We see Apollo Crews, Rhyno, Erick Rowan, Baron Corbin and another guy with his head down are in the locker room. AJ Styles enters and says the new face of WWE Smackdown Live is here. He has a souvenir as well: one of John Cena’s arm bands. He calls himself the face that runs this place, then looks at the guy with his head down. Turns out it’s Dolph Ziggler. Styles calls him a loser, and that results in a brawl erupting between the two sides. It breaks up almost immediately when referees appear out of nowhere and separate the two along with the wrestlers.
We go to the Mohegan Sun Arena, where the ring is full of Smackdown’s women and tag teams, along with new championship belts for both divisions. The Women’s title looks exactly the same as the one on RAW, but with blue in the center. The Tag titles are the exact same ones on RAW, but with blue straps and silver plates. Shane McMahon is followed to the ring by Daniel Bryan from the brand-new entrance set, which actually doesn’t look too bad. There are also LCD screens on the ring posts. Okay, that part is too much. Shane welcomes the crowd, and says when he and Bryan teamed up, they decided that opportunity would be the key word for this show.<
Everyone in the ring has a huge opportunity in front of them. Starting with the women’s division, Bryan puts over all six women in the ring (which now includes the returning Nikki Bella, because Vince McMahon hates us), then says one of them will be the first-ever Smackdown Women’s Champion. Shane says the answer will be at Backlash in another first: the six women in the ring (Nikki, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Natalya, Naomi and Alexa Bliss) will compete in the first-ever women’s six-pack challenge for the belt. Except that it’s not. The first women’s six-pack challenge took place at Survivor Series 2001 for the vacant Women’s Championship (which Trish Stratus won). Also at Backlash, we will crown the first Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Bryan says successful teams have to be like brothers. You go to war, have highs and lows with your brothers. One of these teams will experience that. There will be a tournament, with the finals taking place at Backlash, with the tourney starting
Heath Slater interrupts and comes in at ringside. Slater says he’s come THIS CLOSE the last two weeks in getting a SD contract. He enters the ring and says Bryan and Shane just want to take it from him. He forgives them, then asks them to make him Michael Phelps so he can win a bit of gold for his waist. Bryan says Slater isn’t “equipped” for the Women’s title. Slater reminds us he’s not a woman, and he’s talking about the tag belts. Shane makes the same remark as Bryan, then says Slater is not only on the roster, but he doesn’t have a partner. Slater scoffs at this and says he can guarantee he can find a partner in the back right now. He also guarantees he and his partner will enter the tourney and win. Bryan tells him if he can find a partner tonight, they can face an eighth team next week in the tourney. Shane adds the stipulation that he and his partner have to win the whole thing to get a contract. Slater agrees and immediately heads to the back to go head-hunting.
AJ Styles now comes out. He doesn’t care about the new titles and tells Slater right away that he won’t be his partner. Before he goes any further, Dolph Ziggler attacks him from behind, leading to a brawl at ringside. Shane orders the wrestlers in the ring to immediately break it up in a big pull-apart.
MATCH 1: BECKY LYNCH VS. ALEXA BLISS
Bliss gets the jobber non-entrance. Naomi and Natalya are on commentary for this. Lynch and Bliss jockey for position. Becky’s now rocking a catsuit similar to Nattie’s and it looks good. Damn good. Lynch with an arm wringer, which Bliss reverses, only for Lynch to hold and go into a bridging hammerlock. Bliss breaks the hold with an elbow, then blocks a hiptoss. Lynch does the same and eventually goes into the Disarmer, but Bliss gets the rope-break. Bliss trips her into the ropes, then kicks her in the back of the head before choking her against the middle rope. Bliss stomps Lynch’s head into the mat a bit, then rolls her over for 1. Lynch applies an armbar with a chinlock as Bliss makes terrible selling faces. Lynch breaks free by twisting Bliss’ fingers before taking a knee to the gut. Lynch ducks a clothesline and hits a back elbow. She connects with two clotheslines and a leg lariat, which sets up Straight Fire, officially called the Flying Firearm. Bliss comes back with a sunset flip out of the corner for 2, then throws a fit. She screams in Lynch’s face and goes for a wheelbarrow, which Lynch reverses into the Disarmer in a slick little spot, and that’s good enough for the submission win.
WINNER: BECKY LYNCH
We see Heath Slater in the back, on his recruiting mission. He approaches the Miz and Maryse. Apparently, Miz has been looking for him, as he’s a big fan. Slater wants Miz to be his partner and win the tag belts. Miz says this is exactly what he needs to launch his brand into the stratosphere. He’s honoured and won’t let Slater down…except he’s not. Miz has been talking on a bluetooth headset, supposedly to Steven Spielberg. He tells Maryse she might be looking at the new Indiana Jones. Slater shakes his head in derision.
MATCH 1-FIRST-ROUND MATCH IN THE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT: THE ASCENSIONS (KONNOR AND VIKTOR) VS. THE USOS (JEY AND JIMMY)
When was the last time the Ascension won a match? WWE isn’t going to bother with them, so neither am I.
After a lop-sided beating by the Ascension to give false hope any remaining Ascension fans out there, Jimmy tags in, cleans house, and tags back out to Jey, who gets the pin with a Samoan Splash.
WINNERS: THE USOS
AJ Styles makes his way back out to the arena to a fairly mixed reaction. He sees a lot of angry faces in the audience, and jealous faces in the locker room. Dolph Ziggler, for example. Why? Because of what he did at Summerslam, which was cleanly beat John Cena. Styles is wearing the armband he took from Cena at Summerslam, this time on his arm. He says he did exactly what he said what he would do, which was beat up Cena. Then, he beat Cena at Summerslam. He doesn’t know what the CeNation cries into, but don’t worry, because they don’t have to be Cena fans anymore; they can be Styles fans now. He is the face that runs this place. Styles repeats this mantra several times before saying he should be the new #1 contender for the World title.
Ziggler comes out here, but he’s held back by referees and officials. Daniel Bryan is now out and says these two won’t ruin this show. He agrees Styles should be the #1 contender. As for Ziggler, he came within a hair of winning the title at Summerslam. It seems these two want to fight, and that everyone in the crowd wants to see that as well. The crowd likes that and breaks out into a “YES!” chant. Bryan makes the match official for later tonight. If Styles wins, he gets Ambrose at Backlash for the title. If Ziggler wins, he gets added to the match, and it gets made into a triple threat. That…doesn’t really make sense. Based on that announcement, Styles gets a shot no matter what.
Nikki Bella returns to the ring next. No one gives a single damn.
More Curt Hawkins facts. Curt Hawkins once broke a promise…in half; Death once had a near-Curt Hawkins experience; Winter is worried that Curt Hawkins is coming. Okay, I am really enjoying this gimmick already. It’s nice that Hawkins is getting a second run with the company. Outside of his team with Zack Ryder, the Edgeheads, he never got to do anything of note before.
MATCH 2: CARMELLA VS. NIKKI BELLA
Carmella’s entrance music is almost as terrible as Brie Bella’s. Almost, but not quite.
Nikki makes me want to vomit. With Eva Marie out on suspension, Nikki gets the “worst woman on the roster” nod by default. Before the match starts, Renee Young gets in the ring for an interview. Carmella doesn’t give a damn and blindsides Nikki mid-interview. Okay, I’m no fan of Carmella, but this I like. Anyone who beats up Nikki is okay with me for the time being. Carmella drops Nikki with a reverse STO…only to throw some of the worst punches this side of Brie. A second referee comes out to break this up, and the match is apparently a no-go.
Carmella leaves, but then comes back in and hits Nikki with her own move, the Bella Buster (sit-out facebuster).
Randy Orton makes his way out, looking like King Douche Supreme in his Tapout gear. He mocks Brock Lesnar, the same guy that busted him open hardway at Summerslam, putting ten staples in his head. Jeezus, are his arms looking scrawny. If you couldn’t tell by the staples holding his head together, he was in a hell of a fight with Lesnar Sunday night. He knew he was getting into, but he would rather have been unconscious end the way that it did. Shane McMahon thought intervening was the right thing. Maybe on paper, he was, but “One day, Brock Lesnar and my path will cross.” God, he’s an idiot.
Bray Wyatt’s music hits, and he comes out. No Erick Rowan this week, so it looks like the New New New Wyatt Family is already dead. Wyatt sits down in his rocking chair at ringside. He asks Orton how the head is, then says he saw the look in Orton’s eyes change at Summerslam. There’s nothing like laying with your head busted open to remember you are just a man. Orton is a great man (my ass), but still just a man. A man who hurts, suffers and dies. But Wyatt? He’s not just a man; he is a god. And a god can never die. But don’t worry; Orton will find out all about in time.
Wyatt starts to take his jacket off for a fight, but then the screen does the video clip bit. When the lights come back on, Wyatt is gone. And we’re off to our next pointless Bray Wyatt feud.
Shane McMahon is asked about Lesnar by Charlie Caruso. Shane says Lesnar crossed the line, and that his sister won’t take this seriously. Stephanie McMahon only fined him $500. This thing with him and Lesnar is far from over. Oh, no. Please don’t tell me we’re getting a Lesnar/Shane match…
Heath Slater is in the locker room. He asks Arn Anderson to be his partner, comparing himself to Ric Flair. Anderson says there was a time he specialized in tag team affairs, but he doesn’t think he can get Slater out of this. Slater calls him his last chance and only hope. Anderson doesn’t like not being the first choice. He walks away, and Rhyno enters the locker room. Rhyno agrees to be his partner.
MATCH 2A-FIRST-ROUND MATCH IN THE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT: BREEZANGO (TYLER BREEZE AND FANDANGO) VS. AMERICAN ALPHA (CHAD GABLE AND JASON JORDAN)
This is pretty much just as throw-away as the tag match earlier. We get inset promos from both teams. Nothing worth mentioning.
The audio track is off here at about a minute ahead of what is going on on the screen, so I’m skimming this one. AA do the usual spots they’ve been doing the last week-lots of mat wrestling and throws. AA work over the arm of Breeze for a good stretch before Fandango comes in with a clothesline to turn the tide. Gable throws Fandango to the outside and makes the hot tag to Jordan, who goes to town on Breezango, ending in the Alpha-Plex on Fandango and another for Breeze. AA hit a dropkick/German suplex combo for 2 on Breeze, only for Fandango to break it up. AA set up what looks like the Steiners’ diving bulldog, but Gable gets shoved off the top, resulting in Breeze getting 2. Breezango take control with Breeze hitting Supermodel Kicks everywhere. Several near-falls for both teams as they trade offense. Jordan hits a capture Alpha-Plex and tags out to Gable, and AA hit Grand Amplitude for 3.
WINNERS: AMERICAN ALPHA
The Usos and American Alpha move onto the semi-finals of the tournament. The other half of the opening round will take place next week.
Charlie Caruso is with Dean Ambrose, asking about what he thinks of tonight’s main event. Ambrose says he’s on a hot streak at the casino, and he heard about the match while he was gambling. He’s going to be on commentary for the match. Total throw-away segment.
MATCH 3: DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. AJ STYLES
The stipulation for this match is stupid, and I’m not repeating it.
Unfortunately, my feed freezes for the first few minutes of the match. When it clears up, we’re coming back from a commercial, and Styles is in control with a rear chinlock. Ziggler fights out but gets chopped back down in a hurry. Styles goes to work on the right arm, which had been injured during the commercial break when Styles threw him into the steps. Ziggler fights out of the hold with punches after a minute or two. Styles cuts him down with a knee to the gut, only to run into a dropkick. Styles runs into a back elbow, misses a clothesline and gets caught with a pair from Ziggler. Ziggler hits the corner splash and neckbreaker. The Shot to the Heart gets 2. Styles avoids the rocker dropper before getting sent into the ring post. Ziggler catches it on the second attempt, but it’s only good for 2. Ziggler goes for the sleeper, but Styles shakes it off and hits the Ushi-Goroshi for 2. Styles hits a bodyslam and sets up the springboard 450. Styles misses and gets planted with a leaping DDT for 2. On the replay, that DDT looked really sloppy. Styles gets back up and blocks a superkick. Ziggler tries to counter with a hurricanrana, but gets caught in the Styles Clash. He manages to escape and catches Styles with the Zig-Zag off a missed splash against the ropes, but it only gets 2. Ziggler hits a headbutt and tries for the superkick again. Styles catches him and crotches him on the middle rope before sneaking in a quick low blow. Styles hits the Styles Clash, and this one’s over.
WINNER: AJ STYLES.
Styles moves onto Backlash in a one-on-one match with Dean Ambrose for the World Championship.
Styles heads to ringside to get in Ambrose’s face a bit. He points at the title belt and says it’s his. He takes Ambrose’s headset off for him, causing Ambrose to stand up and get in Styles’ face. Styles laughs while Ambrose smirks. They talk some trash before referee Mike Chioda defuses the situation.
END OF SHOW
Follow Dustin Nichols on Twitter at @XdustinEFLX.
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