By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Greenville, South Carolina at Bon Secours Wellness Arena
[Q1] Footage was shown of the Intercontinental Championship segment from Raw, and the fallout from the Zayn & Owens vs. Cesaro & The Miz.
The show opened with The Miz (w/Maryse) and Sami Zayn at the commentary table. Kevin Owens made his way down to the ring, followed by Cesaro.
1. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro: Cesaro hit a nice dropkick in the opening minute and Kevin Owens bailed to ringside to recover. Cesaro followed and chased him back into the ring, and hit a body slam and an elbow from the second rope for a two count. Cesaro continued on offense with an impressive vertical suplex for a near fall. The Miz and Zayn bickered on commentary, and Miz mentioned Cesaro’s taped up shoulder multiple times. Owens retreated to the outside a second time to some boos from the crowd, and Cesaro hit a running european uppercut to much applause on the outside.
Maryse jawed with Cesaro on the outside to cause a distraction, and it allowed Kevin Owens to knock him off the apron into the announce table, and then toss him into the ring steps on his bad shoulder. Kevin Owens jawed at The Miz from inside the ring as Miz told the announce team that everyone wants a piece of him because he’s an A-Lister. Owens roughed up Cesaro with forearms and elbows for a bit. Cesaro interrupted a running senton by getting the knees up. He then ascended to the top rope, but Owens knocked him down and pulled him into a seated position in the corner. He then took a run and hit a cannonball that got a near fall. Owens jawed with The Miz as Cesaro was on the mat holding his ribs…[c]
Cesaro fired up the crowd with a jumping european uppercut as Kevin Owens sat on the top rope. He then followed up with a dropkick that stunned Owens, and a gutwrench suplex off the top. Both men took a bit to get to their feet, and Cesaro immediately went into an uppercut party and hit a crossbody from the top for a near fall. Cesaro sent Owens to the outside, where he immediately took a shot at Sami Zayn. Cesaro followed with a rolling senton off the apron, and then he shoved The Miz.
[Q2] Things broke down as The Miz jumped up on the apron as Cesaro had Owens in a Cesaro Swing. Cesaro punched Miz, but turned around into a superkick from Owens. Zayn jumped into the ring to get back at Owens, but Cesaro drilled him for his trouble. Owens used the confusion to roll up Cesaro with a handful of tights to get the win.
Kevin Owens defeated Cesaro
After the match, Cesaro took a shot at The Miz, and then Zayn got his revenge with a Heluva Kick to Cesaro. Owens stood on the ramp and laughed at the Chaos, and said he would get back his title at Extreme Rules. Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows, and Jericho checking into the Ambrose Asylum was plugged for later. Paige then made her ring entrance…[c]
My Take: I liked how the opening match showcased the best qualities of both Cesaro and Owens. Cesaro is at his best when he’s relentless on offense, and Owens is at his best when he’s taking shortcuts and talking trash. They both got to do a fair share of both here, and so it hit the right notes. Zayn and Miz were just ok on commentary. They didn’t really add to my interest in the Extreme Rules match, but they didn’t do any harm which these segments so often do. The conclusion with Owens laughing from the ramp was perfect because he’s the type of character that would gleefully stand by while the other three destroyed one another.
[Q3] Becky Lynch joined on commentary, and Dana Brooke made her entrance.
2. Dana Brooke vs. Paige: Dana hit a few strikes early on, and Paige fired back with some knees on the apron. Dana backed Paige into a corner and hit some shoulder thrusts, followed by a clothesline and a taunt. Dana applied a body scissors so Becky could do some exposition on commentary about being targeted because other women see her as a threat. Paige started her comeback with some knees, but it was short lived as Dana shut her down with a Samoan Driver and got the win.
Dana Brooke defeated Paige
Backstage, Rusev and Lana were interviewed by Renee Young. Rusev was asked about his attack on Kalisto at Monday’s Raw. Rusev laughed as the video concluded. Lana said Kalisto was a weak man who hides behind his mask. Rusev called himself the greatest US Champion of all time, and that he turned the Mexican Churro into a Pretzel on Monday, and would take his title back at Extreme Rules. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler was hyped for next…[c]
My Take: Paige and Dana Brooke was too brief to be great, but it was entertaining and allowed for Becky to make her case on commentary. She got across that she was plucky and always a threat, and said she would not stop getting up after being knocked down. It was all pretty straightforward babyface stuff, but it’s unique to her in the division at this point in time and she’s got enough presence to pull it off. Dana Brooke looked dominant in the ring and she has an opportunity to make a serious dent in the women’s division if she can make her character stand out.
Dolph Ziggler made his entrance, followed by Sheamus. Corbin vs. Ziggler was hyped for Sunday.
3. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler: Sheamus got off to an early advantage with strikes and a clothesline. He went for some Beats of the Bodhran, but Ziggler fired back with a neck snap over the top rope. Ziggler then got back in the ring, but Sheamus sent him right back out with a running double axe handle…[c]
[Q4] Sheamus hit an axe bomber and ten taunted the crowd. He followed up with vertical suplex from the apron to the inside of the ring, and then applied a chin lock. Ziggler fought to his feet and was able to avoid a Brogue Kick in order to hit a Fameasser. He then hit two stinger splashes in the corner. Ziggler hit the ropes again, but Sheamus caught him on the rebound for a backbreaker and a cover for a two count. Sheamus picked up Ziggler slowly, but he shot up with a headbutt. He went for a Zigzag, but Sheamus shook him off and hotshotted him into the top rope. Ziggler rebounded off the top rope and hit a superkick that got a clean pinfall.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin entered after the bell and told him that he was going to do what he does best and hurt him, and because it was a No DQ match there was nothing anybody could do to stop him…[c]
My Take: Dolph Ziggler has finally achieved a mastery of the Superkick that only Shawn Michaels previously attained. He can render you unconscious with a kick that other people hit eleven times in one match to almost zero effect.
Chris Jericho made his entrance while footage of his feud with Ambrose was shown from the last few television shows. Jericho told the crowd to be quiet. He mentioned that above him was the asylum, one of the most devious creations in the history of the WWE. Jericho then said that if Ambrose thinks he is going to surprise him, he’s mistaken, because he’s been in every kind of match in WWE. He said he’s smarter and crazier than Ambrose, and called himself a genuine lunatic. Jericho then said if people want proof, they can look at last week’s Smackdown, where he put Ambrose in a straightjacket and beat him down with a smile on his face.
[Q5] Jericho asked for the asylum to be lowered as he pondered how many days he could put Ambrose in the hospital with all the weapons. He counted up days for the various weapons and said Ambrose could spend up to 40 days in the hospital because of his own creation. Jericho said 40 days in the hospital will cost Ambrose a lot more than $15k. He then did his drink it in bit, and didn’t notice one of the crew members that was obviously Dean Ambrose in disguise make his way into the cage. Ambrose gave Jericho a beating with a kendo stick before he retreated up the ramp. Reigns vs. Gallows was promoted for later.
New Day and Big Cass vs. The Dudleys and Vaudevillians for next…[c]
My Take: Jericho and Ambrose has been entertaining, but the Asylum match announcement and this promo didn’t sell me on the rematch as much as I wanted it to. Nothing about it was really awful, but the Asylum Match feels like a gimmick desperately searching for a reason to exist, in a feud that could have just had a street fight or a falls count anywhere match and have been just as interesting.
We got another Bob Backlund and Darren Young vignette. Backlund demanded Darren Young say all the Presidents of the US in order. He said he didn’t think anybody could do that, but then Backlund started in on it and Young interrupted him. Backlund demanded he give him 200 jumping jacks, because Young used the word damn and the world didn’t need that kind of discourse.
[Q6] New Day made their entrance in the ring, followed by Big Cass. The Vaudevillians made their entrance while footage from their attack on New Day from Monday was shown. The Dudley’s then rounded out the entrances.
4. The Dudleys & Vaudevillians vs. The New Day & Big Cass: Bubba and Xavier started the match, with Bubba getting some early offense in before being cornered for the unicorn stampede and some trombone soundtrack. D-Von entered the ring in response to taunting by New Day and then everybody got in the ring and needed to be seperated by the refs…[c]
Xavier Woods and Bubba were back in the match, except this time Bubba took control and backed Woods into the heel corner to take a beating. Rapid tags by the heel as both Gotch and English took potshots and then hit a double team chop. Gotch covered for a near fall. Woods attempted to fight out of a headlock to make a tag, but got reversed into a headlock take over and then tagged English back in. Bubba and D-Von were offended they weren’t getting tags and some cracks started to show in the heel team.
Bubba got his way and tagged back in, and hit an elbow drop. He talked trash to both The Vaudevillians and Xavier Woods, which gave Woods time to hit an enziguri and make a tag to Big Cass. He entered and cleaned house and hit big running splash on D-Von, but Gotch broke up the pin. Things broke down as everybody entered and got tossed out of the ring. The Dudleys were left with Big Cass, but he hit a superkick on D-Von and had an awkward sequence with Bubba that led to an Empire Elbow for the win. Cass couldn’t handle Bubba’s weight when attempting a swinging side slam.
The New Day & Big Cass defeated The Dudleys and Vaudevillians
Roman Reigns vs. Doc Gallows was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: This match killed some time, but was a pretty basic effort. There as one pretty cool moment when Big E vaulted Kofi Kingston out of the ring onto Aiden English at ringside, but other than that this match was pretty light on thrills. It’s too bad Cass couldn’t muscle Bubba into that side slam at the end of the match, but I can see how difficult it would be given his size and shape. It marred what would have otherwise been a pretty good finishing flurry.
[Q7] We got a lengthy video package that summarized the saga between Charlotte and Natalya since Payback. After the video, Gallows and Anderson made their entrance, followed by AJ Styles. A Tornado Tag was announced between The Usos and Gallows & Anderson at Extreme Rules…[c]
The Usos made their entrance, and they were followed by Roman Reigns.
[Q8] 5. Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows: There was a staredown between The Bloodline and The Club before the match got started. Gallows knocked down Reigns early with a shoulder block. Gallows and Reigns traded back elbows, but Gallows hit a second one that sent Reigns to the outside. Reigns got back in the ring, and this time worked his way into control of the match with a Samoan Drop. Gallows attempted to retreat to the outside, but Roman followed and hit a drive-by on the apron…[c]
Gallows hit a hard clothesline that shook up Reigns. He continued to press the attack with elbow drops and covered for a two count. Gallows transitioned into vertical elbows after the cover attempt, and then applied a chinlock. Reigns fought to his feet, but Gallows shut down the comeback with a headbutt and a big splash in a corner. Reigns turned things around with a clothesline, and then hit a lariat from the second rope for a near fall.
Reigns continued to hit clotheslines in the corner, followed by a big boot. Reigns stared a hole in AJ Styles before signaling for a Superman Punch. Anderson jumped up on the apron, which led to a roll up attempt by Gallows for a near fall. Reigns quickly rebounded off the ropes and hit a Superman Punch. Things broke down at ringside, which led to everybody getting laid out, including AJ Styles by a drive by from Roman Reigns. The match was called when Gallows and Anderson hit a Boot of Doom on Reigns.
Roman Reigns defeated Luke Gallows by DQ
The brawl continued after the bell. Styles sent Reigns out to the floor and prepped the announce table, but Reigns just tackled him and the both flew across the table. The Usos and Gallows & Anderson brawled inconclusively. The show ended with the fight still in progress.
My Take: I like the inconclusive finish to the show. It leaves you wanting more and that’s something that’s often sorely missing from the WWE product. I still don’t believe that we’re going to see a title change on Sunday, but they’ve done a good job of establishing everyone’s motivation and giving us an idea that we can expect bedlam on Sunday. I think the most interesting comment of the week went untelevised, as Styles called Gallows and Anderson “not the best kind of guys” in this WWE.com interview with Michael Cole, but that they had done something for him in his past that made them friends for life. It will be interesting to see if WWE will play into that on Sunday, or if I’m just reading too much into it as it is. Overall, this episode of Smackdown was a mixed bag. Aside from the final brawl, nothing really felt like it raised the stakes at all for Sunday, but nothing stood out as being a truly bad segment either.
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