By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown Live on the USA Network
Live from Dallas, Texas at American Airlines Center
The show opened up with footage of Talking Smack from last Tuesday, and Miz and Daniel Bryan’s controversial promo segment. Backstage, Bryan had a glib look on his face while Shane told him he needed to give The Miz an apology, and that he shouldn’t get in the face of talent. Bryan said he wouldn’t be so honest next time, but he found the advice ironic coming from the guy who has beef with Brock Lesnar. Neither guy looked particularly happy as the Smackdown intro took over the screen.
The Miz walked down to the ring fired up and asked for his music to be cut. Miz wore a s uit and Maryse wore a more conservative black dress, signifying a change in tone for their characters. Miz admonished the crowd for booing him and said it only took 148 days to get their attention. Miz said he would restore the prestige of the Intercontinental Champion, which had been tarnished by quitters are serial losers. He said he has a soft style because he doesn’t like to get hit in the face, but it’s what makes him a good champion.
Miz said the fans don’t know what it’s like in a back, but they don’t know who they call to do a commercial, or play a chicken. He said he didn’t spend the first 10 years of his career playing at VFW halls in front of 50 people, while the crowd cheers for guys who fail after getting opportunity after opportunity. He doesn’t get injured and he does it night in and night out year after year.
Dolph Ziggler interrupted and said that Miz made some good points, but he fails to see that people see right through him. Everyone in the back fights to be the best, but Miz just wants to be famous. He’s said Miz is content with holding up the facade and walking down red carpets holding a title, but it’s all for the cameras. He told Miz that if he wants to prove to the fans, to his wife, and to himself that he’s not a coward, he can do it right now. Ziggler said he didn’t want a title shot, or referees, or anything, he was giving Miz a chance to fight him right then and there to prove that he wasn’t a coward.
Miz circled Ziggler taking off his formalwear, but thought better of it and walked to the back. Ziggler grabbed the mic and said that Daniel Bryan and everyone else was right, that he was nothing but a soft, safe coward. Miz tried to go back to the ring, but Maryse held him back and said that Ziggler hasn’t earned it.
Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin was plugged for later. A Bray Wyatt challenge to Randy Orton and a Tag Tournament Match between the Hype Bros and the Vaudevillians were plugged as well…[c]
My Take: A very intense opening segment, and the transference from Bryan to Ziggler seemed to go off without a hitch. Miz had mega heat by the end of the segment for walking away, and the crowd was firmly behind Ziggler. I found it pretty funny that he ripped Miz for putting up a facade that was easy to see through, as that’s been a knock on him for ages now.
The Hype Bros made their entrance, followed by the Vaudevillains. We saw a brief promo for The Vaudevillains where they talked about crushing cartilage and winning the Tag Team Championships.
1. Hype Bros vs. The Vaudevillians: Ryder put a beating on Aiden English early, but Gotch pulled him out of the ring. Ryder followed, but got hit with a neckbreaker on the floor for the first turning point in the match. Gotch tagged in and he and English hit some double team offense, including a back suplex. English missed a somersault senton after he tagged back in, which allowed Rawley to get a hot tag.
Rawley hit a wicked clothesline in English, while Ryder hit a Broski Boot on Gotch in the corner. They followed up with a Hype Rider on English for the win.
The Hype Bros defeated the Vaudevillains
After the match, Charlie interviewed both men in the ring. Ryder said the hype train has left the station, and Rawley gave an approximation of a coked out 80s promo about staying hyped. They celebrated briefly after the promo. Backstage, AJ Styles walked up to Apollo Crews wearing John Cena’s headband and pretended not to know his name. Crews spelled it out for him, and Styles reminded him it wasn’t a spelling bee, and he was the face that runs the P-L-A-C-E.
My Take: A brief but enjoyable tag match. The Vaudevillains are going nowhere in a hurry, because their first gimmick with New Day basically blew out all the tires on their gimmick and there isn’t any going back at this point. Styles was entertaining clowning on Crews, and I’m guessing we see a match from them later.
AJ Styles music hit in the arena and he walked out wearing a John Cena head band. Or an arm band on his head, I’m not really sure. Mauro Ranallo then advertised AJ Styles for Talking Smack later tonight. The crowd chanted for him and he said the phenomenal one is here. He called himself the face that runs the place, the face that beats up John Cena, and the face that beat John Cena at Summerslam. He then said it would be the face that Dean Ambrose sees in his nightmares, when he is crowned the WWE World Champion.
Apollo Crews interrupted and AJ had his music shut off. He asked Apollo if he wanted to challenge him to another spelling bee. Crews said he went to Daniel Bryan and got permission to challenge him to a match, and it would happen right now.
2. AJ Styles vs. Apollo Crews: Styles got some quick strikes off right away, but Crews got the advantage as the match spilled into the crowd…[c]
Styles and Crews traded punches, until Crews took him out of his shoes with a clothesline. Crews hit a flurry of offense, including a flying clothesline, and then dumped AJ to the floor. He then hit a moonsault onto Styles on the floor and landed on his feet. Crews mounted AJ in the corner, but AJ escaped and sent Crews crashing to the mat. He followed up with a clothesline in the corner, and then attempted a flying body block, but Crews caught him and hit a Samoan Drop.
Crews couldn’t capitalize, however, as he charged Styles in the corner and took some boots to the face. Styles then wrenched Crews neck over the top rope and hit a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
AJ Styles defeated Apollo Crews
Styles celebrated post match, and the announce team guess what Dean Ambrose was thinking watching the match.
My Take: This was a solid effort, and Styles really sold well for Crews. It didn’t feel like a squash, but at the same time the conclusion never felt in doubt. Crews biggest obstacle at this point is lack of character development. Once he has that nailed down the sky’s the limit for him.
Renee Young conducted an interview at Heath Slater’s house. It was a redneck single wide trailer, and his “wife” was a heavy set blonde woman. She fed them crackers and canned cheese and vienna sausages. Renee tried to get him to talk about being the last one there on draft night. His wife then interrupted that they would be eating pizza crusts for dinner. Heath then recalled some embarrassing moments in his search for a contract, like when Randy Orton killed him or when he mistook Shane for Stephanie McMahon. There were numerous fat jokes about his wife thrown in as well. Renee then asked Rhyno why he decided to be Heath’s partner, and he just shrugged.
Health said Rhyno is helping him provide for his kids. Tire screeches were then heard, and Slater ran outside to solve some other redneck problem he has. Rhyno then gave Renee a creepy look with his eyes as the segment came to a close. Wyatt addressing Orton was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: So now Slater is a redneck stereotype, which is pretty much what he was before, except he thought he was a rock star. I don’t think any of the jokes really landed here for me, which is a shame, because I’ve enjoyed Slater since the draft.
Bray Wyatt made his entrance. He said he is fear. He fears no snakes or monsters. He say Randy Orton thinks he has venom running through his veins, and that excites him. He said Randy went into his fight with Brock Lesnar without fear, who thought he was untouchable, but he came out of it damaged. He said that was his game, he eradicates the infected. Bray prays that the voices in Randy’s head are telling him to run.
Orton interrupted at this point and headed down to the ring. Orton wore pants and a vest, which is so unlike Orton I fear for his health. He said the voices in his head are asking him who the hell this guy thinks he is. Orton said he’s been damaged for a long time, and a handful of staples isn’t going to change that. Orton then said Wyatt has his attention. Wyatt said that was the Orton he wanted to see, but that he was not the predator in this situation. He said Orton should know better than anybody that what a predator does best in kill, and at Backlash he would cut the head off the serpent and put it on his mantle like the trophy it is.
Orton said the scars Wyatt needs to worry about are the ones inside. He knows he sees the demons when he looks deep into his eyes. He said that’s why he half ass respects him, because he has his demons too. He said he has no fear of Bray Wyatt, or men that call themselves Gods. If Wyatt wants a match with him at Backlash, he’s got it. But he’s also not afraid of kicking his ass right now. Orton then charged the ring, but Wyatt “disappeared”.
Alexa Bliss and Natalya vs. Becky Lynch and Naomi was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: This was a well scripted promo segment. I’m looking forward to the match, but the outcome still feels like it could go either way. I’m hoping this feud goes a few months because they need more material than this to work with.
Nikki Bella joined on commentary. Natalya made her ring entrance. Mauro asked Nikki about Carmella, and Nikki said she picked the wrong woman to make a name for herself on. Alexa Bliss made her entrance, followed by Naomi and Becky Lynch.
3. Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss and Natalya: Naomi and Nattie started the match, and Naomi hit a headscissors that sent Natalya out to the floor..[c]
Nattie took down Naomi with a snap mare and elbowed Becky off the apron. Alexa tagged in and stepped on Naomi’s back and neck. Naomi got to her feet and showed some fire on offense briefly, but Alexa shut her down with knee strikes and a clothesline. Naomi broke free and made a hot tag to Lynch, who knocked Nattie off the apron and went to the top rope for a drop kick on Alexa. She was able to cover, but Natalya broke it up.
Suddenly, Carmella was at ringside and destroyed Nikki Bella. Becky went to run off Carmella, but Alexa was able to roll up Becky and grab some tights for the win.
Alexa Bliss and Natalya defeated Becky Lynch and Naomi
After the match, we got a crash course on the Headbangers in the form of a video package, who are returning tonight for a match with Slater and Rhyno. That match is next…[c]
My Take: Once again Becky Lynch takes a pin after getting distracted, which feels really cliche at this point. I get why they went there in order to put over the unpredictability of a six pack challenge, but you’d think Becky would have her head on a swivel at this point.
The Headbangers made their entrance, followed by Slater and Rhyno.
4. Health Slater and Rhyno vs. The Headbangers: Slater hit a shoulder tackle on Mosh, who fired back with a clothesline. He then hit a springboard cross body. Thrasher then tagged back in, and hit a clothesline and a back suplex. Mosh tagged back in and they hit a double team pancake on Slater. Mosh then applied a reach chin lock. Mosh hit a splash in the corner and then he and Thrasher hit the Stage Dive on Slater. Rhyno broke it up and pulled Slater over into the friendly corner for the tag. Rhyno then hit a Gore on Mosh for the win.
Somehow, both Slater and Rhyno ended up bleeding, but I’m not quite sure how it happened for either of them. Slater from the mouth, and Rhyno from the cheek/eye area.
Slater and Rhyno defeated The Headbangers
Slater vs. Corbin was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: The Headbangers looked alright and turned in a decent performance. I’m not sure if they’ll get repeat invites back, but it was nice to see them for the nostalgia factor for one night, even if it seemed like they were there for the announce team to rip on.
AJ Styles joined on commentary. There was a man in a tie in the ring who called himself Gary “The Milkman” Milliman. He said he wasn’t going to leave the ring until someone entered the ring and got some from him. He then stripped down to his tightie whities and awaited someone, who turned out to be Kane. As Kane walked to the ring, he started picking up his clothes. Kane chokeslammed him and left the ring, and crossed paths with Baron Corbin as he made his entrance. Dean Ambrose followed.
5. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin: The advantage went to Corbin to start the match, with Corbin use his size advantage to hit some strikes. Ambrose sent Corbin to the outside with a clothesline, and then followed. Ambrose went and jawed wit AJ Styles, which cost him and Corbin took control of the match as it returned back to the ring. He hit a big clothesline and some mounted punches, and then tossed Ambrose out to the floor…[c]
Ambrose went for a Lunatic Lariat, but Corbin shut him down with an STO. Corbin then went to a half nelson rear chin lock. Ambrose hit a neckbreaker when Corbin tried to get cute with a quick baseball slide exit and re-entry. He then tossed him into the ring post and covered for a two count. Corbin recovered quickly with a lariat. Ambrose got to his feet and hit a lunatic lariat, and then climbed the ropes. Corbin met him up there, but Ambrose was able to punch him down. Corbin attempted to charge Ambrose, but got low bridged. Ambrose then followed up with a suicide dive.
In the ring, Corbin surprised Ambrose with a deep six for a near fall. He then tossed him to the outside and ran him into the barricade. Styles got up at this point and demanded that Corbin stay on top of Ambrose, and then Corbin got in his face. Things broke down at this point. Corbin Ambrose attacked Corbin from behind and sent him into Styles. In the ring, AJ attempted to get revenge, but ended up kicking Corbin in the face by mistake. This caused a DQ.
Baron Corbin defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ
After the match, Ambrose hit Corbin with dirty deeds. Styles tried to set up Ambrose for a phenomenal forearm, but Ambrose crotched him on the top rope. Styles remained there in agony as Ambrose bounced him up and down a few times. Ambrose then shook his hand and walked away with his Championship.
My Take: A comedic end to the show, which felt like the wrong tone for this feud. Hopefully it was just a one time thing. Otherwise, the main event was solid. Corbin got a nice rub from being involved in the Main Event feud, and the match was very formula Dean Ambrose for better or worse. They only have one week left to sell Styles vs. Ambrose, and next week needs to be deadly serious.