Smackdown – July 10, 2018

Smackdown
Date: July 10, 2018
Location: SNHU Arena, Manchester, New Hampshire
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

It’s the other go home show for Extreme Rules and the big match tonight is AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura VI, though in a rare non-title version. You could probably pencil in Rusev for some interference to slow Styles down and give Nakamura some momentum heading into the US Title match. Other than that, normally I would expect a few more gimmicks being added to Sunday’s card but that doesn’t seem to interest them with this year’s Extreme Rules. Let’s get to it.

Here’s Miz to open things up with MizTV. After promising to win an Emmy for Miz and Mrs. in two weeks, he brings out Kane and Daniel Bryan as his guests. Before we can get to that though, Miz needs some assurance that Bryan won’t punch him in the face. Bryan agrees to be professional so Miz says this is like Justin Timberlake reuniting with N’Sync. Kane: “N’SYNC WILL NEVER REUNITE! J.T. is just too big of a star now.” Miz gives us a highlight package on the team’s history, interspersed with their fights and issues. Actually that’s not the footage Miz meant to show but we’ll address it anyway.

Bryan doesn’t buy it and says Miz is terrible at everything, especially wrestling. Miz finally snaps, saying he knows Bryan is going to fall for this all over again. Ever since Bryan came back, Miz has been hoping he gets to end his career for good. Kane plays peacemaker but Miz goes one step too far, accusing him of hiding behind his broken down demon. The chokeslam is loaded up but the Bludgeon Brothers arrive to break it up. Cue Sanity for the same but New Day runs out and it’s a huge brawl. The bad guys get the better of it and you can book the ten man tag for later.

Post break, ten man tag, booked.

AJ Style vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Non-title. Hang on though as here are Rusev and Aiden English with the former promising to tear down the house that AJ Styles built on Rusev Day. A dropkick puts Nakamura on the floor and we take a break. Back with Rusev on commentary, saying that he’s already told his mother he won the title. AJ is sent to the apron but the Phenomenal Forearm is broken up. A kick to the back of the head and a gordbuster look to set up Kinshasa.

That’s reversed into a rollup for two and an enziguri rocks Nakamura. He’s fine enough to hit the running knee in the corner as Rusev promises four different counters for the Calf Crusher. We take a second break and come back again with Nakamura telling him to COME ON. That earns him a fireman’s carry backbreaker but the Styles Clash attempt is countered into a triangle choke.

That’s reversed as well and Styles tells him to COME ON. Nakamura misses a charge to the floor so AJ hits the slingshot forearm to the floor. AJ goes after English (Rusev: “WAS THIS REALLY NECESSARY???”), who takes Kinshasa by mistake. That’s enough for Rusev, who pulls AJ off the apron for the DQ at 15:55.

Rating: C+. These two are good together as usual but WWE has somehow managed to run what should have been a dream match into the ground by having them fight six times in about three months. The ending was the right call as you don’t want either of them taking a clean loss and Rusev gets to be a jerk at the same time.

Post match Jeff Hardy makes the save so here’s Paige to make the tag match. That would be the second tag match made after a brawl in the first 45 minutes.

AJ Styles/Jeff Hardy vs. Rusev/Shinsuke Nakamura

Rusev throws AJ down to start and we hit a bearhug, meaning it’s a split screen promo about Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax. Back to full screen with AJ grabbing a sleeper before diving over for the tag to Hardy. Jeff speeds things up in a hurry and a basement dropkick gets two on Rusev. Everything breaks down and the Twisting Stunner looks to st up the Swanton, only to have Jeff get crotched by Nakamura. The Machka Kick ends Hardy at 5:18.

Rating: D+. Not enough time to be any good here but the ending was the right call. Rusev isn’t likely to win the title but at least we can get a good match out of it. Nakamura winning however is the only real option and exactly what needs to happen. I liked the booking here, but the execution wasn’t great, at least partially due to the long promo in the middle.

James Ellsworth is warming up when Carmella comes in to tell him he better win. Ellsworth says he’s ready and winks at her, which isn’t the right move.

Asuka vs. James Ellsworth

Lumberjack match with the women’s division around the ring. I still say Ellsworth should be Curt Hawkins in an attempt to save his job. If you want to really make Carmella seem more impressive, have her get a second, more successful person under her thumb. Plus you don’t bring in another name when there are so many people with nothing to do. Before the match, Ellsworth says he’s ready for Asuka, but does ask that no one try to kiss him.

The threat of an early spinning backfist puts Ellsworth on the floor where Becky Lynch and Naomi toss him back inside. Ellsworth gets knocked outside again but the lumberjacks get in a fight. That’s enough for Ellsworth who tries to run but Becky and Naomi catch him again. Everyone else goes after them so Asuka dives onto the pile. In the melee, Carmella hands Ellsworth mace but Asuka kicks it out of his hand. Ellsworth gets kicked into Carmella so the Asuka Lock can finish him at 3:20.

Rating: D-. What does it say about Asuka when she goes from dream match at Wrestlemania to a relief that they didn’t have James Ellsworth beat her? The worst part is you can probably pencil Asuka in for another loss on Sunday, as Becky Lynch seems poised to be the next challenger. I’m glad that Becky is getting the chance, but Asuka has been lost in the shuffle so hard.

Post match Carmella goes after Asuka so Ellsworth can mace him, setting up Carmella’s superkick.

We look back at the opening brawl.

New Day and HELL NO talk strategy for tonight. New Day wants to gang up on them. Bryan suggests taking out their knees. Kane wants to set them on fire and send them to hell. Bryan: “Do you think we can just summon Satan and send open a portal?” Kane: “Technically it’s a gateway but YES! THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I WANT!”

Kane and Bryan get into a YES/NO argument but Big E. takes charge and tells Woods to come up with a plan, Kofi to be like the Flash, Bryan to become the Goat Faced Killer, and for Kane to get with them. Kane quotes N’Sync’s This I Promise You. Bryan: “Was that N’Sync?” Kane: “IT STILL APPLIES!” Why does Daniel Bryan know N’Sync lyrics? As usual, Kane and Bryan have great chemistry and timing together.

Post break Ellsworth and Carmella are in the back when Paige comes up. On Sunday, Ellsworth is going to be suspended above the ring in a shark cage.

Andrade Cien Almas vs. Sin Cara

It’s about time. Almas speeds things up to start and sends him outside for a suicide dive. Back in and Almas takes him down to send us to a break. We come back with Almas slamming him down but hitting knees on a top rope splash attempt. An Alberto Del Rio top rope double stomp puts Cara on the apron and the running knees in the corner are good for the pin at 5:57. Too much took place during the break but this wasn’t quite worth the wait.

Pay per view rundown.

Sanity promises to bring the chaos. The Bludgeon Brothers come in and seem pleased with that mindset.

New Day/HELL NO vs. Bludgeon Brothers/Sanity

Bryan goes after Young to start and we take a break less than a minute in. Just ring the bell when we get back then. Back with New Day rapid firing the elbows to set up Big E.’s Warrior Splash for two on Wolfe. Woods gets caught in the wrong corner though and Harper kicks him in the face a few times, setting up the Gator Roll…and an inset ad for Lashley vs. Reigns.

In kayfabe, that’s some pretty awesome timing for the production staff to know when the match is going to grind to a halt so these videos can air. Back to full screen with Dain hitting a backsplash, just in time to go to a commercial. We’re not even nine minutes into this match and we’ve had two commercials and an inset promo. I know this is crazy for a fan to say, but I’d actually like to watch the match instead of an ad every three minutes.

Back with Woods still in trouble and Harper’s Michinoku Driver getting two. New Day makes the save, allowing Woods to hit his springboard tornado DDT on Harper. The hot tag brings in Bryan to hammer on Young as everything breaks down. We hit a parade of secondary finishers until Big E. spears Dain off the apron. Back in and Bryan knees Young down for the pin at 16:41.

Rating: C+. Well what we saw of it was good. A match that isn’t even eighteen minutes long doesn’t need two breaks and an inset promo as a mini break, but WWE has too much stuff to advertise to do a match like this uninterrupted. If nothing else Sanity getting this kind of push (two months after being announced) out of the shoot is nice, and odds are they win on Sunday.

Post match Kane does a YES chant but Bryan tries to do the Kane fire deal. It three attempts but the fire comes out, sending Bryan into a cheer to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. This was a rather up and down show with some stuff (Kane/Bryan, Styles vs. Nakamura and Rusev) working very well but the bad stuff (Ellsworth, the inset promos and two matches being made on the fly with a similar setup) really bringing it back down. I’m more interested in the Tag Team Title match, but it’s pretty sad that that’s being treated as the Smackdown main event over the World Title match. There’s a great opening to have AJ vs. Rusev main event on Sunday but it’s likely going to be the third biggest match on the card at best. Is there any wonder why fans get frustrated with this company?

Results

AJ Styles b. Shinsuke Nakamura via DQ when Rusev interfered

Rusev/Shinsuke Nakamura b. AJ Styles/Jeff Hardy – Machka Kick to Hardy

Asuka b. James Ellsworth – Asuka Lock

Andrade Cien Almas b. Sin Cara – Running knees in the corner

HELL NO/New Day b. Sanity/Bludgeon Brothers – Running knee to Young

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