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WWE Smackdown!- August 2, 2016

by Scrooge McSuck

Apollo Crews

- Last week on Smackdown Live, for those who missed the show or ignored the recap...

The new #1 contender was determined for Dean Ambrose's WWE Championship, when Dolph Ziggler pinned A.J. Styles in a Six-Pack Challenge that also included John Cena, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, and Apollo Crews. Crews won a Battle Royal to earn a place in the match.

Randy Orton defeated the Miz in a Non-Title Match, Orton's first since returning from shoulder surgery. Orton's offense consisted entirely of two RKO's after giving Miz 3-minutes of offense, mostly working his repaired shoulder.

Hype for the returning Shelton Benjamin (yay!), and the debuting American Alpha (double-yay!).

Rhyno returned to the Main Roster (meh), punking out "Free Agent" Heath Slater.

The Women of Smackdown were trotted out in a rather clumsy segment. As of this writing, the list is comprised of: Becky Lynch, Natalya, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and Eva Marie. They desperately need more depth to keep matches watchable.

- Meanwhile, over on Monday Night Raw, we're steadily building towards SummerSlam. Randy Orton surprised Brock Lesnar with an RKO to end what was an above average show. Seth Rollins pinned Sami Zayn in the top match of the night, and had a solid back-and-forth promo with Finn Balor. Rusev successfully defend the United States Title against former Olympian and leader of the Hall of Pain, Mark Henry. Following the match, Roman Reigns made his presence felt and brawled with Rusev. In Mixed Tag Team action, Charlotte, teaming with Chris Jericho, pinned Sasha Banks, teaming with Enzo Amore, with the Natural Selection. Cesaro defeated Sheamus to try and prove his worth to Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon. New Day defeated Gallows and Anderson in a Non-Title Match, but Big E paid the price for his team, suffering a brutal post-job to the groin. Jinder Mahal "pinned" Heath Slater to earn a contract with Monday Night Raw. Yes, JINDER MAHAL. Nia Jax and Braun Strowman won squash matches with relative ease for the second week in a row. Titus O'Neil cheated to pin former partner Darren Young, but then made the mistake of threating Bob Backlund, sparking Young's anger. The Shining Stars defeated The Golden Truth because R-Truth is too obsessed with the augmented reality aspect of Pokemon GO.

- Presented LIVE on the USA Network on August 2nd, 2016 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga are at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. The only content advertised ahead of time is the debut of American Alpha and "A.J. Styles has words for John Cena." I wonder if he'll serve Cena a bowl of Alphabet Soup that spells out "Beat Up John Cena." Will there be retaliation from Monday Night Raw for Smackdown's Randy Orton invading their territory?

- Daniel Bryan, Shane McMahon, and Randy Orton are watching what happened at the end of last night's episode of Monday Night Raw. They have a full lineup of security in case of retaliation. Orton doesn't feel threatened by him, and says all it takes is one RKO. The Miz and Maryse show up to complain about a lack of respect he's received. Bryan makes a triple threat between Baron Corbin, Apollo CREED (ha! I'm not the only one who does it) and Kalisto, and the winner gets to face the Miz at SummerSlam. Then Dean Ambrose shows up and quickly disappears. Huh.

- Dean Ambrose makes his way to the ring, and they have a nifty graphic for him on the side of the screen, detailing his latest actions, including a successful title defense at Battleground, and scheduled to defend the title against Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam. The little things... they're always cool, and add something to the product. Ambrose invites Ziggler to come to the ring, and his graphic reminds us he's a former 2-time World Heavyweight Champion. Ambrose says Ziggler is all show and that he's all go. Ziggler reminds us he came to the WWE as a male cheerleader in a green jumpsuit and says Ambrose didn't have to scratch and claw his way to the top, he came in as a swat team with Rollins and Reigns. Ambrose says Ziggler wastes time complaining and worrying about everyone and everything other than winning. Ziggler can steal the show, but he won't win. Ziggler gets fired up, but I don't think the crowd is completely behind him, despite his aggressive delivery. Ambrose to Ziggler: "You're not as good as you think you are", and Ambrose walks off to end the segment. Interesting that they are almost positioning Ambrose as the heel in this situation.

- Suddenly, the lights go out and Bray Wyatt shows up, knocking out Dolph Ziggler with Sister Abigail. The crowd mostly approves. He says Ziggler doesn't deserve to be the Champion. The crowd gives a solid "no" when asked if they think he's going to be the next WWE Champion. Wyatt has a challenge... a one-on-one match. If he loses the match, then Bray Wyatt gets the title shot at SummerSlam. I guess we have our Main Event for tonight.

Apollo Crews vs. Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin:

Winner is the #1 Contender for the Intercontinental Title and faces the Miz at SummerSlam. Next week spoiler: Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin are mismatched partners who hate each other to declare a NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champion. I don't understand why they aren't using Alberto Del Rio in any significant role, despite paying him well beyond how he's being booked. Miz and Maryse have joined the commentary team. Corbin takes shots at Crews and Kalisto. They turn things around, with Corbin being knocked to the floor. Kalisto with a surprise roll up on Crews for two. Crisscross and Corbin pulls the ropes down on Crews. Kalisto follows with tope suicida on Corbin as we take a break. We return with Corbin in control. He hits clotheslines in the corner and lays Crews out with a big boot. Kalisto uses Crews as a launch pad to take Corbin out of the ring with a flying head scissors. Crews with a Samoan drop on Kalisto for two. Corbin with Deep Six on Crews for two. Kalisto comes off the top for another head scissors, but Corbin blocks it. Crews with a dropkick, sending both over the top rope, and a roll up on Kalisto gets three at 6:47. Apollo Creed is going to SummerSlam to challenge for the Intercontinental Title. Post-match, Corbin attacks Kalisto from behind and pounds away until Crews comes back to save. The Miz enters the ring and hits Crews with the Skull Crushing Finale for the hell of it. Corbin isn't appreciative and gives him End of Days to crowd approval. *1/2 Decent action for what was seen (half of the match was a commercial break), but I like them pushing new faces. Corbin laying out the Miz continues his "lone wolf" attitude, and hey, the crowd likes Miz getting hurt, so it's an easy way to pop the audience.

Becky Lynch vs. Eva Marie:

Oh sweet lord, they're really going all in on Eva Marie, aren't they? I highly doubt this will be anything more than 90-seconds of action before the entire Smackdown Women's Division makes another appearance. Quick comment about the (present) lack of a title... NXT didn't have a Women's Title for quite a while, and still featured a Women's Division. Just saying. Eva Marie gets her obnoxious red carpet style introduction. Sure as shit, before the bell rings, Eva Marie complains about a leg cramp, so we don't have a match. So is the trainer paid off by Eva Marie, or is he a completely incompetent moron? It's a good way to give Eva Marie heat without having her "wrestle."

- Renee Young is with Carmella who calls out Eva Marie for being a liar. Natalya storms the set complaining about not being featured in the interview. She obnoxiously brings up her family relationship with Bret Hart (but not her father, Jim Neidhart). Natalya mocks Carmella for being the last person drafted. Carmella tells her to put her cat costume on and will show her why she's the most fabulous superstar on the roster.

American Alpha vs. The Vaudevillains:

(Chad Gable & Jason Jordan vs. Aiden English & Simon Gotch)
Jason Jordan is a former NCAA heavyweight amateur wrestler who spent a considerable amount of time in NXT before pairing up with Chad Gable, a former Olympian who represented the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The team picked up steam immediately after being put together in the Summer of 2015 and went on to win the NXT Tag Team Titles at Takeover: Dallas. I'm honestly surprised they aren't disposing of a pair of unknowns. Gable with a waist-lock takedown on Gotch. Crowd does the "Gable" chant to the tune of Kurt Angle's theme music. Gable counters a wrist-lock and does a lighting quick sequence ending with a leg trip into an arm-bar. Jordan in with a big dropkick. Whip to the ropes, Jordan escapes a double hip toss, and Gable comes in with a double clothesline from the top rope. American Alpha with a pair of dropkicks, clearing the ring. Gotch trips up Gable, allowing English to attack from behind. English and Gotch with double teaming on Gable. Jordan quickly gets the hot tag and cleans house. Dropkick to English and a T-Bone Suplex on Gotch. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex to English and the straps are down! Charging shoulder to the midsection, and Gable with the bridging back suplex to finish things at 3:27. ** Explosive action crammed into less than four-minutes. I figured this would go a bit longer, otherwise I still don't see the need to kill the Vaudevillains so quickly. Perhaps rematches with the Vaudevillains getting more offense each time, but still losing.

- A.J. Styles comes out, because he has a message for John Cena. Styles literally gets about 10 words out before John Cena's music interrupts him and here comes The Face That Runs the Placeā„¢. Styles accuses Cena of making everything about himself. He could do his favorite thing, #BeatUpJohnCena, but he has a message for the Ce-nation. Crowd gets to Styles with a "Soccer Mom" chant. Styles problem with Cena is that he doesn't want Cena around. He runs down children for considering Cena their hero, and the parents for their poor ability to raise their children. Styles somehow continues to generate heel heat in a feud with John Cena. MIRACLE. COMPLETE. Cena finally tells him to shut up for insulting everyone for having the nerve to believe in something. Cena sucks up pretty hardcore and tells Styles he is only here to be a "really good wrestler." They aren't building to a "Loser Leaves Smackdown" angle already are they? Styles mockingly applauds Cena's speech. Styles wants Cena one-on-one at SummerSlam. Cena's response: "I need to teach your ass a lesson." Styles says the best part of SummerSlam is that the following Tuesday, Cena will have to come out and say "A.J. Styles is better than me."

- Tomorrow night on NXT, Hideo Itami returns! Only on WWE Network (and Hulu).

Randy Orton vs. Fandango (w/ Tyler Breeze):

Looks like the undercard guys aren't getting fun facts in their graphic. There's a crap-ton of security at ringside, so expect Brock Lesnar to show up. Lockup and Fandango quickly pounds away. Whip to the corner and Orton comes back with a clothesline. He gives Fandango the Garvin Stomp as the crowd chants "RKO." Orton with a snap suplex for two. Breeze with a distraction, allowing Fandango to connect with a dropkick. Fandango with some ground-and-pound before hooking on a chin-lock. Orton counters with a back suplex. Orton with two clotheslines and a snap Power-Slam. Breeze runs in and takes a Power-Slam, too. He gives Fandango the rope-draping DDT. Brock Lesnar is shown in the crowd. Orton hits the RKO (not really out of nowhere), but here comes Brock, and he lays Orton out with the F5 for a Non-Finish at 3:05. Shane McMahon runs out with the referee brigade and the buffed up security to remove Lesnar from ringside. Just a quick squash used to advance the insta-rivalry between Orton and Lesnar. Did You Know... for that bit of work, Lesnar made 40 million dollars?

- During the commercial break, Brock is being escorted from the arena after "returning the favor." Paul Heyman just happens to be there, too. This segment needed a "Heath Slater gets destroyed" moment.

- Daniel Bryan is on the phone when Heath Slater is found casually relaxing against the wall. He wants a Smackdown Live Contract, but Bryan tells him he has to earn it. If he wins a match next week on Smackdown, he gets that contract. Slater suggests Jumpy Marty Lund, Jericho's imaginary back-up from the night before. Rhyno shows up out of nowhere to give Slater a GORE~!, and that will be the match next week. My money was on Kane.

- Dean Ambrose Interview. He knows all about what Bray Wyatt is capable of, and is surprised that Dolph Ziggler willingly put his #1 Contender spot on the line only a week after earning the right to the title shot at SummerSlam.

- Smackdown correspondent Charlie Caruso tries to get a word with Orton, unsuccessfully. I've seen her doing "host" duties of NXT live events and she's all right.

Carmella vs. Natalya:

The crowd at least doesn't have the urge to boo Carmella, but she doesn't do much to earn cheers until Natalya attacks her from behind and sends her crashing into the security wall. Natalya with a snap suplex on the arena floor, and slaps on the Sharpshooter to add insult to injury. And yet another women's match that doesn't actually happen. At least it gave the fans an idea that Carmella is a baby-face by taking a sneak-attack beating. Her gimmick without Enzo and Cass might not work well at this level, though.

- Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan try to have a talk with Dolph Ziggler, but he's clearly not in the mood. SHADES OF GREY!

Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt: Main Event of the night. If Wyatt wins, he gets the WWE Championship Match against Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam. I hope nobody seriously believes that they'll put over Wyatt and screw Ziggler over after his promo about being looked over and told he wasn't good enough no more than 90-minutes ago. Dean Ambrose joins the commentary team for the match. Ziggler doesn't waste time posing on the ramp like he typically does. Ziggler hits Wyatt with a dropkick at the bell and hits a Rocker Dropper for a near fall. He sets up for a Super-Kick, but Wyatt bails. He follows and gets laid out with a clothesline. Back in the ring, Ziggler with a roll up for two. We return from commercial with a slugfest on the top rope. Wyatt gets the better of it, taking Ziggler down with a super-plex. Wyatt pointlessly does the Spider Walk before going for a cover. Wyatt with a chin-lock. Ziggler struggles to get to his feet and escapes with rights to the midsection, followed by a jaw breaker. Wyatt meets an elbow on a charge and Ziggler connects with a pair of diving clotheslines. Ziggler with a Stinger Splash, swinging neck breaker, and jumping elbow drop for two. Wyatt counters a Super-Kick with an uppercut, followed by a suplex-slam and running senton for a near fall. Wyatt attempts to remove the turnbuckle pad, but Ziggler surprises him with a Zig-Zag for a 2.9999 count. Ziggler finishes removing the pad. He almost gets caught with Sister Abigail, but counters with a roll-up for two. Wyatt with a brutal uranage for another near fall. Wyatt sends Ziggler to the corner, but meets an elbow. Ziggler rams him to the exposed turnbuckle and a Super-Kick finishes at 11:29 to retain his rights as #1 Contender. **3/4 Solid WWE main event style match. Could've been better, but commercial breaks really disrupt the flow of TV matches.

- Post-match, Erick Rowan runs in to attack Ziggler, but Dean Ambrose comes in to make the save. Wyatt comes back to life, allowing Rowan to lay Ambrose out with a weird looking Rock Bottom. Wyatt pulls Ziggler off the canvas and plants him with Sister Abigail for the second time this evening. Next week's prediction: mismatched partners Ziggler and Ambrose face the remains of the Wyatt Family, with a surprise return of Luke Harper.

Final Thoughts: Overall a solid episode that helps build momentum towards SummerSlam. They're doing a decent job trying to relight the fire under Dolph Ziggler, and teasing Ambrose will not just be a token good guy, but a guy with an attitude who will go through everyone to keep his Title. Cena cut a fabulous babyface promo to build heat for his match with A.J. Styles, Brock Lesnar gave Orton a receipt for Monday Night, American Alpha debuted in convincing fashion, Apollo "Not Creed" Crews is the #1 Contender to the IC Title, and they are at least trying to push the women in their division and are attempting to distinguish Carmella as a baby-face and going for ultra-heel heat with Eva Marie. The show has been light on wrestling so far, but with a thinner roster than Raw, they need to be cautious about giving away too much, and so far, they've balanced it well between matches, angle developing segments and in-ring promos.

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