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