Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The SmackDown Empire Strikes Back - Part II (8-1-2017)

By: Keila Cash 

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Post-Battleground Apology Tour continued as WWE hyped a double main event featuring AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens for the United States Championship while John Cena faced off against Shinsuke Nakamura to determine who will face Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. With the latter being a dream match airing on free television, did the show live up to the hype or did it die on the vine? 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.

·        SD Live is starting with a match instead of a 20-minute talking segment. Holy crap!

·        AJ Styles retained the United States Championship when he pinned Kevin Owens with a roll-up. However, the ending wasn’t without controversy as Owens had his shoulder up during the pin count. The referee’s view was obstructed due to Owens hitting him in the eye towards the end of the match which led to the screwy finish.

·        KO went ballistic and stormed backstage to confront the ref, Shane McMahon, and Daniel Bryan. Things got physical as Owens continued to lose his shit. McMahon granted Owens a US Title rematch against Styles at SummerSlam. KO wanted a referee that was competent at his job which led to Bryan naming Shane as the special guest ref. Owens scoffed at the idea, but eventually cooled off as the segment came to an end.

·        No wonder Shane has been looking extra jacked lately. He’s getting ready to put in that work at SummerSlam in more ways than one.

·        The US Title match between Styles and Owens was very good. Things started off slow, but the pace quickened after the commercial break. Owens’ signature rest holds were kept to a minimum which prevented the action from hitting a lull in spots.

·        Owens avoiding the Phenomenal Forearm was a nice touch as Styles never hit his finisher to win the match outright. Unfortunately, the questionable booking has prevented their feud from reaching its full potential because each title bout has ended in controversy. I hope their FOURTH outing ends on a better note, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Shane McMahon is going to play a role in the finish which is going to piss off Owens to the nth degree. Just a hunch.

·        Fashion Peaks paid homage to Twin Peaks in the best possible way. It was bizarre, psychedelic, and batshit crazy. Most importantly, The Ascension continues to shine as supporting players who are maximizing their minutes on television. Who knew they had a dark sense of humor?

·        Aiden English defeated Sami Zayn with a roll-up in a decent match. This is not a typo. The crowd heat was pretty nondescript which is not surprising since they had to follow Owens vs. Styles.

·        Becky Lynch and Naomi defeated Natalya and Carmella when Naomi made Carmella tap out to the Headscissors Crucifix Choke in a solid match. This was a nice way to forward Naomi vs. Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s Championship while Carmella lurks in the background holding her Money in the Bank briefcase. Lynch doesn’t have a feud to sink her teeth into at the moment, but she has been trading tweets with Cyborg from UFC which might hint at some kind of confrontation at the PPV in a couple of weeks. That’s pure speculation at this point since WWE hasn’t discussed their interactions on television yet.

·        Rusev defeated Chad Gable with The Accolade in a really good match. Gable is a gem that WWE shouldn’t sleep on. He held his own against Rusev and put on an offensive display by dropping the Bulgarian Brute with a serious of suplexes that showed off his crazy strength.

·        Rusev was no slouch either as he had his working boots on as well. Gable eating the loss sucks, but he won the crowd over that would’ve been dead otherwise. That’s what I call a miracle worker. Plus, he won custody of the American Alpha theme song which makes him 10% more awesome. Here’s hoping the Powers That Be gives Gable more opportunities to shine because he can get over if he’s given the chance to do so.

·        After the match was over, Rusev complained that he didn’t have a match at SummerSlam and claimed that he was unbeatable when Randy Orton made his way to the ring. Orton challenged Rusev to a match at the PPV, but his opponent shamed him in his native language before eating an RKO for his troubles as the segment came to an end.

·        Orton vs. Rusev sounds like fun. It’s a step up from Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal: Part 67.

·        Shinsuke Nakamura defeated John Cena with the Kinshasa and will move on to face Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. This dream match lived up to expectations, but it had a scary ending when Cena landed on his head when Nakamura dropped him with an Inverted Powerslam prior to the finish. It’s amazing that Cena was able to stand up and shake Nakamura’s hand as a show of respect as SD Live went off the air. Here’s hoping Cena doesn’t have a concussion or serious neck injury because that was an ugly spot.

·        Botch aside, this was a very good match that had the crowd hyped from start to finish. Cena and Nakamura have good in-ring chemistry that should be further explored in the future. The counters and near falls had the crowd sitting on the edge of their seats which heightened the drama even more.

·        Cena hitting the AA a second time and rolling through for number three was a nice callback to his match against AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble earlier this year. However, Nakamura was able to escape which led to the scary finish. This is the King of Strong Style’s biggest win to date and his match against Mahal will be very interesting, to say the least.

·        As for Cena, it appears that he is Hollywood bound after landing a starring role in Bumblebee which drops next year. La La Land aspirations aside, I hope he’s okay after taking that bump. It was very uncomfortable to watch, but he finished the match like a boss. He survived a broken nose from Seth Rollins a couple of years ago and powered through. I am sure he will bounce back from this as well. Fingers crossed!

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was very good. WWE hyped this show a week in advance and it lived up to expectations. The United States Championship Match featuring AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens was the appetizer while John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was the main course. The broadcast was bookended beautifully which made everything click from top to bottom.

·        As an added bonus, Chad Gable vs. Rusev was a side dish that over delivered in the best possible way. All in all, this was a great night to be a professional wrestling fan. After questioning whether or not SD Live could hold up their end of the bargain heading into SummerSlam, my fears have been quelled. For now.

·        With two more episodes to go until the Biggest Party of the Summer, the blue brand better be locked and loaded as the show emanates from Toronto next Tuesday. Fingers crossed 2X!

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! 

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