By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Taped earlier today in Manchester, England at Manchester Arena
The show opened with Paige heading to the ring. She got a nice reaction in front of her home country crowd. She thanked the crowd and said she wouldn’t be there for long, she was there to introduce the Commissioner Shane McMahon. She introduced him at the best in the world, and he got some boos from the crowd. The arena must not be very full, as the cameras have carefully avoided large swaths of the arena thus far. Video was shown of Crown Jewel and Shane’s screwy path towards winning the trophy.
Shane danced around the ring as Paige looked like a goof. Paige called for a picture with the trophy, which got boos all over the place. Shane said hello to the crowd and got even more boos. Shane said with all the talent they have on the Smackdown Roster, he is not the best in the world. He said the trophy belongs to everyone, and he acted on instinct when he inserted himself in the match because couldn’t imagine Smackdown not taking the trophy. They then went through the currently announced Survivor Series card, and then moved on to introducing team captains.
Daniel Bryan was announced as a Team Captain. Bryan made his entrance and did some yes chants to a big reaction. Bryan told the crowd they were awesome. He then thanked Shane for acknowledging that he doesn’t consider himself The Best in the World. He then said it was an honor that both of them chose him as the Smackdown Live Team Captain. Miz then interrupted and said that he disagreed, and said that Shane was in fact Best in the World.
He then took credit for ⅔ of being Best in the World, and then asked Shane if he wanted to split the trophy 20 days in the month to 10, or maybe Shane could stay on one of his spare rooms. Miz then agitated for being Team Captain, and said he was insulted by Shane choosing Bryan, and Shane actually agreed. He said Miz had earned the right to be captain with his performance in the World Cup, and he and Paige then made them both Co-Captain’s. Bryan looked irritated, and so did Miz. Mysterio vs. Almas was plugged for later, and New Day vs. The Usos is next…[c]
My Take: Shane was all over the place in that segment. They don’t seem to be committing to any particular character path for him quite yet. Paige felt like an afterthought, despite supposedly being on equal footing with Shane in terms of distribution of authority. I think the segment would have worked better if they couldn’t agree on the captain, so they each picked one. It would have created clearer lines in the sand for Paige and Shane, rather than this somewhat mushy outcome.
Backstage, Shane argued with Bryan and The Miz about how he thought the co-captain business would work. Shane said he didn’t want a party, he wanted people to be on their toes and uncomfortable. He said Bryan and Miz make each other uncomfortable, and they bring the best out of each other. They all tenuously agreed, and Miz said he had his first pick. Miz chose Shane, and Bryan surprisingly agreed with him. Shane accepted after initially thinking Miz was sucking up to him. Miz was conciliatory towards Bryan, and offered him the next pick. They were both weirded out by the cooperation.
In the arena, New Day and The Usos made their entrance for the first match.
1. New Day vs. The Usos: Jey and Kofi started the match, and traded offense back and forth early on. Kofi sent Jey out to the floor, and Woods played some music on the trombone to distract him. Big E then hit a clothesline and they all had a laugh…[c]
The Usos took control during the break with a leg sweep on Kofi as he climbed the ropes, but he came right back with a double foot stomp on Jey. Big E and Jimmy tagged in, and E hit two Belly to Belly suplexes and a Uranage for a two count. He then fired up the crowd and picked up Jimmy for a Big Ending, but Jey got a blind tag and pulled Jimmy out of the ring. Jey kicked E and set up for a splash, but Big E avoided it and hit a Big Ending and covered. Jimmy had to break it up.
Big E missed a spear out to the floor, but snapped right back to his feet to drive Jimmy through the barricade at ringside. He tried the same with Jey, but he slipped out and pushed him into the timekeepers area. The Usos got to their feet, only to get splashed by Kofi from the top rope. Kofi attempted at pin on Jey in the ring, but got a near fall. Kofi then hit an SOS, but Jey one again kicked out at the last moment. Kofi then hit a cross body block from the top, and got the same result…[c]
The Usos set up for a superplex on Kofi from the apron to the floor, but he avoided it and Big E speared Jey Uso out to the floor. Kofi pulled Jey back in the ring and covered, but only got two. Kofi continued the assault on Jey, and placed him on the top rope. Kofi setup for a Superplex, but Jey shoved him down and sat down. Kofi went for a top rope head scissors, but Jey reversed into an avalanche powerbomb. He then hit a splash from the top and got the win.
The Usos defeated New Day at 17:32
After the match, the Usos celebrated as much as possible, while New Day looked dejected. After the match, Jimmy Uso talked about their exploits as opponents, and said the Smackdown Tag Division wouldn’t be the same without them both. Usos then asked them to join the team for Survivor Series, and they accepted. Backstage, Miz was on the phone talking about his movie, and he was insulted that the studio wanted Becky rather than him for a promotional appearance. Daniel Bryan walked up, and selected Rey Mysterio for their Survivor Series team. Miz said Rey hasn’t done anything since he returned. Bryan listed off his recent accomplishment, and Miz said he’s on the team only if he wins his match against Cien Almas later on. They then agreed they’d each pick someone for the last member of the team, and those two would have a match to determine who made the team. They both got weirded out again by their cooperation. Becky Lynch is next…[c]
My Take: A very entertaining match between The Usos and New Day that got a good amount of time and had some exciting moments. It’s worth going out of your way to see. The post match respect moment was expected, but both teams will be excellent editions to the match. Bryan and Miz continue to be a little too cooperative. This has to blow up sooner than later.
Footage was shown of Ronda’s promo from last night, and then Becky Lynch made her entrance in the arena. The crowd chanted part of Becky’s theme before chanting Becky’s name. She asked Ronda who she is to tell the champ anything? She said it was true that Ronda has a title, but she’s not a champion. Becky said a champion wills herself through adversity, injury, and defeat, but Ronda hasn’t been challenged….yet. She said she is the man, and at Survivor Series Ronda’s titanium body will be let down by her weak mind. Becky said she has been ground down and beaten and gotten back up more times than she can count.
Becky said she was not hand picked like Ronda, but here she is. The crowd began chanting. She said she wasn’t meant to be the main event, but here is is. She wasn’t meant to be the talk of the industry, but here she is. Becky then said she’s supposed to be happy that she has Ronda’s respect, but she’s not trying to earn her respect, she wants to take her arm. She then said Ronda might be the baddest bitch on the planet, “but at Survivor Series I’m going to make your mine.”
After the promo, Becky said she had worked herself up and she wanted a fight. Sanity’s music played, and they walked onstage. They then pointed to the back, and Nikki Cross walked out to a reaction. Becky was motionless, and asked who Nikki thought she was to step to the champ. Nikki grabbed the mic and told her she’d play with her. She then said let’s play repeatedly in an increasingly creepy manner. Becky grabbed the mic back and said the champ doesn’t play, the champ fights…[c]
My Take: Becky’s on another level right now. She’s beaming with confidence and crowds are responding to it. I think it would be a mistake to have either of the Women’s Champions to lose at Survivor Series, but we’ll see what they come up with. The UK crowd was happy to see Nikki Cross, as they should be.
3. Becky Lynch vs. Nikki Cross: Becky hit a waistlock takeover and went for a pin, but Nikki kicked out immediately. Nikki got fired up and hit Lynch with a head scissors. Lynch then dumped Nikki out to the floor. Becky tried to follow, but Nikki trapped her in the apron and beat her down. Becky escaped out to the floor, and slowed down Nikki by pulling her down off the apron. She then tossed her into the barricade and the led board, and then covered for two.
Nikki rolled up Becky for a two count. Becky hit a single leg dropkick, and got a two count of her own. After a moment, Becky hit an exploder and a flying forearm for a two count. They then traded forearms, and Nikki jumped on Becky’s back for a sleeper. Becky escaped, and Nikki hit a series of clotheslines and a bulldog. Nikki climbed to the top and hit a crossbody for a near fall. She then hit an inverted DDT for another. Becky tripped Nikki into the bottom rope, and then quickly pulled towards the center of the ring for the Disarmher and the victory.
Becky Lynch defeated Nikki Cross at 5:44
Backstage, Miz was lining up a selfie when Bryan walked up. Bryan said he had his choice for their team, and selected Jeff Hardy. Miz said he would be a great asset, but his choice always come through in the clutch….and Samoa Joe appeared from offscreen. Hardy vs. Joe will happen later. Rey Mysterio made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: A rather mediocre match between Becky and Nikki. It just never got out of second gear. It also kind of lived and died based on how the crowd reacted to Nikki’s offense being the surprise contestant, and they just didn’t react big enough for it to be elevated. Miz and Bryan are already imploding.
3. Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade Cien Almas: Almas was without Zelina Vega due to her injury at WWE Evolution. Rey’s hit several head-scissors out of the gate, but Almas hit a huge back elbow to take over on offense. He then hit a huge running knee lift that looked to catch Mysterio on the collar bone. Rey avoided a charging Almas in the corner, and he flipped and landed hard on the apron and floor. Mysterio tried to follow up with a flying headscissors on the floor, but Almas caught him and slammed him hard into the ring apron…[c]
Rey hit a springboard senton and a flying head-scissors in the ring. He then kicked Almas in the head and covered for a two count. Almas fired back with double knees in the corner twice, and pulled Rey into the middle of the ring for a two count. Almas went up top and went for his double jump Moonsault, but Rey got the knees up. Rey then set up for 619, but Almas avoided it. They tumbled out of the ring with Rey on Almas’s shoulders, and he stayed there. Almas went for a powerbomb, but Rey countered and sent him into the LED board.
Rey then ran into the ring and hit a sliding DDT under the ropes. A moment later in the ring, Rey hit a 619 and a splash for the win.
Rey Mysterio defeated Andrade Almas at 9:50
After the match, Rey celebrated right up until Randy Orton hit him with an RKO. Backstage, Bryan and Miz said they’d be out at ringside for Joe vs. Hardy. Miz was incredulous that Rey won his match. Paige will be out next to announce the Women’s Smackdown team…[c]
My Take: Rey Mysterio is going for it since his return to WWE. He has looked great in the ring, and is clearly the healthiest he’s been in years. Here’s hoping they get around to putting him a meaningful feud once Survivor Series comes and goes. Almas was also very good here, but he’s been largely invisible on Smackdown lately. I hope that changes as well.
Backstage, AJ Styles said being a WWE Superstar is hard work. He said he defended his Championship on two different continents against two different opponents. He said his reward was once again facing Brock Lesnar, who is more beast than man. He said he gave Brock all he had last year, and it still wasn’t enough, and the result could be the same again. AJ then made a promise that this year would be different, and he would bet Brock Lesnar. He said that wasn’t a prediction, it was a spoiler.
In the arena, Paige introduced Carmella, who made her entrance with R-Truth. She was followed by Naomi, Sonya Deville, Asuka, and finally Charlotte Flair. But…it wasn’t Charlotte, it was Mandy Rose….with a microphone. Mandy said she wasn’t the blonde they ordered, but….surprise! Paige told her that she wasn’t taking Charlotte’s spot on the team, but asked why she chose Sonya over her, because she eliminated her in the Battle Royal.
She mocked the other competitors. She called Asuka yesterday’s news, Carmella’s title reign short and pointless like her dancing, and asked if anyone still feels like glow…maybe her husband? This prompted Naomi to start a brawl. Sonya pulled Mandy and Naomi apart…and they stared each other down to close the segment…[c]
My Take: AJ’s promo was good, but the women’s segment lacked focus. They haven’t done enough work with Mandy and Sonya to have a conflict between them mean anything.
Jeff Hardy made his entrance, followed by Samoa Joe. Miz and Bryan were on commentary.
4. Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe: Hardy hit a Whisper in the Wind early on, and Joe retreated out to the floor. Hardy followed with a double axe handle from the apron to the floor. Joe fired back in the ring with a knee lift and a running back elbow…[c]
Joe applied a neck crank and grounded Hardy. This portion of the match slowed down so Miz and Bryan could bicker on commentary about who was a better leader. Joe and Hardy ended up on the floor, and Hardy ran the barricade and hit a splash. He then hit an inverted atomic drop inside the ring, followed by low dropkick for a near fall. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch, and Jeff reversed with a jawbreaker. Hardy then went for a Swanton, but Joe got the knees up. He then applied the Coquina Clutch and got the win.
Samoa Joe defeated Jeff Hardy at 9:14
After the match, Samoa Joe ran up to Daniel Bryan and gloated in his face. Bryan smashed him with forearms and Joe tossed him into the ring. Bryan pulled him into the Yes Lock. Miz broke it up, and Bryan dropped him. Shane McMahon ran down to break it up, and Bryan hip tossed him over his shoulder. Shane looked angry, and Bryan stormed out of the ring up the ramp.
My Take: Not much of a match, but the larger story is the Survivor Series team being fractured, and I’m sure that will be the story headed into the PPV for both teams. Which one will cooperate, and which one will implode when it counts. The show is coming fast, and it’s going to be difficult to make any of this feel important in the remaining week to promote the show. Overall, this was an entertaining episode of Smackdown, even if the Survivor Series push seems a bit rushed and unfocused.