SmackDown Live returned last night (June 26) from the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California. You can find all the results at the most stupendous live blog here.
Oh Hell Yes
Something amazing happened last night.
WWE found a way to get me to pop for Kane in 2018.
In the main event of this week’s installment was Daniel Bryan facing Luke Harper of the Bludgeon Brothers. (This was set up in the opening segment that was really good in its own right so I’ve dedicated the next section to it.)
Daniel Bryan continued to prove that everyone is the same size when they’re on the mat. After enduring punishment from the athletic big man, DB finally hooked the arm and dragged Harper to the mat to apply the Yes Lock. Before Harper would tap, Rowan ran into the ring and attacked Bryan, putting an end to the match.
But it was only the beginning of the punishment for Daniel. The double team ensued and it looked like no one was going to help.
Then Kane’s music hit.
The future mayor of Knox County made his way to the ring and fended off the Bludgeon Brothers, with a little help from a recovered Bryan. Then he turned to Bryan. Daniel was very apprehensive at first, likely because the last time these two met, Kane chokeslammed Daniel in Kurt Angle’s office.
But when the Big Red Machine offered the hug, Bryan accepted.
Team Hell No is back, baby.
It looks like WWE is doing all they can to postpone really heating up the Miz/Bryan feud. (It’s been a prefect slow burn, not forgetting about it but giving us legit reasons to delay it.) Reuniting a fan favorite tag team for one time is a great way to do so. Team Hell No was a fun tag team back in 2013. Seeing a reunion at Extreme Rules where they’ll battle for the tag championships is an excellent diversion. (That is as long as this doesn’t lead to any Bryan vs. Kane singles match.)
Simple but Great
Now let’s talk about the very good opening segment that set up that great main event angle.
The opening was nothing outrageous. There was no great plot twist or huge moment a la Ronda Rousey on Raw weeks back. It was just four guys doing a great job with their characters.
Miz decided to have the Bludgeon Brothers on Miz TV, which would be a move he’d question at times. His goal was to try to get Harper and Rowan to continue focusing on his arch rival Daniel Bryan.
Miz showed off how he is a superb conniving heel. A favorite line of mine was when he recapped what happened last week (when the Bludgeons attacked Bryan during the gauntlet match and Miz capitalized eliminating him). Miz made sure to say that after the tag champs attacked him, Bryan got up “and was 100%” so he could claim he beat Bryan at his best. What an utterly ridiculous statement. Daniel Bryan defeated two men and then was attacked by two towering behemoths, but sure, he was fine when he got up.
Miz is so good at everything he does, whether it be what’s in his promo (which the writers should get credit for as well), how he delivers it, and his facial expressions. He’s a top notch talent.
He pushed it too far at times, perhaps angering the imposing Bludgeon Brothers. Suggesting they become the new Miztourage? Not too wise, and it looked like the A Lister was going to pay for it if Daniel Bryan didn’t interrupt.
Bryan has been fantastic since his return. And I don’t just mean in the ring. His promos may be the best they’ve ever been in WWE. He’s working a combined “I have the heart to beat anyone” and “I’m a badass wrestler who can cripple anyone.” That latter part was on display when he demanded to know which of the three would fight him.
Harper accepted, grabbing Miz’s arm to bring the microphone to his face to say so. (I love the detail of not grabbing the mic but the entire arm.)
This won’t be a segment that people remember in months time, but for tonight, it perfectly accomplished the job of highlighting these characters and setting up the main event.
US Title turned Tag Match
Two nights in a row we received two midcard title matches that ended in DQ.
The amazing thing is both finishes were well booked. You can read about Monday’s Intercontinental title DQ finish from that recap here.
In SmackDown’s version, Jeff Hardy issued a United States title open challenge, and Eric Young of SAnitY responded. As their match rolled on, the Usos eventually walked out from the crowd and jawed with the members of SAnitY outside the ring. If you recall, last week they were scheduled to face SAnitY but the trio attacked the former tag champs prior to the bell instead. This week, the Usos came looking for revenge.
The Usos started brawling with Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain outside the ring. EY soon got involved and when he was struck by one of the Uso brothers in the ring, the match was thrown out.
This finish kept Young from losing his first match on the main roster. (Though that isn’t a huge deal since the veteran Young’s job is probably going to be lose more than win when it comes to singles competition.) It’s also a great way to build an Usos/SAnitY feud. Instead of putting the new team over last week, the trio asserted their power while giving the Usos a reason to get angry. That way they looked badass when they swaggered out of the crowd jawing at SAnitY for what they did last week.
If you’ve watched enough wrestling, you probably guessed that this turned into a 3 on 3 match. It ended up being a fun match and bodes well for the future program the Usos will work with the trio.
A bit surprisingly, the Usos and Hardy won, with Jeff hitting a Swanton on Wolfe for the win. I would have guessed the group that’s sold as a unit would pick up the victory. But I get it. They’re not whole without Nikki Cross. (Bring her up!)
Rusev defeated Xavier Woods this week. Corey Graves said that Woods statistically has spent the most time in the Accolade. He may not be wrong.
This match was structured in a way that Rusev, who is #1 contender for the WWE title, looked good the entire bout. At the same time, Woods had a great fire up and continues to impress in the ring. (I’m completely ready to see Woods win a midcard title.)
Rusev never looked to be in real trouble. And that’s how it should be. Xavier is great, but he’s not at AJ Styles level right now. If we want to believe that Rusev is, then he needs to look strong in this match the entire time. He did that without having Woods look bad.
Becky Lynch continues her winning ways, this week with a win over Sonya Deville.
This winning streak for the Lass Kicker is really fun. After seeing her lose for so long, it’s great to see her get back on track. When it looked like Mandy Rose could cost Bex a win, I was sad for a moment thinking that her comeback could be short lived. But Lynch overcame and tapped out Deville.
Is Becky on her way to the title maybe?
Welcome Back, Jimmy
James Ellsworth, I’ve missed you so much.
Jimmy Dream cut a promo this week talking about how he loves and respects women and they love him back. He also let us know how hot his dating life is. His promo style is a bit over the top with how insincere he is, but it works for him. His excess bravado fits perfectly with his look that does nothing to back it up.
Then he got around to the business of challenging Asuka (who wasn’t there this week) to a match. That’s when GM Paige walked out, toyed with the loser a bit, and then informed him he has a match with Asuka next week.
Dude’s going to get his ass kicked by the Empress next week. Back where he belongs.
This was a great episode of SmackDown. After a terrible slump prior to WrestleMania, SmackDown has found its groove again. All the talent is on point. The writing is good. It’s a very good show.
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