By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Miami, Florida at American Airlines Arena
Mauro Ranallo plugged the fatal four way between Apollo Crews, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Sheamus for a same night opportunity for the US Championship. Each competitor cut brief promos about how tonight was their night. Crews and Sheamus focused on going after each other, and Cesaro and Del Rio had their eyes on Rusev. The normal Smackdown intro then aired.
Cesaro made his entrance in the arena first, followed by Alberto Del Rio, Apollo Crews and Sheamus.
1. Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Apollo Crews vs. Cesaro: They broke off in pairs early on with Sheamus and Crews ending up on the outside and Del Rio and Cesaro fighting in the ring. Things moved rapidly with offense all around the ring as Del Rio and Cesaro spilled to the floor. All four men brawled back into the ring, only for Crews to clear everybody back out to the floor again…[c]
Cesaro hit a flying cross body on Del Rio for a near fall. He then went for a Cesaro Swing, but Sheamus broke it up and hit the Irish Curse Backbreaker. He then applied a Cloverleaf, but Del Rio broke it up with a kick to the head. Del Rio applied a Cross Armbreaker to Sheamus, but that was broken up with standing moonsault from Crews. Things cooled down for a second until Cesaro fired everyone back up with an uppercut party.
Sheamus shut that down with a powerslam and covered for a near fall. Crews clotheslined Sheamus to the outside after some brawling, which gave Alberto Del Rio room to hit a step up Enziguri in Cesaro. He went for another Cross Armbreaker, but Cesaro avoided it and hit a Cesaro Swing. He then applied the Sharpshooter and Del Rio tapped out.
Cesaro defeated Alberto Del Rio, Apollo Crews and Sheamus
[Q2] After the match, Del Rio ambushed Cesaro by shoving him into ring steps, and then hit a double stomp that looked really silly as Cesaro had to hold onto the bottom rope to make it possible. Rusev then made his entrance and immediately called for the match with Cesaro to start immediately, claiming that if he was a real Swiss Superman he would answer the challenge…[c]
My Take: This was a solid opening match and segment. There was a lot of action and they managed to keep a quick pace that kept my interest throughout. It had one of those tag match style breakdowns at the end to make the finish possible, but it followed logically from the way the match had been set up until that point. The Rusev challenge after the match is good heel work.
Cesaro was still being attended to by trainers and Rusev was getting impatient. They helped him to his feet as Rusev called him a coward, which set off Cesaro. He then walked into the ring and the bell rang.
2. Rusev vs. Cesaro: Rusev went after the taped up shoulder of Cesaro, and then stomped on him as he laid on the mat. Cesaro set up for a vertical suplex and taunted the crowd, but Cesaro turned things around and hit a vertical suplex of his own. Rusev quickly recovered and applied a bear hug, targeting the ribs.
Cesaro elbowed his way out of the vise grip and hit a springboard european uppercut. Rusev rolled out to the apron, and Cesaro tried and failed to suplex him back in. Rusev stomped on Cesaro and then climbed the ropes, and Rusev responded with a drop kick that sent Rusev crashing to the floor. He then followed and hit a somersault senton off the apron. Back in the ring Rusev caught Cesaro and slammed him down with a Uranage, and hit a somersault senton of his own for a close near fall.
Cesaro caught Rusev’s foot coming in with a kick, and hit a european uppercut and a clothesline for a near fall. He then went for a neutralizer, but Rusev powered out and hit a vaulted him up in the air and hit a knee to the ribs. Cesaro went for The Accolade, but Cesaro reversed into the Sharpshooter, but couldn’t turn him over. Rusev then hit a big kick, and then applied The Accolade successfully and forced a tap.
Rusev defeated Cesaro
[Q3] After the match, a video aired that plugged the WWE Draft…[c]
My Take: This was a better match than I was expecting coming out of the injury angle. Cesaro got in more offense than I expected and looked very strong in defeat. On top of that, Rusev gets heel cred for taking advantage of the injury and focusing on the shoulder and ribs. A full Cesaro/Rusev feud would be a welcome change compared to Titus O’Neill.
Backstage, Rusev told Renee Young that Independence Day should be renamed Rusev Day. He said he would be taking the day off to celebrate with his fiance Lana. Renee then interrupted him to say that he would have to defend his championship on Monday against Titus O’Neill. He looked at Lana, who told him to crush. We then saw a video package for WWE’s partnership with the Special Olympics, which included some heartwarming footage.
Dana Brooke was shown backstage walking towards the ring…[c]
[Q4] Billie Kay was already in the ring. Dana Brooke then made her ring entrance. Footage was shown of Dana getting handled by Sasha Banks last week on Smackdown.
3. Billie Kay vs. Dana Brooke: Dana overpowered Billie early and often. Sasha Banks was shown watching the match backstage. Billie fired back with a suplex, but Dana recovered and hit a flapjack and a hair whip. Dana then choked Billy in the corner and hit a running splash for a near fall. Billie fired back with a discus punch and a flying head scissors for a near fall of her own. Dana shut down the comeback with a kick and then hit the Samoan Driver for the win.
Dana Brooke defeated Billie Kay
Sasha was interviewed backstage, and she said The Boss is more than a nickname, it’s legit. She said everybody including Charlotte knows it, and said that Charlotte wouldn’t be champ for long. Sasha said Charlotte can throw any obstacle in her way, but she would hunt her down…Summer Rae then interrupted and said she was tired of the whole boss thing. She claimed she was all flash and no funk. Sasha then challenged her for a match later tonight. MizTV was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: Billie Kay looked good in her first match. It was a revelatory performance, but she held her own and got more offense than what I expected was going to be a squash match. Dana continues to improve but still needs to find a character. She’s just Charlotte’s annoying friend at this point.
Maryse gave an obsequious introduction of The Miz, who then said this could be the last MizTV on Smackdown, which got cheers. He then said it could become the exclusive show of Smackdown Live, which got boos. He tried to introduce his guest, but Ambrose just interrupted him. He was carrying a brown lunch bag. He apologized to Miz for being late, and grabbed a sandwich out of his bag. He said it was a Cuban because they were in Miami.
He offered Miz a bite, who acted incredulous and said it wasn’t organic or gluten free. Ambrose said it was packed with protein, and he needed to keep his strength up for when he defends the WWE Championship at Battleground against Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Ambrose dissed Miz’s carpet and chairs, to which Miz responded that all his show ever had was a stupid plant. Ambrose told him not to talk about Mitch that way.
[Q5] Ambrose then asked the crowd if they’d rather see an episode of MizTV or The Ambrose Asylum, and you can guess who won. Miz asked if he thought he was better than him, because he has filmed a move and retained his Intercontinental Championship. Ambrose said his Championship said he’s the man, and he plans on keeping it that way. Miz said he was dressed like a slob, and that he wears a three piece suit everywhere he goes when he represents WWE. He claimed Ambrose wasn’t on his level.
They both began getting ready for a fight at that point, and Ambrose wiped off his face with Miz’s white suit coat. Maryse grabbed the coat from him and then Miz kicked Ambrose in the jaw. Miz walked away and as Ambrose eventually got up and took another bite of his sandwich. Sasha vs. Summer was hyped for later…[c]
My Take: This was an ok segment, but I’m not really interested in Ambrose vs. Miz. Perhaps they are trying to build up Miz for a more prominent role post brand split, because otherwise this feels like a diversion from Ambrose’s main program.
The Wyatt Family made their entrance. Strowman and Eric Rowan vs. jobbers.
4. Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan vs. Jobbers: I honestly didn’t catch the name of the opposing team after getting distracted by my daughter. It didn’t really matter, as they got beaten to a pulp and pinned after a Chokeslam from Strowman in about 30 seocnds.
The Wyatt Family defeated Jobbers
[Q6] New Day appeared on the big screen and Kofi said feat is what weak people use to manipulate others. Big E joked about booties and keeping his sheep in the barn, while Xavier Woods looked on intensely. Bray Wyatt told Woods to tell his team what he already knows, and that is the fact that the devil calls for them. All there is left to do is pray, and RUN. Ambrose vs. Miz was hyped for the main event. Sasha vs. Summer is next…[c]
My Take: Xavier Woods continues to be the only member of New Day taking The Wyatt Family threat seriously. I wonder what it will take to get the other two to get it?
Sasha Banks made her ring entrance. Summer Rae was already in the ring.
5. Summer Rae vs. Sasha Banks: Sasha got an early advantage with a back elbow, until Summer Rae dumped her out to the floor. They both fought on the apron, and Summer Rae hit a big boot that sent Sasha into the ring post and out to the floor one again…[c]
Summer hit a snap suplex and taunted the crowd. She then hit a soccer kick to the ribs, and another one to the back. Summer then attempted another suplex, but got rolled up instead for a two count. Sasha then made her comeback with series of clotheslines and elbows. She went for a double knee in the corner, but Summer got out of the way and rolled her up for a near fall. Summer went for a body slam, but Sasha slipped out the back. Sasha went for double knees in the corner again, but Summer got out and hit a high kick.
[Q7] Summer hit a DDT mid ring for a near fall. She was now bleeding and it was visible on her teeth. Sasha finally had success hitting double knees in the corner. She then applied the Bank Statement for the tapout victory.
Sasha Banks defeated Summer Rae
After the match, we got a Raw Rebound that focused on Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose’s promo from Monday. Ambrose made his entrance for the main event after the video package…[c]
My Take: Sasha and Summer was an enjoyable match. I liked it more than Dana and Billie earlier, but it didn’t quite have as much energy as I hoped. Both were very competent in the ring, and both have charisma and Swagger, but neither had the intensity that we saw from Becky Lynch when she attacked Natalya on Raw. I was hoping to see some of that here and it never came.
The Miz made his entrance for the main event.
[Q8] 6. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz: Ambrose hit a clothesline to start and then tossed Miz into the turnbuckle. He followed with a snap suplex and covered for a one count. Miz caught Ambrose coming off the ropes with a knee to the gut. Ambrose clotheslined Miz over the ropes a moment later and set up for a suicide dive, but Maryse pulled Miz out of the way.
Ambrose hit two hip tosses in the ring. Miz threw him into the ropes, but he slid out to the floor. Miz tried to attack, but Ambrose got out of the way and clotheslined him. Maryse then argued with Ambrose, who was distracted long enough to allow Miz to toss him into the barricade…[c]
Miz wrapped Ambrose’s left leg around the post several times, and Ambrose sold the knee. Miz applied a knee bar in the ring, which Ambrose had to use his other leg to break out of. Miz run Ambrose’s neck on the top rope to stop his momentum. He then climbed the top rope, but Ambrose met him up there for a suplex attempt. Miz fought him off and sent him crashing to the mat. He then followed up with a double axehandle and taunted the crowd.
Miz went for a Skull Crushing Finale, but Ambrose escaped and rolled him up for two. He then hit a neckbreaker that got a two count. Ambrose then hit a flying forearm in the corner and rolled up Miz with La Magistral for another near fall. Miz hit a few kicks to Miz’s knee and hamstring in the corner, and then applied a figure four. Ambrose reached the ropes to break the hold, and Miz broke it off at 4. Miz tried to apply it again, but got rolled up for a two count. Ambrose then sent Miz to the floor, and hit a suicide dive (Miz caught him!). In the ring, both men traded roll ups for near falls. Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale, which got a very close near fall.
Miz hit a corner clothesline and climbed the ropes, but he jumped right into a kick to the gut from Ambrose, followed by Dirty Deeds for the win.
Dean Ambrose defeated The Miz
Ambrose celebrated as the show went off the air to a nice crowd reaction. Maryse checked on Miz at ringside.
My Take: This was an entertaining show, but none of the main storylines really got a boost on this show. This follows a predictable pattern for Smackdown, where the shows are often engaging but without any long term consequence. Miz and Ambrose gave us a very entertaining main event, and there wasn’t a ton of filler on this show. There wasn’t even a “Make Darren Young Great Again!” video this week, which had been the only real filler moment on previous episodes. I’m hoping the brand split can energize Smackdown, because the show hasn’t been bad lately aside from suffering for low stakes for most of the action.