Hello and welcome to this week’s SmackDown!
We open with an “earlier today” segment, Kevin Owens backstage telling us about how he found a birthday card that Sami Zayn wrote for his son before everything went to shit between them. How… often do you clean out your bag, man? In any case, he tells us that the birthday card never made it to his son, because even though Sami is practically the boy’s godfather, he only gave him $20. That is, $20 Canadian, which is the height of insult as far as Kevin is concerned. So he’s pocketing the $20, and just to remind us that this is a wrestling show, drops in that he’s going to be fighting Dean tonight.
Speaking of Dean, a limousine pulls up out the front, and… of course it’s not Dean, why would Dean show up anywhere in a limousine? It’s Charlotte and Dana. Charlotte refers to Sasha’s victory over Dana on Monday Night RAW as “the biggest upset of [her] career”, and we set up for the rematch tonight.
Next, Maryse is doing her makeup while Miz clears his throat in irritation in the background, because he wants her to hurry up and do his makeup also. He is inviting Darren Young and Bob Backlund onto Miz TV tonight to find out what was behind that whole “make Darren Young great again” thing.
And now we have Dean Ambrose, our champion, who is wearing sunglasses in a dark hallway. That reads “hungover” to all those members of the audience old enough to have been there and done that, I’m just saying. He tells us a little about how he’s going to wreck Kevin Owens in the ring because he’s champion, and I just really can’t argue with that.
This is the final SmackDown before the draft next Tuesday, as Mauro Ranallo reminds us as soon as we cut to the arena. And once we’re here, we’re straight into a match!
MATCH: Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke (with Charlotte)
Sasha makes her way down to the ring first, and she’s already motioning to her waist indicating that she wants Charlotte’s title. Dana’s music hits and she makes her way down the ramp accompanied, of course, by the champion. She flexes on the apron while Charlotte poses at ringside, and then we’re into it.
- Dana makes the first move as the bell rings, going for a clothesline, which Sasha ducks, going for a cheeky rollup, which Dana kicks out of.
- Another piece of Dana’s offense is reversed, this time into a backslide. Dana kicks out again.
- Sasha attempts to whip Dana into the rope, but Dana reverses; Sasha comes flying back with a sunset flip and then a knee to the face for another unsuccessful cover.
- Dana slides out of the ring, Sasha baseball sliding after her to take her to the ground. When Sasha postures at Charlotte, however, Dana rallies and takes Sasha down with a knee to the side of the head.
- Dana throws Sasha back into the ring and rains down a series of strikes to her head, then gets her in the turnbuckle with her boot.
- Snapmare by Dana into a chinlock, Sasha powers to her feet and breaks the hold. Sasha attempts to rebound off the ropes into something, but meets a clothesline coming the other way.
- Dana picks Sasha into a fireman’s carry, but Sasha slips out and gets a two-count cover.
- Sasha with strikes, then off the ropes to take Dana down with a lariat, then catches Dana’s kick. Sasha climbs onto the turnbuckle for a crossbody, for another unsuccessful cover.
- Dana in the corner, Sasha goes after her with a knee, but Dana moves out of the way and Sasha hits the turnbuckle. Dana capitalizes, throwing Sasha headfirst into the turnbuckle.
- Dana goes for a pin, reversed into a cover from Sasha; Dana kicks out. Sasha rebounds off the ropes, knocking Charlotte off the apron, and Dana goes for a rollup while Sasha surveys the damage.
- Sasha kicks out and locks in the Bank Statement, and Dana taps out.
Charlotte enters the ring as Sasha is celebrating her win, kicking Sasha in the face and then throwing her into the announce table. Crowd boos Charlotte as she climbs on the announce table and taunts Sasha with her title, exclaiming that Sasha will never beat her.
We get a recap of RAW, when Vince McMahon announced that Shane would be the new Commissioner of SmackDown and that Stephanie would be the Commissioner of RAW, and that both needed to choose a new GM for their respective shows by the following week. Shane has since stated on Twitter that he has agreed to terms with the new SmackDown GM. We see Shane backstage having a chat with Dean Ambrose, though we have no way of knowing what they’re talking about as the commentators are talking over them.
MATCH: Rusev (with Lana) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Lana, as always, introduces Rusev first for the match, and we get a recap of the events of RAW; Zack Ryder took a defeat from Sheamus, and then Rusev accepted Ryder’s challenge for a title shot at Battleground. Ziggler makes his way down the ramp next and they get straight into it.
- Mauro Ranallo opens the match by saying, “Dolph Ziggler is about to find that unlike playing Pokemon Go, facing Rusev is no walk in the park”. While I often appreciate a good topical reference, I can’t help but think that Ziggler isn’t the type to understand the Pokemon Go comparison here. Am I wrong?
- Match opens with some tight mat wrestling from Ziggler and Rusev, ending with Rusev powering to his feet through Ziggler’s side headlock and slamming Ziggler into the turnbuckle and keeping him there with a series of stomps until the referee creates separation.
- Rusev whips Ziggler into the opposite corner, but Ziggler gets his leg up for a kick on Rusev’s approach.
- Standing dropkick from Ziggler sends Rusev back into the other corner, and Ziggler follows with a splash. An attempt at another headlock is reversed.
- Ziggler ducks the clothesline and launches at Rusev, but is caught; Rusev hits a swinging slam and we cut to commercial.
- We’re back with Rusev standing on the middle rope, going for a splash on Ziggler, who rolls out of the way.
- Ziggler hits a few strikes to Rusev’s head, but Rusev kicks him down, then picks him up to whip him into the ropes. Ziggler kicks Rusev on the rebound, then goes for the Famouser, but is caught in powerbomb position.
- Ziggler able to jump out of Rusev’s hold into the corner; Rusev goes after him, but Ziggler moves out of the way and Rusev goes face-first into the turnbuckle. Ziggler goes for the Famouser again, but takes a powerbomb from Rusev instead for a two-count.
- Ziggler struggles to his feet as the crowd chants “USA!”.
- Ziggler avoids Rusev’s kick, and jumps on his back locking in a sleeper hold. Rusev able to break the hold, but Dolph Ziggler manages to hit the Famouser as Rusev recovers. Rusev kicks out at two.
- Rusev hits a big kick to Ziggler’s head, taking him back to the mat after both men struggle to their feet.
- As Rusev drags Ziggler by the foot to the middle of the ring and onto his stomach, presumably as setup for the Accolade, Zack Ryder’s music hits. Lana tries to shoo Ryder away, but this distraction gives time for Ziggler to attempt to lock in another sleeper.
- Rusev throws Ziggler over the ropes, then climbs out of the ring himself and throws Ziggler into Ryder, both men hitting the barricade.
- Rusev throws both Ziggler and Ryder into the ring, but Ziggler takes an opportunity for a successful pin with a rollup.
Ziggler and Ryder celebrate on the ramp, a quick cuddle and a pat on the back for having taken out the Brute together. Rusev is furious in the ring, ripping off the turnbuckle covers and throwing them up the ramp, then entering the commentary area and throwing monitors, chairs – generally making a mess of the place.
Recap of more events from Monday Night RAW; this time, it’s the New Day facing off with the Wyatt Family at their compound. Creepy music, creepy lighting, Bray tries to straight-up murder Xavier Woods. I have watched this segment multiple times since it aired, and the moment where all the fireflies go up behind Bray Wyatt and the other members of the Wyatt Family appear still gives me chills. What can I say, I just really buy into Bray Wyatt.
This is to let us know that the Wyatt Family will be facing the New Day in a 3-on-3 tag match at Battleground. I don’t even really mind that we just watched the same segment over again, I love it.
MATCH: AJ Styles & Karl Anderson (with Luke Gallows) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
The three Club members make their way down to the ring first, and gather in the ring as they await the arrival of their opponents. After their typical introduction, Enzo tells the Club that he’s sick of “too sweet” because even salt looks like sugar, though it is apt because the Club looks pretty salty. Big Cass takes the mic and says that the last thing they want to do is hurt them before Battleground – but it is on the list, and the list is looking otherwise pretty empty.
Some fans in the crowd have a five-part SAWFT sign, and they hoist each letter in time with Big Cass spelling it out for us. I don’t know, I just enjoyed that.
- Enzo and AJ Styles start in the ring together. AJ immediately backs Enzo into the corner with strikes, then whips him into the opposite corner.
- It looks like Enzo is jumping over AJ to land behind him, but he lands with his feet on AJ’s shoulders and turns it into a headscissors takedown.
- Enzo hits a baseball slide ankle pick as AJ gets to his feet, then knocks him down for a cover; AJ kicks out at one.
- Standing dropkick from Enzo as AJ gets to his feet again, then a scramble to tag in Big Cass as AJ tags in Anderson.
- Cass hits AJ with a splash in the corner before he gets out of the ring, then turns to Anderson, taking him to the mat with a slam, then hitting the Empire Elbow.
- AJ back for some assault on Cass, but Cass takes him out with a back body drop, before clotheslining Anderson over the top rope.
- Cass picks up Enzo over his head, and throws him over the ropes where he lands on all three gathered members of the Club, scattering them to the ground.
- We cut to commercial, and when we’re back, Anderson and Enzo are in the ring; Enzo has Anderson backed into his corner, where he tags in Big Cass.
- Cass slaps Anderson across the face a few times, then tags Enzo back in for some more tandem offense, throwing Enzo into Anderson in the corner. As Anderson stumbles out of the corner, Enzo goes after him but is kept at a distance with strikes.
- While the referee is distracted with Big Cass, AJ takes Enzo down with a clothesline.
- Anderson stomps Enzo in the corner until the referee creates separation, when he tags in AJ again.
- AJ whips Enzo into the ropes, then hits a pendulum backbreaker for an unsuccessful cover.
- Enzo thrown back into the corner, where AJ tags in Anderson again, who takes Enzo to the mat with a knee to the head.
- Dueling “let’s go, Enzo!” “AJ Styles!” chants as AJ is tagged in again, and Enzo scrambles to tag in Big Cass. AJ interrupts, of course, and Enzo and AJ trade strikes and kicks back and forth in the middle of the ring before AJ gets the upper hand and starts working Enzo’s left leg.
- AJ leads Enzo by the head to his corner again to tag in Anderson again, who keeps working the leg and manages an unsuccessful cover.
- AJ back in, and Enzo tries to fight him off though he is now visibly limping. Enzo creates separation but is only able to get himself back to the Club’s corner, where he takes a forearm from AJ before rolling out of the ring.
- Enzo tries to climb back into the ring; AJ goes for a kick, but Enzo pulls his leg out from under him sending him face-first into the apron. As Enzo goes for the tag, Anderson enters the ring (no one draws attention to this, so I assume AJ tagged him in while the camera was on Enzo) and takes Enzo down again with a knee to the ribcage, and he slides to the ground again.
- Anderson gets Enzo back into the ring and takes him to the mat with a big slam, but misses with a senton as Enzo rolls out of the way.
- Enzo and Anderson both crawling to their corners for a tag; Anderson gets there first and AJ stops Enzo’s tag by grabbing his leg and pulling him away.
- Enzo manages to hit a tornado DDT on AJ and both men are down. Enzo leaps for the hot tag, but Big Cass is pulled off the apron by Luke Gallows before he can get there.
- Big Cass takes Gallows down with a big boot, but is knocked to the ground by Anderson before he can get back onto the apron for Enzo’s tag.
- Enzo tries to protest what has happened, and gets his chin bounced off the ropes by Anderson for his trouble, giving time for AJ to recover and lock in the Calf Crusher.
- Enzo tries to fight out, but finally frantically taps out.
Big Cass rushes to check on Enzo, who rolls out of the ring clutching his left leg, and the Club celebrate together in the ring.
A reminder that Brock Lesnar, fresh from his UFC victory, is going to be facing a returning Randy Orton at SummerSlam. Randy Orton will also be a special guest on Jericho’s Highlight Reel at Battleground.
MATCH: Tyler Breeze (with Fandango) vs. Kalisto (with Sin Cara)
When we come back from commercial, Breezango are already most of the way through their entrance, with Tyler posing with his selfie stick on the apron and Fandango gyrating in the ring behind him. The Lucha Dragons make their way to the ring next, and then we’re straight into action.
- Tyler immediately gets Kalisto on his shoulder, slamming him into the turnbuckle and kicking him.
- Tyler whips Kalisto into the opposite turnbuckle, but Kalisto leaps over him when he goes to follow, and Tyler hits the turnbuckle shoulder first.
- Kalisto hits a big knee into Tyler’s stomach, then pulls him out of the corner and wrenches his shoulder by flipping off the ropes and taking Tyler to the ground.
- Tyler Breeze in the corner catches Kalisto and turns him around to sit him on the turnbuckle, but takes a kick to the face.
- Fandango at ringside distracts Kalisto for long enough for Tyler to grab his leg, where he is standing on the middle rope, dropping Kalisto facefirst onto the top rope, then capitalizing with a Supermodel Kick for an unsuccessful cover. He immediately drops into another cover and, when Kalisto kicks out of that too, another cover. Kalisto still kicks out.
- Tyler infuriated with the ref, takes a moment to yell at him before dropping for a fourth consecutive cover attempt before Kalisto can get to his feet. When Kalisto kicks out again, he locks in a headlock.
- Kalisto powers to his feet and breaks the hold with strikes to Tyler’s midsection, but Tyler hits back with a knee to Kalisto’s midsection.
- Tyler attempts a suplex, but Kalisto reverses into a rollup for a two-count.
- Enzuigiri from Tyler Breeze for another two-count. Sin Cara at ringside very excited, but Tyler is angry with the referee again.
- Tyler turns to Fandango for support, and seems to find what he’s looking for, as he turns and strikes Kalisto as he starts to power to his knees. Tyler turns to the crowd, hyping for a response and is booed.
- A repeat of the same moment; Kalisto gets to his knees, Tyler with a punch to the face to take him down again, the crowd boos as Tyler poses.
- The third time, Kalisto dodges the move and hits Tyler with an enzuigiri, then a springboard corkscrew.
- Kalisto misses with a knee to a kneeling Tyler’s head, and Tyler gets to his feet and throws Kalisto over the top rope where he lands on the apron. Kalisto manages a kick to the side of Tyler’s head, but misses with his next aerial attack, and Tyler gets an opportunity for a jackknife cover for a two-and-a-half count.
- Kalisto successfully hits Salida del Sol, for a successful cover.
Kalisto and Sin Cara celebrate together in the ring with a hug, and leading a “Lucha!” chant, while Fandango helps Tyler out of the ring looking miserable.
Shane is backstage having an unheard conversation with Becky Lynch; presumably having a chat about the upcoming draft. Or maybe what they’re going to do after the taping, who knows?
It’s time for Miz TV! Maryse calls her husband the “sexiest man alive”, and Jerry Lawler agrees that the Miz has “movie star” good looks. I’m not sure where the Miz falls on my personal ranking of good-looking superstars, but… I might have to stop that train of thought before it gets too creepy.
Miz welcomes his guests, Bob Backlund and Darren Young. We get a brief recap of the Battle Royal from RAW, and I don’t mind Darren Young winning, but I do find it a little disappointing that he did so because of the double-elimination of Crews and Corbin that he was not involved in, but that’s neither here nor there. Miz plays a video of Bob Backlund’s achievements in the WWE, and Darren Young looks really sincerely pleased for him, which is nice.
In a gag that has even Young laughing, Miz announces he has a career highlights video for Darren Young too, but it’s nothing but color bars because he says he couldn’t find anything. Darren dismisses the point, saying that it’s a cute joke but that he’s going to prove otherwise at Battleground. Backlund gets on the mic saying that Darren Young is a better role model than the Miz is, and Maryse has a killer comeback to that: “Excuse you! 1980 called, and they said you’re old.”
Miz trash-talks Backlund a little, and Darren gets to his feet and demands that Miz treat Backlund with a little more respect. Miz says he has a monologue to teach Darren Young a lesson, but Darren snatches the mic out of his hand. Miz tells him not to touch the microphone, so of course, he grabs the microphone again and demands to know what Miz is going to do about it.
Miz and Maryse carefully make their way out of the ring, as Darren looks very pleased with himself.
R-Truth, now, is backstage chatting up Shane McMahon. They embrace with a big hug after R-Truth appears to be teaching him how to rap, or something. It’s an odd moment.
Sasha Banks is backstage with her neck being tended to by a medic. Charlotte is there to challenge Sasha to a tag-team match at Battleground – Charlotte and Dana vs. Sasha and whoever she can find.
MATCH: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
Dean Ambrose makes his way down to the ring first with his title snug around his waist, and we are reminded that not only is he contesting that piece of gold against his former Shield brethren at Battleground, but that he’s given Seth Rollins a title shot on this coming Monday’s episode of RAW. Kevin Owens makes his way down next, alongside a reminder that he also has a scheduled match at Battleground, against his long-term rival Sami Zayn.
Before their match can begin, however, Seth Rollins’ music hits and he makes his way down the ramp, settling himself in at commentary.
- The bell rings and Kevin gets in immediate assault on Dean Ambrose, who is distracted still looking at Seth Rollins. Kevin drapes Dean over the ropes for some strikes, then whips him across the ring.
- Dean ducks under Kevin’s arm, then takes him down with a crossbody, keeping him down with a series of punches.
- Kevin manages to roll out of the ring and Dean follows. Seth reminds Dean to keep his eyes on his match, just as Kevin appears behind Dean. Strikes back and forth, and as they go to re-enter the ring, Seth comes at Dean from behind and the bell rings.
Seth rolls Dean into the ring and continues the assault, but then Sami Zayn’s music hits and he attacks Kevin Owens. Eventually Kevin and Seth are thrown from the ring, leaving Dean and Sami standing together in the ring.
MATCH: Dean Ambrose & Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens & Seth Rollins
When we come back from commercial, we find that apparently Shane McMahon has made this a tagteam match.
- Dean and Kevin start in the ring together as the bell rings. Dean immediately pushes Seth off the apron, then turns around to throw Kevin into the corner for a series of strikes and hits.
- As Seth climbs back up, Dean knocks him to the ground again, then goes out of the ring after him, throwing him headfirst into the barricade. As he turns around, Kevin throws him into the barricade, then kicks him while he’s down, and throws him back into the ring.
- Kevin getting in more assault on Dean as Seth climbs back up onto the apron.
- Seth tags in and gets Dean in the corner for a series of kicks to the midsection.
- Seth hits Dean with a slam, then a knee to the head. Seth has a lock on Dean while Kevin poses on the turnbuckle.
- Dean powers out of the hold but Seth picks him up for a backbreaker.
- Kevin tags back in and Sami tries to make his way into the ring but is held off by the ref. Kevin puts the boot in on Dean but Dean rolls away from the senton that follows.
- Kevin manages to tag in Seth, who flies at Dean in the corner but hits the turnbuckle, as Dean rolls away for a quick tag to Sami Zayn.
- Sami goes straight to the corner to strike at Kevin, then turns around and floors Seth with a clothesline. Back and forth as Sami rebounds off the ropes, ducking under Seth’s assault, and lands a DDT on Seth.
- Seth rolls out of the ring, and Sami looks to be preparing for a dive after him when Kevin Owens enters the ring; Sami throws him out of the ring too, and then Dean climbs into the ring so they can both fly over the ropes at their opponents – Dean landing on Kevin, and Sami hitting Seth.
- Sami and Dean fistbump as Dean returns to his corner and Sami throws Seth back into the ring, but Kevin catches Sami’s foot as he climbs in after him. Sami kicks Kevin away but takes a Sling Blade from Seth for a two-count.
- Kevin tags back in as Seth gets Sami in the corner, and hits a neckbreaker for an unsuccessful cover.
- We cut to commercial with Kevin kicking at Sami in the middle of the ring. When we’re back, Sami is just powering out of a headlock, but is taken back down by Kevin for another unsuccessful cover.
- Kevin backs Sami into the corner with strikes and then tags Seth back in for double-team knife-edge chops.
- Seth gets Sami against the turnbuckle with his boot, then as he creates space, Sami tries to come back with strikes. Seth whips him into the opposite corner.
- Seth stops to point at Dean, then appears to stop to have a brief argument with him before hitting Sami with a forearm in the corner.
- Sami stumbles out of the corner and as Seth rebounds off the ropes, Sami reverses into a Michinoku Driver.
- Sami starts to crawl to the corner and Seth grabs his foot to hold him back from the tag, then appears to think better of it and both men retreat to their corners to tag in their partners.
- Dean hits a pendulum lariat on Kevin, taking time to knock Seth back off the apron before going to the corner with Kevin for several strikes to the head. Kevin manages to reverse his way out of the corner but Dean hits a suplex then a elbow drop from the top rope for a nearfall.
- Dean hits a running bulldog on Kevin, but Seth manages to tag in just as Dean grabs hold of Kevin, so flies at Dean when his back is turned.
- Dean hits a neckbreaker on Seth, and Kevin disrupts the cover.
- Sami enters the ring to attack Kevin, taking him out of the ring with a dropkick, before Seth hits him with an enzuigiri.
- Another pendulum lariat from Dean, this time to Seth, leaving both men struggling to get to their feet.
- As they get to their feet, Dean tries to lock in Dirty Deeds, but Seth counters and attempts to reverse into a Pedigree. Dean reverses into a back body drop, then tags in Sami.
- Sami with a crossbody from the top rope for a nearfall.
- Sami attempts to pick up Seth for the Blue Thunder Bomb, but Seth counters. Sami hits an exploder suplex into the turnbuckle, and misses with the Helluva Kick on Kevin Owens who looks like he is trying to interfere.
- Dean flies through the ropes to take out Kevin, but Kevin throws him into the steps. Seth goes for a rollup, but Sami kicks out.
- An attempt at a Pedigree is countered, and Sami hits a DDT, then goes for the Helluva Kick; Kevin pulls Seth out of the way, and Sami hits the turnbuckle.
- Sami turns around into a Pedigree, and Seth and Kevin get the successful pin.
Kevin throws Sami out of the ring and goes for the Pop-Up Powerbomb at ringside, but Dean comes in for the save. Dean and Seth stare daggers at each other before Dean climbs back into the ring and the two men brawl in the ring. Dean goes for Dirty Deeds, but Seth blocks and scrambles out of the ring.
Dean’s music plays as we fade out on Sami and Dean in the ring, Dean hoisting his title, and Seth and Kevin staring them down from the ramp.
We’ll see you on Monday night for RAW!