By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena
Kevin Owens opened the show by displaying a Birthday card from Sami Zayn to his son from last year before everything happened between them. He said he never opened it, and found $20 Canadian inside of it. He called Sami cheap and said if he got in his way against Dean Ambrose later, he’d end up in the hospital. Charlotte was shown with Dana Brooke, and they said The Boss would learn that lightning doesn’t strike twice. Charlotte repeated her dig about Sasha being a Nicki Minaj wannabe with dollar store jewelry.
The Miz and Maryse spoke about Bob Backlund and Darren Young appearing on MizTV, and finally Dean Ambrose gave some hype for the draft. He said that tonight could be his last Smackdown, and he was going to make it a memorable one be smearing Kevin Owens face all over the arena. In the arena, Sasha Banks made her entrance. Dana Brooke followed with Charlotte.
1. Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte: Sasha got a rollup and a backslide right away for two counts. She then hit a running knee and got another near fall, which caused Dana to bail to the outside. Charlotte got in Sasha’s face, which allowed Becky to hit a chop block from behind, Dana brought the action back in the ring and applied a chinlock. She then hit a clothesline and posed for the crowd. She went for the Samoan Driver, but Sasha flipped out and started her comeback.
Sasha climbed to the top rope and hit a crossbody for a near fall. Charlotte jumped up on the apron, but Charlotte broke up her own roll up attempt to knock her off the apron. Brooke tried to roll up Sasha off the distraction, but Sasha reversed into the Bank Statement for the tap out victory.
Sasha Banks defeated Dana Brooke
After the bell, Charlotte hit Sasha with a big boot and tossed her over the announce table.She then talked trash to her before heading up the ramp and posing for the crowd. The announce team plugged this as the last Thursday Smackdown, and then introduced some footage from Raw of Vince McMahon announcing Shane as the new Commissioner of Smackdown. Dolph Zigger and Rusev was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: This feud has been a bummer, and Dana Brooke has been it’s biggest casualty. Emma’s injury was unfortunate, but the pivot to Charlotte’s flunky has just led to her taking high profile losses and getting a few interference victories on television without getting much individual character development. Sasha has been criminally shorted in terms of mic time, and Charlotte has made very little progress as a character since her Dad left television.
Lana was introduced, and she did the honors of bringing out Rusev. Footage was shown of Rusev accepting Zack Ryder’s challenge by destroying him on Raw. Dolph Ziggler then made his entrance.
2. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler: Ziggler tried to use his speed early on, but Rusev used his power to catch Zigger and hit a swinging slam…[c]
Rusev attempted a splash but missed. Dolph collected himself, but Rusev quickly recovered too. Dolph attempted a fameasser, but Rusev turned it into a powerbomb and got a two count. He fired up and went for a running front kick, but Dolph avoided it and jumped on his back for a sleeper. Rusev faded, but tossed Ziggler off. He followed up with a DDT and a fameasser, but still got a near fall.
Ziggler couldn’t capitalize and got caught with a kick and a stomp to the back. Rusev signaled for the Accolade, but Zack Ryder interrupted. At first, Rusev beat the tar out of both of them on the outside, but when the action went back in the ring Ryder got his revenge. He cause a distraction that allowed Ziggler to get the win on a cheap roll up.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Rusev
Rusev went crazy after the match. He pulled off turnbuckle pads, threw a chair, and destroyed the monitors at the announce table. A Wyatt Compound video was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: The distraction roll up is everyone’s alternate finisher in WWE. It has to be involved in at least 40% of TV matches it seems, maybe even more. There was some good work from Ziggler and Rusev there, with Rusev looking particularly aggressive and intense.
A recap for the Wyatt Compound segment was shown from Raw. It showed New Day holding their own against the family, until all of the fireflies showed up wearing sheep masks. New Day vs. The Wyatt Family was plugged for Battleground. Back in the arena, The Club made their entrance, with Styles and Anderson competing….[c]
Footage from John Cena’s appearance at the ESPYs was shown. Enzo and Cass made their ring entrance, and did their usual shtick. Enzo said he was sick and tired of hearing that they were too sweet, because at the end of the day, even salt can look like sugar. He called them a couple of haters, and said they looked pretty salty. Cass said the last thing on their list of things to do was hurt them before Battleground, but it was on their list, and they didn’t have anything better to do. He then called them Sawft, as you might expect.
3. Enzo and Cass vs. AJ Styles and Karl Anderson: Enzo and Styles started the match, and Styles quickly bailed to the outside to regroup. Cass tossed Enzo over the top onto Styles, Anderson, and Gallows, and they played to the crowd after the flash offense…[c]
Enzo and Cass controlled Anderson in their corner. AJ snuck in a cheap shot from the apron on Enzo behind the ref’s back, and that allowed the heels to take back over. Styles got a nearfall after a pendulum backbreaker, and then started making quick tags and cutting off the ring on Enzo. Styles really focused on the left leg of Enzo Amore, stomping and dropping knees on his calves. Anderson tagged back in and focused on the same leg. Enzo got dumped to the floor, but was able to sent Anderson into the barricade and pull AJ down off the apron. He attempted to get back across the ring for a tag, but Anderson managed to cut him off with a running knee. Anderson missed a running senton a moment later, which set up the hot tag. Styles tagged into the match, and Gallows got involved to prevent the tag to Cass. Styles then locked in the Calf Crusher on Enzo to get the win.
The Club defeated Enzo and Cass
Footage was shown of Brock Lesnar’s win at UFC 200, and a cut from his post fight comments talking about Summerslam. Lesnar vs. Orton was plugged for Summerslam, along with Orton’s appearance on the Highlight Reel at Battleground. Ambrose vs. Owens was mentioned for later in the show…[c]
My Take: An ok match, but nothing really moved forward with the story. I like everyone involved, but this just felt like more of the same.
Kalisto made his ring entrance with Sin Cara. Tyler Breeze was already in the ring. Fandango was at ringside.
4. Kalisto vs. Tyler Breeze: Breeze surprised Kalisto with a Model Kick after a distraction from Fandango, and got a near fall right away. Kalisto backflipped out of the way clothesline and hit a wheel kick. Breeze then flipped him out to the apron, but Kalisto couldn’t capitalize and missed his springboard attempt. Breeze then attempted a clothesline, but Kalisto ducked and hit Salida Del Sol for the win.
Kalisto defeated Tyler Breeze
After the match, the announcers spoke about Kalisto’s draft stock going up.
My Take: Not much to say. These characters don’t mean anything, and the match was just kind of there. Not much excitement considering how talented both guys are.
Maryse was in the ring and she called The Miz the sexiest man alive and an A List Movie Star. Miz then spoke condescendingly to the crowd before he brought out Darren Young and Bob Backlund. Miz addressed Bob Backlund and called him a 2-time WWE Champion. He then introduced some footage of Backlund from his Hall of Fame career. Backlund stood up and received a nice ovation from the crowd. Miz then introduced the career highlights of Darren Young, which was…nothing.
Miz said he tried to search for Darren Young highlights, but the WWE Network search engine returned no results. Young said all he needed to do to make a career highlight was defeat him for the InterContinental Championship. Backlund told him to look at Miz, and see what it looks like to be a poor champion. He said the people need the role model for a champion, and the Miz will never be one. Miz told Backlund he looked like Howdy Doody and that Young should take advice from a champion from this century.
Young got to his feet and said he can tolerate disrespect of him, but not of his life coach and mentor. Backlund slid into the background as Young and Miz got face to face. Miz continued to talk down to Backlund, but Young slapped the mic and told him that his talk wouldn’t save his Intercontinental Championship. Miz told him if he ever did it again….and Young slapped it away immediately and asked him what he was going to do about it. Miz slinked away as Young stood tall in the ring…[c]
My Take: That was some impressive intensity from Young, and they had a crowd that was receptive of him coming to the defense of Backlund. I wouldn’t have imagined this would have worked as well as it did, but I stand corrected. A good first interview from Young.
Backstage, Sasha was getting checked out by trainers when Charlotte and Dana walked up. Sasha popped off the table and got in their face, but Charlotte wasn’t there for trouble, she just wanted to wish her luck on their match at Battleground. Sasha said the title would be hers, but Charlotte corrected her and said it was a tag match. The good luck was meant for her to find a partner for someone like her. Dean Ambrose made his ring entrance, followed by Kevin Owens. Seth Rollins made a surprise entrance, and joined on commentary.
5. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens: The match was called in about 30 seconds after things spilled outside and Seth Rollins interfered.
The match ended in no contest
Sami Zayn made a run in and helped Ambrose clear Rollins and Owens from the ring…[c]
My Take: Without approval from all 32 members of the WWE Smackdown Board of Governors, how will we make a tag match in time for the next segment?
The Board came through! It’s a tag match!
6. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn: Owens pulled Ambrose to the outside and sent him hard into the barricade. He then talked trash to the crowd and tagged in Rollins. Seth put boots to Ambrose in the corner, followed by a chinlock. Owens tagged back in and went for and missed a running senton. This led to Sami Zayn tagging in and hitting a DDT on Owens. He then sent Owens out to the floor. Ambrose and Zayn then hit splashes onto Rollins and Owens out on the floor. Back in the ring, Rollins hit Zayn with a leg lariat to slow down Zayn, and then made a quick tag at Owens to take some shots at Zayn…[c]
Owens hit some chops and knees to Sami Zayn in the corner before tagging in Seth Rollins. Rollins hit some strikes and kicks, but Zayn caught him rebounding off the ropes with a Michinoku Driver, which allowed him to make a tag to Ambrose. He cleaned house on the heels, knocking Rollins to the floor and hit a top rope elbow for a two count. Rollins and Ambrose traded finisher attempts before Sami Zayn hit a top rope crossbody. He followed up with a suplex into the turnbuckles.
Owens sent Ambrose crashing into the steps at ringside. Zayn went for Heluva Kick on Rollins in the ring, but Rollins whiffed thanks to Owens and Rollins hit the Pedigree for the win.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose defeated Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn
Owens went after Zayn on the floor, but Ambrose helped him out and ran off Owens. He then turned his attention to Rollins, who was able to escape an attempt at Dirty Deeds and bail up the ramp. Owens and Rollins celebrated their victory as the show closed.
My Take: Overall, this was a lame duck show. Nothing really exciting took place aside from Darren Young having a better than expected outing on MizTV. Everything else felt like it was in a holding pattern, with as little advancement as possible. The draft next week feels like it may finally be the light at the end of the tunnel, at the very least it should make Smackdown feel like it has storylines that you can reliably follow from week to week.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Brian Pillman Jr., who discusses his training, following his father's footsteps, his own career aspirations, being part of the Hart Foundation faction, his big match at the MLW Saturday Night SuperFight pay-per-view, working with Jushin Liger, touring the WWE Performance Center, and much more...