Kofi vs. Sheamus is, in national terms, a World Cup qualifying match
Here’s the New Day, with Francesca 2.0 and a box of Booty-Os (“the exclusive cereal of WrestleMania” apparently). They promise they are going to beat the League of Impossibly Dull, going so far as to compare them to Jar Jar Binks, which is like a step beyond calling someone’s mother a cum-guzzling roadwhore. Their celebration is interrupted by the League of Lacklustre themselves, and I keep taking issue with the name they’ve chosen for themselves, because it seems like the most humble choice of name ever. The League of Nations, through an absence of foresight, no American membership and a general lack of effectiveness, managed to stumble from crisis to crisis until their failure to stop the re-taking of the Ruhr, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the forced annexation of Austria, the invasion of the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia led to World War Two, so why in the hell would you want to associate yourself with an organisation who, let’s face it, fucked the world by its own incompetence?
Anyway…this is going to be a singles match between Sheamus and Kofi; Mauro Ranallo informs us that Kofi is now the record-holder for cumulative number of days spent as Tag Team Champion. I don’t know whether he was told to say that, or whether his job entails being able to go out and research that kind of stuff himself, but it’s information like that, along with his superb knowledge of terminology, which really makes me love this guy on commentary.
Kofi ducks Sheamus’ initial lunge, working him over with holds before breaking off. He tries again, and Sheamus is ready this time, responding with strikes before stomping Kingston in the corner. He trash-talks Kofi, who slugs him and then pounds on Sheamus for a while, until its him stomping Sheamus in the corner, culminating in a dropkick which sends Sheamus rolling out of the ring. The Irishman’s not even safe on the outside: Kofi launches himself off the steps to take the former World Champ down. Things look dire for Sheamus until he sweeps the leg of Kingston, sending the New Day representative down hard onto the apron, earning himself a reprieve as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Sheamus is in control, felling Kingston with a European uppercut. God, I miss Cesaro. He then smacks Kofi with the Ten Beats of the Whatsit before showing off his offensively-white body. And I don’t mean that in a racial sense: Sheamus is too pale and it looks unsightly. Double axe-handle to the skull of Kofi, and Sheamus locks in a rear chinlock, ragdolling him. Kofi fights back, but runs right into a scoop powerslam. Sheamus heads up to the second rope for some bizarre reason, but misses a knee drop, and then blasts the ring post with his shoulder!
Kofi springboards off the top rope, laying Sheamus out with a chop. Dropkick to Sheamus, then a pair of knees to the face, and the Boom Drop! Barrett tries to interfere, gets punched in the face by Kingston, and then Kofi flips over the top rope, taking Sheamus out on the outside! Back in the ring, Kofi hits a crossbody from the top, and that’s a near-fall.
Sheamus wraps himself in the ropes, hitting a back elbow to send Kingston reeling. Kofi tries to come back with the SOS, but Sheamus powers out of it, instead hitting a drop suplex, getting a near-fall of his own. The Irishman looks frustrated for a while, and then starts removing the pad from one of the turnbuckles; the referee takes issue, and when Sheamus turns around, he walks right into a high spinning kick from Kofi! Kingston goes for the pin, only for Rusev to put Sheamus’ foot on the bottom rope.
Woods and Langston chase off Rusev, but Barrett pops up on the apron, distracting Kingston for just long enough; Kofi turns around and eats a massive Brogue Kick to give Sheamus the win.
Actually a pretty good advert for the match at WrestleMania: it’s not been one I’ve invested much emotion in, but this really showcased Kofi and, to a lesser extent, Sheamus. 2.5 Stars.
For the love of Christ, please get the fucking tables
Oh, you know what tag team match does not stand a chance of being any good? It’s the one involving the Usos, and I like the Usos. But this feud’s been an absolute trainwreck, mainly because it involves one of the dumbest premises known to man, and it isn’t even going to end in a Tables Match, which is the one thing that might have made sense. And it looks like the Ascension is getting the old jobber treatment tonight. Remember when we dared to dream?
Viktor starts off against Jey Uso, smacking him into the corner. Konor tags in, not allowing the Uso to gain any offence. Elbow drop to Jey, getting one, and then there’s a sleeper hold locked in. Konor tosses Jey into a corner, misses a charge, and both Jey and Konor tag out. Jimmy takes Viktor down with a clothesline, smacks Konor off the apron and kicks Viktor in the gut. Viktor slides out of a Samoan Drop, but eats a Dragon Whip, then a Samoan Wrecking Ball. Double superkicks to both men, and that’s the end of it.
Seriously rushed, but it actually showcased what should happen at WrestleMania. I care so little about this match. 2 Stars.
Post-match, the Usos put the Ascension through tables with stereo-Samoan Splashes. Which comes off as a dick move, but none of this makes all that much sense anyway.
Backstage, Renee Young slides next to the Dudley Boyz to conduct an interview. D-Von says that the Dudley Boyz are not defined by the tables. Yes. Oh my God: yes you are. Bubba goes through a list of every Uso relative who’s not dead, saying that they could beat them up. To be honest, not bringing up the dead ones was surprisingly tactful for Bubba Ray Dudley. Suddenly, Roman Reigns walks into the interview, clearly keen to defend his family’s various names before the Usos get a chance to do so. And he challenges Bubba and D-Von to a fight. They seem to find this hilarious, and did they sort of miss him being able to hang with Brock Lesnar?
After the break, it’s announced that it’s going to be Roman Reigns vs. Bubba Ray. Wait, they’re just sending Bubba out there? I took it for granted that this was going to be a handicap match/Dudley crucifixion.
Promo for Shane McMahon. My position on this match is the same as every match involving Shane McMahon: it’s going to be crazy, absurdly entertaining, and I’m sort of worried that we’re going to see a man die. I like the focus on his MMA training as well; with Undertaker being a massive MMA fan, that should be a really important component to this match. And in terms of pure shock and awe, I think this or Lesnar/Ambrose is going to be the winner.
Ew…they got Miz in my WrestleMania
Dolph Ziggler is here to show the world (here to show the world…). This is a tag team match, with Ziggler being joined by Sami Zayn. They will be taking on the team of Kevin Owens and the Miz. I really feel like they got this whole thing confused: surely Kalisto would be better off defending the title against multiple competitors, whilst Owens could put on a five star match against a single opponent (namely Zayn). Still, this is how they’re playing.
Kevin Owens and Miz immediately start bitching at each other before Miz and Zayn start things off. Zayn grabs the arm; Miz reverses; Zayn follows suit, and flips Miz over. Miz sends Sami off the ropes; Zayn hops over Miz, hits some armdrags and locks the arm again, tagging in Dolph. Ziggler wrestles Miz to the mat, tying him up in holds before applying in a headlock, turning that into a neckbreaker and then dropping the elbow.
Miz runs Dolph into his knee, tagging Owens in. Owens immediately goes on the attack, stomping Ziggler down. Dolph catches him with a dropkick and tags in Zayn, causing Owens to immediately tag out to Miz. Miz takes a big dropkick, and tags Owens back in. KO seems to consider it, but then realises that he has to go return some videotapes. This time, however, Miz stops Owens, and the following altercation allows Zayn to jump both men, pounding on Owens.
In the ring, Zayn reigns punches down on KO, but a distraction from the Miz allows Owens to take control. Zayn flips out of a back suplex, tagging Ziggler in. Dolph hits clotheslines, a stinger splash and then a neckbreaker. He tries to superkick the Miz, but Owens grabs him, going for the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Dolph grabs the ropes, avoiding the manoeuvre, but Miz hangs him up, allowing Owens to clothesline him to the ground. Back senton gets two, and Owens tags the Miz back in.
Miz sends some boots into Dolph, with Kevin Owens punching Ziggler in the face for good measure. Another boot from the Miz, and then he locks in a chinlock. Ziggler fights out, almost hits a superkick, but Miz catapults him over the top rope and out to the floor and into a commercial break.
Owens has control over Dolph when we come back, but Ziggler counters a back senton, getting his knees up in order to wreck Kevin Owens’ shit. Owens and Ziggler both get the tag, and Zayn takes Miz down hard with clotheslines. Crossbody off the top gets two, and then a Blue Thunder Bomb almost gets three, with Kevin Owens breaking up the pin. Ziggler ejects Owens, and Miz deals with Ziggler, right before Zayn hits the exploder suplex into the corner.
Owens grabs Zayn, tripping him up to the mat. Dolph goes after Owens, but Miz dropkicks Dolph in the face, sending him flying. Miz wants the Skull-Crushing Finale; Zayn almost catches him with a victory roll, and both men slam into each other with crossbodies. Both of them are down, but Owens makes it to his corner, and then remembers he’s got to get to a reservation at Dorsia…but suddenly Zack Ryder, Sin Cara and Stardust are blocking his way! Never before did a prank go so badly wrong! Miz catches up with Owens and starts laying into him! Back in the ring, Ziggler superkicks Owens, and Miz knocks him out with the Skull-Crushing Finale! Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard! And then Miz turns around into another superkick, with Zayn hitting the Helluva Kick to get the win!
Good tag team match, which got a little more layered than I’d expected. 3 Stars.
Stardust suddenly strikes, hitting Zayn with Cross Rhodes. Sin Cara takes him out with a springboard moonsault, disposes of Zack Ryder with a kick, then eats a superkick from Ziggler, who takes a Pop-Up Powerbomb from the Champ…and then takes a Rough Ryder! Heresy! Lies!
In other news, breaking Roman Reigns’ nose was the key to turning him into a character we could maybe get behind. If someone had let me know, I’d have been willing to make a trip.
The first time Bubba Ray Dudley has ever been compared to Triple H
Here’s the man himself, willing to massacre any wrestler who was active at the same time as Triple H. That’s the definition of hate, right there. Well…one of them. Bubba Ray Dudley comes out, apparently without D-Von. What, did he not want his not-brother to watch him die?
Bubba ducks out of the ring to scream at the crowd, fulfilling the ‘crazy old man’ character type pretty well. Reigns jumps him on the outside, beating the shit out of him. Back in the ring, Bubba staggers Roman with a kick to the head, and gets a couple of shots in before eating Superman Punch. Bubba rolls out of the ring, but Reigns doesn’t give a shit, and goes right out after him.
Bubba suddenly shoves Roman into the steel ring post, and then tries to smash his face off the announce table. But Reigns clearly gets some kind of Vietnam-esque flashback, and starts hulking the fuck out, stopping Bubba from doing it, and then starts beating Bubba’s head into the table until there’s a count-out.
More or less exactly what I wanted to see here: feral Roman. Just keep him at this exact level of violent rage for just over a week, and we should be fine. 2.5 Stars for getting Reigns right again.
D-Von runs out to make the save, and Reigns Superman-Punches him as well, right before smashing him with the stairs and spearing Bubba. Fuck me, Reigns is furious.
Christ, Goldust is backstage. And where you see a Goldust…yep, there’s R-Truth. I don’t have the energy or the words to engage with this.
Kalisto and Sin Cara are also backstage, hopefully doing something way less stupid. Actually, they’re talking about the possibility of Sin Cara becoming the Intercontinental Champion, which is pretty stupid. Kalisto then walks into Ryback, who expounds his theories on the virtue of eugenics. He’s like Himmler, but with a rocking bod.
Alas, Poor Tyler
Tyler Breeze is in the ring, waiting for AJ Styles to get to the ring. Both men circle each other, with Breeze going on the offence with strikes. Styles fires back, and then hits a quick backbreaker. Breeze runs out of the ring, but takes a slingshot forearm from Styles on the outside. Back in the ring, Breeze dodges Styles’ springboard attempt, hitting a high knee which levels AJ.
Breeze stays on Styles, stomping him in the corner before looking for a superplex from the top. Styles slides out of it hit, dropping Breeze on the turnbuckle before hanging him up on the ropes and hitting the springboard forearm to finish it.
Another exhibition match to sell WrestleMania: makes sense. 2 Stars.
And for the second time in a year, Brock Lesnar is here. I’m worried that I’m dying and I don’t know it, and this is an attempt from the Make a Wish people to grant me my last request.
‘Suplex City’ chants ring out, and Paul Heyman introduces himself and Brock, expanding on the life of the giant, screaming God that is Brock Lesnar. Paul says that, in a No Holds Barred match, Ambrose can use anything he likes against Brock Lesnar, even a barbed wire baseball bat or a chainsaw. Shame Heyman doesn’t draw a link between himself, Foley and Funk. But, he says, no matter what Ambrose gets his hands on, so can Brock Lesnar. And even unarmed, Brock Lesnar can destroy Dean Ambrose.
Heyman then throws a curveball, saying that Lesnar wants to take Ambrose down, right here and now tonight. But…the Wyatts come out? Aw man: I was fine with the idea of Brock and Ambrose just beating the shit out of each other at WrestleMania: I was totally sold on that plan. And now there’s this, just over a freaking week before Mania.
The Wyatts surround the ring, and then charge, just as Ambrose’s music plays. Lesnar suplexes Rowan, but then gets clotheslined hard by Strowman. Dean charges down the aisle with a kendo stick, smacking Wyatt with it on his way to the ring! Brock suplexes Strowman, and then Ambrose is in the ring, beating the shit out of Lesnar with the Singapore cane! Lesnar clotheslines Ambrose, and then starts caning him, before snapping the cane over his knee! F-5 to Dean Ambrose, and Brock Lesnar ends the show standing tall.
Interesting show: I felt like there were too many matches, which was very telling with the Uso/Ascension match. But we got Lesnar (even though I’m worried about the Wyatts now) and a pissed-off Reigns, so there’s always, always that. 7/10.