Jesus Christ, my country is either barreling towards a constitutional crisis or we’re in the midst of one already: nobody knows because none of this has ever really happened before. So I’m taking a couple of hours off my usual routine of applying for Italian citizenship, stocking up on non-perishable foods and picking out which of my neighbours to murder for supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit to review some wrestling. Empires rise and fall, but Spain’s SmackDown Report will endure until I randomly pack it all in one day and use the spare time to…
Well, I’ll have thought of something by then. Anyway: wrestling.
Mandy Rose is going to get into that TLC match if it kills Sonya DeVille
The show starts off with a recap of the Women’s Championship storyline, which has managed to be the main story heading into TLC even with Styles vs. Brian on the card.
When the show starts, Paige is in the ring, which is surrounded by tables, ladders and chairs. By Christ, she’ll regret that by the end of the night. She says that SmackDown is the superior, history-making brand, and if everyone else wants to forget about Survivor Series, then I’m on board with that. She introduces Asuka to the ring, and the Empress of Tomorrow joins her, hopefully kicking off a new streak of being relevant after a really disappointing year. Charlotte’s out next, and then Becky Lynch, to the typical hero’s welcome.
Becky brags that she makes history every night and plans on doing the same thing at TLC, and she’ll take whatever gets thrown at her and doesn’t care who she has to beat to get there. Charlotte calls Becky out on constantly claiming that she got handed an opportunity, saying that she destroyed Ronda Rousey whilst Nia took Becky out of the game with a single punch.
Before the two of them can start brawling, Asuka interrupts, saying that Becky may have beat Charlotte, but she’s never beaten her. She claims that she could have beaten Ronda, and promises to beat Becky at TLC. Charlotte reminds Asuka that she broke her streak, and now it’s Becky’s turn to interrupt, signing the contract and telling them that neither of them could beat Ronda or her.
Charlotte telling Asuka that she’ll finish the job at TLC, then signs the contract. Asuka signs right afterward, then challenges Charlotte to a match. Everyone’s on board with this, but then Absolution shows up, preventing us from seeing an awesome match on free TV and causing Corey Graves to just about rip his cock off. Mandy sounds off about how Charlotte and Asuka are nothing special, whereas she and Sonya are totally where the real money is. They still want in the TLC match, but Paige instead makes a tag team match between them and the team of Charlotte and Asuka.
Backstage, Shane is standing next to the World Cup trophy: a visual reminder that WWE stands by both its decision to perform in Saudi Arabia and its terrible booking. And the Miz arrives to ask why he has to have Daniel Bryan on Miz TV tonight. He’s way more focused on his fantasy tag team with Shane McMahon. Shane deflects, telling Miz that only he can get the answers from Bryan. Miz continues to act like the World Cup trophy is their bloody, torture-and-murder-related child, which is something I doubt I’ll ever get enough of.
Back in the ring, Asuka and Sonya are circling each other before locking up and struggling for the advantage. They go through some great counter-reverse action before Asuka finally gains some measure of control with an arm lock. Sonya doesn’t stay down long, managing to fight her way free and tag in Mandy for a double-team.
Rose spends too long mocking Asuka, receiving a flurry of strikes before the Empress launches herself out of the corner in a dropkick. Asuka tags in Charlotte, who shrugs off getting hurled into the corner by Mandy, hurling first Rose and then DeVille across and out of the ring and then leaping out herself on top of them. She’s distracted briefly as Becky arrives, wanting a closer look at the competition as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Mandy has Asuka well in hand as Becky stoically watches, then Sonya tags in to continue the assault, hitting a hell of a running knee to the jaw before tagging in Rose, who hits one of her own. Asuka finally manages to catch Mandy by surprise, turning a wheelbarrow move attempt into a sort of bulldog, and manages to tag in Charlotte.
Charlotte comes in hard and fast, battering away at both DeVille and Rose. Sonya manages to stagger her with a kick, but a spear from the Queen puts her right back down. Mandy rushes Charlotte, getting sent right out of the ring in response, and then decides to pick a fight with Asuka. Charlotte knocks Mandy off the apron, and then ends up booting Asuka in the face, looking none-too-upset with that. Sonya rolls Charlotte up; Charlotte reverses the pin and eats a running knee to the face from Asuka! Sonya pins Charlotte, and Absolution wins the match!
This worked out for everyone. Charlotte’s character development is on point; Asuka’s having none of her shit despite being the only pure face in this feud and Becky made enough impact just by sitting at ringside. Meanwhile, Absolution benefits, having their stock rise in advance of later storylines. Straightforward, but smart. 2.5 Stars.
Enjoy this, because it’s a rap battle next week
We’ve got a triple threat Tag Team Championship match coming up at TLC, but tonight one member of all three teams with face each other in a triple threat match: Xavier Woods vs. Cesaro vs. does it actually matter which Uso? It’s Jey, just so you know.
Woods and Jey immediately chuck Cesaro out of the ring and focus on each other. Jey knocks Xavier down, then runs the ropes before Jey does the same thing. Woods flips out of a back suplex as Cesaro watches with Sheamus on the outside, and both Uso and Woods exchange quick pins. Cesaro dashes back into the ring…and immediately gets clotheslined over the top ropes as we go to a commercial break.
After the break, Cesaro shoves Woods off the top rope, then catches Jey coming off the top with an uppercut. Both Xavier and Jey team up on Cesaro once again, and Jey catches Woods with a Samoan Drop and then the wrecking ball. Cesaro escapes out of the ring, but the Uso leaps out of the ring on top of him, before Xavier manages to catch him with a tornado DDT on the outside! Back in the ring, Woods slams Cesaro face-first on the mat, but the Swiss Cyborg counters the Honor Roll, eats a kick from Jey and manages to get the knees up for a Samoan Splash! Woods hits an elbow to Cesaro, but Uso breaks up the pin!
Both Jey and Xavier reach their feet, battering away at each other. Cesaro gets Jey Uso in position for a Swing, then gets Woods on his shoulders and gives Jey the Swing whilst giving Woods an Airplane Spin! Cesaro locks in the Sharpshooter to Woods, but breaks it to catch a kick from Jey, who turns it into an enzuigiri. Xavier rolls Cesaro up; the Bar member kicks out then turns around right into a superkick from Jey, who gets the pin!
Fun match, though only a taste of how good this will be with all tag team members involved. I’m worried that the Usos’ win here means that they’ll not be taking the gold at the PPV. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, Rusev and Lana are being interviewed and Kayla makes Rusev watch Shinsuke Nakamura giving him about fifteen concussions stacked on top of each other. In case he forgot what happened due to…you know…all those knees right to the face. Rusev says the reason Nakamura jumped him last week, thus infuriating him and driving Rusev to crush him, is because he’s afraid of him. Yeah, that definitely makes sense. Rusev gives a confusing promo laden with food references.
Bryan’s a week away from dropping an Earth Strike reference mid-promo
It’s Miz TV, but before the show can get started, R-Truth and Carmella arrive to interrupt, declaring a dance break. This done, they immediately leave. I love how weird SmackDown gets sometimes. Miz shakes off the moment, then turns his attention to his guest tonight: Daniel Bryan.
Bryan arrives, and the Miz says that there does seem to be something different about him: he knows that there’s no such thing as a virtuous win, and that he finally accepts that the Miz was right. Bryan says that if the old Bryan was so smart, then why did he care about what the WWE Universe thought when that was clearly stopping him from getting the WWE Championship. He puts himself up with the great minds of history, then mocks the audience’s “what?” chant by calling it “something stupid from twenty years ago”. Then he quotes Alexander Hamilton, because whatever the fuck.
The Miz says that what Bryan’s saying now is what Miz has been saying for years. Bryan says that he kicked one man in the groin on one occasion, and he’s now WWE Champion, then he rants at the audience for not recycling and killing the world with their terrible consumption habits and…I mean, yeah: he’s a hundred percent accurate, and of course the crowd boos him because…well, don’t look for great smarts from a crowd at a wrestling show, I guess.
Miz demands that Bryan say whether he won the Championship because he followed the Miz’s advice. Bryan says “yes” and “no” several times, claiming that the catchphrases are meaningless. He pulls the plates off the Championship, declaring the Yes Movement to be dead.
AJ Styles arrives, marching directly for the ring. Bryan shoves the Miz into Styles, almost escaping before Styles catches him. Bryan leaps back into the ring, and when Styles follows him, the Miz jumps on Styles. AJ fights both men off for a time, but Bryan escapes, and the Miz hits a Skull-Crushing Finale to Styles.
So, to summarise, Daniel Bryan is WWE Champion because of man-made climate change.
Oh good, this again
Did you love all those previous Randy Orton/Jeff Hardy matches? Well, you’ll love this next match, and also you’re an idiot. I, meanwhile, am heartily sick of this pseudo-feud, so let’s get this one over quickly.
Hardy tries to jump Orton, battering away the sick fuck’s attempts to make finger-love to his ear. They both end up on the outside, where Randy is able to gain the advantage. Jeff fights out of a back suplex spot on the table, instead dropping Orton on it as we go to a break. When the action returns, Randy is in control, SO I HOPE YOU FUCKING LOVE HEADLOCKS. Jeff thankfully breaks out and hits a Whisper in the Wind to put both men down.
Hardy starts his comeback, hitting the usual spots until Randy manages to catch him with the Vintage DDT. RKO attempt is blocked, as is a Twist of Fate, and Jeff knocks Randy down off the ropes. Hardy heads up to the top, where Orton catches him. Jeff regains control back on the ground, hitting a Twist of Fate. Randy rolls out of the ring before Jeff can hit the Swanton Bomb, but Hardy follows him, hitting another back suplex to Orton onto the table before heading up to the top rope.
And then Samoa Joe appears on the titantron screen, appearing at a bar so as to mock Jeff’s struggles with sobriety. And I’m way past questioning the fact that WWE employees will just let guys hijack the titantron like that for their own purposes, but hopefully they at least feel regret about letting Joe do that, because that is pretty fucking low. Orton hits an RKO to win.
I am so done with this feud, which has managed to limp on after a Hell in a Cell conclusion. The distraction was the usual plot device, but the use of the bar at least added a nasty personal note. 1.5 Stars.
Joe continues on after the match, talking about the dangers of excess. I mean, moderation with prescription pills is pretty bad anyway, but it’s not like Joe is an AA spokesman. Samoa Joe actually delivers a fairly decent “drink responsibly” message, and this is clearly going to turn into a re-run of the CM Punk/Jeff Hardy feud, where Punk was proved right by Jeff Hardy being…well, Jeff Hardy.
It’s announced that Asuka and Charlotte will face each other next week, despite the best efforts of Absolution to rob us of that contest.
Daniel Bryan destroys AJ Styles for the environment
Main event time, and it’s AJ Styles vs. The Miz, following their altercation from earlier tonight. Meanwhile, we see Bryan walking around backstage in his grandfatherly cardigan and his homeless person hair. When questioned by Kayla Braxton, he says that he’s going to perform commentary.
The bell rings, and Styles immediately starts blasting away at the Miz. The Miz seizes the advantage with a headlock as the referee admonishes Styles, but AJ stops him cold with a beautiful dropkick. Miz runs away from the former WWE Champion, who catches him as he gets back into the ring, dropping a leg on him from the apron. The Miz refuses to go down as Bryan details his plans for how he wants his daughter kick hundreds of men in the nuts.
Miz lays Styles out with a back and neckbreaker, slamming fist after fist into his face. The Miz runs into a kick following some showboating, elevates Styles over the top rope and manages to send him crashing to the floor into a commercial break. When we come back, Styles is making his way back into the fight as Byron mocks Bryan for daring to preach about the link between climate change and consumption. Byron Saxton is a dumb fuck.
Styles goes for the Styles Clash; Miz counters into the SCF, which is countered into a roll-up from AJ before Miz ends the exchange with a DDT. Styles dodges a kick, sending the Miz out of the ring before dropping onto him with a forearm. Bryan approaches Styles, distracting him for long enough so that Miz can hurl Styles into the steel steps. In the ring, Miz scores with the Skull-Crushing Finale, but AJ kicks out. In response, Miz attacks the leg, looking to win via the Figure Four. Bryan tries to grasp Styles leg, gets kicked away, and AJ is able to beat the Miz with a Calf-Crusher.
Good back-and-forth match, with the Miz looking impressive against AJ even prior to the interference. Daniel’s new heel persona is all kinds of brilliant. 3 Stars.
Bryan jumps Styles after the match, going after Styles’ leg and smashing it against the ring post. Bryan continues to whack bits of AJ off whatever he can find, then locks in a heel hook inside the ring before hitting a lot of stomps to Styles’ head. Bryan gets the ring announcer to generally announce him, then denounces the crowd for being “fickle”. And then he continues to attack Styles’ leg, with the show ending as though whoever’s in charge just assumes he’ll be at that for some time.