I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Actually, it’s a chance to not do research and to drink heavily during the day, so scratch that: this all fits me like a glove.
Yes, it’s time for the FINAL SPAIN SMACKDOWN REPORT OF 2017 and what a weird and…more weird year it’s been. But Charlotte, AJ and the Usos are Champions, so we don’t have a huge amount to complain about. And Dolph may or may not be US Champion, but that’s this whole other issue.
So, let’s get to it.
Fuck Dolph Ziggler
No “last week on this show” recap, because who is honestly watching SmackDown Live on Boxing Day. You think I wrote any of this on Boxing Day? You think I was capable of a single rational thought on Boxing Day? Jesus Christ.
Anyway, the show kicks off with Daniel Bryan, who doesn’t even have the common damn decency to dress up as Santa Claus. The commentary team in their role as The Gods discuss the rivalry between Bryan and Shane, in case Shane O’Mac has taken enough blows to the head that he’s forgotten all about it.
But Bryan is apparently here to talk about Dolph Ziggler, which is the definition of an unexpected direction. We see the footage of Dolph’s “I don’t want this fucking belt” moment, which I personally view as a great instant of character development: fuck midcard belts forever and ever. Bryan says he’s been calling and texting Dolph all week, which must have been a real novelty for the Showstopper: an indication that someone wants to see or hear him.
Bryan’s chosen to view Dolph’s actions as a relinquishing of the Championship, as opposed to a whiny fucking tantrum/pity party. So fuck that guy: we’re having a goddamn US Championship Tournament. And it’s starting tonight, bitches, because SmackDown Live‘s new year’s resolution is to blow your fuckin’ mind. First match is Roode vs. Corbin, but then Gable and Benjamin show up to be sarcastic little bitches.
They ask Danny Boy what he’s going to do about the Tag Team Championships, and Bryan says they’ve literally just had an opportunity. Gable and Benjamin claims that it was never fair, especially as a bunch of other teams just got added. The crowd is chanting “Rusev Day” at any opportunity, which really adds a great dimension to this conversation. They remind Bryan that they beat the Usos last week, and state that they deserve an opportunity.
Suddenly, Aiden English and Rusev show up, and every member of the crowd simultaneously reaches completion. English sings their fucking argument for getting a title shot, which is a real baller move if I’m any authority on that, and then Rusev announces that it’s Rusev Day. The crowd, misty-eyed and barely conscious, mass-orgasms again.
Then the New Day shows up, dressed in festive colours, and state their own case for getting a shot at the Tag Team Championships: Gable and Benjamin got pinned at Clash of Champions, and the New Day beat Rusev and English last week. Rusev interrupts, demanding an answer from Bryan. Dan the Man says that there’s going to be a Triple Threat Tag Team match right now, with the winners becoming the new number one contenders.
Triple Threat Tag Team Tussle
Before the match can get underway, the Usos make their way to the ring, planning on getting a closer look at the action. English, Gable and Woods start off, shoving each other around until a brawl breaks out on the outside, with more and more of the competitors joining the fray. Xavier sentons out onto everyone, and starts working over English on the inside.
Big E tags in, powerbombing Woods onto English. They try the Up Up Down Down, but Gable suddenly dashes in and suplexes both English and Big E at the same time! He tags Benjamin in, who stomps away at Big E before suplexing him. English breaks up the pin, and Rusev tags in to a big pop, stomping Big E before Shelton and Gable interrupt. They go back to work on Big E, flooring him with a bunch of knees, and English and Gable stomp Big E some more.
Big E suddenly clotheslines both men to the floor and gets the tag to Woods. Woods goddamn explodes into the match, taking out everyone. Honor Roll takes Gable down, and then a rolling elbow almost scores the pin on English. Benjamin tags in, hurling English into Rusev before spinebustering English. Woods hits him with an enzuigiri, but Gable tags in, taking out Woods and Big E before English catches him with a boot!
English crawls over to Rusev and gets the tag! Rusev murders everyone in the damn before starting a Rusev Day chant! Gable finally catches him with a right hand, hitting a rolling German! English has tagged in, gets taken out by Woods and only just kicks out of the pin. Woods chops away at Gable against the ropes, kicking him in the face as Big E tags in, the two of them hitting a backstabber/slam double-team!
The New Day want the Up Up Down Down, but Gable slips his way free and Woods leaps into a knee to the face from Benjamin before Gable hits a moonsault, and Xavier kicks out! English takes Benjamin out with a kick, then almost gets suplexed by Gable, but hangs onto Woods’ hair to save himself! Gable is stunned with a kick and a DDT from Woods, then English almost takes the match with a spinebuster to Woods!
Benjamin sets Aiden English up on the top rope, looking for a superplex. Gable goes to help, and Rusev powerbombs both men! Splash from English connects, but Gable kicks out! Rusev wants the tag, almost gets rolled up by Woods and then applies the Accolade to both Xavier and Gable! What the fuck is going on?! Benjamin suddenly breaks up the submission with a kick to Rusev’s face, tags himself in and gets speared off the apron by Big E!
Back in the ring, Big E wants the Big Ending, but Shelton fights his way out! Big E heads up to the top, gets kneed in the face by Benjamin and gets the powerbomb/clothesline double-team from Gable and Benjamin! Gable gets the pin!
What a fucking match. Any team could have won and it would have been great. Amazing damn match. 5 Stars.
Bryan is backstage, and Shane suddenly shows up. They greet each other awkwardly, like two friends who don’t fuck anymore. Shane says that something Daniel said last week really upset him: that he was turning into Mr McMahon. Shane says that Vince deserves some credit (RED FLAG) for everything he’s done. Yeah, and Hitler was a good painter and liked dogs: you can’t just pick and choose shit.
Bryan says that he didn’t mean to denigrate the awesome and powerful image of Mr McMahon: he just thinks that Shane’s been throwing his weight around a lot. Shane points out that Daniel’s no stranger to that, what with the United States Championship Tournament, especially as Corbin legally gets a rematch. Bryan says that this is supposed to be the Land of Opportunity: now way more people get opportunities.
So Shane goes on to talk about the main event: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles, questioning the favouritism that Bryan seems to be showing KO and Zayn. Bryan answers this by stating it was the best rivalry they had this year, so from a business standpoint it makes a tonne of sense to have a match. Logicked to fuck and back, Shane just says “okay”.
Fashion violation this
Here’s Breezango: Tyler Breeze and Fandango, the Fashion Police. This is going to be a tag team match: apparently the Ascension got them a rematch with the Bludgeon Brothers, because the Ascension are about to be revealed as SmackDown Live‘s evil geniuses.
I mean, if this leads to a match between the Bludgeon Brothers and a serious, revitalised Ascension, then sign me the fuck up to all of this. The more awesome tag teams on this show, the better. For future reference, see the five star match we all just watched.
The Bludgeon Brothers arrive, and we know how this is going to go. Breezango actually hit a double dropkick, but they get their asses kicked immediately afterwards. It’s brutal, it’s nasty and it’s everything I want from the Bludgeon Brothers. They have a new thing now, which is interrupting their own pins to cause more pain. I mean, just don’t go for a pin in the first place, but WAIT A SECOND!! It’s the Ascension! The Ascension are rushing the fucking ring! They just took out Harper and saved both Breezango members! Okay, I wanted a violent brawl, but this works: Ascension vs. Bludgeon Brothers: make it happen.
The Bludgeon Brothers continue to excel in a role that has been perfectly crafted for them. Great stuff. 2.5 Stars,
Backstage, Kayla tries to interview Breezango. Konor and Viktor make a challenge on the Fashion Police’s behalf against the Bludgeon Brothers next week.
It’s the perfect crime.
Jesus Christ, Carmella
Here are the Riott Squad with their oddly peppy music. I mean, these gals violently beat the shit out of people, but sure: give them lighthearted punk music. I don’t know: maybe Ruby’s super-into it. Ruby Riott also is on record stating that “rumble” is just a fancy word for “riot”, which is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Shut up, Ruby.
So Naomi is here to take on Ruby Rumble. She and Ruby start off by hammering at each other before the Rumble Squad member takes control. Naomi slides out of bodyslam and hits a springboard roundhouse kick. Liv and Sarah try to cause a distraction, and Ruby kicks Naomi’s leg out, and hits the Rumble Kick for a victory. Well done, Ruby Rumble and the Rumble Squad. Good luck at the Royal Riott.
So. Fucking. Stupid.
Man, remember when Naomi was both Women’s Champ and a credible challenge to Charlotte Flair? Because it damn sure didn’t feel like that this week. 1 Star.
The Rumble Squad beat on Naomi after the match, which brings Charlotte Flair out to the ring. She mows through Logan, spears Ruby and tackles Morgan, but a kick from a recovered Sarah Logan kills her momentum. The Rumble Squad proceed to demonstrate why rushing into a 3-on-1 disadvantage is a really dumb fucking thing to do unless your name is CM Punk, who can literally beat all of the Shield single-handed.
And then the Welcoming Committee show up for a battle of faction supremacy. The Rumble Squad then back off, actually knowing how odds and the numbers game work. The Welcoming Committe chase them anyway, fucking them up until the Rumble Squad make their escape.
Backstage, Renee Young tries to describe the escalating tensions of the Women’s Division without using the word “bitches”. This then segues into AJ Styles for some reason, and she asks him about facing Owens tonight with Zayn in his corner.
Styles says he doesn’t care if Zayn’s out there tonight; he’ll still take Owens on, so KO had better work out what he plans on doing with his opportunity tonight. If Owens wants to beat him, then tonight he’s going to have to outwork him; it didn’t happen in 2017 and it’s not going to happen now.
Someone put Corbin on suicide watch
Aw, motherfucker: it’s time to get GLORIOUS up in this bitch. Here’s Bobby Roode, my bearded, stuttering spirit animal, ready to take on Baron Corbin. Corbin makes his way to the ring, and it’s time for the first match in this tournament.
Corbin immediately backs Roode into a corner, but Bobby fires back, stomping Baron out of the ring. Back inside, Roode stays on the offensive, hitting a neckbreaker. Corbin rolls out of the ring again, this time dragging Bobby out after him and hurling him into the barricade. He hangs Roode up by his legs from the ropes, then hammers a fist into Roode’s stomach.
Back in the ring, Corbin charges shoulder-first into Roode’s sternum, following that up with a hard punch to the gob. Roode fights back with a punch of his own, followed by chops; he rebounds off the ropes right into a sidewalk slam from Corbin. A forearm to the face knocks Roode to the outside, and a clothesline levels him.
Baron takes his time getting back into the ring and pays for it: he runs first into a boot and then gets low-bridged out of the ring. Corbin charges back inside, only to get clotheslined out once again. Roode leaps from the apron to clothesline Corbin again, then takes him back in the ring.
Roode scores with a blockbuster, with Corbin just getting the shoulder up. Baron fights back, hurling Roode shoulder-first into the ring post. Corbin tries for End of Days, but gets countered. Baron tries to clothesline Roode, but runs right into a spinebuster. The Glorious DDT is countered by Deep Six, with Bobby only just getting the shoulder up.
Corbin takes Roode up to the top, resisting any attempts to fight him off. Roode desperately headbutts the bigger man, finally knocking him off his perch. Bobby leaps right into a chokeslam, reverses to roll Corbin up, and that’s it!
Jesus, I actually feel sorry for Baron Corbin. Good match, though without much spark or passion: might have been a good thing that Ziggler was involved in the PPV match. 2.5 Stars.
And he did it all by himself!
Second tournament match tonight. The Singh Brothers announce Jinder Mahal, and I’m totally fine with him getting this shot. Mahal as US Champion would actually make a lot more sense, and it means he’s not going to ruin the main event scene. Plus, after Clash of Champions I’m willing to admit that he can be one half of a good match, and this is a good level at which he can improve and quite possibly earn a place back at the main event scene when if he does so.
Mahal’s opponent is Tye Dillinger, so this is either going to be a short match or a hell of an upset. Mahal is immediately all over Dillinger, working him over on the mat before elbowing him in the face. Dillinger comes back, almost rolling Mahal up before Jinder rolls out of the ring.
During the break the two men jockey for control of the match, and when we come back Mahal has Dillinger in a rest hold. Tye fights back with some crisp shots, but Jinder shuts his shit down. Dillinger won’t be taken out, however, and keeps going after Mahal, hitting him with a flurry of strikes!
Tye stomps away at Jinder in the corner, and he’s looking for the Tye Breaker…Jinder slips out of it, but Tye stays on him; he hits Mahal with a crossbody, but Mahal rolls through into a cover! Tye kicks out, but takes a huge gutbuster from Jinder, and I’m surprised that he kicked out of that. Jinder looks for a DDT, but Dillinger suddenly catches Jinder with one of his own for two!
Tye goes for his ten punches, but Jinder manages to interrupt it with the Khallas for the win.
Good choice to have Mahal advance: avoids what I’ll call “The Baron Corbin Treatment”. Nice showing from Dillinger in a competitive match. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are ambush-interviewed by Kayla Braxton. KO has a bottle of champagne with him, and she calls him out on clearly being about to spray it on her in a sexually suggestive way. Owens promises that he won’t open the bottle until he beats Styles tonight, now that he has the chance to face him without Shane McMahon being the worst Special Guest Referee in the world.
Renee Young is backstage with Randy Orton for some reason, and she asks him how growing his hair out is going. Orton says that he’s been so wrapped up in everyone else’s bullshit drama, but from now on he’s going to be a hundred percent drama-free and bitches who want to bring him down can just step off, girlfriend; he’s just focused on winning the Royal Riott.
Nakamura appears next to him, and totally rips off his idea about winning the Royal Riott. He can get sued for that.
Fuck’s sake, Shane
Here’s WWE Champion, AJ Styles. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn follow him out, and it’s time for our main event. Bell rings, Owens rushes Styles and AJ slams two feet into Owens’ face with a dropkick. Styles drops a knee on Owens’ face, staying on KO with a hurricanrana from a grounded position. Owens is able to throw Styles into the bottom turnbuckle, but immediately gets caught in the Calf Crusher! Owens drags himself out of the ring, and Styles follows him out there, kicking him to the ground.
Styles throws Owens back into the ring, trying to go back to work on the left leg of Owens. KO kicks Styles right out of the ring, then heads out after him and runs him over. Back senton inside the ring gets a two count, and Owens locks in a sleeper. Styles tries to fight back, but Owens retains control with an elbow, spiking Styles down to the mat.
After the break, Styles is in another sleeper hold. Owens starts hitting him with strikes, culminating in a big boot to the face before applying another sleeper hold. Styles suddenly counters with a face-first slam to Owens, winning himself some distance. Owens dodges a stinger splash; Styles hits him with a boot to the face. Styles misses a moonsault and Owens runs him over with a clothesline.
Neckbreaker to Styles gets a two count, and Owens sets AJ up for a cannonball. Styles leaps to his feet, laying Owens out with an ushiguroshi. KO is able to reach a vertical base, and he and Styles slug it out before AJ levels Owens with a flurry! Running forearm puts Owens down, and a flying clothesline squashes Owens in the corner! Styles Clash is countered by Owens, but a Pele Kick tumbles KO!
Owens elevates Styles onto the apron, and then counters the Phenomenal Forearm with a gutbuster and an elbow drop! Styles slides out of a superplex attempt, hitting Owens with a spin-out powerbomb! Owens rolls out of the ring, with Sami Zayn encouraging him. Styles throws himself over the top onto Styles, tosses Owens into the ring post and then back into the ring.
Zayn gets onto the ring apron to yell at the referee, and Styles takes a swing at him. Owens takes advantage with a superkick, but AJ kicks out! Shane comes down to order Zayn be removed from ringside, and the referee complies. Styles rolls Owens up, but no-one is counting the pin! A roll-up from Owens as Styles confronts the referee gets Kevin Owens the win.
A good match, if slower-paced than some of their earlier work. The end seems to position Owens as a viable contender with Randy and Nakamura considering the Royal Riott over any Championship opportunities. 3 Stars.
Styles pauses on his way out to look at Shane, who must be feeling a right charlie at the minute. Owens and Zayn celebrate in the ring as Byron moves heaven and earth to somehow make this not Shane McMahon’s fault, the sycophant prick.
The bad: I feel really sorry for Naomi, and also Corbin, for how they were treated tonight. Other than that, there’s not much I can take issue with.
The good: incredible tag team opener, and a good match from Owens and Styles. The Bludgeon Brothers are doing everything right, and a match with the Ascension is not yet out of reach, which really could be great if done right. 8/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, byron saxton, charlotte flair, Corey Graves, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Gable and Benjamin, Kevin Owens, Liv Morgan, Randy Orton, Ruby Riott, sami zayn, Sarah Logan, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Bludgeon Brothers, the usos, Tom Phillips