The world’s most inept murder investigation continues this week although, to be fair, the murder attempts themselves are pretty amateurish stuff when compared to the classics of yesteryear. Say what you like about José González, such as “definitely stabbed Bruiser Brody”, but when he wanted a wrestler dead, he didn’t need at least three attempts to pull it off.
Still, I’m always amused when wrestlers try to do any job other than the one they’re actually employed to do, mostly because half of them don’t have the critical thinking skills required to be a village idiot. Let’s watch Roman Reigns attempt to blow this case wide open by, primarily, punching people.
The show begins with a video package made of the lackadaisical attempts on Roman’s life, narrated by the victim and the detective in charge of the investigation, who are the same person. That isn’t even the weirdest thing about this case. We also see Bryan and Rowan taking action to clear their names, and those actions are abduction and false imprisonment. That isn’t even the weirdest thing about this case. We recap the reveal that the prime suspect is some guy with no prior connection whatsoever to Reigns. If that’s true, then I hope it’s some kind of Strangers on a Train sort of deal, and there’s a smalltown police department currently investigating the mysterious death of a woman whose injuries indicate repeated Phenomenal Forearms.
And, in case you were wondering, the weirdest thing about this entire situation is that no-one has called the police yet. Honestly, I’m confused as to why the police themselves haven’t insisted on carrying out their own investigation, as all of this is being broadcast live on television.
The show itself starts with Roman Reigns walking around backstage, getting three feet before Kayla Braxton barrels up to him out of nowhere, microphone at the ready. You’d think after two murder attempts, Roman would be a little more cagey at being approached by anyone, but I’ve never once accused Reigns or any other wrestler of being bright. Kayla wants to know whether he’s going to apologise to Daniel Bryan, despite Bryan offering zero evidence other than some mute who just looks a little like Rowan. Roman says that he’ll save what he has to say for the ring: something you don’t often hear in a police procedural.
Kofi took out a huge life insurance policy on his family the second he became WWE Champion
And, as if to remind us that this is a wrestling show, here’s Kofi Kingston. We get a recap of Randy Orton once again going through that stage where he’s enthusiastic about his own career and Kofi Kingston demonstrating an emotion that’s worryingly close to rage. It’s like seeing your father wear a dress; you support him, but it’s always going to be a shock the first time you see it.
Kofi says that Orton’s been talking a lot about him being stupid, but says that Randy’s stupid because he got knocked out last week. I mean…that is going to contribute to a decline in cognitive function, so Kofi’s not entirely wrong. The WWE Champion says that he’s only ever wanted to prove that he belongs, which Orton seems to have a problem with. He claims that he’s got Orton rattled now and that he’s more than ready for their match at Clash of Champions.
Orton interrupts from on the screen, trying his best to run the “stupid” meme into the ground, WWE style. He says that he wants to come out there and show Kingston how wrong he is, but that he’ll save it for the PPV. He states that he has a letter that was slid under his hotel room door, which raises a huge number of questions, the first of which is “do you not have a mobile phone?”. He reads the letter, which is an impassioned plea from – apparently – Kofi Kingston’s own son for Orton to stop attacking his father. Jesus, WWE Champions should give up having families.
Randy threatens Kofi’s family while being recorded on television, which is the sort of high-level thinking you get from a man who likes to vandalise women’s property. And Kofi sprints out of the ring in hot pursuit rather than, for example, taking a commentator’s phone, calling his wife and telling her to inform hotel security and the police that they are in danger. At this rate, WWE Champions should get given an armed security detail for this exact type of situation. You could call it the “Samoa Joe Protocol”.
Anyway, Kofi and Randy start brawling backstage, which is how WWE employees settle disagreements and murder investigations. Orton spends most of the fight getting the shit kicked out of him until he hits the Vintage DDT off the table onto the floor, making it seem like that was a stupid plan that wouldn’t have worked but for blind luck.
After a brief break, Big E has just emerged from the doctor’s office and into an interview with Kayla. He has a match with Orton tonight, and he promises that while Kofi will be ready for Clash of Champions, Randy Orton might not be.
We recap King of the Ring, which has so far delivered some quality matches and has put the spotlight on plenty of superstars. Simple, competent and effective: no complaints here. We’ve got Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali tonight, plus Chad Gable vs. Shelton Benjamin. Colour me satisfied.
Much more of this, please
And that first match is up right now, pitting two of 205 Live’s alumni against each other, both of whom have been warmly received by the SmackDown Live fanbase. It seems likely that Murphy’s going to win this round, considering his recent near-win over Roman and his actual victory over Bryan.
Both men slap hands before starting the match, with Ali using his insane acrobatics to bamboozle Murphy before taking him over with a running hurricanrana which sends the Aussie out of the ring. Ali charges, but Murphy meets him with a hell of a high knee to the face, almost ending the match right there.
During the break, Buddy stomps a dazed Ali down in the corner, tossing him over his shoulder in a backdrop before working him over, slowing the pace, applying a sleeper when Ali tries to take back control, then practically decapitating him with a clothesline when his opponent tries it again. Ali manages to counter a back suplex into a pinning attempt, only for Murphy to respond with a vicious elbow to seize the momentum, applying the sleeper hold once again.
The beating continues as Buddy slowly wears down his smaller opponent. Ali finally shows some resistance, kicking Murphy away before catapulting him into the corner and hitting him with a running dropkick. Ali dives through the ropes, taking Murphy out on the outside. We’re shown Elias watching his potential opponents on the screen backstage, which is a sensible touch. Meanwhile, Ali catches Murphy with a kick from the apron, but his attempt at a rolling facebuster sees him caught by Murphy, who throws him right out of the ring before taking Ali out with a senton over the top rope!
Murphy heads up to the top rope, missing the meteora and running right into a superkick before Ali puts him down with the reverserana for two! Now it’s Ali heading for the top, kicking away Buddy’s attempt to slow him down. Murphy catches him up, planting him with a powerbomb before planting him with the brainbuster for another near fall. The crowd show their appreciation with a “this is awesome” chant as both men struggle to their feet, both trying to take control in the final stretch of the match. Ali catches Murphy with a kick, draping him over the ropes before hitting an outrageous DDT that plants and possibly kills Buddy. The 450 Splash connects, and Ali wins!
Well, definitely not the result that I expected, but both men looked outstanding and both deserved to advance. Murphy can recover, and hopefully Ali will make some magic with Elias. 4 Stars.
Post-match, Buddy offers a handshake, raising Ali’s hand. Nice touch, ensuring that Murphy’s stock continues to rise.
Backstage, Bayley is looking at her Championship before Ember Moon, worst number one contender ever, arrives. She promises to beat Bayley next time, which seems like a rash promise to make when your entire main roster career has been “bullied girl” and “terrible challenger for Women’s Championship”. But she says that she needs to focus on Charlotte, an actual threat to the title. Then Lacey Evans arrives, because a black woman is professing an opinion and she won’t stand for it. She challenges Bayley to a match tonight, possibly to remind us all that she exists.
It’s like Miz forgot how heels think
Here’s the Miz, ready to face Sami Zayn following Zayn’s shift from wrestler to translator last week. We recap Shinsuke Nakamura attacking Miz last week, and the Miz spends a few minutes tearing down their entire partnership, decrying Zayn’s attempts at clinging on to relevance. He references the Intercontinental Championship and what he did with it, positioning himself to face Shinsuke Nakamura at Clash of Champions.
Sami Zayn arrives, clearly not dressed to compete. He says that it doesn’t matter what Miz says about him, because he’s a liberator. He mocks the Miz for continuing to associate himself with the Intercontinental Championship when it’s Nakamura’s title. He says that Miz needs some respect beaten into him, though he declines Miz’s challenge to do so himself. The Miz comes out after Zayn, but Nakamura predictably jumps him, kicking the shit out of the A-Lister before blasting him with two Kinshasas to finish it.
Backstage, Elias is strumming a guitar when Kevin Owens walks in. Owens is, once again, extremely calm and passive, and I’ve basically given up on him as a heroic firebrand. KO claims that he’s here to talk to Shane, and Elias says that he’s not here. Owens thanks him and then leaves. If this ends in him crippling Elias, that could work.
Lacey needs to improve her wrestling without actually wrestling on television
Here’s Bayley, ready to take on a woman who can walk and throw a punch. Lacey follows her down to the ring, pausing to explicitly not allow a black man to kiss her hand. It’s funny how you can spell “Sassy Southern Belle” with three K’s.
The bell rings, and Lacey’s distraction ploy of throwing her glove in the air doesn’t work. Bayley unloads on her challenger, outwrestling her easily in the early going, working over her opponent’s arm. Evans counters with a bodyslam, kicking Bayley as the Champ tries to rise.
Bayley gets worked over in the corner for a second before seizing back the momentum, dumping Evans on the outside and running her over with a clothesline. And, because a straightforward wrestling match is too much to ask for in WWE, Charlotte Flair arrives to watch. During a commercial break, Lacey Evans takes control by shoving Bayley into a ring post, but Bayley catches her off-guard with a crossbody from the second rope. Evans regains her momentum with a gator roll before wrenching Bayley’s arm over the ring apron.
Back inside the ring, Lacey works Bayley over in the corner before punishing the arm once again. Bayley manages to reverse the hold, twisting Lacey’s own arm before running a dropkick into her back. Evans once again takes back control, again attacking the damaged arm of Bayley. Bayley sends herself out onto the apron, taking the fight to Evans on the outside, trapping her leg on the ropes before unloading on her.
Bayley fires up now, hitting Evans with multiple clotheslines and a knee strike before wrapping Lacey’s legs into a submission hold. She hangs Evans up on the ropes but has her Bayley-to-Belly countered by another wrench of her arm. Lacey heads up to the top, hitting her moonsault for a close fall.
Bayley rolls out of the ring, catching Lacey with a suplex on the outside. Both manage to make it back into the ring before ten-count, with Bayley getting the better of Lacey with each exchange. Evans botches a Bayley-to-Belly, grabbing the bottom rope to break the count. She hits a neckbreaker, only to get caught with some knees to the gut before another Bayley-to-Belly. The Women’s Champ hits the elbow from the top rope, winning the match.
I can’t see why Lacey Evans, who scarcely wrestle without looking drunk, is able to look this strong against a Champion. This was a capable match, which was mostly down to Bayley herself. 2 Stars.
Kayla Braxton is backstage with Bryan and Rowan, and she asks them if they’re expecting an apology. Bryan says that they’ve been working this case even though no-one’s asked them to and they found the one what did it. So they want an apology, plus their guns and their badges back, and they’re not leaving the arena until they get their “I’m sorry”. So…Roman could technically trap them in that arena forever? Just asking.
You sometimes forget that Big E is gigantic and terrifying
Here’s Randy Orton, ready to take on Big E. The New Day member arrives, looking far more serious than usual as he makes his way to the ring. The bell rings, and Big E hits two hard shots to Orton’s stomach before flinging him out of the ring, hurling him into the steel steps. He screams that Orton’s “got hell to pay”, then throws him over the announce table. Man, angry Big E is best Big E.
Orton manages to rally with a thumb to the eye, but all that earns him is a fun little journey right into the barricade. Back in the ring, Big E applies the abdominal stretch, spanking Randy in a visual that I didn’t know I needed. Then, just to remind us that he’s pissed off, he smashes an elbow into Orton’s jaw. Randy responds with a second thumb to the eye, then he buys himself some time by throwing Big E into the ring post.
Big E’s sent into the corner, but he explodes right back out, clotheslining Orton hard. He tries to hit his splash on the apron, but Randy ducks out of the way, leaving the bigger man to crash and burn. Orton hits his signature back suplex onto the announce table as the commercial break starts. During the break, it’s Orton’s turn to punish the New Day member, repaying him for his earlier treatment.
By the time we return to the action, Big E is still in trouble. He manages a quick burst of defiance, however, countering a back suplex to deliver one of his own onto the announce table. Back in the ring, Randy hits a quick standing dropkick to prevent Big E from gaining any momentum, then hits some stomps to his opponent, methodically taking him apart. Suddenly, Big E roars back into life with a volley of belly-to-belly suplexes. He moves to deliver the Warrior Splash but is distracted by the presence of the Revival, clubbing the pair of them off the apron. Orton almost delivers the RKO, but it’s countered into the Big Ending, which Randy slithers out of. A shot from the Revival staggers Big E, who turns into an RKO to end the match.
One of the better Orton matches I can remember; I only wish he was so enthusiastic all the time. Big E looked awesome here, which is good to remember for future single runs. 3 Stars.
Post-match, the Revival and Orton deliver their 3D/RKO hybrid. And I unpause the show two hours later, having got lost in a medley of Dudley Boyz clips on YouTube.
Backstage, the drunk blonde interviewer is slurring what are presumably questions at Chad Gable. Chad promises to remind Shelton exactly what he’s capable of. And then Benjamin, who I think just…stopped being crazy, appears to make a short joke. I think his weakening grip on reality was actually a better way to go. Still, apparently he can will himself back to sanity, which is a hell of a talent.
We catch up on some 24/7 Championship shenanigans, which I can’t believe are still this entertaining. And then Elias is onstage, sitting on the throne, wearing a crown and holding a sceptre, promising to outshine every other King that’s come before him. Before he can get too far into his royal address, Kevin Owens appears behind him, beating him all the way to the ring before hitting him with a stunner. If that was any tamer, it could have been used as a bedtime story.
And then R-Truth tries to pin Elias, only to get foiled by Maverick, who takes the Championship from Elias instead! I offically care more about this than I do Kevin Owens, which probably isn’t what WWE is aiming at with this feud.
Now feed him to Andrade
Well, Shelton Benjamin just got jobber-entranced; read into that what you will. And out comes Chad Gable. Just to look at him is to see the pool boy who ruined your parents’ marriage that one hot July afternoon.
Chad starts off aggressively, only to run right into a hellacious spinebuster from Benjamin that halts his momentum so hard that it’s now going backwards. A suplex plants Gable before Shelton mocks him again, only to get taken by surprise with a sudden pin attempt. Benjamin quickly suppresses him as Andrade and Vega watch from backstage.
More mockery from Shelton, which earns him a slap, followed by a flurry of offence from Gable, culminating in a spinning neckbreaker and a German suplex that plants Benjamin directly onto his head. That…just looked like a murder attempt. There’s a lot of it going around these days. Shelton practically no-sells it, however, blasting Chad with a flying clothesline before applying the Ankle Lock! Kurt Angle is grinning like a proud father with a broken freakin’ neck right now.
Gable counters the hold, sending Shelton to the outside before flinging himself off the apron…only for Benjamin to catch him and hurl him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Shelton props Gable on the top rope. Chad beats him down to the floor, misses a moonsault and eats a massive knee strike. Benjamin goes for the powerbomb but gets rolled up for three!
Gable should have shone far more here or even had a dominant win, as I can’t believe he’s going to beat Andrade (and nor should he). This could have done far more for him. 2 Stars.
And here’s Roman Reigns, who’s gone about three weeks without an attempt on his life. So…whoever’s been trying to kill him has just given up? That shows a real lack of ambition. Epstein was in jail and someone still managed to get to him. Apply yourself, unknown murderer.
Before Roman can say a word, Bryan and Rowan appear on the screen, demanding their apology once again. I mean…it costs nothing for Reigns to say it, and if it turns out that Bryan and Rowan were behind the murder attempt, then saying sorry doesn’t mean that Reigns can’t beat the unholy fuck out of them.
Roman asks the crowd if he should apologise, because putting policy decisions in the hands of the people in the form of a referendum has never gone horribly wrong before. He then shows a video of the first homicide attempt, which has been recut to look even worse than it was before we’re shown a hooded, red-bearded stranger lurking at the scene.
Bryan turns on Rowan, yelling at him, demanding to know what he’s done and slapping him in the face. The plot thickens. Rowan runs off, devastated by his owner’s rage and hoping he doesn’t get kicked out of the Planeteers. What’s he supposed to do, reform the Bludgeon Brothers? Hang out with the Fiend? Buddy up with Braun?
Bryan storms towards the stage, denouncing Rowan as he does so. Reigns looks confused, which is a fair reaction. Bryan emerges onto the ramp, coming into the ring just in time for Roman to spear him, presumably just in case.
Tags: bayley, Big E, Buddy Murphy, Chad Gable, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Elias, Ember Moon, Erick Rowan, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Lacey Evans, Mustafa Ali, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, shelton benjamin, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The New Day, The Revival, WWE