GOOFY-ASS “INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP ASCENSION CEREMONY”- shockingly good
As you would expect, an “Ascension Ceremony” involves wrestling pointless squash matches for months on end, long after you have already been established as a dominant tag team.
Graves immediately makes me want to hit him with his grandiose bullsh*t. Among it was being proud that this is this “first-ever Intercontinental Championship Ascension Ceremony,” like anyone could possibly give a f*ck about that. And even if someone could it’s not even their first “Ascension Ceremony,” as they did one for the much more consequential Cena vs. Orton unification match at TLC 2013.
Graves specifically said that you have to retrieve “both championships” to be declared the winner, so we’re not getting one of those “each guy pulls down one belt” BS finishes that everyone always speculates about.
All three wrestlers played their roles well. AJ in particular was great. Sami is good at doing what they want him to do, but this character is too delusional to work for me. How did WWE not talk to him before doing the tournament, or talk to him the moment he came back? What else does Adam Pearce do during the week?
The ring was all gussied up with ladders, but they actually used them to enable a very clever sneak-attack by Sami Zayn. Adam Pearce then came out and added AJ Styles to the already-scheduled Zayn vs. Hardy match so now we’re getting a three-way.
SAMI ZAYN vs. JEFF HARDY vs. AJ STYLES- 7/10
I appreciated that they came by it in a more organic way over the past two weeks, but the fact remains that the winner of this match felt irrelevant. I’m not saying they can’t use it to set up a first title defense for whoever wins on Sunday, but at the moment, the result here feels like it doesn’t matter.
Despite that, these guys worked very hard and had a great match. Zayn won by stealing AJ’s pin on Jeff, but AJ flattened both of them with a ladder after the match and pulled down both belts.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS HEAVY MACHINERY- bad
We can add Kayla to the list of people who are too dumb to figure out that this lawsuit is clearly bullsh*t.
Before they could answer, Miz and Morrison showed up and Kayla disappeared. Miz cut a promo on Otis and said his mom lived in a trailer park. Tucker claimed that the lawsuit only has Miz’s name and not Morrison’s, which apparently caught Morrison by surprise. This might have been a lie, as Heavy Machinery used the momentary distraction this created in Morrison to launch a cowardly sneak-attack. Referee showed up to pull them apart.
Not only did this not solve anything, but it made Morrison seem dumb for possibly thinking that MITB could be shared between two people, and also made Kayla look dumb as I noted above.
BAYLEY PROMO- great build for the PPV match while still keeping Sasha in mind
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Cesaro) vs. GRAN METALIK (w/Lucha House Party)- 2/10
The challengers beat the champs AGAIN. This was pretty much domination by Nakamura.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- After the match, Cesaro attacked Lincé Dorado. Kalisto stood around and did nothing. He went to check on his buddies after the match match but Lincé shoved him and they left without him. Both the LHP breakup aspect of this and the tag title match aspect of this have been handled SOOOOOOO poorly I can’t even put it into words.
ROMAN REIGNS VS. JEY USO VIDEO PACKAGE- fine
This wasn’t bad, but didn’t add anything new, either.
JEY USO PROMO- bad segment
They showed us Roman and Heyman watching from backstage. Jey asked Roman to come out and explain the nasty look at the end of last week’s show. Instead of Roman, he got Heyman appearing on the Tron telling him that this will be done on Roman’s time, not Jey’s. Any time you hear “we’re going to do this on my time, not yours,” you should interpret as the booker saying “HAHAHAHA I JUST WASTED YOUR TIME!”
BARON CORBIN PROMO- He hated seeing Riddle’s video package last week as much as I did. His promo was mediocre.
MATT RIDDLE PROMO- annoying, although that last line was good.
MATT RIDDLE vs. BARON CORBIN- 6.75/10
Corbin won clean in a very good match. If they’re not setting Corbin up for a title shot, then I don’t get the booking here, as this seems like it should be a blow-off.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS MATT RIDDLE- good
This was a good “positive attitude” promo while still making it clear that he wasn’t dismissing the loss.
ANOTHER VIDEO OF THE BLONDE GETTING DRESSED- Process of elimination determines that this is Carmella. I know I’m late to the party on that.
ALEXA BLISS! PROMO- She took a really lame promo and made it sound palatable with her delivery.
LACEY EVANS vs. ALEXA BLISS!- 3/10
Stuff happened. Alexa was winning, bit then The Fiend’s laughter was heard, distracting her and sending her into a trance, which allowed Lacey to take over. If The Fiend is trying to control/is controlling Alexa, shouldn’t he want her to win?
Lacey dominated until Alexa avoided a moonsault. Then The Fiend’s magical light and sound effect happened, and Alexa snapped and beat the sh*t out of Lacey, including not stomping to stomp on Lacey when Lacey was in the ropes, resulting in a DQ.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Alexa then gave Lacey Sister Abigail on the floor. Then The Fiend appeared on the TitanTron and laughed, and Alexa smiled.
They played Alexa’s music and she headed to the back. They did the thing where the next person comes out before that the other person makes it to the back, and this time it seemed like it would actually be relevant because that person was Roman Reigns, and they made sure to frame a shot of Roman holding the belt high with Alexa turning around and glaring at him.
ROMAN REIGNS & JEY USO CONFRONTATION- AMAZING!
Roman was wonderful in his arrogant and yet still somehow slightly loving condescension to Jey. After delivering his message, Roman started to leave, and only once he got to the ramp, did Jey find he words to speak, and he was tremendous!
I also LOVED the blocking here, with Roman standing on the ramp with his back to Jey but still listening, with us seeing Jey in the background, distant from Roman. Then, when Jey finished speaking, Roman calmly left, leaving his cousin behind.
Jey eventually went to leave… and was ambushed with a Superman Punch, following which Roman cut what was easily the best promo he’s ever cut in his life.
This was a GREAT episode of Smackdown. Other than the tag title picture it was a great go-home show, and had some good action early on. The storylines that aren’t good (the MITB bullsh*t, the tag titles, whatever is going on with Alexa and The Fiend) just aren’t good, but everything else was solid or better, and that main event segment is really worth going out of your way to see.
Also, after setting this week as a deadline for lawsuit payoff, they couldn’t even deliver it.
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