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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (July 17, 2018): In Memoriam

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WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (July 17) from he Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. You can find all the results at the live blog so good you’d be OK with it dating your mother here.

It’s Finally On

Miz vs. Daniel Bryan has finally left the simmer phase and entered the boil.

This week, the A Lister decided to hold a funeral for Team Hell No. And he was a brilliant heel doing so.

He walked down to the ring followed by pallbearers carrying a mannequin head wearing a Kane mask. As he slowly made his way, he shook hands with fans as one would when offering condolences at a wake.

His eulogy soon turned into an “I told you so.” Miz told us that Team Hell No wouldn’t last and that Kane was washed up. Then his attention turned to Daniel Bryan, claiming he doesn’t have it any more and that the Team Hell No reunion was just a way to stay relevant.

Finally, Bryan had heard enough. His music played and Miz ordered the pallbearers to protect the ring. But Daniel came into the ring from the other direction, finally getting his hands on the Miz. (If I recall correctly, this is the first time he got his hands on his rival since his return.)

Miz soon escaped and Bryan had to settle for attacking one of his henchmen. The crowd ate it up.

After they teased it out, we’re finally on the official build to Bryan vs. the Miz. SmackDown did a very good job teasing it out to this point. They never outright forgot about it while using logical detours to bide time to get them to a big show worthy of this match.


Vicious

When talking about Randy Orton, it’s commonly said he’s better as a heel.

Tonight proved it.

The main event was a United States title rematch between new champion Shinsuke Nakamura and former champion Jeff Hardy.

They worked a full length television match, meaning the shockingly short match they had at Extreme Rules wasn’t because Jeff was too injured to wrestle. (It was more likely to save time on the show and for the shock factor. Lingering injuries could have played a factor, of course.)

In the end, it looked like Jeff had the match in the bag. He hit a Twist of Fate and the Swanton Bomb. But before the referee’s hand came down for three, Randy Orton ripped Hardy out of the ring and unleashed hell.

He tossed him into the barricade. He stomped his head against the ring steps. He delivered a hangman’s DDT off the announce desk. And in a truly disgusting act, he shoved his finger into Jeff’s ear piercing hole and pulled. That was nasty. It was one of those things I watched from the corner of my eye. Seriously, Randy, that was gross.

The one thing he didn’t do? The crowd pleasing RKO.

The evil Viper that we all know and hate is back and is targeting Jeff Hardy. We don’t know why yet. Randy shouted at him that the answer to that will come in due time. Whatever the reason, the best kind of Orton is back. He was truly dangerous tonight. And suddenly I’m interested to see Randy Orton on my TV again.

This was a strong closing segment that re-established Orton in his best role. While I wish Nakamura was protected a bit more prior to the DQ (he was clearly going to lose that match), it was an effective segment.


Meet Andrade

The first match of the night was Champion AJ Styles vs. main roster rookie Andrade “Cien” Almas.

While Almas has had squash matches and matches against Sin Cara, you can consider this his first match on the main roster. Because more casual fans may ignore the newcomer in a squash match or against a wrestler who hasn’t had any impact since he was wrestling himself in the dark. It’s easy to fast forward the DVR or run to the bathroom.

They won’t do that when the star of the show is wrestling.

In his first big match of the main roster, Andrade acquitted himself wonderfully. AJ struggled to defeat the young upstart in a match that Almas could have won at multiple points.

In the end, Cien ended up tapping to the Calf Crusher. (My one hangup with this match is that he tapped quickly to the calf crusher due to a leg injury, but all the time AJ was spent working that leg was when the match was in the mini picture during the commercials.)

This week, Almas got his first real chance on the roster and made the most of it. Now we wait to see if he’s rewarded with more big opportunities.

Let’s hope so.


And the wins just keep on coming

Becky Lynch’s winning streak continued this week with a submission victory over Mandy Rose.

After the match, she cut an inspired promo about how she has kept fighting for her fans. And now that she has all these wins racked up, she’s coming for that championship. It wasn’t much, but Becky’s promos always feel legit. She has a passion about them that I just buy into. It doesn’t need to be anything overly complicated. It just needs to be delivered with conviction. The Lasskicker does that.

We soon learned that Becky will face Carmella next week. If Becky wins, she will face Mella for the title at SummerSlam. I’m going to say this now and I’m going to probably say it next week:

This is the laziest wresting trope.

The beat the champ to get a chance to fight the champ for the championship is such a lame way to get someone a title match. It gives away the match they have to try to make feel special just weeks later. You could argue tapping out the rest of the roster is enough to earn Becky a title match. But if they want to have a match where she definitively earns it, she should fight someone else on the roster for it. Someone like Naomi or Charlotte.


The Rest:

-Joe Killed You: Joe faced Tye Dillinger forcing the perfect ten to perfect tap weakly before passing out.

-The Feud Continues: Eric Young defeated Kofi Kingston in a very solid match between the two veterans. EY had help when Killian Dain threw Xavier Woods into Kofi when the ref was distracted. That was enough for Young to pick up a victory.

-Forgiveness: Aiden English asked Lana to see Rusev so he could ask for forgiveness after messing up Rusev’s chance at Extreme Rules. Lana asked the Artiste if he really is the best for Rusev. Looks like we’re seeing the beginning of the end of Rusev Day. It makes sense for Rusev, but I worry if there’s a break up, Aiden is going to find himself in the same spot as someone like Dillinger.


This was a strong fallout episode. Nothing officially is set up for SummerSlam, but the wheels are in motion.

Grade: B+

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