With less than two weeks until Night of Champions, SmackDown rolled into Wilkes-Barre, PA with momentum-building on its mind. The show was a little light on major in-ring action and angles, but the focus was placed squarely on a number of intriguing midcard feuds for a nice change of pace. It’s time for the SmackDown recap…
The Wyatt Family made their eerie entrance to open SmackDown, with Bray Wyatt flanked by Luke Harper and new monster Braun Strowman. Wyatt spoke about how Roman Reigns is a smart man who actually doesn’t care about the fans. He added that Dean Ambrose is “cursed with loyalty” for Reigns. He issued a threat to anyone who dared to team with the two Shield men, showing the footage of their assault on Randy Orton from this week’s Raw. This was a great look at Wyatt, who continues to get even better on the microphone. He is at his best when he is given a clear point to make with his trademark dreamlike prose, just as he was here.
1. Cesaro vs. The Miz
It was good to see this match get a proper finish after the nonsensical Big Show run-in on Raw, with Cesaro forcing Miz to tap out with the Sharpshooter. This was a brief match, but Miz looked like a cunning heel with his continuous assaults to the taped ribs of Cesaro and it is always good to see the Swiss Superman picking up a clean victory.
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns were interviewed backstage about Jimmy Uso teaming with them to take on New Day. Reigns seemed concerned about involving his cousin in the rivalry, but Ambrose and Uso were more than ready to go.
2. Paige vs. Sasha Banks
The announcers put over the controversy around the finish to the match on Raw, in which it appeared that Banks’ shoulders were also down as she rolled up Paige. A brawl broke out between Team BAD and Team PCB before the bell rang, which forced the referee to eject both teams from ringside. After a far too brief match, the action spilled to the outside and the teammates poured back into the ring, ending the match as a no contest. Paige and Banks had to be torn away by their teammates as they repeatedly tried to get at each other.
It’s disappointing that Paige and Banks have not yet been able to have the great match they are clearly capable of, but this is a great way to build that contest if WWE wants to save it for pay-per-view. Going forward, its personal feuds like this that will help WWE genuinely create the revolution in women’s wrestling that they keep bleating about on social media.
We got a recap of the issues between Seth Rollins and Sting that played out on Raw. Rollins was subsequently interviewed by Byron Saxton and promised to beat both Sting and John Cena at Night of Champions. Sheamus turned up and again teased cashing in his briefcase at the PPV.
3. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Jimmy Uso vs. New Day
This was a largely unremarkable tag team match that mainly served as a showcase for the returning Jimmy Uso. Uso didn’t look all that rusty in the ring, but he still has the laziest Samoan Drop in the history of wrestling. The match ended when Uso went for the top rope splash on Woods. Before he could hit it, the lights went out. When they came back on, the Wyatts had Uso at the top of the ramp with Braun Strowman choking him out. As Reigns and Ambrose rushed to his aid, the lights went out again and the Wyatts disappeared, leaving Uso in a heap on the stage.
The shtick of the Wyatts eliminating anyone who dares to stand alongside Reigns and Ambrose is a fun one. Hopefully this is building to a big reveal of their eventual partner. It would be the perfect opportunity to debut a star from NXT.
4. The Ascension vs. Lucha Dragons
After being curiously absent on Raw, Stardust accompanied his new henchmen to the ring for their match with the high-flying Lucha Dragons. Ascension looked even more aggressive than usual and were able to pick up the win with the Fall of Man on Kalisto after a well-timed distraction from Stardust. Cosmic Wasteland beat down Lucha Dragons after the match, but Neville made the save in exuberant fashion.
The rivalry between Neville and Stardust continues to make fleeting appearances on WWE programming and has hotted up with the introduction of The Ascension. It would be even better if WWE elected to give it some proper television time on Raw rather than solely on the B-show.
Nikki Bella was interviewed by Renee Young backstage after Charlotte moved their title match to Raw rather than Night of Champions. Bella claimed that Charlotte is afraid and jealous of her, but Charlotte soon interrupted to set her straight.
5. Lumberjack Match: Ryback vs. Seth Rollins
Almost the entire roster made their way to ringside to act as lumberjacks, including an oddly bespectacled Adam Rose. Naturally, the match soon devolved into a wild brawl with lumberjacks attacking Ryback inside the ring. When the smoke cleared, Ryback had Rollins in position for Shell Shock when Kevin Owens made his presence felt, allowing Rollins to hit the Pedigree and pin Ryback. This was a fun Lumberjack Match, which allowed Rollins to get the victory back after Raw. It was smart to use the stipulation to further the burgeoning issues between Ryback and Kevin Owens too.
This wasn’t as good an episode of SmackDown as last week, with a lack of focus on in-ring action. However, it was a good antidote to a disappointing Raw and was certainly a couple of hours of fun wrestling programming.