Randy Orton addresses his actions against Jeff Hardy
What Happened: Randy Orton shocked everyone when his attacked Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules and then again last week. Tonight, the Viper explained why. Orton said that he no longer felt he garnered the respect he deserved from the WWE Universe, who instead chose to idolize Superstars like Jeff Hardy. He went on to state that his claim to the moniker “Legend Killer” was no longer valid, as that title now belonged to the WWE Universe. The Apex Predator then went on to vow that he would destroy each and every single Superstar that the fans hold near and dear, starting with the former United States Champion.
My Opinion: This really made Randy Orton look weak. Regardless of his status as a face or heel, the WWE fans have always loved and admired Randy Orton. Having him use the cliche line of “I don’t get the respect I deserve” is an absolute trash move by the Smackdown writers. Hopefully, they kill this angle before it gets too bad becasue the fact is Randy Orton has built such a high reputation as a heel that he doesn’t really need a reason to be one other than just because he can be.
Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Rusev
What Happened: After a heated pre-show exchange between Andrade Almas and Rusev (likely fueled by both men’s defeats at the hands of WWE Champion AJ Styles), the two men decided to take the matter into the ring. Of course, Almas had his business partner Zelina Vega in his corner, but with the Bulgarian Brute still mistrusting of Aiden English after English arguably cost him the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules, it was Lana who undertook equalizer duties against Vega. The match was very even with neither man really gaining any true momentum, but when an argument between Lana and Vega turned into fisticuffs, Aiden English sprinted down the ramp to try to separate the two. In the vein, the Mozart of Mayhem succeeded in his mission, but ended up stumbling into the Ravishing Russian when Zelina jumped on his back. With his wife’s well-being now in question, Rusev was sufficiently distracted to allow Alma to surprise him with a Hammerlock DDT to pick up the biggest win of his Smackdown Live tenure thus far. After the match, Lana and Aiden English went at it, accusing each other of costing Rusev the match, but the squabble was shut down when the Super Athlete blew up and suggested that neither English nor Lana was good for Rusev Day.
My Opinion: A lot of moving parts here, and I love it. First, Almas continues to look strong. A lot of great NXT talent like Tye Dillinger and Bobby Roode have been wasted away since being called up to the main roster. Second, a face turn it clearly imminent between Rusev, Lana, and English. My only question is why WWE would be considering ending the Rusev Day gimmick. Both as a gimmick and as a marketing point, Rusev Day has been a huge success and still is. Killing it now just isn’t a wise move to me.
Samoa Joe def. R-Truth
What Happened: After watching his friend Tye Dillinger fall victim to Samoa Joe last week, R-Truth made his in-ring return to try and avenge his friend. Truth fared slightly better than Dillinger thanks to his veteran status in WWE, but in the end, he suffered the same fate: a submission defeat by way of the Coquina Clutch.
My Opinion: It’s great to see R-Truth back in the ring, especially on Smackdown Live. I just wish it wasn’t in a squash match. Both Truth and Dillinger deserve better, and hopefully they get it.
Asuka def. Billie Kay
What Happened: Despite having the week off last week, Asuka clearly is still furious about being robbed of the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Extreme Rules, and unfortunately for Billie Kay, she was the first person to meet the Empress of Tomorrow in the ring since that defeat. That situation was made worse when the boisterous Australian elected to reminded Asuka that it was the IIconics that handed her her first loss on the blue brand. As a result, Kay very well may have a concussion after suffering a series of vicious kicks to the head to allow Asuka to avenge her lone loss on Smackdown Live.
My Opinion: Clearly, WWE is done with Asuka and James Ellsworth for now, as they should be. WWE continues to do a great job keeping Asuka balanced since her undefeated streak was broken. The question is, what’s next for Asuka with both SummerSlam and Evolution fast approaching.
AJ Styles’s SummerSlam opponent revealed
What Happened: With the promise of his SummerSlam opponent being revealed, WWE Champion was in high spirits when General Manager Paige invited him to the ring. Styles took some time to recount some of his high profile battles before signing his name to the contract. Paige was just about to reveal the other name that was required to make the match official when James Ellsworth made his presence known. Much to the amusement of AJ Styles, Ellsworth believed that he was most deserving of a WWE Championship match given his 3-1 record against Styles. Paige was not in the mood for Ellsworth’s games, advising him to get lost. Now, this wasn’t Paige’s first run-in with Carmella’s cohort, but she made sure it was the last. Ellsworth unwisely decided to hurl insults at the General Manager, which was the final straw for the inaugral NXT Women’s Champion, who fired Ellsworth on the spot and calling security to remove him from the premises before literally kicking Ellsworth out of the building. Meanwhile, Styles was watching it all go down on the TitanTron, but his jovial mood was quickly ruined when he was blasted from behind by Samoa Joe, who followed up his attack by signing on the dotted line of the SummerSlam contract. Afterwards, a still fuming Paige berated Joe for his actions, albeit while confirming him as Styles’s SummerSlam opponent. Joe countered by calling Paige’s methods pedestrian before stalking off with a satisfied smile on his face.
My Opinion: This segment was absolutely gold. Each character was on full display and everything flowed so smoothly.
Becky Lynch def. Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella to earn a Championship Match at SummerSlam
What Happned: For months now, Becky Lynch has been fighting to get back to the top of the Smackdown women’s division, and now, she is only one victory away from achieving that goal. Granted, her victory tonight didn’t come without a bit of trouble along the way, especially when Carmella tried to use the ropes for leverage during a pinfall attempt. But with no James Ellsworth there to provide a contingency plan, the Princess of Staten Island was forced to submit to the Dis-arm-her, giving Becky Balboa the right to challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam.
My Opinion: Becky Lynch is finally going to get the one-on-one title opportunity that she is due. In addition to the high-grade performances she puts on every time she steps in the ring, her ability to stay healthy, in my opinion, makes her the most valuable female Superstar that Smackdown has.
New Day def. SAnitY (Smackdown Tag Team Championship Tournament)
What Happened: Ever since arriving on Smackdown Live, SAnitY has had the New Day’s number, both in singles competition and in tag team competition. The chaotic group went with their power lineup, putting Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain at a distinct advantage in the early goings over Big E and Xavier Woods. But with Kofi Kingston patrolling the outside and a personal score to settle with Eric Young, the Dreadlocked Dynamo would not let Young get involved, enabling his New Day brethen to finish the job with the Midnight Hour to advance in the tournament; they will face either the Usos or the Bar in the next round.
My Opinion: While it was great to see the New Day get back on track, it was even better to see the Bar back. Apparently, Sheamus had been nursing a minor injury, hence why we haven’t seen the Bar for some time now. Next week’s match should be awesome.
Daniel Bryan pays the price for crashing the “Miz and Mrs.” Premier Party
What Happened: With their new reality show Miz and Mrs. set to premiere immediately after Smackdown Live, Hollywood’s resident A-couple made their first appearance on WWE TV as a unit for the first time in nearly a year, with, of course, Monroe Sky in tow. Or so we thought. See, Daniel Bryan still had a gripe with the Miz for his incendiary comments against him and Kane last week, and he didn’t care what special celebration he had to crash to settle it. He even took out Miz and Maryse’s hired security guards, but then the couple launched their master plan. What everyone thought to be Monroe Sky turned out to be a simple baby doll, which Miz tossed at a shocked Bryan before booting his face to mush and dropping him with a Skull Crushing Finale for good measure.
My Opinion: Looks like WWE is sparing no expense so far to make the long-awaited Miz-Bryan feud worth the wait. And with Maryse back in the mix, things just got a hell of a lot more combustible. Aaaaand, ACTION!
Last week, I was highly impressed with Monday Night RAW taking advantage of a critical reset point, but I’m starting to think that the writers for Smackdown Live were smarter about their timing. We are now left with four weeks until SummerSlam, and I believe the blue brand has the right people in the right spots to create all sorts of buildup for the event.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Segment of the Night: As I stated above, the WWE Championship contract segment was absolute gold. From Ellsworth’s arrogance to Joe’s viciousness, not a single beat was missed.