I can’t be the only one who’s excited to see a balding Undertaker drop Shane McMahon or Drew McIntyre directly and possibly lethally onto their heads in a few weeks, right? At least now the match at Extreme Rules will feature two old men with no business being in a wrestling ring.
We’re shown the backstage area, where Shane McMahon is glaring at the camera as though daring us to ask him to just fuck off forever. He says that Roman Reigns is so scared of him and Drew McIntyre that he paid the Undertaker’s $25,000-an-hour appearance fee to get some back-up. I get that Seth Rollins is busy mixing business and pleasure these days, and Ambrose is off being happy for the first time in years, but was the Undertaker really at the top of Roman’s “people with nothing going on right now” list? Even if Reigns was, for some reason, committed to the out-of-shape old man aesthetic, I feel like the Miz’s Dad is a safer wrestler than the Undertaker is.
Shane tells the SmackDown roster not to get on his bad side tonight, like any three of them couldn’t beat him to death weeks before the Undertaker manages to accidentally break his neck at Extreme Rules.
Dolph Ziggler won’t leave a World Championship feud without a concussion
In the main arena space, the New Day have arrived, making their way to the ring with their usual exuberance and breakfast foods. Kofi is now having to deal with Samoa Joe as a challenger, so he has presumably flown his wife out of the country and put his children as a matter of course.
Kingston reflects on his journey since winning the WWE Championship, which he says has been emotionally fulfilling while physically debilitating. He plays the footage of Samoa Joe letting him know that he’s interested in challenging for the WWE Championship in the usual way, which in Samoa Joe’s case involves attacking Kofi from behind and trying to strangle the life out of him.
Kofi talks up the danger that Samoa Joe represents, remaining defiant. Before anything good can come of this, Dolph Ziggler shows up, refusing to release his death-grip on his flash of prominence. Dolph is still super-emotional, telling Kofi that it’s only because of circumstance that Kingston is still the WWE Champion. According to Dolph Ziggler, wrestling moralist, winning a steel cage match by exiting the ring is the coward’s way out. It’s not quite “don’t call them concentration camps”, but Dolph really is starting to shift some goalposts.
Dolph says that he has a match with Kofi tonight, which if he wins will see him added to the title match with Samoa Joe. The match is two-out-of-three falls, so that’s two things I’ve seen recently being repeated tonight. And to think that there are articles asking why people are getting sick of current WWE programming.
Backstage, Elias is chilling outside Shane’s door, strumming a guitar like it’s his first day at college. The Miz arrives, wanting to talk to Shane, and the pair of them get into a dick-measuring contest involving Elias playing music at the Miz. The Miz says that the entire WWE Universe is tired of this, which is correct in many ways, and says that this thing between him and Shane needs to end. Please, merciful God, yes.
Shane exits the room, and Elias passes on the message. Shane says that he’ll have a match with the Miz tonight if he can beat Elias in a two-out-of-three falls match first. Is WWE trialing a two-out-of-three falls-themed PPV? What’s with the recent fetish for this kind of match?
Bryan wants feuds with all three New Day members
Meanwhile, Big E and Xavier Woods are in the ring, ready for a tag team match against Daniel Bryan and Rowan. I guess it was only a matter of time because they’re literally the only tag team left.
Bryan and Woods lock up, with Bryan scoring the first hit with a shoulder tackle. Woods returns fire with a dropkick, prompting Rowan to tag in and run him over. Xavier eats some angry ginger stomps, then Bryan tags back in to hit a flying knee to the back of his head. Rowan returns to ruin Woods’ day; Xavier’s quickness keeps him alive for a brief run, but he’s flattened right before the commercial break.
After the break, Woods manages to score an enzuigiri, freeing himself after minutes of being beaten down. Bryan and Big E tag in, with the larger New Day member throwing Bryan left, right and centre, before the former WWE Champion counters the Warrior Splash into a crossface. Woods makes the save, then slams a huge dropkick into Rowan on the outside. Meanwhile, Bryan punishes Big E with kicks, runs right into a ura-nage and then eats the Midnight Hour for the pin.
Simple way to set a feud in motion, though there seems to be little justification beyond the New Day being available. 2.5 Stars.
Right after the win, Owens and Zayn hit the ring, beating down Woods and Big E. This brings out Heavy Machinery for the save and what I assume will end up being an eight-man two-out-of-three falls tag team match at Extreme Rules.
I genuinely don’t know who or what is a Wild Card anymore, and neither do you
Well, I was one-third correct: it’s an eight-man tag match right now. Tucker Knight is taking a quick-tag mugging in the corner from the heels, then Rowan tries to deliver a superplex. Tucker fights him off but suffers for it with a volley of hard shots. Rowan manages to hit the superplex on the second attempt, with Woods and Big E breaking up the pin and receiving an Iron Claw and a Running Knee respectively.
Rowan squashes Knight in the corner, but Bryan misses a flying stomp, allowing Tucker to clothesline the bejesus out of him. Otis gets up on the apron, gets the tag and goes apeshit. Sami Zayn gets slammed, squashed and smothered by the big man, with Kevin Owens looking on in equal parts concern and disbelief. The Caterpillar connects, as does the Compactor, and as Kevin Owens walks away in disgust, Heavy Machinery pick up the win.
Looks like WWE is all-in on Heavy Machinery, and SmackDown does need to fill out its tag team division again. For a decision that irritated me at first, this was a fun sprint of a second match. 2.5 Stars.
In other news, Alexa Bliss continues to take advantage of a co-worker suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Or it might not be a psychiatric disorder and it might just be the fact that Nikki Cross is Glaswegian, which certain unkind, professional wrestling reviewers based in England might suggest is a psychiatric disorder all on its own.
Anyway, Alexa is still a manipulative dickhead, and if Nikki Cross beats Bayley in a match tonight then Bliss gets a rematch at Extreme Rules. This isn’t as morally unjustifiable as when WWE employed Eugene, but it does feel like whatever HR department still exists in WWE needs to take a break from hunting down Randy Orton and keeping Lars Sullivan buried in sensitivity training to look into this.
Meanwhile, why am I being shown videos of Mustafa Ali reciting the Green Lantern oath while clearly carrying out illegal vigilante work in the city? I don’t care about his views on law and order; I care that he can do multiple somersaults and is an objectively gorgeous human being. Let’s see some promos about that.
I’m going to go and watch Kurt Angle throw Shane through glass again
And here’s the Miz, ready to fight Elias and maybe Shane McMahon. Are you tired of this yet? Because I’m tired of this. I’ve been tired of this since WrestleMania. Anyway, Elias gets into the ring and Miz mauls him for several minutes, only losing control when Shane McMahon grabs his leg. The Miz springboards right into a jumping knee and a Drift Away to lose the first fall. I also hope you’re not tired of the Miz being an ineffectual underdog.
After a break, Elias is beating down the Miz. I hate this feud and everyone involved, but I’d have at least been entertained if the Miz had destroyed Elias for two straight falls, thereby looking like someone I’d actually want to support. Miz’s beating goes on for…well, let’s just call it “far too long”, and then he mounts his comeback, hitting double knees to Elias before planting him with a DDT for a near fall.
Miz continues to try to fight his way back, leveling Elias with a kick before a distraction from Shane almost costs him another fall. He hits the Skull-Crushing Finale, but Shane dives into the ring, causing a disqualification and doing a Surprised Pikachu face when that process is explained to him. And apparently, Shane believes in for a penny, in for a pound, and he and Elias start putting the boots to the Miz for a good long while.
The crowd chants “No More Shane”, which WWE presumably views as him having great heel heat. The bell rings for the third fall, Elias hits the flying elbow and this absurdity lumbers on for another week.
I’m so done with this, just like I was back in April. 0 Stars.
And then Elias and Shane decide to beat the Miz up some more, and Shane hits him with the Coast To Coast. Maybe the Undertaker will injure Shane so badly that he’ll be gone for a year. It’s the only reason I have to watch the match.
Kayla Braxton is backstage with Finn Balor, who’ll promote equality and also work in Saudi Arabia. Maybe he thinks if he only performs as the Demon, we’ll not spot the hypocrisy. They discuss Andrade before turning to the question of who’s next in line for a shot. Before Balor can answer, Nakamura shows up to announce his candidacy. Well…I’m on board.
I suppose “feral Glaswegian” is slightly redundant
Nikki Cross is here to fight the SmackDown Women’s Champion for her abuser. It could be worse; as a Glaswegian, she’s lucky she’s not fighting a crippling smack addiction. Bayley arrives, apparently unopposed to fighting the mentally unwell for money.
As soon as the bell rings, Nikki strikes, attacking Bayley like a feral…Glaswegian. Bayley quickly takes control, but it looks like Cross put a little extra ketamine on her cornflakes this morning, because she is irrepressible. Bayley manages to hang her up in the Tree of Woe and drops an elbow, almost getting the pin as we head into a commercial break.
When the broadcast resumes, Nikki plants Bayley with a bulldog, following it up with an inverted DDT. Bayley manages to throw her through the ropes to the outside, but she misses her own dive, crashing and burning. Back in the ring, Nikki drops her with a neckbreaker, almost picking up the win. Bayley manages to fight her way back into the match, hitting a knee to the face and throwing Nikki across the ring.
Bayley misses a flying crossbody, almost getting rolled up to finish the match. Both women trade several roll-ups, with Nikki managing to get the job done, pinning the Champion.
This would have been better if Nikki had been forced to cheat to win, but I’m still enjoying this story, and it’s nice to see Cross get a high-profile victory. 2 Stars.
Backstage, Carmella is looking for R-Truth before he crashes another wedding. She does run into Fire and Desire, who realise that this is a 24/7 Championship storyline rather than a Women’s Division storyline and skedaddle.
Carmella unearths Truth, who’s hiding amongst some equipment, and they’re joined by Drake Maverick, who you can tell is depressed because he’s got an untucked shirt and messy hair. He claims that R-Truth has ruined his life, and Truth acts as though he’s going to let Drake pin him and take the belt…and then he backs out of the deal, sprinting off into the distance, pursued by the eternal conga line of 24/7 Championship hopefuls. Drake is knocked to the ground, where he sits, head in his hands.
Why does this storyline have the most emotional impact out of everything on this show?
Remember when the IIconics were a thing?
Here’s Ember Moon, who might want to learn how to scream properly if it’s going to be such a central part of her entrance. This feud with Fire and Desire has involved Nintendo Switches being broken and donuts being thrown, so it’s WWE at its absolute peak. I’d normally say that Moon could have taken the high road and not allowed her coworkers to irritate her to the point where she commits assault, but this is WWE: if problems weren’t solved by assaulting your coworkers, there’d be no storylines.
Tonight, she’s facing Sonya DeVille, who opens up with a double-legged takedown and a lot of strikes to the face, seizing control in the first moments. Moon fires back with a punch, then a spinning forearm, an enzuigiri and a dropkick. She continues to scream, which is definitely not getting old just in this match yet.
A distraction from Mandy allows Sonya to shove Ember face-first into the ring post, and…that’s it. Wow. Ember Moon deserves to get bullied.
I’m always happy for Sonya to get a win because it means she’s hopefully getting closer to championship contention, but this was really short. 1.5 Stars.
There’s a weird moment during the celebration when it looks like Mandy and Sonya are about to kiss. Thankfully, they don’t, because I’m not ready for Corey Graves to orgasm so hard that he ascends to a new plane of existence.
Jesus Christ, Aleister Black is still monologuing in a broom cupboard. I like to think that Zelina and Andrade are leaving food and water just outside the door for him every week. But apparently, this is the week that Aleister’s pleas are answered, as there is a knock at the door. My first guess is a talking raven; my second guess is Randy Orton. My third guess is that Zelina wants the car keys, and my fourth guess is that this is the start of a game involving wrestlers knocking on the door and running away.
Never thought I’d ever be super-into another Ziggler/Kingston match
And here’s Dolph Ziggler for your second two-out-of-three falls match of the night. He’s joined by Kofi Kingston, and let’s get this latest match in the longest-running feud in WWE history underway.
Both men start cautiously enough, neither wanting to make a mistake too early on. They exchange holds, reversing and countering before Ziggler hits a kick to the gut and a quick dropkick for a pin attempt. Dolph takes the fight to Kofi, trying to keep him grounded with a sleeper hold, holding onto his hand to stop him from grabbing the ropes. Kofi fights his way back up, receiving a stinger splash for his efforts. A monkey flip sees Kingston land on his feet, scoring a dropkick of his own to drop Ziggler.
Dolph and Kofi trade roll-ups before Ziggler hits a running knee and tosses Kofi onto the apron. Kofi tries to roll Dolph up and Ziggler counters with a pin of his own, grabbing the ropes for the unfair advantage. The referee spots the attempt, and the distraction caused by his admonishment allows Kofi to roll up Dolph again, this time getting the first fall!
Ziggler attacks before the second fall can get underway, hitting the Zig-Zag on the outside before the commercial break. When we come back, the bell rings to signal the second fall. Kofi dodges a stinger splash and tries to roll Dolph up again. Ziggler kicks out, then wins the second fall with a superkick, leveling the score.
The third fall begins with Ziggler on the attack, hurling Kofi around the ring and trying to sleeper him into submission. Kingston reverses an Irish whip, throwing Ziggler into the corner, trying to capitalise. Dolph drags Kofi face-first into the turnbuckles, maintaining the advantage with a huge elbow drop. Kofi’s still not done, and he keeps trying to fight Ziggler off, reversing a neckbreaker into a backslide pin at one stage.
Both men trade huge moves and reversals, with Dolph rolling up Kofi off a flying crossbody attempt before spiking him with a big DDT. Ziggler throws Kofi to the outside, but Kingston fights back into the ring with a springboard clothesline to Kofi. Dolph tries for the Famouser, but Kofi counters with a powerbomb, almost taking the third fall. The Trouble in Paradise is blocked, and Ziggler sends Kofi shoulder-first into the corner, following that up with Zig-Zag that almost gives him the match,
Dolph misses a superkick, Kofi misses the Trouble in Paradise, Dolph gets a second superkick attempt blocked and Kingston finally slams a Trouble in Paradise into his face, picking up the third fall.
Great match, though I’m definitely pleased with the result. It’s a shame Ziggler will probably drop out of sight now this is over, but Kofi’s feud with Joe is hopefully going to be fantastic. 4 Stars.
Tags: Andrade, apollo crews, bayley, Carmella, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Elias, Ember Moon, Erick Rowan, Finn Balor, Heavy Machinery, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross, R-Truth, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, Samoa Joe, Shane McMahon, smackdown live, Sonya Deville, The Miz, WWE, Zelina Vega