Hi everyone. Apologies for this review being kinda late; it’s been a busy time in the world of academia, and consequently I’ve had more on my plate than a spinster at a wedding buffet.
But this isn’t about me: this is about the fallout of Hell in a Cell; this is about the sudden relevance of Sami Zayn; this is about Jinder Mahal still being fucking WWE Champion.
I mean…fucking Christ.
I swear, it’s like WWE is trying to make its audience racist so that we can actually appreciate their racist jokes and storylines.
Anyway, on with the show.
There’s like a five minute recap of the PPV in case you missed it, and then we head to the live show as the Usos approach the ring. They are limping heavily after their incredible match on Sunday: definitely the best match from a technical perspective, even if Shane and Owens automatically had them beat on emotion. I’ve never seen such an innovative use of a Cell and the weapons; I was non-stop impressed throughout.
Jimmy and Jey say that they had already told us that they had this whole place on lock, and they want the New Day to show up because they’ve got something to tell them face to face. I swear to God, this had better not lead to a return match: it’s been great, but we need to have other matches. The New Day oblige, looking just as destroyed as the Usos, as the commentators tell us that this proves that the most fun and friendly people in the world can be fucking psychopaths who’ll try and murder you.
One of the Usos (I don’t care) says that the two best tag teams in the world went to war on Sunday, and that they set the motherfucking benchmark for all those other teams in the back, who suck compared to them. I defy the New Day to refute that statement; I love Breezango and the Ascension’s comedy as much as the next man, but neither team have produced matches on this level.
The New Day agrees that they are the best, and the Usos give them props on what sick and degraded maniacs they are. They acknowledge that they are the best goddamn match on this match right now, but says that the fans don’t know how fucked up they were after that Hell in a Cell match; only the New Day could possibly know that. I mean…not Kofi; he wasn’t even in the match.
The Usos tell the New Day that they are the tag team division, and that they all run this division. The New Day ask what’s going on, and the Usos come right out and admit that they respect the New Day. There’s about to be a handshake when the Hype Bros to come out to spread their mediocrity over this like herpes.
Mojo says that this is the problem: it’s the same two teams always battling over the titles and taking all the credit, whilst the other tag teams are left out in the cold. This is going to be incredibly awkward when the quality of tag matches plummets as new teams get involved; they never should have broken up American Alpha.
Thankfully, at least one half of American Alpha arrives, along with one half of the World’s Greatest Tag Team. Gable says that they won at Hell in a Cell: they get the next shot. The Usos mock Chad Gable for, I guess, having a great tag partner? It’s very unclear.
And then Breezango arrive, but before they can say anything the Ascension show up to join this little tag team conference. The Usos try to call this meeting to order and insult all of their challengers, though pause to admit that they do actually enjoy Fashion Files. Daniel Bryan shows up, I guess after looking around and realising that these are all the tag teams SmackDown has. He says that tonight isn’t a good night for this, which is some fucking bullshit: Undertaker once killed a man at Great American Bash and we all just acted like nothing happened.
Bryan asks if everyone could vacate the ring, which is a hell of way to treat the guys who had the best match on Sunday…but Bryan is just faking us all out like the coy bearded bitch that he is: we’re getting a Fatal Four-Way tag match to determine number one contenders!
Pick the non-joke tag team
When we come back, Konor is in the ring with Mojo Rawley, as WWE attempts the arcane practice of “building a team up”. Bit of slow-paced tussling between the Ascension and the Hype Bros, then Gable tags himself in to go after Viktor. Gable and Benjamin have a goddamn duty to win this match, because I don’t want to live in any of the other three universes.
Benjamin arrives to work over Viktor, then lets Gable take the reins again. Chad does some of his amateur wrestling voodoo and suddenly Viktor is the match bitch/Rick Morton again. He finally is able to tag in Konor to be faintly more effective, and every team leaps into the ring to break up the pinfall as we go to a commercial.
When we come back, Mojo Rawley is fucking up Tyler Breeze, hitting him with a tilt-a-whirl slam. Every team hits the ring to break up another cover before brawling their way to the outside. Ryder almost hits some sort of double-team move, but Viktor is able to shove Zack into Mojo and the Hype Bros decide that this is the perfect place to have a fight. Then Konor throws Rawley into Ryder, and out of the ring.
Breeze almost catches Ryder with a pin, but the beautiful blond runs into a pair of knees. Fandango saves his partner from a Broski Boot, and Shelton tags himself in courtesy of Zack Ryder. The World’s Alpha-est Tag Team cleans house with suplexes and spinebusters, and get Breeze up for their double-team. Fandango intervenes, misses a leg drop to Benjamin and gets hit with a moonsault from Gable! Gable and Benjamin hit their finisher and they’re the new number one contenders!
This definitely makes the most sense, and this is probably the best team to join the vaunted ranks of the Usos and New Day. I’m not sure if they’re rushing into this, and a few months spent building Gable and Benjamin as a team could have had the dual purpose of finally giving the Ascension the new start they’ve needed for years: let them rise to the occasion, get serious, fail in a valiant manner and then have Gable and Benjamin challenge whilst they retain their new, serious personalities. The match itself was really fun; more enjoyable than I’d have thought. 3 Stars.
Backstage, Dasha is lurking outside Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s locker room, because no girls allowed.
Elsewhere, Natalya is backstage with Lana and Tamina. Carmella joins them, still acting like she’s ever going to cash in. Natalya mouths off about Charlotte, apparently without realising that the big gal in question is literally right behind her. When she’s aware of this, Natalya doubles-down and insults Ric, because fuck fear and fuck the Flairs.
Charlotte isn’t going to take this from some short bitch wearing cat ears, so pops her in the mouth. A brawl starts so fast that you’d swear a mass email was sent around earlier; Naomi and Becky are involved even though they weren’t there for the conversation. Good thing that Shawn Michaels doesn’t have a daughter who wrestles, because the Women’s Division would never have a peaceful moment.
Renee Young is in a third part of backstage, looking surprised at how cray bitches are right now. She introduces Baron Corbin, managing to hold back her fear and disgust at the sight of the Lone Wolf actually smiling. She asks him how life is now he has to lug around a big heavy bit of metal all the time, and he cuts your standard “I’m a smug heel 101” promo.
Might actually see our first double failed cash-in
Carmella is in the ring, James Ellsworth is leashed to the post and Becky is making her entrance. Lynch gets in the ring and starts fucking Carmella up six ways from Sunday. Carmella gets in one move, but unfortunately that move was a slap across the face. This makes Becky angry, and you wouldn’t like Becky when she’s angry because when Becky’s angry she exploder suplexes a motherfucker. Carmella is flung out of the ring where she hides behind Ellsworth and kicks out the legs of Becky.
Carmella smacks Lynch’s face off the ring apron a few times before tossing her into the ring to work her over. Sleeper hold’s applied, but Becky fights her way out of it. A forearm attempt leads to Becky running into pair of knees, but she shrugs it off and applies the Disarmer to make Carmella tap.
The commentary team really kept bringing up Becky’s need to move up the ranks and assert herself; not sure if that’s good for her or bad for her, but I’m hoping good. Match wasn’t bad or anything, but whatever progress Carmella’s making is coming slowly. 2 Stars.
Shane screwed Shane
Here’s Kevin Owens, ready to revel in his victory from Sunday. Like the Usos and New Day, Owens is selling his injuries like he’s in desperate need of a quick nip from the Holy Grail. He says that he promised to take Shane to hell, and he did. Shane is never coming back, and we should be grateful than Owens is even here.
Owens gives a weird speech about how he had a near death experience at Hell in a Cell, and it is some strange shit, and how Sami Zayn is his new guardian angel. He says that his purpose is to turn SmackDown into his personal paradise. Holy shit: an honest to God motive. Where the fuck did that come from?
Kevin brings Sami Zayn out, who still does his cheerful and energetic entrance down to the ring. Owens says that Sami needs to explain why he did what he did, especially as Owens had no way of knowing that he was going to be out there.
Zayn says that it all started with the powerbomb on the ring apron from a few weeks ago. He says that he’s always tried to be the good guy, to please people and make sure everyone’s happy, and it’s gotten him nothing in this business. And despite being a total dickhead, Owens has had amazing success; meanwhile Sami Zayn gets to sleep at night. He recounts the promises of opportunity and respect Shane made to him, and then how he never had another meeting with Shane McMahon again. He says that he tried to warn Shane, for his own good, and Shane just brushed him off; Shane never cared about him, even when Sami’s trying to help him out.
Sami tells us that even during Hell in a Cell, he wanted Shane to win. He says when Owens fell from the Cell, McMahon had the match won. But then he watched Shane head up to the top for the Leap of Faith. Sami says that, no matter what Kevin Owens is or has done, he’s been his brother this whole time. But Shane, up on that Cell, didn’t care about Owens, the McMahons or anything but himself. Zayn says that he realised that he never hated Kevin Owens: he only ever hated that Owens was right.
Well, goddamn. That is possibly the most logical and most organic heel turn I’ve seen in years. I can even empathise with Sami, for God’s sake. I have to give WWE props for this: as long as Zayn is allowed to be relevant now that he’s turned to the dark side, this could be one of the best bits of writing they’ve done for a hell of a long time.
Zayn and Owens take turns raising each others’ hands and getting the audience to cheer for each other, really rubbing it in everyone’s faces. A little surprising that Bryan doesn’t come out, but we’ll see what happens down the line.
Real step down for Nakamura
Aiden English and Rusev have jobbered their way to the ring, awaiting the arrival of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura. Randy shows up, in that sleeveless douchebag hoodie of his, and then is joined by Nakamura. The commentary team pushes how, if not for the Singh Brothers, Nakamura would be Champion right now. I honestly don’t care who beats Jinder now, even if we do something as tasteless as the “great white saviour” to be honest: I just want that veiny fuck out of the main event so I can enjoy shitting World Championship matches.
Rusev and Randy start things off, because this shit don’t get old. Rusev avoids and RKO, gets thrown out of the ring and then takes the advantage after interference from English. Orton don’t give a fuck tho, and back suplexes Rusev on the announce table. Another distraction allows Rusev to roundhouse kick Randy’s fucking head off, and English follows that up with a neckbreaker on the outside as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Orton is getting fucked over by Rusev and English, locked in a sleeper. Randy finally busts out, nailing English with a powerslam before tagging in Nakamura. Shinsuke comes in ready to fuck up some heels. Aiden manages to catch one of the kicks and takes another right to the head. Rusev interrupts the Kinshasa, gets a roundhouse to the head and then an RKO before Nakamura ends things with a Kinshasa.
Okay match. Nakamura utterly cleaning house was a nice recovery for that bullshit on Sunday. 2 Stars.
Renee is backstage with AJ Styles, and asks him how confident he is about facing Corbin tonight. He says that Corbin didn’t beat him on Sunday, and if nothing else then him being Mr Money in the Bank proved that he makes mistakes.
Oh, Harper and Rowan are a tag team again. They’ve always been at their best like this, and their matches with the Usos from a few years back were goddamn perfect, but they really cannot do anything as singles wrestlers, can they?
This was broken-glass levels of painful
Here’s Bobby Roode, and he is GLORIOUS. I will never, ever get tired of this song or this entrance. He says that he’s very happy to say that his first WWE PPV match was ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS. He calls Ziggler out on attacking him from behind. He tells Dolph that if he wants to fight, then they can fight right now.
Dolph’s music starts, and then stops as he walks out in silence. He congratulates Bobby on his first PPV match, and claims that he exposed Roode for being a fraud. He says that he dominated Roode for the whole match, causing Bobby to panic and grab Ziggler’s tights for the cheap win. Bobby and Ziggler have an awkward bit of back and forth as they agree to have a rematch, and Roode says that he’s sick and tired of Ziggler whining and complaining, so he needs to get in the ring right now.
Ziggler fakes being tempted, and then walks off. Christ, he is nauseatingly annoying. This was such a clumsy segment.
Nice to know the US Championship is back to meaning nothing again
Jesus, jobber entrances left and right tonight: both Styles and Corbin made their entrances during the break. We at least get the in-ring announcements (big match feel), and then we’re away.
AJ immediately catches Corbin with a pair of big kicks, knocking him out of the ring. Baron comes back in the ring, then gets low-bridged out of it. See, this is why you don’t piss off Dave Meltzer. Dude’s connected. Baron comes back in again and gets worked right over by Styles until he rolls out again, this time escaping to a commercial break.
When we come back, Corbin manages some honest-to-God offence, clotheslining Styles. Baron continues to unleash offence on Styles, but then misses a kick and gets a lot of hands thrown at his face. Styles unleashes a flurry, dropkicks the legs out from under Corbin and then takes him down with a running forearm. Corbin tries to catch AJ, but all he gets is a baseball slide that sends him over the fucking announce table.
Styles throws Corbin back into the ring and is about to do the springboard 450 when Baron dodges it preemptively. Styles sees this coming, adjusts himself and then hits a Phenomenal Forearm followed by the Ushi-guroshi. Wow, why would you even follow the Forearm with anything that wasn’t a Styles Clash or a Calf Crusher?
Styles sprints at Corbin, who digs super deep for some offence and hits Deep Six. He then decides to taunt Styles for a while before going for a superplex. Styles tries to slip free, but is caught by Baron. He tries to go for the Calf Crusher, but Corbin stops him. So Styles hurls Corbin shoulder-first into the steel post, then rolls him up before locking in the Calf Crusher!
Baron manages to gut it out before driving the back of Styles’ head into the mat, breaking the hold. Corbin slams punches into AJ’s head, goes for the End of Days but eats a Pele Kick. Corbin rolls out of the ring; Styles follows him but gets hurled across the outside area to crash and burn. Corbin smells blood, hits the End of Days and wins!
Wow, Corbin won clean and still looked like the biggest fucking wuss ever. SmackDown needs a dominant heel; RAW has Lesnar and Strowman and Big Cass, and we just have cowards and cheats. Match itself, being an AJ Styles match, was pretty good. 3 Stars.
Renee Young asks Baron Corbin for his post-match thoughts, and he spends a whole minute telling us all “up your nose with a rubber hose”. Stirring stuff.
The bad: Baron Corbin should be a lot more dominant than this, particularly as Champion. No word on when or how Jinder will be dethroned either, and I am fucking invested in that. All in all, things didn’t develop much at all.
The good: AJ Styles puts on a hell of a match, and the tag team four-way at the start was really fun too. Sami Zayn stole the show with his solid, logical motive. 7/10.
Tags: aiden english, Becky Lynch, Bobby Roode, Breezango, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Corey Graves, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Gable and Benjamin, James Ellsworth, Kevin Owens, Lana, naomi, Natalya, Randy Orton, Renee Young, rusev, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, tamina, The Ascension, The Hype Bros, The New Day, the usos, Tom Phillips