We live in a world where Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, and heel Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) are the main three Champions, and a wonderful world it is (apart from the politics and the COVID-19 and what-have-you).
It’s weird looking at SmackDown with a feeling of optimism, but I guess that’s just a part of this new normal.
WWE starts off with a big old sad picture of the American flag, the downed towers, and a “never forget”. I try not to roll my eyes, but it’s a struggle.
The actual wrestling part of the show begins with a succinct retelling of Jey winning the chance to be number one contender and, let’s face it, a horrifying death at the paws of the Big Dawg.
If Corbin kept the suit and lost the crown, he’d look like an actual royal
Speaking of the Large Canine, Roman’s here, as is the ungodly giant image of him that I both love (because it’s perfect for him and a marked improvement over the actual dog they were using previously) and hate (because it’s unsettling in an extremely angry way). Paul is also there, but as he couldn’t be bothered to summon a larger-than-life holographic image of himself, I barely notice his presence.
The commentators are plugging the fact that Jey Uso has never had a chance at a singles title, like the SmackDown Tag Team Championships are a big old nothing. If the Usos had been associated with the RAW Tag Team Championships, then fair enough.
Paul brings everyone up to speed on what happens, in case the video footage was too nebulous and confusing. He then says that he’s been authorised to introduce the new number one contender and calls Jey Roman’s “blood brother”. Please don’t give us a twist where Roman gave Jey leukaemia by literally mingling blood with him.
Jey thanks Paul for the introduction and for placing him the number one contender’s match. Heyman then reveals that Roman was the one who put him in the match, which is odd considering that Reigns gave Paul credit for it last time. Before Jey can Press X To Doubt, Roman tells Jey that he doesn’t have to thank him: he earned it. He underlines the fact that Uso will be taking home a big paycheck home to his family, but then claims that he’s going to “whup Jey’s ass”, and that the Championship will remain on his shoulder.
This is a taut situation that feels like it could turn explosive at any moment, so of course King Corbin shows up to inject some unneeded douchiness into the segment. On the bright side, he’s wearing a suit again, which is the one outfit I’ve ever seen him in that doesn’t make him look ridiculous with the crown.
Corbin makes the typical and somewhat justified accusations of nepotism, and to be fair, this is the kind of favouritism that would make the Tory party blush. Sheamus then arrives, still doing some kind of traveller cosplay that makes him look like he sells porn magazines and heroin out of the back of his car. He’s mostly there to make the same points as Corbin, except in an Irish accent.
Jey challenges the pair of them to a tag match against him and the Ginormous Labrador, claiming that it’ll be “the blood vs butt mud”. It’s jokes like that, plus an incredible tag team career with his twin brother, that’s kept Jey Uso away from singles titles.
Sheamus and Corbin both take a swing at Jey, who takes care of both of them as Roman stands there as though interacting with either man would lower him. It’s hard not to argue with that logic.
Also, after a few moments of Jey’s music playing, Roman’s music takes over. That is some musical theatre shit, and I’m here for it. Then again, I’m here for a bunch of weird stuff, so I probably shouldn’t be the sounding board for WWE’s ideas. Case in point: “beast” is used in some parts of Scotland to refer to child molesters, yet this element was thoroughly absent from Drew McIntyre’s feud with Brock Lesnar – a man literally referred to as “The Beast”.
I’m not saying that it would have been award-winning television, I’m saying that Drew calling Lesnar a kiddy-fiddler would have made me pop harder than I did for Daniel Bryan’s win at WrestleMania 30.
Backstage, Sami Zayn is throwing a hissy fit over not being in the Intercontinental Championship match between AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy tonight. I’d agree with him, but Zayn/Styles/Hardy is a PPV match, and you can’t change my mind on that one.
Jeff Hardy genuinely may not know which midcard title he holds
Jeffrey Hardy makes his way to the ring, face painted and title equipped. His face is painted with the American flag like he’s trying to fool us into thinking that he’s the United States Champion. I’m not sure why anyone would want people to believe that about them, but he’s free to do what he wants.
AJ Styles arrives, but before any match can get underway, Sami Zayn comes out to protest at the belt being on the line when, in his view (a view that isn’t blocked by such irrelevancies as 30-day no-compete clauses), he’s still the Champion. He’s finally warded off by Adam Pearce, general dogsbody, leaving without a fight.
AJ Styles uses the distraction to attack Hardy, who dodges a charge into the corner, hitting Styles with the Twist of Fate. I’m about to get super pissed off, but Styles rolls out of the way of the Swanton Bomb, letting Jeff crash and burn before the commercial break.
When we come back, Styles is in control, though Hardy manages to shove him into the steel steps and then hurl himself at the challenger. Back in the ring, Jeff begins to build momentum with some of his signature offence, though Styles blocks a leg drop, tripping Jeff up in the process. Jeff’s still in the fight, scoring with a Whisper in the Wind.
AJ stops a Twist of Fate, answering with a fireman’s carry neckbreaker. Then it’s Jeff’s turn to counter a finisher, turning a Styles Clash into a leg drop, handing him back control of the match. He misses a pendulum dropkick in the corner, leaving him vulnerable to a Phenomenal Forearm from Styles, but suddenly Zayn drags AJ off the apron, throwing him into the steel steps. In the ring, he blasts Jeff with a Helluva Kick before leaving, belt held aloft.
What little we saw of this match was fine, and I’m down with shenanigans provided we get a solid triple threat match out of it. 2 Stars.
Afterwards, Jeff tries to leave up the ramp, but he collapses. Holy shit: is the Helluva Kick deadlier than we may have originally thought? I’ll sacrifice one Jeff Hardy for a Sami Zayn finisher that no-one can kick out of.
Backstage, Alyse Ashton is telling everyone that Jeff never lost consciousness but was, in fact, dehydrated. I don’t want to hear that, WWE. I want to be told that Sami Zayn can install a delayed-action loss of consciousness into people’s heads with his foot.
AJ Styles storms up to Alyse, infuriated by Zayn’s actions. He promises that he can beat both Jeff and Sami, no matter when or in what kind of match, which sounds like a green light for an Intercontinental Championship Ladder match to me.
Michael Cole tries to convince everyone that the Brand-to-Brand Invitational is a real thing before recapping Shinsuke and Cesaro’s little trip to RAW.
Backstage, the Street Profits have shown up to the Champions’ Lounge. Okay, so I was told by Michael Cole that wrestlers heading to the neighbouring shows can only happen once a quarter, so what is this? How can this be? Also, how are Cesaro and Nakamura going to go back to RAW next week if they’ve been once already?
This whole concept is full of holes.
To give them full credit, Shinsuke and Nakamura fully respect the rules of the Champions’ Lounge, merely asking that the Street Profits not beak anything while they’re away competing.
In the trainer’s office, Sami Zayn shows up to gloat about kicking dehydration into Jeff Hardy’s skull, which makes Jeff angry enough to attack him.
Is nothing sacred?
In a backstage segment, we’re shown that Kalisto mistakenly thinks that he’s the leader of Lucha House Party and that LHP are still in the title picture. Oh, sweetie.
Anyway, LHP make their way to the ring, followed by Cesaro and Nakamura.
Lucha House Party have the early advantage, with both Gran Metalik and Kalisto keeping Cesaro off-balance with their acrobatic offence. A distraction from Shinsuke allows the Champions to take control, trading tags in between smacking Kalisto around.
The titantron then shows some footage of the Champions’ Lounge, where the Street Profits have apparently invited a bunch of filthy non-Champions to desecrate the sacred space. They even let in Drew Gulak, which is morally comparable to child murder.
Due to this nonsense, Kalisto rolls up Cesaro for the win. I guess when you party on the street, you don’t have to worry about this sort of thing. Or you worry about it constantly. Either way, it’s a lifestyle choice.
This never really got going, but if it furthers the drama within Lucha House Party and, just possibly, gives us a Triple Threat match between the trio, I can live with these antics. 1.5 Stars.
Banks screwed Banks
Here’s Bayley, fresh off her cold-blooded murder of Sasha Banks. She has the chair she used to batter her former friend with; it’s nice to have things that remind you of better times.
Bayley says nothing, merely pointing at the titantron, which shows a video of Sasha Banks terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad fortnight. Once the Diet Coke snuff film’s over, Bayley complains about no-one asking how she’s feeling at, so she tells us that she feels great about everything she’s done to Sasha.
The Champion then addresses Sasha directly, telling her she knew that Banks was going to turn on her eventually. She claims that Sasha pretended to be her friend, while actually using her all along. Her proof is the fact that Bayley was using Sasha in turn. With projection like that, she could be in the Republican Party.
But now Sasha’s useless to her unless Bayley has more furniture she wants to knock dents in. That seems to end the interview, and Bayley exits the ring.
As she leaves, Nikki Cross arrives, ready for a number one contender’s Fatal Four-Way match. Bayley batters Cross with the chair from behind, just as we head into the commercial break.
The Bliss is back
When we come back, Nikki claims she’s ready to compete. Tamina and Bliss have made their way down there too, and Lacey joins them to complete the quartet, throwing her skirt at Nikki en route.
The match starts with Tamina throwing Nikki out of the ring as Bliss and Lacey square off. After Tamina boots Alexa out of the ring, Lacey and Tamina take each other on. She manages to keep Tamina reeling for a moment, but as Snuka turns things around, Bliss returns to the ring, kicking both women around. Tamina comes back, knocking her down with a clothesline.
Tamina counters a DDT from Alexa, kicking her in the face before squashing her in the corner. Lacey tries to take over the match, but she’s tossed by Tamina. Suddenly, Cross dives into the ring, taking the fight to Evans and Tamina while working in tandem with Bliss…right up until Alexa hits Nikki with Sister Abigail on the outside.
There’s then a commercial break, meaning we missed the part when Alexa walked off in a daze. Tremendous, WWE. We’re left with Lacey Evans vs Tamina, which is of the exact quality you’d expect it to be. Lacey hits the moonsault to Tamina, with Nikki breaking up the pin at the last second.
The tiny Scot unloads on both larger women, levelling Tamina with a tornado DDT before taking out Lacey. The action starts coming thick and fast, with Lacey blasting Tamina with the Woman’s Right, only to nearly get pinned by Nikki off a hanging neckbreaker. Tamina tries to take Nikki out first with a Samoan Drop and then with a superkick, but Cross avoids both, rolling up Snuka for the win.
Plenty of action and story in this match, and Nikki was the right choice to win even if she’s not got much hope of dethroning Bayley. It’s a pity that Alexa’s betrayal had to follow one week after Bayley’s. 2.5 Stars.
How many boxes does Otis have?
It’s time for some Heavy Machinery, with Otis in singles action tonight. He’s facing Jon Morrison, who tries to use his athleticism to avoid Mr Money in the Bank’s power, but nothing seems to work. Otis punishes Morrison with his incredible strength, but it takes a distraction by the Miz, who then steals the Money in the Bank lunchbox, to slow Otis down in any way.
Otis stays focused on Morrison, hitting him with the Caterpillar and the Vader Bomb to pick up the decisive win.
At what point are Heavy Machinery given another Tag Team titles match? Because it should have been before this one. 2 Stars.
Post-match, Otis and Tucker are backstage, and Otis reveals that the actual lunchbox was inside the briefcase the whole time. We’re shown Miz and Morrison finding an apple core, and Miz says that he’s going to “call in a favour”.
I suppose “Paulrus” would have been too on-the-nose
And now it’s Firefly Fun House time. Bray Wyatt first addresses the loss of his Universal Championship, claiming that he doesn’t mind as it’s important to handle loss in life.
Bray then introduces his new puppet: Pasquale the Persevering Parrot. Nothing comes out of Pasquale’s box, which puts Bray on edge. Wyatt finally looks in the box with an expression of horror: oh God, is it Gwyneth Paltrow’s head?
Bray then reveals that Pasquale suffocated in the box, which he had cut zero holes in. Priceless.
Vince McMannequin shows up, castigating Bray for losing the title, Pasquale, and control of the Fun House. He says that he’s adding someone else to the Fun House to take over, introducing the new Special Advisor to the Fun House: Wobbly Walrus. Wyatt looks mildly distressed by this, and the episode ends.
What’s this? Good writing?
It’s main event time, with King Corbin and Sheamus taking on Roman Reigns and Jey Uso. The heels make their way to the ring, but when Jey makes his entrance, Sheamus charges right at him. Jey ducks a clothesline, trying to evade both men, but Sheamus finally catches him, and the match starts before Roman can even get there.
Jey shows a lot of fight, but a trip from Sheamus and a Deep Six from Corbin puts him well on the back foot. What follows is an extended period of Jey Uso getting his ass kicked by both heels, with his rally cut off as Sheamus drags Corbin out of the way of a Samoan Wrecking Ball.
Sheamus drops Jey with White Noise, then winds up for the Brogue before Roman Reigns makes his entrance. The distraction allows Jey to superkick Sheamus and blast him with the Wrecking Ball, before diving out onto Corbin. Back in the ring, he throws himself off the top rope at Sheamus, who catches him. Jey slides off his shoulder, nailing him with another superkick before ascending to the top rope for a splash.
As he does so, Roman, who has now reached the ring, casually tags himself in. Jey hits the splash, before having to clear the ring so that Roman can hit the spear and win the match.
That was excellent storytelling that made Jey look like a hero and Roman look like everything he needs to be in this role. So far, this whole story is going perfectly. 4 Stars.
At the top of the ramp, Jey raises Roman’s hand: the hand that is also holding the title, which Roman is aware of and not comfortable with. Whoever’s overseeing/writing this program is on point.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, bayley, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Cesaro and Nakamura vs Lucha House Party, Heavy Machinery, Intercontinental Championship, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Hardy vs AJ Styles, jey uso, King Corbin and Sheamus vs Roman Reigns and Jey Uso, Lacey Evans, Lucha House Party, Nia Jax, Nikki Cross, Nikki Cross vs Alexa Bliss vs Lacey Evans vs Tamina, otis, Otis vs Jon Morrison, paul heyman, Roman Reigns, sami zayn, sasha banks, Shayna Baszler, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown, tamina, The Street Profits, universal championship, WWE