Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/08/08/wwe-smackdown-review-analysis-08-07-2018/.)
We’re one week nearer to SummerSlam, and SmackDown still had some questions to answer as it pertains to the Biggest Party Of The Summer. One had been answered earlier that day, with The Miz revealing that he would indeed face Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam. But what else would transpire as part of the blue brand’s build to Brooklyn?
Randy Orton Promo
SmackDown kicked off with a Randy Orton promo, as was the case two weeks later, and just like that night, his focus was the absent Jeff Hardy. This wasn’t as memorable as his previous speech (though the way he opened by saying “Last week, Jeff Hardy called me out. Let’s see how that turned out for him” made me laugh), but his delivery was spot-on again as he continued to establish the revival of his cold-as-ice, vicious persona. As of this moment, Orton has yet to be added to the Shinsuke Nakamura-Hardy match at SummerSlam, but I expect that he will be at some point. Something I’ve noticed is how Orton’s entrance still elicits a huge pop, only for the boos to really surface as he speaks or carries out increasingly dastardly actions.
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. The IIconics
The main purpose of this match was to demonstrate that Charlotte and Becky remain on good terms, despite both now contending for guest commentator Carmella’s SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. This bout against The IIconics (who insulted both prior to the bell during a promo that elicited “boring” chants) was straight-forward, and had a bit of an abrupt finish; not long after we returned from a commercial break, Charlotte made Billie Kay submit to the Figure-Eight. Pre-match, Charlotte and Becky were clearly getting along (Becky joked “We’re not Sasha and Bayley!”), but afterwards Lynch showed signs of minor discontent by reminding Flair that it would be every woman for herself at SummerSlam. I don’t see Becky turning heel before the big show in Brooklyn, but if Charlotte does lift the title there, we are seeing the seeds planted now for such a development.
AJ Styles Promo
AJ Styles, as expected, delivered a strong retort to Samoa Joe’s comments about him being a failure as a father and a husband. Noting that Joe had crossed the line and destroyed a longtime friendship with his outburst, Styles stated that Joe may not be walking at all once AJ is finished with him at SummerSlam. Most ominously was Joe (who was sat backstage, and with a shiner of a black eye to boot) laughing with an evil glare at AJ’s attempts. Clearly, Joe has gotten into Styles’ head, which in the challenger’s mind could be the key to him capturing the WWE Championship.
Lana vs. Zelina Vega
Backstage, Rusev and Lana officially forgave Aiden English for his recent stumbles that have cost both of them important matches, though Rusev advised English to remain in the locker room for Lana’s rematch here against Zelina Vega. So, you can probably guess what happened next. Yep: after a decent match (which either showed how Lana has improved, or how good Vega is at carrying an opponent), a brawl broke out at ringside between Andrade “Cien” Almas and Rusev, with English running down the aisle to leap on Almas … which just happened to bump into Lana’s leg as she was climbing the top rope (the contact was minimal, to be fair), leading to Vega picking up the one-two-three. Post-match, Rusev and Lana looked at English as the naughty schoolboy who had caused one too many misdemeanours. A Rusev Day split seems inevitable, but will fans back the Bulgarian Brute, the Mayor of Rusev Day himself, or will they be persuaded to support the vocalist whose songs arguably had a greater impact in turning Rusev Day from a quick line in a promo to a catch phrase spawning plenty of merchandise?
The Miz Promo
As noted, Miz had earlier accepted Daniel Bryan’s SummerSlam challenge, whilst supposedly on the set of Miz & Mrs (I say “supposedly” because a framed picture in the background has also appeared behind several recent backstage skits, as one Twitter user pointed out; and that was before this episode of SD!). Responding to Byron Saxton’s questions about why he would face Bryan, Miz initially ignored him, focusing instead on promoting his reality show, before turning his focus to Daniel and getting serious. He explained how he was tired of being insulted and being called “soft”, and vowed to destroy Daniel in Brooklyn. But Bryan was closer to Miz than he expected, leaping into the scene to pound Miz and his security goons. A plant pot to the back of the head (no relation to Mitch) by Miz halted the attack, as the most-anticipated match of the summer is finally a lock for the supershow next Sunday.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. R-Truth
Set up by an amusing backstage confrontation where the increasingly-crazy R-Truth believed that defeating Carmella would earn him a title match (since that’s how it works for everyone else), this bout saw Truth exert a fair amount of control over Shinsuke, coming across more as a potential future title challenger than as the utility man he has mostly played over the past few years. Nakamura still won of course with the Kinshasa, but don’t rule out a push for Truth, who has been more prominent on SmackDown in recent weeks.
The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Alechi Lee, Julio Rivera & Pavel Koslov
This was billed as a tag team match, but it actually provided three opponents for Harper and Rowan. Not that it mattered, as all three (including what Corey Graves described as a knock-off Roman Reigns) were obliterated in short order by the SmackDown Tag Team Champions, who could then utilise their preferred method of relaxation (presumably whacking objects with giant mallets) as they awaited the outcome of the main event.
The New Day vs. The Bar
This was the final of the #1 contender’s tag team tournament, and it was stretched over three segments in the main event slot. Both combos made the most of their generous time allocation: besides a slight complaint about Big E spending longer than what would be believable in Cesaro’s sharpshooter without tapping out, this was a really enjoyable match, arguably the best to date between these two teams. The New Day eventually picked up the win with the Midnight Hour on Cesaro, earning a title shot at SummerSlam against The Bludgeons (who briefly appeared in the crowd to watch them, in a cameo so hidden that barely any fans even noticed they were stood there).
SmackDown has been consistently entertaining lately, and this was another productive episode. The tighter two-hour format means that it can drip-feed the build for some major storylines while still providing longer matches where necessary, as this episode proved. The Raw matches will be taking centre stage at SummerSlam (as the event poster proves), but if given time, the blue brand has the potential to steal the show in Brooklyn.