This attempt to completely rewrite history was made even more brazen when not ten seconds later they played a clip from last week’s show in which Kevin Owens said that Shane was looking an excuse for his loss… and now here is Shane doing exactly that by all but doctoring footage to manipulate anyone who missed the PPV into thinking that the only reason Smackdown- and particularly Shane himself- lost was because Owens & Zayn attacked him! So, to recap, Shane is acting like a total heel and Owens & Zayn are calling him out on it, and I’m supposed to side with Shane? No way! It is getting impossible to escape the kayfabe conclusion that Shane is becoming his father: a temperamental hypocrite who horrendously mismanages his show, believes himself to be above the rules, tries to make the show all about himself, and believes he can lie to the fans’ faces and we’ll believe him because he thinks we’re just that dumb.
OPENING SEGMENT- terrible, as usual.
Remember when Shane promised us that the show wouldn’t be about him? Well I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the past six weeks of Smackdown have all started with Shane McMahon coming out to cut a promo (and I’ll bet that the only reason the few weeks before that didn’t was because Shane was out injured). He is once again whining about Owens & Zayn betraying Smackdown and not having any respect for anyone, etc. etc.
He says that he and Bryan have talked about Bryan not firing Owens & Zayn like Shane wanted him to, and he is going to let Bryan come out here and explain why he didn’t fire them yet. Despite what Shane said, it actually appears that they haven’t really talked much about this, as Shane started to give responses to Bryan’s reasons for not firing them. Either that or they are taking a conversation they already had and are now restaging it for our benefit.
Bryan’s reason for not firing them is because he “believes in second chances.” He believes Owens & Zayn when they say that they really wanted to be a part of the Survivor Series team (and their characters definitely do make you believe that if they had been on the team they would have tried their hardest), and because they weren’t able to be on the team their tempers got the better of them and they made a bad mistake. Bryan points out that Shane is also guilty letting his temper get the better of him and making mistakes because of it. Shane says that he agrees with Bryan that this was the case in this instance, but then immediately starts to try to justify himself anyway by telling us all about how Kevin Owens beat up his father and Zayn interfered in his Hell in a Cell match and they “betrayed the entire Smackdown roster,” and so forth. It sounds to me like Shane really doesn’t agree with Bryan and only said he did in a thinly-veiled attempt to make us all think that he is capable of actually examining his actions and admitting his own faults. And if this wasn’t annoying enough, he did so while stealing Sami Zayn’s new “check” catchphrase.
Bryan all but says that Shane didn’t understand a word he was saying about Owens & Zayn’s motivations, then actually has to take the time out of his day to explain to Shane that if they fire Owens & Zayn then they’ll just sign with Raw and take their enormous talents to the (supposed) competition. Did Shane really not understand this concept? Did he never once ask his father why he never fired Steve Austin despite Austin foiling and humiliating him at almost every turn?
And dumbf*ck Shane still doesn’t get it! If you want me to believe that he hates these men so much that he wants to fire them even if it means giving the competition two main eventers (including one former world champion) then at least have him actually sound angry when he talks to or about them instead of this condescending “stern but patient father lecturing his wayward children” tone he always has.
Bryan wants to actually do his job rather than be Shane’s sycophantic stooge, and he tells Shane as much. Shane pretty much brushes this aside with a totally robotic-sounding assurance that he respects Bryan. Then he shows Bryan just how much he respects him by responding to his statement that he just wants to do his job by giving Bryan a patronizing pat on the back for having booked a good main event for tonight (Orton vs. Owens )… and then changes the match on him.
Shane decided to change the match in two ways. First he barred Sami Zayn from ringside. Secondly, he made the match a No DQs match. Anyone remember what happened the last time we had someone barred from ringside in a match that didn’t have disqualifications? That’s right! He interfered anyway and had a major effect on the outcome of the match. Sure, they suspended him afterwards, but Shane has made it quite clear that he wants Sami fired and Sami would have no problem getting a job on Raw where he would be much happier, so why should Sami worry about possibly getting suspended when he might just wind up fired no matter happens anyway?
OWENS, ZAYN, & BRYAN BACKSTAGE- Owens & Zayn ask Bryan to undo Shane’s bullsh*t decisions. Bryan tells them he won’t because he doesn’t want Shane to fire him, either.
CHAD GABLE & SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. THE NEW DAY (w/Big E.)- 6.75/10
The Usos were on commentary because G-d forbid we just have a normal match between two teams with nothing else going on. The announcers remind us that Benjamin & Gable are owed a tag title match, which just makes me wonder why neither Bryan nor Shane has gotten around to booking it yet. New Day won cleanly even though Benjamin & Gable are the #1 contenders and New Day just finished feuding with the tag champs, because this show is atrocious.
WOMEN BACKSTAGE- bad
We were told that Becky would be out for a while due to last week’s attack by Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, & Ruby Riot, whom I have dubbed the NexSisters. Then these two had an atrociously-scripted circle-jerk (circle-jill?) about how they’re totally going to get their revenge tonight because they’re both so great.
One of the two major underlying problems in segments like these that always causes them to come off so poorly to me is that the purpose of the segment within the show is the not the same as the kayfabe purpose of the segment. When The Rock cut a promo on Steve Austin telling everyone what he would do to Austin to beat him for the world title, the purpose of that segment of the show both within kayfabe and outside of it was the same: to create more interest in that match so as to do a better gate and PPV buyrate or TV rating. For segments like this one with the women, the non-kayfabe goal of segment is still the same, but because of the way WWE books these things- not as promos but as promos but as actual backstage happenings where we’re just supposed to pretend that the camera isn’t there- the kayfabe purpose of the segment is not to generate more interest in the match but rather just to have Charlotte and Naomi hang out together and talk to each other about their upcoming match. The result of this is confident people being confident at each other to unnecessarily reinforce each other’s confidence, and often while telling each other things the other already knows, and that isn’t very entertaining or interesting to watch. The other major underlying problem, of course, is WWE’s terrible scripting, which takes segments like these from boring to unbearable.
Nattie showed up to be a jerk to her teammates because I guess she just can’t help herself. She and Charlotte briefly bickered until Nattie and Charlotte each cut a promo the three newcomers, saying that no one would remember their names once they were done with them.
THE HYPE BROS. vs. BLUDEGON BROTHERS- squash
This match is happening for the second straight week because
DASHA INTERVIEWS THE HYPE BROS.- good segment.
Dasha screwed up and completely marble-mouthed her question. Why is she even employed? They have two excellent interviewers in Renee and Charly, plus both Saxton and Phillips can fill in when one of those two is away (like, say, on a honeymoon), so why waste money on someone with no personality who can’t even ask a question correctly?
Dasha asked them why they can’t seem to win anymore. Ryder said that they needed to change. Mojo then attacked him from behind and beat him up, shouting “The Hype Bros. are dead! Do you hear me?” over and over again. It was kind of funny because Mojo is an inherently goofy individual, but it also kind of worked as a heel turn.
A NEW INTERVIEWER ASKED MOJO WHY HE ATTACKED RYDER- he said it was “because the landscape has changed” (which was something Ryder said earlier). More importantly, this interviewer did an excellent job at acting confused and surprised at Mojo’s confusing comments about his surprising attack on his partner. This means that they actually now have three competent interviewers, so why the hell is Dasha still employed?
DASHA INTERVIEWS BOBBY ROODE- Roode cut a promo on Corbin, who hit him during last week’s Lumberjack Match in what may or may not have been an accident. Corbin showed up to cut a promo on Roode. Roode challenged him to defend the US Title against him tonight, but Corbin refused and walked away. This was good.
HANDICAP MATCH: AJ Styles vs. the Singh Brothers (w/Jinder Mahal)- no rating, good segment.
Jinder jumped AJ before the match, setting up a three-one-one beat-down, which served the duel purposes of putting heat on Jinder for this title shot against AJ and also setting up a reason to allow the Singh Brothers to get some real offense in on AJ so that this match is not just a repeat of the squashes that AJ has had against each brother over the course of the past few weeks. AJ obviously made his comeback and won, then managed to avoid a post-match assault by Jinder as well. Jinder got angry and attacked the Singh Brothers instead.
DASHA INTERVIEWS RUBY RIOT, LIV MORGAN, & SARAH LOGAN- Unfortunately, this did not turn into Dasha getting assaulted by the She-ield and put out of my misery. I had a bunch of other great names for this trio, but they told us that their actual name was the Riot Squad, which is actually a good name so I’m just going to use that and I’ll transfer the names I had for this trio to the Raw one (the Paige-themed names were fun for one week, but I pretty much ran out of good ones already anyway, so giving them the names I had reserved for this trio will help out on that end and prevent things from being too repetitive).
Ruby was excellent, as you’d expect, but the other two… were not. Sarah Logan just needs to not talk. It’s not an issue of her promo ability so much as it is the fact that her accent combined with the lines she was given (which betray the fact that WWE has no idea as to what her character is supposed to be other than that she hunts) make her feel like a half-assed CHIKARA character. Also, she needs to not smile. Ever. She needs to be come off as intense and dangerous and… well… as someone who I can believe is Raymond Rowe’s fiancée. I’d recommend she go to her fellow NXT talent Sage Beckett for advice on how to do that, seeing as how that was her entire gimmick on the indies. As for Liv… I get what they were going for with her, but she needs to experiment more to find the right delivery for it.
NATALYA, NAOMI, & CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. THE RIOTT SQUAD (Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, & Ruby Riott)- 5.75/10
Apparently Ruby Riott’s name has two “T”s in it. Nattie walked out on her team almost immediately, leaving it as a three-on-two. This was a good idea in theory, but it was totally ruined by the fact that the babyfaces then proceeded to dominate the heels for the next few minutes despite the numbers disadvantage. Whichever agent put this together should be fired.
The heels took over once we got back from commercial and dismantled the babyfaces. I think their use of the ring steps on Naomi passed the point that it probably should have warranted a disqualification. Ruby eventually pinned Charlotte which should set up a title shot for her. Naomi got taken out on a backboard.
THE NEW INTERVIEWER TRIES TO INTERVIEW RANDY ORTON- he ignores her. Also, he grew hair on top of his head. It makes him took a lot younger.
FASHION FILES: SAWED- The line “beat this dead horse so we can get out of here” hit way too close to home for me to be able to laugh at it. Anyway, The Ascension got killed with poison gas. Breeze & Fandango could have saved them but didn’t because they’re dicks. To be honest, I wanted all four of them to die so I there would never be another Fashion Files.
NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH WITH SAMI ZAYN BARRED FROM RINGSIDE: Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton- 6.75/10
The fans spent most of this match chanting for either an RKO or tables. When did fans become so obsessed with tables?
These two had a decent match using some weapons and stuff. Owens tried to run away but Orton chased him down. They brawled onto the ramp, at which point Sami Zayn came out and nailed Randy with a chair. Graves explained that Sami wasn’t breaking any rules because they technically weren’t at ringside.
Owens dragged Randy back to the ring after these chairshots… but then it was Orton who hit the first offensive move. One RKO reversal and Bullfrog Splash later, Owens pinned Orton.
Another bad episode of Smackdown.