The 6 hour spectacular known as Summer Slam happened 48 hours ago, and that means that we are due up for another episode of Smackdown Live. This week we see lots of big announcements, a return and we start to set the stage for the next PPV, Backlash. How all of this gets executed though, gets decided by me and you, so let’s go backstage to start off the review.
The show kicks off with a segment between a group of the wrestlers backstage and AJ Styles. AJ is ecstatic that he beat John Cena at Summerslam. He comes over to a sad Ziggler, and makes fun of him being so ill over his loss on Sunday. Ziggler gets angry, and they start brawling, but the fighting doesn’t last long with the other wrestlers nearby breaking it up. This was a very quick start to the show. I love this reoccurring theme that we get from Smackdown with segments that are under a minute kicking off the show. What I don’t like, is that among the wrestlers that broke up the fight, Erick Rowan was one of them. Do you think that Erick Rowan would really care to break up a backstage fight? That’s not really his character, like at all.
We get our great Smackdown intro, then the cameras cut to the ring, with our new Smackdown Tag Team Championships, and the new Smackdown Women’s Championship. Bryan and Shane are talking in the ring, with tag teams and women’s wrestlers standing nearby. Bryan announces that both championships will be handed to wrestlers at the Backlash PPV, with the Women’s championship being given away via 6-pack challenge in the next few weeks, and the tag titles being crowned through a tournament. After they announce that, Heath Slater comes out to try to get a Smackdown contract, for the third time. He makes a deal with the GM’s that if he can find a tag partner tonight, he will be put in the tag tournament.
The championships that get shown off in this segment I have mixed emotions about. I think that the tag championship is nice because it is a more blue version of the RAW tag titles, and it’s easy to tell it apart. The Smackdown Women’s Championship however, looks barely different from all of the other titles, making it very confusing. The RAW and Smackdown singles and women’s belts all now look the same. The Heath Slater part of this was also very good, with there being lots of great banter between him and the GM’s. I do wonder if he can stay a fresh gimmick with the tag tournament IF he gets entered into it.
In the heat of all of this, AJ Styles comes out and complains about what is going on, but before fitting a full sentence in he gets jumped by Dolph Ziggler. We go to commercials with everyone ringside trying to break up the fight.
Match 1: Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss (Six Pack Challenge Part 1)
We come back from commercials, and the fight is nowhere to be seen, and Becky Lynch is facing Alexa Bliss. But why? Why couldn’t this match happen later and we could get a little, just A LITTLE more context on what happened before the commercials. It’s like having a cliffhanger to end one movie, but the sequel won’t acknowledge it until an hour in. Commentary doesn’t mention it like they never saw it. The way to book this seems practical in my head!
But back to the matter in the ring, Becky Lynch got a quick win via The Disarmer, with Natalya and Naomi on the commentary with the usual pack. This Becky match was decent, but I have never been too much of a fan of the “Straight Fire” move that Lynch does. It has all of this hype at the with the scream and everything, but after that we just get a weak forearm in the corner. I don’t know about you, I just think it needs to be dropped like it’s hot. Whoops! That’s a dated reference. I’m not Mauro Ranallo so I’ll cut it out.
Match 2: The Ascension vs The Usos (Tag Team Tournament Round 1)
To kick off the Tag Team Championship Tournament, we get The Usos facing The Ascension. Now I usually say that The Usos are very bland, or that they are not that entertaining, but The Usos did a pretty good match and they really showed off. The Ascension were basically jobbing in this match, with them being the ones who would always set themselves up for a spot. I don’t have much of an issue in this case, but The Ascension are basically useless right now. They haven’t been in a real story for around a year, but hopefully after a few more losses they can have a decent angle. It’s a decent angle, but the real fear is that the gimmick is useless now that they have lost to everyone. The Usos won this match via Frogsplash.
AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan Segment
After a few decent matches, we get another talking segment, this time with AJ Styles. After enough bragging and claiming that he deserves a title shot, here comes Ziggler again being held back by what looks like businessmen for some reason. Before anything chaotic breaks out, Bryan comes out and books a match for later tonight. It’s Ziggler versus Styles, with a very confusing stipulation. If Styles wins, he gets to fight Dean Ambrose. If Ziggler wins, the title match at Backlash becomes a triple threat match. This stipulation took a while for me to figure out, but after a while it made sense. AJ Styles is guaranteed a match no matter what because he has not lost to Dean yet. It’s either I’m very slow, or that stipulation was very confusing.
Match 3: Carmella vs Nikki Bella
It’s the return of Nikki Bella, but it’s not as glorious as the majority of returns. She gets interviewed while in the ring by Renee, but before she can say anything significant, Carmella jumps her. Carmella does a heel turn in this segment, and ends it with Carmella doing the Bella Buster, a move previously used by Brie and Nikki. I think that this segment was good, and in hindsight it’s a good idea to have more female heel wrestlers on Smackdown. What did we have before? Just Eva Marie and Natalya?
Randy Orton Speaks Out!
It’s been a while since Summerslam, and Randy Orton has decided to speak out about Lesnar’s actions upon him last Sunday. As Randy was just getting started, he gets interrupted by Bray Wyatt. Bray does the usual metaphorical talk, but instead of beating someone up, he disappears after a flash of darkness. Before we go to commercials, Shane gets interviewed backstage and says that his “issues with Brock Lesnar aren’t finished”. Some people are saying that this is teasing a match with Lesnar in the future, and I sure as hell hope not. We will see in the future how that one plays out. But the talking in the ring, did not play out that well. I think that this segment was a big waste, because it did not move any stories forward, it just teased one storyline. And by the way, we will be seeing segments like that much more often with the brands getting 2 months to build up for their PPV’s now.
Match 4: Breezango vs American Alpha (Tag Team Tournament Round 1)
Before our next match, Heath Slater finally finds a tag partner. Who is it? It’s Rhyno! The same man who costed Slater a contract a couple weeks ago. Our next match ties into that storyline, with the Tag Team Tournament continuing on. In this round 1 match, Breezango gets matched up against American Alpha. This match was given quite the amount of time, but American Alpha did a good job at keeping it high octane, and Breezango was able to hang. Breezango has never really had matches this fast, but they were able to keep up with the pace of AA, and that’s very commendable.
Match 5: Dolph Ziggler vs AJ Styles
It’s time for the main event of the evening, this main event having a big stipulation to it. As mentioned earlier, if AJ Styles wins the match, he faces Ambrose for the title at Backlash. However, if Ziggler wins, that match becomes a triple threat match. Similar to the stipulation, this match was genuinely creative. It had lots of good spots, but I did not like the pace of this match. WWE made their first mistake by making this match start at 9:30, giving it a full 30 minutes to play out. The end of this match and the start were both very entertaining and worth the watch, but the middle was terribly dry. Styles won this match via Styles Clash. It shocked me that Styles got the win and that the match will be a singles match at Backlash, but I think that it might be better that way. I can see Ziggler staying in the limelight, but with such a small roster you can’t waste rivalries by bundling them together like doing triple threat matches.
That ends off Smackdown this week! We saw a pretty bad introduction to the show, but the show picked up near the end and still was more entertaining that RAW. I’m team blue until the end, or at least until things go sideways. But based off the past few weeks of programming, it will be a while until then.