Hello all. First off, an apology for missing last week’s SmackDown Live. Internet troubles left me unable to see an irate Bryan roaring around the concession stands, a stunning display between Almas and Mysterio and, finally, the formation of an excellent title match between Becky Lynch and Asuka. What with all that, plus Finn Balor facing Brock Lesnar in a title match that I never thought we’d ever see, I’m cautiously optimistic regarding the forward direction of this company. Let’s see what this week brings.
Lot of accent in this segment
First of all, it brings Becky Lynch pulling up backstage in an unnecessarily massive vehicle. You’ll note the lack of any and all environment-related denunciation from Daniel Bryan on this; perhaps he’s busy fermenting some kind of badger revolution or headbutting an oil tanker. Becky is waylaid by an interviewer, who asks her if she’s ready for Asuka. Becky, a student of the “ask a stupid question, get given responsibility over a motor vehicle” school, throws the girl her keys, clearly planning on Bryan arriving in time to see the innocent interviewer meekly parking the gas-guzzling phallus metaphor and kicking her face into the ceiling.
Becky immediately passes by the New Day and Heavy Machinery, who are sticking everything but the kitchen sink into a blender and drinking it, butt-chugging now considered passé in the WWE community since John Cena did it in Blockers. They offer the mixture to Becky, allowing her access to a whole new world of internal organ failure, and she drinks it before saying “it’s a little weak”. Between that and the oversized car, I’m beginning to wonder if Becks feels like she’s compensating for something.
Lynch immediately walks out into the arena, the clock already ticking down to her arteries committing suicide. She states her intention to take back the SmackDown Women’s Championship, commenting on how important she was able to make that title and how so many think that what she’s done so far is a fluke. Becky insists that she delivers on what she promises, as well as being dumb enough to drink what two guys literally called “Heavy Machinery” offer her in the backstage area of a sports arena. That feels like I’m stereotyping all Irish people, which I swear I’m not trying to do.
Becky says that in contrast, Asuka walked into last year’s WrestleMania with all the hype in the world, but she came up short against Mr McMahon’s desire for Aryan supremacy over the Eastern portion of the globe. Before Becky can get further, Asuka shows up herself, having heard that her challenger was talking shit. Duelling chants for both women, and Asuka says that Becky likes to talk, calling her all buzz and no sting. She promises that, following Royal Rumble, Becky will be in her shadow rather than Charlotte’s, and then she screams. Sometimes, I suppose, you just have to scream.
Either that, or that scream managed to summon the IIconics, because they’ve just showed up. They claim that Asuka and Becky lack the dignity and class of a Champion, which is a hell of a sentiment coming from anyone hailing from a country where the most-used word is “cunt”. They say that they’re going to win the Women’s Royal Rumble and the Women’s Tag Team Championships and then make WrestleMania “IIconic”, which could mean almost anything. Becky challenges either one of them to a match, because she’s only asserted herself twice tonight and is jonesing for another hit.
Becky’s street clothes come with a -2 dexterity effect
When we come back, Becky is facing Peyton Royce whilst wearing street clothes, because why pretend that things are other than they seem. Becky offers a handshake, then turns it into a punch to the face, knocking Peyton out of the ring then brings her right back inside. Lynch goes for the Dis-Arm-Her early, just to let Royce know that she’s going to at least lose a limb tonight.
Becky’s domination of the Australian continues as she shouts for Asuka to watch her dismember a human being. We’re shown Lacey Evans watching backstage, because not every NXT arrival can make death smoothies with the New Day, and Peyton manages to escape her red-haired torturer. Becky’s not having it, and she launches herself through the ropes at Royce, but the brunette manages to take control back inside the ring, flailing desperately at both Becky and her own short-term destiny.
Peyton manages to keep Lynch reeling for several moments, refusing to accept the clear result of this situation. Becky regains some measure of control, hitting a flying shoulder block that sends Royce out of the ring again; the Australian hits a desperation clothesline heading into the commercial break, keeping her opponent down throughout. Becky hammers away at Royce, finally taking her down with a Thesz Press before scoring a Bexploder.
Peyton tries to halt Becky’s assault with a spinning kick to the face, but Lynch blocks a suplex attempt, suddenly applying the Dis-Arm-Her. Instant tap-out.
I feel like this could have been more of a squash considering Becky’s perceived status, but this was fine. 2.5 Stars.
Asuka enters the ring, yelling at Becky in Japanese as if Lynch has been sitting up all night with Duolingo to prepare for this feud. It becomes apparent that Asuka was in fact quoting the old song “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”, and it becomes apparent because the Women’s Champion grabs Billie Kay, tosses her into the ring and starts mauling her like a multi-coloured lion. The ref rings the bell, because watching Australians get the shit kicked out of them by women of various nationalities gives him the horn.
Asuka speaks primarily in translated show tunes
Asuka hits Billie with a bunch of strikes before applying a Dis-Arm-Her. Kay tries to roll up the Champ whilst she yells more song lyrics at Becky, but finds herself in the Asuka Lock, choosing to tap rather than asphyxiate.
Oh, so Asuka can squash people. 1.5 Stars.
Becky gets into the ring to stare Asuka down this time, though she neglects to yell at her in Gaelic for the full effect.
And then AJ Styles’ music plays. Jesus, IIconics, run. Styles declines the opportunity to batter an Australian senseless, which shows a real lack of killer instinct if you want my take on it, instead merely glaring at Asuka like he assumes all Japanese people want to assault his nutsack. He then jumps the barricade and wanders off into the crowd. Oh no: the number one contender’s fucking lost it.
Following the break, Styles is hanging out at the concession stand, presumably under the assumption that Bryan is about to show up for the second week running. He shows off the food and the ravenous consumers like Chris Hansen trying to reel in his later child predator.
And I’d laugh, but Bryan actually is there and attacks Styles. Rather than asking him to take a seat, AJ puts Bryan through a fucking table. Damn it, Hansen: this is what that show was missing.
And in the latest edition of “Is Mandy Rose Actually Sleeping With Jey Uso And Is Just Honestly Confused About The Situation?”, the Usos are backstage having photos taken of them. Some guy shows up and gives Jimmy a box of something with a note, and Jimmy asks Jey to read him the note aloud, under the impression it’s from Naomi.
Jey gives a dramatic and cheerful reading of the innuendo-laden note regarding his twin brother knocking boots, only getting weirded out when it turns out that the note and parcel are from Mandy Rose. Yes, Jey: that is the only strange part of this situation. And Mandy has sent Jimmy a key to a hotel room. Jimmy says that he “doesn’t know” what he’s going to do.
WWE, I’d just like to say that if this ends up with Jey pretending to be Jimmy and having sex with Mandy, this would be your nth rape storyline and it would also be terrible.
Elsewhere, Samoa Joe is wandering around backstage, wondering why he’s not getting hit with raw sex from every angle like Jimmy Uso. Oh, but isn’t he? Hark: EC3 is posing in one of Cody Rhodes’ old mirrors, which for some reason insists upon giving his reflection a moustache. Joe doesn’t attack EC3 upon sight, meaning that either he’s turned over a new leaf or EC3 is making him feel things that are not unyielding rage or general misanthropy. You already know which one I’ve hitched my wagon to, so get ready for a lot of queer readings of upcoming SmackDown Live episodes.
Meanwhile, Kayla Braxton has managed to both park Becky’s car and not have her spine severed by Daniel Bryan: she can do it all! And now she’s interviewing Zelina Vega and Almas. She asks him how he’ll carry his momentum into tonight’s match with Rey Mysterio. Vega and Almas make the usual “defeat opponent, win Royal Rumble, win at WrestleMania, get Clarence his wings” promises, then hand over their keys, under the assumption that parking cars is part of Kayla’s gig now.
Anyone with any innuendos involving Samoa Joe or EC3, please share in the comment section
Here’s Samoa Joe, trying to walk off his EC3-related erection and hoping that crippling Mustafa Ali will relieve his swelling. I will neither apologise nor stop. Mustafa Ali, the Pakistani Prince of Persia, arrives, and Joe immediately jumps him, all hot and bothered from earlier. Ali gets his head walloped off the ring post so hard that his kids suddenly can’t understand their homework, and then Joe does it a second time, sniggering like a fucking psychopath.
For those of you who just missed that, Samoa Joe’s scary again…oh dear God, Joe’s going back for more. He teases putting Ali through a table, but then relents and hurls him into a barricade instead. Joe then walks off, wondering why he’s even more aroused than he was at the start of this whole deal.
In a hotel room, Sonya DeVille is trying to explain to Mandy, in the patient tones of someone who knows that their friend is a moron and cares about them anyway, why giving her room key to a guy whose marriage she’s been threatening for weeks is a bad idea. I mean, Rose cost the Usos the Tag Team Championships last week, which in the Attitude Era would have at least meant that she’d have been put through a table.
But Mandy Rose is determined to go through with this insane course of action, outlining her plan to destroy Naomi’s marriage whilst the cameraman records everything to be broadcast live. It’s like WWE employees don’t even watch their own show, but rather prefer to find the answers themselves like a muscular Sherlock Holmes.
Mysterio is wandering around backstage when he’s startled by Nikki Cross, whom someone has contained within a steel enclosure already; kudos to them. Rey seems surprised, but you have to remember that the poor bastard worked here back when the Boogeyman was on the payroll, so he’s seen some shit.
Christ, Kayla Braxton is everywhere tonight. Maybe giving her access to WWE employees’ cars actually increases her efficiency. She catches up with Samoa Joe and asks him what the fuck. Joe says that what he just did out there was a statement intended to be seen by every Rumble participant and that statement was “I am your new and angry God”. He promises to hunt down every Champion and put them to sleep, then tosses Kayla his keys and asks her to tell EC3 “‘sup?”
Turns out lengthy dream matches are a good idea; who knew?
Here’s Rey Mysterio, ready for another meeting with Andrade “Cien” Almas. El Idolo joins him, and the two luchadores stare each other down before locking up. Almas shoves Mysterio away, then the two exchange holds and reversals before Rey catches Andrade with an armdrag. Almas takes his time locking up again, then quickly applies a waistlock, runs through a combination and then shoves Mysterio again.
Rey applies a headlock, prevents Almas from reversing it several times. Almas finally catches Mysterio with a kick to the gut, locking the shorter man’s arm. Rey tries to springboard out and escape, but Andrade keeps a tight hold on the arm, not allowing Mysterio to escape. Suddenly, Mysterio strikes with two headscissor takeovers, almost catching Almas with the 619, but El Idolo ducks under the bottom rope, narrowly avoiding the finisher. He almost gets the Hammerlock DDT, trades two near falls with Rey, and then the two separate.
Almas misses a dropkick, eating a kick to the face. Andrade gets Rey up for the electric chair drop; Rey takes Almas over the top rope, but Andrade lands on his feet, still holding Rey on his shoulders before striking with a sit-out powerbomb as we go to the commercial break. When we come back, Almas has just missed the double knees and eats the seated senton and a hurricanrana from Mysterio. He catches Rey’s backflip, only to have his reversal turned into a DDT for two!
Rey takes a spinning elbow to the head, misses a kick to the skull and gets hip-tossed into the corner before Andrade scores with the double knees for a near-fall! Rey fights off Almas, hurricanranaing his opponent face-first into the turnbuckles. Mysterio heads up to the top rope, but too slow: Andrade trips him up on his way. Now Rey’s stuck between the turnbuckles; Andrade means to hit the stomp, but Mysterio shoves him onto the apron and manages to hit the hurricanrana out to the floor!
Rey heads up to the top again, hitting Andrade with a seated senton on the outside as we go to a commercial break. When we come back, Rey flips Andrade over into a cover, hits him with a hurricanrana that Almas turns into a cover, then Andrade hits another spinning back elbow, goes for the cover that Rey almost counters out of, then slams Mysterio to the mat. Andrade goes for a moonsault, misses and hits the second for yet another near-fall, then runs into a boot.
Rey manages to take Almas over in a move that slams his skull right into the mat, but Almas still kicks out. Now Mysterio wants the 619, but Almas catches him, only for Rey to counter with a crucifix pin, and Andrade still kicks out! A boot to the head sets Almas up for another 619, and he finally hits it. Rey heads up to the top, but Vega gets up on the apron to distract both Mysterio and the referee, allowing Almas to catch up to Rey, hitting a Hammerlock DDT from the top rope, getting the win!
The cheap win might have jarred with the overall quality of this match, but to my mind it was perfect. Andrade was keeping up with Rey brilliantly in a clean match, resorting to dirty tactics that taint the very finish when it seemed like he should have been able to win without them; it’s great heel storytelling. Undoubtedly 5 Stars.
We recap Mandy Rose’s plan to break up Jimmy and Naomi’s marriage by inviting Jimmy to have sex with her and hoping that the rest of it will work itself out and that she gets through this without catching any STIs. Corey Graves may love her, and he does, but it’s not for her brains.
And now either Jimmy or Jey is walking furtively around a hotel corridor. I mean, the furtiveness is a little ruined by the fact that there’s a cameraman walking in front of him, filming every second of this terrible idea, but I’ve always assumed that WWE employees can’t see cameramen. Why else would they discuss their evil plans in front of them?
This hotel looks cheap as hell. If I was going to ruin my marriage by having guilty sex recorded by a WWE cameraman, I’d at least want it to be in a classy joint with fountains and chandeliers. Whichever Uso it is finds the right door and knocks before entering the hotel room, at which point he is immediately recorded by a cameraman already inside. Thank you, hallway cameraman; your function has been completed.
Mandy is sitting in a room in a black robe, trying to set back an entire Women’s Revolution by herself. Sonya’s probably back at the arena, telling Samoa Joe it’s okay to want to feel the feelings he’s feeling and that he could do a lot worse than EC3. And I’d much rather be watching that, if I’m honest.
Mandy takes off her robe, showing underwear that is frankly conservative compared to her ring gear. Jimmy starts saying that they can’t do anything like this, but then a man with a camera dashes out, taking several shots before running away. And seeing as Jimmy doesn’t try to chase him, the running seems egregious.
Mandy begins her evil monologue, saying that she hates Jimmy’s wife for reasons that are not explored but which we can just assume are based in Mandy Rose’s deeply-held racist convictions. Jimmy takes this all really well, which is either because he’s really Jey or he assumes that the live video footage streaming from the cameraman who is literally feet from him and Mandy will offer a more complete picture than some hastily-taken photographs. He leaves the room…and suddenly Naomi’s there.
Naomi and Mandy Rose start fighting, so at least one of them’s going to jail. And seeing as this show’s in Birmingham, Alabama…yeah, it’s definitely Naomi. Mandy manages to escape, and only then does Jimmy appear, happy to let his wife take punch after punch to the face without getting involved. The fuck kind of husband is that?
Being the Miz’s friend is like being in a cult
Here’s the Miz, and whatever the next segment involves, it’s a safe bet I could use the words “Miz” “slobber” and “Shane McMahon’s knob”. It’s Shane’s birthday, and the Miz has thrown him a birthday bash. Is this the main event? Is someone at least going to die? Miz invites Shane to join him, which Shane does, and wishes him a happy birthday.
Shane is a little awkward, not to mention increasingly paranoid that this is all part of some scheme to harvest his organs, but takes all of this in good grace. Miz decides to make things awkward by emphasising the effort that he’s gone to as well as reeling off the disturbing amount of trivia he needed to know about Shane to make this happen. Even without the organ-harvesting, this is slightly creepy.
Next the Miz gives Shane a present box, and if it’s not the head of Gwyneth Paltrow then it’s like WWE doesn’t even know what their viewers want anymore. Plus it would stop her telling everyone shove jade eggs up inside themselves. But they’re some kind of sneakers which I just assume is there for some ham-handed sponsorship deal. I would have preferred something involving decapitation, but sure.
The Miz then directs Shane’s attention to the titantron, which plays a highlight reel of his various attempts at accidental suicide, culminating in the World Cup win: not even the worst part of Crown Jewel, if you can believe it.
Shane thanks the Miz for the video, and says that he’s made him want to share. He says that ever since he started coming to WWE events, he’s wanted to be a Tag Team Champion. And he’s proud to have the Miz as his partner next Sunday. The two embrace, and the Miz promises that the two of them will capture the SmackDown Tag Team Titles. He then leads the arena into singing “Happy Birthday” to Shane before the Bar arrive to break it up.
The Bar laugh about Vince not showing up to the birthday party because he’s a shitty father, which seems weirdly harsh for a Tag Team Championship feud. Shane reminds them that he has the ability to make matches whenever and however he wants to, and makes a match between Sheamus and the Miz. Are the Miz and Becky Lynch trying to start a “we don’t need to spend money on ring gear” trend? The guy’s in a suit.
Weird main event, but okay
Following the break, the Miz is smacking Sheamus around, then dodges a charge to send Sheamus onto the outside, kicking him to a follow-up. A distraction from Cesaro allows Sheamus to take control, and he beats away at the Miz. The Awesome One counters White Noise with a roll-up, but Sheamus hammers him to the mat once again. Miz almost scores a SCF out of nowhere, then continues to try to fight his way back into the match.
Miz dodges a second charge, hitting running dropkicks a la Daniel Bryan before Sheamus bulls out of the corner, laying the Miz out. A distraction to the referee from Sheamus allows Cesaro to catch the Miz with a cheap shot, but Shane McMahon is up on that apron in a trice, unwilling to let such an insult go unanswered; he throws Cesaro right through the cake! And the table that the cake was on! Miz rolls up a distracted Sheamus, getting the win!
Weird choice of a main event, considering all the amazing stuff that’s planned for Royal Rumble. Still watchable. 2 Stars.
Sheamus assaults the Miz after the match, but Shane is there to make the save, allowing the Miz to hit the Skull-Crushing Finale. They set Sheamus up for the Leap of Faith, with the cake in front of Sheamus’ face. Shane hits the Coast to Cake, and I fondly remember the halcyon days of the Tag Team Championships: the Usos, the New Day, the Bludgeon Brothers. It was the best of times; this is the worst of times.