Well, Andrade’s no longer on SmackDown Live as of last night, so at least know that I’ll be typing this review with two hands from now on.
We get a brief recap of the picks from Monday night, in case you have the memory of a goldfish or had heard the phrase “Viking Experience” and tried to drown your sorrows with a glass of bleach.
This audience really pops for bilingualism
Oh good: the Kevin Owens Show. Fans of mild, stilted comedy everywhere are thrilled. Owens drinks in the crowd’s approval like its Mr Miz’s parental love, then speaks to his people in French. It’s a surprisingly cultured sound coming from someone with that beard and haircut. He hints at the “biggest acquisition in the history of SmackDown Live”, just to make absolutely sure that our expectations are lowered accordingly.
Kevin Owens’ guest is Kofi Kingston, who everyone backstage is still treating like Jesus. I love Kofi, and I’m glad that he’s World Champion, but his 100% approval rating amongst his fellow wrestlers to the point where they mention him during unrelated promos makes it feel like the man’s started a cult. Xavier Woods is with him, but Big E’s out with an injury. He’d better be recording a lot of intros for the next couple of weeks.
Owens recaps WrestleMania for anyone who watched the Shane/Miz match and then drowned their sorrows with a glass of bleach, then congratulates Kingston. If I was Kofi, I’d be feeling uncomfortable with how fucking nice everyone was being to me. At least Sheamus and Cesaro’s feelings towards him seem genuine, if mildly racist. They mention Big E’s injury and then reveal that Kofi and Woods are going to have a tag team match tonight against Rusev and Nakamura. Christ, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Owens offers his services to the New Day in order to make this tag team match a six-man tag match (OH, WHAT A RARE TREAT), using the name “Big O”. This degenerates into Kevin Owens rotating his groin at Woods and Kingston, which is the kind of quality writing I’ve come to expect from this show, and Kevin Owens becomes a stand-in member of the New Day. It’s like becoming a temporary member of the Shield only worse and a fair bit louder.
Shinsuke and Rusev are watching this on a monitor backstage, and then Cesaro shows up to suggest that he join them tonight to create yet another iteration of the Latter Day League of Nations. I am angry about the fact that Cesaro, Nakamura and (to a lesser extent) Rusev currently arouse feelings of total apathy in me, and that anger at my own reaction is the closest thing to an actual emotion I can summon up when it comes to them.
Maybe now Finn can get a push
But then Finn Balor shows up, bringing with him his perfect abs and, less importantly, the Intercontinental Championship. When I talked about replacement eye-candy as reparations for the loss of Andrade, I was thinking about someone more Liv Morgan-shaped, but Finn’s good too.
And he’s facing Mustafa Ali tonight, so enjoy this before we plunge into done-to-death six-man tag matches and the Hardy Boyz being Tag Team Fucking Champions.
Finn and Ali engage in some respectful face vs. face grapple-and-counter, with Ali giving Balor a tough test in the opening moments. The crowd seems split on which adorable man they like better as Finn takes control with a hard back elbow then takes Ali to the mat, controlling the left arm. I’m slightly pro-Ali, because I ate a chocolate brownie yesterday, and I don’t like how guilty Finn’s body makes me feel about that.
Ali hurricanranas Balor, who clearly thinks he’s wrestling Rey Mysterio, because he almost sets himself for the 619, then realises his mistake and hurls himself onto the floor in time for Ali to leap right out onto him before the commercial break. Post-ad break, Finn has managed to regain control and is currently punishing Ali for his cruiserweight crimes with some knife-edge chops. Ali staggers Balor with a kick to the skull, then rolls through the ropes to blast his opponent with a facebuster.
Ali delivers some chops of his own, but Finn ain’t having that; he fells Mustafa with a slingblade, but then runs right the fuck into a superkick that looks like it even gave Demon Finn brain damage. Balor tries to fight his way back into it, foiling a tornado DDT before slamming two boots into Ali’s chest.
Finn goes up high, but that’s the house that Mustafa Ali throws himself off, and he brings Balor down with a super hurricanrana for a near fall. The 450 splash misses, with Finn hitting a running dropkick and, having learned nothing from ten seconds before, heading up to the top again. The Coup de Grâce, even more powerful for being performed in a French-speaking nation, gives Finn the victory.
Ali and Finn both looked good here, and it makes sense for Balor to pick up the win after the loss to Andrade on the way out. Also, if you bake chocolate brownies yourself, it seems only fair that they should contain zero calories. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, the New Day is on a Kevin Owens hunt. They find him, and say that it’s time for his initiation. The fact that Kofi Kingston is holding a plate of pancakes and my own time at a British private school makes the word “initiation” seem horribly suggestive.
But apparently Kevin gets to eat the pancake without the three of them having to jizz on it first, which is damned decent of the New Day. In fact, Kevin Owens gets to eat literally all the pancakes, nary an hour before he takes part in a six-man tag match. I’ll never work out how the New Day were Tag Team Champions so many times if this is their pre-match ritual; I’d literally be shitting myself after every Samoan drop.
Kevin quite rightly protests, but is talked into it so fast that I’m worried about how easily he’d have been persuaded to take part in a round of Soggy Pancake. Maybe Kofi really is a cult leader; he’s certainly a better one than Bray Wyatt ever was.
You just know Randy Orton ate jizz during his time at the Wyatt Compound as a sleeper hold agent. Even more than he usually ate, I mean.
Lars Sullivan is your angry Amish god
Anyway, here’s Carmella, accompanied by R-Truth. She’s here facing Charlotte, who I guess needs to get some self-respect back by beating the fuck out of someone. I’m still trying to find out how much hiring that helicopter set her back financially, although not very strenuously because I don’t really care.
Charlotte starts off aggressively, then yells that she “hates Canada”. That is some lazy heat. Carmella, apparently a pro-Canada kinda gal, kicks Charlotte out of the ring for daring to besmirch the Great White North. They brawl at ringside, with the Staten Island (but Canada-positive) Princess getting slammed into the barricade. She recovers, however, diving onto Charlotte before bundling her back into the ring.
Carmella gets her tits slapped a whole bunch before she throws Charlotte face-first into the turnbuckle and hits her with the bronco buster. Charlotte manages to counter a second charge, elevating Carmella out onto the apron before booting her into a commercial break.
When we come back, Charlotte is in full control, mocking Carmella, who counters an exploder suplex, dragging the Queen down to the mat. She gets tossed onto the apron again, and this time Charlotte drags her leg down onto the rope, hobbling her. Carmella still fights back on the outside, however, even scoring a superkick. Back in the ring, her leg slows her down for long enough that Charlotte can take out the leg and apply the Figure Eight for the tap-out.
Nice to see that winning the Women’s Battle Royal is still worth nothing. 2 Stars.
Lars Sullivan suddenly arrives, striding menacingly towards the ring as R-Truth tends to Carmella. Looks like the ugly bastard isn’t only going after legends, unless the definition has radically changed. Maybe being attacked by Lars Sullivan means that you’ll one day be in the Hall of Fame, like an extremely violent vote of confidence. Or maybe, like ninety-nine percent of WWE programming, I’m thinking too deeply into this.
R-Truth gets in Sullivan’s face, which is brave both because Lars is hideous and also because Truth is going to get fucking murdered for it. Fucking murder commences but, give him his due, the man who once got taken out by Nia Jax gives it his all, before falling to Lars Sullivan like…
Well, like a man who once got taken out by Nia Jax.
And then Lars turns his beady little eyes onto Carmella. I’ll admit, there have been worse set-ups for a James Ellsworth run-in. The budding rapist approaches her slowly, just in case anyone backstage feels like throwing their lives away for the Staten Island Princess…and then he just lets her leave the ring without any issue. Call it insanity or mind games if you want; I’ll stick to “bad writing”.
Lars does then flatten R-Truth again, this time with a running sit-out powerbomb, but it’s pretty colourless so soon after an attempted rape or murder was dangled in front of us like that.
I’m amazed there was a women’s segment without Charlotte Flair
Here’s Becky Lynch, who tonight has resorted to the Randy Orton method of carrying two belts. They never learn. She says that the Superstar Shake-Up has really caught her attention, which is more than I can say it’s done for me. Becky tells everyone that she knows that Lacey Evans is the first one in her path, but after that it’s going to be open season on literally everyone.
Ember Moon interrupts Becky. She’s the latest SmackDown Live draft pick, and she’s here to fight rather than to be underutilised and ignored like the entirety of her time on RAW. It looks like she and Becky are about to have themselves a scrap before Bayley makes her entrance, earning some boos from the Montreal crowd. Did I miss something? Did she screw Bret too? The former Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection member says that it’s been a while since she and Becky have seen each other and that things have changed for both of them. More for Becky than Bayley, but it’s still mostly accurate. Bayley mentions being the first ever Women’s Tag Team Champions, because a story which ends with the phrase “then we got beaten by the IIconics” is a fantastic way to talk yourself up.
And the IIconics show up too, because there are a bunch of women in the ring who aren’t being insulted and there’s such a thing as standards. They mock Bayley, which gets them a pop from a crowd who, I’m forced to assume, really don’t like hugging.
Oh, and here’s Paige, just when I thought the IIconics had fulfilled the stupid accent quota. Luckily, Fire and Desire cut her off, with the rest of the audio being drowned out by Graves being physically restrained by Saxton and Phillips as he screams like a baboon. But it turns out Paige wasn’t out here with her terrible voice and absurd shade of lipstick to reform Absolution; she’s here to represent the team of Asuka and Kairi Sane. Poor Asuka: lost the Championship, lost the Battle Royal, and now she’s part of a tag team. All that’s left is the formation of a female League of Nations knock-off for her to join, and she’ll have done the full Shinsuke Nakamura.
Sky Pirates 2.0 or the Kamikazes or the Japanese Experience or whatever they’ll be called now storm the ring, kicking off a brawl as Becky watches with vague interest. After commercial break, the IIconics and Fire and Desire are having an eight-woman tag team match, facing Ember Moon, Bayley and Team Paige’s Vicarious Dreams of Wrestling Again.
Bayley has control of Sonya, then tags in Asuka for some hard strike action. DeVille manages to get the better of Asuka, tagging in Mandy so that we can all wonder just who the hell gave that woman a title shot. Asuka counters a bodyslam, tagging in Kairi Sane to a decent pop. Bayley disposes of The Artists Formerly known of Absolution and dives out of the ring on top of them, then Ember Moon does the same thing to all four heels as we go to another commercial break.
When we come back, Fire and Desire are working well together, their pre-WrestleMania problems apparently solved by empathy and clear communication. We’ve heard nothing to contradict that, so that’s what I choose to believe. Peyton manages to let Bayley slip through her fingers and tag in Asuka, which is what I’m minded to call a serious tactical error. Asuka wrecks everyone’s shit before focusing on victimising Peyton. Mandy breaks up a pin attempt, leading to a cascade of finishers from everyone else in the match.
Asuka hits a reverse DDT, and Sane hits the Insane Elbow for the win.
A lot of this got eaten up by commercials, but it was fun enough. I’m pulling for the break-up of Fire and Desire, mostly because I want to see Sonya get a singles push. Otherwise, this all looks pretty good for the SmackDown Women’s Division. 2.5 Stars.
We get a recap of the fact that Lars Sullivan is kind of a prick. We then get a backstage promo from the Hardy Boyz, and I’m briefly hopeful I’m about to see them die at the hands of Sullivan again, but they’re actually just here to remind us that they’re the Tag Team Champions. I was working so hard on forgetting that; just ask all my local pubs who refused to serve me a pint glass full of whisky or a whisky glass full of bleach.
Pretty Big E for a white guy
Woods, Owens and Kingston are in the Gorilla Position, and Kevin Owens does his best rendition of Big E’s introduction, thereby justifying this entire six-man tag thing. I’m not even allowed to dislike this match now. The League of Wheelspinners get jobber-entranced, and Woods and Rusev start things off.
Rusev’s power lets him get the better of Woods, but a boot to the jaw and the Honor Roll leaves the big man laying. Kofi gets the tag, as does Nakamura, who gives Kingston a taste of Bad Vibrations before running right into a stomp. The New Day perform the Unicorn Stampede before inviting Owens in to take part. This sort of thing should become standard protocol for any temporary or honorary member of a faction; they’ve leaned into this thing brilliantly.
Nakamura regains some measure of control after kicking all of Xavier’s video game trivia out of his head, then tags in Cesaro, who dumps Woods into a commercial break. When we come back, Woods is trying to fight back, but the League of Wasted Singles Pushes has him well in hand. Nakamura and Rusev work the New Day member over, but Xavier manages to avoid a knee to the gut, climbing up to the top. Nakamura catches him on the way up, but gets beaten back down to the floor before getting taken out by a huge missile dropkick!
Woods reaches Kofi, who hits the ring hard and fast, dropkicking everything in sight. The Boom Drop strikes Cesaro, the other legal man; Rusev interrupts Trouble in Paradise and gets kicked in the skull for his efforts, then Cesaro catches Kofi right out of the air only to get planted with SOS for two! Cesaro goes for the Swing, spinning the WWE Champion around with horrifying ease. He applies the Sharpshooter, only for Owens to superkick him in the face. Nakamura takes revenge, kicking Owens right out of the ring, then gets planted with a tornado DDT by Woods. Rusev tosses Xavier out, tags himself in and tries to back suplex Kofi; the Champ rolls back onto his feet and gets a tag to Owens!
Owens unloads on Rusev, hurling him bodily out of the ring before throwing Kofi out on top of everyone. Back inside, a Machka Kick to Woods is foiled, and Rusev is defeated by a Trouble in Paradise and then a Stunner.
This was definitely elevated by Owens’ antics. He’s really winning me over as a face, which I never thought would happen. 2.5 Stars.
Bray Wyatt’s promos are disturbing, but all you have to do is remember the words “House of Horrors match” and then you’re laughing so much that you forget to be scared.
I would also have accepted Gillberg
Here’s Vince McMahon, who’s greeted with the standard “You Screwed Bret” chant. If the Montreal Screwjob had been a literal murder, Vince would be out of jail by now, probably in the same terrifying shape that he’s in now. If people held political parties to account like Montreal does to Vince, we’d have sorted out fucking climate change.
Vince says he doesn’t often endorse people, as a massive statue of Roman Reigns formed out of solid gold is delivered to WWE Headquarters. But whoever this guy is, he’s awesome. He’s like Jesus, but better. He’s like everyone in WWE now thinks Kofi Kingston is like, but better. He’s like Roman Reigns, but better.
They’ve resurrected Chris Benoit, haven’t they?
Okay, so it turns out it’s not that thing I just wrote: it’s Elias.
I can’t tell if this is a swerve and the real acquisition is still to come out, or Elias is finally getting that push we’ve been begging for.
Elias does the usual self-aggrandising bit, and then is interrupted by Roman Reigns. Yeah, looks like the internet was right once again. Roman destroys Elias, and Vince really seems pissed off about that. Guy must really love guitar music and, you know, incest. In response to this constructive criticism, Reigns decks Vince right in the face, causing the Montreal crowd to erupt into joy, world peace to break out and the Screwjob to have never happened in the first place. Montreal-based wrestling fans can finally move on, like everyone else did at least ten years ago.
Roman grabs and microphone and says that this is his yard now. So, AJ thinks that it’s his house, Roman says that it’s his yard. Maybe Jey Uso thinks it’s the car he drives whilst intoxicated. Reigns leaves the ring, but then comes back to spear Elias. I’m just hoping we get to see more of “absolutely furious, murder everyone” Roman Reigns, which is the only thing besides leukemia and the Shield to ever get the WWE Universe to embrace him.
Tags: Asuka, bayley, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Cesaro, charlotte, Elias, Ember Moon, Finn Balor, Fire and Desire, Kairi Sane, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Lacey Evans, Lars Sullivan, Mustafa Ali, R-Truth, Roman Reigns, rusev, Samoa Joe, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The Hardy Boyz, The IIconics, The New Day, VInce McMahon, WWE