If you didn’t bother to tune in to the WWE Network Sunday night to see Smackdown Live presenting WWE Backlash, you should be forced to do the shame walk from Game of Thrones and then made to watch Santino promos for five hours. It was a spectacular event, maybe one of the best pay-per-views of the year thus far. I am more than excited to see what this episode brings us tonight. So let’s get into it.
The champ is here! (Those are A.J. Styles’ words, not mine.) The show kicks off with the Phenomenal new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He is cut short by John Cena. Womp-Womp. This was predictable as soon as Styles won. Cena says Styles has something that belongs to him and he wants the championship. Literally without question the safest, most boring option WWE could go with. Ghetto Cena does his played out gimmick; says he wants to be a 16-time world champion. Enter Dean Ambrose, angry and cutting a path right to the ring. Ambrose gets in the face of Styles and starts shooting off on the mic. Cena interrupts him and questions whether he even has balls. If that sounds familiar, it’s because John Cena uses the same promo against every opponent he has ever faced. Some form of testicles, balls, scrotum, sack, etc. Take your pick, he has one line. And for some reason the crowd always eats it up like it was the first time they saw a boob in middle school.
Shane McMahon comes out. He praises Ambrose and Styles in their performances at Backlash, until, he says, Styles took the easy way out. Shane sets up the umpteenth triple threat title match for No Mercy next month. Yawn. He sets up a tag match later. Cena and Ambrose vs Styles and an opponent of his choosing. All the progress Backlash made and now here we are retracing our steps back to Shitville and Mayor John Cena is once again shoved down our throats. I am so disappointed with this segment and everything that just took place. Commercial break.
The Hype Bros and The Usos are in the ring ready for a match when we return. Zack Ryder and Jey Uso start the match. Jey goes after Ryder’s injured and wrapped left leg. He isolates Ryder in their corner and tags in Jimmy. He works on the leg with multiple shots and then tags Jey back in. He puts an ankle lock on using his body as leverage. Mojo and Jimmy get tagged in and Mojo clobbers Jimmy in the corner. Jey distracts the ref and Jimmy rakes Mojo’s eyes. Super kick and mojo is down. Jey is tagged in and he splashes off the tap rope into the cover for the pinfall. Solid match. Only complaint is it was really short. I am enjoying this Uso heel turn and would have gladly watched them in action some more. Well told story, even in the brief few minutes all four men were in action.
Really lousy Curt Hawkins vignette after the break. They should have done something better with him. This crappy Chuck Norris Facts gimmick is just not getting me excited for his debut. The Miz and Maryse come down to the ring. He says he doesn’t care if everybody calls him a coward because he walked out of Backlash with his beautiful wife and the Intercontinental Championship. Miz calls himself a main-eventer and then The Showoff interrupts him. Ziggler says Miz is just trying to sell himself to himself because he doesn’t believe his own words. Ziggler wants a rematch with no wives, no gimmicks, just him and Miz. Maryse stutters through half a sentence and then Daniel Bryan comes out and says Dolph will get his rematch. Miz says he won’t defend his title until his contract is renegotiated. He storms out of the ring leaving Bryan and Ziggler (and wife, Maryse) confused. Backstage Styles runs into Baron Corbin in the hallway. He asks him to be his tag partner. Corbin says, “Your partner? I’d rather be your opponent. I want that title,” and then walks away into a commercial fade out.
He is coming down to the ring when we return, set to take on Apollo Crews, in a rematch from Sunday. Before the bell even rings, Corbin attacks Crews off the apron and then hits End of Days outside on the floor. Corbin gets back in the ring. Jack Swagger’s music hits. He walks out in a t-shirt and jeans with a backwards baseball cap. Corbin rolls out of the ring and leaves, which is disappointing. Swagger says he signed a contract with Smackdown Live. He cuts a weird promo about something. It was strange and I just laughed at him. Not sure about this frat boy gimmick.
Becky Lynch comes out, beaming from ear to ear with her new fancy title. She says Philadelphia (where Smackdown is tonight) is a fighting town and she’s a fighting champion so, and I quote, “Bring it brooooooooooos!” Naomi comes out in her blacklight entrance. This is about to be a Fatal-5-Way to determine Becky’s next challenger. Naomi’s opponents will be Nikki Bella, Natalya, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella. These ladies put on a fantastic match Sunday so I’m not dreading this one. When the bell rings, all five just go hard after each other. Lots of offense, lot of lovely bodies flying around. Nikki and Natalya are left in the ring. Nikki almost gets a pinfall but Carmella breaks it up. Good action throughout this one. I am eating a plate of ribs while I type this so apologies for the lack of details. Just enjoying watching these ladies work. Carmella kicks Nikki to the mat, but before she can cover, Alexa Bliss runs in and throws Carmella out of the ring. She covers Nikki for the win! New #1 Contender is Bliss’d! Yes! Styles backstage asks Kane to be his partner. He only laughs at AJ and walks away.
Shane in the ring after another commercial. He introduces Heath Slater bay-bay! He comes out with Rhyno. Crowd goes wild. This is so awesome. It has been a really great story the past few weeks. Shane says he is a man of his word and wants to make Heath’s job official. He hands him a contract. Slater signs it and crowd chants “You deserve it!” Slater says they will fight anybody, anytime, anywhere. The Ascension (UGHHHHH) interrupts and says how about them right now. Shane clears the ring and says get a ref out there. Commercial break. When we come back Ascension is viciously dominating. They run the ring for a few minutes, but they are no match for Rhyno’s GORE! Pinfall and they have their first successful title defense. Daniel Bryan found Styles a teammate. The weird-mouthed James Elsworth whose claim to fame is being squashed by Braun Strowman.
The Viper, Randy Orton comes down to the ring. Huge pop from the crowd for him and an RKO chant. Orton calls out Bray Wyatt. But instead of coming out, he has a foggy vignette. Wyatt cryptically tells Orton not to sleep. Cut to black and we come back to a dim arena. Bray leans against the announce table and stares at Orton. Randy beckons him into the ring. Bray takes his jacket and hat off, but Erick Rowan appears behind Orton and beats him down. Orton is down for a moment but then he just jumps up and hits a RKO. Lackluster segment for all.
AJ Styles comes down. Then his ridiculous partner, Elsworth comes walking out. The Miz pommels him from behind and hits a Skull Crushing Finale on the ramp. He looks in the camera and says, “He’s the main event, Daniel? This guy?! I’m the main event!” Miz gets in the ring and squares up to Styles. They shake hands! Miz is Styles’ tag team partner tonight! After the break, Miz is dominating Cena. Styles and Ambrose tag in and just go at each other. No love loss there. Miz sneaking attacks on Ambrose while the ref is distracted. Cena and Miz in and Cena does his patent pending Five Moves of Doom. Attitude Adjustment and Cena covers Miz for the win. Cena celebrates and Ambrose hits him with Dirty Deeds. Crowd boos? Ambrose yells at Cena he better never disrespect him again. Interesting. Dull match and a flat main event.
I enjoyed the broadcast for the most part, but the booking was strange. No Mercy is shaping up to be a pay-per-view that fans could afford to miss. What did you think of Smackdown Live tonight? Let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker