Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/08/22/wwe-smackdown-review-analysis-08-21-2018/.)
SummerSlam is now behind us, although for SmackDown, it feels like that PPV simply advanced rather than concluded the show’s biggest rivalries. Therefore, the stage was set for this week’s episode of SD, along with the hype being that this was a “special edition” due to the promise of two fairly big matches and explanatory promos from both AJ Styles and the newly-heel Becky Lynch.
The Miz-Maryse Promo
Opening things up were The Miz and Maryse, the latter comforting the former as he delivered a tearful (and priceless) parody of Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech from
2016, noting that “I am officially retired … from facing Daniel Bryan!” As it turned out, at Paige’s behest, Miz would set a new record for the shortest wrestling retirement ever: after Daniel Bryan came out and called him a coward, Maryse responded by referring to him as “Daniel Bella” (hey, Mike Kanellis didn’t mind using Maria’s surname). Cue Brie Bella to punch Miz in the face, as she and Daniel chased Miz and Maryse away, with the word coming from Paige’s office that it would be Daniel/Brie vs. Miz and Maryse at Hell In A Cell. Miz and Maryse argued their case backstage with Paige, but she was having none of it, as the implication seems that the “It-Couple” are digging a bigger hole for themselves with the SmackDown GM.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
This was the presumed culmination of weeks of attacks and verbal berations by Orton (whose entrance was greeted by the inevitable ” I shook Randy’s hand” sign), though
it ultimately proved to be only the next step of their feud. With Orton again reaching down to his most vicious levels by slipping his finger in the hole for Hardy’s ear piercings, Jeff snapped: battling back, he booted Randy in the balls to take the DQ loss and continued attacking him afterwards. The beating only ended with another signature Jeff moment, as he sent Orton through a table following a Swanton Bomb off a conveniently-placed crate of lighting equipment by the crowd. I would suggest that we’ll get a rematch at HIAC, but given the ongoing investigation into (one of many) Orton-related incidents dating back several years, this could have been the way for WWE to write Randy off television for now.
Naomi vs. Peyton Royce
Though Becky Lynch has recently been cast back to the forefront of fans’ minds, Naomi is still waiting for her chance following an Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal victory at WrestleMania 34. At least she made it onto TV this week, albeit in a losing effort to Peyton Royce following interference from Billie Kay. There wasn’t much to this bout, other than Naomi slamming Billie’s head right into the LED ring post which was sold very well by Kay. I’m assuming we’ll get a rematch next week, and it’s possible that Naomi receives some assistance to tackle the IIconics, especially with Evolution now being a little over two months away.
Becky Lynch Promo
After Charlotte Flair captured the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam, Becky Lynch attacked her so-called bestie, and despite it clearly marking a heel turn,
the Brooklyn fans were hugely behind Becky, and it’s no wonder: Becky Balboa, though a former titleholder herself, hasn’t had a one-on-one title match in aeons, whereas Charlotte has received plenty, and was slotted into what had been Lynch’s big moment. Becky’s promo here got across those feelings, as well as trying to garner boos from the fans who are backing her regardless. Having heard enough, Charlotte (who was booed again) attacked Becky, leading to a pull-apart brawl separated by the others on SD’s women’s roster (including poor Asuka). Charlotte vs. Becky looks to be a fun direction for WWE to go into, but they may wish to re-evaluate who should be the face and who should be the heel, and not just because fans are rabidly behind Lynch right now. If Charlotte ultimately wins this feud, and does eventually become the lady chosen to defeat Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 35 (having already terminated Asuka’s winning streak at WM 34), and with the Flair surname to boot, can the company really expect Charlotte to be considered the hero by fans as a result? Besides, Charlotte was an awesome heel during her own (long-forgotten) PPV undefeated run.
Rusev & Lana vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega
This was a straight-up rematch from the SummerSlam Kick-Off Show, and it was not much different in terms of content, making it less than memorable. The one major talking point, though, concerned Aiden English: having failed in recent weeks to help Rusev and Lana, in a sense of actually costing them matches they may have otherwise won, he came up trumps here by snatching a steel chair away from Almas, leading to a Machka Kick and an Accolade submission win for Rusev. Afterwards, Rusev and Lana seemed very pleased with Aiden’s assistance. Has he finally received their full forgiveness, meaning that Rusev Day will remain alive and well, or is this a red herring for the eventual heel turn by Aiden? (I know I’m being cynical, but this is WWE, remember.)
AJ Styles Promo
Here was AJ Styles’ chance to explain his beatdown of Samoa Joe to conclude and following their SummerSlam battle (not that it was required; the personal nature of Joe’s psychological warfare was clear as day). It made me laugh that AJ would make a promise to the fans and then vow to literally rip out Samoa Joe’s heart (which certainly won’t be happening). Declaring that Joe would have hell to pay if he dared mention his family name, Joe proved to be one step ahead of AJ by immediately attacking him and pummelling him by the interview stand near the aisle. Joe looked chilling as he screamed “HELLO WENDY!” right down the camera. Yep, this feud is continuing, and I am certainly not complaining about that.
Backstage, Paige granted Carmella a rematch with Charlotte Flair next week for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, but not before R-Truth again challenged Carmella,
still believing he would get a title match by defeating her. Truth is brilliant at playing the bewildered character whose nonsensical beliefs make perfect sense to him and nobody else.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship No Disqualification Match
The Bludgeon Brothers (C) vs. The New Day
This was announced during a short promo video aired in the middle of SummerSlam, bur rumours of a biceps injury for Rowan suggested that we might just get a title change here. I had actually forgotten that it was No DQ until Harper hurled a swivel chair at Kofi Kingston’s head at ringside. The action was fought at a fast and furious pace, with none of the four combatants letting up at any point. Kofi and Xavier Woods introduced a ladder, though it came to their detriment when Kingston took a very painful Crucifix Bomb onto said prop. That he kicked out of this previously-devastating move was another sign of a potential title switch, and sure enough, after New Day enabled Rowan to ram himself into a barricade, Kofi walloped Harper with a mallet, drilled him with Trouble In Paradise and set him up for Woods’ Roaring Elbow through a table to give New Day the gold (well, silver). Big E (who sat out due to an apparent rib injury) celebrated with his comrades to close the show, and with New Day having given the Bludgeons the best two bouts of their title reign, as well as now being five-time champs, they stand alongside The Usos as the best WWE
combos of the current generation.
This was another entertaining edition of SmackDown, who have found the consistency that served them well during the pre-Jinder Mahal period. AJ vs. Joe will continue, Bryan vs. Miz has extended its shelf life with Brie and Maryse properly brought into the conflict, Charlotte vs. Becky will be interesting to observe and New Day capturing the SD Tag straps brings an end to a fairly dull title reign for The Bludgeons. With The Bar vs. Gallows & Anderson (apparently to determine New Day’s next opponents) and Charlotte vs. Carmella set for next week, as well as a follow-up to Samoa Joe’s latest beatdown of AJ Styles, it’s looking like a fun time to be a fan of SmackDown.