The SmarK Rant for WWE Backlash 2018 – 05.06.18
Live from Newark, NJ
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and The Coach
Intercontinental title: Seth Rollins v. The Miz
How many times can the announcers say “Co-Branded” tonight, I wonder? They trade wristlocks to start and Miz makes the ropes to escape, then stomps Seth down to take over. Seth fires back with a dropkick and a corner elbow, but he tries a springboard and gets booted to the floor as a result. Back in, Miz with a low kick for two. Miz works a chinlock, but Seth rolls him up for two, so Miz gets the short DDT for two. They slug it out and Rollins comes back with a carpet muncher and runs him into the turnbuckle. Seth with the sling blade and he puts Miz on the floor and follows with the suicide dive. Back in, Skull Crushing Finale is reversed into a rollup for two, and the blockbuster gets two. Miz tries the figure-four, but Seth fights out and hits a springboard clothesline, then tries again and gets rammed into the ring apron, which is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING in case it hasn’t been mentioned as of late. Back in, Miz with a flying bodypress, which is turned into Cass’s East River Crossing slam for two. Frog splash gets two. Seth sets up for the curb stomp, so Miz runs away, and Seth follows with another dive attempt that Miz counters by punching him in the face. Miz tries the DDT on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and they slug it out until Rollins tries the high knee and hits the post instead. Back in, Miz with the figure-four, but Seth uses his REBEL HEART to reverse the move. Bill Watts would approve. I’d pop huge if Miz tapped here. Sadly, Miz flips it over again and Seth has to make the ropes. Miz tries again and Seth escapes this time, and we get the slugfest, but Miz clips the knee to win that. Seth fires back with the enzuigiri , but the knee gives out and Miz gets the Skull Crushing Finale for two. Miz with the corner clothesline and he goes up, but Seth blocks him, so Miz kicks the knee again. Seth keeps coming with a superplex, but the knee buckles again and Miz rolls into another Skull Crushing Finale for two. Back to the top, as Miz apparently wants a Finale off the top, but Seth sends him down and follows with a FLYING CURB STOMP, which misses. Miz rolls him up for two, but the curb stomp gets the pin at 20:30 to retain. Mostly excellent, but they missed the peak by a few minutes and went too long. Still, Seth is spitting HOT FIRE this year and carried this to something great. ****
RAW Women’s title: Nia Jax v. Alexa Bliss
So for some reason, they actually announce the weights during the ring introductions here. Normally they just do hometown for the women. Alexa dives for the knee right away and goes to work on it, but Nia hits her with a corner splash and hurls Alexa out of the ring. Alexa yelling “HOLD ON!” to the ref in a bitchy voice while he’s counting is a great character moment. Back in, Alexa chokes her down and talks some trash, but Nia reverses the DDT. Nia misses a senton and Bliss pounds away, but Nia powers her into the samoan drop. Bliss counters with a choke as Nia loudly calls the spot into the camera, but Nia whiplashes her down. I think that was supposed to all be one sequence but it looked really messy and they had to try to set it up a couple of times. Nia throws her around the ring and goes up for a pump splash, but Bliss dumps her to the floor. Back in, that gets two. Nia comes back with another try at the samoan drop, but Bliss escapes that and kicks the leg out for two. She goes up to finish, but Nia catches her again and hits the samoan drop to retain at 10:15. This went way too long, but was mostly fine. ** Nia does a promo afterwards on behalf of Be A Star, where she lets us know that “In the end, all bullies get their asses kicked”, which is a uniquely WWE way to look at things and pretty much completely misses the point.
US title: Jeff Hardy v. Randy Orton
This of course is a heated rivalry where they interrupted each others’ entrances to build heat, which explains why I didn’t even realize this was happening here. Jeff with a jawbreaker and dropkick to put Orton on the floor, and he follows with a clothesline off the apron. Back in, Orton gets his own dropkick for two. Orton pounds away in the corner to take over and they slowly fight to the floor, where Jeff flies in with a leg lariat into the railing. Back in, Orton dropkicks him off the apron and drops him onto the railing back-first a few times. Back in, Randy suplexes him onto the top rope for two and goes to the chinlock. Hardy fights back with the seated dropkick for two, but he misses a charge and then recovers with the Whisper in the Wind for two. Orton reverses the Twist of Fate into the powerslam for two and dodges the mule kick in the corner, which sets up the draping DDT. Orton takes forever setting up the RKO, and Jeff hits the Twist of Fate and swanton to retain at 11:42. Orton was in full “don’t give a shit” jobbing-face mode here and the match should have been left on Smackdown. **
Elias is here to sing us a song and relate his deep personal connection to Bruce Springsteen over their mutual hatred of New Jersey and the whole Tri-State area. I really wish he was better in the ring because his comic timing and promos are hilarious and he should be a huge star. Sadly, his music is interrupted by the New Day, because this show didn’t have enough stuff packed into it as it is. And then Elias chases them off and tries again with his song, but now Aiden English interrupts to introduce Rusev Day. One last try brings out No Way Jose, who now has Breezango and Titus Worldwide in his entourage. Elias’ annoyed expression matches my own at this point. So this all sets up Bobby Roode appearing in the ring to hit Elias with the Glorious DDT to pay this whole thing off. And then he congas away with the babyfaces. This was a literal waste of time on a show that’s already way too long for no reason.
Big Cass v. Daniel Bryan
Cass has yet another generic butt-rock theme, for those keeping track. Bryan goes to the knee right away. Cass bails and Bryan follows with a dive, and back in with the missile dropkick and Yes Kicks, but Cass counters with a spinebuster. Some guy in the crowd has a sign that says “Comic Sans”, which makes him history’s greatest monster. Also, the font used isn’t Comic Sans. Cass pounds on Bryan and goes to a backbreaker, but Bryan sends him into the turnbuckle to escape and gets more kicks. And then Cass cuts him off again with a clothesline for two. Big boot misses and Bryan takes him down for the Yes Lock, and Cass taps at 7:44. I’m glad they didn’t go for the full troll and have Cass win, but Bryan is really feeling like a midcard nothing at the moment. Cass was completely useless here, basically just standing still while Bryan bumped off him. *1/2 Cass attacks him afterwards, so I guess THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE.
Smackdown Women’s title: Carmella v. Charlotte Flair
Carmella tries the Flair strut and gets booted out of the ring as a result, which gets two for Charlotte. Small package gets two. Rollup gets two, and Carmella runs away again, but Charlotte drags her back in and continues the beating. Carmella runs away a third time and catches Charlotte with a superkick on the floor this time, and that gets two. Wrestling has of course taught us that all offensive moves hurt more when delivered on the floor. Back in, Carmella with the chinlock, but Charlotte fights out with a stunner. Carmella takes her down again and goes with a surfboard this time as this match drags on. Charlotte makes the comeback and they fight to the apron, but Charlotte misses a boot and lands on THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Meanwhile, most of Carmella’s offense is screaming at the crowd. Back in, Carmella with the headscissor submission, but Charlotte powers out and boots her down again for two. Charlotte goes up and misses the moonsault, allowing Carmella to clip the knee and get the pin at 10:07. That finish was some deeply weak sauce to a boring, overly long match. *1/2
WWE title: AJ Styles v. Shinsuke Nakmura
They’re closing the show with GODDAMNED ROMAN REIGNS?! Nakamura heads to the floor right away and AJ chases him and runs him into the table, as the announcers note that they don’t have to worry about a countout here in this no-DQ match. I can’t even with these guys. Back in, AJ with a snap suplex for two, and he goes to work on the back. Back to the floor, and AJ runs Nakamura into the railing a few times and follows with a Stinger splash. A second try misses and Nakamura takes over with a guillotine knee on the apron, which I might remind you is THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in, that gets two. He chokes AJ down in the corner with his newly-renamed “Bad Vibrations”, and a kneedrop gets two. Nakamura with high kicks and a backdrop, then goes to a facelock and dropkicks AJ out of the ring. Back in, Nakamura with a dragon sleeper, which is appropriate because the match is putting everyone to sleep. Nakamura goes up with a flying knee for two. Landslide gets two. Nakamura grabs a chair, but AJ comes back with the strikes until Nakamura reverses into the exploder onto the chair, for two. AJ blocks the Kinshasa with the chair, and that manages to bust AJ’s face open by mistake. AJ quickly rolls him into the calf crusher, but Nakamura turns him into a triangle. AJ dumps him to the floor to escape that and tries a forearm to the floor, but Nakamura rolls back in to escape, so AJ gets the backbreaker for two. Pele Kick sets up the Clash, but Nakamura uses the DICK PUNCH OF DOOM, and then AJ hits his own and everyone is out. FOOTBALL TO THE GROIN! FOOTBALL TO THE GROIN! They slug it out and both guys manage to kick each other in the balls at the same time. And that’s a double knockout at 21:28, so AJ retains. These are some deeply terrible finishes tonight. This match at least had better heat than the first two, but just went nowhere. ***1/4
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens v. Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley
Braun is actually bringing his stupid trophy with him to ringside for matches. So now at this point we get the endless international announcer introduction, at the point when the show should be wrapping up. Lashley overpowers Sami to start and hits a corner clothesline on Owens. Lashley pounds on Zayn in the corner while the announcers do their “hilarious” banter, and Sami runs away from Lashley. The heels blindside Lashley on the floor to take over, NO ONE CARES, I WANT THIS SHOW TO END. Back in, Zayn with the chinlock, but Owens comes in with a senton that hits the knees and it’s hot tag Braun. Zayn wisely runs away but still gets mauled on the floor, as does KO. Back in, Braun misses a charge and hits the post, but Sami is unable to capitalize and runs away. KO gives him shit about that, so Sami throws him into the ring and Braun roars at him. So then Owens throws Sami in and they get into a squabble which ends with Sami running away again and the babyfaces finally putting Owens away, with Lashley’s dreaded suplex, at 8:18. This was complete nonsense and a total waste of the red hot Strowman, like most of the year has been. DUD
Alleged Main Event: Roman Reigns v. Samoa Joe
You know, when people were joking about Roman closing the show, they were mostly being facetious. I didn’t think they’d actually do it. Especially since Roman has no reason to win here, unless they’re stupidly pressing ahead with a third shitty Brock Lesnar match in July. Joe attacks before the bell and they fight to the floor, where Joe puts him through the table and then tosses him into the other two announce tables. Into the ring, the bell finally rings and Joe slugs away in the corner and drops a knee for two. Joe with a neck vice, but Roman CREATES SEPARATION until Joe hits an enzuigiri for two. Back to the neck vice, and Roman gets sent to the floor so that Joe can follow with a dive. Back in, Joe gets two. Joe with a wristlock as the crowd chants “This is boring”. Roman fights out with a big boot to put Joe on the floor and Roman follows with the Drive By to make the comeback. Roman with the forearms in the corner, but Joe cuts him off with a senton for two. Roman with a spinebuster for two, but Joe counters the superman punch and Roman bails to escape the choke. He tries another Drive By, but Joe catches him with the choke in a slick counter. Roman reverses into a cradle for two and hits the superman punch for two. The crowd rebels and chants for Rusev Day while Roman hits the spear for two. Joe gets the choke while the crowd chants “Delete” and Roman rolls it over for two. Roman with a rollup for two and Joe reverses to the choke a third time, but Roman makes the ropes. They slug it out and Roman gets the spear for the pin at 18:15. #ROMANWINSLOL. What a complete disaster of a main event, as they lost the crowd early on and proceeded to bore everyone out of the building. Literally, as you can see the place empty out the moment that the match ended. *
The only bar that this drizzling shit had to clear was “Just a show” and it couldn’t even achieve THAT. The opener was fantastic, and the rest was a literal waste of three hours as everything was on a treadmill that advanced nothing. THUMBS WAY THE FUCK DOWN.