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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (July 31, 2018): Encroachment

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WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (July 31) from the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. You can find all the results at the live blog to end all live blogs here.

Encroachment

Last night when watching Raw, I said in the Cageside offices that I think Seth Rollins is the #1 male babyface in the WWE right now.

I used the “male” qualifier because Becky Lynch takes the overall prize.

Becky opened the show being interviewed in the ring by the best backstage announcer in the biz-i-ness today, Renee Young. Lynch is just a fantastic babyface promo. Put a microphone in her face, and she’ll sell the story, and more importantly, the emotion of that story. She may not be able to turn a phrase like the Rock, but her passion in what she says shines through. We feel the struggle as she feels it and we feel the triumph as she feels it.

Carmella came to the ring with her sincere face on. She spoke about how she always looked up to Becky back to their time in NXT and how no matter how hard she works, there are some out there (fans and legends alike) who claim she doesn’t deserve her spot. These were likely real feelings from the champ.

Of course, she was full of shit. She offered to shake her challenger’s hand, but Becky was too smart for it. Carmella had a plan B though.

James Ellsworth music played. The man didn’t come out, but it was enough to distract the Lass Kicker for Carmella to attack Bex from behind.

Carm was really good here, though they’ve been going to the “heel acts sincere but they’re still a heel” well very often as of late. Hell, it wasn’t that long since they did that with Carmella. That’s not something they can overuse and we’re reaching that point.

The champ was about to drop Becky with a DDT on the chair when Charlotte Flair made the save for her friend.

That was enough to get Charlotte the same opportunity that Becky had last week, despite doing nothing to earn it. She was given the right to face Mella and a victory would add her into the SummerSlam title match.

In a match where the Queen seemed to knocking off a bit of ring rust early, Charlotte eventually tapped Carmella to get added to the SummerSlam match.

Becky Lynch was watching backstage on the monitor and was NOT pleased with this result. No smile for her friend returning and encroaching on her opportunity on the same night.

At first, I wasn’t looking forward to making this a triple threat. I want to see the story about Becky Lynch finally overcoming and winning the title. And those stories are better set in a one on one format.

But this opens more avenues. If Charlotte wins at SummerSlam, that would really give Becky a challenge to overcome to win the title if they go that way. As long as Becky’s frustration doesn’t lead to a heel turn. She’s just too damn good a babyface for that.


Fight vs. Fame

Daniel Bryan and Miz had a promo segment that was superb.

Miz wasn’t even there. He was “on set” from Miz & Mrs. But that made it even better as it added to the story, showing Miz didn’t care enough to confront Bryan.

Miz believes he’s above Daniel Bryan. He has no desire to fight the Beard. In fact, he wants Bryan to stop riding his coattails because in his eyes, he’s the only reason Bryan is still relevant. Miz is a great promo who gets fired up when he needs to and plays condescending when he needs to.

Bryan just wants to fight. He doesn’t care about the flash or the fame. He goes back to calling Miz “soft” and “ a coward” (which fires up his antagonist). Bryan’s promos aren’t as long as Miz’s. He’s short and to the point, but has the same conviction. These are men who are completely different but their histories are intertwined.

And that’s what I love the most about this feud.

This is an epic rivalry that you don’t see often in WWE. Usually “epic rivalry” means they run Orton vs. Cena a thousand times. But they never did that with this feud, possibly because they never really saw it as epic until now.

But the beats are there. Bryan came into WWE as Miz’s “rookie” on the game show version of NXT. Bryan won his first title by beating the Miz for the US championship. Of course there’s the infamous Talking Smack segment and since then Miz kept it alive by using Bryan’s kicks in his matches, despite DB not being cleared.

Now we’re finally going to get it on a big stage in Brooklyn. That’s as long as Miz accepts. He will. And we’ll probably get a couple more great promo segments before we get to SummerSlam.


Poor Jeff Hardy

The Charismatic Enigma walked to the ring last night and cut a quick Jeff Hardy promo where he spoke about his fifth eye. Basically, he was calling out Randy Orton.

The Viper responded but before he could do anything, Nakamura attacked Hardy from behind with a low blow. He went to deliver the Kinshasa and Orton got in his face... and then let Shinsuke do it.

Watching these two try to out bastard each other is great.

After Nakamura took his leave, Orton went on the attack. Stomps. DDTs. But no RKO. It’s too much of a fan favorite, and Randy knows it.

In the end, he ripped his Hardy Boyz necklace and then wiped his face paint off, attacking his persona after attacking his body. It was just wiping off face paint but Orton made it feel so personal.

Orton is so great when he’s like that. And crazy Shinsuke doing his thing makes it great entertainment... for everyone except for Jeff Hardy.


All the rest:

Family Man: Joe cut a promo (something he is very good at) claiming that AJ Styles is a good champion but at the sacrifice of his family. He claimed AJ feels more comfortable on the road than with his family.

It’s an odd angle to take. We kind of know Styles is a family man but it’s never really brought up on TV. And really, isn’t Joe on the road as much as Styles? They work the same shows. If Joe isn’t away from home as much as AJ, it’s because he’s always hurt.

It will fire up AJ and make the feud a bit more personal though, and that will help its build.

Tranquilo: Zelina Vega picked up a win over Lana in a match set up by a week of Twitter battling. Vega is brimming with charisma but the match itself never fully clicked. It often seemed to be running at half speed.

In the end, when Andrade “Cien” Almas jumped on the apron to distract Lana, Aiden English ran to the ring and pulled him off. But Lana still lost. It wasn’t clear if this distracted her but she lost either way and Rusev Day is still struggling.

Tag Tourney: The Bar defeated the Usos to advance to the finals of the tag title tournament. They gave this match plenty of time (three segments) and they made the most of it. These are two of the best main roster teams right now so of course they’d tear it up.


Another solid showing for the blue brand.

Grade; B+

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