Hey there guys, it’s time for the SmackDown event with multiple Championship consequences. Tonight, John Cena will meet Shinsuke Nakamura to decide a WWE Championship number one contender, and Kevin Owens cashes in his rematch against AJ Styles.
We get a nice little catch-up video of last week, primarily focused on AJ Styles winning the US Championship, and then segueing into Shinsuke Nakamura meeting John Cena. I’ve been looking forward to this show for a damn week.
Prompting a conversation between my flatmate and I on whether this is karma
And the show kicks off with AJ Styles making his entrance, and it looks like we’re ready for the US Title match. Kevin Owens follows him, looking super pissed off. We get the post-entrance announcements (dat big match feel tho). Belt’s hoisted, bell’s rung and away we go.
Both competitors lock up, with Owens latching on a headlock. Styles tries to escape, but the aggressive KO won’t let him go. Finally Styles throws him off the ropes, only to get knocked down by a charging Owens on the rebound. Styles tries to latch the arm, gets caught in another headlock, shoots Owens off the ropes and tries to dropkick him; KO manages to stop himself from running right into it and AJ crashes down to the mat before Owens smashes a forearm into the back of his head and sends him out of the ring, following him out clothesline the poor bastard into the commercial break.
When we come back, Styles has just run right into a big old boot to the chops, and Owens runs off the ropes towards him…and takes a dropkick from Styles that looks like it just reset his brain. Styles kicks and chops away at Owens, then drops a knee right onto his face because fuck KO for just making up matches without consulting Shane or Bryan.
Styles continues to give Owens the business in the corner, then suplexes the big man for a two count. At some stage, wrestlers need to stop assuming that a suplex can end a match. I blame Curt Hennig. Owens is able to reverse an Irish whip, runs into a boot that sends AJ out onto the apron and then fucks off quick when Styles tries to hit a Phenomenal Forearm. KO rolls all the way out of the ring, thinking he’s so damn smart, but suddenly becomes aware of a plummeting sound and turns around to see Styles hurl himself over the ropes and smash a forearm right into his face.
Styles charges at Owens, but apparently that blow to the head really improved Owens’ situational awareness, because he throws AJ into the barricade and then hits him with a Cannonball before throwing him back into the ring. After another break, we rejoin the action to see Styles roll out of a back suplex attempt and level Owens with a flurry and a clothesline. A forearm knocks Owens silly, and then Styles tries to snap his damn neck with the fireman’s carry neckbreaker.
Byron says that AJ Styles is going to have to “get creative”, which is a weird way to say “use literally any of his finishers”. But apparently Styles feels like that is solid advice, because he sets Owens up for the Styles Clash. Owens counters by being a heavy gentleman, then flips AJ over his head and then elevates him over the ropes. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm, misses, and then takes a superkick so beautiful that Shawn Michaels is already asking God’s forgiveness for his old man erection.
Owens tries for the Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Styles counters with the Calf-Crusher. Owens quickly grabs Styles’ beautiful hair and headbutts him. Owens dodges Styles’ next charge, attempts a package powerbomb that Styles rolls out of and then gets levelled by a Pele Kick. Styles attempts the Styles Clash again, but apparently Owens hasn’t sweat enough to make any difference to his overall mass, the bastard, and counters again.
Owens chases AJ into the ropes, but gets ensnared by the Calf-Crusher again! He tries to grasp Styles’ hair, but AJ won’t be fooled again and keeps his head out of Owens’ grasp. Deprived of this opportunity to fondle those amazing locks again, Kevin grabs the ropes and escapes the hold. He’s able to rock Styles with two superkicks, then accidentally decks the referee in the face, killing him instantly. Owens tries for the Pop-Up Powerbomb and gets rolled up by Styles. The referee is recalled to life by the necessity of giving this match a screwy finish, counts to three unaware that Owens’ shoulder is up and that is our match.
Not even mad about the finish: just means another instalment of this nice, nice thing. 3.5 Stars.
Owens lets Styles celebrate and leave unmolested, focusing instead on accosting the referee, who hopefully is telling him that if he wants a match called to a professional standard then maybe don’t punch the official in the damn face. A medic’s in the ring, telling Owens not to dare yell at this brave, sweet boy. He takes the ref to the back for a medical examination and a hug as Owens tries to work out what the fuck’s going on in this Kafka-esque nightmare.
Backstage we see the ref getting examined, and then Shane and Bryan are there to tell him that he done fucked up. Then Owens arrives and tells him same thing in a much louder voice. KO shoves the ref and Shane gets fucking protective; he’ll rip KO apart if he dares touch his stripy boys.
Owens gets given a rematch but demands a referee with a structural integrity that doesn’t so closely resemble wet tissue paper. Bryan says that he’s got a great referee, and it’s Shane. Wait, Bryan, stahp: Shane is never going to be able to be impartial in this situation. Owens rightfully protests, but he’s got to take the deal to get the match. He flips a table to express his rage far more eloquently than mere words can show.
We get a look back at the Usos putting the
boots sneakers to the New Day last week. Back to the present, and the Usos arrive, mocking the New Day’s introduction as they do so. Then they talk in rap, which I’m JUST SO GLAD THEY’RE DOING BECAUSE THEY CAN DO IT SO NATURALLY AND IN NOT AT ALL AN AWKWARD FASHION.
Wow, that’s it? I feel like that could have not happened and I’d feel exactly the same.
Maybe even way happier.
This forever, please
And to wash the taste of that out of our mouths, we get another Fashion Files episode, this time mocking Twin Peaks (which I really need to get around to watching). Tyler Breeze looks beyond hawt in a suit, and is stressing about Fandango being abducted or lost or stuff.
Suddenly the lights flicker and Fandango is there, dancing weirdly. And the Ascension is there, also being weird. Like…weirder than normal. Tyler starts screaming, “no more metaphors!” over and over…and then wakes up because it’s all a dream! He says that he knows who kidnapped Fandango now and strokes the missing poster of him.
I would watch this as an actual show.
Here comes Sami Zayn, whose music I found out this morning is amazing for weightlifting. He’s in action against the Phantom of the Opera if the Phantom wasn’t deformed and was way paler and also wasn’t French and was kind of ripped to fuck.
It’s Aiden English. I could have just said it was Aiden English. He sings his way down to the ring, which is causing my flatmate to look suspiciously at both me and the television alternatively.
Both men approach one another cautiously, then lock up. English latches on a headlock, gets shot off the ropes and knocks Zayn down. Sami gets up, unable to believe he’s technically losing to whatever Aiden English is, and gets his arm locked. Zayn rolls over on the mat, suddenly applying a headlock to English. He gets shoved away, springs off the ropes over English and then armdrags him around before locking the arm. English turns it into a cover…and wins!
Um…okay? I’m all for building up people who serve no use as jobbers, but I didn’t see this coming. Cool if this leads to something good for English. 1.5 Stars.
Mike and Maria Kanellis show up and say that they love that Zayn lost. That’s a lot of effort to go through to mock someone: getting headsets on, queuing up your music, hanging around gorilla position to see if Zayn’s actually going to lose or not. They’re clearly way too fixated on Sami, and if he’s smart then he’ll kill them before they kill him.
Time for a ladies’ match: it’s Carmella and number one contender Natalya taking on Becky Lynch and the SmackDown Women’s Champ, Naomi. Odds are five to one that Carmella actually cashes in mid-match.
Natalya and Becky Lynch start off, exchanging holds and counters. Natalya realises that Becky is sort of way better at that than her and forces Becky to break the hold by using the ropes. Somewhere in heaven, Stu Hart just punched one of his own children in the face out of disappointment. Becky kicks Natalya around a little, then seems to tweak her leg slightly off a springboard. She tags in Naomi, who knocks Natalya about before her number one contender calls for a time-out. Somewhere in heaven, Owen Hart just broke someone’s neck out of disappointment.
Natalya tags out to Carmella, because it’s not like things could get much worse for them. Naomi kicks Carmella twice, and then the third time Carmella catches the foot and slaps her right across the face: she is a braver woman than I am. Naomi takes a moment to process what the fuck just happened, and then dropkicks the dance moves out of Carmella and then slaps her across the face hard enough that her head can probably Exorcist now.
Natalya provides a distraction, allowing Carmella to gain an advantage and then immediately tag out before she fucks it up. Natalya actually starts delivering offence, which in the context of this match is a new approach, applying a sleeper hold. Naomi breaks out and tries to tag in the injured Becky Lynch; Natalya manages to stop her and knock Lynch off the apron before putting Naomi in the Sharpshooter!
Naomi tries to claw her way over to the ropes as Carmella weighs up the relative benefits of cashing in right this second now. Finally Naomi gets the ropes and Carmella tags in because fuck Natalya and fuck coherent strategy. She applies the Code of Silence…and Naomi counters into the Slay-O-Mission! Natalya tries to interfere, but Becky catches her with a Bexploder! Carmella taps out!
Interesting wrinkle to add to this storyline. Hope Becky’s not actually hurt, or at least not badly. 2.5 Stars.
I’d give anything for Carmella to try to cash in right now.
Meanwhile, Renee Young is backstage with Jinder Mahal and Jinder Mahal’s beautiful suits. The Singh Brothers are also there, still wearing their whore shirts with “we got our asses kicked by Randy Orton” medical accessories. Jinder says he doesn’t care who wins tonight, because he’s pretty sure that the Japanese are racist enough that he can still act like a victim. And, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
And here’s Rusev with his goddamn beautiful beard. I would love it if he was out here to call out Tamina regarding her treatment or Lana, or even to ask Lana why they never hang out at work anymore, but he’s just going to fight Chad Gable.
Gable heads out to the ring, still trying to work out if he’s related to Kurt Angle too, and the match starts. Chad Gable gets thrown around a lot like the puny hoo-man he is, but manages to apply a waistlock. Rusev actually uses the ropes to break the hold (“see, it’s a valid strategy!” Natalya yells backstage) and tosses Gable out of the ring. Chad actually lands on his feet, races back into the ring and wrestles Rusev down to the mat!
Gable hits one shot after another to the knee, punishing Rusev. Rusev manages to get to his feet and then hits Gable with that same knee because payback is super-specific in Bulgaria, then throws Chad right across the ring in a “fuck you I’m Rusev” sort of fashion. See, if he was Kurt Angle’s son then that exact same suplex would have implied fatherly affection.
Back from a commercial break, Gable fucking belly-to-belly suplexes Rusev twice because fuck you, he’s Chad Gable. Rusev clubs Gable away, then gets German motherfucking suplexed into a pin. The referee waits until both shoulders are down, lest he summon the pissed-off spectre of Kevin Owens, and then makes the count, with Rusev just getting the shoulder up at two.
Gable tries a moonsault, because if he’s not dead yet then he’s not ever going to die. Rusev, keen to disprove this theory empirically and violently, tries to grab Gable, gets kicked away and manages to duck the following moonsault. He charges at Chad, misses, cracks his noggin on the steel post and falls over like a massive fucking Charlie Chaplin. Gable hits the moonsault and Rusev just manages to kick out.
Gable looks distraught; Rusev looks dead. Chad stalks the Bulgarian, who’s been knocked so loopy he’s trying to find the flag of his home nation. Gable tries to roll-through suplex Rusev, who counters and kicks him in the head hard enough to erase all of Gable’s memories of the Olympics. Gable manages to kick out, and then applies an Angle Lock! NOW WILL YOU ADOPT HIM, KURT?!
Rusev manages to boot Gable all the way out of the ring, then is just able to kick Gable in the face again (forcing him to forget all of the amazing Olympic Village sex). He applies the Accolade, because if this is what Gable is like on free TV then he must cripple him before he features on a PPV. Chad taps out, because he’s not fucking stupid.
Goddamn, that was great. Chad Gable gets all the love forever. And Rusev still looks effective, so we’ve got another big menacing heel who first has to rescue his wife from Tamina Snuka. 3.5 Stars.
Rusev gets on the microphone and says that he was promised competition when he came to SmackDown. So they gave him Cena, and it may have looked like Cena beat Rusev pretty damn devastatingly, but actually no because no-one can beat Rusev. I think Rusev is sciencing wrong. I also think he’s taken a page out of the Donald Trump book of persuasion, which I guess is a lot better than the Donald Trump book of spousal abuse, tax-evasion and child rape.
Rusev says that he has no opponent at SummerSlam because everyone’s afraid of him. Then he gets startled by his own theme music, and to be honest I was half-expecting Nega-Rusev to come out and challenge him to a match at the PPV.
Actually, it’s way worse because then Randy Orton comes out. In fairness, Orton might actually have an advantage here, because Rusev doesn’t have any tiny friends who can distract him momentarily or beat up his Dad or wear half-unbuttoned shirts.
Orton tries to get into the ring, but Rusev keeps him out because he wants no fucking part of any dull old feud with Randy Orton. Orton grabs a microphone and says that he wouldn’t want to get in the ring with him either. Of course, this is a blot on Rusev’s honour, so he lets Randy in the ring, the big fucking muppet.
Randy tells Rusev that he’s never beaten him, and that he’ll be the Bulgarian’s opponent at SummerSlam because he’s doing this whole thing where he’s getting beat by folks of every nationality. Rusev laughs and speaks in Bulgarian, and is this just something that happens when people get into a feud with Randy Orton? Is Jinder Mahal going to suddenly stop speaking in Punjabi now that Orton’s no longer after him? The public demands answers.
Orton drops Rusev with an RKO, because fuck multilingualism.
The commentators remind us of what happened at the start of the night, that being that Kevin Owens blinds referees and then yells at them for it. And we see Shane McMahon being made the special guest referee, because Bryan either doesn’t know what the word “impartial” means or is secretly hoping that Shane gets blinded too.
John Cena makes his entrance first, telling the camera that he’s fired up. The crowd give him their support as we see Jinder Mahal in the skybox, where I assume he has a ridiculously poor view of two people he probably should be scouting extremely carefully. Then again, I also assume that Baron Corbin, who has not been seen for the entire night, is cunningly disguised as a cameraman, a member of the audience, JBL’s hat or Byron Saxton and is ready to cash in so that he doesn’t have to carry a motherfucking briefcase around with him all day erryday like he’s some sort of degenerate businessman. So actually it’s pretty smart that Jinder Mahal’s up there. Jinder Mahal is a smart man and a right good lad.
And here comes Shinsuke Nakamura. The Artist flippity-flops down to the ring, the bell rings and it’s fucking on.
Nakamura ducks Cena’s lock-up attempt, smirking at him. Cena does the exact same thing and tells Shinsuke that he can’t see him. On the third time, they lock up and Nakamura shoves Cena into the corner, using some of his weird shenanigans to freak Cena out. John goes after the arm, twisting it into a wristlock. Nakamura rolls and cartwheels out of the hold, headlocking Cena. Cena shoots him off the ropes, ducks down and Nakamura is able to catch himself.
Cena goes for a punch and Shinsuke backs him off with a step-up enzuigiri. Good Vibrations wobbles Cena, who’s had enough of this shit and hits Nakamura with the old one-two. John charges at Nakamura in the corner; Shinsuke ducks out of the way and lets Cena become acquainted with the turnbuckles. He attempts Good Vibrations again, but this time Cena’s latched onto the foot and dumps him down on the mat, thoughtfully applying a sleeper hold as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Shinsuke is punched in the face and comes back with a kick to the side of Cena’s head. Jinder is watching and smirking about how fucked he probably is, and Shinsuke nails Cena with another kick, and then a few more just for giggles. Cena’s sent into the corner and takes a hard elbow to the skull before getting draped over the turnbuckle for a knee to the tum-tum. Nakamura goes for the cover and gets two.
Nakamura tries to reverse-exploder Cena, but John’s not feeling it and instead fancies going for the Five Moves of Doom: shoulder tackle, shoulder tackle, spin-out powerbomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle…and Shinsuke grabs the arm and goes for a cross armbreaker! Cena’s locked his hands, and so Nakamura turns it into a triangle choke! Cena lifts Nakamura, gets him up on his shoulders, and Shinsuke counters with a facebuster!
Nakamura scouts Cena for the Kinshasa, charges at him and gets caught in the STF! Nakamura slides out of it like a slippery fish and this time gets the armbreaker! Cena turns him over for a pin; Nakamura releases the hold; Cena clotheslines the man inside out and JBL achieves climax!
Cena goes to pick Nakamura up, but is hit with a flurry, knocking him down with a knee! Another Kinshasa attempt; Cena is able to hoist Nakamura up, hits the AA and Shinsuke gets the shoulder up at the last second! Cena looks amazed, like everyone and their tailor hasn’t been kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment lately, and picks Nakamura up again…only to be caught in a guillotine choke! But Cena still picks him up, AAs him, goes for a third and Nakamura slides out of it! Kinshasa connects, and Nakamura is going to SummerSlam!
Match of the night, up against some heavy competition. I thought this was where we were going to to get the first major Nakamura loss, so this was an awesome surprise. Can’t wait for Nakamura to win and then Corbin to cash in: I said it so you didn’t have to. 4 Stars.
Cena and Nakamura shake hands and bow to each other as Jinder SNEERS in the distance. Baron Corbin’s eyes narrow behind the Byron Saxton mask he’s wearing; this isn’t at all what he expected. He looks at JBL, worried that this slight lapse will alert the Texan to his brilliant yet kinda racist disguise. JBL’s hat makes eye contact, lifts a finger to its mouth and says “shh”. It is also Baron Corbin.
Baron looks back at the ring, only to see Baron Corbin celebrating his victory over Baron Corbin. He gazes up at the skybox, where Baron Corbin clutches the WWE Championship as he glares down at Baron Corbin and Baron Corbin, surrounded by a sea of cheering Baron Corbins. Baron Corbin stares at his Money in the Bank briefcase, trying to see his reflection in it. Even though he can feel the Byron Saxton mask on his face, he can’t see it in his reflection.
The face of Baron Corbin stares back at him.
The Bad: The Usos, mostly. Not exactly a fan of Sami Zayn getting beaten so quickly, but I’ll see what comes of it before I start shooting my mouth off.
The Good: Everything else. Three fantastic matches in one night, plus decent tension and story-building all the way through. Baron Corbin. Great episode: 10/10.
Tags: aiden english, AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, byron saxton, Carmella, Daniel Bryan, Fashion Police, jbl, Kevin Owens, maria kanellis, Mike Kanellis, naomi, natalya neidhart, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, Tom Phillips