By Jake Barnett, Prowrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Live from Omaha, Nebraska at Century Link Center
A video package aired that showed Daniel Bryan get assaulted by the Bludgeon Brothers after the disqualification finish to last week’s Main Event, and Kane making the save to reform Team Hell No.
Ellsworth vs. Asuka was plugged for later tonight, as well as AJ Styles vs. Aiden English. Jeff Hardy will also have a US Title open challenge for Independence Day. Renee Young welcomed Team Hell No to the ring for a show opening interview. They made separate entrances, but met down towards the ring and entered together. Renee asked how their reunion came about after they had just fought recently. Bryan said that was the beauty of their relationship. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they hug, and when they’re together they are unstoppable. Kane said they had done it all together. They fought the shield in TLC, they were tag team champions, and they had graduated with honors from anger management.
Renee asked Kane why he decided to return. He said he’s not sure if Renee knows this, but Daniel has a bit of a temper. He said he knew he wouldn’t be able to let that go, and so he decided to come in and have his back. Whether or not Bryan knew it, he always had a demon watching his back. Bryan said not really, but initially let it slide. Bryan said he tombstoned him on the steps, and on the announce table, and in the concrete floor. Bryan then reminded Kane that he tried to abduct his wife.
Kane said “Tried”, and told Bryan to to waste time on the past. They needed to focus on what brings them together. Kane said he got his back now, and he always had his back. Bryan insisted that he didn’t, and he and Kane got into a YES/NO shouting match until The Uso’s interrupted. They reminded the crowd of Team Hell No five years ago with their Yes and No shirts, and were incredulous about them getting a Tag Team Championship opportunity just for giving each other a hug. They gave each other hugs and demanded their won title shot. Jimmy then said that things have changed since they’ve been a team, and that they had Smackdown Live on lock. Welcome to the Uso Penitentiary.
Bryan challenged them to a match right then and there, and Kane stopped him and said they’d take it under advisement. Bryan was outraged, and accused Kane of still considering him a weak link their team, even after all of his individual accomplishments. They got into another argument, and Paige interrupted. She made a match between the two teams for the Main Event, and said if the Uso’s win they’ll be added to the Tag Title Match at Extreme Rules.
Things went backstage to a darkened room, where Jeff Hardy spoke about the ferocity of Bald Eagles, and how they represented the greatness of America. He said he wore his US Championship with pride and would offer it up to an open challenge next…[c]
My Take: Some of the Team Hell No recall was a bit on the nose for me, but it was delivered well enough that the crowd got into it. The dissension in the team makes the Usos picking up a win seem more likely, but I’m guessing this is a tune up encounter for Team Hell No.
Backstage, Asuka told James Ellsworth he wasn’t ready in her signature aggressive manner. Jeff Hardy then made his entrance in the arena. The Miz then made his entrance for the open challenge.
1. Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz: Hardy hit a jawbreaker early. They battled on the turnbuckle and Hardy sent Miz back to the mat. Miz bailed to the outside before Hardy could take flight….[c]
Miz took some shortcuts during the break to take control, but Hardy was smashing him into the turnbuckles when the show came back. Miz fired back with a kick to a seated Hardy, and then applied a hold to ground Hardy. The action spilled outside, and Hardy attempted a running splash on Miz, but ended up hitting the barricade instead. The ref counted as Miz collected Hardy to toss him back in the ring…[c]
Hardy hit a kick to the chest, but was clutching his left knee. He and Miz punched their way to their feet. Miz attempted a Skull Crushing Finale, but Hardy shoved him into the corner. He went for Hardy at the Rest, but Miz got his feet up. Hardy escaped another Skull Crushing Finale attempt, but Miz was able to rebound with a DDT for a near fall. Miz missed a top rope dive, but landed on his feet. Hardy replied with a Whisper in the Wind, and got a near fall of his own.
Hardy went for Twist of Fate, but Miz reversed and rolled him up with his foot on the ropes, but the ref saw it and didn’t count. Miz protested, but ran into a Twist of Fate and a Swanton for the win.
Jeff Hardy defeated the Miz at 16:23.
The announce team went over the established Extreme Rules card. Backstage, James Ellsworth said some women aren’t ready for Asuka, but he’s no woman. He said women’s brains are smaller, and that puts him at an advantage. He said Mella is Money, but Ellsworth is Exquisite…[c]
My Take: I enjoyed the Hardy vs. Miz match, but the finish felt out of character for a heel that’s been shown to be as clever as The Miz. It was a good effort from both men regardless. James Ellsworth feels like he was reading the script from a 1950’s newspaper survey of whether women should be paid equally to men in the workplace. Cheap and silly but effective at riling people up.
In the ring, Byron Saxton obnoxiously announced a pancake eating contest with the New Day. New Day made their entrances, and Bryan gave them elaborate ring entrances for the eating contest. They put a five minute timer up, and they started to gorge on pancakes until things went black. Sanity then made a surprise assault on New Day from behind. Dain threw Big E into the steps, and Kofi was thrown into the leg of a table. Big E was then tossed over the announce table into the chairs. Dain the hit a big splash on Kofi on the outside. Woods was held by Eric Young while a table was set up, and then Young drove him through a table with an Elbow Drop. Sanity celebrated after their music hit.
The announce team plugged the main event between The Usos and Team Hell No. They then decided to compare Asuka vs. Ellsworth to Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs. That match is next…[c]
My Take: Smackdown is doing a better job than Raw of keeping these shows moving, and this segment is a good example. This could have overstayed its welcome, but instead it started a rivalry between two teams away from the Championship picture.
Asuka made her entrance, followed by James Ellsworth wearing a “No One is ready for Ellsworth” shirt. Carmella then made her entrance, taunting Asuka and joining on commentary.
2. James Ellsworth vs. Asuka: Ellsworth bailed out to the floor several times, whenever Asuka would gain ad advantage. Carmella demanded he get in the ring, and Asuka slapped him around. She gave him an airplane spin, and he pretended to get sick. She then hit a big slap across the face that caused Ellsworth to run away through the crowd to the back. Both Asuka and Ellsworth were eventually counted out.
The match ended via Double Countout at 3:11.
Ellsworth led Asuka back to the ring, where Carmella blindsided her. She and Ellsworth then left up the ramp. In the back, Daniel Bryan asked Kane for an apology. He then read off various offenses that Kane had inflicted upon him over the years. Kane apologize and told Bryan he was sorry for everything, and that he was like a brother to him. Bryan reminded Kane that he set his brother on fire. Kane then gave an impassioned speech, telling Bryan that when they are on the same page they create a fire that can’t be extinguished. He said the Usos are the best they’ve ever been, and if they make mistakes they will lose. Kane said they need to join forces so that “we” can be the Tag Team Champions. He asked Kane if he was ready, and Bryan broke out into Yes Chants.
My Take: The Ellsworth segment wasn’t nearly as fun as I hoped it would be. I think they could have gone a bit farther with it than they did with the physicality. Bryan and Kane were entertaining as usual. The line about Kane lighting his brother on fire got a chuckle out of me.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was announced for Extreme Rules. AJ Styles made his entrance in the arena. There were dueling AJ Styles vs. Rusev Day chants. Styles said he would defend his championship at Extreme Rules against someone who was bigger and stronger than him. He said he thinks he’s going to take over the house AJ built, but it wasn’t rental property. AJ said he likes proving people wrong, and he’ll do it again. Aiden English made his entrance with Rusev, and Rusev got right in Styles face to tell him that he’s going to break down the door, evict Styles, and take over the house that he built. He then distracted Styles to that English could jump him at the start of the match.
3. Aiden English vs. AJ Styles: English got the early advantage, and hit a Suplex that had a bit of a rough landing. It didn’t last, however, as Styles turned things around and got a quick tap out victory with a Calf Crusher.
AJ Styles defeated Aiden English at 3:44.
After the match, Styles was pulled from the ring from Rusev, who hit a Machka Kick and sent him into the post on the outside. He then applied the Accolade in the ring and stood over Styles to end the segment. Backstage, Peyton Royce said she would beat Becky Lynch, but not before she hurt her. They called her a has been who never wins when it counts, and a sidekick who deserved to be kicked to the side.
My Take: Fairly weak build for Rusev and Styles. It’s hard to make an issue feel personal with a short build, and this just feels like one of those old Cena challenger of the month feuds. They’ll need to throw some gas on this fire next week if they want to make Rusev feel like a real threat.
Backstage, Paige ran into Carmella and Ellsworth. She said she was going to make all of his dreams come true, because he’ll be surrounded by all the females on the roster next week in a lumberjack match with Asuka. They then cut to the ring, where Becky and Peyton were already in the ring.
4. Becky Lynch vs. Peyton Royce: Early on, Billie offered a distraction, and Peyton picked Becky off the top rope and hit a Death Valley Driver for a near fall. She then applied an abdominal stretch, but Becky hip tossed her way out of it. Peyton got back to her feet and choked Becky using the second rope, breaking on 4. She went back to a hold, but Becky escaped and rolled her up for a two count. Becky avoided a kick and hit a suplex, and followed up with a dropkick to the jaw.
Royce caught Becky coming into the corner and then followed up with a knee strike. She setup for another Death Valley Driver, but Becky reversed out into the disarmer for a tap out victory.
Becky Lynch defeated Peyton Royce at 3:17.
A video aired with a promo from Shinsuke Nakamura. He questioned why Jeff Hardy wore face paint, and wondered if it was because he was ashamed of himself. He said at Extreme Rules he would take his pride, his honor, and his United States Championship. The Usos made their ring entrance in the building, and then the announce team threw to a scene from The Rock’s upcoming movie…[c]
My Take: Another win for Lynch, and it appears she’s being setup for a title shot, perhaps at Summerslam? It would be nice if this led to a feud with a heel Charlotte, because that feud would revitalize Charlotte’s character and Becky’s career.
Team Hell No made their entrance.
5. Team Hell No vs. The Usos: Bryan started with Jimmy Uso and pulled him up for a surfboard in his corner. He then tagged Kane, who entered and hit a big boot. Kane pummeled Jimmy in the corner, and then slingshotted Bryan in for a clothesline. Jimmy backed up Bryan into the corner for a tag, and Jey entered to hit Bryan with a forearm. We saw some quick tags from both teams, and Kane sent both Usos out to the floor. The Usos dropped both Kane and Bryan with splashes out on the floor…[c]
Bryan fired up and hit kicks on Jimmy Uso in the corner. He then followed up with a top rope head scissors. After a distraction, Jey tagged in and hit Bryan with a kick that sent him tumbling from the apron to the floor. He then dragged him back in the ring for isolation in the Uso corner, where he was hit with a running hip attack. They hit a Demolition Decapitation style move with a chop instead of an elbow. Bryan and Jimmy then collided mid ring with dueling body blocks, which caused a tag in from Kane and Jey.
Kane hit a side slam and Jimmy broke up the pin. Kane shut down Jey with an uppercut, but got sent to the floor by Jimmy. They tried dives at him, but he shut them both down. He went for a chokeslam on Jey back in the ring, but couldn’t pull it off. The Usos hit double superkicks to Bryan and Kane, and then went for a double splash on Kane. He caught them both with Chokes, and shoved Jimmy into a running knee from Bryan, and have Jey a Chokeslam for the win.
Team Hell No defeated The Usos at 11:42.
After the match, Bryan and Kane argued about how emphatic Kane’s yes chants were. He then did them to Bryan’s satisfaction. They were interrupted by the Bludgeon Brothers, who stared them down from the stage to close the show.
My Take: The crowd was very into this match, but the finish was a bit hokey with the double choke out of the top rope splashes, I guess that’s just Kane and I should learn to accept it, but it was one of those moments you just shake your head a bit. Otherwise this was a good tune up for Kane and Bryan. Kane definitely feels that 5 years since their last match in the ring, as he’s moving with a lot less urgency these days, but for what he’s asked to do in these tag matches it’s probably going to be just fine. Bryan continues to have crowds in his palm, and this pairing is a nice diversion if the don’t have any immediate singles plans for Bryan. They have good chemistry together, and would offer a good bit of relief from more intense programs on the show. Now the show just needs a few legitimately intense programs.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...