Good day folks, and welcome to another edition of Spain’s SmackDown Report. I am your charming, handsome and witty host, David Spain, and it’s about time we take a look at the sheer insanity that this year’s Road to WrestleMania represents. I mean, for God’s sake, Randy Orton has set a man’s house on fire and Goldberg is the Universal Champion after performing a grand total of five bastard moves, three of which were the same bastard one.
Still, carpe fucking diem.
We open things up with a look back at last week’s Talking Smack, where they had to cut away to show us live footage of AJ Styles yelling incoherently at Shane McMahon, who tried to calm him down with the tried and tested method of sternly ordering him to calm down. Shane McMahon: leader of men.
And apparently that’s it: AJ Styles yelled at Shane and Shane yelled back. The way they built that up, I assumed that Gallows and Anderson would be getting a text from Styles telling them that they were alright and not to show up to work next week, followed by a picture of a gun.
In the present, Daniel Bryan is on the phone to someone who’s apparently desperate for any and all exposition available to them. He’s interrupted by AJ Styles, who’s looking for Shane and whom Bryan advises to calm down because he and Shane both read the same book of managerial strategy and it was a book called Fuck Your Employees’ Feelings of Self-Worth.
AJ threatens to slap Bryan, but is apparently a decent enough human being not to lay a hand on an injured man. He says that he’s going to go out and talk to the WWE audience, despite Bryan’s warnings that it could negatively impact his career. Again, Randy Orton recently burned down a fucking house.
Out front, AJ makes good on his promo-related threat and stomps himself and his anime haircut out to the ring, where the crowd passive-aggressively chants their support for him, the inconsiderate fucks. AJ Styles says that he’s tired of being overlooked by management: the people who forced him to jump through hoops “like a circus monkey”. What kind of shitty-ass circus does AJ Styles frequent? He says that John Cena gets everything handed to him, whereas Styles is forced to jump through hoops and never gets a fair match, and on the rare occasions he gets an opportunity he loses it to a grave desecrator and arsonist. We’ve all been there.
Styles states that he’s the best thing going in this company, and he doesn’t even have a match at WrestleMania. He’s taking a stand, and he didn’t take it against Daniel Bryan because Bryan is just a puppet. Instead, he’s going to take it against Shane McMahon, who clearly is completely autonomous when it comes to his authority over SmackDown and who doesn’t simply do whatever the writers and his psychotic corpse of a father tell him. Simply. Stellar. Strategy.
And we have good news this week, the walking cardboard cut-out of David Otunga that is David Otunga is not here on commentary to bore us all into an early grave with his bland and expressionless words. The bad news is that Mauro Ranallo, Mr Mama Mia, is also absent, leaving us in the tender care of Jay Bee El and Tom Philips: two men who, if combined, might serve as one single commentator. Tom Philips says that ‘there is lots of room for activities’, so it looks like he’s doing a David Otunga impression as well: oh joy.
Remember when only Shawn Michaels did the Superkick?
After Natalya remembered that she was a heel last week, after only taking an entire wrestling match to do so, she and Becky Lynch have a match together tonight. Becky makes her way to the ring, followed by Natalya, who always looks as though she’s trying to cosplay someone from Fifty Shades of Gray but thought that the original costume wasn’t tacky enough.
Becky and Natalya lock up, and Becky catches Nat with a dropkick and then rains punches down onto her until Natalya grabs the ropes. Neidhart tries to capitalise, but Becky is Guinness-drunk levels of angry and beats the shit out of her opponent in the corner. Natalya calls for a time out, which either exists or don’t exist in wrestling depending on what day of the week it is, and then offers a handshake to Becky. Becky opts instead for a hand slapping right across Natalya’s face, continuing to fuck her up until Nat grasps onto the ropes again.
Natalya catches Becky unawares, looking for a German suplex. Becky blocks the attempt and locks in an STF to Natalya, who immediately drags herself and Becky over to the bottom rope, because like hell anyone’s allowed to tap out to an STF not applied by John Cena or Nikki Bella. We go to a brief break, and when we come back Becky is still in control. Natalya slides out of the ring for what seems like the tenth time; Becky follows her and pays for it with a Michinoku Driver on the outside. Natalya continues the assault back in the ring, hitting a dropkick to Becky’s back and getting a two count.
Nat then applies a sleeper, because continuing to work over a back you just fucked up on the outside would taking the easy way out. Becky tries to fight out, gets thrown to the floor and then is Irish whipped into the corner: no, it’s not an Irish whip just because it’s happening to Becky. Lynch manages to more or less fall out of the way of Natalya’s charge, causing the blonde to slam into the turnbuckles. Becky takes advantage, slugging away at her opponent until Natalya hits a shot to the stomach and then a slap.
The slap seems to fire Becky up, and she starts unloading with clotheslines and a Bexploader. Natalya manages scout the forearm, places Becky up on the turnbuckle but ends up with the Irish Lasskicker dragging her into the Disarmer on her way down to the mat and locking it in on the canvas. Natalya taps out, and that’s all there is.
Not a bad opener, and it’s nice to see Becky be able to have and win a match without any shenanigans, which is odd because shenanigans either is or sounds Irish. 2.5 Stars.
Becky turns around and walks right into a superkick from Carmella which lays her out. Natalya gets one too and then Carmella just exits the ring, as though a pair of superkicks speak entirely for themselves. I mean, I guess they do: it’s quite difficult to misread intentions after someone hits you with a move that knocked Bret Hart into the land of Strokes and Concussions.
Meanwhile, AJ Styles is pacing around in front of a car so aggressively I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t start dropping elbows on it.
Also, did you know that John Cena hosted the Kids’ Choice Awards? Because here’s a video package in case you absolutely needed to see how that all played out. Here’s a hint: there was slime. A lot of it. Which I guess is a step up from human faeces, something John Cena has a history of dumping (no pun intended) on people; slime probably doesn’t carry the same massive risk of infection, unless Nickelodeon have a second, sinister purpose.
We join Carmellsworth backstage before they walk into an ambush interview with Not-Renee, who asks them what the fuck. Carmella responds that Daniel Bryan said that every woman on SmackDown would get a shot at the Women’s Championship, and that includes her. Sure, but that also means that it includes Renee Young, Maryse, Nikki Bella and the woman who’s actually interviewing her. Could be a long night of Superkicks.
The Night of the Long Superkicks?
Back in the…frontstage? Well, Miz and Maryse are in the ring with another exciting episode of Miz TV: Miz’s safe space where he can obsess about not being big like John Cena or strong like John Cena or not having held so many World Championships that the combined metal from all of those belts could literally cover his entire body and he could wear them like a suit, like Ric Flair. Or, I guess, John Cena.
Miz says that it’s going to be a very special episode of Miz TV, and I’m holding my breath for the words ‘live sex celebration’ because I have not and will never learn. Instead, the special thing about the episode is because it’s about him and Maryse. Except it’s only about them because they’re busy not being able to forget about John Cena and Nikki Bella, which is really damaging to whatever point it is that Miz ever started off trying to make but that doesn’t matter because WRESTLING.
We’re shown the attack on CeNikki/CeBella/Jokki/Joella/Team I WISH YOU’D DIED IN THE WOMB, and then a clip from Talking Smack where Miz mouths off some more about the couple and whines about the bullying backstage atmosphere and how everyone backstage but especially JBL hates him. And then Maryse says that Nikki Bella is jealous of her because she has a wedding ring. That’s quite fair: I’d rather like a wedding ring myself, if for no other reason than because I could sell it for rather a lot of money.
Oh, wait: Maryse means that Nikki is jealous of her because she’s married.
So, the driving force behind this feud is because Nikki Bella’s biological clock is ticking and she wants a baby now. Don’t look at it, don’t think about it, WOMEN’S REVOLUTION, WWE RESPECTS WOMEN. And Maryse says that she got screwed out of appearing in a show which featured Nikki Bella and Kelly Kelly due to Nikki’s actions. Wow: she could have been in a show with Kelly Squared. That’s how you know you’ve made it. But I guess it’s alright, seeing as how Maryse can actually have babies in wedlock which is what this feud is clearly all about.
Maryse calls Nikki a bitch, presumably to inject some life into a feud which is being built around contract signings and the horrors of spinsterhood. Remember when Booker T and Edge fought because of a shampoo commercial? Great days.
John and Nikki then rush the ring, clearing Miz and Maryse out of it. Nikki tells John that she’s going to talk, and tells Maryse that they were never best friends. She tells Maryse that she’s an embarrassment, and that she steals the crowd’s money because she appears on the show and does nothing. That’s not exactly true, because it’s not like the WWE adds a Maryse Tax onto the price of any tickets for a show the woman appears at, but then maybe Nikki Bella just thinks that’s how showbiz works.
Nikki challenges Maryse to bring her wedlocked ovaries into the ring so she can beat the non-bastard eggs out of them. Miz tells Nikki that she doesn’t get to make matches and that Maryse is not going to fight because she has nothing to prove.
And whenever there’s a chance to ruin Miz’s life, you’ll find Daniel Bryan all but masturbating at the opportunity. The GM makes his way to the ring and goes on a speech about how literally everything the Miz does makes Bryan want to punch him in the face, and if I had a penny for every time an employer has said that to me, I wouldn’t have needed those jobs in the first place. Bryan makes the mixed-tag match for WrestleMania, and the Miz and Maryse act as though they had absolutely no idea that this was a possibility.
Backstage, AJ Styles is still looking daggers at that goddamn fucking car. If he was Randy Orton, that vehicular son of a bitch would be on fire right now.
WWE is celebrating women, but not by telling you that marriage and babies are worth having a wrestling feud over. And they’re not even showing a video this time, because I guess they…ran out of women?
That Got Nasty Fast
Here’s Mickie James: the sad yet hot older woman who keeps talking to and semi-hitting on you whenever you go to that fucking wine bar and you can never work just how crazy she is and whether it’s worth sleeping with her. She’s facing Alexa Bliss, who I can’t think of a joke about because I don’t think I have anyone like her in my life. I’ll make something up.
Here’s Alexa Bliss: that girl who has the ability to summon Exodia, the Forbidden One. She’s fighting Mickie, for reasons hopefully unrelated to marriage or babies.
Mickie shoves Alexa and they tie up and roll around on the floor. The ref has to separate them, and Bliss goes on the offence, kicking and stomping Mickie, who turns things around and pounds on her. Alexa chokes Mickie on the ropes but then gets flung through the ropes. She manages to catch a baseball slide from Mickie James, slam James’ head into the steel ringpost and then just drag her right out onto the floor. Holy shit: Alexa Bliss is trying to kill the competition.
We have a break, and when we come back Alexa is in some trouble, getting locked in a single-leg crab and then getting smacked around by Mickie. Perfectplex from James almost gets three, but then Alexa just grabs Mickie around the throat. For a second I thought she was just going to bust out a chokeslam, but instead she holds Mickie by the goddamn neck whilst screaming that if this is a consular ship then where is the ambassador?
Bliss smacks the shit out of James on the mat, then hurls her across the ring twice. She yells that that’s why she’s the champ and yes: Mickie James is more or less why Alexa Bliss is currently the Women’s Champion. James catches her with a hurricanrana and a tonne of boots to the face, but she gets rolled up by Bliss for a near fall. Alexa has a brief debate with the referee over what two means really, almost gets Mickie-T’d and the two exchange roll-ups before Bliss just straight punches Mickie in the fucking jaw.
Insult to Injury misses, but the Mick Kick does not, and Mickie James gets the win over Alexa Bliss!
Convincing win and a nice showing from both of them. Alexa is getting more aggressive, which is impressive from someone physically dwarfed by most of her opponents. 2.5 Stars.
No superkicks from Carmella, who I guess feels has made her point already.
And AJ Styles vs. Car continues. I assume Styles is just jealous that the car is married. Renee tries to interview AJ, who spots Shane arriving and ducks behind the car before charging into his own boss like a runaway fucking train. And then he just beats the shit out of him. I mean, he literally just beats the fuck out of Shane McMahon. He puts the guy’s head through a fucking windshield. It’s not until Finlay arrives and runs Styles off that the assault stops, and that takes a disturbingly long time to happen. By the end of the segment, Shane’s head is bleeding and I think we might have a WrestleMania match.
After the break, we’re backstage with the doctor looking at Shane, who is refusing to go to the hospital like a real man. There is a lot of blood covering his head, and I honestly can’t tell whether he bladed or got busted open the hard way.
We take a moment for JBL to condemn Shane’s distrust of medical professionals and Styles’ assault of his own employer, and then move backstage, where AJ is getting lectured by the Usos of all people. You know the Usos: their father once tried to commit vehicular homicide against one Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Oh, and Curt Hawkins is there. Which will be the title of his never-published autobiography.
AJ walks out of the locker room and into Daniel Bryan. Bryan tells him that he’s not untouchable, and that he’s goddamn fired. Which…yeah. I’m not quite sure what Styles was expecting to happen, at least in the immediate aftermath.
Can we just say that was the Memorial Battle Royal and forget about it?
And just in case all that SERIOUS DRAMA was too much for you, here’s Mojo Rawley. He’s the first entrant into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and is in a mini-feud with Dolph Ziggler, both of which are perfect examples of the word ‘mediocre’.
And here comes Dolph Ziggler, who…I guess he hits people with chairs now? Yeah, that. Ziggler wrestles Rawley into the corner, then flicks him. Rawley takes exception and drives Ziggler into a corner before flicking sweat at and then flapjacking him. He throws Ziggler out of the ring twice, prompting Dolph to yell at JBL who in-universe could probably beat the ever-loving fuck out of him.
Rawley drags Ziggler onto the apron, but Dolph hangs him up and hits him with a dropkick. Ziggler keeps shoving and slapping Mojo instead of hitting any actual moves, and Rawley tosses him out of the ring for a third time. JBL now hates Ziggler with every aspect of his being and is calling for him to be put into white slavery. Ziggler declines the opportunity to get back into the ring and Rawley wins by count-out.
This was a really bad way of building towards a match I don’t even care about. I think those two negatives should cancel each other out, but that’s absolutely not what’s happened. 1 Star.
And another replay of Shane McMahon getting extremely acquainted with AJ Styles’ fists, and they had a camera in the car his head got flung through. If that doesn’t scream “inside job” to you, then the people holding the other cameras and watching a man physically destroy their employer should be a bit of a clue.
We get a quick promo from Neville, whose sneer is less “cocky arrogance” and more “I had a stroke three days ago”.
And Randy Orton is in the ring, here to talk in monotone about his ever-growing list of felonies. He compares himself to a viper, getting a tonne of facts about snakes wrong for promo purposes. Orton says that he was playing the long game, mainly because he wanted to hurt Bray Wyatt as much as serpently possible. Let’s just remember: this is all because Randy Orton couldn’t win a match against Bray. This is what all of this has all been about. Randy Orton has intentionally gotten himself disqualified before.
Orton talks about how burning the body of Sister Abigail stripped Bray’s power from him, whatever those powers happen to be: teleportation, giving children ominously deep voices, dragging people out into parking lots? Randy says that he’s going to take everything away from Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, by which he means the WWE Championship and exactly nothing else.
And Bray Wyatt appears onscreen, and says that he’d thought that Orton had burned Sister Abigail, but you can’t do that because she’s Satan’s sister and as long as people have some evil in them then she still exists, but at the same time she’s given all of her power to Bray, so I guess Randy’s really shot himself in the foot with this one and really Wyatt should be thanking him and none of this makes one fucking piece of sense. Because you couldn’t let Bray lose any of his mystique, he just has to rebound from all of this in the space of two weeks? He’s suddenly up and about and giving his usual stupid promos? Christ, this whole story is a trainwreck.
Bray rubs dirt in his face, like he actually rubs dirt into his face, except it’s really dark dirt and this was all filmed at night so it just looks like Bray has applied blackface and his new superpower is racism. All he needs now load of people dressed as pointy ghosts to accompany him to the ring and to replace his emo poetry with a verse of two of ‘Mammy’. Because that couldn’t be any weirder than what this is right now, and then at least some of the Alt-Right (“we’re not Fascists or racists and it’s bullying if you call us that and what’s actually wrong with either of those things anyway come to think of it”) would take an interest.
Suddenly Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg seems almost like a logical idea.
We see a recap of Baron Corbin attempting to murder Dean Ambrose with a forklift, and speaking of logical ideas that wasn’t one either. Also it looked absolutely ridiculous, right when they were doing a pretty decent job of making Corbin look like a badass due to him, you know, beating the piss out of Ambrose with a steel pipe.
Baron Corbin is backstage, staring almost lovingly at another or possibly the same forklift. An interviewer interrupts the romantic moment, and asks if he thinks he crossed a line last week. Baron more or less says that he’s going to keep trying to murder Dean Ambrose in new and wacky ways and probably take the Intercontinental Championship too if, you know, he can be bothered.
Because the Tag Team Championships are fucking worthless
And here’s American Alpha, who have been really shoved out of sight over the last few weeks. Almost like they weren’t, say, the Tag Team Champions. And they’re facing the Usos, the only team even suggested to be a threat to them, and even then not very much.
Jimmy starts off against Gable, who avoids getting trapped in the Usos’ corner as Jey tags in. Gable dodges Jey’s charge and tags in Jordan, who hits a dropkick to Jey. Jordan locks in a front facelock, keeping Jey on the mat.
Oh but fuck you, Tag Team Championships: why watch this potentially awesome match when we could watch a battered Shane McMahon walk around the backstage area looking both angry and concussed? And Jamie Noble’s there: what more could you possibly ask for? Finlay is demanding that Shane go to the hospital, like he’s his Dad rather than Hornswoggle’s, which I guess means that Vince can still be Hornswoggle’s father and I just gave myself an aneurysm thinking about that.
And then the window goes away, so I guess it popped up in case you absolutely had to know whether or not Shane is going to hospital, to which the answer is apparently “maybe”. Solid work, WWE. Meanwhile, back in the main event they interrupted to show us this, Jimmy Uso is working Jason Jordan over. I don’t know how; I was rather distracted by watching Shane McMahon walk down a corridor. Bodyslam from Jimmy Uso, who tags in Jey. Both Usos head to the top rope, and Gable dashes into the ring to stare them down. Both Usos retreat slowly back down to the apron, whereupon both members of American Alpha dropkick them off the apron, slap-bang into a commercial break.
When we come back, Jason Jordan is shoved off the apron by Jey Uso, landing hard on the floor outside. Jimmy tags in, clotheslining Jordan on the outside. JBL informs us that Shane McMahon is refusing to go to hospital and thank God I know that now. The Usos hit a double-team move to bring Jey Uso in, then Jey applies a front facelock to Jason Jordan: payback’s a bitch.
Jordan tries to reach Gable but is dragged to the mat by Jey, now in a headlock. And hey! We’ve now got footage of Shane McMahon walking through an exit, and now walking back through it! What an amazing development to this story! Both Jey and Gable tag in, and Gable puts a suplex-related hurting on both Usos, killing time until the next inevitable Shane update. Gable takes out both Usos, throws one out of the ring and goes for a double team with Jordan, but Jimmy shoves him off the top rope and superkicks Jordan for the win. I wish I could say I cared, but the WWE considers this to be less important than live feed of a man walking. Just walking.
This wasn’t a bad match at all, but you couldn’t get into it because the WWE almost seemed offended that you’d rather be shown a wrestling match than regular updates on Shane McMahon’s condition. Just a weird vibe throughout. 1.5 Stars.
Speak of the walking devil, Shane walks out onto the stage and says that he’s AJ Styles’ opponent at WrestleMania. Because when someone beats the fuck out of you, it’s only fair to give them a second chance to beat you up even worse.
This was a middling SmackDown. Apart from AJ Styles attacking Shane, nothing much of interest happened and unfortunately the WWE absolutely knew it. Hope the build for WrestleMania gets a lot hotter after this week, because right now I don’t care about any of the SmackDown matches on the card. 6/10.