Live from Toledo, Ohio, this is Smackdown Live for episode #982. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
The Smackdown General Manager Paige was in her “office” talking about Money in the Bank. She mentioned Daniel Bryan’s victory over Big Cass (smell ya later - Cass was fired on Tuesday), Carmella’s cunning victory over Asuka and AJ Styles beating Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship. Paige said they are four weeks away from their next PPV, Extreme Rules. She announced the five-man Gauntlet Match with Big E, Rusev, The Miz, Samoa Joe and Daniel Bryan. The winner of that gets a WWE Title match against Styles at Extreme Rules.
Analysis: The match was already announced on Monday, but it’s smart to mention it at the start of the show.
Let’s Hear From Carmella
Carmella, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her entrance to brag about her win at Money in the Bank. She was looking great. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show.
Carmella said when she was younger she had self-confidence issues and she never thought she would be good enough. Carmella said she became the author of her life, so she worked harder than everyone. Carmella talked about how she saw something in herself and she became a champion. Carmella said she wanted every young girl and boy to take a look in a mirror and repeat these words: “Mella is money.” She said “psyche” and laughed. Carmella laughed about having self-confidence issues.
Carmella said the real message is “just give up” because you can work twice as hard as her and be only half as good. Carmella said she won Money in the Bank, she became Women’s Champion, then she beat Charlotte Flair twice and she did the unthinkable because she beat Asuka. Carmella lied by saying she did it all by herself. Carmella said she made the Empress of Tomorrow bow down to the Princess of Staten Island. Asuka’s music started up leading to the interruption.
It was not really Asuka that did the interruption. The mask was removed. It was James Ellsworth in the Asuka costume just like at Money in the Bank. Carmella laughed about it and gave him a big hug.
Ellsworth said that no one was ready for Ellsworth…especially Asuka. Ellsworth said when you love somebody let them leave and he forgets the rest, but what’s important is he is back. Ellsworth said that he’s back to serve the greatest woman in history. Ellsworth told Carmella she’s better than Charlotte Flair, Lita, Trish Stratus, Mother Teresa, Beyoncé, Ronda Rousey and Asuka. The fans booed all of that.
The real Asuka walked down to the ring with a purpose. Ellsworth got in Asuka’s face leading to Asuka hitting him with a spin kick to the gut. Carmella took advantage of that with a superkick on Asuka. Carmella left with Ellsworth while Asuka was down in the ring.
Analysis: It looks like this rivalry may continue leading to another title match for Asuka, but that’s not a sure thing. I think maybe Becky Lynch should be the next woman to get a shot. The promo by Carmella was good although I thought it dragged on a bit especially with Ellsworth’s part of the promo. Carmella’s shtick is fine, but sometimes it gets annoying because she is too over the top. It also felt way too similar to what Alexa Bliss does on Raw as well.
Still to come is the Bludgeon Brothers vs. Anderson and Gallows. Becky Lynch was shown preparing backstage because she’s up against Billie Kay up next.
The Iiconics duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce made their entrance looking good as usual. They did a pre-match promo with Kay asking where they are and they wondered what people do in Toledo. Royce mentioned a zoo, so Kay said that explains all the smelly people there. Kay asked Royce a question and Royce spoke as Becky Lynch calling her a loser that won’t amount to anything that is Charlotte Flair’s troll of a sidekick. They ripped on Lynch some more to end it.
Analysis: I like these girls, but this promo just felt off. It didn't work. The crowd didn’t really react to their cheap heat tactics either.
Becky Lynch made her entrance to a nice ovation.
Becky Lynch vs. Billie Kay (w/Peyton Royce)
Lynch took down Kay followed by punches. Lynch hit a Bexploder suplex that sent Kay out of the ring. Lynch with a baseball slide dropkick. Lynch brought Kay back into the ring as fans chanted “Let’s go Becky” for Lynch. Royce distracted, so Kay took over by pulling Lynch’s arm against the top rope and sent her into the ring post leading to Lynch bumping to the floor.
Back from break, Kay hit Lynch with a forearm. Royce hit a knee to the face while the referee wasn’t looking. Lynch came back with a forearm off the middle ropes followed by a jumping kick. Lynch hit a Bexploder suplex for a two count. Royce with another distraction, Lynch punched Kay and Lynch sent Kay out of the ring. Lynch on the apron and she hit a cross body block on Royce. Lynch rolled through a suplex attempt of Kay and Lynch slapped on the Disarmer armbar submission for the victory after about eight minutes of action.
Winner by submission: Becky Lynch
Analysis: ** Lynch got the win as expected. Kay never really had a moment in the match where it looked like she might get the win. This victory was done as a way to give some momentum after losing the Money in the Bank ladder match in close fashion. I'd like to see Lynch become the next Smackdown Women's Champion. It's time for her to get that title back.
There were images shown from last week with Shinsuke Nakamura hitting a low blow on Jeff Hardy and a Kinshasa.
Jeff Hardy did a promo in a darkened room with the back of his head facing the camera. Hardy said that Nakamura failed against AJ Styles at Money in the Bank, so Styles has moved on. Hardy talked about Nakamura hitting him last week with a low blow and a Kinshasa. Hardy said that Nakamura’s have an unintended consequence. Hardy said “my eyes were closed before” he turned his head, he’s got face paint on and he said “now they are open. Shinsuke, I see you.”
Analysis: I figured that it would be Hardy vs Nakamura as a US Title feud after MITB because of what happened last week. That’s fine with me because they had a great match last week. It’s very possible that Nakamura could get his first title on the main roster by beating Jeff Hardy for the US Title. It’s also cool to see Hardy with the face paint, which he did in his last run in WWE a decade ago.
There was a video from the Sanity trio of Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe. Young said that “chaos” has arrived.
It’s Sanity vs. The Usos after a break.
The announcers mentioned the WWE Super Show-down event in Australia in October.
Daniel Bryan was interviewed backstage by Renee Young, who noted that Bryan will be the first man in the Gauntlet Match. Bryan said he’s not going to survive, he’s going to win. Bryan said at Money in the Bank he proved that size does not matter. Bryan talked about how he might have to face three of the best superstars on Smackdown Live potentially all in a row: Rusev, Big E, Samoa Joe. Renee asked about The Miz and Bryan replied: “I said three of the BEST superstars.” Bryan said if anybody doubts his stamina look at his performance in the Greatest Royal Rumble. Bryan said he has legs, lungs and heart. Bryan asked Renee if she thinks Bryan is ready to take on some of the toughest superstars in WWE. She said she thinks that Bryan is sufficiently prepared. He asked again, she said yes and Bryan led the arena in “yes” chants.
Analysis: Bryan is great at interviews like that. He has become one of the best talkers in WWE. I liked the line he had in there trashing The Miz by not considering him to be one of the best. It was a bit cheesy at the end there, but it works.
The Usos made their entrance. They did a promo in the ring about how they had a lot of face paint on their faces when they first got to WWE. They said that they figured it out and they made their names in WWE. They welcomed Sanity to the Uso Penitentiary.
The Sanity trio of Eric Young, Kilian Dain and Alexander Wolfe made their entrance looking badass as usual. Their theme song is intimidating just like their entrance. I have liked the presentation of this team since they started as a group in NXT.
There was a fight before the bell could ring. There wasn’t even a ref in the ring. The Sanity trio dominated with stomps on both Usos. Dain hit a running splash on Jimmy Uso followed by a back splash off the middle ropes. Wolfe picked up Jey and Young jumped off the middle rope with a neckbreaker. Sanity stood on top of The Usos to end it.
Analysis: There was no match. It was just an ass kicking. That’s fine because it will make their match against The Usos mean more when they finally have it next week or down the road. I’m happy Sanity is there on the main roster. I’m especially happy for my fellow Canadian Eric Young, who has been in the wrestling business for about 20 years. He is finally where he should be on WWE’s main roster.
Harper and Rowan vs. Gallows and Anderson is up next.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were shown in the locker room getting ready. Gallows had way too much baby oil on while Anderson liked showing off his abs. The Bludgeon Brothers were shown backstage because they are up next.
There were preview clips of Miz and Mrs. on USA Network on July 24.
A commercial aired for the WWE 2K19 video game with AJ Styles on the cover. The game will be released in October.
Images were shown of AJ Styles beating Shinsuke Nakamura in the WWE Title match at Money in the Bank.
Shinsuke Nakamura was interviewed by Renee Young backstage. Nakamura asked her what is a loss? Nakamura asked how he lost because he’s standing right in front of you. Nakamura said that AJ is still WWE Champion because the referee counted too fast and it was unfair. She asked him about Jeff Hardy’s comments. Nakamura said Jeff Hardy’s eyes may be open, but if he crosses Nakamura again, he will close them.
Analysis: I think we can pencil in Hardy vs. Nakamura for the US Title at Extreme Rules next month.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance for their Smackdown Tag Team Titles rematch. The Bludgeon Brothers, the Tag Team Champions, entered.
The match started during the break.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Gallows worked over Rowan with punches. Harper in the ring, Anderson went after him and Harper sent Anderson into the steel steps. Rowan nailed Gallows with a kick to take him down. Rowan set up Gallows for a superplex and he connected with the superplex from the middle ropes. Anderson made the save and Harper tossed Anderson out of the ring. Double team slam on Anderson on the apron. Rowan with a splash on Gallows for two. Harper worked over Gallows with punches. Rowan tagged in with an elbow drop on Gallows. Rowan did the head squeeze on Gallows to keep him grounded. Harper tagged in, Gallows kicked Rowan off the apron and Gallows with a punch followed by a superkick for Harper. Anderson got the hot tag with the crowd getting into it. Anderson with a cross body block off the top for a two count. Rowan in the ring, Anderson sent him out and Harper hit a Bossman slam for a two count. Gallows and Rowan battled on the floor with Rowan kicking Gallows over the barricade. Anderson was trapped alone in the ring leading to a double team Powerbomb with Harper delivering it and Rowan covered Anderson for the pinfall win. It went six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Bludgeon Brothers
Analysis: **1/4 It was a solid tag team match with the Bludgeon Brothers looking dominant again. I’m glad that the crowd got into it when Anderson got the hot tag even though I’m sure the fans knew the champs were going to win. At least it told a story that maybe Gallows and Anderson could win. The way the Bludgeon Brothers have been booked has been unlike any team in WWE in recent times. They aren’t having great matches necessarily, but they are booked as a team that looks unbeatable. I’m not sure who their next feud might be with. Perhaps it will be The New Day.
The Bludgeon Brothers held up their titles in the air. They left triumphantly once again.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance as The Bludgeon Brothers were leaving the ring. Bryan did his "yes" routine as he went by the Bludgeon Brothers. There was a pause. They stared at Bryan, who just continued on his way to the ring. This meant that Bryan was starting the Gauntlet Match and he had to beat four guys to win the match.
The Miz was shown in the locker room working on his "Miz Jitsu" routine. Rusev was shown warming up with his buddy Aiden English. Samoa Joe was working out in his area backstage. There was also the New Day trio in a hallway with Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston lifting Big E up.
There was a picture of Charlotte Flair posing for ESPN’s “Body Issue” that hits newsstands on June 29.
Analysis: It’s the tenth year ESPN has done the issue where sports stars pose nude in the magazine. They cover up the private parts of course. It’s the first time a WWE superstar is featured. Charlotte’s a very fit woman. Ronda Rousey has been featured in the magazine in the past.
Big E made his entrance with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods by his side. The match started with about 45 minutes left, so that meant that there were going to be four decisions in the last 45 minutes of Smackdown this week.
This is the start of the Gauntlet Match with the winner earning a WWE Title match against AJ Styles at Extreme Rules.
Gauntlet Match Part 1: Daniel Bryan vs. Big E
Big E with a running shoulder tackle early in the match. Bryan tripped up Big E and slapped on a surfboard submission on Big E, which looked impressive on a guy as big as Big E. Bryan worked on the left arm of Big E with knees to the arm. Big E with a back elbow and Big E hit a belly to belly suplex that sent Bryan across the ring. Running splash by Big E on the apron, which is a move he’s done many times. Bryan rolled to the floor as the show went to break.
Back from break, Bryan jumped off the top with a headbutt, Big E moved and Bryan hit the mat. Big E got a two count out of that. Big E held Bryan on his shoulders in a submission hold. Bryan broke free with a running clothesline. Bryan with a drop toe hold that sent Big E into the middle turnbuckle. Bryan connected with a hurricanrana that sent Big E across the ring. That was impressive by Big E taking a bump like that. Bryan with two running corner dropkicks, but Big E came back with a running clothesline. Big E put Bryan on his shoulders and hit a backbreaker for a two count. Big E with the Stretch Muffler submission putting Bryan’s knee around Big E’s neck, but Bryan countered into a Yes Lock attempt. Bryan turned it into a Triangle Choke, but Big E powered out of it. Bryan transitioned to a left knee smash into the mat. Bryan went for the Heel Hook, but Big E got to the bottom rope. Bryan with a flip off the turnbuckle, they ran the ropes, Bryan on the apron and Big E hit a huge Spear off the apron that sent Bryan crashing to the floor. That looked like a rough landing. It's an impressive move. The fans chanted “This is awesome” for them. Back in the ring, Big E went running into the post shoulder first. Bryan with a running knee and he pinned Big E to eliminate him. This match went 12 minutes.
Big E eliminated by Daniel Bryan
Analysis: That was a lot of fun to watch. They had a nice battle with Big E utilizing his power, Bryan going for the submissions on different body parts and Big E hitting that huge Spear that sent them both to the floor. The finish came shortly after with Bryan hitting the running knee, which is one of his finishers. The crowd was into the match the whole way. Big E was impressive in this singles match and showed what he can do if he got a chance to be a singles wrestler again. I think Big E has a very bright future in singles. As for Bryan, he’s always going to have a great match if he gets over ten minutes. He’s so fun to watch.
Samoa Joe made his entrance as the third man in this gauntlet match.
The match began during the break.
Gauntlet Match #2: Samoa Joe vs. Daniel Bryan
The show returned with Joe working over Bryan with hard chops to the chest. AJ Styles was shown watching in the locker room. Bryan came back with kicks to the legs and chops. Bryan ran the ropes and Joe hit a snap powerslam for a two count. Bryan took a rough landing on the back of his head for that. Joe worked over Bryan with kicks. They replayed the powerslam with Bryan landing on the top of his head. Bryan with strikes, Bryan charged in and Joe caught him with a Powerbomb. Joe slapped on a Boston Crab submission. Joe let that go and slapped on a STF submission followed by a Crossface submission. Bryan managed to get out of it. Bryan with a dragon screw leg whip on Joe. Bryan sent Joe’s left leg into the ring post. Back in the ring, Joe with an atomic drop, kick to the head and a running senton splash for a two count.
Back from break, they exchanged chops again. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch, Bryan got out of it and sent Joe to the floor. Bryan with a running knee off the apron. They went back in the ring with Bryan hitting a missile dropkick. Bryan’s chest was red from all the chops from Joe. Bryan hit the Yes Kicks to the chest followed by an enziguri kick. Bryan with a running knee attempt, but Joe bailed to the floor. Bryan ran the ropes, he slid to the floor and Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch submission on the floor. The ref was counting them out and Bryan kicked off the barricade to get away. Bryan slid back in at nine and Joe was counted out.
Samoa Joe eliminated by Daniel Bryan
Analysis: That was a great battle. I like how Bryan kept on coming back from Joe kicking his ass all match long. Bryan’s chest was all red from the chops. It’s nice to be able to have that visual to tell the story of Bryan being able to come back with a crafty countout victory. I don’t think it hurts Joe too much. These two could be matched up in a singles match at Extreme Rules as well. There was a dangerous spot in the match where Bryan landed on the top of his head, which was tough to watch.
The Bludgeon Brothers were back after their staredown with Bryan earlier. They picked up Bryan and hit a double team Powerbomb with Harper delivering the move. The crowd hated that.
Analysis: That was a cheap way to weaken Bryan. I wonder if Bryan will get a partner to go after the Bludgeon Brothers or if this was more of a random thing based off this week’s show.
The Miz ran down to the ring to begin the next match in the Gauntlet Match.
Gauntlet Match #3: The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan was down in the ring after the Powerbomb. The Miz picked up Bryan and hit a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz pinned Bryan to eliminate Bryan.
Daniel Bryan eliminated by The Miz
Bryan was checked on by a referee at ringside. Rusev made his entrance with Aiden English by his side.
Analysis: Bryan had an incredible showing for about 30 minutes. It’s nice of WWE to book him in long matches like this because nobody gets the crowd fired up the way he does. By having Miz pin Bryan like that, it also gives Miz bragging rights over Bryan whenever WWE wants to book them in a major PPV match like SummerSlam or somewhere else down the line.
The winner of this match gets the WWE Title match against AJ Styles at Extreme Rules.
Gauntlet Match #4: The Miz vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English)
They started the match during the break. Rusev with a dropkick. Miz went for a corner clothesline, Rusev caught him and hit a fallaway slam. Styles was shown watching the match on a TV backstage. Miz sent Rusev to the floor followed by a running dropkick on the floor. Fans chanted “Rusev Day” as Miz whipped Rusev into the barricade. Back in the ring, Miz with a running boot to the head. Miz hit his weak looking backbreaker into a neckbreaker combo. I’ve seen that move up close at a live event and it looks so weak. I know he’s been doing it for a long time. Miz with a corner clothesline, Miz went up top and hit a double axehandle. Miz slapped on a headlock. Rusev fought his way over to the bottom rope. Rusev and Miz exchanged punches. Miz off the ropes leading to Rusev hitting two kicks to the face. Rusev with a running corner splash followed by a leaping spin kick to the face. Fans chanted “Rusev Day” for Rusev. Miz avoided the Machka Kick, Miz wanted the Skull Crushing Finale, but Rusev powered out of it and drove Miz into the turnbuckle. Miz with a knee and Rusev came back with a roundhouse kick to the top of the head for two. They battled on the apron with Miz sending Rusev face first into the apron. Miz followed up by whipping Rusev into the steel steps at ringside. Miz hit his weak looking It Kicks, the last one never connects and Rusev went for the Accolade, but Miz slipped out with a DDT for a two count. Miz never wins with that, but it’s a good nearfall. Miz taunted the crowd with the “yes” chants, Miz charged in and Rusev hit a Machka Kick. Miz slapped on the Accolade submission and Miz tapped out. That went about 12 minutes. The crowd was happy with that. The entire Gauntlet Match went 44 minutes.
The Miz eliminated by Rusev
Winner by submission: Rusev
Rusev celebrated the win in a big way with English. The announcers mentioned it was Rusev’s first time getting a shot at the WWE Championship, which will happen at Extreme Rules on July 15.
Analysis: That match was okay. It was a little off at times and some of The Miz offense didn’t look great against a bigger guy like Rusev, but they got through it. The finish was well done with Rusev stopping the corner charge with the Machka Kick and then slapping on the Accolade submission to win. I thought The Miz might get the win because a match with Styles would be fresh, but I’m glad that they went with Rusev due to his rising popularity.
Analysis x2: **** That’s my rating for the whole Gauntlet Match. Great main event this week that took nearly one hour. It was well booked with Bryan carrying most of the match for over 30 minutes. The Bryan matches were both around ***1/2 out of five because of how well Bryan sells everything and how hot the crowd is for his comebacks. Bryan was protected by how he was beaten too. I thought Miz vs. Rusev was just okay as a final match, but I am happy with Rusev breaking through with a win in that match.
AJ Styles, the WWE Champion, made his entrance to a nice ovation. Styles went into the ring with Rusev. Styles put the WWE Title on the mat in front of Rusev. They shook hands. English wanted a handshake, Styles tried to shake it, English pulled the hand back and Styles punched English. Styles left and that was the end of Smackdown.
Analysis: I’m interested to see how they book this feud. Will the Rusev Day chants be embraced and Rusev be booked like a face or do they keep him in this tweener role he is in? I think face vs. face is fine. I doubt Rusev wins the title, so I’ll probably pick Styles at Extreme Rules.
Three Stars of the Show
- Daniel Bryan
- Big E
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2018 Average: 6.38
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 7, 8, 6, 7
2018 High: 8 (April 10, May 29)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2, January 9)
Smackdown gets a 6.5 out of 10 this week.
It’s a tough show to rate because it was really all about that 45 minutes main event. I liked it a lot, but I can’t ignore the first hour of Smackdown being largely disappointing. There was only one match in an hour, so it was tough to sit through some of it.
I recommend watching the 45 minute gauntlet match to end Smackdown because it was great. If you skip everything before that then you aren’t missing much.
The next WWE PPV is Extreme Rules on July 15 in Pittsburgh, PA. Here’s the lineup so far.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Rusev
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax
There will be more matches added in the weeks to come.
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