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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (July 24, 2018): The End of an Ellsworth

WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (July 24) from the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana. You can find all the results at the live blog that is so good, it was more likely left on Earth by the advanced race aliens that were here prior to humans here.

No Respect

We’ve got our own Rodney Dangerfield over here.

Randy Orton opened up SmackDown Live explaining his actions from last week. (If you don’t recall, it’s when he shoved his finger through the piercing hole of Jeff Hardy and pulled. If I can’t get the image out of my head, I’m not letting it out of yours either.)

Honestly, it felt like a flimsy excuse.

He went with the “Fans don’t respect me route,” which is a go-to excuse when they don’t have anything better. Orton ran down other members of the roster without saying their names, some we like and some we don’t, claiming we like them but he’s done more.

The reason this doesn’t resonate is Orton has always been a character that doesn’t give a shit. He doesn’t care what his peers think of him. He doesn’t care what the fans think of him. Now all of a sudden, he cares so much that he attacked Jeff Hardy? I’m not buying it.

But whatever.

And I don’t mean whatever in a completely reductive way. I mean it in the sense that it doesn’t really matter. Sure, if you’re going to cut a promo explaining motives, they should fit the character. But it doesn’t really matter why he turned heel. What matters is that he did. Orton is better as a heel. How we got there is inconsequential in the end. It could be because he suddenly cares about the fans. It could be because the Wendy’s Drive-Thru effed up his order and he never got over it.

When all is said and done, Orton is back as a vicious heel, and that’s the role he belongs in.

Straight Fired

SmackDown announced the challenger for AJ Styles’ WWE title at SummerSlam with a comedy segment (albeit an eventful one).

Before General Manager Paige could tell AJ who he’d be fighting in Brooklyn next month, James Ellsworth came down to the ramp insisting it be him. When Paige told him to beat it, he started insulting her to the point she fired him.

That’s right, security hauled Ellsworth out of the building kicking and screaming and his time in WWE is once again finished.

While AJ was watching all of this with delight on the TitanTron, Samoa Joe attacked him from behind and choked him out. That’s when he signed the contract, revealing he is the man AJ will be facing at SummerSlam.

It was an interesting decision for them to combine these segments given the difference in tone, but it wasn’t necessarily bad. Ellsworth getting forcefully removed kicking and screaming was entertaining. And it gave Joe a chance for the big sneak attack, which was more of a statement than if Paige just announced it’d be him.

Straight Fire

Without Ellsworth in her corner, Carmella was unable to defeat Becky Lynch and now has to defend her title against her at SummerSlam.

I wonder if Asuka is saying “You couldn’t have fired him two week ago?”

Last week I said I felt the “beat the champ to face the champ” trope is lazy, and that hasn’t changed. But the match tonight was fun enough and seeing Becky pick up a big win getting her closer to that title is a feel good moment in itself.

Without Ellsworth to mess things up at Barclays, could we get another feel good moment for the Lass Kicker at SummerSlam?

Baby Tossing

There was a lot of advertising for the Miz and Maryse’s new reality show, Miz and Mrs., which aired after this episode of SmackDown. The It Couple received the main event spot to promote it, and to push the Daniel Bryan feud along.

Miz, with what looked to be his child strapped to his chest, promoted his show and ran down Daniel Bryan. He claimed his daughter has had more success than Bryan has since he came back to WWE. And that the mere mention of him put Monroe Sky to sleep.

Daniel Bryan interrupted, first with his own version of a Miz & Mrs. advert, which I honestly thought was just an actual advertisement that just focused on how Miz and Maryse met. (Daniel Bryan is not good at making videos humiliating people. Good for him.)

Then D-Bry came down to the ring, fighting through Miz’s velvet rope security, and stared down his foe. That’s when Miz unstrapped his baby and threw it at Bryan.

That’s right, Miz took a page out of Matt Hardy’s book and threw a fake baby at his foe. Bryan caught it with his sharp fatherly instincts. And then got kicked in the face.

Because he’s always been a magnificent heel, Miz also claimed that the baby that we saw earlier in clips was a paid actor because he’d never bring his child to such a horrible town. He’s just so good.

This was as much a reality TV advertisement as it was a build to Bryan/Miz, but it was fun nonetheless.

The end of Rusev Day?

Andrade Almas picked up his biggest win to date, defeating the Bulgarian Brute Rusev.

The focus was the drama in the end. Zelina Vega and Lana started arguing on the outside. This brought Aiden English out from the back to assist Lana. Unfortunately, Vega jumped on his back and pushed him into the Ravishing Russian. Of course this all distracted Rusev and Almas picked up the win with his hammerlock DDT.

The match prior to all of this going down was great and I look forward to Rusev vs. Almas again in the future.

At first, it looked like this was the end of Rusev and English. But then when Lana and Aiden were bickering backstage, Rusev angrily implied maybe he’s done with both of them in Rusev Day.

The Rest:

Tag Tourney: The New Day defeated SAnitY in a fun tag team match which was part of the first round tag team tournament. For a debuting team, SAnitY has sure taken a decent amount of L’s. It’s probably because they’re not whole without a 5’2” Scottish psycho.

After the match, two guys who refer to themselves as... lemme check my notes... The Bar (are they new?) addressed the Usos, who were at ringside, and the New Day. These two mystery men claimed they are going to win the tag team titles. Good on you, vaguely familiar looking Euro dudes!

What’s up? Tap out: Samoa Joe continue his destruction by quickly tapping out R-Truth. This was prior to the reveal that he’ll be facing AJ.

Quick work: Asuka made quick work of the outmatched Billie Kay. This was a win to try to re-establish the Empress as a badass after her poor showing against Carmella.

This was a pretty good, though not great, episode of SmackDown.

Grade: B-

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