Well, one SummerSlam, a crateload of booze and a few title changes later, we’re on the other side. We’ve learned that announcing your cash-in is still probably a huge mistake and that Alexa Bliss’ ability to contort her limbs in a display which offends God is still active. Let’s see how SmackDown is coping with its own fallout.
Apparently this is a “special edition” of SmackDown Live, according to Phillips. This is not expanded upon in any way and I’m now deeply suspicious.
Way to let the air out of this feud
The show kicks off with The Miz and Maryse making their entrance. Apparently Maryse carries brass knuckles in her purse, hinting at either a distaste for firearms or an extremely kinky sex-life. With the Bellas being back, I cannot express my disgust enough for the notion of this feud involving a mixed-tag team match. I like Maryse and I don’t have any genuinely negative feelings towards Brie Bella, but they can get the fuck away from this feud if that’s where this is heading.
Miz and Maryse let the crowds chant for their bearded, vegan God, as the Miz stands with eyes closed. The Awesome One then pipes up, acting all sad and emotional before re-enacting Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech. Did WWE steal one of NXT’s writers and just not tell anyone? The crowd doesn’t appear to realise that this is a goof, but then if you’re looking for intelligence in wrestling fans then I genuinely don’t know what to tell you, except maybe to stop.
Finally Miz drops the mask and says this is a retirement from ever facing Daniel Bryan again. We get the usual self-adulation from the Miz as I’m just wondering how they’re going to keep this going until WrestleMania. Miz claims that he’s got the hardest punch in this entire arena, which a few years ago would mean that we were in for another Brawl For All. Christ, even thinking those words made me infertile.
Daniel Bryan finally has had enough of this, and in a world without sexism we’d see him storm the ring and concuss Maryse for her part in what went down on Sunday. But Daniel’s here to talk rather than fight, and his word of the day is “coward”. The Miz tries to introduce other words into the conversation, but Dan’s sticking to his guns and keeps saying “coward” until the Miz mocks him for never getting another opportunity to beat him ever again.
Bryan claims that the Miz is all a facade: the Everest of hypocrisy from anyone working in the professional wrestling business, one feels. Bryan swears to expose the Miz as a wannabe Hollywood star cosplaying as a professional wrestler. I feel like mocking the Miz for not being a real pro wrestler is a little passé now, and not even that true: he’s been a component in some great matches for ages now, so it’s like Bryan’s hatred for the guy has blinded him to Miz’s honest ability.
Maryse gets all mouthy and brings Brie Bella into it. Christ, can we fucking not with that? Oh, and then Brie comes out. Maryse, you bitch. Brie runs into the ring and starts punching the Miz, who is such a gentleman that he doesn’t even try to defend himself. CM Punk once knocked Beth Phoenix the fuck out; it was violent, but at least it wasn’t patronising. Bryan then clotheslines the Miz out of the ring, which is a weird move considering Brie apparently could have pulled out a knife and shanked the Miz and he’d still not have tried to stop her.
Bryan reveals that he talked to Paige before showing up here tonight, and there’s your fucking mixed-tag match at Hell in a Cell. Be still my heart, and pass me something extremely alcoholic. Apparently a rivalry spanning almost a decade doesn’t warrant a Hell in a Cell match at Hell in a Cell: go figure.
After a brief break, the Miz and Mayrse are storming through the backstage area, yelling for Paige even though she’s literally standing feet away from them. Paige lets the Miz scream at her for a while, because that’s normal communication in England, but then Miz says that she’s a worse General Manager than Daniel Bryan. Mother of God, for the Miz that’s like every abusive racial and sexual term rolled up in the word “cunt”. Why not just laugh at her about her leaked sex tapes next, you sick, suit-wearing fuck?
Paige takes this new form of hate speech stoically and then laughs at Miz for getting hit by a girl. I feel like if you can get made fun of for being punched by Brie Bella, there shouldn’t be any punishment for punching Brie Bella back. And Paige says that the tag match stays, so Miz assaulting Brie would serve the dual purpose of giving his feud with Bryan even more intensity and also save us from what will be a terrible mixed-tag match.
It’s just so difficult to care
Here’s Jeff Hardy, wearing facepaint, contact lenses and track marks. He’s here to fight Randy Orton, which I imagine is the sort of thing that would seem like a good idea to me if I inhaled every illicit substance available to me. Randy Orton shows up for the scrap, despite his magnanimous refusal to assault an unconscious Jeff Hardy this past Sunday night. Orton must just not like sloppy seconds.
We’re shown a brief flashback of Orton’s creepy obsession with Jeffrey, and the commentators are still trying to sell washing someone’s face as a hate crime. The bell rings and Hardy starts off aggressively before Orton shoves him off the top rope and into a commercial break. Following the break, Randy has Jeff in a headlock because death, taxes and headlocks in a Randy Orton match. Jeff finally tries to fight back out of the corner, getting enough offence to fell Orton with a Whisper in the Wind.
Jeff pulls himself up to his feet, managing to keep Orton off-balance enough to hit a leg drop to the midsection and a basement dropkick. His new weird Twist of Fate follows, but Orton catches Hardy as the forty-year old drags himself up to the top rope for a Swanton Bomb. And then Orton starts fingerfucking Jeff’s ear again, because fuck you and your sensibilities, literally everyone. Jeff responds by stomping on Randy’s dick, which seems like proportional retribution.
Whether he’s face or heel, Randy Orton always wrestles in the same way, minus his sexual assault on Hardy’s gauge-hole (not a euphemism). This was really dull for a feud I assume will end up having a Hell in a Cell conclusion. 2 Stars.
Jeff continues to beat up Randy Orton following the DQ, but it’s lifeless and without any real energy: sort of like Jeff Hardy’s brain. It concludes with a Swanton Bomb through the table, and we’ve seen this exact situation before but with a much higher dive.
Backstage, Renee Young is interviewing the Bar. They’re here to make an official challenge for the Tag Team Championships against either the New Day or the Bludgeon Brothers. But just as the Bar/Bludgeon brawl looks to be within reach, Gallows and Anderson arrive to throw a wrench into the gears. Is this whole show going to be about disappointing me?
The Good Brothers do a pretty hilarious imitation of the Kick-Off Panel, at the same time announcing their intention to go after the Championships as well. The Bar arrange a number one contenders match for next week, which I guess is the kind of low-level, zero-consequences decision that they don’t need Paige’s input for.
Naomi is the new Becky Lynch
Here’s Naomi, out from wherever she’s been hibernating. Tonight she’s facing Peyton Royce, so might as well have stayed there. Oh good, the IIconics have microphones: this should be reasonably not-irritating. They mock Naomi, as is their custom, and then we go to a break.
We return mid-match, with Naomi kicking Peyton for all she’s worth: you’ve got to seize opportunities like that. Royce is sent out of the ring, and Kay is able to distract Naomi as she bundles her back inside. Peyton takes advantage with a kick to the back of the head, sending Naomi to the ground on the outside. Naomi beats the count getting back into the ring, but receives a harsh beating for her trouble.
Peyton chokes Naomi in the corner with her foot, then slams knee after knee into her spine before applying a chinlock. Royce finally makes a mistake – missing a kick in the corner – and Naomi springs into action, hitting big kick after big kick, keeping Peyton off-balance or on her back. Naomi’s on a tear, but she opts to slam Billie Kay’s head into the ring post whilst on the outside: it’s understandable, but costs her the match following a fisherman’s suplex back in the ring.
Fair match, with interesting implications for the IIconics with this potential push. 2 Stars.
Backstage, Big E is getting patched up, necessitating that Kofi and Woods take the fight to the Bludgeon Brothers tonight. Although Big E will presumably be at ringside, making it a three-on-two match in all but name.
Becky did nothing wrong
We relive Becky finally snapping in the face of Charlotte’s vainglorious quest to be the Women’s Champion forever and ever. John Cena once gave up a shot at the WWE Championship to let Zack Ryder have his moment, and Charlotte can’t let anyone have a singles match for the Women’s Championship as long as she’s able to compete. The recap notably cuts off the raucous cheers for Becky in response to her beating seven shades of shit out of Charlotte, because WWE is all about dat revisionist history, boy.
Also, it’s probably pertinent here to note that I will be supporting Becky in her Championship ambitions up until the point that she literally murders a child in her attempts to take the gold. Maybe even past that: we’ll just have to see.
Becky arrives, asserting her heel status by not giving away goggles to some kid in the audience. Maybe this turn was prompted by Becky realising she was on her last pair of goggles and deciding that a change had to be made. She grabs a mic and says that she deserves to be the Champion and Charlotte deserves the beating she got for ruining that. SummerSlam was supposed to be about Becky Lynch, according to the Lasskicker, but Charlotte Flair just had to get involved.
People literally chant for Beck mid-rant as she talks about how she finally thought that it was going to be her moment. She tries to turn on the crowd by asking if they were even on her side this whole time, but they just give her a massive pop in response. Poor Becky: can’t even turn heel right. Becky accuses people of not literally shooting up the stadium on Sunday in response to her situation, and tells the crowd that they’re all talk and no action. Well yeah, Becky: people get beaten up and tossed out if they try to get involved these days.
In summary, Becky suddenly realised that you can have meaningful relationships or have success in this crazy world, and she opted for the one where she got to beat up Charlotte Flair. She claims that there’s not a single person walking the earth who can tell her that she’s wrong, and whilst it would be hilarious if Ronda Rousey showed up just now, it’s actually Charlotte Flair.
Charlotte and Becky yell at each other from opposite ends of the arena, and they must both have amazing lipreading abilities because Charlotte takes offence at something and suddenly rushes the ring. Becky and Charlotte brawl, with the crowd clearly in Becky’s corner. The fight spills out into the ringside area as Becky tries to flee, but they end up back in the ring surrounded by referees.
Oh Jesus: the referees literally won’t touch either woman to stop them from hurting each other, so Paige has to send the Women’s Division out to do it for them. Christ, WWE: in your world if a man gives a woman CPR, is it sexual assault? Because that’s the impression I’m getting.
The Women’s Division either don’t care about separating them or are generally incompetent, because Becky and Charlotte continue to fight for ages before a commercial ends the chaos.
Love, WWE style
To get us ready for some mixed-tag bullshit at Hell in a Cell, here’s some mixed-tag bullshit for you. Almas and Vega are here to fight Rusev and Lana, and you can just see the frustration on Andrade’s face as he thinks of every better feud he could be involved in. Lana and Rusev arrive for this lazy retread of something that’s already happened.
Andrade kicks off the match by slapping Rusev’s face: some real Art of War shit. Rusev responds by smacking Almas around until Andrade regains control, countering Rusev’s aggression before locking Rusev into an armbreaker over the ropes. Almas springboards off the top, right into a massive kick to the face from Rusev.
Rusev tags in Lana, who uses Almas as her own springboard to take out Vega with a flying clothesline. Rusev and Lana celebrate in the ring by screaming as we go to a commercial break. When we come back, Zelina has taken control through her amazing strategy of being a talented wrestler. She ties Lana up on the ropes before slamming her face off the mat.
Lana finds herself locked in a crucifix hold; she counters with a pin, which Vega turns into a cover attempt of her own before slamming Lana back on the mat. Vega runs into a boot from Lana, who then slaps Almas across the face following zero provocation. Is it too much to ask for Andrade to throw even one punch in response? Apparently so, because Lana crawls over to Rusev, kicking Vega away before tagging in her husband.
Rusev goes after Almas hard and fast, knocking the gorgeous Hispanic gent all over the shop before a devastating elbow to the face and a pair of running knees almost takes Rusev out of the match. Rusev evades the hammerlock DDT; Almas rolls out of a back suplex and gets clotheslined out of the ring. Vega storms into the ring and shoves at Rusev, who just turns away looking amused at this. Lana takes out Vega as Andrade tries to bring a chair into the ring, but suddenly Aiden English grabs the chair, stopping Almas from using it! Almas eats the Machka Kick, then taps to the Accolade!
My emotional investment in Rusev Day made this a lot better for me. 2 Stars.
Shinsuke Nakamura is recording promos on his cellphone, declaring this to now be the United States of Nakamerica. Why does every United States Champion suddenly invent their own form of imperialism?
I desperately want to see some Temple of Doom-style heart-removal now
We’re shown a recap of Samoa Joe’s amazing WWE Championship match strategy, i.e. announcing mid-match his intention to mate with AJ Styles’ wife. I wish I was making even a small fraction of that up; this is almost as good as Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio literally gambling ownership of a child on a Ladder Match.
Renee Young is on the entrance ramp to interview Styles, and if we’ve learned anything from Sunday it’s that she’d better not tell AJ she wants to pork his better half. AJ arrives, and Renee asks him what happened on Sunday, like Styles’ response to Joe’s menacing sexual advances wasn’t totally proportionate. He says he regrets the result of the match, but not what he did to Samoa Joe. He promises to rip Joe’s heart out the next time the Samoan mentions his family, and suddenly Joe appears behind Styles, dragging him off the stage and into a Coquina Clutch.
Oh Jesus, Samoa Joe gets a microphone and starts screaming a promo at the Phenomenal Wendy Styles, mocking her for her husband being unconscious…I guess? I can’t believe I’m beginning to miss nutshots in my WWE Championship feuds.
Paige is in her office, directing trainers and referees to resurrect Styles and put Samoa Joe in the People Whose Hearts AJ Styles Has Promised To Rip Out Protection Programme when Carmella arrives to oversee the growth of the stress tumour she’s cultivating in Paige’s brain.
Paige mocks Carmella’s lack of a Championship, and Carmella accuses Paige of “title-shaming” her: magnificent. Carmella demands a one-on-one rematch…and here’s R-Truth to demand a match with Carmella. Damn it: I try not to, but I can’t not love this insane man. Paige calmly and kindly explains that R-Truth can’t have a match with Carmella and asks him to give them a moment.
Paige tells Carmella that she’ll have her rematch next week, presumably with a huge amount of Becky Lynch-flavoured interference, and Carmella leaves happily. There’s then a commotion in the hallway: apparently R-Truth was lying in wait for her, which is just terrific.
Jesus Christ, New Day
Main event Tag Team Championship match time. Here are the New Day, with pancake and trombone accompaniment. Big E doesn’t join Kofi and Xavier in the ring, with the commentators excusing this piss-poor strategy by saying that Big E is injured as fuck. Harper and Rowan arrive, continuing this onslaught of terrible tactics by abandoning their mallets before getting into the ring.
The Bludgeon Brothers pounce on the New Day, taking the action to the outside and laying a beating on them. Kofi only just avoids getting suplexed onto the announce table, with Woods dropkicking Harper over it. Rowan doesn’t give them time to celebrate; he tosses Xavier into the timekeeper’s area with frightening ease, followed by Harper hurling a commentator’s chair right into Kofi Kingston!
After a break, all four men are still somehow alive. Woods counters a back suplex on the outside, decking Harper with an elbow and dropping him face-first on the announce table. Rowan is low-bridged out of the ring by Kofi, then kicked right in the beard. The New Day grab a ladder out from under the ring, taking it inside with them. Rowan grabs the pair before they can make good on bad intentions, holding them still for Harper to dive through the ropes onto both New Day members!
Harper and Rowan throw chairs into the ring, then turn back to dismantling Woods and Kingston. Kofi eats a massive boot from Harper on the outside, somehow managing to get his shoulder up from the pin. Meanwhile, Woods catches Rowan with a kick and then gets run right over for his trouble. Kofi catches Harper with a tornado DDT onto the chair, but Rowan’s there to take out both New Day members, shutting down the challengers once again.
Woods is dropped face-first onto the apron, then Rowan and Harper make a bridge in the ring with a ladder and two chairs. They try to crucifix-bomb Woods onto the ladder; Kofi manages to save his partner but ends up taking the move in his place…and still manages to kick out. Jesus, Kofi. This prompts the Bludgeon Brothers to grab a table, despite those two serviceable mallets sitting out here.
Rowan headbutts Kingston into a brain-damaged tomorrow, and then Harper actually remembers the mallets. Rowan charges, mallet in hand, at Kofi, but Woods manages to drag him out of the bald man’s path, leaving the Bludgeon Brother to crash and burn through the barricade. Harper superkicks Woods and pulls him into the ring, looking to end this. He sets Xavier up for a powerbomb through the table, but Kofi dives into fray, hitting Harper with a mallet, then a Trouble in Paradise! Elbow drop through the table from Woods! Both Kofi and Woods pin Harper for three!
I disagree with this, and feel robbed of my amazing Bar/undefeated Bludgeon Brothers match. That being said, this was really good and the result came out of nowhere. 4 Stars.
Tags: AJ Styles, Becky, Brie Bella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, Maryse, naomi, Paige, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, smackdown live, The IIconics, The Miz, The New Day, WWE