Dr Spain’s SmackDown Report and Review for June 26th 2020: Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes

Well, it’s not like anyone could have seen this coming.

Except for me, of course. And probably you too. And, really, anyone who’s paid even passing attention to the science and news relating to Covid-19 over the past several months. I’m almost certain that a few people must have done.

But apart from those people, it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to have predicted that WWE would play host to an outbreak of the coronavirus after having their wrestlers not maintain a social distance or wear masks, or after shipping in crowds who also didn’t socially distance or wear masks, who all either yelled a lot or breathed heavily within close proximity to each other.

I think it’s similarly unworthy to try to draw a link between this flare-up of the coronavirus with WWE employees going to bars, the beach, Vegas, or Universal Studios and interacting with the considerable number of people that such an activity would presumably require. I believe that it’s far more logical and justified to instead say that the sudden localised spread of a pandemic that can permanently affect lungs, require the use of a finite number of resources, and cause death in the vulnerable and elderly might have still happened if WWE had ceased putting on shows in the interests of public health, despite any adverse financial effects that may have resulted from that choice.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s watch a retrospective on the career of the Undertaker, just in case WWE and it’s stars’ callous lack of respect for the health and lives of their fellow human beings wasn’t already extremely apparent.

Well, at least watching the Undertaker in his youth and later prime will be a nice break from seeing the broken-down old man shambling around Saudi Arabia in search of that last dizzying high.

Is Mark Calloway their new god?

The show starts with a bunch of WWE stars standing on the stage, clapping their hands and chanting “thank you, Taker”, which does nothing to assuage my fears that World Wrestling Entertainment has decided to commit to its transformation into a death cult.

I’d say “at least they’re socially distancing now”, but the damage is done, and it’s an empty gesture, like when WWE supports the LGBTQ+ community, black people, or the Ultimate Warrior.

If this entire show’s going to be just tributes and videos, I might just stop the review here.

He says what we’re all thinking, but without a mask

Okay, thirty minutes in, King Corbin’s in the ring, talking smack about Undertaker’s dusty old bones, full of green dust. If Corbin went rogue and started decrying Vince’s approach to the pandemic, he’d instantly be the ultimate face. Instead, he attacks the length of Undertaker’s legacy rather than the abysmal quality of the last few years of it. At least he accuses Undertaker of holding other athletes back in order to access the only thing that gives him dopamine anymore.

Jeff Hardy finally jumps Corbin, breaking social distancing. Maybe Hardy’s safe, being more drugs than human being. He kicks Corbin out of the ring as we delve into more videos about what a goddamn treasure the Undertaker is.

Backstage, Jeff Hardy is interested in being part of the latest lifeless feud with one King Corbin. During an interview, he claims that the Mount Rushmore of WWE should be the Undertaker’s face four times, which is the kind of mindlessly stupid opinion I’ve come to expect from Jeff “I can absolutely wrestle a PPV high” Hardy. That match is apparently tonight, showing zero awareness and remorse on WWE’s part.

Multi-person matches will spread Covid-19 more effectively

Back out front, Sasha and Bayley are also here to not socially distance prior to a Fatal Four-Way match. Man, now four women can not socially distance all at once. The match is between Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans, and Nikki Cross. Lacey throws her skirt at Bayley and Sasha, who wash their hands with water rather than, say, alcohol gel because – to quote Bayley – “it’s better than nothing”.

I feel like WWE still isn’t taking this seriously.

Alex and Nikki manage to benefit from teamwork – which involves hugging when I haven’t even hugged my parents in goddamn months – until Nikki tries to roll up Bliss, leading to a brief exchange. Alexa is taken out, leading to Lacey and Dana working over Cross before getting distracted by the usual Fatal Four-Way dilemma of who gets the pin.

At one stage, Dana breaks up a pin by Lacey, yelling at her “that’s what you get”. “That” in this context means “coronavirus”.

Brooke almost wins with a senton that mostly missed, but Nikki makes the save. Alexa gets a brief run of offence, but Twisted Bliss hits Brooke’s raised knees instead. Nikki disposes Brooke before both Bliss and Cross turn their attention to Lacey. The Sassy Southern Spreader manages to hold off most competitors, blasting Dana with a Woman’s Right before Nikki rolls her up for the pin.

Then Alex and Nikki hug again, because fuck you.

Dana Brooke continues to impress, while Lacey is becoming slightly less awful day by day. Nikki is definitely a good idea for a challenger, particularly if it’s an extreme match. 2.5 Stars.

The Undertaker clip show means WWE needs to expose as many people as possible as efficiently as possible

We’ve now got an eight-man tag match, because take us, global pandemic: take us rough and hard. It’s the New Day and Lucha House Party vs The Miz, Morrison, Cesaro, and Nakamura.

The faces remain in control in the early going due to Big E being a big strong man and Dorado being extremely fast and acrobatic. Cesaro is thrown around a lot by Dorado before Metallik tags in, and the Swiss Cyborg is able to catch him off-guard and tag in Nakamura. Shinsuke gets battered about by Metallik for a moment before bringing in Morrison to take control of Kofi before a break.

Post-commercials, the heels are in control for a decent run, with Kofi acting as the sacrificial lamb. A tornado DDT almost allows Kingston to escape, but Nakamura tags in to keep him contained. A last-second reversal of the Kinshasa sees Kofi tag out to Gran Metallik, who seizes control for the faces with his insane athleticism. Dorado tags in for a shooting star press that almost ends the match, precipitating a brawl inside and outside of the ring.

The Miz and Metallik tag in as the New Day, Sheamus and Cesaro fight their way to the back. Miz misses a tag between Dorado and Metallik, allowing Gran Metallik to stun him with a kick and cover him with an elbow.

This was a fun, fast-paced match that did nothing to make me feel better about WWE not ceasing operations for even a single week. 2.5 Stars.

Backstage, King Corbin’s got some mean yet accurate things to say Jeff Hardy’s drug addictions and criminal record. Michael Cole acts like mocking the Undertaker is a hanging offence, which just makes me dislike the Deadman more.

It does sound like Braun plans on committing murder

We recap Bray Wyatt retreating to his proto-Fiend form last week, then Braun Strowman takes his time out from not socially distancing at bars to show up to work and potentially infect some coworkers.

Braun talks a bit about Bray Wyatt and how scary a guy that freely chooses to live in a swamp is. Apparently, he was afraid of a man that he could likely snap in two with minimum effort. He tells a little story about how Bray didn’t allow him to stomp a snake to death, and then the snake bit Bray. Is this a tribute to the Undertaker’s rambling story of how the Big Show once ate a scorpion?

Anyway, Bray Wyatt is immune to venomous snake bites but can be beaten with an Attitude Adjustment or a running powerslam. That serpent sounds like a real jobber.

This speech might have worked a little better if it had been a pre-taped segment, like the documentary clips that we’ve seen literally tonight, and also if it had been written by someone who knows how to write a human-sounding monologue.

The upshot is that Braun wants to fight Bray Wyatt in a swamp that he knows is inhabited by venomous snakes, which sort of explains his cavalier attitude to Covid-19. He also promises to murder Bray and feed him to alligators, which is what a legal professional might describe as “proof of intent”.

Wow, Matt Riddle is at ringside

Jeff Hardy is here to fight for the honour of a man who once chokeslammed him off a ladder, and King Corbin is here to back up his not-entirely-unreasonable points.

WWE’s monarch starts the match by beating down Jeff, keeping the Charismatic Enigma contained until Jeff throws him into the announce table. Now Hardy takes control as we’re reminded that his feud with Sheamus is still going on. Wasn’t Sheamus planning on literally driving Jeff to drink this week? Hardy misses the Whisper in the Wind, allowing Corbin to toss him out of the ring before mocking the Undertaker again, causing Michael Cole to advocate him undergoing the Hom-Dai: the most dreadful of all Egyptian curses, so terrible that if Corbin were to rise again, he would be immortal and unleash the Ten Plagues upon the land.

After a commercial break, the WWE stars have arrived at ringside to support Jeff Hardy, and do a little casual spreading of the coronavirus. Every little helps. Their support and desire to make sure there’s the maximum amount of moisture droplets in the air allow Hardy to finally fight back with some jawbreakers, building momentum with his usual repertoire. Corbin reverses a Twist of Fate, hitting Deep Six.

Outside the ring, Jeff dodges a charge to send Corbin into the steps. Back in the ring, the Swanton Bomb hits, and he wins.

I’m never enthusiastic for Jeff Hardy or King Corbin matches, so consider this a mix of my reaction to both. 1.5 Stars.

Corbin attacks Jeff after the match, leading Big E to hit him with the Big Ending, Braun Strowman to give him a running powerslam, and potentially-a-rapist Matt Riddle to hit the Floating Bro. It’s just a cavalcade of wrongness right now, and I hope that Performance Centre burns down the second it’s empty.

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