Dr Spain’s SmackDown Report for September 25th 2020: A Pre-Emptive Memorial for Jey Uso

We’re only a few days out from Clash of Champions, and Jey Uso is going to die. I’d say that it’s madness that we’re all acting like this is a reasonable state of affairs, but considering that I’m ordering a pizza and literally – literally – making a white chocolate cheesecake to eat while it happens, that would make me a hypocrite.

In other, less murder-related news, this is going to be the last edition of the SmackDown Report. It’s been a fun seven years spent documenting callously mocking some truly ridiculous moments of SmackDown: from Triple H threatening to live in the Big Show’s house to Randy Orton’s Arson Adventures, all the way to Shinsuke Nakamura’s Dick Kicks for Clicks and Samoa Joe’s plans to hump Wendy Styles into weeping submission: wrestling is mental. But I do need to make some time for new projects, which I hope that you’ll accidentally stumble upon and say to yourselves, “Hey, I recognise that casually-abusive tone.”

And it’s not like I’ll ever stop watching SmackDown either, so feel free to take comfort from the fact that, decades from now, I’ll still be rolling my eyes every Saturday morning with a mutter of, “Oh, for fuck’s sake”. I’ve really appreciated all the comments and feedback, so thanks to everyone who told me that they enjoyed my work/demanded that I stop bullying Randy Orton (and, in fairness, I’d be the first to say that his current work is astonishingly good). I’m desperately insecure and a notorious people-pleaser, so believe me when I say that your kind words always meant a great deal.

And now, for the last time in Jey Uso’s life, it’s time for SmackDown.

I guess a contract signing would have been a bit too commonplace

The show starts with AJ Styles, who is apparently here for something called “The Intercontinental Championship Ascension Ceremony”. I know that this probably won’t involve the actual tag team called the Ascension, but my hopes will remain high throughout this segment. Sami Zayn and Jeff Hardy join the Phenomenal One in the ring for what I’m sure will be a solemn and respectful ceremony.

Corey Graves, who is apparently responsible for keeping this nonsense on the rails, brings us all up to speed on what is an extremely simple concept. He gets a surprising amount of time before AJ chimes in, “chiming in” here meaning “insulting everyone else in the ring”.

Sami’s the next one to make his feelings known, those feelings being “I’m the real Intercontinental Champion and the pair of you can fuck off”. His diatribe goes on until Jeff tells him to shut up, stating that at least he and AJ have been defending the title, unlike certain homeless-looking gentlemen he could mention but will instead just stare meaningfully at.

The Ascension Ceremony then takes place, with AJ talking over it like a petulant toddler. And then Sami tips a ladder right into Hardy and Styles’ faces. He takes the opportunity to smack Jeff around until Styles runs into the ring, chasing him off. Zayn heads up the entrance ramp, only to be met by Adam Pearce, who announces that Zayn’s particular brand of bullshit has caused AJ Styles to be added to Sami’s match with Jeff Hardy tonight, which is up next.

In the ring, Jeff hits AJ Styles with a Twist of Fate, because Jeff Hardy has really been on a randomly-attacking-people roll recently.

Sami, you rascal

When we come back, the Triple Threat match is on. Jeff starts off with the advantage, knocking both of the heels around until Styles takes over, hitting high-impact offence to Jeff and Sami, finally tossing Hardy out of the ring. Once outside the ring, AJ gets pounced on by Zayn, who throws him into the ring to continue their contest from last week.

Styles manages to seize back the advantage as the commentators talk shit about Sami Zayn deciding not to risk his health while wrestling during a pandemic that infected a good portion of the WWE locker room. I guess they made Roman heel, though I’d hope it’s obvious that I am all about every bit of that.

AJ latches on a sleeper hold, slowing down the pace of the match. This is interrupted by Jeff’s re-entry, and he takes it to both men with a dropkick before backdropping Zayn, using his prone body to hit Poetry in Motion to AJ! Sami manages to shove Hardy out of the ring, following him to hit a few more shots until Styles blasts him with the Phenomenal Forearm.

After a commercial break, Jeff is fighting off both men, hitting both with a Whisper in the Wind. All three men get to their feet at the same time, and Zayn hits Hardy and Styles with a standing Helluva Kick, with AJ just managing to respond with a Pele Kick. Styles looks to follow up with a Phenomenal Forearm, hitting Jeff with it before Sami bundles him out of the ring, taking the win for himself!

This was a solid Triple Threat match, and Sami won in the manner most appropriate to him. Looking forward to the Ladder Match. 3 Stars.

Post-match, AJ Styles – graceful loser – hits Zayn and Hardy with a ladder. He then climbs the ladder to take the belts in what I hold to be one of the most high-risk, futile gestures in WWE.

WWE: Courtroom Drama

In other news, a WWE superstar has taken the weird step of suing another for physical assault. I feel like the fact that this was ever an option has rendered a great deal of WWE history extremely silly in hindsight. And it was plenty silly before.

Kayla Braxton, who is not a legal reporter, is backstage with Heavy Machinery, asking Otis what he’s going to do: give up the contract or lawyer up? Otis says that the doesn’t trust lawyers, and before he can get to the end of what I’m sure would have been a well-thought-out and reasoned sentence, the Miz and Morrison arrive, looking like the main characters from any detective show set on the West Coast.

The Miz promises to take everything from Otis unless he gives him the contract, causing the big man to get really furious. The Heavy Machinery member says that, where he comes from, they settle their differences with fists, not in a caught of law. All problems with the legal system aside, I’m starting to believe that Otis is a colossal idiot.

Tucker, presumably the only member of Heavy Machinery who can actually read, asks Miz why only his name is on the contract. This apparently gives Otis permission to assault Jon Morrison, and either WWE doesn’t know how the law works or I don’t, because that doesn’t seem like a sensible course of action.

Also, considering that the Money in the Bank Briefcase is something that WWE invented, surely they could simply rule on whether or not it’s possible to sue someone for possession of it. I guess they realised that they could get a wrestling match out of it.

Bayley’s Hall of Pain is an angle I didn’t know I’d be into

We cover Sasha apparently being sympathetic now that someone’s tried to break her neck twice. I’m looking forward to the eventual match, no doubt about it, but I either one of these women could cripple the other, and I’d regard it as a deserved consequence for their actions.

Bayley comes out with the chair she used to batter Sasha, sitting on the ramp before talking about how she’s a role model and how she has no time to focus on Banks anymore. She then turns her attention to Nikki Cross, making vague promises about trying to break her neck too.

Feels like Nikki could definitely sue if that happened.

It’s never fun to see a team fall apart, even if you never cared about them

Gran Metalik is in the ring, accompanied by Kalisto and Dorado, ready to take on Shinsuke Nakamura. Lucha House Party apparently have a title match against Nakamura and Cesaro next week, which I’m sure the current infighting in LHP will no way affect.

Nakamura and Metalik feel each other out, both avoiding each other’s offence before Shinsuke strikes on the outside with hard kicks. Nakamura brings him back into the ring, continuing to punish the LHP member. Metalik counters a reverse exploder, hitting Shinsuke with a flurry that sends him out of the ring, somersaulting out after him as Dorado and Kalisto cheer.

Back in the ring, Metalik misses a moonsault, eating a running knee, a reverse exploder, and a Kinshasa from Nakamura, who picks up the win.

This was surprisingly straightforward, hinting at the Champions retaining on Sunday. 2 Stars.

Cesaro dives on Dorado post-match, hitting him with a gutwrench. Kalisto stays out of the ring, not wanting to get beaten down by the clearly-superior team. Once Nakamura and Cesaro have left the ring, Kalisto goes to check on both men, but Dorado’s in no mood for this delayed-action concern, shoving his teammate to the mat.

This is almost too tense to enjoy

Backstage, Jey Uso is still very unaware that Roman is going to tear his heart out and throw it into the screen-audience this Sunday. He cheerfully and irritatingly knocks on Reigns’ door. He’s so oblivious that I’m really starting to believe that he’s using this to cash in on a life insurance policy.

We’re shown a video detailing the formation of the title match and the history behind it. Not surprisingly, WWE’s production team knocks it out of the park, getting interviews with Sika, Afa, and Rikishi. This has had four weeks of build, and it feels like something that’s been coming for years. The only thing that could have made it better is if they’d got the Rock to weigh in, but I can understand if they want to hold that back for another moment.

Also, the photos of young Jimmy, Jey, and Roman are really adorable.

Jey Uso then comes down to the ring as the commentators talk up what a huge deal this opportunity is for him. Jey grabs a microphone, telling everyone how hyped up he is for the upcoming match. Roman and Heyman are shown watching this backstage: just another uncomfortable moment in a story that has been chockful of them.

Jey is far too confident, both in terms of winning the Championship and in keeping his life, but he says that he has some questions that need answering. He shows the footage of Roman’s Shakespearean transformation from good cheer to pure rage. Jey wants to know exactly what Reigns meant by that look, and we’re once again shown Roman sitting backstage, saying nothing.

My only regret about this heel turn from Roman is that it didn’t come after he beat the Undertaker, which would have been the perfect moment for this persona to come bubbling to the surface, thoughI guess this version has the advantage of Reigns already having the title.

Jey is irritated by Roman not showing up, finally treating this with the seriousness that it deserves, and we’re shown Paul Heyman emerging from Roman’s locker room to address the camera.

Heyman says that the WWE Universe deserves to hear what Roman wants to say to Jey, but it won’t happen when Jey says it should, but when Reigns wants it to. It will, however, happen tonight. Excellent move to make Heyman the mouthpiece, by the way: dragging this out drip by drip is working like a charm.

Jey laughs the awkwardness off, and it’s just so tragic to see.

Bro?

On a less murder-y subject, King Corbin and Matt Riddle are going to be going one-on-one later tonight. We’re shown their past differences/brutal assaults, and then King Corbin cuts a promo backstage, dragging Matt Riddle’s dependence on one single word of the English language.

Out in the arena, Matt makes his way to the ring, waiting on Corbin, who joins him in the ring. Riddle immediately leaps on Corbin, lacing him with punches and kicks. The King regains the advantage as he cuts off Riddle’s re-entry into the ring, working over Matt through the Original Bro’s attempts to place him in various MMA holds.

Corbin goes for his signature clothesline, but Riddle cuts him off with a kick to the face, standing tall as we head to a commercial break. When we come back, Matt is still in control, transitioning from an ankle lock to a triangle choke. A powerbomb from Corbin breaks the hold, and he mounts Riddle, sending fist after fist into his face.

Corbin hits measured blows to Riddle between choking him on the ring ropes, yelling at Riddle to stay down. Matt sags down to the canvas, but he was playing possum, and as Corbin drops his guard, Riddle explodes into a furious burst of offence, trapping the King of the Ring into a sleeper.

Out of nowhere, Corbin catches Riddle with a Deep Six, but Matt counters an End of Days attempt with a hard kick before springboarding off the ropes smack into a right hand. Riddle counters a second End of Days attempt, hitting Riddle with a knee to the face before heading up to the top and trying to finish things with the Floating Bro. Corbin gets his knees up, hitting the End of Days.

I’ll admit to being surprised by Corbin getting a clean win here. Unless they’re pushing him for a title opportunity (and King Corbin vs Heel Roman Reigns is something I’d pay good money to see), I’m not sure what the endgame here is. Good match, though. 3 Stars.

Kayla asks Riddle how he feels, and he responds with some disappointment though with determination and defiance. As long as they do something with either him or Corbin – preferably both – then I’m on board.

Alexa and Roman are clearly in a “who can freak David Spain out more” contest

Alexa Bliss has clear mental issues, so WWE is making her fight Lacey Evans. We’re shown a backstage video where Bliss implies that Lacey is a Karen. Those are fighting words if ever I heard them.

Lacey makes her way to the ring, starting off strong against her smaller opponent before throwing her handkerchief at Bliss. Yeah, that’s some excellent behaviour for a pandemic.

Bliss continues to be the underdog as Evans works her over, but she creates some separation by wrenching on Lacey’s arm. Before a commercial break, we hear Bray Wyatt laughing, which distracts Alexa long enough that Lacey manages to seize control once again.

Alexa tries to fight her way back into the match, but Lacey doesn’t make it easy for her, vaulting over the ropes to boot Bliss clean in the face. A missed charge allows Alexa to finally score some offence, hitting clotheslines, slaps, and a dropkick. Evans wrenches Bliss’ arm as the Goddess hesitates once again, but Lacey misses a moonsault.

The lights suddenly go red as we hear the Fiend’s string orchestra sound throughout the arena. Alexa stands, murder in her eyes, and starts beating the sweet fuck out of Lacey, completely dominating her until the referee has to ring the bell when she refuses to heed the five-count.

The plot thickens, and I am here for it. Alexa’s facial expressions and body language are a gift to this storyline, and the eventual collision with Nikki should be fantastic. 2.5 Stars.

Alexa’s assault continues, finishing with a Sister Abigail on the outside that leaves Lacey laying. The Fiend appears on the titantron as Bliss grins psychotically.

As Bliss leaves the ring, Roman Reigns’ music starts. Oh, look: WWE’s two scariest people are in the same place at the same time.

Roman spares Bliss a glance as he passes, but Alexa stops stare at Roman behind his back: another stunning visual from WWE, who really are hitting home runs with this sort of thing recently.

That had better be a warning about the Fiend coming for Reigns, because I’d not give Alexa Bliss good odds if she challenged for the Universal Championship.

It was bound to happen

With Roman and Heyman in the ring, Paul tries to start a promo, but Jey interrupts, heading out to the ring as well. Roman gazes stoically at his cousin, presumably trying to work out of how he’s going to apologise to Rikishi after this Sunday.

I’m kidding: we both know that Roman’s not going to apologise.

Once Jey’s in the ring, Roman says that he would give Jey the title if he could before telling Uso that he wouldn’t be able to handle the accountability and responsibility. Reigns goes on to draw a clear distinction between the singles division master race and the tag team division underclass, condescending to Jey so effectively that it might actually constitute abuse.

The lesson Roman wants to teach Jey is that it will always be him, meaning it can never be Uso. Jey looks down at the mat as Roman and Paul exit the ring, but before the Champion can leave, he asks Roman what if he’s wrong.

Jey steadily gets more and more emotional, talking about how Roman Reigns has always been on top, contrasting it with his own experience as a tag team competitor and a twin. He swears that he’ll win the match on Sunday, causing Roman to stride off to the back, not looking back.

Uso walks off after him, looking defiant, and Reigns suddenly flies out of nowhere, decking Jey with a Superman Punch. He screams at the unconscious Jey that he provides for their whole family with the Championship, telling him that he’ll have the payday and the beating, but that he’ll never take Roman’s place.

I would very much like Clash of Champions to start right now, please.

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