It’s but a few days before sixteen men and women batter each other senseless with ladders for our entertainment. Think about that phrase, then think about yourselves.
Oh good: Shane McMahon
Roman Reigns arrives to kick off the show, which is in London tonight. Please take all my comments about anyone being south of Manchester being a soft, southern pansy as read throughout this review. We’re shown footage of Roman Reigns and the Miz putting aside their differences and death feuds to sell offence from Shane McMahon. Roman says that he’s got unfinished business tonight, and so he’s invited the Miz to SmackDown Live.
The Miz arrives and promptly mangles Oasis lyrics into some garbled message about beating Elias. He uses the phrase “through and through”, which even Charles Dickens would think is a little archaic and which I just think is terrible. Miz then promises to do such terrible things to Shane McMahon on Sunday that he’ll end up summoning a demon completely by accident.
And because this is a segment which doesn’t yet have Shane rubbing his grey testicles all over it, Shane McMahon arrives, Elias in tow. Shane bans Miz from the building, thus making the Wild Card rule, which itself rendered the Superstar Shake-Up obsolete, obsolete. Somewhere, Matt Hardy is frantically scribbling ideas for a new promo, provided he managed to get out of that bathroom that Lars “Slightly Hazy on the Idea of Consent” Sullivan threw him into last week.
Elias says that underestimating him is a mistake, and I have never seen any proof of Elias being anything but correctly estimated. He promises to make everyone see that WWE stands for “Walk With Elias”, which does have the benefit of not actually containing the word “wrestling”. Shane says that he and Elias are going to make them leave the ring, but they’re not going to do it alone. Bryan and Rowan join their employer and his pet singer, and the four of them surround the ring. Just like the Shield, except they’re actually able to cover all four sides.
Corey says that these are “unwinnable odds for Roman”, making me wonder whether he gets his memory erased at the end of every show, and Roman and Miz get the boots put to them. The crowd is pretty apathetic about this, because unless there are a bunch of stabbings then it’s no longer considered a fight in London.
The Usos rush out, either to help their cousin or to fuck over Bryan and Rowan or maybe both. Rowan almost manages to keep the heels on top, but the power of friendship and having Roman Reigns on their team means that the faces end the segment standing tall in the ring. So, that’s three Wild Cards accounted for in the first segment, unless the Usos count as one person. Which seems very discriminatory, though I can’t tell whether it’s more against Samoans or tag teams.
This match is three-quarters great and one-quarter Randy Orton
Here’s Randy Orton, ready to import some sleeper holds and headlocks into the United Kingdom whilst we still have trade treaties with anyone. Do you get it? Because we still haven’t sorted out fucking Brexit.
We’re shown the backstage area, which contains Elias, Rowan and Bryan, making this skit the “The Great British Beard-Off”. Shane’s also there, but he has no beard and also no wrestling ability. Elias and Bryan are bitching about getting beaten down; Rowan’s remaining silent, probably because it doesn’t know its people words. Shane says that he’ll make a four-on-three match tonight: the four of them vs. Team Related to Dwayne Johnson in a handicap tag team match. If the Miz is present at any point,
then we don’t have to watch Shane McMahon try to wrestle on Sunday his match with Shane McMahon is cancelled.
Back in the ring, Randy Orton has just planted a ladder, which is seriously going to impede the progress of the upcoming Fatal Four-Way match. Oh God, he’s got a microphone. He explains to us, in excruciating detail, how he’s going to climb up a ladder, get the briefcase and become Mr Money in the Bank for a second time. I don’t remember a single detail of the first time, which can’t be good in terms of its entertainment value.
Andrade makes his entrance with Zelina. We don’t see Orton fastidiously putting the ladder away during the entrance, but I like to believe that it happened. Zelina says that everyone is so spoiler-phobic these days, mentioning Endgame and Game of Thrones (which, to my enduring delight, is met with a mixed reaction). The spoiler in this case is that Andrade’s going to win. I assume Zelina will set fire to the arena because it turns out she’s actually Aleister Black’s aunt.
Mustafa Ali and Finn Balor follow, neither one of them feeling the need to make a speech along the lines of “Nuh-uh; I’m totally going to win”. One day, I want to see a wrestler discover that they have epilepsy completely because of Mustafa’s mask.
We immediately go to break, and when we come back, Randy Orton is stomping Mustafa. Extremely slowly. He tries to Vintage Finn Balor, and Mustafa dives on this distraction, flailing away at Randy before the Viper powerslams the fight right out of him. The crowd sound pretty pro-Orton, but then again 52% of this nation voted to leave the EU. Mustafa strikes with a dropkick, staggering Orton, foils an RKO attempt and plants Randy with a tornado DDT, with Andrade breaking up the pin.
El Idolo tries to contain Mustafa, weathering high-flying offence before putting the Cruiserweight down. Now Finn’s entered the match, battering away Ali and Orton as they try to re-enter the ring before stomping Andrade. A distraction from Orton allows Andrade a few seconds of offence, but Finn’s momentum is too strong to be ignored. He levels Andrade, heading up to the top rope, but Andrade catches up with him, bringing him into the corner and hitting the double knees for a two count.
And now Zelina is insisting that Andrade get some ladders involved, just in case the WWE Universe recognises symbolism. He wallops Finn and Orton with one, gets backed off by Mustafa before whacking the high-flier out of the air with one as well.
After a second break, Finn has just dropkicked Andrade into the ladder before Mustafa plants the Irishman face-first. Mustafa misses a 450 splash on Finn and gets dropped with an RKO. Andrade missile-dropkicks Orton out of the ring and batters Finn with a back elbow. Balor almost scores with a roll-up, then dives out of the ring onto Mustafa and Orton. Andrade strikes, hitting Finn with the Hammerlock DDT and…oh my God: Andrade won a match.
I am so happy that Andrade got to succeed. The match was exciting enough, but so much of it was eaten by the break and it lacked the awesome intensity of previous Fatal Four-Ways involving Andrade. Maybe because Randy Orton wouldn’t know “intensity” if it did a bunch of steroids and beat him three times for the WWE Championship. 2.5 Stars.
Andrade climbs the ladder after the match, which must be some kind of good luck charm or powerful dark magic, because every wrestler does it even though it means absolutely nothing before the match itself. Ricochet interrupts, bringing our Wild Card count up to four, or three if you don’t consider Tag Team wrestlers to have the same human rights as the rest of us.
Ricochet batters Andrade off the ladder and takes the briefcase. Can’t quite see a face winning it, but the crowd seem to love it.
I assume that Ricochet is going to have to hand that briefcase over to someone backstage. Or do they have a stack of fake briefcases they hang up on the shows leading up to Money in the Bank, exactly because of this sort of shit?
Backstage, Kofi Kingston asks Woods to please not come out with him tonight, because given the chance, Kevin Owens will eventually kill him.
Charlotte Flair is the wrestling equivalent of the staff member pushing a television into a classroom
Here’s Charlotte Flair, who wants to talk about her and Becky Lynch, but mostly her. Apparently her winning will “culminate their rivalry”, which I’m guessing doesn’t happen if Becky manages to retain. She then shows us a video package of hers and Becky’s rivalry. It really does seem like Charlotte either made that herself or demanded that it be made for her, which is the kind of effort and attention to detail that I’d expect from a serial killer.
Lacey Evans is backstage, being all sassy and southern. The gist of her drawling promo is that she’s going to win on Sunday. Got to love the variety you find in WWE.
Stop indulging Shane McMahon
Oh God, I have to review a match involving Shane McMahon. I’d re-injure Jeff Hardy personally to avoid having to do this.
And Aleister Black is still sitting in a chair, spouting off philosophical nonsense. I really preferred him when he was just a tattooed mass of bubbling fury, kicking people’s heads in. He finishes off with a quote from Shakespeare. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be the mark of a smart person in America, but in Britain we get taught Shakespeare at around age thirteen.
Back in the ring, Rowan, Bryan and Elias have arrived, followed by the Usos and Reigns. Jimmy Uso and Bryan start things off, with the new Tag Team Champion trying to outwrestle the Uso. The pair struggle, with Bryan winning the first exchange. They tie up again, with Jimmy trapping Bryan in the corner and tagging in his brother. Jey is caught by the leg, and Bryan drags him into the corner, tagging in Elias. Jey rallies, hitting a superkick but missing a splash, tweaking his leg and offering Elias a huge opening, which the man promptly fills with an appropriately-huge clothesline.
Shane tags in now, once again pretending that he can outwrestle men in their physical prime. After some token offence to Jey’s leg, he brings Elias back in to continue the assault, and then Bryan’s tagged back in to offer his expertise in ruining people’s limbs forever. Jey is able to fight off Bryan momentarily, but Elias is there to provide a distraction, allowing Bryan to regain control, which is a polite way of saying “shove Jey Uso off the top rope and into the barricade in clear attempt to murder him”. And Jey’s a Tag Team wrestler, so that’s practically a hate crime.
After the break, Elias is dominating Jey. He brings Shane McMahon back in, just in case you forgot that he was a heel, and Shane eats an enzuigiri from Jey Uso, who dives at Roman and gets the tag. Reigns explodes into the match, smacking bitches left and right before attempting to behead Bryan using multiple clotheslines: one of the less-known methods of execution. He wants the Superman Punch, but Elias has distractions to spare tonight, and his interjection allows Bryan to tag out to Rowan…and then Elias tags himself right back in.
Elias decks Roman with a jumping knee for a near-fall, and now he permits Rowan to re-enter the match. Rowan bludgeons Reigns before trying to drive both fists into the man’s skull. Roman tries to fight back, but Rowan is irrepressible, taking the former WWE Champion back down as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Roman is trying to fight through Elias, finally scoring big with a Samoan drop. Jimmy is on the apron, eager for a tag, and he gets it, coming in swinging against Bryan. D Bry dodges the superkick, but no-one else does, with Rowan getting hit with a double superkick before Bryan dives off the top rope…and also gets hit with two superkicks. Shane interrupts the pin, his presence allowing Elias to hit Drift Away. The poor man’s Honky Tonk Man is dispatched, but Jimmy turns around right into a running knee from Bryan, with Reigns only just breaking up the resultant pin.
Rowan muscles Roman out of the ring, then heads out to continue dealing with him, but a Superman Punch puts an end to that idea. Elias throws Roman into the steps and Shane hits Coast-to-Coast on Jimmy Uso, winning the match.
I’ll admire Shane for trying to do more damage to the Usos’ reputations than their feud with the Revival, but how could anyone think that this was a good finish to the match? 1.5 Stars.
The heels try to lay a beating on the Usos after the match, but Miz shows up with a steel chair, evening the odds and allowing the faces to prevail. Too late: damage done.
In other news, whatever TV channel agreed to broadcast Bray Wyatt’s television show is probably having a few tense meetings right now.
Jesus Christ: “Kabuki Warriors”
And here are Asuka and Kairi Sane, who clearly decided not to seek professional help when it came to mashing their theme musics together. We get a video promo from Ember Moon, who says – wait for it – that she’s going to win on Sunday. And a video promo from Bayley, who Ember Moon might want to sue for plagiarism. Oh God, Paige has a microphone.
Paige calls the team of Asuka and Kairi “The Kabuki Warriors”. That name might not actually be racist, but it absolutely sounds racist. I’m just going to call them the Kamikazes. That also sounds racist, but at least it doesn’t sound stupid.
Here come Team Fire and Desire, prompting Graves to noisily and messily reach climax. The IIconics are also on commentary, which I’m convinced is a cruel practical joke. Mandy and Sonya insult the new royal baby, apparently convinced that it’ll get them heel heat when, in reality, no-one really cared about this one in the first place, because he’s not ever going to be king without a lot of assassinations.
The match starts, with Sonya and Asuka facing off against each other. Asuka gains control, allowing her and Kairi to hits some rapid offence to the former MMA fighter. Mandy tries to check on Sonya, earning a flying punch from Kairi before Sonya’s struck with a hip attack from Asuka as we go to a break.
When we come back, Kairi is in full control of Rose, which is reversed when Sonya saves Mandy from a charge from Sane. A knee to the face allows Mandy to tag in Sonya, who puts a hurting on Kairi, exchanging tags with Sonya to keep the former NXT Women’s Champion down. Rose stretches Kairi out across her knee, but then accidentally tosses her into Sonya, allowing Kairi to reach Asuka for the tag!
Asuka comes in hard and fast, letting Mandy know that she doesn’t much care for her. A kick to the head transitions into the Asuka Lock, but Sonya makes the save, decking Sane afterwards on general principles. She tags in, and Asuka starts using her as a kickbag. A spinebuster from DeVille puts an end to this, but Mandy insists on tagging in, and Asuka rolls her up for the surprise pin!
Sonya, once again, is the gift that we don’t deserve. Mandy damn sure doesn’t deserve her. This was a good, competitive match in which Rose looked a little lost compared to the other three. 2 Stars.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton is supposed to interview Lars “Master Race” Sullivan. She looks nervous, which is understandable considering that the big bastard has gone on record to say that he considers rape a “grey area”. We see a quick clip of Sullivan laying out midcarders, and then we’re back with Kayla, who now has Lars looking at her like she’s got “grey area” written all over her.
Kayla, in desperate fear from even having to be near this guy, just leaves. Smart lady.
Yep Movement reunite!
Elsewhere backstage, Kevin Owens is talking about how he’s not sure whether Kofi Kingston can survive by himself, promising to destroy him on Sunday, but he’s cut off as Kofi makes his entrance on the main stage.
Kofi makes his way to the ring and lounges in the chairs. He introduces Owens, who doesn’t come out. Kingston asks whether he’s scared after talking such a big game backstage, and Owens appears on the titantron, saying that Kofi has found the worst possible time to be alone. He says that WrestleMania was a dream come true, but when dreams end, reality remains, and that the reality is that Kofi only became Champion in the first place because of the New Day. The reality is that on Sunday, Kofi is going to face the most dangerous man in WWE, and Owens will prove it.
I thought that we were going to get a reveal that Owens had taken out Woods backstage, but it turns out that he’s taken the Charlotte Flair route and has prepared a video package to show how serious he is. Kofi tells Owens that the video proved nothing, clearly taking some cues from the GOP these days. He says that if KO doesn’t want to come out, then he’s happy to go looking for him.
Owens says that he’s happy to come out, and a few seconds later his music starts. Either Owens ran really fast just then, or Kofi must have passed him on his way to the ring. KO starts towards the ring a couple of times, but keeps backing away. This would have been a lot better with a crippled Xavier Woods, and I do not say that lightly.
Kofi finally gets sick of the games, and he heads out of the ring after Owens. Out of nowhere, Sami Zayn suddenly jumps him, helping Owens beat Kofi down. Before Kingston gets powerbombed onto the apron, Woods comes out to make the save, instantly getting wrecked by KO. Kevin and Sami go back to work on Kofi, with Owens yelling that this is what happens when Kofi’s on his own and that friendship is magic.
Owens goes for the cannonball, but Kofi dodges. Sami dives in, smacking away at Kofi, but the Champion manages to avoid the Helluva Kick too, decking Zayn with Trouble in Paradise, yelling at a retreating Owens to come get some. I mean, it’s not like Woods is involved in anything but this storyline. A devastating attack would have made this build a home run.
Tags: Andrade, Asuka, Becky Lynch, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Elias, Erick Rowan, Finn Balor, Fire and Desire, Kabuki Warriors, Kairi Sane, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Lacey Evans, Mandy Rose, money in the bank, Mustafa Ali, Randy Orton, Ricochet, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, Sonya Deville, The IIconics, The Miz, the usos, WWE, xavier woods