WWE is in Uncasville, CT at the Mohegan Sun Arena for tonight’s episode of WWE Smackdown! With Summerslam in the rear view, and Dean Ambrose successfully defending his WWE World Championship, who’s next for Ambrose to take on?
Plus, AJ Styles is set to address the WWE Universe, Nikki Bella makes her Smackdown debut, an update on Randy Orton, and lots more!
We will have live coverage of the show beginning at 8pm Eastern! Join us here or on Twitter @RingRap!
We start with a backstage segment. Baron Corbin and Erick Rowan, Apollo Crews and Rhyno, they’re having conversations. Dolph Ziggler is holding his head in shame. AJ Styles walks in and starts hyping himself up as the Face that Runs this Place. He sees Ziggler and says Sunday wasn’t his night. AJ leans in and whispers, saying he doesn’t like losers. Ziggler headbutts him and they throw punches before the two are separated. I guess this is a match.
We go to the arena live, where the women and tag teams are all gathered. There’s some new belts in the middle. Shane McMahon comes out, followed by Daniel Bryan. Shane welcomes us to a historic night of Smackdown live. Shane talks about how they needed to give everyone on the roster an opportunity. Daniel Bryan addresses the six women on the roster, and says each one is championship material. Bryan wants to know which one of them will be the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion – that question will be answered at Backlash. There will be a six-pack challenge match to determine who will be the Women’s champ.
Also at Backlash, The Smackdown Tag Team Championships will be decided. Bryan says tag teams are like brotherhood. Bryan says they’re going to have a tournament that culminates at Backlash, but begins tonight.
And then Heath Slater interrupts them.
He says he has come *this* close the last two weeks to getting a Smackdown Live contract! He walks into the ring and says the past two weeks they’ve taken it from him. He’s willing to let bygones be bygones, and he wants to win some gold. Bryan says Slater isn’t equipped to challenge for the Women’s Championship. Slater deadpans him and says he’s not a woman. Slater wants to challenge for the tag team championship. Shane says he’s not a member of the roster, and he doesn’t have a partner. Slater says he can go back there and guarantee he’ll find someone that wants to sit by his side, and win. Bryan says if Slater can find a partner by the end of the night, he’s in the tournament. Shane adds that to become a member of the roster, Slater also has to win the entire tournament. Slater brushes it off, and says they won’t be disappointed.
AJ Styles comes trotting out, pissed off about what happened backstage. “What kind of ship are you running?” He doesn’t want to hear about the tag titles or women’s titles. He brushes off Slater as he walks by, says he won’t be Slater’s partner, and as he walks down, Dolph Ziggler attacks him from behind. The wrestlers in the ring break it up as we go to break.
We return for a match.
Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss
Both Naomi and Natalya are at ringside for commentary. Lynch and Bliss counter each other. Lynch going for her submission armbar, the Disarmer. No luck. Bliss stomps Lynch’s face into the mat. Lynch works her way out of an arm lock. On commentary, Naomi talks about how she’s more ready than anyone to win the title, and I’m happy she’s getting a chance to speak, but she also sounded like she was reciting lines from memory. In the ring, Becky fires up, but narrowly kicks out of a pin attempt from Bliss. Lynch counters a wheelbarrow pickup and locks in the Disarmer for the win.
Winner: Becky Lynch
A fine women’s match, but nothing ground breaking.
Backstage, Heath Slater hunts for a partner. He finds The Miz and Maryse. Miz says he’s a big fan, and the two of them have a conversation, but Miz is talking to someone on a bluetooth, and Slater is talking to basically noone. Slater walks away while Miz celebrates his conversation with “Mr. Spielberg.”
Back from break, it’s time for a first round Tag Team Tournament match!
The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
I would love to see some surprises in this tournament, but I don’t feel like that will happen. Anyhow, The Ascension immediately attack The Usos. They quickly isolate Jimmy and double-team him. This is the most aggressive I’ve seen The Ascension since their debut. They keep Jey Uso floored. Rapid tags. This is a very one-sided match, which means The Usos are winning.
Jimmy Uso catches his break after a foot catch into a spinning kick. Hot tag to Jey, Viktor in, Jey connects with a kick, but Viktor counters with a back slide. Jey hits a Samoan Drop, but when he runs to take out Viktor, Konnor tackles him. Jimmy leaps out of the ring to Konnor, Jey hits a superkick and tags in Jimmy, who hits a top rope splash for the win.
Winners: The Usos to advance in the Tag Team Tournament
Early on, the way The Ascension were being booked, I had a shred of hope. That vanished quickly.
AJ Styles heads out to the ring. He grabs a mic. He’s wearing John Cena’s “Never Give Up” armband. He says he sees a lot of angry and jealous faces. Why? Because of what he did at Summerslam. We see clips of his victory on Sunday. He says he did exactly what he said he was gonna do – Beat up John Cena! And he beat him in the ring at Summerslam! He says he doesn’t know what the Cenanation cries into, but they don’t have to worry because they can be AJ Styles fans. “Because I am the face that runs this place!” He says it three times and he says he should be the number one contender for the WWE World Championship.
Dolph Ziggler heads out with a bunch of referees and agents trying to keep him back. Daniel Bryan comes out, says he won’t let the two of them ruin the show. He says he agrees with AJ about being the number one contender, and even though Dolph lost at Summerslam, he came this close to winning. But since they wanna fight, and since the fans wanna see them fight, they’re gonna fight! He makes it official – AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler! If AJ wins, he faces Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship. If Dolph wins? He’s added to the match and it’s a triple threat.
So what’s the incentive for AJ to win the match? He’s in either way. This is weak booking. There’s really nothing on the line for AJ.
We see a vignette for Curt Hawkins. We go to break.
Carmella vs. Nikki Bella
Pretty significant pop for Nikk Bella. Renee Young is in the ring to interview Bella before the match. She asks her what it’s like to fight back from such a devastating neck injury. Bella says it means everything to her, and out of nowhere, Carmella attacks Bella from behind. Whoa. She kicks Bella in the face, then drops her to the ground face-first before attacking her further. They successfully pull her off and Carmella backs away, but she runs back in and hits the Bella Buster, driving the stake further.
Winner: No Contest
Well that was unexpected. And wonderful! Carmella wasn’t working as a face without Enzo and Cass, and the SD roster is a little light on heels. I think this is a good change for her and makes her stand out immediately.
After the break, Randy Orton walks out to the ring, and he is not dressed to compete. He stands in the ring and says he bets we weren’t expecting to see him tonight. He points at the ten staples in his head and calls it “One hell of a fight.” He says he knew what he was getting into, but he would’ve rather have been rolled out on a stretcher than have the match end the way it did. Orton feels that Shane may have thought he was doing the right thing, but one day he and Lesnar’s path will cross again.
And then Bray Wyatt’s music hits. He walks out and sits in his rocking chair. He asks Orton how his head is, and says he saw what Brock did to him. He saw the look in his eyes go blank. He says there’s nothing like laying there with your head busted open to help you remember you’re just a man. “You are a great man, but still just a man.” He says he is a man who hurts, suffers, and dies. But he (Wyatt) is not just a man – he is a god. He says a god can never die, and that Wyatt will find out about it in time. He stands up and his into hits, and then the lights come back up and Wyatt is gone.
Backstage, Shane McMahon is approached by the new girl. She wants to know about Brock Lesnar. She wonders if Stephanie McMahon will take it seriously. He says she’s not, and that Lesnar was only fined $500 for his actions. He says this thing with Lesnar and himself is far from over. Well, there’s your Wrestlemania match folks.
We get another Heath Slater spot, and Slater is pitching his sale to Arn Anderson. Anderson says there was a time he specialized in these sort of things, but even he can’t get him out of this. Heath says he was his last chance, and Arn realizes that he wasn’t Slater’s first choice. He walks away, but then a hand hits his shoulder. It’s Rhyno. Rhyno agrees to help him out, and Slater is ecstatic!
Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan)
American Alpha cuts an inset promo before the match, and though it felt a little rushed, it got over their personalities.
Gable and Dango start it off. Gable maintains control of Fandango, until an elbow to the face breaks the hold. Breeze comes in but gets rolled up. Gable tosses him with an arm drag and tags in Jordan. Jordan hits a dropkick, and both men hit some stereo slams, tossing both out of the ring.
Atomic drop to Breeze. Gable tags in, works the arm. Tag in for Jordan, who continues working the arm. The referee gets in the way of a tandem move and it gives Breezango a chance to get the advantage for the first time. We go to break.
Back from break, Gable hangs from the ropes, and manages to get back in to get the hot tag. Jordan explodes, and starts tossing people around with suplexes like it’s nothing. He spears Breeze in the corner. Tag to Gable, dropkick into a German bridged for two. Jordan in, and he sets Breeze up in an electric chair. Fandango pushes Gable down and Breeze counters for a near fall. Breeze catches Jordan with a kick in the corner for two.
Gable runs past the referee and takes out Fandango. Sunset flip for two by Jordan, enzuigiri by Breeze for two. Breeze goes for a supermodel kick. Jordan hits an Alphaplex. Tag in to Gable, Grand Amplitude and it’s over.
Winners: American Alpha
Best main-roster match for American Alpha thus far. Breeze and Fandango really felt like they hit their stride together here too. It’s amazing what an extra segment can do for a tag match.
David Otunga says hello to us in Mandarin, and looks like a buffoon doing it. But, WWE is being viewed in China right now, and are heading there in September.
Backstage, Dean Ambrose is back to his goofy self. He was upstairs gambling and didn’t know a number one contender was being named tonight. Someone from the casino brings him a drink and he leaves a bunch of poker chips as a tip before walking away.
After the break, Dean Ambrose heads down to the ring to watch the next match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles – If Ziggler wins, he is added to the main event at Backlash
Immediately both men fight jockey for position. Ziggler goes for the legs, AJ backs into the ropes, and nails ZIggler with an elbow. He lays into him with a right hand. Ziggler takes him down. AJ bails out of the ring to recover. Ziggler clotheslines AJ repeatedly against the ropes and we go to break.
AJ maintains control after the break, until he misses a diving elbow in the corner. Ziggler fires up and lays in some punches. Styles sends Ziggler face-first into the turnbuckle. Ziggler can barely stand on his feet and gets kicked in the head. Ziggler takes AJ down but AJ kicks out early. AJ elbows out of a back body drop attempt, and nails Ziggler in the jaw. Knee to the face staggers Ziggler. Styles keeps Ziggler grounded. Ziggler starts to fire up and makes a comeback. He attacks AJ on the apron, AJ cuts him off and hits a neckbreaker through the ropes, sending Ziggler to the floor. We go to another break.
We return and AJ still has control. Ambrose isn’t threatened about defending against two men instead of one. AJ has an armbar on Ziggler. Ziggler starts fighting back with a series of rights. Styles cuts him off with a knee to the gut. Ziggler hits a dropkick out of nowhere and both are out. He catches Styles with an elbow and hits a running clothesline. Jumping elbow for two. A “Let’s go Ziggler/AJ Styles” chant breaks out. Ziggler hits a fameasser for two.
The two struggle to their feet. AJ hits his firemans’ carry into a shoulder breaker for two. AJ misses a 450 splash and Ziggler hits a DDT for a very near fall. A “this is awesome” chant breaks out, and it is. AJ catches a kick attempt and reverses it into a Styles Clash. Ziggler kicks out of the attempt, sends AJ into the ropes and hits a Zig Zag for a believable 2 and 3/4ths count.
AJ uses the ropes to catch Ziggler’s foot. He sets him up for a Styles Clash and it connects, and he puts Ziggler away.
Winner: AJ Styles
After the match, AJ heads to the announcer’s table. He stares down Ambrose, points at the title, takes his headset off. Ambrose stands up and the two stare each other eye to eye. Styles smiles and laughs before walking away.
Wow, what a match! AJ and Ziggler had great chemistry with each other, and both men were really laying it in stiff too. The action was non-stop and had great pacing. I had concerns about the booking heading into this match, with the stipulation that if Ziggler wins he’s in the match but it still doesn’t affect AJ’s spot. Thankfully, it didn’t matter in the end.
I don’t know where they’re going with Ziggler, but if he’s to be a top guy on the Smackdown brand, he needs to start getting some credible wins. I like keeping AJ strong and I feel like ultimately, he’ll go on to defeat Ambrose, but Ziggler is damaged goods, and they have a chance to turn it around with the brand split. So far, they haven’t even really tried.
Bill and I will be by tomorrow with Ring Rap Audio. Let us know what your Favorite thing in Wrestling is this week so we can talk about it. Thanks for reading folks, see you next time!