By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! emanated from Pinnacle Bank Arena in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s the go-home show for the Backlash PPV which takes place this Sunday. New champions are guaranteed to be crowned in the Tag Team and Women’s Divisions. Plus, AJ Styles takes on Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship. After last week’s slapstick ending, did the creative team take things more seriously as we head into the first brand-exclusive PPV of the New Era? 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.
· Here are the positives about the opening segment. Becky Lynch showed great fire during her promo. Everything else was a mess because it’s really difficult to pull off a segment when the women are talking over each other with bad dialogue to boot. I did find it funny that Alexa Bliss and Carmella magically teleported to the ring to interrupt Becky and Natalya. It was awkward and it appeared that Bliss came out too soon which caused Becky to stall for a few seconds. Otherwise, I thought this was a poor way to start the show. On a lighter note, the six woman tag team match scheduled for later tonight should be decent.
· Dolph Ziggler looks like a preppy Mister Rogers on guest commentary.
· The Miz vs. Apollo Crews was solid. Crews showed nice showmanship for a change as he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. It was refreshing to see him connect with the audience. He still needs to develop a personality that goes beyond smiling from ear to ear, but I like what I saw from Crews tonight.
· The match broke down when Miz taunted and attacked Ziggler at ringside. Crews slid out of the ring, but Miz knocked him into Ziggler which gave the Intercontinental Champion the upper hand. He slammed Crews’ arm into the ring post, tossed him back in the ring, and finished him off with The Skull Crushing Finale.
· Miz and Maryse made a run for it, but left the IC Title in the ring. Since Miz is the Cowardly Lion, he made his wife get in the ring to retrieve the belt.
· Miz and Ziggler are set to face each other at Backlash for the IC Title. It should be a good match. However, Ziggler dropped an interesting nugget of information when he was on guest commentary by saying that he would have to re-think things if he didn’t beat Miz on Sunday. Could a much needed heel turn be Ziggler’s future? One can only hope.
· If I am not mistaken, the crux of Bray Wyatt’s promo on Randy Orton is that he plans to go Hannibal Lecter on Orton at Backlash by eating his flesh. I really hope he means that metaphorically.
· Cannibalism aside, I thought Wyatt did a great job being spooky as he painted a dark, but beautiful picture when it came to the evolution of mankind. The Eater of Worlds is a God and a God cannot be destroyed. We shall find out if that’s true on Sunday.
· The Six Woman Tag Team Match featuring Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Nikki Bella vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella was passable. Lynch was the babyface in peril as she was isolated from her tag team partners for a huge chuck of the match until she made the hot tag to Nikki. Nikki ran wild on Bliss and finally got her hands on Carmella when she laid her out with the TKO. Bliss broke up the pin and all hell broke loose. Things got sloppy down the stretch as there were a few spots that were mistimed. Carmella locked Nikki in the Code of Silence and David Otunga was very astute as he mentioned that the submission hold would have a negative impact on Nikki’s surgically repaired neck. Nikki tapped out which gave Carmella a signature win heading into the six pack elimination challenge for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Backlash.
· I was looking forward to American Alpha vs. The Usos in the semifinals of the Tag Team Tournament. The Usos showed poor sportsmanship after they shook Chad Gable and Jason Jordan’s hand only to attack them from behind. Then, the match ended in less than a minute when American Alpha dropped Jimmy Uso with Grand Amplitude to pick up the shocking win.
· Things got even crazier when Jimmy and Jey viciously attacked Gable and Jordan after the match was over. They did the most damage to Gable as they targeted has leg which left him writhing in pain as the segment came to a stunning conclusion.
· I guess the The Usos have turned full-blown heel and it’s long overdue. Considering how the match and aftermath were laid out, I have no problem with how everything went down. American Alpha are heading into the finals of the Tag Team Tournament at less than 100%. If Gable’s injury is serious, will they withdraw from the finals? Will The Usos be rewarded for being evil? Most importantly, did the path just get clearer for Heath Slater and Rhyno to win the whole damn tournament?
· Randy Orton just pulled a page out of the Aesop’s Fables handbook by telling a story about a man, rabbit, and snake and how the man and snake were after the same prey. The man grabbed the dead rabbit, but the snake came from out of nowhere and took them both out. It was a cool way to demonstrate that Orton can drop Wyatt at a moment’s notice with an RKO. He is the Apex Predator for crying out loud. It’s in his nature to stalk his target before he strikes. Will Wyatt be Orton’s next victim? We shall find out on Sunday.
· Fandango invited a random lady to dance with him in the ring. She had no rhythm and he dismissed her. Kane came out and chokeslammed Fandango for being an ass. This was very baffling.
· Rhyno Gored Zack Ryder as he and Slater punched their ticket to the finals of the Tag Team Tournament. Slater celebrated with his seven rent-a-kids at ringside. They had red hair and it appears that Slater started having children right out of high school. At least he’s a loving and responsible father to his fake offspring.
· The Usos are fed up with being disrespected and their attack on American Alpha was their breaking point. It’s about damn time that The Usos get booed for being bad instead of getting heat because they are related to Roman Reigns. They should thrive in this role and deliver stellar matches against American Alpha as we head into the fall season.
· The closing segment involving Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles was very good. Both men brought it on the microphone as Ambrose presented Styles with a participation bowling trophy and claimed that would be the only thing Styles would be getting from Ambrose. Styles dropped the trophy on the canvas and said that Ambrose shouldn’t take him lightly. After all, he defeated John Cena at SummerSlam which made him the new face that runs the place.
· Ambrose had a great comeback when he explained that Styles was a better wrestler than Cena, but he was facing something completely different at Backlash. Styles would be entering the battlefield where things get down and dirty. Their match will not be a technical masterpiece as Ambrose vowed to retain the WWE World Championship. The Champ had a parting shot for the Phenomenal One as he said that trophies will not be handed out to the face that came in second place.
· Styles kicked Ambrose in the groin to return the favor from last week. He smashed the trophy over his knee and stood over Ambrose as SD Live! went off the air.
· Ambrose talks a big game, but he needs to show it in the ring on Sunday. He has been sleepwalking through his matches as of late and he can’t afford to phone it in against Styles. Styles tends to bring out the best in his opponents and I hope he can pull something out of Ambrose at the PPV. If not, I am going to have serious doubts about Ambrose’s viability as a top tier star on the blue brand. Here’s hoping that both men show up and show out this weekend.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! was decent at best. It seemed as if the show was in cruise control instead of hammering home the fact that there is a PPV taking place on Sunday. The key matches were highlighted, but I expected a bit more in terms of excitement and anticipation. I liked how Orton and Wyatt traded bedtime stories to hype their match and The Tag Team Tournament is heading towards an interesting conclusion as well. Miz and Ziggler needed more mic time in order to get their feud over to the masses. They had plenty of time to hash out their issues if that stupid Fandango segment was cut from the show, but I digress.
· The main event managed to make the PPV seem important which salvaged things for me, but I wished that passion reverberated throughout the broadcast as a whole. Backlash should be a good show and I expect the men and women to have their working boots on. Plus, there is no reason for this show to last three hours. A tight two hour show should get the job done. Hopefully...
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next Monday with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!