Hey there, guys. Hope you all had a wonderful Easter, equinox, Eostre or whatevs. But now that all of that’s out of the way, we can get on with some of the more important issues in the world: what the fuck is a House of Horrors match?
Oh, holy shit: Rosey’s dead. That hurts quite a bit: Rosey was around with 3 Minute Warning back when I first started watching this show. I still go back and watch that Survivor Series tables match with them taking on the Dudleys and Jeff Hardy. Damn.
Well, rest in peace, Matt Anoa’i. An eleven year old David Spain really enjoyed your work.
And from one wrestling family to another: the show kicks off with Charlotte Flair making her way down to the ring. She says that it’s only been seven days, and she’s already lost her patience. I reckon I would be too, what with freaks like Erick Rowan loafing around and commentary taking a dive with us no longer having Mauro Ranallo calling this show. But instead of any of those reasoned objections, it’s about not immediately being given a title match. Ah, the traditional complaint of new arrivals.
Charlotte says that she’s only going to ask one more time, which seems like an ill-advised promise to make because you just look like a dick when you bring it up again. But apparently that kind of rationality is something that appeals to Naomi, who dances herself down to the ring to say that she doesn’t know who Charlotte thinks she is, but that Naomi’s the Champ of this division. She laughs at Charlotte for begging, and says that she’s going to give Charlotte what she wants, because she only needs to lose and regain the title once more to become the first three-time SmackDown Women’s Champ.
Naomi then smacks Charlotte in the face and tosses her out the ring, which seems like a weird definition of “what Charlotte wants”. Charlotte tries to get back in the ring, but Naomi keeps smacking her away. Shane manages to dash out and fuck us all over by saying that even though this is the land of opportunity, it’s pretty much the same as RAW when it comes to handing out title shots. So, Charlotte has to beat Naomi tonight to get a title shot in the future.
Charlotte seems happy enough, and continues to brawl with Naomi. I guess that’s how Flairs celebrate.
And that’s not the only title contender SmackDown is determining tonight. Up next is a Six Pack Challenge to decide the number one contender for Orton’s World Championship, assuming that RAW doesn’t take that in order to continue the tradition of seriously-unfair trades.
You know, with Bray Wyatt on RAW currently this whole lack-of-build for the WWE Championship rematch at Payback is…sort of way better than everything that they did to build towards their WrestleMania match. Less is absolutely more.
And Natalya is backstage, complaining that Charlotte gets a number one contender’s match and she doesn’t. Well, I didn’t see Natalya out there fighting with the Champ earlier, and Natalya’s whole deal as of late seems to be complaining about stuff which doesn’t make for a compelling character. You know, unlike that whole farting thing she had years back: that was clearly lifted directly from Shakespeare.
Carmella and Ellsworth bust in, saying that they agree that it’s unfair that Charlotte automatically gets the title opportunity only by virtue of being one of the most awesome women in wrestling. However, they say that Natalya can go and die in a ditch because clearly Carmella should get a title shot…presumably for some reason of some kind.
And here’s Tamina, demanding that she get a shot. Ellsworth and I both laughed at exactly the same time, which tells you mostly what you need to know about how much Tamina deserves a title match. Tamina hasn’t earned the opportunity to be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Natalya somehow breaks up the fight with a clearly-evil secret plan, and Shane lets it happen because fuck all of these people and now he knows why his father was always so angry when he was a boy.
The Fabulous Bollywood Boys
Time to decide a number one contender, guys! This a Six Pack Challenge, full of people who presumably are desperate for Randy Orton to retain at Payback, because otherwise what the fuck are they going to do?
First up is Dolph Ziggler: okay, he’ll be great for some spots in this and is always an exciting addition to matches like these. Okay, next is…Erick Rowan. Um…well, I guess he’s given some decent performances in tag team matches with the Usos, so it can’t be that bad. And now Jinder Mahal? Jinder Mahal? I’m sorry, the guy who lost to Mojo Rawley last week deserves a title shot opportunity, but Charlotte has to beat Naomi for her shot?! Oh, and next is Mojo Rawley, because Christ almighty why the fuck not? Randy Orton must be killing himself laughing right now, because I fucking would be in his position. Okay, so Luke Harper’s in it: at this point that seems like a genius move. And, thank fuck, Sami Zayn gets the sixth spot.
So, what? Baron Corbin wasn’t answering his phone? Shinsuke Nakamura isn’t going to fight for a few more weeks? If this is the best that could be mustered for a fucking World Championship opportunity, then maybe just maybe there’s a disparity of fucking star power between the shows and whoever organised this Superstar Shakeweight should have their extremities removed via alligator snapping turtles.
Alligator snapping turtles are a deadly fear of mine, and I live in Britain. That’s how scared I am of snapping turtles.
Alright, let’s get this shitshow on the road. You know the drill: I’ll start commenting properly when the ring empties a little. So far, Rowan is acting the part of the brute whilst Jinder and Mojo take it to the outside. Rowan’s knocked out by Harper, who runs the fuck over Ziggler with a big boot. Rowan jumps Harper, working him over; Luke floats over the ropes and takes Erick down before hitting a senton to the ginger fucker. Harper then sit-out slams Zayn, getting a two count as we go to a break.
When we come back, all six men are on the top rope, with three superplexes set up! Rawley superplexes Ziggler; Harper superplexes Erick Rowan, but Sami Zayn catches Mahal with a sunset flip powerbomb for a near fall! Ziggler fights away from a Blue Thunder Bomb attempt, and Sami manages to parry a Zig-Zag before running right into a superkick from Dolph. Harper eats a superkick too, but he just clotheslines the fuck out of Ziggler before Rowan dumps him with a powerbomb! Mahal rolls up Rowan, then the two clothesline each other to bring a halt to the action.
Mojo gets back into the ring and runs over Mahal, knocking him out of the ring. Zayn low-bridges Rawley but gets dumped out by Harper, who dives through the ropes onto Jinder! And again through the ropes to flatten Zayn and Rawley! Ziggler dropkicks Harper off the apron, but then runs into a spinning kick from Rowan which almost ends the match right there! Rowan wants a powerbomb, and bombs Ziggler right onto everyone on the outside! Everyone is down except Erick Rowan: WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?
Rowan throws Zayn into the ring for a cover, and Sami kicks out, saving us from an Erick Rowan title match: Sami Zayn got the shit kicked out of him for our sins. We go to a break, and when we return it’s only Ziggler and Rawley in the ring. Mojo counters a neckbreaker and knocks Ziggler down three times before hitting a stinger splash. Rawley runs into a back elbow, but catches Ziggler’s crossbody attempt and slams him. Mojo knocks Rowan off the apron, then beats on Ziggler in the corner before hitting the forearm! Mahal hustles him out of the ring and almost steals the pin before Zayn breaks it up! Sami Zayn is just preventing terrible title matches left and fucking right.
Mahal hits Sami with a knee, and let’s not pretend there’s not a Good Friday narrative at play here: Jesus would have stopped some of these potential PPV main events too. Rowan Rock Bottoms Mahal, but Harper breaks up that pin, suffering for it as Rowan tees off on him. Ziggler shoves Rowan into Harper, crotching the latter on the ropes and then he hits the Zig-Zag to Rowan, almost getting three before the big man kicks out!
Harper is dropkicked by Dolph, but Luke nails him with a sit-out powerbomb to nearly become the next number one contender! Harper wants a clothesline, but Mahal drags him out of the ring and hurls him into the steps! Mahal charges at Sami, but misses and slams his shoulder into the steel post! Zayn’s alone in the ring, and he sentons out onto Harper! Rowan gets tackled by Mojo as he attempts to waylay Sami on the apron, then Zayn springboard-moonsaults onto Rawley!
Zayn and Mahal are back in the ring, and Mahal takes an exploder from Sami. Zayn wants the Helluva Kick, but Zayn’s legs are grabbed by…someone? Two people? I don’t know who they are! Zayn then gets slammed by whatever Mahal’s finisher’s called, and Jinder Mahal is going to Backlash!
Fuck whoever wrote that ending. If you’re going to have someone fight the Champ, especially when you just did such an excellent job of making everyone in this match look like a contender, have them win by themselves. I don’t give a shit if they cheat to do it, but that finish took all the air out of the match. 3.5 Stars, and it would have been a hell of a lot higher if Mahal had just low-blowed Zayn to get that win.
Well, looks like Vince has been jerking it superhard to Jinder’s scary, vascular-ass body. Like the old saying goes, say it with title matches.
Wait, I’m sorry: the two guys who grabbed Zayn’s legs are apparently called the Bollywood Boys. Oh, why? Because they do a lot of random musical numbers in their matches? Because it’s not uncommon for those matches to be four hours long, or even longer? Oh, just because they’re from India?
Fuck’s sake, America.
Renee interviews Jinder, who calls himself the Maharaja and mocks the WWE Universe for their racism. Oh Christ, don’t let this be the new Muhammad Hassan. You aren’t even at war with India yet!
Randy Orton’s music plays, and this could either be super awesome or super racist. The Viper comes out to the ring, and please God don’t let anyone make any jokes about snake-charming. Orton congratulates Mahal, and says that his prize isn’t going to be the title, but an RKO. People win that prize a lot around here.
Orton then finally acknowledges Bray Wyatt, which is super awkward for Jinder, who just has to stand around looking furious as Orton addresses someone who isn’t even there. Randy says he has no idea what a House of Horrors is, but he’s going to default to arson again, because it worked so well the last time.
Bray then appears on the titantron, and props to him for putting effort into this feud whilst being on another show. He makes the usual vague threats, which are even less spooky when he has to use the phrase “House of Horrors” whilst making them. We also get no description of the House of Horrors, which makes me wonder whether WWE Creative even knows what it is yet.
All I know is that it’s going to be really stupid, and seeing as how I doubt that Creative have the self-awareness to realise that, I potentially know more about this match than they do.
I would honestly not be surprised.
We get a promo for Shinsuke Nakamura, which does a great job of hyping him up. A lot more than his two appearances on the show when he’s done pretty much jack.
Backstage, Renee is interviewing AJ Styles. She asks him about the possibility of facing either Chris Jericho or Kevin Owens. He says that it doesn’t matter to him who he has to face, as either way he’ll be the one walking away with the gold. Baron Corbin shows up, apparently only just now getting to the show because otherwise he could have taken Erick Rowan or Mojo Rawley’s spot in the Six-Pack Challenge.
Corbin wonders why anyone would talk to Styles, and Styles points out that it’s because he’s the number one contender, rather than Corbin. Baron says that he was the one who approached Owens first, and points out that Styles never pinned him. AJ decides that he should give Corbin the opportunity, and we have ourselves a main event.
In another part of backstage, Charlotte is met by Tamina, Natalya, Carmella and I guess Ellsworth. Apparently their super-secret-evil plan was…passive-aggressive trash talk. WOW THEY SURE SHOWED HER.
And that’s why Charlotte gets a shot at a shot
Here’s Charlotte, barely able to walk after that vicious verbal assault from four people who could just as easily have kicked the fuck out of her, therefore dictating the need for a new number one contender. But hey: I’m not a member of the SmackDown Live Women’s Division.
What a world that would be.
Naomi arrives too, and someday this entrance is going to help one of the Women’s Division realise they’re epileptic in a super-unfriendly way. Bell rings, and away we go.
Charlotte WOOOs, and they lock up. Charlotte gains the early advantage, kicking away at Naomi in the corner. She throws the Champ across the ring, then snapmares her into the centre and applies a headlock. Meanwhile, the super elite team of Women’s Division geniuses are watching the action on a monitor, presumably waiting for their evil plan to bear fruit. I don’t know where Becky is, but I’m glad she’s not hanging around with any of them.
Charlotte continues to outwrestle Naomi until the Champ hits a double leg takedown and a couple of pin attempts. Charlotte still seems supremely confident, cartwheeling out of Naomi’s hold on her arm and sweeping her legs out from under her. She wraps her legs around Naomi’s head, banging her skull off the floor before wearing her down. She rolls over, legs still tight around the Champ’s head and forcing Naomi to come over with her: that move absolutely terrifies me. Charlotte kips up, and she is pretty much Brock Lesnar right now, except she shows up every week.
Charlotte celebrates, but almost gets rolled up. She immediately takes Naomi down and locks in the sleeper hold. Naomi rolls out of it, then headscissors Charlotte before hitting a leg drop for two. Naomi takes a chop from Charlotte, then answers with a kick to the leg. The two competitors trade chops and kicks, until Naomi just says “fuck it” and hits the barrage of kicks and a fucking roundhouse kick to put Charlotte down for a near fall. Naomi tells Charlotte to bring it, and after a slight wobble is able to hurricanrana both of them out of the ring!
When we come back from the commercial break, Charlotte has Naomi in a dragon sleeper, hitting knees to the spine along with it. If she busts out Old School, then she can have a shot at Orton’s Championship too. She transitions from the dragon sleeper into a leg drop, then hits a back suplex for two. Knees strike Naomi’s face, eliciting another two count. Naomi tries to drag herself up to her feet in the corner, but Charlotte is on her. Naomi suddenly rolls out of a back suplex, springs back off the ropes and almost rolls Charlotte up…but Flair puts her down with a knee to the back.
Naomi rolls out of the way of the knee, then strikes with a back elbow. Charlotte catches Naomi’s feet, but takes a kick to the head from there. Naomi builds her comeback with a lot of punches to the face, then a hell of a kick to the face, then a hurricanrana! Wheelbarrow stunner from Naomi staggers Charlotte; Naomi’s elevated onto the apron, roundhouse kicks Charlotte and takes the multiple-time RAW Women’s Champ down with a crossbody for two.
Charlotte counters a kick, hits a huge chop to Naomi and runs the ropes. Naomi’s ready with a Rear View, but Charlotte boots her in the back whilst she’s in mid-air and hits Natural Selection! Charlotte gets the win!
Fantastic, and a match that made both women look good. Charlotte is at her best, at least for me, as a predator: her total control in the opening minutes of the match was fantastic. Naomi held up really well too, and I’m looking forward to another great match next week. 4.5 Stars.
American Alpha are walking around backstage, either angry at the Shining Stars or angry about being in a feud with the Shining Stars. I can see the rationale of both.
At another part of backstage, Charlotte walks past the Super Elite Team of Women’s Division Geniuses and smirks before walking away and letting out a WOOOO. Point goddamn made.
I’m at least half-certain that the Colóns are also the Bollywood Boys
Primo and Epico are in the ring, and fuck you very much for making me type those words again, WWE. American Alpha show up, and could we just make this a quickie please?
Primo misses a clothesline to Gable, and then pretty much gets outwrestled into a pretzel. Jordan comes in to flapjack Primo, then tags Chad back in. Gable hits a beautiful Northern Lights suplex, with Epico providing enough of a distraction for Primo to run Gable into the steel post. JBL says that the Colóns aren’t going to make any mistakes, which is not the kind of thing I would say about anyone who was part of the Shining Stars.
Epico tags in, hitting a double-underhook gutbuster before applying a sleeper. Gable escapes, but then eats some clothesline before Epico props him up on top rope. The Colón spends a little too much time trash-talking, and Gable promptly tries to armbar his nearest limb out of its socket before getting the tag to Jordan.
Jordan explodes into action, suplexing bitches left and right. Primo saves Epico from a pin, then kicks Jordan in the skull to allow Epico to pick up the win.
Well, I guess we’re doing this now. I’d be perfectly happy if Primo and Epico proved they could put on a match up to the standards of American Alpha or the Usos and added another tag team for the belts to trade with but so far I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a single one of their matches. Didn’t enjoy this one either. 2 Stars.
Byron Saxton once again uses the phrase “Bollywood Boys” without a shred of irony. JBL says that we have no proof that Jinder knew those two guys, and he’s right: you’re all just assuming it because they’re all Indian, or so they claim.
I don’t know what Lana’s supposed to be doing in her promo, but it honestly looks like WWE wanted to do a character based on the movie Showgirls and then wussed out when it came to the execution.
Dasha is backstage with Tye Dillinger, and she asks what it is about him that has made the WWE love him. Tye shows us a promo of himself, and can Dasha see that? Is she wondering what Tye’s looking at? Can Dillinger see it?
Anyone remember Kurt Angle’s Olympic Gold Medals Open Challenge?
Here’s Kevin Owens, who is apparently saying that he’s the new Face of America. To be honest, I can imagine way worse people as the Face of America, and one of them is the sack of shit you currently call a President.
Owens grabs the microphone from the ring announcer and announces himself. Somewhere, Mr Kennedy just hung his head and started weeping. He asks his opponent to announce himself, and apparently he’s Gary Ghandi, who I assume is the cousin of Barron Blade.
KO beats the honest to sweet fuck out of the rookie, who almost botches the Pop-Up Powerbomb during his twenty seconds of fame.
Hope they’re going to copy John Cena’s Open Challenge structure, because that gave us some amazing matches down the line. 1 Star.
Owens announces that he’s joining the folks on commentary, causing JBL to need new trousers.
Still pissed that Corbin wasn’t in the Six Pack Challenge
Baron Corbin makes his entrance, followed by AJ Styles. Corbin grabs him, but Styles escapes and hits a kick to Baron’s leg. Corbin catches another kick, slamming AJ. Both men watch each other for a moment, then move in once again. Styles dodges a boot, then kicks away at Corbin before the Lone Wolf smacks Styles directly in the face.
Styles hops up on Corbin’s back, locking in a sleeper hold. Corbin backs him into the corner, then throws him out of the ring. Styles runs back inside as Baron heads out; Corbin pulls Styles back out of the ring, but Styles hops up onto the apron, looking for a knee to the head, but Corbin catches him on his shoulders and dumps him face-first onto the ring apron! Styles is out as we go to a break!
Back with the action, Corbin is trying to wear Styles down, and manages to hurl him under the bottom rope, right into the steel ring post! Styles is driven into the apron by Corbin, who is in total control of this match. AJ tries to fight back inside the ring, but Corbin lays him out again with a right hand. Baron runs into a pair of boots, but stays on Styles. Corbin goes for a clothesline that’s ducked, but dodges out of the ring, runs back into it and charges at Styles, who throws himself out of the way and lets Corbin blast the ring post with his shoulder!
Styles hammers away at Corbin with his volley of strikes, putting the big man down with a Pele Kick. Big clothesline to Corbin in the corner, but Corbin slides out of the ushigoroshi. Styles slides out of a back suplex and hits Corbin with a running forearm for two. Corbin powers out of the Styles Clash and hits AJ with a backbreaker for a near fall.
AJ manages to get to his feet, hitting a charging Corbin with a boot to the face before putting him in the Calf Crusher! Corbin manages to reach the ropes, then shoves Styles away from him. AJ rushes back at him, but winds up on the receiving end of a Deep Six for a near fall! Both men wearily make their way to their feet, with Corbin standing first. Styles low-bridges him, then drops him with a forearm and then a knee right to the face.
AJ goes to give Corbin the Styles Clash on the outside, but Corbin throws him into Owens! Baron looks for the End of Days on the outside, but Styles flips out of it, nails an enzuigiri to Corbin and hits him with the Phenomenal Forearm on the outside! Styles dashes back into the ring, winning the match via count-out!
A third great match, showing what two of the original SmackDown Live team have to offer. 4 Stars.
Owens looks pissed on the outside, but to the surprise of everyone he doesn’t jump Styles. Biggest shock of the night.
This was a fantastic return to form for SmackDown, utilising both familiar and new talent. Aside from a forgettable tag team match, this whole show was great. 10/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, James Ellsworth, jbl, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Luke Harper, Mojo Rawley, naomi, Natalya, Primo and Epico, Randy Orton, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, smackdown, smackdown live, tamina, the usos, Tom Phillips, Tye Dillinger