I must say already within the first 2 minutes it’s abundantly clear that Jonathan Coachman is 10000 times better in a role as a panel main presenter (as he was with former employer ESPN on there big show Sportscentre), than he is as a commentator. He was intolerable on commentary, he seems so much more natural in this role.
Anyway the kick off show had Paige (who was delightful and legitimately added to the show with her input). The Smackdown GM also confirmed Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton would open the main show (oh god… be careful Jeff). Booker T and David Otunga interchanging and Pete Rosenburg previewing the ppv. We had 1 match before the main show…
KICK OFF SHOW: Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) (C) defeated Rusev Day (Rusev & Aiden English with Lana) to retain
Unsurprisingly given the quality of those involved, this was far better than your usual pre-show match. One benefit of dual branded ppvs is it puts a quality control on what appears (well… that’s the theory anyway). But this was a very fun match. The main story was they wanted you to think Rusev Day would win, which of course meant they weren’t. The prelude to the match itself saw New Day and English compete in clearing their throat (as Aiden does before his usual musical introductions). Rusev was super over (shock, he has been for about a year now…). The match whilst with elements of comedy was not short of good action, English in particular going all out to impress. Rusev Day, despite some recent differences, seemed on the same page throughout and got a few nearfalls. The finish was really good; after English did an acrobatic dive to the outside (not sure how often he’s done that before) with Rusev and Lana looking on on the outside and the rest of the New Day OOA, English applied Rusev’s finisher The Accolade and the crowd went wild hoping at long last Rusev Day would have their moment. But with his grip lessening and Rusev begging to be tagged in, Aiden persisted and his hold was eventually powered out of. And shortly after Rusev was taken care of, Kofi Kingston hit his Trouble In Paradise kick on English, and much to Rusev and Lana’s clear dismay towards Aiden, and New Day retained. As pre show matches go this was the best for some time, probably the best since New Day themselves last appeared in this spot.
A really cool video package running through all the matches tonight opened the show, it’s this that made me realize just how stacked this card is, fingers crossed it lives up to expectations…
Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy in a Hell In A Cell Match
This was a good, good match with elements of a weird finish, it was what we all expected: Jeff would fuck himself up and lose, but the story they told along the way was more brutal than even I was expecting. There was a few spots in this match I haven’t seen before so credit to them for that, Jeff did not jump off the cell thank god but did the next best or worst thing (depending on your point of view). Commentary made a point of saying as Jeff came to the ring that he’d always wanted to do a Cell match before retirement, and also upon entrance and throughout the match Jeff did the DELETE gesture which I thought a lovely touch given his brother’s recent ‘retirement’. They went back and forth in the early part, with both utilizing both the cell structure and various weapons. Hardy was on top for most the early part which led me to think he was losing, and I also noted that Corey Graves stated that Jeff was in “tremendous physical condition”…. No Corey, it is widely known that in 2018 he is far, far, far from that. The crowd whilst they popped for the big spots seemed to be always waiting for the chaos in this match, but luckily for them they got plenty. Jeff set a ladder upside down outside the ring, only for Orton to launch Jeff onto it (a spot I haven’t seen before), in the ring Orton hit Hardy with a chair and then used the belt of Jeff to attack his already hurt back (Corey this time made a point of saying the belt had steel studs in so would hurt more, which was a far more valid point from Mr Graves). Another unique spot was when Randy placed Jeff in between a smaller ladder and began pressing down on it, but ti was nowhere near as gruesome a visual as when Orton (after searching through a toolbox under the ring) used a SCREWDRIVER, and whilst holding Hardy he placed the screwdriver in his earlobe and began twisting it and removed the earlobe… ‘thing’ in his ear that stretches it, this visually looked horrific. Hardy eventually got his revenge by using his own belt to lash at Orton’s back, the studs leaving terrible cut marks all across Randy’s back. Hardy would eventually escape a possible RKO with a Twist of Fate before putting a chair on top of The viper and hitting a Swanton Bomb, but only got a nearfall. By this point Orton had a horrific looking cut on his leg to that was gushing blood. The match ended after Jeff put up a table, a larger ladder and a smaller ladder all side-by-side-by-side in the ring, he put Orton on the table, scaled the smaller ladder, onto the larger ladder… THEN he was hanging from the roof of the Cell structure and was winging back and forward to gain momentum (the idea being he falls through Orton on the table below)… and of course Orton moved as Jeff came down and he crashed and burned. The referee immediately and frantically called for the Cell to be raised so Jeff could receive treatment, and after briefly arguing the pint with the referee Orton pinned Hardy and demanded the ref make the count which he reluctantly. did. Orton wins as the ref contuses to scream for medical help for Jeff. It was a bit odd the finish but brutal nonetheless, there was a small time until Orton’s music played as Hardy was carried away on a stretcher, if it was anyone else I’d think this was fully kayfabe but with Jeff Hardy who knows.
Kayla Braxton interviewed AJ Styles about how personal Samoa Joe had gone in recent weeks, with AJ saying how much he can’t wait for this match so he can rip Joe’s heart from his chest and walk away as WWE Champion.
I can see Noelle Foley (Mick’s daughter) sat behind the commentary tables, I still wonder what level of involvement her Dad will have in the main event later… but anyway up next… oh my…
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair (C) to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion
The front few rows of the crowd have small signs that say ‘I boo the woo’ on them. Genius. Right from the introductions it was very much clear that Becky was the more popular with crowd of the two women, with some even booing Charlotte as she was announced. The early part of the match showed me two things, Becky’s facial as a heel are tremendous, and the chemistry the two have as best friends irl is very much evident in the ring when against each other. The mat wrestling and exchanges were so crisp throughout, the highlight being a Becky Armbar which was countered from a potential hold from Charlotte, Lynch transitioned into a Triangle hold until Flair lifted her up and hit a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count. Another great sequence among the ruthless Lynch offence was when Charlotte has Becky in a Boston Crab submission until Lynch got the ropes and the momentum switch sent Flair into the bottom turnbuckle. This advantage continued as Lynch locked in the dis-arm-her only for Charlotte to get to the ropes to disappoint a crowd that was begging to see Charlotte tap. The finish came out of nowhere as Charlotte went for her signature Spear only for Becky to catch her and roll her onto the mat (almost how Randy Orton would for his powerslam –like move) and instead of slamming her Becky held Charlotte down and got the Pin. A different but creative way to finish and it doesn’t definitively give Lynch a win so leaves a rematch very much valid. Crowd popped big time for the title change, an interesting call but the right one for me. The roles reversed from Summerslam as a dissapointed Charlotte looked on as Lynch held up her newly won title. Charlotte offered the handshake, but Becky trash-talked and held the title up before walking away leaving Flair left to contemplate what had happened. No double turn just yet then…
The Smackdown commentary team inform us that Jeff Hardy has been taken to a local medical facility suffering from severe abdominal pain (amongst a lot more I’m sure). They then recap the Smackdown tag title match form the kick off show. New Day are then shown celebrating backstage, they welcome in ‘bootyworth’ who I think is their butler. Kramer Kingsman (Kofi’s alter-ego) then interviews Woods and Big E, E promotes their title defense in Australia against The Bar and they then shower bootyworth in pancakes. This was…. there…
Raw Tag Team Championship: Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler (C) defeated Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose to retain
This was one of the best WWE main roster tag team matches I’ve seen for some time. The match was good from the vert start, McIntyre was made to look strong throughout, not that the others weren’t but it did seem Drew was protected and made to look as tough as he is which was good to see. There were so many good sequences and moves in this match it’d be impossible to list them all, plenty of well-timed hot tags by both teams, one spot where Rollins and Ziggler both tagged in, Rollins shortly after went for a suicide dive to both opponents on the outside but they caught him, and then Dean did a suicide dive of his own to lay everyone out, with Rollins and Ziggler both re-entering the ring just at the count of nine. Another great sequence was Rollins and Ziggler doing a series of pinfall roll-throughs until Ziggler hit the Zigzag for a nearfall. Not long after that Rollins hit McIntyre with a a kick and then a frog splash off the top onto Drew’s back for a nearfall. Rollins then tired to take out Ziggler on the outside but Dolph moved, with Dean and McIntyre in the ring Drew knocked Dean to the floor and then did the old Shawn Michaels flip-up which from a giant like Drew was some feat. Ziggler tagged in as Dean took out Drew, Rollins would then tag in and hit a great looking superplex on Ziggler but after rolling through for a second Suplex McIntyre re-entered from the outside and hit a Claymore on Rollins which sent him crashing to the mat, giving Dolph the chance to stretch his arm over Seth for the pin. The pace this whole match was phenomenal, I haven’t seen a WWE min roster tag match like this for a while. Drew carried Dolph and the titles over his shoulders at the finish. Really great stuff from all involved.
The next match being where it is on the card leads me to further think my theory of Miz v Bryan at Mania for the title is happening.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) defeated Samoa Joe to retain
They replayed Joe’s awesome storybook segment from Smackdown this past week before he came out. Hilarious how the commentators castrate his persona for his sickening he has been with regards to AJ’s family as the crowd loudly chants ‘JOE, JOE, JOE’ as he first walks out. The match began with Styles on offense before Joe took over. Joe hit an amazing-looking flying forearm through the ropes to send Styles on the outside into the announcer’s table. AJ hit a reverse DDT off the top rope for a nearfall, Joe later hit a powerbomb for a 2 count but immediately picked him up and turned it into a Boston Crab then an STF submission but AJ got to the ropes. Joe punished Styles with vicious strikes throughout, AJ came-back with an amazing looking Rackbomb (he had Joe on his shoulders and then slammed him down) for a nearfall then hit a 450 springboard 450 splash to go close again. He would then try the Styles Clash only to be catapulted and then busted open heavily from the mouth after a strong Joe Clothesline. The finish, much like the Women’s title match but even more so, left it open for the next match between the two; AJ set up for the Phenomenal Forearm but Joe would catch him and eventually lock in the Coquina Clutch, then with Joe’s back to the mat AJ flipped over and got the roll-over pin to retain. Immediately after the bell Joe was furiously arguing with the referee, and went over to the announcers too to plead the case that in fact he won the match. At this stage it was confusing what had happened. Joe in the ring held up the championship until AJ kicked him out the ring and staggered to his feet to hold the belt up. eventually we were shown a replay from the other side view that showed AJ tapping out as the referee counted the 2 of the pin. Controversial but clever. Joe stormed to the back looking for Smackdown GM Paige. This was a good match as expected.
Ronda is shown shadow boxing whilst given a pep talk by Natalya
Charlie Caruso interview Miz and Maryse backstage. They’re in a very ott white outfits with silver lining with white and black sunglasses, as heels and for their act their ridiculous is appropriate. Miz and Maryse seem fired up. Lets hope the match delivers as good as all involved are.
Maryse & The Miz defeated Brie Bella & Daniel Bryan
I’m not sure there is a more likeable couple in the history of WWE TV than Brie and Bryan, Maryse and Miz are the perfect foils for them to play off. There was a great video package recapping the feud so far before the match. The story of the match was that Brie wanted to fight Maryse but Maryse would always tag out to The Miz. It seemed the goal of Miz and Maryse as shown on Smackdown last week was as much to win this match as it was to keep Maryse out of harms way. As expected the men did most the in-ring stuff, and as expected what Daniel Bryan did was excellent as always. At one point Miz rolled outside away from Bryan and pointed to his head to suggest he was cleverer, Bryan did the same and tagged in Brie, touche! Of course though Maryse immediately tagged out and posed for good measure afterwards. At one point Miz was on top hitting the IT kicks which got plenty of heat.
Just after Daniel Bryan (who had to RETIRE due to a series of concussions due to too many knocks on the head) missed a diving headbutt as Miz rolled out the way. I hope I never ever see Daniel Bryan attempt even, let alone miss a diving headbutt ever again.
Eventually with Miz out of the ring Brie was finally tagged in. Miz quickly got in the way so Brie hit Miz, she then came off the ropes and slid under Miz to hit a baseball slide to Maryse before repeatedly smashing her head on the announcers table (this got the loudest crowd reaction of the match, which in a match involving Miz and Daniel Bryan is great). After Bryan hit a running knee off the apron onto Miz on the outside (Miz who had a natsy cut on his face by this point) Mr and Mrs Danielson put Mr and Mrs Mizanin into the ring and did the double YES kicks spot, but not before Bryan emphatically told Miz “NOBODY TOUCHES MY WIFE” which was really a cool thing to watch. As they go for the last big kick Miz and Maryse roll outside, leading to Brie throwing Maryse into the ring as Bryan and Miz fought outside. Eventually Brie threw Mryse into Miz to send him outside, she rolled Maryse up for a 2 count but Maryse rolled Brie over and held her down for an un-believable finish. I don’t mean unbelievable in that it was shocking, more that the way she held her down it looked unrealistic that’d be enough to pin her. Storytelling wise thought its very clever, now Miz and his wife have both separately pinned Bryan and his wife. The match was fine but more about the angle itself than the in-ring action. Corey Graves talking about how much an athlete Maryse was and an “in-ring technician” was hilarious and tremendous heel commentary.
Another Jeff update; apparently Jeff has been throwing up blood. So that’s how they write him off tv then as I expected.
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Alexa Bliss to retain
Bliss came out with Alicia Fox and Mickie James, Ronda came out with Natalya. As expected the match was centered around Ronda ribs she injured on Raw. But I’m not sure if they went to ott with it, I guess they had to make this match seem like a genuine contest somehow so having Ronda an carry injury did make sense. Ronda did out wrestle Bliss in the early stages, but Bliss was at most turns helped out by her cronies. Bliss targeted Ronda’s ribs throughout with some pretty stiff looking kicks and attacks, she also has Ronda in an abdominal stretch (the idea Bliss could legit submit, injury or not, Rousey was a little far fetched for me). At one point Ronda and Alexa were perched in the top turnbuckle, Bliss striked her in the injured ribs leaving Ronda hung upside down for Bliss to smash her ribs. This got a nearfall (one of many for both in the match). With the ref’s back turned both Fox and James stretched Ronda around the ringpost onto her ribs, until Natalya made the save laying out Fox. Although this left James to still go after Rousey before Ronda put her away. The finish came with Bliss mocking Ronda thinking she was in control after a double crossbody left Ronda worse off and Bliss followed up with the 100000th (it felt like that) kick to the ribs. But with Bliss cowered over Ronda it was Rousey who took over, she did her mean face (Alexa sold it perfectly to her credit), she did her flurry of quick punches to Bliss in the corner, she picked Bliss up and slammed her. But this was a slight modification on Ronda’s usual slam, this one looked a lot better and more normal so it looked like she has taken advise from people (I’ve seen a few online) so good job to her for that. and just after she put in the Armbar and Bliss tapped immediately. This was fine. I felt the rib stuff was played on too much, Ronda sold a lot which I was unsure about but I understand why they had to. The finish and result was the correct one, but this was far from perfect booking without being completely off.
They recapped the controversial Joe vs Styles ending. We then cut to Joe backstage with the ref of the match watching the footage back, Joe wants answers from Paige too. Paige tells Joe to calm down and not to interrupt her again. She says the referee’s decision is final but that Joe will get his rematch in 3 weeks at WWE Super Showdown (are we supposed to pretend this match hadn’t already been announced?). Joe says 3 weeks isn’t enough and he wants AJ with no count-outs, no disqualifications and no excuses. Paige says she agrees with Joe and that there has to be a winner, “don’t worry, there will be” he responds.
They then ran through the card for the Australia show.
Universal Championship (with Special Guest Referee Mick Foley): Roman Reigns (C) v Braun Strowman in a Hell In A Cell Match was ruled a No Contest
Mick Foley (looking in his best shape physically and moving wise for a good 15 years or so) came out to a decent reception. They had been heavily promoting the Foley show on the network just after the PPV. Braun got a big pop, Roman got a mixed ovation. Braun grabbed the title belt during the introductions which got a big reaction and then the action commenced. Braun launched Roman into the cell a few times, with him trashtalking Roman as he went. Braun really did dominate the early part of this one, he got a kendo stick from under the ring and decided this wasn’t enough so got a chair and this sufficed. But after this Roman attacked him with the kendo stick and broke this over Braun, but just after Braun snapped it over his knee. Eventually back in the ring Roman hit Braun across the back with the chair, eventually Braun caught the chair and eventually charged Roman but he moved, causing Braun to go shoulder first into the turnbuckle (yes that spot for the 100th time). A DDT onto the chair by Reigns then got a 2 count. Roman then did 2 Superman Punches before Braun caught him on the 3rd for a Chokeslam for a 2 count. Braun accused Foley of being rusty as he did hit the mat a 3rd time, and the commentators said similar which didn’t help. Roman later hit a great 2 count like the Cesaro European uppercut but did it with a Superman punch. It was a cool spot. Roman then got a table from under the ring, but he sees Braun getting back to his feet and runs round to Spear him, instead he runs into steel steps that Braun was holding. Braun followed this up by hitting a downed Roman with the steps for another 2 count. Braun did the running Powerslam for a 2 count which I legitimately thought was the finish. Roman made his comeback with 2 Superman Punches and then he Speared Braun through the table that was set up in the corner. This got another 2 count.
And then… shit got absolutely ridiculous…
So with both men down Drew and Dolph came to ringside, trying to get into the cell with a referee arguing against them. Seth and Dean ran down to even the odds, they chased them down and brawled around the ring as Braun and Roman were still down. Seth and Dean cleared an announce table, Drew made the save, then Dolph and Drew cleared the announce table, Drew and Dean brawled, Ziggler climbed the cell to try and escape the chaos, Rollins climbed after him, Rollins and Ziggler brawled ON TOP OF THE CELL, Dean climbed the cell (with a kendo stick on his back for good measure)… Reigns and Strowman are STILL down by the way… Rollins superkicked Ziggler, Drew made the save, Dean attacked the heels with the kendo stick, and eventually all 4 men were down. Ziggler climbs down, but Seth sees him and catches up with him, they both brawl, and are eventually hanging on the side of the cell, they go back and forth, and then both Ziggler and Rollins fall down through the announce tables below, and my oh my did they fall HARD!… Reigns and Strowman are still down by the way…
And then… Shit got absolutely ridiculous on a whole new level… ABSURDLY RIDICULOUS…
BROCK LESNAR’S MUSIC HIT! And then here he was with Paul Heyman with him. Heyman argued with a ref (there was a lot of sound outs so I presumed he was swearing a lot), Lesnar KICKED THE DOOR DOWN OF THE CELL, he makes his way to the ring with both participants (yes there was STILL A MATCH GOING ON) and whilst this was happening Heyman sprayed Pepper Spray in Mick Foley’s eyes to take him OOA. Lesnar then picked up a part of the broken table that was smashed by the Spear spot and smashed Braun across the back with it, and then he does the same to Roman. Lesnar then F5’d Braun and F5’d Reigns, and then he left. Him and Heyman left. Another ref came in, looked at both men and WAVED THE MATCH OFF. The bell didn’t sound, there was no standing 10 count, he just waved it off. And that was the finish. And that was how the show went off the air.
So… he’s back. He’s back because he’s going to wrestle Roman in Saudi Arabia in November. This is going to take place a few days after Evolution. It’s going to be as disgustingly propaganda polluted political advert as last time. I don’t want to talk about it anymore as the whole thing makes me feel sick.
This was a great show, with a terrible finish to the main event. And most shows are remembered by it’s main event historically. So there you go. Match wise it was the best show of the year on the main roster, but the main event finish… wowsers…