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CheapShots: Jimmy’s SmackDown Jam

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Mandy Rose WWE Smackdown

Sorry for the delay and sketchy landing from up the coast folks. I can’t see much through the fog of The Inner Harbor of Baltimore. Only one civic landmark is visible at the moment. An odd bedrock of the wrestling community. Especially when fans consider that no matches have ever taken place there. Competition is not the building’s purpose. Family, friends, and some of the best seafood in the country await. Not to mention a decades-long reputation for taking care of fans and performers within the art form. I called ahead and reserved the entire restaurant for us. I’d like to welcome my passengers to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood before this week’s SmackDown Live.

After a solid meal of linguini and clams, I join my passengers for a nice walk over to the arena, and we find our seats just prior to The GM’s music hitting, nice timing! Paige never does a bad promo. She had to mention Sunday’s clusterf*** and she was struggling to save it. Same formula as Monday Night Raw. Two Money in The Bank qualifying matches on the men’s side. One for the ladies. Qualifiers would bookend the show. An old was used to rivalry kickstart things.

Very slowly, Vince is getting better at small stuff, like letting wrestlers wrestle. This time, The Miz and Jeff Hardy were in prime position to show off. When Jeff is clean and focused, he can still put on a great match with anyone. As much as I hammer Mike, he is a decent performer. I guess osmosis works if you stick around long enough. At the beginning, the questions were duration and outcome. A good match for over 20 minutes is always a treat. The hour glass flipped several times. False finishes on both sides; including the final pin, which happened when The Charismatic Enigma hit a Swanton Bomb. Unfortunately for Hardy, the way he pins people sometimes leaves him vulnerable to a counter. Mike pulled Hardy’s shoulders from his chest to the mat for an excessively quick three-count. For this veteran smart mark, it can feel like refs stop their counts or change cadences, I hate it!

Next was a fun backstage segment that led to a match. The Bar and their new t-shirts were talking. For some reason, there was a copious amount of food involved and for some reason it worked. Sheamus was using Lucky Charms as comfort food to cope with his loss to Xavier Woods because he’s Irish and why not? Cesaro was laughing at him until The Celtic Warrior dared him to defeat Woods himself. Right after The Swiss Cyborg agreed to take up the challenge, both dudes open their gym bags to find them stuffed with pancakes! God Bless The New Day! The match itself saw Cesaro get the win after a couple of mini-schmozes.

Okay, if there is one thing I know about history of the art form in the place where SmackDown originated from this week, it is this: Ric Flair OWNED Baltimore throughout his major runs on top. Even Vince McMahon must acknowledge that. With this backdrop, there was no way Charlotte was losing last night. The IIconics have talent and are growing professionally, but Peyton Royce is not a bigger draw. Of course, Charlotte’s going to Chicago and Money in The Bank. PS: Mandy Rose beat Becky Lynch when The Lass Kicker forgot how to hold on to the top rope. Corey Graves had a heart attack and wishes he wasn’t married.

Throughout the night, only two promos are worth reporting on. The ones surrounding WWE Gold. Rene Young actually did her job! Shinsuke Nakamura can speak English! Who knew? When The Con Artist was pushed, he said AJ Styles was ”nuts” and he wasn’t finished with him. Styles’ response was direct. This is about the title. As long as Shinsuke wasn’t done, he would be ready to defend the strap in his house. Paige herself said she mishandled the making of the No DQ Match at Backlash when she didn’t close all possible loop holes. Though it is interesting to hear an authority figure say this. No, she didn’t. ALL millennial sheep bitching about this: LISTEN UP! Before monthly PPVs sped everything up, big programs were booked just like this in the territories to DRAW MONEY! Payoffs couldn’t happen right away. This is nothing more than an old school nod to the territories. I am gladly shocked Vince has gone this far with it. Calling my shot: A Cage Match will close this feud properly. GET OFF MY LAWN!

The night closed with Daniel Bryan facing Rusev in a Money in The Bank Qualifying Match. With Bryan just coming from defeating Big Cass at the dumpster fire known as Backlash, a win seemed almost assured. Stamford hasn’t used The Bulgarian Brute correctly in what feels like forever. The Leader of The Yes Movement was able to get most of his offense in and look alright doing so. I am unsure if it’s a medical precaution to keep Bryan out of a ladder match right now. The SmackDown Live audience; myself included was floored when Rusev went over clean. Daniel looked downright depressed as the show went dark. This could be a very strained and weird summer for Vinnie’s Circus. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must find my passport.


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Cheap Shots: The Town Wasn’t Crying

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My passengers and I had to sleep off Monday’s bad dream before taking a midday trek through the coastal skyway between LaGuardia and Logan. Rental Car agencies love us. We cover overhead for months. Last night’s SmackDown Live threw a dart in the map at Worcester, Massachusetts. The Beantown suburb has been a reliable stronghold for The Evil Empire for generations. Boston and its satellites have fabulous history with the art form. Look no further than John Cena and Sasha Banks. Older than a Millennial? Fine, would you settle for the most respected Shaman left in the industry? Boston proper is home to the heart of the last great Booker in NWA/WCW History. Marks remember him as “The Task Master” Kevin Sullivan.

There was an incredibly low threshold to surpass Monday’s utter junk. The Professional Instigator kicked things off. His segment was centered around a shockingly relevant question given the original source. Last week, The New Day won a tag team match with a unique stipulation. The winning team would send one member to Money in The Bank. Though, nobody new which member would get the honor. The Unicorns have verbal chemistry with a tree stump. Mike is near the top of the roster when cutting a promo. As a result, the question everybody was curious about led to a segment that would make Abbott & Costello smile! After the baseball routine, Mike didn’t get an answer. Would anyone be shocked if Mike’s mouth got him into a fight? He told us that he could beat any member of The New Day. Big E steps up to disagree. After weaseling his way up the ramp and being pelted with pancakes, GM Paige insists Mike get out there and fight. The Miz defeated Big E with help from The Bar. This led to The Sexy Goth Chick making a six-man tag next week, cool!

Early recess with dual qualifiers for Chicago on the ladies’ side. Our first contest is proof smarks still can’t do this on paper. Last week; when this match was made, 98% of the audience had one or both of these thoughts in their collective head: “Why is Lana in this match?” and/or “She has no shot here.” Tell me you didn’t and you’re lying! Billie Kay going over in this spot made complete sense because her IIconic partner did not qualify and Lana hadn’t wrestled in months. Her fans; which unabashedly include this author, were just happy to see her on camera again. She has proven more than capable with a promo. Would her in-ring potential be given legitimate thought again? Wait, they gave her a solid entrance with accompaniment from Aiden English. But, she’s competing against someone who is getting a massive push? Fortunately for The Ravishing Russian, Sexy Koalas have the attention span of two gnats. The Songbird brought out a very tall “Lana Day” sign to do the distraction thing. The Aussies lose their minds, allowing Lana to slap the s*** out of one while barricading the other. Could she do this? A huge Machka Kick and sit-out faceplant later, the answer was YES! Lana won her first singles match in WWE and I popped like a kid!

Later in the night, Naomi and Sonya Deville had their chance to qualify for Money in The Bank. Athletically these two ran circles around the previous feminine encounter. However, Lana evokes the type of emotional reaction they can only wish for right now. Most memorable spot involved several dueling kicks. Eventually, The Glow Worm got the advantage and the victory with an old-school looking rollup. It will be interesting to see if there is any tension between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville because only The Pound For Pound Pinup made it to the PPVs namesake match.

Then we move to a promo in the ring between The Usos and The Good Brothers. “I don’t see any bars…” Preceded by “This ain’t Japan….” Very Typical stuff. Although this was gonna be an interesting match because we haven’t seen it in a while. The Samoans were able to get most of their spots in. They even tried their tandem finish from opposite corners. The attempt was not successful. One of them got pushed off the top turnbuckle, eventually leaving the other vulnerable for The Magic Killer. Congratulations Gallows & Anderson! Your reward is a date with The Bludgeon Brothers for Tag Team Gold in Chicago.

This week’s action concludes with a first-time match between Daniel Bryan and Jeff Hardy. Excuse me? Yes, I think The Charismatic Enigma was losing his mind in Orlando during some of Daniel’s prime run in New York. Otherwise, Vince never put them on the same competitive path. Why the HELL not? As expected, it was a clinic and coin flip throughout. This was a second chance for The American Dragon, who went over clean with a Heal Hook. The victory cleared the way to a final qualifier for The Yes Man against Samoa Joe who was on commentary this week.

Most important piece of news from this week’s SmackDown Live? Let’s go to the ring for a face-to-face promo between WWE Champion AJ Styles and Money in The Bank Challenger Shinsuke Nakamura. These two have already had three solid matches. The Con Artist won last, enabling him to choose the stipulation in Chicago. Nakamura is a very good heel, capable of making anyone on Tuesdays twist in the wind. A Ninja takes whatever advantage he can. The challenger was ready to show his cards, but not before administering a beatdown and ten-count that Styles could not answer. I was wrong. It’s not gonna be in a cage. We have A Last Man Standing Match for WWE Gold. I doubt people is Sasha’s home state left disappointed like those in New York on Monday Night. Relax everybody, the itinerary takes us to Flair Country again next week.


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Dear Smarks: Stop Bringing Up Roman’s Wellness Suspension

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Roman Reigns WWE WrestleMania 34

So the wonderful Greg DeMarco recently did a study. He showed non-wrestling people at his place of employment photos of Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns and asked them who they would pay to see, just based on the pictures; all of them chose Roman Reigns. As you can imagine, the anti-Roman contingent threw a FIT about this, saying that he shouldn’t be asking non-fans about who is a draw because they wouldn’t know who either guy was, which was the point of the whole experiment.

One of the complaints about Reigns that his detractors like to drag up, when they get tired of trying to claim he has no wrestling ability, mic skills, or charisma, is his 2016 Wellness Policy suspension. According to them, Reigns’ suspension is a dealbreaker, he should never be allowed to be The Guy ever again because of this mistake. Really? One Wellness Policy violation over Roman forgetting to give WWE his prescription for Adderall because he was having trouble sleeping and he should be forever barred from being The Guy? Have you all conveniently forgotten about all the Legends and top guys that had or still have serious substance abuse problems? Well, if you have, let me remind you. Here’s a list of people that either had Wellness Policy violations or were known in their day for having a drug and/or alcohol problem:

  1. Jeff Hardy *
  2. Stone Cold Steve Austin. * **
  3. Shawn Michaels * **
  4. Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) **
  5. Sean Waltman (1-2-3 Kid, X-Pac)
  6. Kevin Nash (Diesel). * **
  7. Road Warrior Hawk **
  8. Eddie Guerrero * **
  9. Carlito
  10. William Regal. To the best of my knowledge, Regal’s substance abuse issues weren’t widely known for much of his career, but he has admitted to them in interviews.
  11. Sunny **
  12. The Iron Sheik * **
  13. Randy Orton *
  14. Rey Mysterio *
  15. Paige *
  16. Eva Marie
  17. Alberto Del Rio *
  18. Edge * ** (part of the fallout from Chris Benoit’s death).
  19. The British Bulldog
  20. Ric Flair. * **
  21. Tully Blanchard **
  22. Kerry Von Erich *  **(The Texas Tornado)
  23. Luna Vachon
  24. Chyna *
  25. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts **
  26. Curt Hennig (Mr. Perfect) **
  27. Lex Lugar *
  28. Miss Elizabeth.
  29. Umaga
  30. Joey Mercury
  31. Road Dogg
  32. The Fabulous Freebirds **
  33. Roddy Piper **
  34. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan **.
  35. Dustin Rhodes. Note: This one wasn’t known until recently, and Dustin has been very honest about his issues.
  36. Kurt Angle. * **. Note: Angle never had a Wellness Violation that I’m aware of, but he and Vince have said that his drug issues and refusal to go to rehab partly lead to his departure from WWE in 2006.
  37. Don Muraco. **
  38. Cowboy Bob Orton. **

*= Became Heavyweight Champion/Women’s Champion

**= Hall of Famer

As you can see, a lot of wrestlers past and present have either run afoul of  WWE’s Wellness Policy or were known to have issues with drugs and/or alcohol. Many of them are now considered Legends and/or Hall of Famers. I know there are more than this, but these were the ones I could remember off the top of my head. Several of the people listed that were WHC of some description, often during the times of their issues. Few of them found their careers hindered by their issues alone, more than half of them are in the WWE HOF and the ones who aren’t are still considered legends. If they get a pass on past bad behavior and poor decision making, why am I supposed to buy Roman Reigns’ one mistake as an insurmountable barrier to his becoming the top guy and Universal Champion?

Yes, Reigns made a mistake back in 2016 with that Wellness violation, but he also owned up to it publicly, we’re told that he apologized to the locker room, and took his punishment humbly. There’s no actual reason for this to keep him from being champion, especially since his violation was because he didn’t turn in the prescription in time, rather than he got busted for illegal drugs. Of all the ‘reasons’ smarks give for why Roman shouldn’t be The Guy, this is one of the most pathetic because it blatantly ignores the fact that so many of the ‘Legends’ smarks looked up to struggled with substance abuse issues and still had successful careers in the wrestling business while finger pointing and shaming Reigns for a relatively minor infraction. Let’s grow up a little, people.


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Cheap Shots: Billion Dollar Contract, Ten Cent Show!

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With the company coming off arguably the most public and busiest non-Mania month in WWE history; I was asked to fly the jet from Baltimore back into The Empire State Capitol. This time, to what was certainly an ancillary stop for the old man’s original four-lettered territory. On top of the most ambitious travel schedule Vinnie has ever put in front of his talent, a massive television contract was finalized in the last few days. This contract delineates a sad day for smarks, sheep, and all fans of the art form because our thoughts and opinions regarding this soap opera we love have just disappeared in a billion-dollar black hole. I am truly saddened for all of us.

With this explosive news in the background, what did we get for the first Monday Night Raw in The States in two weeks? When I was a young fan, Jesse Ventura used to refer to certain baby faces by telling us: “He’s got a million-dollar body and a ten-cent brain.” Last night, fans got stuck with the dime. RAW opens with GM Kurt Angle being properly serenaded with a “YOU SUCK!” chant as he heads to the ring. I hope he enjoyed the feeling. It was straight downhill from here. Angle was not given five minutes to hold his own balls. I wonder who cut them off? Oh look, Daddy’s Little Girl is back. Stealing someone’s chance because Vince struggles to make authentic heels. Her arm has healed. She has too much make up. Her mouth is still functional. The same cannot be said for her brain. Welcome to the downside of allowing ownership to play pricks on television. Stephanie, the match and results at WrestleMania were booked by your gene pool. Three choices: Shut your mouth, get off camera, or break the fourth wall.

After The Wicked Witch puts her Ginsu away, she mentions Roman Reigns. Before she can finish her thought, The Big Dog is unleashed from the back to a chorus of boos. He is still struggling with cutting promos years into his run. They are asking him to do John Cena style mic work. The next person who can do that is a generation away from the roster. Hype Machine actually says Management doesn’t wanna put Gold on him. Save it Roman. This latest accusation brings Kevin Owens out to remind him that he is not the only performer with authority issues. After getting to close to Steph, KO earns a singles match with Roman to commence immediately.

Kevin Owens is a fantastic bump taker. After about ten minutes of literally being turned inside-out; including a spear and Superman Punch, The Canadian was barely hanging on. This was the perfect time for Jinder Mahal to run in and exact some revenge for being put through a wall last week. This interference gave Roman the win by DQ. We weren’t done though. The Big Dog has backup too. Dude’s Shield Brother comes out to even things up. Seth Rollins was already a great athlete, but he is flirting with oxygen very few can breathe. Very little of what he is doing right now doesn’t look like it has an athletic purpose. His coin flip dives from ring to floor were breathtaking. Very rarely does Creative enable someone to hit a finish immediately after missing it, like you would try to do in a REAL FIGHT! It happened last night to give Reigns & Rollins the win. Seth Rollins is carrying the men’s division of Monday Night Raw right now.

 

My sincerest apologies for the nightmare we must walk into at present. Before we go into the wormhole, I’d like to remind my readers that this is 2018 and Bobby Lashley can work anywhere in the world. Last week, Sami Zayn of all people cut a promo telling us he would expose Lashley as a fraud by bringing his sisters to Monday Night Raw for an interview. Quick. does anybody but Vinnie care about this? Last night, the skinny Canadian bounced his way to the ring like he had solved The Kennedy Assassination. Instead, he called out three guys in drag to rehash this opioid-induced train wreck. This is 2018. Then Zayn called Lashley out to confront him with this bad joke. Walking Armageddon came out to crickets, disposed of the gentlemen quickly, and left to the same crickets. Anyone, including my colleagues thinking Vinnie’s negotiating skills turn him into Einstein with a script, just watch this segment. Yes Bobby, it’s 2018 and you sold your athletic soul to New York for six figures and THIS!

Three recess segments and I still fell asleep. That tells you how bad this episode was. First, Alexa Bliss is backstage cutting a history-based promo on The Romans and The Visigoths? Interesting set up to explain away her New Year’s Day loss to Ember Moon. Nice try Little Miss Math Class. You still haven’t graduated yet! Ten minutes and one BFF having a conniption fit later, The Lunar Lone Star won clean with The Eclipse. Excuse me, how does Little Miss Bliss have two pieces of Raw Women’s Gold? That’s right, she worked with a pro. Watch them hand her the briefcase. Sadly, more crickets. This time for the ladies. A Four-Way Money in The Bank Qualifier. Participants: Liv Morgan, Natalya, Sarah Logan, Dana Brooke. Only two of these girls have a pulse. Nattie got payback on Logan for the incident prior to the desert with The Sharpshooter and a clean tap out for the win. This night cements the case that Sasha Banks is indeed carrying The Raw Women’s Division. After the match Nattie cut a strange promo on her friendship with Ronda Rousey and what will happen in Chicago. Speaking of Ms. Rowdy, she signed the contract opposite Nia Jax. Even with Steph stirring things up, this segment felt slightly forced. Ronda is getting better on the mic. They didn’t bring her to Stamford to talk. I really don’t wanna see this match in June.

The rest of the show could’ve happened two months ago. Elias cuts a great promo. TURN HIM ALREADY! He beat Bobby Roode clean with The Drift Away. Bothers me when a guy like Roode is brought in to job out. He has more talent than that. Move these gentlemen along please. Baron Corbin beat No Way Jose for the millionth time on TV. The Former Lost Puppies; now being called The B Team, beat Breezango again. Stop acting like me if I won a match clean. You have generational legacies, respect them. Dolph Ziggler cut a promo on Chad Gable in a hallway. Of course this lead to a match with Drew Galloway standing outside the ring. For a nanosecond, I thought the former amateur Pan-American Games participant had a chance. Then my eyes opened. Dolph went over clean and Galloway landed a Claymore Kick afterward. Earlier in the night, Finn Balor and Braun Strowman were looking for a rematch with the above-mentioned duo. Steph hijacked Angle’s office. She was being her typical self. No tag-match. Rather, a main event singles contest between the two. After a surprisingly competitive match. Braun went over clean. Assuming Vince McMahon even had a brain after Steve Austin’s retirement, this is easily the worst episode of Monday Night Raw in five years, if not longer. I hope that money didn’t go to his head or somewhere else. Hopefully SmackDown is better.

 


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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