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It's the last edition of Smackdown Live before Sunday's Backlash pay-per-view event. It's going to be a show where they build up the Backlash matches. Several matches have been announced already, but they have to add more during the show as well. Let's see what they have in store for us this week.
Live from Lincoln, Nebraska this is Smackdown for episode #890.
The show began with the Smackdown video intro. If I had to pick a favorite song between Raw and Smackdown, I like the Smackdown song more at this point. I don’t know why. Just personal taste.
The Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan was in the ring with a podium that had the Smackdown Women’s Title on it. The crowd was chanting “yes” for him. Bryan mentioned the Women’s Six Pack Elimination Challenge at Backlash to determine the first Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Analysis: I like that it’s an elimination match. Those matches are better than first fall matches because they get more time, there’s more drama and it will mean more for the winner to outlast the five other people in the match.
Becky Lynch said she was surprised Bryan didn’t bring out Nikki Bella first. Bryan ended up plugging Total Bellas debuting next week. The crowd booed the Total Bellas plug, so I guess that’s what Bryan has to do to get booed. Lynch talked about how all the hardships she’s had to overcome and all the people that have turned on her, so maybe all of it was for a reason and she’s going to win that Women’s Title.
Natalya walked out saying “boring” to Lynch. She complained about how Smackdown was supposed to be her show. She complained about the draft and the way she wasn’t the first pick.
Alexa Bliss and Carmella got out there. They argued about things. Then Natalya got involved saying if you are talking about royalty you need to talk about the Queen of Harts, which is herself.
The three heel women faced off against Lynch, so Naomi and Nikki Bella showed up to confront them. Natalya decked Nikki with a forearm shot. Then the faces cleared the ring. There’s a six woman tag match later on Smackdown.
Analysis: That was pretty average. Not much to it. I don’t think the crowd cares enough about some of these women to react to their promos that much. It’s easy to see why the girls are talking trash to eachother because they are going for the same title. I just don’t think it worked that well.
The WWE Champion Dean Ambrose was backstage at catering. Some dude had some coffee, so Dean poured a lot of milk into it and told the dude to drink it. That’s it? Yep.
Later on Smackdown we’ll see Ambrose and Styles in a face to face confrontation.
The GM Bryan and Commissioner Shane McMahon were backstage talking about things. The Intercontinental Champion The Miz showed up with Maryse. Miz talked about how he came back from a vacation in Exuma. He complained about having to defend the title against a loser like Dolph Ziggler. He said that Bryan can’t get over what Miz said to him. Bryan pointed out that Miz calls Ziggler a loser, but Miz walked away from Ziggler last week, so what does that make him? Bryan said if he doesn’t want to defend it he can just give up the title right now. Miz left with Maryse.
Analysis: They should have had Bryan and Miz on camera together last week. At least they carried on that rivalry with that segment here. Miz took a shot at Bryan, then Bryan fired back at him and they moved on. Simple, but it works.
The Miz and Maryse made their entrance. Maryse looks spectacular. Similar to her great SummerSlam outfit. Dolph Ziggler is on commentary. Ziggler is also on Talking Smack on WWE Network after Smackdown as well.
The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Apollo Crews
This is not for the Intercontinental Title. Miz pounded on Crews in the corner. Otunga used a buzzword on commentary, so Ziggler made fun of him for it. That was funny. Crews did a nice flip to avoid an attack and then nailed a dropkick that sent Miz out of the ring. Crews hit a moonsault off the apron. They went to break three minutes into it.
Back from break, Crews with a rollup. Miz hit his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo as Ziggler put over Miz by saying he hasn’t seen Miz this intense. That’s called putting over your opponent. Miz grounded Crews with a submission as Ziggler said that he knows he has to win a big one. Ziggler said if he can’t he may have to think of some things. JBL asked does that mean leaving the business? Ziggler said that’s not always it. Miz with a boot to the face and a clothesline in the corner. Crews blocked a weak Miz top rope attack with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Crews hit Miz with a boot to the face, then a leaping clothesline and the crowd was going wild for Crews. Nice reaction for him. Miz hit elbows to break free. He went to the floor. Miz talked trash to Ziggler, then Miz punched him in the face. Crews went out to the floor. Miz shoved Crews into Ziggler, then Miz shoved Crews into the ring post and back into the ring. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: The Miz
Analysis: **3/4 That was a pretty good match. I liked the finish a lot. It was a crafty win and a cheap win for a heel character like Miz. Too often in WWE you see heels win matches in a clean way. It makes me wonder why they do it as often as they do, so when I see a guy take advantage of a situation and outsmart the faces like Miz did, it makes me smile. That’s the kind of thing they need to do more often. He’s a crafty veteran that was on the defensive for much of the match, but he found a way to win. It’s nice to see a midcard champion win a non-title match as well. As for Crews, his offense looks great. He just needs the right gimmick, a decent feud and some character development. He’s close. Just needs a bit more to really get going.
Post match, Ziggler had the IC Title in his hands in the ring while Miz was outside the ring. Miz told Maryse to go in the ring, so she got the title and Ziggler called Miz a coward. I didn’t mind it because it meant more camera time for Maryse.
The lovely Renee Young was on the Smackdown Live desk with AJ Styles for an interview. They recapped last week when Ambrose crotched Styles on the top rope to end the show. Styles brought over a guy with a headset for airing that footage. He threatened to break the guy’s headset and told him to leave because it’s not funny. That was it.
Analysis: Weird segment. So we should hate Styles for threatening to break a headset of a guy we don’t know? That was odd. We’ll hear from Styles later in the show.
NFL Pick ‘Em Challenge: Here are the TJRWrestling NFL Pick ‘Em leagues for this year. You need an ESPN.com account to join. No cost to join. I’ll send a TJRWrestling shirt to the winner of each – you can pick the shirt.
Straight Up: http://games.espn.com/nfl-pigskin-pickem/2016/en/group?groupID=19012 – My team is named Juan Cantoni
Point Spread: http://games.espn.com/nfl-pigskin-pickem/2016/en/group?groupID=19016 – My team is named Max Power (Simpsons influence)
The season starts on Thursday so you need to sign up before then. If you miss that first game you can still get in on Sunday. Good luck!
The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield & David Otunga were shown on camera.
A video package aired about the American Alpha duo of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable.
The Usos were interviewed by Charly about their upcoming match against American Alpha. Jimmy noted they are two time tag champs and Slammy winners. Jey noted that AA were picked before them in the draft. Jimmy said nothing but respect. Jey said that the tag team division line starts behind The Usos.
Analysis: Quick promo by The Usos to show they are ready for the big tag match tonight. Looking forward to that match.
Bray Wyatt was shown in his lair sitting in a rocking chair. He told a story as his way of mentioning Randy Orton. He spoke about a predator spending his days terrorizing people. He said it’s survival of the fittest. Wyatt talked about mankind learned to adapt, to build, to create and sooner or later those predators became playthings. Wyatt said that history repeats itself because Orton is no longer the predator he once was, Wyatt said he’s the evolution of man, he’s a god and a weapon far greater than somebody can yield with a hand. Wyatt pointed to his heart and said that it’s right here. Wyatt said that at Backlash, predator becomes prey. He ended it with his “run” bit.
Analysis: Good promo from Wyatt. I like him hearing him say that Orton isn’t the “apex predator” that he once was. It puts over the idea that Orton has softened a bit as a veteran and a younger guy like Wyatt is vicious like Orton used to be. Now we get to see the match at Backlash to see if Orton can prove if he’s still got it.
Nikki Bella made her entrance.
Analysis: Following up Bray Wyatt saying "run" with Nikki Bella twirling around on the stage is an odd transition. Not complaining.
Back from break, the other women made their entrances.
Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Carmella
There were a bunch of tags early on. Nobody was really able to get advantage. When Nikki got the tag, Carmella bailed to the floor. That’s the cue for the commercial break two minutes in.
Back from the break, Lynch was on offense against Carmella with the straight fire forearm and the Bexploder suplex. JBL was comparing the first Smackdown Women’s Champion as a history making thing. The heels worked together to slow down Lynch. Carmella threw some really weak punches. Natalya and Bliss got in there too as they worked over Lynch. Small package by Lynch gets two. Bliss knocked her down with a kick to the gut. Natalya with a dropkick to the back of Lynch. Then Natalya knocked Bella off the apron. Natalya with a sitout slam gets two. Lynch got a rollup for a two count. Natalya ducked a kick and brought in Bliss. Lynch avoided an elbow and hot tag to Nikki against Bliss. Nikki with a dropkick, then a back elbow and a jumping kick off the middle rope gets two for Nikki. That was an impressive move. Bliss with a jawkbreaker. Carmella tagged in. Nikki put her on her shoulders and slammed her down, but Bliss broke up the pin. Natalya with a clothesline to Nikki. Naomi took Natalya down and out of the ring. Bliss hit some knee attacks on Nikki to weaken her. Lynch sent Bliss out of the ring. Carmella applied the Code of Silence leg submission on Nikki (Leg Scissors around the head) led to Nikki tapping out. The heel team wins after 13 minutes.
Winners by submission: Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Carmella
Analysis: **1/4 It was a standard tag match with the heels working over the Lynch for the majority of it. Nikki’s offense after the hot tag was just okay because she only hit a couple of moves. Then it was a little awkward when one move put down Carmella. Then the heels managed to get the win thanks to outsmarting the faces. I wouldn’t have guessed Carmella would win for her team, but it does put her over as a bit of a threat. Going in she’s not as much of a threat as the others, so it elevates her a bit. That loss by Nikki means I’m definitely picking Nikki to win at Backlash. I’d prefer Natalya or even Naomi to win, but I think it will be Nikki. More thoughts on that in the preview on Friday.
Coming up later two tag team matches in the tag team tournament. Plus, Styles and Ambrose face to face. Usos vs. American Alpha is up next.
The Usos made their entrance first and then American Alpha made their entrance.
Tag Team Title Tournament Semifinals: American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
There was a pre-match handshake. The Usos did a quick attack with a Samoan Drop on Jordan. Gable sent one of the Usos out of the ring. Jordan ended up hitting a shoulder tackle on one of the Usos. Then he tagged in Gable and they hit Grand Amplitude for the win after one minute.
Winners by pinfall: American Alpha
Analysis: 1/2* I was on Twitter saying I hope they have a long match, but they opted for the surprising short match. Good idea because of what happened after.
With the win, American Alpha are in the finals of the Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament at Backlash.
Post match, The Usos attacked American Alpha. They sent Jordan into the steel post. Jey hit a jumping kick to the left leg of Gable. Jimmy went up top and hit a Samoan Splash onto the leg of Gable while Jey had him trapped in a submission hold. Jordan checked on his partners. Doctors and officials checked on Gable in the ring. Show went to break with the Usos leaving the ring.
Analysis: Great angle. Well done by The Usos. That heel turn was set up well with them talking about being the dominant team on Smackdown, then they lost such a quick match, they were embarrassed by it and now they are on the dark side. I like it. They were stale as faces. Right time for a heel turn. Hey WWE, if you did that with them and cousin Roman Reigns last year it would have worked then too. Better late than never.
Replays aired of the previous match and post match attack. The announcers talked about the situation as well with an emphasis on Gable’s knee injury.
Randy Orton was shown walking backstage. He was interviewed by Charly. He spoke about how Bray likes telling stories, so he told a story of his own. He mentioned a hunter killing a rabbit, then he saw a snake and the snake didn’t move. Orton said the snake didn’t strike, so the man looked at his fresh kill and then when he left, the snake struck. Orton said that the man’s over confidence was his undoing. Orton said he’ll be waiting patiently for Wyatt at Backlash and at Backlash, Bray Wyatt won’t know what hit him.
Analysis: I liked the story from Orton. Fits into his character as The Viper. I also like that WWE hasn’t put them in the same match in the build up to Backlash. Their matchup feels fresh.
Fandango was in the ring saying that his tag team partner Tyler Breeze couldn’t be there. He said that he’s found somebody to tango with Fandango. A tattooed lady was in the ring with him to tango. He wondered if her hips were as wild as her tattoos. They danced to the Breezango theme song. She did an awkward dance ending with a dab. She said her hips are the truth and he can’t handle the truth. She left.
Analysis: That was weird. Not sure how to analyze that. At least it was quick.
Fandango wondered if anybody else wanted to dance. Here comes Kane.
Kane made his entrance. Fandango said he liked seeing a big, old fiery dancing machine. He wants to dance. Kane grabbed him by the throat and hit a Chokeslam. Kane did a few hand gestures Fandango style before leaving. Crowd chanted “Go Big Red” for Kane and Nebraska football, as noted by JBL.
AJ Styles was shown walking backstage. Two guys were backstage looking on a phone. Styles grabbed the guy’s phone and tossed it against a wall. Styles said he’s the face that runs the place that is carrying this company on his shoulders. Styles told him to pick up the phone.
Analysis: Another quick segment to try to put Styles over as a jerk. He gets cheered a lot as a heel, so WWE is trying to do these segments with him being mean to regular people as a way to get fans to boo him. I’m not sure if it will work because of how good he is in the ring.
Slater/Rhyno vs. Ryder/Rawley is up next.
PLUG TIME: We do a TJRWrestling Podcast every week that you can listen to right here on Podbean or use iTunes by searching “TJRWrestling” or “John Canton” to get it. This week on the show we will have WWE Cruiserweight Classic competitor TJ Perkins as our guest. It should be available on Thursday. He’s a great guy that we’ve talked to before and we’re happy for his success. It will be a great show.
There was a brief Curt Hawkins “Fact” video. It ended saying that Hawkins is on Smackdown Live next week.
Analysis: Is he going to get a push upon his return to WWE or is he going to be used to put people over like Jinder Mahal on Raw? I have my doubts about him getting significant wins. We’ll find out next week.
Tag Team Title Tournament Semifinals: Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley)
They showed Slater’s “kids” in the front row. There was a segment before the show that’s on WWE.com and Youtube if you want to see it. Ryder nailed a nice missile dropkick on Slater for a two count. Rawley clipped the knee with a tackle. Back body drop by Rawey on Slater followed by a clothesline out of the ring. Ryder with a dropkick sent Slater down outside the ring. Rawley clothesline on Rhyno outside the ring. Commercial two minutes into the match.
Rawley had Slater grounded as the crowd was chanting for Rhyno. Slater avoided a corner attack. Hot tag to Rhyno against Ryder. Rhyno with shoulder tackles and an impressive spinebuster gets two as Rawley makes the save. Slater back in, he sent Rawley out of the ring, Rhyno with a clothesline to Rawley and Ryder got a rollup on Slater for two. Ryder with a Broski Boot attempt on Slater, but Rhyno pulled Slater out of the way. Rhyno tagged in, charged in and hit the Gore on Ryder. Rhyno covered for the win after seven minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Rhyno & Heath Slater
Analysis: *3/4 It was an okay match. I wish they got a bit more time, but there’s not that much time left in the show. I expected Rhyno & Slater just because of the ongoing Slater storyline that has been going on for nearly two months. It’s all about seeing if he can win that contract and the titles. Crowd loved Rhyno in this match.
Post match, Slater celebrated with his “seven kids” at ringside.
The win means it’s Slater/Rhyno vs. American Alpha for the Tag Team Titles at Backlash.
Analysis: I had a prediction here, but it's not relevant now. More on that later in the review.
There was another replay of The Usos injuring Gable after their loss.
Renee Young was on the Smackdown Live desk saying that Gable is questionable for Backlash due to the attack. She got that from Shane McMahon. The Usos showed up saying that American Alpha was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jimmy said that the crowd turned their back on The Usos. Jey talked about how for six years they have been busting ass trying to get respect and now they are done with that.
Analysis: Quick heel promo from The Usos. It was effective with them talking about the crowd turning on them. That’s true. They did. I like this edge added to The Usos.
Dean Ambrose had a woman putting hair spray in his hair to prepare for the main event.
Analysis: Is he the next Tyler Breeze? That’s a joke. Just move on.
Face To Face: Ambrose & Styles
The WWE Champion Dean Ambrose made his entrance. Ranallo messed up saying Smokin’ Joe Louis, so JBL ripped him to say it was Smokin’ Joe Frazier. That was funny. It’s definitely “Smokin’” Joe Frazier and Mauro just misspoke there. AJ Styles made his entrance. There was a graphic reminding us that it’s Styles vs. Ambrose at Backlash.
Ambrose and Styles were in the ring. Charly Caruso was in the middle of them to try to moderate things. Ambrose told her to get out of the ring because something may happen here.
Ambrose had a bag that he gave to Styles. Styles opened it and it was a trophy. Ambrose said it was a participation trophy because it’s the only trophy that Styles is going to get from Ambrose. Styles said that everything is a joke to Ambrose, but Dean has no idea who he is dealing with. Ambrose cued up a video showing Styles getting crotched on the top rope as Styles looked like a joke.
Styles said it wasn’t funny. Ambrose said that everybody thought it was funny. Ambrose said he was trying to give him a high pitched voice to go with AJ’s soccer mom haircut. There was a “soccer mom” chant for Styles.
Styles dropped the bowling trophy. He said he didn’t want Ambrose to hand him anything. Styles said the title on Ambrose’s shoulder is the one he’s going to take from him on Sunday. Styles pointed at the arm band he got from Cena. Styles bragged about beating Cena clean in the middle of a WWE ring. He told Ambrose that he’s not John Cena. Ambrose said you’re damn right he’s not Cena. Ambrose talked about how when he’s in a match he drags guys under water where they can’t breathe because he makes things uncomfortable for them. Ambrose spoke about how he beat Styles before. Ambrose said he gets to drill Styles’ head into the canvas again. Ambrose said they don’t give trophies for the face that comes in second place.
They had a staredown. Styles kicked Ambrose in the groin. Ambrose went down in pain. Style broke the “bowling trophy” over his knee. Then he talked trash to Ambrose and posed over him while Ambrose was left holding his groin. The show ended right at 10pmET.
Analysis: There was some decent trash talk there, but nothing that special either. Ambrose is a confident champion that likes to get in the head of his opponents. Styles is the cocky guy that believes in himself more than anybody else on the show. The kick to the balls was a way for Styles to pay back Ambrose after last week when Ambrose crotched Styles on the top rope. It’s simple payback. The feud has been okay. I would have liked more of a brawl or something more physical than that to get people more excited about their match.
I think a title change is possible at Backlash, but they may save it for another show. I’m not sure what my official prediction is yet. I’ll come up with something for the preview on Friday.
Three Stars of the Show
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 8
2016 Average: 5.95
2016 Average Post Brand Split (July 26-current): 6.07
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 8, 6, 5, 7
2016 High: 8 (August 23)
2016 Low: 4 (January 21)
It gets a 5.5 out of 10. A very average show this week.
The show was about promoting Backlash this Sunday. They advanced some storylines well. Some of it was lame.
There were only four matches in two hours and one of those matches lasted about one minute. I wish there was more wrestling on this show.
My favorite part was the heel turn of The Usos because it was very effective in terms of getting the crowd to hate them immediately. They needed to do it because their characters had gotten stale as well.
The matches for Smackdown’s September 11 Backlash pay-per-view are:
WWE World Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Smackdown Women's Championship: Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Bella vs. Carmella vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch
The Usos vs. Hype Bros in a match with the winners moving onto the Tag Team Tournament Finals
Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament Finals: Slater/Rhyno vs. Usos or Hype Bros
That’s it for announced matches. I’m not sure if they will add more, but they probably will.
I’ll be back on Friday with the Backlash preview and then a recap on Monday morning.
That’s all for now. Go Toronto Blue Jays.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org