Live from Evansville, Indiana, this is Smackdown Live for episode #987. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
Smackdown began with a limo pulling up to the arena. The Miz walked out with his lovely wife Maryse and had their daughter Monroe with them. There’s a Miz and Mrs. Premiere Party on Smackdown this week.
Analysis: That’s the official live debut of Monroe on WWE TV, so welcome her to the crazy world of WWE.
Let’s Hear From Randy Orton
Randy Orton made his entrance. He was in his wrestling gear with the announcers talking about his actions in the last couple of weeks. A video package aired of Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy for the US Title last week with Orton attacking Hardy with a vicious attack that included pulling on the ear hole on Hardy’s earlobe. The video lasted about two minutes.
Orton stood in the ring with the fans booing him for his actions. Orton said he’s heard the theories from people about why he attacked Hardy like his history with Jeff Hardy from a decade ago or the Smackdown top ten list, which he claims never bothered him. Orton told the fans to look in the mirror. Orton said he busted his ass for 16 years. Orton pointed out that nobody is around now that was around then. Orton said the superstars of today eat at the table that he set for them. Orton whined about how he doesn’t get the respect that he deserves and wondered if it was because he didn’t paint his body, change his merch every month, show up only in the spring for WrestleMania or jump off cages.
Orton said that he is not some indy darling that came from bingo halls and he didn’t steal a hand gesture (he did the “too sweet”). Orton said that he accomplished everything there is to accomplish in this business. Orton noted that he realized who the true Legend Killer is…it is each and every one of you fans. Orton said that now he is THE Legend and he’s going to destroy every superstar that we put up on a pedestal starting with Jeff Hardy. Orton said that’s why Jeff isn’t there and when Orton is finished with him, Jeff won’t ever be back. Orton said he gets to write Jeff Hardy’s final chapter.
Orton said that you can call him the Apex Predator, Viper, Legend Killer, but you only need to refer to him as the three most destructive letters in wrestling…R…K and the fans chanted “O” so he dropped the microphone and left.
Analysis: I thought that was excellent. It was a typical heel promo blaming his turn on the fans, but I thought it made a lot of sense from his perspective. We want our heels to be confident in what they say and that’s what Orton was. Orton isn’t known for doing the monologue style promo, but he did a great job talking about his history in WWE, how he’s a legend and he’s there to take out the people that the fans like. I liked this promo a lot. Well done, Randy.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown on camera welcoming us to the show. They went to break there.
PLUG TIME: I wrote an article for The Comeback about WWE women’s Evolution PPV that was announced on Raw. The article has five thoughts including Ronda Rousey’s role, the announce team, the name of the show and more. Please check it out.
Still to come on Smackdown is a contract signing with Paige moderating it to find out who AJ Styles will face for the WWE Title at SummerSlam.
A video package aired about the WWE Evolution PPV featuring the women’s wrestlers that was announced on Raw.
Rusev made his entrance with his ravishing Russian wife Lana by his side. It was set up after some bickering backstage by Lana and Zelina Vega. Women bickering? That never happens! No sign of Aiden English.
Andrade “Cien” Almas entered with his business manager Zelina Vega.
Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Rusev (w/Lana)
The fans chanted “Rusev Day” as the match began. Shoulder tackle by Rusev as he showed off his power early on. Rusev sent Almas into the ropes leading to Almas and Vega doing the tranquilo pose by the ropes. Rusev blocked a kick and hit a clothesline. Suplex by Rusev. Rusev posed in the corner as Lana led the crowd in a “Rusev Day” chant leading to a break.
The match returned with both men slugging it out. Rusev connected with two kicks to the chest. Rusev with a running shoulder tackle to the ribs followed by a spin kick. The crowd was cheering. Almas with a boot to the jaw, Rusev with a knee to the ribs and a roundhouse kick by Rusev got a two count. Vega was freaking out at ringside trying to encourage Almas. Rusev went for the Machka Kick, Almas avoided it, slap to the chest by Almas and Rusev hit him with forearms. Almas with a running boot to the face. Spinning back elbow by Almas. Rusev got back up and hit a charging Almas with a Machka Kick. Lana and Vega got into an argument on the floor, so Vega slapped her and Lana came back with a tackle. Aiden English went down to the ring to pull Lana off. Vega jumped on English’s back and he accidentally knocked down Lana. Rusev was distracted by that. Almas with a forearm to the back of Rusev and Almas with a Hammerlock DDT for the pinfall win after about 9 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Andrade “Cien” Almas
Analysis: **3/4 Good match with a creative ending that plays into the storyline. The last minute featured the cheap ending with the women getting into it and English accidentally costing Rusev. I expected that to happen. The loss really didn’t hurt Rusev because he was distracted. I’m happy with Almas winning because it helps him to win over a fellow upper midcard wrestler. These guys had good chemistry with the crowd into the match, so that’s nice to see.
After the match was over, Almas and Vega left celebrating. Rusev and Lana were frustrated by the actions of English, who tried to explain it was just an accident.
Analysis: I don’t like the ending of Rusev and English, but it makes sense with Rusev getting cheered so much.
R-Truth was in the locker room talking about how he’s going to have his first match since WrestleMania and it’s against Samoa Joe. Tye Dillinger was there with him. Dillinger tried to pump him up. Truth said he’ll show Joe what’s up.
There was a shot backstage of Aiden English and Lana with Rusev standing by. It sounds like Lana has dumped the fake Russian accent. Rusev yelled at them to shut up and said maybe neither of them should be with him on Rusev Day. He left.
R-Truth made his entrance doing the “What’s Up” song. It’s been a long time since he has had a match on television and like he said backstage, it’s his first match since WrestleMania. They let him do his whole rap.
Samoa Joe made his entrance looking intense as always. The fans chant “Joe” during his song. A clip aired of Joe beating Tye Dillinger easily last week.
Samoa Joe vs. R-Truth
Joe attacked, Truth slipped out and hit a leaping kick. Truth with a running splash against the ropes followed by a flying forearm smash. The crowd was into it. Joe avoided a Scissors Kick, Truth charged and Joe hit a uranage slam. Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch and Truth tapped out for the loss. The match went about one minute.
Winner by submission: Samoa Joe
Analysis: 1/4* Easy win for Joe as you would expect. Truth looks to be in great shape for a guy that’s 46 years old, but I don’t expect him to win many more meaningful matches at this point in his career.
There’s a four team tournament for a shot at the Tag Team Titles, so it’s The New Day vs. Sanity later on the show.
Asuka was interviewed in front of a screen with the WWE Evolution logo on the screen. Asuka said she’s so excited and she’s ready. Asuka said tonight Billie Kay is not ready for Asuka. That’s up next.
A commercial aired for the Total Bellas season finale with Nikki crying about something. It feels like somebody is crying in every preview clip of this show.
Asuka made her entrance for her match. There was a plug for the Bella Twins as guests on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday.
Billie Kay made her entrance with her best friend Peyton Royce. A cell phone promo aired from Billie and Peyton from before the match with them talking about the WWE Evolution show while claiming they are better than Asuka.
Asuka vs. Billie Kay (w/Peyton Royce)
Kay with a suplex on Asuka after a distraction from Royce. Kay did some trash talking, so Asuka fired up with a running dropkick and a knee to the face. Asuka with a running knee on Kay for a two count. Asuka with a waist lock, Kay went for a kick, Asuka kicked her in the head and a spin kick. Asuka with a roundhouse kick on Kay for the pinfall win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Asuka
Analysis: 1/2* Asuka dominated after Kay got in a bit of offense early in the match. I think this was done to give Asuka some momentum after failing to win the Smackdown Women’s Title from Carmella. It sucks for Kay, but Asuka needed the win.
Shinsuke Nakamura did a cell phone promo about how Jeff Hardy was so close to beating him, but Nakamura is still the US Champion. Nakamura mocked Hardy’s ear injury at the hands of Randy Orton.
Still to come: Becky Lynch vs. Carmella. Up next is the reveal of next WWE Title contender to face AJ Styles at SummerSlam.
There was a clip of Miz, Maryse and Monroe posing for photos in front of a screen.
Contract Signing for WWE Title Match at SummerSlam
Paige, the lovely Smackdown General Manager, was in the ring with a contract on a table.
Paige said she loves being the GM of Smackdown Live. She said she’s excited about her girls on Smackdown Live stealing the show at the all-women’s PPV Evolution. Paige mentioned she gets to see Hall of Famers like Trish Stratus and Lita with over 50 women from past, present and future all in one show. The fans cheered.
Paige talked about SummerSlam while noting it was time to announce the challenger for the WWE Championship. Paige introduced the WWE Champion AJ Styles.
AJ Styles made his entrance with his “Run This Place” shirt and the WWE Title around his waist. Styles’ run as WWE Champion has lasted 259 days. Thanks to Tom Phillips for that number. Styles walked down to the ring and he got a big ovation from the crowd. When Styles got in the ring, the fans greeted him with “AJ Styles” chants. That’s great to hear.
Styles told the fans that they are awesome. Styles said that he’s a husband, he’s a father and when he heard Stephanie McMahon mention the all-women’s WWE Evolution PPV, he thought of his little girl. He said his daughter can accomplish anything in this world. Styles said it was another reason to be proud of the company he works for. Styles talked about how he was ready to find out who his opponent will be at SummerSlam.
Analysis: Just like on Raw, it seems like most people on Smackdown are being told to talk about the Evolution PPV. I’m sure that will annoy some people, but it’s easy to understand why they are doing it after Monday’s big announcement.
Paige said that AJ’s opponent is going to be…she called for a drum roll…and the music of James Ellsworth interrupted.
Ellsworth did a promo saying that Mella is Money, but Ellsworth is Exquisite. Ellsworth said the real reason he came back to WWE is that title. Ellsworth pointed out that he beat Styles three times and he claimed that they say a fourth time’s a charm, which led to Styles saying nobody says that. Ellsworth said they will say that after he beats Styles. Ellsworth said that he’s going to make it quick at SummerSlam and he’ll be the new champion.
Paige left the ring. She told Ellsworth to stop it. She called Ellsworth a joke. Ellsworth called Paige the joke and said that they can’t even understand what she says half the time. Ellsworth laughed at the way she looks. Paige said they don’t make fun of people there. Ellsworth said she’s as pale as a ghost. She walked up to him and said she’s got two words for him: “You’re Fired!” She told security to get him out of there. The security guys carried Ellsworth out of there. Paige walked to the back with Ellsworth and security.
Styles was left alone in the ring. Fans chanted “AJ Styles” again.
Paige was shown backstage with the security guys and Ellsworth. They kicked Ellsworth out of building by sending him through a door with an Exit sign above it.
Analysis: That’s likely the end of Ellsworth in his second run in WWE. He did not have a contract this time. It was a per appearance deal, so that angle likely means that they don’t plan to bring him back again.
Back in the ring, Samoa Joe attacked Styles from behind. Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch on Styles in the middle of the ring. Styles was knocked out in the ring. Joe walked over to the contract and signed it. Joe left up the ramp saying “tick tock” to Styles as if to say time is running out.
Analysis: That’s the match that I wanted. It was obvious Styles was going to be attacked when Paige left the ring. Joe has been on a winning streak of late even though he was left off the Extreme Rules PPV. It makes sense to do Styles vs. Joe, which is a long time rivalry in TNA/Impact, but we haven’t seen it in a WWE ring yet. I think SummerSlam is a great place for it. There’s a very good chance that Joe leaves with the WWE Title at SummerSlam as well.
A replay was shown of Joe’s attack on Styles.
Samoa Joe was backstage and Paige went up to him. She said she picked him, but she didn’t expect that. Joe said that what she planned wasn’t something he liked, but what he did was phenomenal and he did a Styles pose.
Analysis: That shows that Paige’s choice was Samoa Joe, so Joe just took it upon himself to do a sneak attack.
Carmella showed up to confront Paige about how power has gone to her head since she fired Ellsworth. Paige called him Carmella’s boyfriend, which Carmella didn’t like. Carmella bragged about beating Charlotte Flair and Asuka and how she’s going to beat Becky Lynch right now.
Becky Lynch made her entrance. The crowd loved her like they do every week. Carmella made her fabulous entrance with the Smackdown Women’s Title around her waist.
Carmella vs. Becky Lynch
This is not for Carmella’s Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Lynch was aggressive early, Carmella came back with a forearm to the face. Lynch ran the ropes and connected with a running forearm. Carmella to the floor, so Lynch jumped off the apron with a punch to knock Carmella down. They went back in the ring briefly, Carmella to the floor, Lynch went after her and Carmella whipped Lynch into the barricade as the show went to a break.
Back from break, Carmella did her usual trash talking routine. Lynch came back with a leaping kick to the head. The women got into a slugfest, Lynch with a clothesline, uppercut and Carmella came back with a Flatliner for a two count. Good move. Lynch blocked a DDT attempt and hit a Bexploder suplex. Lynch up top, but Carmella hit the ropes to knock her down. Carmella with a headscissors to take her down. Carmella was bleeding from a tooth. Lynch went for the arm, Carmella shoved her into the turnbuckle and Carmella got a rollup for two with her feet on the ropes. Lynch came back with an enziguri kick to knock down Carmella. Lynch up top, she went for a leg drop, Carmella moved and Carmella kicked Lynch for a two count. Lynch slapped on a Disarmer submission on the left arm and Carmella tapped out to give Lynch the submission win. The match went 7 minutes.
Winner by submission: Becky Lynch
The win by Lynch means she will challenge Carmella for the SD Women’s Title at SummerSlam.
Analysis: ** The match was okay with a predictable outcome. If it was up to me I wouldn’t have the champ lose non-title to set up a title match, but this is how WWE likes to set up these matches. Carmella got a few nearfalls where it looked like she might win, but I think it was obvious that Lynch was going to win. It would have been nice to have Lynch work on the arm a bit more to set up the submission. That’s just a minor complaint. It’s a quick match, so they likely wanted to have Carmella get in some offense to make her look credible. I think it’s very possible that Lynch becomes SD Women’s Champion at SummerSlam. I’m ready for a title change.
Lynch celebrated the big win with the crowd cheering her on. Graves was making excuses about Carmella’s lose because he thought she won on a nearfall, but the replay showed she did not.
Still to come is a Miz and Mrs. premiere party that will be in the main event slot.
Harper and Rowan did a promo about how four teams will fight, but it doesn’t matter who wins. They said the same fate awaits the winner: a bludgeoning.
The New Day made their entrance for their match against Sanity.
The Usos were on commentary for this match. They face Cesaro and Sheamus next week in another match in this four-team tournament.
The Sanity trio made their entrance. It is one of the coolest entrances in WWE.
The New Day’s Big E and Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Sanity’s Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain (w/Eric Young)
Wolfe with a shoulder tackle on Woods and Woods came back with a forearm. One of the Usos complained about the pancakes at ringside being wet. Young with a distraction, so Wolfe hit a German Suplex on Woods. Dain tagged in with a kick on Woods. Dain put Woods on his shoulders and hit a front slam. Senton splash by Dain on Woods as the show went to break.
Back to the match, Dain set up Woods on the top rope for a superplex, but Woods fought him off. Woods hit a perfect missile dropkick off the top to take down Dain. Big E got the hot tag against Wolfe with his usual two belly to belly suplexes, followed by the side belly to belly and Young distracted during a splash attempt. Woods took out Dain on the floor. Young went up top, Kingston knocked him down and crotched him. Big E held up Wolfe and Woods jumped off the ropes with the Midnight Hour for the pinfall win after 7 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day
Analysis: **1/4 It’s time to bust out one of my favorite phrases to say “it was fine for the time given.” I say that a lot when I like a match that I consider to be short. It would be nice if they got more time, but you can’t give everything a lot of time. This match was pretty basic with Woods getting beat up for most of it, Big E getting the hot tag, Kingston taking care of Young and that led to the finish. The New Day winning makes a lot of sense to me since the Bludgeon Brothers will need some babyface opponents at SummerSlam. I think New Day will beat The Usos or The Bar next week to get the title shot at SummerSlam.
Post match, The Bar duo of Cesaro and Sheamus made their return after taking a break for several weeks. They were in matching football/soccer kits. They did a promo about how they are going to beat The Usos next week on Smackdown on their way to becoming the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
Analysis: Good to see The Bar back. I enjoy their matches a lot. They were given over a month off. There were rumors of having visa issues, but I don’t know if that’s true. I think it’s just a case of giving guys a month or so off to rest their bodies since they have worked non-stop full time schedules for several years. Since they had no storyline, it was fine to give them a break.
The Miz, Maryse and baby Monroe were backstage with Paige. Miz said he wanted a babysitter. Sin Cara walked up to them. Miz complained about not wanting a babysitter with a mask. Miz said it’s time introduce Monroe to the WWE Universe. He left with Maryse and Monroe while Sin Cara held up diapers saying he tried.
A commercial aired for Raw hyping Ronda Rousey returning to Raw and Brock Lesnar returning to Raw in Miami.
The Miz and Mrs. Premier Party
The Miz made his entrance with his lovely wife Maryse along with their newborn baby Monroe Sky. This was done to plug Miz and Mrs. premiering on USA Network after Smackdown. There’s a red carpet in the ring. Miz carried Monroe in a baby holder.
The Miz welcomed us to The Miz and Mrs. Premier Party. He said that last week we mourned the loss of Team Hell No, but this week we celebrated Maryse and himself. Miz said he’s been lucky to share his life with the most radiant woman in the world, mother of the century Maryse.
Maryse thanked Miz. Maryse said that the women’s evolution started with her. She said her evolution keeps going because right after Smackdown, Miz and Mrs. will premier. Miz said that everybody is in for a special treat because Maryse is here and the 2018 Celebrity Softball MVP The Miz is here and please welcome his lovely infant daughter that has done more in her short life than Daniel Bryan in his return. He said please give it up for Monroe Sky. Fans chanted “Monroe Sky” for her. Miz said that the mere mention of Daniel Bryan put Monroe to dream land. The fans booed. Miz said it’s time to show a sneak peek of Miz and Mrs.
A video aired hyping up Miz and Mrs. that premieres after Smackdown showing highlights of their careers although it was more like lowlights of their careers.
Daniel Bryan appeared on the video screen. Bryan said he didn’t know what happened there and he didn’t know what Kerwin was doing in the truck. Bryan said he’s sorry, but he should be out there at the party and apologize to him in person.
Daniel Bryan entered the arena with the crowd chanting “yes” for him. There were two A-List Security guards at ringside, who Bryan tried to plead with and Bryan decked them with forearms. Bryan tossed them into the barricades at ringside. Saxton correctly said that Miz should have hired more security.
Bryan entered the ring. Miz threw the baby at him, but it was a fake. Bryan caught the baby. Miz kicked him and hit the Skull Crushing Finale. Bryan sold it like it was the deadliest move ever.
Miz did a promo saying that the baby he had backstage was an actor. Miz said there was no way he would bring his baby to a city like this. Miz said if you want to see the baby you can tune in to Miz and Mrs. on USA Network because it’s going to be awesome.
There was a replay of Miz tossing the baby doll to Bryan and Miz hitting the Skull Crushing Finale on Bryan.
The Miz and Maryse left to their song. Graves was really excited about Miz and Maryse. Bryan was shown in the ring looking angry at Miz while Miz and Maryse smiled on the stage. That ended Smackdown.
Analysis: It was obvious that it was a fake baby from the moment Miz got out there. They weren’t going to take a real baby out to the ring because you never know what might happen. Plus, it was a heelish thing to do to throw a fake baby at Bryan and then deck him with a kick followed by the Skull Crushing Finale. I thought it worked well as an angle, but this didn’t feel like a main event segment. It was more of a mid-show angle on a Smackdown without a real main event. However, WWE wanted to promote Miz and Mrs., so they decided to put in the main event spot. Quality promo work from The Miz as usual. The crowd hated him like always. It also gave Miz the advantage for this week.
I’m ready for Miz and Bryan at SummerSlam. That’s obviously the direction they are going in after last week and this week. They will probably get a chance to deliver some memorable promos over the next month to build up the match some more.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Randy Orton
2. Andrade “Cien” Almas
3. (tie) Samoa Joe
3. (tie) Rusev
6 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2018 Average: 6.42
Last 5 Weeks: 7.5, 7, 7, 6, 6.5
2018 High: 8 (April 10, May 29)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2, January 9)
Smackdown gets a 6 out of 10 this week.
I think this week’s Smackdown was a step back after the last three weeks where I gave the show a 7 out of 10 or higher. The angle advancement was good most of the night, but in ring was lacking. It was one of the weaker main event segments because we are used to a quality match there, so just getting an average promo segment is a bit of a disappointment. Randy Orton’s opening heel promo was my favorite part of the show.
The next WWE PPV is SummerSlam on August 19 in Brooklyn, NY. Here’s the lineup so far.
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
For the Money in the Bank Contract: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch
They will likely add The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan soon. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy seems likely too. The Smackdown Tag Team Titles will be defended as well. There will be more to come in the weeks ahead.
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