WrestleMania is just too long. I can appreciate a show long enough to drink multiple cocktails during, but a five hour main show plus a pre-show is still a major ask, and the rate at which I can put away the booze means that things get pretty foggy by the time Finn and Lashley got started. Still, there were some good moments: Seth and Brock right at the buzzer, Kofi’s first World Championship, Cena’s surprise return and Becky getting the win. Sure, Baron Corbin/Kurt Angle was reason enough for multiple cocktails all by itself, but it’s not like anyone was expecting either of them to put on a good show.
Still, it’s not like WWE to let the grass grow under its feet. It’s a new wrestling year, and there’s a grand selection of Champions to base feuds around. We can all just stick our fingers in our ears and pretend that Shane McMahon and the Miz ended on Sunday.
It’s like WWE has fond memories of the League of Nations that no-one else does
Of course, the New Day starts things off. I’ll admit to being Chris Benoit levels of angry about the title vs. title ooh wait now it’s a tag team match bait and switch, so I’ll be happy if we can just have a straightforward, teaseless case of events. It’s like WWE realised they’d been making everyone far too happy, so decided to let us know that we can go back to eating shit for a few months.
Big E and Xavier give Kofi a bombastic introduction, and the evil part of my brain is thinking that this would be the most amazing possible time for a Kingston heel turn. The trio clown around and display Big E’s goddamn obscene flexibility, then say that Kofi came so close last night to becoming a dual Champion. But rather than forming up a lynch mob, hunting down the Bar and proving that reverse racism can absolutely exist if you try hard enough, they’re being magnanimous and simply using this moment to celebrate Kofi Kingston’s career. I have to say, I respect wrestlers who start off their Championship reigns with bloodbath, like Machiavelli would have wanted.
Kofi finally takes up a microphone and describes this as an impossible moment. No-one has yet thanked Mustafa Ali for getting injured prior to Elimination Chamber, and I’d love it if that led to a Kofi/Mustafa Championship match. But instead, Kingston thanks his kids and his fine-looking wife, and then the Bar show up. I know I keep saying I want to see Cesaro in a World Championship storyline, but not like this: never like this.
Sheamus claims that they saved Kofi from losing his title last night, and that he should thank them. The crowd chants at Sheamus to “shut the fuck up”, which is a beautiful little moment, and then Cesaro suggests that they should all have a six-man tag match. Christ, you can take Teddy Long out of SmackDown, but until you burn some sage and have the Pope perform a fucking exorcism, the tag team matches remain, playa. And I guess Shane is too busy still trying to ruin WrestleMania to come out here and put a stop to this, because the Bar introduce their partner: please God, not the Big Show.
Oh damn, it’s Drew McIntyre. We’re a Mexican away from an acceptable League of Nations knock-off. I mean, “acceptable” is a word I try not to use to describe the League of Nations, and neither is the phrase “wow, I’d rather watch this match than kill myself”.
I’d happily review Bobby Lashley matches if it meant RAW had to take Randy Orton
Good: here’s Aleister Black, the Dutch palate-cleanser, which sounds tremendously like a sex move. And this is…to be another six-man tag team match? Christ, it’s not WrestleMania anymore; we don’t have to make sure everyone’s on the card. This match is Black, Ricochet and Ali vs. Rusev, Shinsuke and Andrade. So…three fan favourites vs. three foreign heels, one of which was in the original League of Nations. Something about that feels so damn familiar; if only I could put my fucking finger on it.
Well, this match isn’t going to be too closely reviewed, because I feel like I’ve seen it or some quasi-identical iteration of it approximately 87,482 times. That’s more times than I’ve watched Casablanca, and I love Casablanca more than some of my own family. At least the crowd’s nice and hot, singing Nakamura’s theme tune, I assume because it’s better than watching this match. They also chant “NXT”, which technically encompasses everyone in and around the ring except for Charles Robinson, who came into WWE via their purchase of WCW, and who therefore is more likely to win the WWE Championship than anyone actually wrestling in this match.
Anyway, Ricochet’s flipping around the room like the mat is lava and kicking Shinsuke in the face like he’s an abusive parent. Rusev tags in for a few kicks, then tags back out to Nakamura for a double-team, then Andrade enters the match: it’s frequent tag city, which is great tactics but a bugger to write about. The quick tag epidemic finally settles down, with Nakamura applying a facelock to Ricochet for thirty seconds before tagging back out again. God almighty.
Ricochet finally scores with a neckbreaker to rid himself of Rusev’s loving smacks to the face, tagging in Mustafa Ali, who instantly brings in Black for some frequent face tags and a double team that sends Rusev out of the ring. Black clears the rest of the ring, then feigns jumping out onto them before sinking down to the mat, legs crossed, with Ali and Ricochet doing the same. I do love that spot.
After a lengthy break, Rusev has Mustafa Ali in a bearhug. Ali, for some reason, struggles out of the warm, safe embrace of those thick, meaty arms, and Rusev shows how much that hurts him by clotheslining Ali’s fucking head off. Mustafa rallies, hitting a tornado DDT that looks like it wiped out most of Rusev’s childhood memories, but most of them would be from Bulgaria in the 1980s, so that’s probably merciful. Black and Andrade both tag in, reminding us all of happier times. Black kicks the fuck out of Andrade, because one of them got a push and the other didn’t, and then the heels pile into the ring only to be scattered by Ricochet, who pursues them out of the ring, taking out Rusev before Nakamura gets him right in the head with the Kinshasa.
Aleister rocks Shinsuke’s world with Black Mass, but then gets distracted by his wife. I can’t even criticise, as I’d get distracted by Zelina Vega at the best of times. Andrade staggers Black with a back elbow, but Ali tags in, hitting a vicious spike-rana before the 450 splash takes out Andrade.
I’m glad that Ali got a win, but wish it had been against anyone except Andrade. 2 Stars.
And then Randy Orton RKOs Ali out of nowhere, and Kevin Owens shows up and stuns Rusev. I’ve no idea what the point of that was except “don’t forget about these two”, which is a pretty sad thing to be pushed to.
The Usos are backstage, being interviewed about putting their Championships on the line against the Hardy Boyz tonight. I’d like to think that WWE wouldn’t put the straps on the Hardys because it’d be fucking ludicrous, but when has that ever stopped this gang of psychopaths from doing anything? They say that this is about proving which duo are the better brothers, and I’ll say it’s the ones without the drug problem and the habit of posting weird shit on Twitter and making people think you’re going to kill yourself.
Shut up and take my money
Carmella and R-Truth are in the ring, giving a summary of WrestleMania in case you didn’t watch it. Carmella starts talking about how the Women’s Battle Royal victory is the start of some big things for her, like she’s never watched WWE before.
Samoa Joe comes out, and after a brief tussle, he chokes out R-Truth. Finally, something I’m not vaguely irritated about. He’s here to put everyone on notice, saying that he beat Rey Mysterio in less than one minute and he might just do it in less next time.
Oh damn: Braun Strowman shows up and storms the ring! Joe doesn’t back down, and he manages to apply the Clutch on Braun! Strowman almost succumbs, but then he powers out, almost bodyslamming Joe before the United States Champion slips away, managing to escape. I am extremely ready for this feud.
And then the IIconics interrupt Braun’s celebration. After watching some pretty amusing footage of them showing literally everyone their new Championships backstage, I’m absolutely fine with them holding the belts if it means we get a few months of that sort of thing. Apparently they’re defending their titles tonight as well; maybe that’ll get derailed and turn into a singles match.
I’d have used the name “Belles of the Brooklyn Brawl”, but sure
The IIconics bask noisily in their victory, promising that they’re going to be fighting Champions, defending them any time, anywhere against any tag team. They’ve arranged their own match tonight, and it’s against two women I literally didn’t realise were in the ring until they were pointed out. Apparently these two women are called “The Brooklyn Belles”, and the IIconics predictably put the boots to them.
We’re shown Paige watching backstage on a monitor like it’s a Kofi Kingston match, which is usually only done by active wrestlers. Meanwhile, the sacrifice of the Brooklyn Belles continue, as the IIconics finally get to bully people physically as well as emotionally. A double-team involving a hard knee to the head puts an end to the Brooklyn Belles’ Championship dreams.
It was pretty novel to see the IIconics look dominant, so I’m minded to look upon this – one of tonight’s four fucking tag team matches – more kindly than I will the others. 1.5 Stars.
Kayla intercepts Paige, asking whether she’s aware that she can’t wrestle anymore. Paige promises to bring a tag team of her own to challenge for the titles. If it’s Absolution, this storyline gets a point for basic continuity, and another point if they go back to being called “Absolution” instead of “Fire and Desire”. And a third point if Paige learns a British accent that doesn’t sound like Dick Van Dyke playing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.
It’s at this point that I started hitting myself quite hard in the face
Oh Christ, it’s Shane McMahon. I’ve never been more happy not to be 100% sober than I was during the entirety of this stupid fucking match with its stupid fucking result, but even heroin and bath salts wouldn’t be enough to completely dull the pain of it. Shane talks, and I’m honestly not even paying attention to any of this. It probably makes me a bad reviewer, but I’d argue that it’s also not making me a serial killer.
Apparently Mr Miz blacked Shane’s eye; it’s not reason enough to have the match, but knowing that someone actually got hurt as a result has actually made me feel better about it in retrospect. Shane then invites Greg Hamilton into the ring, and I would be perfectly happy if we were about to see a ring announcer bludgeon Shane into a coma with the Best In The World trophy. Considering we watched Shane McMahon beat an actual wrestler on Sunday, it’s hardly unrealistic.
It transpires that some WWE fans threatened the ring announcer if he used the phrase “Best in the World” tonight, and I’ve just about reached my stupidity limit for this whole show. We go through the usual rigmarole with Shane not being happy with Hamilton’s announcing abilities, finally dragging him out of the ring and out of the arena by his tie. It’s like Fifty Shades of Gray only somehow worse. The fact that Hamilton hasn’t kicked Shane in the dick yet has made me lose all respect for him as a human being.
Well…that was utterly pointless. Seems like a theme tonight.
And here is where I legitimately give up
Time for, yes, another tag team match. I’ve already lost all enthusiasm for this show; I could be watching Line of Duty or hitting myself repeatedly in the testicles instead, because then at least I would feel something. It’s the Usos vs. the Hardys, and if the Hardy Boyz win this, I might just finish the rest of this review as bullet points. Apart from Strowman and Samoa Joe tangling for one minute, this show has been worthless.
The Hardys seize the advantage to open up, but the Usos manage to drive Jeff, who I’m too apathetic to even make addiction jokes about today, into their corner. The Hardys manage to take control again until the Usos manage to plant Matt with a Samoan Drop. Matt gets smacked around on the outside, then is brought back into the ring to continue to get worked over as the Usos make frequent tags as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, one of the Usos has just kicked Matt in the head, and now they’re taking on Jeff. Jimmy misses a corkscrew moonsault, followed by Jeff hitting the Whisper in the Wind, and the Hardys hit Poetry in Motion, followed by the Side Effect. A Twist of Fate is countered into a superkick, and then Jeff gets superkicked as well before Jey splashes him, with Jeff only just kicking out. I have a bad feeling about this.
Both Usos head up to the top, with Matt providing enough of a distraction for Jeff to get out of the way and the Usos to crash and burn. Matt’s Twist of Fate is countered again, with Jeff getting a blind tag. The Twist of Fate connects, as does the Swanton Bomb. The Hardy Boyz are the Tag Team Champions, because apparently it’s the nineties again.
Fuck this shit; I’m out. 1.5 Stars.
Well, I made my threat in jest, but I’m sufficiently hacked off with this show that I want this over with as soon as possible. The rest of this review will take the form of bullet points.
- Lars Sullivan wipes out both Hardy Boyz, which I would have appreciated about ten minutes ago.
- Sullivan is like my feelings towards the result of this match achieved some form of physical resistance with a gross body and stupid facial hair.
- Becky is giving me Randy “Two Belts” Orton flashbacks, although at least she wears them in a way that doesn’t make me suspect that she has a developmental disability.
- The recap of the match really doesn’t draw attention to the Ronda shoulder fuck-up, and I’m perfectly happy to move past that than waste time with some “tainted win” shit.
- I realised that I was unconsciously counting down to Charlotte interrupting this promo a few seconds after Becky grabbed the microphone.
- Lacey Evans actually doing something on Monday was the biggest swerve of this week.
- Charlotte didn’t show up to make this whole thing about her. I can only assume that she died on the helicopter ride from the arena.
- I’ll admit that when a blonde woman rushed Becky, I immediately guessed that it was Charlotte. But nope: Lacey Evans is really pushing herself this week.
- So, we know that Lacey Evans can throw a punch. She’s more talented than Nia Jax, but then so was Bret Hart when he was half-paralysed from his stroke.
- The phrase “Sassy Southern Belle” seems to me like a diplomatic way of saying “racist as fuck”.
- I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Sami Zayn’s music, and how much I enjoy it when the crowd keeps singing it.
- Lacey Evans’ important duty of walking onto the ramp and instantly leaving has been taken over by Sami.
- “WWE Champion Kofi Kingston” is going to take a few weeks to get used to. I wonder if we’ll have that chance.
- I can remember once genuinely enjoying watching the Bar wrestle, so why do I now view them as the sports entertainment equivalent of valium?
- If Kofi can get a shot at the WWE Championship, then surely we can fit Cesaro in for a title match at some stage.
- I only hope Kofi doesn’t get the Rey Mysterio treatment post-Mania. At least Mark Henry and the Great Khali aren’t employed anymore.
- That was a dominant win from the New Day. I guess when your Championship reign isn’t dependent on Eddie Guerrero dying, things are easier for you.
- If we’re doing Rey Mysterio/Kofi Kingston parallels, can we at least get Kofi to wager one of his kids in a ladder match?
- This was a SmackDown Live that oscillated between dull repetition and truly bad content, with the one bright spot of Joe and Braun going all King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Tags: Aleister Black, Andrade, Becky Lynch, Braun Strowman, Carmella, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Drew McIntyre, Hardy Boyz, Kofi Kingston, Lacey Evans, Lars Sullivan, Mustafa Ali, R-Truth, Ricochet, rusev, Samoa Joe, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Bar, The Miz, The New Day, the usos, WWE