SmackDown on Fox Episode #52
SmackDown Episode # 1,101
Orlando, FL – The Thunderdome (Amway Center)
The show opens with an In Memorium graphic for Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis who passed away earlier this week at the age of 60.
We go into the Thunderdome where AJ Styles makes his entrance for what we are told will be an ascension ceremony (sadly without Konnor & Viktor) for the Intercontinental Championship, Hardy and Zayn make their way to the ring as well for the ceremony. Styles tells Hardy that he better savor this moment because this is the last time Hardy will ever hold the Intercontinental Championship, furthermore, he doesn’t understand why Zayn is even in the match as he is a nobody that spent the summer growing out his neckbeard. Zayn comes back at Styles calling him a sham champion that won the title in a fraudulent tournament and Hardy should’ve just given up the title and insist that Zayn should be recognized as the real champion. Hardy tells Zayn to shut up and for once he actually agrees with Styles as Zayn should be grateful to be in the match because unlike him Styles and himself defended the title on a regular basis instead of going home.
We see the title hanger mechanism lower and both titles are hung from it and it is raised back into the air. Zayn looks like he is going to leave the ring as Hardy and Styles face off but he uses that as an opportunity to push over the ladder that is in the ring which hits both Hardy and Styles, Zayn hits some mounted punches on Hardy but when Styles starts to recover Zayn hits the bricks, but as he is going up the ramp Adam Pearce comes out and makes the Hardy vs Zayn match a triple threat match. Back in the ring, Hardy hits Styles with a Twist of Fate and this takes us to commercial.
Match #1: AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn vs Jeff Hardy
Styles goes right after Zayn as the bell rings and then he goes after Hardy but Hardy is ready for him as he hits Styles with an atomic drop and then a Mr. Perfect like flipping neckbreaker. Zayn comes back and goes toward Hardy but Hardy slams Zayn face-first into the turnbuckles. Zayn tries to beg off but Hardy hits him with an inverted atomic drop and then the double leg drop followed by the basement dropkick to the face. Styles comes back in and puts the boots to Hardy and then hits him with a backbreaker and then he takes Zayn out on the floor with a baseball slide. Styles turns his attention back to Hardy who tries to fight back as he holds onto the ropes when Styles whips him into them, but then Styles catches the legs of Hardy and flips him backward over the top rope and to the floor.
Styles goes out after Hardy as she slams him face-first into the announce table and then Styles gets blindsided by Zayn who sends him into the barricade and then throws him back into the ring. Zayn hits Styles with some kicks in the corner and then takes him down with a big clothesline, Hardy gets back up on the apron but Zayn knocks him back down to the floor. Zayn pulls Styles back to his feet with a front facelock, but Styles drives him into the corner and then drives his shoulder into Zayn’s midsection a couple of times. Styles snapmares Zayn into the middle of the ring and then locks on a reverse chin lock, Zayn gets to his feet and tries to fight out of the hold but before he can Styles throws Zayn into Hardy knocking him off the apron once again. Styles chokes Zayn across the middle rope and then goes right back to the chin lock and once again this leads to Styles trying to throw Zayn into Hardy, but this time Hardy moves out of the way sending Zayn to the floor.
Hardy comes back in the ring with right hands to Styles and a short-arm clothesline and then he starts fighting both Styles and Zayn, Hardy ducks a clothesline and takes down both of his opponents with a double dropkick. Hardy sends Zayn into the corner hard and when he bounced out Hardy hits him with a backdrop, Hardy then runs and uses Zayn’s back as a springboard to hit Styles with the Poetry in Motion. Hardy goes up top looking for the Swanton but Zayn pushes him off causing Hardy to hit the top rope throat first, Zayn goes over and starts punching away at Hardy until Styles takes him down with the slingshot forearm to the outside and that sends us to a commercial break.
We come back to Zayn trying to superplex Styles but Hardy gets underneath Zayn looking to powerbomb him, thankfully for Zayn, he is able to fight Hardy off and tries again for the superplex but Styles slips between Zayn’s legs and sends him face-first into the top turnbuckle. Zayn and Styles both try charging at Hardy in the corner but he meets them both with boots to the face and then he hits them both with Whisper in the Wind and now all three men are down. All three men slowly get to their feet and then they exchange strikes until Hardy hits Styles with a mule kick and then Zayn hits both Hardy and Styles with a big boot only for Styles to comes back with a Pele kick to Zayn and now all three men are down once again.
Styles gets to his feet first and goes out to the apron where he hangs Hardy throat first across the top rope and then he catches Zayn with a forearm, Styles looks to hit both men with the Phenomenal Forearm but Zayn ducks leaving Styles to only hit Hardy, Zayn runs over and throws Styles out of the ring and then makes a cover on Hardy which gets the 1-2-3.
Winner: Sami Zayn via Pinfall Match Rating: **½
After the match Styles grabs a ladder and takes out both of his opponents and then climbs the ladder and grabs the titles as a symbol of what he plans to do at Clash of Champion.
I thought both the match and the show opening promos did a good job of making me wants to watch the match this Sunday and I had no problem with the three of them facing off in this normal match as it served as a good preview to what could happen on Sunday because if the match was this good under normal rules imagine what it will be like when ladders are put into the equation. I also think Corey Graves did a good job of explaining why these guys would want to be in this match just days before the big ladder match, he basically said that they want to either weaken their opponents or perhaps even injure them to the point where they can’t participate in the match this Sunday, so props to Graves for adding some logic to this match.
We see Heavy Machinery in the back still talking about the lawsuit that Otis was served last week and this sends us to break.
We come back and Kayla Braxton interviews Otis about what his answer is for the terms of the lawsuit that says he must give up the Money in the Bank briefcase in order to prevent legal action being taken. Otis says that nobody is taking his briefcase from him. Miz and Morrison come up and Miz tells Otis that he is just trying to give the WWE fans a Mr. Money in the Bank that they deserve. Miz tells Otis that it is in his best interest to give up the briefcase because his lawyers are top of the line and they do not sleep so after everything is said and done Otis will be left with nothing but a heaping stack of legal bills which he can’t afford and if Otis thinks he is lying just ask Mandy Rose who he got traded to Raw. Tucker looks at the lawsuit and notices that only The Miz’s name is on the lawsuit but it doesn’t say anything about Morrison and this leads to Otis attacking Morrison until the referees and agents break it up.
Yeah, I’ll be honest I don’t really care about this feud and this backstage interaction did nothing to make me want to care about it.
Bayley comes out with a chair which she sits in at the top of the ramp, Bayley says she could watch her beatdown of Sasha over and over but she won’t do that because her time is precious and she will no longer waste it on useless Sasha Banks because unlike Sasha she has work to do and a title to defend. Bayley moves on to talking about Nikki Cross and says that while she admires her heart and fighting spirit, Bayley warns that Nikki had better think long and hard as to why Sasha Banks isn’t in her corner because if she will do that to her “best friend” then Nikki should be damn worried what she is going to do to her. Bayley says she is going to wipe that stupid smile of Nikki’s face and then you can only imagine what happens next. We go to another commercial break.
This was another solid promo from Bayley that did a good job of keeping her feud with Sasha fresh in our minds while also putting over her match with Nikki Cross on Sunday and the fact that she may just do to Nikki what she did to Sasha. This was made short but has me looking forward to their match on Sunday.
We come back and go right to the next match.
Match #2: Gran Metalik w/ Lucha House Party vs Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Cesaro
They feel each other out for a moment before Nakamura goes in with a series of kicks and a couple of knees to the gut before backing Metalik into the ropes before he is forced to break. Metalik ducks a clothesline and connects with a kick to the gut and then he looks to send Nakamura into the ropes, but it gets reversed only for Metalik to handspring and backflip back into the center of the ring as Nakamura gets out of the way. Metalik ducks another clothesline and comes off the ropes and Nakamura looks to hit a hip toss but Metalik springs off the ropes once again and sends Nakamura out of the ring with an arm drag. Metalik looks to go for a baseball slide but Nakamura ducks under it and catches Metalik with a spinning wheel kick and then he sends him into the barricade.
Nakamura throws Metalik halfway back into the ring and then hits him with a running knee to the head, Nakamura rolls Metalik into the center of the ring and goes for a cover but only gets a 2 count. Nakamura hits Metalik with two kicks to the chest and then locks in a standing armbar which Metalik quickly fights out of with some punches to the midsection. Metalik reverses a whip into the corner and charges in but gets caught with another knee to the midsection and then is sent shoulder first into the bottom turnbuckle where Nakamura stomps on his head.
Nakamura brings Metalik out of the corner but is met with a big chop to the chest, so Nakamura grounds Metalik with a front facelock and then he tries for the inverted exploder, but Metalik blocks it with elbows to the head and then he sends Nakamura out to the apron with a running headscissors. Nakamura tries to kick Metalik through the ropes, but Metalik catches the leg and hits Nakamura with a kick that sends Nakamura out to the floor where Metalik hits him with a tope con hilo. Metalik throws Nakamura back into the ring and hits him with a springboard Swanton bomb but that is only enough to get a 2 count.
Metalik goes up top looking to hit the moonsault but Nakamura is able to roll out of the way and Metalik rolls through and charges toward Nakamura in the corner who launches him up to the top rope only to grab his foot and pull him down sending Metalik face-first into the top turnbuckle. Nakamura hits Metalik with a Kinshasa to the back of the head and then hits the inverted suplex which sets up for the normal Kinshasa and that is enough to pick up the win.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura via Pinfall Match Rating: **¼
After the match, Lince Dorado goes to check on Metalik, but Cesaro comes in and the tag champs beatdown their challengers on Sunday while Kalisto looks on from ringside not attempting to help his teammates.
Once again another solid match between members of the Lucha House Party and Nakamura/Cesaro, but no new developments happened and I hope that this feud is over after this Sunday, because as good as they are against each other there is no story being told between the two teams and despite how good a match might be if there is no story being told then there is no reason to get invested in the feud.
We cut to the back where we see Jey Uso all excited and he walks up to the locker room door of Roman Reigns and starts knocking but nobody answers as Uso tells him they got stuff to do.
We come back to a memorial video for Animal which shows tweets in his honor.
We then go to a video package where we hear from members of the Anoa’i family on the relationship between Jey Uso and Roman Reigns growing up and on the match coming up this Sunday.
Just like last week, this was yet another great video package to hype up Sunday’s big Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns & Jey Uso in fact, this week’s video was even better than last weeks as we got to hear from those closest to Uso and Reigns and how the family is split on who they want to win the match depending on their relation to each guy.
Jey Uso comes out and as he makes his way to the ring we see that Reigns and Heyman are watching in the back. Uso says he is excited for this Sunday and he tells Corey Graves that he will handle this interview with Reigns as he wants to keep it in the bloodline. Uso throws to a recap video of last week’s main event where the show ended with Reigns glaring at Uso. Uso says he has been asked all week about what that glare meant but he doesn’t know so he wants Reigns to come out and explain what it meant himself, but Reigns isn’t coming out.
Uso keeps trying to goad Reigns into coming out but nothing happens. We cut to the back where Heyman is standing outside of Reigns’ locker room and tells us that while he agrees that the WWE fans deserve to hear what Reigns’ has to say to his cousin in the ring face-to-face he however will not give that explanation on Jey Uso’s time it will be on Reigns’ time but promises it will be tonight. Uso tells Heyman that either way he will show Reigns’ what’s up at Clash of Champions.
The first thing I have to mention about this is how it took Roman Reigns turning heel before we got to see someone sitting down while watching the monitor and tonight Heyman was even allowed to watch the screen straight on without having to turn his neck in an awkward position, so congrats to Heyman for getting that privilege. There wasn’t really that much to talk about in this first part of the Reigns and Uso segment as the meatier segment would be saved for the end of the show, but I like Reigns not going to the ring when called out and waiting to do it on his time because he is the one that runs things on SmackDown.
We then go to a recap video of the match between King Corbin and Matt Riddle at Payback and the backstage attack by Corbin on Riddle after the match, this leads to a backstage promo by Corbin where he tells Riddle that he looks forward to making him say Bro in a way that means intolerable misery and excruciating agony.
Matt Riddle makes his way to the ring and gets an inset promo where he says that Corbin has an anger problem and even though Corbin has been trying to make his life miserable over the past few months you can’t keep a good bro down and he can’t wait to show Corbin the difference between a stallion and a jackass. That match is next after the commercial
Match #3: Matt Riddle vs King Corbin
Riddle goes right at Corbin with a flurry of strikes in the corner before the bell rings until the referee backs him up into a neutral corner and then calls for the bell.
Corbin charges in with a clothesline but Riddle ducks and fires away with a flurry of open palm strikes and a kick before he clotheslines Corbin over the top rope to the floor. Riddle goes out after Corbin and hits him with a couple of forearms before Corbin rolls back in the ring to try and get away from Riddle. Corbin catches Riddle with a kick as he goes to get back into the ring and then he punches away at Riddle as he is trapped between the ropes. Riddle tries to pick the leg of Corbin but is overpowered and hit by a big right hand from Corbin. Riddle then tries to lock in a Kimura lock but he can’t get it fully applied and then he gets slammed to the mat.
Riddle tries to drive Corbin into the corner but is overpowered once again and thrown into the ropes where Corbin hits him with another punch. Corbin puts Riddle in the corner and hits him with a couple of blows to the midsection. Riddle fires back with strikes of his own and then runs off the ropes, but is taken down with a back elbow. Corbin sends Riddle into the corner and then slides out and right back in, but Riddle catches him with a Pele kick that sends Corbin rolling out of the ring. Riddle slides out of the ring and sends Corbin flying over the announce table and we go to break as Riddle stands atop the announce table.
We come back to see that Riddle has Corbin in an ankle lock but Corbin kicks him off into the ropes where Riddle catches him with a triangle hold over the top rope, but Corbin powers Riddle up to bring him back into the ring and then after a minute of Riddle still having the hold locked in Corbin powers him up once again and slams him to the mat which breaks the hold, Corbin goes for a cover but only gets a 2 count. Corbin hits Riddle with some mounted punches and then chokes him across the top rope and delivers a big elbow to the top of Riddle’s head. Corbin runs off the ropes and hits Riddle with a couple of running punches, but when he goes for a third Riddle falls to the mat.
Corbin goes to pick up Riddle and it turns out Riddle was playing possum as he hits Corbin with a ripcord knee strike and then he follows that up with a couple of running forearms in the corner and an exploder, Riddle goes for the PK but Corbin dodges and then he is able to avoid a standing moonsault but Riddle lands on his feet and hits Corbin with a broton and then he connects with the PK and goes for a cover but only gets a 2 count. Riddle tries to lock in the Bromission but Corbin breaks his grip so Riddle locks in a sleeper hold while on Corbin’s back only for Corbin to get to the ropes moments later. Riddle hits Corbin with a kick and then tries for another ripcord knee, but Corbin counters it into a Deep Six which gets Corbin a 2 count.
Corbin looks to pull Riddle in for the End of Days, but Riddle kicks his arm and then goes for a springboard, but Corbin catches him in midair with a big right hand. Corbin goes for the End of Days once again, but Riddle flips through it and nails Corbin in the face with a knee strike, Riddle goes up top and looks to hit the floating bro, but Corbin gets his knees up and then Corbin is finally able to hit the End of Days and that is all she wrote for the stallion.
Winner: King Corbin via PInfall Match Rating: **¾
After the match, Riddle is interviewed about his loss and he says that while it sucks to lose he won’t let this stop him because he came here to push himself and he won’t stop until SmackDown is the Bro Show.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have witnessed history as this is the first match in forever in which Baron Corbin didn’t use one single rest hold. This was a better match than I was expecting perhaps that was because Corbin didn’t use any rest holds and stuck with more of a brawling and power style during the match which is what he is best at and left the submissions to Riddle which is where he excels. I found it odd that Riddle got an interview after the match but I’m guessing it has something to do with what they have planned for Riddle in the future.
We get another Carmella vignette where she is putting on makeup and jewelry and also writes the word Untouchable on the mirror, which is a bit of a trigger word right now for myself and anyone who has been watching this season of Big Brother All-Stars.
Alexa Bliss makes her way to the ring and gets an inset promo talking about how Lacey Evans calls herself a lady and Alexa agrees that she is a lady… a lady that sends her food back or asks to see the manager and gives ladies a bad name, but after she is done with her the only thing that is going to get sent back to the kitchen is that tall glass of bitter southern tea. That match will be happening after the break.
I like Alexa inferring that Lacey Evans is a Karen.
Before I get to the match I want to suggest everyone check out Alexa’s new podcast called Uncool with Alexa Bliss which had it’s first episode this week featuring The Miz, the podcast is available anywhere you can listen to podcasts and there is also a video version on the Network that is great as well.
Match #4: Alexa Bliss vs Lacey Evans
We get a lockup and Lacey pushes Alexa into the corner until the referee forces her to break and that is when Alexa tries to pick up a quick win with a schoolgirl but Lacey kicks out. Lacey catches Alexa with a kick and then sends her into the ropes, but Alexa comes back with an arm drag into an Oklahoma roll for a 2 count. Lacey catches the leg of Alexa and slams her to the mat and then hits her with a punch to the gut. Lacey biels Alexa into the corner and then takes out her handkerchief and pats herself off before throwing it at Alexa. Lacey goes on the attack on Alexa in the corner and then hits her with the elevated bronco buster for a 2 count. Lacey locks in a seated cobra clutch and when Alexa gets back to her feet Lacey slams her down to the mat by her hair. Alexa tries to fight back but Lacey isn’t letting her have any room to breathe as she works over Alexa’s arm in the corner. Alexa is finally able to block being sent face-first into the turnbuckle and then she takes Lacey down with an STO. We then hear the laugh of Bray Wyatt which changes Alexa’s mood completely as she looks worried and this sends us to break.
We come back to Lacey repeatedly slamming Alexa’s head into the mat and then she hits her with a standing moonsault for a 2 count. Lacey traps Alexa’s leg in a toehold and then she slams Alexa’s face into the mat repeatedly and then she grinds her forearm across the face of Alexa. Lacey locks in a rear chin lock and talks trash to Alexa, but Alexa eventually gets back to her feet and fights out of the hold but isn’t able to capitalize as Lacey sends her face-first into the top turnbuckle. Alexa reverses a whip into the corner and charges in but Lacey avoids by getting out to the apron where she rubs Alexa’s face across the middle rope. Lacey nails Alexa with a couple of knees to the chest and then sweeps her leg which sets up the slingshot dropkick from the apron to inside the ring which ends up knocking Alexa out of the ring.
Lacey is fine with taking a count-out but Alexa is able to roll back in the ring where Lacey goes for a few pinfall attempts but Alexa is able to kick out of all of them. Alexa sidesteps a charging Lacey sending her into the corner and then Alexa takes her down with a clothesline followed by the slap, the punch, and the basement dropkick combo. Alexa grabs Lacey by the face but isn’t able to follow up as it looks like she is trying to shake something off (making it appear as if The Fiend is in her head). Lacey takes Alexa down with an arm wringer and then looks to hit her with the double jump twisting moonsault, but Alexa is able to move out of the way.
The lights turn red and we hear the noises of when The Fiend is around and at first, Alexa has a worried look on her face but that soon turns to a look of pure evil, and when the lights go back to normal Alexa goes bat shit crazy on Lacey taking her down and firing away with punches and then she kicks a mudhole in her in the corner and then she stands on Lacey’s back and stomps her head into the mat repeatedly and refuses to stop after the referee’s five-count and thus gives him no other choice than to call for the bell.
Winner: Lacey Evans via DQ Match Rating: **½
After the match, Alexa throws Lacey out of the ring and hits her with another Sister Abigail on the floor. Alexa gets back in the ring and looks at the camera, but this time the glazy eyed stare has been replaced with a look of evil. The lights go down and The Fiend appears on the screen and as he does Alexa gets this devilish looking smile on her face as The Fiend tells her to Let Him In.
The lights go back to normal and Alexa starts her way up the ramp but when she gets halfway up it Roman Reigns’ music hits and he walks out, Alexa walks past him but then stops and looks back at him with an evil look on her face and then she walks to the back as we go to a commercial break.
While the in-ring action wasn’t top quality in this match I absolutely loved everything involving Alexa in the match as her character progression took a big step forward during this episode. I loved how we saw Alexa’s final step before she fully gives into The Fiend during the match as when she heard his laugh at first she was still scared and also had a bit of the glassy-eyed stare, but something happened after that in her head (which we could see when it looked like she was shaking something off) and whatever happened made it to where when The Fiend made his presence known again later in the match it was clear that she had “Let Him In”’ and was fully accepting of his power over her.
I have to talk about these looks that Alexa are giving now that it seems like she has embraced The Fiend, if she wasn’t hache mache enough before the look on her face at the end of the match put it over the top, in fact, Alexa’s new look as a whole is definitely doing it for me and finally makes me understand why girls are attracted to the bad boys and that’s because bad can be sexy or at least that’s the case with Alexa. I can’t wait until she becomes full on Harley Quinn to The Fiend’s Joker.
If all of that wasn’t enough greatness from Alexa we get her parting shot where she stops and stares at Reigns as The Fiend is now channeling his anger at Reigns through Alexa, this was a really great way show thatThe Fiend isn’t finished with Reigns as he wants back his title which Reigns took from him. Everything from the moment that Alexa walked out from behind the curtain to the moment when she walked back behind the curtain was fantastic stuff and one of the reasons why SmackDown is the show that is worth taking time out of your day to watch as the storytelling over the past month has been really great.
We come back to Heyman and Reigns in the ring, Heyman looks to start the promo but is immediately cut off as Jey Uso comes to the ring. Reigns tells Uso he would give him that title if he could, but the truth is that Uso wouldn’t even know what to do with it because Uso doesn’t understand the accountability and the responsibility of being on top and the weight that is put upon you when you become the face of the WWE, but it isn’t his fault that he doesn’t understand, it’s just that Uso is a twin and for his entire life he has depended on his brother.
Reigns wants to make it clear that he isn’t saying that Uso is half the man he is, in fact, Uso is one half of the greatest tag team of this generation and the family is proud of him for that, but their family depends and relies on Reigns being the tribal chief as that is his role in life and not Uso’s and it never will be Usos’s role because it will always be Reigns.
Reigns and Heyman leave the ring but as they walk up the ramp Uso speaks up and asks what if Reigns is wrong? Why can’t he be the one that provides for the family? Why can’t he provide for his wife and his kids (which are Reigns’ nephews)? Uso says he has been battling his whole life while Reigns has been number one, people always go around saying there goes “The Big Dog”, “Mr. Main Event”, “Mr. WrestleMania”, but when it comes to him all they do is ask which one he is. After Sunday people will no longer need to ask because they will know that he was the one that beat Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship.
Reigns and Heyman make their way to the back and Uso soon follows, but Reigns comes back out and lays Uso out with a Superman Punch. Reigns grabbed Uso by the head and held him up and then screams at him that he doesn’t just feed his or Uso’s kids with that title he feeds the entire family and Uso wants to take that away? Reigns says that at Clash of Champions Uso will take the payday and the ass-kicking that comes along with it, but will never take the title or Reigns’ place at the head of the table. Reigns stands over Uso as SmackDown comes to a close.
HOT DAMN!!! Now that is how you use a go home show-closing segment to attract viewers to watch your PPV. This feud between Reigns and Uso has been great right from the start and this closing segment between the two just put it over the top to the point where Reigns vs Uso should be seriously considered for feud of the year. I like that despite this being a feud between family members they are not saying things about how they hate each other which is what you sometimes see when you get family members feuding in wrestling, there is still love for the other cousin it’s just that Uso wants to prove Reigns isn’t the only one who can reach the top of the mountain in WWE and Reigns wants to make sure that that Uso knows his place in the family and after the ass whooping he gives him on Sunday he will make sure Uso never questions who the rightful tribal chief is ever again.
Outside of the brief segment involving Otis and The Miz this was a fantastic episode of SmackDown that did a great job of getting my hyped for Clash of Champions… well the SmackDown side of the card at least. I thought the storytelling throughout the show was some of the best we have seen all year and I’m glad that the Retribution stuff is being kept on Raw so that it doesn’t affect all the good that SmackDown has been doing over the past month. The blue brand doesn’t need a T-Bar, Mace, or Slapjack when they have a Tribal Chief, a Harley Quinn, and a couple of Role Models on their roster, although I wouldn’t complain if SmackDown got into the Hurt Business.
That’s it for me for this week but I’ll be back next week with all of the fallout of Clash of Champions and hopefully, the show delivers and the SmackDown side of the show lives up to all the hype it has created over the past month.