The Game. The King of Kings.
It’s the 25th Anniversary of Triple H tonight, but that’s not how this week’s show kicks off.
The new SmackDown Tag Team Champions make their way to the ring for this opening segment…
Forgotten No More
The New Day are out first; there’s a recap of last week’s tag-team title match which was won by Big E, making the New Day 8 time champions. The New Day cut a promo in the middle in the ring where Kofi explains how they’re proud to have their names etched next to all these other great tag teams. During Big E’s ecstatic comments about Tom Brady moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The New Day are interrupted by the Lucia House Party.
The Lucha House Party say they came out to congratulate them, but explain that it’s not “Lucha lit” to have to sit backstage and look at all the title opportunities that others get that the Lucha House Party do not. They state their intentions to be the first challengers for the titles, before being cut off by The Miz and John Morrison. The pair walk straight past the Lucha House Party and straight into the ring to argue with The New Day. They want their titles back, stating that the new champs make the titles, “look like a joke.”
Lucha House Party get back in the ring and join the argument before they’re all interrupted by the Forgotten Sons. They introduce themselves to the rest after Miz makes comments asking who they are. Cutler states that they actually served their country and, “since we’ve gotten home, we’ve been treated like trash, tossed to the side.” Wesley Blake states that they, “could strike anywhere, at any time, and you wouldn’t see it coming”, before the Forgotten Sons attack the rest of the teams in the ring, starting a brawl. The Forgotten Sons beat down The New Day in the ring as Morrison and Miz watch from the ramp to end the segment.
A video package of Triple H’s debut year of 1995 is played after this segment in the build-up to the 25th-anniversary segment. Miz and Morrison are interviewed backstage where they blame the whole brawl on the Lucha House Party.
To Conquer A King…
Drew Gulak is out next, accompanied to the ring by Daniel Bryan. A recap of Corbin’s backstage beat down of Elias is played during King Corbin’s entrance. Gulak and Corbin face off tonight for a spot in the Money In The Bank match.
The match opens with Gulak being thrown out of the ring, while Corbin trash talks to Bryan stating, “this is for big boys,” as he points at the briefcase. The pair grapple back in the ring, but Corbin mostly maintains control. Bryan manages Gulak on the outside, shouting for Gulak to aim for the leg; Gulak manages to take Corbin down using this advice and knocks him out of the ring. Gulak hits a Baseball Slide and a Dropkick to push Corbin over the announcement table.
After the break, Corbin fights back and gets a cover for a two-count. Corbin beats Gulak down in the corner, before Gulak fights back, eventually hitting a Dropkick. Corbin gets him up for a Chokeslam, but Gulak reverses into a Sunset Flip for a two-count. He hits a Crossbody for another cover of two. Gulak then misses a Baseball Slide, but manages to drive Corbin into the steel steps, he maintains control in the ring for another cover of two.
Cesaro and Nakamura storm ringside and attack Daniel Bryan, they then distract Gulak enough for Corbin to launch him into the ring post. He hits the End of Days for the win and to qualify for the MITB match.
King Corbin defeats Drew Gulak via Pinall – Grade: B-
A decent match for the show’s first hour. Corbin seemed like the clear winner, since WWE were lacking on heel wrestlers in this MITB match, and with Bryan already qualified, having Gulak in would have been an odd choice.
Cesaro and Nakamura get in the ring and help Corbin to attack Gulak to end the segment. Cole and Graves talk about Rob Gronkowski joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while still being the 24/7 Champion.
...And It’s Over
Sheamus faces Daniel Vidot next, this lasts as long as you’d expect. Vidot gets a couple shots in but is decimated by Sheamus with Elbow Strikes and Clubbing Blows to the chest. Sheamus repeats that he, “Will not be disrespected”, before hitting the Brogue Kick for the win.
Sheamus defeats Daniel Vidot via Pinfall – Grade: C-
WWE needs to move past the Sheamus squash matches and give him something meatier soon, which is what they’re hopefully building up to.
Sheamus leaves the area quickly, which is brought up by Cole and Graves after their confrontations over the past few weeks… but he’ll be back.
Part 3 of the Jeff Hardy documentary is up next, focusing on his family and his recovery. Also shows footage of the Hardy Boyz return at Wrestlemania 33. The documentary will conclude with chapter 4 next week.
Lucha, Lucha, Lucha
The Miz & John Morrison take on Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik, a blow-off match from the first segment of the show. A video package of DX invading WCW in 1998 is shown. Sheamus returns to ringside after Cole discusses Jeff Hardy further, he angrily tears off Cole’s headset before the Lucha House Party make their entrance.
Lince Dorado and The Miz open the match, with Lince showing off his athleticism, however, Miz takes control, tagging in John Morrison and performing a double team move, landing on Lince with an elbow. Morrison stays in control until Lince hits an arm drag and manages to get to Gran Metalik. After some offence, Lince is tagged back in but is hit by a Running Knee from Morrison, before The Miz is tagged back in. Miz & Morrison hit a double Gut-Buster before Miz tags Morrison back in.
Morrison hits Lince with another knee and goes for a cover of two, he starts to fight back but is beat down by Morrison. Lince hits a Springboard Stunner, but The Miz is now tagged in. Lince manages to get to Metalik who shows off his talents; both trade offence, with Metalik going to the top rope and performing a Moonsault, which is halted by The Miz’s counter. The match has a shock ending, with Metalik somehow managing to roll up The Miz for the win.
Lucha House Party defeat The Miz & John Morrison via Pinfall – Grade: B
Lucha House Party celebrate on the outside as Miz & Morrison look shocked in the ring.
A much-needed win for the Lucha House Party and a nice surprise, its been good to see underutilized talents get their time to shine in recent weeks.
Sasha Banks is out next, accompanied by Bayley.
Who’s the Boss?
It’s time for a MITB qualifying match between Sasha Banks and Lacey Evans. Banks walked out holding a cut out of Lacey’s daughter, echoing back to their earlier feud. As the match begins, Bayley distracts Lacey with the picture of her daughter, allowing Banks to take control. Lacey turns it around by slamming Banks into the crowd barricade, she then grabs Bayley before Banks slams Lacey’s right hand into the ring post.
Banks aims to damage Lacey’s arm and hand, taking away her ability to use the Women’s Right effectively. Lacey fights back with some kicks and Running Knee Strikes to force Banks into the corner. Lacey’s injured arm comes into play as she is unable to lift herself up for her next move, allowing Banks to dodge and climb to the top rope to deliver a Meteora for a cover of two.
Lacey takes back control, slamming her face against the ring post over and over. They both climb to the top, with Banks again focusing on the hand of Lacey. Banks then attempts a Bank Statement, Lacey counters with a backslide and a cover. After a while, Lacey hits the Women’s Right, but Bayley places Banks’ foot on the ropes to break the pin.
Lacey then goes after Bayley, pulling at her hair and dragging her into the ring. Banks rolls up Lacey, but the referee is too distracted by Bayley, Banks only gets a one-count on this occasion. Banks is frustrated and angry with Bayley, telling her to stay out of it. Lacey then hits another Women’s Right and gets the win, heading into the MITB match.
Lacey Evans defeats Sasha Banks via Pinfall – Grade: B
As Banks and Bayley leave up the ramp, Tamina comes out and Superkicks Bayley to end the segment. While it would have been nice to see Banks in the MITB match, I feel like WWE want to have a natural progression for the inevitable Bayley and Sasha feud.
A video package about Wyatt and Strowman’s history is shown next. It goes over Strowman’s time in the Wyatt family and his win against Goldberg at Mania.
A recap of the Otis/Mandy/Sonya/Ziggler feud is shown, specifically their confrontation from last week. Otis vs Ziggler and Mandy vs Carmella are announced as MITB qualifying matches for next week. Dana Brooke and Carmella are shown backstage before their match tonight.
A video package for Triple H’s injury in 2001 and his return 8 months later is shown.
Women’s Tag Team Titles On The Line!
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defend their WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships against Dana Brooke and Carmella. The match starts off with Dana hitting a Dropkick to Nikki, forcing her out of the ring. Carmella then hits a Crossbody onto Alexa before being thrown into the barricade by Nikki. Dana hits a Crossbody off the other barricade onto Nikki as SmackDown goes to a break.
The match restarts with Carmella and Alexa in the ring; Carmella is in control early on. She hits a Superkick and covers Alexa but the pinfall is broken up by Nikki, who is then attacked on the outside by Dana. Alexa knocks down Dana but is then rolled up by Carmella. Bliss knocks Carmella down with a right hand before heading to the top rope.
Carmella counters and attempts a cover, but Nikki had tagged herself in, making her the legal woman and not Alexa Bliss. Nikki then rolls up Carmella for a two-count before tagging Alexa back in. Nikki blocks a Superkick, allowing both her and Alexa to hit their own modified version of the 3D for the quick victory.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross defeat Carmella & Dana Brooke via Pinfall to Retain – Grade: B-
A much quicker match than expected for the final match of the night, but a decent one. Both teams got in plenty of offence, with Bliss and Cross finally having an interesting Tag Team finisher to use.
It’s All About The Game…
Prepare yourselves for the Triple H’s 25th Anniversary. Triple H makes an entrance to the ring, water bottle in hand. However, in a comedic moment, a stagehand takes away his water bottle to stop him from doing his iconic water spot, which Triple H reacts to by rolling his eyes and throwing the cap in the air before getting in the ring. He speaks for a short time about the past 25 years before he is cut off by HBK, who states, “you didn’t think you were gonna get to have this celebration without me.”
HBK makes a funny social distancing joke after Triple H places his arm around him. He also says that he sent out invitations to hundreds of Triple H’s closest friends and loved ones, and then states, “we’re all here for you,” as Triple H looks around to see nobody, one of may comedic moments. Triple H comments that at least Cole and Corey showed up, to which HBK replies that he’s pretty sure they are obligated to be here for the show.
They go back and forth on the Shawn Michaels’ 25th-anniversary celebration… which never happened. They then look at some of DX’s “greatest moments”, showcasing some of the hilarious bloopers from their time together.
They talk about Triple H’s accomplishments in the past, going over his championship reigns. Before HBK leads into his “accomplishments” at Wrestlemania, showing footage of all his losses at the event over the years. Triple H asks Shawn Michaels, “How many losses do you have at Wrestlemania?” with Michaels reply stating, “This isn’t about me.”
Michaels talks about his hatred for Stephanie McMahon, before Stephanie FaceTimes Triple H to confront them live on TV, she starts to attack Michaels, mentioning his lazy eye before Triple H puts the phone down, jokingly commenting to Michaels, “Steph says hi.” Ric Flair FaceTimes them after, stating, “don’t let Shawn Superkick you at the end of the segment.” After the break, Triple H continues to answer the phone, with Road Dogg up next.
Michaels mentions the controversial Katie Vick segment before Vince McMahon makes an entrance. He congratulates Triple H on 25 years, however, he ends up calling Triple H boring, he too talks about how bad the Katie Vick segment was too. They do exchange “I love you”, with Michaels chiming in to say he loves both of them. Vince says that their last match sucked (probably referring to the terrible Crown Jewel Main Event), before walking off and telling them to wrap it up. The lights start to go out in the Performance Center to end the show.
The segment was funny, with some great moments and great video packages. At times at felt like there was a lot of rambling, mainly when Vince came out, it was very confusing to understand exactly what he was talking about, but it was an entertaining way to end the show.
Overall Grade: C+
An average SmackDown, which would have felt like not much storyline progression was achieved if not for the qualifying matches. The quality of wrestling was decent but nothing too amazing, but I’m still looking forward to MITB coming very soon.
By Jimmy Ioannou
Images provided by WWE