It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for my therapeutic bitterness session revolving around men and women fighting each other in revealing costumes. Golly: when I say it like that it all sounds a bit suspect, doesn’t it?
Evil Randy Orton = Best Randy Orton
And we are getting right down to business tonight as Randy Orton, psychotic dickhead of this parish, makes his entrance. Last week, this sick son of a bitch committed the despicable act of undressing Jeff Hardy and washing his face, and I’m only surprised that Amnesty International and the United Nations haven’t yet made a statement condemning this colossal breach of human rights.
Randy picks up the microphone – a sure sign that the following ten minutes are going to be a taut emotional rollercoaster – and invites us to watch footage from last week, like he’s the announcer from fucking Dragon Ball Z. So we take a moment to watch Jeff Hardy getting worked over good and proper by Randy. Apparently washing Jeff’s face was tantamount to “erasing his identity”: Christ, if I’d known that one when I was a kid I might have got away with not having to wash too.
Orton, nursing a hefty erection from watching himself tormenting another human being, says that he did it to make us all feel uncomfortable. Honestly, it’s nice to feel anything in reaction to Randy Orton except for boredom and weary resignation. He promises to become so violent that we will want to change the channel, which feels like either reverse psychology or false advertising. I’d personally love to see Orton go all Legends of the Fall, running around backstage, scalping bitches.
Randy claims that we all believe in superheroes, and please GOD don’t let this lead to a feud against Stephen Amell. I’m just kidding: Green Arrow is not a superhero. Orton claims that he erased the enigma, and he must have really hoped he wouldn’t trip over his words during that sentence. He claims that Jeff Hardy is wandering around backstage, trying to find his identity; you could tell me that any other wrestler was doing that and I’d laugh, but there’s something about Jeff and his long history of substance abuse that results in me believing any story about him.
Randy Orton draws his frothing diatribe to a close by claiming that he, a man who was once dishonorably discharged from the military, doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He’s had an incredible wrestling career of dull, middle-of-the-road matches and promises that he’s going to rid the WWE of every superstar people like to see, until there’s only him left. Jesus, that is a genuine threat. He then tosses the microphone and walks off. The feed cuts to footage of the Bar watching this onscreen, which seems like a weird choice considering there’s zero chance of them being a part of this story as far as I can tell.
And backstage, Becky Lynch is bobbing around before Charlotte shows up for an awkward friend chat. She claims that she absolutely isn’t trying to ruin her best friend’s moment and career trajectory last week and isn’t trying to politic her way to the Women’s Championship like certain friends of her old man. Becky says that she gets where Charlotte’s coming from and admits that it’s been tough, but at SummerSlam it just means that she can prove that she’s the best by beating the best.
And because wrestlers lack the social ability to maneuver themselves through an answering machine message, Charlotte is clearly put a little out of sorts by this, but then pushes past the moment and affirms that she and Becky are fine for their upcoming tag team match.
Your irregularly-scheduled reminder that the IIconics didn’t die and are still employed
What upcoming tag team match? Why, this upcoming tag team match. Carmella shows up to do commentary and be slobbered all over by Corey Graves, stylish sleaze and probable rapist. Becky arrives as Corey and Carmella join forces to shove Byron Saxton ever closer to the shot glass of bleach that’d make all the pain go away. Charlotte joins her Irish friend in the ring, and then the IIconics arrive. Oh good: it’s been a while since I’ve been annoyed by Australians (I don’t watch cricket: I don’t believe in it).
The two convict-descendants arrive and throw what I believe is called “shade” at the couple in the ring. The crowd chants “boring” as the IIconics try to play on Becky’s insecurities regarding being in Charlotte’s shadow, because if we wanted ham-fisted psychological games then we’d just wheel Hannibal Orton out here for another creepy speech about murdering everyone we know and love plus Jeff Hardy.
Becky and Billie begin, with Lynch locking the arm before tagging in Charlotte. Both women exchange quick tags whilst dealing with both IIconics before Becky tries for a Disarmer and Peyton saves her friend; Charlotte catches the pair off-guard by hurling herself out of the ring onto them as we go to a commercial break. When we return, the faces have somehow fucked it up and Charlotte eats a big boot from Billie whilst connecting with one of her own.
Charlotte tags in Becky, who smacks and throws Royce all around the ring before locking the Disarmer in; Billie breaks it up and is made to suffer by Charlotte Flair, who hits a moonsault to both IIconics and then locks Peyton in the Figure Eight! Royce taps fast as Becky looks on from the corner.
Nice to see a dominant performance considering the participants. Becky’s positioning in the corner at the end of the match was either a happy accident or a nice bit of drama: they can use that footage when tensions mount. 2.5 Stars.
Renee Young is backstage with the New Day. She asks them about being on commentary last week and Big E tells her that they’re trying something new tonight. Kofi removes his tracksuit, revealing a suit underneath it, and then places on a bright blond wig before standing in as the interviewer for this segment. Dear God, I never want the New Day to end.
Kofi is actually a really good interviewer, even whilst playing the comedic role to the hilt. There’s got to be a way they can be General Managers for a week: they let fucking Eugene do it once.
Elsewhere backstage, Charlotte and Becky are strolling around. They talk about how much they love tagging with each other, with Becky then reminding Charlotte that in two weeks they will be opponents. Jesus, you guys have fought each other before! You’ve faced each other for the Championship in a Triple Threat match before! Did I fucking dream that WrestleMania?
Parenting Hour with AJ Styles
We get shown some footage of Samoa Joe claiming that AJ Styles is a terrible father. Donald Trump’s presidency is causing this breakdown of civil discourse. Also, if it turns out that AJ Styles goes sporadically goes home and unwinds by beating the shit out of his kids, does Samoa Joe automatically become the face? Because heel vs. heel World Championship matches are a little Vince Russo for my tastes.
AJ Styles arrives, either here to defend his reputation as a loving long-distance father or promising to burn Samoa Joe alive and fuck the ashes. It could literally go either way: I love wrestling. Styles says that a lot of trash-talk happens in wrestling, and it tends to get personal. He claims that talking about his family automatically makes things personal, and says that the reason he wants to be the greatest WWE Champion of all time is because of his family. I guess I fail to see how they benefit, except in terms of money. Maybe you can put a price on AJ Styles’ presence in your life: I don’t know how other families operate.
AJ talks about his family, which is the sort of stirring drama that first brought me to wrestling (I’m lying: it was Edge spearing Jeff Hardy off a ladder, because one of those things is awesome and involves Jeff Hardy getting hurt). I sort of tune out for a bit, because if I’m going to take parenting lessons from anyone, it’s not going to be someone who regularly gets hit in the face for money. That sounds arrogant, but I personally like to think of it as getting a head start on being an actual good parent.
Styles says that what pisses him off the most is that Joe knows his family. He claims that Joe threw away years of friendship and camaraderie, and as a result he plans on crippling him at SummerSlam to prove what an excellent parental figure he is. Samoa Joe is backstage, watching this on a television, laughing to himself like a Bond villain with a penchant for semi-nudity. You just know this is all leading to a Custody Papers Ladder Match for Styles’ kids: WWE don’t bring kids into this unless they’re being threatened by Bray Wyatt’s murder cult or being wagered like crying, vulnerable chips at the world’s sleaziest casino.
Backstage, Lana is working out and giving Rusev the silent treatment. Rusev admits that he was wrong and agrees that he needs to be more supportive. Lana thanks him, and this is another example of good, wholesome relationships managing to show up in the WWE before Aiden English arrives, not wearing a shirt. He says he just wants to apologise, which seems like an activity which should require a shirt.
English says that he didn’t mean to cost Lana her match last week, and says that he came out with the best of intentions all he and the entire WWE Universe want is for this awesome non-sexual threesome to go on being a thing. Seriously: Rusev Day makes people happy; why aren’t we allowed to keep this? Rusev accepts the apology, but suggests that English stay backstage tonight. You know what? That’s okay: you need boundaries in any kind of relationship.
Zelina Vega’s smile poisons wells and spreads infertility
Here’s Andrade Cien Almas, dragging me ever-further to the right on the Kinsey Scale, the well-dressed, devastatingly beautiful bastard. He’s here to once again play manager to Zelina Vega, because I guess what she and Lana have going on technically qualifies as a feud. And that’s fine: I’m happy we can have multiple female rivalries going on these days. It just seems odd that they can have a series of matches over their thing whilst individuals as abusive as the IIconics haven’t had a major rivalry, blood feud or been run out of town by a posse.
Lana makes her entrance, and Rusev accompanying her with Lana’s music and video package going on makes this look like one of those crack pairings you do in WWE games. Because that’s the most fun you can have in a wrestling game that doesn’t have a FUNCTIONING FUCKING STORYLINE.
The men exit the ring for a convivial drink and a chat about sports as their partners fight in the ring. I’m kidding, although that would be a hysterical bit of realism for WWE to engage in. Lana uses the power game to drive Zelina into the corner, but Vega punches her in the face. This enrages the Russian, who kicks Vega in the face when the Mexican bails out of the ring. Back in the ring, Zelina regains control and locks in that old favourite: the sleeper hold.
Zelina continues to dominate Lana, but a knee to the stomach allows Lana to hit a suplex. Lana drops elbows and hits a bulldog, then hits multiple vertical suplexes. I’d make a joke about the Russian version of the three amigos, but there’s no word for “friend” in Russian.
Almas once again causes a distraction by being extremely handsome and also by climbing up on the ropes and yelling things in an attractive way. This distracts Lana, because she’s only human, allowing Vega to hit an honest-to-God Codebreaker. Rusev goes after Andrade, hurling him around ringside, until Vega actually kicks him in the back of the head. Goddamn, girl: you just don’t give a fuck.
This distracts Rusev enough for Almas to jump him, which in turn distracts Vega enough for Lana to bean her in the head with a kick. Lana starts climbing the turnbuckle whilst Rusev and Almas both tussle in case either of their other halves is watching. And suddenly English has arrived, hitting Almas with a spear so hard I think Goldberg has a right to call his lawyers. This topples Lana from the top rope, allowing Vega to hit the running knees again, and beat Lana. Again.
Lana still has some way to go, but this was an entertaining match due to the outside elements and I’m quite invested in the storyline. 2.5 Stars.
Renee Young, who will never learn, is doing an interview with Shinsuke Nakmura. He claims that Jeff Hardy was erased, prompting a brief philosophical discussion between the two of them before Tye Dillinger and R-Truth arrive. Truth challenges Nakamura to a title match at SummerSlam, and when Nakamura asks how he’s going to do it he replies, “The same way everyone else does: I’m gonna pin Carmella.” Christ, it’s been a funny show so far.
Shinsuke speaks Japanese, which Truth apparently understands and is offended by. He claims that he’ll meet Nakamura in the ring tonight.
I can’t believe having hired security actually paid off
Byron Saxton is in the ring to do an interview with the Miz, which I can only assume is some kind of Make-A-Wish deal to stop him from chugging a crate of painkillers to try and dull the pain of being Byron Saxton. The Miz appears on the titantron, and Saxton opens up the interview by claiming that Miz is afraid of Bryan. Miz tells Saxton that he’ll never be anything more than a second-rate interviewer and talks about Miz and Mrs’ success thus far.
Miz continues to advertise his show whilst taking pot shots at Bryan, and Saxton leaps on this like the dirty whore he is, asking pointed questions about whether Miz is going to be able to back up his talk. This sends the Miz into a rage, and he rails against Bryan and everyone who claims that he’s hiding from a match. And suddenly Bryan is in the room, fucking up Miz and his security in a ball of vegan fury before Miz smashes a glass vase of flowers across the back of his head like my maiden aunt at any wedding. If you’ve ever wondered why three-on-one odds are a bad idea: there you go.
Weird that Shinsuke Nakamura’s the sane one for once
Here’s Shinsuke Nakamura, ready to tussle with a man who really should be in some sort of facility: R-Truth. Shinsuke starts off strong, working Truth over in the corner before hitting Good Vibrations. Truth goes for a roll-up and then a hurricanrana, finally laying Shinsuke out with a calf kick.
A stinger splash and a hip toss connects, but Truth misses the Scissors Kick and gets whacked with a kick from Nakamura. Shinsuke locks in the armbar as Truth fights on, working his way to the bottom rope, forcing the break. Nakamura remains on the attack, hitting knees and kicks to the downed R-Truth. A reverse-exploder is followed by a Kinshasa, and Shinsuke wins in a dominant showing.
Short but good match, making Truth look decent in the early going and Nakamura look deadly in the endgame. Solid work. 2.5 Stars.
The Bludgeon Brothers barely wrestle, so they’re shooting mysterious promos about the tag team tournament. At least they’ve dampened out the puns.
One day, they’re going to let the Bludgeon Brothers eat the corpses.
And I actually have to eat my words about the Bludgeon Brothers not wrestling, because they’re here to do that right now. I mean, it’s against three jobbers and it’s as horrifying and awesome as it sounds. The Bludgeon Brothers massacre the three of them as the crowd cheer this on like the twisted sociopaths they are. The Bludgeon Brothers finish with the Doomsday Device, because who the fuck is going to tell them no?
Love this sort of thing. 2.5 Stars.
SmackDown has the best tag team wrestling ever
It’s main event time, and the Bar make their way to the ring, followed by the New Day. Big E and Kofi will be the participants of the match, and there is a huge show of support for the New Day as the match starts. Big E and Cesaro begin the match, with Cesaro being in the rare situation of being overpowered. He latches on a headlock, but gets thrown into a back elbow. Kingston tags in, continuing the assault. A monkey flip attempt by Cesaro sees Kofi land on his feet and hit a dropkick, but Cesaro finally manages to regain some measure of control, tagging in Sheamus.
Sheamus manages to counter another monkey flip, dumping Kofi over the top and sending him into the backstage area. On the outside, Sheamus continues to deliver punishment before sending Kofi back into the ring and tagging in Cesaro. The Swiss Superman applies a headlock, then counters Kofi’s roll-up attempt to tag in Sheamus. We go to a commercial break, then come back with Cesaro still in full control of Kingston. Kofi tries to fight his way free, finally dumping Cesaro over the top rope.
Cesaro tags in Sheamus, but Kofi dodges a charge and tags in Big E. E has Sheamus reeling; a distraction by Cesaro allows Sheamus to rock the New Day member with a knee, but Sheamus receives a slam in return! Big E and Kofi set up the Midnight Hour, but Sheamus slips off Big E’s shoulders and tags in Cesaro! Kofi takes out Sheamus and takes out Cesaro with the SOS for a near fall!
Kofi lays Cesaro out on the apron, but the Swiss Superman dodges out of the way of Big E’s slam! Sheamus catches a flying Kofi, hitting him with a rolling senton on the outside! Both Bar members slam Big E onto the canvas, but the big man powers out of the cover! Frequent tags from the Bar keep them in control as they repeatedly wishbone Big E’s legs, and when we come back from the final commercial break, Sheamus is in full control and Kofi is still out on the outside.
Cesaro hits a superplex, with a knee drop from the top rope from Sheamus following it up, but Big E still kicks out! Sheamus tries to apply the Texas Cloverleaf, but gets shoved out of the ring! Kofi has worked himself back up onto the apron! Kofi tags in, as does Cesaro, who gets taken out with a springboard clothesline from Kofi! Boom Drop connects, only for Sheamus to drag his partner out of the ring, and then Kingston leaps on the pair of them!
Back on the ring, Kofi hits to a double-stomp to Cesaro, with Sheamus breaking up the cover before being flung out of the ring. Kingston wants Trouble in Paradise, but the Bar counter with a double backbreaker for another near fall! Sheamus takes a moment to catch his breath, then lets out a roar and waits on Kofi to rise. Brogue Kick misses; Cesaro is tagged in but is taken out by Kingston! Big E tags in; the Midnight Hour is set up before the Cesaro leaps onto the corner, taking out Kofi! A double team from the Bar puts down Big E, but Kofi manages to make the save!
Sheamus slams Kingston into the barricade as Big E and Cesaro slug it out in the centre of the ring, then Cesaro hits the swing before transitioning into the Sharpshooter! Kofi tries to get in the ring with Sheamus holding him back, but ends up hitting a tornado DDT to the Irishman! Big E is still holding on in the Sharpshooter, working his away towards the ropes before Cesaro turns him around in a crossface! But Big E makes his way to his feet, lifting Cesaro off the floor, carrying him to Kofi Kingston! The Midnight Hour connects! The New Day are the number one contenders!
That was a perfect tag team match: that could have been a blow-off match at a PPV and I’d have been happy. I really wanted to see the Bar and the Bludgeon Brothers face off, and still hope to, but we have a hell of a match in store for us at SummerSlam. 5 Stars.
Tags: aiden english, AJ Styles, Andrade "Cien" Almas, Becky Lynch, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, Lana, Paige, R-Truth, Randy Orton, rusev, Samoa Joe, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Bar, The IIconics, The Miz, The New Day, WWE, Zelina Vega