By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Live from Manchester, New Hampshire at SNHU Arena
[Hour One] Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. They hyped a couple of matches… Ring announcer Greg Hamilton introduced The Miz, who stood in the ring for a Miz TV segment. Miz hyped the premiere of his reality show in two weeks. He told the fans they could boo, but he will win an Emmy Award.
The Miz introduced “Team Hell No” Daniel Bryan and Kane. Miz told Bryan he was there to be a professional and asked that Bryan extend the same courtesy despite their differences. Bryan teased punching Miz. Fans chanted yes. Kane stopped Bryan and talked to him. “I will be professional,” Bryan said. Fans booed. Miz heeled on the crowd to draw the heat back to him. Miz praised Team Hell No and said their reunion is like Justin Timberlake reuniting with NSYNC.
“First of all, NSYNC will never reunite,” Kane started. He looked at Bryan and shrugged and then said that Justin Timberlake is too big of a star now. Kane said the Bludgeon Brothers are no Team Hell No. Miz set up a video package to show that Team Hell No could handle Bludgeon Brothers. Instead, the video was of Kane beating up Bryan during their feud. “I am so sorry, that was not the footage I intended to show,” Miz said.
Bryan told Miz to stop and said they see that he’s trying to stir the pot. “It’s not working because you’re The Miz and you’re terrible at everything,” Bryan said. He said the only thing Miz is worse at than stirring the pot is wrestling. Miz got worked up and said Kane would betray Bryan like he always does and Bryan will fall for it like he always does.
Miz accused Bryan of hiding behind a “cheesy nostalgia” act rather than face him in the ring. Bryan approached Miz, who backed up, but Kane reminded Bryan that they spoke about this. Kane had Bryan take deep breaths. The Miz told Bryan to hide behind the “broken down demon.” Kane turned and grabbed Miz by the throat.
The Bludgeon Brothers made their entrance. Sanity’s entrance played and they hit the ring and attacked Bryan and Kane before the Bludgeon Brothers arrived at ringside. Bryan ended up at ringside and was run into the ring steps. New Day ran out and helped fight the heels. Sanity eventually got the better of New Day. Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity dominated while producers Adam Pearce, Dave Finlay, and several referees called for them to stop. Team Hell No and New Day were left lying…
Phillips hyped James Ellsworth vs. Asuka in a lumberjack match for later in the show… Shinsuke Nakamura was shown walking backstage. Graves noted that Nakamura would challenge Jeff Hardy for the U.S. Title on Sunday. He noted that Paige wanted Nakamura and Styles at the top of their game so she ordered them to have a WrestleMania rematch… [C]
Powell’s POV: A top notch Miz TV segment. It had a little of everything with Kane’s boy band gem, Miz doing everything from acting cocky to squirming at the right times, Bryan and Miz tension, and then the big brawl with the heels getting the better of the babyfaces. That was fun and it’s nice to see them get back to the Bryan and Miz storyline that seemed to get abandoned for too long. By the way, I’m swapping roles with Jake Barnett this week. He’s finally answering police questions about the big bar brawl that he started while we hung out in Minnesota last Friday, er, he’s not feeling well tonight and will be by with the Smackdown Hit List tomorrow.
Phillips, Graves, and Saxton spoke at their desk and announced the expected 10-man tag stemming from Miz TV with Team Hell No and New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity for later in the show…
Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles made their entrances for their non-title match. Before the bell, Rusev and Aiden English walked out. Rusev said he was coming to destroy the house that AJ Styles built. A “Rusev Day” chant started. Rusev said he would celebrate his title win on the greatest day ever. English sang “Rusev Day.”
1. WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a non-title match. The bell rang after English finished singing. Nakamura kicked Styles, who came right back as the show cut to a split-screen commercial break. [C] Rusev was on commentary coming out of the break. Nakamura went for a Kinshasa, but Styles rolled him up for a two count at 7:00. Nakamura was in control heading into another break at 9:10.
At 14:00, Styles set up for the Styles Clash, but Nakamura kicked his head and then applied a triangle armlock while upside down. Styles turned it into a pin and Nakamura kicked out and released the hold. Styles did the “come on” bit that Nakamura usually does. They ended up at ringside. Nakamura set up for his finisher. Styles moved and Nakamura hit the move on English instead. With Nakamura back in the ring, Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Rusev attacked him for the DQ finish.
AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura by DQ in a non-title match in 16:25.
After the match, Jeff Hardy ran out to save Styles from an attack by Nakamura and Rusev and cleared both heels from the ring. Paige came out and booked a tag team match on the spot with Styles and Hardy vs. Nakamura and Rusev… [C]
Powell’s POV: A long match that was hurt from a viewing perspective by the multiple commercial breaks. That said, it’s nice that they actually delivered a full length match before setting up the Smackdown Special tag team match. Teddy Long would be so proud of Paige. By the way, WWE is claiming that Samoa Joe attacked Tye Dillinger backstage, so it looks like they are pulling their advertised match from the show.
2. AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy vs. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura. The match was joined in progress. A split-screen ad aired for the Raw Women’s Championship at Extreme Rules. At 4:55, Hardy had Rusev down and set up for his finisher, but Nakamura tripped him on the ropes. Rusev hit Hardy with a Machka Kick and pinned him…
Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy in 5:15 (of television time).
Powell’s POV: The right guy got the win for his team considering that Rusev needs the boost heading into his title match with Styles on Sunday. In fact, a case could be made that he should have went over stronger. He was on the verge of taking Hardy’s finisher before Nakamura saved the day.
James Ellsworth was shown preparing for his match backstage. Carmella showed up and told him he better take care of Asuka. Ellsworth called her babe and winked at her while saying he had it covered. Carmella said that if he ever winked at her again she would give him a bigger beating than the one she will give Asuka on Sunday… The female lumberjacks made their entrance while Phillips hyped the match for after the break… [C]
[Hour Two] Carmella made her entrance. Graves noted that she was technically one of the lumberjacks…
3. Asuka vs. James Ellsworth in a lumberjack match. Ellsworth took his shirt off and told the lumberjacks to try to restrain themselves. The lumberjacks were Becky Lynch, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Naomi, Lana, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose. Ellsworth tried to escape at one point. The lumberjacks started fighting amongst themselves, by Lynch and Naomi dragged Ellsworth back. Carmella slipped hairspray to Ellsworth, but Asuka ducked it and applied the Asuka Lock for the win.
Asuka defeated James Ellsworth in a lumberjack match in 3:20.
After the match, Carmella went after Asuka, who worked her over briefly. Ellsworth sprayed the substance into Asuka’s eyes, then Carmella threw a kick at Asuka and then gloated over her…
Powell’s POV: This was a crime against men everywhere. All female lumberjacks? Poor Ellsworth never stood a chance. Putting that aside, it was fun and the post match angle put heat on Carmella and Ellsworth heading into Sunday.
The broadcast team recapped the brawl that led to the 10-man tag match…
Backstage, Team Hell No and New Day were still licking their wounds. Bryan said they need to target their knees and chop them down like trees. Kane suggested setting them on fire and dragging them to hell. Bryan and Kane had a yes/no exchange. Big E yelled and told them to stop. He said they needed to get it together or they wouldn’t stand a chance.
E rallied the troops and told them what they needed from all of them. “I give you my word, this is a battle we will win,” Kane said. “And with this vow, forever has now begun. This I promise you.” New Day cheered. Bryan stopped and asked if that was NCYNC. “So, it still applies,” Kane said…. [C]
Powell’s POV: Kane’s sudden NSYNC fetish is completely random and downright hilarious.
Backstage, Paige approached Carmella and Ellsworth. He told Paige that his stock is now higher than WWE’s stock. He offered her a kiss. Paige said he would be higher than ever on Sunday because he would be in a shark cage during the Smackdown Women’s Championship match…
4. Andrade Almas (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Sin Cara. Almas received a partially televised entrance while Sin Cara’s was not shown. They cut off Almas’s full entrance to recap the angle on the interview set from weeks ago that set up this repeatedly postponed match. They cut to a split-screen break a little over a minute in. [C] In the end, Almas hit his running double knees in the corner and scored the pin…
Andrade Almas defeated Sin Cara in 6:00.
Powell’s POV: I have no idea why it took them so long to have this match on television. Now that they have, here’s hoping they start to do more with Almas and Vega.
The broadcast team ran through the Extreme Rules lineup…
Sanity delivered a promo in a dark area. Killian Dain said they were there to break the status quo. Alexander Wolfe said they were there to turn happiness into havoc. Eric Young said they weren’t there for nostalgia. He said Team Hell No and New Day’s time in the sun is over and the only thing left is pure and unadulterated chaos. Bludgeon Brothers showed up and stared at them. “Let the bludgeoning begin,” Erick Rowan said… [C]
Ring entrances for the main event took place…
5. Daniel Bryan, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods vs. Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Eric Young, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe. The teams brawled once the bell ran and they cut to break less than 30 seconds into the match. [C] The heels isolated Woods going into another break. [C]
Woods made a hot tag to Bryan, who worked over Young and kicked Wolfe and Dain off the apron. Bryan threw the Yes kicks at Young, who ducked the final one and rolled up Bryan, who then countered into a Yes lock that was quickly broken up. It was rapid fire spot time with various wrestlers hitting various moves. E launched Kingston over the top rope and onto Harper at ringside. Dain took out Kingston with a running cross body block. E performed his shoulder block to drive Dain off the apron. Bryan hit a running knee on Young and pinned him…
Daniel Bryan, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods defeated Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Eric Young, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe in 16:45.
After the match, New Day quickly headed backstage. Bryan did the Yes bit. Kane interrupted him and did his own version. Bryan tried to do Kane’s pyro bit a couple of times and failed. Bryan pumped up the crowd and the third time was the charm. Kane acted surprised and unhappy in a comical way, then did the Yes along with Bryan…
Powell’s POV: Sanity looks dominant every other week. This was their week to lose after they destroyed New Day last week. That said, it was logical to keep Team Hell No looking strong going into their tag match on Sunday. The writers seem to be having a lot of fun writing for the duo and Kane’s NSYNC fandom was one of the funnier things I’ve seen on WWE television in a long time. It was a good show overall and they paid some attention to Smackdown’s Extreme Rules matches. We’ll find out if Jake Barnett agrees with my assessment when he stops by tomorrow with the WWE Smackdown Hit List. I will be by later tonight with a free podcast review of this show. Join me on Sunday night for live coverage of WWE Extreme Rules.