Smackdown – July 17, 2018

Date: July 17, 2018
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

We’re past Extreme Rules and officially on the way to Summerslam, meaning things should be getting a lot bigger in a hurry around here. AJ Styles is still the WWE Champion and is going to be needing a new challenger. There’s a good chance that’s going to be Samoa Joe, which should be good for everyone involved. Let’s get to it.

We open with a look back at Shinsuke Nakamura hitting Jeff Hardy low before the bell and winning the US Title in five seconds. The rematch is tonight.

Here’s Hardy to open things up. Hardy feels incomplete because he’s no longer US Champion. This Sunday he got ahead of himself because he wanted to get his hands on Nakamura so bad. Tonight he’s getting his title back and making Nakamura fade away and classify himself as obsolete.

Nakamura says Hardy is a sad clown and tonight he’ll makes Hardy cry again. God bless America.

AJ Styles vs. Andrade Cien Almas

Non-title. Almas headlocks him to start and has AJ in some early trouble, followed by a shoulder. AJ tries to send him into the ropes but Almas does his pose in the ropes to take us to a break. Back with AJ getting dropkicked and chopped as Almas is looking rather good so far. The running knees in the corner are countered into the fireman’s carry backbreaker for AJ’s first major offense.

The Phenomenal Forearm is broken up though and AJ is right back down. Almas’ missed moonsault into a standing moonsault gets two and Zelina Vega is losing it at ringside. Back to back Peles rock Almas but he’s fine enough to block a superplex. The top rope stomp sets up the running corner knees for a very close two. Almas loads up the hammerlock DDT but gets reversed into the Calf Crusher for the tap at 11:55.

Rating: B. Almas is clearly going to be a player on the main roster, which makes the long delay in actually giving him anything all the more frustrating. He can go in the ring and Vega is perfect as a mouthpiece. This was a lot of fun and I could see Almas getting a big match at Summerslam as a result.

We look back at Aiden English pulling the turnbuckle pad off and Rusev going into it by mistake.

Aiden asks Lana to smooth things over with Rusev. She says Rusev needs his space and English is the only one who cares about an apology right now. All English wants is a second chance, which Lana will take into consideration.

Becky Lynch vs. Mandy Rose

Mandy tries to start fast but gets kicked in the ribs for her efforts. A springboard kick to the chest has her in more trouble but a second attempt is pretty easily blocked. Mandy cranks on the neck for a bit before hitting a knee to the head for two. Becky already makes a comeback with a running forearm and the Bexploder into the Disarm-Her for the tap at 3:35.

Rating: D+. Becky’s road to redemption continues as there’s nothing left for her to do other than challenge for the title. Becky is on a roll right now and this kind of a push is long overdue. You can only beat up Mandy and Sonya so many times before it stops meaning anything though and now it’s time to move up.

Post match Becky says winning feels great and it’s time to bring the straight fire at Carmella.

Carmella comes in to see Paige, who asks how Carmella’s boyfriend James Ellsworth is. After correcting Paige on that, Carmella asks about her party next week. Paige makes Carmella vs. Becky instead and if Becky wins, she gets a title shot at Summerslam.

R-Truth of all people comes up to see Tye Dillinger. Tye is serious and doesn’t need a motivational speech. It turns out Truth is on a bluetooth and didn’t even hear Tye. I remember that joke about ten years ago so it’s perfect now.

Tye Dillinger vs. Samoa Joe

Joe jumped him before the show last week. Tye goes straight at him to start and even knocks Joe to the floor. The beating is short lived though as Joe sends him into the corner for the running enziguri. The Koquina Clutch knocks Tye out at 1:43.

Here’s the Miz to hold a funeral for HELL NO. Miz shakes some hands in condolence on the way to the ring before putting a masked Kane head on a pillow in the ring. After a quick plug for Miz and Mrs., Miz quotes N’Sync by saying it’s time for the team to go Bye Bye Bye. Miz recaps the team’s history, mainly focusing on their failures and Kane attacking Daniel Bryan over the years. We get a moment of silence before Miz says he told us so.

Kane was just a broken down demon and Bryan was never the star he claimed to be. This reunion was one last Hail Mary to recreate some of Bryan’s glory and it failed. Miz knows Bryan was never what he was cracked up to be so here’s Bryan through the crowd to go after Miz. He settles for beating up the pallbearers instead.

New Day is ready to beat up Sanity.

Eric Young vs. Kofi Kingston

Feeling out process to start with Kofi getting forearmed in the back a few times. The comeback doesn’t take long though and Young is knocked to the floor in a hurry as we take a break. Back with Young hanging him over the apron for some elbows to the back of the head. Kofi makes a quick comeback with a kick to the face and the Boom Drop but Trouble in Paradise misses.

Young heads up top so Kofi runs the corner for a belly to belly superplex. It’s time for a Sanity meeting on the floor, only to have Kofi hit a big no hands dive to take them out. Back in and the SOS gives Kofi two and it’s time to speed things up again. Another springboard misses though and Killian Dain throws Xavier Woods at Kofi, setting up the wheelbarrow neckbreaker to pin Kofi at 9:35.

Rating: C. These are two guys who can work their craft against anyone and it makes sense to have Young get his first win here. Sanity is almost the inverse New Day so you can see enough similarities to set up a good feud. It also helps that New Day is as made as you can get these days so losses like this don’t do them any harm.

We’ll find out AJ’s Summerslam opponent next week.

US Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy

Nakamura is defending. Hardy goes straight at him and avoids the early low blow attempt, instead dropkicking Nakamura into the corner. Back from an early break with Nakamura kicking him in the head for two and slapping on a chinlock. A front facelock has Hardy in more trouble until the sitout jawbreaker gets him out. The Russian legsweep gets two on Nakamura but he’s right back with a running knee to the head as we take a second break.

Back again with Jeff hitting Whisper in the Wind for two and frustration setting in. Jeff’s spinning kick to the chest sends Nakamura into the corner but he kicks Jeff in the face. The running knee in the corner gets two on Jeff and a one kneed Backstabber is good for the same. Kinshasa is blocked by the swinging sleeper drop but Nakamura is ready for the Swanton. Another Kinshasa is countered into the Twisting Stunner though and now the Swanton connects, only to have Randy Orton pull Hardy out for the DQ at 19:12.

Rating: B-. I might as well have had the finish written down a good three minutes before the match ended. It’s nice that they got to have the longer match and hopefully Jeff gets some time off instead of setting up some triple threat match at the pay per view. Orton vs. Hardy doesn’t do much for me but adding Nakamura into the feud to make it for the title would probably make the most sense.

Post match Orton destroys Hardy by sending him into the steps over and over. Just to go especially insane, Orton sticks his finger through the gauge piercing in Hardy’s ear and pulls at it, making a lot of people cringe. The hanging DDT off the announcers’ table ends the show.

Overall Rating: C+. They’re certainly in Summerslam mode now and that’s a good thing after a pretty lackluster build towards Extreme Rules. The ending was good and made Orton look like a psycho again, but Hardy sticking around when he’s very banged up isn’t the best idea in the world. AJ’s opponent being revealed should make for some interesting TV next week, giving us a rare instance of something I want to see being announced early. Good show here as they start setting up the Summerslam pieces.


AJ Styles b. Andrade Cien Almas – Calf Crusher

Becky Lynch b. Mandy Rose – Disarm-Her

Samoa Joe b. Tye Dillinger – Koquina Clutch

Eric Young b. Kofi Kingston – Wheelbarrow neckbreaker

Jeff Hardy b. Shinsuke Nakamura via DQ when Randy Orton interfered

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