We’re but days away from Summerslam and all of the chaos and drama that’ll inevitably accompany it, so let’s check in once more with the guys and gals of SmackDown Live to see how everyone’s coping with their issues and feelings.
“Diva” is practically hate speech in today’s WWE
The show kicks off with Charlotte Flair, who’s here to lose friends and steal Championship opportunities, and she’s almost out of friends. She’s followed out by Becky, who if she’d had any sense would already have run over her old friend Rikishi-style before the blonde applies her customary, streak-destroying death-grip on the Women’s Championship. And Carmella shows up too, because haters gonna hate and heels gonna play bullshit psychological games with their triple threat opponents. That doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but it’s valid as fuck.
Carmella starts off by bashing Paige, her employer and the individual with the most direct authority over her, because Kevin Owens and the Miz started a terrible trend on SmackDown and its effects are still being felt to this day. She tells Becky and Charlotte that she’s tired of their faces, presumably lifting that quote directly from her break-up with Big Cass. She then tells Becky Lynch that she feels sorry for her, because now she absolutely has no chance. And she mentions that Becky used to be a clown for a living, which is news to me and something I’d have been happier never knowing: I like to feel either terror or scornful pity whenever I see clowns; adding sexual desire into that equation seems designed to trigger some sort of psychological break.
Becky asks if she’s supposed to be unhappy that Charlotte’s in the match now, but she says the only reason she is a little peeved about it is because there’s a slight chance her planned ritualistic murder of Carmella (presumably involving whitewash, custard pies and clown make-up) now has to be altered to account for the presence of Charlotte. But Becky still plans on laying their shattered skulls before the bloody throne of Ronald McDonald (she actually doesn’t say this, but I’m inferring the basic sentiment).
Carmella laughs and says that beating Charlotte is almost impossible. Christ, I love Charlotte, but if anyone else starts talking about how amazing she is then WWE may as well add “Legendary Super Saiyan” to her list of accolades. The Champ then says that she’s beaten Charlotte twice, which I’m almost certain that Becky has done too, but says that she’s fabulous. She then gives a rundown of Charlotte’s accomplishments, so my Legendary Super Saiyan joke landed way earlier than I thought it would, and reduces Becky’s entire career to the phrase “first SmackDown Women’s Champion”. I mean, it could be worse: if Carmella had opted for the phrase “female Jinder Mahal” then I feel like Becky would have been well within her rights to rip her throat out.
Charlotte steps in to steal focus, because that’s her whole deal right now. She tells Carmella that she can’t hang with anyone in this division, which probably means that Carmella’s losing the title if they’re letting her get devalued like this. She scolds the Champ for using James Ellsworth to retain her title, and I’d call her out for forgetting about the sheer amount of title wins she herself pulled off with the aid of one Nature Boy Ric Flair, but considering that we’re all trying to forget it as well, I’m just sorry for bringing it up. She finishes up by calling Carmella “a Diva in a Women’s Division”, and that might almost be worse than being compared to Jinder Mahal.
Carmella says that she’s a Diva and proud, like she thinks she’s in a fucking X-Men movie. And then she makes the discussion all about looks, embodying every toxic thing from the days of the Diva Division in one small package. Which is funny, because I genuinely don’t know if Carmella is able to perform the wrestling move known as a “small package”.
Paige shows up to stop this Diva Division nostalgia before Jerry Lawler materialises into the ring and starts an impromptu bikini contest. She says that Charlotte is only in the match because she beat Carmella, so starts a “thank you, Mella” chant. Jesus, she’s grating. She says that they have a great match planned for Sunday, but they need some real competition for tonight too. She makes a tag team match featuring Charlotte and Becky, with Carmella on commentary.
Someone sedate Corey Graves
Their opponents are Mandy Rose and Sonya DeVille, so Corey Graves, sex pest extraordinaire, just about slips into a wank coma. Mandy and Sonya have, I guess, totally forgotten about whatever feud or beef they may or may not have had with Paige, just like the rest of us. When we go to a commercial break, the match has started and Corey, muzzily regaining his sensibilities, sees Carmella sitting next to him and immediately descends back into whatever decadent fantasy realm Mandy Rose had put him into. It’s almost enough to make you miss the honest misogyny and verbal harassment of Jerry Lawler.
Carmella and Sonya start off the match, both struggling for the initial advantage both upright and on the mat. Finally, Charlotte remembers that she’s in a title match on Sunday and takes control, chopping Sonya into the corner before Becky tags in to spare DeVille any further bosom trauma. Becky keeps the heat on Sonya, dropping some legs for a count of two before the former MMA fighter decks her in the face and tags in Mandy.
Mandy, absolutely fine with the opportunity to get a little bit further away from Corey Graves’ menacing erection, takes control of Becky briefly before the Lasskicker catches her with a dropkick. Charlotte enters the match, using her power to keep Rose reeling. Mandy drags Flair down to the mat by her hair, though Charlotte recovers in time to hurl a tagged-in Sonya across the ring. Becky tags in to take Sonya out on the outside, covering her for two in the ring before bring Charlotte back in.
Charlotte continues to fend off Sonya, taking out Rose as well before Sonya scores a kick to earn some separation. Charlotte continues to threaten both members of Absolution, but then a blind tag from Mandy allows the pair to take advantage heading into a commercial break.
Post-commercial, Becky is getting worked over good and proper, getting bodyslammed by Rose, Corey’s reaction to which makes Carmella actually consider sitting next to Byron Saxton. Sonya manages to cut off Becky’s tag attempt, but in doing so she leaves herself open for an enzuigiri. Rose beats Becky to the tag, but Charlotte foils her attempt to knock her off the apron and Lynch is able to take advantage of the momentary distraction, hitting Mandy with a flurry of offence.
A kick, an uppercut and a Bexploder sees Becky in full control, only for a distraction from DeVille to allow Mandy to attempt a small package. Becky counters into a Disarm-Her, forcing a quick tap.
Another good match from these two, adding excitement for the inevitable and awesome singles feud. 2.5 Stars.
Carmella then dances on the announce table, providing the set-up for a number of cruel jokes I’m far too decent to make.
We’re then treated to a cellphone promo from the Miz and Maryse. They’re wearing sunglasses inside, for God’s sake. They announce that Miz and Mrs has been renewed for a second season and, honestly, good for them.
Backstage Becky and Charlotte are drinking water and discussing the match. There’s some slight tension there, but no-one calls anyone a whore so it’s all good. Or maybe North East England has some different standards to the rest of the world.
Why would you agree to this match?
There’s a group of three indie wrestlers in the ring who apparently call themselves the Triple Threat. Sucks for them that they’re in a two-on-three tag team match in this case. Yup, it’s against the Bludgeon Brothers and yup: it’s a massacre. Match doesn’t even get started: Triple Threat just gets murdered and no-one has the goddamn humanitarian decency to do anything about it.
We get shown the first of a number of video packages charting Daniel Bryan and the Miz’s epic rivalry/passionate romance. This one involves the first season of NXT, so we get to see Ryback, Wade Barrett, Heath Slater and wonder what the fuck happened to the Nexus.
Oh yeah, John Cena’s poisonous ego.
Show me one example of SAnitY being more nuts than, say, Randy Orton
Speaking of NXT, here come SAnitY to be super-weird and fight black guys. The New Day follow them to the ring, and considering that one team has a Tag Team Championship opportunity on Sunday and the other got beaten by that team a few weeks ago, this one might not be a tense affair.
Big E starts off against Eric Young, getting bodyslammed and then being subjected to the sexual harassment of the New Day member’s powerful hips. He strikes back at E, but a tag from Kofi puts him on the defensive again before Kingston gets low-bridged by Alexander Wolfe, who works him over on the outside before bringing the match back into the ring.
Following a commercial for the latest chapter in the unending story of Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, forever and ever, never stopping, never pausing and never getting any better, amen, Killian Dain has tagged in and is taking it to Kofi. A fisherman suplex brings Kingston down hard, followed by a blockbuster from Wolfe and…another commercial break? Wonderful.
When we come back again, Kofi has countered a clothesline from Dain and planted the big man with a DDT. He tags in Woods, who explodes onto all three members of SAnitY before focusing his offence on Wolfe. Alexander takes a massive tornado DDT, with Young managing to break up the subsequent pin with an elbow drop from the top rope. Young then tags in, hitting a Death Valley Driver/backbreaker double-team with Dain!
Killian tags in, has his back suplex countered before taking Woods out with a massive running crossbody. Big E storms the ring, taking out Young before Wolfe drops him with a massive boot to the face. Trouble in Paradise dispatches Wolfe, then Dain tosses Kofi onto the apron; Kingston heads up to the top rope and throws himself onto Wolfe and Young on the outside!
Dain runs into a boot from Woods, and Xavier and Big E hit the Midnight Hour for the win!
Makes sense, although SAnitY better win back some prestige quick. This was a good match, though it lacked the five-star quality of last week’s contest with the Bar. 3 Stars.
Another Daniel Bryan/Miz package, this time revolving around their Talking Smack segment.
Paige is backstage, knocking on Samoa Joe’s door, potentially in the hopes of a portly pounding. Joe, wearing a blazer which makes him look even more like a movie mobster than usual, and asks Paige, “‘sup?” Paige then gets super in Joe’s face, literally jabbing a finger at him as she talks like she thinks he’s in a feud with her rather than World Champion and person physically able to wrestler, AJ Styles.
Basically, Paige is there because Joe apparently didn’t want to go out tonight and cut another promo about how Styles neglects, beats or fucks his children, and she’s just wily enough to bet that that means Joe is planning to neglect, beat or fuck AJ tonight, though most likely the second one. She says that she wants him to be professional, and Joe says that she never wanted a professional: she wanted an unpredictable killer for AJ’s Summerslam opponent, and he’d hardly be unpredictable if he spelled out each and every move for her.
Joe says he will make a promise to her, and that’s that he’ll do whatever the fuck he wants and there’s nothing that she or Styles can do about it. He heads back into his locker room, leaving Paige looking a trifle miffed.
Aiden English thinks that an apology should be an event
Aiden English is standing in the centre of the ring, following three weeks of being a big ol’ klutz and screwing things up for his only friends. He’s here to make an apology, and if you didn’t think that Aiden English could sing an apology then everything you know is wrong and you need to take a good long look at yourself in the mirror.
Part two of Aiden’s multi-stage apology is that he’s going to have a match with Andrade “Cien” Almas right now. I’d like to think that Andrade is both bemused and unconcerned with this whole thing, but this is his first chance to wrestle in a few weeks so he’s just going with it.
Following a commercial break, Almas has control of English after being in the driving seat for most of the match. English manages to clothesline Andrade as the beautiful man in the golden tights tries to end things with the running knees. Aiden hits a splash from the top rope for a two-count, and Andrade quickly rolls out onto the apron. He proves to have been playing a little possum, managing to hang English on the top rope, knock him into the corner and finish the match with the running knees and the hammerlock DDT.
Quick match, most of which took place offscreen. 2 Stars.
Post-match, Zelina tells the crowd that Summerslam will be the end of Rusev Day and Lana Day. Man, Almas and Vega got really invested in something that is completely made up.
Rusev and Lana show up, and Rusev tells Almas that his luck runs out on Sunday and starts a chant of “Lana is the Best, Lana Number One”. Nice to see supportive couples in the WWE.
Paige is now backstage with AJ Styles, whom she asks to not find Joe and beat his head in with a big wrench for implying that he’s a terrible father. Styles replies that he made his wife a promise and then leaves without explaining what that promise is. I mean, it could be anything. It literally could be anything: he could have promised to murder Joe and leave clown accoutrements at the scene so that Becky Lynch takes the rap. He could have promised that he would travel back in time and prevent Hulk Hogan from winning the Championship from Yokozuna at WrestleMania 9. He could have promised to take Andrade “Cien” Almas out to dinner and share a passionate kiss in front of the Statue of Liberty whilst a lone French violinist plays Brock Lesnar’s theme music as a beautiful backdrop to their forbidden love: WE DON’T KNOW.
Jeff Hardy is wearing facepaint and contact lenses again, so Randy Orton’s claim that he erased Jeff’s whole identity rings a little false.
We see the final part of the three-part series of Bryan/Miz videos, showing how this match came into being. Nowhere near enough false babies, if you want my personal opinion.
Anyone else miss Charlie Haas?
Shelton Benjamin is in the ring, wondering where it all went so wrong. Jeff Hardy arrives, too blasted out of his head to know that anything ever went wrong at all.
Following break, Shelton Benjamin has Jeff in a sleeper hold. It feels like a lot of tonight’s matches have been eaten by commercials. Shelton rolls Jeff up, but the former US Champ kicks out, and it’s back to that trustworthy sleeper hold again. And then the match gets interrupted to remind everyone that Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey have a match at Summerslam. Vital, vital information.
Apparently during all of that advertising, Jeff Hardy hit a Whisper in the Wind. Shelton misses a boot, and Hardy starts building momentum, dropping a pair of legs right into Benjamin’s dick. A Twist of Fate is countered, as is a kick from Shelton, who avoids a Cardiac Arrest dropkick before Jeff takes him out with a neckbreaker.
Jeff takes off his shirt, halting the menopause in a certain percentage of tonight’s audience, but Benjamin brings him down from a Swanton Bomb attempt with a superplex. Shelton looks to be setting up for Paydirt, but a lazy slingblade from Jeff puts a stop to that. The Twist of Fate connects, and Jeff Hardy wins.
Really didn’t do much to build Sunday’s contest, but rather underlines how badly used Benjamin is right now. Get the man a partner or a title opportunity. 2 Stars.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s music plays, and Jeff takes a couple of seconds to be certain of whether the sound is real or just in his head (and don’t give me any of that Dumbledore bollocks about it still being real if it’s in your head: it’s fucking not). Benjamin creates a distraction, I guess more from bitterness than anything else, and this allows Shinsuke to slam a knee into Jeff’s spine before going for the Kinshasa, but Jeff counters with a Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb!
Jeff stands tall as everyone holds their breath in anticipation of a Randy Orton run-in/rape attempt, and then we see Orton literally lurking near the stage before sliding out of sight. That is equal parts terrifying and hilarious, although verging more to the terrifying if you assume, as I now always do, that he’s recently fondled his privates and plans on getting WWE employees to shake his hand.
I want it to come out that AJ Styles actually despises his family
Here’s AJ Styles, ready to refute Samoa Joe’s words with well-researched arguments and his excellent debating skills. He described himself as “blessed”, causing a spasm of involuntary hatred in my soul, and he says that he’s learned a lot from his wrestling career (I assume a lot of it is wrestling related, plus being told never to shake Randy Orton’s hand). He says that he’s learned that the Champion is always under tremendous pressure and should always wear a cup when Shinsuke Nakamura comes sniffing around the gold.
Moving the conversation onto Samoa Joe, Styles says that Joe pushed his pressure points before calling him “dude”, which sort of negates any sense of anger or emotion in this feud. We see footage of Joe assaulting AJ physically and then verbally as he runs down Styles’ parenting skills. I’d like to think that promo resulted in at least one visit from CPS to the Styles household, just to prove the system works and wrestling matters.
Styles says that he went to a dark place and wants to rip Joe’s head off…dude. But then he went home and his wife told him that he couldn’t lose his cool whilst working in an industry where men literally hit each other for money. If the point of this story isn’t that Styles realised that his wife and children were his only weakness and that he’s now abandoned them to focus fully on Samoa Joe, then I am going to be crazy disappointed.
Joe’s music plays, because presumably he’s as bored of AJ summarising their feud and talking about his family as I am. He takes a piece of paper out of his pocket and accuses AJ of being a liar. Oh man, does he have Commissioner Gordon’s real speech about Harvey Dent and Batman? Because that would have nothing whatsoever to do with this specific situation.
Joe says that this is a letter from the WWE Universe and he thinks that he should read it to AJ Styles. He does so, and let me say that whoever writes literal letters to WWE Superstars is the sort of person I’d try to avoid at social events. The letter is clearly a fake unless there are some real psychopaths out there…so let’s say that the letter is almost certainly a fake. It talks about how AJ is definitely a terrible father and husband and that he’s a great WWE Champion because of how he neglects his family. Oh, and it’s from AJ Styles’ wife, who apparently took her husband’s ring name rather than his actual surname. This segment is a fucking trainwreck.
And then it just ends. It…it just ends there. That was our build to this feud: this was our build to AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship.
I need to go and have a lie down.
Tags: Absolution, aiden english, AJ Styles, Andrade "Cien" Almas, Becky Lynch, Bludgeon Brothers, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, Lana, Paige, Randy Orton, rusev, Samoa Joe, Sanity, shelton benjamin, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Miz, The New Day, WWE, Zelina Vega