I feel like I’m going to let a lot of shit slide tonight, likely because Sunday night involved Bray Wyatt carrying his own severed head to the ring, which is the most fucked-up, awesome thing that I’ve seen in professional wrestling. It was like Lars Von Trier got given creative control and managed to keep a lid on any pro-Hitler comments. In fact, between Trish’s outstanding performance, Rollins beating Lesnar clean and WWE hitting Wyatt’s in-ring return out of the park, I’m in such a good mood right now. I am, in fact, sports entertained.
I wonder how they’re going to ruin it.
Like money really means anything in WWE
Here’s Kevin Owens, who beat non-wrestler Shane McMahon on Sunday, thus ensuring that he remains employed and precisely nothing else. It’s a moral victory, although I guess it prevents Owens from staring at a blank sheet of paper with the words “transferrable skills” written at the very top of it. At any rate, the crowd can dig it, and Owens spends a moment basking in their appreciation before saying that this is the five-year anniversary of when he joined WWE.
He reflects on his experiences, skimming over the fact that most of his career has seen him be a backstabbing, bullying bastard. He says that he’ll always remember Sunday night, because who doesn’t love cosplaying as a hirsute Stone Cold Steve Austin? He fondly reminisces on sinking his foot into Shane’s greying nethers before finishing with the Stunner, and then he states that he’s moving on to the King of the Ring Tournament.
Owens claims he’s loved the KOTR tournament since he was a child, stating that winning it would mean as much to him as any Championship. He runs down the list of past winners he wants to join, but Shane interrupts him, just as he’s genuinely making King of the Ring sound like something which truly matters. Shane says that he’s out there for two reasons, and then he shows us some photographs of him getting kicked in the dick. Shane’s got a weird notion of how to get people’s respect.
McMahon lambasts Owens for his cheap tactics, and Owens blasts him with a callback to the Mean Street Posse: fightin’ words (please don’t fight, Shane). Owens says that he did whatever it took to win and begs Shane to shut up. Shane says that Owens will always be known as a cheater, as though this is the first tainted win that KO has ever been involved in. Still, the penalty is apparently nothing more than a moral burden, which is fine as Kevin Owens does not, in fact, have a soul. Shane teases, or rather threatens, getting physically involved with Owens before revealing that he has a mystery opponent tonight. He then shows footage of Elias getting the striped shit beaten out of him with a chair, stating that Elias has been given tonight off due to him being traumatised and him having zero direction.
Shane reveals that Elias was an actual official on Sunday night, and Owens treated him like Vince McMahon treats any member of his own family. The repercussion for his heinous act is a one hundred thousand dollar fine. Owens is outraged, claiming that such a sum would have a huge impact on his life and his family, like any of us care about a wrestler’s family until Samoa Joe tries to fuck them. Shane refuses to change his ruling, leaving Owens to fume while still employed, still in the King of the Ring tournament and still in his dream job. I mean…there are people dying in my country because of draconian rulings on jobseeker’s allowances, so I have very limited sympathy for the man.
After the break, Owens is stomping around backstage like a hefty T-rex, and he barges into Shane’s office. Shane challenges him to hit him, promising to sue if he does. Owens, hot-blooded hero of this saga, sinks down into a chair, meekly protesting his punishment, then tosses a table at a television, breaking it. Bah gawd.
Rough month to be Ember Moon
Meanwhile, both Ember Moon and Charlotte Flair have been jobber-entranced. Charlotte is coming off a hard-fought victory against iconic woman’s wrestler, Trish Stratus, whereas Ember, who had been literally handed a title match for no reason and made to look as ineffective as a hedgehog’s used condom prior to the contest, surprisingly put up a losing effort. Place your bets.
Charlotte and Ember lock up, with the Queen working the arm before slamming her opponent to the mat. Moon shoots Flair off the ropes, getting pushed right into the ropes before eating a solid back elbow to the mush. Moon manages to get some real offence in, scoring with a headscissors and a running dropkick, sending Flair sliding to the outside. Charlotte mocks Ember and the crowd by teasing getting back into the ring again and again, catching Moon with a right hand when she tries to dive out onto her but receiving a dropkick that sends her sprawling before Moon hits a successful dive from the middle rope to the outside.
Both women start brawling on the outside, with Charlotte driving Moon into the apron before hurling her into the barricade. Ember rallies once back in the ring, but Charlotte hammers her down to the mat, quickly regaining her composure. She applies a dragon sleeper to her opponent, sapping Ember’s resilience as she keeps her in the hold. Moon knees Charlotte repeatedly in the face until the Queen releases her, only to get hurled across the ring for her troubles. Moon gets her tits chopped off for a bit before she rolls sloppily out of a back suplex, keeping Charlotte on her toes with some gymnastic offence before Flair, irritated, clubs her down to the mat.
Moon avoids an attack to her leg in the corner, but her precarious position on the apron allows Flair to kick the same leg out from under her, letting her crash and burn on the outside. Now Charlotte’s on the hunt, trying to apply the Figure Four. Moon kicks her away, prompting Flair to chance tactics, putting her opponent in the Liontamer. Ember manages to reach the ropes, and her grand prize is a bunch of attacks to her legs. She’s able to dodge one, kicking the Queen in the face, rallying with more kicks and knees before a spinning right hand knocks Charlotte right to the floor.
Charlotte dodges a charge in the corner, but she eats a Codebreaker as we continue on through the Greatest Hits of Y2J. Any second now, one of them’s going to slut-shame Stephanie. Moon heads to the top rope, looking to piss away all of that momentum at once, paying homage to…well, Charlotte Flair. Flair drags her down to the mat but her following charge into the corner misses Ember, allowing Moon to blast her in the face with a huge kick to the face for a two-count.
Charlotte fights her way back up to her feet, booting Ember right in the face before applying the Figure Eight. Moon taps.
Definitely a better showing from Moon than Sunday, but I don’t think anyone was expecting a win from her here. 2.5 Stars.
In case you weren’t aware, someone’s been trying to kill Roman Reigns, “trying” being the operative word, because they’ve gone about with all the precision and planning of a particularly concussed clown. Compare this to Bray Wyatt, who tried to snap Finn Balor’s neck in front of a live audience on Sunday and isn’t facing an attempted-murder charge because like any of us are going to do anything about it. I guess what I’m saying is, there are worse things in the world than having Rowan trying to kill you.
I do like the fact that Daniel Bryan is currently acting as Rowan’s lawyer, presumably as a way of killing time before revealing himself as the Diana to this big, bearded Agent 47.
Speaking of Bryan, he and Rowan make their way onto the entrance ramp. Bryan professes their innocence, trying to paint Buddy Murphy as an unreliable witness. The man comes from Australia after all, so criminality and dishonesty is baked into his DNA. He tells everyone that Murphy gave the wrong name, shaming the crowd and society for fake news and conspiracy theories. This seems…oddly timed, given the recent and controversial “suicide” of child-pimping monster Jeffrey Epstein. Am I saying that Samoa Joe needs to beat the truth out of William Barr? Absolutely I am. Bryan promises to clear his name tonight, but then he also promised us a career-altering announcement, so forgive me if I’m sceptical.
Backstage, Shane is brooding over his damaged television. I don’t mean to tell him how to do his job, unless “slash your wrists and chug some bleach” could be considered career guidance, but he could be taking a little more interest in the repeated homicide attempts that have been going on recently. Drunk Interviewer Lady wanders in to ask who Kevin Owens’ opponent is tonight, and Samoa Joe appears. I guess he lost interest in clearing his name.
Time for another rousing round of “Who’s In That Cupboard?” Surprise: it’s Aleister Black. One day, I want to be shown what Zelina Vega’s doing during her husband’s self-imposed exile. I like to imagine that it’s the Tom Cruise dance from Risky Business. Either that or helping Andrade bully Apollo Crews. Anyway, Black’s sending out an open invitation for someone to get their teeth kicked in, only very poetically. I do feel like the apparatus of being booked in wrestling matches was never fully explained to him and he’s just puzzling along the best he can.
Buddy Murphy is in the ring and is facing Roman Reigns, which is like the biggest Monkey’s Paw wish ever for Buddy Murphy fans. Reigns makes his way to the ring, muscling Murphy into the corner as the bell rings. Buddy shoves Roman away, eating an uppercut but managing to blast Reigns with a knee strike for two.
Murphy beats on Roman for a little while, sapping away at all the goodwill that Angry Reigns brought out of me. Roman manages to uppercut him again before hurling him over the announce table like a sack of potatoes if potatoes weighed practically nothing at all. Murphy avoids a Drive-By, shoving Reigns into the steps as we go to the commerical break.
When we come back, Buddy Murphy is still apparently able to go one-on-one with Roman Reigns out of fucking nowhere. Reigns powerbombs him for a two-count, then goes on the assault, hammering Murphy from every direction before clotheslining him multiple times in the corner. Buddy avoids the Superman Punch, throwing Reigns into the steel post before rolling him up, low-bridging him out of the ring and diving out onto him. Remember when we thought that Roman Reigns was going to go over Brock Lesnar clean?
Murphy hits the Meteora, grinding coherent booking under his heel. He continues to beat on Roman before Reigns blasts him with a Superman Punch out of nowhere, “out of nowhere” being a real theme of this match. Murphy blocks the Spear with a flurry of knees and hits the brainbuster because of course he does. Murphy heads up to the top; Roman punches him right down to the outside, hits a Superman Punch at ringside then a Spear in the ring to end the match.
I do not object to Buddy Murphy being built up as a dangerous talent, but this was stupid. Roman needs to be angry, focused and to destroy everyone on his quest for the truth. Have Murphy fight like this against Rowan as payback for beating on him at SummerSlam, then let Reigns annihilate Rowan after the match: Murphy looks great and Roman looks unstoppable. 1 Star.
The Revival is backstage, looking to take on the New Day. Apparently the hilarious nonsense that’s been taking place in the Tag Team Division can be blamed on the New Day, which is a better and less-racist rationale than I expected from someone with that facial hair.
Elsewhere backstage, Kayla Braxton is trying to stir up shit, asking the New Day to respond to the Revival’s comments and asking Kofi about smacking the fuck out of Orton at SummerSlam. The New Day are, as a whole, unapologetic and eager to face the Revival.
Elias is a zebra asshole
Here’s Joe, ready to take on newly-impoverished Kevin Owens. The pauper makes his way to the ring, clearly hoping that some spare change will fall out of Joe’s pockets during the fight. It’s announced that Elias is the Special Guest Enforcer again, because what match is complete without a homeless-looking guy in a striped shirt hanging around outside the ring, putting all the parents on edge.
Owens starts off aggressively, alternately beating on Joe and getting distracted by Elias, allowing Joe to take control as we move into a commercial break. Owens rallies briefly before running right into a back elbow, opening him up to punishment from the Samoan. We return as Owens is getting his head wrenched around, bringing on some Finn Balor flashbacks.
Owens batters Joe away from himself before catching him with a missile dropkick and a back senton. Samoa Joe manages to slam Owens out of the corner, following that up with a superplex attempt. KO counters, throwing Joe back down to the mat and hitting him with a senton bomb. A stunner is countered, as is the Coquina Clutch, but the Pop-Up Powerbomb plants Joe! Elias drags the referee out of the ring, distracting Owens for long enough that Joe can recover and pin Owens, with Elias making the count.
This was fine. I think I’m incapable of caring about anything involving Shane McMahon at this point. 2 Stars.
And now Bryan and Rowan are marching into the locker room and telling everyone to get out except Buddy Murphy. Who knew that exposure could be so painful? Bryan accuses Murphy of lying as Rowan stares deep into his soul, presumably cupping a handful of Buddy’s Down Unders just off-camera. Bryan repeatedly demands that Murphy admit to lying, getting more and more deranged with every repetition.
Once again, Buddy tries to answer with a smug smirk, clearly forgetting what happened last week. Rowan, however, is happy to remind him, hurling him all around the room and slamming him into walls until Murphy screams that he was lying. Looks like he forgot how to be a physical threat who’s able to give Roman Reigns a decent fight. That, under the circumstances, is unfortunate.
Backstage, Roman is politely asking around for Bryan and Rowan. What happened to awesome, furious Roman Reigns from last week?
We get a promo for King of the Ring. Hey: give me talented wrestlers in 10-15 minute matches with limited bullshit, and I’m happy.
I guess the RAW Tag Team Championships aren’t good enough for the Revival
Here’s the New Day, ready to face the Revival: two men who you just assume aren’t happy with black Champions. That might not be true, but it’s a fair assumption based on appearances, specifically the beard. Before the Revival make it out there, Randy Orton’s music plays and the Viper heads out onto the entrance ramp, microphone at the ready.
Randy accuses Kofi of running away at SummerSlam, much like the Russian troops “ran away” from Berlin in 1945. He says that Kofi knows that he can’t beat Orton, despite the fact that Kingston did just that in one of those Gauntlet matches. Randy then mentions Kofi’s family, which just seems to be a risk that comes with the job when you’re WWE Champion, claiming that seeing Kofi beat the sweet fuck out of Orton with a kendo stick will somehow make them ashamed of him. Randy then pulls the ultimate heel move, saying that they should make tonight’s match a six-man tag. Hol’ on just a minute there, playa.
After a break, the Revival has arrived, suddenly a great deal less important. The bell rings, and it looks like Orton and Kofi will be starting the match off before Randy tags out, like a big asshole. So, now it’s Scott Dawson and Kofi, with the WWE Champion monkey-flipping and dropkicking the Revival member to start off the match. The New Day use quick tags and double-teams to deliver a flurry of offence to Dawson before Scott takes control, tagging in Wilder.
Dash comes into the match, taking a headscissors and a dropkick from Woods. A blind tag and an armbar from the illegal Wilder allows Dawson to take control, wrenching on the arm in the centre of the ring. Woods takes some abuse from the Revival, with Orton apparently content to remain on the apron, committing all of this to the spank bank. A sudden elbow from Woods staggers Wilder, but Dawson catches him before he can tag out, sending him to the outside for Orton to drop onto the announce table.
When we come back from the break, Woods is still the face-in-peril, eating a back suplex and having his arm wrenched again. He manages to reverse a throw from Dawson, tagging out to Big E, who explodes into the ring with a flurry of belly-to-bellies before nailing Wilder with a Homophobe Splash. A distraction from Dawson prevents the Big Ending, but Kofi tags in, dispatching both of the Revival members. A Boom Drop connects to Wilder, and Kofi counters an RKO attempt from Orton, sending him out of the ring and diving out after him.
Dawson counters a tornado DDT from Woods, who gets his arms trapped behind his back by Wilder. Xavier is able to throw Dawson over his and Wilder’s heads, fighting back against Dash. A blind tag from the Revival sets Woods up for the Shatter Machine, and the Dawson and Wilder pick up the win.
A fun match, and I suppose this does keep the eventual tag contest fresh. 2.5 Stars.
The Revival try to take out Big E after the match, but Kofi makes the save, catching Wilder with a dropkick in mid-air as he comes off the top. A Trouble in Paradise takes out Dawson, right before the RKO (which really can’t be said to be “outta nowhere” for anyone remotely familiar with this product) strikes.
Orton then drags Woods to his feet, hitting him with the RKO as well before doing the same to Big E and nailing Kofi again. The idea of a PPV event being built around Hell in a Cell is one that I still despise down to the very core of my being but, that being said, is there any chance we could skip Clash of Champions and just toss these two into Satan’s structure?
Backstage, Bryan and Rowan are sitting around talking about either the environment or Rowan’s penchant for sexing ostriches in his spare time (it’s good, honest work) when the door opens and Roman Reigns walks in. Bryan demands an apology, and Roman squares up for a scrap. Bryan warns him not to start a “melee” (a hundred points to Bryan for using that word), telling him that they’ve been carrying out their own investigation, off the books and without the Mayor’s say-so. They promise to bring Roman the culprit next week, which I guess will give them time to find a random stooge, beat a false confession out of him and get reinstated at the department.
I’m making a lot of jokes, but the fact that this is a drawn-out mystery with lots of potential suspects, false leads, multiple parties working the same case and interacting with each other is actually really cool and my favourite storyline at the moment not involving the words “severed head of Bray Wyatt”. You do you, Bischoff.
Tags: Aleister Black, Alexa Bliss, bayley, Buddy Murphy, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Elias, Ember Moon, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Nikki Cross, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Rowan, Samoa Joe, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The New Day, The Revival, WWE