It’s the last chance for anything of note to happen before Backlash, but I’m mostly here to watch Jeff Hardy face the consequences the one time that he might actually be innocent.
Ya gotta have a piss segment
The show begins with Renee Young in the ring. She’s here to oversee a contract signing between Sheamus and Jeff Hardy, because once again WWE has decided that a legal issue can most definitely be solved via professional wrestling. Sheamus arrives first, bringing out with him a doctor, a security team, and some sort of box. The trainees in attendance boo heartily, because fuck doctors and guys who weren’t racist enough to become police officers. Sheamus does not have a lawyer with him, though I guess maybe Renee Young is an authorised notary.
Jeff Hardy arrives next, and he’s committed the social faux pas of not attending a contract signing with a security team or a medical professional. Sheamus very clearly wants Jeff to piss into a cup, which is the kind of thing you usually have to pay for the privilege of. Hardy and Sheamus get into a shouting match about who’s actually responsible for that ridiculous cartoon car accident before Sheamus reveals that Jeff needs to take a urine test.
Apparently, Sheamus’ lawyers convinced WWE’s lawyers that rather than the standard tests that WWE employees take on a whatever-the-hell sort of basis, Jeff needs to do his on live television and in front of an audience of young, naive trainees. Maybe this is WWE’s way of teaching those kids some cynicism early on. This is what we do, this segment is telling them. You dream of your sixty-minute Iron Man match at WrestleMania, or passing out in a sharpshooter rather than tapping out, but this is your future. Don’t look away; accept it now.
I’ve got no sympathy, mostly because these people stuck around after the King Corbin/Roman Reigns dog food feud. That’s like getting stabbed in the throat at an interview and accepting the job offer.
But Jeff is apparently super-into the idea of exposing himself on live television in front of an audience a quarter of which has got to be under the age of eighteen. Maybe there are some highs that drugs and alcohol can’t reach, and maybe they’re worth getting put on the Sex Offenders Register.
Sheamus claims that his doctor friend, who of course has an Ashkenazic name, a white coat, and a stethoscope literally draped around his neck (how else would we know he was a trained medical professional?) has a rapid test that can offer immediate results. I’d mock that concept, but I’ve written training materials for urinalysis modules and so know that those are definitely a thing.
So, as we watch Jeff Hardy literally urinate onscreen, shielded only by a privacy screen, I take a moment to wonder how my life took this strange turn. They emerge with a beaker full of what I hope literally is piss, mostly because I know that it’s going to get thrown over Sheamus in a second…yep, that’s absolutely what happens. Jeff hurls his own leavings over Sheamus, who acts like he’s just been drenched in burning oil. It’s sterile, fella; it’s not like you can catch coronavirus from it.
Oh, wait, apparently there’s no consensus on that yet.
Well done, WWE.
The crowd of trainees starts chanting “you got pissed on”, which would be funnier if they hadn’t been handed a list of pre-approved chants and reactions to use before this show. WWE must be loving this: they can finally control the onscreen responses of their own audience. It’s also inaccurate, as I imagine Jeff Hardy literally urinating on Sheamus would be a bridge too far even for World Wrestling Entertainment.
After a commercial break, Sheamus is splashing water on his face and gargling out his mouth, so I guess that answers my question on whether or not the WWE Performance Centre has showers. Dr Kirschenbaum (really) arrives to tell Sheamus that Jeff Hardy’s urine tested…dramatic pause…negative. He doesn’t say what it was negative for, so I guess we’re just supposed to assume everything. I, for one, am relieved that Jeff Hardy is not pregnant. Sheamus is incandescent, which is a weird reaction considering that Kirschenbaum isn’t even a real doctor.
Please just put a title on Cesaro
Here come the New Day, ready for a tag team match. They’re facing the team of Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro, with whom they found themselves in an ideological dispute last week regarding the issue of whether or not Chad Gable is a real human being or a disgusting member of a diminutive Untermensch.
Kofi starts off in control before Cesaro slows everything down with a backbreaker out of goddamn nowhere. The New Day manage to get some more licks in thanks to Kofi’s resilience, with Big E throwing Kingston out onto Nakamura before wiping Cesaro out with a clothesline. Some crafty teamwork and distraction from the heels allow them to take control as we head to the commercial break.
Post-commercials, the dominance of the heels continues as both foreign gentlemen wear down Big E, who finally gains some separation with a belly-to-belly. Kofi comes in with a lot of energy, laying into Nakamura, who’s unable to respond effectively even following some interference from Cesaro. Big E takes Cesaro out of the ring with another big clothesline, leaving Kofi and Nakamura to battle it out alone. Suddenly, Nakamura counters a dive from Kingston with a knee to the face, rolling the former WWE Champion up quickly for the win.
That ended quickly, but I’m definitely up for the future matches we’ll see from this feud. I’m annoyed that all of the Forgotten Sons are apparently being punished rather than just Ryker, but hopefully the other two will resurface quickly. 2 Stars.
Backstage, Tucker and Otis are back together. Tucker is trying to turn Otis into Daredevil by blindfolding him and training his other senses. When Mandy Rose appears and kisses Otis on the lips, Otis mistakes her for Tucker, apparently both unperturbed and unsurprised. A lot of questions just got raised for me re. Heavy Machinery and their relationship.
Mandy’s just here to tell them both good luck and that we’re all counting on them. She also gives Otis the Money in the Bank briefcase, and Tucker takes on the role of Lady Macbeth, persuading Otis that Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be what thou art promised, AKA the Universal Champion. If I was Tucker, I’d stick to being Banquo, because at least then his descendants will rule England and Shakespeare will write a play that makes Macbeth look like the world’s biggest asshole.
This discourse is interrupted by Jeff Hardy and a urine-drenched Sheamus having a scrap nearby, which is the sort of thing that’ll happen when a dude dumps piss on another dude. As far as I’m aware, that situation has no Shakespearean parallels, though I’d be ecstatic to be proven wrong.
Sheamus throws Jeff into a ladder – symbolism – before security overcomes its squeamishness and drags a pissy Sheamus away.
Watch this match
We get a pretty cool video on what the Intercontinental Championship represents, plus the differences between Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. It’s not flawless, but I appreciate the effort that went into this. In fact, coming from WWE, it’s a surprisingly competent showcase of character.
This is followed by the Intercontinental Championship match, which I would definitely have made the main event as opposed to a six-man tag match. AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan make their way to the ring as the commentators bring up the fact that Bryan has held the Championship before while Styles never has. We get some of that sweet bigmatchfeel with the post-entrance announcements, and the match is on.
The bout kicks off with some hold-and-counter, both men acting cautiously as they try to outdo each other through technical wrestling before Bryan strikes suddenly with a dropkick. This causes AJ to employ strikes as well, trying to snatch the advantage. Bryan uses Styles’ eagerness against him, sending him out of the ring before diving through the ropes onto him as we head to a commercial break.
When we come back, Bryan is attacking the left arm of Styles, who stuns him with a dropkick, starting to take control and slow the match down, working on Bryan’s arm in return. It’s all solid, methodical wrestling, and with these two it’s as fun to watch as any spotfest. Bryan catches AJ with a knee to the stomach, and he’s on Styles immediately, tying his opponent up every which way, switching his focus to AJ’s legs.
Bryan continues to dominate with strikes, but as he tries to take the match home, Styles jumps him with a roll-up attempt, with both men exchanging pins in a great sequence before they collide in the centre of the ring. When the commercial break’s over, Bryan is back on Styles’ left arm, attacking it more ferociously. He almost applies the Yes Lock, but AJ fights him off, finally catapulting him over the ropes and out of the ring. Bryan dodges a vaulting body press from Styles, using the misstep to drive AJ’s left arm directly into the ring post.
Bryan is merciless, stomping on the injured limb as it’s draped over the apron. Vicious Bryan is my favourite type of Bryan, heel or face. AJ guts through the pain as Cole wonders why he doesn’t just tap out. Bryan gives him a lot of opportunities to do just that, wrenching Styles’ arm in a number of agonising-looking holds. Styles finally gains a reprieve as he dodges a running corner dropkick, kicking Bryan’s legs out from under him before yanking one over the ring apron. Turnabout really is fair play.
Now it’s Bryan’s turn to have a limb tortured, and Styles plays his role with gusto, wrapping Daniel’s leg up in the ropes at an extremely creepy angle. Bryan manages to close things out with an enzuigiri, following that up by foiling a Phenomenal Forearm attempt and starting to kick the fuck out of Styles in the corner.
Bryan wants to take it home now, hitting a Frakensteiner to Styles and lacing Style’s chest with kicks. AJ ducks the final kick to the head, exploding into a combination that Bryan stalls with another kick, before blasting Daniel with a clothesline that turns him inside out. After a final commercial break, both men are hammering each other until a charge from Styles allows Bryan to throw him out of the ring. Bryan’s following dive is stopped via a kick to the arm, and Styles wants the Forearm. Bryan dodges it, applying an armbar that Styles counters into a Calf Crusher! Daniel turns himself over, turning the move back to an armbar.
Styles escapes the hold but doesn’t dodge Bryan’s kicks to his arm and to his skull. Bryan takes AJ to the top rope, looking for a German superplex before Styles elbows him away twice, only for Bryan to finally hit a back superplex, and we go to another break? When we come back, Styles takes control of the action with a reverse DDT after Bryan’s leg gives out on him. Daniel elbows his way out of a fireman’s carry neckbreaker but takes a Pele Kick and a sickening brainbuster.
Now AJ wants the Styles Clash, but Bryan rolls him up. A Pele Kick attempt is countered into the ankle lock, followed by a German suplex, with AJ returning the favour immediately afterwards. Another German suplex from Bryan, who then applies the Yes Lock! Styles manages to reach the ropes with his foot. Daniel starts stomping the head of AJ, then he retreats to the corner to charge up the running knee. Styles catches him, hitting the Styles Clash, but he’s too out of it to make the cover!
AJ crawls to the apron, looking for the Phenomenal Forearm. It connects, and AJ Styles wins the Intercontinental Championship!
I doubt that anything could have improved on this match other than a fully live crowd. 5 Stars.
I get that Styles is a heel, but some of the trainees looking pissed off at the result makes them look really stupid. You just got a wrestling clinic played out in front of you; you should be grateful and/or stunned.
We get a recap of the Miz and Morrison’s Braunbaiting, which was ridiculous right up until they committed criminal damage to his car windshield. I guess he can definitely provide footage that will force the Miz and Morrison to pay up. Does their insurance cover the pair of them being the world’s biggest assholes? It does sound like something they would need.
Braun’s backstage to warn Otis and Tucker that if they try to make him Duncan in their weird Macbeth fantasy the pair of them have going on, he’ll murder the pair of them, bake them into pies, and then feed them to their own mothers and the Roman Emperor their mothers married. Shakespeare is fucking mental.
It’s not like this happens during every post-victory celebration
Anyway, we have new Women’s Tag Team Champions in Banks and Bayley, who are having themselves a big celebration. At Backlash, they’ll be defending the straps against Bliss Cross Applesauce and the IIconics, but right now they’re here to gloat. And if there’s anyone who can gloat, it’s this pair.
Things get a little mushy as Bayley reads a poem to Banks, but before we can get back to the dark old days of HLA that I would only watch every second of out of a sense of irony and in a state of outraged offendedness, Alex and Nikki break things up. But before they can say anything, the IIconics show up on the big screen. God, I’ve missed this ridiculous duo. Their Australian accents are just confusing enough to distract Bayley and Banks long enough for Bliss and Cross to jump them and toss them out of the ring.
If Braun’s a train, that means he’s distantly related to Heavy Machinery
Kayla Braxton is backstage, interviewing Miz and Morrison, whom she is clearly still pissed off with. It says a lot that a one-week grudge is the most character development I’ve ever seen Kayla get, but I’m definitely on board with it. Miz and Morrison have made a music video as a means of taunting Braun Strowman, but this is cut off by Braun Strowman’s new entrance. It’s not bad, but the classic BRAAAAUUUUN roar was definitely the better option. I can’t see a lot of crowds popping for the sound of a train. I’m still making my mind up about the steam as well.
I just don’t get why a train? With Heavy Machinery, it all makes sense. I get that Braun is as powerful as a speeding locomotive, only not really, but it’s not like there’s a whole lot of train imagery beyond his t-shirt.
Speaking of things that don’t make sense, here’s Dolph Ziggler, who tonight is forming a douche triangle with the Miz and Morrison. Everyone gets into the ring, and the bell rings.
The match takes a little while to get going due to Dolph Ziggler’s inability to face his fate like a man, so Otis just grabs Miz, making him the legal man, and he and Tucker just go nuts on the guy until he can tag out. Morrison is able to bamboozle Tucker with his athleticism, including his ability to land on his feet after a goddamn backdrop, until the Heavy Machinery member grabs him out of the air and murders him.
A triple-team from the three big faces pretty much sends Ziggler to the shadow zone, but suddenly King Corbin is on the big screen, telling a cameraman backstage to follow him. He then walks up to Mandy Rose, engaging her in polite conversation. Mandy responds, also politely, which is great in terms of workplace etiquette, but not so much when it’s the guy who tried to kill your boyfriend with a steel chair last week. Maybe Mandy knows that Corbin can’t put his hands on her without Sonya DeVille getting involved in order to preserve her right to ending Rose’s wrestling career. It’s like having insurance against everything accept Sonya DeVille.
Corbin says that he wants to address the blatant theft of his property that occurred last week, which would be a matter for HR if there was a Human Resources team on the planet capable of dealing with the workload that WWE would send their way on a weekly basis. This weirdly segues into the sad, skinhead monarch claiming that Mandy wants to slide up and down his short, pink sceptre, which earns him a righteous beating from an infuriated Otis.
After a commercial break, Otis has presumably be contained, and the match is now a 2-on-3 handicap contest. Tucker takes the beating that he signed up for when he became the less-prominent member of a WWE tag team. He finally fights everyone off, but the Miz and Morrison take out Strowman before Tucker can make the tag. Otis returns to the ring as Ziggler works over Tucky Jannetty, but the big man finally blasts Dolph with a kick, tagging in his portly pal.
Otis wreaks havoc, disposing of all three men, where Braun Strowman is waiting. Strowman runs around the ring, knocking everyone down (oh, I suddenly get the train thing, but it’s still stupid). Ziggler is tossed back into the ring, taking a Caterpillar for the win.
I confess to being confused by King Corbin’s plan, but considering that I’m confused by the fact that Corbin hasn’t drunk himself to death or hanged himself out of a sense of common decency, that’s nothing new. Maybe there was no plan: maybe Corbin just wanted to shoot his shot with Mandy and not get accused of sexually harassing her. I hope it’s not that, because just typing that made me feel unclean. The match itself was a pretty fun romp. 2.5 Stars.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, bayley, Big E, Braun Strowman, Braun Strowman and Heavy Machinery vs The Miz and Morrison and Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler, Heavy Machinery, Intercontinental Championship, Jeff Hardy, Jon Morrison, Kofi Kingston, Nikki Cross, sasha banks, Sheamus, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown, The IIconics, The Miz, The New Day, The New Day vs Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, WWE