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WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
AUGUST 7, 2018
ORLANDO, FL. AT THE AMWAY CENTER
AIRS ON USA NETWORK 8:00PM EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
WWE continues to stay in the sunny state of Florida tonight as they will roll out their Smackdown brand for us in the Amway Center in Orlando, FL. They return to this arena for the second time this year as their first appearance was the day after New Year’s Day. A lot has changed since then mostly due to the superstar (wrestler) shakeup which took place following WrestleMania and of course the return of Daniel Bryan to active competition. We’ll continue to get ready for SummerSlam as the pieces continue to fall into place from the Smackdown side of WWE.
Last week Samoa Joe declared his mission to be WWE Champion. Charlotte inserted herself into the Smackdown Women’s Championship picture. Things continued to get sticky between Rusev, Lana, and Aiden English. Randy Orton continued his torture of Jeff Hardy. We got closer to finding out who will challenge the Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, and Daniel Bryan challenged the Miz to a match at SummerSlam. Let’s look at the follow-up to these and other items as we look at what’s on the menu for tonight.
A.J. Styles Responds to Samoa Joe
Last week Samoa Joe discussed his opportunity for the WWE Championship as he will challenge A.J. Styles at SummerSlam for the top prize on Smackdown. Things got quite personal as Joe called out A.J. for not being a good father to his children nor a husband to his wife. He accused him of preferring to be on the road and putting the championship ahead of his own family. He went so far as to say his family is rooting against him at SummerSlam, so they could have him while Joe becomes WWE Champion. Tonight, A.J. responds. Here’s what he said on Twitter in runup to tonight:
I’ve heard the words.
I know what he said.
And now I make my return to #SDLive THIS Tuesday in Orlando, FL.
I’ve made my presence known there before … this time won’t be any different. pic.twitter.com/zpLSS7Li5P
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) August 5, 2018
Thoughts: If there was a clinic for how to be a heel, Samoa Joe would be in charge. That promo made me feel like he means business and wants to be WWE Champion. These are the types of promos that got me into wrestling in the 1980s. He might have gotten a little too personal, but that was my issue. As an airline pilot, I am frequently away from home and have multiple small children myself. The more I thought about, him getting under my skin was what made that promo more effective. I’m certain A.J. will have a strong response perhaps tapping into a more dark, serious side of himself. Kudos to WWE for purposely announcing A.J. will be here this week. It makes the champion and A.J. particularly feel important and a big deal, something Wade Keller has frequently alluded to over the past year in many of his podcasts here at PWTorch.
Finals of Tag Team Tournament: The New Day vs. The Bar
The New Day will take on The Bar in finals of the four-team tournament to determine the no. 1 contenders for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. The winners face the champions, The Bludgeon Brothers at SummerSlam. With New Day at ringside, sitting at a table full of pancakes, The Bar defeated The Usos to advance to this week. New Day faces the team that ended their 484-day tag team championship (then of Raw) in December of 2016.
Thoughts: I was a bit surprised to see The Bar go over The Usos, who continue their losing ways in recent times. Looking at the big picture it’s possible WWE actually a) to avoid New Day vs. The Usos as that rivalry stretched out quite a bit over 2017 and b) wants to start conflict within the New Day. They can either have them lose tonight and start “dissention in the ranks” as Jesse Ventura used to say, or possibly win and go to SummerSlam only to lose there and start their issues at that point. New Day has been together for quite some time and their act could certainly use a change.
Last week Jeff Hardy called out Randy Orton for his heinous acts against him a few weeks ago on Smackdown. As Randy started coming out to his music, U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura attacked Hardy from behind. As Nakamura was going for the Kinshasa, Orton stopped him only to encourage Nakamura to finish his mission. He did, and what followed was another series of torturous acts by Randy, tapping into his sadistic side. He would get Hardy out to the announce table, and eventually pour a bottle of water on his face as if he were waterboarding him. He then wiped the makeup off of his face. WWE announced this on their SummerSlam Twitter handle:
— WWE SummerSlam (@SummerSlam) August 3, 2018
Thoughts: On Sunday night I joined Greg Parks on his signature Wrestling Night in America podcast here at PWTorch and we discussed this. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of this situation as the feud is currently between Hardy and Nakamura over the U.S. Championship, with Hardy and Orton being secondary. The only problem is the Hardy-Orton has been framed as the primary conflict and Hardy-Nakamura has felt secondary and almost non-existent. As far as SummerSlam goes why wouldn’t WWE insert Randy into this match and make it a triple threat? The only thing I could come up with is perhaps Randy can’t go yet but they wanted to bring him back the way they brought Steve Austin back in 1997 following his injury during the match with the late Owen Hart at that SummerSlam. That was to keep him on TV because everyone was crazy about Austin at the time and WWE couldn’t risk keeping him off considering they were in the midst of the Monday Night Wars. They’re certainly not in the same situation here, but it could be to have Randy do the dirty work for Nakamura while not taking any bumps. Nakamura can then retain the championship at SummerSlam, Randy can take the blame for weakening Hardy. Either way, Randy gets the heat re-establishing himself as a top end heel.
Charlotte & Becky Lynch vs. The IIconics
Last week Charlotte returned to help her best friend Becky Lynch as she got ambushed by Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella. Carmella cut another heartfelt promo opposite Becky only to betray her at the end. We then learned if Charlotte won her match with Carmella, she would he added to the championship match at SummerSlam which at the time featured Carmella and Becky making it a triple threat. Charlotte would win the match, much to the chagrin of her best friend Becky. Becky claimed she wasn’t rooting against her best friend, but you could tell she genuinely wanted the match at SummerSlam to remain one-on-one. Tonight, the best friends put their “differences” aside and team up to face the IIconics. Here’s Paige, as well as Charlotte and Becky, and the IIconics on Twitter:
Iconic, don’t cha think?! pic.twitter.com/pyDm4chrfX
— Rebecca Quin (@BeckyLynchWWE) August 6, 2018
Just two weeks ahead of #SummerSlam, this is an exciting time! But every Tuesday night on #SDLive is exciting (especially with me in charge)! So…let’s make it official: @BillieKayWWE & @PeytonRoyceWWE vs. @BeckyLynchWWE & @MsCharlotteWWE.
Now that is IICONIC WOO FIRE!
— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) August 6, 2018
Thoughts: Looking at the big picture, Evolution has to be driving the booking decision here. I would imagine a Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch for the championship has to be penciled in for the event, considering these are two of the foundational members of the women’s “revolution” which started in 2015. I could see Charlotte winning the championship at SummerSlam, and perhaps doing the favor for her best friend at the Evolution event set to take place in October of this year. This is risky on a level, as Becky would be continuing her chase of the championship for another two months which could create frustration for her many fans. Judging though by what is taking place on Raw over the Universal Championship, I don’t think fan frustration is a concern for WWE. Becky could also win the title and retain over Charlotte which would go a long way to making her championship run feel important.
Miz Gives His Answer
Last week Daniel Bryan called out the Miz. The Miz responded on the titantron saying he was on the set of his reality show, Miz and Mrs. which was to follow Smackdown. The two long-time rivals went back and forth discussing their history which included Miz being Bryan’s pro in NXT back in 2010 and their confrontation on Talking Smack back in 2016. Bryan would eventually challenge the Miz to a match at SummerSlam. Miz responded by calling out the fact that Bryan’s contract was soon to expire, and his emotional moments in recent years. Then, he put pictures of crying babies on the titantron claiming that when the fans look at Bryan they see a crybaby. Yes, that happened.
During this past week, Miz responded no to Bryan on Twitter, and WWE.comhas acknowledged it. Here are some of Miz’s tweets:
The answer is NO. pic.twitter.com/OPCHp5j0Ur
— The Miz (@mikethemiz) August 4, 2018
— The Miz (@mikethemiz) August 5, 2018
Tonight, the Miz will give his answer on “his terms” as he states here on Twitter. Take a look:
I know my worth, I've heard @WWEDanielBryan and "#SDLive Management's" offer … but I will NOT compete for anything less than I am worth. That said, I will make MY #SummerSlam announcement tomorrow. On my terms.
— The Miz (@mikethemiz) August 6, 2018
Thoughts: Did we need the crying babies? Did we need the skit two weeks ago when Miz pretended to come out with his daughter? Did we need the funeral for Team Hell No a week before that? There’s enough history between these two that you don’t need elaborate skits to build heat between them. This is just WWE trying to entertain themselves although I’m certain management would tell you it’s to entertain the fans. I watched, and I think you could have heard a pin drop during the babies being put on the screen, or perhaps a real crying baby. Stuff like this historically doesn’t work and sometimes works against the storyline as it puts forth an unnecessary negative connotation. I advocate for telling a simple but realistic story, such as the one between Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano in NXT over the past year and a half.
Zelina Vega defeated Lana. Aiden English attempted to help Lana as Vega’s client Andrade “Cien” Almas attempted to interfere, only to cost Lana. Friction continued to develop between Lana, her husband Rusev, and English himself. This is a different sort of story than what we’ve seen, but if I were to compare it to anything the one that comes to mind that has any similarity is Damien Sandow as Miz’s sidekick about four years ago. Granted Miz’s wife wasn’t involved, but it has sort of the same issues. It could come to the point where English breaks off on his own. The only problem with that is how satisfying would the payoff be, since it’s not clear where WWE views English in the long term. There’s no evidence it’s all that high on the card, although involvement with Rusev can’t be a bad thing. Then again, it’s been known that Rusev and Lana have been in and out of the doghouse through the years. Looking at Sandow’s alignment with the Miz, it certainly didn’t do him any favors after they split up.
We didn’t hear from Asuka last week. I would be interested to see if she factors into the championship match at SummerSlam or if there are any plans for her. The same holds true for Naomi, who has been a bit quiet on Smackdown lately. Since WWE likes to get everyone on the card for SummerSlam, a tag match against the IIconics can’t be a far-fetched idea.
Start Time and 205 Live
The arena website shows a start time of 7:45 p.m. but doesn’t specify when doors will open. They advertise just about what every arena has been advertising lately and that’s a match between Carmella and Asuka, as well as a six-man tag of Daniel Bryan & Jeff Hardy & A.J. Styles vs. Samoa Joe & Miz & Shinsuke Nakamura. Of course, you have the ever-present “Card Subject to Change” disclaimer. Somebody needs to bring this up to whomever owns this responsibility in WWE as far as advertising matches.
205 Live will follow Smackdown.
Last week, Drew Gulak and Cedric Alexander had a contract signing for their Cruiserweight Championship match set to take place at SummerSlam. The signing was overseen by G.M. Drake Maverick. It got intense to the point where Gulak called Alexander the “Brock Lesnar” of 205Live.
Kalisto won his match with Tony Nese. Following the match, Buddy Murphy came out to confront Kalisto only to have Lince Dorado assist his Lucha House Party stablemate. The rivalry between Murphy and the Lucha House Party continues.
Lio Rush came out for his match with Ricky Martinez and said he had no time for Akira Tozawa, answering fans’ gripe over why he wouldn’t grant Tozawa a rematch. Rush proceeded to beat Martinez, only to have Tozawa come out to the ring to confront Rush. Rush left the ring.
Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander defeated The Brian Kendrick in a non-title match in the main event. Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher came out to attack Alexander following the match.
Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Thank you for reading!