SmackDown is in Manchester tonight. As a Brit, it’s rather nice. As a Geordie, that whole city can go fuck itself and take its worthless football team with it.
Don’t condone Shane’s actions, WWE Universe
Paige kicks the show off, finally within a couple of hundred miles from her own home, but she just says that she’s just here to introduce Shane McMahon. That’s certainly one way for Shane to heel it up off the bat. The audience is not into it at all, because us Brits know bullshit when we see it.
Well…apart from Brexit.
We get a recap of WWE’s insistence on screwing up every really big Crown Jewel match through either screwy booking, terrible victors or the participants being geriatrics, focusing specifically on the first two for this one. Once Shane finally cha-cha-chas his way to the ring, Paige insists on a picture with him and the trophy, and get those awful thoughts out of your head, reader: not every scenario featuring Paige, a camera, a male wrestler or an object symbolic of wrestling achievement is going to lead to a sex tape joke.
So, after waiting to see whether Paige is about to drop trou and being subsequently disappointed, Shane downplays his “victory”, instead saying that what happened in Saudi Arabia was a win for SmackDown as opposed to, you know, tacit approval of the murder of a journalist and fucking terrible booking. Shane says that instinct took over, that instinct being to make every possible thing about a McMahon: let’s not pretend we didn’t know he had this condition. I mean, just look at Stephanie.
Shane turns our attention to Survivor Series, announcing Brock vs. AJ, Ronda vs. Becky, Seth vs. Nakamura, the Bar vs. AOP and the two 5-on-5 matches. This card is outstanding, and I’m praying there are no title changes or injuries twixt now and then.
The Team Captain is then announced, and it’s Daniel Motherfuckin’ Bryan. All I want now is for him to pick the Miz and then for the two of them to co-exist for the match: give them a Goku/Frieza moment and watch the crowd fucking pop. Bryan makes his way to the ring, thanking the crowd for their die-hard support. He makes a crack at Shane for his Saudi Arabian adventures and then thanks both him and Paige for the honour of being named Captain…and then the Miz interrupts. Fuck: there goes my Goku and Frieza moment. Thanks, WWE, you dream-wrecking whore.
The Miz is bitter off the bat, apparently at everyone but constantly at Daniel Bryan and specifically at Shane. He claims that he deserves two-thirds of that trophy, getting cheers for it. I mean…does WWE think that the Miz is still the heel in this scenario? That Shane’s a face? Because if so, then I don’t know what to say, because that is the blindest attempt at character work that I’ve ever seen. And then Shane waves his “I could have fired you” threat around like a big willy, and the Miz snipes back, claiming that he never actually forfeited the match. He demands that he has a right to be the Team Captain, and Shane agrees…making him Co-Captain with Daniel Bryan.
If there aren’t going to be comedy vignettes made of this, followed by an outstanding team effort at Survivor Series, then WWE has no idea what they’re doing here.
And, like I willed it into fucking being, Daniel and the Miz are yelling at each other backstage. Shane arrives to break it up, and the Miz makes the fair point that this can never work out. McMahon says that he can’t have anyone resting on their laurels, and that the Miz and Bryan bring out the best in each other. Miz says that he wants Shane on his team, GETTING ROUSING BOOS AS A RESULT, and Shane thankfully declines.
Oh, and then Bryan agrees: he wants Shane on the team as well. Jesus Christ, just give away a spot to a non-wrestler? Again? Because that all worked out last year? Bryan and the Miz have a weird moment of cohesion and friendship, both of them looking freaked out when they realise that it’s happening. I both hate and love this segment, but I 100% hate that they’re trying to make faces support Shane McMahon’s storyline-hogging.
On free goddamn TV
And as WWE’s throwing good shit like the Miz and Bryan’s amazing new friendship at us like this, here’s the New Day vs. The Usos. This is already a great night. The New Day are fielding Kofi and Big E tonight, whilst the Usos are sticking to their strategy of being almost identical: it gets old.
Jey and Kofi jockey for control in the early going, with Jey bringing power against Kofi’s speed; Kingston dropkicks Jey out of the ring and sends Jimmy out after him, with Big E flattening Jimmy following a distraction from Xavier Woods and his trombone. A trombone is always going to be a bit of a distraction unless it’s in a full orchestra. Following a commercial break, the Usos are in control following a nasty superkick to Kofi’s knee.
Kingston manages to stall a charge from Jey by leaping right into him, managing to get the tag to Big E. E barrels into the action, tossing Jimmy Uso around with ease, hitting one belly-to-belly after the other. An attempted Warrior Splash sees him run into an uppercut, but the New Day member regains control right afterwards with a slam out of the corner. Big E wants a Big Ending, but Jey gets a blind tag, knocking the big man down. A splash from the top rope sees Jey land across Big E’s knees, and this time the Big Ending strikes, with Jimmy only just breaking up the pin!
Jey dodges a spear, sending Big E to crash and burn, but Kofi caught a blind tag and Big E still manages to drive Jimmy right into the barricade! Jey manages to throw Big E into the time-keeper’s area, but then both Usos get hit by a flying Kofi Kingston! Kofi sends Jey back into the ring, getting a near-fall off the suicide dive, then another off the S.O.S! Jey fights back, exchanging blows with Kofi before getting nailed by a crossbody from top rope as we go to another break.
When we come back, Kofi is still in control, but Jimmy Uso catches a blind tag, and both Usos try to suplex Kofi off the apron through the announce table! Kofi fights back, and suddenly Big E blasts Jey with a spear, then Jimmy gets a Trouble in Paradise right in the skull! Kofi hustles Jimmy into the ring, but the Uso manages to kick out! Kofi doesn’t let off, hammering Jimmy with headbutts and right hands, then brings the Uso up to the top rope. Kofi goes for the superplex, with Jimmy fighting back, and headbutt sends Kingston to the floor; he dashes back up, looking for a hurricanrana, but Jimmy counters with a powerbomb, hitting the Samoan Splash for the win!
These two teams can’t have a bad match. 5 Stars.
The Usos get on the microphone, immediately inviting the New Day to join Team SmackDown. The New Day accept, and I have zero idea who RAW can even think about fielding against SmackDown‘s tag division.
Backstage, the Miz is on the phone, arranging his media appearances for his shitty new movie. The Bryan arrives, and his pick is Rey Mysterio. This leads to a disagreement between the two of them, and leads to the pick hanging on a match between Mysterio and Andrade “Cien” Almas later tonight. And I love Rey, but they had better put Almas on the fucking team: this is already way too much of a feel-good stunt with Shane McMahon, and that doesn’t even feel good!
Bryan also suggests that the final member is picked by both of them picking a guy and having them fight it out. The Miz and Bryan enthusiastically agree, and then both leave before they have to start aggressively making out. This is fucking adorable.
Also on free goddamn TV
According to Ronda Rousey, having an abusive mother makes you a better person. What an odd claim to make. On the main stage, Becky Lynch arrives to a great reception, with the Irish and English apparently agreeing to put their historic and, let’s face it, present feud on hold for now.
The crowd sings Becky’s theme tune after the song ends, then goes on to chant her name. This is why she can’t be a fucking heel, WWE. Lynch says that Ronda’s got no right to tell her what to do, and she may hold a Championship, but she’s not a real Champion. She claims that Ronda’s never been tested, and that she’s found winning so easy that Becky is going to come as a hell of a shock to her at Survivor Series.
Becky claims that she’s been tested every single night, and mocks Ronda’s dismissal of her road to where she is: she wasn’t handpicked like Ronda, but she made it here anyway. She says that she doesn’t care about Rousey’s respect; all she wants to do is take her arm and make Ronda her bitch at Survivor Series. She goes to leave, but then says that she’s already got herself fired up, so she may as well take someone out right here, right now, and issues an open challenge.
Well, fuck me: it’s SAnitY. Which means…it’s Nikki Cross! Jesus, it’s nice to see them all together again. This card blows SmackDown 1000 out of the fucking water.
Becky starts to talk smack to Nikki, who grabs the microphone out of her hand and starts spouting creepy shit like Scottish People Twitter dropped a bunch of acid. Becky says that she’s not here to play but to fight, and this match is on.
Bell rings, and we’ve got a Scottish and an Irish gal ready to fight it out for the entertainment of a predominantly-English crowd. Nice to know those wars for independence got you so much, lads. Nikki opens with a punch right to Becky’s face, and Lynch beats her into the mat. Cross responds with a headscissors, getting tossed through the ropes.
Becky heads out onto the apron, but Nikki trips her up, trapping Becky in the apron and lighting her up with blows. Lynch tries to roll back out of the ring, managing to halt Nikki’s rampage momentarily before slamming her into the barricade. Becky tosses her opponent back into the ring, slapping on a sleeper hold. Cross almost catches her off-guard with a roll-up, but Becky returns a calf kick for a near-fall of her own.
Becky continues to keep control of the match, not letting Nikki build any of her batshit momentum, but Cross almost gets a sleeper locked in before smacking away at Lynch. Nikki runs over Becky with clotheslines, hitting a splash to the corner and then a bulldog. Cross heads up to the top rope, hitting a crossbody (I get it!) for another two count. A reverse DDT almost pins Becky, and Cross continues to stomp her in the corner before Becky sends her arm-first into the second rope; Lynch applies the Disarm-Her, and Nikki taps!
Glad Becky won and hope that she gets another stiff challenge next week, emphasising the difference between Ronda and herself. I’m a little surprised Cross tapped out, but it establishes some real dominance for Lynch, which is really the key story here. 3 Stars.
The Miz is taking selfies backstage despite literally being on camera. Bryan interrupts, trying for a Co-Captains selfie, and then announces that his pick is Jeff Hardy. Oh Jesus, don’t let Miz’s be Randy Orton…oh, it’s Samoa Joe! And the Miz had a fun pun ready to announce Joe, except Joe was standing right there at the time, so…so Bryan already knew.
Did they mix up this booking up with some PPV?
And continuing the awesomeness that has been this week’s SmackDown, here’s Mysterio/Almas one-on-one. I’d fucking pay to watch these matches. Rey makes his entrance, followed by the man I hope actually gets on the team: Andrade “Cien” Almas. And no Zelina Vega with him tonight: she must be busy being irresistible somewhere.
There’s the bell, and it’s on. Almas works the arm immediately before exchanging some high-paced offence with Mysterio, with the veteran coming off the better with a hurricanrana and a headscissors before a back elbow staggers Rey. Andrade stalks the former World Champion, driving knees into his face for a two count. He misses a charge with the third knee attempt, falling out of the ring. Mysterio tries to take advantage with a seated senton, but Almas catches the luchador and slams him into the barricade as we go to the commercial break!
When we come back, Mysterio has been put through the wringer, only just dodging the knees from Almas. He fights back from the apron, hitting a seated senton and a massive headscissors. He runs into a boot from Almas, countering a sunset flip with a roundhouse kick to the side of the head for a two count. Mysterio goes high, but gets caught on the top turnbuckle and has to counter a superplex from Almas. Rey goes for a sunset flip, but Almas flips over, landing on his feet and hits the double knees, and then again for a near-fall! Jesus, put Almas in the fucking Survivor Series match. Give him Shane’s damn spot!
Almas hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, goes for the moonsault, which Rey avoids, then goes for another, which Rey meets with a pair of knees! Andrade’s put in position for the 619, but Andrade bails on the move, hitting an elbow to the mask. Rey gets put in the electric chair, counters to bring Almas out of the ring, but Andrade manages to keep him up there! Mysterio manages to slam Andrade onto the apron, then slides out of the ring to catch Almas with a DDT on the outside!
Almas is sent back into the ring, then Rey hits a hurricanrana, the 619, then the big splash to win!
I’m still pissed that Almas isn’t getting an opportunity like this, but Mysterio is as quick as I can remember seeing him, so whatever happens involving him on Sunday should be awesome enough. 4 Stars.
And Randy Orton immediately RKOs Mysterio post-match. Which, if I were the Miz or Daniel Bryan, would be taking into account when it came to choosing guys for my team: you want someone without any baggage lest a rival try to interfere in the match.
Backstage, Bryan accuses Miz of sending Randy out to sabotage Rey, which is dumb considering that Randy Orton would victimise a set of traffic lights if he thought that he had a chance of inflicting pain upon it. The Miz says that he doesn’t talk to Orton, because why would you? Miz trolls Bryan by pretending not to watch the match, then laughs it off, saying that Rey definitely deserves a spot on the team. He warns Bryan not to let emotions get the better of him when it comes to Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy.
And now that WWE is no longer in Saudi Arabia, they’re allying with Girl Up and are super-about female empowerment. The hypocrisy is so strong you can fucking taste it, and I can’t believe people aren’t calling them out on this more.
Who knows, maybe charity really does wash blood off your hands. I wouldn’t know: I don’t lend misogynist dictatorships my support as a rule.
AJ Styles is backstage, talking about his chance to face Lesnar again. I’d love for him to get a clean win, but if your name isn’t Roman Reigns, you apparently have no chance of beating Brock.
Just once, I’d like to see a segment involving the Women’s Division where they all manage to get along
Paige is back in the ring, here to talk about the Women’s Survivor Series team match. And they’re just announcing the team rather than having any discussion about this, because Charlotte’s having a random crisis of faith. And the team is Carmella, Naomi, Sonya DeVille, Asuka and Charlotte Flair. That is a damn good team, with power, striking ability, technical skill and aerial prowess: quite a nice idea if WWE cared enough to do anything with that.
But there seems to be a snag: Charlotte’s not coming out. Instead, we hear Mandy Rose’s music, and the inspiration for Corey Graves’ RealDoll collection makes her appearance. Surely having her on the team is a liability considering the likelihood of Graves trying to hump her leg.
There’s a little tension as Mandy asks why Sonya was chosen rather than her, then proceeds to run down the whole team like the IIconics hired her to fill in for them. She gets around to asking Naomi whether she’s still capable of giving Jimmy Uso erections before Naomi jumps her and starts smacking the shit out of her.
Everyone piles in, because it’s not like they pay these women to not fight, and Sonya is able to separate Mandy from the seething mass of women scorned. This leads to some more tension and the crowd, God love ’em, starts chanting “let them fight”. Rose does finally back off, with Charlotte still nowhere to be seen.
I genuinely did not know Jeff Hardy was allowed in the UK
Here’s the main event, with Jeff Hardy dancing his way to the ring. Bryan and the Miz are both on commentary, and this is what fanfiction is made from. Samoa Joe makes his entrance and immediately goes after Jeff, smacking the…well, smack out of him in the corner. Jeff manages to counter a charge and hit a Whisper in the Wind. Joe dodges a Twist of Fate attempt, but gets hit with a pair of boots on the outside by Jeff.
Back in the ring, Hardy runs into a brick wall called “Samoa Joe” and, following a break, the big man is still taking it to the tag team specialist, who gets squashed in the corner and eats a kick to the head. Jeff’s taken to the mat, getting his head wrenched around by Joe before he’s take out of the ring and thrown into the barricade. Jeff manages to turn things around with a dive off the turnbuckle.
In the ring, Jeff hits a leg drop and a dropkick to put Joe on the mat. Joe counters a Twist of Fate into a Clutch, which Jeff counters in turn with a jawbreaker before hitting the Twist of Fate. Swanton Bomb lays Jeff out across the knees, and the Coquina Clutch forces a tap-out from Jeff.
Good decision. It’s getting harder to watch Jeff try to keep up with people now, but Joe’s predatory style still made this a fun contest. 2.5 Stars.
Post-match, Joe tries to provoke a reaction out of Bryan, who decks him in the face before locking him in the Coquina Clutch. Miz tries to drag Bryan off Joe, and Daniel punches him too. Shane comes out to try and break things up, but gets thrown away by Bryan, who storms out of the ring, leaving three of his teammates looking on.
Tags: Andrade "Cien" Almas, Asuka, Becky Lynch, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, naomi, Nikki Cross, Paige, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, Sonya Deville, The Miz, The New Day, the usos, WWE