WWE Super Showdown is now consigned to the history books. Homecoming hero Mansoor Al-Shehail knocked off 49 other superstars to win the Battle Royal. Respective Raw and Smackdown champs Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston both left Saudi Arabia battered and bruised but with their titles intact. The Beast Brock Lesnar left licking his wounds and plotting his next move, after being foiled in his attempt to cash in on the wily Rollins. And The Undertaker and Goldberg, well, the less said about that the better.
With a quick turnaround to WWEs next PPV (in less than two weeks) Smackdown Live came to Sacremento, the blue brand looking to build feuds and lock in match ups ahead of the inaugural Stomping Grounds show a week on Sunday.
The A-Lister kicked off the show bemoaning the fact that his trademark show was now being ‘scripted.’ He was forced to introduce ‘Best in the World’ Shane McMahon, flanked by Drew McIntyre and Elias. McMahon bragged about his far from clean victory over Roman Reigns at Super Showdown, and how it further cemented his moniker of best in the world. The ever-entertaining Elias played a few riffs to accompany the boasts. The Scottish Psychopath got some rare mic time to insist he was going to destroy Reigns at Stomping Grounds and was going to enjoy doing so. The Miz warned him that Shane O Mac was merely using the Scot, just as he had used him during their still unresolved feud from Wrestlemania season.
After some back and forth barbs between Miz and McMahon, the boss’ son offered the A-Lister the chance of a rematch, with the proviso that he beat McIntyre and Elias first, setting up a Gauntlet match.
Elias vs. The Miz
The Drifter took control early on, as McMahon and McIntyre stalked ringside. He clubbed the A-Lister with some heavy blows, before giving a nod to the Undertaker with a modified ‘Old School’ walk on the ropes into a double-knee drop for the two count. The Miz fought back with a jawbreaker and a couple of running knees in the corner. Elias responded with a beautiful powerbomb but then missed with a Randy Savage-style elbow drop, allowing Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
When this match was set in the last segment, it was a cert that Miz would go over against Elias, whose less than favourable win-loss record does not harm his character or popularity. The real test for Miz to get another crack at McMahon comes in the shape of a 6’8 Scottish Psychopath in the next match.
Drew McIntyre vs. The Miz
As soon as Elias was dispatched of, McIntyre called for the bell, allowing the Miz no time to regroup. McIntyre tried to kill the tie straight away, but Miz fought back, throwing the monster Scot into the ringpost and throwing him into the barricade on the outside, showcasing his gutsy attitude, prominent since his face turn. A botched springboard off the top rope stunted his momentum, but he was able to regain composure with a DDT. McMahon distracted the popular babyface, allowing McIntyre to land a brutal headbutt, followed by the devastating Claymore Kick (is there a more resounding finisher in WWE right now?) to put paid to the Miz’ spirited attempts at getting one more shot at McMahon.
The opportunistic Shane O’ Mac sensed the chance to score a 3-0 against The Miz and announced he would ‘grant’ him a match straight away. He pounced on the decimated Miz, tapping him out for another victory.
McMahon is going over on some top superstars of late, albeit by nefarious means and with the help of his cronies. One can hope that the heat he has built will eventually result in a satisfying pay off, in that he gets his comeuppance in a big way. Either in the form of an ass-kicking from Reigns, an attack from Miz, or, though least likely, in the form of a beatdown from the used McIntyre.
Heavy Machinery vs. YOLO County Champions AJ Kirsh and Dave Dutra
Little-seen Smackdown Tag Team champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan announced they were taking on local competitors Kirsh and Dutra in a ‘unification’ of their respective titles. Heavy Machinery interrupted, stating that they deserved a shot at the Smackdown champs. Bryan agreed to give them a title opportunity if they could beat the enhancement talent, which Otis and Tucker did with ease to set up a future match with Bryan and Rowan, probably at Stomping Grounds.
Carmella vs. Sonya Deville
Carmella continued her heated dispute with best buddies Deville and Mandy Rose, which has intensified week by week since it was first conceived at Money in the Bank. ‘Mella was quick out the blocks, her frustration with the duo’s interference and costing her of title opportunities boiling to the surface as she unloaded on Deville, as Rose looked on from ringside. Deville desperately scrambled away from a relentless Carmella, allowing her to regroup and finally respond with some measured knees to the midriff. This allowed Deville a footing in the match for the first time, showing her MMA background with some neat holds and locks. A vicious running knee solidified Deville’s dominance. The Princess of Staten Island somehow managed to counter and locked on the Code of Silence, only for Rose to place her pal’s foot on the bottom rope. This forced ‘Mella to chase Rose around the ring and then dive on the pair at ringside. Back on the apron, Rose grasped Carmella’s leg and ate a superkick for her troubles. Carmella, though, ran right into a running knee from Deville, who scored the win, proving that the numbers game was too strong yet again for the former Women’s champ.
The tension is simmering nicely between Deville and Rose and a frustrated Carmella, and it’s refreshing to see the women getting a meaningful secondary programme outside of the title picture. It will be intriguing to see if Carmella can exact her revenge in the coming weeks, and whether Rose and Deville’s friendship can survive through it.
Big E Returns
New Day’s resident powerhouse was welcomed back into the fold, and he wasted little time baring hiss comedic teeth, having the WWE Universe in stitches by saying that if he had a title for every time he returned he would be called Charlotte Flair. Kingston talked of how he has fought off every attempt on his title thus far during his reign, and how Ziggler at Stomping Grounds will be no different. Right on cue The Showoff’s music hit. Ziggler said nothing new here, spewing his usual diatribe about how it should be him in the blue brand’s prominent position, and how it will be come the conclusion of their steel cage match at Stomping Grounds. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, for no reason other than they have nothing better to do at the moment, appeared on the ramp and aligned themselves with ‘poor’ Dolph Ziggler ahead of their six-man tag match later in the night.
Bayley vs. Nikki Cross (with Alexa Bliss)
The current dynamic between Bliss and Cross is a fascinating one, and their alliance is one of the more intriguing storylines on the blue brand at the moment. Bliss is manipulating her ‘protégé’ into thinking the roster, particularly Bayley, are against her. In doing so, she is grooming an ally who could prove pivotal when it comes to wrestling the title off the Hugger. Cross entered the match fired up, and took the fight straight to Bayley, unrelenting in her offence, hanging her upside down from the turnbuckle and stomping her. The champ responded with a clothesline and a splash, before executing a suplex. Brushing off the distractions from Bliss, she hit Cross with a flying elbow drop to score the three count.
The New Day vs. Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens
Ziggler and Woods locked up first in what, given the immense talent involved, promised to be a quality encounter. Ziggler hit a stiff right hand to halt a strong opening from Woods and then tagged in Zayn, who went to work on the left arm of New Day’s mouthpiece. Woods countered with a drop kick before dragging Zayn to the corner for a Unicorn Stampede. WWE Champion Kingston entered into the action, missing with a splash in the corner and falling to the floor, where he was clotheslined by Ziggler, who then tagged himself in, hitting Kofi with a stunning drop kick. The beatdown continued as Owens stepped in, methodically taking the fight to Kingston. Kofi managed to create separation with a drop kick and then made the tag to Woods, who unloaded on Zayn and then dived onto the Underdog from the Underground and Ziggler outside the ring. Tossing Zayn back in, he was prevented from diving from the top turnbuckle as Ziggler swept his legs. Owens then went to work on Woods, cutting the ring in half, keeping him from his teammates. The heels made quick tags to take turns beating ow Woods. Owens looked like he had scored the win with a mightily impressive moonsault, only for Woods to somehow kick out. He eventually made the hot tag to Big E, which elicited a huge pop from the WWE Universe. The big man flung Ziggler round the ring and then exacted a perfect belly to belly and a huge splash. Ziggler stopped him with a kick but was foiled from hitting the Famouser as Big E scooped him up. Ziggler escaped and tagged Zayn, who held Kingston as Dolph wound up a superkick. He missed and instead hit the Canadian, and Kingston then finished him off with a Trouble in Paradise.
The recently reunited complete New Day celebrated the victory, and Kofi marches on towards Stomping Ground looking stronger than ever with his squad behind him. They stood tall to close out what was an entertaining edition of Smackdown.