The show starts with a discussion of what happened on RAW, because the more things change, the more they stay the same. What did happen was Braun Strowman doing his best to electrocute Bobby Lashley, even if doing so meant throwing away his own life. A man never truly learns to hate until after he’s arm-wrestled. Anyway, Lashley’s apparently back on his presumably horrifically muscular feet, and Braun Strowman has a ruptured spleen. I have no idea how bad that is supposed to be. “Ruptured” sounds pretty sinister, but you never hear about the spleen until something goes wrong with it. Does Strowman need his spleen? Is it integral to his raison d’être, i.e. throwing bitches or tipping stuff onto bitches?
We’re going to hear from Bobby Lashley later, who will address what took place. Is there much that Lashley’s commentary is going to add? Because unless he’s going to reveal that he or Strowman had an erection at the exact moment of impact, then there can’t be much new information to be mined. And, let’s be honest, Braun’s erection was inferred if not implied.
Oh good: Shane McMahon
Anyway, here’s Kevin Owens: first beneficiary of the Eric Bischoff way of doing things. He’ll be fed to Hogan and Nash by next week. Tonight, however, he’s here to talk to Shane “Please God, Stop Eating Segments” McMahon and Drew “Making Bagpipes Even More Horrific” McIntyre. The duo arrive, looking like a man who’s been fed steroids intravenously for three decades and his proud father who is still slightly confused about what his son does for a living.
Shane immediately slams his Greg Hamilton-related dick on the table (there was probably a better way to phrase that, and I utterly reject it) by being announced properly. Kevin is clearly in no mood for anyone’s shit, which is a far more realistic outlook for him than hero or villain. We’re shown footage from last night, which saw the Undertaker arrive and trot out the old favourites, a list which now includes “not wrestling”.
Shane laughs the whole thing off, forming an empathetic link with me for the first time in years, saying that he’s not afraid of the Undertaker. And, as a man who has no business in a wrestling ring, why should here fear another man who has no business being in a wrestling ring. Shane then makes the match no disqualifications, thus ensuring a veritable bounty of shenanigans and a plethora of opportunities for Taker to lie on the mat or on the shattered remnants of an announce table, trying to get his breath back.
Drew, with an accent that sounds like he brushes his teeth with thistles, growls something about how it being No DQ gives them the advantage, despite Roman Reigns having plenty of people that he could call on for aid and the Undertaker having links with enough stables and superstars that he could start his own wrestling promotion, admittedly featuring the old, the out-of-shape and the dead. Manspreading for all he’s worth, Drew promises viciousness and violence at Extreme Rules or, as they call it in Scotland, a quiet night in.
Kevin rolls the footage of Shane exiting the ring, mocking him for being afraid in cartoonish fashion. Shane, looking nettled by these aspersions on his character, tells Owens to just read the questions on the cue cards. Kevin starts going along with it, but he goes off the rails and mocks Shane for losing at WrestleMania 32. Outraged at this reminder of, well, the entirety of WrestleMania 32, Drew squares up to fight Owens. Before anything decent can happen, which would be a pleasant change for this show, Dolph Ziggler shows up and interrupts.
Owens, who I think is supposed to be doing a face turn, screams at Dolph, ripping apart his entire WWE career and telling him to move on. Ziggler, in turn, makes a fat joke. Thank you, Eric *clap clap clap-clap-clap*. Thank you, Eric *clap clap clap-clap-clap*. Thank you, Eric *clap clap clap-clap-clap*. Owens mocks Ziggler for never being able to win a match these days and proposes that they ask Shane who deserves to get the next title shot against Kofi Kingston.
Shane says that, tonight, Owens and Ziggler will team up to face Heavy Machinery, and the winning team will go on to Extreme Rules, making the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match a triple threat. It literally pains me to say this, but I don’t hate what Shane McMahon just said. Owens leaves in a huff, which is his typical reaction to most things.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan are asked their opinion on developments, and Bryan says that they now have mathematically less of a chance to retain their titles. I’m bracing myself for a tribute to Scott Steiner’s inspired discourse on mathematics, but life’s not fair and Bryan just promises to win. Boo: give me roidheads babbling nonsense, Bischoff.
Elsewhere backstage, the New Day are also getting interviewed about the situation. They acknowledge that by adding another team to the mix, their odds of winning drastic go down, but they say that it’s totally going to be fine, and they head out for Big E’s match with Daniel Bryan.
THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE, AND THEY SPELL DISASTER FOR YOU!!
Bryan and Big E make their way to the ring. At this point, I’m watching Scott Steiner videos in another window. Anytime anyone even mentions Scott Steiner, that’s me gone for about an hour. By the time I resurface, Big E has gained the early advantage, spanking Bryan while holding him in an abdominal stretch. I was better off with Steiner. Bryan tries to fight back, using his quickness, but all that speed advantage does is allow the Planet’s Champion to run right into a massive clothesline.
After a commercial break, Bryan has managed to take control of the match and is trying to hobble Big E with repeated attacks to the leg. Rowan is looking on with a vague smile. Is he still supposed to be a genius, because I truly can’t remember anything coming of that. Bryan slaps Big E across the face, prompting the New Day member to start his comeback, featuring belly-to-bellies and plenty of them. Bryan resists, staggering Big E with headbutts and dropping him to the ground with a kick to the leg.
Bryan unleashes the Yes Kicks, but Big E ducks the final one, hitting another belly-to-belly and the Ultimate Warrior’s “Queering Doesn’t Make the World Work” Splash for a two count. Bryan ends up on the apron; he dodges Big E’s running spear, has his own dive cut off by a right hand from Big E, then hits the running knee after Rowan shoves Big E the ring post.
Most of this match took place in the commercials, but what we got was decent. 2 Stars.
Kayla Braxton is now backstage with R-Truth, and she forces him to watch him lose the 24/7 Championship to Drake Maverick. That ice-cold bitch. Truth babbles incoherently, and he promises to hunt Maverick down, honeymoon or no, and reclaim his Championship. How no-one’s been arrested for anything involving the 24/7 title yet is utterly beyond me.
Alex Bliss’ Day Off
Backstage, Alexa Bliss tells Nikki Cross that she’s hosting A Moment of Bliss tonight. Cross reasonably explains that she has no experience hosting a television show, like that ever stopped Carlito Caribbean Cool. Bliss insists that it’s her time, and she sends her out there.
Nikki heads out to the main stage, looking crazy-excited. And, you know, crazy generally. She welcomes everyone to the show, her accent really triggering my PTSD from various rugby and Scotland-related events. She introduces Bayley, who immediately tries to drive a wedge between Cross and Alexa, like the friendships of women she gets paid money to hit in the face are any concern of hers.
Cross says that she’s here to ask the tough questions, most of which boil down to “why are you such a cunt?” In return, Bayley continues to act as Palpatine to Cross’s Hayden Christensen, trying to isolate her from everyone else she has a relationship with. This leads to Nikki challenging Bayley to a match right now, making her smarter than Anakin Skywalker. Then again, things that hang upside-down from trees are smarter than Anakin Skywalker.
I’m not sure how this turned into a Star Wars thing.
Anyway, after a commercial break, Bayley and Nikki are having a match, proving that you can settle any dispute with violence if you try hard enough. The Champion has the advantage in the early going, sending Cross out of the ring, looking confused. Back inside, Nikki eats a hard back elbow and finds her arms locked behind her back by Bayley.
Cross counters with a jawbreaker, then surprises Bayley with a sleeper hold before tossing her through the ropes to the outside. Now Nikki’s in control, climbing to the top rope for a flying crossbody and a near fall. She clobbers Bayley, hitting strikes and a bulldog before Bayley counters a neckbreaker into a pin, almost winning the match right there.
Cross smacks both hands right into Bayley’s throat, but the Women’s Champion still counters a tornado DDT attempt, slamming Nikki to the mat before hitting the Bayley-to-belly for the victory.
Good, hard-hitting match between these two. Bayley has been great since being allowed to fly solo. 2.5 Stars.
In other news, Mustafa Ali is outside, cutting a promo about how he wants the WWE Championship for the right reasons. And it is interesting that making videos about him being a vigilante and inspirational speeches like these have done nothing to bring him closer to the World WRESTLING Entertainment Championship. Mustafa seems to be implying that he can fight racism by being World Champion, like we didn’t just go through that with Kofi Kingston.
HE’S FAT!! I- I’M GONNA K- I DON’T C- IF HE DON’T-…I’LL MAKE HIM BLEED!!
Damn, Kayla Braxton is a busy bee; this is the fourth thing she’s had to do tonight. Kayla is in the ring, ready to moderate a conversation between Samoa Joe and Kofi Kingston. I’m just here for the threats against Kofi’s wife and kids. The man himself arrives, walking down to the ring with a glare that says “I’ll eat your whole family”.
Joe brusquely dismisses Kayla, not doing much for his reputation when it comes to the ladies. He tells Kingston that, like himself, Kofi’s a hustler: he uses the people just like Joe does, claiming that Kingston’s been using the New Day all this time. Kofi responds by saying that he won and retained his Championship by himself (except that one non-canon time against Dolph Ziggler in
Saudi Arabia somewhere).
Kofi asks what Joe’s done recently except lose the US Championship and attack people from behind. And the second fat joke of the night. Thank you, Eric *clap clap clap-clap-clap*. Thank you, Eric *clap clap clap-clap-clap*. Thank you, Eric *clap clap clap-clap-clap*. Joe says that Kofi’s so smart, always thinking ahead, even using his family at WrestleMania to win over the crowd.
Kofi rightly calls out Joe for going after another World Champion’s family, saying that he knows that he’s jealous. Like…of the World Championship or because of the family? Kingston says Joe will never have a moment like that to share with his kids, and Joe says that if Kofi’s such a stand-up guy, he’ll shake Samoa Joe’s hand and acknowledge him as the next WWE Championship. In return, Joe promises not to hurt Kofi or “those he holds dear” until Extreme Rules. That absolutely constitutes a threat against Kingston’s family; Joe is incorrigible.
Kofi acts like he’s going to shake his hand, but instead gives Joe the finger and knocks him out with Trouble in Paradise as Joe charges at him,
Backstage, Kayla Braxton has finally been given a break, and it’s another interviewer who’s given the thankless task of talking to Heavy Machinery. They say that they realise how dangerous Ziggler and Owens are, but say that the match tonight is going to come down to teamwork, and there’s no team closer than they are.
We’re shown a video of Bobby Lashley, saying that he doesn’t feel bad about Braun Strowman being injured. Well…yeah: it was Braun who did it to him. He says that next time, he’ll send Strowman to the morgue. Wow, that was the first threat to kill we’ve heard for a long time in wrestling, and Lashley managed to deliver it without a flicker of expression in his voice. And not in like “he’s so cold that he’s got ice in his veins”, but in more of a “this man couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag” sort of sense.
Is this all just a
subtle push for Zelina Vega?
Meanwhile, Bobby Lashley’s audition video to the Royal Shakespeare Company has seen to it that both Andrade and his opponent, Apollo Crews, have been jobber entranced. The bell rings, and Crews starts off strong before the traditional Zelina interference lets Andrade take control, hitting the double knees to the face with Crews only just kicking out. Crews powers out of a Hammerlock DDT attempt, throwing Andrade out of the ring and moonsaulting onto him on the outside.
After a commercial break, Crews is still smacking Andrade around like it’s his job. Which, if you don’t feel like splitting hairs, it basically is. Andrade finally manages to stagger Crews with some kicks, but he’s caught up on the top rope with an answering kick from Apollo, who press slams and moonsaults onto Andrade with seemingly zero effort.
Andrade rolls out of a back suplex attempt, scoring with a vicious spinning elbow that sends Apollo out of the ring. Crews recovers, catching Andrade and dropping him face-first onto the apron before throwing him back into the ring. And then Zelina hurricanranas him into the announce table, because Apollo can halt all of Andrade’s mass mid-fall but can’t counter the core strength of Zelina Vega. What an odd world wrestling is.
Andrade throws Crews back into the ring, hitting the Hammerlock DDT to win.
I like Andrade, but I hate this, because he seems unable to beat anyone without Vega’s help, which also manages to imply that Zelina Vega is capable of beating Crews. Meanwhile, Apollo gets nothing but damage from this. 1 Star.
Backstage, Owens and Ziggler come to some form of common ground, based on the desire to win and, they guess, the Tag Team Championships. Also, two more fat jokes. THANK YOU, ERIC *CLAP CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP*. THANK YOU, ERIC *CLAP CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP*. THANK YOU, ERIC *CLAP CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP*.
Aleister Black is still in the cupboard! He’s still in the cupboard! He says that, even though there was a knock at the door last week, when he opened it, there was nobody there. Oh, so my fourth guess was correct? I was just joking. Anyway, Black’s taken this to mean that he and his mystery opponent are “fighting on a spiritual plane”, which is a very philosophical way to look at someone literally knocking on your door and running away. I guess what I’m saying is, I can totally see why Zelina hangs out with Andrade at work.
All this over a Switch and doughnuts
Speaking of feuds that are going on by people taking things far more seriously than they should, here’s Ember Moon vs. Mandy Rose. Moon starts off with a hard right hand to Rose, with Mandy returning a slam that puts her in full control of the match. Rose continues to punish Ember, with a knee to the face almost putting the former NXT Women’s Champion away at one point.
Suddenly, Ember scores a flying codebreaker out of nowhere, followed by the Eclipse and a win for Moon over Rose.
Very short, with Ember getting in about three shots before winning. 2 Stars.
Meanwhile, Shelton Benjamin is hearing voices and Randy Orton’s hearing copyright infringement.
They skipped a few months of the “tag team partners who hate each other” storyline
It’s tag team time, with both the Planeteers and the New Day at ringside to watch the ensuing match. Ziggler, Owens and Heavy Machinery make their way to the ring, and it’s Otis and Dolph who are starting things off. Otis’ size makes things tough for Dolph in the early going, whose quickness and technical ability isn’t enough to stop his larger opponent.
Suddenly, an ill-advised quip from Bryan causes a massive brawl between Bryan and Rowan and the New Day, which sees Bryan hit the running knee to Big E and Rowan Recyclable Claw Woods through the New Day’s announce table. There’s a commercial break, after which the match is going on as it was before. Now it’s Tucker Knight vs Owens, and Tucker runs right over KO with a massive tackle before felling him with an incredible dropkick.
A low bridge assist from Ziggler spills Tucker out of the ring, giving Owens the opportunity to tag in Dolph, who takes control on the outside before bringing Knight back into the ring for a tag to Owens. Owens and Ziggler exchange frequent tags and use double-teams, wearing down the larger man as the match goes on, preventing him from reaching Otis.
The heels continue to work over Tucker, until the big man explodes with a springboard crossbody from the second rope. Knight reaches Otis, who bowls through Ziggler with extraordinary ease, bouncing him all around the ring. A spinning bodyslam and a huge throw almost hands Heavy Machinery the victory, but a desperation DDT from Ziggler allows Owens to tag in.
A superkick from KO is damn near ineffective, and Owens is dumped out of the ring as Otis hits Ziggler with the Caterpillar. Behind him, the legal Kevin Owens enters the ring, this time blasting Otis with a superkick that drops him to the mat. A stunner is countered, and a superkick from Dolph hits Owens instead, allowing Heavy Machinery to pin Kevin Owens with the Compacter!
Fun match, and I’d actually not expected Heavy Machinery to prevail, given the siren song of “Tag Team Champions who hate each other”: a firm favourite of WWE Creative. 3 Stars.
And then Owens stunners Ziggler, understandably a little miffed. He screams that this is “his show” as the footage fades to black.
Tags: Alexa Bliss, Andrade, apollo crews, bayley, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Ember Moon, Erick Rowan, Finn Balor, Heavy Machinery, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The New Day, The Undertaker, WWE