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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (Sept. 11, 2018): Let’s go to Hell

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WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (Sept. 11) from the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana. You can find all of the results at the live blog to end all live blogs here.

The Other Cell Match

Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy put some final touches on their Hell in a Cell feud this week.

It started with Hardy cutting a quick promo, explaining that Randy Orton woke him up, and now he’s ready to unleash all his demons inside the cell.

This transitioned into his advertised match against United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, who Hardy claimed he has some unfinished business with. The two men wrestled for a while (this entire feud was given the first 30 minutes of the show). When it looked like Hardy had the win, setting up for the Swanton Bomb, Orton appeared and knocked Jeff off the top rope.

I’m glad that they avoided having Shinsuke take the loss prior to the attack. He’s not on the pay-per-view, which is fine. There’s not room for everyone. But sometimes they get into the habit to have the person in a feud go over the person who’s not.

Orton and Hardy had a brawl, one that featured attacking each other with a steel chair, that ended with the Charismatic Enigma standing tall.

They’ve certainly done their job explaining why this match should be in Hell in a Cell. There’s Orton’s vicious attacks, the targeting of Jeff Hardy’s persona, and of course when Orton shoved his finger in Jeff’s ear piercing multiple times.

That being said, this feels very underwhelming for a Hell in a Cell match.

I think one of the reasons behind this is I can think of two other feuds that deserve the Cell more than this one. One is Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch, which is the hottest feud on SmackDown, a feud that is deeply personal. Another is Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles, the story of one man playing mind games by continually invoking and harassing another man’s family. Against all these things, Randy wiping off Jeff’s face paint doesn’t feel like it lives up.

These men are veterans so we can expect them to make the stipulation worth it. But it’d be much better if this match was a cell match everyone’s excited for and not a cell match we’re forgetting is on the card.


Underrepresented

The WWE title continues to get lackluster representation on Tuesday nights.

This week, the world title feud was represented via two pre-taped interviews aired during the show. They weren’t bad. Not at all. In fact both were very good.

I should repeat that. Both men did a great job. AJ cut an impassioned promo in an empty arena. And Samoa Joe... he read a children’s book about beating the crap out of AJ Styles. It was fantastic.

But this is not how you make a title match feel big. The main event in front of a live audience makes the WWE title feel big. Opening the show feels big. A couple pre-taped promos scattered throughout the show as the go home angle? That’s an afterthought.

The fact they’re not inside Hell in a Cell pretty much guaranteed they weren’t going to main event the PPV anyway. (The WWE championship is going to struggle to get that spot on PPV now that these shows are dual branded.) And then there’s the rematch that’s always been announced for the Super Show-Down which guarantees that this match will have to be booked in a way that extends the feud.

All of these things - the limited representation on Tuesday nights, the lack of the Cell, the known rematch - are rendering what should be a really hot title feud much cooler.


Badass Moms

The main event of the evening was Maryse going one on one with Brie Bella.

Just some recent mothers wrestling in the main event of SmackDown. (Maryse is only five months removed from giving birth, which is super badass.)

They didn’t have any long match. Instead, they told a story throughout and after their match alongside their hubbies Daniel Bryan and the Miz.

During the match, Maryse kept bailing from the ring, avoiding the fight. That prompted Brie to grab a microphone to reinforce what she and Bryan have been saying: That Maryse, like the Miz, is a coward.

This upset the Miz, who cut a promo that led to them walking out.

But Brie ran down Maryse and tossed her back in the ring. When she locked in the Yes Lock, Miz pulled her out of the ring, where she hit the floor with an audible thud.

This enraged Daniel Bryan, who ran down his rival and started unloading on him. That’s when this became a chaotic brawl. The heels would have their time in control until Miz pulled Brie off Maryse when she fought back. This fired up Bryan again who threatened to punch Miz in the face, but instead he let Brie do it.

This got crazy and was a bit all over the place, but it worked perfectly. Everything the Miz and Maryse did had an underhandedness to it, reinforcing them as heels. Then when Daniel and Brie fought back, the crowd was behind it.

If this segment was any indication, their mixed tag at Hell in a Cell should be quite fun.


Master of Disguise

After Charlotte successfully defeated Sonya Deville, she took some time to greet her fans.

It was a bad move.

As she was posing to take a selfie with two younger fans, she was attacked. Becky Lynch, in a black wig and glasses, attacked the Queen and locked her in the Disarmer on the ramp.

It was the first time that the crowd didn’t seem that hot for this. There were some cheers for Becky. But you also had some scattered boos. Which is understandable. She ruined those little girls’ selfie with the champ.

Of all the installments in this feud since SummerSlam, this was the least exciting. Becky attacking Charlotte post match is a move they’ve gone to frequently. But it’s been a really good story prior to this, and I’m still very much looking forward to their match at Hell in a Cell.

I just wish it were inside it.


Machka!

Rusev Day bested the Bar for the right to face New Day at Hell in a Cell.

It was a strong tag match that ended with Aiden English pushing Rusev out of the path of a Brogue Kick, the Artiste taking the kick himself. Rusev then delivered his Machka Kick to Sheamus for the win.

Given New Day will meet the Bar at the Super Show-Down, this is a slight surprise. But it’s a welcome one. We’ve seen New Day vs. Bar plenty and we’re going to see it again. Rusev Day is a fresher match.

In fact, this looks to be the first one on one tag title match Rusev Day has had.


Handful of Jorts

Andrade “Cien” Almas defeated the ageless R-Truth when he rolled him up with a handful of jorts.

This came from a distraction when R-Truth’s Mixed Match Challenge partner Carmella (who looks to be running babyface when she’s aligned with Truth) attacked Zelina Vega.

Carmella and Truth are a fun team. Cien and Zelina are stars on the rise.


This was a solid episode of SmackDown. The main event was fun, as was the tag match. Unfortunately, their bigger matches (the Hell in a Cell match and the WWE title match) don’t feel as important as either of them should.

Grade: B-

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