August 2nd, 2016
From the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN
Your hosts are David Otunga, JBL, and Mauro Ranallo
The show opens with Bryan and Shane backstage with Orton as they watched the clip from RAW last night when Orton hit Brock Lesnar with the RKO. Shane tells Orton he put Smackdown in Jeopardy and that he will deal with the consequences later but adds that what Orton did was awesome. Orton said that all it takes is one RKO to beat Lesnar and walks away while Bryan instructs security to not let Lesnar into the building.
Miz and Maryse enter as the Miz says he is upset as to how he was treated last week. Bryan says Miz was not drafted because he was the champ but rather he was drafted so the Intercontinental Title would be a part of Smackdown. Bryan then adds that there will be a three-way #1 contender match tonight between Kalisto, Baron Corbin, and “Apollo Creed.” They sure have gone out of their way to make the Miz look like a scrub the past two weeks.
Ambrose heads out to the ring as a graphic on the right shows Ambrose and mentions how he is facing Ziggler for the Title at SummerSlam. These graphics would be present during ring entrances. Ambrose reminds us he is the WWE Champion and got to this spot by busting his ass. He talks about staying on top as he likes the view and wants to be the “captain of the blue brand.” He then talks about being here to stay and that he is not a one-hit wonder. He mentions Dolph Ziggler and how he earned a title shot by beating five of the top stars last week. Ambrose then invites Ziggler down and he comes out. Ziggler says he is a fan of Ambrose and that they are a lot alike but Ambrose disagrees. Ambrose calls Ziggler all “show” whereas he fought and clawed for everything. He then tells Ziggler no one will take away his title, especially him. Ziggler tells Ambrose he came in with the Shield while he did with the Spirit Squad. Ambrose then asks Ziggler if he is done feeling sorry for himself before letting him know he spends too much time complaining. Ambrose says he does not whine about roadblocks as he is not an image guy, like Ziggler. He calls out Ziggler for being too worried about what the fans, office, or internet thinks instead of being focused on winning. Ambrose then tells Ziggler to go out and steal the show because all he does is win. Ziggler then tells Ambrose he is a kid from Cleveland who at age five went to a WWE event and decided then he would become a star. He talks about being a walk-on at Kent St. and how he became a champion there then refers to himself as disrespected and undervalued because one day, he is told he is not good enough then the next he is told he is too good. Ziggler said he is the man who will burn Brooklyn to the ground and SummerSlam to become the WWE Champion, because he is that damn good. Ambrose tells Ziggler he’s not as good as he thinks then leaves. The lights then go off as Bray Wyatt appears, hitting Ziggler with the Sister Abigail. Wyatt said Ziggler is not worthy of being a champion and proposes they wrestle tonight and if he wins, he replaces Ziggler at SummerSlam in the Title Match.
I thought the interaction between Ambrose and Ziggler was fantastic here. Ziggler actually showed passion for the first time in about two years and I liked how Ambrose came back at Ziggler for his lack of focus and for blaming others for why he has not succeeded as much as he could have. However, adding Wyatt to this and proposing a match doesn’t do it for me, personally. Usually, he is the one playing mind games but here he was just issuing a challenge. And why would you even accept this challenge if you are Ziggler?
Tonight, AJ has a message for John Cena. Plus, the debut of American Alpha.
After the break, Ziggler asks Bryan and Shane about what they saw and wants the match. Bryan tells Ziggler that he does not have to do this. Ziggler then said he won the match last week and because no one thinks he deserves it, he will prove everyone wrong tonight by beating Wyatt.
#1 Intercontinental Title Contender Match: Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews
Miz has joined on commentary. Corbin decks Kalisto then works over Crews. Corbin tosses Kalisto, who rolls over Crews as they both take Corbin over the top. Corbin pulls the ropes down on Crews as Kalisto flies out with a tope right before the break. We return with Corbin in control. Kalisto takes him out but Crews uses a Samoan Drop for two. Corbin is in and hits the Deep Six for two. Miz puts over Corbin for being a three-time Golden Gloves boxer and for being a loner here. Corbin now blocks top rope rana but Crews dropkcks Corbin in back as Kalisto takes out Corbin over the top with a rana. However, Crews then rolls up Kalisto for win (6:47) *1/2. After match, Corbin attacks Kalisto for behind. Crews makes save then Miz comes in to hit Skull Crushing Finale. However, Corbin hits Miz with the End of Days as he is the last one standing.
Thoughts: Not too good of a match. Also, this segment was more about putting over Corbin than it was the Intercontinental Title. He came off looking better than anyone else involved.
Up next, Becky Lynch vs. Eva Marie
Becky Lynch vs. Eva Marie
Before the match begins, Eva starts holding her leg and claims an injury. The ref has the trainer check her over and he decides that she is unable to compete as the match is cancelled.
Thoughts: It looks like they are going to give Eva a gimmick where she keeps coming up with excuses to get out of her match. That might get some heat in the short run but it will not have a long shelf-life.
Renee is with Carmella at the Smackdown Live set backstage. Carmella calls out Eva Marie for pulling a scam to get out of her match. Natalya comes out to ask why Carmella is even here getting interviewed, stating that she is the one who carried the women’s division for years. Carmella then calls herself the “Princess of Staten Island” and makes fun of her as Natalya says that she needs a lesson in humility. Frankly, I thought this was a bad segment and Carmella was just terrible. This character needs tweaking ASAP. The writers did not do the women any favors here either.
The Vaudevillains vs. American Alpha
Mauro mentions these teams’ history in NXT as Gable works over Gotch. Gable shows off his skills as he takes down Gotch again after the crowd was chanting for him. Jordan tags and hits a dropkick then Alpha runs wild as Gable hits a double flying clothesline while Vaudevillains bail as Alpha celebrates. Gable gets caught in wrong corner but he dumps Gotch then makes the tag as Jordan runs wild. He suplexes around the Vaudevillains before Alpha gets the win with the Grand Amplitude (3:27) **.
Thoughts: A great debut for Alpha, who both looked awesome here. The next step is to actually get some other teams for them to feud with.
AJ Styles heads out to the ring. He yells for his music to get turned off then said he is only here to talk about John Cena, whose music hits. Cena comes out and tells AJ if he wants to talk, then go ahead. AJ said it is typical Cena to make it all about himself before saying that he can do is favorite thing, which is beating up John Cena. AJ tells Cena to keep his shirt on and gives him the message he needs to hear, which is put on hold briefly as the crowd taunts him. AJ says his problem with Cena is that he does not want him in the WWE and repeats that again. He tells Cena he does not belong in the ring with him while the crowd gives him the “What” treatment. He then disses the Nashville crowd for having the weakest of minds, calling the kids who cheer Cena idiotic and delusional. He even blames their parents for being delusional and condoning them. AJ then says Cena actually believes what these kids and parents think about him is true. AJ says the hard truth is you do not get dessert before dinner or participation trophies, you get trophies for being a winner and that he wants a trophy for beating Cena. Cena now speaks and flat out tells AJ that he is crazy. He then mentions crowd chants as AJ chimes in with a loud “Cena Sucks” chant as the crowd starts up a dueling chant. Cena then answers AJ’s question as to why he is still here in the WWE. He says it is out of love and doesn’t care what people think because that is true. He tells us he loves the look on kids face cheering stars and the parents pulling him aside, thank them for doing it what he does. Cena also loves the ESPYs, Teen Choice Awards, Today Show as there is always someone there to ask when will he leave WWE so he can say “never” because it’s always his home. Cena then asks AJ why he is here. AJ looks upset them smiles and claps, saying that’s exactly what he thought he would say because it’s the John he knows. He then says Cena never backs away from a challenge and proposes a match at SumermSlam. Cena accepts as AJ smiles. AJ said the best part will be when he wins so Cena can come out on Smackdown to say he is better than him and if not, he is a liar and if he does, he is a loser so either way, he wins as AJ drops the mic before leaving.
A fantastic segment to set up what appears to be the blow off of their feud. Both men here pretty much outclassed the entire Smackdown roster in this segment. AJ’s mic work as a heel has been a relevation. Who knew he was this good on the stick? His role as a delusional heel is pretty damn good. Cena did a great job himself and got the fans on his side as this sets up what should be an excellent match.
Fandango w/ Tyler Breeze vs. Randy Orton
This was set up as Fandango was upset with Orton’s comments about him on the “Highlight Reel” at Backlash. Orton hits a clothesline then a suplex for two. Breeze distracts Orton as Fandango hits a dropkick then lands some punches. Orton fight out of a chinlock and hits a back suplex as both men are down. Orton takes control and hits a powerslam. Breeze runs in and also is hit with a powerslam. Orton then hits Fandango with the draping DDT and sets up for the RKO but we see Brock Lesnar in the crowd, with security pleading with him to stop. Orton sees him then hits Fandango with the RKO but Lesnar runs in to hit the F5. Shane and Bryan come out as Lesnar finally leaves as Orton won by DQ (3:00) *.
Thoughts: The match was fine before the attack. Speaking of the attack, it was basically the same thing that we saw Orton do to Lesnar last night on RAW so it did not have the same effect the second time around.
After the break, we see that Lesnar was escorted away as Paul Heyman comes over. Lesnar said he was just returning the favor.
Heath Slater comes over to tell Daniel Bryan that he is the hottest free agent in Sports Entertainment. Bryan said next week he will get a chance to earn a contract by winning a match. Slater tries to guess his opponent as Rhyno comes in and hits Slater with the Gore. Rhyno smiles and leaves as Bryan tells the person on the other end of his call they might need a medic in his office.
Renee is now with Dean Ambrose and asks him about Ziggler taking Wyatt’s challenge. Ambrose talks about how anything can happen on Smackdown Live and is not surprised that Wyatt came sniffing around him but expected Ziggler to self-destruct already then leaves.
Carmella comes out to the ring. She does her routine and this crowd did not react in the slightest. However, Natalya runs out from behind and beats her down before applying a sharpshooter.
Ziggler is warming up backstage. Bryan approaches and tells Ziggler about being in his position but that he has nothing to win here. Ziggler takes offense and accuses them of not believing him either and says “screw you” before leaving.
Bray Wyatt vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler looks determined and focused as he heads to the ring here, no longer doing the HBK tribute act. The announcers put over Ziggler’s appearance tomorrow night on SportsCenter as Ambrose is on commentary. Ziggler hits a dropkick to start then hits the Fameasser for two. Outside the ring, Ziggler runs into a clothesline as Wyatt while Ambrose talks about Ziggler on commentary, pretty much saying what he did at the beginning of the show but wants him to come out victorious. Back from break, Wyatt hits a superplex then works over the neck. Ziggler fights back and hits a jawbreaker as he is now running wild. Wyatt blocks a super kick and knocks Ziggler down then hits a senton for two. The ref stops Wyatt from untying the turnbuckle pad as Ziggler almost gets the win with the Zig Zag. Ziggler now tries to rip off the turnbuckle pad but Wyatt comes over and tries the Sister Abigail. Ziggler escapes and gets a rollup for two but gets caught with an uranage. Wyatt beats down Ziggler and whips him into the corner with the exposed steel but Ziggler pulled up. Wyatt charges but Ziggler catches him with an elbow and rams him into the steel and follows with a super kick then stumbles on top for the win (11:34) ***1/4. After the match, Ziggler yells at Ambrose, who stands up on the announcers table. However, Erick Rowan attacks him from behind. Ambrose runs in for the save but gets outnumbered as Ziggler gets hit with the Sister Abigail.
Thoughts: Good match. Ziggler actually acting aggressive on offense for once was definitely for the best. He was doing more than just going through the motions here. My problem here was that by the end of this show, no one involved here came out looking much better than they did at the beginning. The road to rehabilitate Ziggler will take more than one week. I also felt using Wyatt tonight was detrimental and they should have had someone who does not need to be kept as strong, like Del Rio, and ended the show with Ziggler yelling at Ambrose like he did from the ring. It would have made for a great visual.
Final Thoughts: Overall, the show was fine and a significant improvement over last week. However, I did not care for how the show ended. Instead of trying to protect people who lost, just focus on the guys you want to push and get them over.
The first week was better but its going to take a lot more than that to build Ziggler back up as a credible challenger. I give him credit for showing vast improvement on the mic and in the ring tonight. This was the best he has looked since 2013.
The AJ/Cena stuff was great and American Alpha hit it out of the park in their debut. Plus, the main event was a good match.
However, the women’s division tonight featured some bad television. Carmella’s character was just awful and grating here and if this keeps up, she is just going to end up getting booed. The crowd did not care one bit about here. I also felt they devalued the Intercontinental Title and even the #1 contender as it was clear Corbin was being positioned as the only threat in that segment. And the Orton/Lesnar stuff was just disappointing and basically a rip off from what happened on RAW last night.
Going forward, the depth is still a major problem and relying on the likes of Corbin, Crews, and Ziggler to fix that is no sure thing. The direction heading into SummerSlam is fine but once they have to start building up to the Smackdown only PPV, it might get rough.