SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE Smackdown LIVE review
July 19, 2016
From Worcester, Mass.
Live on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– WWE Open.
– Daniel Bryan was making his entrance to the stage and the Smackdown podium, joining Shane McMahon, as well as Raw authority figures Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley, who came out during the WWE Network pre-show. Michael Cole and Mauro Ranallo ran down the rules at ringside, getting right into things. “Yes” chants drowned out Stephanie McMahon as she tried to get the proceedings underway. Foley did his own pandering to get a cheap pop. Stephanie said since Raw is the three-hour flagship, they get the first pick. Stephanie interrupted Foley to make the pick: Seth Rollins (Raw). They showed a quick video, then on the Titan-Tron was a pic of Rollins with the Raw logo. For Smackdown, Daniel Bryan selected Dean Ambrose (Smackdown).
Next up for, to set up a strong women’s division: Charlotte (Raw). The Smackdown group seemed frazzled by that selection. The second pick of Smackdown: A.J. Styles (Smackdown). Stephanie even complimented that pick. Foley said that, with an eye toward their future, the next pick is from NXT. That drew a reaction from the crowd. It’s Finn Balor (Raw). John Cena’s music then hit as he came out. Cena’s out for his match. Ranallo, Cole, Byron Saxton, and Jerry “The King” Lawler were all at ringside for this momentous event. The Club came out next and yes, Styles was wearing a Smackdown t-shirt under his vest. To counteract the heels, Enzo Amore & Big Cass made their way out. Enzo did his usual schtick as Seth Rollins was being interviewed by Tom Phillips on the WWE Network.
1 – JOHN CENA vs. LUKE GALLOWS
They went to break :23 seconds into the match, but it’s the old NASCAR side-by-side, where they stayed with the action in a smaller box on the screen as the commercials aired.
[Commercial Break – During the break, it was mostly Gallows working slowly on offense.]
Back at 3:13 with Gallows picking up Cena and slamming him. Cena came back and included a Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Gallows escaped the Attitude Adjustment and delivered a big boot. Enzo got on the apron and shuffled around trying to implore Cena to his feet. Cass joined him, as Styles and Karl Anderson climbed to the apron on the other side. Both teams ended up meeting in the ring. The heels charged and were summarily back-dropped out of the ring. Attitude Adjustment to Gallows for the win.
WINNER: Cena, a 5:25. Cena may not have even broken a sweat there. The finish may have been a little too cute for some, especially with Cena and Gallows having to lay on the mat for so long while the teams did their thing.
– Tonight, Dean Ambrose defends the WWE Title against Seth Rollins.
– Up next, Rusev and The Miz vs. Darren Young and Zack Ryder (in a match sponsored by Toyota).
– The next set of picks are upon us. Raw gets to pick first again. Foley mentioned that Shane McMahon yesterday assumed Foley would be Steph’s puppet. This pick shows he won’t be: Roman Reigns (Raw). Shane, without a lot of bluster, picked John Cena (Smackdown) for the blue brand. Foley allowed Steph to make the next Raw announcement. It was for Brock Lesnar (Raw). Given the controversy surrounding him into today, I’m surprised Steph didn’t pawn the pick off on Mick to make. Bryan announced, for Smackdown, Randy Orton (Smackdown). Steph asked for a drum roll from Foley, leading into her picking New Day (Raw). Seems unfair she gets three-in-one with this tag team as opposed to most teams that are two-in-one picks. But I guess since any combination of members is allowed to defend the titles…
2 – RUSEV & THE MIZ vs. DARREN YOUNG & ZACK RYDER
They were all already in the ring, so I guess they had to stand there while none of them were drafted. Good teamwork from Ryder and Young early on in taking down The Miz. Rusev distracted Ryder, allowing Miz to pull his foot off the middle rope. Bob Backlund, Maryse, and Lana were all at ringside. Too bad we didn’t get any interaction with Maryse and Lana. Miz got Ryder in a front face-lock, at which point Rusev just entered the ring and started yelling at Miz. He’s the man. “We want Backlund” chants by the fans. Ryder countered a suplex with a neck-breaker. Young got the hot tag and took out Miz. The match broke down at this point. Young hit a knee-lift that sent Rusev out of the ring. Ryder hit a dropkick on him from the apron. Backlund advised Young to cinch it in, and the chicken-wing was applied to Miz. The crowd loved it, and Miz tapped.
WINNERS: Young and Ryder, at 4:05. Fine match to hype two secondary title matches at Battleground and give two underdog title challengers a little credibility.
– Tonight, Sasha Banks is in a two-on-one handicap match against Charlotte and Dana Brooke.
– Next, Xavier Woods vs. Bray Wyatt.
– New Day, in their Raw tees, were in the ring as the Wyatts made their full entrance.
3 – XAVIER WOODS vs. BRAY WYATT
Woods leaned backward in the corner to start, getting into the head of Woods before they even locked proverbial horns. Wyatt knelt in the middle of the ring, offering Woods a free shot. Woods seemed to be in a trance-like state as he advanced toward Wyatt. Wyatt got to his feet and put his hand on Woods’ shoulder. New Day shouting from ringside finally snapped Woods out of it, but Wyatt was on the attack and aggressively stomped Woods in the corner. Wyatt headbutted Woods in the chest as Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman nodded in their sheep masks at ringside. Uranage by Wyatt to Woods, and Woods got some major air-time on it, too. Back senton was next. Wyatt took too much time paying attention to Kofi Kingston and Big E. It allowed Woods to fight back. Wyatt stopped Woods in his tracks by lifting himself into the spider-walk position, then he grabbed Woods for Sister Abigail.
WINNER: Wyatt, at 4:45. Heavy on the mind games and aggressiveness in Wyatt. Those are the qualities of Wyatt that should be focused on.
– Kane was in the ring, his music playing, for the next match. It was to be against Kevin Owens, who, as he came to the ring, yelled at both the Raw and Smackdown reps at their podiums for not drafting him yet. As Owens came to the ring, Sami Zayn’s music hit and he ran out. They brawled in the aisle, then into the ring. Owens pushed Zayn into Kane, who grabbed Zayn by the throat. He did the same to Owens and delivered a double chokeslam.
More draft picks! Raw led off again, by picking Sami Zayn (Raw). Jerry Lawler was aghast at this selection. He was Mel Kiper to Raw’s New York Jets. At least, from back in the day. For Smackdown, Shane MacMahon picked Bray Wyatt (Smackdown). Interesting, given Bryan’s previous relationship with Wyatt. Foley reminded the Smackdown guys that there are women available in this draft. So Foley picked Sasha Banks (Raw). Bryan called Foley’s fascination with the women “weird.” So he chose what he believed was the best female superstar in WWE, Becky Lynch (Smackdown). Foley went into a garbage bag he had beside the podium, took out a wrinkled sheet of paper and scribbled something down and conferred with his boss. He picked Chris Jericho (Raw).
– The announcers were shown on camera, and they sent it to part of a video of Dean Ambrose being interviewed on WWE Network’s second-screen experience earlier in the night after being drafted by Smackdown.
– Next, it’s the women’s two-on-one handicap match.
– They showed a list of top Superstars still available, including Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, Enzo & Cass, The Miz, Rusev, Cesaro, Kalisto, Alberto del Rio, The Usos, and Big Show.
4 – DANA BROOKE & CHARLOTTE vs. SASHA BANKS – TWO-ON-ONE HANDICAP MATCH
As Banks came to the ring, they showed Banks fighting off Charlotte and Brooke, but also Natalya attacking Lynch at ringside. Then, Charlotte and Brooke had their way with Banks. Banks immediately threw Brooke into Charlotte to start the match. Forearm shot to Brooke, but Charlotte tried to interfere from ringside. Banks leapt onto Charlotte with the double-knees. Brooke attacked Banks from behind. Charlotte ordered Brooke to get Banks into the ring. Banks took Brooke down with clotheslines. She knocked Charlotte off the apron. Brooke turned the tables, but not for long. Brooke held onto the ropes on a Bank Statement attempt. She eventually locked it in though until Charlotte, having made the tag, broke it up. Natural Selection for the win.
WINNERS: Charlotte and Brooke, at 2:18. They tried very hard to fit a lot into a match that went just over two minutes. It was like they were moving a hundred miles an hour in there.
– Back to the podiums we went. Raw went first again and took United States Champion Rusev w/Lana (Raw). Bryan said he hated to do this but they need the I.C. Championship, so they went with The Miz w/Maryse (Smackdown). Stephanie McMahon made the selection of Kevin Owens (Raw). The first somewhat off-the-radar pick, as Baron Corbin (Smackdown) went here. Foley said he has a way with words, and the way he’d describe Shane and Daniel tonight is S-A-W-F-T. That meant Enzo & Big Cass (Raw) Shane tore up a sheet of paper as if he was about to pick them.
– Still to come, Dean Ambrose defends his WWE Title against Seth Rollins.
– But next, Cesaro faces Chris Jericho.
– They showed, to this point, the twelve picks made by Raw and the eight by Smackdown. The announcers discussed some of the better picks. Lawler claimed there wasn’t a bad pick out of the bunch on Smackdown. As he’s the heel, I guess we’re supposed to disagree with him.
5 – CESARO vs. CHRIS JERICHO
No entrance for Cesaro. Early on, he hit a cannonball off the apron and onto Jericho outside the ring. Running European uppercut almost sent Jericho into the audience. Jericho rolled Cesaro up back in the ring for a near-fall. Enzuigiri by Jericho for two. Owens was going toe-to-toe on the mic with Enzo on the WWE Network at this time, so I had to give some attention to that. See-sawed exchange of pinning combinations from Jericho and Cesaro. Cesaro was perched on the top rope. Jericho gave him a Frankensteiner off the top for two. Code Breaker was blocked. Lawler wondered aloud where each of the announcers will end up. Lionsault attempt, but Cesaro met him at the springboard point and delivered a Russian leg-sweep. Cesaro swing, then a double-stomp. Cesaro went for a springboard European uppercut, but Jericho caught him with an ugly Code Breaker for the pinfall.
WINNER: Jericho, at 4:52. Okay match, but it seemed a bit purposeless. The only reason I can see Jericho needing to go over is because he’s been drafted and Cesaro hasn’t thus far. With all due respect to my Raw counterpart, James Caldwell, Cesaro better end up on Smackdown.
– Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Title is coming up tonight.
– Becky Lynch and Natalya were brawling at ringside out of break, with a number of referees trying to restrain them. They were finally able to corral the ladies and Lynch was shown heading to the back.
– Raw was ready for their next draft picks. Stephanie chose Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Raw), which splits up The Club. After a brief discussion, Daniel Bryan announced he’d make Smackdown the land of opportunity by choosing NXT’s American Alpha, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable (Smackdown). Now we’re cooking. Foley complimented Smackdown on their choice. Foley chose a WWE mainstay for Raw, Big Show (Raw). McMahon drafted someone he said always gives 100% in the ring: Dolph Ziggler (Smackdown). Stephanie said there’s no woman like Raw’s next draft pick, NXT’s Nia Jax (Raw).
– The announcers plugged WWE Network’s Draft Center special, going on now, and they showed a bit of an interview Tom Phillips conducted with Raw’s number one draft pick, Seth Rollins, from earlier.
– Next, after the final five televised draft picks, we’ll get the WWE Title match.
– Michael Cole said another 30 picks will be made on the WWE Network. Stephanie McMahon said gravity may have forgotten this man, but Raw hasn’t: Neville (Raw). Daniel Bryan, with little enthusiasm, chose the first female graduate of the Hart Dungeon, Natalya (Smackdown). Foley said the finest moment in his career took place in Worcester, Massachusetts. He said the next pick has been undervalued in the draft: Cesaro (Raw). Shane McMahon wanted to add a fiery temper to Smackdown, adding Alberto Del Rio (Smackdown). Foley reminisced about his battles with Raw’s next pick, Sheamus (Raw). Cole again plugged 30 more picks on the WWE Network after Smackdown.
– Seth Rollins came out for the main event, hugging Stephanie and Foley in doing so. JoJo handled formal ring introductions for the main event. After ring intros, Rollins attacked Ambrose before the bell could ring to start the match. Rolilns continued his assault at ringside, pulling Ambrose’s Smackdown shirt right off his back. How dare he! Rollins held the title aloft while in the ring. They went to break before the match even began.
6 – SETH ROLLINS vs. DEAN AMBROSE – WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Ambrose was finally ready (enough) to go, allowing Mike Chioda to call for the bell to begin the match. The champion still didn’t look like he had fully gathered his bearings. Rollins rubbed his forearms across the face of Ambrose with Ambrose’s throat draped across the middle rope. A knee was dropped across Ambrose’s face. Hard whip of Ambrose into the buckle, collapsing Ambrose after the bump. Another hard whip, followed by a back-breaker from the challenger. Rollins tried to wear down Ambrose, and tossed him again to ringside. Ambrose gained the advantage there, back-dropping Rollins into the timekeeper’s area. Ambrose tried to dive onto Rollins from the announce desk, but Rollins moved and Ambrose went ribs-first across the barricade. Rollins hurried Ambrose back into the ring and hit a springboard knee for a two-count. They went to break at 4:53 of the match.
Back at 8:05 of the match with Rollins still in control. Running forearm in the corner to a spent Ambrose. Ambrose came out of the corner hard with a clothesline. He capitalized with a few back elbows. Swinging neck-breaker for two from the Lunatic Fringe. Ambrose tried a double axe-handle from the top, but Rollins kicked him in the gut on the way down and delivered a buckle bomb. Frog splash from the top missed, and a cradle got Ambrose a two-count. Ambrose back-dropped Rollins out of the ring and connected on a suicide dive. Off the top, Ambrose brought down an elbow on Rollins. Rollins recovered enough to superplex Ambrose off the top. However, Ambrose surprised Rollins with Dirty Deeds and the win.
WINNER: Ambrose, at 12:17.
After the match, Shane-O-Mac and Bryan ran to the ring. They celebrated with Ambrose as replays were shown of the finish. Shane gave Ambrose a Smackdown t-shirt, which he donned as he celebrated with GM and Commissioner.
– The announcers plugged The Battleground card, complete with graphics and draft implications for a few of the contests.
– 30 more draft picks are to be made. They showed the panel and the discussion currently happening on the WWE Network.
– More celebrating from Ambrose as it feels like they’re running a little short here. Another replay of the finish was shown. Ambrose shook hands with fans at ringside as Ranallo closed out the show, getting cut off with the feed.
Did you watch Thursday’s Smackdown episode? Send your 0-10 score & Reax to email@example.com for our TV Reax feature.
Greg Parks has been covering WWE Smackdown for PWTorch.com since January of 2007. He is the host of “Moonlighting with Greg Parks,” a PWTorch VIP-exclusive audio show posted each weekend. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks for live Tweeting during Raw, Impact, and PPVs, as well as other bits of wisdom. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.