Back from a relaxing week in Italy, I return to my cup of coffee, fizzy water and unrelenting rage at all things Randy Orton-shaped.
This is why we can’t have nice things
Renee Young is in the ring and she introduces Becky Lynch, the number one contender. After everything the Lasskicker’s gone through before this sudden winning streak, it seems inevitable that she’s going to show up to SummerSlam and have a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on her. Then something-something psychic powers, John Travolta and I guess Charlotte shows up to a parking lot and watches her die? Wrestling should be more like Stephen King is what I’m saying.
Renee starts off the interview with the whole “after such a long and difficult road, aren’t you a big strong girl for managing to overcome all the terrible booking for a fleeting number one contendership?” shtick, which I’ve never seen done to any other number one contender and comes off as really patronising. Becky says that she sometimes thought that this moment would never happen; she’s been so far from the Championship for so long. But now Charlotte’s away, so she’d better grab this chance before she gets lost in the shuffle once again.
Becky promises that she’ll walk into Evolution as the SmackDown Women’s Champion, and then gets interrupted by Carmella. Carmella says that she’s not out here to make excuses for herself for losing last week; Becky beat her fair and square and earned the title shot. So, that’s not the real Carmella. She’s been possessed by the Overlook Hotel, only it’s made her way nicer. She goes into a speech about how important and progressive the first ever WWE women-only PPV is, then talks about how her own experience in wrestling pales in comparison to Becky’s. It’s a really good speech and you could almost get emotionally invested if this wasn’t wrestling and you know she’s either going to finish with a cruel quip or a superkick.
Carmella tears up when she says that the WWE Universe doesn’t think that she deserves to be Women’s Champion. What, are we supposed to feel bad? She doesn’t deserve to be Women’s Champion. Excuse me if I have difficulty feeling sympathy for anyone getting paid for a job they’re tremendously underqualified for. She’s literally crying about what is more or less a fair judgement, which makes her a pretty terrible example of female empowerment. She promises to tear the house down with Becky at SummerSlam, and then offers Becky a hand.
James Ellsworth’s music plays, and because Becky is dumber than a sackful of potatoes (is that racist?) she gets distracted and eats a superkick. Carmella then grabs a chair, because if she paralyses Becky Lynch then she might actually appear to be the better wrestler by comparison, and then Charlotte dashes to the ring. What an inspiring number one contender: fooled by a decades-old ploy before getting saved by her more-famous friend. Becky doesn’t get written strong even when she’s succeeding.
Carmella grabs the chair, but Charlotte boots it out of her hands and suplexes her before checking on poor little Becky Lynch. Female empowerment, by WWE.
We’re then treated to the sight of Samoa Joe having a staring contest with the camera that’s fixed on him. Who knows why Joe does these things?
Jeff Hardy is also sitting backstage, wearing headphones. Smart move: that’ll stop Orton finger-fucking his ridiculous gauge hole.
The Usos have found the traditional undisclosed location and are either cutting a promo or shooting a music video. They’re facing the Bar tonight in what will almost certainly be the match of the night. They imitate the Rock in a half-hearted joke that I’m positive gave me brain cancer and then head off to try to win a title shot against the Tag Team Champions who have made them look like bitches on multiple occasions.
Paige is in what is either her office or a cleverly-designed set before Carmella bursts in to complain about being prevented from turning a beloved athlete into a quadriplegic on live television. She then mocks Paige for never being able to be Women’s Champion, and the combination of her previous mockery of feminism and reminding her employer of her inability to do the most important thing in her life gets her a match against Charlotte Flair; if Charlotte wins, then the match at SummerSlam is a triple threat. At that stage, Carmella might as well go for broke and mention the leaked sex tapes.
This was always going to be good
Here come the Usos, ready to fight for truth, justice but mainly the Tag Team Championships. They’re followed by the Bar, with their amazing entrance and fucking awful jackets. I don’t know why I try to bring fashion into wrestling; the only fashionable thing in the WWE is the Miz. Then the New Day arrive, pankkakeing the crowd on their way. The New Day have their own pancake-themed announce table, which is incredible and proof that WWE employ at least one person with a decent sense of humour.
Jey and Sheamus start off with the Uso smacking the Celtic Warrior right out of the ring. Sheamus gets pissed, and Cesaro has to grab him whilst screaming hysterically that he’s not worth it. We go to a break, and when we come back Cesaro is in control of the same Uso or a different Uso or some weird mix of both Usos: it’s unclear. I’m told it’s Jey, but I was also told that Santa exists so excuse me for healthy scepticism. Sheamus tags in to club away on Jey, dropping knees on the Uso’s face.
We watch Jey get beat on for a while longer before he gets sick of it and starts smacking Sheamus around. He finally manages to slip out of a back suplex and sends Sheamus shoulder-first into the steel post. Jimmy and Cesaro tag in, and Jimmy has the Swiss Superman reeling from his cunning strategy of smacking the shit out of him. Cesaro slides out of the ring and Sheamus heroically takes a dive attack from Jim in his place, but the Uso still superkicks Cesaro and hits him with a splash inside the ring for a two-count. Cesaro finally manages to gain separation when he shoves Jimmy off the top rope into the barricade, earning himself a reprieve and a charge of attempted murder.
After another break, Jey has just saved Jimmy from a double suplex attempt, and Jimmy lays out Cesaro with a Whisper in the Wind. The two slug away at each other in the ring, but a springboard attempt from Cesaro sees Jey superkick him out of the air! Sheamus gets the Samoan Splash, but Cesaro breaks up the pin! After disposing of Cesaro, they go for the double splash, but Cesaro catches Jey with an uppercut in mid-air; Sheamus gets the knees up and pins Jimmy! The Bar advance!
Great match with an excellent ending. I’m pulling for the Bar to meet the Bludgeon Brothers for the titles: what a hard-hitting match that’d be. 3.5 Stars.
After the match, Sheamus and Cesaro invite the New Day into the ring before realising that they probably can’t beat three fresh opponents after that match, so they retreat.
Backstage, Charlotte is promising Renee that she totally didn’t politic her way into a Women’s Championship match, taking a page out of the Shawn Michaels and Triple H playbook.
Samoa Joe will solve your problems by hitting you
Here comes Samoa Joe, here to save us from forgettable WWE Championship matches. He gets handed a microphone and a barstool, because that was a long, tiring walk down that entrance ramp. He says that last week he sent a message to AJ, but says that he honestly respects Styles and what he’s done for the WWE Championship during his reign. It doesn’t take long before he accuses AJ of being a shitty Dad, because the theme of heels tonight is to start off sincere before developing into being a total dick: see Carmella from half an hour earlier.
Doctor Joe proceeds to analyse Style’s work/family balance despite not having any kind of psychology or sociology degree that we know of. His prescription is that he should beat AJ into bloody unconsciousness and take his Championship. That’s amazing: how many other therapists will commit to healing their clients to the point of physically assaulting and effectively demoting them?
I’d call this a sobering moment, but this is Jeff Hardy we’re talking about
Jeff Hardy emerges from whatever haze of mind-expansion he’s been sequestered in and gets handed a microphone: whatever could go wrong? I’d go through his speech and mock what he says, but these reviews are already way too long, so I’ll settle for summing it up: Jeff Hardy wants to murder Randy Orton and then do a lot of drugs. He tells Orton to get his ass out there, and Orton actually arrives. It’s amazing how many wrestlers accept an invitation to an asskicking.
Just as Randy’s about to get into the ring, Shinsuke Nakamura wills himself into being and starts smacking Jeff around. He’s about to hit Jeff with the Kinshasa, because at this point unconsciousness is the only way to stop the former-United States Champion from inhaling, snorting or injecting whatever substance he can get his hands on into himself, when Randy Orton steps in front of Shinsuke and the two stare each other down. If Nakamura low-blows Orton right now, then this segment gets five stars without question.
But Nakamura does not tangle with Orton’s viper eggs, who actually then steps aside and lets Shinsuke hit Hardy with the Kinshasa. Goodnight, sweet prince: may fumes of ether carry thee to thy rest. Orton and Shinsuke have another stare-down, and I’m willing to accept a passionate kiss in lieu of a nutshot. But Nakamura rolls out of the ring and leaves: COWARD.
Orton is left in the ring with Jeff Hardy, and this would be the perfect time for a punt – Orton’s most vicious and sadistic move – but Randy instead hits him with a double-legged takedown and then hits the Garvin Stomps, a Vintage DDT, then a Vintage DDT on the floor, and then he tosses Hardy on the announce table. Randy then rips off Jeff’s shirt, his necklace and then literally washes off his facepaint. I’d laugh about this, but there is something really creepy about it at the same time. Could we not have had this Randy Orton fight Lesnar?
The crowd chants for an RKO, the callous fucks, but Orton leaves without hitting it: the biggest heel move of this whole bit.
Backstage, Becky exits her dressing room (aw, she got her own dressing room) and is ambushed by Renee, who has camped outside to explain to her how the odds of a triple threat match works. In a pleasant surprise, Becky is honest enough to say that she’s a little bit pissed about Charlotte getting a title shot, but says that she’d never be so bitter as to root against her. Anyone else sensing a heel turn?
Aiden English’s chances for a threesome are getting smaller and smaller
Here’s Lana, who will be going one-on-one against Zelina Vega following a brawl during a Rusev/Almas match that I can’t believe I missed. And at least Lana has her own entrance music, Zelina.
Both women circle each other, with Zelina avoiding a shot from Lana before taunting her. And then Lana shows off a dance move, which is exactly how street fighting works. Finally Lana tries some actual wrestling, spearing Zelina before we go to a commercial break. When we come back, Vega’s got Lana in a dragon sleeper, transitioning into a regular sleeper. And bless Cien Almas’ little cotton socks for doing his best impression of a manager out here.
Lana finally backs Vega into the corner, breaking the sleeper, but Zelina slams Lana into the corner. Vega hits Almas’ running knees, which is going to lead to some tense conversation backstage, and then tries for the hammerlock DDT. Jesus, this is incredible infringement. Lana manages to fire back with some shots and a neckbreaker before hitting a damned spinaroonie. She drives her knees into the back of Vega’s head, but Almas keeps trying to distract Lana. Take off your shirt!
Finally, in a bid to keep Lana from being seduced by Almas’ beautiful face, English comes out to pull him off the apron. But this distracts Lana as well, allowing Vega to roll her up for the win.
Nothing special, but a competent match-up which served to further the horrifying, tragic and utterly unnecessary break-up of Rusev Day. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a cry. 2 Stars.
Backstage, the Bludgeon Brothers have clever puns for the New Day and the Bar, showing a basic grasp of the English language and murdering their own mystique. Twas ever thus.
4/10: not enough fake babies
Daniel Bryan, who last week demonstrated his amazing dad reflexes when Miz pulled a Gene Snitsky (because of the fake baby thing, not because of causing a miscarriage thing), is apparently going to address said-baby-tossing fuckery. But before that, English finds Lana, implying that they left the ring separately despite both heading in the same direction. Lana doesn’t want to talk, and English can’t understand why this frigid whore can’t appreciate his chivalry. Aiden leaves, and Rusev shows up, yelling to English that he wants to talk to him. Lana tells Rusev that she could have used him out there tonight, leaving Rusev presumably not knowing what the hell’s going on.
Back to Daniel Bryan, who’s politely been waiting for all this to end before saying what he’s come here to say. And of course, he talks about how amazing Evolution is going to be. It’s like it was named this so Triple H will get an erection when everyone is forced to fawn over it. Bryan somehow connects the PPV to his own situation, despite the fact that he’ll have no part in it. We’re shown a video of the fake baby toss, which to be honest is just hysterical, and Bryan says that the footage of him being made to look a bit of a fool and then getting assaulted “bothers him”. Well…no shit?
Bryan says that Miz taunted and antagonised Bryan for two years because there could literally never be any physical reprisals. And the sheer hatred that Bryan fostered for Miz forced Daniel’s own body to heal himself so that his sanity might remain intact. So the Miz started using a baby as a human shield, which is literally something that the Joker once did if you want a morality check on that. Bryan promises that he’ll massacre the Miz if they ever meet in a fair match, and demands that Miz get out there so that he can prove it.
Miz appears onscreen and says that he’s not even there: he’s on location at Miz and Mrs. He even works in a plug for the show, promising us an awesome baby shower episode. Please God, let their child have been replaced by the fake baby during that episode. Or let Bryan abduct their actual baby; there’s not limit to how crazy this could get! Bryan says that the Miz is hiding from him, and that this proves that the Miz is nothing more than a coward.
The Miz rebuffs Bryan, mocking him for walking away during a previous altercation when he could have decked him. He claims that Bryan wants eternal conflict with the Miz: it’s how Daniel knows that he can remain relevant. Bryan hits back by telling the Miz that he’ll never be the Rock or John Cena: those are fighting words if ever I heard them. Bryan challenges Miz to his own crucifixion at SummerSlam, and the Miz advises him to just let his contract expire and leave the WWE, telling Bryan that everyone is just tired of him coming out here and crying like a baby. He then puts a bunch of pictures of babies onscreen to both illustrate his point and to excite the paedophiles peppered throughout the audience.
Charlotte, you dick
Charlotte is here to kick ass and destroy her best friend’s Championship dreams. After SummerSlam, she’ll be all out of best friends. We see an interview of Carmella backstage, where she claims that she knows she can beat Becky Lynch in a singles match and then tries to sow discord…so that Becky and Charlotte will fight each other a triple threat match? When they’ve already fought each other in singles matches with nothing on the line? Amazing strategy.
Carmella arrives, and both women lock up. Carmella backs Charlotte into the corner and then moonwalks away. Charlotte counters a headlock, almost applying the Figure Eight before Carmella manages to escape. Charlotte continues to easily handle Carmella, making it weird that she’s lost a singles match clean to her. She tries to vault out of the ring onto the Champ, who dodges aside to let Charlotte crash and burn. Okay, so maybe it’s not too surprising.
After a break, Charlotte is trying to fillet Carmella’s boobs with a flurry of chops before hitting a back suplex. She goes for a moonsault, which is Charlotte’s way of signalling that she feels like it’s time for her opponent to get in some offence. Carmella gets a boot up into Charlotte’s face, then hurls Charlotte out of the ring. Charlotte and Carmella both counter kicks from each other before Carmella hits a headscissors and hurls Charlotte into the timekeeper’s area and calling for the ref to count.
Charlotte makes it back into the ring, and Carmella immediately pounces, latching on a sleeper. She continues to work the former Champ over, finally tossing her into the corner. A boot to the face sends Charlotte into the ropes, but the Queen comes flying back with a big boot of her own! Charlotte goes for the Figure Eight again before Carmella dashes out of the ring; Charlotte follows with a baseball slide and then a moonsault off the barricade. Natural Selection connects, and Carmella kicks out! What fuckery is this? She took out Sasha with that in a Hell in a Cell!
Carmella counters a spear, then counters a Figure Eight into a roll-up, then connects with a superkick for two! Carmella tries to use the Figure Eight, but Charlotte counters it with one of her own, and Carmella taps out!
Good match, though the Natural Selection kick-out was insane. I’m not automatically opposed to this triple threat match, though I’ll admit to being a little worried that Becky’s going to get screwed over here. 3 Stars.
Tags: aiden english, AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Bludgeon Brothers, Carmella, charlotte, Jeff Hardy, Lana, Paige, Randy Orton, rusev, Samoa Joe, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Bar, The New Day, the usos, WWE, Zelina Vega