Dr. Spain’s SmackDown Report and Review for July 16th 2019: Finally, Some Political Fiction

We open up with a recap of Kevin Owens foreshadowing his eventual mass shooting and stunnering Shane. I feel like him actually having the Stunner as a finishing move is the very unsubtle cherry sitting atop the shallow grave that WWE buried any idea of subtlety in.

This is far more polite than actual political discourse

And, as shown in footage from earlier today, Shane McMahon has hired a bunch of border security in order to prevent Kevin Owens from accessing the arena. Only instead of putting him in a concentration camp and not allowing him to shower, they’re just here to escort him back out of the arena. Before this, Shane tells Kevin that he will not put up with insubordination or physical assault, which is a reasonable thing for an employer to demand unless the business happens to be a sports entertainment company. So Shane tells Kevin to take the night off, because that exact tactic worked like a charm last week, with Owens only breaking into the arena twice.

Back in the present, Shane McMahon is in the ring and all the wrestlers are on the ramp. If I were to try to sum up what I’ve hated about SmackDown for the past several months, then this picture would be a good place to start. Admittedly, I’d probably draw some dicks on some people’s faces, but that’s par for the course: I’m an academic.

Apparently, this is supposed to be a “town hall”. When I said that I wished that professional wrestling was a little more like political fiction…to be honest, this is probably exactly what I meant. We recap Shane’s loss, his and the Undertaker’s pathetic Tombstone botch mysteriously omitted, which is a weird way to set the tone for a political meeting. Then again, “go back to where you came from, minorities” is apparently political discourse in America these days, so I guess I’m just out of touch with the zeitgeist.

Shane welcomes everyone to the first ever SmackDown Town Hall, joining that proud tradition of first ever SmackDown Weddings, first ever SmackDown Truck-Tippings and first ever SmackDown 9/11 Memorials. He asks if anyone would like to be the first to share their views in this open and caring space. And, of course, the first person who does is Roman Reigns. They could have at least drawn that out: have Erick Rowan protest the culture of sexual harassment, or have Liv Morgan demand that wrestlers should be able to claim fuel and mileage back upon presentation of receipts. I refuse to believe that not one of these wrestlers has a minor quibble they feel safe bringing up.

Anyway, Roman tells Shane that no-one respects him and that he can kiss his ass. Randy Orton’s “fair enough” reaction face is some of his best work this year. Shane tells Roman that he’s going to be fined for that, then tells someone else to go next. Is this just a ruse to make a quick buck by fining anyone who speaks out? Is this the dark side to McMahon’s Millions?

The next person to step forward is Charlotte, who I’d thought had literally died as a result of not being in a Women’s Championship feud for over a week. She tries to throw Roman Reigns under the bus – a bold move considering that Becky Lynch took an End of Days a couple of nights ago and that Reigns has already speared Stephanie McMahon – and then she verbally tosses Shane’s salad before Liv Morgan tells her to shut the fuck up. Liv goes on to reference Flair’s fake breasts to the joyful reaction of Bayley, Ember Moon and the New Day, who clearly showed up to this thing high.

In return, Charlotte mocks Liv for being a nonentity, and we’ve got the makings of a goddamn Liv Morgan storyline going before Shane gets bored by having to deal with something that’s not entirely about him. Buddy Murphy’s the next guy to get thrown out, and he manages to get through an entire speech without saying the word “cunt”. He plants himself firmly on Team McMahon, finally answering the question of whether he’s a face or a heel, although is it really a question if no-one ever asked it? Next up is Apollo Crews, who should honestly complain about Zelina Vega having such a marked effect on Andrade’s win/loss record. Instead, he says that he stands with Owens.

And because Zelina can’t even let Apollo talk on the microphone without interfering, she gets the other microphone (two microphones was a terrible idea in retrospect) and tells Crews that if he wants to have an opinion, he can fight Andrade for it, and Andrade challenges him to a match. At least, I think that’s what that quick burst of Spanish meant; Andrade could also have been asking Crews if he’s up for a three-way with him and Charlotte. There really does seem like no better way to derail this segment than by the wrestlers all using this forum to publically arrange their hook-ups.

And then Elias strums his guitar. If that had been his only contribution to these proceedings, that would have beencomedy gold. Before he can get going, the New Day verbally dogpile and bully him. Kofi then makes an impassioned speech about how everyone could get to where he is if offered the same opportunity, and that sounds a little too much like socialism to Shane McMahon, who cuts Kofi’s microphone. He brings proceedings to a close, having achieved his aim of making way more people hate him.

As everyone clears off, Cesaro makes his way to the ring, formally challenging Aleister Black to pick a fight with him. I have to say, I love how polite Cesaro’s approach to a wrestling feud is. Shane makes the match, presumably receiving the impression from Cesaro’s shaved head that this is a Make-A-Wish kind of deal. And then Kevin Owens appears behind Shane and tries to stunner him, but Shane botches the absolute fuck out of it because Shane doesn’t belong in a wrestling ring and arguably doesn’t deserve oxygen. I mean, it’s not like he’s had years of practice at selling that exact move.

In the replay, WWE edits out the botch. That’s state media for you.

One rematch I won’t complain about

Here’s the man who replaced Noel Fielding as my official goth crush: it’s Aleister Black. As established during WWE’s brave attempt at political theatre, which was more akin to political improv comedy performed by lobotomised badgers, he’s facing Cesaro following their impressive match at Extreme Rules. Cesaro joins Aleister in the ring, and the pair of them pick up where they left off with a hard exchange of strikes. Black kicks Cesaro right out of the ring, then mocks him with a backflip before a commercial break.

When we return, Black is fighting his way back from the underneath, using his dangerous feet to fell Cesaro before moonsaulting onto him. Black’s got them crazy Swayze eyes, but he misses his next charge and eats an uppercut from the Swiss Cyborg, who follows it up with a running boot and a crossface. Black reverses the hold into a pin, allowing him to escape, then it’s Aleister’s turn to dodge a charge from Cesaro, who blasts his shoulder right into the ring post.

A running knee from Black cracks Cesaro right in the jaw, and a Black Mass knocks Cesaro the fuck out, with the man’s mouthpiece flying out for a good visual.

It was a shame that most of this was eaten up by the commercials, but what we saw of this match was a great example of why these two need to be used. 2.5 Stars.

Backstage, Dolph Ziggler apparently didn’t hang himself after his loss at Extreme Rules. He tells Shane to make a match between himself and Owens for the main event tonight, promising that he can “make some calls” and get Owens back to the arena. Who, exactly, is Dolph Ziggler going to call to accomplish that? Is it the Fashion Police? I fucking hope that it’s the Fashion Police.

We get a recap of Daniel Bryan being mad as hell and with no inclination to take this anymore. The long hair and beard does add a certain something to the madness, as does the fact that he’s wearing basically just his underwear.

Guess we’ll finally find out if Liv’s blue tongue is an actual medical issue

Here’s Charlotte Flair, inexplicably not involved in any way with any World Championship. I’m scared too. She is facing Liv Morgan: proof that Vince McMahon is aware of Harley Quinn. I give it three months before the poor girl’s toting a mallet out with her.

Charlotte opens the match by shoving Morgan on her ass. Liv gets up, tells Flair to bring it, and then she Matrixes under the clothesline that Charlotte sends at her. Perhaps the lesson here is that the epitome of martial excellence is to win without bringing it. Morgan follows this up with a hurricanrana and a running dropkick, then she lies down on the mat, sticking her tongue out at Flair like she’s a way sexier, younger, far-safer-in-the-ring Undertaker.

Flair responds to this by slamming some elbows into Morgans head and then chokes her on the ropes, because she doesn’t have to take that sort of thing from a filthy blue-tongue. Morgan flips out of a back suplex, then drops Charlotte with a nice step-up enzuigiri. And yet the Riott Squad somehow didn’t work out. It should have been a license to print goddamn money. Morgan stomps Charlotte into the mat, but her follow-up hurricanrana attempt is countered into a powerbomb, and the Figure Eight taps Liv out.

It’s hard not to see this as anything but “she’s had a match, now shut the fuck up, fans”, because this sort of thing always is. I’m not saying let her win clean over Flair, but a drawn-out, bitter fight with a few false finishes and a win Charlotte had to dig deep for would have done wonders for Morgan. 1.5 Stars.

And Liv Morgan literally cries on the apron as commentary sympathetically buries her. I’m not even surprised. I am, however, surprised when Liv rips Corey’s headset off him, saying that “Charlotte was right, and when I come back, I’m going to be real”. Okay: interesting. Seems to be hinting at either an image change, meaning they’ll have to find an edgy, scene replacement to satiate the animals over at r/wrestlewiththeplot.

Backstage, Dolph Ziggler is begging a referee for Kevin Owens’ phone number. There is no joke I could make that would make Ziggler seem more pathetic than those seven seconds of footage. There would have at least been a quiet dignity in his suicide, apart from what I have to assume would be some outrageous selling when the rope went taut.

If you’re ever being bullied, make sure to get the SmackDown Women’s Champion to solve your problems for you

Here’s Fire and Desire, who challenged Ember Moon to find someone who could tolerate her enough to be her tag team partner. Moon arrives, and her partner is…not Carmella, whom WWE had been teasing for what seems like since the dawn of time. It’s actually Bayley, because she’s all done fighting the mentally disadvantaged and is ready to go after the lesbians now.

Mandy and Sonya pounce the second that the bell rings, beating Ember out of the ring before trading quick tags and using double-teams to keep Bayley down. This works for about thirty seconds, then the Women’s Champ back suplexes Mandy and tags in Moon. Ember Moon explodes into a flurry of offence, hitting the Eclipse as Bayley takes down an interfering Sonya with a Bayley-to-belly. And…that’s the match.

Well…that was certainly a match that happened. Who was helped by this? 1 Star.

Bayley and Ember are interviewed in the ring, and Kayla Braxton wants to know who’s next in line for a title shot. Does Bayley get to make that call? Does Shane? Samoa Joe usually makes his own matches by choking out whoever’s Champion; does that only work with the WWE Championship? I’ll never understand this fucking company.

Bayley runs down the criteria that would make for her perfect opponent, though she thankfully leaves off skin colour, sexuality, and preferred pronouns. And then she offers Ember Moon a shot, despite the fact that Moon’s done nothing to earn it. I’m only happy about this because I know that Charlotte Flair just punched Andrade straight in the face.

Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura is being interviewed by that drunk blonde, and he segues into a speech about how he will now rain chaos down on the universe. Okay, buddy: you’re the Intercontinental Champion, not…anything even slightly good. He turns around to face Mustafa Ali, who’s finally decided to come back inside and stop making stupid fucking videos. Maybe it’s raining.

Mustafa congratulates Shinsuke and walks away. As methods of fighting evil go, this one’s…polite?

I think I have to want something for this to be considered “teasing”

Here’s the New Day, all of whom are now Champions. They bask in Kofi’s victory and in Xavier’s and Big E’s win over Heavy Machinery and the Planeteers. They say that they know that Bryan’s going to challenge them to a rematch, and they pre-emptively accept.

This brings out Bryan and his tame ginger…and then they both walk off. I already don’t care about whatever this is, so withholding it from me doesn’t make me want to see it more. Bryan storms back out, then off again. Christ almighty. Oops: here he is again…no, off he goes.

I genuinely believe that WWE don’t know what the announcement was.

And here’s Samoa Joe. I’d ask whether he was the Wild Card tonight, but I truly don’t care. He challenges Kofi to put the belt on the line tonight, and I’ll take it so long as we don’t need to have a rematch at SummerSlam.

This brings out Elias. Oh, Jesus Christ, I take it back: it can be Joe vs. Kofi at SummerSlam. And here’s Randy Orton, who failed to get a shot on Monday. I mean…still better than Elias. And somehow, all this potential turns into a six-man tag match. It’s not like a Triple Threat match to determine the number one contender would have been a lot better. I’m being sarcastic; lots of things would have been better than another six-man tag match, including catching an incurable STI.

And then Randy Orton says that he’s not interested, walking away. Randy Orton, you’re my fucking hero. But then Kofi makes a dick joke, prompting Orton to go ahead with it. Kofi, you son of a bitch.

Like Orton actually wanted a rematch with Brock

Urgh, guess we’re doing this. Elias and Kofi start off, with the WWE Champion sending Elias reeling before a distraction from Orton turns things in the heels’ favour. Joe comes in hard and heavy, but Kofi catches him with a pair of knees, tagging in Xavier. All three New Day members dive onto Joe, one after the other, but Joe manages to back Big E off, tagging in Elias.

Elias is locked into the abdominal stretch, getting spanked. A wheelbarrow slam double-team from Woods and Big E has Elias in jeopardy, with an Honor Roll putting him down. Orton manages to grab Woods’ hair, dragging him down to the mat to allow Elias to take control. Woods is tossed out of the ring before a commercial break, and when we come back, the poor man’s Jeff Jarret is still in control of Xavier. He knocks Big E and Kofi off the apron, and Joe flattens E on the outside as Elias tries to superplex Woods. Xavier counters, hitting a missile dropkick and tagging in Kofi.

Orton enters the match, just in time to eat a flurry of blows from every which way from Kofi. The World Champion wants Trouble in Paradise; Orton ducks it, trying for the RKO, which Kofi counters, and Kingston hits a springboard crossbody onto the Viper. Elias tries to interfere, getting belly-to-bellied by Big E. Joe takes E down with a clothesline, but he’s low-bridged by Woods, who hits a flying senton out onto him.

A distraction from Elias allows Joe to lock in the Clutch, and Elias blasts Big E with the running knee as the New Day member tries to make the save. Back in the ring, Elias turns into Trouble in Paradise, but an RKO drops Kingston, giving Orton the win.

Fun match, once it all broke down. I’m fine with Orton as Kofi’s new challenger, but I hope Kingston wins; Randy taking the belt seems like way too simple a conclusion. 2.5 Stars.

Backstage, Carmella is still looking for Truth. This has got to be really detrimental to her career as, you know, an in-ring competitor. She finds R-Truth in a washing machine, and basically her plan is that he needs to go to Comic-Con.

There’s a lot of accent in that ring

Thanks to that piece of tomfoolery, the Kabuki Warriors (honestly, who the fuck thought up that idiotic name?) have been jobber-entranced. The IIconics arrive, and the match starts with Peyton slapping Kairi across the face. Sane responds by slapping Royce across the tit, being just a bit shorter than the IIconic. Kairi and Asuka keep Royce off-balance with some hard-hitting offence, but Royce dodges a hip attack, tagging in Billie Kay to…mostly just scream at Asuka.

Asuka wallops Kay with what was basically Black Mass, and the IIconics elect to take the count-out loss and retain the belts. This is dumb, but I hate Paige’s voice, so I’m in favour of anything that keeps a microphone out of her hand.

The Crazy 88’s don’t take kindly to this Western treachery, and they beat the IIconics up post-match. This truly failed to whelm, and the Samurai Pizza Cats’ mash-up of two different entrance musics is stupid.

I hate this feud, and 90% of that is Paige’s stupid fucking accent. Someone, please show her a copy of My Fair Lady so she can do something about it. 1 Star.

“You happy now, internet?”

Andrade and his walking, talking insurance policy are in the ring, waiting on Apollo Crews. There’s about thirteen minutes left of this show and a main event still to get through, so we’re likely in for some shenanigans. You know, beyond the standard Zelina Vega interference.

Shenanigans abound as Andrade attacks Crews before the bell even rings. What does Andrade gain from this? Beating Crews isn’t an achievement, because every Crews match basically goes like this. The bell finally rings, and Apollo doggedly tries to re-enter the fight after the pre-match beating. Andrade’s in firm control, however, and he decks Apollo with the back elbow, hits him with the double knees, and then Crews rolls Andrade up for the quick pin.

I appreciate the result, but not the method, which was lazy and did nothing to elevate Crews at all. 1 Star.

Meanwhile, Bray Wyatt’s back, so please begin the traditional countdown on how long it’ll take WWE to ruin him again. My money’s on one month; they don’t have the imagination to make this work.

Be honest: you’re amazed Kevin Owens can run even that fast

Here’s Dolph Ziggler, who humiliated himself and his entire family on Sunday night, but for some reason decided to show up to work today. Some people don’t have any self-respect. And it seems that all those phone numbers that Ziggler probably traded blowjobs for managed to get him in touch with Owens, because he’s here now.

Owens immediately tries to open with the stunner, because he cares as little about this as I do, but Ziggler ducks it, dashing out of the ring. Owens hits a senton over the top rope, but when he tries it in the ring, Ziggler gets his knees up, giving him an opening to beat KO down. Sleepers, elbows and eye-raking abound, but Owens still manages to fight his way back to his feet.

Ziggler hits KO with a stinger splash, followed by a huge DDT, but a missed second stinger splash sees him eat a superkick, followed by a senton bomb from the top rope.

And here’s Shane McMahon and an entourage of heels, who surround the ring. Owens is distracted enough to take a Zig-Zag, but manages to kick out at the last second. Ziggler continues to punish Owens, hurling him into the ring post and wailing on him. Owens s thrown into the ring post again, but he dodges a superkick and stunners Ziggler. Shane drags him out of the ring, but he takes a stunner too, managing not to fuck this one up.

This was fine, and it hopefully draws a line under the Ziggler/Owens feud. I’m not sold on anything involving Shane McMahon at all, but Owens hopefully has the charisma to make this interesting. 2 Stars.

Owens flees, with the heels chasing him like he’s holding onto the 24/7 Championship. I guess that Ziggler wins, if he hates himself enough to consider that a win.

Holy shit, Kayla Braxton has no chill whatsoever, and she tries to interview Shane immediately. Shane promises that Owens will pay, whilst Drew tries to pretend that none of this is happening and that he’s safe and properly utilised back in NXT.

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