The first Smackdown brand exclusive PPV since the brand split has a pretty stacked card. New championships are up for grabs and existing championships will be defended. Who’s going to walk away with gold and who’s going to go home empty?
The show begins with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan coming out to hype up the event and Smackdown as a brand before telling us that the match for the new Smackdown Women’s Championship is coming up now!
Match 1: Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Nikki Bella for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
The match is for the new Smackdown Women’s Championship so pretty much as soon as the bell rang all six women started going at it. The ring quickly clears leaving Becky Lynch and Naomi in the ring while everyone else brawled or laid down for a little rest outside the ring.
Becky and Naomi trade moves back and forth and the exchange is capped off with Naomi kicking Becky a bunch of times in the ribs, but Becky Lynch is tough and she kicks Naomi out of the ring, but Carmella is there to take Naomi’s place and she flips Becky out over the top rope. Carmella turns around to see Nikki Bella. The two have apparently been feuding, and have a staredown, but before they come to blows Alexa Bliss and Natalya hit the ring and beat the two of them down. Natalya sends Carmella into the guardrail and Bliss knees Nikki in the ribs of Nikki and goes for a pin. Two count.
Nikki hits Alexa with a jumping kick off the middle rope but Bliss hits her with a Code Red into a pinfall attempt for two. Natalya delivers a running dropkick to Bliss and gets a two count.
Becky comes back in and clotheslines Bliss and then Natalya and then kicks Bliss. Lynch forearms Bliss but gets hit with a German suplex by Natalya.
Naomi comes back in and cleans house before getting put down by a superkick from Carmella. Carmella then turned her attention to Nikki Bella, hitting her with a flatliner and then locking her in the Code of Silence leg submission. Nikki is able to escape and hits Carmella with an Alabama Slam for a two count.
Both Carmella and Nikki end up on the top rope for the requisite multi-man match Tower of Doom spot. Natalya runs in and throws everyone off the top rope and then collapses herself. Alexa Bliss comes in and tries to pin everyone, but fails each time. She starts throwing a temper tantrum because she tried to pin like nine hundred different people all of whom kicked out at two. Becky comes back in, but quickly gets dropped with a Code Red from Alexa.
Carmella comes back in and tosses Alexa out of the ring but is quickly dumped by Nikki Bella. Eventually everyone except Naomi ends up on the floor by the ramp, so she runs, hits a top rope springboard crossbody block, and takes out everyone on the floor. Holy shit! Holy shit!
Alexa and Natalya head back into the ring and they brawl for a bit. Naomi comes back in and there’s a pretty great double team spot in the corner where Natalya gets Bliss up on her shoulders and Naomi hits her with a blockbuster from the top rope and pins Alexa.
Alexa Bliss is eliminated by Naomi
Naomi sends Natalya out of the ring with a headscissors takedown. Naomi goes for a springboard attack, but is stopped in her tracks by Nikki with a forearm smash to the face. Natalya sends Nikki into the turnbuckle and then gets Naomi in the Sharpshooter. Naomi taps out.
Naomi is eliminated by Natalya
Four women remain. Natalya hits Carmella with a clothesline, but before she can capitalize, Nikki hits Natalya with a clothesline of her own and the follows up with a fireman’s carry into a neckbreaker, and a pin.
Natalya is eliminated by Nikki Bella
Carmella gets a sneaky pin by rolling up Nikki up and grabbing a handful of tights for a three count. Carmella shoves Nikki in the back as the Bella goes to leave the ring, causing Nikki to turn around and slap her in the face.
Nikki Bella is eliminated by Carmella
Carmella screams about the injustice of being slapped in the face by a Bella and Becky re-enters the ring. The two brawl for a bit and Becky hits Carmella with a series of suplexes. She goes for another big move but gets a superkick in the mouth. Carmella goes for a pin, but gets caught in Becky’s Dis-Arm-Her and taps out.
Carmella is eliminated by Becky Lynch
Winner: Becky Lynch (New Champion)
I thought this was a pretty good way to kick off the show. It was pretty fast paced. It did fall pray to the problem of the multi-man match where the bulk of the competitors would end up on the outside for long chunks but it was a really enjoyable match. All the ladies got a chance to get their big moves in and they all looked pretty good for the most part.
Having Becky Lynch win was the right call and I loved her speech at the end of the match. She’s either a fantastic actress or was genuinely on the verge of tears after winning.
Other than that, kudos to Nikki Bella for trading in her usually red ring gear for Smackdown blue.
The Miz is backstage. He goes up to a door that has his The Miz upside down WWE logo on it with the name “Jagger Eaton” below it. He knocks on the door and some kid answers. I have no goddamn idea who the kid is, but The Miz is like, “Yo kid, this is my dressing room.”
The kid is all like, “No mang remember we met at some kind of Nickelodeon awards show and you invited me and told me I could hang out back here. Anyway you’re a huge star, you should come on my Nickelodeon show unless John Cena will do it…he’s probably better.”
The Miz gets pissed and the kid shuts the door in his face.
The cameras then cut to another location backstage where Bray Wyatt is slamming Randy Orton’s right leg up in a door. Bray Wyatt has white guy dreads and looks like shit. A referee shows up and is all like, “C’mon Bray knock it off. Get off him Bray…” Bray knocks it off.
Match 2: The Usos vs. The Hype Bros.
The Usos are out first. They’re dressed in new black trash bag pants and they’ve got some scuzzy beards going on. The don’t do the haka when they come out, instead they just walk to the ring ready to kick ass.
The Hype Bros. are out next. They are hyped up. It makes sense since the winner of this match will face Rhyno Heath Slater to determine the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions later in the night.
Mojo Rawley starts off with Jey Uso. Mojo is hyped as fuck and rolls around on the mat and keeps getting into a three point stance. Jey’s face is all like, “What the fuck is this?” and he charges Mojo and gets back bodydropped for his troubles. Ryder comes in and the Hype Bros. keep the offense going.
Ryder hits a running dropkick and sends both Usos down outside the ring and then follows up with a missile dropkick off the apron to knock Jimmy on the floor. Mojo is fucking hyped up and does a full speed shoulder tackle that knocks down both Usos outside the ring.
Back in the ring, The Usos take down Ryder by shoving his shoulder into the ring apron and beating him down on the outside. Jey and Jimmy then begin beating the hell out of a tiring Ryder. The Usos isolate Ryder and make quick tags so the stay fresh. Jey goes for a running hip attack on Ryder in the corner but Ryder hits a neckbreaker. Ryder goes for the hot tag to Mojo, but Jey kicks Mojo right off the ring apron before he can make the tag.
Ryder fights it out and send both Usos out of the ring. HOT TAG! Mojo comes in and he’s hyped as fuck. He nails Jey with a clothesline and then a corner splash followed by a military press slam. Mojo tags in Ryder for their finisher, but the Usos prevent the double team.
Jey and Ryder battle on the turnbuckle and Ryder hits a Frankensteiner and goes for a pin. Jimmy Uso makes the save, at the count of two.
On the floor Mojo goes for a charge but is sent into the barricade by Jimmy. Ryder hits Jimmy with a Broski Boot on the outside, but Jey chop blocks Ryder’s knee and then delivers a jumping kick to the injured knee before Jimmy locks Ryder in a single leg crab with an arm grapevine and Ryder taps.
Winners: The Usos
I’m pretty okay with heel Usos winning this match and with heel Usos in general. Smackdown needed some credible heels and the happy go lucky Usos had worn out their welcome a long time ago. I also gotta give them props for committing to their new heelishness with new ring gear and a modified entrance. Far too often guys switch between face and heel and never really change anything about their character.
Speaking of gear, Zack Ryder’s “Zackdown Live” trunks were probably my favorite ring attire of the night in the non-male gaze category.
Rhyno and Slater get interviewed by Renee Young. Slater is all like, “I feel like like $100,000 right now and this is Rhyno and nothing can stop a rhino! Peace!”
Slater then shakes Renee’s hand and thanks her for the interview and acts like it’s was over. Slater starts talking about how he ate crab dip and crapped like 900 times before Rhyno does his best Jim Ross interviewing Sycho Sid impression and is like “We’re live pal!”
Slater is all like, “You’ve been swerved!” and then bails. Renee leaves as well and Rhyno stands alone.
Comedy tag team!
Meanwhile Somewhere Else Backstage…
The Miz and Maryse are talking to GM Daniel Bryan. Ziggler is already in the ring for his match with The Miz. The Miz is all like, “Smackdown Live needs the IC Championship, which means you need me and I want to renegotiate my contract. I demand to be paid like the A-Lister that I am.”
Bryan just stands their scowling and Miz’s music hits and he’s like, “Well I’m off to retain my title and after I do renegotiation is going to be a lot more expensive.”
Match 3: The Miz © vs. Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship
The match began with a spoof of CM Punk’s bout against Mickey Gall from the previous evening with The Miz (playing the part of CM Punk) rushing in, swinging wildly, missing his target and then getting taken down with a double leg sweep by Ziggler (playing the part of Mickey Gall). Ziggler pounded on him a bit and then put The Miz in a rear naked choke, just like what happed in CM Punk’s fight.
The Miz got to the ropes and the ref forced Ziggler to break the hold, allowing The Miz to get in a cheap shot on Ziggler. He then began to work over Dolph, but his offense was short lived, ending after Ziggler hit a pair of dropkicks. Ziggler misses a superkick soon after and The Miz gets back in control and works on Ziggler’s back. Ziggler tries to get back into his groove, but Miz keeps taking him down.
The Miz takes a shot at Daniel Bryan and locks Ziggler in the Romero Special. The Miz mocks Bryan some more by landing corner dropkicks on Ziggler and using Bryan’s taunt. The Miz takes down Ziggler with a corner clothesline and a flying double axe handle and then goes for his finisher, but Ziggler escapes and hits Miz with a dropkick.
Ziggler mounts something of a comeback and almost rolls up The Miz, but the champ escapes and hits his shoulder into the ring post. Ziggler gets the Miz into a powerbomb position and slams him to the mat, but the Miz once again gains the upper hand and starts working over Ziggler’s leg.
Ziggler kicks The Miz in the shoulder that was injured earlier and almost puts him away with the Fame Asser. The two counter back and forth awhile before The Miz gets locked in a sleeper hold. The Miz is just about out, but suddenly stands and shoves Ziggler’s head into the turnbuckle breaking the hold.
He the runs at Ziggler, but gets DDTed to the mat. Ziggler goes for a superkick but the Miz dodges and kicks Ziggler in the knee before hitting Ziggler with a DDT of his own. The Miz slaps the figure four leg lock on Ziggler, but Ziggler gets to the rope for a rope break.
The Miz sticks with Ziggler though and works over the leg some more before Ziggler, in desperation, hits him with a superkick. Miz goes to the outside and starts heading toward the back. Ziggler goes out and drops the Miz and then forcibly carries him back into the ring.
Back in the ring a series of roll ups ensues and eventually the Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale after Maryse sprays Ziggler in the face.
Winner: The Miz (Championship retained)
I thought this was a pretty good match from these two. If you had told me six months ago that The Miz would be one of the wrestlers I most looked forward to seeing I would have called you a goddamn liar, and yet here we are. Kudos to you Smackdown Live.
These two are clearly not done and will obviously face each other again at whatever the next Smackdown PPV is.
Match 4: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Bray comes out looking rather pleased with himself and a moment later someone hands the ring announcer a note. Randy Orton is not medically cleared to compete because of the beating Bray Wyatt dished out earlier in the night. Bray tells the ref to ring the bell and count out Orton which he does. Ten seconds later Bray Wyatt wins by forfeit.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
A least Bray Wyatt gets a win…right?
Match 5: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt
Victory secured, Bray goes to leave the ring, but before he can climb between the ropes the ring announcer says that Bray Wyatt will be competing again tonight in a no holds barred match, “against this man…” Fuck, it’s Kane.
Kane hits the ring and the two men brawl with Kane getting the early advantage. On the outside Kane drops Bray with a clothesline and then clears off one of the three announce tables. Bray hits him with the ring bell and stops him before anyone goes through the table. Bray snags a chair and goes to smack Kane with it, but the Big Red Machine hits Bray with an uppercut to the jaw and avoids getting hit with a chair.
Back in the ring, Wyatt hits a running crossbody block and then hits Kane in the leg with the chair giving him control of the match. Wyatt hits Kane in the back with a couple of chair shots before Kane DDT’s onto the chair…kind of. Kane goes on a bit of an offensive tear hitting Kane’s greatest hits: clotheslines, a sidewalk slam, and he tries for a chokeslam, but Wyatt fights out of it and sends Kane to the floor.
Kane pulls Bray outside with him, but Bray wrecks Kane’s shit with a clothesline and then put him on the cleared off announce table. Wyatt gets on the other announce table, runs the length of it and then drives Kane through the table with a running senton splash. The crowd breaks into a “HOLY SHIT!” chant and Ranallo loses his shit.
Back in the ring Bray goes for Sister Abigail but Kane avoids it and hits a chokeslam getting a two count. Kane goes for another big move on the chair, but Bray counters and drives him back first into the chair. Another two count.
Randy Orton limps out to the ring with his right leg all taped up. As Bray watches Orton, Kane gets back to his feet. Orton nails Bray with an RKO and then Kane hits him with one more chokeslam for a three count.
Gotta keep Kane looking strong. If they’re planning on some kind of Orton/Wyatt feud it’s fine to have had Bray lose this match via Randy Orton shenanigans, but couldn’t they have used someone else beside Kane? They could have tossed Baron Corbin in there instead or Apollo Crews instead of relegating them to the pre-show and let them pick up an upset win and the Orton/Wyatt feud would have continued in exactly the same way.
I will give Ranallo props for bringing up Bray Wyatt kidnapping Kane a bajillion years ago to give the match a raison d’être beyond, “Randy Orton legit got hurt and can’t compete and Kane’s the only dude we can throw out there for a random match.” Also kudos to whoever it was that decided to make this a no holds barred match because as CZW taught us, who needs a storyline when you’ve got two dudes hitting each other with things?
AJ Styles is backstage with two anonymous enhancement wrestlers decked out in their wrestling gear for some reason. Styles is a condescending d-bag to them telling them that they’re destined for failure, but at least they’ll be able to tell people that they met the face that runs the place…the Phenomenal AJ Styles on the night that he became the WWE World Champion.
I, for one, like that WWE has started using “enhancement talent” again, but why were these two guys here tonight? Were they hoping to have a match? Did they have a match that I missed? Are the Usos shapeshifters? The world may never know.
Match 6: The Usos vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Heath Slater and Rhyno start things off right, but after some early offense against the Usos, Slater gets in trouble pretty early on when he’s sent out of the ring after a headbutt to the gut. On the outside the Usos do a double suplex on Slater sending him into the ring post and follow up with a superkick. Back in the ring the Usos cut Slater off from making the tag and work him over.
Slater and Jey Uso collide in a double cross body block that allows Slater to finally tag Rhyno back in. HOT TAG! Rhyno comes in and wrecks house on every Uso in the ring. He signals for the Gore but ends up missing.
Slater tags himself back in and hits a pair of neckbreakers on the Usos. He then hits a nice implant DDT for a two count, but the count is broken up when Jey pulls his out of the ring. Slater knocks Jey down with a punch but then gets superkicked by Slater.
All hell is breaking loose and in the confusion, Rhyno comes in and gores the fuck out of Jimmy Uso. Heath Slater covers the down Uso for a three count.
We’ve got Smackdown Tag Team Champions and Heath now has a SmackDown Live contract! Heath Slater is maybe more hyped than Mojo Rawley and gives a little speech bellowing, “YO BEULAH! WE’RE GETTING A DOUBLE-WIDE BABY!” He and Rhyno hug in the ring.
Winners: Rhyno & Heath Slater (New Champions)
Much like The Miz, if you’d told me six months ago that one of the most engaging storylines in WWE would involve Heath Slater I would have called your bluff, and yet here we are.
Since the brand split the adventures of Heath Slater have been the most consistently entertaining part of WWE. His quest to get a contract or Raw or Smackdown. His calling out Brock Lesnar. Causing the Headbangers to return for a night. His kids. His rivalry free partnership with Rhyno. All of it has been pretty much perfect.
I know that he and Rhyno probably won just to give closure to the Heath Slater Free Agent storyline and they’ll lose the belts to the Usos in a month or two so they can feud with American Alpha, but I hope this isn’t the end of Beauty and the Manbeast.
Match 7: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose © for the WWE World Championship
The match begins with a feeling out process with neither Styles or Ambrose getting a clear advantage. Ambrose gets some offense in hitting Styles with punches and armdrags. AJ retreats to the outside, but Ambrose attempts to follow him. Ambrose runs into the ring and is met with stomps from the challenger. Ambrose looks to roll Styles up, but AJ escapes and uses a stiff forearm shot to lay Amborse out.
Styles has the advantage for awhile but Ambrose backdrops him out of the ring. He goes for a dive through the ropes, but Styles runs back into the ring and trips Ambrose up and once again takes control of the match.
Styles targets Ambrose’s head and neck area, slapping a headlock on and bellowing about how he’s going to take the championship home with him. Ambrose tries to break free, but Styles hits him with an amazing dropkick for a count of two.
Ambrose mounts a comeback and tosses Styles into the turnbuckle before going for a charge, but Styles moves out of the way causing Ambrose to hit the ring post shoulder first. Styles goes for a corner charge as well, but Ambrose moves out of the way. The two men battle in the corner until both men are on the top rope. Ambrose flips Styles over onto the mat during a back suplex attempt off the top rope. Both men struggle to get to their feet.
Ambrose is the first one up, attacking with forearms and a running clothesline. Ambrose catches Styles in his arms and hits a spinning backbreaker for two. Styles bails to the floor, so Ambrose goes up top and hits his flying elbow to knock Styles down outside the ring.
Back in the ring, Ambrose uses a Sitout Facebuster that almost finishes off Styles. Ambrose goes back up top and Styles follows after him. The two men go for holds and Styles suplexes Ambrose into the turnbuckle. Styles then goes for a springboard attack but Ambrose gets out of the way and goes for Dirty Deeds. Styles is able to escape, and grab Ambrose’s leg. Styles drives Ambrose’s leg into the mat and begins working it over. Ambrose manages to kick free, but a moment later Styles locks in the Calf Crusher in the center of the ring. Ambrose writhes in pain as he slowly crawls toward the center of the ring and grabs the bottom rope.
Almost as soon as he is free from the hold, Ambrose gets trapped in the Calf Crusher again. This time Ambrose escapes by slamming Styles head into the mat repeatedly. Styles goes for the Styles Clash but Ambrose avoids it so Styles kicks him in the head. The two men fight on the ring apron. Styles goes for a move, but Ambrose counters it and sends Ambrose into the ring post with a slingshot. Ambrose follows up with a clothesline into the barricade.
Back in the ring a forearm shot by Ambrose followed by a running bulldog and a cradle gets a two count. Styles answers back with a series of quick strikes followed by a clothesline and then a fireman’s carry into a neckbreaker for another two count.
Styles goes for the Styles Clash again, but Ambrose fights out with a back body drop. Styles puts Ambrose on his shoulders and hits a spin out powerbomb for another two count. Styles slams him down to the mat and shouts, “Let’s see if he gets up from this one,” before hitting a springboard 450° splash. Again Ambrose kicks out at two. Styles looks like he’s in shock.
Ambrose hits a neckbreaker and some knee strikes. Dean keeps the offense going with a running dropkick that sends Styles to the outside. Ambrose follows up with a suicide dive that sends Styles over the announce table and into JBL. Ambrose is relentless. He tosses styles over the barricade at ringside. Ambrose runs over the announce tables and lands a double axe handle on Styles out in the crowd.
When the action finally returns to the ring Styles hits Ambrose with a Pele kick. Ambrose responds with that stupid rebound lariat thing he does. He then goes for Dirty Deeds, but Styles shoves him off. REF BUMP!
Styles is all over the ref bump and and takes Ambrose to DICK KICK CITY! Ambrose drops like a sack of shit and Styles picks him up and hits the Styles Clash. The ref is back up. Styles goes for the pin. One. Two. Three! New champion!
Winner: AJ Styles (New Champion)
That was pretty much a perfect match. Definitely the match of the night. Styles can really make everyone he’s up against look like, to borrow an idiom from Heath Slater, “$100,000.” Dude even made that stupid rebound lariat look decent and for that alone he deserves a run with the belt.
I’d have to say Smackdown Live’s first PPV was a success. There was nearly no filler and all the matches were given enough time so they didn’t feel rushed. I’m curious how things will go during the next PPV when they don’t have “WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONSHIPS AND NEED TO CROWN CHAMPIONS!” as a gimmick to fall back on, but after this PPV they’ve got a pretty decent set of feuds to work with so I’m not really worried.