By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! emanated from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. This is the final go-home show for SummerSlam as SD Live! attempts to put an exclamation point on their marquee matches as we head into the biggest party of the summer. Did the blue brand get the job done or did they drop the ball which left fans less excited for the PPV? 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.
· Randy Orton has an idea about Heath Slater’s unemployment status as he bites into an apple only for the SmackDown intro video to roll leaving us in suspense. Interesting teaser.
· Heath Slater continues to shine in his role as the delusional free agent looking for a deal. Stealing a gift basket full of fruit and handing it to Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon as a peace offering was hilarious.
· There is one dude shouting for Dolph Ziggler to retire. This man is persistent, passionate, and a little disrespectful.
· Didn’t Dean Ambrose star in an equally crappy WWE Studios film? Just saying…
· Dolph Ziggler delivered a Superkick to Dean Ambrose and basically said that he was walking out with the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. The opening segment was good as Ziggler and Ambrose talked trash to each other while The Miz had a smug smirk on his face as he stirred the pot to set up the confrontation in the first place. Both guys rehashed the same argument they had a couple of weeks ago, but it was still effective. It was nice to see Ziggler show some aggression and he really needs to illustrate that in his match against Ambrose on Sunday.
· Apollo Crews finally got his revenge on Miz as he laid him with the Spin-Out Powerbomb. Too bad it happened during the commercial break. That is a damn shame. Miz vs. Crews for the Intercontinental Championship will be the coldest match at SummerSlam in terms of crowd response. I send my condolences in advance.
· The twelve man tag team match featuring The Usos, American Alpha, and The Hype Bros vs. The Vaudevillians, The Ascension, and Breezango broke down into a parade of finishes. Everybody hit their signature spots and American Alpha picked up the win for the babyface team as Jason Jordan and Chad Gable hit Grand Amplitude on Aiden English. The action was chaotic as hell, but I enjoyed it. The Tag Team Division looks less anemic with The Usos back in the fold, but I think Jimmy and Jey could really benefit from a heel turn to help freshen up their act. It’s beyond stale at this point.
· Naomi doing the full-on Lite-Brite entrance is pretty damn cool. It makes her stand out and that is a positive in my book. And her theme song got remixed. Amen!
· Eva Marie is “stuck” in traffic and she won’t be able to compete against Naomi. The personal ring announcer’s deadpan announcement of this news made me laugh out loud. The running gag continues and I am starting to love it a little bit more.
· AJ Styles just threw some major shade at Alberto Del Rio about him not even being on the SummerSlam card. Sami Zayn says hello from the cutting room floor as well. Zayn not having a match at the second biggest PPV of the year is a crying shame. He had an amazing match against Kevin Owens at Battleground and he has been directionless ever since. I guess creative has nothing for him. I call bullshit on that. This concludes my random post-Raw rant. We now resume regularly scheduled blogging.
· Look at Curt Hawkins borrowing a page from the Matt Hardy Version 1.0 Playbook by hitting fans with a few Curt Facts. Let’s hope that Hawkins will be better utilized on SmackDown this time around. Fingers crossed!
· Oh my damn. Orton is mocking Brock Lesnar as he dropped Slater with a German Suplex while doing Lesnar’s patented bounce and jig. That’s what I call subliminal shade.
· Orton’s idea was to systematically destroy Slater and he succeeded. He got intentionally disqualified and proceeded to chuck Slater over the announce table only to plant him on the barricade and nail him with a Draping DDT from outside the ring. He hit the Suplexes and finished Slater off with an RKO. The Viper sent a message to The Beast five days before SummerSlam and I expect them to have one hell of a battle in Brooklyn on Sunday. This feud has been a pleasant surprise. Let’s hope it translates in the ring.
· Slater just talked his way out of his contract again because he confused Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon for Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon. He was a little loopy after his match with Orton. I feel so sorry for Slater and even the fans booed Shane for rescinding the contract offer. Slater is a gem who is dimmer than a 20 watt light bulb, but a gem nonetheless.
· On the flipside of things, it was a little weird seeing WWE play up Slater’s head injury for laughs considering they are currently facing a big ass concussion lawsuit from at least 50 former wrestlers. Plus, having Daniel Bryan participate in the skit was a little jarring as well because a series of concussions ended his career. I can turn off my brain and still find the humor in the segment from a performance standpoint, but the impact of brain injuries in professional sports is no laughing matter.
· Dean Ambrose made quick work of Erick Rowan as he finished him off with Dirty Deeds. What happened after the match was more newsworthy, though. Bray Wyatt had his back turned from Rowan, placed Rowan’s sheep mask in the rocking chair, and walked away. I have never seen Wyatt give any of his family members the cold shoulder before. Will this storyline be expanded further? Will Wyatt send Rowan out to pasture so he can live out his days as a winemaker? Yes, Rowan used to be a winemaker before he joined Wyatt’s cult. Don’t ask...
· I am so glad Eva Marie made it to the arena after she was “stuck” in traffic. The tag team match featuring Becky Lynch and Carmella vs. Natalya and Alexa Bliss came to a complete halt as they took in her spectacular entrance. This shouldn’t be a surprise because one’s entrance music tends to make time stop in its place. Seriously…
· Becky Lynch did make Natalya tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her to win the match for her team. Yippee!
· Kalisto getting tortured by Baron Corbin backstage is becoming a regular thing. Corbin really knows how to hold a grudge against somebody. My prediction of Kalisto vs. Corbin taking place at the SummerSlam preshow is alive and well.
· We can add Lynch, Carmella, & Naomi vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss, & Eva Marie to the SummerSlam preshow as well. Let’s call it a hunch…
· John Cena tapped into his ruthless aggression days as he delivered a wicked Attitude Adjustment to AJ Styles through the announce table. That was slightly uncharacteristic of him, but it’s nice to see Cena show off a more vicious side of his character when warranted. I guess he was playing possum as Styles was talking over his prone body. That’s a nice way to set a trap for your enemy.
· Styles fired the first shot as he drilled Cena with the Phenomenal Forearm after Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio via the AA. Cena vs. Del Rio was easily the best and longest match on the show by a landslide. I liked how WWE played into the history of Del Rio beating Cena last year at Hell in a Cell. Del Rio’s momentum was derailed due to some very questionable creative decisions that has left him directionless ever since. Cena never got his win back until now and I appreciate that nod to history. Del Rio is still stuck in neutral which is a shame because he is a very good wrestler who can thrive as a babyface under the right circumstances.
· But Del Rio was served his purpose as he helped put the final bit of shine on Cena vs. Styles at SummerSlam. They should have an outstanding match and I am really hoping that Styles picks up the win. He needs to be in the WWE Title picture as soon as possible. As for Cena, he’s a legend. A loss won’t hurt him in the slightest. Let’s hope the Power That Be are on the same wavelength as me.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s SmackDown Live! was a solid two hour affair. It didn’t drag and I thought WWE struck the right chord when it came to promoting SummerSlam. SD Live! has definitely turned the corner since their first lukewarm show last month. There are still things that needs to be addressed in terms of depth issues, but I like what I am seeing from the blue brand recently. It’s an easy show to get through and it doesn’t drag into the abyss like Raw’s third hour most weeks. Therefore, I give SD Live! the nod for having the superior go-home show over Raw. That’s not super high praise, but I thought the blue brand ended things on a higher note versus their red counterpart. Plus, Mauro Ranallo managed to get in his final hard sell for SummerSlam in the nick of time. Whoever is in charge of clock management needs to get it together. ASAP!
On that note, this wraps 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. Happy SummerSlam Week, boys and girls!