So, last week established that I can make the Hardy Boyz not be Tag Team Champions anymore just by wishing really hard for it. If Randy Orton has an aneurysm mid-headlock tonight, I think we’ve established that A) I have superpowers and B) I am the wrong sort of person to have superpowers.
So, fingers crossed.
The house that AJ Styles still has a set of keys to, apparently
In other news, the Superstar Shake-Up has been rendered moot, and AJ Styles is on SmackDown. I’d love to act surprised about this wild card bullshit, but it’s really the kind of illegible, nonsensical drivel I’ve come to expect from anything that Vince McMahon has his steroid-stuffed fingers over.
AJ immediately explains the “Wild Card” rule, I guess in case the SmackDown locker room is at this very moment mustering an army of lawyers to tell him to get his Phenomenal ass back to RAW. He’s immediately followed by Sami Zayn, who verbally slaps his dick across the audience’s faces. In fairness to the guy, Ramadan’s been going on two whole days, and I’d be feeling pretty short-tempered in that situation.
AJ cracks wise about Sami having spent some of last night in a dumpster, because WWE knows what their audience likes and it’s juvenile gags that eat into rasslin’ time. And then Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston show up, so at this point the Wild Card rule is disrupting decent title feuds left and right. The New Day tell Styles that he doesn’t live here anymore, and Kofi asks him what he thinks he’s doing here tonight. Looks like they should have changed the locks to the House that AJ Styles Built. Styles says that if Kofi can go to RAW, then Styles can come to SmackDown. Riveting stuff. It’s like watching a new society establish itself, except everyone’s a muscular idiot.
Before we get another impromptu WWE Championship match with another predictable result, Zayn interrupts, telling Kofi not to do this thing. Zayn tells him that the Kentucky crowd is not really happy for him, which the black Champion probably could have inferred for himself after spending a day there. And then the New Day make the same joke as Styles about Zayn smelling like a dumpster. Christ alive, how do the writers come up with this material?
Kofi finally says that he’s happy to defend his belt against anyone who wants a shot, telling Zayn and Styles that he’s happy to fight either of them tonight. The crowd chants “triple threat”, and that would be an acceptable destination that we took the long road to get to.
Meanwhile, Kevin Owens has recorded a message saying that he’s not here because it’s his birthday, but he’s super-excited to take Kofi’s Championship. More feuds should be conducted via video messages and answer machines in today’s WWE. In fact, that would be my perfect wrestling show: lawyers reading out statements from their clients from behind various desks, and everyone meets at the PPV for the actual match.
The commercials ate the match and Randy Orton ate the fan favourites
Here’s Mustafa Ali, stomach presumably rumbling like crazy. They should have a stipulation that, if he wins, Mustafa gets to eat his opponent after the sun goes down. I think the Revival would consider it a step up from their current feud.
We see a promo video from Ali, where he makes a speech about literally just a streetlight that he’s standing under. Looks like with Jeff Hardy out of action, someone had to step up to become SmackDown’s new dope fiend.
Back to reality, and Ali’s opponent tonight is Andrade. I’m really enjoying the recent trend of putting Andrade, Ali and Finn Balor in multiple matches together in what I assume is an attempt to set sex drives everywhere ablaze. Zelina and then Andrade both give short promos about how Andrade’s going to win the brieface, the first one a little easier to understand than the second, and the match gets underway.
Andrade opens up with a chop to Ali, who decks the strapping Latino in response, the fight spilling to the outside where a distraction from Zelina Vega allows Andrade to take advantage. If all this recent interference led up to Vega getting intentionally smacked in the face, I feel like the WWE Universe would understand. After half of the match is eaten up with a commercial break, Ali tips the balance of the match with Spanish Fly, the crowd are really getting into it, and then Randy Orton busts in for the DQ.
A match in which I’d be happy with either guy going over, and of course this happens. Also, it turns out that I can’t mentally give Randy Orton an aneurysm. Trust me, I checked. 1 Star.
Zelina prevents Andrade from getting his face Vintaged into the canvas, and El Idolo whacks Orton in the face with a kick before Ali kicks Randy as well. In fairness, interrupting matches like this is the only way that Orton can be part of a decent one-on-one match, so I both understand and pity him.
Ali counters an RKO attempt, shoving Randy into Andrade like he doesn’t want to get mediocrity all over him. And then Orton RKOs both Ali and Andrade. The more things change, the more they stay the same, the more I hope that Randy Orton fucks off forever.
Meanwhile, Shane McMahon is still acting like he’s an athlete, per last night’s RAW when he beat up Roman Reigns and outfought the Miz. God, it really is a good thing I’m not the Amazing Aneurysm Man; I’d have no trigger control when I was watching wrestling. It’d be like The Stand, except only affecting professional wrestlers and the GOP.
We get a video promo for Roman Reigns now, because God knows someone somewhere might not know about this guy. Fair play to WWE: they really made it seem like people didn’t utterly hate his Royal Rumble and WWE Championship win. They even show him beating the Undertaker, probably to give his fetish for knocking old men about some context. And then it slides into his battle with cancer – the one time in recent memory people were happy to see him go over – like WWE is already trying to persuade us that we’re not allowed to boo him anymore.
Not enough ring announcer abuse in this segment
And here’s Shane McMahon in the red-faced, non-athletic flesh. He talks about his horrifying feud with the Miz, which isn’t even the only feud with a wrestler that he’s involved in. But this is about the Tag Team Championships, now that Jeff Hardy has been injured at the racist, rape-apologist hands of Lars Strowman.
And it looks like Shane McMahon is putting the belts on Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan. I don’t even have an insult, but here come the Usos to put itching powder in people’s shorts or something else hysterical. We get yet another demand for an explanation, followed by yet another recitation of the Wild Card rule. After another eight or so episodes, I imagine that all WWE employees will be fully up to date.
But the Usos are here to speak up for the great lineage of the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, demanding that they be allowed to compete for them. And Shane makes the match, because even though he’s a heel, I guess he’s a fair heel?
This entire show has been a wreck so far.
Rowan and Bryan should absolutely be called the Planeteers
Bryan starts off against one Jey Uso as the commentators explore all of the possible implications of the Usos winning the belts as though they really think that it is going to happen. Bryan gets worked over as the Usos trade quick tags and double-team him, but he finally manages to escape, tagging in everyone’s favourite environmental Viking, Erick Rowan.
Rowan annihilates Jimmy, pausing only to roar unintelligibly before tagging in Bryan, who slams a running dropkick into the Uso’s face. Bryan brings his submission game into play, stretching Jimmy out before tagging in Rowan, who seems really fixated on ripping the Uso’s head off. Jimmy tries to rally, managing to stagger both Bryan and Rowan with some quick strikes, but the former Bludgeon Brother flattens the Uso with a crossbody as we go to a commercial break.
After the break, the Usos are in control, hinting at some great reversals that I guess we’re just not going to see. Bryan manages to seize some advantage, but the Usos shut that nonsense down with a big old superkick. Bryan counters a splash, getting his knees up before transitioning into the LaBell Lock on Jimmy, dragging him into the centre of the ring. The Uso rolls him up, then superkicks him when he kicks out.
Both Jey and Rowan tag in, with Jey hitting and running as best he can. Rowan almost gets the Renewable Claw, but a quick tag, a volley of superkicks and a splash puts Rowan down, the big man only just getting his shoulder up at the last second. The Usos go for a double splash, but Bryan shoves Jimmy out onto the floor. The former WWE Champ wants the running knee from the apron, but Jey catches him mid-sprint with a superkick, then tips Rowan out of the ring!
Both Usos dive out of the ring, but Rowan catches both of them, hurling one into a Running Knee and throwing the other into the ring; the lone Uso throws out two more superkicks, but a Recyclable Claw slam puts him down for the count. Earth, fire, wind, water, heart, new Tag Team Champions.
Great action from these guys, and a huge boost for the new Champions, winning a competitive match to start their reign. 4 Stars.
Okay, so Bray Wyatt’s mascots have started eating each other. I’d watch this stuff as a web series.
And when we come back, Shane McMahon is still there. He’s apparently got some important news regarding Money in the Bank, but whatever message it was is lost as the pounces on him, beating him all the way up the entrance ramp. But Shane McMahon is saved by the B Team, whom the Miz clobbers before Shane hammers him with a steel chair.
I’d usually call Roman Reigns out for not returning the favour from last night by saving the Miz, but I definitely support as few actual wrestlers being involved with Shane McMahon as possible right now.
I feel like Carmella just vanished there
Here’s Ember Moon, looking to gain momentum ahead of the Money in the Bank Ladder match. She’s tagging with Carmella tonight to take on Fire and Desire; I can only assume that none of the other three women in the MITB match agreed to tag with Mandy, hence the need to bring in Sonya.
Sonya starts the match off against Carmella, getting taken over with a headscissors by the former Women’s Champion. A distraction from Mandy allows Sonya to score with a spear, tagging in Rose to allow her to pick up the scraps and Corey Graves to make us all feel a little uncomfortable.
Carmella escapes, tagging in Ember Moon, who’s clearly had a lot of pent-up energy from her days of never wrestling on RAW. She takes out Mandy with a flurry of offence, finishing with an enzuigiri. Moon tries to dive out on Rose, but DeVille takes the move in her place, allowing Rose to pick up the win with a facebuster.
Damn, Sonya DeVille is the best friend ever. Super-quick match, but it’s arguably more screen time than Ember got the entirety of her time on RAW, so things are looking up. 1.5 Stars.
And Paige shows up with the team I’m just calling the Kamikazes. Paige calls Mandy and Sonya “trollops”, and it is ironic to hear Paige engaging in slut-shaming, considering recent history. She talks up Kairi and Asuka, saying that they’re going to take on Mandy and Sonya next week. Between Sonya’s wholesome personality and the fact that I hate Paige’s accent with a passion that outshines the sun itself, I’ll be supporting Team Fire and Desire for that particular match.
Backstage, Matt Hardy is being interviewed about probably-rapist Lars Sullivan. Why does everyone keep calling that hideous monster a freak? I agree, but they work in the same building as him; those comments are going to get back to him.
R-Truth arrives to propose an alliance, and Lars Sullivan has managed to appear behind Matt and Truth with a stealthiness that is probably quite handy to a man who believes that there is a grey area when it comes to rape. Matt reacts to the sight like a character from a 1960’s superhero show having a stroke, and R-Truth reacts by getting beaten into the ground. Matt flails ineffectively before he’s flung through a doorway and vanishes off the face of the earth, then R-Truth gets white powerbombed through a table. Told you not to call him a freak.
Then again, it’s probably the nicest thing you could say about someone with the winning personality, looks and internet history of Mr. Lars Sullivan.
Stop trying to make the Blue Thunder Bomb happen; it’s not going to happen
Main event time, and here come AJ Styles, Sami Zayn and Kofi Kingston. Post-entrance announcements for that BIG MATCH FEEL, and then this match gets underway.
There’s a bit of conversation after the bell rings, then Styles throws the first shot, laying out Kofi before going after Zayn. Sami scrambles out of the ring, and now it’s Kofi taking the fight to AJ, laying him out with a missile dropkick before hitting a splash to the challenger’s midsection. Zayn now rushes into the ring, eating a dropkick for his trouble. The distraction allows Styles to take control of the Champion, however, laying him out with a backbreaker.
AJ chops away at Zayn, who once again rolls away from conflict, and now Styles has to deal with Kofi, who kicks him in the face and hits a splash to AJ’s back this time. Zayn strikes now, picking his spot and working over Kofi after the big move. He tosses Kofi into AJ, getting clotheslined by both men in return. Styles hits Kingston with a flurry, but gets struck from overhead by Kofi before receiving a Boom Drop. He wants Trouble in Paradise, but Zayn trips him up before dodging a dive from Styles, letting his fellow challenger crash and burn as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Zayn is in control of both men, planting Kingston with a sit-out powerbomb before slapping AJ around. Styles rallies, but not enough to stop Sami from planting him with a tornado DDT. Zayn turns his attention to Kofi again, driving him into the corner before the WWE Champion clocks him with a kick. Sami catches Kofi up on the top rope, hitting a superplex to bring Kingston down to the mat.
Now Sami’s looking for another superplex, this time to AJ, but Styles slips through Zayn’s legs, dragging him down to the mat before propping Zayn up on the top rope and delivering a super hurricanrana! He plants Kofi with a fireman’s carry neckbreaker, catches Zayn for a reverse DDT, which he hits at the same moment that Kofi takes him down with the SOS!
Styles and Kofi exchange strikes, neither man giving ground until Styles scores with a wild Pelé Kick. AJ charges at Kingston in the corner, gets elevated out onto the apron where he rights himself, and looks for the Phenomenal Forearm; Kofi blocks it and takes Styles off the apron with Trouble in Paradise! And suddenly Kevin Owens attacks, hurling Xavier Woods into the apron and the steel steps! With Kofi distracted, Sami Zayn hits the Blue Thunder Bomb, with Kofi only just kicking out!
Sami hits a second BTB, with Kingston again barely managing to get the shoulder up. He goes for the third, and Kofi kicks out again. Okay: now we’re getting into “kicking out of six F5s” territory. Zayn wants the Helluva Kick, runs right into Trouble in Paradise, and Kofi wins the match.
Great match, let down slightly by that third Blue Thunder Bomb stretching the suspension of disbelief; it would have made more sense to go for the Helluva Kick then. 3.5 Stars.
Kofi promises that there’ll be hell to pay at Money in the Bank for Kevin Owens. Last time Kofi was this angry, I think he wrecked Randy Orton’s car.
Tags: AJ Styles, Andrade, Asuka, bayley, Becky Lynch, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Elias, Ember Moon, Erick Rowan, Finn Balor, Kairi Sane, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Lars Sullivan, Mandy Rose, Matt Hardy, Mustafa Ali, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, The IIconics, the usos, WWE, xavier woods