Smackdown – July 3, 2018

Smackdown
Date: July 3, 2018
Location: Century Link Center, Omaha, Nebraska
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

We’re less than two weeks away from Extreme Rules and the top story around here is the reunion of Daniel Bryan and Kane, who got back together last week and are already receiving Tag Team Title shot at the pay per view. Other than that we’re getting closer to Rusev Day where Rusev might win the WWE Championship. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Kane returning to help Bryan last week. You know what we haven’t opened with either tonight or last night? An In Memory Of Matt Cappotelli graphic. Couple that with the lack of a Vader tribute video (on TV at least, as they did have one on YouTube) and WWE is really slacking in this area as of late.

Renee Young brings out Kane and Bryan for a chat. Bryan says the team is unstoppable and Kane mentions some of the things they’ve had to do over the years. Kane says they’ve always been friends…but Bryan actually brings up their bad history together, including that time Kane tried to end his career and kidnap Brie Bella. Kane: “Yeah…..TRIED!” They get into the required YES/NO argument and here are the Usos to cut them off. Jey: “Hey what up Kane!”

Jey goes over some more of the team’s history but doesn’t think they should be getting a title shot. They get a title shot because they’re out here HUGGING? The Usos hug four times so they should get four title matches. The challenge is thrown out but Kane says they need to consider this as a team. Bryan doesn’t think much of this because Kane still thinks he’s the weak link. Cue Paige to confirm the Bryan and Kane will get the shot at the “Smackd” (yes Smack D, minus the own at the end) titles. Tonight though they’re facing the Usos, who will be added to the title match if they win.

Jeff Hardy explains why bald eagles are cool and has a US Open Challenge tonight.

Asuka is ready to beat up James Ellsworth tonight.

US Title: Jeff Hardy vs. ???

Hardy is defending against….The Miz, and thankfully they actually mention Miz beating Hardy in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. I’m rather surprised and pleased. A sitout jawbreaker has Miz in early trouble but it’s too early for the Twist of Fate. Miz bails from the threat of a Swanton and we take a break.

Back with Jeff fighting out of a chinlock but getting kicked down for two. That gets several replays before Jeff fights back with some of his usual, including a forearm and the legdrop between the legs. Some right hands send Miz outside but a missed charge into the barricade takes us to a second break after only being back for a few minutes.

Back again with Jeff hitting a spinning kick to the chest but favoring his leg, which Miz worked on during the break. Miz hits the running corner clothesline but misses a top rope ax handle, allowing Jeff to score with the Whisper in the Wind for two. A rollup with feet on the ropes gives Miz the same so he gets in an argument with the referee, allowing Jeff to hit the Twisting Stunner and a Swanton to retain at 16:25.

Rating: B-. The rapid fire commercials didn’t do this many favors but the match worked well enough, especially when Miz didn’t have much of a chance to win the title. It’s pretty clear that Shinsuke Nakamura is getting the title as soon as his leg heals up, which very well may be at Extreme Rules. That being said, I do like the idea of the title being defended more regularly.

Extreme Rules rundown. Two gimmick matches (an Iron Man match and an Extreme Rules match) aren’t exactly enough to live up to the show’s name.

James Ellsworth is posting in front of a mirror and promises to show that men are the superior gender.

Byron Saxton is in the ring, wearing a straw hat for….oh holy sweet goodness….the Third of July Pancake Eating Contest. The participants (of course New Day) all get introductions, including a few biographical details (Woods was born in a barrel of butcher knives and raised in a forest fire) but Big E.’s is so long that Byron just skips it. There’s a five minute clock and the pancakes are red, white and blue. The lights go out a few seconds in and here’s Sanity from behind to beat New Day down. I’ve never been so glad to see Eric Young. Big E. is thrown over the announcers’ table and Woods is elbow dropped through the table.

We look at the famous Battle of the Sexes tennis match to set up Ellsworth vs. Asuka.

Asuka vs. James Ellsworth

Carmella comes out for commentary but hang on a second as Ellsworth needs to do some pushups. A single push puts Ellsworth on the floor and Asuka unloads on him with right hands into the airplane spin. Ellsworth needs to stop for a breath so Asuka slaps the heck out of him. That’s enough for Ellsworth who runs into the crowd and it’s a double countout at 1:53.

Asuka chases Ellsworth back to ringside and gets hit with the belt.

Bryan has a list of things Kane has done to him over the years and wants an apology for all of them. Kane apologizes for everything and says Bryan is like a brother to him. Bryan: “You set your brother on fire!” Kane: “That’s…..never mind!” Kane talks about how important this is and asks if Bryan is ready. I’ll let you fill in the details.

Hardy vs. Nakamura is confirmed for Extreme Rules. Again, no gimmick attached.

Here’s AJ Styles for a match but first he talks about facing someone bigger and stronger than he is at Extreme Rules. That’s what he loves to do though because it’s another challenge. Rusev has been saying that he’s coming to take the title and throw him out. AJ: “Does he think this is rental property?” Cue Rusev to say he’s going to throw AJ out of the house that he built and move in on RUSEV DAY.

AJ Styles vs. Aiden English

Non-title. Rusev says he forgot to tell AJ something so English jumps him from behind. Rusev: “Never mind!” We take an early break and come back with English grabbing a neckbreaker for two. Not that it matters as the Calf Crusher makes English tap at 4:30.

Post match Rusev beats Styles down.

The Iconics are ready for Becky Lynch tonight.

Carmella yells at Ellsworth when Paige comes up. Next week it’s Asuka vs. Ellsworth in a lumberjack match.

Becky Lynch vs. Peyton Royce

Neither gets an entrance, but we got to see more from Ellsworth so it’s all fine. Peyton wastes no time in dropping Becky with a Samoan drop for two and it’s off to an abdominal stretch. That’s switched into a seated abdominal stretch but Becky is back up with the Bexploder. Becky slips out of a fireman’s carry and the Disarm-Her makes Royce tap at 3:32.

Rating: D+. In theory this is building towards Becky vs. Carmella, and while it makes me cringe to think that Carmella is going to go over Asuka again, I can appreciate the idea of Lynch getting another run with the title. She’s one of the best all around performers on the roster and I’m not sure why she hasn’t gotten another chance already.

Nakamura promises to strip away Jeff’s pride, honor and title.

Usos vs. HELL NO

If the Usos win, they’re added to the Tag Team Title match at Extreme Rules. Bryan drop toeholds Jimmy down to start and puts on the surfboard. A corner dropkick seems to wake Jimmy up for some reason so it’s off to Jey, who gets dropkicked as well. Kane comes in and misses an elbow but shoves both twins over the top at once. They pull Kane out with them though and it’s back to back dives to drop Bryan and Kane as we take a break.

Back with Bryan speeding up things up and hitting another running dropkick on Jey in the corner. There’s a super hurricanrana and the YES Kicks have Jey in even more trouble. The Usos finally get their stuff together and take Bryan down with Jimmy stomping away in the corner. A backbreaker/middle rope chop combination gets two and the Usos make a wish on Bryan’s legs.

Back up and a double clothesline allows the hot tag to Kane but he’s kicked to the floor without much effort. Jey charges into an uppercut but it’s time for the superkicks. Back to back double superkicks put Bryan down and get two on Kane and it’s time to go up. The Double Us is caught by the throat, allowing Bryan to knee Jey down and Kane to chokeslam Jimmy for the pin at 12:38.

Rating: C. Kane looked REALLY bad here, barely able to move and not doing much of anything other than being knocked back a few steps and signature stuff. The guy is 50 years old and barely even wrestles part time anymore, but his talking and character stuff is still more than enough reason to have him around. Bryan worked most of the match and was his usual self, but the important thing was they got the finish right.

Bryan and Kane do the YES pose and hug, only to be cut off by the Bludgeon Brothers. A big staredown ends the show.

Overall Rating: C+. I don’t know if this show is that much better (and it’s pretty good) or if it’s just so much better than Raw but this was so much more pleasant to watch than what we saw last night. This is a show with logical angles and you can see where they’re going, but more importantly the people aren’t doing horrible things to each other and expecting us to cheer as a result. That makes for such an easier night to watch and is why Smackdown continues to stay miles ahead of Raw.

Results

Jeff Hardy b. The Miz – Swanton Bomb

Asuka vs. James Ellsworth went to a double countout

AJ Styles b. Aiden English – Calf Crusher

Becky Lynch b. Peyton Royce – Disarm-Her

HELL NO b. Usos – Chokeslam to Jimmy

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