Us Brits are all waiting to see whether the “turn it off and turn it back on again” approach to our democracy has made the slightest bit of difference, so while we boot Parliament back up and drag our national embarrassment of a Prime Minister back to London so that politicians of every party can deliver unto him the verbal equivalent of a knee to the dangly parts, I’ll be taking refuge in the relatively stable political haven of SmackDown Live. Because God knows Shane McMahon might be mad with power and Corbin may be calling himself a King without even the slightest pretence at a legally binding coronation ceremony, but at least this is how things are supposed to be: anarchic yet autocratic, hopelessly volatile and very, very stupid. Anyway, wrestlers wouldn’t know what to do with real democratic representation if they were ever given it, and they’d likely end up putting it through a table just to simplify things.
Also, how many people managed to forget that Kevin Owens is fired again?
Three Wyatts and a Roman
We recap the burgeoning, bludgeoning, new/old friendship between Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, which they solidified by wrecking two of SmackDown’s top talents last week. After what happened to Braun Strowman on Monday, I’d be sticking together if I was an ex-Wyatt Family member as well. Orton and Bryan are probably feeling pretty twitchy right now.
Rowan himself comes out to the ring, and he announces that what he and Harper did was a work of art. Not the sort that gets public funding or belongs in a museum, mind you, but still possessed of its own, horrifying artistic merit. Like one of Heidenreich’s disasterpieces. Rowan goes on, stating that he created violence that demands respect, like he’s the first guy in wrestling to ever make that connection. He expounds on his own personal philosophy of might makes right which, if taken to its logical conclusion. would imply that Braun Strowman is a beacon of moral correctness.
Before Rowan can preach more about the relationship between big, bulging biceps and pure virtue, Daniel Bryan shows up on the ramp. He stomps right down to the ring, telling Rowan that if he wants some respect, then he can fight Bryan right now. And apparently Rowan has enough faith in his socio-political system known as “Rowan Smash” to accept the challenge, because he’s not going anywhere.
The ref rings the bell, and Rowan immediately opens up with the power game, tossing Bryan across the ring before goddamn beheading him with a clothesline. The mauling of Daniel Bryan continues, spilling out to the outside where Rowan runs right into him. Bryan’s skull is bounced off the ring post before he’s brought back into the ring for a good, old-fashioned, rousing game of getting his head kicked in.
Bryan struggles against Rowan’s neck wrench, battling his way up to his feet before running right into a spinning kick from Rowan. There’s a commercial break, which mostly seems to have consisted of Bryan getting the boots put to him, I assume for the sake of variety. We come back as he’s powerbombed into the ring post, just making it back into the ring before the count of ten. Brock Lesnar had more trouble with Bryan than this.
Finally, Bryan manages to hit a dropkick to the knee of Rowan, dropping the big man. The former WWE Champion remains focused on the limb, chopping it out from under Rown again and again, then mercilessly wrapping the leg around the ring post, even running a dropkick into it. Daniel Bryan is a sick puppy. Back in the ring, Rowan’s laced with running dropkicks into the corner, but he catches Bryan during his third charge for a massive slam.
Rowan applies a bearhug, both appealing to Bryan’s weird love of bears while at the same time breaking Bryan’s rule of “no-one cuddles me but Kane”. Bryan escapes right into a powerbomb, which probably makes that a generous use of the word “escapes”. During a second break, Rowan heads back to the outside, tossing his opponent into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Rowan waits on Bryan before hitting him with another vicious clothesline. He then heads up to the second rope for some general showboating: just the kind of thing you look for from a monster heel.
We come back from the break, just as we’re all considering retroactively taking away one of Bryan’s World Championship reigns. Daniel manages to counter a powerbomb and send Rowan out of the ring; he gets caught off his attempt to dive out onto him, but still manages to drive Rowan into the ring post. Back inside the ring, a missile dropkick from Bryan strikes Erick in the back, followed by a barrage of kicks ending with a wicked shot to the skull which only puts Rowan down for one.
Bryan leaps from the top rope, right into the Iron Claw, which he turns into a guillotine, transitioning effortlessly into the LaBell Lock. Rowan reaches the ropes, just as Bryan notices Harper at ringside. He hurls himself through the ropes at the second Bludgeon Brother, but the distraction is more than enough; Rowan Iron Claws Bryan from the apron back into the ring, getting Bryan’s foot caught in the ropes in the process. That…did not look good. The referee and Rowan finally get Bryan out, allowing Rowan to hit a second Claw for the victory.
A good match, but for that hiccough at the end. I’m surprised they’re giving Rowan such a good showing at Bryan’s expense, but I’m never one to turn down monster heels, especially with Lars Sullivan on his recovery/justify rape/say stupid racist shit sabbatical. 3 Stars.
After the match, Harper and Rowan start clearing off an announce table, but before they can get up to any mischief with it, Roman Reigns arrives. He blasts Harper with a Superman punch, decks Rowan, hits Harper with a drive-by, then loses the numbers game as the Fabulous Bludgeon Boys gang up on him.
Bryan tries to make the save, getting thrown into the ring by Harper for his troubles. Harper loads up his Discus Clothesline, only for Bryan to duck the blow and blast Harper with the Running Knee! Rowan gets into the ring, looking to deliver a third Iron Claw, before Roman spears him right out of his boots.
Bryan asks the audience if they’d like to see him and Reigns take on the Bludgeon Brothers. The crowd chant “yes”, but I’m worried about Bryan’s foot following that rope fumble.
Hey, if it keeps Cole off commentary
And now we recap the announcement that it’s SmackDown’s turn to be without a main champion for a while. We’re treated to a run-down of Brock Lesnar’s career, including those moments when we were cheering for him to ruin every single soul in his path. What, are those there to make us hold a mirror up to ourselves and question what makes violence ever the correct course of action? Because fuck you, and fuck Team Angle while you’re at it.
Oh, Michael Cole’s backstage to do yet another “I was once a real journalist” interview. This week, he’s with Kofi Kingston, who seems very relaxed for a man who’s going to get his guts pulled out through his anus next week (Brock Lesnar’s into some wild stuff). When asked about the match, Kofi merely replies that he’d promised to be a fighting champion, acknowledging that there’s really no way to prepare for Brock Lesnar. He runs down a list of the men he’s beaten so far, saying that he’s feeling confident. Kofi finishes by stating that he feels the pressure, but he’s thrilled to be the main event at the next stage of SmackDown’s development.
I guarantee you that Vince has pitched a “Maria has a miscarriage” comedy storyline twice by now
Here comes Chad Gable, avowed anti-monarchist (I’d have called him a republican, but that might lead to misunderstandings and the belief that I’m trying to imply that Gable is a gutless, right-wing bootlicker). He addresses the recent culture of short jokes in the WWE, which seems like an HR matter if ever there was one. He states that King Corbin had to cheat to beat him on Monday, but he doesn’t get much further before he’s interrupted by Mike Kanellis. Jesus: long way down from King of the Ring.
Kanellis makes the requisite short jokes, then somehow makes a match between the two of them. Gable belly-to-bellies, Chaos Theories, and ankle locks Kanellis, winning the match in jig time.
Why in God’s name was Gable not Kurt Angle’s son? We’d have believed it if you’d told us to. 2 Stars.
Oh shit, son. Elias is on the titantron. Unlike some of the lazy fucks backstage, Elias has put in the effort to make a song about how short Gable is. That’s some dedication.
There were probably more competent partners than Carmella
Charlotte Flair is walking around backstage, possibly with a purpose or possibly just to get her miles in. She asks R-Truth where Carmella is, and Truth gamely covers for her until Carmella shows up. She and Charlotte quickly get on the same page re. priorities for tonight.
Charlotte, Carmella and the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection make their entrances, and this match gets underway. Carmella and Sasha Banks kick things off, Banks starting off aggressively. Carmella dodges a charge, hitting an atomic drop and a hurricanrana to Sasha, who manages to regain control with a strong right hand and make the tag to Bayley. The SmackDown Women’s Champion unloads on Carmella with strong right hands on the outside, continuing the assault back inside the ring.
Sasha re-enters the match, applying a sleeper before tagging Bayley back in. Carmella’s trying to escape to Charlotte, and she buys herself some time with an Edge-O-Matic, managing to make the tag to her partner. Charlotte dashes into the ring, chopping the tits off Bayley before suplexing her all over the ring. Bayley takes a backbreaker and then a hard boot to the face, with Charlotte applying a Figure Four.
Banks flies in suddenly, hitting the Meteora to break up the submission. She wisely drags Bayley over to her corner, tagging in and then immediately attempting to put Flair away with the Bank Statement. Charlotte counters the move, jacking Sasha’s jaw in the process, and tries for another Figure Four, only for Banks to kick her into the corner. Now Carmella tags in, hitting a flying crossbody to Sasha, then a superkick. Banks recovers, misses a dive from the top and runs into another superkick!
Carmella is a superkick factory, hitting the move in a barrage to Bayley, who’s knocked off the apron. She tries to roll up Banks, but the Boss is able to turn the attempt into a Banks Statement, forcing the tap-out. Charlotte is just watching all of this, implying that she either doesn’t care about the result or feels that breaking up a submission hold is something that only heels do.
This felt very restrained. Possibly Carmella’s involvement limited things a bit, but combined with Charlotte not trying to help her partner, this felt like it didn’t matter. 2 Stars.
R-Truth scoops up Carmella and runs like the wind, pursued by the entire SmackDown Women’s Division. This leaves Charlotte trapped in the ring with Bayley and Sasha. She tries to overwhelm them with a rush of offence, but a Banks Statement puts her down. Before much else can happen, Becky hits the ring, hitting clotheslines, right hands and Bexploders, applying a Dis-Arm-Her to Banks before Bayley drags her out of the ring.
Shane McMahon is backstage with three people he’s hired to pretend to be his attorneys. It’s really quite sad.
Sami Zayn is the smuggest man in wrestling
Ali is in the house, ready for a match that will hopefully go better than last week’s. Sami Zayn arrives to introduce Shinsuke Nakamura. Shinsuke writhes his way to the ring, and the match is actually allowed to start this time.
Shinsuke is caught off-guard in the opening moments by Ali’s speed, rolling out of the ring before Ali dives right out onto him. Back inside, he hits a flying crossbody, gets distracted by Zayn before Nakamura hurls him headfirst into the ring post. During the break, Shinsuke keeps Ali grounded, preventing him from building up any more momentum, using vicious strikes to ensure that the cruiserweight remains suppressed.
When we come back, Ali manages to blast Nakamura with a leaping kick, following that up with another hard shot to the skull, then a rolling facebuster. Ali charges, hitting a pair of double knees to the cornered Nakamura, then catches Shinsuke with a dropkick when the Intercontinental Champion tries a high-risk move of his own.
A spinning kick fells Ali, allowing Nakamura to put him down with a sliding German suplex. A Kinshasa attempt is intercepted by Ali’s superkick, with Shinsuke kicking out at two. Nakamura catches Ali on the top rope, running a knee into his stomach, then has his exploder suplex attempt countered with a roll-up. Ali hits a tornado DDT, but as he’s about to hit the 450 splash, Zayn drags Shinsuke out of the ring to safety.
Ali hurls himself out of the ring onto Nakamura, but then decides to focus on chasing Sami Zayn rather than winning the match. Wham, bam, Kinshasa.
Great match, and a good advert for a PPV match between these two. 2.5 Stars.
Oh God, yeah: Kevin Owens is fired. We recap this storyline slowly turning into what I can only hope will be a gripping courtroom drama. Between that and having to watch Shane McMahon wrestle again, I know which one I’m choosing. Get Jed Mercurio to direct it, with Tyler Breeze and Fandango investigating corruption and nicking bent
Looks like Bryan’s still healthy, or at least healthy enough to tag with Reigns at Hell in a Cell.
They’re missing a trick if the Fiend doesn’t eventually take out Bo Dallas
Here’s the New Day, ready to take on the B Team, who are fresh off their mauling from Heavy Machinery last week. Axel starts off with a kick to Xavier, who responds with a flurry of offence before a distraction from Bo Dallas allows the B Team to have their moment in the sun. This amazingly lasts longer than ten seconds, thanks to some competent tag-team wrestling from the B Team and the fact that there’s probably a fair amount of time to fill.
B Team continue to lay a beating on Woods before they decide to go for a victory lap. Big E joins in part of the way through, which is in itself a full argument for why the New Day should never be broken up, before he hurls Axel into the timekeeper’s area. Woods makes the tag to Big E, and the pair finish Bo Dallas with the Midnight Hour.
Even in a time-filling match like this, the New Day really go above and beyond to entertain, which makes a huge difference. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, Sonya DeVille has once again managed to rescue Mandy Rose from the deep pit in Corey Graves’ basement, and she’s now keeping watch over her friend as the blonde hands out copies of her magazine. I’m sure Mandy’s supposed to come across as egocentric and heelish for doing this, but nobody seems to be complaining about the free literature.
Otis waylays the pair, asking for a quick selfie, then he and Tucker leer over the magazines like this show has just turned into Carry On, SmackDown. That sounds like a derogatory description, but I’d watch the fuck out of a Carry On movie set in the WWE. If you’re not from Britain and don’t know what the Carry On films are, just imagine institutional sexism and sexual assault in movie form. Now stop there, because that’s pretty much what those films are.
“Kabuki Warriors” manages to be the dumbest team name on a show featuring “The Bludgeon Brothers”
Anyway, here are Kairi Sane and Asuka, without Paige but still with their lazily mashed-up theme. I know that pyro’s a rare beast around these parts, but surely there’s enough in the budget to make anything better than this. To be fair, Sonya and Mandy’s theme isn’t much better, but at least the separate tunes are similar enough that they transition smoothly. Rose gives Corey Graves a signed magazine, which will make a fine addition to the Mandy shrine that takes up an entire room in that sharply-dressed pervert’s house.
Anyway, Sonya and Asuka start off, tussling for control. DeVille dumps Asuka on the mat, catching her with a kick before the Empress fires up, hitting a volley of strikes, finally running Sonya over with a shoulder tackle.
Kairi tags in, helping Asuka hit a double hip toss before eating a hard forearm to the face and getting dumped out of the ring. Mandy tags in, but she opts to show off her magazine instead, almost literally rubbing it in Kairi’s face. Sane responds by kicking the magazine out of Rose’s hands before chopping her right in the throat. Damn: Kairi doesn’t appreciate narcissism.
Back in the ring, Kairi hits a sliding blow to a cornered Mandy, with DeVille providing a much-needed distraction that allows Rose to take control of the match. Kairi still fights back, managing to kick Mandy away and tag in Asuka. The former SmackDown Women’s Champion unloads on Rose, with Kairi kicking Sonya away when she tries to interfere.
Mandy eats a Codebreaker and an Insane Elbow, so I guess we’re starting another Kabuki Warriors push. Hope it goes better than last time.
Mandy was definitely the weak link in this match. It’s not that she can’t wrestle, but I’d much rather see Sonya featured more prominently in the team, at least on the physical side. 1.5 Stars.
They pretended this was a legal drama for literally ten seconds
Shane McMahon and his legal team are in the house. I’d like to think the lawyers added a few zeroes onto their hourly retainer the second they saw Shane’s elaborate “best in the world” performance; he’s clearly guilty as sin.
Shane invites Owens into the ring, and KO emerges from the crowd, joining Shane and his hopefully-fake lawyers. McMahon says that they’ve come up with several propositions, the first of which is keeping Owens in court forever, draining him of money. Oh, what, like any lawyer isn’t going to take a no-win, no-fee case for a twenty-five million dollar pay-out? There’s also Option Two, which is that Owens drops the lawsuit, gets his job back and faces no fine. That’s terrible, but it’s also more reasonable an offer than I’d expect from any McMahon not named “Linda”.
Owens tells Shane that he’s an idiot, stating that the lawsuit’s never been about money, but rather hurting Shane himself. Jesus, Owens: don’t say that in front of Shane McMahon’s lawyers. KO says that there’s a third proposition and, surprise surprise, it’s a wrestling match. Shane’s lawyers should be fucking dragging him out of the ring right now; this is the worst possible idea for their client. Owens says that they should put the legal documents in a briefcase and have a Ladder match to decide who’s fired and who isn’t.
I’d like to note that no defence attorney in the history of ever would let their client agree to that. I don’t know what Shane’s lawyers are thinking or, actually, what Owens’ legal counsel is thinking either. This is like if Line of Duty agreed to drop all charges against a corrupt policeman if he was able to achieve a winning time in Gladiators.
Backstage, Becky is being interviewed by Kayla, who’s asking about her chances at Hell in a Cell. Before Lynch can answer, Sasha attacks her, leading to a brawl. Becky manages to take control for a second, but Banks leaves her laying before security forces her to leave. Weird note to end the show on.
Tags: bayley, Becky Lynch, Brock Lesnar, Carmella, Chad Gable, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Erick Rowan, Fire and Desire, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Luke Harper, Mike Kanellis, Mustafa Ali, paul heyman, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, sasha banks, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, The B-Team, The Kabuki Warriors, The New Day, The Revival, WWE