Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/09/05/wwe-smackdown-review-analysis-09-04-2018/.)
Hell In A Cell is less than two weeks away, though all of the major PPV bouts for the blue brand are in place. Ergo, this show was designed to move stories along as opposed to making major announcements or being the setting for pivotal angles.
Daniel Bryan/Brie Bella Promo
Bryan and Brie opened the show, Brie not looking even remotely like somebody who flubbed two attempted dives through the ropes the previous night on Raw (and the question has to be asked: why the hell is Brie on both shows? Had it been Nikki, who is linked to “free agent” John Cena, then it might have made a modicum of sense, but there has been no explanation as to why Brie can hop between Raw and SmackDown). Renee Young (who commentated on Raw earlier this week; I’m sensing a pattern here) was there to interview them, but before they spoke, she introduced footage of The Miz and Maryse, who had hilariously called out Daniel and Brie in an empty arena prior to the show going on the air, at which point they weren’t there. Bryan and Bella chose to call out the It Couple themselves, only for Renee to tell them that Miz and Mrs had left the building. Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega were present, though, and though I expected this to lead to a mixed tag bout, we were instead treated to a Bryan vs. Almas rematch.
Daniel Bryan vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
I personally enjoyed their match last week more than this second edition, but it was still very good action between two of SmackDown’s best performers. Almas shone once again, at one point catching Daniel off-guard by seemingly preparing to launch a boot to the face, only to suddenly swing around and strike him with a devastating forearm (which disappointingly wasn’t shown on a replay). As with last week, Andrade hung with Bryan every step of the way, but in the end, Bryan exacted revenge for the post-match four-on-two beatdown from a week ago when he nailed Almas with a Running Knee (which Andrade sold beautifully) for the pinfall win.
After the match, Miz and Maryse spoke to Bryan and Brie from a local Detroit restaurant where they were on a dinner date, so Bryan and Bella decided that they would leave the arena to join them there. Shortly thereafter, we saw Paige in her office being interrupted by … Miz and Maryse, who clearly wanted no part at all of Dan and Brie. Paige decided that she would book Miz in a match against an unknown opponent, with Miz told to stay away from SD for good if he refused to compete.
Charlotte Flair-Becky Lynch Promo
Satellites were a regular theme of this show, because we were then privy to a back-and-forth promo between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, each in a separate backstage location. The fighting talk for their battle at Hell In A Cell (which was agreed to over the weekend on social media by Charlotte) was what you would expect, with Lynch in particular driving home the point that she would capture Flair’s SmackDown Women’s Championship at HIAC. Becky’s mannerisms and delivery were more of a rebellious face in the CM Punk mould than of an arrogant, deluded heel which she seemed to portray shortly after SummerSlam. It looks like WWE is keeping people guessing as to whether Lynch is a villain, though the booking of her in recent weeks suggests that the company realises how futile a task it would be to have fans cheer Charlotte and boo Becky.
Naomi vs. Peyton Royce
For the third straight week, Naomi took on a member of The IIconics, but having lost to Royce two weeks ago and Billie Kay last week, the GLOW artist had clearly done some homework: knocking Kay off the apron, she then rolled up Peyton for a quick victory. She wasn’t able to celebrate, though, as The IIconics pummelled after the bout, only to be interrupted by Asuka, who took out Kay and Royce with roundhouse kicks, coming to the aid of Naomi. Are we going to see Naomi/Asuka vs. The IIconics at Evolution? I mentioned previously that Naomi needed a partner in her rivalry against Billie and Peyton, but it seems like this would be a waste of the once-mighty Asuka on the first all-women’s WWE supershow.
During the show, we had video promos by both Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton, each discussing their intentions for the other when they meet inside Hell In A Cell next Sunday. I’m looking forward to this encounter, partly because you just know that Hardy will attempt to do something insane; here’s hoping that whatever he decides on (and a Swanton Bomb off the Cell roof is a high possibility) doesn’t cause him any serious injuries, especially after his unnecessary Swanton onto the ring apron at SummerSlam against Shinsuke Nakamura (speaking of which, Nakamura was again absent from this show, meaning that “Nakamerica” seems to have been even more short-lived than “Mex-America” was for Alberto Del Rio in late 2015.
Samoa Joe Promo
It was back to the microphone for our next segment, with Samoa Joe again running down AJ Styles’ relationship skills. Noting that his stated intention to visit AJ’s daughter had forced the WWE Champion to stay at home with his family, Joe mentioned that he had given Styles’ family what they wanted, that being to have “Daddy”, or Wendy’s husband, at home on a Tuesday night. Seemingly via a satellite, AJ noted how Joe had crossed the line by threatening his family, to which Joe smirked, only for him to panic when it became clear that Styles was in the building. Cue a furious attack on Joe by AJ, which included a dive to the floor that may have landed one referee with a serious injury. The hostility is high between these two, though with two Cell matches already announced for the PPV, one gets the feeling that WWE would have already confirmed this stipulation for the next AJ-Joe battle by now if that was also going to take place inside the massive cage.
Book-ending this angle was a humorous set of segments involving R-Truth. Still looking for Carmella, Truth confronted Maryse, believing it was her, leading to some priceless insults by Miz (“Seven years since we tagged together, and that was the last time you were relevant. I forgot you even worked here.”). In the meantime, Maryse insulted Carmella, which helped when Truth later found the real Carmella backstage (though he hilariously said to her “Do you know where Carmella is?”). Long story short, it led to Truth being named as Miz’s opponent for later on, with Carmella in her corner. Truth explained to Tye Dillinger that he had showed him how to get booked in a SmackDown main event, as well as there being a storyline reason for Truth and Carmella teaming up in the hastily-returned Mixed Match Challenge.
The Usos vs. Sanity vs. Rusev Day
Prior to this match, Corey Graves on commentary noted that “Sanity have caused chaos in a big way since arriving on SmackDown”. With the exception of one beat-down on The New Day, and their victory over Big E and co. in a Tables match on the Extreme Rules Kick-Off Show, I would highly disagree with that statement. And though the action was fine here, this continued the apparent descent of Sanity, with Eric Young taking the pin off a Machka Kick by Rusev, allowing he and Aiden English to come out on top. Rusev Day seem stronger than ever after having had serious problems a few weeks back, though they must now defeat The Bar (who laughed at the prospect of facing Rusev and Aiden) next week to earn a SmackDown Tag Team Title match against New Day at Hell In A Cell.
The Miz vs. R-Truth
This flashback to 2011 was a basic main event, highlighted by Miz aping Daniel Bryan whenever possible, and even hitting a Carmella-style moonwalk at the expense of the former SmackDown Women’s Champion (though Corey Graves was the most amusing by pointing out that R-Truth has never had an answer to his “What’s Up?” question). Miz looked set to finish Truth off with a Skull-Crushing Finale, only for Bryan and Brie to return to the arena, providing a distraction for Truth to roll up and pin Miz. Afterwards, DB and BB attacked M&M, with Bryan locking Miz in the Yes Lock. The babyfaces were stopped by Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega and pummelled by both, but in the end the happy couple (okay, they were married in 2014 but they’re still a happy couple) trapped both Almas and Vega in their versions of the Yes Lock for a rather long time (I found it amusing that Almas didn’t really tap out to Bryan’s submission at any point). Miz imitated that he would come to save Almas, but retreated once more and left with Maryse as the babyfaces led a “Yes!” chant.
This was an entertaining episode of SmackDown, but there have been better shows recently, and though Bryan vs. Almas was enjoyable, as stated I preferred their bout from last week. So, this was worth a watch, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to see it.