For ill or for gain, history is being made tonight. Smackdown Live is debuting it’s first stand-alone PPV on the WWE Network, Backlash. The match card is not very stacked. It would appear they have a low number of matches for a three hour event. It was announced moments ago that Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews would square off in the pre-show. But first, #SignHeathSlater was trending as he and Rhyno join Tom Phillips in the social media lounge. First question is what if Heath loses. Slater says he can’t lose because he has everything riding on the line. Heath says when they win he is buying tiki-torches to put all around his above-ground pool. Rhyno and Slater are hilarious in tandem, playing off each other to the viewer’s delight. Rhyno is excited to win so that they don’t have to swim at the community pool anymore. And he wants Slater to take his family to Golden Corral. When asked about a possible tag team name they joke: “Beauty and the Man-Beast.” We will be live posting and updating this article throughout the broadcast.
Alexa Bliss joins the pre-show panel wearing her hair, make-up and ring gear like a cool Harley Quinn costume. She cuts a promo saying she has plans for tonight and that everyone is looking at the new Smackdown Live Women’s Champion. Renee Young says she is tiny but terrible. She seems ready for the Women’s Six Pack Challenge later this evening.
JBL, Mauro Ranallo and David Otunga are shown ringside and we are ready for some in-ring action. Apollo Crews comes out to a decent pop from the crowd. The stadium is mostly filled at this point which is good. Many times the pre-show matches have a lot of empty seats. When Baron Corbin’s music hits, crowd is vocally polarized. If it was ten years ago, it would seem that Corbin’s path would most definitely have to cross Kane at some point. Grappling to start, Corbin tosses Crews off. They pace each other and then lock up again. There is bad blood between these two due to run-in’s down in NXT. Huge shoulder tackle off the ropes from Corbin to put Crews down. Crews pops up and dropkicks the big man. Crews tries a springboard off the top rope but Corbin clobbers him with a massive punch and he tumbles off the apron to the floor below. Commercial break.
When we return both men are in the ring and it’s more of Corbin dominating Crews. A kick on the apron gives Crews some breathing room. He hits a leaping lariat and finally puts Corbin down. Corbin recovers and whips Crews into the corner, and then punches him in the back of the head. Crowd boos as Corbin unleashes a flurry of punches. He knees Crews in the face. Devastating clothesline by Corbin and he covers Crews. Mere two count and the crowd can’t believe it. Running knee by Crews and both men are down. Referee starts a 10 count. Both men up at 8. A kick and a standing moonsault by Crews and he covers Corbin but no dice as he kicks out at two. Olympic slam by Crews but again Corbin kicks out. Corbin hits a Deep Six and covers Crews, but he kicks out. Crowd fired up now. Outside of the ring Corbin tries to run at Crews, but he moves and Corbin collides with the steel steps. Crews gets him back in the ring, climbs the top rope but Corbin rolls away. Crews jumps down and punches Corbin in the corner. Corbin explodes out with an End of Days and covers for the pinfall victory. That was a well-done match for these two. Might have been the best we have seen Baron Corbin on the main roster. And Apollo Crews was as good as ever. High marks for just a pre-show match.
Pretty epic, long promo package for AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose at 7:57. They are really hyping this match up. I hope the actual match delivers. The pre-show panel is split on which one will walk out as the champion. Hopefully the match will be a straight up, clean bout. If John Cena runs in to do something, that will really take away the title’s credibility. On the first ever Smackdown Live pay-per-view, we don’t need any gimmicks or shenanigans in the main event.
Here Comes The Money! The Smackdown Live commissioner, Shane McMahon comes down to the ring. General Manager, Daniel Bryan, then comes down to his typical, huge crowd reaction. A YES! chant starts. And if anybody wondered how they would fill three hours with only six matches, well here we are. Shane thanks the production crew, staff, roster, and audience for Smackdown Live’s success. Shane goes over the title matches for the night and ends with talking about the Sixpack Challenge for the Women’s Title which is kicking off the show! Becky Lynch comes down, fired up. Natalya walks out looking confused as to whether she is a face or heel. Her character has been in limbo for a long while. Naomi comes out to her bright lite dance show which is terrific to watch. She may be the dark horse to steal the belt tonight. With this gimmick having her run with the title is fine by me. Alexa Bliss comes out, followed by Carmella. Those are the two I hope win the new title. Nikki Bella comes out last. My son groans, as did my wife, as did I. We all hate the Bella’s in this household! All six women in at once and single elimination for this one.
Female brawl to start, clearing out the ring and leaving Naomi and Lynch to square off. Naomi strikes Lynch with a bunch of kicks, but then Lynch throws her over the top rope. Carmella attacks her from behind and tries a cover. Kick out at two. Nikki gets in the ring and faces off against her nemesis Carmella. Natalya and Bliss attack both from behind. Natalya throws Carmella into the barricade as Bliss puts Nikki down and tries a cover. Nikki jumps off the second rope and kicks Bliss. Near fall, but Bliss kicks out at two. Basement dropkick from Natalya on Bliss as Niki rolls out of the ring. Lynch comes in and takes Natalya and Bliss down. Suplex by Natalya on Lynch. I am struggling to keep up with all the action, which is a rare statement for a women’s match. Proud of all these ladies putting on a fantastic match. The ring clears out and Nikki goes ballistic on Carmella. Carmella gets Nikki in the Code of Silence, but Nikki gets out. She slams Carmella and covers, but a kickout from Ms. Fabulous. No one eliminated yet. Superplex/powerbomb from Natalya, Carmella and Nikki in the corner. Took too long to setup. But they nailed it and it looked nice. Crowd starts a “This Is Awesome!” chant. Carmella and Bliss square off. Carmella dumps her out, Nikki dumps Carmella out. Five women down outside, Naomi off the top rope, spring-boarding down and taking out all of them. She nearly slips on the rope, but thankfully she pulled it off.
Bliss punches Natalya in the corner. Naomi and Natalya absolutely destroy Bliss with a suplex powerbomb. Naomi covers her and she is gone. Natalya then locks in the Sharp Shooter on Naomi. She taps out in a matter of seconds. Natalya takes out Carmella and then Nikki clothesline Natalya. Backbreaker on Nattie and Nikki covers. Three count and Natalya is gone. Carmella small package on Nikki and she eliminates her! Yes! Crowd starts a chant for Becky. Becky puts the Dissarmer submission on Carmella and makes her tap! Becky Lynch is the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion! After the match, Becky is interviewed in near tears. She thanks the crowd, who cheer her on. Nice start to the show, proper booking, this pay-per-view has been great so far.
Bray Wyatt is shown backstage attacking Randy Orton. He slams his leg in a door before a ref intervenes. Orton is rumored to not be competing and Kane will take his place. Very disappointing. The Usos come out in new ring gear, no face paint. Heel turn complete. The Hype Bros come out next. The winner of this match faces Heath Slater and Rhyno later tonight. Mojo and Ryder look strong to start, really taking it to the Usos. Huge missile dropkick off the apron by Ryder and then Mojo shoulder tackles both Usos nearly out of their shoes. Loving this match so far! Things slow down as Jey goes to work on Ryder. The Usos isolate Ryder, not letting him get a tag. Ryder hits a hangman’s neckbreaker out of nowhere and plants Jey. Mojo reaches out for a tag. Jimmy gets a tag instead and he runs across the ring to knock Mojo off the apron. Jimmy and Jey double team Ryder. He clears the ring and manages to get Mojo in. Stinger splash by Mojo and he hits a military press slam on Jey. He tags Ryder who hits a Frankensteiner on Jey, but Jimmy breaks up the pin. As Ryder is distracted by Jimmy, Jey takes him out at the knee. Half crab submission and Ryder has no choice but to tap out. The bad guy Usos are here to stay. And I think I like them. They advance to fight Slater and Rhyno for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships later tonight.
Dolph Ziggler comes down next, challenging The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Before Miz comes out, he is shown backstage talking to Daniel Bryan. He demands a contract negotiation to be “paid like the A-lister I am.” Bryan is silent. The Miz says, “What? Nothing to say? And you call me a coward.” He sends Bryan back to his “cubby-hole” and enters the arena with wife, Maryse. This match should be good. Feels like the Ziggler/Miz feud is what the Ziggler/Ambrose feud could have and should have been. Spine buster by Ziggler right out of the gate. Miz rolls out of the ring to regroup. Mat grappling by Ziggler once Miz rolls back in. He shows his amateur skills. Miz fights back with a punch and a slam. Crowd boos. Ziggler off the ropes and he lands two dropkicks on Miz. Miz catapults Ziggler against the bottom rope. Cover but Ziggler kicks out at two. Bow and arrow stretch by Miz and Ziggler screams in pain. Miz catapults Ziggler out of the ring. Miz takes control for a few minutes. He hits three dropkicks in a row in the corner.
He taunts Daniel Bryan and then hits a running clothesline on Ziggler. Miz hops up to the top rope and drops off with a double ax handle on Ziggler. Skull Crushing Finale attempt by Miz but Ziggler blocks it and dropkicks him. Both men down. Ziggler recovers, hits a swinging neckbreaker, spinebuster and then drops an elbow. He covers but Miz kicks out at two. Miz crashes shoulder first into the corner. Ziggler tries a Zig Zag, but Miz powerbombs him off the ropes then down to the mat. He covers, but Ziggler kicks out. That was a lovely series of moves. The crowd has been fired up throughout this entire broadcast and have stayed lit for this match as well. Zig Zag by Ziggler, but Miz kicks out. Crowd in a frenzy. Headlock by Ziggler as he leaps on Miz’s back. He drops to one knee, face turning red. Miz runs Ziggler into the turnbuckle and he collapses. DDT by Ziggler and he covers but a long two count is all he gets. Super kick by Ziggler but Miz blocks it and hits a DDT into a Figure Four Leglock. Ziggler screams. Ziggler takes a long time to crawl to the rope, but he manages and the ref breaks the hold. Miz kicks him in the face. Miz tries another leglock but Ziggler kicks him in the butt. When he turns around, superkick by Ziggler. He covers, but Miz reaches his leg out and touches the bottom rope with his toe. Ref stops the count. That was a really nice false finish. Both men out of the ring and ref starts a 10 count. Ziggler gets him in. When the ref is distracted, Maryse sprays Ziggler in the face. Skull Crushing Finale and Miz retains.
Bray Wyatt comes to the ring amidst his fireflies. Due to injury Randy Orton is not cleared to compete tonight. Bray Wyatt wants the 10 count to signify his victory via forfeit. Bell rings and the ref starts a 10 count. He rings the bell and Wyatt gets up on the corner and holds his arms out. The announcer informs us all of his victory. However, he says, Bray Wyatt will have a no holds barred match against Kane! What!? Thank you Shane and Daniel! Bell rings and they just go after each other. The history between these two has already been established. We don’t need a gimmick or a story. Just let them go at it. They quickly spill out of the ring and Kane clears the announce table. Bray hits him with the ring bell then slams his head against the apron. Wyatt picks up a chair. But Kane socks him in the mouth. In the ring Bray clobbers Kane with a steel chair. This one is just brutal. What a great idea to throw this in the middle of the pay-per-view. Smart booking.
Outside the ring, Wyatt takes apart one of the other announce tables. He lays Kane on one and stands on the next one over. He poses like Randy Orton and then leaps back first into Kane, breaking the table. Crowd starts a “Holy Shit!” chant. Back in the ring, Bray attempts a Sister Abigail but Kane blocks it and chokeslams him. Cover, but Bray kicks out at two. Kane puts a chair on the mat and runs a thumb across his throat. He picks Bray up but instead Wyatt counters and slams Kane into the chair. He covers but a kickout at two. Bray can’t believe it. Randy Orton limps out, crowd goes wild. Bray stares him down. Kane sits up. Orton comes in the ring and RKO’s Bray Wyatt. Crowd erupts. Kane chokeslams Bray against the chair and covers him. Three seconds later and Bray Wyatt’s pay-per-view losing streak continues. I’m not sold on the outcome, but you can’t hate on that match. It was damn good. Nice palette cleanser for the rest of the broadcast.
Time to determine who is going to be the inaugural Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. Heel Usos come down first followed by Slater and Rhyno who get a huge pop. Rhyno and Jey start and the crowd starts an “E-C-DUB!” chant. Slater tags in but the Usos double team him and suplex him into the steel post outside the ring. They isolate Slater, not allowing him to tag. The Usos do a great job as heels. Everytime Slater is close to a tag they either pull him to the mat or they kick Rhyno away. It’s fun to watch. This is how you tell a good story. Slater and Jey collide and both men are down. Heath crawls around trying to find his corner. He does and tags in Rhyno who quickly takes the Usos apart. Belly to belly suplex on Jimmy. Slater tags himself in and hits a pair of neckbreakers on the Usos. He kicks Jimmy in the gut and hits a DDT. He covers, but Jey pulls him out of the ring. Superkick by Jimmy, but Rhyno hits him with Gore! Slater rolls in, covers, and that’s all she wrote! Crowd goes wild! Your first Tag Team Champions for the Smackdown brand are Heath Slater and Rhyno! Slater has a contract! Yes! Crowd starts a “You deserve it!” chant. Heath says, “This is probably the biggest night of my life. You know, besides, like a couple of my kids being bored.” He yells to his wife they’re getting a double-wide. This is a great moment.
Dean Ambrose defends his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles for tonight’s main event. Styles is introduced as The Face Who Runs The Place. Some light grappling to start. Ambrose does some good arm drags. Nothing much exciting happens at the beginning. The crowd starts a chant for JBL. Styles argues with the ref multiple times. Offense finally gets going with Ambrose hitting a backdrop. Styles trips him into the rope, throat first. Crowd split with dueling chants for both. The pacing is a little stagnant in this one. Not sure why these two chose to move this slow, but the crowd is still into it. The pair botch a move off the top rope. Not sure what it was supposed to be but both slam into the mat awkwardly and are down. Ref starts a 10 count. Styles rolls outside of the ring and Ambrose drops an elbow on him off the top rope. Back in the ring, Styles suplexes Ambrose into the turnbuckles. The match is slow and methodical, but not necessarily boring. Just seems like an odd flow considering all the highs we’ve had all night. Styles locks in the calf crusher submission. Ambrose struggles to the bottom rope and manages to break the hold. Styles goes for the Styles Clash but Ambrose grabs the ropes. On the apron, Ambrose catapults Styles into the steel apron. Back in the ring, Styles lifts Ambrose into a firemen’s carry and then flips Ambrose into a neckbreaker.
Springboard 450 Splash into a cover by Styles. Ambrose narrowly kicks out. Ambrose dropkicks Styles out of the ring and then leaps out after him. He throws Styles into and over the announce table. Then he throws him into the crowd. He climbs the announce tables and jumps over the barricade to drop an elbow on Styles. Back in the ring Ambrose clothesline Styles head over heels. Ambrose tries Dirty Deeds, but Ambrose runs into the ref. Low blow by Styles and he hits a really terrible Styles Clash that he almost botches. He covers and the ref counts to three. Styles wins and holds the belt above his head. Well, is something about to happen? It’s only 10:37. Feels like we still have another ten minutes to go. Styles walks up the ramp laughing, clutching the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to his chest. But no, the trademark box pops up and this one is over. Really weird early finish. But pretty decent match for the world title.
Overall, the pay-per-view itself was maybe one of the best WWE has done this year. The pre-show match was excellent, even being slated in a bad spot. Both men really did a fantastic job firing up the crowd and keeping them excited for the main show. The show kicked off in a shocking manner with the women’s Sixpack Challenge which was jam packed with terrific action. One of the best female matches we have seen in awhile and the right lady won. The Usos had a very successful heel turn and demonstrated they are new and improved against The Hype Bros. And that was just the first hour! The Miz and Dolph Ziggler made the Intercontinental Championship match matter, putting on a near-flawless match. The ending probably made some people mad, but Miz is a heel. And he does whatever it takes to hold on to his prestigious title. Besides, having a wonky finish protected Ziggler a little bit. Kane and Bray Wyatt had a hell of a match. The finish is questionable. Not sure why Wyatt became the permanent jobber at pay-per-views, but the match was fun to watch. And technically he beat Randy Orton in the record books. Slater and Rhyno are so over and their win solidifies their place at the table. Loved the match, loved the outcome. AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose put on a good match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. But it was very slow and didn’t really wow me. If I had one complaint for the night it would be just utterly being done with Ambrose as champion. This match tonight shined a spotlight on the fact he can’t carry a match and is not main event material. Throughout the match you can clearly see him calling spots the whole time. And to me it looked like Styles was having to hinder himself in order to keep up with Ambrose’s slow, clunky style. But the crowd and commentary were amazing all night tonight. Even David Otunga wasn’t completely horrible. Overall just a really solid show from Smackdown tonight. No lulls in action, no boring segments. I was very impressed. What did you think of tonight’s show? Let us know in the comments below! See you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker