By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Live from Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center
The show began with New Day making their way to the ring. Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton joined on commentary. Some poor kid got pancakes dumped on his head. Kofi had a giant silver pan full of pancakes and sent them into the crowd like frisbees. Footage was shown of Big Show giving The Bar the assist last week when they captured the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.
Xavier Woods opened and said they were cheated when they were defeated by The Bar last week. He said they lowered the Bar, and said they took advantage of the situation, because that’s what they do. Kofi said he couldn’t wrap his mind aroung The Big Show, and Woods asked if that makes him the Bartender. Big E said they all thought he was cool, but he flips more often than a flapjack. Kofi said he wanted some get back, and he didn’t care who it was, because somebody was getting that work baaaaaaabyyyyy….this prompted The Bar to make their way out, along with Big Show.
Kofi got in the ring, and The Bar pretended like one of them would end up in the match, but at the end Big Show was the chosen one.
1. Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston: Kofi started the match with a running dropkick, but he was quickly put down by Big Show’s power. Show hit a total of 3 chokeslams, and the rest of New Day interfered when he started to go for a 4th.
The match ended in No Contest at 3:44
The match broke down and all six members brawled. Cesaro and Sheamus took out Big E and Woods, and Show threw Kofi into the ring post. Show then hit a chokeslam on Big E, and a KO Punch on Woods. Show and The Bar then celebrated. Woods then caught a chokeslam as an exclamation point.
It was announced that The Bar would defend against New Day at Crown Jewel. Mysterio will be on MizTV later, and The Usos will face Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles…[c]
My Take: They have to heat up this feud with Big Show quickly, and this was an admirable attempt to do that. I don’t think you can reasonably expect them to have a full force blood feud by the time Crown Jewel comes around, but a match there could springboard them into something more interesting.
The announce team introduced the Roman Reigns situation from Raw, and we got a video package that cut between his speech and some select video of his life and family. The crowd gave some “Thank You Roman” chants after the video. Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman was confirmed for Crown Jewel. The Usos were in the ring after the video. AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan made their ring entrances.
2. Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles vs. The Usos: Bryan hit a shoulder block on Jimmy Uso. Jey got a blind tag, but Bryan sniffed it out and sent him to the floor with a clothesline. Bryan and AJ then splashed The Usos on the floor…[c]
AJ tagged and he and Bryan isolated Jey in their corner. Bryan tagged in and hit a double axe handle from the top. The Usos quickly turned things around when Jey hit a kick to Bryan’s ribs. Then hit a splash in the corner. Jimmy then tagged in, and they continued to focus on the ribs of Bryan. Both men stomped on him in the corner, followed by a Demolition style decapitation for a near fall.
Jimmy slowed things down with a chin lock, but Bryan escaped and they both collided with a double splash mid ring. Both Jey and AJ Styles tagged in, with AJ firing up and knocking Jimmy to ringside before hitting an Ushigoroshi on Jey for a two count. Styles hooked Jey coming out of the corner and rolled through for a calf crusher, but it was broken up by Jimmy. Bryan entered to even the odds and sent Jimmy to the floor.
There was a miscommunication between Styles and Bryan. AJ barely missed Bryan with a phenomenal forearm, but then connected a moment later with an accidental pele kick. The Usos capitalized with a superkick and a splash on AJ Styles for the win.
The Usos defeated AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan at 9:31.
After the match, Bryan and Styles looked at each other puzzled about how this happened again. We then got a video package that hyped Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella. The altercation at the performance center between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair will be shown next…[c]
My Take: I don’t know why it was necessary to do this same old thing again. It feels low effort and this feud should feel bigger than this. I know they have one more week before Crown Jewel, but this could have been more creative than it was. Bryan looked like a dope standing there waiting for things to happen in order to make the accidental collisions work.
Backstage, AJ was questioned whether what happened out in the ring an accident. Bryan said he has an infinite amount of respect for AJ, so his was for sure an accident. Bryan insinuated that AJ’s nose was growing. AJ was incredulous and said he didn’t know what Bryan was talking about. Bryan kept extending his finger further away from his face, and Styles asked him what he was trying to say. Bryan made the “too sweet” gesture with his finger, and said he thought this was how it was done. AJ walked away, and Bryan said “too sweet, brother” as he walked away.
They then cut to video footage from the performance center as Charlotte gave a speech in front of the women’s roster in Orlando. They asked her some questions about what the difference is between the Performance Center and The Main Roster. As Charlotte answered the question, Becky walked up and talked trash about how the Women there deserved to hear from the real champ. She told Charlotte that no amount of privilege or self righteousness would protect her from what was going to happen at Evolution. They began to brawl, and Becky was thrown into the ring apron. Becky fired back and threw her into the steps. Eventually they were separated by the talent that was present. Afterward, Charlotte got the last word. She cut a promo and said that this wasn’t about titles or their friendship, she had changed and she attacked the foundation of what started the Evolution at the Performance Center. She said somethings are irredeemable, and promised to take back her Championship at Evolution…[c]
My Take: That backstage segment gave them somewhere to go next week with Bryan and AJ, so that was an improvement on where the previous segment left off. The Charlotte and Becky video continues to drive home just how comfortable Becky is in this new character, compared to how Charlotte comes off as a babyface. I don’t think that changes anything, however, because Charlotte is winning on Sunday.
Rusev and Lana made their entrance, followed by Aiden English, who talked trash about both of them. Rusev gave chase on the outside…
3. Rusev vs Aiden English: The bell rang after both men returned to the ring after the chase on the outside. English hit a swinging neckbreaker, and then talked trash to Lana, who threw her shoe at him. Rusev then hit a Machka kick and then applied The Accolade, and English screamed in pain while he was submitting.
Rusev defeated Aiden English at 3:55
After the match, Miz TV was hyped for next. Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton is set for later…[c]
My Take: I hope that’s the end of Rusev and English. Both guys have wrung all they could out of their partnership.
Rey sat down and Miz welcomed him to the show. Miz said the WWE Universe was thrilled to have him back, but Miz was curious as to why he was back. Rey said it was good to be back home, but Miz interrupted him and said it wasn’t a question. He said he knows why he was back, and that’s because he wants people to believe the little guy can do anything he wants. Miz said it’s all very 90s, and people aren’t interested in plucky underdogs anymore, they want larger than life stars like him. He then repeated himself and got even bigger boos.
Miz told Rey that while he was on hiatus, Miz was making himself the biggest start in WWE, on the USA Network, and that he has beaten everyone. He said he would advance out of the Smackdown Bracket at Crown Jewel and he would prove that he is the best in the world. Rey said he was disappointed, because he thought he was booked to be on TruthTV. Miz asked if that was joke, or if he wanted a dance break.
Miz said Truth was full of jokes, and he beat him and has his show canceled. He said last week’s show was an illegal broadcast, and he’d cancel Rey’s appearance right now if he had to. Rey said that he didn’t come back to WWE to be on some busted talk show, he came back to compete. Rey then laid down a challenge to the Miz. The Miz begged off, but then took a cheap shot. He beat down Rey, but eventually Rey tripped him up and went for a 619. Miz bailed out of the ring and the announcers wondered if he would accept the challenge…[c]
My Take: This was a fun segment, but I still don’t really care about the World Cup. It really does seem like we’re going to get a throwback Angle vs. Mysterio Match in the finals, because so much of this show was arranged around the Saudi’s having a kick for the Attitude Era.
4. Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz: Rey hit a flying head scissors and sent Miz to the floor. Rey tried to launch himself, but Miz blocked him at first. Rey kicked himself free, and then hit a splash underneath the bottom rope out to the floor. Back in the ring, Rey hit 10 punches in the corner, but whiffed a follow up splash and hit the turnbuckles. Miz took over and choked Rey on the second rope. He then hit a running splash that again damaged the neck draped on the ropes.
Miz dropped Rey head first into the top turnbuckle. He then went for a Skull Crushing Finale, but Rey slipped out and sent Miz into position for a 619. Rey went for it, but Miz moved and pulled Rey in for a DDT and a near fall…[c]
Miz sent Rey under the bottom rope and out to the floor. The ref began to count him out, but he clawed back in time. Miz hit some stolen Yes Kicks, but missed the last one. Rey popped to his feet, but Miz caught him with a kick to the head. He then sent Mysterio hard into the turnbuckles. Miz went for a Skull Crushing Finale from the top, but Rey reversed and sent Miz tumbling into the ring. He the climbed to the apron for a seated senton, followed by a kick to the head of a seated Miz. Rey went for another springboard attack, but Miz avoided it and hit a neckbreaker.
Rey hit the ropes and ran into a front kick for a close near fall. Miz showed frustration at the kickout. Miz went for another finish, but Rey reversed into a 619. He then dropped the dime for the win.
Rey Mysterio defeated The Miz at 11:33
Backstage, Jeff Hardy was shown in his full makeup. In the arena, Naomi and Asuka made their entrances…[c]
My Take: That match was very good, and I enjoyed the pace they pushed for the vast majority of it. They went back to the well quite a few times for Rey to escape the Skull Crushing Finale, but that’s a minor gripe for what was otherwise a very entertaining TV match. Rey getting the win was no surprise, and he looks like he’s moving very well in the ring. I was a bit surprised not to see Nakamura here, but perhaps they are waiting until Crown Jewel is over before establishing a feud over the US Title.
Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose made their entrance. The left off the weird soft porn filter. All four of these women in the Battle Royal on Sunday. The Iconics walked out before the match could get started. Billie said she was so excited. Peyton asked what was so exciting about Newark, and they both acted disgusted. They said they would win the Battle Royal and it would be Iconic. Lana interrupted and made her claim to the Battle Royal, followed by Carmella having a dance break. Zelina Vega then ran out to throw Lana into the ring.
The segment broke down and all the women ended up getting tossed to the floor. Asuka stood tall after hitting a spin kick to Vega’s face. The announce team then ran down the Evolution Card. Backstage, Randy Orton was shown in the dark. Hardy vs. Orton is next…[c]
My Take: Evolution is an afterthought. That was reminiscent of the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal go home segments from 10 years ago. The women deserved better than this.
Shane McMahon made his way out to the ring. He played to the Newark crowd, and said there were a lot of firsts happening in WWE. He spoke about Evolution, and congratulated all the women of the past and present, and said it was well deserved. He said the first ever WWE World Cup will determine who will be known as the Best in the World. There was a brief CM Punk chant, and Shane acknowledged that he wasn’t in the tournament. He said he thinks it will be someone from the Blue Brand.
He then ran down the competitors from Smackdown, Jeff Hardy, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, or Randy Orton? He said they would get closer to finding out tonight. He then brought out Jeff Hardy, who was followed by Randy Orton.
My Take: It was nice of Shane to go out there and take the heat for Crown Jewel. I wonder if he had to do because the host country would have lost their minds if Paige was the one to do it?
5. Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton: The match spilled outside early and Orton slammed Hardy’s head into the steel steps several times. He then tossed Hardy back into the ring and covered for a near fall. Orton then stomped away on Hardy and covered for another two count. Orton grabbed a chinlock, and them slammed Hardy to the mat by his hair when he tried to escape. He then hit a standing dropkick for another two count.
Orton went back to the chinlock, but Hardy escaped to the corner and tried to go up top. Orton hung Hardy in the tree of woe and went after his ear lobe again. He broke at a ref count of 4. The match spilled outside as Orton slammed Hardy twice on the announce table. He tossed Hardy back into the ring and covered for a two count.
Orton went for the ear again, but this time Hardy fired back with punches and a double leg drop. He then hit a seated dropkick for a near fall of his own. Hardy went for a twist of fate, but Orton avoided it. Hardy then hit Whisper in the Wind for a near fall. Hardy made the delete hand signals and hit Twist of Fate. Hardy went up top for a Swanton, but Orton rolled out of the ring. Hardy went for one out on the floor from the apron, but Orton moved out of the way of that one too.
Orton sent Hardy back into the ring and set up for an RKO, but Hardy turned it into a backslide for a two count. Hardy then went for Twist of Fate, but Orton reversed into an RKO and got the win.
Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy at 9:22.
Orton celebrated to close the show.
My Take: I really don’t understand why you have this match here, unless they know these two won’t be facing each other at all in the tournament. It was a fine match, but they announcers weren’t talking about “momentum” or any of the usual buzzwords. This was a fairly flat edition of Smackdown, particularly when it comes to selling the Evolution show on Sunday. It seems WWE is ok with that being a two match show as far as most fans are concerned, because the matches outside the orbit of Charlotte vs. Becky and Ronda vs. Nikki Bella have lacked the attention required to make them feel special and high stakes.