Hey y’all, Jax here, and welcome to Thursday Night SnaxDown! Shaddup, I’m working on my branding. Anyway, here we go with a short but sweet & sour recap of tonight’s SmackDown shenanigans. Special shout out to to the captain of commentary, the masterful Mauro Ranallo, who is making these recaps sound way better now that I actually know what all these moves are called. Yuor the best!
So my mom decided the first segment would be a perfect opportunity to lament ye olde days of wrasslin, when they’d just go out there and perform. No one needed a mic, she wailed, and certainly not for THAT long. “And now look at these people! This blinged out old guy yakking about whatever, and I don’t even care, I just wanna watch a fight! This is just repetitive and boring and nothing he says makes sense!” After which she promptly changed the channel to watch Big Bang Theory, so I’m not sure if we should pay attention to anything she says, really. AJ Styles gets bonus points from Mom for not having a mic in his hand during his entrance, though.
The next time I wrestle the remote control out of Mom’s hands and get back to SmackDown we catch up with our hero Jericho, he’s joined by the illustrious closeted AJ Styles in an impromptu tag match against half of the #SocialOutcasts, Adam and Axel specifically, which only serves to make me want a Streets of Rage style game starring Rose and company as they go up against a Vince McMahon robot. Instead, we get a match consisting of ‘anything you can do I can do better,’ wherein AJ and Jericho show off for each other, two male peacocks trying their very best to be worthy of each other’s affections. Axel is loud and angry as per usual but, like the Miz, his viciousness is sloppy and open to counter-attacks or quick-footed sidestepping. No, Axel, making angry faces at your enemy will not lower their evasion stat, I’m sorry.
Adam, meanwhile, is vaguely offended at the two peacocks, as the Radical Mongoose is clearly better at showing off than those two pasty party poopers. He’s no match for the one-two punch of AJ and Jericho actually working together, however, and this match ends with AJ cockily tagging himself in to land an elbow on Adam’s face and pin him for the victory. Jericho isn’t amused by AJ’s skills and hits him with a sudden Codebreaker in retaliation. I guess they’re jockeying for alpha position now. (That, or Jericho’s still mad about someone tossing out Dean’s potted plant gift. Jeridad’s getting a little sentimental in his old age, okay?)
We return to the Dudley Boyz in the ring in casual clothes, looking like they just came from a backyard barbecue. They proceed to whine about how nobody paid attention to them because DBry was around, although to be fair it was hard to even concentrate on Dean fucking Ambrose. They’re “sick and tired about a lotta things around here,” and I guess this is their heel turn, maybe? Nostalgia act is over, people, this is not a drill! Fuck yo’ nostalgia, they’re legends and now they’re gonna prove it… by getting ‘what’ chants. You had one job, crowd. Just for that, no more tables for you.
No, really. The Dudleys want the tables removed. All of them. The tables didn’t win nine championships, but the tables keep getting the chants. Sounds like they’re just jealous. “What about us?!” Bubba yells. Cue the ‘last’ table, sitting forlornly in the ring, bracketed by a Dudley on each end. “D-Von! get the–“
And then they literally drop the mics, pack up the table, and carry it out angrily to a chorus of resounding boos. Y’know what? Good for you, new table-free Dudleys. Good for you.
Time for the Bex Express! Complete with her steampunk smoke and cool coat! Fun facts: Becky brings a smile to my face all the damn time, and she is made of orange sunshine. Sasha enters next, and I’d want a replica of her jacket to be sold on WWE Shop, but I don’t think I could rock it without looking like I had a fight with a pair of scissors. Turns out Bex is at the commentary table, and Sasha instead goes against a grinning, attitude-filled Naomi, accompanied by a fierce and fiery-tempered Tamina. Naomi’s entrance music is the Team BAD theme ‘Unity,’ which is delicious irony. “I don’t like her, but I respect her,” says Bex about Sasha, which is actually kind of refreshing, considering how many Divas get a storyline consisting of being intensely catty at everyone around them for no real reason. We’ll see where the Sasha/Bex story goes. I have hopes, but they are not high ones.
The Bo$$ dominates early on, and while she slams Naomi from one corner to another I suddenly realize I want Naomi’s hair because that black-purple-blue fade looks really cool, and that black and yellow outfit ain’t too shabby either. The style upgrade apparently came with an upgrade to Naomi’s aggression and ring work, and it shows, as Naomi gives as good as she gets. Sasha gets a ‘let’s go Sasha’ chant as she hits Naomi with a double knee to the ribs in the corner, but Tamina drags Naomi out of the ring before Sasha can complete the pin after. Mauro mentions that Naomi is a former Orlando Magic cheerleader and then remarks that Tamina is basically Naomi’s cheerleader now, and I have to wonder what kind of crazy things cheerleaders do nowadays. I mean, back in MY day they only cheered for OTHER people to be, aggressive, be-be-aggressive. Don’t get me wrong, though, I ain’t complainin’.
After a commercial the match continues, and Mauro and I seem to be the only ones really excited about this, which is a damn shame, because look at that jack knife that Naomi just bridges the hell out of, okay? Naomi turns that into a little backslide to pin Sasha’s shoulders, but the Bo$$ shimmies out of it and pulls her former teammate into a quick small package for another failed pin. It’s pin after pin after pin, actually, as if the two are doing something other than just hating each other blindly. and I’m sure the crowd is sitting there dumbfounded because they too forgot what it was like to see Divas have more motivation than ‘I hate you because you exist.’
Meanwhile, King tries to goad Becky into getting pissed while good ol’ Bex is actually too distracted by the match to really engage him. Yeah yeah, King, we’ll talk about betrayal and all, but first let’s watch Sasha get her spine slammed onto the apron. Ow. As Naomi attempts another pin and then taunts a downed Sasha, King implores Becky to have some feelings for her future Fastlane partner and — oh. Ohhhh. King ships them! That’s what’s going on here! “It’s a tough relationship,” Becky finally admits, and King secretly does a little dance because she said ‘relationship’ and now his ship is canon. Ish. King will take what he can get. Not all of us can be Ambreigns shippers, after all. I mean, some of us are Ambrolleigns.
Naomi gets pissed at Sasha’s attempts to turn it around, so kick-kick-kick-kick aaaaaand roundhouse to the face, followed by a rear chin lock. Tamina decides to casually stroll over to see what all the hubbub’s about. There’s a brutal looking flying headscissors counter that leaves both Sasha and Naomi on the floor, but Sasha recovers first and really takes it to Naomi, while King cheers her on, secretly waving a little ‘Sasha/Becky OTP’ flag under the commentary table. Becky’s still hesitant about this pairing because, well, that little thing that Sasha did at the Royal Rumble, but King’s dismisses that as not-canon. King, just admit your fic is AU already. Tamina distracts Sasha long enough for Naomi to pull off a headscissors driver (?!) but Sasha kicks out of the resulting pin at two (!), and Tamina screams from the outside, coming alive at about the same time as the crowd (!!).
Interference is against Becky’s religion, apparently, so she pulls off her headset and goes at Tamina, who simply decks her in response. In the ring, Naomi attempts a corner move but nobody’s home, Sasha slipping out of the ring to save her future wife by shoving the screeching Tamina into the commentary chair and then outright kicking her in the face, Tamina and the chair both falling over like so much dead weight. The crowd wakes up fully at this, and Sasha slides back into the ring and reverses a roll-up into the Banks Statement. Is Naomi gonna tap? Of course she is. Man, this match was pretty good. Tamina and Naomi were way better than I expected them to be. Pleased as punch about that.
And now… oh, holy shit, AJ Styles in a backstage interview! Does he actually have a voice? Our precious brave tiny Jojo wants to know what’s up with AJ and Jericho’s sexual chemistry, and– holy shit, AJ talks! He drawls about how being called a ‘redneck rookie’ got stuck in his craw. Redneck he’s got no problem with, mind you, but like Meryl, he’s no rookie — and unlike Meryl, he can probably remember to take the safety off his gun. His gun is so ready to shoot off at Jericho, you guys. Wink wink. I shall now imagine Jericho somewhere in the distance, doing naked cartwheels in anticipation. There are way, way too many Metal Gear Solid jokes I can make here, so I’ll move on.
Bray and his boy band are shown in their smokey room. “Smackdown… we’re here.” I wonder how the camera guy knows how to find him. Does Harper shove a burlap sack over the guy’s head and carry him in? Or maybe the guy just… follows the buzzards. Har har! (Cue crickets.)
“The coalition of evil known as the Wyatt family,” as Byron so eloquently puts it, enter the ring in their usual dark and plodding manner. There’s a video package about them. I love the music, and the clips themselves make them look absolutely brutal as they’re seen decimating the likes of Kane, Big Show and Ryback specifically. We return to the ring after the video, and it turns out this is only a talking segment and not an actual match. Y’all, I need to know why they aren’t selling Bray’s fedora with the little red buzzard pin. I mean, if you’re gonna be a creep, be a Wyatt-flavored one, right? M’buzzards. Bray calls himself king of the gods, meanwhile, and the family is his army. They want to take down the titans, apparently, which is why they targeted those particular large-and-occasionally-in-charge guys. Harper says a little something, then Rowan says something, and then Braun growls about the ocean boiling and goddamn that voice is creepy.
It’s the apocalypse, Bray gleefully preaches, and he is the eater of worlds… which would be way more intimidating if this led to anything interesting, but this shit’s been going on for how long? They kidnapped the goddamn Undertaker for pete’s sake, and that led to a whole lotta nothin’. Christ almighty, I just want a dominant creepy heel faction that isn’t the Authority. Sigh. Bray signs off with his usual, “Follow… the buzzards!” And is it just me, or did he roll his eyes back like the goddamn Undertaker? Stop making me want cool plot development, dammit.
There’s a nifty little drawn image of the next match, which is a six-man tag team match between Neville/Lucha Dragons and the ‘venomous villains’ Stardust and the Ascension, aka the Cosmic Wasteland, aka another creepy heel faction that should be going somewhere cool but instead is just sitting around in the back and then occasionally losing to a face that isn’t even getting a push anyway (I’m so sorry, Neville, you deserve so much better).
But before this, here’s a black history month video package that doesn’t even have a voice over! It’s quite literally just pictures of ‘some of the greatest athletes ever’ with absolutely no context. This only serves to make me sad and frustrated. And if I’m being perfectly honest, angry all over again at the way Titus O’Neil is being treated currently. Sixty-day suspension? Really? Ugh.
Anyway, the ‘cosmic crackpot’ Stardust comes out with his kids the Ascension, and they look so happy to be here, y’all. Neville’s out next, and I’m still not sure why they changed his outfit to red because dammit purple was his thing. But hey, maybe I guess now he can match with the Lucha Dra– nope, they’re all sorts of multicolored and mismatched themselves, great, okay. The faces strike their poses in the middle of the ring, aaaaand cue the cackling Cosmic Wasteland getting in a cheap shot before the match even starts. The Cody chants begin, but Stardust is having none of your shit, WWE Universe, instead going in hard on Neville with an inverted DDT and covering for a two count. No matter. Stardust likes playing with his food. (See also: the long burn on that ever-continuing Stardust/ArrowStephen Amell feud.)
Viktor is tagged in and does his very best, but his best isn’t good enough, so Kalisto and Connor are tagged in and have at it. Cue corkscrew and flying headscissors, after which Connor attempts an escape, but Sin Cara helps out with some double team moves (yay!) and then dives outta the ring with our fantastic flippy Kalisto to land on our villains turned victims (ow!).
Eventually, Connor is taken out permanently and pinned by Neville, but not before Connor is hit by, in order: a Salida del Sol, a Swanton Bomb, and a Red Arrow in startlingly quick succession. Fairly short match, yes, but after getting hit with all three of those moves, who the hell would still be standing? (AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CE– goddammit, brain) Neville and the lovely Luchas strike poses to celebrate. They make a great team, with all of their quick high flying moves. While it was a quick match, it left me pleased, and I’m always happy to see Neville and Kalisto. (I’ll warm up to Sin Cara at some point, I’m sure. Eventually.)
Oh boy, here comes another DBry segment. Sure, I haven’t sniffled enough this week, why not. King sounds like he’s actually choking up afterwards, and that just makes me sniffle more, goddammit. They plug the Definitive Daniel Bryan Collection on the Network and it almost, almost makes me sign up for it. Almost.
Okay, main event time! Here comes Chris ‘break the walls down’ Jericho, and for a second I wonder if there’s a good feud between him and Seth ‘The Architect’ Rollins somewhere in there. (Come back soon, Seth. Please? Pretty please with J&J on top?) Repressed redneck AJ Styles enters, holding his arms out in his usual ‘take me now’ pose, and Jericho takes off his jacket in response. This is about as close to a live sex celebration as we’re gonna get in the PG era, people, so of course I’m gonna crack all of the sexy jokes here. Don’t worry, when Seth Rollins comes back I’ll aim all my sexy jokes at him, trust me.
After an oddly placed commercial break they finally start the match, and King says AJ needs a haircut while the crowd has dueling chants of ‘AJ Styles!’ and ‘Y2J!’ Byron compares their innovative offensive styles, and King shuts him up quickly, because apparently Byron can never have nice things. AJ pulls off a snap suplex that reminds Mauro of the Dynamite Kid, and Jericho looks like he’s bitten off more than he can chew, but hey, that’s what he gets. If the old man’s having trouble, he should stick to applesauce. AJ gets Old Man Jericho into a corner and shoves a forearm at him. King points out AJ’s disregard for the ref’s concern over Jericho, who is clutching at his eye in the corner, and Mauro responds with the zinger of “Just like you disregard his past accomplishments, King.” Mauro is now my patronus. Just throwing that out there.
Jericho basically says ‘fuck playing nice’ at this point, backhanding AJ in the face, kicking him a few times in the head while he’s down, and then catapulting AJ’s neck into the bottom rope. Ow ow ow. A few more brutal moves leaves AJ a damn mess, Jericho circling him like he’s stalking prey, and this is kind of hot, okay. Jericho delivers a few chops in the corner because he likes playing with his food, and AJ tries his very best to get out of this, but Jericho ain’t havin’ none of that, so he springboard dropkicks AJ clear outta the ring. AJ may as well have little cartoon stars floating around his head, the poor dear. Still, he’s putting up a hella good fight, and Mauro calls it a ‘highly physical chess match’. Jury’s out on that, but we’ll see.
Jericho’s still in control after a commercial break, but Jericho miscalculates and AJ takes advantage by turning Jericho’s running bulldog into an ‘oh shit I just ran into the corner post goddammit ow’. Ring awareness, y’all! AJ capitalizes and dominates for a minute or two, but he telegraphs one move too many, and Jericho pulls away in time for AJ to hit the mat instead. I see some color on his elbow now! I am excited because I am clearly a monster, but that’s okay because so is Jericho. He sees a little too much red, though, and AJ has just enough time to whip out a pele kick before Jericho can jump off the top rope.
They’re both on the floor now, stumbling around like they had a little too much to drink at the local bar. This is where things get hazy, coincidentally, as this match gets hot as hell and I’m too busy yelling at my TV about two guys I previously gave zero shits about. It goes like this: Jericho with a butterfly into backbreaker, attempted pin. Lots of yelling and gesturing at the TV. Attempted Walls of Jericho! AJ twirls the fuck out of it, sending Jericho sailing! AJ with a strike strike strike, Jericho with a sudden enzuigiri! Attempted pin aaand nope, AJ’s still alive! Jericho’s frustrated and exhausted and at the top rope and– met with a dropkick ‘right to the mush’. It’s okay, Jericho, you tried.
Strikes back and forth, AJ miscalculates a kick and lands on the floor, Jericho with a sudden goddamn Lionsault, and another two count pin! Fireman’s carry into a reverse neckbreaker and then AJ attempts a pin, but nope, Jericho’s up! AJ sets him up for the Styles Clash! Jericho reverses for a — here it is, Walls of motherfucking Jericho! AJ crawls inch by inch, absolutely desperate to get to those ropes, but Jericho drags him to the middle again! AJ may be out but… nope, nope, he just reverses the goddamn Walls of Jericho and starts punching! I’m rooting for AJ, how the hell did this happen?!
AJ somehow, somehow gets Jericho into a Calf Crusher! Fuckin’ tap, Jericho! There’s screaming and flailing and the crowd is yelling and Jericho’s gonna tap and commentary is screaming and Jericho gets his hand on a rope, dang! AJ does a basement dropkick that sends Jericho outside the ring in a crumpled heap, and holy shit AJ’s got color on his lip and I am so here for this. AJ springboards out with a slingshot forearm at a now standing Jericho, and AJ shoves his new boyfriend back into the ring and climbs the ropes, but Jericho’s up and bam, hits the ropes, AJ falling over! Attempted pin fails as they’re too close to the ring (say it with me, people: ring awareness, y’all!) so Jericho hurls AJ at the corner, and AJ bounces back at him only to get hit with — a Codebreaker, BAM! Pin and win!
Whew. I’m spent and need a cigarette.
We end this Smackdown with a defeated AJ laying in the ring, while King calls him the ‘phenomen-NOT’. Jericho, meanwhile, shuffles outside the ring, wondering to himself if winning this match means AJ is legit amazing or if he himself is losing his shine. As he walks away, Jericho continues to stumble and hold his head in exhausted concern. Yeah, that was close. Too close. This clearly isn’t the end of this feud… and for once, I’m happy about that.