Smackdown – July 24, 2018

Smackdown
Date: July 24, 2018
Location: Ford Center, Evansville, Indiana
Commentators: Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Tom Phillips

It’s a big night around here as we have the announcement of who will be challenging Smackdown World Champion AJ Styles at Summerslam. There’s one name out there that would seem to be the most likely option but you never can tell around here. We’ll have more Summerslam build to get to around here as well so let’s get to it.

Miz, Maryse and their daughter arrive in a limo.

Here’s Randy Orton to open things up. After a clip of his return at Extreme Rules and attack on Jeff Hardy, Orton goes over some fan theories of why he did what he did. He did it because of the fans, because he’s been here for sixteen years. Who is around that was here when he got here? No one. Uh, not really Randy. No seriously that’s a really stupid line as you have Cena, Lesnar, Hardy, Hardy, Benjamin, Angle, HHH, Stephanie, Vince, Shane and probably some more than I’m forgetting.

Anyway Orton is tired of all these people sitting at the table he created. Orton isn’t changing his merchandise every month to steal money from the fans or stealing hand gestures (the Too Sweet sign) because he didn’t need to pay his dues in front of hundreds of people. He doesn’t take months off at a time, show up for Wrestlemania season, and then leave again. He learned from the best because he deserved the best and now he knows who the real legends killers are.

The people are the real legend killers and now he’s the real legend. He’s going to destroy everyone that the fans put on a pedestal, starting with Hardy. When Orton is done with him, Hardy is gone for good. Orton doesn’t care about Hardy’s career because it’s all about writing the final chapter. You can call him the Viper, the Apex Predator, but all that matters is RKO. Good promo, one really dumb line aside.

Long look at last night’s announcement, which I’m sure won’t be the only time tonight.

Andrade Cien Almas vs. Rusev

Well this is certainly interesting, if nothing else for the managers. The guys got in an argument in the back earlier over wanting to be AJ’s opponent at Summerslam, which makes for a rather interesting match. I do like the fact that Lana is still billed as the Ravishing Russian but has completely dropped the accent outside of when she says Rusev’s name.

Rusev goes with the power to start but Almas catches himself in the ropes for the pose with Vega. Back in and a clothesline drops Almas again, meaning it’s time for Lana to pose with Rusev as we go to a break. We come back with Rusev making a comeback off a spinning kick to the face, much to Lana’s delight. A knee to the ribs sets up the Machka Kick for two and Almas’ shot to the head has almost no effect.

Almas fakes a kick to the head and scores with an elbow but Rusev kicks him in the face to block the running knees in the corner. The jumping superkick gets a heck of a RUSEV DAY chant and it’s time for the women to brawl, which really pleases the fans. Cue Aiden English to pull Lana off but Vega jumps on his back, sending him into Lana. That’s not cool with Rusev and the distraction lets Almas score with the Hammerlock DDT for the pin at 9:04.

Rating: C+. I’m very happy that Almas is getting such a big push right off the bat and the fact that it seems Rusev has turned face is a great thing. The fans are going to cheer for him and have wanted to cheer for Lana for the better part of ever so it’s not like the pairing is hard to pull off. That being said, as usual, the idea of having someone lose right around the time of their big turn isn’t the most logical booking in the world.

R-Truth isn’t happy with having to fight Samoa Joe in his first match since Wrestlemania. He asks Tye Dillinger if he remembers what Joe did to him last week but then realizes that Tye was out cold. Tye says Truth doesn’t need a pillow because he’s not going to sleep.

Post break Lana and English are arguing but Rusev cuts them both off, saying maybe neither of them are good for Rusev Day.

R-Truth vs. Samoa Joe

Joe starts fast but gets caught with a kick to the face and the spinning forearm. A headbutt and the corner Rock Bottom set up the Koquina Clutch to make Truth tap at 58 seconds.

Asuka is very excited for Evolution but tonight, Billie Kay isn’t ready for her.

Asuka vs. Billie Kay

Billie and Peyton think Evolution is iconic and they’re both better than Asuka. Asuka starts in on the arm but gets shoved down. For some reason Billie tells Asuka that she’s a loser and there’s a running dropkick. A German suplex doesn’t work so Asuka kicks her in the head for the pin at 1:47. Well at least she didn’t lose again.

Shinsuke Nakamura laughs at Jeff Hardy for losing last week.

Miz and Maryse are having their pictures taken with their daughter but have to go to another appearance.

Here’s Paige to moderate the Styles contract signing. First though, let’s talk about Evolution being all awesome. At least they keep it short. Here’s AJ, who really seems to enjoy the cheers. After he gets to talk about Evolution as well, AJ talks about how important Summerslam has been to him. It’s no different than Wrestlemania but we’ll turn the heat up a bit more.

AJ signs the contract and says he just needs an opponent. Paige asks for a drum roll and here’s….James Ellsworth. He brags about beating AJ three times before but Paige tells him to stop it because he’s a joke. James thinks Paige is a joke because of how she talks and looks so Paige fires him. Well thank goodness for that. Paige leaves with security and we follow them to the back where Ellsworth is thrown out. During the melee, Samoa Joe comes in and chokes AJ out. Joe signs and the match is on. That was the only logical choice for the opponent.

Post match Paige yells at Joe, who says that was killer instinct and phenomenal. Joe leaves and Carmella comes in, saying she’s holding the title until Evolution no matter what. Paige doesn’t seem pleased.

Carmella vs. Becky Lynch

Non-title but Becky gets a Summerslam title shot if she wins. Becky goes straight for the arm to start but Carmella hits her in the face. A trip to the floor goes badly for Becky and we take an early break. Back with Becky starting her comeback, meaning it’s time for clotheslines. There’s the Bexploder but Becky misses the top rope legdrop. Carmella kicks her in the face for two and frustration is setting in. Not that it matters as the Disarm-Her sends Becky to Summerslam at 7:10.

Rating: D+. I really could go for eliminating the “here’s a match to set up the same match” booking trope. Becky getting the title shot makes sense and I could certainly go for her winning the title, but they need to have a slightly better match next time. Then again, that’s not likely with Carmella in there.

The Bludgeon Brothers don’t care who they face.

Tag Team #1 Contenders Tournament First Round: New Day vs. Sanity

The Usos are on commentary. Woods and Wolfe start things off with a spinning forearm giving Woods two. A German suplex drops Woods though and it’s off to Dain for the backsplash. Back from a break with Woods hitting a missile dropkick as the Usos do over the top nerdy announcer voices. Big E. comes in with a bunch of suplexes but an Eric Young distraction cuts him off. Wolfe comes back in but gets knocked down, setting up the Midnight Hour for the pin at 7:34.

Rating: C-. The commercial hurt this a lot but so did the fact that it’s another tournament. I’m not sure why I’d want to see yet another one this year but it’s not the most thrilling thing in the world. It would be nice to have a personal issue with the Brothers and their challengers, though that’s not how things work around here.

Post match the Bar comes out to say they’ll win.

Miz doesn’t trust Sin Cara as a babysitter so he’ll take his daughter to the ring for the big moment.

Here are Miz, Maryse and their daughter to wrap things up. Miz says we’re here to talk about the future instead of relics like Daniel Bryan. He introduces Maryse, who claims that the evolution started with her. Miz introduces his daughter, who has accomplished more in her life than Daniel Bryan (Graves made the same joke about Saxton). The fans chant for Monroe but the mere mention of Bryan has put her to sleep.

We get a clip of the show, which is a highlight of bad moments in Miz’s life and career. Bryan pops up on screen to apologize to Miz but then realizes he should do this to Miz’s face. Here’s Bryan in the arena to beat up Miz’s security but Miz throws the baby to him, revealing it to be a doll. That means a Skull Crushing Finale and a rant from Miz about how the baby earlier was an actor. Like he’d bring his real daughter to a city like this and if you want to see Monroe Sky, watch the show.

Overall Rating: D+. I know it’s not likely to continue after this week but it’s getting a little annoying having Summerslam pushed off to the side for the sake of Evolution. Unless I’m missing something big, there was really no need to announce the show three months in advance. Even if you waited until after Summerslam, you still have two months to build it up, which is about as much as Wrestlemania. The show was pretty good with some predictable but well done results. Now that some of the matches are set we can get into more of a rhythm, but we need some more focus on what is there.

Results

Andrade Cien Almas b. Rusev – Hammerlock DDT

Samoa Joe b. R-Truth – Koquina Clutch

Asuka b. Billie Kay – Kick to the head

Becky Lynch b. Carmella – Disarm-Her

New Day b. Sanity – Midnight Hour to Wolfe

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