You’re reading Spain’s SmackDown Report. I’ve got a pounding headache and a throat that feels like it’s coated with sandpaper, so I’m in no mood for any bullshit right now. But I’m sure watching SmackDown is a very low risk as far as that goes.
Jesus Christ, Byron Saxton’s voice is going through my head like a fucking lumber saw. How long until he realises his manifest destiny and throws himself into heavy traffic?
The Wyatt Family vs. SAnitY would have been fantastic
Anyway, the Miz is in the ring with a flower in his buttonhole. That sounds like a euphemism for having someone literally bum him, which would be a bold and progressive way to start any wrestling show, but it’s literally just an actual flower in the lapel of his suit. Sorry for raising any hopes. The Miz looks around at a group of people making their disapproval of him clear, like my last time at an orgy. Or, you know, at a family gathering. Because both of those things were, like, one thing.
Anyway, the Miz introduces Kane and Daniel Bryan: oh, this should go well. Team Hell No arrive, and Bryan’s new t-shirt looks like something you could put together in MS Paint. Got to keep it simple for those underage sweatshop employees, I suppose. The Miz needles Bryan about beating him in the Gauntlet Match, because Mike Mizanin is a nasty little bitch and I love it. Bryan goes to deck the Miz in his whore mouth, but Kane steps between them and gets Bryan to act professional.
Miz moves on, asking if they’re ready to face the Bludgeon Brothers. I guess it’s a sign of how seriously we’re supposed to take the Wyatt Family Leftovers if this question is getting asked to two former World Champions. The Miz shows us a clip of Team Hell No beating the shit out of each other, like this is some kind of revelation to the pair of them. For God’s sake: they were there. I’d also like anyone to name any tag-team whose members have not yet tried to murder each other. This is professional wrestling: these people are psychopaths.
Bryan tells the Miz that what he’s trying isn’t going to work, because the Miz is terrible at everything forever. Bryan calls the Miz a bad wrestler, really going after him where he lives now, and this riles the Miz up to the point where he just yells that he wants to end Bryan’s career and Kane is preventing that. Dear God, are they blowing off the Miz/Bryan feud finally?
Kane almost gets Bryan back under control, then the Miz makes a pop at the Big Red Politician. Kane grabs the Miz by the throat, because he’s tried to kill his own brother more than once which means you don’t have to let people insult you if you don’t want them to. The Bludgeon Brothers then arrive, because you think we’re actually going to have a satisfying conclusion to Miz/Bryan?
And then SAnitY’s music plays. Oh shit. The Bludgeon Brothers get ready…and then it turns out SAnitY is in the ring and they’re going after Team Hell No. Yeah, makes sense they’d make us wait for SAnitY vs. the Ex-Wyatts. And then the New Day show up for the brawl. The heels gets the best of the plucky faces, with the New Day and Team Hell No strewn in and around the ring. Security hits the ring, meaning there’s a wild Finlay sighting, and then the Bludgeon Brothers have a stare-down with SAnitY. Tease.
Ah, Jesus: it’s Byron Saxton’s face. We get told that tonight will host a ten-man tag match between everyone who just did anything out there. Honestly, how much of being SmackDown General Manager is just making tag-team matches? What sick religion hath Teddy Long wrought?
Still can’t believe they screwed up this feud
Here’s Shinsuke Nakamura, doing his best “ah shit, I’m a fish caught on your hook” impression. These bright lights the wrestlers’ entrances are just doing wonders for this bitch of a headache. Oh, and speaking of headaches, AJ Styles is facing Shinsuke Nakamura in a WrestleMania, Backlash, Money in the Bank and SmackDown rematch, because surely, eventually, they’re going to get this right. Right? Right.
Before the match can even start, Rusev and Aiden English show up. This is a mark of how done I am with Nakamura/Styles: normally I’d be pissed off that the match was clearly going to involve shenanigans, but right now I’m actually more entranced with this devolving into a massive fight and maybe English doing some singing. That is where I’m at.
Rusev continues to push the whole “House that AJ Styles Built” metaphor, which is weird because I always thought that the House in question was SmackDown Live. So…Rusev’s going to destroy SmackDown? Certainly it would free up my Wednesday morning, but I can’t exactly see how that’s a great career move for him. I can’t imagine Vince being enamoured with someone who torpedoed one of his weekly broadcasts. Wrestlers are fucking dumb.
The crowd chants rapturously for Rusev’s inability to understand imagery and fictional devices, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years it’s that Americans don’t trust intelligence. The match starts off with a dropkick from Styles and we go to a break. When we come back, Nakamura has worked himself back into the fight, but takes a kick to the gut from the World Champ. Rusev’s on commentary, which is uniquely charming, and Nakamura manages to counter a Phenomenal Forearm, assaulting Styles on the outside before bundling him back into the ring.
Sleeper hold’s applied to AJ, but I’m way more entertained by Rusev yelling at Byron. Nakamura drops Styles face-first on the mat before looking for the Kinshasa, but Styles almost catches Nakamura with a roll-up, then slams an enzuigiri into his head. Nakamura returns a boot to the face, then drapes Styles over the turnbuckle for a knee. Rusev, meanwhile, is just killing it on commentary; I hope that this push is for real, because he deserves to stick around at the top.
AJ is hanging onto the match by the skin of his teeth. Rusev claims that he has “four escapes” from the Calf-Crusher before claiming that he has “big quads” that Byron should join Instagram and look at. Jesus Christ, what is even going on? Styles eats a jumping kick from Nakamura as we go to the break, but when we come back he’s levelled Shinsuke with a blitz culminating in a clothesline. Rusev claims that Styles is like an open book to him, “and I go to the library quite often”. I think this is some of the best fighting talk I’ve ever heard on this show. Can Rusev stay on commentary for the whole episode? I want to hear his opinions on everyone and everything.
Styles manages to drag a fireman’s carry neckbreaker out of nowhere, scoring a two-count. Rusev has gone back to bullying Byron whilst Shinsuke counters a Styles Clash attempt into a triangle choke! Styles lifts the Artist right off the mat, then tries to roll his opponent into a pin. Nakamura has to break the hold; Styles counters the reverse exploder and tosses Shinsuke through the ropes. AJ then hits the Phenomenal Forearm on the outside.
English yells at Styles, who should probably know better than to engage. AJ lays Aiden out with a right hand, prompting Rusev to loudly ask “was this really necessary?” Shinsuke takes advantage with a kick, then readies a Kinshasa. Styles dodges, and English takes the Kinshasa to the face (Rusev: “Aiden, get up”). Styles bundles Nakamura into the ring, looking for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Rusev grabs his leg and causes the DQ.
The match itself was fine: I think we’ve all, implausibly, cooled on yet another feud that got rammed down our throats with all the charm and insistence of a Reigns clean win. The real star here was Rusev, who’s apparently got jokes for days, the cheeky sod. 2.5 Stars.
Rusev holds Styles in place for a Kinshasa, then Jeff Hardy’s music plays. Jeff runs extremely slowly to the ring. Like, weirdly slowly. Like, how good a shape is he in and should he really be a Champion at the moment slowly. Shinsuke has time to give up the Kinshasa attempt and casually reposition himself in readiness for Jeff: that’s how fucking slow this guy ran to the ring.
Attacking two men when there’s only one of you isn’t normal, but on the hallucinogenic cocktail that replaced Hardy’s blood sometime in the mid-2000s it absolutely is. Jeff manages to hit a painfully slow double dropkick, then takes both Shinsuke and Rusev out of the ring. For the heels it must have been like they were Neo fighting a regular guy, except they still somehow lost.
Paige shows up to enact the Teddy Long Prophecy of the Holla Holla Holla: it’s a tag team match, playa. Jesus: Styles and Nakamura are worn out and Jeff’s apparently taken something that forces him to move at half the speed of a regular human being: what could go wrong?
All this does is make me miss Teddy Long
When we come back, Rusev is beating Styles around like Styles just had a full-length match and is totally exhausted. I’m not sure if it’s a simile if that’s actually what happened, but none of the rest of you do either. Styles eats a bodyslam and a suplex, then gets locked into a bearhug from Rusev. We get an advert for Extreme Rules in the middle of the match, which is fucking terrible. They’re also making a huge deal about Rousey being at ringside for the Alexa/Nia bout; did everyone think she’d not get involved if it would have meant having to jog down from backstage? Lazy cow.
Styles tries to batter Rusev away from him, finally trying out a sleeper hold. Rusev backs Styles into the corner, but then ends up ramming the steel post with his shoulder. Jeff Hardy wants the tag and also more drugs, but he gets the tag. Rusev is kept off-balance by Hardy’s offence, but counters a Twist of Fate. A Whisper in the Wind connects, with Nakamura breaking up the pin before Styles disposes of him. Rusev Machka Kicks Styles off the apron, then misses a second kick to Jeff.
Hardy hits his weird new Twist of Fate stunner thing, but when he heads up for the Swanton Nakamura crotches him on the ropes (you knew someone’s balls were going to get fucked up tonight). Rusev hits the Machka Kick this time, scoring the win.
Quite the dominant streak that Rusev’s had in the lead up. I’m not counting on a victory for him (though never count out WWE’s ability to surprise), but if nothing else then I hope this sticks around. 2.5 Stars.
James Ellsworth is doing push-ups backstage, in the same way that I fight world hunger by not snacking: there’s some tenuous connection, but no-one’s going to give me a prize for it. Carmella shows up and tells him he’d better take care of his business. Ellsworth winks at her, causing her ovaries to freeze until she’s at least a mile away from him. She tells him that if he doesn’t do this right tonight, he’s a dead motherfucker.
The Lumberjacquelines make their way to the ring together, then Carmella gets her own entrance just to add a little tension to the situation. Ellsworth arrives, and we get a look at some of the heel work he’s been doing on Twitter. God love him, the man puts in the work.
Ellsworth gets a microphone, so it’s time for some light hate speech. He takes off his shirt and tells them that he knows that his succulent cancer patient bod must be really tempting. It’s telling that Charlotte’s not out here for this; I can only imagine she has something better to do, like learning the banjo, whistling tunelessly or literally anything. Asuka arrives, and let’s just try and get through this farce without her getting injured, because the only good thing about this whole feud is that until now no-one’s gotten hurt.
Ellsworth dodges Asuka, heading out of the ring before getting tossed back inside by Becky and Naomi. Weren’t Naomi and Lana forming a tag team? Did we forget about that? Absolution prevent Ellsworth from leaving, then toss him back into the ring when Asuka blasts him out of it.
The slaughter continues, with Ellsworth really not grasping the key concept of a Lumberjack match. And then somehow all the Lumberjacks start fighting amongst themselves, because every time. Every damn time. It’s so fucking reliable at this point that it’s like anyone who makes a Lumberjack match has never seen one before. Ellsworth manages to run away, and Asuka yells for someone to grab him because like hell she’s walking all the way up that ramp.
Becky and Naomi catch Ellsworth, dragging him back to the ring. And this somehow prompts the other women to start fighting them too. It’s probably fertile ground for a joke about how women treat women in the workplace, but show me one all-male Lumberjack match when this exact thing didn’t also happen. Asuka, in a making-friends kind of mood, jumps onto all the Lumberjacks because if they can’t do this job then maybe they’ll be good at being a mattress.
Ellsworth tries to escape, and then Carmella passes him something. Could be anything: could be a dildo. It’s usually a dildo, in my bountiful experience. Actually looks like pepper spray, but Asuka beats the shit out of Ellsworth before he can mace her in self-defence, knocking him into Carmella before making him tap out with the Asuka Lock.
This was just silly. And not even funny-silly: this was dumb-silly. If we could move past this and get back on with real competition for female athletes, that’d be great. 1 Star.
Post-match, Carmella jumps Asuka but gets fucked up by the Empress. A quick spray of mace from Ellsworth lets Carmella superkick Asuka. Maybe a clue that there’ll be a title change on Sunday: who honestly knows right now.
Backstage, the New Day and Team Hell No are trying to come up with a strategy. Bryan is in favour of Bret Hart-esque wear-them-down strategy, whilst Kane is a strong advocate for pyromania and condemning their tortured souls to the void. This develops into the usual argument before the New Day intervene, turning the matter of leadership over to Big E, who gives everyone their jobs. You never get to see guys strategising backstage; it’d add another element to the whole affair.
Jesus, are they using Roddy Piper’s memory to sell a video game? That…that’s distasteful. That’s horrible.
Elsewhere backstage, Carmella and James Ellsworth run into Paige to James can be Mr Creepypants and Paige can say she turned down the opportunity to have sex with a WWE employee on camera. Paige makes a Shark Cage match, which has never been stupid and has always worked perfectly. My headache’s getting a lot worse.
“Hey hey, Cien Cien, I don’t like your girlfriend”
Sin Cara’s in the ring, which is a novelty in and of itself, and here comes Cien Almas to pay off this angle we never cared about. Haha, we get footage of when they tried to interview Sin Cara through his mask which was, in the words of Randy Orton, stupid stupid. Apparently Cien Almas’ attack on Sin Cara resulted in Sin Cara getting injured: get out of town.
Almas and Sin Cara approach each other cautiously before Almas shoves Cara, getting aggressive early on. Sin Cara gives him some pause with some high-speed lucha offence, sending Almas right out of the ring and diving on him. Back inside, Cien manages to halt the momentum with a backbreaker as we head to a commercial break.
Back with the action, Sin Cara scores with several springboard moonsaults, following that up with a crazy headscissors. Almas counters a suplex and knocks Sin Cara the fuck down with a spinning elbow. Sin Cara almost catches a quick roll-up, but another stunning blow has him rattled before he throws Cien Almas out of the ring. Sin Cara hurricanas him on the outside, then heads up to the top for a splash. Cien gets the knees up, letting Cara crash and burn.
Cien Almas heads up to the top, but gets crotched by Sin Cara. The two struggle near the top, then Cara hits a stomp with Sin Cara tied up. A pair of running knees net Cien Almas the win.
Way more competitive than I’d thought it would be. Best Sin Cara match I’ve seen in years, and a good showing from Cien Almas. Good stuff. 3 Stars.
SAnitY are backstage, doing the Wyatt shtick of saying spooky shit to the camera from an undisclosed location (AKA. backstage). Then the Bludgeon Brothers arrive and tell them that this is copyright infringement and bitches better lawyer up.
Somewhere the Usos are crying
Main event time, and the New Day arrive. Team Hell No come out right after, followed by SAnitY. Have to say, so far SAnitY have been given a solid opportunity to mix with the Usos, Jeff Hardy, the New Day and now Team Hell No. Looks like they’re really being taken seriously. Finally the
Bashem Brothers Bludgeon Brothers arrive, and it’s on.
Brawl starts immediately, with the heels getting cleared out in jig time before the break. When we come back, the faces are still in control, with the New Day smashing Alexander Wolfe around with some fantastic teamwork. Woods tags in, keeping Wolfe off-balance with some hard offence before being distracted by Dain and Young. Wolfe scores with a German suplex, then Rowan tags himself in.
Rowan hits a pumphandle backbreaker, then drops an elbow. Harper tags in to senton onto Woods from the outside before busting out the Gator Roll! Oh, and we get a trailer for Lashley vs. Reigns: sure, I wasn’t enjoying this match. When we finally get to watch the match in full-screen again, Dain has tagged himself in and implied that the Fabulous Bludgeon Boys can go fuck themselves.
Dain wrenches Woods’ head around, who fires back briefly before Dain squashes the Up Up Down Down out of him. We head to a break, and when we come back it’s Rowan punishing Woods. That sounds wrong, or alternatively it sounds amazing depending on what you like to imagine. The New Day breaks up a pin from Harper, and off the distraction Xavier is able to hit a tornado DDT! Young tags in; Bryan tags in!
Bryan starts kicking the fuck out of Young, hitting high gear seconds into the exchange. He takes out the other two members of SAnitY before scoring with a flying dropkick and then hurricanrana-ing Young off the top. Yes Kicks strike, but Young ducks the last one, going for a roll-up before Bryan counters into the Yes Lock! Wolfe breaks up the submission, then Kane levels him with a chokeslam! Rowan dives into the ring, dispatching Kane with a spinning kick! Woods hits a flying dropkick to Rowan! Harper hits a spinning side slam to Woods, then eats Trouble in Paradise from Kofi! Big E throws Kofi onto Harper, then Dain throws himself at Kingston in a crossbody! Dain and Big E fight on the apron, then Big E spears Dain right off the apron!
Bryan’s waiting for the running knee, and it hits! Bryan gets the win for his team!
Solid, exciting match. Everyone had a job here, with Dain especially looking impressive. The Bludgeon Brothers kept their mystique alive; the New Day looked like a genuine threat to SAnitY and whilst Kane didn’t do much, Team Hell No getting the win is a big statement. 3 Stars.
At the end, Kane tries to do the Yes Points, and then Bryan tries to do Kane’s flame…whatever it is. This is adorable. He finally gets it, leaving Kane looking startled and bemused. Outstanding.
Tags: AJ Styles, Asuka, Bludgeon Brothers, Carmella, extreme rules, James Ellsworth, Jeff Hardy, rusev, Sanity, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, Team Hell No, The New Day, WWE