Only a few days to go until Royal Rumble and we get to see how the land lies moving forward. If there’s not an extended sequence of dudes and dudettes hurling each other over the top rope tonight, I will be bitterly disappointed.
On with the show.
Asuka’s badass decay seems to be still in full effect
And, once again, the night kicks off with Becky Lynch, though without a repeat of last week’s massive car and disgusting smoothie antics. Probably best that they put a lid on that early, or they’d be forced to escalate things to the point where she’s repeatedly headbutting Kayla Braxton and stomping badgers to death before coming to the ring.
The crowd’s definitely in Becky’s corner, and she says that whilst the best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentations of their women, tonight she’s here to talk. Because like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, since her recent surge of success, Becky’s had to deal with people telling her how she should be acting. The only difference is, Becky gets to respond to those suggestions with a quick right hand to the face and then going to WrestleMania. And seeing as how she’s not in the Royal Rumble, she’s going to need the Women’s Championship to do it.
Lynch says that Asuka is one of the best in the world, but still second fiddle to her. She rips into Asuka’s tainted win at TLC, deriding her for not being dissatisfied with her manner of victory. Like every other woman in the locker room, Asuka’s been able to ride Lynch’s coattails to prominence. Before Becky can outline her plans to reduce Asuka to a smoking crater in the ring, the Empress of Tomorrow makes her entrance.
IIconics, if you have a thimbleful of sense, you’ll stay the hell away from ringside this time.
Asuka starts of by yelling in Japanese at Becky, which is clearly the best way to make herself understood. And then Charlotte Flair interrupts, because the Women’s Championship and/or Becky Lynch has been in the ring for a certain period of time without anyone mentioning her name. Charlotte declares her intention to win the Royal Rumble in what I promise is going to be a big theme of tonight. She runs through her possible opponents when she does win, noting that she’s beaten Sasha a bunch of times, beaten the hell out of Ronda, broke Asuka’s streak and…shut up, Becky.
With Becky distracted by Charlotte, Asuka jumps her out of nowhere. Lynch is having fucking none of it, answering with a flurry of fists into Asuka’s face. Referees and security arrive, trying to keep the two women apart with tissue-strength restraint and appeals to their better nature. Joke’s on them, because Becky is beyond your simple moral constructs and Asuka doesn’t understand a word you’re saying. Both ladies brawl, with the Women’s Champion getting tossed over the announce table before Becky just continues to beat her to death in a visual example of the lesson “start shit, get hit”.
And after the break, Becky and Asuka are still fighting backstage. Not shown are Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, looking awkward at their designated brawl spot for the night being taken from them without any form of warning.
As the victim of sexual harassment, it feels like Jimmy should get to fight Mandy
We get a look at Mandy Rose trying to make Naomi’s life miserable by being a whore, because God knows the only way she could hurt anyone with her wrestling skills is by making them watch footage of her wrestling. Not sure quite why this segment needed a laviscious female voice narrating it, because every second of this was as unnatural and stilted as the opening few minutes of porn.
Naomi arrives to defend her husband’s honour and, more importantly, to put two bullets in the head of this feud before it reproduces a shoot-off programme. Mandy makes her entrance, promptly sending Corey Graves into the embrace of pure sexual ecstasy and, more immediately, causing him to start wanking himself off at the commentary table.
Both out of desire to murder her very recent nemesis and a need to get away from Graves’ frenzied self-abuse, Naomi runs out of the ring and dives onto Mandy, hitting Sonya in the face just in case her sexual orientation is also part of this dastardly, dumb plan. Naomi ill-advisedly throws Mandy into the ring so that this match can unfortunately start. Rose hits Naomi with a slap before she’s beaten out of the ring and into a commercial break.
When we come back, the match is still going on. Oh joy. Mandy has managed to take control of the situation, punching away at Naomi in the corner. Naomi manages to catch Rose with a kick to the head and then hits her own volley of punches before scoring with a hurricanrana. Naomi’s sent out onto the apron, shoves Mandy into the ref, gets distracted by Sonya grabbing her foot and then gets her head Mustafa-Ali’d into the ring post, allowing Mandy to get the win.
This was technically better than the actual build to this match, but we didn’t deserve any of this. 1.5 Stars.
Oh, and then Jimmy arrives to comfort his wife. Does this make Naomi the real winner? Who knows? And, honestly, who cares?
Rey Mysterio is here to talk about winning the Royal Rumble thirteen years ago, and that sentence alone tells you what I think of his chances. He’s got a match against Andrade tonight, two out of three falls, with Zelina Vega banned from ringside.
I remember when I was happy to see Shane
Oh good: Shane and the Miz. Beat still my heart. Apparently the Miz is taking on Cesaro, so I guess I have to grudgingly appreciate the actual match itself.
Unless they find some way to make this stupid.
They’ll probably find some way to make this stupid.
The Bar arrive, and before the match begins we’re shown footage of last week’s horrifying affront to God and man. Cesaro then uppercuts the Miz again and again in a visual metaphor for how I feel about this feud. Miz eats a suplex, shoots Cesaro off the ropes before being caught out of mid-air with a backbreaker. The Miz manages to score a few kicks to Cesaro’s legs, then is actually able to apply the Figure Four. Sheamus drags Cesaro out of the ring, who is able to deck the Miz when he follows him out.
After a break, the Miz is kicking away at a cornered Cesaro before hitting the running dropkicks and a corner clothesline. He heads up high, but launches himself right into another uppercut. Cesaro goes for a pin with his feet on the ropes, but Shane shoves them back off, prompting Sheamus to throw him into the barricade. Miz tries for the Skull-Crushing Finale, but gets tossed into the ropes. A cheap shot from Sheamus allows the Neutraliser to strike, netting Cesaro the win.
I have managed to separate myself from my ability to care about this. 1.5 Stars.
After the match, Shane knocks Sheamus into the steel steps, then hammers away at Cesaro before throwing him into the ring post. Shane McMahon just took out both your Tag Team Champions. I’m glad the New Day, Usos and Bludgeon Brothers don’t hold the belts right now.
Shane wants to hit a Leap of Faith to Cesaro through the table, but Sheamus interrupts, taking out the Miz before blasting Shane with a Brogue Kick. And you know what? Good. Actual wrestlers have the advantage in a wrestling scenario. It’s about time. They put Miz on the table and slam Shane onto him, breaking through the table. Okay, 1) that was pretty metal. 2) Fucking good.
We get another recap of last week’s events, featuring Samoa Joe giving every single one of Mustafa Ali’s descendants concussions forever. Ali talks about his past as a cop – another hint that he might actually be a fucking superhero – and says that he learned about what a man’s eyes say. So…if that’s true, then why didn’t Ali get the fuck out of dodge last week?
Also, I really hope that this means Mustafa Ali’s going to revert to his cop instincts and shoot Samoa Joe for just standing there. He’d never see it coming.
There’s a fair chance that Vince didn’t understand a word Bryan said
Here’s Mr McMahon, here to moderate a face-to-face between two men who’ve been decking the shit out of each other for the past several weeks. He’s going to die out there. He introduces Styles, the man who’s attacked him in the recent past, and then Daniel Bryan, the man who’s attacked everyone in the recent past. Again: Vince McMahon. Going to die.
Bryan doesn’t want to get in the ring, refusing to get anywhere near a sociopath. He could be talking about Vince or AJ, but he means Styles. He lets loose on another rant about the evils of fast foods, which will only gain more power if AJ Styles is World Champion. It’s like these guys think that being Champion allows them to influence events and decide policy rather than having to hold a big chunk of metal and leather that tells them they’re just as good as Jinder Mahal.
Bryan says he uses his power for the greater good, prompting Styles to repeat “the greater good” in an unintentional yet brilliant homage to Hot Fuzz. We go through this whole “wrestlers discuss personal philosophies and morality” thing, just counting down to the point when these two start hitting each other. AJ claims that taking a plane rather than a bicycle across country makes Bryan a hypocrite, which is actually something I could imagine the current administration claiming about environmentalists.
Finally, Vince gets sick of this shit and demands that Bryan get in the ring. Principles, meet gainful employment. Bryan claims that Vince is a parasite, which seems like an “oooooh” moment until you remember that Kevin Owens once beat the fuck out of McMahon because he felt like it. Bryan blisters Vince with an admittedly-justifiable speech lambasting baby boomers, although apparently AJ Styles is part of the problem too, making him a…generation traitor, I guess? Honestly, wrestling is what I use to forget politics and climate-related existential dread, so being confronted by them here is a bit of a downer.
Vince once again demands that Bryan get in the ring, but AJ decides to just run out after him and beat him to death. He batters Bryan all around the ring, then tosses him back in for a Phenomenal Forearm. Daniel uses Vince as a human shield, using AJ’s momentary hesitation to blast him with the Running Knee. Styles is laid out, Bryan is overjoyed, Vince is bemused.
Backstage, R-Truth and Carmella are planning their ascension to the main events of WrestleMania. That alone should qualify them for admission into a medical health facility.
Carmella then spots Charlotte, mocking her for believing that she can win a Royal Rumble when she’s never taken been part of one. Yeah, but…she’s been in battle royals, right? It’s almost entirely the same thing. Charlotte promises to win the Rumble again, which is all you really have to say on this show.
Samoa Joe will not be detained
Here’s Samoa Joe, ready to either face retribution at the hands of Mustafa Ali or deliver another all-you-can-eat head injury buffet. Ali shows up, because he’s either a brave young man or Joe killed the part of his brain that feels fear.
The bell rings, and Joe starts off with a flurry of strikes, knocking Ali right out of the ring. A chop sends Ali staggering back up the entrance ramp, and Joe tries to reunite the cruiserweight’s skull with its old friend, the ring post. Ali manages to avoid brain damage, instead vaulting to the top rope and hurling himself back down at Samoa Joe.
Ali bundles Joe back into the ring, capitalising with a quick dropkick to the face. He fires off some shots at the larger man, but another chop drops him to the mat. Joe resumes his assault, even countering Ali’s attempt to take advantage of a missed charge, dropping him out to the floor as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Joe is still in firm control. Ali tries to muster up some defiance, but the Samoan’s power is unrelenting. He dodges another charge from Joe, this time hitting a big-time facebuster. He follows up with dropkicks, forcing Samoa Joe into retreat, and then hurls himself through the ropes at his opponent. The assault continues on the outside, with Ali’s agility allowing him to fox Joe each time.
A volley of superkicks and a tornado DDT back in the ring almost gives Ali the victory, then he heads up for the 054. Joe catches him heading up to the top, locking in the Clutch. Ali fights for an instant, and then submits.
Glad we got to a see the match. Gutsy performance from Ali, though I was assuming Joe would triumph. Hopefully a sign of Mustafa’s continuing ascendancy. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, the New Day are watching previous Royal Rumbles – the first time I’ve ever seen a wrestler look through tapes in preparation for a match, actually. Braxton arrives to ask them if they’re willing to eliminate each other, to which the answer is “well…yeah”.
I got a fever, and the only prescription is more powerbombs
It’s a repeat, but who gives a damn: we’re getting Andrade vs. Mysterio again. Two out of three falls with Vega barred from ringside, which robs us of the chance to see her and Andrade posing together but I’ll survive.
Mysterio and Andrade make their way to the ring, and the bell rings. Andrade starts off aggressively, trying to bull through Mysterio. Rey fights back, hitting Andrade with a headscissors takedown inside the ring and a hurricanrana on the outside! After a break, Andrade is in control, elevating Rey onto the apron before catching a massive kick to the head from the masked man.
Rey springboards himself at Andrade with a seated senton, but a second springboard attempt sees Andrade catch him with a lightning-fast dropkick. El Idolo wants the hammerlock DDT, but finds himself getting flipped into a cover by Mysterio. Turnabout’s fair play as Andrade counters into a cover of his own, and an impact into the corner sees Rey’s knee get taken out.
Mysterio is still able to catch Andrade up top, climbing up with him. They struggle for control, with Andrade blocking Rey’s top rope hurricanrana, hitting a top rope sit-out powerbomb for the first fall!
It takes Rey some time to recover, and Andrade hits a second sit-out powerbomb, rebounding Mysterio off the ropes for added momentum. A third powerbomb sees a counter by Rey spike Andrade directly onto his head, netting Mysterio the second fall and possibly a manslaughter charge.
After a break, with both men at one fall apiece, Andrade charges at Rey but crashes and burns on the outside. Mysterio has to recover for a moment, but tries to slide out of the ring into Andrade, almost getting caught in a hammerlock before he’s able to fight the larger man off. An enzuigiri fucks Andrade’s shit up sufficiently for Rey to get back into the ring, slide out over Andrade and sunset flip powerbomb him directly into the barricade!
Mysterio tosses Andrade back into the ring, springboarding onto Andrade and hitting the West Coast Pop! I thought we’d never see that again! Andrade, with no respect for history, kicks out again, then locks an armbar onto Rey over the ropes out of nowhere! He hurls Mysterio shoulder-first into the corner before mocking Eddie Guerrero, the fool. Did he not see WrestleMania 22? Mocking Eddie’s memory only makes Rey stronger.
Rey elevates Andrade onto the apron, goes for a sunset flip powerbomb onto the floor, but Andrade backflips out onto his feet and powerbombs Rey directly into the ring post! He throws Mysterio back into the ring, hitting the Hammerlock DDT only for Rey to get a foot on the bottom rope! Andrade quickly applies an armbar, presumably to buy himself time to think about what the fuck to do now.
Mysterio’s stuck in the centre of the ring with nowhere to go. He scrambles towards the bottom rope, forcing Andrade to reposition himself and allowing Mysterio to counter. He tries to roll Andrade up off a springboard, but botches the execution a little, and Andrade kicks out of the pin. Andrade takes Rey up on his shoulders, and Mysterio just spikes his skull all over again. It’s like Rey and Samoa Joe are competing to see who can cause the most concussions in a fortnight.
A hurricanrana takes Andrade into the ropes and the 619 strikes! Rey goes for the springboard, but Samoa Joe suddenly grabs him and powerbombs him! DQ!
Well, that came out of nowhere and I’m even okay with it. This match was insane and the ending was justified and, more importantly, makes Joe look like a badass. 5 Stars.
Samoa Joe hurls Andrade into the corner, then Clutches Mysterio into unconsciousness. He grabs a microphone and tells everyone that he’s here to make a statement and he promises to mete out the same punishment to everyone in the Royal Rumble…and suddenly he gets RKO’d by Randy Orton. Hands up everyone who thought that he was dead.
Tags: AJ Styles, Andrade, Asuka, Becky Lynch, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Lana, Mandy Rose, Mustafa Ali, naomi, Randy Orton, rusev, Samoa Joe, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Bar, The Miz, VInce McMahon, WWE