Pat McAfee is at home with a breakthrough COVID case, so Cole is joined by both Corey Graves and Kevin Owens.
BECKY LYNCH PROMO/WOMEN’S TITLE SEGMENT- good… until it got all WWE-ified and turned bad
As Becky came out, Owens and Cole were making points to protect Bianca while Graves was criticizing her for not being ready at all times.
She starts off by telling us “if you think that I was dangerous before when I was just fighting for myself, you have no idea about how deadly I’m about to be,” which I found to be a bit of a weird line. No one is threatening the baby, and Becky already makes enough money (at least in kayfabe) that the baby won’t have to work particularly hard at any time in her life… and that’s without even factoring Daddy’s income, which we can also safely assume to be pretty kayfabe high.
Becky then started to build up to her big heel line. When she mentioned SummerSlam, there were actually a lot of boos, and Becky acknowledged them… but when she hit what was supposed to be the big turning line (“I would like to say that I am sorry… for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Hahaha!” the crowd popped huge.
Becky was interrupted by Bianca Belair, who came out doing her usual happy dancing. I would be quite unhappy about someone happily dancing to the ring after losing a title (and especially in what we are meant to see as an underhanded fashion), but in this case I think it worked as a show of confidence that Bianca needed for herself after losing so quickly. She knew she about to get back into the ring with someone who had just trounced her, and she had to do anything she could to get rid of any lingering self-doubt (especially knowing that Becky might well sneak-attack her again). I was not, however, okay with her turning her back to Becky as part of said dancing while she was on the apron.
I thought Bianca did a great job of walking the line where she, as she put it, wasn’t going to “make excuses,” while also subtly letting her displeasure at the situation be known. I think the key here was immediately coming out and proposing a rematch tonight. It was a subtle message of “I’ve moved on from the slightly bullsh*t way in which this situation occurred and I am now just focused on rectifying it.”
Before Becky could answer, a parade of unworthies came out to suggest themselves as challengers. MAYBE you could say that Carmella has an argument that she had been granted a title shot and Becky attacked her took it away (although it would have been nice if Carmella had actually made that point instead of complaining that she wasn’t ready because she didn’t have time to get her makeup and nails done), but Zelina Vega and Liv Morgan had absolutely no business being out here.
Bianca told them all to f*ck off and reiterated her challenge to Becky. Becky said “not tonight” and left. Carmella and Zelina laughed at Carmella, so Bianca attacked Vega. I wasn’t a fan of that, as I thought it made Bianca look heelish. Carmella attacked Bianca, Liv attacked Carmella, and when we came abck from a commercial, we were in the middle of a…
#1 CONTENDERSHIP FATAL FOUR-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH: Bianca Belair vs. Carmella vs. Zelina Vega vs. Liv Morgan- 6.25/10
The heels had an alliance that broke down and both were eliminated soon afterwards. Carmella attacked both babyfaces during a commercial after she was eliminated. The only purpose I can think of for this would be that it is something that Liv can you to claim that Carmella cost her the match, but that would be a little ridiculous because Bianca was attacked, too, and thus would either make Liv seem like a sore loser or- if we are to buy Liv’s claim- diminish Bianca’s win.
Liv and Bianca had a pretty good final stretch, but it did not come close to striking me as worthy of the “THIS IS AWESOME!” chant the crowd gave it.
I found the booking of all of this to be quite bad. As I said above, I was enjoying the opening segment until the three interlopers showed up, as they really had no business being out there. Even taking egotism into account, it’s a little ridiculous that any of them other than Carmella would think themselves worthy of a title shot. Between that and WWE’s usual patterns, it felt like the only reason these women had come out was to set up some sort of match which Bianca would win. The only real question was whether it was going to be a #1 contendership four-way or the Teddy Long Special.
WWE opted for the former so that they could stick some ridiculous stakes onto this match. It’s dumb, but not unexpected from them. What was unexpected was making it an elimination match. One generally should not book something as an elimination match unless one has a very good reason to do so, because, by its nature, an elimination match requires more people to get beaten, and, while that also means more people get to score pinfalls/submission as well, only one person can emerge from the match unbeaten, so the gains that anyone but the winner scores are going to be immediately undone unless you have a story ready to really capitalize on one of those intermediate falls and you do a good job of pushing it (my go-to example for this will always be Colt Cabana pinning Samoa Joe in the first ROH Survival of the Fittest match, and just to help prove my point, despite having seen that match several times and it being on my 10/10 list, of the five falls scored in that match, the only ones I can remember are that one and the final one with Bryan Danielson defeating Austin Aries to win the whole shebang).
The way around that issue, of course, is to have the person who is going to win in the end get (at least most of) the other eliminations, too, so instead of scoring one fall in one night like a wrestler’s normal potential is, the winner is scoring more than that and thus looks more impressive. And I will say that with Bianca coming off of a loss in less time than the “express cook” button on your microwave adds, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to rebuild Bianca by having her dominantly run through not one but three other women in a relatively short amount of time… which makes it even more baffling that that’s not what happened here. Yes, Binanca got two of the three eliminations, but she spent a long time going toe-to-toe with a midcarder at the end. That’s hardly the dominance necessary to build someone after a quick loss.
There is a “FUTURE DIVA” sign in the crowd. I guess someone didn’t get the memo.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS PAUL HEYMAN- GREAT!
Kayla tells Paul that now that Brock is back, everyone wants to know “where do you stand.” Paul said he still stands with Roman, in a perfectly smarmy voice that can be read as “I’m being smarmy because you’ve asked a stupid question” just as easily as it can be read as “I’m saying I’m standing with Roman, but I’m being smarmy because I know I’m going to turn on him and I just can’t help but be smarmy about it.”
Paul then went to Roman’s locker room…and found the door locked.
AFTER A COMMERCIAL BREAK, HEYMAN STILL CAN’T INTO THE LOCKER ROOM- GREAT!
I laughed my ass off at Kayla’s almost-smirk as Paul got more and more frustrated. Eventually the door opened the Usos came out and gave Paul the “Oh. Have you been standing out there the whole time?” treatment, like they couldn’t hear the doorhandle jiggling. They claim that Roman isn’t here yet, then ask him if he knew Brock was going to show up. Paul swears that he didn’t… so Jimmy asks why, then, did Paul send them to the back before the Roman vs. Cena match? Paul says that Roman was the one who gave that order. Jimmy asks him if he is really going to try to blame this on Roman… and Paul had just the perfect hint of an “uh-oh, I’m about to get caught in a lie” expression on his face.
CESARO vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis Dozovic)- no rating, decent segment
They wrestled a bit until Otis ran in for the DQ and Alpha Academy beat Cesaro up, ending in a top-rope splash by Otis with Gable holding him down.
KAYLA BRAXTON WAITS FOR ROMAN REIGNS IN THE PARKING LOT BUT GETS BARON CORBIN INSTEAD- He’s got new clothes and fancy car and wants to be addressed as “Happy Corbin” now because he’s rich again somehow. And I smiled and said “good for you, Baron. I’m happy to see that you got your life turned around.” See? It’s not hard to get that reaction. All you have to do is come off a little sympathetic when your poor and avoid the urge to walk around like a clown and shout “TOOOOO THE MOOOON!” in an annoying voice.
BARON CORBIN PROMO- meh
He says he got his money back all by himself, then pitched to a video package showing him going to a casino with his last $35 and making it big. They should have had him make the money on Draft Kings. That’s a missed promotional opportunity right there.
He lists of the nice things he now has, including saying that his wife came back. I’m sorry, but if your spouse leaves you because they think you’ve become poor, they shouldn’t get to come back.
The fans responded to the news of Corbin recovering his fortune by chanting “YOU DESERVE IT!” Corbin calls out Big E. and says he wants to make things right for trying to steal the Money in the Bank contract, so he offers to buy it from Big E. Big E. turns it down.
Up until this point, this was very good. Then Big E. started to suggest things Corbin could spend the money on, pulling each item out of his singlet. What did Big E. have in his singlet? “A pencil I found outside” and a “half-eaten sandwich.” WHY IS HE CARRYING THESE THINGS AROUND IN HIS SINGLET?!
Corbin warns him again that he will fail if he tries to cash in MITB so he would be a lot happier just taking the money. Big E. responded to this by saying “I’m done with this game.” You’d think Big E. would just leave at this point, but instead he orders Corbin to leave, and threatens violence if he doesn’t. What a jerk. Corbin decides to leave.
EDGE PROMO- very good
He had to go to a dark place to do it, but he is now done with Seth and he is going after the Universal Title again.
SETH ROLLINS PROMO- fine
Losing to Edge has inspired him to try to be a little more like Edge so he, too, can make his way back to the Universal Title.
ROMAN REIGNS SHOWS UP, AND PAUL HEYMAN IS STILL AT HIS DOOR- good
Heyman is in full suck-up mode, and also clearly terrified. Roman is acting like nothing is different.
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RICK BOOGZ vs. THE DIRTY DAWGS- 6/10
During the match we got an in-set promo from Apolo Crews about how Shinsuke Nakamura was “soiling” the IC Title. I did laugh at him calling Boogz a “guitar-playing idiot.”
As much as it pains me to admit it, Owens was correct when he said that Boogz was making a denim singlet work. Boogz for the win with a pumphandle slam.
NAOMI AND SONYA DEVILLE IN SONYA’S OFFICE- fine
Naomi immediately begins to annoy the hell out of me. It started off with her declaring that the was happy and excited to be the newest member of the Smackdown roster “again,” which makes switching shows feel les important than it should be (although, to be fair, that’s a much more honest interpretation of its importance). She then insists that she is ready to “glow this show up.” She’s been on the screen for about ten seconds, and I already want her to just glow away.
She wants to know when her first match is. Sonya says she didn’t know Naomi was moved to Smackdown. We’ve started back up with “the Pearce and Sonya are playing office politics” angle again. Sonya tells Naomi that she’s not sure if she’ll measure up. Naomi gets understandably offended, pointing out that she is a former two-time champion.
THE MYSTERIOS BACKSTAGE- decent
Rey tells Dominik “It’s time that you fly on your own,” and says that he went to Adam Pearce and got Dominik booked in a match against a mystery opponent. Oh yeah, and the match is right now. It would have been nice to give the kid more than twenty seconds’ notice before the match, Rey.
SAMI ZAYN vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO- 5.75/10
The moment Dominik got into trouble, out came Rey. Great show of faith there, dad. And you’d have never guessed this, but this happened right before they had to go to a commercial break.
Sami won clean. Dominik wouldn’t accept Rey’s help up and left, angry with his father.
ROMAN REIGNS AND PAUL HEYMAN AT GORILLA POSITION- good
Paul seems like he didn’t want to come out, telling Roman that “it’s a family celebration,” to which Roman responded “you are family. And I love you.” I’m certain that’s a reference to some mafia-style “kiss of death” type of thing, but can’t remember the movie/movies.
ROMAN REIGNS’ FAMILY CELEBRATION- fine
Paul gloats on the Bloodline’s behalf and does nothing suspicious. Finn Balor comes out and demands the title shot that Cena stole from him. He wants it next week. He starts a fight but gets his butt kicked until the Street Profits come out to make the save. Roman leaves, allowing the Usos to get beaten up.
This was a passable episode of Smackdown. The Heyman stuff was excellent, but there was also a lot of dull stuff. It certainly wasn’t the big exciting show you’d expect coming off of a major PPV with big returns.
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