Hey there, guys. This is your weekly SmackDown report, coming to you from the United Kingdom after a…well, really pretty weird SummerSlam. I actually used this PPV to showcase to my cousin why I watch this strange yet compelling form of entertainment, and whilst matches like Styles vs. Cena and Rollins vs. Balor were a godsend in not making me look completely insane, the Orton/Lesnar contest and the overall length of the PPV really let it end on a bum note.
It was, I have to say, pretty gratifying to see the reactions of someone who’s had second or third-hand accounts of WWE sitting down to watch a full show. The Banks/Charlotte match surprised him more than anything, as he was more familiar with the quality of women’s wrestling from around 2010; the amount of ‘holy fucking shit’s that were spaken during that contest was definitely a good sign.
And now we’re on the other side of the biggest party of the summer, Dean Ambrose is still our World Champion and Randy Orton spent Sunday night looking like the industry’s biggest bitch. Apollo Crews didn’t get the job done and AJ Styles is king of the whole fucking planet. So…let’s see what happens next.
Bunch of jobbers backstage with Dolph Ziggler, and AJ Styles shows up to accept fealty and tell them the way to catering. He’s also wearing Cena’s armband as a headband, which says a lot about how terrifyingly massive John Cena actually is.
Styles spots Ziggler looking sorry for himself, and decides that the best thing he can do is be a huge dick about it. Dolph jumps him and gets in a few good shots before they’re separated by the jobbers and some referees who just appeared from fucking nowhere. Technically, Styles just broke Ziggler out of his sulk, so it could be argued that he did the exact right thing and is showing real leadership qualities.
Post-intro, a bunch of tag teams and women are in the ring. Ah, tag teams and women: the minorities of the wrestling world. Shane and Bryan come out, and Shane had better fucking challenge Lesnar to a match at whatever old-name new-PPV is coming up next. Except he should have Bryan wrestle Lesnar as his substitute, because…duh.
Shane talks up Bryan as a general management figure, despite the fact that he hovers over Bryan nigh-constantly and allows him no independence. Long and short of this whole thing is, they’re giving the women and the tag team division some belts. Bryan tells the ladies that their match on Sunday was fantastic, and how does it feel to lie on national television, you bearded fuck? At Backlash, we’re having a women’s six-pack challenge to decide who will be the new SmackDown Women’s Champion. Becky looks pretty happy, because she’s thinking of a different kind of six-pack challenge and reckons she’s got it in the bag, being Irish and all.
Bryan then introduces the SmackDown Tag Team belts, the owners of which will be the winners of the tag team tournament, the final match of which will also be at Backlash. He’s about to go on, but Heath Slater shows up, looking to claim either the Tag Team or Women’s Championship. Bryan says he can’t go for the Women’s Title, and did you just assume Heath Slater’s gender, you scruffy shitlord?
Heath Slater says that he’s not a woman and says that he was talking about the Tag Team Championships. Oh right: multiple personalities. Shane tries to throw up a roadblock by claiming that Slater is only one dude, but Heath says that he’s going to find himself a partner by the end of the night. If he wins the whole tournament, apparently he gets a SmackDown contract. Holy fuck, I’m actually invested in a Heath Slater angle.
AJ Styles appears, demanding that everyone focus on him before declining Slater’s offer to be his tag team partner. Ziggler suddenly dives on Styles out of nowhere, and the tag teams pitch in to keep the two of them apart before we go to break.
Well, that belt doesn’t look at all familiar
When we come back, it’s Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss, with the Irish Lasskicker looking to win back some prestige from both SmackDown and SummerSlam. Naomi and Natalya are at ringside, scouting out the competition ahead of time, and the bell rings.
Both women lock up, with Bliss pushing Becky on the ropes before Lynch shoves her away. Becky grabs Alexa’s wrist; Alexa throws her over, but Becky keeps working the arm, putting Bliss on the floor. Alexa elbows Lynch away from her, blocks a hip toss and takes Becky over with a headlock. Becky immediately latches onto Alexa’s arm; Alexa tosses Becky into the ropes, throat-first, then snaps a kick into the back of her head.
Bliss throws forearms at the back of Lynch’s head, then throws her face-first on to the floor, stomping on her skull. Pin gets a two count, and now Bliss grasps the arm and neck of Becky, wrenching her back to the ground before Lynch can break out of it. She reapplies the hold, with Becky right in the centre of the ring. The Irish Lasskicker works her way up to her feet, and takes some knees to the gut for her trouble. Becky suddenly rocks Bliss with a chop, then a clothesline, and another, then a calf kick!
Flying forearm to a cornered Bliss connects, but Alexa then leapfrogs over Becky, rolling her up for a cradle pin for two! She comes off the ropes, wheelbarrow-arm drags Becky, but Lynch is able to lock in the DisArmer! Bliss taps!
Great match to kick off the show, with some fantastic chain wrestling. Bliss already looks like she belongs, and Becky came across as a really strong contender. 3 Stars.
Slater has already begun his quest for a tag team partner, and his first choice is apparently the Miz. Miz seems pretty keen on the idea…and he’s actually on the phone underneath his hood. Damn, I’m already emotionally invested in Slater, and that really hurt.
Poor, poor Ascension
This is going to be the first round of the SmackDown Tag Team Titles Tournament. Here’s the Ascension, who will be getting fed to the Usos for your viewing pleasure.
The Ascension jump the Usos immediately following the bell, hitting a cross between a Hart Attack and a Doomsday Device on Jimmy to almost get the pin. Viktor throws Jimmy at Konor, who comes off the top with a clothesline to the Uso, following that up with another hard lariat.
Viktor tags in, wrenching back on the face of Jimmy Uso, then chops away at him in the corner. Konor comes back in, dropping a leg on the skull of Jimmy, then Spock-pinches his shoulders before realising that’s stupid and throws him into the corner. Jimmy rallies with a roll-up, and hits a dragon whip enzuigiri to the head of Konor: both men make the tag!
Jey Uso comes in with a crossbody, then hits a superkick to Victor. Samoan drop puts the Ascension member down, but Konor knocks him down, preventing the Samoan Wrecking Ball. Jimmy superkicks Konor, sending him to the outside, ducks a clothesline from Viktor and dives out onto him. Jey hits a superkick and a splash to Uso, getting the win!
Obvious result was obvious, but it wasn’t a bad match. Little formulaic, but the Ascension oddly looked more dangerous than they have in years. Unfortunately…not saying much. 2 Stars.
Here’s AJ Styles for, like, the third time tonight already. Ever feel like he’s a little insecure about being the new Face That Runs The Place? Definitely trying too hard. If Ziggler attacks him again, then this will basically be the WWE’s version of Peter Griffin and the Giant Chicken fighting. I wouldn’t even hate that.
The crowd chants for Styles, who has to actually get them to stop so that he can talk about how nobody’s happy about him beating John Cena: that was fantastic. He says he did exactly what he said that he was going to do: beat up John Cena, and beat him right in the centre of the ring. He tells Cena fans that they shouldn’t worry: they can be AJ Styles fans now. Aw, shucks.
Styles says that he should be the new number one contender for the WWE Championship…and here’s Ziggler again! Let them fight! Bryan shows up, saying that he’s not going to let Ziggler and Styles ruin the show. What, by not fighting? Bryan says that if they want to do this, then they’ll have a legally sanctioned match. If Styles win, then he’s the new number one contender, and if Ziggler wins, then it’s Styles, Ziggler and Ambrose in a triple threat match.
These Curt Hawkins facts are like someone in WWE Creative just heard of Chuck Norris, googled it, and then thought ‘that’s fantastic: stealing it’.
With Carmella having a quasi-Mafia gimmick, this was hardly surprising
Here’s Carmella, and she’ll be facing Nikki Bella in tonight’s second women’s match. Renee Young is in the ring, ready to interview Nikki Bella about what it feels like to come back from a neck injury and be drafted to the second-fiddle show. Nikki goes to answer that, but Carmella jumps her, beating her down in seconds. At least one women’s match per show never goes to plan, does it? Carmella finishes the beatdown with the Bella Buster, and I still have trouble seeing her as a heel.
Here’s Randy Orton who, after last Sunday, is probably carrying Brock Lesnar’s child. Randy Orton got beaten up so badly that Chris Jericho, a forty-six year old man, defended his honour. Jesus Christ put up more of a fight on Good Friday, and he actually healed the one guy in the crucifixion posse who got injured.
Orton says that he bet we weren’t expecting to seem him tonight, and no, Randy: I was pretty much expecting you to be hiding in a battered man’s shelter. Orton says that he was in a hell of a fight, which is like the pig carcass Rocky used as a punching bag saying it once fought the World Boxing Champion. He says that he’d rather the match ended any other way, and I’m pretty sure that most of the people watching hoped that too.
Randy says that one day, his and Lesnar’s paths will cross again, and suddenly Bray Wyatt’s music starts. He makes his way out and sits on a rocking chair outside the ring, and let’s all applaud Orton for not bleeding out and being unable to continue this conversation. Bray mocks Orton for his loss, somewhat less viciously than I am, and calls him ‘just a man’. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that Orton got beaten down a few places on the food chain. But Bray Wyatt’s apparently a God, and Gods don’t die. Unless they’re in Clash of the Titans, but I digress.
Orton looks ready for a fight, or at the very least to be promptly beaten into bloody unconsciousness again, but Bray Wyatt just vanishes. All that was missing was Heath Slater asking Wyatt if he could be his tag team partner.
Shane McMahon, who only put up the second-worst fight against Brock Lesnar on Sunday, is backstage with an interviewer. Apparently Steph says that there will be repercussions, and Shane says that she’ll do jack shit: he’s going to be the one to handle Lesnar. See, both Orton and Shane said that their and Lesnar’s paths will cross again, and Shane managed to make that statement seem more intimidating.
Heath Slater is in the locker room, trying to recruit Arn Anderson. Holy shit, I’d pop for that. What’s happening to me? Apparently Arn is Slater’s last chance, and did we miss a lot of potentially-hilarious interactions? Suddenly, Rhyno shows up and tells Slater that he’ll be his partner. Holy fuck: I’m actually on board with this. Damn you, WWE: you win again.
Tyler Breeze is too good for this world
Speaking of the Tag Team Title Tournament, here’s Breezango: the team who is just building up to the moment where they finally make out with each other for the biggest pop in SmackDown history. But tonight they’ll be facing American Alpha, so this is not going to go well.
Gable waistlocks Fandango, who reaches the ropes for the break. Fandango manages to snapmare Gable, who quickly outwrestles him with some takedowns and takeovers. Breeze comes in, gets armdragged, and Jordan tags in. Both members of American Alpha hit dropkicks, stereo-takeovers and throw Breezango out off the ring.
Inverted atomic drop from Jordan, who locks Breeze’s arm. Gable tags back in for some more mat wrestling, and American Alpha have so far dominated Breezango. Jordan comes in again, working the arm before tagging in Gable. The ref is distracted, and Breezango are able to work together to take Gable down before the break.
When we come back, Gable is skinning the cat back into the ring, taking Fandango out in doing so. Breeze throws Fandango back into the ring after Gable, who’s crawling towards Jordan. Fandango tags out, and Tyler dashes towards Jordan. He throws a punch, which misses, and suddenly Gable’s past him and he’s tagged in Jordan! Jordan takes Tyler down with authority, and belly-to-bellys an interfering Fandango!
Spear to Tyler in the corner, and Jordan tags in Gabriel. A dropkick into a German suplex gets two, but Fandango is just able to break up the pin. Both Gable and Breeze are down, and Jordan is calling for the tag. He tags himself in, taking Breeze up on his shoulders as Gable climbs to the top rope. Fandango throws Gable off the top, with Breeze almost catching Jordan with a roll-up!
Breeze ducks a forearm in the corner, hitting a superkick to the face! Gable breaks up the pin, saving the match, and then takes Fandango out of the ring. Jordan rolls up Breeze for two, then takes an enzuigiri for two himself. Breeze wants a superkick, but takes a leg-capture belly-to-belly instead! Spear in the corner, then a Grand Amplitude for an American Alpha victory!
Great match with more layers than I expected. Good job by both teams. 3 Stars.
Dean Ambrose is backstage in a huge hat, and he gets interviewed about the potential triple threat match. He’s not exactly worried, or even a hundred percent aware of it.
Shit, put Ziggler in the match anyway
Here’s Dean Ambrose again, this time making his entrance to the arena and sans the giant hat. Ziggler and Styles follow him out, and this match to decide how many number one contenders there are gets underway.
Styles and Ziggler struggle with each other, chain-wrestling until Styles locks himself up in the ropes. They begin again, with Ziggler grasping the leg of Styles and getting decked in the face for it. AJ rocks Ziggler’s head off the turnbuckle, but he’s taken up and over, and now Dolph’s on his back, locking in a sleeper. Styles manages to scoot out of the ring, and takes his time coming back in. When he does, Ziggler laces him with clotheslines, then puts him on his ass with a dropkick that sends him right through the ropes, out of the ring, and into a commercial break.
When we come back, Styles has regained control and is beating Ziggler down in a corner. He whips Dolph across the ring, but misses a stinger splash, allowing Ziggler to regain his feet. Dolph pounds Styles in the face, but then has his Irish whip reversed on him, hitting the turnbuckle face-first and as hard as I’ve ever seen anyone hit it.
Backbreaker from AJ Styles gets two, and Styles has slowed down the pace, keeping Ziggler grounded. A fist to the face staggers Dolph, and other knocks him down. He gets up, however, only to receive a roundhouse to put him down once again. Suddenly, Dolph latches onto Styles again, going for a roll-up before just being clubbed away. Styles continues his methodical beatdown in the corner, not allowing Ziggler to get back out of the box. Ziggler suddenly fires up, punching Styles away from him and trying to whip him into the corner. AJ reverses the whip and charges at a cornered Ziggler, but is elevated out onto the apron!
Ziggler throws punches, trying to knock Styles out to the floor and so gain some recovery time. Styles catches him between the ropes, however, and hits a savage knee to the chest, followed by a neckbreaker. We go to our final break and, when we come back, Styles has Ziggler in a sleeper, miles away from the ropes. Dolph tries to fight out of it, and Styles breaks the hold to shut him down before he can do so.
AJ wrenches the arm of Ziggler, who is able to fight back with punches. Styles puts him down once again, looking a little frustrated now, but he runs right into a huge dropkick! Both men are down, and the ref’s started the count. Dolph grabs the ropes, hauling himself up to his feet; Styles beats him to it, but Ziggler hits him with clotheslines again and again, hitting an elbow drop for two.
Ziggler misses a charge to the corner, but is able to hit the Fameasser for another two count! Both men take their time getting to their feet, and Styles counters a Zig-Zag, hitting the ushigoroshi! Bodyslam to Ziggler, and then Styles goes for the springboard 450, only for Ziggler to roll out of the way and hit the Satellite DDT for another near fall! Styles counters a superkick, going for the Styles Clash. Ziggler avoids the move, sending Styles into the ropes and he hits the Zig-Zag! But Styles kicks out of it!
Styles ducks another superkick, tying Ziggler’s legs in the ropes before kicking one of the ropes into Dolph’s crotch. Ziggler staggers away, and turns right into a Styles Clash to end his number one contender hopes.
Hell of a match, especially on free TV. No improvements needed. 5 Stars.
Styles tries to get in Ambrose’s face after the match, knocking off his headset. Dean seems grimly amused, going eye-to-eye with Styles, who eventually backs off, still grinning at him.
This was a great show. Brilliant main event, with some decent comedy, some tag matches, women’s matches and storyline furthering. No complaints. 8/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Becky Lynch, Breezango, Brock Lesnar, Carmella, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Heath Slater, jbl, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Shane McMahon, smackdown, The Ascension, The Miz, the usos