Politics! Impeachment hearings! Election campaigns! Polls! Prime Ministers who might or might not be Russian assets, but who are keeping pretty fucking quiet about it and also concealing what might be evidence.
Told you it was going to be more political.
Please no poop or testicles talk this week
Anyway, we begin with last week’s shambles of a match, featuring King Corbin, a metric fucktonne of interference and possibly the worst promo that Vincent Kennedy McMahon has ever shat on us. The one positive that I can take from this whole debacle is that the End of Days is still so protected that I doubt that even Jesus Christ could get his shoulder off the mat if you gave him three whole days and hadn’t spent a good chunk of time before that giving him what my old priest referred to as “a proper seeing-to”.
SmackDown’s theme tune asks us whether we are, in fact, ready for a good time, and I’ll admit to being prepared yet not optimistic.
And I am bang on with that analysis, because here comes King Corbin. He’s being carried out on a chair by a cohort of six sturdy-looking chaps, which makes a change from just AJ Styles or Seth Rollins carrying him. And fair play to Corbin, because I’d be fucking terrified that one of those guys would trip up at any moment and send me flying right into the ER. Would I like that to happen to Corbin, right this second now?
I’ll plead the fifth on that one.
Anyway, Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler are already in the ring, going unnoticed up until now in what has to be art imitating life, if you’re the type to call professional wrestling “art”. Corbin’s ability to assemble two equally-directionless dudes no matter which show he’s on is like a godawful superpower.
King Corbin demands respect and loyalty, which is pretty much the form for any
petty tyrant totally legitimate leader of a nation these days. Then he says that he wants to talk about the responsibilities of King. He skips right over opening and closing Parliament and producing a royal heir, so there go my hopes of another Live Sex Celebration, but this time inside the House of Commons (we’re not currently using it, so it’s doable). No, this is apparently about being brutally honest, which usually means “being a dickhead and acting like that makes you a good person”.
Apparently Corbin beating Roman Reigns makes him the Captain of Team SmackDown. I’d call bullshit on that, but let’s be realistic: people have bet their careers on wrestling matches. Kane and Lita got married because Kane beat Matt Hardy. Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero once gambled a child on a Ladder match. Corbin going all Captain Phillips because he pinned Roman Reigns isn’t exactly controversial. And, if it distracts him from declaring prima nocte, I say we all just roll with it.
Corbin says that he dislikes all of his teammates, but states that there are two clear weak links, those being Chad Gable and Mustafa Ali. The gist of this whole spiel is that Ziggler and Roode resent the ethnic guy and the Amazing Wrestling Infant being placed on Team SmackDown without any due process. Well, I resented Shane McMahon being on Team SmackDown for the last several years, but I didn’t get to go on television and call him a red-faced, unathletic prick. I did it here, in these articles. Basically, Dolph and Bobby are going to wrestle tonight for the right to job to either RAW or NXT next Sunday.
And then Corbin brings out a mascot in a bulldog costume with a reworked Reigns theme with whining dog noises. In terms of maturity and artistic merit, it’s somewhere in the realm of rugby songs like The Mayor of Bayswater and John Brown’s Prick.
I’m personally amazed that the dog mascot is still conscious
After I look up from my extremely large whisky, it seems that the tag team match has started. Gable has Roode on the defensive, using a combination of speed, athleticism and wrestling ability to take the fight to the Glorious One. Ziggler enters the match, also facing a barrage of offence from Gable. Ali tags in, but Dolph uses the ropes to gain control, only for a hurricanrana from the 205 Live alumnus to stagger him.
Ali slams Ziggler’s face into the mat, but it only takes one trip into the ropes for Dolph to seize the advantage, and now he and Roode are in control, using ILLEGAL TACTICS to keep the cruiserweight down. Ali almost rallies, but a distraction from Corbin sees him get flung into the announce table, crashing and burning on the outside. And it looks like Roman Reigns has finally shown up for work in his own sweet time, and just as the Big Dawg makes a beeline for Corbin, we go to commercial.
And when we come back, neither King Corbin nor Roman Reigns have apparently got into a fight, so things must have cooled down extremely quickly. Ali manages to dodge Roode and Ziggler for a few moments, but Dolph intercepts with a Famouser before Gable can receive the tag. Ziggler stomps in readiness for a superkick, but Ali’s quicker on the trigger, superkicking Ziggler instead before tagging in Shorty G.
Gable explodes into the match, levelling both Roode and Ziggler. With Roode down, Gable hits a beautiful moonsault that almost wins him the match right there. Ziggler gets a blind tag, allowing him and Roode to hit a Spinebuster/ZigZag combination. Ali breaks up the pin, disposes of Roode and gets superkicked out of the ring by Dolph, who gets caught with an ankle lock, with Roode only just breaking the hold in time.
Now Roode wants Corbin’s sceptre. Reigns takes out Corbin and Roode with an assist from Ali. In the ring, a Chaos Theory and a 450 Splash give Ali and Gable the win.
An entertaining match to start the night, with either potential result being a good one. I’m personally happier with Gable and Ali getting more exposure, so this was great for me. 3 Stars.
We’re shown an episode of the Firefly Fun House, the purpose of which is to mildly scar us and to introduce a new version of the Universal Championship, which is now blue. I’ll admit to being relieved, as the photos I’d seen so far had made it look like the belt was going to be the shade of blue I’d associate with the words “bubblegum-flavoured”. This colour, while not gelling with the Fiend’s look as well as the red or black version would, is fine with me.
Backstage, Corbin is promising Roode and Ziggler that he’ll fix this problem for them. I guess that another responsibility of being King is sucking a little cock to get your friends cushy jobs.
Braun will continue to murder jobbers until he receives a real feud
Here’s Braun Strowman, desperately seeking a purpose in life. He’s not finding it this week, though, and I know that because Drew Gulak and the B Team are in the ring. Gulak has apparently taken the B Team under his moist and flightless wing, and his first lesson for them is to show them why it’s a bad idea to patronise Braun Strowman.
To give the B Team and Gulak some credit, they manage to look dominant for seconds at a time before Strowman gets himself in the game and demolishes the Axel and Dallas, their mentor fleeing for the hills. It boggles my mind why WWE is so reluctant to give Strowman and push and actually follow through on it; I’d buy someone with his look and aggressiveness finally toppling the Fiend.
System = Shocked
It’s Tag Team Championship match time, which will hopefully be a bit more inspired than last week’s peformance. Also, so much for no more automatic rematches.
But before that happens, Daniel Bryan is accosted backstage by Zayn and Nakamura, who want an answer from him. I said this on r/squaredcircle last week, but if the Fiend had set his beady little eyes on me, I’d feel a lot safer if I was palling around with Zayn and Shinsuke, who could kick the Fiend’s fucking head in, and Cesaro, who could throw him through a concrete wall.
Bryan asks Zayn that, if he meant what he said about having his back, why he ran away when the Fiend attacked him. Well…probably because a terrifying psychopath appeared out of thin air and started to choke someone right in front of him while laughing maniacally. I mean, I’m not going to hold Zayn to account on that score; I’d have been in my car and heading for the motorway by the time Wyatt let go. I operate on the logic that the Fiend is like the Creeper; you can inconvenience it, even outrun it, but you can’t beat it (and don’t give me any of that shit about Jeepers Creepers 2, because that was the Creeper’s time running out as opposed to him actually getting stopped).
Zayn said that he ran to fetch Nakamura, which is the kind of showdown I’d have loved to see. Anyway, Bryan declines their offer and says that they should ask Braun Strowman instead. Zayn, who isn’t exactly a student of narrative or irony, immediately begins badmouthing Strowman, only for the big man to be, of course, right behind him. Did Braun just accidentally wander into an Intercontinental Championship opportunity? That’s amazing.
Anyway, back to the Tag Team Championship match, which we all just ignored for an hour or so, and here come the Revival. A second Championship match in a week seems like a second title change is coming, but then why would you give the New Day the titles last week?
Kofi and Wilder kick things off, both wrestling for control before Dash runs the ropes. A blind tag sees Dawson enter the match, quickly putting an unaware Kofi down before performing a beautiful Northern Lights suplex. Now Dawson wants a superplex, but Kingston fights him back to the ground, hitting him with a missile dropkick. Wilder manages to tag in and prevent a tag being made to Big E, keeping Kofi down as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Kofi has been kept in this match during the whole break, with Dawson tagging in only to miss an elbow from the top. Kingston makes the tag, and Big E powers his way into the match, hitting belly-to-bellies on everyone within grabbing distance. Wilder counters a Warrior Splash, managing to tag in Dawson, but a uranage plants the fresh man almost immediately. He’s able to counter the Big Ending, making the tag to Wilder, who plants Big E with a tornado DDT for a near fall.
Now Wilder takes Big E up into an electric chair, which is a terrifying display of strength. Big E slips off Wilder’s shoulders and both men clothesline each other before tagging out. Kofi takes control, wiping out both Revival members on the outside. Back in the ring, the New Day try to take Dawson down with the Midnight Hour, but Wilder is able to tackle Kofi out of the air before Dawson drops Big E with a DDT for a second near fall.
The Revival wants to finish it, looking for the Double Vintage DDT, but Big E counters, sending Kofi out of the ring onto the Revival, who catch him and throw him into the ring post! Big E heads out as well, only for Dawson and Wilder to slam him onto the announce table! They bundle him back into the ring, hit the Shatter Machine, and Kofi flies out of nowhere to break it up! Everyone’s down, with Kofi trying to drag himself to his feet.
And then Undisputed Era are at ringside, taking out everyone! They destroy both the New Day and the Revival, then get out of dodge as catering sprints out of the ring to run them off.
Great match, with even the spoilt finish being good on account of Undisputed Era. I’m happy with the New Day representing SmackDown, as they’re the team that’s far more associated with the brand and just as capable of the Revival of delivering in tag team action. 3 Stars.
At least let the audience vote on whether the local competitors live or die
Here’s Heavy Machinery, who will be murdering jobbers for your amusement, you sadistic fucks. It’s an astonishing showcase of strength and power, and it’s entertaining enough for me not to mind a short squash match. Heavy Machinery win with the Trash Compactor, still clearly fan favourites.
Meanwhile, Bayley and Sasha are getting interviewed about Bayley showing up and attacking the other Women’s Champions. Bayley says that it’s all personal; she competes for herself alone, and tonight she’ll run right over Nikki Cross. Sasha Banks says that Cross can walk the walk if she wants to talk the talk, so tonight Sasha will stay backstage and let Bayley handle things herself.
NXT makes everything better
And Nikki Cross is making her entrance, ready to face the SmackDown Women’s Champion. If she wins, she’ll be on Team SmackDown at Survivor Series. Are there enough women on the SmackDown roster that they can afford to be selective? Anyway, Bayley makes her way to the ring, and the match is on.
Bayley starts aggressively, charging at Nikki, who sidesteps her, and diving through the ropes to the outside. Bayley recovers, sending Cross into the steel steps, then notices Shayna Baszler standing close by, staring right at her. That’d rattle me too, given the amount of women I’ve watched Shayna choke out.
Bayley ducks right out of the ring and into the crowd, but the NXT locker division are right behind her, and they slam her onto the outside. Banks dashes in out of nowhere to take out Baszler, and more of the SmackDown Women’s Division head to the ring as the NXT contingent head into the ring after Banks.
SmackDown manages to repel the NXT competitors, with Banks jumping on the mic to challenge them to get back into the ring for a four-on-four tag match. After a brief break, the match is on, with Cross dealing handily with Dakota Kai before outwrestling Mia Yim.
Carmella tags in, working the arm of Yim before the NXT talent chops her across the chest. The Staten Island Princess dodges a big boot, staggers Yim with a kick to the stomach and then kicks Nox off the apron. Yim takes advantage, allowing Tegan Nox the opportunity to kick away at Carmella, before she tags in Kai so she can enjoy herself as well. Kai and Nox display solid teamwork before forgetting which of them is legal, putting the referee in the unfortunate position of having to mansplain professional wrestling.
Nox continues to beat down Carmella, keeping her grounded and away from her teammates. Carmella manages to escape, tagging in Sasha. Banks and Nox exchange some blows before Rhea Ripley gets involved. Banks slaps Ripley, which is a short but effective suicide note, and Ripley hits literally the angriest suplex I’ve ever seen. Some beautiful chain wrestling unfolds from both women, and a couple of cheap shots almost leads to a brawl, with the referee desperately trying to get all eight women to calm their respective tits.
After a break, during which the ref presumably managed to regain order with some outstanding diplomatic acumen, Ripley and Cross are in the ring. Rhea takes a moment to boot Sasha off the apron, but that moment of misanthropy costs her, with Cross almost putting her way with a Bulldog. Rhea tags out to Kai, who eats a back suplex, with Nox breaking up the pin with the Shiniest Wizard. It’s all breaking down with an avalanche of signatures and finishers, ending as Kai boots Banks out of the ring, catches Cross with a Scorpion Kick, only to eat a sudden neckbreaker from the former SAnitY member, with Cross picking up the win!
Great match with some lovely teases for next Sunday. 3.5 Stars.
A brawl immediately breaks out, with Fire and Desire supplying the numbers advantage to run the NXT invasion off. We don’t see Sasha telling Cross that she wants her on Team SmackDown after all, which would have been a nice touch of brand pride.
The tradition of Survivor Series dream matches continues
Here’s the Miz, who I am reliably informed is awesome. The Miz is here to interview Daniel Bryan, his former hated nemesis but whom now I guess he sort of likes? Wrestling’s both very simple and very complicated at the same time.
Anyhow, the Miz introduces Bryan, who insists on wearing a cardigan like he’s your Granddad and long hair and a beard like he’s GRIGORI RASPUTIN. The Miz shows Bryan footage of his attack, which is one way to trigger a man’s PTSD, and asks him why the Fiend chose him. Bryan doesn’t respond, which he’s been getting a lot of mileage from, and so the Miz decides to poke the slightly-hairier-than-average bear, asking Bryan just exactly who and what he is anymore. He finally puts it to Bryan that he’s washed up, and that the Fiend wants to take him out now.
Bryan finally gets up and says that Miz TV sucks and always sucked and never won’t suck. Stirring stuff from one of the supposed intellectuals of SmackDown. He says that maybe he isn’t the same Bryan as he was a decade before, and maybe he is washed up, but the passion’s still there. Miz tries to dismiss this, but Bryan screams at him to shut up, telling him that he has no idea what his mental instability and passion have combined to make. From the sounds of it, someone who shouldn’t be allowed to wrestle. He claims that Bray Wyatt understands Bryan where others don’t, and that in the same way there is no-one better than Bryan to deal with the Fiend.
Bryan is cut off then by the Firefly Fun House, with Bray chiding him for talking about someone behind their back. Wyatt hints at Bryan having to answer for past wrongs. As in his latest heel run, or back when Bryan was a member of the Wyatt Family for fifteen minutes? You’d also think that Orton would absolutely be at the top of any Wyatt-related list, considering the arson and grave desecration.
Wyatt tells Bryan that he can come and play with him if he just says yes. Bryan says no instead, with Wyatt’s various props trying to make him say yes. Daniel says that he doesn’t want to play, he wants to fight, and he’ll do it for the Universal Championship. I…I think that’s what Wyatt was implying, Bryan. I think that he was being coy and somewhat maniacal.
Bray responds by chanting “yes” for long enough for it to be thoroughly disturbing. Meanwhile, the Miz is standing there, wondering what he’s going to be doing at Survivor Series. Solid question.
Tags: bayley, Bobby Roode, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, Chad Gable, Dakota Kai, Dana Brooke, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Drew Gulak, Heavy Machinery, King Corbin, Mia Yim, Mustafa Ali, Nikki Cross, Rhea Ripley, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, sasha banks, Shayna Baszler, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, Tegan Nox, The B-Team, The Fiend, The Miz, The New Day, The Revival, The Undisputed Era, WWE