WWE Super Show-Down 2018
October 6, 2018
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Melbourne Cricket Ground

Watch: WWE Network

I undertook reviewing WWE Super Show-Down 2018 out of morbid curiosity and a deep seeded masochistic streak. The card itself looked decent enough so maybe I’d be in good hands. You can follow me @Lawsoncomedy89, check out my comedy wares over at Lawsonleong.com, and listen to my podcasts Talking Smark and Talking Naruto on iTunes. Also, be sure to check out my match of the month column every month for this very site!

Let’s take the plunge.

WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (c) Def. The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus)

Commentary recapping a SmackDown Live segment about New Day cooking pancakes reminded me why I haven’t watched WWE much recently. I did like that Sheamus wouldn’t let the crowd count along to his clubbing spot. I’m always impressed that Woods can wrestle in those elf shoes, dumb as they look. Cesaro’s work here was excellent as usual, while commentary reminds us that Sheamus is one of the most decorated wrestlers in WWE history, which is both true and sad. The backstabber into the double stomp was the appropriate finish, as it looked terrific. This was a solid enough opener, if not emblematic of the WWE formula in that I feel like I’ve seen it all before. ***1/4

WWE SmackDown Live Women’s Championship
Charlotte Def. Becky Lynch (C) via DQ

Becky pulled Charlotte by the arm to the floor early, a pretty nasty bump that didn’t get the reaction I feel it warranted. Certainly something you’d never see back in the Diva era. Becky’s newfound badass aggression has been one of the few exciting things about WWE programming in the fall of 2018. Although Becky was certainly working heel in the match the crowd and I reacted as if watching their favorite babyface curb stomp some nobody. As I wrote that Cole reminded us that Charlotte is indeed a 7 times women’s champion (including the Divas reign in that, I presume), which just adds to my point. As someone who likes Charlotte despite her being over pushed, I would like for WWE to not ruin her the way they did with Roman Reigns.

Becky nailed a La Mistica into the Fujiwara armbar and the crowd popped big for that as did I. Charlotte’s chops got Woos but any other offense received Boos. Charlotte going after Becky’s knee reminded me of what I like most about Charlotte and why babyface Charlotte doesn’t work. Strike exchange in the middle of the ring ended with a spear by Charlotte for a near fall. Becky tried to leave with the title (one of the most overused heel tropes in WWE) only to be cut off by Charlotte who hits another spear. Charlotte bridged into the Figure 8 and Becky hits her with the title for the DQ.

Post-match Charlotte jumps Becky but Becky kicks her ass. I loved that. I figured, with WWE Evolution coming up, that this would be the finish. I wasn’t even mad. I enjoyed Becky’s work. They’ll probably have a better match at Evolution. ***

Elias and Kevin Owens had an in-ring segment. They got some cheap heat until it was interrupted by Lashley’s music, and this is when I learned that I didn’t know what Lashley’s music was. That’s how much RAW I’ve been watching. Cena came out with the most hair I’ve seen him with in a decade, almost as if to taunt HBK.

John Cena & Bobby Lashley Def. Elias & Kevin Owens

Cena training with my personal hero, Jackie Chan, babyfaces him with me until further notice, Lashley hit a leapfrog and Elias took a bump, seemingly out of fear. Cole reminds of us when Owens quit for a week. Why would you do that? Why remind us of your storytelling failures? Lashley destroy Elias and Owens all by himself, and then signals to tag in Cena. Not sure why, he was doing great on his own. This gets him jumped for the heat. It felt like he deserved it.

Cole reminds us that Owens beat Cena in his debut match and my brain laughs with nihilism. All the typical things happen. The outcome here was never in doubt. Cena gets the hot tag and hits the AA. But then he hits the move he’s teased, the 6th move of doom, which is basically a running backfist with theatrics, which has a long name in Mandarin, and pins Elias. As a Chinese person, I found it amusing and as appropriate as anything about WWE’s presentation.  I’m sure this move will upset some people, to which I can only say, have you seen what this company has done this year? *1/2

The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) Def. Asuka & Naomi

Peyton and Billie were not as over as I thought they might be. I am surprised at how much I enjoyed Naomi and Asuka as a team. Usually these random pairings do nothing for me, but Asuka and Naomi actually worked like a team. Billie took a weak bump on a German suplex from Asuka, highlighting the weaknesses of the IIconics team.

Naomi’s offense looked good. IIconics win with a double team big boot. Crowd pops for that, at least. This was a match. *3/4

WWE Championship
AJ Styles (c) Def. Samoa Joe

Styles sprinting down the ramp right at Joe was a cool start. Joe threw Styles over the announce table but Styles backrolled through, landed on his feet, and hunted Joe back down in the ring. That was neat. This felt like a fight and the striking was great. Styles’ backflip DDT was perfect. Later, Styles went for it again and Joe reversed into an Emerald Flowsion, which was great. Joe grabbed a chair and Styles dropkicked it into Joe’s face.

Once the weapons were in play this got really violent. Joe tweaked his knee on a big table spot and that changed the tone of the rest of the match. Styles went to work, targeting Joe’s leg and there was some great counter wrestling by each man. Finish came when Styles reversed one final attempt at the clutch into the calf crusher, scoring the submission. It was a little too long, but a very good match, best on the show so far. ***3/4

The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie) & Ronda Rousey Def. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)

This match bored me to tears until Rousey tagged in. Along with Chad Gable, Jeff Cobb, Scotty Davis and Millie Mckenzie, Ronda is someone I enjoy watching throw people around and it doesn’t get old for me. The big spot at the end where she threw Morgan and Logan and put them in simultaneous armbars highlights what I enjoy about pro wrestling more than MMA. You can do impossible, badass things as long as the right people are involved. I waited for the Bellas to jump Rousey but it never happened. I mean, I wouldn’t either after a display of dominance like that. **

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Buddy Murphy Def Cedric Alexander (c)

Since the Becky match, this was the first thing that truly held my full attention. Crowd was much hotter for Murphy than they were for the IIconics, either because this match has actual stakes or because Murphy is twenty times better than the IIconics combined. Cole does a good job of putting over Cedric’s dominance in 205. He hasn’t lost all year. Because 205 Live is well booked.

The Michinoku Driver off the top was excellent. The action was fast paced and didn’t let up, keeping the crowd hot throughout. Murphy kicked out of a lumbar check to a huge reaction. I love when false finishes are saved for moments like these, the right moments. Cedric came off the top and ate a knee, and Murphy hit Murphy’s Law for the feel good win.

I wanted Murphy to win the title several months ago, after putting in such great work this year. But it was better that it happened here. Now he awaits his true adversary, Mustafa Ali, to come claim his throne.  ****

The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins) Def. The Dogs of War (Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre & Braun Strowman)

Shield’s entrance was really cool. After a hot start they get the heat on Rollins forever. Dolph bullied Seth in the corner and yelled at him, “No one cares!” and I didn’t know if he meant about this heat segment, their Ironman match from several months ago, or the WWE product in 2018. McIntyre looked great and I can’t wait for him to replace Reigns as the top guy. Strowman went for a splash and missed because he’s an idiot, I suppose. There was a lack of reaction to Reign’s hot tag or offense. Reigns hit Ambrose by mistake with a Superman Punch. They teased an Ambrose turn, but it was a swerve.

They went for a sense of chaos but this didn’t feel like the incredible Shield six mans of days past. The spear on Strowman through the barricade saved Dean and was a nice piece of storytelling as well as a fresher take on the barricade spot. Then Rollins saved Dean in the ring, leading to Dean hitting Dirty Deeds on Ziggler for the win. The storytelling worked, but the action didn’t click as much as I’d hoped. ***1/2

Daniel Bryan Def.  The Miz

Miz attacked Bryan’s injured ribs early, setting up the focus of the match. Miz hit a running knee which no one bought as a nearfall because it was 3 minutes into the match. As I began to type what a dumb idea that was Bryan cradles Miz and pins him for the 3 count, which NO ONE reacted to even though it was clear as day. I loved this for that reason alone: WWE fans are so conditioned to the house style and structure that no one reacted to the pinfall, the bell ringing or Bryan sliding out and the ref raising his hand. They began to cheer when Bryan’s music hit and Jojo made the announcement. I liked their Summerslam match so yes, I’m a tad disappointed that we didn’t get a great Bryan match, but I love that they did something different, to break up the monotony of this show.

Also it allowed HHH and Undertaker the time those two desperately need to tell their story.  N/R (but ****3/4 for the idea)

HHH Def. The Undertaker

Jojo tells us that this match is now no DQ. Sure, why not. “This is awesome” chants from the crowd before anything’s happened. I’ve been cynically detached from this show in my review, but I understand that seeing this kind of match live could be very cool for a lot of people.

This was a long match, with a methodically slow pace and a lot of smoke and mirrors. It was essentially a captain’s fall tag team match, with Kane and HBK interfering whenever they wanted to. There were big moves and near falls and false finishes aplenty, as well as multiple ref bumps. In the end, HBK made more of a difference than Kane, and that’s why HHH won. I’m not sure what to make of that story. With all the interference and nonsense, nothing about this win for HHH felt definitive or satisfying in any way. The crowd seemed to like the moment.

Afterwards, they all celebrated together as if something was proven or accomplished here. But it was a swerve! And a good thing too; it makes literally no sense for Undertaker to be cool with how this went down. HHH eats a Tombstone that he definitely had coming. Then they killed HBK with a chokeslam through a table, to build to HBK coming out of retirement to entertain Saudi royalty. Hooray. **3/4