We’re just shy of a week from the latest blood/oil money pay-per-view, so prepare yourselves for an overabundance of geriatrics, part-timers and random shite with the words “World’s Greatest” slammed in front of it, like Saudi Arabia’s got erectile dysfunction and WWE is trying to make the nation believe that there are more important/fun things than fulfilling sexual relationships and, you know, human rights.
That simile got away from me a bit there, like a…snake covered in lubricant? That’s also…on cocaine?
In summary: Saudi Arabia = bad. WWE = also bad. NXT = great. AEW = wonderful. My ability to write at silly o’clock on Saturday mornings = jury’s still out. The Neverending Story (which has nothing to do with any of this, but I watched it for the first time last night) = surprisingly good. This bit = overlong.
Time for SmackDown.
You know, I’ve realised that Bayley is the only SmackDown Champion with a number one contender right now. And don’t book an international flight to Newcastle airport, then take the number 21 bus to Gateshead so that you can yell at me about Cain Velasquez, because I’ll hit you with a heavy skillet. I suppose with Crown Jewel primarily hosting holding patterns, Shane McMahon masturbation and the crushing realisation that even the heroes of your youth cannot stand against the slow advance of time and that their frail bodies are finally succumbing to years of a physical lifestyle that has all but guaranteed autumn years full of surgeries, discomfort and immobility, and with Survivor Series being more of a brand vs. brand story, there’s not much need for the development of Championship narratives per se.
Still though, right?
Also, WWE 2K20 is so much worse than even I’d given it credit for being, and I literally compared it to fecal matter last week. I usually enjoy being right, because I’m an academic and it’s kind of a whole deal in that line of work, but I’d really have liked having a game I could have played with the same obsessiveness as WWE SmackDown: Shut Your Mouth. I know Here Comes The Pain is normally considered to be the better title, but I know what I love and it’s a game where I can use a malfunctioning boiler to catapult Shawn Michaels off a balcony so that I can see if God will heal his back a second time. I’d say that young David Spain was a bit of a sadist, but present-day David Spain once spent an hour whacking Seth Rollins in the face with a sledgehammer in 2K18, so let’s call it a “developing situation”.
Kofi’s still prominently featured in the opening credits. After a certain point, it’s bullying.
Anyone else excited for Team Hogan vs. Team Flair?
In the ring, the Miz is hosting Miz TV with two confused, elderly individuals and the men they’ll be making fight for them. Wait, is that Jimmy Hart behind Hogan? The fuck’s going on tonight? The Miz gives a stirring introduction to the two very old men as the actual athletes in the ring are overlooked. Do you know how hard it is to ignore a man dressed as a king? Because King Corbin is like furniture in there.
Admittedly, the Miz then introduces all the members of the teams, and let me first admire WWE for not immediately buckling and having the RAW superstars appear on this show too. Is it awkward? Yes. Is it respecting the rules? Yes.
Dear God, Hogan’s got a live microphone. But rather than spouting off some pensioner racism, he merely asks Ric Flair what, in fact, he is going to do, brother. Flair, sounding like he’s just had the kind of dental surgery where they anaesthetise your entire mouth, does his best to pretend that any of this means anything. He says that it’ll be like Flair and Hogan having one more match, which is a hell of an insult to those ten athletes.
Anyway, this goes on for a while, and I have to admit to being impressed that Hogan actually knows the names of everyone in his team. Finally, Sami Zayn chimes in to literally be the voice of his generation. Admittedly, that voice really loves fellating Shinsuke Nakamura, but I’ll take what I can get. Everyone finally gets their chance to talk, so take Chad Gable’s embracing of his terrible gimmick and King Corbin’s constant allusions to royalty as read. Ali’s pretty good on the microphone, and it’s a shame that I’m only just getting the chance to pick up on that now.
Finally, Roman Reigns makes one last try at forcing Corbin to understand that being King of the Ring means literally less than nothing. A brawl’s about to develop, which I’m in favour of because Flair and Hogan might fall and break a hip in the process. But instead, we get the Teddy Long Special (a six-man tag team match, not a match one-on-one with…THE UNDAHTAYKAH). As the heels walk away, Hogan then…seems to suggest the exact same match once again. Dementia’s a terrible thing, but at least Hogan was never a deep thinker.
Zayn ends up accepting the match, probably won over by Hulk making the exact same offer ten seconds after making it the first time. But he says that he tweaked his neck, so he’ll need a replacement, bringing out Cesaro. Well…I’m genuinely unable to hate that. Cesaro charges the ring, prompting a brawl that leaves Team Hogan as the victors. I hate this, and not even because it’s an immoral exercise that’s taking place in a terrible country.
Anyone else hyped up for this Tag Team Tournament?
Here’s the New Day. Will they address Kofi Kingston’s horrifyingly embarrassing title loss yet? I’m genuinely curious. It’s only Big E and Kofi here tonight, with Xavier Woods tearing his Achilles tendon and undergoing surgery. They’ll be facing Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler, whose reputation as a tag team is currently “also present”.
Kingston starts off against Dolph Ziggler, both men now finding themselves at an equal distance from the Universal Championship. Kingston manages to keep Ziggler at bay before Roode sneakily crotches him on the top rope, leaving him laid out as we go to break. Following the commercials, Big E is in the match and having himself a belly-to-belly party. He clotheslines Roode out of the ring, counters a ZigZag and lays Dolph out with a clothesline.
Kofi tags in, with Big E helping him dive out onto Ziggler. Back in the ring, Roode spinebusters Big E, Kofi takes out Roode with another dive, and Ziggler rolls up Kingston by the tights for the cheap win.
That was certainly a thing that happened. 1.5 Stars.
The Revival rush the ring straight afterwards, starting off another brawl with the New Day. Dolph and Roode get involved, immediately followed by Heavy Machinery, AKA my spirit animals. They help the New Day clear the ring as Lucha Party watches the footage from backstage, wondering if anyone even knows their names. Even the bar from Cheers doesn’t have anyone there who knows their names.
Ironically, no: I don’t know the name of the bar from Cheers.
We get a flashback of Braun Strowman’s rivalry with misogynist, homophobic traveller, Tyson Fury. See what I just did there, Tyson? I used a politically correct term to describe you, because it’s extremely easy.
Anyone else looking forward to Lacey Evans not being at Crown Jewel? (This time, I’m actually serious).
Oh, it’s Lacey Evans, one of two people on the roster that I’m positive voted for Trump. Assuming that Lars Sullivan is still an employee, of course. She’s facing…hah, of course: someone who isn’t white. I’d say that the jokes write themselves, but sometimes the jokes also walk to the ring wearing gloves and a bonnet, and they’re also called “Lacey Evans”.
Evans grabs a microphone, calling her ethnically ambiguous opponent “nasty” and claiming that she respects herself too much to wrestle her. Wow, I mostly wasn’t even serious about the whole “Lacey Evans is racist” thing, but I guess here we are. She tells the referee to start the match, then she leaves the ring and walks away, looking to get herself intentionally counted out. Wow: it’s the best Lacey Evans match ever, by default.
But, of course, she even fucks that up, racing back into the ring at literally the last second to deck her opponent with the Woman’s Right, winning instantly.
Wow, still the best Lacey Evans match ever, by default. 1 Star.
We’re told that this show is sponsored by WWE 2K20, the only tagline for which seems to be “available now”. Well, that is accurate.
Backstage, Nikki Cross is being interviewed by the two commentators, presumably because no-one wants to approach her due to fears of rabies and the Glaswegian accent. Nikki is confident heading into her title defence, but first, she has to take on Mandy Rose. She claims that Mandy is beautiful, but that this is a wrestling show, not a beauty contest. Someone tell that to Mandy Rose. Someone also tell that to Lacey Evans. Maybe also give her a dictionary with the word “wrestling” underlined.
We replay Bray Wyatt not being allowed to own anything flammable, then we’re taken to a new edition of the Firefly Fun House. Apparently Ramblin’ Rabbit didn’t make it out of the blaze, and Bray’s holding a funeral for him as though this is the first time that the puppet has been ‘orribly murdered.
And Ramblin’ Rabbit is resurrected on that exact same show, making it even more obvious that nothing Seth Rollins does matters. And then Mercy the Buzzard eats him again. I’ve…truly got nothing for that.
Anyone else excited for Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury?
Drew Gulak’s in the ring, fresh off getting murdered by Braun and probably resurrected by Bray Wyatt last week. His opponent is Kalisto, which is a better joke about Drew Gulak’s position on SmackDown than I could ever write myself.
Gulak once again tries to introduce himself and have another stab at giving us a powerpoint presentation. Predictably, Kalisto attacks Gulak immediately, using lucha offence to keep Drew on the defensive. Gulak manages to respond with a spinebuster, followed by a torture rack, then Braun Strowman marches up to the ring.
A distracted Gulak is hit by the Salida del Sol to end the match.
Urgh. 1 Star.
Braun powerslams Gulak after the match. It’s like this show is dedicated to sapping all of my energy and leaving me a weakened husk. Strowman then vaguely threatens Tyson Fury before leaving. How have WWE got Braun Strowman this wrong?
That was a very quiet interview from Bryan
Michael Cole is in the ring, and he introduces Daniel Bryan. After some background, Cole mentions the “Yes” chants from last week, prompting a fresh wave of them. Michael asks if the “Yes” movement is back, but before Bryan can pull a response out of his ass, Shinsuke and Sami Zayn show up. Oh, good: dream match.
Zayn shows us footage of Bryan stating that the “Yes” movement was dead last November, telling him that the New Daniel Bryan is the real Daniel Bryan. Sami tries to show how similar he, Bryan and Shinsuke are (apparently Zayn’s a vegan, Shinsuke cares about the environment and all three of them are pretty damn amazing at wrestling).
Finally, Sami lays down the ultimatum: go back to the old Daniel Bryan or continue being that guy who just won’t shut up about the environment, join Sami and Shinsuke, help them overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy together as father and son…wait…
Bryan pretends that he’s going to shake hands with Zayn, but instead he walks out of the ring. Hey, as long as I’m getting Bryan/Nakamura and maybe even Bryan/Zayn down the line, I’m on board with however this gets played.
At least Bayley has a number one contender
Mandy Rose is in the ring, prompting Corey Graves’ transformation into a slavering rapist. Bayley and Sasha are on commentary, though this would have been as good a way as any to give Sonya DeVille some/any attention. Nikki arrives, and this match gets underway.
Mandy opens up the match with a big right hand, following that up with a load of stomps to a cornered Nikki before throwing the Scotswoman across the ring by her head. Cross finally scores with a headscissors, but another hard right forearm drops her immediately afterwards.
Rose applies a chinlock, clearly looking to keep Cross grounded, forcing the number one contender down onto the mat. These long shots of Bayley’s new “can I speak to the manager” haircut are all very important, I’ll agree, but can we please at least pretend that this match matters? Mandy hurls Cross with a fallaway slam, and Sonya blasts Nikki in the face on the outside.
Mandy continues to throw Nikki around, which has been half of this match and is probably two-thirds of Mandy’s offence, but Cross begins her comeback, eventually planting Rose with a bulldog. A flying crossbody almost gets Nikki the win; she drops Sonya with a kick, then hits a swinging neckbreaker to Mandy for the win.
That was sloppy in some places, and WWE needs to learn that there are better times than others to focus on the faces of the people doing commentary. Why Mandy is the wrestling portion of Fire and Desire is something that I will never understand. 1.5 Stars.
We replay Brock Lesnar murdering Rey Mysterio and the child Rey once wagered on a Ladder match, then WWE tries to convince us that Saudi Arabia is a progressive wonderland of human rights and that them taking billions to go there makes them a force for equality and change.
Not going to lie: I’m now rooting for Lesnar
Here’s Cain Velasquez, and Cole manages to describe Brock’s loss to this man without using the phrase “like a little bitch”. Rey’s with him, and Mysterio recounts the terrible things that Lesnar did to him and his unnecessarily large boy. Rey says that Dominick has proved that he’s a Mysterio; oh, so now he’s fine with there being a part of his career that doesn’t reference Eddie Guerrero.
Rey says that watching his son getting beaten up was the worst day of his life, making all of the complaints that other wrestlers have made about WCW seem just a little bit like whining. He also tells us that it’s thanks to our support that Dominick has recovered as well as he has, making me feel ever so slightly guilty about the Dominick-shaped voodoo doll I’ve been stabbing pins into over the last few weeks. Maybe that’s why Walter wasn’t on this week’s NXT show.
Mysterio says that Brock Lesnar’s been able to do whatever he wants for far too long. So, he’s hoping that one of his other Mexican friends can beat Lesnar and take a Championship off him again. History really is a wheel. He calls out Lesnar, but Brock and Heyman appear on the titantron instead.
Heyman talks for a while, but the gist is there’ll be none of that “face to face” thing that was, you know, advertised by WWE and Fox. Paul tells Rey to guess where Brock’s been tonight and what he’s been doing tonight. Oh God, has he been going after Dominick again? That would be amazing. Why would Rey even leave him backstage?
Oh my God, he has. This shouldn’t be funny, but I can’t help but see this as Lesnar desperately trying to expunge his loss to Eddie Guerrero after his rival fled to heaven (unless you happen to believe Randy Orton’s views on morality and the afterlife). Beating the Undertaker at WrestleMania didn’t grant him the powers of resurrection, so he’s having to satisfy himself by destroying Eddie’s descendants.
After a commercial break, Dominick’s lying on a table, crying. Future WWE superstar material right there, folks. Rey’s trying to act like any of this is in the slightest bit real, whereas Cain is standing there like he thought this whole wrestling thing would be a good deal less ridiculous than it has been so far.
And then Brock bursts into the room, laying out Cain and Mysterio with a garbage can. Jesus Christ, this is so unintentionally hilarious. He even F5’s Velasquez onto an injured Dominick. I know that we’re supposed to see Brock as a monster, but I’ve never been more supportive of the Beast until right now. That should encapsulate everything that’s wrong with the way WWE currently portrays their characters.
Imagine this, but with 1000% more headlocks, sleeper holds and stomps
Ric Flair arrives, ushering in Evolution 2.0. along with him. Then Hulk and the others show up for this pale imitation of something I don’t care about.
But before anything can happen, we’re treated to Cain Velasquez screaming at the camera. I’ve no idea what he was saying, so I’ll assume that he shares my view that what Brock Lesnar did was fucking hilarious.
Anyway, the match kicks off with a quick brawl, leading to Corbin and Reigns beginning the match, with Roman dumping the King in the corner before sending a bunch of punches into his face and booting him right in the chin. A Samoan drop almost gets the job done, but Corbin manages to tag in Nakamura. Reigns is a little distracted by how punchable Corbin’s face his, but he still suppresses Shinsuke long enough to tag in Chad Gable so that I can hear “Shorty G” about seventy million times.
Gable outwrestles Nakamura, tagging in Ali for a quick double-team. Graves says that you’ll get no more valued an opinion in this industry than Hulk Hogan’s, although whether that applies to wrestling or can be expanded to black people is anyone’s guess. Cesaro tags in, slowing down Ali before the Pakistani takes him over with a hurricanrana, only for Cesaro to gutwrench him halfway across the ring.
Cesaro’s upcoming match against Mansoor, the plaything WWE drag out to make the Saudi audience happy, is mentioned a great deal. It was truly hilarious to have never heard of that man, then hear during the Battle Royal that he was from Riyadh and instantly know the result. And by “hilarious” I mean “utterly depressing”. A facebuster gives Ali back some momentum, but a distraction from Shinsuke and an assault from Corbin leaves Ali laying as we go into a commercial break.
When we come back, Ali is taking an international beating in the corner. Cesaro enters the match, running into a boot which he straight-up no-sells, then has an excellent sequence matching his power against Ali’s high-flying ability which sees him end up getting DDT’d by Ali. The cruiserweight tries to make the tag to Reigns, only for Corbin to knock Roman off the apron and go after Ali, who hits him with an enzuigiri and tags in Gable.
Gable immediately starts throwing bitches, which is how he communicates whenever there’s a language barrier. A rolling kick, a neckbreaker, and a moonsault almost puts Corbin away, but the King only just gets the shoulder up. Cesaro dashes into the ring, gets flung, and then Gable applies the ankle lock to Corbin, only for Nakamura to blast him in the face with a running knee.
Corbin takes Gable up to the top rope, with Nakamura heading up as well to deliver a double superplex. Gable fights his way out of his predicament, then dives onto both men, as Hogan cheers like he wouldn’t flatly refuse to put Gable over even now, brother.
Gable tags in Reigns, who erupts into the ring, smashing into Cesaro with a barrage of offence. He scouts a dazed Cesaro for the Superman Punch, but the Swissman counters into the Giant Swing before transitioning into the Sharpshooter! Ali makes the save with a superkick to Cesaro, only to take a Deep Six from Corbin. The King is unceremoniously dropkicked to the outside by Gable, who then eats an exploder suplex from Nakamura, who turns right into a Superman Punch from Reigns!
Roman wants the Spear, again stalking Cesaro, but Cesaro once again finds a counter, smashing Reigns in the face with a knee before elevating him into a super uppercut! I’d ask if they were finally pulling the trigger on Cesaro, but instead I’ll just open a bottle of wine and cry. Roman is set up for the Neutraliser, but he flips Cesaro over his head; Cesaro lands on his feet, springboards off the top rope right into a Superman Punch! A spear blasts Cesaro, with Ali tagging in for a 450 Splash and the win!
Most of this match was dull, but the final couple of minutes were outstanding. Cesaro, once again, reminded everyone that he deserves so much better; I can only hope that he destroys Mansoor out there. 2.5 Stars.
Tags: bayley, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Cesaro, Chad Gable, Daniel Bryan, Kalisto, King Corbin, Lacey Evans, Mustafa Ali, Nikki Cross, paul heyman, Rey Mysterio, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown, The New Day, The Revival, WWE