By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown Live on the USA Network
Live from Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena
Backstage, footage was shown of Randy Orton hitting an RKO on Brock Lesnar on a monitor backstage. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan stood with him, and Shane admonished him and told him he was jeopardizing everything. He told Orton that he’d be surprised if Lesnar didn’t try to invade the show and take him out before Summerslam. The camera panned to a huge group of security who were there to try and prevent Brock Lesnar from getting in the building. Shane told some of them to follow Orton, and the rest to guard the entrances.
The Miz then walked up to Bryan and Shane McMahon, and he was angry he didn’t get a procession like Dean Ambrose for retaining his championship at Battleground. Bryan said he wasn’t thrilled to draft him, but he was thrilled to draft the Intercontinental Championship. Bryan said there would be a new era Triple Threat between Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, and Kalisto. Dean Ambrose walked up as Miz walked away, and said that he has a message for the Number One Contender. He then walked towards the ring, and his entrance music hit.
The announce team welcomed us to the show and said the WWE Universe was buzzing about the RKO delivered to Brock Lesnar on Monday. Dean Ambrose introduced himself and said he got to be Champion by being both his Shield Brothers and became the undisputed Champion in the industry. He said it’s not about representing Smackdown Live and that he liked being captain of the Blue Brand. He then addressed Dolph Ziggler, talked about him defeating 5 top superstars last week, and then invited him to the ring.
Ziggler made his ring entrance and carried a serious look on his face. He told Ambrose he was a big fan of his and said they were pretty similar. Dean disagreed and said they weren’t, because Dolph was all show and he was all go. He said he scrapped and clawed his way to the top, and no one is going to take it from him. Dolph said that wasn’t true. He came it at the top and stayed there. He said he came in as a male cheerleader in a green jumpsuit, and he clawed his way from the bottom.
Dean said that the difference between them is that Dolph spends too much time complaining, and he’s to worried about what people of him. He said he was too worried about the internet, what the office thinks of him, what his image is, and how he looked. He said he was far too concerned with being on the highlight reels and stealing the show, and he would do all that at Summerslam, but he’s going to lose.
Ziggler said who he is a kid who went to his first WWE event when he was five years old and spent his entire life dreaming about being a superstar. He walked on a Kent State University and set Wrestling records in the hopes of being a Superstar. He said he was going to walk into Brooklyn and burn the place down, beat his ass, and take his championship because he is that damn good.
Ambrose replied and said no you aren’t. None of that is going to happen. At Summerslam, he’s going to find out that his biggest problem is that he’s not as good as he thinks he is. Ambrose walked away, and the Wyatt’s sounder hit. When the lights came back on, and he hit Ziggler with Sister Abigail. He laid out a challenge for tonight to Ziggler for his #1 Contendership, and to prove to him that he is that damn good. The announcers hyped a message from AJ Styles to John Cena, and American Alpha’s debut. Crews vs. Corbin vs. Crews is next…[c]
My Take: Hot open to the show. I enjoyed the interaction between Ziggler and Ambrose, and I think Ambrose took a bit of heelish tone here that I appreciated. He called Ziggler out for talking a bigger game than he walks, and I think it’s a shot in the arm for this feud. Perhaps it will lead ot a Ziggler heel turn, which he needs desperately. Bray Wyatt’s appearance was well done, and he is being received as a babyface thus far. He could become a phenomenon with the right booking.
Backstage, security updated Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon. Dolph Ziggler walked up and said he wanted the match tonight with Bray Wyatt. Bryan told him he had nothing to gain from taking the match, but Ziggler said he had to prove to everyone that he deserved it.
My Take: I know it’s pretty standard babyface fare to be completely irrational when someone challenges your integrity, but it doesn’t make it any less stupid.
Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews made entrances. Kalisto was already in the ring.
1. Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews vs. Kalisto: Crews and Kalisto teamed up early to send Corbin out to the floor with kicks. Corbin low bridged Crews to the outside, and then Kalisto dove to the outside onto Corbin with a tope suicida…[c]
Kalisto sent Corbin back to the outside with a big kick. Crews quickly hit Kalisto with a high impact Samoan Drop and covered for a close near fall. Corbin hit crews with a spinning side slam and got a near fall of his own. Kalisto ascended the ropes and jumped on Corbin for a head scissors, but Corbin held him up. Crews dropkicked Corbin, sending both men over the top rope. Crews then rolled up Kalisto and got the victory.
Apollo Crews defeated Baron Corbin and Kalisto
After the match, Corbin assaulted Kalisto, which led to Crews coming back to the ring to stop him. Miz snuck up on Crews and hit Skull Crushing Finale, and then Corbin put down Miz with End of Days. The announce crew hyped up Becky vs. Eva Marie, and AJ Styles message to John Cena…[c]
My Take: I like Crews getting the win here. Miz vs. either of the other two didn’t seem like a good fit. The match was entertaining, but didn’t get enough time to build a lot of tension.
Becky Lynch made her entrance, followed by Eva Marie. Becky looked disgusted during Eva’s pageantry. The announce team spoke about the looming threat of a Brock Lesnar. Before the bell was set to ring, Eva grabbed her hamstring and backed into a corner. The ref called a trainer over and the match was called. Becky looked on incredulously. Eva tried to sell pain while limping to the back but it came across like a huge scam.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Carmella. She said that she can spot a scam a mile away, and she doesn’t believe Eva’s injury for a second. Natalya walked up and asked Renee why she wasn’t being interviewed instead. She said she’s the pre-eminent woman on Smackdown and deserved an interview over the last person drafted to Smackdown. Carmella told her to go put her cat lady costume on, and she’ll show her why she deserves to be there…[c]
My Take: I like Eva’s angle on a couple of levels. First, it shows that WWE is very aware that her entrance is the best part of her act, and secondly I didn’t have to cover an Eva Marie match. Natalya and Carmella were ok, but Natalya was just as wooden as always and Carmella doesn’t have a character beyond being from New York, and there isn’t enough room for her to try and share that with Enzo and Cass. She has the charisma to go beyond cliches.
The Vaudevillians were in the ring. American Alpha then made their entrance, and got a great crowd reaction.
2. American Alpha vs. The Vaudevillains: Gotch and Gable started with some chain wrestling. Gable used his speed to advance through a chain into a drop toe hold and an arm bar. Jordan tagged in a hit a huge dropkick. Gotch got a brief advantage, but Gabe made a blind tag and hit a double clothesline from the top rope to reverse fortunes.
Gable got isolated in the heel corner for a bit, until Gotch missed a charge in the corner and Jordan made a hot tag. Jordan hit two huge suplexes, and then he hit a spear on English in the corner. They followed up with Grand Amplitude on English and got the win.
American Alpha defeated The Vaudevillains
AJ Styles’ message for John Cena was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: A fun debut for American Alpha, and one that shows they aren’t going to change the act from what made it a success in NXT. The Vaudevillains are not particularly interesting as a team at this point, so I wasn’t expecting an instant classic here, but Alpha was made to look good and explosive and that’s what they needed.
AJ Styles made his entrance to address John Cena. Before he got a sentence out, John Cena’s entrance music hit and he ran to the ring. Cena said he’s heard all day that Styles had a message for him, so he’s here. Styles said that it was typical John Cena to walk out to the ring with smug satisfaction thinking the world revolved around him. Styles revealed that his biggest problem is that he doesn’t want him there, and he doesn’t belong in the same ring with him anymore. He called out kids and parents that root for Cena, called them delusional and stupid.
He said the parents are the type that think their kids deserve a participation trophy, and that Cena has come to believe what these people think about him. You don’t get dessert before dinner, you don’t stay up late before school, and you don’t get a trophy for participating.
Trophies are for winners, and AJ Styles is a winner. He said he walked right through John Cena at Money in the Bank and yet he’s still there. This was all a setup for Cena, who went into self promotion mode. He said he is still in the WWE because of love. He said he looks forward to the excitement on the faces of kid and parents, and he looks forward to being asked when he’s leaving the WWE so he can say that he’ll be here for life. He talked about how the WWE is his home, and it always will be.
Styles said that was the Cena he wanted to see, because that’s the Cena that doesn’t back down from a challenge. He said he wanted a match at SummerSlam, one on one, no Club and no excuses. Cena accepted, and AJ Smiled. Styles said that he looks forward to beating him, because the following Tuesday Cena would have to admit that he was the better man. If he refused to do it, he was a liar, and he if he did it, he was a loser. Either way, he wins.
My Take: Styles came across as a bit of a cartoon villain here, going after kids and parents, but I think it’s absolutely necessary to get on the bad side of Cena’s strongest and most loyal fanbase. Cena did some of his best pandering in a while here. It almost feels like he delivers these promos directly to Vince McMahon, because it’s just the type of stuff that would give him a loyalty boner. I’m looking forward to seeing this match at Summerslam, because we’ll finally get the true singles match we should have seen months ago.
Breezango were in the ring. Randy Orton made his ring entrance for a handicap match.
3. Randy Orton vs. Fandango: Orton hit a shoulder tackle out of the gate and followed up with some stomps. Breeze distracted Orton, and that allowed Fandango to hit a dropkick and take control briefly. Orton broke free of a chin lock and hit a shoulder tackle and a powerslam. Breeze tried to interfere and got a powerslam for his trouble. Orton then hit a draping DDT on Fandango and revved up for the RKO. Brock Lesnar showed up at ringside and stared down Orton. Orton hit an RKO on Fandango, but Lesnar ran in and hit him with an F5.
Randy Orton defeated Fandango by disqualification
Shane McMahon ran down to the ring with additional security and eventually Lesnar left the ring of his own free will…[c]
My Take: Predictable outcome, but it was nice to see Lesnar show up and return the favor on Smackdown. I know people are going to complain about the brand split breaking down this early, but I don’t think there is any way to make it work otherwise. It would be nice if there some brand related stakes assigned to this match, since it’s the only Smackdown vs. Raw match at Summerslam.
Backstage, Lesnar was walked out of the building by Shane McMahon. He and Paul Heyman jawed with Shane and security. In Daniel Bryan’s office, Heath Slater demanded to be given a shot. Bryan gave him a match next week for a contract against Rhyno. Slater got gored as Bryan revealed who his opponent was.
In another interview segment, Renee Young spoke to Dean Ambrose at the Talking Smack set. He stood up, because he said he was more comfortable that way. He said he was surprised that Ziggler took the match, but he wasn’t surprised by Bray Wyatt showing up. He mentioned their history and said the outcome of tonight’s match would say a lot about both competitors. The announce team plugged the main event for next…[c]
My Take: I could have swore they said Smackdown was going to be the Wrestling show, right?
Carmella made her entrance and had a microphone. She started to introduce herself and was assaulted by Natalya. She tossed Carmella into the barricade and applied the Sharpshooter. Carmella tapped, and eventually Nattie left after refs intervened. Backstage, Bryan reiterated to Dolph Ziggler that he had nothing to gain by putting his #1 Contendership on the line, but he just accused Bryan and Shane of not believing him and told them “Screw You”.
My Take: Both women’s matches don’t even happen? Is that some kind of record?
Bray Wyatt made his ring entrance. Dean Ambrose was at ringside at the announce table. Dolph walked straight to the ring and with a serious look on his face.
4. Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt: Ziggler hit a dropkick and a fameasser early for a quick near fall. Bray rolled to the outside and Ziggler gave chase but got clobbered by a big clothesline. Dolph rolled up Bray early in the match, and it appeared Bray got hurt, possibly rolling his ankle. He kicked out but was clearly in pain…[c]
Wyatt held onto a chin lock and talked trash. Ziggler fought to his feet and hit a jawbreaker, and then a back elbow as Wyatt charged him in the corner. Ziggler started up a comeback and hit some clotheslines and a diving elbow for a two count. He backed up to hit a superkick, but Wyatt caught him and hit a vertical suplex and a back senton for a near fall.
Bray fired up in the corner and untied the turnbuckle pad. Ziggler used the opportunity to hit a ZigZag, and covered for a near fall. Ziggler got to his feet and fully pulled off the buckle pad, and the ref admonished him. Bray went for Sister Abigail, but Ziggler escaped and rolled him up for a two count. Bray fired back with a nasty Uranage, and covered for a close near fall.
Wyatt and Ziggler traded blows, with Bray getting the best of it. Wyatt threw Ziggler into the corner with the exposed turnbuckle, but he avoided the top rope. Bray ran in, and Ziggler tossed him into the steel in the corner. He then hit a superkick and covered for the win.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Bray Wyatt by pinfall
After the match, Ziggler jawed with Ambrose at ringside, but it was short lived as Erick Rowan ran down and put a beating on him. Ambrose tried to interfere, but it didn’t have any effect as Wyatt and Rowan turned him away. Wyatt hit Sister Abigail and knelt over the fallen Ziggler.
My Take: Ziggler gets a victory, but I get the feeling that this is just the beginning of a longer story for him. His attitude shift was apparent watching the show and at this point they are setting him up for any kind of setback to drive him off the edge. I hope that happens, honestly, because spending several years playing K-Mart HBK has not done any favors for him as a character.