So we’re just over two weeks away from Fastlane, and we’re meant to be excited about this as the roster dies around us. But it’s okay, Roman’s out to get mobbed on the stairs, and get booed and screamed for, I guess. Commentary have already decided that Ambreigns are breaking up just as Xavier’s outed them to the world, apparently, and shows us Rusev jumping on Roman because they want us to remember why Roman will care about fighting Rusev now. Del Rio and Barrett come out to look after the Bulgarian Bae, despite the rumour that they’re both injured.
Oh, look, more dull grappling because some people think that’s all Roman’s good for, and yes, I’m angry about that, but when Rusev throws Roman into the steps and he goes down flat like a kid making snow angels, I can’t help but giggle. Sorry, Roman, I love you, but you go flat like a poorly-cooked soufflé. Ah, Mauro is calling spots again, Mauro, we miss you when we’re forced to watch Raw. The crowd are actually shouting for Roman, which is pretty intense – maybe Fastlane won’t be the abject horror it…. Oh no, wait, it’s SmackDown, they pipe the sound in. Damn it.
The ref calls for DQ, and Barrett and Del Rio come in to pull Roman out of the ring and beat the hell out of him. Dean comes into take his brother’s side of things, but comes off the apron with an elbow which accidentally catches Roman, rather than the League boys holding him. The Euroboys drag Dean into the ring for punishment, and Roman comes back into the ring with a steel chair, sending the Euroboys scurrying away. There’s a tense moment, the announcers trying to sell that Dean hit Roman deliberately (yeah, right, like that’s going to get either of them laid) but then they’re both hanging out in the ring anyway. The main event was apparently empty, so now Roman and Dean vs Rusev and Del Rio is what’s filling that space.
There’s a Renee interview with Dean backstage where he says it was an accident that he hit Roman, and that he just gets a little out of control sometimes. He says that when he comes after Roman, we’ll all know about it – he’s not betraying Roman, there are just times when they hit each other, and times when they hit other people. He says when they’re hitting other people? Those are the good times. Renee grins after him; she’s always happy when her boys are on good terms.
Glorious goddess Eden is announcing today, and it’s Kalisto vs Kevin Owens, with Dolph out on commentary. Not sure why, neither one of these guys really needs putting over, which is what Dolph is best at on commentary. Dolph says losing to KO is what gets his goat, and that lots are people are giving him the eye these days. God, yes we are.
Anyway, the match, Kalisto started pretty good, but Owens manages to catch him a few times, and he’s leaving Kalisto as dead weight in the middle of the ring. Owens is big and heavy, and Kalisto’s small, fast-paced motions are taking him down nicely, believably. There’s a gorgeous corkscrew that Dolph insists is very pretty – because he thinks Kalisto is very pretty – and then Owens is managing to get control again. Owens also takes a bit out of Kalisto’s mask, but apparently there’s no protein in it. Bad puppy Owens, spit it out, go on, drop it.
Owens pulls apart the announce table, and Dolph seems a little worried about this, and though it looks like Owens is going to powerbomb Kalisto through the table, he actually flings him at Ziggler instead, then superkicks him halfway over the barricade. However, when Owens pulls Kalisto back into the ring, he’s distracted enough by Ziggler heading towards him that he gets rolled up by Kalisto for the win. Owens beats a hasty retreat from the ring, and Ziggler holds up Kalisto’s hand.
Jojo is interviewing The Miz, who is interrupting her, despite saying he never interrupts anyone. God, I love hearing him do a southern accent when he mocks AJ Styles. He’s complaining that AJ doesn’t care enough about him, and what he could do for him, so he’s going to punch the living daylights out of him. Seems fair.
Ryback is out for a match, without a hat and a vest and a singlet? Are we sure that’s Ryback? I almost don’t recognise him not dressed as a gimmick, and… those trunks are very tight. Goodness me. Erick Rowan is going to be his opponent, with Strowman out to give his white lamb friend some immoral support. I just… I love that wrestlers need to go everywhere with friends to hold their hands, it makes me feel really warm and cuddly about it all.
Rowan’s decided that he’s not especially happy about all this, and roars a bit, like no one told him that’s Roman’s thing, and poor Ryback seems to be adjusting those trunks quite a bit, poor dear. He’s not used to those trunks yet, obviously. Now he knows how the Divas feel all the time. Ryback hits a missile dropkick from the second rope, and he’s getting a reasonable amount of height off these things – this is more of the style we like to see.
Ryback ducks away from Strowman stood behind him on the apron, and manages to fling Rowan into his family buddy, before pulling him back down and pinning him to get the win. Obviously, Strowman is straight back in to throw Ryback out of the ring. The Wyatts might be standing tall, but Ryback gets the win.
Renee is interviewing Becky Lynch, and talking about how we’re talking about getting that title off Charlotte. We get a recap of Sasha stopping Tamina and Naomi from beating up Becky, and then Becky coming down to help out Sasha.
Sasha says she’d never help anyone out, and she and Becky have a row which turns into ‘bitches be crazy’ as they agree to work together. Sadly this is one of the better pieces of writing the Divas have had lately, because it was actually amusing and both women came off as human and having a personality. It also gave Renee something to emote at other than Dean Ambrose’s retreating backside, and it was… pretty cool. Okay, pretty cool.
Dad Jericho is out to commentate, so everyone hide the porn and pretend you don’t know what boobs look like, otherwise he might give you a disapproving look. He’s come out to watch The Miz vs AJ Styles, because he heard AJ was handing out free blowjobs backstage, and he wants in on that. No, I won’t let go of ‘AJ Styles is a big old gay’ because it’s bloody funny to call a homophobe something they hate. Apparently Jericho hasn’t stopped thinking about his match with AJ in the last week and a half, because getting rolled up by younger men is all he lives for now.
I’m actually finding this pretty cool, because I’ve never seen The Miz work this stiff. He’s backing away from a lot of AJ’s hits, but he’s actually coming through pretty impressively, and when he does get his hits in, he’s not holding anything back. Both men are pretty brawly in this, lots of punches being thrown, and AJ looks pretty happy getting covered by The Miz for a couple of pins. Hell, he even looks pretty happy with The Miz choking him in the ropes. I guess Styles is into some really kinky stuff.
I don’t know if this is just because The Miz is getting a chance to work stiff and work hard, and I’m new enough that I’ve never really seen it, or that Styles is just as good, but… this is a hell of a match. I’m ignoring commentary saying this like ‘ground and pound’ because I’m watching the match. Styles gets a lucky roll up from a crotch grab for two, but The Miz doesn’t want to go down easy. There’s a springboard from Styles, and then they both go for the clothesline off the rebound, catching each other and taking each other down.
When we come back from commercials, AJ seems to have the upper hand, even with Miz getting a near falls, but it’s a springboard forearm from Styles to The Miz that seems to take him down. There’s a few beautiful little roll up moves – and then the Calf Crusher, making The Miz tap out, which is actually a little disappointing. A couple of reasons why we might be seeing this move; The Miz might be one of the few people willing to work against someone who works so stiff, but also, the company might not be willing to risk someone they need for WrestleMania until they can temper Styles down to a safe level to work with the more necessary guys. I mean, they’re not going to need The Miz. Plus, putting him against these guys makes him look strong, as well – and maybe the picking are just that slim right now!
Jericho says he’s been lying awake at night thinking about how to get AJ Styles to pin him again, so he wants a match next week on SmackDown to see if Styles can beat him a second time… in which case, he’ll be ‘great’. Styles goes for the handshake, and then they pull each other close and AJ says he’s phenomenal, and Jericho will find that out. Seriously, they must be talking about sex, right? No one maintains intense close physical contact and eye contact, and says they’re phenomenal without meaning ‘meet me in bed and I’ll blow your mind’, right?
Jojo is interviewing RoRo about the awkward elbow from Dean. Roman says they’re never on the same page – and then he calls Dean crazy. Now, as someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time reviewing conversations where these two talk to and about each other, that might not seem like a big deal, because everyone calls Dean crazy, right? No. Roman doesn’t. He always says that Dean isn’t crazy, that he’s just right… if they break up at Fastlane, and Roman gets the win out of it? He’s going to sink. People are simply not going to pick him over Dean, and I say this as someone who spent two hours today doing Roman Reigns themed nail art on herself, poorly. People will not pick him over Dean. End of.
He does write it off as an accident, though, but there’s already boos with Roman talking about Dean like this, saying he’s going to beat him down at Fastlane. God, creative, I hope you know what you’re doing – but you rarely ever do.
The New Day have come to make us all feel better, jumping backwards down the ramp to better show us the booty. They’re out to face The Social Outcasts, but first they have to have a talk to us about Ridealong, but also that they have the tag team titles, still. They keep saying they have gold, but seriously, guys, they’re bronze. They’re really bronze looking.
Social Outcasts come out, and as per usual, Heath has the best leggings, and Bo is… dead? Adam also points out that the belts are bronze, which is why he’s my favourite, and the obvious mum of the group, and says they’re going to touch the New Day’s waists. Curtis Axel is the voice of reason, and says that the New Day think they’re rhinocerouseseses. Um. I don’t know what’s happening, but they’re all mad and I love it.
This obviously dissolves into a little argument outside the ring pretty quickly, and Adam Rose has a really tiny waist and weirdly shaped shoulders. Anyone else seeing this? He’s a weird shape and I don’t even care. Rose gets the unicorn stampede treatment, and Francesca II gets an airing as Kofi gets a pin for two on Adam Rose, who has the best boot-covers in the business. Lovely little kip up from Xavier straight into a spine buster from Adam Rose, and then Axel is in to be mad and bouncy, against Kofi, which is incredibly speedy, full of dodges, and he nearly gets the win, before everyone just gently kicks each other out of the ring?
This is a mess and a half, and Kofi gets the win, pinning Axel with his feet on the ropes, unseen by the ref, and Rose and Slater are left lying at ringside as the New Day retreat with their gold. Poor Social Outcasts, they just can’t win, can they? It’s almost like they’re randomly thrown together out of people that we vaguely missed seeing and who we had just noticed weren’t around, and aren’t really a strong team at all.
We #GiveDivasAChance by starting a recap of Monday’s match during the commercial break. Well, I mean, I guess at least they didn’t start the match? But a long recap normally means a short match, so let’s time this.
Charlotte’s out with her creepy old friend, up against Alicia, who actually gets to wrestle because it’s Black History month. God, I love Alicia Fox, she’s got so much better in the ring, and it’s nice to see her as something other than support. Charlotte’s looking over-confident as usual, and Brie’s at ringside to look after her bestie. Alicia’s always got time for a loser sign at the crowd, which costs her when Charlotte gets a neckbreaker off the second rope, and then rolls her out of the ring easily. Charlotte’s back out as soon as she can the fling Alicia back in, responding to Brie’s loser sign with ‘one time, okay’. Pretty sure you’ve lost more than once, but okay, we’re talking about losing to Brie. Fair enough.
Sunset flip from Alicia for a roll up for two, and it’s pretty cool. I’m a little annoyed that we get these Total Divas storylines that don’t match up to anything else in kayfabe, like we’re supposed to believe these matches take place completely in the Total Divas universe, which is, you know, several months in the past. I doubt I’d mind so much if the writing actually matched up, but it doesn’t, and that just seems lazy. Alicia does a gorgeous bridge out of Charlotte’s grasp, before they both go for kicks and both go down, lying on the mat and groaning.
Both get up easily, and Alicia is the one to get more violent, with two lovely dropkicks and then a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, which is gorgeous to see, and pins Charlotte for two. It’s a little closer than Charlotte wants to see, and Ric looks a little perturbed by his little girl looking like she might lose. Alicia hits a northern lights suplex with a bridge, that looks incredible… but then she’s disappointingly put into a figure eight and tapping out to that. At least we got to see what Alicia’s capable of now, and that was impressive. Also nice to see Ric not involved in that match, although we do have to watch him dance his way out as Alicia gets angry and screams in rage at her loss.
Times weren’t bad – match was four minutes long, and how disappointing it is to admit that this isn’t bad – whole segment was six minutes, give or take 15 seconds. Along with the Becky and Sasha stuff earlier, this might bring the Divas time up to a full ten minutes of a (without ads) 90-minute show. That’s almost progressive for WWE programming, a whole 11%. At some point I need to see how much time is spent on just Roman Reigns, and compare the time one man gets vs an entire gender.
R-Truth and Goldie are rowing again – the custody battle over Stardust is something fierce, apparently, and this involves Goldie dressed in a bellhop’s uniform, because why not. They grapple over Truth’s case for a bit, underwear comedically flying everywhere, and R-Truth says he has to put up with this all the time, that he can’t even go on picnics without Goldie getting involved and trying to ask him to be tag team partners. He storms off, leaving Goldie sat mournfully on the floor of a hotel, like his life has never been sadder.
Our main event begins, with IC title holding Dean coming out first – ah, the black tanktop, the tumblr favourite, because it makes his itty-bitty waist look even more narrow. I’m glad they did this as a SmackDown angle and not a Raw one, because it’s pretty screwed up to wrestle twice in one night anyway, more so with a larger gap between matches. Their choices are to stay warm and keep moving for the whole two hours, or to try to cool down and warm back up again in the intervening time, and either way, it’s a recipe for injury. That’s why it surprises me that they’re doing this, considering WrestleMania really is just around the corner now, and these are going to be some of their main guys for that. It would be a pretty awful thing were any of the four in this match got injured now.
Roman wanders down through the crowd again, because that’s how he likes to start and end the working day, being touched by lots of strange people. Dean’s bouncing in the ring like a scruffy little over-excited puppy, and the two give each other meaningful eye contact. When we come back from commercial, fragile Barrett, who I’m pretty sure they don’t let wrestle because he’s made of glass or something, is cuddling Rusev and Del Rio, because if you don’t touch your sweaty wrestler friends, how will you know they still love you?
Rusev starts off against Dean, making sure to get a good grope of thigh in, because, well, why wouldn’t you? Lawler is killing for an ambreigns breakup, because he’s jealous that nobody loves him. That’s why he takes pot shots at Byron all the time, Byron’s loved, and Lawler’s upset about this. Mauro just tries not to get involved, so he can call the spots for us, because he’s a pure soul. Due to the size difference, it’s all trickery and speed in Dean’s side, driving Rusev back into the corner and a brief high five from Roman for the tag.
I vaguely hate watching Rusev wrestle, because either he leaves a huge margin for error on most of his moves, or he’s just no good at making them look convincing, because none of his blows ever look like they connect to me. It’s not a good combination against someone like Roman, who tends to react just a second slower than I’d like, so the fights between the two of them look like two elephant seals fighting for mating rights – clumsy, disorganised and poorly planned out. There’s a kick that catches Roman to send him down for a pin for two.
Rusev tags in Del Rio, who leaps down from the top rope to get a sleeper onto Reigns, who does his usual impression of a lost old lady, waving one arm around vaguely before powering out. There’s a scream from a woman – same, though – and then Roman goes down flat into another clothesline. Del Rio rolling Roman into the corner is the liveliest spot we’ve seen so far, and Rusev takes the time to cheap shot Ambrose on the apron. Dean comes back in to complain to management about this, but is quickly shooed out again. Rusev and Del Rio enjoy choking Reigns on the ropes a little, as commentary try and make the ambreigns breakup happen right now. Seriously, Lawler, keep it in your pants, they’ll save it for Fastlane.
Barrett enjoys himself by standing at ringside, which is all the exercise he’s allowed these days, and Rusev makes the mistake to go towards Ambrose for another cheap shot, which lets Reigns hit a Samoan drop on Rusev, sending the bigger man down and allowing him to make the tag. Ambrose – yes, they’re selling the ‘iron man of the WWE’ thing, and I’m loving it – comes into make it a bit speedier and more exciting, coming out of the ring into Rusev, before dragging him back in and rolling him up for the two count.
Apologies if this is starting to drag, your recapper’s pain meds are giving up, and this is all a little much for me at 3am. Dean can’t get Dirty Deeds hit on Rusev, sent back into the ropes with a huge kick, but a Lunatic Lariat sets Rusev down, and Roman’s waving his hands desperately for the tag, hitting a drive by on Rusev before he gets back into the ring. He sends Del Rio off the apron, too, preparing for a Superman Punch, scares delicate Barrett off the apron, and hits Rusev with everything he has, taking him down for the pin.
Del Rio comes in to break up the pin with a kick to Reigns’ head, right in front of the ref – DQ, surely? – before Del Rio drags Reigns out of the ring to smack him around a little more. Dean’s having none of that, so heads through with a suicide dive, straight into Roman’s arms. Look, I know we’re trying to sell this as Dean leaping onto Roman like they’re breaking up, but it just looked like Roman wanted to protect his boy from crashing into the announce table. There’s a little moment where they’re both unsure as to what happened, and why they’re so out of sync, before Roman’s dishing out a Superman Punch to Rusev, to protect Dean, and Ambrose sends Del Rio packing, too.
Commentary insist that Dean and Roman aren’t about to kiss and make up that easy – no, it’ll take some quality begging on Dean’s side of things, I’m sure – and then Roman’s got Rusev back in the ring for a spear and a pin for the win. Dean’s perched on the corner, making faces at Del Rio and Barrett, and Roman’s in the middle of the ring, but they come back into the centre together, grinning, to celebrate their win. Roman shakes his hand from side to side – looked a bit dodgy there for a second, Deano – but they’re back on good terms as SmackDown finishes. Thank goodness. Break up the ambreigns train, WWE, and we riot.