By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown Live on the USA Network
Live from Uncasville, Connecticut at Mohegan Sun Arena
I joined the show in progress because my cable connection crapped out and I needed to reboot. Heath Slater had interrupted the unveiling of the Smackdown Tag and Women’s championships. The Tag Belts are blue with silver plates, and the Women’s Championship is white with a blue background behind the WWE Logo. Slater said he wanted to challenge for the Tag Team Championship. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon eventually relented and gave him a slot in the tournament if he could find a partner, and he said he would by the end of the Night.
AJ Styles walked down and said that he was tired of them addressing the Women and Tag Team Championships. He snapped at Heath Slater and said he wouldn’t be his partner. He was about to get to his point when Dolph Ziggler attacked him from behind. They needed to be split up by the other wrestlers gathered in the ring for the unveiling…[c]
My Take: I apologize for what I was unable to cover due to my technical problems. What I saw was good. AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler should be a good match, but Dolph is on his way down the card, so it’s easy to see where it’s going.
1. Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch: Mauro said there was going to be a six pack challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, which was news to me but probably got announced in the opening segment. Natalya and Naomi were at ringside, and were announced as competitors in the challenge as well. The match was pretty even steven early on. Alexa took control with some rest holds to slow the action down after dealing some damage with strikes after tieing Becky in the ropes. Becky targeted the arm in her initial offense and went back to it after gaining control.
The crowd was very active for all of her offense, and she got a Becky chant briefly when she started her comeback. Becky grabbed a wheel barrow pickup, which Bliss tried to turn into an arm drag, but it was reversed into the disarmer for the quick victory.
Becky Lynch defeated Alexa Bliss
Backstage, Heath Slater ran into The Miz. He asked him to be WWE Tag Team Champion with him, and it appeared like he accepted for a second, but it was revealed that he was on the phone. He claimed it was “Spielberg” offering him Indiana Jones, but I’ll assume it was his Mexican counterpart from the Simpsons Senor Spielbergo. The start of the tag tournament is set for next…[c]
My Take: Fairly basic match to start off the race towards the women’s championship. Bliss isn’t ready yet, so Becky makes sense to get a victory here. I’d like to see Bliss get paired up with one of the other heels to build character and gain some more experience and build some chemistry for long term feuds in the future.
The Ascension were in the ring for the opening Tag Tournament Match, followed by The Usos.
2. The Ascension vs. The Usos: The Ascension got the early advantage with some double team offense. They were able to cut off Jimmy Uso in their corner and ground on him until he was able to hit Konnor with an enziguri. Jey tagged in along with Viktor and went to work. He hit a flying cross body and a Samoan Drop, but got blind sided by Konnor when attempting a Rikishi splash in the corner.
Jimmy hit Konnor with a superkick, and Jey hit him with a suicide dive on the outside. Jimmy tagged back in and hit a big splash from the top in Viktor and got the victory.
The Usos defeated The Ascension
The announce team said that Randy Orton will address his Summerslam match next…[c]
My Take: This was a template match for the tag division. Not much deviation from the norm. Heels cut off babyfaces to start, hot tag, break down, babyface victory. Rinse and repeat. It’s effective but it was pretty transparent from the start.
AJ Styles made an entrance, while Mauro Ranallo put over his Summerslam match against John Cena. He asked for a microphone. Styles said he saw a lot of angry faces out there, and he saw a lot of jealous faces in the locker room like Dolph Ziggler. Why? Because of what he did at Summerslam. Photos were then shown of his victory, and he was wearing a Never Give Up armband, and said it looked better on him anyway. He then said he did exactly what he was going to do, and that’s beat up John Cena. And then he beat him in the center of the ring.
Styles claimed that Cena’s fans don’t need to cry into their beer, or milk, or whatever, because they don’t have to be John Cena fans anymore. They can be AJ Styles fans. He said he was the face that runs the place, and that he should be the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship. Dolph Ziggler walked out and was stopped by referees. Daniel Bryan quickly walked out and ordered them to to stand down. He made a match between them, and if Styles wins he gets a singles match with Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship. If Ziggler wins, he gets added to the match and it becomes a Triple Threat.
The announcers said Nikki Bella is up next…[c]
My Take: We got a Curt Hawkins commercial after the cut to break, which was full of exaggerated Curt Hawkins facts. I liked Style’s promo, but was sad that we didn’t get to hear Cena address his loss. I guess WWE is committed to never having him appear contrite, even in defeat. The main event should be good, but Backlash doesn’t need a triple threat main event. I could see a screwy finish to get Ziggler added to the match, just to keep Ambrose from having to be pinned to lose his title.
Carmella made her entrance, followed by Nikki Bella. Nikki gave an interview to Renee Young in the ring, and she began to talk about her return, but was assaulted from behind by Carmella. Carmella hit an inverted STO and hit some mounted punches, before getting run off by referees. She returned to hit a sit out facebuster. The match never happened. Carmella celebrated and talked trash from the ramp. Randy Orton was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: I guess they want Nikki to be a face for her return, which makes sense, but I’m not sure how long it can last. She’s definitely less comfortable in that role. Maybe she will grow into it.
Still shots were shown of Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar’s bloodbath from Summerslam. Orton then made his entrance to a big reaction. Orton played to the crowd about not expecting him to be there, and said he was in one hell of a fight with Brock Lesnar on Sunday. He admonished Shane McMahon for stepping in, and was about to address Lesnar directly when Bray Wyatt’s music hit and he walked to the ring.
Bray sat in a rocking chair on the ramp and asked Randy how his head was. He said he hoped that it reminded him that he was just a man. A man who hurts, a man who suffers, a man who dies. Wyatt laughed and said that he was not just a man, he was a God, and a God can never die. He told Orton not to worry, he would find out all about it in time. The lights went black and Wyatt was gone when they came back up.
Backstage, Shane was asked about Brock Lesnar. The interviewer pressed him for details on if he thought Stephanie took what happened seriously and how he felt about it. He said that the $500 dollar fine means she’s not taking it seriously and that the issue between Him and Brock Lesnar was far from over. American Alpha vs. Breezango was announced for next…[c]
My Take: I like the Bray and Orton feud. I just hope it doesn’t devolve into long Wyatt and Orton promos about nothing. I could not be more skeptical about this Lesnar vs. Shane feud. It has disaster written all over it.
Slater asked Arn Anderson to be his partner backstage, and Arn rejected him after realizing he wasn’t his first choice. Rhyno walked up and said a tag team champion can make payments on an above ground pool, and they shook hands and agreed to be a team. Breezango cut a picture in picture promo doing Breezango stuff. American Alpha made their entrance, and got a picture in picture promo of their own. They talked about their squad goals of being the best and the first Smackdown Tag Team Championship.
4. American Alpha vs. Breezango: Gable and Fandango started the match, and Gable took control early with some amateur wrestling. Fandango broke free of a waist lock with a back elbow and tagged in Breeze. Jordan tagged in and hit a big dropkick on Breeze, and then they hit tandem suplexes and threw Breezango out to the floor in order to taunt. Alpha cut off Breeze in their corner, but it didn’t last as Fandango cut down Gable with a lariat using a ref distraction…[c]
Gable dumped Fandango to the outside and made a hot tag to Jordan. Breeze entered and got tossed around by Jordan. He then tossed around both Breeze and Fandango with overhead belly to belly suplexes. Alpha hit a tandem dropkick/german suplex bridge for a near fall on Breeze. Fandango had to break up the tag. They set up for another double team maneuver, but Fandango shoved Gable off the ropes and Breeze got a nearfall on Jordan. The match broke down at this point with rapid fire near falls. Gable managed to clear Fandango from the ring and he hit an Alpha Suplex, followed by a spear. They hit Grand Amplitude on Breeze and got the win.
American Alpha defeated Breezango
Dean Ambrose was interviewed backstage, and was asked about the #1 Contender’s Match. He said he just found out about because he had been gambling all day playing roulette. He tried to explain his system, and then grabbed some drinks off of a tray…[c]
My Take: So the WWE Champ drinks on the job and gambles all day? Sounds like a guy that’s going places. At the very least, it makes little sense for a babyface. Alpha and Breezango had a great match. Very much worth watching if you’re fan of Tag Team Wrestling.
Ambrose made his entrance and joined on commentary, followed by Ziggler and Styles.
5. AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler: Ziggler started out aggressive and was able to dropkick AJ Styles out of the ring after a bit of back and forth..[c]
Styles missed a running clothesline in the corner and Dolph capitalized with punches. He then attempted to send Styles into the opposite turnbuckle, but it was reversed and Dolph hit the corner at full speed. Styles worked a methodical pace and hit some strikes. Ziggler was able to reverse into a pin, but Styles kicked out at two. He quickly went back to work, and controlled Ziggler for several minutes with strikes and holds. Ziggler got a hope spot with a flurry of punches, and sent Styles out to the apron. He was quickly shut down with a knee and a neckbreaker through the second ropes that looked painful from the camera angle they got it from…[c]
Footage was shown of Ziggler being tossed into the stairs and controlled the action by putting on an arm bar. Ziggler fired back with a dropkick that woke up the crowd. He then went on a tear with a series of clotheslines and elbow drops. He went for a fameasser, but missed initially. He ran Styles into the corner post and was then able to hit it, but was only able to get a near fall. Ziggler went for a ZigZag, but Styles covered with a Ushigoroshi for a near fall of his own. Styles set up for a springboard 450, but missed. Ziggler hit a satellite DDT, but only came up with another near fall.
Styles went for a Styles Clash, but Ziggler avoided it and hit the ZigZag for another near fall that the crowd bit for big time. Dolph ended up straddling the second rope after missing a kick, and Styles used the ref being out of position to kick the ropes into his groin. He then followed up with a Styles Clash for the win.
AJ Styles defeated Dolph Ziggler
After the bell, Styles walked over to Ambrose and knocked the headset off his head. They had a brief face to face before Styles walked off thinking better of it.
My Take: Two days removed from Summerslam, and Styles made Ziggler feel like a bigger deal in one match than Ambrose did in a month. It’s a shame that Ziggler and Ambrose weren’t able to follow up on their hot initial promo with a better build, and a better match, because this would have meant even more if they did. Ambrose’s too cool for school act isn’t really working for me at this point. I can see what Steve Austin was saying when he told Ambrose that he has been resting on his laurels, because there were a few moments tonight where it looked like there wasn’t anything behind his eyes. I’m not sure if it’s burnout or fatigue, but Ambrose needs a shot in the arm at this point. Hopefully a very over AJ Styles character can bring that for him.