Alright, cards on the table: I’m getting super-close to a PhD deadline, because I have a life outside of wrestling and there’s nowhere near enough suplexes in it. In light of this, the next few reviews of SmackDown Live are going to be so fucking brief that you’ll think you’ve wandered into an underwear store.
So, prepare for less immaculately detailed, blow-by-blow accounts of matches and more or less the same levels of unrelenting abuse, because some things you just can’t change.
Oh wow: an eleven-bell salute for 9/11, followed by a “U-S-A” chant. Are you trying to get a rise out of me, America? Not feeling even a little guilty about the War on Terror or the fact you invaded the wrong country? We’re at least trying to make sure that Blair faces justice for war crimes, but I guess if you ever moved past September 11th then you’d have a hell of a lot of cultural identity to find.
Jeff Hardy should be dissected for scientific advancement and my amusement
And Jeff Hardy’s here to talk like someone who’s just taken a lot of drugs, because he’s probably just taken a lot of drugs. You might say that I’m unnecessarily riding this face-painted bastard over his irresponsible attitude to depressants, hallucinogenics and adrenochrome, but he literally starts off his promo with the words “Demons are all around us”, so fuck you and fuck your values. He says that he’s overcome his demons and that he stands before us now a better man, a statement only slightly undermined by his absurd facepaint.
Jeff brings the subject around to Randy Orton, which is a level of cognisance that I’m mildly surprised by, and says that Hell in a Cell doesn’t intimidate him because he’s overcome his own personal hells; apparently developing and then kicking a drug habit is more or less interchangeable with experience of a specific wrestling match format, which must mean that quitting smoking means you’re qualified to compete in an Inferno Match. Jeff intersperses his promo with random snatches of song, announces that he’s facing Shinsuke Nakamura and then says he’s going straight to hell and to enjoy the show.
So, Shinsuke epilepsies his way to the ring and the match kicks off. Jeff starts off strong, taking Nakamura down hard in the early going before the commercial break, during which Shinsuke gains some semblance of control. Jeff recovers pretty quickly, acting hurt, but goes down to a knee to the gut from Nakamura, who works him over with some hard strikes.
Jeff finally catches a kick, starting off a comeback with a sloppy slingblade. Whisper in the Wind connects, but Nakamura catches him with a knee to the ribs on the top rope, sending him out of the ring with a boot. Commercial break, and now Jeff’s in control and pulling out the old favourites. Nakamura beats him down, tries for a Kinshasa but receives a Twist of Fate. Orton shows up for a DQ, shoving Jeff to the floor and then smashing his head off the stairs, like there’s anything he can do to that man’s brain that Hardy and a needle haven’t already done.
Orton finishes up with some shots from a steel chair, looks for the RKO which is then countered by Jeff, who batters Orton with a chair, hits the Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb. I find it impossible to care.
Pretty good match, and at least they protected Shinsuke a little. 2.5 Stars.
Elsewhere, an interviewer whose name I don’t know and refuse to learn is with the Miz and Maryse. She asks them about their upcoming weird version of a double date they’re having at Hell in a Cell. Maryse draws a parallel between her giving birth and Bryan’s retirement-causing injury, and you just know that any second now she’ll say that motherhood is the most difficult job there is.
Miz claims that Bryan and Brie married each other due to a lack of options, because rich and attractive professional wrestlers/reality show stars are so numerous that there are dating websites dedicated to that one demographic. He also demonises Bryan for caring about the planet and the environment, and mocks him for letting his wife fight another woman. Does…does he not think that Bryan could tap Maryse out, or is he just trying to save us from watching Brie and Maryse wrestle?
Clearly the only way to settle this issue is with a wife-swap
Apparently AJ Styles showed up to the arena hours before the show started to cut a promo; Jesus, Miz and Maryse really started something here. Styles explains that threatening to assault and/or rape his wife and child has the potential to make him angry, because he’s a human being. He mentions that Samoa Joe has a family, which makes me wonder whether Styles is about to go all “Randy Orton at the Wyatt Compound” on Mrs Joe and Samoa Jr.
AJ Styles then immediately states, clearly on his attorney’s advice, that he would never force himself on Joe’s wife or kidnap and mutilate Joe’s children in some horrific bid for revenge and also to retain his Championship. He says that Joe’s strengths are, in fact, his weaknesses, and than no-one can beat AJ Styles in a wrestling match unless we’re talking Brock Lesnar or Finn Balor. Honestly, I’d rather just watch these two rip each other apart than hear AJ Styles talking in a monotone about how goshdarned emotional he is about all this nonsense.
Imagine how hard it was for Becky to sit next to those two kids and not give them her goggles
We rewatch Charlotte and Becky – spoiler alert – fail to resolve their issues by slinging insults at each other and calling it an interview. Meanwhile, Charlotte is backstage, dressed like a glittering peacock and says that she wanted a match with Sonya DeVille because she, unlike Becky, likes competition. Didn’t Becky run a train through most of the Women’s Division to gain her Championship opportunity in the first place?
Charlotte arrives, as does Sonya DeVille. Apparently Corey Grave only expresses his desire to Samoa Joe himself on Mandy Rose during her own entrance, not if she’s accompanying Sonya to the ring.
There’s some technical wrestling to start, both women taking it to the mat with Sonya putting in a good showing. Charlotte gets knocked around by DeVille, but a knee to the back of her neck puts an end to that shit. Charlotte’s riding high going into the break, but somehow fucks it up during the commercial and Sonya is in control.
Charlotte counters a clothesline attempt with a suplex, leading to a slugfest which she wins. DeVille is in trouble before Charlotte decides to piss all her momentum away with a moonsault which lands her square on Sonya’s knees. DeVille latches on a triangle choke, which gets her powerbombed onto the ropes and the mat by Charlotte. Figure Eight ends it.
Good showing from Sonya, who improves each time I see her. Proved how dominant Charlotte is too. 2.5 Stars.
After taking photos with some kids, Charlotte is jumped by Becky, who is dressed up as a really hot hipster. Charlotte takes an asskicking culminating in a Disarm-Her on the entrance ramp. Take a lesson, Randy Orton: that’s how you take someone out prior to a PPV.
God, this just gets worse and worse
Samoa Joe is now reading the WWE Universe bedtime stories, because they’re taking every possible creepy trait and hurling it at this guy. Why not wear clown make-up for maximum effect, you fucking weirdo?
Oh wow, he actually had a real fake book made: that is Miz-level dedication to this thing. We’re also shown a bunch of videos of previous SmackDowns, which never happened when I got read bedtime stories; clearly the story here is that Samoa Joe drugs kids to make them settle down for bedtime.
Honestly, I’d like more wrestling feuds to be summed up in verse by Samoa Joe. He also expresses his naked desire to steal AJ Styles’ family. At this point, WWE, you call the police.
Backstage, Becky is confronted by an interviewer about her assault on Charlotte, but the Irish gal doesn’t care to discuss it.
My body is ready for a Rusev Day title run
It’s time to find out who’s going to become the number one contenders for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Kofi Kingston has once again donned his interviewer attire and moves to approach the Bar before the Bar casually walk off without even realising he was there.
The Bar arrive, followed by Rusev Day. Listening to Aiden English sing at 1.5X speed is a weird experience, but he still sounds good which is impressive in itself. Following an immediate commercial break, the Bar are in control of Rusev, keeping him isolated from English. He breaks free and tags in Aiden, who goes on a tear on both Sheamus and Cesaro, then hurls himself out of the ring onto both of them.
Sheamus gains control off a distraction from Cesaro, allowing the Bar to work over English as their sacrificial lamb. Quick tags and double-teams wear the Shakespeare of Song down, keeping him away from his partner through the commercial break. English finally dodges a shoulder charge from Sheamus, tagging in Rusev.
Rusev hits the Bar hard and fast, then tries for an Accolade on Cesaro which Sheamus breaks up. An uppercut staggers Rusev, letting the Bar take him out with a double-team. Rusev tries to fight back, but Sheamus bodyslams him like it’s nothing. Sheamus wants the Brogue, but English takes it for Rusev! Rusev hits the Machka Kick, and Rusev Day are your new number one contenders!
Hard-hitting match which saw some decent English offence. I’m very happy with this. 2.5 Stars.
I think it’s clear that R-Truth can control minds
Here’s Carmella, accompanying R-Truth. Man, the Mixed-Match Challenge really does make friendships which last forever. He’s facing my Latin angel, Andrade Cien Almas, because couples have to fight each other in WWE’s strange world.
Truth gets a fair bit of offence, but the match ends quickly after Andrade rolls Truth up, holding onto the tights. Jesus, someone had to cheat to beat R-Truth.
Terrible misuse of Almas, but I guess I’m always happy to see him. 1.5 Stars.
This new interviewer is now talking to Asuka about why she helped Naomi. Asuka says that the IIconics are mean and that she doesn’t understand their accents. Can’t imagine what that must be like. Naomi and Asuka play the whole “we’re so different and that makes it funny” shtick up for a bit and then leave with nothing accomplished.
You can just feel the total lack of emotion
Here’s Brie Bella with ten minutes left: you’re welcome. Maryse and the Miz arrive too, and it’s time for what I guess you could technically call a wrestling match.
Maryse keeps ducking out of the ring because something-something cheese-eating surrender monkey. Brie then calls Maryse a coward, which I guess gets the blonde riled up, but not enough to actually fight. So far, I’m overjoyed by the lack of actual wrestling going on here. Miz then gets on the microphone to yell at Brie, then says that this city doesn’t deserve this match. Yeah, but does anyone?
In what is possibly his most convincing face-turn yet, the Miz calls off the match and leads Maryse away from the ring. Outstanding stuff. Then Brie drags Maryse back to the ring, that bitch, and we get to see what almost qualifies as offence. A distraction from the Miz allows Maryse to boot Brie in the face, but Brie applies the Yes Lock. The Miz drags Brie out of the ring, which causes Bryan to start smacking the shit out of him as the ref calls for the DQ.
There were about four moves in this match, and it still felt like they were stretching their abilities a little much. 0.5 Star.
Byron Saxton consigns Miz to the deepest depths of hell for putting his hands on the woman who punched him in the face a couple of weeks ago, then Miz throws Bryan out of the ring on top of Brie. Bryan is racked with sorrow and guilt, because his delicate flower of a pro-wrestling wife just can’t handle this kind of abuse. And then the Miz jumps Bryan, because grow the fuck up, Daniel.
Maryse beats on Brie, with the same…unique standard of wrestling as was displayed in their match. The Miz dives into the ring, then stops short when confronted by Brie, allowing Maryse to take control for a second before Brie attacks her again. The Miz drags Brie off him, but Daniel suddenly slams into him, beating the fuck out of him. Brie punches Miz in the face, then Bryan clotheslines him out of the ring. I don’t care. I am literally incapable of caring.
Tags: AJ Styles, Andrade "Cien" Almas, Brie Bella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, Maryse, R-Truth, Randy Orton, rusev day, Samoa Joe, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, Sonya Deville, The Bar, The Miz, WWE