By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Aired live from Detroit, Michigan at Little Caesars Arena
The announce team of Tom Philips, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show. Charlotte’s music hit and she made her way to the ring. Charlotte spoke about cutting it in the pro wrestling industry, and the dedication it takes. She said some people have it, and some people quit and do something else. She said her opponent Trish Stratus decided to leave just as the Women’s Evolution was starting, and went home to have a family and a minivan.
She said Trish coming back to have one more match is a sign that Charlotte’s success eats her up inside. She’s jealous and now she wants to come back for one more match to bleed some of the glory of the hard work put in the new generation of women. She then threw to a video package that was supposed to be her career accomplishments, but instead it was a Trish highlight reel. After the video, Charlotte looked disgusted as Trish’s music hit and she made her way to the ring.
Trish said that wasn’t what she was expecting, and that makes her angry, because the Queen is used to getting what she wants. Charlotte said she thought she saw her minivan in the staff parking lot. Trish said she had that video played to show Charlotte why she’s there. She claimed to be the reason Charlotte has gotten all these groundbreaking opportunities. Trish then agreed with Charlotte that she had been dreaming of one more match, to prove it to her kids, her fans, and herself that she could still do it.
She told Charlotte she was the queen, but she was not Trish Stratus. Charlotte told her that this would be her nightmare, and on Sunday she would make her bow to the queen. Trish then slapped Charlotte across the face. Charlotte laughed and left the ring, and then smiled up the ramp. The announce team hyped an interview with Roman Reigns, but Ziggler vs. Rey Mysterio is next…[c]
My Take: Either this was a very tough room, or the crowd wasn’t all that enamored with the pairing of Charlotte with Trish Stratus. The promo wasn’t bad, but it feels very surface level in terms of psychology, and it’s obvious that this program was just built around this being a dream match rather than telling a meaningful story. I hope the match is better than the promos have been.
Video was shown of the Goldberg vs. Dolph Ziggler announcement from Raw. Goldberg’s music hit in the arena, and Dolph Ziggler did a terrible imitation of him. Rey Mysterio made his entrance, and Dolph blindsided him as he got close to the ring. Dolph beat him down and hit a superkick. Agents and refs ran down to check on Mysterio. Ziggler managed to pull him to his feet and hit another superkick. He then picked up a microphone and said another legend goes down to DZ. He said they can keep coming back, and the same thing will happen to them. Ziggler said Goldberg says he’s next, but the match at SummerSlam would be his last.
Ali’s music hit and he ran down and checked on Rey. He then blasted Ziggler with a wheel kick in the ring, and hit a suicide dive on Ziggler after he rolled out of the ring…[c]
1. Dolph Ziggler vs. Ali: The match began split screen during the commercials. Ali got a two count with an early rollup, but Ziggler took control quickly by sending him crashing to the floor. Back in the ring, Ziggler grabbed a headlock for a bit until Ali fought back to his feet and hit a dropkick. As the break ended, Ali started his comeback and hit a kick to the face and a sit out facebuster for a near fall. Ziggler took advantage of the referee being out of position for an eye poke, and then hit a big lariat. Ziggler got ready for his superkick, but Ali avoided it and rolled him up for another near fall. Ziggler got to his feet and hit a superkick for the win.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Ali at 5:32
After the match, Ziggler celebrated and walked to the back. The announce team then threw to some video of Roman Reign’s recent saga. His interview is up next…[c]
My Take: Ziggler’s beat down of Rey was odd, particularly treating him like a has been that just shows up for nostalgia, when he’s on TV just about every week. Ali coming out would have been more effective had he done it during the beat down, instead of after Ziggler had time to add insult to injury by monologuing about it. The match was decent but nothing you’ll remember next week. WWE also showed a camera angle from the perspective of the car that hit Roman Reign’s SUV on Raw, which is another silly production mistake that wouldn’t happen on better television shows.
The announce team threw to more footage of Raw, with a recap of the Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar beating from Raw. The announce team questioned whether he could compete on Sunday. The announce team then went over the SummerSlam card. The Roman Reigns interview was then shown. Kayla Braxton asked how he was keeping it together. He said that he’s gone through a lot this year, but he always knew what was next and what to expect. He said he was in the dark, and he has no idea who was attacking him. Kayla asked about his safety, and Roman replied that WWE had offered him extra security, but he’s a man that does things on his own.
Kayla then asked who he thought it was. Roman then took time to publicly apologize to Samoa Joe, and said he would get some answers tonight. Natalya was then shown backstage. She taked on Ember Moon next…[c]
My Take: Roman showed absolutely no fire here. He should be much angrier about someone time to actually kill him twice, but instead he’s acting like he’s been the subject to a minor nuisance. Baffling character choice.
The announce team acknowledged the death of Harley Race, and played the video package covering his accomplishments and stories about his excellence from WWE Superstars and Legends.
Natalya made her entrance. Footage was shown of Nattie holding Becky Lynch in the sharpshooter until she was DQ’d on Raw. Ember Moon then made her entrance.
2. Natalya vs. Ember Moon: Natalya tossed Ember around and landed some punches in the corner. Ember fired back with a superkick and an STO. The action spilled outside, where Ember hit a stiff dropkick that sent Nattie into the barricade. Nattie fired back with a clothesline and applied the Sharpshooter. She held the hold on the outside until there was a double countout.
The match ended in a double countout at 3:55
After the match Bayley ran down and pulled Nattie off of Ember. Nattie shoved her and walked away. Xavier Woods and Big E have a match with Bryan and Rowan later tonight. Shane McMahon is on the KO Show next…[c]
My Take: I would have liked to see that match happen again sometime when they can get more time. What we saw was pretty good. That said, trying to get Natalya over as a heel willing to break the rules in two days has been very flat.
Kevin Owens was in the ring. He demanded Shane McMahon come out so they could get this over with. Shane made his entrance and demanded Greg Hamilton announce him. Kevin Owens rolled to the ring and pulled the mic away from Greg and said they’ve heard enough of that crap. Owens said people have asked him why he didn’t ask Shane to put his career on the line at SummerSlam, and he’s said it’s because of his last name. The McMahons get to do and say whatever they want, so he never bothered.
Owens said he thought about it, and he changed his mind. He demanded that Shane put his money where his mouth is and put his career on the line, so when Owens wins everybody gets what they want. Shane gave an emphatic no, and reminded Owens that he was the one who offered up that stipulation in the first place. Shane said there was no shame in losing to the best in the world, and listed all the ways that he could beat Kevin Owens if he wanted to. Shane said KO’s career would be over even if he were to get counted out or disqualified.
Owens then said that whole diatribe was just to say no? He then said Shane has just proven what everyone long suspected, and that’s the fact that he has no balls. Shane said he can see the hostility in Owen’s face, and said they should give peopel a preview of Sunday. They geared up to fight when Elias showed up and attacked Owens. The action spilled to the outside, where Shane got thrown over the anounce table, and Owens hit a stunner on Elias on the announce table.
Shane recovered and tripped Owens onto the announce table, and then tipped it over on top of him. Shane then stomped and punched a trapped Owens. He then set a chair on his face and gave it a running dropkick. He then got down in Owens face and talked trash about him being done on Sunday…[c]
My Take: Shane physically dominating Owens puts some heat on him for Sunday I guess, but will they pay it off satisfactorily? And what is the cost to Kevin Owens for having to sell for Shane McMahon like he’s a serious wrestler? What is the consequence if Shane loses the match? Owens may get his revenge, but nothing will change.
Sami Zayn made his way to the ring. He said last week he offered Aleister Black a gift, a match at SummerSlam. He responded with silence, and locked himself in his safe room, so everyone can talk about how cool he is. He claimed Black loved the adulation of the parasites in the crowd too much, and he wouldn’t come out and face him. Black’s music then hit, and he said the match wasn’t happening at SummerSlam, it was happening right now. They showed an awkward camera angle of Black talking while he was laying down on his table for his entrance, and he looked like a dork. Black then made his entrance.
3. Aleister Black vs. Sami Zayn: Black hit a kick that sent Zayn to the floor…[c]
Zayn and Black went back and forth during the break, and as the show came back Zayn pummeled Black with fists after knocking him down with a lariat. He then hit a clothesline and covered for a two count. The match then slowed down with Zayn working a hold for a bit. Black started his comeback when Zayn telegraphed a backdown. He then hit a kick to the gut and tow back elbows. He then hit a running knee and fired up for the crowd. Black hit a springboard moonsault, followed by a knee lift. He then finished him off with Black Mass.
Aleister Black defeated Sami Zayn at 5:58
Backstage, Shelton Benjamin was asked if he ever saw himself competing fo the WWE 24/7 Championship. He said well…..and then walked away with a smirk. Big E and Xavier Woods vs. Daniel Bryan and Rowan is next.
We then got a Firefly Funhouse where Bray walked up on Husky the Pig that was gorging itself on candy. He said just like Husky eats candy to cover up his insecurities, Finn Balor’s courage is just ignorance in disguise. He then took on a darker tone, and said Finn had invited the fiend to his doorstep. He said they had been hurting for so long now, and it was time for Finn Balor to hurt. The show then cut to images of the fiend, and more “let me in” calling from Bray and The Fiend…[c]
My Take: The Fun House is exactly that, a “Fun House Mirror” view of the madness going on in Bray Wyatt’s head. It’s a very interesting concept for a wrestling presentation, and I hope the quality stays high like it has been. It’s one of the best things going on the show by far.
The announce team threw to a trailer for WWE 2K20. Backstage, Elias walked up to Chad Gable and made a bunch of bad jokes about his height. He made reference to a Randy Newman song about short people not having a reason to live. What a bizarre escalation. The announce team then threw to a video package for Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton. It was a well done video to tell the story of Kofi and Randy over the last decade.
After the video, New Day made their entrance. They were followed by Bryan and Rowan.
4. New Day vs. Bryan and Rowan: Bryan started out hot and went after Woods, but he was quickly reversed with a head scissors. Woods then hit Bryan with a kick that sent him reeling to the floor. Woods then splashed Bryan on the floor…[c]
Big E turned Bryan inside out with a clothesline for a near fall. Big E then wheelbarrow slammed Woods onto Bryan for another two count. Bryan managed to drag Woods back to his corner and tag in Rowan. Rowan hit a big slam and pointed at Big E, which gave Woods enough time to recover and back Rowan into the corner for mounted punches. Rowan quickly regained his bearings and hit a high impact cross body.
Bryan tagged himself if and worked over Woods, but he got leveled with two elbows. Bryan made a cover to Rowan, who was able to keep Woods from crawling to his corner for a tag. Rowan dragged Woods out to the floor and threw him into the steps, and then into the timekeepers area…[c]
Woods hit a top rope dropkick on Rowan, and started to crawl for a tag. Big E made the hot tag, along with Bryan, and hit three belly to belly suplexes. Big E then hit a big splash and fired up for the Big Ending, bug Bryan took his knee out with a dropkick. Bryan hit several kicks, but got rolled up by Big E for two. Big E then pulled Bryan into a Stretch Muffler, but Bryan was able to reverse into the LeBell Lock after a few seconds.
Big E turned the Lebell Lock over into a rollup, but Bryan grabbed a triangle. Big E picked him up and hit a powerbomb for a two count. Bryan hit some strikes and then tagged in Rowan, who hit a spin kick for a near fall. Rowan picked up Big E, but he slipped out and tagged in Woods. Rowan missed the tag and got hit by a clothesline from Big E. Woods then hit a top rope Elbow on Rowan, but Bryan broke up the fall. Big E then speared Bryan through the ropes.
Woods tried to dive on Rowan on the outside, but he picked up the steps and Woods crashed into them for a DQ finish. Rowan hit Big E with the steps. Rowan then gave Big E and Iron Claw slam in the ring. Bryan followed up with a running knee on Woods.
New Day defeated Bryan and Rowan by DQ at 19:33
After the match, Roman Reigns walked into the locker room and tried to get an answer from Buddy Murphy about his attacker, since he saw him in the hallway last week. Murphy replied that he didn’t know, but even if he did, he wouldn’t tell him anyway. Reigns then tossed him around the locker room and then pressed him for more information. Murphy revealed that he saw Rowan, and Reigns asked if he meant Daniel Bryan and Rowan, but Murphy said he just saw Rowan. Bryan and Rowan were shown in the ring looking at the video feed on the screen without any expression as the show ended.
My Take: A very well executed tag team match. I wish we got Main Events of that caliber more often, and that kind of attention paid to the tag division on a regular basis. The Reigns mystery took a turn a lot of people expected with Bryan and Rowan being suspects, but it may yet take additional turns. There were a few segments tonight that were highly focused on SummerSlam, but I don’t know if this effort sold anyone on the show that wasn’t already planning on watching.