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WWE SmackDown Recap & Reactions (July 7, 2016): The Transitional Dude

WWE SmackDown was in Toledo, Ohio last night (July 7, 2016) for the blue brand's penultimate episode before the brand split. For full results and the live blog, click here.



A champion is supposed to give a title meaning. Either elevate it with gravitas and respect, or demonstrate how much it means to you. John Cena showed the world how important the U.S. Championship was to him in 2015; both Bayley and Sasha Banks did the same for the NXT Women's Championship. Too often in WWE, the titles are just there.

Dean Ambrose played guest ring announcer tonight, making jokes about where fans could buy his new merchandise in the arena, or alerting the owner of a ‘97 Ford Pickup truck that their car was about to be towed—during the match his bitter rival, Seth Rollins, was fighting. Granted, it was just a match with Jey Uso, but still.

There's one moment from Ambrose's cash in at Money In The Bank that I particularly love. After he blindsides Seth Rollins with the Money in the Bank briefcase, and hands it to Mike Chioda, he climbs back into the ring and paces with the most glorious look of fury and vengeance and victory—he knows he's about to win the championship from Seth Rollins. He is basking in his righteous indignation, and we love it so, so much.

But tonight, Ambrose is hamming it up again. Jerry Lawler, of all people, makes the cogent point: "I've never seen anything like this in my life, the WWE Champion out here as the ring announcer. It's ridiculous."

Rollins wins with a pedigree. He angrily stares at Ambrose as he hits his finisher and makes the cover.

Ambrose more or less ignores the result. I truly did enjoy Seth shouting at Ambrose to, "Do your damn job, Mr. Ring Announcer!" Uh, Seth, you know that's not really his job, right? He's actually the champion.

Ostensibly, anyway.

At this rate, I'd be a little bit surprised if Ambrose retains the championship at Battleground. He's not being portrayed as a guy to take seriously, and nothing in the past two years has consistently shown that he's seen by the company as a long-term champion.



The Club loves to beat up John Cena, but Enzo Amore and Big Cass claim that they aren't going to stand for it. This draws out the trio, and they talk about how much they enjoy Beating Up John Cena and that they were interrupted doing just that by the Realest Guys on Monday.

I pop every time Karl Anderson says, "Gee, thanks for asking A.J." when the Phenomenal One poses a question to him.

The Club smack talks Amore (Luke Gallows says he looks like a bird), and the bonafide stud continuously asks, "You were talkin' to me?!" The Club are utterly perplexed that Enzo doesn't realize they were in fact talking to him, despite them repeatedly saying so. A.J. Styles eventually offers a 1-on-1 match versus Amore.

Enzo's line accepting the challenge is (unsurprisingly) gold: "Let me tell you something pal, Eskimo Zo ain't sweating you, buddy, or, The Club. You guys claim you're 'too sweet.' But you're not original pal, and you ain't a good remix neither. Step into this ring with Sugar Ray Amore and I'm gonna make you a diabetic."

Someone needs to talk to Enzo about dealing with the ropes, because he nearly killed himself attempting a dive over the top. He leapt from too far back, clipped the top rope, and fell hard to the outside, luckily on his back. It was a distinctly unpleasant thing to watch. Styles wins with the Styles Clash in a short match.

Everyone did really well here. It's remarkable that none of these guys were on the main roster to start this year, and now they're legitimately some of the hottest acts in the entire company.


Three Canadians

Earlier in the night, Kevin Owens found Chris Jericho's scarf laying on the floor, and even though Jericho is irate, Owens hands the scarf over even though he was thinking of giving it to his wife. The Prizefighter does announce that he'll be on commentary for Y2J's main event match with Sami Zayn.

In 2016, Jericho is ... not a very good wrestler. But Zayn is usually a better worker than this. It is encouraging that Zayn picked up a win here, and got some measure of comeuppance on Owens (first throwing Jericho into his former best friend, and then smashing him with a Helluva Kick when Owens climbed onto the apron).

To be honest, this segment was mostly great because Kevin Owens sat in on commentary, and Kevin Owens makes literally everything better.

  • He expressed exasperation ("I don't even know what to say about that") when Lawler says to him, "Don't grow old Kevin, it's a trap, stay young like you are."
  • He absolutely savaged Byron Saxton: "Byron, do you have anything important or relevant to say?"
  • No, really, savaged: (In response to Saxton's suggestion that Zayn could win at Battleground) "That's not even an option. Just like you being a commentator shouldn't have been an option.
  • SAVAGED: "Even Michael Cole's better than you."
  • To Zayn, when he was staring at Owens on the outside: "Don't look at me, focus on your opponent, idiot."
  • When Zayn first came out for the match, Owens yelled at him, "I hope you break an ankle!" Later, when Zayn hits a moonsault from the barricade on Jericho, KO sadly notes, "I thought we were gonna get that broken ankle there."

Zayn wins with a rollup when Y2J attempted to apply the Walls of Jericho. He celebrates briefly, but then eats a Codebreaker, and eventually, a Popup Powerbomb. Owens stands defiantly over Zayn to close the show.


Xavier Woods rightfully fears the Wyatt Compound

We're given a rundown of the New Day segment from Raw, in which Xavier Woods chagrined his partners into respecting Wyatt as a real threat. We're then given a brief snippet from Woods' interview with Michael Cole, in which he continues to stress the seriousness of the situation.

This is probably the second-best program the company is running, and Woods is doing spectacular work selling the Wyatt Family as actual threats. The sit-down interview with Michael Cole is frequently excellent—it should be featured on the show a lot more often. You have five hours to fill a week—maybe use more of this sort of original content, and not so many recaps?


All the rest

The episode opened, like last week, with brief talking snippets from several superstars (The Club are shown talking among themselves, Jericho yells into a mirror, Zayn discusses his fight with Jericho, and Rollins bumps into Jey Uso), giving the audience a framework for the show. It took all of maybe two minutes, and either provided characterization for various wrestlers or acknowledged several storylines that would be advanced.

It's amazing how much better the show seems when it doesn't look like the executives are literally booking it as it happens. It's not even about the quality of the segment, either—it just actually looks like the company did their job in providing an entertainment product. Fancy that.

Brock Lesnar is facing Randy Orton at Summerslam, and I've now got my bathroom break in Barclay's. Probably will get some cell phone charging done in that time, too! Expect an 11 minute match and a neat F5 into an RKO GIF. Shrug.

To see more analysis of the match up, click here.

Sasha Banks called Charlotte Tony Danza. Charlotte called Sasha Banks the Taco Bell Chihuahua. Apparently we're back in 1997. I guess I should be happy that the women are getting promo time every week. But this was bad.

Banks vs. Dana Brooke was set up for Raw on Monday. One of these days, they'll have Banks lose a pointless match, and I'll become more #Broken than Matt Hardy.

Becky Lynch was ambushed by Natalya as the Lasskicker was on her way to the ring. Natalya even got so vicious that she put Lynch in a Sharpshooter on the floor. I'm finding it hard to be happy about two women's segments that weren't very good and lasted a combined total of five minutes, maybe. At least they were on the show, I guess.

The Miz beat Kalisto in a match that was set up because of fallout from Monday's food fight. The Miz and Maryse stumbled upon several wrestlers in the locker room backstage reviewing the footage, laughing and mucking it up. The A-Lister takes umbrage to this, and Dolph Ziggler retorts, "No women in the locker room." When The Miz says that his wife can go wherever she wants, Ziggler (of course) replies, "I wasn't talking about her."

Real cute, Dolph.

In the match, the Intercontinental Champion dodges a springboard corkscrew and pins the former two-time United States Champion following a Skullcrushing Finale.

Zach Ryder defeats Sheamus, and gets new music. Ryder was interviewed by Tom Phillips afterward, and he challenged Rusev to a U.S. Championship match. Sheamus then yells at poor Phillips, which judging by recent trends almost certainly means the Irishman is being released in the near future.

Greg Hamilton catches Rusev backstage, who responds to Ryder's challenge: "What's the matter with that man, didn't he see what I did to Titus O'Neil? If Zach Ryder is man enough to challenge me face to face, maybe he'll prove not all Americans are cowards. But if he challenges me, he will prove that all Americans are losers." Seven years, baby.


I was fully prepared to give this show a D, maybe a D+. And then Kevin Owens sat in on commentary for 15 minutes and raised it a full letter grade.

Grade: C

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