Live from Lafayette, Louisiana, this is Smackdown Live for episode #995. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Please check out even more of our great content over at TJRWrestling on Patreon now!
The show began with eleven bell tolls. It said “Never Forget” on the screen with a picture of the World Trade Center. The reason they did this is because it's September 11 and as we all know, September 11, 2001 was a day where about 3,000 lives were lost at the World Trade Center in New York City when planes flew into the two buildings. There were also other planned attacks that were stopped. After the bell rang eleven times, fans chanted "USA" loudly.
Jeff Hardy made his entrance for the first match of the show. The announcers plugged the matches that are coming up later.
Hardy said that demons try to tear us up in our life, but he's overcome them all and he stands before us a better man. Hardy said the only way to cleanse a demon is to face them head on. Hardy said this Sunday he'll face a demon in his version of paradise inside Hell in a Cell. Hardy said that Randy Orton thinks he will unload pain on him, but Hardy added he's fought back against pain so many times. Hardy said that he was a daredevil that has no fear. Fans chanted "Delete" at Hardy. Jeff said that this Sunday he'll unleash a lifetime of torment pain and suffering on Orton until he fades away and classifies himself as obsolete.
Hardy said tonight he faces a demon from his recent past against Shinsuke Nakamura...and after that he goes to hell...so enjoy the show!
Analysis: Hardy's comments about Hell in a Cell were serious, but you could also see that they were done in a way to show that he was excited about being in a Cell match for the first time in his career.
Shinsuke Nakamura, the US Champion without a feud, made his entrance.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy
This is not for the US Title. Hardy is the man that Nakamura beat to win the title.
Nakamura bailed to the floor as soon as the bell rang. When Nakamura went into the ring, Hardy hit a jawbreaker followed by a dropkick that sent Nakamura into the barricade. Hardy whipped Nakamura into the barricade. Hardy jumped off the steel steps with a splash into the barricade leading to the first commercial of the show.
The show returned with Nakamura in control with a chinlock. Hardy came back by sending Nakamura head first into the turnbuckle four times, but Nakamura came back with a knee to the face. Nakamura with a forearm to the jaw and he kicked Hardy down again. Nakamura grabbed Hardy in a side headlock. Hardy clapped his hands to get the crowd into it. Nakamura grounded Hardy with knee strikes to the head. Nakamura went for a spin kick, Hardy ducked and Nakamura connected with the other foot. Hardy took down Nakamura with a Slingblade neckbreaker. Nakamura countered a suplex attempt with a knee to the face, back elbow by Hardy and Hardy up top with the Whisper in the Wind attack that took Nakamura down. Hardy up top, Nakamura tripped him up, Nakamura knee to the ribs and a Nakamura kick sent Hardy into the barricade.
The match returned with Hardy hitting an atomic drop. Hardy was in control with the double leg drop to the ribs for a two count. Hardy was selling the ribs, Nakamura avoided a charge and Nakamura kicked Hardy in the back of the neck followed by repeated kicks to the back of the head by Nakamura. Running knee to the side of the face by Nakamura. Nakamura set up for Kinshasa, Hardy avoided it, rollup up attempt and Hardy hit a Twist of Fate neckbreaker. Hardy went up top, but Randy Orton was there to knock Hardy off the top, which led to Hardy getting crotched on the top rope. That led to the DQ finish. It went about 15 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Jeff Hardy
Analysis: **3/4 The match was solid between two guys that have worked together a lot. The cheap finish was no surprise since Orton has attacked Hardy so many times in the last few months. It makes sense to not have either guy do the job in this match.
Orton whipped the back of Hardy's head into the steel steps at ringside. Orton grabbed a chair from ringside and brought it into the ring. Orton hit Hardy in the back with the chair two times. Orton posed towards the fans and they booed him for his evil actions. Hardy came back with a Twist of Fate attempt, but then he grabbed the steel chair and Hardy hit Orton in the back with the chair several times. Hardy hit the Twist of Fate on Orton. Hardy up top and he hit a perfect Swanton Bomb on Orton. Hardy stood tall to end the battle while Orton was selling pain outside the ring.
Analysis: That was well done in terms of setting up HIAC by using a chair, which is legal at HIAC. Orton got the upper hand during most of the feud, but Hardy managed to take control here and he was the one standing tall. I’m probably picking Orton at Hell in a Cell with Hardy losing because of some risky bump that he does. That seems to be the way this is going.
Still to come is the main event with Brie Bella facing Maryse. It is Maryse's first match on Smackdown in seven years.
The Miz and Maryse were interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Miz said that his wife is taking the spotlight, so Kayla should show respect. Kayla asked Maryse if she is ready. Maryse said that it took her five months after giving birth to come back to the ring, so yeah she thinks she is ready. Maryse said she'll make Miz proud and her daughter as well. Miz said they are the hardest hitting couple in WWE while ripping on Bryan and Brie.
Charlotte Flair faces Sonya Deville later in the show. Also, AJ Styles is up next.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown on camera to set up an AJ Styles interviews.
AJ Styles, the WWE Champion, was shown earlier today in an empty arena sitting on the steel steps. Styles said that Samoa Joe knows the quickest way to get AJ to lose his temper is to talk about his family. Styles mentioned that Joe brought his wife and three-year-old daughter Annie into this. Styles said that Joe thinks if he can attack AJ’s heart he can get into his head and he can have the advantage. Styles said that maybe Joe is right. Styles noted that after 20 years of friendship, he knows Joe very well and added that Joe has a family. Styles said that he would never mess with another man’s family because AJ has integrity and he considers that a strength. AJ said that Joe’s strength is running his mouth, intimidation and being a real piece of…(he wanted to say shit and he stopped himself)...garbage. AJ said that all of that strength that Joe has, is a big weakness. When the bell rings, nobody has the upper hand on AJ Styles. At Hell in a Cell, the talking stops and the intimidation ends. Styles mentioned that Joe got a taste of what happens when you talk about his family, both at SummerSlam and last week. Styles said that at Hell in a Cell, he’ll show Joe how phenomenal he is and that this is the house that AJ Styles built. Styles ended it saying that it isn’t for rent and it damn sure isn’t for sale.
Analysis: It was a noble babyface promo from the champion sending a message to Joe. I liked the setting of the interview with Styles in the empty arena, which we know as the “house that AJ Styles built.” It was different.
The announcers talked about it with Graves saying that he thinks Styles is scared of what Joe is capable of. Phillips added that we’ll hear from Joe later.
A video aired from last week showing Charlotte and Becky arguing last week during an interview.
Charlotte Flair, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, was interviewed in the Gorilla Position by Kayla Braxton, who asked her why she requested tonight’s match against Sonya Deville. Charlotte said she asked Smackdown GM Paige for a match because she’s a competitive person and unlike Becky Lynch, she goes out there and proves it. Charlotte said that at Hell in a Cell, it’s way easier to talk the talk than walk the walk and she hopes her former best friend is watching tonight. Charlotte did a “WOO” and left.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance with the Smackdown Women’s Championship around her waist. Charlotte was wearing a black and gold t-shirt that you can bid on for Connor’s Cure and you can go to wweauction.com to bid on it now.
TJRWrestling on Patreon: Our new project is up and running and going very well so far. It’s called TJRWrestling on Patreon and it launched over a week ago. I have started the reviews of WWF shows from 2000 with coverage of Raw every Monday and Smackdown every Thursday. I just posted a review of the January 10, 2000 episode of Raw where The Rock teamed up with Mick Foley and The Acolytes against the Degeneration X foursome of Triple H, Road Dogg, X-Pac and Billy Gunn in the main event. Those episodes of Raw and Smackdown often times had nine matches in two hours, so all of them were short, but the flow of those shows were good and it was never really boring. I’m also doing podcast reviews of current episodes of Raw and Smackdown. I’ll also have a podcast preview of the Hell in a Cell lineup and a podcast review of Hell in a Cell too. I’m hoping to get material up there every weekday along with some weekend content. There will be a written and podcast review of WCW Starrcade 1998 this week as well. It’s not free, but it’s a way to support what we are doing and I’m grateful for that. You can join for $3, $5 or $7 for one month, so it’s not like we are asking a lot. It’s just something to keep us going strong. If you sign up today you don't get charged until October 1, so that's a pretty good deal I think. Thanks to everybody that has joined already and if you have any questions, my contact info is at the bottom of this review. Go sign up now at TJRWrestling on Patreon and thank you again for all the support.
Coming up at Hell in a Cell: Raw Tag Team Titles on the line with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Also, the Universal Championship match is Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman with Mick Foley as the special referee. A video package aired promoting Reigns vs. Strowman.
Analysis: Raw featured three Smackdown match videos, so it’s not a surprise that they had a Raw related video on Smackdown.
Sonya Deville made her entrance with her buddy Mandy Rose dressed in black just like Deville. They have not been on TV that often in the last few weeks.
Charlotte Flair vs. Sonya Deville (w/Mandy Rose)
This is not for Flair’s Smackdown Women’s Title.
Flair wrestled the match in the “Flair Dynasty” t-shirt above her usual gear. Sorry boys. It was noted by Phillips that Flair is 18-2 in singles PPV Championship matches. They did some spot where Deville grabbed Flair’s hair into a backbreaker. That looked like a messed up spot, but I’m not sure. Deville hit a running knee for a two count. Deville went for a sunset flip, Flair avoided it and hit a knee drop. Flair ran the ropes, Rose tried a trip, Flair avoided it, Deville forearm and Flair hit a boot to the face that sent Deville to the floor as the show went to break.
Back from break, Deville was in control with a headlock and Flair came back with a belly to back suplex. Flair hit a backbreaker followed by a spot where she slammed the back of Deville’s head down. Flair went up top, moonsault attempt and Deville got the knees up to block. Spinebuster by Deville looked a bit off as she got a two count from it. Deville with knees to the ribs and Deville went for a triangle choke submission. Flair powered out of it, bounced her off the ropes (Deville’s head hit the middle ropes even though it was likely supposed to be the top rope) and hit a Powerbomb. Flair hit a bridging Figure Eight submission for the tapout victory after about nine minutes.
Winner by submission: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: **1/4 They had a competitive match with a few sloppy moments in there, but they got through it. I thought it was a weak finish. I would have had Charlotte do a Natural Selection before the Figure Eight to weaken Deville more. Deville’s offense looks good. I think Rose is further ahead in the character department and I find her more interesting of the two, but both of them keep improving. Flair getting the win was obvious. It’s nice to see a champ win non-title since champs lose non-title so often in WWE. This win gives Flair momentum going into Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
Post match, Flair celebrated the win by slapping hands with fans at ringside. Flair was in the aisle taking a selfie with some girls when she was attacked from behind by a "fan" at ringside. Nobody stopped the attack because the person attacking her took off their disguise to reveal it was…Becky Lynch. Of course. Lynch had a black wig on, black glasses and she took off her sweater. Lynch took off the disguise. Lynch decked Flair with two kicks to the head. Lynch slapped on the Dis-Harm-Er armbar submission on the left arm. The referees were out there to check on Charlotte. Lynch said that title is coming home with her on Sunday and it’s been two years too long.
Analysis: It’s a night of heel attacks at least in the first hour. Lynch got the advantage here. This feels like a feud that is going to get multiple big matches and since Charlotte just won at SummerSlam, I doubt there’s a title change already. Then again, WWE has booked a lot of title changes whenever Charlotte has a title, so who knows? I’ll get into a prediction more on Friday in our PPV preview.
Samoa Joe’s Bedtime Story
Samoa Joe was seated backstage in his “Joe Joe Joe Joe” shirt. Joe held up a book that he called “Night Night AJ” by Samoa Joe as he decided to tell a bedtime story. He read the story about Styles as a champion that defends his title in his house and he started to believe he was ten feet tall. Joe said that AJ had forgotten his family, not even a call and then a man appeared that was a Submission Machine, which referred to Joe. Clips aired of Joe attacking Styles. The clips were shown of AJ’s wife and daughter from SummerSlam. Joe said that the warrior, referencing himself, would become their new daddy. The clip aired of Joe slapping on the Coquina Clutch and The End image was a picture of Joe with the WWE Title with an image of AJ’s wife Wendy and daughter Annie with Joe. The graphic reminded us it’s Styles vs. Joe for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell.
Analysis: That was a unique way of having Joe do a promo. I liked the comic book imagery they used to show the highlights. Last week it was the Orton/Hardy feud that saw both guys doing promos to hype their match and this wee kit was Styles/Joe each getting a chance to do that.
Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella were shown getting ready backstage. The Bar vs. Rusev Day is next.
A clip sponsored by Progressive showed New Day beating The Bludgeon Brothers for the SD Tag Team Titles on Smackdown a few weeks ago.
Becky Lynch was shown walking backstage with Kayla Braxton asking her about her actions. Lynch said she said she’ll break Charlotte’s arm after she takes the Smackdown Women’s Title from her.
The New Day trio had their own announce table at ringside full of pancakes while Big E was mixing batter. There was a clip of “Kramer Kingsman” backstage. That’s the interviewing alter ego of Kofi Kingston. Sheamus and Cesaro were in the background. There wasn’t much to it other than Kingsman talking in a funny voice. At ringside, Kingston applauded Kingsman for doing a great job.
The Bar duo of Sheamus and Cesaro made their entrance for this number one contender’s match with the winners earning a shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Titles at Hell in a Cell on Sunday. Aiden English did his wonderful singing routine for his Rusev Day team with Rusev. They had Rusev’s wife, the lovely Lana, with them.
The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro) vs. Rusev Day (Rusev and Aiden English) w/Lana
Sheamus was in control with a clothesline on Rusev. The New Day’s commentary was shown. Cesaro with a body slam for a two count. Sheamus slapped on a standing side headlock on Rusev. When Rusev broke free, English tagged in and hit a cross body block on Sheamus. English hit a swinging neckbreaker on Sheamus and English sent Sheamus to the floor. Cesaro was sent to the floor. Rusev hit a back body drop on English to propel him over the top to take out Cesaro and Sheamus on the floor. That was a good spot. English hit a DDT for two. Woods plugged Sheamus’ Youtube channel for his workouts with other superstars. Cesaro with a distraction and Sheamus decked English with a hard knee to the ribs. Cesaro hit an uppercut on English and threw a pancake at New Day. Cesaro and Sheamus stomped away on English leading to Sheamus hitting a clothesline. Cesaro went back in with a headlock.
Back from break, English was still isolated, but he broke free with a jawbreaker on Sheamus and Sheamus went running shoulder first into the ring post. Rusev got the hot tag against Cesaro. Rusev with a kick to the chest, running back splash and a spinning heel kick from Rusev took down Cesaro. Rusev worked over Cesaro with a roundhouse kick for a two count. Rusev slapped on the Accolade submission on Cesaro, but Sheamus broke it up. Rusev tackled Sheamus out of the ring. Cesaro with an uppercut on Rusev, Sheamus tagged back in and The Bar hit a double team lifting DDT for a two count. Sheamus hit a powerslam on Rusev for a two count. Sheamus set up for a Brogue Kick, but as he moved forward with it, English shoved Rusev out of the way and that meant that Sheamus hit English with the Brogue Kick. Rusev hit the Machka Kick on Sheamus and pinned him to win the match at around 13 minutes of action.
Winners by pinfall: Rusev Day (Rusev and Aiden English)
Analysis: ***1/4 Good tag team action with a well-booked finish. I loved the spot with English pushing Rusev out of the way so that English could take the kick and save his partner. That’s something that Smackdown tag team matches do consistently well with great match endings. I thought The Bar would win since they are the heel team, but I’m certainly fine with the Rusev Day win. It looked like English would be turning on Rusev, then that angle was stopped and maybe it will come alive again if they fail to win the titles.
Post match, Rusev and English pointed at New Day at ringside since they challenge New Day for the SD Tag Team Titles at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
There was a video package about Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
The duo of R-Truth and Carmella made their entrance doing the “What’s Up” entrance. It appears like Carmella might be a face full time now after being paired with R-Truth in the Mixed Match Challenge as well as last week’s show. Carmella as a face was likely done since Smackdown has more women heels after Becky turned.
R-Truth (w/Carmella) vs. Andrade Cien Almas (w/Zelina Vega)
Almas worked over Truth with chops. Truth came back with a hurricanrana. Almas came back with a cartwheel into a head kick for two. That was impressive. Truth blocked a suplex attempt and turned it into a front suplex. Jumping side kick by Truth. Corner splash by Truth, kick to the gut of Almas and Almas did the tranquilo ropes pose. Vega went on the apron, so Carmella pulled her down. Almas with a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! where he sat on top and grabbed the tights for the pinfall win at around three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Andrade Cien Almas
Analysis: *1/2 It was a win for Almas as you would expect from this match. The finish was controversial with the girls getting involved, so this could lead to a mixed tag team match. They could also do Almas vs. Truth on the HIAC Kickoff Show because that finish does set up a rematch.
Asuka was interviewed by Kayla Braxton backstage. Naomi showed up to ask Asuka why she did it. Asuka had a line about how she doesn’t understand them with their accents, so the girls laughed about it. Asuka said they are fun to punch. Naomi likes her because she feels the glow, Asuka thought she said go and Naomi said glow. Asuka said teriyaki, so Naomi asked if she was hungry and they left.
Analysis: I guess this was WWE’s way of trying to get over Asuka’s personality. Accents are funny according to WWE logic.
Oh no it’s the Brie Mode song! My ears! Brie Bella made her entrance with husband Daniel Bryan and they were both in the green and blue colors of the Seattle Seahawks, who are not as good as my beloved Los Angeles Rams. Anyway, Brie’s in the main event. Yes, it’s really the main event.
Maryse made her entrance to the “Pourquoi” song with her husband The Miz, who was in his suit. This was Maryse’s first Smackdown match in seven years. She’s a former two-time Women’s Champion. On Sunday at Hell in a Cell it’s Miz and Maryse vs. Daniel and Brie.
Maryse (w/The Miz) vs. Brie Bella (w/Daniel Bryan)
Maryse did the heel thing early in the match by leaving the ring multiple times leading to Miz offering Maryse some advice. Brie did a promo saying she always knew that Maryse was a coward. Maryse went back in and left the ring again. Miz did a promo saying that Brie doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring as Maryse while putting over Maryse as a two-time Divas (now Women’s) Champion that was one of the longest reigning champions in history. Miz said that Maryse is having a match five months after giving birth to their baby girl and we don’t deserve this match. Miz said this match is over and they will see them at Hell in a Cell. Miz and Maryse walked away. Brie ran after Maryse and brought her back into the ring. The crowd chanted “yes” for Brie. Miz distracted Brie, so Maryse hit a standing side kick for a two count. Maryse wanted a punch to the face, but Brie took down Maryse with a Yes Lock. Miz pulled Brie out of the ring for the disqualification after about five minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Brie Bella
Analysis: DUD It was not much of a match. It was more of an angle that continued after the bell rang. The ref could have counted Maryse out for several minutes, but he didn’t do it.
There were a few minutes of show time left. Bryan attacked Miz with punches. They went back in the ring and Miz tossed Bryan out of the ring with Bryan’s body hitting Brie’s upper body. Brie was down selling with Graves saying that was Bryan’s fault. Miz attacked Bryan and whipped Bryan into the steel steps at ringside. Maryse worked over Brie with punches. Maryse whipped Brie into the ring apron two times. Maryse sent Brie in the ring and Brie took down Maryse with punches. Miz went back in the ring, Brie got in his face, Maryse tried an attack and Brie took her down. Bryan unleashed on Miz with Yes Kicks against the turnbuckle. Bryan yelled at Miz to get back up. Brie punched Miz and Bryan hit Miz with a clothesline to send him out of the ring. Bryan and Brie led the crowd in “Yes” chants.
The Miz and Maryse left up the aisle while Bryan and Brie celebrated in the ring. These teams face off at Hell in a Cell. The show ended with a final plug for Hell in a Cell while the teams had a staredown to end it.
Analysis: That was a good post match angle with Bryan and Brie getting the advantage. I’m going to pick them to win because it makes sense in the story, but it could go either way.
Three Stars of the Show
- Rusev and Aiden English
- Sheamus and Cesaro
- Jeff Hardy
6 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2018 Average: 6.53
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 6.5, 8, 6, 7.5
2018 High: 8.5 (July 31)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2, January 9)
Smackdown gets a 6 out of 10 this week.
It was a good edition of Smackdown this week that was slightly better than an average show that would be a 5, but lower than what we usually get from Smackdown. I think they built up the SD matches at Hell in a Cell well. It would be nice if AJ Styles wrestled on the show because it’s been a long time since that has happened. They went the promo route again with him.
Best match was the men’s tag team match. I liked the finish a lot. The Charlotte/Becky angle was furthered with a cheap attack by Lynch. Hardy’s rivalry with Orton picked up with Hardy getting the advantage there. It’s no surprise that Brie vs. Maryse was barely a match. It was more of an angle that ended the show on a happy note for the fans.
— WWE (@WWE) August 29, 2018
The next WWE PPV is Hell in a Cell on September 16. Here’s what we know so far:
Universal Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Braun Strowman (Mick Foley is the referee)
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
Raw Tag Team Championships: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
Hell in a Cell Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The New Day (c) vs. Rusev and Aiden English
That’s it for official matches right now. Most PPVs have around ten matches, so they will probably add two more later in the week.
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