We, of course, start off with a recap of NXT swarming SmackDown last week like this is their one chance to earn Triple H’s love. I just hope to hell that SmackDown’s put some kind of protocols in place in case of a second attempt. Don’t get me wrong: I want NXT or RAW to invade again; I just want it to seem like the SmackDown crew are capable of learning and growing, despite six years of reviewing this show proving the exact opposite of that to me.
And I don’t demand much from WWE (competent storylines and emotional investment are a pretty fucking low bar if you ask me), but I think it’s only fair that if you tease Daniel Bryan vs. Shawn Michaels, you should be forced at gunpoint to follow through.
Bad news: we’re back to normal SmackDown writing
So, either SmackDown’s in Britain this week, or NXT UK invaded and put up some big Union Jacks. Some might call that A Very British Coup (I have a Ph.D. in political fiction, so if you think that I’m not crowbarring a joke about a political novel into this review, then I hope that Disraeli and Gladstone come back to life and kick you to death).
Speaking of “to death” and possibly inserting the word “bored” just in front of it, here’s King Corbin. I assume that they’re going for a gritty Game of Thrones aesthetic with those robes, which is fitting because Corbin is the Game of Thrones season eight of both professional wrestling and people, but by Christ, they look dreadful. They must seem even worse in a country with actual crown jewels, and no: I don’t mean that we wheel out Mansoor every few months in order to receive an exorbitant amount of blood money.
Anyway, people boo Corbin on account of…God, Corbin, I guess. He’s here to talk about RAW vs. SmackDown vs. NXT. He says that all anyone can talk about is
the best episode of SmackDown since 2016 the NXT invasion, and he’s taking a page out of Donald Trump’s book – a very short book with very big writing, very few words and most of them misspelled – and that page reads “it’s somebody else’s fault, not mine” (take the racist dog-whistles and witness intimidation for granted). So, Corbin’s blaming the foreigner who, in this case, is Roman Reigns.
King Corbin acknowledges Roman’s many achievements, skating over quite how many of those WrestleMania main events that he was booed at (literally all of them), and says that what the WWE Universe mostly care about now is what he’s done for them lately. Speaking as a member of the WWE Universe, I’m not exactly thrilled that “lately” seems to be featuring another feud with Corbin, but that’s probably not what the King meant. He accuses Roman of not being a fighter anymore, despite losing a five-on-five match to the guy just over a week ago.
And then Corbin starts talking smack about Roman’s testicles. Does anyone else miss NXT? Because, right now, I really miss NXT. Reigns doesn’t come out, which seems to surprise even Corbin before he reveals that Roman’s too busy…granting a wish to a dying child. I mean…is that supposed to make us dislike Reigns? Baron continues to talk about testicles and poop for a few minutes, and either make this man the evil badass that he’s capable of being or stop making him so prominent.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviews the New Day about their title match against the Revival. Kofi and Big E say that they’re fixed on their seventh title reign, mostly because they don’t want Charlotte Flair to widen the gap between them anymore. As motivations go, that actually seems like a realistic one.
Survivor Series is already looking like a hell of a show
Well, anything to get the taste of promos involving testicles and excrement and King Corbin out of my mouth, and a Tag Team Championship match between two excellent teams is a solid way to do it. Apparently the Tag Team Champs match at Survivor Series is going to be a Triple Threat, making a New Day victory here far more likely than it would normally be, as they’re far more associated with SmackDown than the Revival are.
Post-entrance announcements (love me some of that BIG MATCH FEEL), and then this match gets underway. Kofi quickly tries to roll up Dawson several times, until a forearm from the Champion puts an end to that nonsense. Wilder tags in, chopping away at Kingston, who fights his way free of the Revival, tagging in Big E for a double-team leg drop.
The big man of New Day takes swipes at Wilder, who manages to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge out of the way until his knee seems to give out. During a commercial break, it’s revealed that that was actually a trick to give the Revival the element of surprise. Man, that would have been good to see as part of the actual broadcast. Anyway, the New Day are still in control, so it never really mattered. Kofi’s in the middle of taking out both Revival members, sending them out of the ring before diving out onto them.
Kingston hustles Dawson back into the ring, levelling him with a crossbody from the top rope. Wilder drags Dawson out of the way of Trouble in Paradise, and they take Kofi up top for a superplex/splash double team, with Big E breaking up the pin in the nick of time. He belly-to-bellies Dawson but eats a tornado DDT from Wilder. Dash tries to nail Kofi with another DDT, but the former WWE Champion counters, almost picking up the win with the SOS.
Big E tags in, looking to end things with the Midnight Hour, but Dawson drags Kofi off the top rope. A distracted E is overwhelmed by the Revival, who hit a double Vintage DDT, then an uppercut/German suplex combination, with Big E only just kicking out. Big E counters the Shatter Machine, then holds Wilder up to receive the Trouble in Paradise, making the New Day seven-time Tag Team Champions.
This felt like it never really got going. The New Day and the Revival are both great teams, but I’ve seen far more exciting tag team matches on free TV which didn’t even have the added thrill of the titles being on the line. Still, in view of the Survivor Series match, this was the right choice. 2 Stars.
Oh, looks like Roman Reigns is finally back from bringing some joy into a dying child’s life, the selfish fuck. He comes across Chad Gable, whom we’re also supposed to view as a dying child according to WWE, but we don’t hear what they talk about.
Daniel Bryan is wandering the hallways backstage when Sami Zayn shows up to remind him that they’re still in a storyline. Zayn says that he could have helped Bryan become NXT Champion, promising that he could elevate his career like he has Shinsuke and Cesaro. He invites Bryan to watch Nakamura and Cesaro take on Ali and Gable tonight and get an idea of what he’s talking about.
Wolfe looks a great deal less scruffy than when he was with SAnitY
Here’s Heavy Machinery. I can’t put into words how much I want to see these guys take on the Viking Raiders. I do, however, get another kind of dream interaction as Imperium hit the ring, taking out the fun-loving pair. The rest of the SmackDown locker room chase them off, and Walter had best watch his back; with Brock Lesnar in the mood that he’s in, it’s probably not safe to remotely resemble any member of the Mysterio family.
Backstage, Bayley’s new haircut and Sasha Banks are getting interviewed by Kayla, who asks about Shayna kicking the shit out of them last week. Bayley claims that she and Sasha made the NXT Women’s Division, then warns Becky and Baszler against overlooking her at Survivor Series.
Cesaro’s still the best thing ever
It’s time for another tag team match, as Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro take on Chad Gable and Mustafa Ali. And Daniel Bryan shows up on the entrance ramp, which offers a far worse view than, for example, the announce table or just watching on a TV backstage.
Cesaro opens the match with a huge uppercut, knocking Chad Gable the fuck down. He tags in Nakamura to introduce Gable to the many wonderful possibilities that concussions can offer him. Chad manages to fox Nakamura with an armbar over the ropes, then takes Cesaro out as well, but the Swissman catches Gable before he can tag in Ali. As in, he literally catches him in mid-air, because Cesaro is terrifyingly strong and Chad Gable is apparently the size and mass of your average fetus.
Gable pulls out a victory roll, using Cesaro’s kick-out to propel him towards Ali, who explodes into the match with a flurry of offence, giving Cesaro flashbacks to Crown Jewel only with more acrobaticism. Nakamura tries to get involved, and his prize is a belly-to-belly out of the ring, courtesy of Gable. Cesaro tosses Chad, only for Ali to throw him out of the ring as well before diving on him.
Back in the ring, Cesaro catches Ali in mid-flight, punishing him with a backbreaker. Shinsuke comes into the match. Gable dives on Cesaro, applying the ankle lock though neither of them are the legal man. Cesaro kicks Gable out of the ring; Ali dumps him again before eating a reverse exploder from Nakamura. The Intercontinental Champion wants the Kinshasa, but he runs right into a superkick from Ali.
Ali heads up for the 450, but a distraction from Zayn and some timely interference from Cesaro allow Nakamura to blast Ali with the Kinshasa, winning the match.
Everything that was wrong with the Tag Team Championship match was great here: the action was rapid-fire and even chaotic at times. Definitely the more enjoyable contest. 3 Stars.
Nikki’s here in her capacity as an SNP representative
Bayley is at ringside, then Sasha makes her entrance with her new lights and theme music. We get a quick recap of Sasha costing Nikki the Women’s Championship last week, then the grinning Glaswegian makes her way to the ring.
Sasha and Nikki circle each other before Banks pounces on the Scot, hitting some hard strikes and a suplex. Meanwhile, Cole and Graves are needling Bayley about Shayna and Becky overlooking her. Banks chokes Nikki on the ropes, following that up with a meteora. The crowd are busy chanting that they want Bayley to be their girl, which she plays off pretty well, and then Banks is tossed out of the ring by Nikki, who wipes her out with a dive off the apron.
Cross then hurls herself at Bayley, beating the fuck out of her for a hot minute, then turns her attention back to Banks. With the referee distracted, Bayley holds Nikki in place for a kick from Sasha, but Nikki is irrepressible, beating Banks back out of the ring as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Sasha has managed to seize the advantage, still trying to contain Cross, who stymies her efforts with a tornado DDT. Several forearms to Banks and a bulldog allow Nikki to build some momentum, and she heads up to the top rope. A flying crossbody is reversed into the Bank Statement, which is then countered by a roll-up. Sasha almost topples Cross with a jackknife cover of her own, counters a neckbreaker into a backstabber and then another Bank Statement for the submission.
Solid match from these two, and it was nice to see last week’s events have some consequences. 2.5 Stars.
Post-match, Bayley starts beating down Cross, but Baszler’s back to make the save/be a total asshole to the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Bayley eats a huge slam, then leaves the ring as Banks races back to aid her friend.
Backstage, Sami is discussing the match earlier with Bryan. Christ in heaven, is this that thing you call “continuity”? He tells Daniel that he should have come to the ring and celebrated with them, and he pushes him for an answer. Before Bryan can, the Fiend appears, grabbing Bryan and clawing him out while laughing maniacally. I think Bryan just got bumped from an Intercontinental Championship feud to a Universal Championship storyline.
Oh good, WWE is still hosting outspoken homophobe and misogynist Tyson Fury, who’s making his way to the ring now. Apparently this towering intellect was on a book tour earlier today, and I’m honestly amazed that he has the cognitive abilities required to read. I’m not even making a joke about how he gets hit in the head for a living; I’m just calling him a fucking idiot.
Graves calls this man a “hometown hero”, which if you happened to need a scorching indictment of the city of Manchester is pretty much a godsend. Fury says that he’s been all around the world, naming three more countries than I assumed he would know, meaning that he named three countries. He also mentions Manchester, but that’s because he’s got his home address tattooed on his forearm in case he loses his support worker.
Fury finally mentions Braun Strowman, and Strowman himself arrives to make this segment 50% less offensive. Fury actually acts pretty nice with Braun, thanking him for the match before shaking his hand. Christ, it’s like he’s people. He then floats the idea of the pair of them forming a tag team, and I would genuinely prefer the return of Nicholas who, at the age of either eleven or twelve, is probably more intelligent than Tyson Fury.
Braun says that there aren’t two guys stupid enough to challenge them, and the B Team make their entrance like it’s their dream to be massacred on live TV by a professional wrestler and a professional idiot. Braun and Tyson destroy them and have a big hug while I pour myself a large Scotch and then just drink straight from the bottle.
Fire and Desire are in the ring, and tonight they’re taking on Dana Brooke and Carmella. Jesus, so the match that got destroyed last week, to general acclaim, is now getting put on this week? I hope the ratings tank.
Anyway, Sonya mauls Carmella to start the match. Apparently the winning team will join Team SmackDown for Survivor Series, which is the first I’m hearing about…anything of the sort. Mandy tags in to kick Carmella, and after six kicks she runs out of moves, tagging Sonya back in. Sonya tags right back out, allowing Mandy to hit a fallaway slam to the Staten Island Princess.
Carmella counters a double suplex, but Sonya kicks her into submission before latching on a hold. Carmella finally manages to escape and score the tag; if it sounds like I’m disinterested in this match, then congratulations for reading my general tone. Did you also manage to work out that I’m not exactly a Tyson Fury fan?
Anyway, Brooke hits more moves than she’s hit for the rest of this year, taking care of Mandy and Sonya, and a senton that literally doesn’t connect gets the job done for Dana and Carmella. And, you know what? I can see the logic. Putting an established tag team in a team match really doesn’t make any sense.
It’s amazing how bad SmackDown is when they have everything going for them. 1 Star.
Look what we could have had last week: unrelenting mediocrity
Here’s Roman Reigns. Jesus, there’s still fifteen minutes left of this show. King Corbin follows, and I could really get behind his new theme if they’d do a slightly better job at mashing it up. At least it’s better than the Kabuki Warriors’.
Reigns starts the match by clotheslining Corbin out of the ring and starting to beat the fuck out of him on the outside. I’ll admit that I could go for fifteen minutes of this. His Majesty is introduced into every ringside barricade available, then Reigns finally throws Corbin into the ring to actually start the match.
Roman rains punches down onto Corbin, who shoves him away before returning the favour. Reigns answers with some clotheslines, then a big boot which sends Corbin scrambling to the outside. Roman gives him no time to rest, bundling him back into the ring and loading up the Superman Punch. Before he can release it, however, he rolls out of the ring and hurls himself at Roode and Ziggler, who were approaching down the ramp. Roode eats a Superman Punch and Ziggler takes a Samoan drop on the outside, allowing Corbin to recover and take control with a Deep Six.
After a commercial break, Corbin is still beating down Reigns, with the occasional assist from Ziggler and Roode. And I don’t wish to bang the “regular SmackDown really sucks” drum more than I have to, but this is another match that was replaced last week by something that we really enjoyed, and yet here we are. Corbin’s dominance goes on for quite some time, and I think the thing that I hate the most about WWE’s writing is the fact that they’ve actually managed to make me bored of King Corbin: a solid wrestler and a natural heel.
A slugfest develops as Reigns tries to get a comeback off the ground. Corbin misses a charge into the corner, and Roman levels him with clotheslines until King Corbin responds with a surprise chokeslam for two. More punches from Corbin as my interest in this product descends back to its usual level, and Reigns answers with another uppercut, and another. Corbin tries to come off the second rope, but he misses, eating a wild clothesline from Reigns.
Roman goes for the Superman Punch again, but Ziggler and Roode once again interfere. Reigns Superman Punches Roode and spears Dolph, but eats an End of Days from Corbin, losing the match.
I was bored more or less throughout that entire match. 1 Star.