August 9th, 2016
From the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, CA
Your hosts are David Otunga, JBL, and Mauro Ranallo
The show opens with Randy Orton walking backstage. Charly Caruso asks him about staying focused on facing Alberto Del Rio tonight knowing that his match against Lesnar at SummerSlam is less than two weeks away. Orton says he is the Legend Killer and it takes just one RKO to head to Viperville. Del Rio comes in and says “Viperille” sounds like a joke, Orton warns Del Rio he will give him a VIP experience but it will be a bumpy ride as Del Rio threatens to break his arm. The dialogue here was horrible but they at least hyped up their match later on in the show.
Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan head out to the ring. Bray says he was a victim of Dolph Ziggler last week as Ziggler knew the only way to win was to ram his face into steel. Bray then refers to himself as a god and that he cannot be killed. Bray warns Ziggler about what will happen to him and to ask Dean Ambrose about how dangerous he is before going on about how he is against the whole world. Ambrose comes out and jokes about it really a New Era because Bray is whining about being a victim. Ambrose calls Bray a “baby” and that Smackdown Live belongs to the people, not himself, and the World Champion. Bray laughs as Ambrose talks about being too smart to enter the ring and fall victim to two guys. Ziggler then comes out and charges the ring but gets outnumbered. Ambrose runs in for the save but Bray holds him up for the Sister Abigail. Ziggler tries to break it up with a super kick but inadvertently hits Ambrose. He then yells “What did you do” and drills Rowan with a super kick but Bray takes him out. It seemed obvious that these four would be involved in a tag match after how the show ended last week. Why Ziggler yelled out “what did you do” to Bray after accidentally hitting Ambrose with a super kick is beyond me as it came off terribly but overall, this was short and set up a potential match for tonight.
After the break, Ambrose tells Ziggler he did not need his help. Ziggler tells him not to flatter himself as they get into each other’s faces but Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon run over and stop them to say they are teaming up against Bray Wyatt & Erick Rowan and if they do not like it, then “screw you” as they quote what Ziggler told them both last week.
American Alpha vs. Mikey O’Shea & Mike Vega
Before the show, The Ascension, Vaudevillains, and the Hype Bros come out to the ring and scout American Alpha. The match starts with Alpha working over Vega. Jordan tosses him then they hit the Grand Amplitude for the win (1:14). The other teams run in as they all brawl but Alpha are the last team standing.
Thoughts: This was a weak attempt to highlight the Tag Team Division. It was similar to how they trotted out all of the women two weeks ago. The Usos were out of the country for the tour of Australia and New Zealand and I do not know where Breezango was but Alpha was clearly positioned as the top team out of this group. And they should be.
Renee is with the Miz and Maryse. Miz talks about this being the 127th day of his Intercontinental Championship Title reign. Renee then shows us a video package on Apollo Crews, including his win last week in the #1 contender’s triple-threat match. After it airs, Miz and Maryse are laying across the desk staring each other in the eyes as they just talk about each other and avoid talking about Crews. It ends with them kissing. The deal here is that Miz was only focused on Maryse and nothing else, including his opponent at SummerSlam.
Becky Lynch vs. Eva Marie
Eva’s top suffers a wardrobe malfunction as the ref grabs a towel and covers her up as the match is cancelled. After the match, Becky is interviewed and pissed off because when she comes out to the ring, she is here to fight and will not leave as she challenges anyone to come out and face her. Alexa Bliss comes out to tell Becky she is Team Blue’s hottest star and here to bring bliss to Smackdown. Mauro lets us know this is Alexa’s birthday and they will face off after the break.
Thoughts: This stuff with Eva is easy heel heat and they might as well milk it for all its worth. Alexa came off well here too with her interview.
Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss
This match is joined-in-progress. Bliss is roughing up Lynch then tries a few pin attempts. Becky fights back and hits a leg lariat and an exploder but gets distracted with Eva’s music as the voice over said she is now ready to compete. Bliss then takes Becky down and hits the Twisted Bliss for the win (2:33) 1/2*. After the match, Charly interviews Eva on the ramp. Eva said Alexa beat her to the punch and that next week, she will make her debut.
Thoughts: They continued with the Eva angle and it worked here. Alexa got the win in her debut but did not stand out and the focus was on Eva, not her. The Eva stuff is intriguing and I enjoyed the segment.
Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio attacks Orton after some stalling as the announcers hype up the Orton vs. Lesnar match at SummerSlam. Orton fights back and hits uppercuts in the corner. He stomps Del Rio then guillotines him on the bottom rope for two. Del Rio misses a charge and hangs on the ropes while on the apron until Orton snaps his neck off of the rope as Del Rio falls to the ground just before the break. The match returns with Del Rio catching Orton with a lungblower. Del Rio then rams Orton’s shoulder into the post as he targets that for a bit. Orton rakes the eyes and hits a dropkick then places Del Rio up top. Del Rio then uses a hanging cross armbreaker as he regains control of the match. Del Rio heads up top where Orton cuts him off and follows with a superplex. Orton is selling the shoulder then both men get up and trade strikes. Orton takes Del Rio down with a clothesline and hits a powerslam after that. Del Rio dodges a draping DDT and that triggers a reversal sequence that ends with Orton hitting the draping DDT. Orton then pumps up the crowd but Del Rio rolls outside. Orton clotheslines Del Rio over the timekeeper’s area and yanks off the cover to the announcers table but Del Rio whacks his shoulder with the chair and gets disqualified (12:20) **1/2. Del Rio hits Orton a few more times then they head inside where Orton hits the RKO outta nowhere.
Thoughts: Decent TV match that picked up at the end. They protected Del Rio here too for the most part and I am fine with that as this roster needs to have guys kept strong.
Rhyno is warming up backstage when Heath Slater enters. Slater tells Rhyno he will get a WWE contract if he wins tonight. Rhyno said he already has his contract as Slater said he has two kids to worry about. Rhyno then said he won his primaries and has to impress his voters as Slater says he now has four kids. Rhyno then asks Slater about his pool and left after Slater told him it was above ground.
Earlier today, Miz ran into Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine. Miz complained about not getting the cover of the latest DVD and demanded all copies of the film be recalled or else he will be hearing from his attorney. Miz then gets lured into the Mystery Machine with a promise of Scooby Snacks and ends up getting locked into the van. Scooby then drives off in the Miz’s car.
Heath Slater vs. Rhyno
Slater tries to use speed to his advantage but gets clotheslined. Slater comes back with a boot after whipping Rhyno into the corner. Slater works a chinlock then yanks Rhyno down by the hair and re-applies the hold. Rhyno breaks out and hits a belly-to-belly suplex. He sets up for the Gore but Slater dodges it and gets rolled up for two. Slater yells at the referee but turns around and gets hit with the Gore as Rhyno gets the win (3:05) 3/4*. After the match, the camera shows Slater looking dejected as he is sitting up against the ropes.
Thoughts: I liked how at the end they played up Slater’s loss as being more serious than a joke. If they stay on that route, Slater could end up getting a good pop when he gets a contract.
We hear from Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan, who tells us an army of sheep will always defeat an army of wolves led by sheep. Wyatt then asks Rowan to do what he does best, which is to destroy. Rowan puts on his sheep mask and says “run.”
Slater then barges in and tells Bryan and Shane off, saying Smackdown does not deserve him. He leaves then Bryan tells Shane he guesses they will not offer him the contract that Shane was holding in his hand. Based off of this, we are getting more comedy from Slater in this role.
Carmella hits the ring and does her routine as no one in the crowd seems to care one bit. She promises to smack Natalya so hard she will go blind. Natalya runs out but Carmella was prepared and fights back. They roll inside where the referee separates them both.
Carmella vs. Natalya
Carmella takes Natalya down with a Thesz Press to start. Natalya fights back and hits a pair of suplexes. She stomps Carmella in the corner then works a surfboard while mocking her. Carmella tries to escape but Natalya yanks her down by the hair. Natalya mocks Carmella and acts cocky as she stays in control of the match. She gets two with a discus clothesline then tries for the Sharpshooter but spends too much time mocking Carmella and ends up getting caught in the Code of Silence and ends up tapping out (4:07) *.
Thoughts: Like fellow recent NXT call-up Alexa Bliss, Carmella got the win. And sadly, it came off as a fluke seeing that Natalya controlled a majority of the match. Carmella’s trying to get the crowd engaged when she speaks but its a hard act to get into.
We get a video package on the John Cena/AJ Styles feud. Both guys are also on the Australian and New Zealand tour tonight.
Backstage, Baron Corbin is destroying Kalisto, the person he blames for costing him a shot at the Intercontinental Title. Looks like these two will be feuding.
Dolph Ziggler & Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt & Erick Rowan
Wyatt & Rowan attack their opponents before the bell. Back inside, Ambrose comes back with a clothesline on Wyatt. Ziggler tags himself in as he argues with Ambrose but they end up working together to beat on Wyatt. Ziggler cuts of Wyatt with a dropkick but Rowan clotheslines him from the apron right before the break. We return as Ambrose tags and runs wild on Wyatt. Ambrose even takes Rowan off of the apron but runs into a clothesline after that. Rowan tags and gets two off of a splash. He attacks Ambrose with clubbing forearms then takes him off the top with a boot to the face after he got slapped. Wyatt tags in and plants Ambrose with an uranage off of the ring apron. Back inside, Ambrose manages a swinging neckbreaker after a reversal sequence then makes the tag as Ziggler runs wild on Rowan. He gets a few nearfalls but Rowan catches him with a spin kick. Ziggler comes back with the Zig Zag as Wyatt breaks up that pinfall as the match breaks down. Ambrose tries a tope and nearly kills himself as he got his foot caught on the rope. Back inside, Ziggler floats over on a uranage and hits the Super Kick for the win (10:40) **1/4. After the match, Ambrose kicks Ziggler then hits the Dirty Deed as the crowd starts doing the “yes” chant.
Thoughts: This did not feel like a main event match at any point. They gave Ziggler another win, which is fine seeing that he is the challenger, but once again, he got laid out at the end. And worst of all, the crowd busted out a “yes” chant when he got laid out. He’s supposed to be the guy who was going to bust through the glass ceiling on Smackdown and the fan favorite held back by the powers that be. Its still proof that they have a long way to go on the road to rehabilitate Ziggler as a credible threat.
Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a completely forgettable show. The subtraction of Styles and Cena was felt as the lack of roster depth was once again exposed. They teased more tension between Ziggler and Ambrose here but those segments were not strong. And to be honest, there was not a single must-see segment that took place.
I like how they are pushing American Alpha but they certainly need credible opponents and right now, there really arent any on Smackdown. Maybe if Luke Harper comes back and starts teaming up with Rowan again it can give Alpha a good opponent. Who knows if the Usos would turn heel to freshen up those two but they could also give Alpha a chance to get over on the main roster.
The women roster is also weak and the Eva Marie heat is all they have going on right now. Carmella is struggling mightily as she tries to get over as a face.
Most of the problems with the show is due to a lack of roster depth and until that issue is remedied, shows like this are going to happen. I really have no idea how they are going to pull of a Smackdown-only PPV just three weeks after SummerSlam.