Surely Some Wrestlers Aren’t Allowed to Make Matches
The show starts with Miz TV, featuring Jon Morrison. This is apparently distinct from The Dirt Sheet, and this may be my puritan parsimoniousness talking, but two talk shows for one wrestler feels like an extravagance. It’s this kind of bourgeois conduct that’s causing the collapse of the planet, you headband-wearing bastard.
Anyway, the guest of tonight’s lavish waste of taxpayers’ money is Jeff Hardy, who last week shattered a bottle over a man’s head, which really tells me that Master Hardy is capable of making terrible decisions drunk or sober. Suddenly, the idea that Jeff would run into Elias in a car doesn’t seem so ridiculous, does it?
There’s some tired comedy about whether or not to show a clip before they show it which at least kills some of the time on this show not dedicated to a rewatch of Braun Strowman vs Bray Wyatt or a goddamn karaoke contest (I truly wish that I was joking). The clip is basically what you missed over the past few weeks. I guess it’s supposed to attack Jeff, but all it really does is show factual events and quote both men verbatim; it doesn’t make for the best attack ad.
About the most damaging thing it does do is show video evidence of Jeff shattering a bottle over a man’s head last week, which the cops didn’t get called for. I mean, that guy was Sheamus’ personal bartender. He had a name and a whole life and, presumably, a difficult time explaining to his friends what, exactly, he did for a living. If someone told me that they were a professional wrestler’s “personal bartender”, I’d jump to some assumptions, the first of which would be that their arse had taken more punishment than Dresden.
Jeff threatens Miz and Morrison, portraying that incredible judgement that we’re supposed to believe that he has, surely, at some point. Miz says that Jeff is his daughter’s favourite wrestler but that she doesn’t know about the darkness inside him. Which…seems fair considering that she’s a toddler. I’m all for helping kids excel and encouraging their development, but a pre-schooler really shouldn’t know the ins and outs of alcoholism and drug addiction.
Miz and Morrison both ask Jeff if he’s okay. Yeah, it would be really terrible if Hardy threw himself off the top of something tall in response to this. I can’t even imagine that.
Jeff says that this whole thing with Sheamus does bother him, but he’s going to push through this. He claims that he wants to be a beacon of light and an inspiration to anyone else struggling with addiction issues, which is an uplifting enough comment that I’d feel like a real jerk if I made a joke about it.
The Miz and Morrison then announce that they’ve made a match between Jeff and Sheamus in a bar fight. No, seriously: what. How is anyone and their tag team partner suddenly allowed to make matches? Don’t get me wrong: things are running more or less as well as they did before and SmackDown somehow hasn’t descended into total anarchy (the least realistic aspect of this development), but I want to know why and how this show suddenly turned into a quasi-democracy.
Also, if “bar fight” means that Sheamus gets Cesaro in his corner, then that is an amazing twist, and I called it first.
Hardy seems to realise that Miz and Morrison, acknowledged bastions of humanity and goodwill, may not have his best interests at heart, but he accepts the match, lest a single bout at Extreme Rules take place in a damn wrestling ring.
He then challenges either Miz or Morrison to a match, though he does this by decking the Miz. The situation devolves into a brawl, which devolves into a commercial break.
The Miz Even Botches a Distraction
After the break, it’s the Miz vs Jeff. I love the Miz, but the lack of Jon Morrison makes no sense to me.
Jeff’s in control for the opening moments, but the Miz manages to trip him up on the ring apron, leaving the Charismatic Enigma open to some punishment. Hardy tries to rally once or twice, but the younger star keeps him grounded.
Jeff’s third attempt at a comeback sees him catch a springboarding Miz by surprise, hitting him with what I’m informed is the “Twist of Fury”. Thanks, I hate it. Morrison drags Miz out of the ring before the Swanton Bomb can be unleashed, and Jeff dives out onto both men before another break.
After the break, a Morrison distraction allows Miz to have another run at dominating Jeff. We get the usual Daniel Bryan tribute, then another springboard is countered. This time, the Miz counters the Twist of Fury (urgh) into a DDT, almost getting the win right there. Jeff absorbs more punishment, but he manages to get some control back with a jawbreaker.
Jeff quickens the pace with his classic moves. Miz counters another Twist of Fury, but Jeff still keeps him down, and he’s well on the way to winning before Sheamus appears on the screen with a pint of Guinness, taunting Jeff with its malty heaviness. The Miz tries to capitalise off this racist distraction, but Hardy reverses his roll-up into one of his own, winning the match.
This was a fine match, but did Jeff need the win? Sheamus causing him to lose rather than his distraction being completely ineffective seems like the more beneficial route. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, a blonde interviewer is shooting the shit with Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro, who are outraged that them beating the New Day would be considered an upset. They’re apparently sick of the New Day representing the Tag Team division, and they’re going to change all that in tonight’s Tag Team Championship match.
Bayley is Going to Run Out of Viable Challengers at this Rate
And Michael Cole’s blood pressure rises so much that his shoes fire right off his feet as Sasha Banks and Bayley make their entrance, right before Nikki and Alexa jump them. We cut away from this to watch Dana Brooke dance backstage: SURE, THAT SEEMS LIKE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO WATCH RIGHT NOW.
When we return to the ring, order has been restored, and the match is on. The heels are working over Nikki, using double-teams and quick tags, but Cross changes the momentum of the match after trapping Bayley in the ring apron and just wailing on her. Now Bliss and Cross have some measure of control, causing Bayley to have to save Sasha as we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Sasha distracts Alexa long enough for Bayley to catch her with a stunner. Bliss is still fighting back, almost ending the match with a roll-up, but Sasha and Bayley grind her down, keeping her far away from Nikki and making sure to knock Cross off the corner to ensure there are no tags made.
Bliss finally fights her way out, punching her way through Bayley and tagging in Nikki, who explodes into the match. She goes right through both Bayley and Sasha, almost pinning Bayley with a backbreaker before Banks breaks up the pin. Sasha goes on to drive Alexa into the barricade, and Nikki is more concerned with revenge than she is with the legal woman in the match. This allows Bayley to roll her up, using the ropes as leverage. Sanity has its advantages.
Oh, that’s interesting. Unlike the Jeff Hardy match, the face lost unfairly, and I’m still completely rooting for her. All jokes aside, I love seeing Nikki get built, and her friendship with Alexa adds a lot to the journey. 2.5 Stars.
We then get a replay of Braun vs Bray from Money in the Bank. I get that it has storyline relevance, but you could use this slot on some of Braun or Bray’s best matches: show us how indomitable both of these lads are. I’ve rewatched several of those matches on the WWE Network, but I’ve only seen this match the first time, and I’m not about to change that now.
After that retread, Blonde Interviewer is backstage with the New Day, clearly keen to preserve every possible appearance of neutrality. The New Day claim that they’re not taking Cesaro and Shinsuke lightly, promising that they’ll finish the night as SmackDown Tag Team Champions. One day, Big E is going to excite himself into a heart attack, and I’m really worried that that day is close.
Elsewhere backstage, Lacey Evans is practising her scales when Naomi happens upon her, prompting Lacey to look disgusted and leave. I know that it’s not exactly what it looks like, but it really does look like it is.
The Greatest Segment in the History of this Sport
Well, at least the karaoke contest isn’t going on last tonight. This segment or contest or hideous waste of my time is presented by Jey Uso, which should raise questions of bias in a world where anyone gave a damn about any of this. The “contestants”, and I use that term incredibly lightly, are Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, Tamina Snuka, and Naomi, who could all have paired off and gone after the Women’s Tag Team Championships but decided there was a good use of their talent and whatever Lacey keeps in the void where her talent should be.
Jey presents the rules, which mostly involve forty-five seconds of these women butchering their favourite WWE themes. All kidding aside, if one of them busts out Rollin’, then this is the greatest segment of 2020. RVD’s theme is a close second place, and any of Triple H’s Motorhead themes would also be acceptable.
Lacey goes for “With My Baby Tonight”, and they don’t use karaoke settings on the music, so you get her voice and Jeff Jarret’s. I’m not what you’d call a talented singer, but it seems like the performance suffers a lot because of that.
Dana is up next with “The Honky-Tonk Man”, which I’ll admit is a real banger of a tune except when Dana Brooke sings it, and Jey mercifully ends her performance in its infancy. That’s fitting considering that this whole segment is morally equivalent to child slaughter.
And Tamina’s going for Triple H’s theme, so at least I get something out of this, and that something is a level of cringe that I think might just have given me cancer. Jey ends that too, and I’m only sorry that he didn’t employ a superkick in the process.
So, after cutting short the performances of two other contestants, Jey introduces his sister-in-law in what is probably the most corrupt karaoke contest that I’ve seen in my whole damn life. She’s singing Dusty Rhodes’ theme, and it’s a pleasant surprise to be able to use the word “singing” without a shred of sarcasm for the first time.
I’m still broken up that nobody sang to us to keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, but some things are too perfect in concept to be realised. We get to the usual voting-by-applause method of WWE democracy, which is only slightly less stupid than a straight majority referendum (yes, I’m still angry), and Naomi wins in a stunning display of both corruption and something I have total apathy for.
Naomi celebrates before Lacey Evans, who in her defence has never actually said the words “I am a racist”, shoves her over. Careful, Vince. Jimmy tries to separate the pair of them without employing even one of the many wrestling moves that have allowed him to beat teams like the Wyatt Family, the Bar, and the New Day. I bet if he’d Samoan Dropped Lacey, everyone would have started behaving themselves pretty damn quickly.
Anyway, we’ve now got a wrestling match between a woman who’s shown a significant level of antipathy towards a black lady tonight and that black lady. Lacey’s power gives her the edge until Naomi’s kicking game lays her out. Evans rolls out of the ring where Dana Brooke gives her a talking to, and then Lacey pushes her over because something something Southern hospitality and charm but none of the racism. Dana gets up, telling Lacey “you lost, get over it”: arc words of the past four years.
Lacey gets back into the ring, but Dana and Tamina head after her, and it all turns into a brawl. This seems like a situation that the Mysterious Hacker could really shine a light on. It’s weird that no-one knows who he is, considering he must be the guy carrying two laptops and five monitors to the arena with him every time he shows up.
Blonde Interviewer is backstage with AJ Styles, who’s still very cheerful about destroying Drew Gulak last week. He claims that no-one’s worthy of being in the ring with him. Chad Gable, you plucky little elf, get over there right now.
Blonde Interviewer then tells Styles that he’ll actually be defending the Intercontinental Championship against Matt Riddle next week. I’m almost willing to believe that she made that match. It’d make as much sense as every other WWE superstar making them.
AJ Styles is not pleased with this news, but title matches on free TV are one way to keep Dr Spain happy.
Do You Think Cesaro and Nakamura Might Have a Preferred Type of Match?
Speaking of title matches on free TV, it’s Tag Team Championship match time. The New Day arrive as we recap Nakamura beating Kofi Kingston and…well, basically that. I guess sometimes title matches don’t need a long backstory. For further details, see Matt Riddle vs AJ Styles for the IC Championship next week.
Cesaro and Nakamura make their way to the ring, and after some BIGMATCHFEEL announcements, we’re ready to go.
Kofi and Shinsuke start quickly, with Nakamura cornering Kingston and using teamwork with Cesaro to try to wear one of the champs down in the early going. Kofi tries to punch his way out, finally managing to slide under both men before taking control of the match with Unicorn Stomps. Nakamura and Cesaro head out of the ring to regroup, and Cesaro counters a dive from Kofi with an uppercut right before the commercial break.
When we return, Kofi is in trouble, getting held in a sleeper hold by Shinsuke. He finally builds up enough strength to fight his way free, stunning Nakamura with an SOS before crawling over to Big E, finally tagging out. Big E hurls himself into the match before hurling Cesaro over his head with some belly-to-bellies. A splash misses, and Cesaro quickly seizes the advantage, hammering away at Big E. Kofi hops up onto the apron, dazing the challenger with a kick to the skull before managing to stomp him clear off Big E’s shoulders.
Kofi tries to keep Cesaro away from Shinsuke, but a kick from the Artist allows the tag. Both Cesaro and Shinsuke toss Big E out of the ring, but he charges back in, and the match turns into a brawl, which earns a DQ result.
The DQ came out of nowhere, but if this gets us a Tables match at Extreme Rules, I’m fine with it. Fair play to the competitors for making this match feel important, though they could have let it go on longer. Like, say, if there’d not been a karaoke contest. 2.5 Stars.
Post-match, Cesaro grabs a table, longing to emulate his idol, D-Von Dudley. Big E is thrown into the steps, then Kofi is beaten down as the table is set up in the ring. Big E is placed on the table before powerbombing Kofi onto him, sending both men through the table. Cesaro and Nakamura stand tall to end a mostly-decent show.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, bayley, Bayley and Sasha Banks vs Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Dana Brooke, extreme rules, Jeff Hardy, jey uso, Jon Morrison, Lacey Evans, naomi, Nikki Cross, sasha banks, Sheamus, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown, tamina, The Miz, The Miz vs Jeff Hardy, The New Day, The New Day vs Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, WWE