August 16, 2016
From the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX
Your hosts are David Otunga, JBL, Mauro Ranallo
The show starts with Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon presenting Randy Orton with a contract for his match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Heath Slater then interrupts with a fruit basket that was addressed to “Bob” as he talks about going toe-to-toe against Brock Lesnar last night on RAW. Slater then mentions how he watched Smackdown last week and realized they were going to offer him a contract and talks about how they are in a pickle, with Bryan & Shane saying they are not. Orton then takes a bite from an apple and says he has an idea then we go right to the opening montage.
Miz TV with guests Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler opens the show. Both guys are about to go face-to-face until Miz steps in between and reminds them they are here to talk. Miz tells Ziggler he came into the WWE with promise but fizzled out. Now, he in the midst of a career resurgence and wants to know what will happen if he fails. Ziggler says he is not worried about after SummerSlam because he is only focused on SummerSlam and the WWE Championship. Ambrose calls Ziggler out for being focused and mentions some say he has turned a corner but he does not buy this. Ziggler tells Miz to shut his mouth when he tried to instigate him as the crowd chants that as Ziggler asks Ambrose what he wants from him. Ziggler talks about using everything the company has against him for fuel and at Sunday, Ambrose will have to admit that he is the one who pushed him to the top. Ambrose reminds Ziggler that getting the title is where it gets harder because that is when the pressure is turned up. Ambrose tells Ziggler he cannot handle the pressure and how you need ic water in your veins and that the chip on his shoulder will ultimately end up burying him because he is going to get schooled, embarrassed, and hurt but will prove to everyone that he doesn’t want it bad enough. Ziggler tells Ambrose this Sunday he will have to push through every physical limit and dig down deep but it will not be enough because he does not have enough to put him away. Ziggler tells Ambrose he can search for one last bit of strength and one last move then Ziggler super kicks Ambrose and stands over him to say that on Sunday, he will find out he is that damn good.
I really liked the back-and-forth stuff here. Ziggler has stepped up his game since this angle started and the story of Ambrose calling Ziggler out for not wanting things bad enough and just making excuses for his failures has been a good one. They’ve done a good job building up this match, although I wish they spent less time involving Bray Wyatt in their feud because these two have delivered each and every time on the mic.
Back from break, we saw that Miz TV kept going as the Miz made fun of Apollo Crews, who promptly hit Miz with a powerbomb after Miz kept calling him “Creed.” They sure have made the Miz look like a complete goof since he got drafted to Smackdown. Why not build him up as a heel if he is going to feud with a young, up-and-coming face who is struggling to get over?
The Usos & American Alpha & Hype Bros. vs. The Vaudevillains & The Ascension & Breezango
Gable gets worked over in the corner as JBL brings up the rumors of Smackdown getting Tag Team Titles. Gable makes a blind tag to Mojo as he tackles Viktor. The match breaks down after that as we head to break. The action returns with one of the Usos in control, who argues with Jordan after he tagged himself into the match. The action breaks is fast and furious then Alpha puts English away with the Grand Amplitude (6:49) *1/2.
Thoughts: This was just a showcase of all the teams in the division. Seems like we will get Tag Team Titles for Smackdown at this point as they hinted at a potential Usos vs. American Alpha feud here, with the announcers mentioning the Usos taking offense over the fact Alpha are calling themselves the top tag team.
Naomi, with a brand new ring entrance with the lights off as she comes out in a glow-in-the-dark suit passing out glowsticks, heads to the ring for her match against Eva Marie. However, the voiceover tells us that Eva Marie is caught in traffic thus unable to make it tonight for her match. Well, that’s a new excuse for Eva Marie to keep her heel heat going and a reason to show off Naomi’s new character. Decent segment.
We get a flashback to Hell in a Cell from this past October where Alberto Del Rio made his return to the WWE and defeated John Cena for the United States Championship. We then see AJ Styles and Alberto Del Rio backstage as AJ is jealous that Del Rio has a chance to knock that smug look off of Cena’s face. AJ then brings up how Del Rio beat Cena for the Title, which he saw on the WWE Network, but Del Rio tells AJ he did not need his pep talk. AJ then counters by saying he gets to face Cena at SummerSlam while he is not even on the show. AJ was quite arrogant here and it seems like they are gearing up for a Del Rio face turn.
After the break we are shown some Curt Hawkins facts such as he counted to infinity twice, can slam a revolving door, and does not flush the toilet but rather scares the crap out of it as they hype up his return to the company.
Randy Orton vs. Heath Slater
Orton boots down Slater, who is still hurting from Lesnar’s attack last night. Orton stomps a mudhole in Slater then roughs him up in the corner, showing more aggression than usual as the referee rings the bell for the DQ as he refused to break (1:00). Orton then tosses Slater to the floor then over the announcers table as he sets up for a draping DDT over the barricade. Orton then tosses Slater back into the ring and pulls him up for a German suplex and mocks Lesnar’s bounce. Orton hits another German suplex then follows with the RKO.
Thoughts: I liked how they showed Orton’s intensity here after weeks of him clowning around a bit. A fine way to remind us that he can bring intensity and aggression into the ring.
We see Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan backstage. Bray lets the people in the crowd knows he is here then blows out his lantern.
Back from break, Slater is in the trainer’s room. Bryan & Shane walk in as Slater talks about how he showed both Lesnar and Orton “no mercy,” which they believe sounds like a good name for the October Smackdown PPV. Slater then calls Bryan “Mick” and that he loves his reality show and is a better star than the other guy. Slater asks for a pen as Shane offers him a contract. Slater tells Shane she looks beautiful and calls him “Stephanie” as he takes back the contract. Slater then looks around for the contract. After presenting Slater’s character as more serious on RAW last week, by doing anything including getting destroyed by Lesnar to provide for his family, he was back to being comic relief here.
A clip from during the break with Orton and Bray staring each other down in the aisle is shown.
Erick Rowan w/ Bray Wyatt vs Dean Ambrose
Ambrose attacks Rowan immediately after the bell as the announcers put over how angry he is after Ziggler hit him with a super kick. Rowan tosses Ambrose down but gets sent to the floor with a dropkick. Ambrose flies out with a tope then shoves him into the barricade. Back inside, Rowan slams Ambrose then takes him down with a baseball slide. Rowan tosses Ambrose back in for a two count then works a chinlock. Rowan continues to rough up Ambrose as he targets the back. Ambrose pulls the rope down on Rowan and dodges a running kick in the corner before mounting his comeback. Ambrose hits a back suplex then a clothesline from the top for a nearfall. Rowan comes back with a spinning heel kick for two then fishhooks his face but Ambrose boots Rowan in the gut and hits the Dirty Deeds for the win (5:06) *3/4. After the match, Bray turned his rocking chair around then tossed Rowan’s sheep mask on the chair before walking away as Mauro wonders if this is the end of the Wyatt Family.
Thoughts: The action was fine as they teased Bray ending the Wyatt Family here at the end. It seems as if the WWE is struggling what to do with Bray at this point.
Natalya & Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella & Becky Lynch
Carmella dances after taking down Natalya but ends up walking into a clothesline. Natalya tags out and mocks Carmella as Bliss starts stomping Carmella. Bliss applies a chinlock sa Carmella breaks that with a jawbreaker then tags out as Becky runs wild on Natalya. She gets two with an Exploder then we have Eva Marie interrupt with her entrance. However, Naomi now interrupts Eva and chases her around. Natalya catches Naomi as she entered the ring and tosser her out but Becky takes her down and applies the Disarmer for the win (4:13) *.
Thoughts: They pretty much showcased the Women’s Division here as the only focus seems to be on Eva’s character as her opponents are fed up with the excuses for not wrestling. Carmella’s babyface act is just death right now and I cannot see why anyone would cheer for something so obnoxious and unlikable.
We return from commercial to see Corbin rub Kalisto’s face into a lift door backstage as he tells him that some people are just victims. A few officials run over to stop Corbin, who slams Kalisto’s face down. It appears that Corbin is going to be a bully now as they are trying to get him over.
A hype video for the Orton vs. Lesnar match is shown.
Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena
AJ Styles has joined on commentary. Cena catches Del Rio with a hip toss after an Irish whip sequence then Del Rio rolls outside as we head to commercial. The action returns with Del Rio getting two off of a fist drop from the top rope as we saw AJ and Cena get in each other’s face until Del Rio attacked Cena from behind. Cena dodges a charging attack as Del Rio dumps outside. Cena tries for the AA but Del Rio escapes and hit a German suplex for a two count as the announcers ask AJ about respecting Cena. Del Rio hits a running kick then dodges a charge after Cena made a comeback. AJ yells at Del Rio to inflict more pain onto Cena as he hits a DDT for a two count as we go to another break. We return with Cena making his comeback. He hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Del Rio is able to come back with a lungblower for two. Cena blocks a kick but runs into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker as both men are down. Cena dodges an enziguiri in the corner then comes back with a clothesline. Cena heads up top but this time Del Rio connects with the enziguiri and gets two. Del Rio fires up and tries the cross armbreaker but Cena counters with the STF. Del Rio reaches the ropes then cuts off Cena with a pair of kicks as that gets two. Del Rio locks on the cross armbreaker but Cena deadlifts him for a powerbomb then hits the AA for the win (16:54) **3/4. After the match, AJ hits Cena with the Phenomenal Forearm then grabs the mic and says he is sick and tired of hearing about the future going through Cena. AJ then says this Sunday at SummerSlam, he will beat Cena and be the face that runs the place. He promises to make his passion his prison and that Cena’s time is up while is time is now. AJ teases leaving but ends up getting caught with the AA. Cena then heads outside and sets up the announcers table as he puts AJ throuh that with another AA while he was on the steps.
Thoughts: A solid, if not unspectacular main event. Cena still does not appear 100% back from injury either. I did not care for most of the commentary, especially by Otunga, as it did not do AJ any favors. The AJ/Cena match at SummerSlam should be good and after the ending tonight, and rumors Cena is leaving again to film the second season of “True Grit,” I would believe that AJ wins and possibly feuds with Ambrose over the title.
Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a solid show and better than RAW. Not everything was great but it breezed by and they are at least picking people to showcase in an attempt to get them over. The Tag Team and Women’s Divisions are lacking but hopefully they can start focusing on who to push and set up more feuds to improve the situation.
I’ve really enjoyed the Ziggler/Ambrose feud a lot more than expected. Ziggler has stepped up his game here and actually shows passion for the first time in a few years. It will be interesting where both characters go after SummerSlam ends.
The depth issue is going to remain on Smackdown until they get people over but they did a decent job here with the roster tonight.