Apologies for the late recap, I committed the cardinal sin of spending all day with friends on Thursday, leaving me without enough energy to stay up until 3am watching SmackDown. However, I’m awake now, so without further ado, let’s get to the rest of these title tourney matches!
We start SmackDown, still in the joy that is Manchester, where somehow no one has yet stolen Jerry Lawler. He must have some sort of street value, surely? We get a recap on Seth’s knee, and how he had his surgery Tuesday. Here’s the reminder of the brackets.
After a brief reminder of the matches we’ll be seeing tonight, Bray Wyatt decides he didn’t take enough punishment on Raw, and that he wants to wander out and talk again. See, Bray, this is why you shouldn’t keep old men in your basement, it always backfires on you. Especially when one is an undead wizard and the other one’s half demon, half corporate lizard. It’s just poor planning.
So the whole family is out in the ring, no one looking particularly happy. Bray laughs at the ‘Undertaker’ chants from the crowd, but actually, it’s Luke Harper who gets to talk tonight. Unusual. Harper says they’re going to sacrifice the Usos to honour Bray, and then Erick Rowan also gets a chance to speak about how he’ll bring pain and humiliation to all of those who oppose them. Strowman tells us to look at his face, which is never an attractive prospect, and tell us he’ll destroy anyone against him and pile the bodies to the sky. That’s not what we meant when we said you should tidy your room, man. Bray insists that even though the Brothers of Destruction escaped, they will never be the same again, and that he took pieces of them that they will never get back. Sounds a little like an episode of Hannibal, to be honest, but not as well-dressed.
The Wyatts offer a challenge of family vs family at Survivor Series – which we all knew was coming – and says he’ll pit any two of his family against Kane and Taker, and says that in 25 years, we’ll all be celebrating how Bray Wyatt buried the demon and the Deadman for good.
Fandango shows up, to the mild surprise of the crowd, who presumably, like me, thought he’d vanished off the face of the earth. This is Strowman’s SmackDown singles debut, and we discover that Jerry Lawler likes fish and chips. I hope he went to the one in Chorlton that I like, which is also where the UK’s best kebab shop is. Just some UK info for you there.
Fandango looks comically small against Strowman, which is – of course – the plan, because Strowman will no doubt be one of the men in the match against Kane and Taker. Strowman gets the bear hug on, and Fandango taps almost before I get a chance to describe the match. So that’s played out easily as a strength for the Wyatts, and then we’re back into the championship tournament!
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match Six – Neville vs Barrett
As an Englishwoman, it’s hard to choose a favourite out of these too, because Barrett’s awesome on the mic, but Neville is incredible to watch. Neville points out that he can finish what Rooney started on Raw by taking down the king. No, sadly not Lawler. Apparently he’s not allowed to beat up the announce team, or something. We get a recap of how Barrett taunted Rooney in front of his kids, and said that Rooney’s kids see him fail every time he’s on the pitch. We also get another view of that slap from Rooney.
Barrett starts going for a slam, which Neville reverses for the first pin and two count. Neville’s got some much movement against Barrett, so we get a few early pins where Barrett manages to get the shoulder up before the three count. Barrett uses Neville’s hair to get him in the corner, and we get a couple of lovely backflips from Neville. The kinetic energy he brings is spectacular, but Barrett’s using all of his heel tactics, using two handfuls of hair to get Neville pulled down onto the apron from the top of the ropes. Once Neville’s out of the ring, Barrett slams him off the announce table, the apron, and the barricades, using pure aggression to counter the movement of Neville.
When we come back from commercial break, Barrett has Neville pinned for the two count, but Neville kicks out. Barrett hooks onto Neville’s ankles and gets a good kick to him, and Barrett uses this, pressing Neville’s head to the ropes, Neville starting to look like he’s on the back foot, lying outside of the ring as Barrett grandstands in the ring. Barrett bounces Neville’s head off the apron, and finally drags him back into the ring for another two count, before laying him out in the corner and using all of his craftiness to get Neville down.
Another two count, but Barrett gets a weakened Neville into a stranglehold. However, Neville manages to get out of it and does a cage reversal, nearly getting Barrett down. Seeing Neville fly in a different way, Barrett skims him out of the ring again, in what looks like a very painful motion, but Barrett won’t listen to the ref, taking it out of the ring again, and bragging that Neville won’t ever win a title. Neville somersaults off the barricade into Barrett, before flinging him into the barricades twice, and getting him back into the ring to take a few good kicks and then a standing shooting star press that looks like it’ll go the distance, but Barrett kicks out.
Neville uses Barrett as a platform for a somersault, but walks into a kick from Barrett, and Barrett has three pins, each of which is kicked out at two. Barrett takes time to argue with the ref, to ask how much Neville is paying him, giving Neville time to recover. Neville manages to get out of the corner in time to avoid a boot, and gets him with a German suplex and a bridge pin, but Barrett kicks out. Neville takes to the top rope, but Barrett isn’t prepared to wait for it, moving out of the way and getting another pin for the two count. He winds up for the bullhammer, Neville barely getting back to his feet, but he counters in and gets a pin for two again. Barrett lifts Neville easily, but gets a DDT from Neville, who goes back up for the Red Arrow, and hits him for the three count. Neville advances to face Kevin Owens in the quarter-finals.
Renee interviews the Usos, who seem in good spirits, even making Renee grin and forget her professional smile as we ramp up for that match of the Usos vs Wyatts.
Barrett is still in the ring, complaining that this isn’t how he expected being home to go, and how he couldn’t focus on the match. The crowd chants ‘Rooney’, and Barret talks about his twelve years in wrestling, and how he’s ‘bloody good’, and a guaranteed hall of famer, before we lose TV signal, and we’re stuck staring at darkness for a while.
When we get vision back, after Vince fell asleep on the buttons or something, Undertaker’s coming out, and Barrett’s still in the ring. The Deadman’s not hurried, possibly because no one’s told him that SmackDown is only two hours, compared to Raw’s three, so he thinks he’s got loads of time. Barrett seems a little dumbstruck by Undertaker coming out to interrupt him, as Taker gets into the ring and we all desperate hope he doesn’t have a hat mark again. Taker’s coat is off in one of the most threatening stripteases I’ve ever seen, and then Barrett’s in the corner looking scared as we reveal Taker’s hat is still too small for him. The ‘Undertaker’ chants rise from the crowds as Barrett finally plucks up the courage to ask if Undertaker’s lost, and if Barrett can help him. Barrett refers to Manchester as ‘the mean streets of north-west England’, proving he’s never been to Hull.
Barret explains the bullhammer to Taker, who looks like he’s watching a fourth grade dance performance, and moves to get out of the ring, before thinking it’s a good idea to hit Taker – who of course gets the chokeslam, then looks like he’s happy to leave Barrett sprawled in the ring. He changes his mind, however, gets back inside, and hits Barrett with the tombstone piledriver, leaving Barrett flat out. Guess you don’t run your mouth off to legends, Barrett – only Seth Rollins is allowed to do that without repercussions. Barrett takes a second tombstone piledriver – with his head miles off the mat, because Taker’s getting on a bit these days, and Barrett’s made of Preston steel – and then Undertaker leaves, with a little unnecessary removal of the singlet sleeves as he goes, fist raised before he exits. Manchester’s really getting their money’s worth here.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match Seven – Kalisto vs Ryback
Everything I can see about this match looks ridiculous, because Kalisto is 170lbs soaking wet, and Ryback’s built like some sort of heavy machinery, with a billed weight of 291lbs. Everything says that there’s only one possible winner, and that that’s the guy with an extra 120lbs on the other. Kalisto’s whip-fast and smart, but that just can’t believably be enough to get him this win. So of course, he’ll be the one to get it, because we know how the WWE loves to see an underdog win.
Both men look at the title, before shaking hands in a display of sportsmanship which, unfortunately, makes me go ‘aww’, before Kalisto’s in with a kick to the knee. He keeps out of the way a little bit, but Ryback grabs him for a moment. The sheer speed of Kalisto is incredibly impressive, and Ryback’s struggling to keep hold of him, and then Kalisto gets the salida del sol – but Ryback’s too strong, and powers out of it, flinging Kalisto from the ring. When we come back from the break, Ryback’s on his knees, but he doesn’t stay that way, lifting Kalisto for a spinebuster followed by two powerbombs. Kalisto rolls out of the ring to catch his breath, and the ref starts the count.
Ryback drags him back into the ring and pins him for the two count, then flinging Kalisto into the turnbuckles. Kalisto looks like he’s in a lot of pain at this point, but manages to get to the ropes. There’s an impressive suplex spot where Ryback holds it too long, letting Kalisto get some knees to his head and get himself down, but the second time, Ryback hits it earlier, and gets Kalisto down for the two count. Ryback’s just throwing Kalisto around now, showing off the extra strength with a few boots to the gut. There’s an awkward spot where it looks like Kalisto’s grinding against Ryback and rubbing his hands over his bald head in encouragement, but then Ryback throws Kalisto down. Ryback goes for a body slam, but Kalisto rolls out of the way, and again, getting Ryback into the ropes. While he’s stuck there, Kalisto gets him over them, but he goes for a high risk move and Ryback catches him. Trying to get Kalisto back into the ring, the Lucha Dragon gets Ryback’s head slammed into the apron.
Kalisto goes for the spike rana, then Ryback goes for shellshock, Kalisto reversing and almost getting the pin. A big hook from Ryback looks like it’ll be the end, but Kalisto hooks a foot onto the rope to break the pin. Ryback slams Kalisto over and over into the turnbuckles, but Kalisto gets an elbow up – but it’s not enough. However, he keeps fighting, and when Ryback puts him on the top rope, Kalisto gets the salida del sol from there, and pins Ryback for the three count. Ryback looks like he’s gonna make a issue of it, but he shakes Kalisto’s hand and raises it for his victory – once more, making me go ‘aww’ at Ryback. Nice to see Ryback sticking to his guns and being a credible face.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match Eight – Alberto Del Rio vs Stardust
Zeb Colter shows up to tell the UK how everyone hates the English, which is true, but only because we used to be America. Everyone still hates America more. Del Rio tells Manchester they’re divided by football teams, but having stayed there with a friends for a few weeks, Manchester’s mostly divided by Old Trafford traffic and whether you shop at the Trafford Centre or the Arndale. Just saying.
I adore Stardust, because he reminds me of an angry cat, and because Cody Rhodes has always been an enjoyable wrestler to watch; he gives his all to a gimmick, and it’s a lot to give. Watching him cartwheel on the stage, all light feet and giddy glee makes me smile every time.
Del Rio’s all power and aggression with a suplex into the cover, pinning to the two count, but Stardust uses a clothesline to get him out of the ring and into Colter. Del Rio doesn’t like that much, flinging Stardust into the barricade. When we come back from the break, they’re both back in the ring, and Del Rio is applying a large amount of punishment to Stardust with boots and fists. Commentary talk about Stardust’s ring awareness, as if we’re not aware that his pedigree means he spent more time in and around rings as a kid than most kids spent time with their parents. It’s one of the wonderful things about watching him, is seeing the sheer amount of knowledge he has at his fingertips, and how he uses that.
Del Rio twists Stardust off the top rope, and gets a good kick to Stardust’s head, with perfect timing. Del Rio gets Stardust’s arm over the ring, and put all his weight on it, but Stardust plants him once he’s back in the ring, and gets himself into the corner and onto the top rope, slamming Del Rio into the mat, though he still kicks out at two. Another big moves from Stardust and Del Rio’s down for another two count, but Del Rio gets the backstabber, and Stardust suddenly doesn’t look like he can take much more punishment. Stardust gets a gorgeous disaster kick, and looks like he’ll get the pin for three, but Del Rio gets a hand to the bottom rope to break the pin.
Getting Stardust in the corner, Del Rio goes for a big move, but Stardust gets his feet up, leaving Del Rio almost out of it, and goes for the top rope, before Del Rio stirs, gets a foot to his back, and climbs up for the double stomp, getting the pin. Obviously, they have to make their new US champ look strong, but I’m a little sad for Stardust. Still, good to see him out there wrestling, instead of simply being in his little Stardust Section, and he put on a great show.
Renee Young interviews Roman Reigns about his move into the quarter finals and how he’s going to beat Cesaro. He comes out with some terribly written stuff about how he’s on Everest, and it’s all really difficult for him. I wish, a little, that they’d let him talk about how the boos from fans were really hard, and how being cheered now makes a hell of a difference. Breaking kayfabe like that can be a real stepping stone for a wrestler who struggles to get over with the crowd. We look back at Triple H offering Roman the way to get past all these challenges he’s just been complaining about, but Roman says he’s not like Seth Rollins, he doesn’t take handouts, and he’ll be bringing the big fight to win the title.
Time for the Usos vs Wyatts, and the Wyatts use their teleportation to get themselves to ringside, with Harper and Rowan in this match. Bray nods at the two of them to give them their instructions, and this is very much not a tag team match, as it appears to be becoming a brawl outside the ring. Finally the bell rings with two men in the ring, as it should be.
Commentary are more interested in talking about the strength of the Wyatts – we get it, you’re setting them up for be strong at Survivor Series. Bray seems to be whispering in Strowman’s ear about what he’s to do next, because heaven forbid that the Wyatts ever play fair. This family vs family move isn’t really working out for the Wyatts because the Usos are so over with the crowd that it dents their popularity to go up against them.
Once we’re down to two men in the ring, it’s Jey Uso starting against Erick Rowan with some visions hits in, before catching him with a dropkick. Once he’s in the corner, Rowan tries to use superior strength against him, and slams him down so hard that he’s practically out of the ring. Harper gets a cheap shot on the outside. When we come back from a break, commentary are refusing to name which of the Usos is in the ring, because they don’t want to risk getting it wrong, and Jey’s under the foot of Rowan, with Harper getting tagged in, putting Jey on the ropes and bouncing him off them. Jimmy tries to get in the ring, stopped by the ref, but he’s getting some good hit sinto Harper, before Harper catches him with one fist and sends him flat. Rowan is tagged back in, pulling Jey back into a stretch, but the crowd seems to rally him, but Rowan gets a pin for two. Jey dodges Rowan and Harper out of the corner and gets the tag.
Harper gets in a few rough spots simply because he can’t match the speed being thrown at him, and Jimmy gets him down for the two count, leaving Harper wobbly on his feet. Rowan pulls Jimmy out of the ring before throwing Jey around, too. Jimmy almost has the cross-body cover onto Harper, but Rowan flings Jey into the steps outside the ring. Jimmy’s flying around, catching Rowan with a corkscrew, but coming out of the ring through the ropes, he gets caught and kicked back into the ring by harper, who goes for the pin. Jey comes in with a splash off the ropes to break it, leaving four bodies strewn in the ring. Harper and Jimmy are left in the ring eventually, with Jimmy giving him a big kick, before Jey joins his brother and they get a double superkick to Rowan before both flying over the ropes and into Rowan and Harper. The count-out begins, with Bray taking a moment to speak to his boys. The bell rings as all the Wyatts pile in, 4 on 2 against the Usos’ who are flat out on the ring floor. Rowan and Harper double powerbomb Jey, before rolling him out of the ring, then Strowman drops Jimmy, before Wyatt hits him with Sister Abigail to a chorus of boos, leaving the Wyatts standing in the ring, Jimmy lying before them – again, Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail, and then Taker’s bell tolls.
The ring goes dark, and Undertaker speaks, telling Bray that he will meet them at Survivor Series, and that the Wyatts will rest in peace. Kane’s pyro hits, and Bray yells at nothingness as Taker’s music plays, and the Wyatts stand in the middle of the ring, lit in blue, until SmackDown ends.
The completed brackets for the quarter finals look like this: