By Jake Barnett, Prowrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Live from Greenville, South Carolina at Bon Secours Wellness Center
Charlotte made her way to the ring to start the show. A Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz video package was plugged, as well as a confrontation between Samoa Joe and AJ Styles. Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron joined on commentary as Becky Lynch made her way out next. Carmella was out last. Becky and Charlotte were in ring gear, and Carmella wore a little black dress of sorts and a cutoff camo jacket. All three had microphones.
Carmella complained about it being ridiculous that she had to defend her championships against both of them, and that she was being punished for being a fabulous champion. She said she was tired of their faces, and then ripped into Becky Lynch. She said she used to be a clown at some point in her life, but maybe she should go back to that, because it’s the only thing she does better than Charlotte.
Becky said Charlotte joining the match did make her job harder, but it won’t derail her from her dream. She complimented Charlotte on being an amazing athlete, and said her strategy would change from dismantling Carmella one on one, to beating both of them. Carmella gave Charlotte some backhanded compliments and listed her accomplishments as being a multi-brand champion, but only in service of bragging about beating her twice.
Charlotte told Carmella that she was afraid. Both of the challengers have beaten her, and she doesn’t have what it takes to beat either of them in the ring. She called her a Diva in a Woman’s world, and Carmella owned it. She said she was a diva, and compared her beauty and her body to Charlotte and Becky. She then said she had charisma, and she was a champion. Charlotte and Becky just clowned on her by laughing.
Paige then interrupted and told Carmella that she was to thank for this match, as she had lost to both women heading into Sunday. She then told the crowd they didn’t have to wait until Summerslam to see them do what they do best. She booked Becky and Charlotte in a tag match, and then sent Carmella to commentary since what she does best is talk. She then introduced the opposing team, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville…[c]
My Take: Carmella swung and missed there with the Diva portion of that segment. All of the women have worked hard to discard the Diva label, and Carmella embracing it didn’t come across as heelish as much as it harkened to an era everyone would rather forget.
1. Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose: Some very even steven action in the early going, with both teams making successful tags and having periods of offensive control. Mandy Rose got a blind tag and Charlotte rolled up Sonya Deville, which led to Mandy hitting a running knee lift. They attempted to cut off Charlotte on their side of the ring, but Charlotte avoided a clothesline and hit one of her own.
Becky tagged in and took over the offense on Mandy, but a Sonya distraction allowed Mandy to take control with a kick. She then beat down Becky with strikes as she tried to get up, and made a tag to Sonya. She hit a running knee strike to a seated Becky, and covered for a near fall, and then pulled her into a body scissors. Becky used leverage to stack her up for a pin, but Sonya kicked out at two.
Quick tags from Deville and Rose allowed them to maintain control of Becky until she hit an enziguri on Deville. Becky fired up on Rose, and instead of making a tag, decided to try and put her away herself. She hit some clotheslines and a dropkick on Rose and knocked Deville out of the ring with a kick. She applied the Disarmher on Rose a moment later and got the tap.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte defeated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville at 10:55.
After the match, Becky and Charlotte shouted at Carmella, who jumped on top of the announce table. Miz and Maryse were then shown in a brief video announcing a second season pickup for Miz and Mrs. The first part of a three part video package for Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz is next…[c]
My Take: The finish of the tag match was a bit of the reverse of last week. Charlotte tagged herself in to finish off the Iconics last week, but this time Becky didn’t get close enough and closed the match out herself. I like the story they are starting to tell here. I just hope they have a better idea of where they are going than they did with Bayley and Sasha.
Backstage, Becky and Charlotte wished each other luck backstage on Sunday. Charlotte said “may the best woman win” and Becky replied “She will”. A trio of local talent called “The Triple Threat” were in the ring. The Bludgeon Brother are here to merc them.
The bell never rang. They shoved two of the guys out of the ring, and then gave the third a double powerbomb in the ring. They then went outside and destroyed the other two guys by body slamming them into each other. One of those men was then slammed chest first on the apron. They then hit a doomsday device into a powerbomb on the guy that was still recovering in the ring.
The announce team plugged Smackdown 1000 in October, and then introduced Part 1 of the Daniel Bryan vs. Miz saga that focused on the start of their feud in NXT with Bryan as The Miz’s rookie. After the video, Sanity made their way to the ring, and will face The New Day next…[c]
My Take: A fine start to the Bryan and Miz video package. The Bludgeon Brothers continue to crush people, but get no character development. I don’t think the division can really succeed while the Champions have such a considerable personality deficit. It’s a bummer because Harper and Rowan don’t lack personality if they are given the opportunity to show it.
The New Day made their entrance. This is a six man tag.
2. The New Day vs. Sanity: Big E hit a back body drop and then gyrated. Eric Young wasn’t a fan, and threw some punches in response. Big E hit a big belly to belly suplex, and then tagged in Kofi for a double team leg drop. Alexander Wolf low bridged Kofi over the ropes and out to the floor, and then assaulted him on the outside.
Wolf tagged in and Sanity cut off the ring on Kofi Kingston. Killian Dain hit a nasty looking dropkick, and chants for Kofi started. Dain then hit a Fisherman’s Buster. He then tagged to Wolf, who hit a blockbuster from the top and covered for a two count…[c]
Kofi avoided a clothesline and hit a DDT. He scrambled to make a hot tag to Xavier Woods, who took Young out with a superkick and hit a Wolf with some clotheslines and a kick as well. He then hit a DDT and covered, but Eric Young came off the top with an elbow drop to break it up. Young then slammed Woods onto Wolf’s knees and covered for a near fall. Dain tagged back in, and he and Woods battled until Dain was able to hit a big splash. He covered, but Big E made the save.
The match broke down as Kofi took out Wolf with Trouble in Paradise. He then hit a splash on both Wolf and Young at ringside. Big E and Woods hit Up Up Down Down on Dain to get the win.
New Day defeated Sanity at 8:21.
The crowd loved the finish as New Day Celebrated. They threw pancakes and played some trombone. The announce team then threw to Part 2 of the Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz video package, which covered Bryan’s retirement and run as Smackdown GM, and the appearance on Talking Smack that reinvigorated interest in their feud.
My Take: New Day continues to get great reactions from live crowds. It’s easy to see why they continue to find themselves near the top of the tag division, even if their characters don’t feel as fresh as they once did. Sanity continues to get jobbed out on TV, and it’s clear they weren’t a creative priority as they transitioned away from NXT. The Bryan and Miz video package has been brilliant thus far. They’ve given us plenty of reason to hate the Miz with his arrogance, but I hope Part 3 leans harder into reminding people why they cheer for Daniel Bryan.
Backstage, Paige knocked on the door of Samoa Joe’s dressing room. She asked him why he didn’t want to address the WWE Universe separately from AJ Styles, and he said he’s shy. Paige then asked if she needed to take precautions to preserve the Smackdown Main Event for Summerslam, because she wanted him to be a professional. Joe said that when she initially approached him, she liked his unpredictability and the danger he represented, and he can’t do either of those things if he tells her everything he’s going to do. Joe then said he would continue to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. He then told Paige he was going to enjoy his night, so she should do the same.
In the arena, Aiden English sang a song to make amends with Rusev and Lana. The crowd didn’t care at first, but popped for his line about Rusev Day. Andrade Almas then made his entrance with Zelina Vega.
3. Aiden English vs. Andrade Almas: The match began during a picture in picture commercial break. English got in some offense early on, but the action spilled outside briefly, and that allowed Vega to create a distraction. Almas took over in the ring and applied an arm twist. English fought to his feet and pulled Almas into a small package for a two count. Almas fired back with a hip toss into the turnbuckle.
Almas charged at him in the corner, and English caught him with a clothesline coming out. English followed up with a Top Rope splash, but only got a near fall. Almas hit a back elbow, running knees, and a Hammerlock DDT to finish off English.
Andrade Almas defeated Aiden English at 4:39.
After the match, Vega told the crowds they like catchy phrases and useless Holidays, and said Sunday would be the end of Rusev and Lana Day. Vega said she would expose Lana as dead weight that was dragging down her husband. Rusev and Lana then appeared, and Rusev told them like they are acting like they just won the powerball, but their luck runs out on Sunday. He then told Zelina Vega that she would learn by Lana is #1. Lana the said that this year Summerslam falls on Rusev Day.
Backstage, Paige asked AJ to be professional, just like she asked Samoa Joe. Styles said he made a promise to his wife, and he intends to keep it. Jeff Hardy was shown, and will be in action later. Part 3 of Bryan and Miz’s video package is next…[c]
My Take: I’m not a huge fan of this feud. The long drawn out drama with English has made Lana and Rusev less interesting, and Vega and Almas have been reduced by proxy. The dialogue in this feud has been bad, and the delivery hasn’t helped either. Just bad all around. Paige’s interactions with AJ and Joe are a refreshing change of pace for how the bumbling Kurt Angle stumbles through Raw every week.
Part 3 of the Bryan and Miz video package focused on Bryan getting cleared and his return to WrestleMania. Bryan said that he still has something to prove to The Miz, and Miz replied that he has nothing to prove to Daniel Bryan. Miz said after Sunday, Miz would finally prove that he is superior to Daniel Bryan. At the end, Bryan got fired up and said he didn’t come back to compare himself to the Miz’s celebrity, he wants to get in the ring because he loves wrestling and wants to Shut the Miz up.
Shelton Benjamin was in the ring. Jeff Hardy then made his entrance…[c]
My Take: A big Home Run with the video packages for Bryan and The Miz tonight. Bryan finally got fired up and gave the big babyface promo at the end about his passion for wrestling, which is exactly what it needed to be.
4. Shelton Benjamin vs. Jeff Hardy: The match was joined in progress as Shelton grounded Hardy with a headlock. The show then cut to a picture in picture commercial, which really sold how important this match is. Hardy broke free and hit Whisper in the Wind for a near fall. Hardy then hit leg drop and a low dropkick for another near fall.
Hardy took off his zip up and went to the top rope. Benjamin popped up and met him there and hit a Superplex for a near fall of his own. Hardy got to his feet and surprised Shelton with a Twist of Fate. He then hit a running splash and got the win.
Jeff Hardy defeated Shelton Benjamin at 6:44 (estimate).
After the match, Nakamura tried to sneak attack Hardy with some help from a Benjamin distraction, but Hardy was ready and hit him with a Twist of Fate. He then followed up with a Swanton. Randy Orton was shown observing Hardy from behind the stage. They teased some kind of attack, but then cut away to promo Summerslam.
AJ Styles made his entrance to address the fans next…[c]
My Take: They had to do something to make Hardy’s match with Nakamura seem in doubt, but I’m afraid it’s too little too late in terms of creating actual suspense. It’s pretty obvious Orton will be involved, and a dirty finish is almost assured.
Styles said for almost 20 years….but a big AJ Styles chant broke out. He said he’s been blessed to travel the world and compete against some of the best Sports Entertainment has to offer. He said the most important lesson came after winning the WWE Championship. He said the there’s a reason that the Championship is hard to hold. The pressure is immense. He said Samoa Joe pushes his buttons, starting with when he blindsided him 3 weeks ago. He then showed video of that attack.
He addressed Joe and said right when he thinks he knew him, he stabbed him in the back, and then stabbed him in the heart. He then showed footage of Joe taking cheapshots at AJ’s family and his home life. AJ admitted that Joe had him where he wanted him. He got him to lose his cool, and he got him talking about his family. He went to a dark place where he wanted to rip his head off. AJ recalled his wife telling him not to lose his cool and remain focused, but that prompted an interruption from Samoa Joe.
Joe pulled a piece of paper from his lapel and grabbed a microphone from his pocket. He said what AJ was saying wasn’t true, and he knows it. He then read the letter, and it was from a member of the WWE Universe. This person was disgusted because everything Joe said was true. It was clear AJ never wanted kids or a wife. This person hoped Joe won on Sunday so AJ could feel what it was like to lose everything he loves, like she lost him long ago. Joe said the letter was from Wendy Styles. He walked away laughing as Styles looked flustered…
My Take: Meh. That letter wasn’t nearly as convincing as just having Joe say the same thing is his own words. I get the desire to have Joe appear like a low life and fabricate a letter, but it was such hacky writing that it wasn’t convincing. There weren’t enough details to make it seem like an actual couple having problems. If it were written by a scorned spouse, it would be the written equivalent of a precision guided missile. AJ didn’t sell it like it hurt much either. Overall, this feud still has my interest and I’m looking forward to the match. This show was a bit of a regression from the past few weeks, but still enjoyable. The Bryan vs. Miz videos were fantastic and stood out as the best content on the show.