By Jason Powell
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WWE Smackdown Live on the USA Network
Live from Lincoln, Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena
[Q1] The Smackdown Live opening aired… Maruo Ranallo, JBL, and David Otunga were on commentary. Ranallo hyped WWE Backlash for Sunday…
Daniel Bryan stood in the ring and led the fans in a Yes! chant. The new women’s championship was on a podium in mid-ring. Bryan welcomes viewers to the show and hyped the Six Pack elimination challenge that will determine the first Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Bryan explained the rules of the elimination match and said there would be a six-woman tag match on Smackdown. He also noted that they were having a forum for the six women. Bryan introduced Becky Lynch first. She came to the ring and joked that she thought Bryan was going to say Nikki’s name first.
Bryan said he loves his sister-in-law, but Lynch was their first female draft pick. Bryan plugged the season premiere of Total Bellas for October 5 on E! network. There were some boos and Bryan looked a little surprised. Funny.
Lynch said maybe there’s a reason that everything she’s gone through in her life and her career is leading to her becoming the first champion. Natalya made her entrance and said, “Boring.” Natalya the worst night of her life was July 19, 2016 when she was stuck with Lynch on Smackdown Live. Natalya said it’s supposed to be her kingdom, but instead she’s been tortured by Lynch’s “cheap, unnatural hair color.” Lynch said Natalya has changed.
Alexa Bliss came out and said, “Previously, on The Real Whiners of WWE…” She mocked Natalya and Lynch, then asked if Bryan would ever become more than a Bella trophy husband. Carmella entered the ring and boasted about what she’s done to Nikki Bella.
Lynch tried to stir the pot between the three heels. They figured it out and were ready to fight her, but Naomi and then Nikki Bella ran out to even things up. Natalya took a cheap shot at Nikki. The other babyfaces quickly cleared the heels from the ring as Nikki sold the punch. The broadcast team hyped the six-woman tag match for later in the show…
Backstage, Dean Ambrose complained to an unnamed man about the coffee. He poured a ton of sugar into the coffee, took a sip, and handed it back to the man… Saxton hyped the Ambrose and Styles confrontation… [C]
Powell’s POV: The opening segment with the women was fine. It’s hard to be excited about yet another tag match involving the six women in the division, but at least this one is final hype for their title match on Sunday. In other words, it should be more than just a random time filling segment. Perhaps the best part of the women’s segment was Daniel Bryan emphasizing that it’s an elimination match. I have no idea what purpose the Ambrose segment served, but it was harmless. By the way, I’m filling in for Jake Barnett tonight, but he will be taking my place with the Smackdown Hit List tomorrow.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan told Shane McMahon that maybe next time he can handle the women’s crew. Shane said that has Bryan written all over it. Shane said the six-woman tag will be explosive.
[Q2] The Miz and Maryse entered the picture and complained that they were more concerned with the women’s title than the Intercontinental Championship. Bryan said the six women in the ring were willing to fight, whereas Miz walked away when Dolph Ziggler challenged him to a fight last week. Bryan said Miz would face Ziggler on Sunday or he could hand over the title now. Miz’s music played and then he left the room…
1. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Apollo Crews in a non-title match. Dolph Ziggler said Miz is just like people on Twitter who hide behind everything. JBL said Ziggler will be on Talking Smack. Ziggler asked JBL if he’s booking the shows. Ziggler said every match is must-win for him, but he doesn’t always win. He said the fans stay behind because they know his next win could be the big one.
Crews showed some power by picking up Miz and tossing him, and agility with a nice dropkick. Crews followed up with a moonsault off the apron and then slapped hands with fans at ringside heading into the break. [C]
Ziggler said that if he doesn’t win the championship on Sunday then it doesn’t make him a loser, but he will have to go back to the drawing board. JBL asked if he is questioning himself. Ziggler said he has to win the match to prove it to himself and everyone who has been behind him for the last eleven years.
Late in the match, Crews hit a splash in the corner, a high clothesline, and then leapt to his feet. Crews picked up Miz, who elbowed his way out of it. Miz fled the ring and ended up in front of the broadcast table. Miz slapped Ziggler, who stood up. Crews went for a baseball slide on Miz, who saw him coming. Miz shoved Crews into Ziggler, then ended up hitting the Skull Crushing Finale on Crews for the win…
The Miz defeated Apollo Crews in a non-title match in 10:10.
After the match, Ziggler called for Miz to join him in the ring and take the Intercontinental Championship. Miz whispered to Maryse, who then entered the ring instead. Maryse picked up the title belt and brought it back to Miz…
Powell’s POV: A good match. It was odd to see Crews be all smiles given that this was his first televised match with Miz since he lost to him at SummerSlam, but that faded as the match became more competitive. My guess is that Ziggler loses, snaps, and turns heel. They can’t possibly think that giving him another secondary title win is going to change something.
[Q3] Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles on the Talking Smackdown. Styles had the Cena armband on his arm rather than his head. Styles got upset with a production member when they played the footage of him being crotches on the top rope last week. Styles said he assumed the man would be fired if he smashed his expensive headset. Styles said the man’s family wouldn’t think that was funny, then told him to go away… [C]
Powell’s POV: What kind of a company would fire a guy for having his headset broken by someone else on television? Anyway, it’s good to see that Styles isn’t in headband dork mode so far.
Ranallo discussed the Conor’s Cure charity, then set up a video that focussed on American Alpha in the tag tournament…
Backstage, The Usos said they have respect for American Alpha, but they still run the tag team division…
A Bray Wyatt pre-taped promo aired. He sat in a rocking chair on a foggy set and spoke about how the predator had no morality or conscience and spent his days terrorizing men, but mankind evolved and adapted. Wyatt said he is the evolution of man, a god, and Orton will become the prey…
Nikki Bella made her entrance for the six-woman tag match… [C]
Powell’s POV: A clever promo by Wyatt. He’s cut a lot of good promos. He needs meaningful wins and I’m curious to see if he gets one on Sunday.
[Q4] The tail end of Lynch’s entrance was shown, then the remainder of the women were introduced…
Powell’s POV: Naomi still looks like she’s putting on a show at a rave more than getting ready for a wrestling match, but some fans dig it. The best heel entrance of the bunch was Bliss, who simply walked out, teased shaking hands with fans, and pulled back while shooting them a dirty look. Sometimes simple is better.
2. Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Carmella. Naomi opened the match with a series of odd kicks to the side of Bliss and then threw a weak kick to the head. Carmella tagged in. Naomi took her down and slapped her ass. Later, Lynch tagged in Nikki, who raced after Carmella, who fled to ringside heading into the break. [C]
Lynch worked over Carmella with clotheslines coming out of the break. Lynch hit an exploder suplex for a two count. Natalya tripped up Lynch from the floor.
[Q5] The heel trio isolated Lynch. Byron picked Lynch to win the title on Sunday, JBL picked Natalya. Bliss tagged in, and Lynch tagged in Nikki. Moments later, Carmella tagged in once Nikki was down. Nikki hit her finisher on Carmella, but the pin was broken up. In the end, with most of the women at ringside, Carmella applied the Code of Silence submission hold to the head of Nikki and got the win…
Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Carmella beat Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi in 12:50.
The broadcast team hyped the tag tournament and the Ambrose and Styles confrontation. The Usos and American Alpha were shown walking backstage in separate shots… [C]
Powell’s POV: Lynch and Natalya did a nice job of milking the hot tag with Natalya continuing to find ways to prevent Lynch from getting to her corner. The match had its moments, but I really didn’t come away from it looking forward to Sunday’s title match more than I was going in from a storyline standpoint. I was really hoping they would do something to make it more of an every women for herself situation rather than the usual heel and babyface dynamic we always get from these six women.
3. American Alpha vs. The Usos in the semifinals of the Smackdown Tag Team Championship tournament. Ranallo noted that Alpha will appear on ESPN tomorrow night. The two teams shook hands before the match. The bell rang and then the Usos attacked Alpha from behind. Alpha fought right back and ended up hitting Jimmy Uso with their finisher for the win.
American Alpha defeated The Usos in 0:30 to advance to the finals of the tag tournament.
[Q6] After the match, the Usos shook hands with Alpha, then attacked them. They sent Jason Jordan to ringside, then attacked the leg of Chad Gable with a kick and then a top rope splash… [C]
Powell’s POV: Wow, I didn’t see the finish coming that quickly. It deprives us of a hell of a match tonight, but obviously it set up the Usos turning heel, which I love. I also like the story this tells in terms of Gable being injured heading into the tag tournament finals.
The broadcast team recapped the previous segment and said they hoped to have a medical update on Gable…
Randy Orton was interviewed backstage and spoke about a man and a snake both wanting a rabbit. Orton said the man remembered that snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. Orton said when the man picked up the rabbit and grew confident, that’s when the snake struck. Orton said the snake wanted the rabbit, but he saw the man and thought that’s when he thought he could have them both…
Fandango stood in the ring and said his partner Tyler Breeze couldn’t be with him because he was in Dubai seeking silk for their fashion line. Fandango said he found someone to tango with him. A middle aged woman with tattoos joined him in the ring. Fandango coached her on dancing and wasn’t impressed by her moves. Fandango told her that her hips are full of lies. She said her hips are the truth and he can’t handle the truth.
Fandango asked if there’s anyone with a passion for dance and a fire in their belly. Kane made his entrance. Fandango tried to coach him on dancing. Kane chokeslammed Fandango…
Powell’s POV: Why can’t Fandango and Breeze just be two arrogant heels rather than goofballs?
Backstage, AJ Styles walked by two men and questioned if they were trying to take a picture of him. He took the camera and saw that it was a picture of the man’s family. Styles threw it against the wall. He said he’s the face that runs the place, then told the man to pick up his broken phone…
Ranallo set up the Conor Michalek video package… [C]
[Q7] The latest video aired for Curt Hawkins as WWE’s version of a walking Chuck Norris joke. He returns to Smackdown next week…
4. Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Hype Bros in the semifinals of the Smackdown Tag Team Championship tournament. There were seven kids at ringside and the broadcast team claimed they were all Slater’s children. The Hype Bros jumped out to a quick start and had Slater and Rhyno down at ringside heading into the break. [C]
Slater sold for Mojo as the fans chanted “we want Rhyno.” Rhyno took the hot tag and the fans popped. Rhyno hit a spinebuster on Ryder and covered him, but Mojo broke it up. In the end, Rhyno speared Rhyno and pinned him. Slater went to ringside and celebrated with his “kids”…
Heath Slater and Rhyno defeated The Hype Bros in 7:20 to advance to the tag tournament finals.
Powell’s POV: The tag tournament finals should be fun even though it’s not the Alpha vs. Usos classic that we expected before they unveiled the brackets. Gable enters the finals injured, and then you have the silliness of the Slater and Rhyno tag title quest. Are we supposed to believe that’s really Slater’s wife and children or is this all going to be revealed as a ruse.
[Q8] On the Talking Smack set, Renee Young said Chad Gable is questionable for Backlash. She said Shane McMahon will join her and Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack to address the situation. The Usos walked onto the set and complained about the way they put their bodies on the line for the WWE Universe, yet the fans turned on them and cheered for American Alpha. They said they’ve been busting their asses for six years trying to get respect and now they are done with that…
A tattooed female hair stylist tried to work on Ambrose’s hair, but he wasn’t having it… [C]
Powell’s POV: A brief, yet effective promo from the Usos. Just imagine if they had turned Roman Reigns and The Usos together prior to the brand split.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance for his confrontation with AJ Styles, who was out next. Charlie Caruso introduced them. Ambrose dismissed her by saying they could handle it from here. Styles presented Styles with a trophy. Ambrose said it’s his old bowling trophy and it’s more of a participation trophy, and he wanted him to have it because it’s the only trophy he will get from him.
Styles said everything is a joke to Ambrose. He said he has no idea who he is dealing with. Styles said that if Ambrose knew he wouldn’t make him out to be a joke. Ambrose had them play the footage of Styles being crotched on the top rope at the end of last week’s show.
Styles asked if Ambrose thought that was funny. Ambrose said it was funny and everyone thought it was funny. Ambrose said he was trying to give him a high pitched voice to go along with his soccer mom haircut. The fans chanted “soccer mom” at Styles, who told them to shut up.
Styles pointed to the John Cena armband he was wearing and said that’s his trophy. Styles dropped the bowling trophy and said he doesn’t want Ambrose to hand him anything. Styles said the trophy over Ambrose’s shoulder is the one he will take on Sunday, just like he took the armband from Cena. “I am going to beat you at Backlash,” Styles said.
Styles told him to go ahead and make a joke and encouraged him to look past him. Styles said Cena took him very seriously and he beat Cena clean in the middle of the ring. “And come on, Dean, let’s be honest, you’re not John Cena,” Styles said. Ambrose responded that Styles was “damn right” that he’s not Cena. He said it’s nothing against Cena, but he was in a wrestling match with Cena.
Ambrose said he drags men past their breaking points. Ambrose said the only time they were in the ring together, he beat Styles. He said he will do it again on Sunday. Ambrose said they don’t give trophies to the face that comes in second place. Styles kicked Ambrose in the balls. Styles broke the trophy over his knee and jawed at Ambrose while Ranallo gave final hype to Backlash…
Powell’s POV: A solid final segment between Ambrose and Styles. I really wish we would have heard more from Styles about becoming champion during the build, but the final push was decent with a good line from Ambrose about not giving trophies to the face who comes in second place. The Styles kick to the balls was actually a solid followup from last week.
Overall, Smackdown did a nice job of showcasing the top Backlash matches. I have no idea who they intend to fill out the rest of the card and the one-hour Kickoff Show, but they spotlighted the four title matches and the Orton and Wyatt match well. I will have more to say about the show in audio, and Jake Barnett will be by tomorrow with the WWE Smackdown Live Hit List.