Hey there, folks. Your friendly SmackDown reviewer David Spain here, and after doing literally every possible thing which exists to do beforehand (buying the perfect espresso cups, reading The Killing Joke, watching Absolutely Fabulous and getting drunk with a bunch of PhD students), I’m finally ready to start this review.
So, hey: SmackDown!
We start things off with Maryse in the ring, who introduces Miz in French. Oh God: the sight of him holding that belt is like a fucking knife between the ribs. I do have to applaud WWE’s costume designers for their ability to make him look more and more like a twat every week. AND OH GOD IT’S SURPRISE MIZ TV. He and Maryse show each other off for a while, which would be cute if Miz wasn’t such a colossal, gaping dickhole.
This goes on for way too long until they make out. And I’ll give the Miz that: if I was married to Maryse, I’d want us to be physically involved with each other a hell of a lot too. Even in an arena full of people.
Zack Ryder shows up to break up the moment, and also possibly to warn Miz that it’s not a real love story until you and your woman are stalked by Kane and then she sleeps with John Cena. Miz and Maryse mock Zack Ryder for matching the physical description of each and every fuckboy. Ryder then supports Cesaro’s bid for the title, and with that kind of self-esteem I’m surprised he didn’t thank John Cena for boning Eve Torres. He then challenges Miz for the title, because he’d rather Cesaro beat him for it.
Miz actually accepts the challenge…for about five seconds. But apparently Zack has a match against Baron Corbin. Zack Ryder’s Push: we hardly knew ye.
Alas, poor Long Island Iced Z. I knew him, Horatio
First off, I have to point out that Baron Corbin’s vest looks like he’s consciously trying to imitate Roman Reigns. And I don’t mean in a mocking fashion: I mean like in Trailer Park Boys when Jacob started dressing like Julian and carrying a drink around for a whole season. Second of all, I genuinely am shocked that WWE wasted a WrestleMania moment on Zack Ryder if they were just going to cast him aside right afterwards and direct a fucking conga line over his body. Seriously: is Zack Ryder dying and was a WrestleMania moment was his Make-A-Wish? Because that’s what this looks like.
Well, whatever. Zack and Corbin lock up, and Corbin tosses him down before knocking him to the mat with a shoulder block. Baron runs into a boot, sends Ryder off the ropes and eats a facebuster. Corbin sends Ryder out onto the apron, then hits a hell of a right hand to level the guy. Baron chokes Zack on the ropes for a while, then hits another big right hand to Ryder’s skull.
Ryder hits a jawbreaker to Corbin, who squashes him in the corner and hits a lariat to the back of Ryder’s head. Knee to the Long Island Iced Gut, but Ryder ducks a charge, hits some knees to the face and then a missile dropkick! Ryder beats Corbin down in the corner, and goes for the Broski Boot; Baron ducks to the outside, but still takes a kick to the face. Zack runs at Corbin, but gets caught with the End of Days to finish it.
I feel like WWE is gently trying to persuade Ryder to commit suicide. Corbin looked good, and the End of Days is pretty badass. 2 Stars.
Corbin then throws Ryder out of the ring, as if in order to physically manifest WWE’s wishes for Zack to leave forever. Ziggler runs out, almost superkicking Corbin before Baron ducks out of the ring. I’m surprised they didn’t just have Ziggler get squashed too, quite honestly.
Renee Young is backstage with Kevin Owens, the look on her face clearly showing exactly how many other things she would rather be doing. She asks him about Sami Zayn’s match against Chris Jericho, and Owens more or less spells out, ‘I’M GOING TO FUCK HIM UP’. God bless this feud.
Lot of accent in that ring
Paige is back, with her dyed hair making it look like she’s suddenly started ageing rapidly. She’s facing Emma, and we see an interview with her, finally showing off that heel persona on the big shows.
Emma and Paige lock it up, with Paige backing Emma into the corner. Emma shoves her away, and gets kicked in the gut. Paige stomps her in the corner, until Emma grabs her boot, throwing her back-first into the turnbuckle before hurling her body at Paige, pounding on her. Emma wrenches Paige’s neck back over the ropes, and then hits a double-underhook suplex for two.
Full nelson on a seated Paige, until the Brit kicks her away. High knee in the corner for Paige, and then another knee to the face of Emma! Paige places Emma up on the top rope, looking for a superplex, but Emma scoots out, dropping Paige face-first onto the turnbuckle and quickly covering her for the win!
I can’t remember what Emma’s wrestling used to be like, but she hung around with Santino a lot, so at least she’s not doing that. This was fine, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of what she can do. 2 Stars.
We recap the start of this Tag Team Championship Contender Tournament, covering the Dudleys and the Usos moving up the brackets, plus the arrival of Gallows and Anderson. These two look fucking nasty, and I swear this whole NXT migration is exactly what the tag team division needed.
We then have the RAW Rebound, which is like a recap only with special effects. It shows Reigns’ problems with the League of Nations and Bray’s hints of a face turn. I’m pretty curious to see how Bray’ll do as a face. Surely the best thing to do would be to keep him as creepy as ever and just have him beat the shit out of heels.
I love you, NXT
Oh boy: it’s time for the WWE in-ring debut of Enzo and Cass! Enzo is fucking gold on the microphone: one of the best talkers I have ever seen. For example: ‘But as for our opponents, the Ascension? There’s a million and one things I could think to say about you. But the absolute worst thing that I could think of to say is that you’re the Ascension’: holy fucking burn, Batman. Put this man opposite the New Day and let the magic happen.
Aw man, the Ascension get the jobber’s entrance. Poor bastards. Konnor starts off against Enzo, who applies a headlock, gets sent off the ropes and shoulder-blocked. Viktor tags in, chopping Enzo in the corner, but Enzo catches him with a flying headscissors and then a crossbody. Tag to Big Cass, who bodyslams Enzo onto Viktor for two.
Enzo tags back in, with Cass throwing him at Viktor. Enzo heads up to the top, gets distracted by Konnor, and then knocked to the outside by Viktor. Konnor levels him with a clothesline, then covers him back in the ring for two. Tag to Viktor, and they hit double fists, axes and boots to Amore. Chinlock from Viktor, and Enzo jawbreakers his way clear. Viktor keeps him under control, tagging in Konnor. Enzo boots Konnor in the face, elevates Viktor out of the ring and throws Konnor into the turnbuckle!
Enzo makes his way across the ring and it’s Big Cass back in! Cass takes Viktor down with clotheslines and then a big bodyslam and an Empire Elbow! Stinger splash and a big boot, with Konnor breaking up the pin! He tosses Enzo out onto the apron, who low-bridges him to the floor; Konnor gets back up onto the apron and eats a big boot from Cass! Bossman slam to Viktor, and then a splash from Enzo for the pin!
Good debut from Enzo and Cass, and it was pretty nice continuity to have them facing the Ascension. So looking forward to seeing them interact with other teams. 2.5 Stars.
JoJo is backstage with AJ Styles, asking him if he intends to continue being a badass. He says that he’s never faced someone like Roman Reigns before, but Reigns has never faced someone like him before. Alberto Del Rio suddenly appears to challenge Styles to a match. That’s awesome and I support it, but what the fuck is with those personalised t-shirts the League of Nations keep wearing? What was Barrett’s going to say if he’d been given one?
In which we almost see Styles’ neck snap
This is AJ Styles vs. Alberto Del Rio. Alberto even has the decency to not bring Sheamus or Rusev out with him: not because it makes it a fair match, but because I in no way ever want to see them. Also, every time they mention Del Rio’s championship history, I have to stop and say ‘Oh yeah’: that’s not a good sign.
Styles is backed into a corner by the larger Alberto, who backs off. Del Rio then applies a headlock, is sent off the ropes and knocks Styles down before celebrating. Alberto teases a test of strength, but then starts throwing hands. Styles wins the strike game, chopping Del Rio across the chest before applying a headlock; Del Rio reverses into his own headlock, is sent off the ropes and runs right into a dropkick! Alberto rolls out of the ring, but Styles follows him, hitting a running knee to take Del Rio down on the outside.
AJ throws Del Rio back into the ring, keeping up the strikes. Shoulder thrusts to Alberto in the corner, but Del Rio reverses an Irish whip, hitting a superkick to the gut and snapping off a dropkick to the back. He throws Styles into the barricade on the outside. Back in the ring, Alberto climbs to the top rope and comes down with a double axe-handle to AJ. Styles recovers, avoiding a charge, and Del Rio blasts the ring post with his shoulder.
Snap suplex from Styles, then some strikes in the corner. He’s elevated over the top rope by Del Rio, who then hits his beautiful enzuigiri to Styles, sending him off the apron to the floor, following it up with the wrecking ball dropkick to send Styles flying back into a commercial break.
When we come back, Styles is fighting his way out of a headlock. Headbutt from Del Rio, who slaps AJ. Styles reverses an Irish Whip, misses a forearm and then ducks an enzuigiri. He hits the strikefest and then hits his forearm to Del Rio. Corner clothesline, then his fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two! Styles goes for the pumphandle, but Del Rio slides out and hits the backstabber!
Alberto measures Styles for the dropkick, but AJ ducks, hitting the Pele Kick for two! He heads up to the top rope, but Del Rio picks the leg, tying Styles up in the Tree of Woe. Alberto climbs up and…hits a super-inverted suplex from the top rope! And Styles kicks out at two! Looks like AJ had his legs catch on the ropes or the post, because that impact looks like it should have killed him.
Del Rio puts Styles in the Tree of Woe again, climbing up for the stomp, but Styles avoids it, hitting a knee lift to Del Rio! He springboards; Alberto ducks, goes for the Cross Armbreaker; Styles rolls him up and gets the win!
That botch put a dark spot on the match in general, but otherwise that was pretty good. 3 Stars.
According to the great wrestling rumour machine, Styles is not injured, even though it looked like a close thing. Lucky guy.
We now get some Goldust and R-Truth commentary, because they’re determined to beat us with this thing until we accept it out of fear and abuse-based conditioning. Basically, Goldust picked Fandango as his partner instead of Truth. On a related note, I’d pick cyanide over seeing any more of these segments.
Definitely the best way to take Golden Truth
And here are the Vaudevillains, with their monochromity and their moustaches. They should absolutely do the entire match in black and white; I think it could work. Goldust comes out with Fandango, and it’s about as stupid as you could possibly imagine, if that saves you any time.
English jumps Goldust, beating him down before tagging in Gotch to punch Goldust in the face together. Snapmare to Goldust, then an elbow. English has the tag, pinning the Bizarre One for two before running right into a powerslam from Goldust. Fandango tags in, hitting an inverted atomic drop to Gotch, then hitting some clotheslines. Enzuigiri and a spinning heel kick to Gotch, and then an enzuigiri to English! Fandango is on fire right now!
Goldust takes English out of the ring with a Cactus Clothesline, but English recovers, distracting Fandango enough for Gotch to take advantage. Tag made to English, and then the Whirling Dervish ends the match.
Not bad, but I want to see more of what these two are capable of. 2 Stars.
Jericho is backstage with JoJo, who asks him about his issues with Styles, Ambrose and Zayn. Chris says that they’re all amateurs, who have no idea what the meaning of respect is. He says that he’s the greatest of all time, and that Sami Zayn is basically worthless. Well, there’s definitely only one way to settle this: let’s wrestle.
Just more of this, really, thanks
Jericho and Sami Zayn make their way to the ring and it’s time to get it on. Both men circle each other before tying up, and Jericho backs Zayn into the corner before breaking off to celebrate. Zayn slowly emerges, and this time Zayn puts Jericho in the corner, and then chops him before arm-dragging him three times and sending him from the ring! Jericho throws a chair, then yells at Zayn…and Kevin Owens’ music hits. Well, that didn’t take long at all. Zayn looks a little anxious…and then Dean Ambrose’s music comes on, and Deano walks out, handing out flyers for the Ambrose Asylum! He grabs a headset and joins commentary as Zayn nearly catches Y2J with a roll-up and then clotheslines him out of the ring, and Ambrose hands Jericho a flyer! We go to a break!
When we come back, Ambrose and Owens are on commentary, and Zayn is sent flying into the corner, coming out with a clothesline. Chops and strikes to Jericho, who hits a thumb to the eye of Zayn, taking him down to the mat before baseball-sliding him out of the ring. Chris suplexes Zayn to the inside of the ring, then chokes him with his foot. It’s kind of sweet that now that Owens and Ambrose aren’t feuding, Kevin seems kind of chill with Dean. I know I say this a lot, but I’m saying it again now: Kevin Owens has absolutely the most fantastic and faceted character work of anyone in the WWE right now, and it needs to be recognised.
Jericho comes off the top with a back elbow, then a sleeper hold. Zayn breaks out, but runs into a dropkick for two. Zayn works his way back with some clotheslines, sending Jericho to the mat. Flying crossbody from the top rope gets two, but Jericho drops a back suplex, hitting a double-underhook backbreaker for another near-fall. Chop to the chest of Zayn, who’s looking pretty beat up, but he elevates Jericho out onto the apron, and blocks Y2J’s attempt from the top rope with a punch, hitting a tornado DDT for two!
Jericho elbows Zayn away, almost locking in the Walls. Zayn fights back, but walks into a bulldog, and now Chris wants a Lionsault…but Zayn gets the knees up! Helluva Kick is ducked, and Jericho’s got the Walls locked in! Sami is right in the centre of the ring, but he’s not tapping out yet, crawling over to the ropes…and he gets there! Kevin Owens is telling everyone that he helped Jericho improve the move, which is exactly the kind of thing he’d say.
Zayn hits a shoulder to the gut from the ropes, but Jericho hits him off the ropes to the outside, then hits a baseball slide to send him sprawling, but then jumps Dean Ambrose! Kevin Owens is laughing his head off, but then Zayn backdrops Jericho onto him! Zayn sends Jericho back into the ring, but gets caught by a dropkick. Y2J yells at Zayn, but takes an exploder suplex into the corner! Zayn wants the Helluva Kick, but Owens jumps Zayn for the DQ!
I’m surprised this match ended up going for as long as it did, considering the MASSIVE interference risk from the outset. Everything was great, though: in-ring action and snarky commentary. Good stuff. 3.5 Stars.
Ambrose arrives to even the odds/beat the piss out of Jericho. Owens saves Dean from Dirty Deeds, before Zayn clocks Owens with a Helluva Kick. The faces stand tall to end the show.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alberto Del Rio, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt, byron saxton, Chris Jericho, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, emma, Enzo and Cass, Fandango, Jerry Lawler, JoJo, Kevin Owens, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Paige, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, smackdown, The Ascension, The Golden Truth, The Miz, The New Day, The Vaudevillains, zack ryder