Urgh, this is going to be a tough SmackDown for a Brit to cover. I’m just going to close my eyes and try to get through this. And then open my eyes, because having them shut would be detrimental to more or less everything I’m trying to do here.
We of course start things off with a video presentation linking the American experience to professional wrestling, which makes sense considering how Jinder Mahal’s being both treated and portrayed in this medium.
Then we’re shown the arena, where John Cena makes his entrance. Most seem happy to see him, but to be honest we’ve been getting along super-well without Superman. He grabs a microphone and then gets the mixed reaction he’s so famous for. He asks the crowd if they’ve missed him before talking about Independence Day. Man, hearing any American talking about their country is so odd: I come from a country where mocking your home nation is second only to a nice orderly queue in terms of patriotism.
Cena says that when he wrestles all he thinks about is America. He accuses people in the back of saying that he’s “gone Hollywood”. I’m sure that usually involves being in some movies. He claims that he’s not a part-timer, and that he’s going to be on both RAW and SmackDown: he’ll bury anyone from any show. Cena states that if he’s going down, he’s doing it blaze-of-glory style.
Oh holy crap: Rusev’s back too! The big Bulgarian, now with a way better hairstyle and an even more glorious beard, walks out with a flag that is not American and so is probably going to get guillotined. Rusev says he works so hard in that ring that he got hurt, but people only ever focused on John Cena. Man, did he always sound like the simpleton cousin of Arnold Schwarzenegger? Rusev calls the American Dream a joke, which is one way to get a whole nation to join hands and demand that you get waterboarded.
John Cena appeals to patriotism and dedicates his upcoming fight against Rusev to Old Glory. I mean…that is literally what he just said. Rusev keeps insulting America, but not mentioning the words “Donald Trump” because I guess that wouldn’t be playing fair. John Cena moves on to defending American activity in other countries, because the USA does patriotism in the creepiest way possible, and then pulls out that old favourite: the Flag Match. Jesus, I’d forgotten that thing even existed.
Rusev turns the match down because’s a dirty cowardly foreigner and John Cena leads the crowd in a “USA” chant. Christ, this is a whole ocean of cringe.
Daniel Bryan is in his office, where the poor guy doesn’t even have a desk, with Chad Gable and AJ Styles. He says that Owens is demanding that Gable and Styles not be in the Independence Day Battle Royal. So Bryan is meeting him halfway by making Chad and AJ fight each other for a spot in the match.
Gable vs. Lesnar for mayorship of Suplex City
And that match is right now. Either Bryan’s office is right beside the entrance ramp or AJ Styles can teleport. Gable joins him, not accompanied by Jason Jordan. Both men move in cautiously, with Gable taking the advantage early with some amateur wrestling moves. Styles finally rolls out of a back suplex and starts kicking away at Gable’s legs. Gable runs the ropes right into a dropkick that knocks him into the commercials.
When we come back, Styles is in control of Gable, but the American Alpha member manages to catch him on the second rope. Styles regains the advantage, almost catches Gable with the Phenomenal Forearm but gets knocked off the ropes. Chad tries for a moonsault, which Styles dodges, and Gable gets suplexed into the corner.
Styles goes for the Styles Clash, but Gable counters into the Ankle Lock! Styles kicks Gable away, but Chad’s latched on and refusing to let go…until Styles counters into a Calf Crusher! Gable manages to roll away, with both men having to take a second to check they’re not injured. Styles tries a flurry, but Gable flips him right over with a German Suplex!
Gable almost gets another suplex, but is rolled up. Styles clocks Gable with a Pele Kick, sending him staggering into the corner. Styles regains his feet, and is finally able to knock Gable out with the Phenomenal Forearm.
Great match: what an amazing way to showcase Gable. 3.5 Stars.
JBL says that Gable has an incredible future, which is like a four Jewish guys writing a book about you.
Meanwhile, Mojo Rawley is looking super ain’t-hype backstage. Ryder tells him that he’s gotta get back in the game, bro. He’s managed to get them entered into the Independence Day Battle Royal because AJ Styles wants to beat up all kinds of bitches tonight.
Tamina vs. Rusev in a Lana-on-a-pole match
Here’s Carmella, accompanied by James Ellsworth, following the much-needed replay of the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match we got last week. I mean, the ending was even a great nod to how Edge won the first ever men’s one: how was this not the original plan?
Ellsworth says that he’s cancelling Independence Day so that we can have a Carmellabration; what kind of Commie shitshow is this? Carmella laughs at us all for thinking that someone else was going to win. It is super weird being mocked by a woman for speaking out against sexism. Now that she has the Money in the Bank, she has the power. As soon as she gets the women, she’ll have completed the three steps of Scarface’s business plan.
Naomi shows up, and she has added lights to her title. This is exactly what we need: we need awesome Championship customisation. Bundle it in as video game DLC if that’s what you need to justify that decision, but let Champions have their own versions of belts.
Naomi says that Carmella may be Ms Money in the Bank, but she’s the WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion. She calls James “Ellsworthless”, and tells him that someone else has some words for him. And that person is Daniel Bryan, who makes his way to the ring. Bryan reflects on what he could and should do to James Ellsorth.
Bryan says that Ellsworth’s banned from the arena, which Ellsworth laughs at. And then Bryan fines him ten thousand dollars and suspends him. And if Ellsworth does anything to break those rules, then Carmella loses the Money in the Bank briefcase. Okay, that is a little like victimisation. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s a pretty smart rule, but that doesn’t make it exactly fair.
But then this is scripted entertainment, so is unfair by its very nature. Destiny is determined by writers in a room; your God is Vince McMahon.
After the break, Lana’s here for her third undeserved title match. Apparently one of her shoulders was off the mat during the pin last week, which definitely changes the fact that she was completely unconscious at the time. So many women’s rematches this month!
Both women get the BIG MATCH FEEL post-entrance announcements, the belt is raised and the bell is rung. Naomi locks Lana into the Slay-o-Mission and Lana taps out.
Hilarious. 2 Stars.
Suddenly, Tamina has slid into the ring, facing down the Champ. She tells Lana to get up, and I have a feeling that this does not mean anything good for the Ravishing Russian. Lana follows Tamina out of the ring, and I know what this looks like in prison but not what it means here.
Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura is getting interviewed by Dancy and gets nailed in the back of the head by Corbin’s briefcase. Shinsuke manages to get up and start fucking up Baron’s shit before they’re broken apart.
This next bit is some kind of rap battle between the Usos and the New Day, which I have too much respect for myself to cover in any detail. It’s also hosted by some guy I’ve never heard of, which is no way to maintain my attention.
Honestly, that was more painful to get through than the John Cena Mandatory Patriotism Segment. Fortunately I painted my bathroom this morning, which came in handy because I could literally go and watch paint dry rather than watch this dross.
All English needs to do is attack Cowboy Bob Orton
I’m beginning to think that Aiden English longs for death, because he’s in a match with Randy Orton. And then he attacks Orton from behind and hits him in the face with a microphone before throwing him into the steel steps. Dear God, is he in debt to the mob or something?
English apparently beat on Orton all the way through the break, to the point where we should just give him the Punjabi Prison match. Orton manages to regain control when we come back, starting to beat the fuck of English all over the outside. Aiden bumps like a champ for Randy, making him look like the strongest man alive. Orton eventually takes the obligatory DQ by whacking Jinder with the steps and then RKOs English.
Jinder shows up, wearing one of his sweet suits and his boss turban. He runs down America, because he and Rusev will never not be friends. He promises to destroy Randy Orton at Battleground, and is about to speak in Punjabi when Orton interrupts. Yep: just had to wait until the Punjabi bit to interrupt. But he’s not prejudiced.
Orton says that he’s going to punish Jinder’s ass and RKO him right back to India. Wow. Just…just wow.
In the backstage area, Tye Dillinger is interviewed by a cross-dressed Tyler Breeze who’s channelling Renee Young. I like to imagine that he and Fandango are just on a tonne of drugs and that’s the only explanation for all of this. Tye notices Fandango behind him and then tries sow discord between them. You stay the fuck away from this beautiful thing, Tye Dillinger.
And then we cut to Renee Young, who looks positively baffled. This sort of thing is why I love this show. She introduces Maria and Mike so that they can be sickeningly romantic on camera. They’re interrupted by Sami Zayn, and is Zayn’s well-meaning klutziness going to be a real factor in this feud? I seriously hope so.
Hype Bros! No!
It’s time for the Independence Day Battle Royal, where whoever wins the match gets to fly their plane into the alien spaceship and save the world. Right? Right.
The ring is filling up when we come back. Man, Jason Jordan gets to be in the match when Chad Gable doesn’t. Damn, that’s just sad. AJ Styles finally makes his appearance, looking beat-up following his match earlier tonight. Bell rings and it all kicks off. You all know the score here: I’ll just call eliminations and awesome moments until the action thins out.
Ziggler is eliminated first by Harper before we go to a break, and when we come back a load of people have been tossed. Rowan eliminates Fandango, then knocks Breeze off the apron. Fandango is able to catch Tyler and push him back into the ring…and Rowan throws him out too. And then throws Sin Cara out on top of them.
Mojo Rawley beats on Rowan for a while then almost eliminates Konor. He ducks a clothesline from Harper which eliminates Konor, and then knocks Harper out of the ring! Mojomania is running wild! He comes face-to-face with Zack Ryder, and then the epic confrontation is snatched from us by Rowan bulling into the pair of them.
Mojo is dumped on the apron, but dashes back in to save Ryder and help him eliminate Rowan. Mojo then eliminates Ryder! Dear God! I agree with Kevin Owens’ condemnations! Mojo is thrown onto the apron by Dillinger, but knocks him and AJ Styles away before Sami knocks him off with the Helluva Kick! We’re down to Zayn, Styles and Dillinger!
Tye starts off as the aggressor, kicking Styles away before hitting ten punches to Zayn and ten stomps to Styles. Tye-Breaker strikes to both Sami and Styles, and he tries to eliminate both at once! Both men save themselves, barely surviving on the ring apron. Suddenly Sami is able to throw Tye out of the ring to the outside!
Sami knocks Styles around with punches before AJ returns some of his own. Zayn hits an exploder suplex to Styles in the corner, then measures him for the Helluva Kick. Styles rolls out of the way, almost eliminating Zayn through his own momentum. Sami tries to suplex AJ out of the ring, but he hits a knee to Zayn whilst upside-down and then knocks him to the ground with the Pele Kick!
Most of the chaff got eliminated offscreen, leaving a decent battle royal with a good final three. Good match. 2.5 Stars.
Owens dashes into the ring, pummelling Styles. AJ fights back, almost hitting Owens with the Styles Clash, causing the US Champ to book it out of the ring.
The Bad: Cena and Rusev was uninspired and by-the-numbers, complete with ‘merica in full force. Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal are doing a similarly dull thing for the World Championship for God’s sake. The rap battle was too offensive for words, quality-wise.
The Good: that Gable/Styles match was great; the Battle Royal was good too. I like that they left no doubt in the Lana vs. Naomi issue and a continuation of Owens vs. Styles is welcome. Tonight gets 5/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, jbl, Jinder Mahal, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Lana, naomi, natalya neidhart, Randy Orton, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, Tamina Snuka, The New Day, The Singh Brothers, the usos, Tom Phillips