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WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
JULY 10, 2018
MANCHESTER, N.H. AT SNHU ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK 8:00 P.M. ET
BY FRANK PETEANI, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
On the final pit stop before Extreme Rules this coming Sunday, WWE will deliver its product to the SNHU Arena in Manchester, N.H. Smackdown, WWE’s “blue brand,” last appeared in this arena in May of 2017. Tonight, we’ll wrap up the build towards Extreme Rules from the blue brand’s side and get ready for this month’s version of WWE’s co-branded PPVs.
Four matches have been announced for tonight. One includes a recent rivalry being renewed in WWE Champion A.J. Styles taking on Shinsuke Nakamura in a non-title match. This brings me to a topic I regret not making the head topic in my Raw primer yesterday, and that’s WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar’s UFC appearance. I realize this is a Smackdown primer but, indulge me for a moment. As you may or may not know on Saturday night at UFC 226, Lesnar was in attendance to witness Daniel Cormier win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Cormier called him into the octagon, and ultimately Lesnar shoved him down. A match will take place at some point between the two gentlemen for the championship.
It is bad enough we have not seen the WWE Universal Champion Lesnar since the Greatest Royal Rumble which took place at end of April. We’re approaching three months since that appearance. The first time we see him or hear about him being seen is on UFC programming pursuing the UFC Championship? What about WWE programming, the Universal Championship, and the pursuit of the title at the top of the Raw card? It’s not that I expect, nor do I want Lesnar on TV every week or even defending the title every PPV. It is however unacceptable that it is now mid-July, and from April we haven’t seen the reigning WWE Universal Champion and have no idea when this championship will be defended. Does the 30-day rule not apply as a matter of fiscal convenience for WWE? There needs to be consistency with both champions (Universal and WWE), as was pointed out by Bruce Mitchell on his VIP audio show. For me any champion needs to be visible and available on a reasonable basis. The championships should be defended at a pace that makes the title and the pursuit of it relevant. By the way WWE made no mention of Lesnar’s UFC appearance on Raw last night. Is it fair to ask why? Are they hiding from the situation as long as feasible?
WWE Champion A.J. Styles has defended his title on PPV six times in 2018 (I may be forgetting an additional time or two on Smackdown) and made a fair amount of appearances in some way, shape, or form on TV. He may have even been shown too much and I don’t want that either, but the point is he’s there. Why can’t WWE select a man on a deep Raw roster that can carry the responsibility of being WWE Universal Champion?
Please understand my issue is with WWE. I have no issue with Brock Lesnar. He knows his worth and is going out and getting it. I recommend any of the PWTorch VIP podcasts that dropped in over the weekend from Wade Keller, Bruce Mitchell, or Todd Martin to get different perspectives on this matter. With all of this said, let’s turn back to Smackdown and take a look at what’s on the menu for this evening.
Miz TV: Team Hell No
The show is expected to open with MizTV. The Miz’s guests will be Team Hell No, Daniel Bryan and Kane. Team Hell No opened the show last week in an in-ring interview with Renee Young. They discussed their history, both good and bad, and gave us some of the schtick that made us fall in love with the duo back in 2012. Later in the evening they would wrestle the Usos, who interrupted the interview questioning how they earned a championship opportunity against the Bludgeon Brothers (rightfully so). If the Usos won, they would be added to the match at Extreme Rules making it a triple threat tag team match. Team Hell No came out victorious and preserved their match against the Bludgeon Brothers as is for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Tonight, The Miz will have Team Hell No as his guests to no doubt discuss their upcoming opportunity and perhaps touch on their history.
Thoughts: It will be interesting to see if anything is brought up in specific to Miz and Daniel Bryan. Since their confrontation on Talking Smack a few years ago and given their history, we’ve all wondered if a match would take place if and when Daniel Bryan was cleared to wrestle. We could see some issues brought up tonight, or possibly not if WWE wants to ignore their history and start a new rivalry from scratch. That would be an injustice. Miz was Daniel Bryan’s pro in NXT back in 2010. Miz’s “it kicks” are a copy of Bryan’s “yes kicks.” They have always been linked in some way, shape, or form. When Bryan was cleared to wrestle, I’m certain many people including myself wanted to see a match with Miz on a big stage.
Inter-gender Lumberjack Match: Asuka vs. James Ellsworth
Last week James Ellsworth was to have a straight-up inter-gender match with Asuka as per G.M. Paige. After displaying Herculean strength doing three pushups, a brief match took place. Ultimately Asuka chased Ellsworth into the stands and both participants were counted out. Upon returning to the ring, Carmella attacked Asuka and left her lying on the outside of the ring. She dragged Ellsworth to the back. Later on, Paige would advise Ellsworth he would be in a lumberjack match against Asuka next week (tonight) with all of the women of the Smackdown roster at ringside.
James Ellsworth tweeted several times this week how he wants to outdo women in different endeavors. Take a look:
We all know Men are clearly better Drivers…
These shades would look cooler on me as well !! .. pic.twitter.com/6074bY7YPd
— James Ellsworth (@realellsworth) July 9, 2018
Thoughts: Hey we want gender equality these days, right? I’m all for it, so can I be mad at Ellsworth? I don’t think so. Anyway, wouldn’t this be considered a lumberjill match? It doesn’t matter as once again you can’t have too many expectations for this match. Last week accomplished its purpose as it got heat on Carmella for attacking Asuka and made Ellsworth look like a complete goof. This week I expect just another building block towards Asuka’s challenge of Carmella at Extreme Rules for the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Non-Title Match: WWE Champion A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
At Extreme Rules, WWE Champion A.J. Styles will defend his title against Rusev. Tonight, Styles renews his rivalry with Shinsuke Nakamura, who challenges Jeff Hardy for the U.S. Championship this coming Sunday.
Nakamura did not compete last week, but rather gave us a selfie video questioning why Hardy paints his face. A.J. Styles defeated Aiden English in a non-title match but was attacked by Rusev immediately thereafter. Tonight, Styles and Nakamura renew a rivalry that only recently ended at Money in the Bank on Father’s Day last month.
They haven’t trashed talked each other, but both men have done so to their respective Extreme Rules opponents. Nakamura had this to say to Hardy:
— Shinsuke Nakamura (@ShinsukeN) July 6, 2018
Styles had these words for Rusev:
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) July 5, 2018
Thoughts: It’s odd to see this rivalry renewed so quickly. It’s one that preserved properly, could still work well at future PPVs especially if the roles are reversed and Nakamura is champion. With that said, I’m only speculating but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a screwy ending leading to an impromptu tag match with Styles/Hardy vs. Nakamura/Rusev.
Tye Dillinger vs. Samoa Joe
In a WWE.com exclusive video, R-Truth was chatting with Tye Dillinger requesting to be his tag team partner (isn’t Truth sour from his experience with Goldust). Dillinger declined, saying he wants to focus on being a singles wrestler. Truth “inadvertently” suggested he take on Samoa Joe. Dillinger was initially reluctant but changed his mind after Joe got in his face. VIDEO LINK
Thoughts: I like to see lower card guys get an opportunity to wrestle guys on the mid-upper card. I expect Joe to go over, but I hope Dillinger wrestles a decent enough match to make you want to see him work more on Smackdown. I’m not confident Dillinger will avoid cutting a promo not involving him being a “10.” If that happens I highly recommend you read Wade Keller’s Smackdown report.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Sin Cara
Several weeks ago, Andrade “Cien” Almas laid out Sin Cara in a backstage interview rendering him “unable to compete” for weeks. Tonight, we finally get a match between these two gentlemen according to WWE.com as Cara has been “cleared to compete.”
Thoughts: They did work a house show in the last week, but this will be the first time they compete on TV. In a way I like that Almas hasn’t competed on TV, making his next appearance feel special. I’m not super excited for a match with Sin Cara, but there is a small history and a payoff match is fine in my opinion. Given his history in NXT I hope WWE has plans for Almas. Between him and his “business manager” Zelina Vega, the talent is there to have meaningful rivalries on the mid-upper card.
•Sanity thankfully interrupted a pancake eating contest between the three members of New Day. I would expect follow up in some form, perhaps a six-man tag tonight or announced for Extreme Rules. The pre-show isn’t a far-fetched thought.
•Jeff Hardy defeated the Miz in a U.S. Championship open challenge. Nothing is on tap for Hardy tonight at the moment. As I said earlier, it wouldn’t surprise me if he tags with A.J. Styles against Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev in a modification of the scheduled match between Styles and Nakamura. (Forgive the airline reference there. When my schedule changes it’s considered a “modification.”)
•Becky Lynch went two-for-two against the IIconics defeating Peyton Royce. She had defeated Billie Kay two weeks prior. Nothing is on tap for any of these women at the moment tonight.
Wrestlers Advertised, Dark Matches, and 205 Live
The SNHU Arena’s website advertises a double main event. They show a six-man tag featuring WWE Champion A.J. Styles, U.S. Champion Jeff Hardy, and Daniel Bryan vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, The Miz, and Samoa Joe. They also show Asuka vs. WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella. It doesn’t indicate if this is a title match.
These matches aren’t far-fetched as dark matches but as always, the “Card Is Subject to Change.”
205 Live will follow Smackdown. Buddy Murphy faced Mustafa Ali in a no-disqualification match for the ages last week. If you didn’t see it, I highly recommend you watch it on the WWE Network. Tonight, Cedric Alexander will defend the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Hideo Itami. Take a look at the confrontation between these two gentlemen from last week’s 205Live: VIDEO LINK
Start time is shown at 7:45 ET.
Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani or email me at email@example.com. Thank you for reading!
NOW CATCH UP ON LAST WEEK’S SHOW: 7/3 WWE SMACKDOWN RESULTS: Keller’s report on Team Hell No, Styles vs. English, Asuka vs. Ellsworth, Lynch vs. Royce