Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/08/29/wwe-smackdown-review-analysis-08-28-2018/.)
The big talking point on the blue brand at the moment concerns Becky Lynch, and how WWE may be adapting her character following a presumed heel turn to reflect the fact that fans are not only unwilling to boo her, but are behind her more than ever before. In addition, we had the announcement of an AJ Styles-Samoa Joe rematch for Hell In A Cell over the weekend, and a Charlotte Flair-Carmella rematch for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, making this an intriguing episode to check out.
The New Day Segment
Opening proceedings were The New Day to celebrate their SmackDown Tag Team Championship win from last week, even bringing out a replica Stanley Cup trophy in front of the Toronto crowd. After the usual banter, they were about to note that they were now five-time champions, which instigated an appearance by wrestling’s most famous five-time champion, Booker T in his King Booker guise (or KING BOOKA!). Receiving a huge pop, the King brought back his deliberately daft English accent from his memorable 2006-2007 run before anointing the New Day members with royal titles. All except Big E (whose facials had the crowd laughing, as usual), because Booker explained that he was already “Big”. After a dispute over Big E accusing Booker of speaking like Byron Saxton, it all ended with the four celebrating together, and even taking turns to unleash Spinaroonies. A fun little way to get things under way, then.
The Bar vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. The Colons
New Day stuck around to commentate on this match (with their own orange announcer’s table), though we only heard occasional comments from the new champions. The bout in question also saw Primo and Epico make their first televised appearance in ages, though it didn’t lead to a victory: after they had taken out Karl Anderson, Sheamus attacked Epico and then Brogue Kicked Primo at ringside, allowing Cesaro to sneak in and take the win. Next week, we’ve got The Usos vs. Rusev Day vs. Sanity in another three-way bout, with the winners facing The Bar two weeks from now to earn a title shot against New Day at Hell In A Cell. Phew!
Jeff Hardy Promo
With the letters RKO included on his face paint, Jeff Hardy came out to proclaim that he wasn’t yet finished with Randy Orton, having taken him out last week with a Swanton Bomb. This led to Orton himself showing his face, and noting that he wouldn’t be finished himself with Jeff until he had left him in a heap of broken bones. But Jeff was prepared to take things further, and so he challenged Randy to a Hell In A Cell match at the September 16 PPV. Hardy has mentioned on several occasions that having a Cell match is a career goal for him, so it’s cool that he’ll finally get to make it happen in a few weeks. That being said, it’s a match that fans will be watching through their fingers, given the likelihood of a Swanton Bomb off the cage itself.
Carmella spoke backstage about her plans to regain the SmackDown Women’s Championship in the main event (just think, a women’s match had never main evented SmackDown before 2017, and now we’ve had two Charlotte-Carmella main events in a month), before R-Truth entered the scene, still looking for Carmella despite Tye Dillinger’s attempts to convince him that he is, well, out of his mind.
Naomi vs. Billie Kay
A week ago, Peyton Royce picked up a quick win over Naomi. This week, Billie Kay managed to score an even quicker victory, coming at little more than 90 seconds, though once again it took interference from the non-wrestling IIconic to achieve that outcome. This mini-feud isn’t receiving a lot of air time, but with Evolution on the horizon, there’s a decent chance that this leads to some sort of tag team match at that PPV, though Naomi’s choice of partner is a mystery right now (especially since she has ended her friendship of Lana on Twitter because she went to see Beyonce in concert without telling her).
Daniel Bryan-Brie Bella Promo
Next up, we had Mr. and Mrs Daniel Bryan to discuss their upcoming mixed tag match with The Miz and Maryse at Hell In A Cell. But they were interrupted by another on-screen couple, Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega. It didn’t take long for us to get to the fighting talk, and a resultant match between Bryan and Almas, their first ever meeting at that.
Daniel Bryan vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
With Miz and Maryse watching backstage (while sporting his long-sleeved 2011 shirt, no less), there was a high likelihood of this bout ending with interference, and so it proved with Miz attacking Bryan and Maryse pummelling Brie, leading to all four heels attacking the two babyfaces in a post-match beatdown. Before then, though, we were treated to a great little match between Bryan and Almas: this was one of Daniel’s best bouts since his return from retirement, and Almas has looked pretty damn good on SmackDown when given the opportunity to demonstrate the skills that he regularly showed off in NXT. Almas losing on a DQ prevented him from a stature-impacting submission defeat, and him and Vega standing alongside Miz and Maryse might lead to an interesting on-screen alliance in the coming weeks.
Backstage, Charlotte discussed her side of the Becky Lynch story for the first time. In a nutshell, she’s not happy about Lynch blaming her for the fact that she simply couldn’t get the job done on her own, before vowing to defeat Carmella later on.
AJ Styles Promo
The WWE Champion has been a target of Samoa Joe’s wrath, with the number one contender taking things personal by slating Styles as a husband and a father, as well as implying that he is in contact with AJ’s wife Wendy. And the, erm, fun and games continued here: as Styles stood in the ring, Joe stood in the parking lot and supposedly called AJ’s wife, adding that he’d be happy to show up at their youngest daughter’s barbecue next week. A livid Styles ran backstage looking for Joe, but he had already taken off. What a villain!
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Charlotte Flair (C) vs. Carmella
This was Carmella’s big rematch for the title she had held for over four months. That it didn’t receive much publicity or attention from the crowd suggested that her attempt to become champion once again would be futile. And that proved to be the case, though not before she gave a good account of herself: like Jinder Mahal last year, Carmella’s best performances have been at the end of and after her title reign. As well as another well-executed dive to the floor, Carmella took a page out of Trish Stratus’ playbook with a hurricanrana from the top. But it all wasn’t enough to unseat Charlotte as champ, who secured the submission win with a Figure-Eight. Afterwards, Becky Lynch attacked Charlotte and announced “At Hell In A Cell, I’m taking back my title, you bitch!” Becky was once again wildly cheered, and the announcers didn’t necessarily criticise Becky’s actions in the manner that they had done previously, so WWE is still not entirely committing to a full-on heel turn for Becky. This will be cool to keep an eye on.
And that goes for SmackDown as a whole. I’ve noticed that the blue brand doesn’t necessarily hit it out of the peak in terms of show quality, but everything flows nicely, the storylines are mostly logical, and the performers are showcased in such a manner that they don’t become stale and you want to see more of them. Here, Bryan vs. Almas was awesome, and the other major segments all served their purpose. With three big shows on the horizon, there’s a lot to keep up with, but SmackDown is ensuring that on the blue brand side of things, this isn’t a problem. Good stuff again here.