Hey there, folks. It’s Wednesday afternoon, which means that I am sitting here with a Chemex full of coffee, a load of fizzy water and some chocolate, ready to recap some rasslin’ for you. Hopefully this time my review won’t decide not to save half of itself, subjecting me to a second fucking Baron Corbin match. Some scars won’t heal.
So hey: SmackDown!
Randy Orton is walking around backstage, before he runs into Charlie the Tiny Interviewer. At least he acknowledges her this time. He’s got a match against Alberto Del Rio, and Charlie asks him how he’s going to keep his head in the game with Brock Lesnar to think about. Yeah, because Brock’s going to show up to two SmackDowns in a row. Orton says something with the word ‘Viperville’ in it, prompting Del Rio to suddenly appear and rip into him about how fucking stupid that sounds. Well, I know who I’m supporting now. Del Rio also looks really gaunt: maybe Paige is gradually draining his athletic ability from him?
I’ve finally come to a decision about the introductory music: not a fan. Yeah, I know you were all waiting on tenterhooks for that particular judgement.
Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan are kicking off the show, and I feel like WWE edged a few steps towards the genuinely good choice of having Wyatt as a singles competitor and then immediately leaped back from it. Because Erick Rowan, as everyone knows, is just a huge fucking draw.
This is all about a tag-team match which came about after Dolph beat Bray last week, when Rowan showed up to help out Bray post-match. God, you can see the disappointment on Wyatt’s face.
Bray says that Dolph Ziggler didn’t beat him last week, and says that Dolph could only beat him by smashing his skull off a metal turnbuckle. I mean…shady, sure, but pretty sure it’s not exactly illegal. Bray says that he’s a God, and that Ziggler should ask Ambrose about him, because Dean knows Wyatt very well. He says that this is his show now, and if that was true then he wouldn’t have to partner up with Rowan.
Dean Ambrose’s music hits, and he makes his way down the ramp. He says that Bray painting himself as the victim is something new, and tells him to stop being a whiny bitch because SmackDown belongs to Dean Ambrose. Wyatt dares Ambrose to get into the ring with him, and Dean says that he figures that would be a terrible idea. However, he does really want to beat the shit out of Bray Wyatt…
…and suddenly Dolph Ziggler shows up, and then dashes into the ring before immediately getting his ass kicked. Dean all but rolls his eyes before running in to make the save, getting beat down himself before low-bridging Rowan. Bray grabs him in the Sister Abigail position, then has to dodge a superkick from Ziggler, which hits Ambrose instead. Ziggler recovers quickly, superkicking Rowan, but then basically wanders into a Sister Abigail from Wyatt. Jesus: that was a lot of incompetence in fifteen seconds.
After the break, Dolph Ziggler is backstage, apparently ruminating on what an absolute and total disgrace he is. Ambrose shows up to spell it out for him, just in case he’s too stupid to understand the finer complexities of his ineptitude. The two of them square up to fight before Shane and Bryan, who are apparently joined at the hip, to tell them not to even think about performing another move against each other which isn’t on the PPV. They also have a tag team match against the Wyatt Family, and Shane has the audacity to act like that is a surprise to literally anyone.
Love the Vaudevillains’ new gear
American Alpha is here, fighting against two bums called O’Shea and Vega…before the Ascension shows up. I actually feel like O’Shea and Vega, who I’ve never heard of before, have more prestige than the Ascension. This leads to the Vaudevillains and Ryder and Rawley coming out too, because there aren’t any Tag Team Titles and it’s tough to find much to do if you’re a SmackDown tag team.
Vega starts off against Gable, getting thrown to the mat. Jordan tags in, doing some throws of his own. Dragon screw leg whip to Vega, then Gable tags in to attack the leg too. O’Shea shows up, and gets thrown out of the ring. Vega eats an overhead belly-to-belly, a spear in the corner, and then Grand Amplitude ends it.
Nice exhibition match, with a good twist of having the other teams at ringside. 2 Stars.
The other teams all rush the ring to attack American Alpha afterwards, but it then just develops into a general brawl. American Alpha stand tall to end it after introducing the Vaudevillains to their friend PAIN.
The Miz and Maryse are backstage on Renee Young’s talks how stage. They almost end up boning right there on the table, but that prude Renee kills the arousal with Crews’ package. Video package, unfortunately. Not that I’m particularly attracted to the guy, but pornographic segments on SmackDown would be a new and interesting direction.
When we come back to the talk show, Maryse and Miz are literally draped over the table. Renee looks uncomfortable, which I guess most people would be in an obvious-intro-into-porn scenario. Is this their gimmick now? Getting steadily closer and closer to just boning in front of the camera? Renee makes the camera cut away, but you know damn well she’s staying right there for a front row seat.
Wasn’t expecting my porn request to be answered, but sure
Here’s Becky Lynch, and she’ll be almost-facing Eva Marie again this week. I’m not trying to impose morals on professional wrestling, and I don’t particularly mind it, but I have to once again comment on the lack of surface area that Eva’s ring attire covers. Not with any agenda in mind at all: it just sort of requests comment.
Oh, and Eva Marie’s top fell down. Wow, if they’re pulling that out in the second week, I can’t wait to see the excuse they use next Tuesday.
Honestly, this is even better than last week’s match. Once again, Eva Marie didn’t wrestle, and this time there was almost nudity. 4 Stars.
Charlie asks Becky whether she’s frustrated, and Becky is pretty pissed that she didn’t get a chance to beat the hell out of someone, so she sends an open challenge out to the entire locker room…and it’s Alexa Bliss! She says she can’t imagine a better way to start her WWE career than by beating SmackDown’s first female draft pick.
SmackDown: turning boys into men
When we come back, Bliss is choking Becky on the ropes, then rocks her head off the mat. Now, bear in mind that it’s Alexa’s birthday today, so we may as well be in her home town as far as her chances of winning go. Becky gets her head smacked off the canvas, but kicks out at one. Punches from Bliss, then another one count. She wrenches Becky’s head, keeping her down in a seated position.
Becky fights her way up, and catches Bliss with a clothesline, then another, then a calf kick. Forearm to Bliss in the corner, followed by the Bexploder…and Eva Marie’s music hits again. Eva comes out, and Bliss jumps Becky from behind, taking her out in the corner before hitting Twisted Bliss!
Wow, Bliss actually won on her birthday. We didn’t see much of her moveset, but Twisted Bliss looks spectacular. 2.5 Stars.
Charlie interviews Eva, who promises that she’ll be ready next week. Wouldn’t say no to another wardrobe malfunction, guys.
Because former MMA fighters are practically interchangeable
Randy Orton’s here, ready to defend his overuse of ‘Viperville’ through the medium of wrestling. He’s facing Alberto Del Rio, a man whose reputation as a World Champion is often followed up by the statement: ‘yeah, seriously’.
Both former World Champions (yeah, seriously) circle each other slowly, then lock up before breaking clean. Orton then applies a headlock, is sent off the ropes and shoulder-tackles Del Rio to the mat. Alberto backs off, then comes back, starting to work over Orton in the corner. Randy hits an uppercut, then rocks Del Rio’s head off the turnbuckle as well.
Orton sends Alberto into the opposite corner, then rains punches down onto his skull. Clothesline to Del Rio, putting him on his ass. Randy catapults Alberto throat-first into the ropes, but the Mexican’s kicks backs Orton off…until Randy sends him through the ropes and out onto the floor as we go to a break.
When we come back, Orton is still in control, hitting the Garvin stomps and a jumping knee. Del Rio surprises him with the backstabber, then drives Orton shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. Randy falls out of the ring, and Del Rio follows him, continuing to damage the limb by smashing it onto the steel of the steps. Flying punch from the top rope puts Orton down, and Del Rio clamps a hold on the arm. Orton finally fights out, hitting a thumb to the eye and a standing dropkick! Orton puts Del Rio on the turnbuckle, but Alberto locks in the Cross Armbreaker over the ropes!
Del Rio heads up to the top rope, only to get crotched as Orton gives the rope a kick. Randy climbs up to the second rope, and brings Del Rio down with a superplex. Both men are down, slowly getting to their feet. They exchange strikes once they’re up, with Orton finally gaining the upper hand with clotheslines and then a powerslam. Vintage DDT is countered by Del Rio, but he’s hung up on the top rope. Orton tries the backbreaker; Alberto tries to counter with the Cross Armbreaker; Orton almost hits the RKO, and is able to drape Del Rio over the ropes for the Vintage DDT!
Del Rio is down, but Orton doesn’t want the pin. He plays to the crowd before turning back to Alberto, but Del Rio rolls out of the ring, only for Orton to clothesline him into the timekeeper’s area! Randy starts clearing the table, looking to put a Mexican through it, but Del Rio whacks him across the arm with a chair for the DQ!
Good match between two former World Champions (yeah, seriously). 2.5 Stars.
Del Rio isn’t about to give up an opportunity to break Orton’s arm, and keeps working on it before sending Randy back into the ring. He follows Orton inside…right into an RKO! Whether or not it affects him going into the Lesnar match remains to be seen: seems like a pretty dumb move to give the underdog a disadvantage in this scenario.
Rhyno is backstage, and Heath Slater begs him to let him win their match tonight. Wait, Rhyno’s the Republican nominee for the Michigan House of Representatives? Huh: the things you learn.
Earlier today, Miz yelled at a man in a Scooby Doo costume over him not being on the cover of a Scooby Doo movie, because the Miz thinks that A) that’s actually Scooby Doo and 2) Scooby Doo is in charge of DVD covers. He then gets tricked into getting into Mystery Machine and trapped there, leading me to assume that Miz probably got abducted and molested a lot as a child.
Poor, poor Heath
Here’s Heath Slater, ready to face Rhyno. I feel like we might be about to see a man have a heart attack in the ring. Lock-up, with Slater applying a waistlock, which is countered into a wrist lock. Nice chain wrestling, before Rhyno hits a shoulder tackle, then blocks a hip toss to hit a clothesline. He works Slater over in the corner, before the One Man Band throws him into another corner, then hits a big boot for two.
Multiple cover attempts by Slater, who then applies a sleeper hold to Rhyno. He pulls on the hair, dragging Rhyno down to the mat for a two count. Another sleeper hold applied, with Rhyno right in the centre of the ring. Belly-to-belly from Rhyno sends Slater flying, but Slater avoids a Gore, rolling Rhyno up with his feet on the ropes. The ref spots it, stopping the count, and Slater is distracted long enough to turn right into a Gore.
You know what? Rhyno didn’t tire out fast or look awful. I’ll admit when I’m wrong. I’m not expecting wrestling excellence from the guy, but I don’t feel validated in my earlier, slightly cruel criticism. 2 Stars.
Backstage, Bray Wyatt tells Rowan that he needs to give his life for the Wyatt Family. Wow, Bray really wants that singles run.
In the General Manager’s/Commissioner’s office, Bryan is telling Shane that Heath Slater embodies the Blue Brand’s fighting spirit. Wow: if someone compared me to Heath Slater in any way, I think I’d put a gun in my mouth and Hemingway my brains out. Then Heath Slater busts into the office, screaming about how he’s been disrespected for long enough. Bryan is actually tries to give him a job, but Slater is yelling too much to hear him and leaves. I’m absolutely okay with that outcome.
NXT running this division
Another women’s match, and that’s something I can get into with SmackDown Live. This is Carmella vs. Natalya. During Carmella’s promo, Nat tries to jump her, but runs right into a right hand from Carmella. Carmella sends Natalya into the ring and goes right after her, with the ref separating them before the match starts. Carmella doesn’t let up, but Natalya’s able to throw her right into the ropes.
Natalya continues to choke Carmella, getting a two count in the centre of the ring. Snap suplex from Neidhart, followed up by a second. Beatdown in the corner from Natalya, and Carmella is not having a good debut so far. Snapmare to Carmella, who gets her arms wrenched back, stretching out the shoulders.
Quick roll-up from Carmella, but Nat puts her right back down with a clothesline. She sits on Carmella for a two count, playing with her before locking her into an abdominal stretch in the centre of the ring, even lifting up the leg for even extra strain. Carmella elbows her way to freedom, is sent off the ropes and runs right into the Discus Clothesline for a near fall. Sharpshooter attempt is countered by Carmella; drop toe-hold to Natalya and she locks in the Code of Silence! Natalya taps!
Carmella was made to look a lot like the underdog here; it’ll be nice to see what she can do on offence later. 2.5 Stars.
Renee brings us backstage for a look at the history between John Cena and AJ Styles.
Not unconvinced that Bray is going to kill Rowan
Time for our main event. Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose make their way to the ring, followed by Bray Wyatt and the thing preventing his singles run, Erick Rowan. The creepy, bearded blokes get into the ring.
The Wyatts strike first, sending Ziggler out of the ring and leaving Bray to work over Ambrose. Dean comes back with a crossbody, stomping Wyatt in the corner. Ziggler tags himself in, causing Ambrose to get pissy with him, but the match goes on. Bray takes Ziggler down with a fist to the back of his head, and then runs into a standing dopkick. Dolph’s clotheslined by Erick Rowan, rolling right out of the ring off the impact.
When we come back from a commercial break, Ziggler takes a bodyslam, but is able to roll out of the way of a back senton. Dean wants the tag, and Ziggler makes it, allowing Ambrose to take down Bray with forearms. Clothesline to Wyatt off the ropes, then a forearm in the corner and a bulldog out of it. He knocks Rowan off the apron and dives onto him, but Wyatt takes him down with a lariat when he gets back into the ring.
Rowan tags in, driving his fists into Ambrose’s skull before draping him over the turnbuckle, slamming blows onto him. Ambrose slaps him, but is booted out to the outside. Bray tags in whilst Ziggler checks on Ambrose; Dean is able to beat Wyatt away, but he leaps off into a ura-nage against the ring apron! Back in the ring, Ambrose almost gets Dirty Deeds, misses the Lunatic Lariat and gets the Swinging Neckbreaker, tagging in Ziggler!
Rowan’s in as well, and he gets knocked the fuck around by Ziggler, who neckbreaker’s him out of the corner, knocks Wyatt to the outside and hits his big DDT to Rowan for two! Rowan catches the superkick, hitting a spinning kick for a near fall. Ziggler comes back with the Zig-Zag, but Wyatt breaks up the pin before trying to Sister Abigail Ambrose. Dean fights his way out of it, sends Bray out of the ring and dives through the ropes onto him, almost crashing and burning on his way out. Rowan tries to ura-nage Ziggler, but eats superkick for the win!
Whilst he got beat up a lot, Ziggler came out of this looking great: reminiscent of Shawn Michaels. Ambrose has settled nicely into his World Champion role, and Bray could be really effective if they stopped hampering him with teammates. 2.5 Stars.
Ambrose is fortunately not too injured to deliver a Dirty Deeds to Ziggler. They’ll meet next Sunday at SummerSlam for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
This was a middling show. Nothing too bad; nothing too great either. Nice vote of confidence for the NXT women with Alexa and Carmella’s victories, and I continue to be impressed by Ziggler’s latest run. 7/10.
Tags: Alberto Del Rio, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, Charlie the Tiny Interviewer, David Otunga, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Eva Marie, jbl, Mauro Ranallo, Mojo Rawley, natalya neidhart, Randy Orton, Renee Young, smackdown, smackdown live, The Ascension, The Vaudevillains, zack ryder