2 Evolution 2 Legacy
The show begins with the man who is keen to let you know that he suffers from schizophrenia: Randy Orton. It’s hard to reconcile monickers like “apex predator” and “the Viper” with that shirtless hoody he insists on walking around in. Following his assault on the New Day on Monday, he’s presumably here to talk. Beat still my heart.
Orton says that he’s here to speak the truth, that truth being that Kofi ran away at SummerSlam and that Kofi is stupid. Where else can you get this kind of dignified discourse, apart from every school playground all over the globe? Apparently Kofi’s supposed stupidity is the fatal flaw that’s going to give Randy his nth Championship, and Orton states that every time he gives Kingston a chance, the WWE Champion fails once again.
Before this can go on too long, the New Day’s music plays. Orton squares up for a fight, but no-one comes out on the main stage. Suddenly suspicious, though nowhere near as suspicious as he should be given that this is literally his own strategy, Randy turns around…boom: right into Trouble In Paradise.
Kofi grabs a steel chair and wraps it around a dazed Orton’s leg. The crowd really perks up at the prospect of seeing Randy both humbled and hobbled, but the Revival sadly makes the save, their reward being getting the shit kicked out of them by one angry WWE Champion and his pet steel chair. That and, presumably, Randy Orton’s gratitude, but I think I’d sooner go another few rounds with the steel chair.
We recap the series of inept attempts on Roman Reigns’ life, his momentary flash of anger before sliding back into lordly calm, the reveal that this Buddy Murphy kid is actually pretty talented, and my favourite development from this case: Bryan and Rowan going all loose cannon, Line of Duty-style in what has to be the buddy cop movie of the century. And do you think that it’s a coincidence that former rasslin’ lawyer, Dave Otunga, is on commentary tonight? This whole thing’s about to get blown wide open.
I hear that Kingship’s all about stories anyway
Here’s Andrade with his manager, Zelina Vega, who’s trying to make one big coat do the job of an entire outfit. This is a KOTR match, in which Andrade will be facing Apollo Crews, renewing a rivalry that done Apollo no favours whatsoever.
Before that, however, Shane McMahon has called Kevin Owens into his office for a meeting. Owens wants none of that, wanting to focus on his own KOTR match, but would really appreciate it if McMahon could just let that whole hundred thousand dollar issue slide. If Owens is comfortable physically assaulting a man, why is he acting like a financial obligation to the same individual is an unbreakable edict? Shane says that he’ll consider it, much like I’ll consider caring about any of this.
Back to actual wrestling, here’s Apollo Crews: terrifyingly strong and obscenely acrobatic. Both men ready themselves, and Apollo clotheslines Andrade’s head right the fuck off with a clothesline seconds after the bell. Andrade quickly seizes control, slipping out of Crews’ grip and tossing him into the corner before slamming a pair of knees into his skull. Future in-ring fatality, thy name is Andrade’s kneecaps.
Now Andrade wants the Hammerlock DDT, but Crews rolls him up and hoists the former NXT Champ on his shoulders. Andrade’s able to maneuver him over to the ropes, hanging his arm up over the top for the referee’s five-count. He then ascends to the top rope himself, launching himself…directly into a dropkick from Apollo that knocks him out of the air and out of the ring.
On the outside, Andrade regains control again, slamming Crews’ skull off the apron. Apollo tries to rally, catching Andrade on his shoulders before El Idolo hurricanranas him into the steel steps. During the break, Andrade goes on the attack, trying to take advantage off that devastating blow. He works the arm he hung up on the ropes, then mocks Eddie Guerrero with the Three Amigos. He’s not wrestling Rey Mysterio, so it actually works this time, and then he goes up to the top rope again. Crews catches up with him, and the pair struggle for control on the top. Andrade launches himself off the top, but Apollo catches him, slamming him onto the mat before hitting him in the gut with a pair of knees.
Andrade eats a boot to the head and a dropkick as Apollo builds up steam. An Angle Slam almost nets Crews the win. Andrade rolls out of a back suplex, kicking Apollo in the face, but he gets caught on the top rope once again. He slides out of Crews’ press slam attempt, Apollo’s arm nowhere near one hundred percent. Apollo manages to dodge a second pair of running knees; both men counter move after move before Apollo boots Andrade dead in the face and follows it up with a standing shooting star press for another near-fall.
Now Zelina gets involved, distracting Apollo long enough for Andrade to hit a back elbow and a Hammerlock DDT.
Solid match, and Apollo looked like a contender here. I’m not too rattled about Zelina’s interference, as it tipped the scales after it was made clear that this was anyone’s match. 3 Stars.
Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan, lean, green detecting machines, have abducted someone, put a black bag over his head and are keeping him prisoner in the locker room. That immediately narrows it down to “people that Bryan and Rowan can intimidate”, eliminating Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Drew McIntyre from immediate contention. My money’s on R-Truth, who’s going along with this as a means of bringing him closer to the 24/7 Championship.
Speaking of, elsewhere backstage, Elias is on high alert, detecting a disguised referee and finding Drake Maverick lying in wait. He chokes his supposed challenger and makes him read a note stating that the 24/7 Championship rules have been suspended for the night. HEEL MOVE.
The universe just shifted back into position
Here come Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, the Women’s Tag Team Champions, here for A Moment of Bliss. Tonight’s guest is Charlotte Flair, who joins the pair. She immediately teases a Women’s KOTR by pointing at the throne, which sounds like a winning idea to me. They discuss Charlotte’s victory over Trish Stratus before Alexa tries to initiate the Charlotte/Bayley feud that we’ve all been expecting for months. Damn it: we were close to a record number of weeks of Charlotte not being part of the Championship conversation.
Charlotte trashes Bayley until the Champ comes out to defend herself and to tell Charlotte that if she wants a match then she can do what everyone else does: sit in a cupboard and wait for someone to knock at the door. Sorry: she can do what everyone except Aleister Black does and just ask for one. Sure enough, amidst the catty comments and the WOOOs, the match is made and we’re only weeks away from Charlotte reestablishing her iron grip over the belt and division again.
Also, Bayley shoves Charlotte off her chair, which is kind of a dick move.
Meanwhile, Buddy Murphy is backstage, trying to avoid all of the multiple, parallel, cross-purpose investigations that the WWE locker room are carrying out. He stands as Roman Reigns enters the room, but the Big Dawg is here to have a quiet talk as opposed to the “hurl dudes across the room and scream at them” talk.
Buddy really just wants to be left alone, stating that he’s “pretty sure” that he saw Erick Rowan at the scene of the accident. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we get mixed up in a murder investigation involving Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.
So Bryan and Rowan just left their prisoner unattended, right?
And Buddy’s attempts at non-participation meet with yet more failure as he is about to be in a match with WWE’s own Serpico (though I’m mostly basing that just on the beard and hair), Daniel Bryan who, along with Rowan, has been doing his best to put the “dick” in Dick Tracy, makes his way to the ring, followed by communal locker room snitch, Buddy Murphy. I’m using as many crime and police procedural references as I can before we go back to the dull old days of none of these guys trying to murder each other.
Bryan grabs a microphone, pressing X to doubt Buddy Murphy’s most recent testimony to Roman Reigns, promising to reveal the culprit behind the attacks tonight and also swearing to prove that Murphy had something to do with it do.
Murphy starts off aggressively, walloping Bryan with a knee to the face before beating him right out of the ring. Bryan tries to keep away from Murphy, managing to turn the tables as he catches the Australian on his way back into the ring. They tussle in the ring, with Bryan going so far as to bite Murphy in the corner, continuing to punish him until Buddy responds with a flurry of offence, clotheslining the former WWE Champion to the outside before diving out on top of him as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Murphy has just levelled Bryan with a front dropkick. Bryan sends him out onto the apron, eating another kick to the head as payback before Murphy comes off the top rope with a pair of knees to Bryan’s face. Bryan rolls out of a back suplex, then locks in the LaBell Lock. He wrenches the arm back, applying the Rings of Saturn for a moment before Buddy manages to free his arm, trying his hardest to get to the bottom rope, finally getting a foot on it.
Bryan laces Buddy with kicks, not allowing the Australian to reach his feet, but Murphy keeps trying to rise, managing to catch Bryan with a spinning kick to the face before Bryan traps him in the Tree of Woe, running a low dropkick directly into his face. Now Bryan takes Murphy to the top for a back superplex, stacking him up for the pin only for Buddy to once again get the shoulder up.
More kicks to Buddy in the corner now, with Bryan screaming “liar” with every one. Murphy manages a final spark of life, catching his opponent by surprise with a running powerbomb. Bryan kicks out, and both men trade blows in the centre of the ring, with Murphy almost overwhelming Bryan with a volley of kicks, almost scoring off a roll-up and then again following a brainbuster suplex.
Rowan’s on the apron now, almost getting Murphy rolled up. A missed charge from Bryan and a ducked superkick from Buddy sees the big red environmentalist dropped onto the floor, but Bryan goes for the roll-up once again. Murphy ducks the kick, hits the high knee and pins Bryan following Murphy’s Law!
I genuinely thought that this would be another losing effort that would still do Murphy some good; the win caught me by total surprise, but I’m far more in favour of this one week onward. Murphy seemingly has all the tools and management’s belief, and he’s really making this storyline more multifaceted than it otherwise could be. 3.5 Stars.
We’re shown Bryan and Rowan’s suspect, still sitting patiently where he was left and his features still hidden behind a black bag that I assume Bryan and Rowan made him wear. After what just happened to those two, why would you respect the rules of their pretend custody and remain in their imaginary holding cell?
Backstage, Buddy Murphy is about to be interviewed when Bryan and Rowan attack him. Well, Rowan attacks him; Bryan mostly just yells. It’s Bad Cop/Loud Cop. Rather than Roman Reigns rescuing him in a show of newfound respect, it’s down to a regiment of referees to shoo them away.
Oh yeah, Heavy Machinery
Here come the Revival, who are therefore presumably not Bryan’s suspect. It’s also not Buddy Murphy, Erick Rowan or Daniel Bryan himself. This is all coming together. We’re shown the footage of the Revival getting the steel chair put to them by Kofi Kingston, and they try to spin this into them being the…good guys, I guess? I’ve never been able to work out their motivation.
They are at any rate interrupted by Heavy Machinery, and this tag team match gets underway. Tucker seizes the advantage immediately with a bearhug to Wilder’s ribs, passing him into Otis’ own bearhug. Wilder escapes, only to get tossed into a suplex, with Scott Dawson running right into another from Otis. During the break, the Revival shove Tucker into a steel post on the outside, giving themselves a little breathing room and allowing them to wear down the bigger man. When we come back, Wilder has Knight in a headlock, keeping him grounded to neutralise his height and power.
Tucker works his way up to his feet, but Dash drags him into the corner by his hair before levelling him with a bulldog. Dawson tags in, coming right off the top rope but missing an attempt at an elbow drop. Wilder tags in, cutting off Knight for a moment, but the big man shoves through him with a final effort, tagging in Otis.
Otis cries havoc all over the Revival, punishing Wilder with the Caterpillar. Dawson interrupts the Compactor attempt, with a roll-up from Wilder getting the sudden win.
This reminded people that Heavy Machinery is a thing, while making the Revival look capable after a beating from Kofi. Solid booking. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, Cabana Boy Chad Gable is being interviewed by Kayla, who says that some people are calling him an underdog. I feel like she thinks that she’ll die unless she stirs a requisite amount of shit per week. Either that or she’s a sociopath that enjoys making other people hurt; either would fit her general profile.
Gable says that he’s always been the underdog. Shelton Benjamin is moseying around in the background, but I’m doing my best to ignore him. And it turns out Benjamin put up a sign mocking Gable’s height. Still, at least he didn’t toss him through a window. Or turn out to be Kurt Angle’s bastard.
In other news, prepare to watch NXT wither and die in two-hour segments under Vince’s creative control. It’s been fun while it lasted, “it” being Vince not knowing that NXT existed.
I’m holding out for another iteration of “the UnAmericans”
The Miz is in the house, here to present Miz TV with his guest, Sami Zayn. Sami looks pretty upbeat for someone whose career has been an utter litany of failure, meaning he’s probably about to pull a heel or a face turn from whatever he is now.
Sami says that he requested this time because he’s got some things that he needs to get off his chest. He’s been on a horrifying losing streak, and he says that it’s because he’s got caught in the trap of greed and selfishness that everyone always does. All his life, success has come through fighting for a cause, and so now he’s going to make some mild pretence at altruism so that he can start winning matches and earning more money again?
Sami then introduces Shinsuke Nakamura, who makes his way to the ring. Miz asks why Shinsuke is bothering with this Canadian dipshit, which gets him lambasted by Zayn for not speaking Japanese. Sami claims that he’s the same as Shinsuke, and states that he is now acting as Nakamura’s interpreter. Miz finds this comical, and in fact continues to do so until Shinuke kicks him in the back of the head and then beats him into unconsciousness. Sami finally backs Shinsuke off before encouraging him to hit the Kinshasa to the Miz.
Well, Shinsuke no longer has to give or avoid interviews and Sami Zayn has something going for him other than “lose constantly”. You know what? Colour me intrigued.
Backstage, Bryan’s suspect is still in fake custody, and then plan seems to be that him, Bryan and Rowan are going to sit around and wait for Roman. I’m so legitimately amused by this whole story.
In a less law-enforcement-themed part of backstage, Shane states that he’s reconsidering lifting the fine on Kevin Owens but, in return, he’ll have to promise never to attack another referee again. Owens agrees, offering to shake hands, but Shane says that he’s not there yet. Jesus, KO is a fucking mild flavour of anti-authoritarian. Is this Vince trying to tell the audience that being rich enough means that you can ignore the opinions of the proles and practically hold them in bondage? Because it’s literally what it reads like.
Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not some farcical, wrestling ceremony
Anyway, Elias is in the ring and Owens trots out to meet him. This is like the part of Cool Hand Luke when Luke finally gives in, only this Luke did so after practically zero inconvenience.
Owens and Elias lock up, with Elias applying a headlock, knocking Owens down as he’s shot off the ropes. Owens fires back with an elbow before clotheslining his opponent out of the ring. Elias ducks out of the way of a dive, but KO follows him to the outside, smacking him around until Elias throws him into the barricade. Now Elias goes on the attack, but Owens catches him with a German suplex and ploughs into him with the Cannonball.
And out comes Shane, because God knows this hasn’t gone on for long enough. After a commercial break, Elias has Owens in a headlock in the centre of the ring. KO manages to free himself, only for a leaping knee from Elias to stop him and drop him. The guitar-playing wrestler/scruffy hobo continues his assault on Owens, bodyslamming him in the centre of the ring before reapplying the headlock. KO rebounds off the ropes and, in a desperation move, plants Elias with a DDT to allow some separation.
A missile dropkick builds more momentum for Owens, but he runs into a kick from Elias, who gets him up on his shoulders before planting him with a sit-out powerbomb. Both men end up on the top turnbuckle, and Owens beats Elias to the floor before launching himself over in a senton bomb, only to crash and burn across Elias’ knees.
Owens low-bridges Elias out of the ring, hitting a flying cannonball to his opponent on the outside. Before he can press his attack, however, Shane interrupts, revealing that he is wearing a shirt that declares him to be the new match enforcer. This distracts Owens enough that Elias almost picks up the win right there. Owens responds with a stunner attempt, only to have to stop himself from being flung into Shane by Elias. Elias immediately rolls him up, with Shane fast-counting to give his buddy the win.
I’m not even sympathetic towards Owens, who acted like a bitch for the last two episodes and so deserves all the misery in the world. He can stand aside for whomever our new saviour is going to be, thanks. 2 Stars.
Backstage, Roman Reigns walks into the locker room to see Bryan and Rowan’s proof. Bryan claims that he found the man who did it, and if it’s Dean Ambrose then I’m going to freak out. But…it’s just some bald guy with a red beard. Personally, I think that Roman should go after the man who’s legally employed by WWE, because it’ll probably end up being him.