Tonight’s SmackDown was all about The Undertaker, and rightly so. Mark Calaway has given 30 years of his life to entertaining millions of fans, putting his heart and soul into the character of The Phenom, always giving 100% no matter the opponent. I’m still dubious as to whether he’s actually retired, as he never officially announced it during The Last Ride. Regardless, a man of his stature deserves celebrating, and there were plenty of Superstars willing to say a few words about his legacy. We also got a decent eight-man tag match and a new challenger to Bayley’s title, as well as a main-event between Jeff Hardy and King Corbin.
Thank You, Taker
The show started with an amazing video package featuring many of The Undertaker’s greatest moments, including his debut, his time in The Ministry of Darkness, the casket matches, and teaming up with Kane as The Brothers of Destruction. It was a beautiful and poignant reminder of just how incredible he has been in the WWE, yet it was also sad to think that we may never see The Undertaker in a wrestling ring again.
The SmackDown roster stood at the top of the ramp chanting, “Thank You, Taker.” It was announced that tonight’s show would be dedicated to The Prince of Darkness and that there would be accounts from various WWE Superstars, past and present, sharing just why Taker was so important to the industry. Michael Cole and Corey Graves introduced a video showing his debut in WWE, at Survivor Series in 1990.
John Cena and Roman Reigns were first up to talk about The Undertaker. Cena talked about his care and love for the business, with Reigns adding he was “one of the greatest performers of all time,” and that “he gave his whole life to it.” To honour The Undertaker’s Legacy, the Boneyard Match from WrestleMania 36 would be airing next.
Whilst I don’t need to give you a play-by-play of what happened, it was still a joy to watch this again. From Taker riding in with Metallica playing to his assault on the Druids, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, and the chokeslam off the roof of the barn, it was still amazing to watch. Whilst the match aired, we heard from more guys with their thoughts on The Undertaker.
Edge, Christian, and Bret Hart all shared their thoughts on his impact on the business. “There’s a definite mood in the arena when that gong hits,” said Edge. “He’s magnetic,” added Christian, with Bret saying, “he delivered all the time. He raised the bar.” The Boneyard Match continued, but there were more comments, this time from Kane and Ric Flair.
Kane said, “he is the greatest character in the history of the company. He was so unique, he was mythical,” with Flair adding, “he is today and he was then, the greatest character in the business. He’s the biggest star in the history of the business.” After the Boneyard Match finished, King Corbin stood in the ring.
He couldn’t help being an idiot, calling The Undertaker a “bag of bones,” and “a former shell” of who he once was. Corbin said Taker was “coddled and protected by the owners,” calling him “a selfish son of a bitch,” and that he was holding everyone back. I can’t stand Corbin, but he certainly does a great job of being a heel. He managed to elicit genuine hatred from me, but that’s what makes him such a good bad guy. Jeff Hardy ran in and interrupted Corbin by attacking him, finally shutting him up.
Up next to talk about The Undertaker was Stone Cold and Kurt Angle. “You knew as soon as you met him, he was going to be somebody. He’s proved time and time again he’s one of the toughest guys in the business,” said Stone Cold. “He’s the epitome of Superman in this business. He deserves all the notoriety,” added Angle.
Backstage, Jeff Hardy was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber, and he cut a promo about The Undertaker being a mentor to him, and if there was a Mount Rushmore of WWE, it would feature Taker four times over. He added that he got a Diploma at Deadman University and that he would unleash all his knowledge on Corbin. Michael Cole then announced the main event would be King Corbin against Jeff Hardy.
Other Superstars gave their opinion on The Undertaker, such as HHH and Shawn Michaels. The Game talked about Taker’s loyalty, calling him “one of the most loyal people” he’s ever met. Shawn Michaels talked about how much effort he put into everything he did, and that “you can’t help but respect the guy.” HHH added, “his legacy is that they’ll never be another.”
Corbin was interviewed and commented on the fact his teachings never got him anywhere, other than jail or rehab. He said that Hardy should do what The Undertaker should do and give up, mocking the Deadman once again by saying, “rest in peace.” Are we ever going to have Jeff Hardy on SmackDown without a mention of his substance abuse? It’s getting tiresome now.
Batista and Mick Foley were the final two guys who would speak on The Undertaker’s legacy, with Batista saying he “was at the top of the totem pole.” Foley said, “It can’t be understated what he did for my career, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without him.” He ended with talking about how he transcended all of sports entertainment, and that he was one of the best entertainers in the entire world.
Jeff Hardy vs King Corbin
The start of the match was taken up with Corbin using his power to weaken Hardy until he fought back and threw Corbin into the announcer table. Back in the ring, Hardy went for the Whisper in the Ring but missed, with Corbin launching him into the ring post. Corbin decided to mock The Undertaker by dropping to one knee. A majority of the locker room came to the ring to support Jeff Hardy, including Matt Riddle, The New Day, and Braun Strowman.
Corbin continued to take control, hitting the Deep Six. Outside the ring, Hardy was resting on the steel steps. Big E pointed out that Corbin was about to attack him, which led to Hardy moving out the way so that Corbin missed and hit the steps himself. Hardy managed to hit the Swanton off the top turnbuckle and pick up the win.
After the match, Corbin attacked Hardy, but Big E ran in and hit the Big Ending. Hardy called in Strowman who delivered a powerslam. Riddle then joined proceedings and flew off the turnbuckle to hit the Floating Bro. The night ended as everyone celebrated, with Hardy kneeling before an image of The Undertaker that had appeared on the big screen.
Do You Wanna Go Home?
Braun Strowman headed to the ring and delivered an excellent promo. Yes, Strowman, you heard that right. Props to The Monster Among Men here. He talked about how Wyatt instilled fear into him. Not ‘bump in the night’ fear, but the kind that makes a grown man tremble. He recounted a story when they were sitting at the swamp (as you do), and a snake bit Bray Wyatt in the face.
Instead of screaming in pain, Wyatt laughed as the snake continued to bite him. Strowman said he knew in that moment he was in the presence of evil – that Wyatt was the devil himself. Strowman said he started doing the devil’s work and the bad part about it was he loved every second, that even now a part of him still does. Even now he tries to lock it away, but it calls to him.
Strowman then challenged Bray Wyatt to a match at Extreme Rules. “What do you say we go back to the Swamp?” said Strowman. “I’m either gonna come out of this as the most evil son of a b**ch this world has ever seen, or I’m coming out with the satisfaction I’ve spit in the devil face.” This was amazing, and as he ended by saying, “What do you say, Bray, do you wanna go home?” The promo aired with Strowman laughing like a mad man as flickers of The Wyatt Family vignettes aired.
The Highs And Lows From The Rest Of The Show
The rivalry between The New Day and Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura intensified this week, as a huge eight-man tag match was made. The New Day and Lucha House Party took on Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura and John Morrison & The Miz. It was a good match, with Lucha House Party being the standout performers in a long way. As The New Day battled Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura to the back, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik took down The Miz and John Morrison. After Dorado hit a springboard stunner and a hurricanrana off the top rope to Morrison on the apron, Metalik hit an elbow drop off the ropes on Morrison, then covered him for the win.
Bayley and Sasha Banks joined commentary for the fatal four-way match between Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Dana Brooke, and Lacey Evans. Boy, Banks and Bayley are annoying. At first, it was bearable, but now their over-acting and loudness are annoying. The match itself was nothing special. Evans managed to hit a double bronco on Bliss and Cross, and Brooke hit a senton on Evans, but the pin attempt was stopped by Nikki Cross. The match ended after Evans hit a right hand on Brooke, only for Cross to roll her up and pick up the win. Nikki Cross with be facing Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Extreme Rules.
The Undertaker was celebrated in glorious style tonight. From getting to see the Boneyard match again, to hearing various legends talk about his impact, it truly highlighted how important Mark Calaway was and is to the business. I’m not convinced this is the end of The Undertaker, but if it is, WWE did a great job of honouring the career of The Deadman.
I can’t quite get over how good Braun Strowman’s promo was. He’s had some real duds in his career. I mean, remember that weird interaction between Strowman and Lesnar on RAW a few years back? Forgetting his past mistakes, Strowman nailed it tonight, and I hope this is a sign of things to come. If Strowman can win fans over with these types of promos, we could be in for a real treat going forward.
Bayley needs to lose the title, but I’m not sure Nikki Cross is the one to do it. Cross deserves to hold some gold, but doing so by ending such a huge run probably isn’t the right way to do it. I’m convinced Sasha Banks will be the one to end Bayley’s streak, but WWE are dedicated to keeping this shrill tag team together for as long as possible.
All images and videos courtesy of WWE