WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 7/9: Owens vs. Ziggler, Balor vs. Nakamura, Knock Knock Who’s There, Tag Team Championship Summit

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch contributor

Aleister Black (artist Joel Tesch © PWTorch)

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JULY 9, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

Smackdown Viewership Last Week: 1.39 (.01 Decrease from previous week)

Arena, Items Advertised by WWE, and Show Start Time

WWE heads northeast to Manchester, N.H. for Smackdown tonight as they return to the Southern New Hampshire University arena. The facility, once known as the Verizon Wireless Arena, opened in 2001 and has been an on-again/off-again host to WWE television events. Ironically Smackdown appeared here last year this very week (July 10, 2018). Similar to that night, we get ready for Extreme Rules which comes to us this Sunday.

The arena website shows Here’s what WWE.com is advertising for the show:

Matches & Segments:

  • Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler’s shortly tenured partnership implodes this Tuesday
  • Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura battle on the blue brand
  • Smackdown Tag Team Championship Summit to take place

Storyline Follow-Up:

  • Aleister Black’s opponent for Extreme Rules to be revealed

The SNHU arena website shows a start time of 7:45 p.m. local for the house with doors opening at 6:15 p.m. They show Kofi Kingston vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE Championship and Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton. Both are candidates for dark matches. I don’t think any of these websites are accurate in what they advertise but can’t get a read on who “owns” that.

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

Kevin Owens seems to have brief alliances these days.

Shortly after WrestleMania, Owens was aligned with New Day for a couple of weeks as an honorary member, taking the place of Big E as spent time on the injured list. He turned on WWE Champion Kofi Kingston at the end of a non-title match on Smackdown against Shinsuke Nakamura. He would unsuccessfully challenge Kofi for the title in a series of matches shortly thereafter.

Last week on Smackdown, Owens and Dolph Ziggler were reluctantly paired together by Shane McMahon after Dolph interrupted Shane & Drew McIntyre on the Kevin Owens show. Owens and Dolph got into it when Owens made fun of Dolph’s “it should have been me.” In the main event, they would take on Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker) for a right to enter the Smackdown Tag Team Championship match at Extreme Rules between champions Daniel Bryan & Rowan and New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods). Owens & Dolph lost when Dolph inadvertently super-kicked Owens, and Owens was pinned following Heavy Machinery hitting the Compactor. After the match, Owens gave Dolph a stunner.

Over the weekend, WWE announced that Owens and Dolph would go one-on-one on tonight’s Smackdown. Here’s Dolph on Twitter:

Frank’s Analysis: Owens comes back from injury and he replaces Kofi, then he’s a babyface, then he turns heel, and now he turns babyface again we think. To be honest I had wished we had gotten a babyface run out of Owens, so if that’s where we are going it’s fine. Owens and Dolph can have good dialogue and decent matches if they decide to go into a feud here for the next little while. It’s something to do for both of them.

Non-Title Match: Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Two weeks ago, on Smackdown, we got a taste of a feud we’ve likely all been thinking about for a long time:

After spending time in New Japan Pro Wrestling and in particular the famous Bullet Club, Finn Balor signed with WWE in 2014. Two years later, Shinsuke Nakamura would himself join WWE. They wrestled on NXT TV just prior to Balor joining Raw as the #3 pick when the roster split returned in 2016:

They surprisingly never matched up during an NXT Takeover. Tonight, Balor takes on Nakamura one-on-one in a non-title match.

Frank’s Analysis: I’m not going to lie. I’m excited for this feud. I’ve wanted to see it for quite some time. I just didn’t want to see this match right away. Let’s have a build. I figured we’d get it for SummerSlam. The title isn’t on the line though, and thus it’s likely chapter one of a longer story. I just worry about this being watered down with hokey finishes and silly comedy that we got during the A.J. Styles-Nakamura feud. I’m sure this will eventually lead to “Demon” Balor vs. Nakamura at SummerSlam.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship Summit: Champions Daniel Bryan & Rowan, New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods), and Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker)

This Sunday at Extreme Rules, the Smackdown Tag Team Championship is on the line as Daniel Bryan & Rowan will defend their titles against New Day and Heavy Machinery. Prior to last week’s Smackdown, WWE announced that Bryan & Rowan would take on New Day. Heavy Machinery was of course added when they defeated Kevin Owens & Dolph Ziggler.

Heavy Machinery was interviewed in a WWE.com exclusive following their win last week:

In advance of the triple threat championship match this Sunday, all three teams will meet in a summit tonight.

Frank’s Analysis: I do have to say I like how the tag team championship appears to mean something to Heavy Machinery. There’s definitely something there and while I’m normally hard on comedy, it works with Otis. As far as tonight, given the way things have gone recently, I’m sure we’ll get some kind of match or brawl and Otis will likely yell “Tucky!” There’s a lot of interesting personalities in this mix. While I normally cringe at contract signings or summits, I’m actually looking forward to this one.

Aleister Black’s Extreme Rules Opponent to be Revealed

I wonder if Aleister Black scared all the kids in the schoolyard. Perhaps that’s what’s taken so long for somebody to pick a fight with him. They must know his history.

Two weeks ago, on Smackdown, somebody “knocked on the door” to answer Aleister Black’s challenge but didn’t reveal himself. Last week, Aleister expressed a sinister pleasure in whomever it was, noting that now they were fighting on a spiritual level and he looks forward to them fighting at Extreme Rules. To get the full flavor of what’s going on here, here are the clips from two weeks ago and last week respectively as well as a clip from when Aleister was in Binghamton, N.Y.:



Frank’s Analysis: It actually dawned on me writing this primer that Kane is a possibility and would be a cool opponent. It hit me when Aleister talked about layers of hell in the video last week. I think it was around this time last year that he showed up to rejoin Daniel Bryan in Team Hell No. I don’t know if he’s available now or even interested, but that could work as a short-term program. A lot of people think and want to see Bray Wyatt which would be interesting as well. That could be the battle of who could cut the wackiest promo!

Not Advertised for Follow-Up:

Drake Maverick is still 24/7 Champion after avoiding the cavalry last night and R-Truth running in the opposite direction. Drake sadly still hasn’t consummated his marriage:

Nikki Cross will now join Alexa Bliss in a two-on-one handicap match at Extreme Rules as a result of Nikki defeating Bayley in a Beat the Clock challenge last night. Here’s Bayley in a WWE.com exclusive last night:

Andrade defeated Apollo Crews after an extensive build on social media and WWE.com exclusives.

Ember Moon defeated Mandy Rose after weeks of back and forth backstage shenanigans. Here’s Ember in a WWE.com exclusive:

Overall Thoughts on Tonight’s Show

I suppose you could say there may have been a little Eric Bischoff influence with Kofi Kingston flipping off Samoa Joe, but other than that I didn’t see much change. I will say I’m starting to feel better about tag team wrestling on both shows, but I don’t know if Heyman and/or Bischoff have anything to do with that. It is what it is, as everything still goes through Vince anyway. The show was fine overall, and I expect tonight to be the same. There are some feuds that have my interest, especially Nakamura-Balor and whomever they have in mind for Aleister. Heavy Machinery has been enjoyable. Let’s hope tonight is better than what we got on Raw last night.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!

RECOMMENDED: LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 7/2: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of the start of the Bischoff Era, Kofi-Joe promo, heavy focus on Tag Team division, more

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