Dr. Spain’s SmackDown Report and Review for November 22nd 2019: War

Columns, Top Story

We’re only days away from Survivor Series, which is promising us some truly solid matches, not to mention a lot of blue, red and black t-shirts. I don’t mind them being worn in the run-up or backstage, but I feel like wrestlers have enough time to request that the colour of their respective show be featured either subtly or prominently on their costumes. Ricochet has accumulated a cosplayer’s dream of super suits at this point, so it hardly seems like asking for the moon.

Anyway, all the SmackDown locker room, sans Bray Wyatt, are assembled backstage for either a pro-blue brand rally or a union meeting. Just kidding: wrestlers don’t have unions.

King Corbin is trying to address them, but the SmackDown locker room isn’t going to listen to its bald stepdad, and they proceed to ignore him. Then Roman, Chad and Ali stand on the stage, and everyone immediately hushes up, because Reigns is their real dad, Corbin, you fucking loser. Roman warns everyone that RAW and NXT are going to show up tonight, then he calls Corbin a coward. I’m not sure how steadily chipping away at team unity is going to help the SmackDown Five do better on Sunday, but what do I know?

Actually, compared to your average pro wrestler, I’m probably very well informed, so I’ll just say that Roman’s being slightly more of an idiot than he usually is.

So, Roman’s plan is to literally institute an open-door policy regarding any and all individuals who, for reasons of brand pride, a score to settle or a lack of parental acceptance of their chosen career of “man who fake-fights other men and also they’re just wearing underpants” might decide to pop by and start taking swings at whoever happens to be within range. I can understand the necessity of looking rough and tough, but if I was Reigns I’d have found the Firefly Fun House and worked out an arrangement with Bray Wyatt to have the Fiend act as a bouncer for the evening.

But no: apparently a West Side Story tribute is the order of the day. Sasha Banks hops up onstage to say that the Women’s Division is about to take care of business right now. They depart, leaving Roman and Corbin to argue with each other. Honestly, why are they not being forced to team up together against another pair tonight? It would give the crowd a fresh match while also showing, in-universe, that teamwork is something that you sometimes need to work at.

Well, at least the women’s team are working together, and let me applaud WWE for resisting that easy target.

Survivor Series: where the team with the least personal issues is probably going to win

The actual show begins with Team SmackDown (women’s corp) making their way to the ring. Sasha mics up and says that this is their ring; they brought it with them from home. She says that no-one’s going to jump them from behind like the last few weeks, claiming that NXT are still licking their wounds/preparing for, you know, WarGames. So instead, she challenges the RAW women’s team to get out here and face them.

And, after several awkward seconds, the five RAW superstars show up, accompanied by a referee who might just be in the wrong place at the wrong time or might also be part of their team; it’s not clear at this point. Charlotte says that they’re pleased that they were invited, but it’s not like anyone could have kept them out anyway. Again: Fiend guarding the door. It’s literally foolproof, which is good because most wrestlers are, by and large, fools.

So Charlotte challenges Sasha to relive their Women’s Championship hot potato feud, and shit’s about to go down before Team NXT arrives. Seriously, guys, what about WarGames? Rhea Ripley, one of the two powerful women with distinctive accents that I’m attracted to and intimidated by (the other being Dr. Fiona Hill). She challenges Sasha and Charlotte to a Captain vs. Captain vs. Captain match, and that kicks off a brawl that sends us into the commercial break.

When we return, Charlotte, Rhea and Sasha are slugging away at each other. Banks is knocked down by the Queen and Ripley, who turn to face one another with what is some serious sexual energy if I’m any judge (I’m probably not). Charlotte tries to outwrestle Rhea, using classic holds before switching up her tactics to boot her in the face. Ripley reverses a bodyslam, driving the Queen into the corner. A series of strikes staggers Charlotte, but she responds with a boot to the face of Ripley, knocking the big lass down.

Ripley’s still in the fight, but Charlotte has made a window for herself, and she hits a volley of shoulder tackles into a cornered Ripley’s midsection before Rhea dodges, letting the Queen nut herself against the turnbuckle. Sasha suddenly sneaks up behind Ripley, catching her off-guard with a Backstabber, getting a two-count. Banks doesn’t let up for a second, hammering fist after fist into Rhea’s face before decking her with a knee, only for Ripley to clothesline her right into the mat before dropkicking her out of the ring.

Rhea pursues Banks, but her attempt to throw her back in the ring allows Sasha to catch her with a spinning kick. Then Charlotte throws Banks into Nikki and the steel steps leading to…yep: Banks and Cross yelling at each other. Outstanding. I know that the party line is that these people fight for a living and some of them have literally attempted murder but…is it really too much to ask that five people work together for a few weeks without a major incident? They’re certainly quick to forget the aforementioned attempted murder after a month or two’s passed, but minor squabbles taking place in the present are apparently enough to sink the good ship H.M.S. Team Cohesion nine times out of ten.

And to think we let these people vote.

And while Nikki and Sasha try to give each other a piece of each other’s minds and also maybe a concussion, Rhea attacks Banks and Charlotte moonsaults out onto the pair of them and into a commercial break. When we come back, Ripley has tried to cover Charlotte after some offence that clearly wasn’t important enough to make it onto the broadcast, but Sasha breaks up the pin. Cole keeps reminding us that the winner of this match will “gain momentum”, which is a) not how physics works and b) unsurprising given that he’s claimed multiple times that gravity “forgot” Neville. Michael Cole is terrible at science and passable at wrestling commentary.

Ripley drops Banks face-first into the turnbuckle, then takes her up to the top. Sasha fights her off before hitting the Meteora, right before a bloody-lipped Charlotte Flair drops her with Natural Selection, Rhea only just breaking up the pin. Now Charlotte goes after Ripley, who slams a kick into her skull, counters the Queen’s offence for a moment before also tasting Natural Selection. Sharp as hell, Ripley rolls to the outside, and the distraction of trying to drag her back into the ring for a cover leaves Charlotte vulnerable, letting Banks roll her up. Flair kicks out, counters a Backstabber and applies the Figure Eight to Banks! Ripley darts back into the ring, going beneath Charlotte’s arched back and rolling her up while the pin’s still applied! Ripley wins!

I’ve never seen that finish before, so immediate props for that. The match itself was no slouch either, with good storytelling, nonstop action, and three excellent performers. 3.5 Stars.

And Sasha and Charlotte begin brawling post-match, leading to warfare between RAW and SmackDown, with SmackDown twice repelling the invaders.

Backstage, King Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode are having a group whining session in their safe space. Corbin states that they should lead by example, presumably meaning that everyone should wear stupid renaissance-style costumes. Oh, and they’re having a match against Reigns, Gable and Ali tonight? Are you fucking kidding me? Survivor Series is on Sunday, you fucking incompetents. Do you know how fucking difficult you’re making it to root for you?

And Corbin’s plan is to abandon his teammates if RAW and NXT attack, then beat up their teammates. I have friends coming over to watch Survivor Series, and I swear to God I’m going to disavow SmackDown if this shit keeps going on.

Sami Zayn arrives to break up the huddle, and after one insult from King Corbin, he challenges the Lone Wolf to a match. And then his music starts playing at that very second, meaning he was always going to challenge Corbin to a match with or without the provocation, or he went into that conversation assuming that Corbin would eventually insult him. I’m willing to admit that I put too much thought into this show. Certainly far more than its writers do.

I’m giving 50/50 odds on this being Zayn leading Corbin into a trap as part of his defection to NXT.

Yeah: who wanted a New Day/Nakamura/Zayn team-up apart from EVERYONE?

And Zayn walks out to the ring, followed by Shinsuke Nakamura, who may well be having his own problems with another member of Team SmackDown, if his and Braun Strowman’s interaction last week means anything. Graves is wondering what’s in the bag that Sami’s carrying, and my money, as ever, is on the severed head of Gwyneth Paltrow.

But before anything can happen in the ring, Bayley is getting interviewed by Kayla Braxton, who asks her if she’s prepared for Sunday. The short answer is “yes”; the long answer is “yes, and here’s several minutes of self-aggrandisation for you”. She says that she knows that Becky’s too smart to show up tonight, but she warns Shayna that she’s ready for any shenanigans tonight.

Back in the ring, Zayn says that Corbin hasn’t come out tonight because he’s afraid of him and Shinsuke Nakamura, stating that everyone’s afraid of Nakamura. Sami calls himself a “stud” and then calls Shinsuke a stud. And, heterosexual male though I am, I won’t argue with either of those assertions

And it turns out that Zayn’s got Nakamura a new Intercontinental Championship. Did he spend his own money on that? Did he commission it? Did he run this decision past anyone? Does this mean that he and Shinsuke are engaged? So many questions, all equally important.

Sami goes on to talk about how Shinsuke will triumph over both Styles and Strong. Holy shit: Strong Style vs. Strong vs. Styles. That is…that is outstanding. That is the best bit about Survivor Series.

Anyway, as I stare into space in appreciation of that unintentional wordplay, Undisputed Era arrives to Shock the System. All four men get into the ring, trying to surround Nakaura and Zayn. The two SmackDown men leave the ring, but Adam Cole’s not going to let Sami get the last word, introducing Roderick Strong and promising to wipe the floor with RAW and SmackDown.

And then the New Day’s music hits. Hol’. On. Just. A. Minute. Playa. Kofi and Big E arrive, addressing the Undisputed Era’s attack from last week. Kofi says that, as they’re all here, they might as well have a match right now, with the New Day teaming up with Heavy Machinery against Undisputed Era.

Um…Zayn and Nakamura were right fucking there, guys.

Anyway, post-break we’re having a less-good tag team match, he said bitterly. Strong and Big E start the match off, going for a test of strength before a distraction from O’Reilly allows Undisputed to take control. Fish enters the match, but Big E powers right back into control, tagging in Kofi before splashing onto Fish and belly-to-bellying O’Reilly on the outside. Kingston decks Strong with a kick, catches Cole in the stomach with a shoulder, then takes him down with a springboard axe-handle.

Cole manages to suppress Kofi long enough to tag in Strong, who folds Kofi up with a backbreaker. Frequent tags and double-teams between Undisputed allow them to keep the former WWE Champion down, displaying their impressive offence to the SmackDown audience. This goes on for several minutes, with Undisputed effectively cutting the ring in two. Kofi finally fires back with a kick, then fights Strong off the top rope, only for Strong to dropkick him off the top rope and onto Tucker who’s on the outside!

And then Otis drags Kofi off Knight, clearly under the impression that Kingston casually threw himself, to his detriment, at his own teammate. This gets Big E involved, and we have our third intrabrand shouting match of the night. God give me strength. Professional wrestlers are beyond help, and the SmackDown locker room should not be allowed to reproduce; I speak out of concern for our future generations.

Oh, and now there’s a shoving match between Otis and Big E. And to think I was already engaged in a stupidity-prompted advocation of eugenics. That is how unbearably moronic everyone’s been acting. Finally, Knight acts as the voice of reason, forcing this battered, dented train back onto the rails, God love him.

After a commercial break, Kofi manages to break through some of Undisputed Era’s dominance with a flying dropkick to Bobby Fish. O’Reilly tags in, but so does Otis! The big man hits every man wearing black and yellow that’s not also called Tucker Knight. O’Reilly tries to stall him with a flurry of martial arts strikes, but Otis not only weathers the storm, he sends it right back! Cole’s squashed in the corner by Otis, and it’s Caterpillar time!

And then Fish drags Cole out of the ring, that fucking spoilsport. Knight enters the match, slamming O’Reilly for a near-fall. Strong enters the match, just in time for an ass-whupping. Tucker crushes him in the corner, then drops him with a sidewalk slam that nearly wins the match. Knight seems to be a little at a loss, then heads up to the top rope for a…a moonsault? Charlotte Flair! He’s doing a Charlotte Flair!

Actually, it’s not a real Charlotte Flair, because in this case the moonsault connects and almost wins Knight the match, with only Adam Cole’s interference saving his teammate. Cole kicks Otis off the apron, but eats a belly-to-belly from Big E! Fish and O’Reilly attack, but E sends them out of the ring. Both New Day members are dragged out of the ring, with O’Reilly and Fish disposing of the pair with astonishing teamwork. Back in the ring, Otis slams O’Reilly, hits the Caterpillar, then gets jumped by the rest of Undisputed Era along with Knight. Tucker eats a superkick from Cole, a running knee from Strong, and Undisputed Era win the match.

The commercial break ate a fair bit of this, but it was still a good match. Otis in particular made the place come alive, and the teamwork of Undisputed Era is a treat to watch. 3.5 Stars.

Post-match, Strong walks up to yell at Nakamura, who gets blasted by Styles, who managed to hit a Phenomenal Forearm out of literally nowhere. Strong and Styles brawl, with Nakamura getting involved, but the day is saved by Sami Zayn and his trusty sidekick: literally just a steel folding chair. Zayn and Shinsuke vamoose as Undisputed Era run them off.

After a break, AJ Styles is still onstage with the OC, yelling at the Chicago crowd and promising not to leave. The crowd responds with a CM Punk chant, which to my mind is a money match. They continue to bluster and shout, and this segment really doesn’t seem to be going anywhere until Daniel Bryan arrives, and that’s for something else entirely.

Did the Fiend possess the Miz or just steal his spot?

Bryan makes his way to the ring, grabbing a microphone and saying he’s going to tell us why he wants to summon Bray Wyatt, showing us the segment from last week on Miz TV, where he admitted to the world that he’s mentally unstable and we all just ignored it so that he’d keep on wrestling for us every week.

Bryan says that he didn’t come out here to chant or lecture, but to summon Bray Wyatt. I’d give anything for footage of Daniel visiting the old Wyatt Compound, finding it burned down and then muttering to himself, “Oh shit, that’s right”. He tells Wyatt to get out here, and if it ends up in a fight, then so be it.

And then the lights go out. When they come back up, everything’s exactly as it was.


Yes. It is.

Before Bryan can really respond, the Miz’s music hits and the man himself arrives. Bryan is less than enthused to see his old mentor, arch-nemesis, secret crush, but the Miz isn’t in any mood for it, telling Bryan that he was disrespected by him last week, which is the latest in a long line of occasions that saw the Miz try to help Bryan before being rejected or humiliated for it, going right back to the NXT days. Miz says that he’s done trying to slap some sense into Bryan, then physically slaps him right across the face.

After a commercial break, naturally, Bryan and Miz are having a match. We return as Bryan catches one of Miz’s kicks, slapping him across the face in turn before elevating him out of the ring. A running knee from the apron takes the Miz down, and they both return to the ring for a brawl. A low knee from the Miz catches Bryan off-guard, allowing the A-Lister to boot his eternal rival in the head, putting him on his back.

Miz latches on a headlock, getting shot off the ropes before hitting a shoulder tackle. He then runs into a kick from Bryan, who attacks him in a frenzy, with Miz managing to catch him with a clothesline into the corner. Now Miz tries to come off the top rope with an axe-handle, but he needs to counter Bryan when he’s almost caught in the LaBell Lock. Despite the Miz’s best efforts, Bryan’s building up some steam, taking his old mentor down before heading up to the top rope himself, only for the Miz to dash his legs out, dropping him down onto the turnbuckle.

The Miz tries to bring Bryan down with a superplex, but he’s sent down to the mat where he eats a front missile dropkick. The Yes Kicks connect, and Bryan teases going for the Yes Chants before the lights start going out. Beautifully done.

When the lights come back up, the Miz is gone and the Fiend is slumped in the corner where he was, staring right at Bryan. He pulls himself up to his feet as Bryan stares at him, then meets his challenger’s charge with the Mandible Claw, screaming right into Bryan’s face.

I…guess you can call that a win?

Here’s Shayna Baszler, who presumably checked that the Fiend was definitely gone before stepping out there. She calls out Bayley with her Sesame Street voice, but Bayley is right behind her, and she starts hammering away at her opponent on Sunday. Both women brawl, with Baszler quickly getting the upper hand and chasing after Bayley as she tries to flee.

Shayna locks Bayley in the Clutch, with the SmackDown Women’s Champion twice breaking out of it, finally driving Baszler into the ring and staggering off. Not quite the great victory she envisioned, but it looks like Bayley’s taking it.

We’re shown a look back at why the SmackDown men’s team is at war with each other, but the short answer is that they’re all fucking idiots and I’m gaining more respect for Drew Gulak with each passing week.

They didn’t even end up working together, so even I was overly optimistic

And here’s Ali, followed by Gable and Reigns, for this ridiculous activity that is going to do the exact opposite of fortifying this team. The worst part is that RAW and NXT attacking is going to force them all to work together, and despite this fact being obvious, RAW and NXT are going to attack anyway. You sometimes wonder who could be clueless enough to vote for Donald Trump, and then the brain trust that is WWE gives you your answer.

Speaking of, Graves obliquely draws a comparison between Trump and Corbin, and I truly don’t know to whom that’s more insulting.

Reigns starts off the match by smacking some bitches around, then continues to smack bitches around on the outside before taking Roode back into the ring for a good, rousing round of Bitch Smack. He’s forestalled in this endeavour by Ziggler and Corbin, allowing Roode to gain some control before tagging in Dolph. Reigns overcomes the dual assault, putting Roode down with a Samoan Drop before tagging in Gable.

Shorty G deals handily with all three men for several minutes, putting Ziggler down with a perfect Northern Lights suplex before Corbin and Roode toss him back-first onto the announce table. No, sure: it’s not like he’s integral to you winning a big match on Sunday or anything. CHRIST.

After a commercial break, Ziggler is firmly in control of Roman Reigns. He’s charging up a superkick before Reigns obliterates him with a Superman Punch, and both men tag out, bringing in Corbin and Ali. Ali outfoxes Corbin with his insane agility and speed, planting him with a facebuster before kicking Ziggler upside the head. He dives out of the ring onto a retreating Dolph, then through the ropes on the other side to take out Corbin.

Back in the ring, Ali counters a chokeslam and plants the King with a tornado DDT. He wants the 450, but Roode interrupts, then blasts Gable with a spinebuster on the outside. He takes a Superman Punch from Reigns, who eats a superkick from Dolph, who shoves Ali off the ropes into a Deep Six…that wins?

That was certainly a match that happened. 1 Star.

Corbin wants to use his sceptre on Ali after the match, by which I mean he wants to smash him in the head with it, you disgusting perverts. Reigns interrupts with a spear, but this entire storyline is so lacklustre. I’d be far more excited if all three brands had focused on putting together the best possible team and ironing out any tensions in the run-up, leading to a situation where it feels like anyone could take it and we’re actually going to see heels and faces acting in perfect unity on Sunday. You know: what I watch Survivor Series for. But no: we get this.

And then Seth Rollins’ music plays, and feel free, RAW: SmackDown doesn’t deserve a single win on Sunday.

Rollins gets in the ring, and I’d be totally fine if they teamed up to murder Corbin. But no: Rollins and Reigns start fighting each other, which is understandable considering that that’s half of their onscreen relationship. The rest of Team RAW begin assaulting any available SmackDown stars, and this goes on for several moments before Braun’s music plays.

Strowman charges around the ring, bowling over the red shirts in an apt metaphor as the war begins two nights early. This would have been the perfect time to reference the Invasion and show Braun’s gradual approach to the ring as he fights his way to the main stage, the crowd’s anticipation rising until they explode when his music finally hits, but this is fine too, I guess, if you’re not choosy.

The RAW superstars are taken out, culminating in a powerslam to McIntyre…and then we’re shown the arrival of what looks like every NXT superstar ever down the parking lot, complete with DX and their jeep/tank! Black and yellow joins red and blue, and all hell breaks loose as what looks like every single male superstar erupts into a open warfare.

Keith Lee makes his stand in the ring, planting Montez Ford with a Spirit Bomb…and then Braun Strowman gets up on the apron and into the ring. He winds up for a charge, and after taking out two smaller men, the big bulls erupt into a brawl of their own, hammering away at each other as the feed fades out.

David has a jaded and cynical view of wrestling, which complements his jaded and cynical view of practically everything else. He spends his time writing novels and screenplays, lifting heavy things while listening to classical music, and waiting with bated breath for his next opportunity to say "it's Dr. Spain, actually".