UPDATE 10:45 EST
Now we get…THE FUCKING KFC AD WITH COL. ZIGGLER AND CHICKEN SUIT MIZ! You know, I totally understand sponsored bits – but if I ever hear of an employee losing his mind and going on a rampage through WWE headquarters, there is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that it will be Ziggler.
Video package recaps the AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose title feud. Intros for both guys, with each one getting the opposite crowd reaction than the creative buildup had been pushing.
Again with this one, as per most Styles matches, I’m not going to call this move for move because he’s just so good that you should really seek the match out and watch it for yourself. With the crowd seeming to want to back Styles, despite being ostensibly the heel, and boo Ambrose, the face, it would be a stroke of creative genius here if they would execute a double turn in the manner of Bret Hart and Steve Austin at Wrestlemania. That said, creative genius is not something I’ve come to expect in the “New Era.”
Control goes back and forth between both men several times, with each employing the creative offense they are known for. Odd moment when Styles locks in the Calf Killer (I’m not calling it crusher because he’s in WWE now) and Dean literally splits his time selling and not selling. Both men go to the apron, and Ambrose catapults Styles face first into the ring post/screen/thing. Styles’ head audibly cracked and it sounded stiff.
From there, Ambrose proceeds to give an absolute beatdown to Styles, and the crowd doesn’t like it. This really has that double turn magic…until AJ hits a low blow to set up the Styles Clash, the three count, and the title. The announcers play up the low blow and the “impact” on Styles’ legacy, but he’s your new WWE World Champion.
And that’s your show. Not stellar, in fact, really just a couple of bookends – the Women’s Six Pack was actually better than the majority of men’s car wrecks of this nature, and had a finish that people have been waiting for a long time. And likewise, the main event fully delivered on its potential and promise. Ambrose and Styles are both world class performers and they showed it. Ambrose plays the crazy motherfucker better than anyone I’ve seen since Brian Pillman, and I was wrong about Daniel Bryan earlier – AJ Styles is the most over wrestler in the company right now. The match was great, and the finish was solid – clean finish with a new champ, but just enough controversy to let the story continue any number of ways. If I had one complaint about the match, I just felt like the magic was in the air for a double turn, but I can’t argue with the booking here. The rest of the card in the middle though was utterly forgettable and wouldn’t even make for a good episode of Smackdown Live. Thankfully, the visual we got as we went off the air left the fans happy.
Thanks for sticking with me, kids! And remember, Hillary Clinton may have pneumonia, but Donald Trump is fucking insane, and Clinton can take antibiotics. Until next time! – EWE
UPDATE 10:00 EST
Bray Wyatt, who appears to have stolen Capt. Jack Sparrow’s hair, is out next now, as a video replay shows us how Bray jumped Orton. The ring announcer is handed a note saying Orton is unable to compete tonight, and that Bray Wyatt has requested a 10-count so that he can win by forfeit. However, we now get a no-holds-barred match between Wyatt and…Kane. Um, ok.
So Wyatt and Kane have…exactly what you’d think, given that Kane has four moves and Wyatt is beginning to wrestle like he doesn’t care anymore – which I can’t fault too much seeing as how creative has taken his amazing character and gimmick and killed, buried it, and then dug it up just to kill it again. A chair is used, several times, a table is broken, you know the drill. When suddenly, Randy Orton…sllloooowwwwwwlllllyyyyyyy…makes his way to the ring. RKO, chokeslam, Kane goes over. Yes, Bray Wyatt was beaten by a forty year old guy who usually just comes out and chokeslams a jobber for a quick pop. In addition, creative has just effectively told Randy Orton “fans don’t give a damn about your matches, just go out and hit an RKO at some point.”
Now it’s time for the finals of the tag title tournament. During the Usos introduction, David Otunga laments how they have left behind their cherished heritage by no longer wearing neon facepaint and doing a Samoan war chant before their matches. Yeah, because that’s clearly the only connection to their Samoan roots they had. Only in the New Era of the WWE can you get the thrill of watching the Usos wrestle twice in one night, while listening to commentary consisting solely about crab cakes and poop jokes. The match follows the standard format of every match involving Slater and Rhyno, which can be summed up with:
Hot tag to Rhyno, but he misses the gore, so Slater tags himself back in and hits a big DDT for 2, but gets pulled outside. Rhyno hits a HUGE gore and Slater covers for the pin, the titles, and a “job” on Smackdown.
UPDATE 9:25 EST
Up next, we have the freshly heel turned Usos, who apparently now wrestle in black pleather and sneakers (because they’re EVIL) against Mojo Rawley and Zack “Management Doesn’t Care How Over I Am With Fans” Ryder, the Hype Bros. This was set up by the Usos losing in about 10 seconds to American Alpha in the semi-finals of the Smackdown Tag Team Title tournament, and then injuring them after the match. So what do you do to someone who loses and then gets mad? You let them back into the tournament! That’s a great life lesson kids. Anyway, the winner of this match gets to face Heath Slater and Rhyno for the titles later tonight. Yeah, this is not a deep tag team division.
Back and forth action to start until the Usos take control on Ryder. Couple of hope spots until finally Ryder makes the hot tag to Mojo, even though Ryder is the most over guy in the match. The Usos though quickly take out Mojo, destroy Ryder’s knee and pickup a submission win to advance to the title match later tonight.
Backstage segment now with, god willing, are your next tag champs, Rhyno and Heath Slater. Some great comedy moments here folks, including the classic poop joke. Great stuff.
Now we get a video package recapping the buildup to the IC title match between Miz and Dolph Ziggler, which feels more like a buildup for a Daniel Bryan comeback, but we aren’t that lucky. Match begins pretty much as you would expect it would – Dolph carries the entire thing, thrilling the crowd with offense, then selling like a madman and making Miz look like a million bucks. Miz takes a few moments to imitate Daniel Bryan’s trademark moves, which is either furthering the inevitable Bryan comeback match, or incredibly fucking cruel toward every wrestling fan.
Miz stays in control until Dolph is able to hit a Famouser for a two-count. Zig-zag (goddammit) is countered, but Dolph is able to lock in a sleeper, which ends like every other sleeper has ended since Roddy Piper beat Hulk Hogan with it at Starrcade 1996. Big leaping DDT by Dolph gets another 2-count. Miz locks in a LONG figure-four, but Ziggler gets to the ropes. Miz runs into a Superkick, but gets his toe on the bottom rope. Maryse sprays something in Dolph’s eyes, and a Skull Crushing Finale later Dolph Ziggler, and all of us, are screwed again.
UPDATE 8:40 EST
Backlash opens with a silent text crawl on a black screen commemorating the 15th Anniversary of 9/11. Credit where it is due – this was a very classy move. I’m sure Kevin Dunn could’ve put together an overproduced, overly dramatic video package with flags and eagles, but this was a somber and serious moment for a somber and serious occasion. My hat is off for it.
From there we go to…an overproduced video package outlining all of the feuds heading into the show tonight, in case someone hasn’t been watching any of the product on TV and just happened to randomly tune in to the show tonight. We are LIVE…and here comes the money! Shane McMahon makes his way to the ring, and next out is GM Daniel Bryan to a huge pop. They promote the new Smackdown Tag Team and Women’s champs to be crowned here tonight, and then say our Women’s Six-Pack Challenge is starting right…now!
We get intros for each of the women in the title match. It bears repeating that if we are going to grade ring attire for each of these ladies, Alexa Bliss absolutely destroys anyone else in the ring, or the building.
So the rules in this one are elimination-style, meaning that once you are pinned or submit, you’re gone. Last woman standing is the first-ever Smackdown Women’s champion. As is my policy with most multi-person clusterfucks like this, I’m not going to try to call the moment to moment action here because I’ll go insane. Suffice to say, there are a LOT of high impact moves and submission holds hit by everyone. Amusing moment sees Carmella, Natalya, and Nikki Bella combine for a superplex-powerbomb combo that leaves all three laying; Alexa quickly rolls in and attempts to pin each woman in succession, but each one kicks out.
Quick observation – Naomi may be the most athletically gifted woman in WWE, but the gimmicks and attire that she is forced to wear are utterly ridiculous. Day-glo neon green spandex hoodie, with matching neon green hair extensions – someone should be fired over that. First elimination comes when Alexa takes a double-team Buff Blockbuster/Powerbomb combo from Naomi and Natalya and is pinned. Natalya follows up by quickly nailing Naomi from behind and tapping her out with the Sharpshooter. Nikki quickly hits her new finisher (which according to Mauro is a “modified Argentine backbreaker” – god I love him) and pins Natalya, however just like that Carmella rolls her up from behind and eliminates Nikki. So we are down to Carmella and the criminally underrated and misused Becky Lynch. Might we finally see them give her the run on top she deserves?
Yes, we will! Becky hits several Becks-ploder suplexes and locks in the Disarm-her for the tapout and is your first-ever Smackdown Women’s Champion!
Pointless backstage segment with the Miz, and then we see Bray Wyatt backstage working over Randy Orton’s ankle. Oh, good, one of the only matches I was really looking forward to may now not happen. Goddammit.
UPDATE 7:55 EST
Pre-show match is between Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin (oh…joy) and was set up in an earlier backstage segment. However, before that the panel has an interview with Alexa Bliss regarding the upcoming six-pack challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Title. Alexa cuts a decent heel promo, but the most notable thing is that she has a Harley Quinn theme going for her look tonight, which automatically makes her my favorite in the match.
Amusingly, Corbin is introduced for the match as “the winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal” despite the fact that nobody who has one that event has ever, EVER been subsequently pushed in any meaningful way. The match opens with each man trying to show their power moves, until Crews goes for a springboard and just slugs him out of midair to the floor. Then we throw to commercials for the finals of the Cruiserweight Classic (which is a phenomenal tournament any wrestling fan should watch) and Holy Foley (……..).
Back from the break and some more back and forth between both men. Corbin hits a standing moonsault and Olympic slam (shout out to Kurt Angle) and Corbin hits an STO, all for 2-counts. Crews hits the ropes and runs right into a spinning belly-to-back suplex for a close two count. To the outside and Corbin misses Crews and goes crashing into the steps. Crews throws him back in and goes for the corner mount, but Corbin throws him off and hits End of Days for the pin and the burial of Apollo Crews’ career continues at full speed.
An series of video promos will now lead us into Backlash proper!
Join me at 8 PM EST as the whiskey and tears will flow for WWE Backlash!