It’s time for SmackDown, where the Japanese either kick you in the dick or assault non-wrestlers. And then Orton kicks you in the dick, assaults your wife and shits on your stuff. What am I even writing?
Jeff Hardy’s bloodstream is 80% Keith Richards
The show starts with a replay of Jeff Hardy probably getting punished for showing up to work high. Whether true or not, that was my very first thought when I saw this segment because, let’s face it, he’s done it before.
And the night’s festivities begin with the junkie in question, presumably coming out to make some sort of statement that’ll rival Donald Trump’s for incoherence. His vest has “immune to fear” written on it, and if he could just be immune from bad choices then I might not have to write caustic remarks about him every sentence, like this one where I say that Jeff Hardy could spit into a vat of Flavor Aid and kill three Jonestowns.
Jeff Hardy says that he’s not Jeff Hardy, which is one hundred percent what someone drugged to the stupid contact-covered eyeballs would say if handed a microphone and thrust out in front of a crowd for entertainment purposes. Jeff then berates Shinsuke Nakamura in every single way that doesn’t involve pulling at the corners of his eyes, and then only because I assume that he doesn’t want to spoil his facepaint. If Jeff Hardy actually realises he’s wearing facepaint, which is quite the assumption in itself. Jeff says that last night he wasn’t thinking clearly, which I believe, and that tonight he is, the possibility of which I can’t even begin to entertain.
Jeff says that he’s here to take drugs and get his Championship back, and you know he’s taken all the drugs within a fifty mile radius. Jeff leaves to try and find more drugs, and we see Shinsuke Nakamura watching what decades of chemical abuse can do to the human mind on a television screen. Renee, who at this point should know better, approaches Shinsuke and asks ‘sup. Nakamura calls Jeff Hardy a sad clown, like there’s a scene in Pagliacci where the Canio stops mid-aria to find a vein. Nakamura pretends to cry, then it turns out that he’s not and says that it’s his title now. He promises to give everyone a reason to smile tonight by making a clown cry again. He could be talking about Jeff Hardy or he could be referring to going out into the street and murdering a clown’s family: either way, I’m hooked for this main event.
Styles crosses another country off his “Map of Asses Kicked”
Here’s AJ Styles, who’s going to keep expanding his rogue’s gallery until one of these fuckers takes the title away from him and he can finally take a break. He’s facing Cien Almas tonight, because AJ Styles likes putting on awesome matches and punching different ethnicities, and there are many more ethnicities to go.
Cien Almas makes his entrance, wearing a mask, with Zelina Vega, who’s wearing leather pants. It’s not a traditional look, but Baron Corbin wrestled on Sunday looking like a plainclothes detective who’s just got home after seeing his eleventh murdered child prostitute on the job, so I’ll not be too much of a fashion pedant. Styles could either be trying to stare Almas down or he’s been lost in the man’s beautiful eyes: they’re a dangerous weapon and it’s just a matter of time before one of his opponents moves in for a kiss.
Both men lock up for the initial hug and tussle. Almas is able to outmaneuver Styles a couple of times before elbowing him in the face. Styles backs Cien into the corner, who smacks him away and latches on a headlock, not letting AJ shoot him off. This has already been more rest hold than your typical Randy Orton match, and Randy latches on a headlock during breakfast, romantic walks in the park and oral sex. Styles finally creates separation, but Almas avoids a dropkick by draping himself seductively over the middle rope. I wish I could describe that better: they should have sent a poet.
After a break, Styles has managed to get some offence in, hitting Almas with a flying clothesline. Cien responds with a dropkick, with both men taking a while to reach their feet. He ducks a bitchslap from Styles, instead smacking him in the head and hitting a backbreaker. He stomps AJ in the corner and then sets him up on the turnbuckle before hitting a dropkick. He goes for the running knees, but a fireman’s carry neckbreaker leaves him laying.
AJ, muttering something about how a damned immigrant is trying to take his job as WWE Champion, sets up for the Styles Clash. Almas dumps him over the apron and is able to counter a Phenomenal Forearm with a spinning elbow that takes out AJ’s legs. Styles crashes and burns as Almas tries for a moonsault. Styles rolls away, but Almas is a fucking glitched video game character and hits another moonsault, from the ground, right onto AJ. There isn’t a flaccid dick in the house right now, I guarantee you.
Almas goes for the suplex, because Bobby Lashley has skewed everyone’s perceptions about how impactful they really are; Styles counters, then catches Almas on the second rope with a Pele Kick. AJ wants a superplex, but Almas catches him in the tree of woe…oh God, they’ve resurrected Del Rio’s stomp finisher. Countdown to Almas slapping one of WWE’s social media people in the cafeteria. Cien follows it up with the running knees, but if you think that Styles is getting beaten clean, by Almas, in the first match of the night then you can go fuck yourself, you stupid fucking asshole.
Almas drags Styles to his feet, going for the hammerlock DDT…and Styles turns it into the Calf-Crusher! Almas taps out immediately.
Solid match, and a great barometer for how fast they need to give Almas a title. Can’t wait to see this match a year down the line at a PPV. 3 Stars.
Styles slumps in the corner, like the guy he just beat doesn’t have a finisher that involves ramming his knees into your face in the corner. Almas walks out of the ring, looking sulky and beautiful.
Backstage, Aiden English has regrown his hair and is talking to Lana. He says that he needs to apologise and asks if she can pass that along. Not sure that an apology by proxy (aproxology?) is the right way to go with this, but then I’ve never been in musical theatre, where I assume everyone gets into big fights and then probably sings about them.
Lana says that Rusev needs space, the big girl, and adds that she’s not sure why English has come to her about this: per Vince McMahon’s psychotic world-view, she’s not even married to Rusev; she’s still dating Dolph Ziggler and randomly getting Claymored by Drew McIntyre every five minutes (“Claymored” isn’t a euphemism for sex: Drew McIntyre kicks ladies in their whore faces). She says that English needs to talk to Rusev; apologising through her is just a way of him making himself feel better.
Jesus Christ, Lana is actually approaching a human relationship like a sane, caring individual. What kind of fuckery is going on…ah, she’s coming between English and Rusev. Gotcha: false alarm. English, trying to conceal the fact that his soul just died inside him, says that all he asks is a second chance. Lana says she’ll consider it. We don’t actually see Rusev crying and eating fistfuls of chocolate, but let’s all choose to agree that’s totally what’s going on here.
When we find Mandy Rose’s head in Corey Graves’ basement, we’ll have no excuse for not expecting it
Here’s Becky Lynch, so let’s all buckle up for the commentators to compliment how brave and strong she is for not getting into into a bathtub and opening her veins. She’s facing Mandy Rose, which must make bubblebath suicide seem like a viable option. Mandy and Sonya make their way to the ring as Corey Graves vocally outlines his intention to contain Rose in some kind of secure location where no-one will hear her screaming for help, and the bell rings.
Mandy and Becky jockey for position before Mandy runs out of wrestling moves in roughly 0.5 seconds and hits Lynch in the face. Becky gains the advantage, but a distraction from Sonya allows Mandy to get in some offence, although it’s offence in the same way that taking a dump with the door open is technically “performance art”. Mandy manages to hit a suplex, which is like a poodle accomplishing nuclear fission, and continues to punish Becky Lynch through the simple act of being her opponent in a match.
Mandy hits a running knee and then mounts Becky, punching her in the face over and over in a grand metaphor for Becky’s career. Mandy locks in a submission hold; I don’t know what the name of the move is, but there’s a real chance that it’s not actually a real wrestling move so I refuse to look it up. Becky goes for a roll-up, trying to mercy-kill this match, but Rose kicks out. Lynch hits calf kicks and a Bexploder, and Becky locks in the Disarmer. Mandy taps, and maybe Becky can finally get an opponent who’s not part of Absolution or the IIconics.
It was a wrestling match involving Mandy Rose, so there was always going to be a glass ceiling here. 1.5 Stars.
Becky thanks everyone for their support and says that winning feels great. She says that she’s been waiting, biding her time, being misused and working her ass off. She promises she’s just getting started, and formally challenges Carmella for the Women’s Championship.
Paige is watching this on a screen with Carmella right beside her and says that everyone was cheering for Becky and Carmella doesn’t know what that sounds like. Paige is incapable of not being an asshole in the same way that Jeff Hardy is incapable of not taking drugs. Carmella is there to lobby for another Mellabration, and Paige says that she’ll do it if Carmella can beat Becky Lynch in a non-title match next week. If Becky wins, then she’ll be the number one contender at SummerSlam.
Backstage, we’re reminded that Tye Dillinger and R-Truth exist. I’d say that I didn’t need the reminder, but that’d be a lie. Let’s say instead that I didn’t want the reminder.
Watching Truth and Tye do comedy is like having to watch a dog being strangled to death: I’d rather not see it and if you laughed at any point then you’re demonstrably insane. Tye Dillinger is facing Samoa Joe in what is probably pre-emptive punishment for this whole bit.
That didn’t go how Dillinger inTENded
When we get to the ring, Tye Dillinger has been jobber-entranced. I’d say it’s a metaphor for his career, but I already made that joke about Becky; let’s just say that Tye Dillinger probably shouldn’t expect too much from his wrestling career given every indication up to this point, and I really doubt we’re about to see him buck the trend.
Samoa Joe arrives and Tye jumps him. He gets in some shots on the outside, slamming an un-padded knee into Joe’s face. Joe finally realises that Dillinger seems to have some sort of beef with him, and responds by hurling him into the ring post.
Back in the ring, Joe goes to work on Tye. I guess you could call him “angry”, in much the same way that you could call Jeffrey Dahmer “peckish”. Dillinger gets some sense and perspective smacked into him, then gets choked out in the Clutch.
This match did everything it needed to do: made Joe look like a beast and let Tye Dillinger know that life isn’t always fair. 2.5 Stars.
This could double as a funeral for Tye Dillinger
In his constant quest to be a dick to everyone, about everything, forever and ever, amen, the Miz is throwing a funeral for Team Hell No. And he’s gone the whole hog too: he’s got organ music; he’s wearing a black suit, shirt and tie; he’s commiserating with fans like he’s actually at a funeral; there are pallbearers bringing in Kane’s mask on a model head; there are photos. The Miz puts so much effort into this that he could be having eighteen affairs or murdering foreign diplomats in some shadowy scheme and we might never, ever know the truth due to the artistry that goes into his facade. Just something to chew over.
The Miz thanks everyone for being there and says that everyone’s gathered here to mourn the passing of Team Hell No. He takes us through their history together, then asks everyone to join him in a moment of silence. This is way classier than most funerals I’ve been to, mostly because it’s not involved family members making out next to the open grave. Actually, considering this is Vince McMahon’s creation I’m amazed at the lack of any incest going on here. Then again, there’s a Kane mask in the ring, so we’re seconds away from a Katie Vick tribute.
Miz finally switches tack and says that he told us so: he told us that Kane would leave us for politics; he told us that Daniel Bryan wouldn’t be wasted in the tag team division. He claims that Bryan wanted a “greatest hits” tour, but his whole time back has been a legacy-destroying spree. He says that Bryan’s career is dead, and right on cue, Bryan’s music plays.
At Miz’s command, the pallbearers start removing their clothes, so it’s a bit similar to the kind of funerals I’ve been to. Bryan sneaks into the ring from the back, attacking the Miz before beating the hell out of the pallbearers who try to interfere. He finishes by trashing the ring and kills one of the pallbearers with a running knee. Daniel Bryan doesn’t respect your non-vegan funeral traditions.
Meanwhile, the New Day are backstage, trying to psyche Kingston up for his match against Eric Young. Have to admire how these guys can make a loss seem utterly meaningless like that.
SAnitY with some smart strategy, ironically
Here come the New Day, pancakes and trombone in tow. SAnitY arrive, and Young and Kofi approach each other as the bell rings. Young, whose very presence should probably prompt an investigation into WWE’s hiring policy, takes some shots from Kofi before clubbing him to the ground. Kingston’s able to trip Young up, hitting a flying axe-handle before clotheslining him out of the ring. Turns out not being a headcase is actually beneficial in wrestling: who knew?
After a break, Young has gained the advantage over Kofi and is clubbing him as Kingston is draped over the ring apron. Kingston’s slingshotted throat-first into the bottom rope, and the leader of SAnitY follows that up with a neckbreaker before applying a rest hold. Must be a sign of the insane wrestlers: Young, Orton, Wyatt all seem to be fools for a nice rest hold.
Young gets on the ropes and hangs Kofi from his arms in a visual that’s a little uncomfortable to watch unless you’re Vince McMahon, who’s just going to use a recording of this as an alternative to Viagra. Young launches himself at Kofi, who dropkicks his strange-fruit-bearing ass out of the air. Kingston begins his comeback, hitting the Boom Drop before Young ducks the Trouble in Paradise. Young hurls himself over the top rope and ascends the top turnbuckle, but Kofi catches him and hurls him to the mat for a near fall!
Young rolls out of the ring, because he’s crazy but he’s not that crazy. Neither is he Super Crazy, who is a Mexican gentleman from ECW. Kofi launches himself out of the ring on top of three men who claim to be suffering from mental conditions, because Kingston doesn’t have time for your bullshit tumblr-esque self-diagnosis. An SOS in the ring doesn’t get the job done, and a distraction from Wolfe and Dain allows Young get himself back into the fight. During a brawl between SAnitY and New Day, Dain hurls Woods into Kofi, letting Young pick up a victory with the wheelbarrow neckbreaker.
Pretty good match. I wish they’d let SAnitY act a little crazier in the ring: it’s hard to buy their mad act when they then wrestle like everyone else. Dain managed to have the moment of the match without actually being in it; this guy is going to be awesome. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura is staring at the US Championship and pretending to cackle with a deep voice actually cackling in his place. Because he is Shinsuke Nakamura and he EEEEVIL…INDEED.
And Jeff Hardy is still wearing facepaint and contact lenses. I’d say he needs to take a good long look at himself, but that sort of talk would probably have him ripping his eyeballs out.
Jeff Hardy is what happens when you lick Jack Nicholson
Jeff makes his way to the ring, tattered nutsack swinging gently in the breeze, followed by Shinsuke Nakamura. When Nakamura is the most sane person in a match, your wrestlers have become a little cartoonish. We have a stable that is ironically called “SAnitY”, and they’ve displayed more stability than Jeff Hardy.
Jeff Hardy immediately jumps Shinsuke Nakamura, potentially under the impression that he’s a Jabberwock or whatever the fuck Jeff Hardy sees when he looks out at the world. Nakamura tries a low blow, which I’m willing to believe is his most primal instinct by now, but gets worked over good and proper by Brother Smackhead, only just avoiding a Swanton Bomb as we go to a break.
When we come back, Nakamura is taking it to Jeff Hardy, applying a chinlock in the centre of the ring. Hardy fights out before Nakamura slams the back of his head into the mat, then the Champ smashes his skull off the turnbuckle. Give it up, Shinsuke: Jeff’s been trying to to damage his own brain for years; it’s immune. Good Vibrations is followed by a front facelock, slowly dragging Jeff down to the mat. Hardy manages to win his way back into the fight, smashing Shinsuke’s head off all four corners and dropping the legs onto Nakamura.
Nakamura fights back, but Jeff slips out of a reverse exploder suplex and drops Nakamura with a white Russian leg sweep and a cover. Shinsuke kicks out, just barely. Hardy tries for a Twist of Fate, but Nakamura shoves him into the corner and wallops him in the back of the neck before continuing to punish Jeff on the outside. Following a break, Nakamura runs into a shoulder from Jeff, who batters the Champ away from him long enough to hit a Whisper in the Wind for two.
Hardy continues to work on Nakamura, hitting an atomic drop and a leg drop, but he’s unable to finish the wily Asian dick-puncher. Another Twist of Fate is countered, but Jeff responds with an enzuigiri. The Cardiac Arrest is countered, with Shinsuke burying his knee into Hardy’s stomach. He follows that up with the backstabber, then a knee to the face which almost puts Jeff away.
Shinsuke hits another hard knee to Jeff, then readies a Kinshasa. Jeff hits a terrible-looking slingblade, heading up to the top before Nakamura brings him down to the floor. Shinsuke readies the Kinshasa, and this time Hardy counters with the Twist of Fate! He heads up to the top and hits the Swanton Bomb, but a wild Randy Orton appeared!
Randy pulls Jeff out of the ring and then smashes his head again and again into the steel steps, determined to drag the Hardy back to lucidity one way or another.
Solid match, but I’m glad we’re hopefully moving on from Hardy/Nakamura so Shinsuke can find a new opponent. Open Challenge matches would be a nice holding pattern for a while. 2.5 Stars.
Orton continues his assault on Jeff, who tries to put up a spirited if drug-addled defence before Randy hurls him into the steps again. Orton is yelling “you want to know why?” and…not particularly? I mean…is it stupid? Because it’s usually pretty stupid. Or, in the words of Randy Orton, “Stupid! Stupid!”
And then Orton says “you’re going to have to wait to find out”. Oh, fuck you. Fuck you and your fucking teasing, Randy Orton: I’d respect you more if you didn’t have a reason and this was just your Intermittent Explosive Disorder that you sometimes remember to have.
And then Orton puts his finger in Jeff’s gauge and pulls on it. Jesus: I’ll take “Things I Could Have Gone My Whole Life Without Seeing” for £500, please. After ear-fucking Jeff for a while, Orton then yells “where’s Shinsuke”, but I think Nakamura’s smart enough to want no part of a man who once burned down a dude’s house as a “fuck you”. In lieu of a Japanese guy to smack around, Randy beats on the addict a little more and then fucks off.
What a weird dude.