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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (Sept. 4, 2018): R-Truth steals the show

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WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (Sept. 4) from the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. You can find all the results at the live blog that even Bret Hart would rate a 10/10 right here.

R-Truth wins in the main event!

The main story on this episode revolved around Miz and Maryse being a couple of cowards and continuing to avoid Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella like the plague. The IT couple actually called Bryan and Brie out in front of an empty arena earlier in the day. That seemed like a bizarre thing to do, but I guess it fits with the narrative.

After Bryan took care of Andrade Almas in a singles match to open the show, Miz and Maryse popped up on the Titantron to reveal the name of the exact restaurant in Detroit where they were eating dinner. Not surprisingly, Bryan and Brie decided they were also hungry and so they left the building to grab dinner at that very same eatery. Their departure from the building while dragging their luggage to their car included one of my favorite visuals from this episode - Daniel Bryan was fully prepared to go eat dinner at a public restaurant only donning his underwear. Brie Bella seemed to have no qualms with that. I love this couple so very much.

But Miz and Maryse are cowards, so it was a ruse all along. They showed up at the building to call out Bryan and Brie again, knowing they weren’t there to respond. Paige ended up booking Miz in what was essentially an open challenge match, and I have to say, I love how Paige doesn’t put up with any crap from the wrestlers. Miz gave her some pushback but she immediately threatened to fire him if he didn’t wrestle. Considering what she did to James Ellsworth, it’s a threat that needs to be taken seriously.

And this is where R-Truth stole the show. There’s been a terrific minor story brewing for a few weeks where Truth has been calling out Carmella for a fight. He continued on this path and bumped into Maryse backstage, mistaking her for Carmella. Truth’s mistake provoked her into calling Carmella trash, and then Miz dismissed Truth as irrelevant for the last 7 years without Miz as his tag partner. Truth continued to talk nonsense, claiming he doesn’t know what Carmella sees in Miz.

Later on, Tye Dillinger and Truth conveyed Maryse’s disparaging words to the real Carmella, who immediately turned babyface (at least for one night) in response, and so R-Truth had Carmella in his corner. Truth needed her tonight in his match against Miz to neutralize the other Carmella, who is definitely not Truth’s cousin Maurice from Detroit. Carmella accepted Truth’s offer and stormed off in anger.

When Tye Dillinger asked Truth what the hell he was babbling about, Truth said he was just teaching Tye a lesson. What’s the lesson? How to get into the main event of SmackDown Live!

R-Truth is a legend. This entire side story was perfect from start to finish. I really hope Truth, Carmella, and Dillinger become a faction going forward.

As far as the actual main event goes, the match itself didn’t matter. Miz’s IT kicks were especially terrible, even by his low standards. Everyone was just waiting for Bryan and Brie to show up. That’s exactly what happened, and it led to Truth actually winning in the main event with a distraction finish! Amazing.

Bryan and Brie punched their foes in the face. Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega returned to the ring and gave those cowards Miz and Maryse a window to escape. Almas and Vega paid the price by suffering dual Yes Locks.

Overall this main story for the night delivered the goods. We were able to see Bryan and Brie gain a slight measure of revenge on Miz and Maryse, while also featuring R-Truth’s hilarious story with Carmella as a key component to the plot. This was just good stuff all around right here.

Daddy’s not home

Samoa Joe came out with a bruise over his left eye, looking like he just murdered someone in a back alley or something. Joe grabbed the mic to explain why he wasn’t at the Styles’ household tonight. He painted a picture of Styles at home tonight holding a baseball bat checking all corners, not knowing when or where Joe would bust into his house. But you see, Joe only made that home invasion threat last week to ensure that AJ the absentee father would finally stay home and be there to care for his family and tuck his daughter in at night.

Joe’s execution of this promo was outstanding, as usual, but this was a top of the hour segment; there needed to be more substance than just another talking segment rehashing the same points. That’s when AJ turned the tables on Joe, and after a quick Titantron promo, Styles’ music played to indicate he was in the building. Joe was completely caught off guard, and it was a nice touch when he quickly glanced behind himself, not knowing where AJ would come from.

AJ ran down to the ring and the two men had a chaotic brawl, where AJ eventually got the upper hand. He landed a phenomenal forearm as well as a spring board splash to the outside that took out Joe and a referee. Styles tried to crush Joe’s skull in with a wild chair shot, but Joe was able to dodge out of the way and avoid catastrophe. Paige had a hard time getting AJ’s temper under control.

This feud has included a little too much talking without consequences. Joe goes on and on about AJ being a terrible father, but we haven’t seen much evidence backing that up, or any suggestion that Wendy Styles might actually see eye-to-eye with Joe. There desperately needed to be a violent altercation between these two men, and tonight’s segment delivered on that. And who knows, maybe Wendy Styles will prove to be frustrated with her husband for not staying home given Joe’s threat to invade their house.

All is right on Rusev Day

This week featured a tag team triple threat match between the Usos, Sanity, and Rusev Day to determine who advances to fight The Bar in the finals of the mini tag tournament that will crown a new number one contender for New Day’s titles.

After a tumultuous past 7 weeks or so, it was really great to see the full Rusev Day entrance, with Aiden English leading the way on the mic.

The actual match started during a commercial break, which is never a good thing. The first thing that caught my attention in this match was Killian Dain’s singlet, which didn’t really strike me as something an agent of chaos would wear.

This was an oddly paced match. Like too many television matches in WWE, the stuff that happened prior to the mid-match commercial break didn’t matter one bit. And when they did return from the break, all three teams went right into the super fast-paced hectic frenzy of dives and signature moves indicating they were going to the finish.

Aiden English proved to be the difference maker here, breaking up a fall after an Uso splash and then saving Rusev from Eric Young’s attempt to cheat (feet on the ropes) during a pin fall attempt. One Machka kick later, and Rusev Day advanced to fight The Bar.

Overall this wasn’t a bad match, and the finishing sequence was pretty fun. What can I say, it just tickles my cold heart to see Rusev Day all on the same page and winning important matches.

As far as Sanity is concerned, I think it’s pretty clear they need some promo time to develop their characters a bit more, so that we have more reasons to care about them in a match like this.

All the Rest:

Empress: Naomi once again fought an IIconic in a match that had to be less than two minutes long. This time Naomi won but was beat down afterwards by Peyton and Billie. That’s when Asuka’s music hit. And you know what? Even with Asuka’s questionable booking this summer, I still immediately got that “Oh shit!” vibe when she came out. Needless to say, the IIconics weren’t ready for Asuka.

Straight Fire: Becky and Charlotte had a split-screen interview segment that was really effective at adding further tension to their feud and making their championship match official at Hell in a Cell. Becky claimed that being Charlotte’s best friend was a full time job and she was sick of managing all of Charlotte’s insecurities. She also told Flair to go screw, after Charlotte said all Becky had to do was ask for a title shot. Charlotte held her own very well here, but it’s hard to outshine Becky on the mic.

Hell in a Cell: There were some pre-taped packages where Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy explained the personal importance of their upcoming match inside Hell in a Cell. Unlike Becky and Charlotte, their words felt tightly scripted and unnatural. I’m just not really feeling the weight of Hardy’s words when he says that, “My depravity will sink to the deepest depths of hell.” Orton’s creepiness about smiling when he perversely erases Hardy’s identity was at least more believable. But yeah, Becky and Charlotte have these guys beat by a wide margin in the promo department.

Bryan/Almas: It was a treat to see this match again, this time with an actual finish. Almas learned from last week by countering Bryan’s flying knee with a dropkick. Bryan’s foot actually clipped the rope on a suicide dive, so maybe Brie was taking notes from him after all. The two men recovered nicely from a late match miscue where Almas accidentally ducked into a Yes Kick. Bryan won with the knee, yet Almas was protected pretty well in defeat. This was a win for all parties involved, including the viewers.

This was a really fun show from start to finish, and a great pick-me-up after the car crash Raw that WWE offered the night before. It’s hard to complain about much on a night when we got to see a rematch between Bryan and Almas, a unified Rusev Day, AJ Styles finally getting his hands on Joe, Asuka’s return, a satisfying payoff to R-Truth’s story with Carmella, and a tense war of words between Becky and Charlotte.

Grade: B+

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