It’s time for SmackDown Live, so everyone enjoy watching women wrestle while you can, because it’s something you’re not going to see in Saudi Arabia. But I’m sure as long as WWE isn’t actually instructed to stone Darren Young to death in the centre of the ring, they’ll call it a win for tolerance and isn’t that nice?
Show starts off with a tribute to Bruno Sammartino. Goddamn, that man was four years old before World War Two started. He must have seen a lot over his life.
Big Cass needs longer sleeves
Following that, it’s the return of MizTV to SmackDown! And it’s nice to know that after the loss of Jinder Mahal’s suits (the only good bit of Jinder Mahal), we’ve got someone else who dresses nice.
Mixed reaction for the Miz between fans who hate his character and people who love his ability to portray his character. Miz plays around with the crowd a little before berating them for their poor reception. He says that SmackDown Live is now the A-Show with him around, but he’s missing something: his Intercontinental Championship. He swears to get back the title like it’s not an albatross that hangs around the collective necks of the midcard, and then talks about his guest tonight: Daniel Bryan.
He goes on to look back on his and Bryan’s relationship, even comparing the two of them as fathers and reality show stars. He tells Bryan if he wants to punch him in the face, then he should come out and feel free. It’s so damn rude of Miz to try and cut into the fledgling feud between Bryan and Big Cass, particularly when he’s still technically attached to the IC Championship.
And apparently Big Cass thinks so too, because he arrives instead of Bryan. And hell: a three-piece suit. Everyone’s looking sharp tonight, although you can probably count on AJ Styles or the Bludgeon Brothers to fuck that up.
Actually, Cass fucks it up by not having a tailored suit. I blame Miz and Mahal for raising my expectations so much, and I think they should just form a stable of fashionable dudes.
Miz asks Big Cass what the fuck, and Cass says that he saw that Miz didn’t have a guest and figured he’d fill in. He says that no-one cares about Bryan, and draws similarities between their two injuries. Cass is actually a decent speaker, which is something that you never got to discover when he played the silent muscle to a talkative rapist. Miz says that he doesn’t need Cass’s help with Bryan, and Big C responds by telling him that not everything’s about him. God, I love it when heels fight.
The Miz gets pretty pissed about that, yelling at Cass about his accolades and mocking him for not having done anything. That gets Big Cass on his feet, and Miz is smart enough to quickly switch the man’s aggression over to Daniel Bryan. Cass talks about how he used to be average like Bryan, and apparently it was getting fed up of being bullied that made him grow to seven feet tall (and the crowd participation of the night award goes to the people who shouted “and you can’t teach that”). Man, I used to get bullied, and I’m 5’10. I should have resented people a little more and been 6’4.
Cass’s motivation is apparently that Bryan reminds him of Young Cass, only Cass never had to kill himself in bingo halls because he was too fantastic. He hates that Bryan overshadows him despite all of Cass’s advantages, and promises that he’ll put Daniel back on the shelf permanently. That was impressive heel work from Cass, with a clear and understandable motive and some decent speaking work. Any programme involving him and the Miz should be really engaging.
Meanwhile, Becky and Asuka are backstage when they find Daniel Bryan lying in pain on the ground. Christ: stop showing us Bryan being injured, you emotionally manipulative dicks. Becky and Asuka actually go to check if he’s alright, which is really nice to see; I’ve always liked it when the guys and girls can interact backstage like, you know, co-workers.
I mean, what is this: Saudi Arabia?
Billie and Peyton are holding feminism back with one hand
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are in the ring to Australian and bitchy. They run down Becky and Asuka, and if any part of their characterisation is drawn from real-life inspiration, they must have some intense bullying Dahn Undah.
Becky interrupts them with her entrance, and I hope to hell she’s not out here to eat the pin to protect the newer additions. Asuka joins her, and the two of them look good together in their dystopian-y outfits.
During the break, Asuka starts things off against Billie Kay, working over the arm and keeping her opponent off-balance. An ass to the face puts her down, and Asuka goes right back to the arm. Becky comes in, hitting an axe-handle to the limb and then a calf kick. Billie scoots out of the ring, but Lynch knows where you live and hits a forearm off the apron. When Royce tries to interfere, Becky smacks her head off the apron and Asuka barrels in to take her out.
Becky dodges an elbow drop attempt on the inside of the ring, continuing to work on Kay’s arm. Asuka’s back in, but Billie manages to drag her to the mat by her colourful locks and tags in Peyton, who slaps Asuka across the face. Well, that’s the point where you fake your own death and hope that the Empress of Tomorrow doesn’t have a long memory. Becky tags in and manages to take Peyton down with a pair of hands to the breasts.
A kick knocks Royce into the corner, and an exploder suplex sends her rolling to tag Billie in. Kay manages to seize the advantage, and some concerted offence and quick tags from the IIconics allow them to neutralise Becky, now working over her arm. A moment taken to taunt Asuka costs Billie, and she and Becky lay each other out with clotheslines, both tagging out to their partners!
Asuka bursts in with a flurry of offence before latching Billie in the ankle lock. Peyton tries to help, but Becky bursts in to break it up, leaving Kay open to an ass attack from Asuka. Becky and Asuka hit a couple of double-teams to Peyton, who is able to knock Becky into Asuka. Becky goes to work on Peyton, is elevated onto the apron where she has to fight off Billie, then gets her head smashed into the ring post. Peyton rolls her up with her feet on the ropes, and the IIconics get the win.
Good match, even if a lot of it took place during the commercial break. All four women really need something more meaningful than what I assume risks being endless tag matches, though. 2.5 Stars.
God, Shane McMahon is still coming to work? Renee is outside Shane’s office, and AJ Styles comes out looking chipper. He’s got a six-man tag team match tonight against Nakamura, English and Rusev, with Gallows and Anderson as his partners.
Meanwhile, the Usos are backstage when Naomi shows up in case the Bludgeon Brothers attack. Jimmy doesn’t want Naomi out at ringside tonight, because it’s letting the fucking air out of their programme when the psychotic villains wouldn’t hit a lady.
In WWE, gingers eat the pins
And here are the chivalrous Tag Team Champions now. They might put dudes in the hospital and try to kill them with hammers, but laying a hand on a damsel? Why, perish the thought, good sir. If this leads to every team who faces them using a random female wrestler as a human shield, that would be pretty funny. If not, then it’s just dumb.
And here come the Usos, who are once again going to die because it’s a singles match. Erick Rowan promptlys starts massacring Jimmy, whilst Harper fucks Jey up on the outside. Rowan catches Jimmy from a dive through the ropes, but the Uso is able to shove him into the ring post.
The Uso keeps hitting and moving, going for big shot after big shot in the hopes of toppling his opponent. And that lasts all of ten seconds before Rowan shoves him off the turnbuckle to the outside. Then he screams, which is clearly more intimidating than trying to cripple a dude.
Ah, Jesus: here comes Naomi. And…is she doing her whole entrance? Seems like a blase way of saving her husband. Apparently Naomi’s dancing is enough of a distraction to let Jimmy win the match with a superkick, despite that entrance not exactly being new and available to watch on the WWE Network.
This feels like it’s rapidly descending into dumbness which might undo every good thing about the Usos and the Bludgeon Brothers. 1 Star.
Could have gone better
It’s time for a contract signing, meaning it’s time for a brawl which will stem out of the intended contract signing. Carmella makes her way to the ring, cutting Renee Young off before she can introduce Charlotte. She berates Renee for introducing her first, telling her that it’s not Charlotte’s kingdom anymore, and she’s the Women’s Champion.
Carmella says that last week she offered a Mellabration to the WWE, but nobody offered her a standing ovation after seeing her awesome highlight reel. Oh, so she’s showing it again. What is this, The Tellytubbies?
Corey Graves actually gives Carmella a standing ovation, but apparently that’s not good enough either. So she’s going to play it a third time. Jesus, I love how they’re going all-in on this. And they get more than halfway through it before Charlotte arrives, implying that she was watching it for a while too.
Charlotte takes a seat at the table whilst Carmella shows off her Championship. Renee actually has to request that she act professional, which is absolutely a first in contract signing history. Charlotte is staring at Carmella like she’s wondering what item of clothing she can make out of her skin, and then signs the contract before WOOing. Carmella gets up to mock Charlotte, and the former champ simply smashes Carmella’s head off the table, tips it on top of her and walks away.
Backstage, Dasha is knocking on Shinsuke Nakamura’s door (presumably because Renee isn’t going to put up with him pretending not to speak English anymore), but Aiden English answers. Scandal! He says that there will be no interviews, and you have to wonder what those three guys are doing in there.
Jesus Christ, Randy
Shelton Benjamin is in the ring, ready for a rematch against Jeff Hardy. You can just feel Randy Orton waiting to get his monotone all over this mini-feud. Oh wow, that didn’t take long at all: here’s Randy Orton. He heads to the ring, not looking at Jeff. I can’t remember the last time I was interested in Orton, and don’t say his feud with Bray Wyatt, because I will fucking sue.
Orton and Benjamin lock up, with Benjamin shoving Randy into the corner. He goes after Orton’s leg, but the ref forces a break and the two circle each other. Shelton’s shoved off the ropes and takes Orton down with a shoulder tackle. He runs the ropes again, has his dragon whip countered and has to avoid the RKO.
Both men approach each other again, and this time Orton is the aggressor with strikes. Shelton ducks out of the ring, then counters the Vintage DDT, dragging Randy’s arm into the ropes before smashing kick after kick into the Viper, eventually dumping him out on the floor.
During the break, Benjamin continues to beat on Orton, pausing every so often to stare at Jeff. He lets Orton climb back up on the apron before slamming a knee into his head. Randy ends up sleepered in the ring, trying to slither his way out. He works his way to his feet, headbutts his way free but eats a boot heel from Shelton which almost finishes the match.
Benjamin locks the sleeper in again, because that’s what a Randy Orton match is all about. Orton hits a high back suplex to escape, then follows that up with a powerslam. Shelton rolls out onto the apron like he can’t see what’s coming, and eats a Vintage DDT. And Randy’s heading to “that place”, but Shelton at enough RKOs in his first RAW run to not want any more. Randy follows him, back suplexing him on the table.
Jeff’s got up for a closer look when Sunil Singh in a luchador mask (some cultural appropriation there, one feels) chop blocks him. Singh dashes into the ring before getting caught by Randy Orton, because Orton can be distracted by a Singh Brother even when he’s not facing Jinder Mahal. RKO strikes, which should give Benjamin enough time to…yep, Paydirt. Shelton Benjamin wins, and it’s so damn hard to feel sorry for Orton right now.
Are they trying to make small Indian men Randy Orton’s kryptonite? Because that’s what this feels like. 2 Stars.
The New Day are backstage, celebrating their book launch, and the Bar show up to be camouflage-wearing dicks. Nothing seems to come of this, so why did it happen?
Meanwhile, AJ Styles meets up with Gallows and Anderson for a Too Sweet.
Elsewhere backstage, Renee Young is here to interview an injured Bryan, who unfortunately is not too injured to not go to Saudi Arabia. He’s got a one-on-one match with Big Cass at Backlash and promises to make him tap.
Heel Shinsuke = best Shinsuke
Main event time, and here come Gallows and Anderson followed by AJ Styles. Rusev and English arrive next, then Shinsuke Nakamura complete with a new theme music.
Nakamura teases starting off against Styles first, then tags in English. Styles decks Shinsuke anyway, then drags English into the ring and feeds him to the Club. Aiden gets worked over like nobody’s business, and when Rusev tries to interfere he’s thrown into a big boot from Gallows.
After a commercial break, Anderson tags Styles in to take out Rusev. AJ clotheslines him to the mat and tries to go after Nakamura, causing the Artist to scurry away. A Machka Kick to the distracted Styles slows him down, allowing English to tag in and take advantage. Nakamura finally tags in once AJ has had the boots put to him for a while, teasing kicking him in the nutsack before laying him out and tagging in Rusev.
Rusev flattens AJ with an elbow drop, then tags English in for a double team. Aiden applies a sleeper that AJ fights free of, then runs right into a dropkick from the Phenomenal One. Rusev tags in before Styles can recover, but AJ ducks a clothesline and strikes with a Pele Kick to fell the Bulgarian, then tags in Luke Gallows!
Gallows turns the tagged-in English inside-out with strikes before putting him down with a pumphandle slam and a splash. Rusev breaks up the pin and tosses Anderson into the ring post shoulder-first; Gallows gets rid of him as Nakamura tags in, then takes out English.
Shinsuke slams a kick into an unsuspecting Gallows’ knee, then finishes the match with a Kinshasa to the back of the head: a fitting, violent move for a heel.
Fun match, but that ending came out of nowhere. 2.5 Stars.
Right afterwards, Styles dives on Nakamura…who responds with an uppercut right to the baloney. Hah: classic Shinsuke. The Artist looks for the Kinshasa, but Anderson dives in front, taking the bullet! Damn, this suddenly got emotional.
Nakamura drags Anderson up to his knees, then makes Styles watch as he delivers another Kinshasa to the Club member. Well, that’s one way to make things personal.
Tags: aiden english, AJ Styles, Asuka, Becky Lynch, Big Cass, Billie Kay, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Gallows and Anderson, Jeff Hardy, naomi, Peyton Royce, Randy Orton, rusev, shelton benjamin, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Bludgeon Brothers, The Miz, the usos, WWE