By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Live from Lafayette, Louisiana at the Cajundome
Tribute was paid those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001, as the crowd was silent for a 10 bell salute. After which, a USA Chant broke out. Jeff Hardy’s music hit and he headed towards the ring. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton went over Hardy and Orton’s match at Hell in a Cell. Hardy said demons are around us, taunting us, and he’s ran into them all. Hardy said he’s overcome them all, but they are always around.
Hardy said on Sunday he would confront his most dangerous demon in the form of a serpent, and he would confront him in his paradise called Hell in a Cell. Hardy said Orton doesn’t know what it’s like to go up against somebody who has fought back so many times from inside their own hell. While Orton may be a demon, he is a daredevil, and he has no fear. Hardy said he has prepared his entire life for this, and he would unleash a lifetime of pain and torment on Hardy until he fades away and finds himself obsolete.
He then went on to say that tonight he faces an old demon from his past Shinsuke Nakamura, and after that he’s going straight to hell. Hardy then told everyone to enjoy the show. Shinsuke Nakamura then made his entrance.
1. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy: Nakamura delayed the start of his match by retreating to the outside immediately. Hardy hit a jawbreaker to start and then kicked Nakamura out to the floor. He then hit a flying clothesline with Nakamura against the barricade…[c]
Nakamura hit an atomic drop and had control of the match. He applied a chinlock as the crowd rallied behind Hardy to get him to his feet. Nakamura shut down the comeback with multiple knees to the ribs. Hardy eventually got to his feet and downed Nakamura with a clothesline, but he continued to hold his ribs. Nakamura hit another knee to the ribs, and Hardy rebounded with a whisper in the wind. He then went up top, and Nakamura crotched him on the ropes. He then kicked him out to the floor…[c]
Hardy sold his ribs and his knee in the center of the ring as Nakamura rained stomps and kicks on him. He then mounted Hardy and hit a flurry of elbows before covering for a near fall. Nakamura went for an armbar, but had to settle for a poorly applied triangle. Hardy fought out and got to his feet, and then they botched a spot and Nakamura looked like he just fell down in front of Hardy for no reason.
Both men got back to their feet and Hardy started his comeback. Hardy hit a low dropkick and then a double leg drop to Nakamura’s abdomen. Hardy then missed a splash in the corner, and Nakamura kicked him in the back of the head. He gave him some bad vibrations in the corner and then hit a baseball slide to Hardy’s head on the apron. Nakamura wanted Kinshasa, but Hardy avoided it and hit a Twist of Fate. He then went for a Swanton, but Orton interfered and knocked Hardy from the top rope out to the floor.
Jeff Hardy defeated Shinsuke Nakamura via DQ at 13:21
After the match, Orton smashed Hardy into the steps numerous times, and then grabbed a chair from ringside. He used the chair on Hardy’s back multiple times, and then set up for an RKO. Once Hardy got to his feet, he avoided an RKO and grabbed the chair. He wore it out on Orton’s back, and then hit a Twist of Fate. Hardy then climbed to the top, and landed a Swanton Bomb. The announce team hyped Brie Bella vs. Maryse for the main event.
Backstage, The Miz and Maryse were interviewed. Maryse was asked about her first singles match in 7 years. She said she got back into shape 5 months after giving birth, so she’s ready to show Monroe Sky how good she is at punching Brie in the face. Miz said they are the hardest hitting couple in WWE, and called Daniel Bryan and Brie a marriage of convenience. He accused Bryan of not holding up his end of the marriage, and said Brie had to come back to work so they could put food on the table. He said Maryse would embarrass Brie later, and they would prove they are the It Couple on Sunday…[c]
My Take: A somewhat lackluster show opening promo by Hardy, who tried hard but just lacked energy and flow. Using the US Champion as the man in the middle between these two make it pretty obvious they had little planned other than putting the title on him, and that’s a shame. WWE has been creatively letting Nakamura down since his debut. The match was enjoyable however, and the post match brawl was also satisfying. I have to assume Orton gets the victory on Sunday, just based on Hardy looking so strong in the build leading up the match.
The announce team threw to a previously taped AJ Styles interview. He was in the empty arena, and said Samoa Joe knows his weakness is his temper. He said he knows the quickest way to get his temper flared up is to talk about his family. He said Samoa Joe has a family too, but the difference between he and Joe is that he’d never involve a man’s family, because he has integrity. Styles said Samoa Joe’s strength is talking and intimidating, and also being a piece of….garbage.
Styles then said that all the talk and intimidation stops on Sunday, because once the bell rings nobody has an advantage over AJ Styles. He said this arena is the place that AJ Styles built, and it’s not for rent, and it damn sure isn’t for sale.
The announce team then threw to footage of the Becky and Charlotte interview from last week. In the back, Charlotte was interviewed and asked why she asked for a match with Sonya Deville tonight. She said unlike Becky, she’s a fighting champion, and she wants to prove night in and night out that she’s the best. She said she hopes her former best friend is watching tonight so she can see what a real Champion looks like. She then made her entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Charlotte still comes across as generally unlikable as a character. I guess I’m not sure where my sensibilities are supposed to lie with her at this point. I liked the AJ Styles promo quite a bit. It was short and to the point, and they kept some of the ridiculousness of this feud to a minimum.
A video package was shown for Raw that involved the Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman feud. Sonya Deville then made her entrance accompanied by Mandy Rose. Her entrance with the spastic punching and epilepsy lights still doesn’t do much for me.
2. Sonya Deville vs. Charlotte Flair: The measured each other early on. Sonya hit a running knee on a seated Charlotte and made a cover for two. Charlotte hit a knee to the back of the head a moment later. Mandy Rose attempted to interfere, but Charlotte kicked her away, and tossed Sonya out to the floor…[c]
Sonya applied an abdominal stretch, but Charlotte escaped and hit a belly to back suplex. They traded punches and chops, and then Charlotte hit a single arm back breaker out of the corner. Charlotte went for a moonsault, but Sonya got her feet up. She then hit a spinebuster for a near fall. Charlotte fired back with a modified powerbomb that looked pretty awkward, and then applied the Figure Eight for the win a moment later.
Charlotte Flair defeated Sonya Deville at 8:33.
After the match, Charlotte greeted some female fans in the front row, and got leveled by another woman next to them, who turned out to be Becky Lynch in disguise. Becky then hit a kick to the ribs and applied the disarmher before walking to the back.
The announce team then threw to a Samoa Joe pre-tape where he read a children’s story to creepy music in the background. The story talked about Styles getting a big head and forgetting about his family. The story cast Joe as the hero and Styles as a man living on a house of lies. He explained the despair of the Styles Family, and talked about his reasonable solution of becoming their New Dad. The end of the story was Joe winning the Championship after putting AJ to sleep, and taking over for him as a husband and father.
Elsewhere, Bryan and Brie were shown getting ready for the main event. The Bar vs. Rusev Day is next…[c]
My Take: Becky Lynch got cheered pretty good for the deception spot, but the match was only passable. The Samoa Joe bedtime story was a bit too hokey for me. It definitely gave off the creepy vibe they were going for, but the whole story just reads like a rejected B-Plot for a soap opera.
Backstage, Becky was approached, but said she save the interview for after she takes back her title. In the arena, New Day joined at their own pancake announce booth. Kofi was shown backstage doing his dorky white guy impression. My stream was acting up here so I didn’t catch much of what he said. He was playing his Kramer Kingsman persona and made some corny jokes about The Bar. Sheamus and Cesaro then made their ring entrance, followed by Rusev Day…[c]
3. Rusev Day vs. The Bar: The match began with English and Cesaro, with English getting shoved out of the ring almost immediately. He entered again, and grabbed a headlock, and then pushed Cesaro into the ropes for a hip toss. Rusev tagged in and hit a lariat and covered for a two count. He then hit shoulder tackles in the corner, but Cesaro fired back with a lariat of his own and made a tag to Sheamus.
Rusev and Sheamus battled back and forth a bit, but Sheamus grounded him and The Bar began making swift tags to cut him off. Rusev escaped by ducking a lariat, and made a tag to English. He hit a cross body on Sheamus and then back body dropped him out to the floor. Rusev entered and hip tossed Cesaro out there as well. English then hit a dive to the outside, and hit a DDT for a two count. Sheamus got out to the floor to compose himself, and English followed to toss him back in.
This allowed Cesaro to make a distraction, and Sheamus kicked English out to the floor. Cesaro followed him and hit some european uppercuts. The Bar then cut off the ring on English with rapid tags and ground and pound…[c]
Sheamus built up a head of steam and ran into the ring post. Rusev got tagged in and began clearing house. He hit a high kick to the side of Cesaro’s head for a near fall. He then signaled for the Accolade, and applied it on Cesaro. Sheamus made his way in to break it up, and Rusev shoved him to the floor. Rusev charged at Cesaro, but ate a european uppercut. The Bar then hit a double DDT and got a near fall. Rusev showed good fire and fought off both men, rolling up Sheamus for a two count.
Sheamus fired back with a tilt a whirl slam and got a near fall. He then fired up for a Brogue Kick, but English shoved him out of the way and took the kick himself. Rusev then hit a machka kick for the win.
Rusev Day defeated The Bar at 11:33
After the match, New Day and Rusev Day jawed at each other. New Day seemed to be treating them like a joke. After the match, we got a video package for Ronda Rousey and Alexa Bliss. Carmella then made her way out, followed by R-Truth…[c]
My Take: I don’t know why this Truth and Carmella pairing is sticking, but I’ll assume it’s for the Mixed Match Challenge. Rusev Day getting a title match could end up being interesting if it goes somewhere. I’m hoping it’s so they can lose and finally implode so we can get past this tired shtick.
Vega and Almas made their entrance.
4. R-Truth vs. Andrade Almas: Truth hit a huracanrana out of the gate, but Almas fired back with a kick that dropped him. Truth fired back with a facebuster and a splash in the corner. Almas avoided an axe kick and hit his tranquilo pose in the ropes. Zelina Vega got involved, and Carmella intercepted her, but Truth got distracted the commotion and got rolled up for a three count.
Andrade Almas defeated R-Truth at 4:41.
Asuka was interviewed backstage, and was asked why she came to Naomi’s defense. Naomi walked up, and said she had to know why herself. Asuka said they are mean, and she can’t understand their accents. Also they are too posh. Naomi said she likes her attitude and that she feels the glow. Asuka started to leave, because she thought she said “go”. Naomi brought her back and they agreed to go eat Teriyaki. I am not making that up. Brie Bella made her entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Who lotta meh there for me. I’m assuming they are setting up future mixed match challenge matches? Or just seeing if the Carmella and Truth pairing has any chemistry? It wasn’t bad, but nothing jumped out as especially good. The Teriyaki promo was all kind of quirky. I can see why some people would find it endearing, but I would rather see Asuka as a stone cold killer at this point.
Brie wore similar ring gear colors to Bryan. Miz and Maryse made their entrance.
5. Maryse vs. Brie Bella: Maryse bailed to ringside immediately and taunted the crowd. The Miz whispered some advice and she got back in. Brie moved in to attack and Maryse ducked through the middle rope and then whipped her hair when the ref separated them. Maryse then rolled outside again, which prompted Brie to get a mic and call her a coward.
Miz then got on a mic and acted incredulous that the crowd thought they were cowards to kill some time. He told the crowd that Brie doesn’t deserve a match with his wife, as she was the greatest Divas Champion of all time. He then “cancelled” the match and walked off. Brie gave pursuit and grabbed Maryse by the hair. She then tossed her into the apron and then back into the ring.
Miz offered a distraction and Maryse hit a kick. Brie got a Yes Lock dialed in, but Miz pulled her out of the ring. Bryan snapped on the Miz and beat him down. He got into the ring and Miz tossed him into Brie on the outside. As he checked on her Miz attacked, and Maryse attacked Brie. She attempted the French Kiss DDT, but Brie turned the tables. Miz got involved again, and Bryan recovered to beat him down again. He demanded Miz get up so he could punch him in the face. Miz turned to flee, but Brie blasted him. Bryan then clotheslined him out of the ring. Bryan and Brie celebrated to close the show.
The match ended in an apparent no contest. The bell never rang after the interference.
My Take: I have to believe Miz and Maryse get the win somehow on Sunday. The feud goes on until at least the Super Show Down, and it’s a bit too early for Miz to get his comeuppance if that’s the case. That being said, this feud has gone after real heat, and it’s worked for me. I think Bryan and Brie have likable qualities as a couple, and Miz and Maryse have done a great job of being smarmy assholes. Bryan showed great fire when Miz put his hands on Brie, and the crowd ate up Brie getting another shot in on the Miz at the end of the segment. Overall this was a better show than Raw by a longshot, but Hell in a Cell is in a weird spot being smashed in front of Evolution and the Super Show Down.