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WWE Smackdown LIVE review
August 23, 2016
From Uncasville, Conn.
Live on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– In the locker room, members of the mid-card milled around, with Baron Corbin and Erick Rowan (in his sheep mask) having a discussion next to Apollo Crews and Rhyno, who were also chatting it up. Dolph Ziggler sat nearby, head down. A.J. Styles walked in, apparently the new leader of the locker room. Styles had himself a souvenir, one of John Cena’s “Never Give Up” headbands. Styles addressed Ziggler directly, talking about how Summerslam just wasn’t his night. “I don’t like losers,” said Styles. Styles was face-to-face with him, so Ziggler popped up and headbutted him. Referees and the nearby wrestlers broke things up before any further damage could be done. “Mind your own business!” Ziggler shouted at Styles, who by then had been dragged off-camera.
– Smackdown Open.
– The tag teams and the women were gathered in the squared-circle, with the two new titles on display in mid-ring. Shane McMahon came out, followed by Daniel Bryan. Some improvements to the Smackdown set have been made, making it look a little more intricate. It’s like the Titan-Tron has its own side-plates! McMahon said the Superstars in the ring have a huge opportunity in front of them. First, the Women’s Division: Daniel Bryan said each one of the six women have the potential to lead the Smackdown women’s roster. “Becky” chants from the crowd. The Smackdown women’s title was white around the edges with blue underneath the WWE logo. At Backlash, there will be a six-pack challenge amongst the women to crown a new champion.
As for the tag teams, the new Smackdown tag title will be awarded at Backlash as well. The belts look like the current tag titles, only with a darker blue strap and silver instead of bronze face. There will be a tag title tournament that will culminate at Backlash, and will start tonight. Heath Slater interrupted, coming to ringside through the crowd. He talked about how close he’s been lately to getting a Smackdown contract. He also nearly tripped getting into the ring.
Slater wanted an opportunity at some of the gold in the ring. Bryan said Slater isn’t “equipped” to challenge for the women’s title. Slater said he was talking about the tag titles. McMahon brought up that Slater not only isn’t on the roster, but he doesn’t have a tag partner. Slater guaranteed that he could find someone in the back who would stand by his side. And he said he and his partner would enter the tourney and win. Bryan said if Slater can find a partner by the end of tonight, they’ll find a tag team for he and his partner to compete against next week. McMahon said the only way Slater will get to be a member of the roster is if he wins the entire tournament. Buzzkill. Slater agreed and walked off.
A.J. Styles wasn’t happy and came down the aisle. He’d heard enough of what was going on in the ring (throwing in a women’s tag title reference for good measure). He passed Slater in the aisle, saying no, he won’t be Slater’s partner. Before Styles could get any more out, Ziggler attacked him from behind. All the tag teams it he ring as well as some referees broke up the ringside melee. A lot going on there, but most of it worked and each part was kept relatively short, packing it all into less than ten minutes.
1 – ALEXA BLISS vs. BECKY LYNCH
They showed off Bliss’ Muscle & Fitness Hers cover. Mauro Ranallo, JBL, and David Otunga were shown at ringside, joined by Naomi and Natalya on commentary for this one. Lynch tried a Disarm-Her early on, but Bliss broke via the ropes. Kick to the back of the head by Bliss. More “Becky” chants while Bliss stood on Lynch and stomped her head into the mat. Lynch made her comeback and the crowd was firmly behind her. Bliss flipped Lynch out of the corner and into a pinning combination for two. Lynch quickly went into the Disarm-Her for the tap-out win.
WINNER: Lynch, at 4:02. Natalya and Naomi offered almost nothing on commentary. The match was pretty basic.
– Slater was backstage when he approached “just the man I’ve been looking for.” It was The Miz and Maryse. Slater pitched Miz being his tag partner. Miz said it’s just the tent-pole he’s been looking for to launch his brand into the stratosphere. He said he won’t let him down. Slater was excited, but it was revealed that Miz, wearing sunglasses and with his hood up, was talking on his Bluetooth to Stephen Spielberg about possibly being the next Indiana Jones. He heard nothing of what Slater was saying. That was a pretty effective gag.
– The tag title tournament begins next.
– Some interior shots of the Mohegan Sun Casino were shown.
2 – THE ASCENSION vs. THE USOS – TAG-TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT MATCH
Konnor and Viktor attacked right at the bell, including Viktor hitting a knee off the top onto one of the Usos being held by Konnor. Konnor dove at Uso with a clothesline off the middle rope. It sounded like the announcers were building to a David Otunga-Miz feud with JBL mentioning how Otunga’s wife (Jennifer Hudson) could get some acting tips from Miz. Jimmy Uso caught Konnor with an enzuigiri. It had been all Ascension to that point. Both sides made tags. Jey hit a cross-body for two. Backslide by Viktor for two. Samoan drop by Jey. Corner butt splash was interrupted by Konnor. Jey superkicked Viktor while Jimmy took out Konnor. Tag and a top-rope splash ended it.
WINNERS: The Usos, at 3:49. Ascension showed off some renewed energy here. The Usos may have some work to do to win the crowd back and to be seen at a level they were in the past.
Replays of the match and finish were shown.
– Tonight, Randy Orton Live, where he will address his Summerslam match with Brock Lesnar.
– Still highlights from Summerslam were shown.
– The announcers talked about Summerslam briefly, until A.J. Styles interrupted with his music. Styles said he sees a lot of angry faces in the crowd, and a lot of jealous faces in the back. Like Dolph Ziggler! He rolled photos of him pinning Cena at Summerslam and Cena taking off his “Never Give Up” sweat band. Styles said Cena’s fans are crying into whatever they cry into, but fear not: They don’t have to be Cena fans anymore; they can be Styles fans. He declared himself “the face that runs this place.” He repeated it two more times. Styles theorized that he should be the #1 contender to the WWE Title. Ziggler was forcing his way back to the ring, being held back by referees as well as producers Jamie Noble and Billy Kidman (the only ones to not make Ziggler look small?). Bryan came out onto the stage and said Styles does deserve to be #1 contender. But Dolph came very close to winning on Sunday. He said Styles and Ziggler should fight. So he made the match for tonight. If Styles wins, he goes on to face Dean Ambrose for the title at Backlash. If Ziggler wins, he gets added to the match to make it a Triple-Threat.
– Nikki Bella is back on Smackdown and is in action next.
– Curt Hawkins once broke a promise…in half. Death once had a near-Curt Hawkins experience. Winter is worried that Curt Hawkins is coming. I hadn’t heard a few of those before. Anyway, he’s coming soon to Smackdown.
– Carmella came out for a match against Nikki Bella. After Nikki’s entrance, Renee Young interviewed her in mid-ring. Nikki was giving a heartfelt response when Carmella attacked her from behind. Side-kick by Carmella. Carmella dropped Nikki and delivered left hands tot eh back and side of Nikki. Another ref ran in to help pull Carmella off. They got her separated, but Carmella charged back and hit the Bella Buster on Nikki. How many times are they going to tease women’s matches on Smackdown and not deliver for one reason or another? In this instance, it seems effective at least in turning Carmella. The sneak attack was replayed.
– Next, we’ll hear from Randy Orton.
– A video package on Lesnar vs. Orton was shown. They spliced in shocked faces of fans in the crowd reacting to the finish. Should’ve snuck Chris Jericho’s reaction into that as well.
– Back live, Randy Orton walked to the ring. “Randy” chants from the crowd. Orton showed off the ten staples in his head and said he was in one hell of a fight against Lesnar on Sunday. He said he knew what he was getting into, but he would’ve rather gotten rolled out on a stretcher than have the match end the way it did. Orton said that Shane thought he was doing the right thing by intervening, and maybe on some level, he was. He said his path will cross with Lesnar’s again one day…but then the lights went out and Bray Wyatt’s theme played. Wyatt walked down the aisle with his lantern.
Wyatt took a seat in his mysteriously-appearing rocking chair at ringside. Wyatt asked Orton how his head was. He wore a hood over his head, and said Orton was reminded on Sunday that he’s just a man. Orton is a man who suffers, a man who dies. Wyatt said he’s not just a man, but a god. And a god can never die. Orton will find that out in time. Orton invited Wyatt to enter the ring. As he looked to do so, the lights went out again and when they turned on, Wyatt was nowhere to be seen. The rocking chair still rocked though. Lights out again to close the segment.
– Shane McMahon was in the hallway talking to Charles Robinson. Charly Caruso came up and said she’d like to have a word with him about Brock Lesnar. She stuck the mic in his face despite not asking a question about Lesnar. That’s not how interviewing works. McMahon kinda brushed her off, saying Lesnar cross the line. Caruso asked Shane if he thinks Stephanie McMahon will take the matter seriously. Shane brought up that Stephanie had fined Brock only $500 for his attack. So no, he doesn’t think she’s taking it seriously. Caruso was persistent, as Shane called her, and asked him if he thought it was fair. I think he made his opinion on that pretty clear. He did say his thing with Lesnar is far from over.
– A.J. Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler is tonight.
– American Alpha faces Breezango in the Tag Title Tournament, next.
– More from the inside of the Mohegan Sun.
– Slater was still trying to recruit a tag partner. He approached Arn Anderson. Anderson said there’s only one Ric Flair and Slater ain’t it. He said there was a time when he was a tag-team specialist. Anderson said he doesn’t even think he can get Slater out of this. Slater said Anderson is his last chance. Anderson wasn’t happy that Slater was his last choice. He walked off and out of nowhere, Rhyno put his hand on Slater’s shoulder. Rhyno volunteered for the spot. Slater was excited.
– An inset interview was shown as Breezango was finishing up their entrance. They talked about becoming tag champs. Tyler Breeze made a funny and Fandango complimented him on it. In Alpha’s inset interview, they talked about setting squad goals for themselves, including winning the Smackdown tag titles and buying a thousand new singlets. Chad Gable gave off the “Ready, Willing, and Gable” catchphrase.
3 – BREEZANGO vs. AMERICAN ALPHA – TAG-TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT MATCH
Gable took Fandango down with a single-leg, and quickly took him down another two times. Breeze tagged in and tried to avoid Gable’s quick-twitch offense, but couldn’t. Tag in to Jason Jordan, and both men suplexed their opponents and tossed them out of the ring. “More chemistry than a periodic table,” said Ranallo of AA. Things settled back down with Gable working the arm of Breeze. The heels took over with some double-teaming, laying out Gable. They went to break at 3:24 of the match.
Back at 6:10 with the heels in control. Gable skinned the cat, however, and hooked Fandango with his legs, pulling him out of the ring. Hot tag to Jordan at 6:49. He fired off on Breeze, then caught Fandango coming off the top and delivered a belly-to-belly suplex. Spear of Breeze in the corner. Dropkick into a German suplex with a bridge for two. Jordan hoisted Breeze up on his shoulders, but Fandango knocked Gable off the top rope. Hurricanrana by Breeze on Jordan for two. Gable made the save on a pin attempt after a Supermodel kick. Gable took out Fandango, with both tumbling over the top rope and to the floor. Overhead suplex by Jordan on Breeze once both men got to their feet. Tag to Gable, Grand Amplitude, pin.
WINNERS: American Alpha, at 10:13. Entertaining match and a nice showing for Breezango, who don’t usually get this kind of time on one of the main shows. They made the most of it here.
– The announcers talked about WWE Live coming to China, as well as the first WWE-signed Chinese wrestler making his debut on one of the live events.
– Dean Ambrose was walking backstage in an oversized cowboy hat reminiscent of SNL’s Burt Reynolds Jeopardy skit. Caruso caught up to him. Ambrose said he just came back from the roulette tables. He heard his opponent(s) for Backlash will be decided tonight. A waitress brought Ambrose a Red Bull & coffee. He tipped her with some chips and headed to the ring for guest commentary.
– More Summerslam stills were shown.
– Dean Ambrose came out, tossing the giant foam cowboy hat to the crowd. It, of course, was blue. He sat in on commentary for the main event.
4 – DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. A.J. STYLES – IF ZIGGLER WINS, HE GETS ADDED TO THE WWE TITLE MATCH AT BACKLASH
Ziggler tried a single-leg take-down, but Styles stayed on his feet and leveled Ziggler with a right hand. The two scrapped a bit, and Styles created some necessary separation by retreating to ringside. Ziggler tried but couldn’t clothesline Styles over the top rope once back in the ring, so instead, he dropkicked him over the top. They went to break at 1:59 of the match.
Back at 5:47 with Styles in control, working over Ziggler in the corner. Styles reversed an Irish whip and sent Ziggler chest-first into the turnbuckles. It was a hard hit. Back-breaker from Styles. Styles slowed the pace. Punches, followed by a roundhouse kick by Styles. Ziggler surprised Styles by taking him down and trying to roll him up. He didn’t even get a one-count. Styles threw some words Ambrose’s way as he continued to dominate Ziggler. Ziggler peppered Styles with rights to the ribs, then the head. Ziggler tried to spear Styles oft the apron, but Styles delivered a neck-breaker over the middle rope. Break again, at 10:43 of the match.
The show returned at 14:05. It was still all Styles. Ziggler again gave a glimpse of a comeback, but Styles, again, stopped him cold. A dropkick put Styles down. This time, Ziggler was able to sustain an offensive. Elbowdrop for two. Fameasser by Ziggler for a two-count. Ushigoroshi by Styles for a two-count. Springboard 450 missed. DDT by Ziggler for a near-fall. Slowly, both men got to their feet. Styles caught a kick and tried the Styles Clash. He was unsuccessful. Zig Zag for a very near fall. The crowd was really into the last two two-counts. Styles kicked the rope into Ziggler’s leg (after catching another superkick attempt) and hit the Styles Clash for the victory.
WINNER: Styles, at 21:37.
Styles approached Ambrose after the match. Ambrose stood up to meet Styles eye-to-eye. Styles backed away, laughing. Ambrose’s music played to end the show.
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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.