It’s the last Smackdown before Extreme Rules. Here’s what WWE has advertised going into the show: Miz TV with Kane and Daniel Bryan as the guests will open the broadcast. Matches include AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura one more time, Asuka vs. James Ellsworth in a Lumberjack Match with women’s wrestlers surrounding the ring and Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Sin Cara.
Live from Manchester, New Hampshire, this is Smackdown Live for episode #985. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
There was a shot of the live crowd to open the show. The announcers hyped up the matches that are coming up, which I mentioned at the top.
Miz TV with Team Hell No
The Miz started off by claiming that people are talking the Miz and Mrs. show debuting in two weeks on USA Network after Smackdown. The Miz said people are also talking about his guests tonight…Kane and Daniel Bryan aka Team Hell No.
Kane’s music hit first and he walked out first for the team. Daniel Bryan’s music hit as the crowd made a lot of noise with the “yes” chants for him. Bryan was wearing the new Team Hell No shirt that looks awful. I like Bryan a lot, but the shirt is bad. Bryan and Kane face the Bludgeon Brothers for the SD Tag Team Titles at Extreme Rules.
The interview started with tension between Miz and Bryan with the fans wanting Bryan to punch Miz in the face, but Kane stopped his partner from doing it. Bryan said he’ll be professional. Miz did his “hand goes up, mouth goes shut” routine to the crowd. Nice “Kane for Mayor” sign in the crowd.
Miz told them their history is impressive and ever since they’ve been back, they have been a well oiled machine. Miz said this would be like Justin Timberlake reuniting with N Sync. Miz asked if they are ready for the Bludgeon Brothers. Kane: “First of all, N Sync will never reunite.” Kane told Bryan that JT is just too big a star. True. Kane put over the Bludgeon Brothers for being great Tag Team Champions, but they are not Team Hell No. Miz cued up a video showing Team Hell No.
A video aired showing the Team Hell No reunion from a few weeks ago along with clips of their history. The clips included Kane attacking Bryan when they had the feud in 2014 with Kane delivering Tombstones to Bryan all around the ring. It ended with a clip of Kane laughing.
Miz apologized for the footage that was aired and said “Kerwin in the truck” will be fired. Heels lie. Miz tried to ask Bryan something, but Bryan said we know what he’s trying to do by stirring the pot. Bryan said that it’s not working because he’s The Miz and he’s terrible at everything. Fans chanted “yes” for that. Bryan said the only thing that Miz is worse at is wrestling.
Miz fired back at Bryan at wanting to end Bryan’s career for good, but all Bryan wants to do is hide behind Kane. That led to Kane telling Bryan to breathe in and focus. Miz called Kane a “broken down demon” so Kane choked Miz down.
The Bludgeon Brothers duo of Harper and Rowan made their entrance.
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The Sanity trio interrupted that with the lights going off. The lights came back on shortly after. Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain stomped away on Bryan in the ring while The Bludgeon Brothers went after Kane. The New Day trio interrupted that by destroying the Sanity guys that they have had issues with. Bryan recovered with a running dropkick, but Dain hit a running cross body block on Bryan to take him down. Young hit a neckbreaker variation on Woods. Referees and agents went into the ring. There was a double team slam by Sanity. The Bludgeon Brothers music played to end it.
The scene ended with The Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity having a stare down. It looked like an obvious 10-man tag team match for later.
Analysis: It was a pretty good opening segment. Bryan and Miz got in some nice jabs on eachother that will hopefully lead to a big match at SummerSlam for them. I liked how they said they would keep it professional early on, but then Bryan ripped on Miz for the video, said he’s terrible at wrestling and that set Miz off. These guys play off eachother so well. The five heels attacking likely set up the ten man tag team match for later, which is typical of a WWE opening segment.
Still to come: Asuka vs. Ellsworth in a Lumberjack Match.
Shinsuke Nakamura was shown walking backstage because he is up next.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown on camera talking about what’s still to come.
It was official for later: Bryan, Kane and New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity in a 10-man tag team match.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. He challenges Jeff Hardy for the US Title at Extreme Rules.
AJ Styles was up next to a good ovation. He’s the WWE Champion that defends that title against Rusev at Extreme Rules.
Rusev made his entrance with his buddy Aiden English. Rusev said he didn’t care what Styles thinks because Rusev is coming to Extreme Rules to destroy the house that AJ Styles built. Fans chanted “Rusev Day” for him. Rusev said after he wins his first WWE Championship, we’ll celebrate on the greatest day of them all that will haunt Styles forever…Rusev Day.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is not for the WWE Title.
Styles hit a dropkick, Nakamura rolled to the floor and the show went to break right away.
The match returned with Rusev on commentary while English sad beside him. Styles hit Nakamura with a forearm. When Styles went to the top, Nakamura tripped him up to knock him down to the floor. Nakamura whipped Rusev into the barricade. Back in the ring, Nakamura grounded Styles with a chinlock. Rusev said he doesn’t have nerves, he’s got the best training camp, he’s been ready for 4.5 years and he’ll prove it. Rusev talked about things he’s done in his career. Styles fought back with forearms, but Nakamura kicked him in the back of the neck. Nakamura with a front suplex. Nakamura went for the Kinshasa, but Styles got a rollup for two. Styles with an enziguri kick that sent Nakamura to the turnbuckle. Nakamura set up Styles on the top followed by a running knee to the ribs. Rusev ripped on Phillips for not remembering that Rusev put Styles in the Accolade last week. Nakamura hit a front slam for a two count. Nakamura went for a kick, Styles caught it and Nakamura hit a kick to the head for two. They went to break again.
Styles was in control when the match came back with strikes to the face followed by a clothesline. Styles with a leaping clothesline against the turnbuckle. Nakamura escaped, did his “come on” hand gesture and Styles nailed the fireman’s carry neckbreaker for a two count. Rusev wondered how Styles can pick him up and that shut up Saxton. Styles wanted a Styles Clash, Nakamura avoided it and went for a triangle choke submission. I could see Nakamura say “pin me” leading to Styles pinning for a two count. Nakamura went for a reverse exploder suplex, Styles landed on his feet, Styles said “come on” and the fans loved that. Styles sent Nakamura to the floor. Styles jumped over the top with a forearm smash on Nakamura on the floor. English got up to yell at Styles, so Styles decked English with a punch. Nakamura capitalized with a kick to the head. Nakamura went for Kinshasa, Styles moved and Nakamura hit English with the knee. Styles sent Nakamura into the ring post. Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Rusev tripped him up. The match went 16 minutes with the disqualification ending.
Winner by disqualification: AJ Styles
Analysis: *** It was a good match as usual from them without really getting into the believable nearfalls. When Rusev was out there at ringside with English it was obvious that this would break down with a disqualification finish. The way Nakamura countered the Styles Clash with a triangle choke was so impressive. It’s a reminder of how great these guys are even though their matches this year were not match of the year classics. They still had good matches, though.
Nakamura teased a knee attack on Styles, but Jeff Hardy ran out with the US Title. The fans chanted “Hardy” for Hardy as he ran the ropes and hit a dropkick that knocked down Rusev and Nakamura. Hardy with another dropkick that knocked down both guys.
Paige, the Smackdown General Manager, appeared on the stage. Paige mentioned all the guys around ringside, so she put them in a predictable tag team match.
Analysis: It was obvious that was going to happen. I’m just surprised Nakamura vs. Styles went as long as it did before setting up the tag team match.
It looked like they started during the break.
AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English) and Shinsuke Nakamura
Rusev with a clothesline on Styles followed by a hard punch. Rusev with a bear hug followed by a body slam and a suplex. Rusev applied another bearhug on Styles leading to a split screen commercial for Extreme Rules. After about one minute of the bearhug, Styles jumped on Rusev’s back with a sleeper, so Rusev drove him back first into the turnbuckle. Rusev charged in, Styles moved and tag to Jeff Hardy, who hit Rusev with a forearm, double leg drop and a low dropkick for two. Hardy with a back elbow and he went up top with a Whisper in the Wind attack to take down Rusev. Nakamura into the ring, Styles sent him to the floor and Styles hit a running knee on Nakamura. Machka Kick by Rusev on Styles on the floor. Hardy with a Twist of Fate on Rusev. Hardy up top, but Nakamura tripped him up to crotch him. Rusev back up and he connected with a Machka Kick on Hardy for the pinfall win after about five minutes of action.
Winners by pinfall: Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: **1/2 That was a good match for the time given. Rusev worked the whole match for his team and was put over strong with the Machka Kick on Hardy. It was smart to not have Styles take the pin. I don’t think Hardy getting pinned hurts him much at all. It was booked well.
Post match, Rusev celebrated the big win while the announcers put him over because he’s got a lot of momentum going into Extreme Rules.
Analysis: I doubt Rusev leaves with the WWE Title at Extreme Rules, but I like how he has been built up. I think Nakamura will beat Hardy for the US Title.
Still to come is the 10-man tag team match.
James Ellsworth was shown backstage doing some weak looking push-ups. Carmella, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, showed up to tell Ellsworth he better take care of Asuka. He winked at her, so she said if he winks again she’ll beat him up worse than what she does to Asuka. Carmella told Ellsworth not to let her down.
The Smackdown women made their entrances as lumberjacks: Lana, Peyton Royce, Billie Kaye, my favorite Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Becky Lynch and Naomi.
Analysis: Charlotte Flair is not back yet after having a procedure done to repair a breast implant. She should be back in a few weeks and I think she’ll be ready to go by SummerSlam.
Carmella made her entrance with the Smackdown Women’s Title around her waist. Carmella went around ringside bragging to the other women that she’s the champion.
James Ellsworth made his entrance while I wonder why this creative team can come up with matches for this guy, but they have nothing for so many deserving talents. They showed some ridiculous tweets from Ellsworth.
Ellsworth did a promo telling the ladies that his body may be tempting, but he told them to show some restraint. Ellsworth said that none of you are ready for Asuka, but James Ellsworth is.
Asuka made her entrance and there was a good reaction to her, but not like it was several months ago.
Lumberjack Match: James Ellsworth vs. Asuka
Ellsworth did his usual routine of backing away. Ellsworth went to the apron near Mandy and Sonya, so Asuka kicked him. Asuka with a running hip attack that sent Ellsworth out of the ring. The women threw Ellsworth back in the ring. Asuka with strikes followed by a knee and a running kick. Ellsworth to the floor again. He tried to run away, but the women grabbed him and the women fought eachother. Ellsworth crawled away, so Lynch and Naomi brought Ellsworth back to ringside. The women fought eachother again. Asuka up top and she jumped on top of the women on the floor. Carmella gave something to Ellsworth that was a spray of some kind. Asuka kicked Ellsworth in the ribs, she kicked Ellsworth and he knocked Carmella off the apron. Asuka slapped on the Asuka Lock submission and Ellsworth tapped out. The match went about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Analysis: 1/4* It was a comedy match with Ellsworth getting in no actual offense on Asuka. That’s likely because WWE doesn’t want to promote man on woman violence at all, so that’s why they did it in a comedy way. Asuka going over the way she did was the right call.
Post match, Ellsworth sprayed something in Asuka’s face. Carmella hit a superkick. Carmella stood over a fallen Asuka to end it. Saxton said it was the worst match he’s ever seen. I’ve seen worse.
Analysis: I’m not sure what my prediction will be for Extreme Rules. Based on that booking and doing this match a second time makes me think Asuka is going to win the title. I’m not sure yet. I’ll dive into it more in the preview on Friday.
A replay aired of the opening segment that led to the ten man tag in the main event.
Daniel Bryan, Kane and The New Day were backstage talking strategy. Xavier Woods said they need to find a way to beat them. Bryan said chop them down by the knees. Kane said they should set them on fire and drag them to hell. Bryan questioned that. Kofi Kingston told them to focus. Bryan said if Kane let him punch Miz then they would have seen them coming. Kane said no, Bryan said yes, they repeated it and Big E told them to stop. Big E told X to formulate a strategy, he needs Kofi to run circles around them, he told Bryan to be the goat face killer and Kane said that this is a battle they will win. Kane said he promises them they will win. Bryan asked if that was an N Sync lyric, Kane said “so, it still applies!” They all cheered.
Analysis: Good segment to show the faces are on the same page. The N Sync comedy for Kane is random and funny.
Carmella and James Ellsworth were shown backstage. Paige showed up to talk to them. Ellsworth offered Paige the chance to kiss him. Paige said that Ellsworth is going to be suspended above the ring in a shark cage during the Carmella vs. Asuka match at Extreme Rules. Carmella left while Ellsworth was shocked by it.
Analysis: The shark cage gimmick has been used a few times over the last few years. It makes me lean towards picking Asuka, but there are still ways to do a cheap ending to have Carmella win.
Sin Cara was in the ring to lose a match. Andrade “Cien” Almas entered with Zelina Vega. It’s good to see Almas back in action.
A clip aired from last month when Almas attacked Sin Cara. They were supposed to have a match, but Cara was injured and now he’s ready to have the match.
Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Sin Cara
Sin Cara with two headscissors to send Almas out of the ring. Cara with a suicide dive that took out Almas on the floor. Almas with a backbreaker using the ropes. It went to a commercial there.
The match returned with Sin Cara on fire with a cross body block off the middle rope followed by a moonsault. Sin Cara wrapped his legs around the head and sent Almas head first into the mat for a two count. Good spot. Almas came back with a spinning back elbow. Cara with an inside cradle. Hard chop by Almas. Charge in by Almas, Cara caught him and sent him over the top to the floor. Cara jumped over the top with a hurricanrana on the floor. Back in the ring, Cara jumped off the top, but Almas blocked it with the knees. Almas up top, Cara tripped him up. They did a spot on the apron with Almas hitting a double foot stomp. Almas with the double knees in the corner for the pinfall win after about seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Andrade “Cien” Almas
Analysis: **1/2 That was a damn good match for the time given. Sin Cara got in a lot more offense than I thought because he is usually not booked like that. It was smart to let him do more because he’s got great chemistry with Almas since they have known eachother for a long time. The crowd was into it. Almas winning was no surprise. Almas usually wins with a Hammerlock DDT, but doing the double knees in the corner is fine in a match like that.
The announcers went over the Extreme Rules lineup while shilling WWE Network. I have the full card at the bottom of this review. We will have a preview up on Friday.
The Sanity trio of Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe were there to talk trash about their opponents. Young said that it’s all about the chaos. The Bludgeon Brothers duo of Harper and Rowan showed up with Rowan saying “let the bludgeoning begin.”
The 10-man tag team match is up next.
This week on 205 Live: Cedric Alexander vs. Hideo Itami for the Cruiserweight Title.
The New Day trio of Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E made their entrance. Replays were shown of last week when Sanity attacked New Day by putting Woods through a table in the ring. Kingston threw pancakes to the fans.
Kane and Daniel Bryan made their entrance. The crowd was loud doing the “yes” chants for them.
Sanity entered first for the heel side. The Bludgeon Brothers duo are the Tag Team Champions and they were up last. They face Bryan and Kane at Extreme Rules on Sunday.
Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) and The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E) vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) and Sanity (Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe)
The match began with the faces clearing the ring and the show went to break. WWE loves going to break right as a match begins.
The match returned with the faces in control with Woods and Kingston getting in some offense followed by Big E with a running splash. Woods sent Wolfe face first into the turnbuckle. Woods was distracted by the others on the apron, so Wolfe hit a German Suplex. Rowan tagged himself in with a backbreaker and body slam. Harper tagged win with a senton splash over the apron. A commercial aired in the split screen hyping up Reigns vs. Lashley at Extreme Rules. Harper with a body slam on Woods. Dain tagged himself in with a headlock on Woods. Dain put Woods on his shoulders, slammed him off and hit a senton splash as the show went to break.
The heels were still in control as Rowan and Harper double teamed Woods with Harper hitting a sitout slam. Kingston and Big E saved Woods from the attack. Woods came back wit ha kick to Harper and a DDT off the ropes. Bryan got the hot tag against Young with punches and kicks while the crowd chanted “yes” for it. Bryan ran the ropes with a running clothesline, dropkick by Bryan to the guys on the apron and a running corner dropkick by Bryan to young. Bryan set up Young on the top rope with a Frankensteiner. Bryan with the Yes Kicks to Young, the last one missed and Young got a rollup, but Bryan turned it into the Yes Lock. Wolfe broke it up. Kane with a Chokeslam on Wolfe. Rowan kicked down Kane. Woods with a missile dropkick on Rowan. Harper with a slam on Woods. Kingston with the Trouble in Paradise on Harper. Big E launched Kingston over the top to take out Harper on the floor. Dain with a running shoulder tackle on Kingston the floor. Big E went after Dain and hit a running Spear to knock Dain down to the floor. Bryan set up in the corner and hit the running knee to the face on Young for the pinfall win after about 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) and The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E)
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a good main event with an exciting final five minutes. If you watch multi-man tag matches in WWE then you know what’s coming at the end with everybody hitting a big move in succession to clear the ring. It’s obvious, but it always seems to work in terms of getting the crowd into the match. Woods was the face in peril for most of the match, Bryan got the hot tag and then it broke down from there. Kane didn’t even tag in for the team, which is fine because he’s the oldest guy in the match, so he really doesn’t have to do spots in there. I liked how it was booked with Bryan getting the win for the team to keep the spotlight on the return of Team Hell No. Young taking the pin is fine. I didn’t expect Harper or Rowan to take the pin since they are holding the Tag Team Titles.
Following the match, Bryan and Kane celebrated the win. Bryan tried doing the Kane fire, but his two attempts to do it didn’t work. Kane told him it’s his thing. Bryan said he thinks he can do it. The fans cheered him. Bryan did it a third time and it worked. Kane was shocked by it. The fans chanted “yes” with them. Team Hell No continued the celebration to end the show.
Analysis: I’m not sure if I am picking Team Hell No to win at Extreme Rules. At first, I thought they would, but I doubt Kane wrestles that much longer, so I’m not sure. I’ll get into it more in the preview on Friday.
Three Stars of the Show
- AJ Styles
- Shinsuke Nakamura
- Daniel Bryan
7 out of 10
Last week: 7
2018 Average: 6.41
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 6, 6.5, 7, 7, 8
2018 High: 8 (April 10, May 29)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2, January 9)
Smackdown gets a 7 out of 10 this week.
It was another good edition of Smackdown. Good but not great. I find myself giving it a grade in the 6.5 or 7 range often because the formula for this show works. They had two matches that were really well done and nothing else on the show was really that bad. The Asuka/Ellsworth stuff wasn’t great by any means, but it was fine for what it was supposed to be as a comedy match.
I think the build to Extreme Rules has been pretty good on the Smackdown side.
The next WWE PPV is Extreme Rules on July 15 in Pittsburgh, PA. Here’s the lineup.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Rusev
Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
Intercontinental Championship 30-Minute Ironman Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) (c) vs. Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan)
Raw Women’s Championship Extreme Rules Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Asuka (James Ellsworth in a shark cage)
Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
Raw Tag Team Championships: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt (c) vs. The B Team (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas)
Tables Match: The New Day vs. Sanity (Kickoff Show)
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