Last night, WWE’s SmackDown celebrated its 1000th episode of television. I was hesitant to hype myself up, after January’s disaster that was the 25th anniversary of Raw. But Vince and company surprised me, proving that perhaps the blue brand has always paid more attention to detail, despite it being the B-show.
Surprisingly, they kick-off the broadcast with the second-ever episode of Truth-TV. This segment serves as platform for the McMahon family to come out and do their schtick, but there’s no denying the loud reactions that all three receive.
As Vince shuffles and glides out of the backstage area, I’m filled with conflicting opinions. This is a man who’s responsible for a lot of negative stereotyping over the years, and the current business deal with Saudi Arabia — and yet without him, none of this would be possible. WWE is what happens when you let an eccentric billionaire spill his unfiltered mind onto screens for several nights a week, and we love it.
AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan team-up to take on The Usos, in a tag-team match that had me a little nervous. One of my least-favourite wrestling tropes is when two top-stars, who have never worked together, beat a team who have been tagging for years — Especially a duo who have won tag-team gold together.
I ate my own thoughts, however, after bouts of shenanigans resulted in Styles and Bryan getting in each other’s way. A perfect opening match that advanced the Styles/Bryan story, as well as allowing the Usos to pin a former world champion.
More nostalgia backstage, in a twenty-second clip of former general managers hanging out with current GM Paige. If this were RAW 25 then they’d take-up a fifteen minute in-ring promo segment, and not involve any of the current stars.
Speaking of fifteen minute in-ring promo segments, Evolution are reunited for one night only! It’s a strange place to do it, given that the stable spent their entire run on Raw, but if Batista wants to come back, are they really going to say no?
Since leaving WWE for the second time, back in 2014, Batista has found success in a place that The Rock never has — The Marvel Cinematic Universe. For those who don’t know, (Dave) Ba(u)tista plays Drax the Destroyer.
Batista spoke from the heart, praising the three men in the ring with him and repeating his love for the wrestling business. He’s said a lot of controversial (but largely true) things about WWE in the last four years, to the point where I wondered if they’d ever bring him back for anything other than a Hall of Fame induction. However, a quick tease of a match down-the-line with Triple H and all was well. Perhaps this moment flagged-up a potential first match that we can add to the WrestleMania 35 card.
Oh, and many jokes were made about 69-year-old Ric Flair’s party days. An underrated moment of the night was Randy Orton commenting on Flair simply “living vicariously through his daughter’s achievements.” Ric just smiles and nods in a subtle, proud-Dad moment.
In a World Cup qualifier (a tournament that definitely is taking place in Saudi Arabia), The Miz defeats Rusev in under two-minutes, thanks to a distraction from Aiden English. Rusev and Lana then both beat Aiden down, getting some revenge for the whole Milwaukee incident, whilst Miz continues to be the “two-minute man”, which I’m sure we’ll hear about next week.
Edge is out next, to host an episode of The Cutting Edge with Becky Lynch and Charlotte as his guests. Edge is my guy — He was at the top of the food chain when I started watching WWE and I’ll forever mark-out to his entrance music. However, his appearance is the latest in a line of failed attempts to get Becky booed and Charlotte cheered.
Edge tried to tell Becky that he burned every bridge he ever built in the business, by stabbing all of his friends in the back. He said he now sits alone in his house and stares at the championships on his wall. Of course, this didn’t make an ounce of sense, as even in WWE kayfabe it has been acknowledged that he’s married to Beth Phoenix, has two kids and records a podcast/network show with his best buddy Christian.
Fans also cheered Becky for mocking Edge’s career-ending injury. She is unstoppable.
So once again, Becky Lynch is cheered for being a badass who scratched and clawed her way to the top over eighteen months, and Charlotte is booed for being put back in the title scene so quickly. If WWE knew the roles people were supposed to be playing, this could be the hottest feud of the year, instead it’s just great — which is a testament to the talent of those involved.
The New Day are out to defend their tag-team titles against The Barr. I called a title change here, as WWE are fans of having a championship change hands on anniversary shows. What I didn’t call was a victory for The Barr due to an interference from The Big Show — Who turned heel after returning as a face just last week. The man is a walking meme and I’m kind of okay with it.
The match was the best of the night, with Cesaro taking a disgusting bump on the back of his head, before continuing the match at its high-octane pace. How these two teams manage to have a different-feeling match every time they face each other, I’ll never understand.
The main event of the show saw the returning Rey Mysterio take on Shinsuke Nakamura in another World Cup qualifier. The match does what it’s supposed to, which is to prove that Rey is still healthy and is good to go for the next two years at least. Rey wins and qualifies so we’ll see you in
Saudi Arabia Parts Unknown.
I didn’t appreciate the “you’ve still got it” chants from the WWE Universe, as Rey has been wrestling around the world for the last four years. He obviously doesn’t move as fast as he did fifteen years ago, but he looks healthier than The Hardy’s, Big Show and all of the other returning superstars from yesteryear. He doesn’t still have it, he never lost it.
Oh, and The Undertaker came out at the end to grumble and briefly promote his match in Saudi Arabia. I feel sad every time you’re on TV, Undertaker, please retire and enjoy life with your family.
Overall this was a great show that blended old talent with new. It managed to advance existing storylines (unlike Raw 25), whilst paying tribute to the past. More anniversary shows like this please, WWE. Especially with NXT-500 coming up in the not-too-distant future. Where I’m sure people would love to see Rollins vs Ciampa, Cesaro vs Gargano and Becky vs Kairi.
Today is Wednesday, October 17th and we’re all still here.
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