By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of the SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SD Live! emanated from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. After a newsworthy episode of Monday Night Raw, the blue brand had to step up to plate and offer the rare one-two punch in terms of WWE pulling off back-to-back wrestling shows that were equal to each other for the first time in years. Did the creative team get the job done or did they wilt under the pressure? 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.
· Daniel Bryan just threw some serious shade at Shane McMahon after he offered Bryan advice on how to handle disputes with talent considering Shane’s own beef with Brock Lesnar.
· After much deliberation, it has been determined that The Miz is a certified coward as he walked away from a fight against Dolph Ziggler. Initially, Miz talked a big game about bringing prestige to the Intercontinental Championship and bragged about how he was the hardest working made in the business by doing so much promotional work for WWE. He cut an impassioned promo, but Ziggler flipped the script by accusing Miz of doing these benevolent things for fame. The Showoff gave Miz the opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong by duking it out, but he walked with his tail tucked between his legs. Ziggler tried to bait Miz by calling him a coward once more, but Maryse held her husband back as the crowd showered him with boos as the opening segment came to a close.
· As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I feared that Ziggler was going to slide back into mid-card land by feuding with The Miz and I was 100% correct. However, the dynamic might be different this time as both men have something to prove. Ziggler has been sulking over the past few weeks about not winning the big one while Miz cut the best promo of his career on Talking Smack last week which had the internet buzzing for days. I am surprised Miz didn’t destroy Ziggler on the mic about his career-long failures, but it’s not too late for the IC Champion to go scorched earth on his fellow Clevelander in the very near future. Overall, I thought this was a good way to start the show.
· The Hype Bros advanced to the semifinals of the Tag Team Tournament as they made quick work of The Vaudevillians. The match was decent while it lasted and The Hype Bros were very…Hype. Mojo Rawley is out of his mind, but he didn’t get on my nerves for a change.
· AJ Styles and Apollo Crews had a fun match that held my interest from start to finish. Crews was impressive and proved that he could hang with Styles. Crews has all the physical tools to be a great professional wrestler, but he needs a jolt in the personality department. He can’t smile his way through every situation whether it’s good or bad. Crews needs to show range from a character standpoint in order for fans to forge a meaningful connection with him. Since his debut at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn I last year, he is still all style, but no substance as a performer. That needs to change as soon as possible.
· As for Styles, he always delivers the goods in the ring. He brings out the best in his opponents and I am digging his cocky attitude as he now wants to be called, “The Face That Runs the Place.” Styles is in the zone right now and I can’t wait to see him challenge Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship at Backlash. It should be a show stealer.
· Renee Young’s in-depth interview with Heath Slater was something else. WWE played into all the Southern stereotypes as Slater lived in a trailer with his wife named Beulah. She surprisingly looked normal despite how the company tends to overplay their hand when it comes to pulling off their zany brand of comedy. Fortunately, things didn’t get too crazy as Slater shined during the segment while Rhyno feasted on some crackers and cheese whiz. The Vienna Sausages were a nice touch as it added some much needed class to the festivities. Initial reservations aside, I thought this was a silly, but entertaining segment that showed off Slater’s comedic chops. Rhyno’s stoic silence was great as well.
· Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt had a nice promo exchange to set up their match at Backlash in a couple of weeks. Wyatt claimed that he was not afraid of vipers and beasts and vowed to cut the head off the serpent and hang it on his wall while Orton had a nice comeback by admitting that he was damaged, but that was a part of his charm. The Viper talked about the scars inflicted on him by Cactus Jack and The Undertaker, but it made him stronger at the end of the day. Orton doesn’t fear Wyatt because they both have demons living inside of them. It’s a mutual respect thing amongst two damaged dudes.
· Orton wanted to kick Wyatt’s ass, but Wyatt did his usual disappearing act before things got physical.
· I loved Orton’s swag during his promo exchange with Wyatt. He was confident on the mic and didn’t belittle Wyatt in a demeaning way. Orton is not afraid of Wyatt or his parlor tricks and it’s refreshing to see someone say that without coming off as being condescending or goofy. If both men can translate their chemistry on the mic to the ring, they should have a stellar match at Backlash.
· Carmella made another statement as she attacked Nikki Bella from behind while she was on guest commentary during the tag team match featuring Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Natalya and Alexa Bliss. Lynch got distracted which allowed Bliss to pin her with a rollup with a slight yank of tights.
· The match was decent and the crowd was into the action while it lasted. It’s nice to see the ladies get some much needed airtime and one has to assume that a six woman tag team bout will take place next week as the babyfaces need to get their heat back heading into the Six Pack Challenge for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Backlash in a couple of weeks.
· I cannot believe that fans actually printed out “Heath’s Kids” signs. That is so awesome!
· Heath Slater and Rhyno are still alive in the tag team tournament as they dispatched The Headbangers in decisive fashion. Rhyno sealed things with a Gore and will go on to face The Hype Bros in the semifinals. That should be quite the spectacle.
· Hello, Random person…
· Kane is about to destroy the random man in the ring who stripped down to his underwear.
· Kane just collected the easiest check of his career by destroying The Milk Man who has a license to wrestle. That was strange…
· AJ Styles inadvertently disqualified Dean Ambrose after he accidently kicked Baron Corbin in the face when Ambrose was the intended target. Ambrose and Styles got into a brawl at ringside only for it to be broken up by Corbin because he still wanted a piece of Ambrose. However, The Lunatic Fringe quickly nailed The Lone Wolf with Dirty Deeds and dropped Styles’ family jewels on the top rope when he blocked Styles’ Phenomenal Forearm. Ambrose teased Styles and left him hanging on the rope as SmackDown Live! went off the air.
· Ambrose and Corbin had an adequate match, but it felt out of place. It was weird seeing Corbin in the main event spot because he was been torturing Kalisto backstage over the past few weeks. I don’t know how he leapfrogged his way into a non-title match against the WWE World Champion, but he held his own. He is still missing something from an in-ring standpoint and I can’t quite put my finger on it. He showed promise in NXT last year, but he has regressed a little bit since his promotion to the main roster. Corbin can cut a good promo when he is given good material to work with, but he needs to put all the pieces together in order to become a well-rounded performer.
· As for Ambrose and Styles, their brawl featured nice physicality that popped the crowd. However, things got a little too cutesy when Styles had to oversell his privates being injured on the top rope. With next Tuesday being the go-home show for Backlash, there should be less laughs and more seriousness coming from both men leading up to their WWE World Title match.
· Overall, I thought that tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! was serviceable. It came off as a maintenance show as the go-home broadcast for the first SD-only PPV is next week. The in-ring action was light on substance, but I expect a more cohesive show next week as the semifinals of the Tag Team Tournament gets underway along with the women jockeying for position leading up to their match at Backlash.
· Plus, Miz will continue to act like the Cowardly Lion while Ziggler continues to goad him into a fight. It’s a weird situation considering the fact that Ziggler was pissed off last week after he failed to win the big one at SummerSlam and lost his chance to compete for WWE World Title against Styles and Ambrose at Backlash. It seems as if WWE is hell bent on keeping Ziggler a babyface which is a mistake in my opinion. Hopefully, the creative team has a game plan for Ziggler that will actually help him get sustained heat instead of the crowd popping for his theme music and sitting on their hands for everything else.
· SD Live! should be a hotter show next week because it’s the go-home episode before Backlash. It’s their first major test selling a standalone PPV without any help from Raw to help even things out. Let’s hope they pull it off. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back Monday night with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!