Jesus, I’m exhausted. And what better way is there to recharge my batteries than watching the omnifuck of sports entertainment that is the WWE? Literally hundreds, but I like to occasionally pretend that I’m a professional when it’s 3am and I’m having trouble sleeping; I like to picture Widro slamming his hand on a desk at the main offices of Inside Pulse (I’ll admit that I’ve not researched this fine publication very much) and saying, ‘Damn, that Spain character takes some risks, but he’s one hell of a wrestling reviewer.’ Then he spits into a garbage can and shoots his assistant, because I don’t know how journalism works.
Anyway, let’s review SmackDown before my Catholic guilt starts up.
At any point, Nakamura might appear and punch AJ in the dick
We get a ball-shot round-up which is really portraying Shinsuke Nakamura as an evil genius rather than someone whose personality is currently “that’s my purse; I don’t know you”. That’s not a slur on Shinsuke or this storyline, by the way: I’m enjoying both immensely. Just don’t act like shots to the nards are Machiavellian; in some schools and workplaces it’s basic social interaction.
Then we have AJ Styles rocking up to the ring, presumably to address the recent assaults on his phenomenal bollocks. He gets a microphone, and sadly does not speak in a high-pitched, helium-squeaky voice: I guess that sort of gritty realism is a bridge too far for WWE. He says that you can learn a lot about a man from his failures, and the only thing that we’ve learned about Shinsuke due to his failure at WrestleMania is that he enjoys partaking in a good uppercut to the nether regions.
Styles says that last week he should have been celebrating his victory, but instead he had to ice his nutsack and fight Bryan: another match ruined by the Testicle Assassin, Shinsuke Nakamura. Styles says that he’s not standing for it, which probably would make kicking him in the dick a little tougher, and demands that Shinsuke get out here so Styles can commit a hate crime.
But instead the wrong foreigner wanders out with his bald bard: it’s Rusev and Aiden English. English relates the fact that Shinsuke isn’t there and that Rusev wants a fight through a combination of song and rap, making him the coolest man I’ll ever know. Styles accepts their challenge, and I think this is how Paige learns that SmackDown has a way of running itself most of the time.
Rusev gets in the ring as a ref joins them, and we’ve got a match. Rusev starts off by slugging the shit out of Styles, who counters right into the Calf Crusher! That’s what you get for talking shit about the Undertaker, you mouthy tart. English breaks it up for a DQ.
Man, WWE did not take long to start putting the boots to that guy. 1 Star.
Rusev and English stomp AJ for a bit, believing that the crowd should at least get their money’s worth. And suddenly Bryan hits the ring, clearing Rusev out of there as Styles takes care of English! Crowd are totally into it, but I’m personally holding out for Bryan to suddenly punt AJ in the dick.
Backstage, Shane has been watching all this unfold. Didn’t he say that he was going to quit, at least for a while? I shouldn’t be shocked by a McMahon being dishonest, I know. And then Paige arrives to make a tag team match, which is about seventy percent of the whole job of SmackDown GM. Shane says that she’s doing an amazing job. Christ, the bar for authority figures is set really low.
I feel like them making Paige try to be funny is also kind of cruel, because she’s not good at being funny. Maybe she’s great at the more ironical, self-deprecating humour that us Brits excel at, or at dry sarcasm, but the whole cheerful, jokey shtick is not her forte.
We get an advert for the Greatest Royal Rumble and I could not give less of a fuck. It would, however, be remiss of me to not comment that it’s probably not a great sign if you only feel secure holding the coronation of the new face of your company in the Middle East.
Does it feel like 2003 to anyone else?
Here’s Shelton Benjamin without Chad Gable, whose transfer to RAW was confirmed by Twitter. Hey, speaking of things which aren’t great signs. Benjamin sets the record straight on his kind words to Gable, making sure that everyone knows he’s a big asshole and thinks that Chad Gable is a bastard abortion.
And since SmackDown lost their most reliable midcarder of colour to RAW on Monday (literally the first time I’ve been happy to hear Jinder Mahal’s name), Shelton Benjamin will be taking up his “demand Championship opportunities and respect” role whilst being a much, much better wrestler. He says that he asked Paige for some big competition, and stands waiting for whoever she sends out.
And it’s Randy Orton, because when you start imitating Teddy Long it’s really difficult to stop, playa. The music stops, and just before I pour myself a drink to get through the drab monotone that is a Randy Orton promo, Jeff Hardy arrives! I think the United States Championship might be haunting Orton.
Looks like we’ve got a match, and Shelton beats Hardy to the floor. Jeff pays him back with a jawbreaker, but Shelton ain’t here for that and tosses Hardy out of the ring and into a commercial break. When we come back, Jeff has managed to hit Benjamin with some weird subspecies of clothesline. The US Champion seems to have hurt his leg, however, and Shelton charges in an attempt to take advantage. Jeff hits him with a real clothesline this time, following it up with an atomic drop and a leg drop to the dick. This must be really bringing out Styles’ PTSD.
Hardy wants the Twist of Fate, or possibly some drugs or maybe even both. Shelton counters, runs into a back elbow and manages to foil Hardy’s Whisper in the Wind attempt by crotching on the top rope. Can we please stop tormenting poor AJ?
Shelton tries for for a back superplex, and when Jeff flails him away he smacks him in the face with a knee. Traditional superplex attempt now, but Hardy wants nothing to do with it. He rocks Benjamin’s noggin off the turnbuckle and scores with Whisper in the Wind. The Twist of Fate is countered, and Shelton gets a near-fall with a Dragon Whip. It is kind of sad to realise how much both of these guys have slowed down since their last runs with the company.
Hardy counters Paydirt with a mule kick, sending Shelton staggering into the corner. Shelton counters the cardiac arrest kick, but wanders right into a Twist of Fate! Swanton Bomb connects, and Jeff Hardy wins.
Fair match, admittedly with the spectre of Randy Orton looming over the whole affair. I like the notion of a singles run for Benjamin: he should have been World Champion last time, and I hope he can be on this run. 2 Stars.
It’s only Miz’s first day with SmackDown and he’s already doing cellphone promos. What folly hath man wrought? Miz shows off his amazing wife and cute-as-hell baby daughter, telling Daniel Bryan that he’ll kick his ass if he comes at him on Twitter ever again. I’d be more exasperated, but I feel like WWE’s Twitter obsession is a fairly good reflection of modern affluent Western society: everyone’s on goddamn Twitter, even your fucking President.
Naomi’s lucky this isn’t the Attitude Era
Jey Uso is in singles action, so he’s going to lose. And it’s against Luke Harper, so he’s going to lose and die and probably get pounded into a fine red paste. Jesus, Harper and Rowan’s cool, horror movie-esque look is just ruined by those brightly-coloured belts. Smear dirt or fake blood on those things.
Harper commences with the mauling of Jey, who puts up a fight in the same way that a bird fights against a jet engine. He gets distracted by Rowan, which is barely necessary, and Harper massacres Jey with a Discus Clothesline.
Surprised they’d job a former Champ out that quickly, but whatever gets us a tag match with these four. 1.5 Stars.
Harper and Rowan try to drag Jey away so that they can eat him or fuck him or both. Jimmy grabs one of their dumb-looking hammers, but gets tossed into the steel steps before the Bludgeon Brothers smack Jey some more.
They pick up the big dumb hammers before Naomi suddenly remembers that she’s married to one of the Usos and runs out either so that she can have her skull crushed in his place or so that the powers of what WWE thinks feminism is will make the Bludgeon Brothers retreat.
Harper and Rowan stare at Naomi like they’ve never seen a woman before, and I guess we’ll never know what life was like back at the Wyatt Compound before Randy Orton burned the fucker down and was rewarded with a World Championship match for doing it. Harper and Rowan retreat, because they may be murderous monsters but they’d never lay a finger on a woman.
Samoa Joe’s sneers could power a small city
Wow, is that what Sin Cara looks like now? And holy shit, Samoa Joe’s on SmackDown! That’s the first big surprise of the night!
Oh, and Sin Cara’s fucking dead, but that was implied by him being in a match with Samoa Joe.
Sin Cara starts off in gutsy fashion, so at least something people will have something nice to say about him at his funeral. Joe quickly takes over the match, apparently deciding that the Bludgeon Brothers are pussies and they need to be made aware of that. He literally bats Sin Cara out of the air, then clubs him half to death before choking him the rest of the way. Thankfully Lana didn’t come out to beg for Sin Cara’s life, or Samoa Joe would have to tip his hat and beat a hasty retreat.
So far, SmackDown has done pretty well out of this Shake-Up. I’d have taken Heath Slater, Rhyno and the Miztourage to never see Jinder Mahal again, but Samoa Joe? Jeff Hardy? Super-excited about this. Match was fine: seeing Joe ruin someone is always fun. 2 Stars.
Joe says that he’s heard that this place is the Land of Opportunity, but thinks it’s more like the Land of Handouts: those guys have had it easy seeing as he’s not been there. Well, that ends now, and Samoa Joe is going to murder a person a week until he holds every Championship and is happily married to Sonya DeVille. He then promises to murder Roman Reigns too, because switching shows doesn’t mean you’ve got to give up on your dreams.
WWE PPVs are getting co-branded, which is the first symptom of the slow death of the brand separation: mark my words. We get shown a video of the WWE Superstars singing about the concept, which at least makes me happy about the fact that something’s going to die.
Daniel Bryan is backstage when Renee Young pounces on him. She asks him why he helped Styles, and Bryan says that he respects AJ and he’s wanted to face him for years. He says that he’s proud to fight beside him tonight, and he knows that one day he’ll be fighting against him once again.
And Big Cass is here! He makes a big deal about Bryan being short, like the guy didn’t beat Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship or Batista for the Unified Championship. Bitches gots to learn.
Carmella doesn’t know how royalty works
And here is Carmella: the new Women’s Champion. Byron is grumpy about all this, despite the fact that Carmella did nothing illegal or, you could argue, even immoral considering that this is the whole point of Money in the Bank. Punk won his first Championship after Batista ruined Edge, and we cheered for that; Dolph Ziggler cashed in on an injured Del Rio and the goddamn roof came off the place. Saxton makes me not want to take his side, even though most of the time it’s my side too.
The crowd start a half-hearted “you deserve it” chant, and she tells them to shove it up their ass and their respect means nothing to her. She declares herself the Crown Princess of SmackDown Live, which would mean that she’s the heir apparent to the throne, which is completely wrong considering she’s talking about this in the context of winning the Women’s Championship: technically this is the equivalent of becoming Queen, rather than first in line to the throne. America, do you even monarchy?
Carmella revels in her victory, and I can’t remember the last championship celebration that didn’t use the formula of two minutes of vamping before someone busts in and tosses shit around. She mocks Charlotte for being dumb enough to get in a two-on-one fight and shows us a video package of her journey to the Championship. Hah: they had to use the footage from the SmackDown Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match because they fucked up the first official one.
And congratulations to WWE for making what was pretty much a two-step journey seem like a lengthy developing narrative.
Apparently Carmella is continuing her tradition of naming inanimate objects by calling the Championship “Cleopatra”. And then Charlotte comes out to call it a cheap win, but says she isn’t mad about it: she really can’t be with Ric Flair as a father. Regardless, Charlotte seems to be fixing up to climb inside Carmella with her boots still on when Billie Kay and Peyton Royce arrive. Man, Absolution isn’t even getting a look-in tonight.
I have to say, it’s really jarring to hear Kay and Royce’s accents without hearing the word “cunt” said one and a half times per sentence. Makes me think they’re not real Australians.
Kay and Royce talk shit about Charlotte as Carmella applauds, and now it looks like Charlotte’s decided that two-on-one odds are child’s play and three-on-one’s where it’s at. You can kind of see how she was an easy Champion to cash in on. She gets in a couple of hits before Kay and Royce start giving her a prison beating (every Australian is classified as a convict in Britain), and Becky Lynch arrives to help out because that’s her whole deal right now. We got to a commercial, which is the sort of thing that often happens mid-fight in other sports.
When we come back, Charlotte and Billie are going one-on-one; I guess Paige managed to throw off the influence of Teddy Long for enough time to make a singles match. They’re on the outside, with Charlotte chopping away at Kay’s boobs. They come back into the ring, with Billie able to turn the tables and stomp Charlotte in the corner. Charlotte exploder suplexes Kay, gets elevated out onto the apron but keeps fighting until she vaults right into a forearm.
Kay works Charlotte over, at one point putting her down hard with a clothesline. Corey Graves is just shredding Byron’s opinions one after another, and there’s something so viscerally cathartic about that. Kay tosses Charlotte into the corner, and we go to a break just as Peyton hits a cheap shot.
When we come back, Billie Kay has just suplexed Charlotte, but charges right into a boot. Charlotte goes back to trying to cave in Kay’s chest with knife-edged chops. Kay manages to rock Charlotte with an Enzo-esque jawbreaker, and the two keep countering each other until Flair runs right over Kay with a big boot. A Figure Eight is applied, and Billie Kay taps out.
The breaks hurt this, but it was still a fair display of Kay’s ability. Shame to have her beaten so decisively so early: SmackDown needs dominant female talent at the moment. 2.5 Stars.
Carmella immediately attacks Charlotte and Peyton dives on Becky when she tries to interfere. I’m getting motion sickness from the psychotic camera work going on, and I never should have watched any NXT shows; every flaw in WWE’s programming got magnified 1000%.
The beatdown continues, which makes Charlotte and Becky look pretty weak considering Naomi managed to get the Bludgeon Brothers to back off earlier tonight. And then some music hits, and we find out who the latest addition to SmackDown is: it’s Asuka, which makes Carmella’s look of apocalyptic dread pretty justified.
Carmella bails, making her by far the smartest heel out there, and Asuka massacres the IIconics. The three faces celebrate together, but you can tell by Becky’s expression that she just got bumped down the ladder again.
It’s a sign of how badly used the Good Brothers have been used that WWE can’t even put together a good video package for them.
Corey Graves calls the cage match between Lesnar and Reigns “highly anticipated”, that lying sack of shit.
The Bar is here on SmackDown, and they’re doing the cellphone game with added fucking stupid graphics. I hope whoever told Vince that this would be a good idea has that medical condition where your bones basically break from a really light impact, and I hope they also have terrible balance.
Backstage, the New Day have just run into R-Truth. He’s still alive? And Tye Dillinger’s there too. He’s still employed? The two of them do the dumbest handshake in the history of mankind, and this is the sort of shit that makes me want to sniff glue.
We get a rundown of the Superstar Shake-Up, and by Christ we got some pretty decent bang for our buck. I can take or leave Gallows, Anderson and Big Cass based on current usage by WWE, but everything else is sweet as hell. And holy shit: we got Cien Almas! NXT is getting fucking plundered, but SmackDown is benefiting like nobody’s business.
Pow, right in the pisser
Main event time, and Styles, Bryan, Rusev and English make it to the ring and it’s time to get it on. English backs Bryan into the corner, which regrets the second Bryan gets hold of him and starts systematically trying to cripple his arm. Bryan runs the ropes, but catches English’s leg in mid-air as Aiden tries to leap over him, applying the Mexican Surfboard as Styles tags in.
AJ begins to work over the palest man in the WWE, hitting him with a gutbuster. Rusev runs in, but Daniel Bryan intercepts him and he wants to make a motherfucker tap out. Styles can get on board with that, and suddenly Rusev and English are desperately trying to escape a crossface and a Calf Crusher respectively. They do manage to scoot out of the ring, taking refuge in a commercial break.
When we come back, English has Styles in a chinlock. AJ fights his way free but runs right into a backdrop, which on reflection wasn’t a great decision. Rusev tags in, and it’s interesting that he’s chosen to use AJ Styles as an opponent to prepare himself for the Undertaker, if you replace the word “interesting” with “unimaginably stupid”. Styles punches away at the big Bulgarian, but Rusev traps him in a bearhug, crushing AJ’s ribs with his powerful, loving embrace.
Styles tries to headbutt his way free of the hug, which really takes me back to afternoons with our local priest, but Rusev drives Styles and the presumably-tattered remains of his manhood into the heel corner and tags in English. The singing wrestler throws Styles into a clothesline from Rusev, getting a two count, and then stomps on the WWE Champ whilst he tries to remember what his finishing move is.
Styles manages to dodge a knee drop, crawling over to Bryan. English has hold of Styles’ leg, stopping him from reaching his partner, but finally gets caught good and proper by a Pele Kick! Bryan’s in! Rusev’s in! Bryan hammers away at the Bulgarian, hitting punches, a huge clothesline, then the corner dropkicks. Rusev catches Bryan, who turns being carried into a Yes Lock! English breaks up the pin and gets ejected by AJ; Bryan counters the Machka Kick and dragon screws Rusev! He slams kick after kick into Rusev’s chesticles before laying him low with a massive kick to the face! The flying knee connects! Suddenly Shinsuke Nakamura appears and low-blows Styles! How is this a thing?! Can it please never end?!
AJ Styles, who should really be wearing crotch protection at this point, folds into a sad little huddle of sack-rent agony. The referee apparently didn’t see anything, and with how violently Nakamura slammed his arm into AJ’s boys I’m surprised the ref didn’t have some kind of second-hand sympathetic dick pain.
Jesus, get yourself someone who looks at you the way Shinsuke Nakamura looks at AJ Styles’ destroyed babymakers. And to solve the problem of there not being a DQ for that, Big Cass arrives and boots Bryan right in the skull. People are just crazy tonight.
Fun match, and Daniel Bryan is looking incredible. With the new acquisitions, SmackDown should go from strength to strength. 2.5 Stars.
Cass and Nakamura stand over their conquered victims, and for the first time I really feel like the Wild West atmosphere that the WWE.
Renee arrives to ask Shinsuke about his anime declaration of war on the hairy nuts of AJ Styles. And Nakamura claims not to speak English, that fucking troll. What a SmackDown.
Tags: aiden english, AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Billie Kay, Carmella, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, naomi, Paige, Peyton Royce, rusev, Samoa Joe, Shane McMahon, shelton benjamin, shinsuke nakamura, Sin Cara, smackdown live, The Bludgeon Brothers, the usos, WWE