By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! emanated from Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, California. With several members of the SD Live! roster traveling to New Zealand and Australia for the Down Under Tour, would this show have enough meat and potatoes to it to last the whole two hours? With SummerSlam a little under two weeks away, this is not the best time to have a skeleton crew three weeks into the brand extension. Did the blue brand survive and thrive or did it fall off the proverbial cliff? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live! in no particular order.
· SmackDown Live! started just like it ended last week with Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan laying out Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler. Wyatt cut a good promo about how Ziggler could never defeat a God and actually tried to claim that he was a victim because Ziggler used the exposed turnbuckle to gain an unfair advantage. Ambrose was having none of it and challenged Wyatt to a fight. Ziggler decided to take the fight straight to Wyatt and got his ass kicked in the process. Ambrose tried to make the save only for him to get nailed with an inadvertent Superkick from Ziggler when The Showoff tried to save him from getting dropped with Sister Abigail. Ziggler would be hit with Wyatt’s finisher moments later to close out the opening segment.
· Ambrose and Ziggler were bickering backstage, but Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon broke things up before it got physical. Bryan suggested that both men take out their frustrations on the Wyatt family in a tag match later tonight.
· My prediction from last week about Ziggler and Ambrose teaming up to face The Wyatt Family was spot on. Predictability can be good sometimes.
· The opening segment served its purpose to set up the main event. No frills. The crowd was slightly annoying when they did the dreaded “What?” chant to Wyatt, but he shut it down as his promo got more serious. Otherwise, this was a nice way to start the show.
· It appears that there is a tag team congregation going on at ringside with The Ascension, The Vaudevillians, and The Hype Bros coming out to scout American Alpha during their tag team match against a couple of jobbers.
· American Alpha made quick work of the enhancement talent. The crowd was absolutely dead for Jason Jordan and Chad Gable’s signature moves which was a little disheartening. In fact, the crowd has been dead since the start of the show. Sad times.
· Speaking of sad, seeing the assortment of teams American Alpha will have to face in their quest to become the new Tag Team Champions on SD Live! is depressing. Outside of The Usos, these teams lack that extra oomph to make people care about them. The Revival need to be sent up from NXT. Stat!!
· The Miz and Maryse making out on the interview desk backstage was quite the site to behold. The camerawork and direction was outstanding. Brazzers would have been proud.
· Eva Marie has suffered a wardrobe malfunction and was unable to make her official in-ring debut against Becky Lynch. Again. I will admit that the running gag of her never wrestling is growing on me. Slightly.
· Becky Lynch was not hitting the shower two weeks in a row and issued a challenge to any woman in the back to face her one-on-one. Alexa Bliss accepted Lynch’s invitation and the match got underway after the commercial break.
· Bliss picked up the upset win when Eva Marie made her “spectacular” entrance and was declared ready to compete by her personal ring announcer. Bliss looked impressive in her debut match on SD Live! and her personality just jumps off the screen. She’s a tiny spitfire who can back it up inside the squared circle. Bliss is someone who can continue to grow as a performer and become a solid cornerstone in the Women’s Division for years to come.
· To Becky Lynch: Her babyface pluckiness woke up the sleepy crowd. For that, I say thank you. Small miracles do happen.
· Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio were having a good match until Del Rio got himself disqualified when he struck Orton’s surgically repaired arm with a steel chair. He would continue his assault by ramming Orton’s arm into the ring post and tried to continue his assault in the ring only for him to get dropped with an RKO.
· The action before the disqualification was solid and Del Rio showed good aggression throughout the bout. Orton looked impressive as well and I am fine with the match not having a clean finish because Del Rio shouldn’t eat the loss if he’s in line for any semblance of a push. I know. Wishful thinking…
· That Slater-Rhyno segment was pretty damn funny. Slater is finally showing his comedic chops in a non-annoying way. Rhyno claiming that he had constituents to impress in his home state of Michigan had me rolling. Slater lying about having four kids instead of two to appease Rhyno’s softer side had me laughing out loud. Great comedic timing from both men.
· Slater is still jobless and his above ground swimming pool remains unpaid for. Maybe he can get a job in NXT. William Regal is a sympathetic man. I think.
· The kids count is now up to seven. Slater is a baby making machine.
· And he was offered a contract only for his big mouth to cost him the money to pay for his pool. He’s an idiot. A loveable idiot.
· The NXT Alumni is having a good night as Carmella made Natalya tap out to the Code of Silence. The match was solid while it lasted. Carmella’s character needs a complete revamp because she is very annoying. It’s time to put the Staten Island shtick to bed and come up with something that will make her more likable among the masses. Otherwise, I am going to be rooting for the heels to kick her ass every week.
· That was a random backstage beatdown. I guess Baron Corbin is still a little salty about not winning the triple threat match last week to determine the number one contender for Miz’s Intercontinental Championship. I smell a SummerSlam kickoff match between Kalisto and Corbin. Call it intuition.
· The tag team match featuring Ambrose and Ziggler vs. The Wyatt Family was a nice way to cap off the show. The in-ring action was good and I was impressed with Erick Rowan holding his own in the ring. His no-selling of Ziggler’s series of clotheslines was a nice touch until Ziggler dropped with a neckbreaker.
· The end of the match fell apart a bit when Ambrose jumped over a prone Ziggler and tried to clear the ropes with a suicide dive onto Wyatt. It was a sloppy landing, but Ziggler erased that image when he nailed Rowan with a Superkick to win the match.
· The celebration was short-lived as Ambrose laid out Ziggler with Dirty Deeds to end the show. The Bakersfield crowd was so angry at Ambrose that they did the “Yes!” chant to voice their frustration at the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Insert sarcasm here.
· It’s pretty damning when Ziggler gets cheered for getting his ass handed to him. If this is not enough motivation for WWE to turn him heel, I don’t know what is. The fans reveled in his misery and he’s still supposed to go out there and put on a show for them as if nothing happened? I don’t think so. Ziggler needs to kick Ambrose’s head off next week to send a message that he’s not a pushover. I don’t think it’s going to help him win over the crowd in Brooklyn if they jumped off the bandwagon as well. This is a confusing feud after it was off to such a smashing start last week. This is Exhibit A of when start-stop pushes go horribly wrong. The Showoff is now The Turnoff. See what I did there? Clever, huh?
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SD Live! was solid. Outside of Mauro Ranallo getting cut off midway through his pitch hyping SummerSlam as the show faded to black, this was the best broadcast in terms of pacing thus far. The show didn’t feel rushed and there was more wrestling on the show which is refreshing to see. There are still some wrinkles in the fabric that need to be addressed, but I thought the show breezed by without John Cena and AJ Styles on the show.
· It would have been nice to see Apollo Crews get his revenge on The Miz, but WWE is relying on video packages to get him over. He needs more than edited clips to do that. Crews needs to flesh out his character and not smile his way through life. He has all the abilities in the world to do amazing things as a wrestler, but he needs to that extra ingredient in the personality department that makes him stand out from the pack.
· The blue brand is still suffering from talent depth issues which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Don’t be shocked if we see some trades between Raw and SD Live! in the very near future. To keep the premonition theme going, let’s call it a hunch.
· SD Live! will put their final stamp on hyping SummerSlam next week. Let’s hope it’s a good hard sell with all the key players back in the fold. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!