We open with a shot of a door with Goldberg’s nameplate on it. They say that somewhere out there, there’s a door with your name on it, and I guess that’s his. This being Goldberg’s door, of course, it’s reasonable to assume that there’s some of his blood and skull matter on it as well.
I’m well aware that I’m hammering this joke into the ground, but for the love of God: the man intentionally headbutted a door so hard that he concussed himself. It’s so stupid that it should retroactively erase his entire career.
Apparently the headbanger himself will be live on the show tonight, which I’m sure will be an exciting and spiritually fulfilling experience that I’ll not have a single negative comment about.
Tag Division’s getting stacked
Speaking of spirits, DUI-collectors Jimmy and Jey Uso are here, clearly fixed on creating an accident blackspot on the Road to WrestleMania. They call out Miz and Morrison for drawing everyone’s attention to the fact that the Usos’ lack of common decency and respect for human life led to them getting arrested for drunk-driving, which is a weird hill for any hero to die on. Are we also supposed to hate the cops who had the audacity to prevent a potential vehicular homicide by arresting them?
We move past this, which is a smart move although less smart than bringing it up at all, and the Usos announce that they’re teaming up tonight with their old rivals, the New Day. Kofi and Big E make their way to the ring, joining the under-the-influencers in the ring. Both teams say nice things about each other while also engaging in a little dick-measuring: that’s about as pleasant as things get in WWE. In case I’ve not made it clear, these people are all monsters.
This rivalry revival/aggressive sexual attention is interrupted by the Miz and Morrison, who if they had any guts at all would call the Usos irresponsible alcoholics and question why they’re even still employed. Instead of this hard-hitting and exciting direction, they instead make up a chant for themselves that is neither interesting nor justifiable. They then introduce Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. There’s a lot that I can say about Ziggler, one of which would be “never achieved all he wanted to in wrestling”, but it seems almost useless to insult a man who willingly wears a leather fedora, as he is indeed doing at this moment.
The Usos say that they can get this on right now, which I’d sort of assumed had always been the plan, and the heels gather around the ring like they’re the Nexus or, to pick a more popular example, the Shield.
When we return, the match has started, and the Usos and the New Day are piling abuse on Ziggler, utilising quick tags and double-teams to wipe out the whole team of heels. Morrison is able to topple Kofi out of the ring and leave him vulnerable to a boot to the face from the Miz. This slows the match down as the heels smack the former WWE Champion around, with Robert Roode finally applying a facelock in the middle of the ring.
Kofi’s attempts to escape are unsuccessful, and he’s tossed back into the heels’ corner for another fun game of “get punched in the face a lot”. He tries once again to gut through the onslaught, but it’s another commercial break before he’s finally able to toss Dolph over the top rope and deck Roode with a kick, tagging in Big E. The big lad from the New Day starts hurling bitches left, right and centre before crushing the Miz with a Warrior Splash. The A-Lister counters the Big Ending before Morrison gets a blind tag, staggering Big E with a knee to the face.
Back in the ring, Morrison kicks out of a ura-nage, then blasts Big E with a springboard kick, a knee, and a shooting star press for a near-fall. Kofi and the Miz re-enter the ring before Kingston chucks the Miz back out, getting taken out by Morrison in the process. Roode tags in, trying to finish the match by rolling up one of the Usos, who’s also tagged in. A spinebuster/ZigZag combination almost ends it, but the second Uso makes the save, firing off superkicks before Roode DDTs him.
Roode and the legal Uso have a furious exchange of move-and-counter, with the Uso finally reversing a DDT attempt, superkicking Roode square on the jaw for the win.
Good opener, showcasing four great teams. Smart way to kick off the show. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, Bryan is stopped mid-stride by Drew Gulak. Heath Slater is hovering in the background, which seems ominous even though it makes perfect sense that one of Bryan’s coworkers would be present at their own place of work. Gulak tries to offer Bryan some hot PowerPoint action, but Slater overhears his name being mentioned, and he starts yelling at Bryan for beating the soul out of his very body several weeks ago. And, honestly, if someone had physically demolished me in the same way that Bryan did to Heath last week, I really doubt I’d be trying to provoke them like this.
The gist of this is that Slater wants a rematch/to die horribly. Bryan suggests that Gulak offer Heath some assistance, and God bless Daniel Bryan for trying to get these worthless curtain-twitchers some TV money.
Let’s solve this new mystery, gang
We recap the storyline that could have ended in a beautiful moment of pure romance but instead once again gave Dolph Ziggler a speaking role on a show that I watch. There’s Game of Thrones season 8, and then there’s this.
Backstage, Mandy and Sonya are chatting inaudibly, though I like to think that it’s about how Mandy spotted clear indications of aggressive cancer on Dolph’s body during coitus but decided it would be funnier to just not tell him. And then Tucker shows up to tell Mandy off for having such a laughably poor taste in men. The core concept of this mystery seems to involve Otis receiving a text telling him that Mandy was running late, which Mandy denies ever having sent.
It’s not exactly a murder attempt on Roman Reigns, but I guess it’s time to don deerstalkers and obsess about the answer to this riddle. My prediction is that Kevin Nash sent the text to himself.
Did Renee just point out WWE’s mercurial morality situation?
Renee Young is, for some reason, interviewing Lacey Evans. Is this about an issue that only a veteran or a mother can answer, or does Renee need input specifically from someone who wrestles like they suffer violent trauma to the head just before every single match and Goldberg was busy? Lacey says that as a marine, she’s awesome and amazing and deserves all of our attention forever and ever; I’m inferring some of this from the subtext, of course.
Renee asks Evans about her assertion that Bayley and Sasha are bullies considering her own conduct in the past, such as calling people “nasties”. This leads to Lacey claiming that that particular word has a great deal of meanings in the South, which a swift Google search reveals is as devoid of fact as, to use a random example, Lacey Evans is of wrestling ability.
Oh, and she’s entering the Elimination Chamber, taking up a spot which could be given to, to use another random example, a competent wrestler.
Interesting inversion of the “piano falls on a guy” gag
And as we lurch from stupidity to stupidity, we’re about to have a “Symphony of Destruction” match, which is like a hardcore match except with an unnecessary theme. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura will take on Braun Strowman and Elias in a match that will let them smash a load of musical instruments, because any form of culture that isn’t wrestling must be destroyed.
Elias arrives, playing his guitar rather than whacking people with it, which should be grounds for automatic disqualification right there. He even sings a song, and I won’t stand for this level of disrespect shown towards the Symphony of Destruction match. Is nothing sacred anymore?
Braun arrives, carrying a giant bass. By which I mean the instrument, not a huge fish. But could. you. IMAGINE?
Anyway, the match starts off with Elias and Shinsuke as the legal men. Legal men, mark you, in a match with no disqualifications. You could call it a respect for society and its implicit rules, or a tacit agreement to conduct this match in a fashion that allows for easy viewing, but I think I’ll revert to type and call it one of many, many, many stupid things about professional wrestling.
Anyway, Cesaro gets a drum smashed over his head by Strowman, who is then baited into chasing Sami Zayn, only for Shinsuke to blindside him with a guitar to the gut. After a commercial break, Cesaro has retrieved a cowbell that he attempts to use against Elias. The two struggle over the weapon before Shinsuke blasts Elias off the apron and through a table. Ah yes, the table: that well-known musical instrument that fits in perfectly with the overall theme of this match.
I mean, what is the point?
Braun wipes out both Cesaro and Shinsuke at ringside, taking control of the match by just being absurdly strong: a winning strategy in most wrestling matches. And then he turns to look at the bass, eyes shining with promise and lust. Zayn interferes, whacking Braun in the back with a keyboard, which allows Cesaro and Nakamura to suplex the Monster Among Men through the bass, reducing it to firewood while hopefully not doing permanent damage to Strowman’s back for the sake of a very silly match concept.
Elias tries to take out Shinsuke with a tuba, but the former IC Champion catches him with a kick, then whacks a nearby gong before flourishing the mallets like nunchucks and belting Elias with them. You know what? I was wrong to be cynical: that was absolute gold and all the justification needed for this whole match. Nakamura hits Elias with a kick, but an attempted Kinshasa misses, hitting the gong and allowing Elias to knock Nakamura into the timekeeper’s area.
Elias blasts Cesaro across the back with a guitar before trying to put him through a table. Meanwhile, Strowman grabs Nakamura and powerslams him into a fucking grand piano.
I’ll admit it when I’m wrong: that match earned its existence with several innovative spots. I’m a bit worried about how dangerous this was physically, particularly that bit with the piano, but I was definitely won over. 3 Stars.
I just want it to end
We relive the endless, thankless march towards blessed oblivion that is King Corbin vs. Roman Reigns, before Kayla Braxton meets backstage with Corbin to talk more about this feud, attempting to devote more time to it than can, in fact, exist.
Apparently the latest flavour in this disappointment sundae is Corbin’s resentment towards Roman’s prominence in the industry. At this point, my apathy towards this storyline and its participants can no longer be confined to a single subject and has begun to seep into other areas of my life. One of my cats has already died. By WrestleMania, if things continue in this fashion, I will have passed away due to extreme malnutrition.
Bryan vs. Gulak would stir my tea
Alexa Bliss is on the stage, ready to interview the Bella Twins, who are apparently entering the Hall of Fame. I guess the bar really could go lower.
The Bella Twins arrive on the stage, and my brain shuts itself down in an act of pure self-defence. They talk about breaking barriers, taking credit for the work of actual wrestlers. Oh, and they’re pregnant, and Nikki’s engaged, and lots more stuff that I could not care less about. The idiotic, monotonous drone goes on relentlessly until the segment mercifully ends with Bryan bringing out his and Brie’s child to say hello. For a guy who was supposedly turning evil due to the Fiend’s influence, he’s certainly in a chipper mood. Maybe he’s been smacking his wife and kid around backstage. That would be sufficiently disturbing.
When we come back, Heath Slater has received the Entrance o’ the Jobber, and Bryan immediately tries to apply the LaBell Lock, with Slater managing to gain an advantage. Drew Gulak’s at ringside, something that is painfully obvious due to the camera lingering longingly on him every few seconds, and apparently his strategy is the reason that Heath’s not currently having to count his teeth and arrive at a sum total of “nowhere near enough”.
Hath finally heads up to the top – something which Gulak desperately advises against – before missing a dive. Bryan unleashes the kicks onto Slater’s chest and skull, then winds up for the running knee. Slater dodges, rolling Bryan up for two, then eats a running knee to finish the match.
That was the most dominant Slater since his Tag Team Championship run. If this leads to a serious Gulak/Bryan feud, I could thoroughly get behind it. 1.5 Stars.
Backstage, Dolph offers Mandy Rose a lift back to wherever wrestlers go when they’re not hurting themselves for my amusement. This is witnessed by Otis, who is apparently going to be skulking around like a portly Phantom of the Opera for the foreseeable future. Holy shit, are we finally going to see Phantom of the Opera performed by WWE employees? Has someone at WWE HQ been reading my letters and misspelt death threats?
In an undisclosed location, Sheamus is expounding on his plans for what sounds like an actual genocide. He says he’s going into the Elimination Chamber, and it really feels like he is going murder someone in there.
Having watched this, Shorty G and Apollo Crews are seemingly at odds following their embarrassing, humiliating, pathetic defeat by Sheamus last week.
This seems like the right decision
But before someone can lead Sheamus aside and ask him some pointed questions re. eugenics, genocide, and infringement of Lars Sullivan’s gimmick, it’s time for Carmella vs. Naomi. The winner gets to go to Saudi Arabia and perform while covering almost all of her body and hoping that no member of the audience throws something at her.
Both women start by exchanging holds, grappling for control. A spinning back elbow knocks Carmella down, and Naomi continues to press the smaller wrestler, hitting her with the Bubba Bomb and trying to quickly pin her. A headscissors takeover allows Carmella to regain some measure of control, and she tosses Naomi through the ropes before running into a kick.
Naomi catches Carmella with a crossbody before heading up to the second rope. Bayley distracts her for a moment, allowing Carmella to bring Naomi down the hard way. The ref’s not having any of this nonsense, however, and she chucks Bayley out of the match before Carmella wipes out Naomi on the outside.
When we come back, Naomi is beginning her comeback with a flurry of kicks, only for the Staten Island Princess to trip her up. Naomi tries for a bodyslam, but Carmella counters, bringing Naomi back down to the mat. Naomi continues to build momentum, however, driving Carmella back before wiping her out with a corkscrew at ringside.
Carmella tries to stay on top of the match, hitting a flying crossbody that almost nets her the win. She tries to suplex Naomi back into the ring, instead eating a kick and almost getting rolled up. More roll-up attempts follow, before Carmella transitions into the Code of Silence out of nowhere. Naomi is able to reach the bottom rope, catching Carmella first with a knee and then with the Rear View for a two-count.
Carmella gains some separation with a superkick but can’t build momentum off it. A blockbuster and a split-legged moonsault nets the win and a title opportunity for Naomi.
Carmella still has a way to go, making this the right choice. I imagine Naomi will be able to have a more high-paced match with Bayley, though with the limitations of the Saudi setting, I’ll settle for no-one getting a bottle tossed at them. 2 Stars.
Let’s just get past this
Urgh, its Goldberg. I’m choosing to assume that the thump on his dressing room door was his fist because, otherwise, he deserves the concussions. Anyway, big bad Bill marches out to the ring, and I’d rather he conserved every scrap of energy he has left for putting on a passable match and not managing to ruin the Fiend. I’m aware that I’m asking a lot from him, in this case asking him not to suck, but it’s of great personal importance to me.
Goldberg says it’s good to be back, so he’s going to take his time: oh good. But before he can address the Fiend, the Firefly Fun House shows up. Goldberg isn’t impressed, but Bray cheerfully carries on, introducing the puppets of the Fun House. Ramblin’ Rabbit almost dies once again, but that’s barely worth commenting on at this point.
Bray then says that the Fiend has been dying to meet him, and this is followed by the lights going out. Oh dear God, please don’t fuck this up. When the lights come back on, the Fiend is behind Goldberg, who seems unsurprised. In fairness to him, that move was right out of the Undertaker’s playbook.
And Goldberg spears the Fiend immediately, moving to deliver a second one. And then the lights go out for a second, with the Fiend vanishing and leaving Goldberg to celebrate. That had better have earned us at least a 3* match with the Fiend winning decisively, because that was hard to watch.
Tags: apollo crews, bayley, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, Elias, goldberg, Heavy Machinery, inside pulse wrestling, King Corbin, Lacey Evans, Miz and Morrison, naomi, Robert Roode, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, Saudi Arabia, Sheamus, shinsuke nakamura, Shorty G, smackdown, Super Showdown, The Fiend, The New Day, the usos, WWE, WWE Smackdown, WWE SmackDown Live