Smackdown – August 23, 2016

Smackdown
Date: August 23, 2016
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga

It’s an interesting time for Smackdown as we’re past Summerslam and the brand is really starting to come into its own. Tonight we’ll see the unveiling of the new Smackdown Women’s and Tag Team Titles but possibly more importantly we should get an update on Brock Lesnar attacking Shane McMahon to end Summerslam. Let’s get to it.

Various people are in the back when AJ Styles comes in to brag about how awesome he is. AJ puts Cena’s armband around his head and talks down to Dolph Ziggler a lot, triggering a brawl.

Opening sequence.

The tag and women’s divisions are in the ring around the new titles (The Women’s Title is the same as the Raw version but with a blue background. The Tag Team Titles look similar to the Raw versions but with silver instead of bronze.) when the bosses come out. We’ll start with the women, all of whom have potential to be the champion.

At Backlash, there will be a Six Pack Challenge to determine the first champion. The Tag Team Titles will be decided at Smackdown as well with the finals of a tournament. Cue Heath Slater to say he should be Michael Phelps and get to compete for some gold. Ignoring that THE BELTS ARE SILVER, Daniel says Heath isn’t equipped to fight for the Women’s Title.

Heath meant the tag belts so Bryan gives him an offer: if Slater can find a partner by the end of the night, the bosses will find another team and make it an eight team tournament. However, Slater only gets a contract if he and his partner win the whole thing. That’s fine with Slater but here’s AJ to interrupt. He’s tired of hearing about the Tag Team Titles and the Women’s Ti…..”No I won’t be your partner Slater.” This brings out Ziggler to jump him from behind and the bosses send the tag teams out to break it up as we go to a break.

Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss

Naomi and Natalya are on commentary. Becky takes it down to the mat in an armbar but gets kicked in the head for her efforts. We hit an armbar on Becky until some clotheslines have Bliss reeling. Bliss gets two off a nice looking spinning sunset flip out of the corner but a quick Disarm-Her makes her tap at 4:00.

Rating: C. Bliss has improved by leaps and bounds in recent months but sweet goodness Naomi and Natalya have no personalities. Naomi sounded bored and Natalya spoke in the exact same tone that she’s had since the day she debuted with the company. At least Becky has some charisma to her, though her recent wardrobe choices are a bit odd.

Heath tries to get Miz on board as his partner and Miz agrees but it turns out he’s on the phone.

Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament First Round: Usos vs. Ascension

Jey gets beaten down to start with Konnor adding a middle rope shoulder for two. We hit a nerve hold for a bit until an enziguri allows the double tag. Everything breaks down and the Usos start with their superkicks, including one to set up the Superfly Splash for the pin on Viktor at 3:47.

Rating: D+. This was exactly what it should have been and hopefully we just get to Usos vs. Alpha for the belts as it’s fairly obvious we’re heading towards. I’m also glad that Ascension, who has only won a handful of matches in over a year, was dispatched in less than four minutes here. That doesn’t do much for their spot in a tag division but at least they’re a pair of warm bodies.

Here’s AJ to discuss his win on Sunday. With the NEVER GIVE UP armband around his own arm, AJ says he beat up John Cena and then beat him at Summerslam. All these Cena fans can be his new fans because he should be #1 contender to the WWE World Title. Ziggler fights his way to the ring but here’s Bryan to make a match for tonight. AJ already has a shot at Backlash but if Ziggler wins, it’s a triple threat.

Nikki Bella vs. Carmella

Renee Young tries to interview Nikki before the match but Carmella jumps Nikki from behind to start. Carmella gives her a bad looking Downward Spiral and a Bella Buster for a heel turn, which makes a lot of sense for her actually. Nikki starts holding her neck and OH NO IT’S JUST SO SCARY AND TRAGIC BECAUSE SHE’S SO AMAZING. No match.

Video on the Summerslam main event.

Here’s Orton for a chat. He was in a heck of a fight on Sunday night and had ten staples put in his head to close the gash. Randy didn’t want the match to end the way it did, including Shane McMahon coming out for a save. He and Lesnar will cross paths again but here’s Bray Wyatt to interrupt. Bray: “How’s your head Randy?” Wyatt goes on about how great a person Randy is but says he’s something a little higher. Randy will find out all about that in time so Randy says bring it. The lights go out again and Bray is gone.

Shane is asked about Brock and doesn’t think Stephanie is going to take it seriously. She’s already fined Brock $500 and that means it’s far from over between Brock and himself.

Slater tries to get Arn Anderson to be his partner but Arn says he’s not Ric Flair. Rhyno comes up and says he’ll do it.

Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament First Round: Breezango vs. American Alpha

Fandango dances at Gable to start and is of course taken down with ease. It’s off to Jordan vs. Breeze with Jason cranking on an armbar to the tunes of a USA chant. Breezango finally cheats by drawing Jordan in so Fandango can get in a clothesline to take over on Gable. Back from a break with Gable making a hot tag and handing it off to Jordan to clean house. A bridging German suplex gets two on Breeze and he hurricanranas Jordan for the same. Gable has to make a save off a superkick but Jordan hits the belly to belly on Tyler. The Grand Amplitude sends American Alpha on at 10:28.

Rating: B-. That was way better than I was expecting as Breezango continues to be a great surprise and far better than they have any right to be. It’s good to give Alpha some tougher matches like this before the finals as there’s only so much they’re going to prove after facing teams like the Vaudevillains or the Ascension.

Dean Ambrose, in a big hat, says he was up in the casino playing roulette. He doesn’t care who is fighting tonight because he’ll be ready for anyone. Dean gets a shot and coffee but leaves the waitress some casino chips. I guess he was supposed to be drunk?

Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles

Dean is on commentary. Ziggler has a fact file that says he’s a supporter of the Wrestlemania Reading “Charllenge.” They go right at it with Ziggler dropkicking him to the floor for a break in less than a minute. Back with AJ sending Ziggler chest first into the buckle and working on the other side with a backbreaker. Ziggler can’t get a comeback started yet so AJ stomps him down in the corner before kicking at the leg. A few knee lifts send Ziggler outside and we take another break.

Back again with Ziggler fighting out of an armbar and hitting a great looking dropkick. The big elbow drop gets two and AJ goes shoulder first into the post. The Fameasser is good for another two count and AJ’s fireman’s carry backbreaker gets the same. Styles misses the springboard 450 and gets caught in the running DDT for yet another near fall.

Dolph avoids a charge into the ropes and a Zig Zag gets a VERY close two count. They almost had me on that one, even though I have a really hard time believing that they would put Ziggler over here. A superkick misses though and AJ kicks him low, setting up a Styles Clash for the pin and the title shot at 21:40.

Rating: B+. So at the end of the day, after a pay per view title match and this big match, Ziggler is right back where he was coming into the Draft: an upper midcard jobber to the stars who isn’t likely to win anything important and while he can have some good matches like this, I still have no reason to care about him. AJ winning was the only way to go here and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dean and AJ have a staredown to end the show.

Overall Rating: B. This was the best show they’ve had since the brand split and that’s a good sign. I really don’t like having the new titles for divisions this weak but at least the Tag Team Titles (which should be GOLD) look cool. They need more people for those divisions in a bad way so pairing up Rhyno and Slater works well enough. The rest of the show was fine as we wait for AJ to take his place as the king of Smackdown in a few weeks.

Results

Becky Lynch b. Alexa Bliss – Disarm-Her

Usos b. Ascension – Superfly Splash to Viktor

American Alpha b. Breezango – Grand Amplitude to Breeze

AJ Styles b. Dolph Ziggler – Styles Clash

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