Welcome to SmackDown Live!
We open on a locker room where a bunch of talent are hanging around having a chat when AJ Styles come in to ruin everyone’s mood by talking about how he beat up John Cena. He’s got Cena’s sweatband, which is pretty bad, and then gets in Dolph Ziggler’s face. AJ, Dolph just lost at SummerSlam. He is trying to have a cry.
Ziggler obviously agrees with me, because he headbutts AJ right in the face and yells at him to leave him alone. Good on you, Ziggler.
When we come back after the opening titles, all the tag teams and women are hanging about in the ring with some new belts on a pedestal. The Hype Bros are having a real close look while the others are being more standoffish.
Shane jogs around on the ramp, followed by Daniel Bryan. This gives me a chance to have a proper look at the belts – god, they’re absolutely gorgeous! I’m loving it already. They’re both way better than the Universal title.
Daniel starts off the real talk about the titles by addressing the women. Despite the fact that the heels won at SummerSlam, the crowd is chanting for Becky. She looks very pleased with herself. Turns out my joking prediction for “battle royal for the titles” wasn’t that far off, as the women will be fighting in a Six Pack Challenge at Backlash.
The tag titles will also be defended at Backlash, with a tournament leading up to the match. Daniel says a tag team have to be like brothers – cut to Breezango having a bit of a think about that statement, and I have my own theories as to why – but his explanation of the tournament is cut short by Heath Slater coming in, wanting to win a bit of gold.
Daniel gently reminds him that Slater does not have the correct equipment to challenge for the Women’s Championship, and that’s… okay, look, Daniel, that gets to a really transphobic place and the crowd is right on board with that and I’m really not okay with that. I mean, Slater is a man, he identifies as a man, and does not want to challenge for the Women’s title, but “not equipped” is a totally inappropriate comment to make here.
Shane goes on to say that Slater is also not equipped for the tag titles, because he lacks both a contract and a partner. That is a fair statement but can we stop fucking talking about “equipment”? I’m still not happy with that joke, at all.
However, they promise him that he can participate in the tournament if he can find himself a partner, and AJ Styles comes out to complain that this is all nonsense. He’s not planning to partner up with Slater, though, never fear. He is, however, going to get beat up by Dolph Ziggler.
MATCH: Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss
We have a match when we’re back! Natalya and Naomi are on commentary as Alexa and Becky face off in the ring.
- Becky working on Alexa’s arm throughout the first portion of the match – tries to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her, but Alexa makes the ropes before Becky can lock it in properly.
- Alexa with Becky on the ropes for an ongoing assault, and then gets in a submission, that Becky is eventually able to break.
- Becky with a pair of clotheslines and a leg lariat on Alexa, but when she gets Alexa in the corner, Alexa is able to leapfrog and take Becky down.
- Becky blocks a wheelbarrow pickup from Alexa, and reverses into the Dis-Arm-Her. Alexa taps, and Becky wins!
A four minute match, and I mean – wouldn’t it have been nice to see this kind of a match as the first round in a women’s tournament, instead of just throwing all the women together into one match? But I digress.
Backstage, Heath Slater is trying to convince The Miz to be his partner for the tag team tournament. It sounds like The Miz is agreeing, but he’s actually just on the phone with Steven Spielberg.
MATCH: The Ascension vs. The Usos
In our first round of the tag team tournament, The Ascension start in the ring waiting for the Usos to do their entrance. That says a lot already.
- As soon as the bell rings, both members of the Ascension attack the Usos.
- Viktor gets two-count on Jimmy Uso after a corner clothesline, and continues to lay in a big assault on him before tagging in Konnor for a leg drop and a two-count.
- Commentary respect this match by talking about The Miz.
- Jimmy gets to his feet and slaps Konnor, and there’s some back and forth before both men tag in their partners.
- Crossbody, then a superkick, from Jey Uso to Viktor, then a Samoan Drop, but he’s intercepted by Konnor before he can lay in a final assault on Viktor. Jimmy comes in with a superkick to send Konnor out of the ring.
- Jimmy tags in for a Samoan Splash, and the Usos are going forward in the tournament!
We cut to the tag titles again – oh, yeah, they’re so pretty. The Usos celebrate their victory, and we move on to talk about how Randy Orton will be on the show later.
AJ Styles makes his way down to the ring, and gets on the mic to talk about how he beat John Cena and that means that Dolph Ziggler is jealous of him. AJ is still wearing Cena’s “never give up” sweatband to just really rub in that he beat up John Cena. But don’t fret, Cenation – you can be an AJ Styles fan now!
He screams a bit about how he’s the face that runs this place, and that means he should be number one contender. Before he can get too far, though, Dolph Ziggler is trying to break through a group of referees and security trying to get to the ring. Daniel Bryan quickly follows, ordering them to stop trying to ruin the show. Yes, AJ Styles deserves to be number one contender. And yes, Dolph Ziggler lost at SummerSlam, but he came pretty close.
So he makes a match. AJ is named as number one contender, but if Dolph Ziggler can defeat him tonight, it will be a triple threat with AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and Ziggler.
MATCH: Carmella vs. Nikki Bella
Renee Young is waiting in the ring as Carmella and Nikki make their way down to the ring. She starts to ask Nikki about her return, when Carmella attacks Nikki from behind and floors her. Renee scarpers from the ring as Carmella lays in more assault on Nikki, taking her down with a DDT then getting in with a series of strikes. Referees eventually pull Carmella away, and Nikki crawls to the opposite corner, and Carmella comes after her with a Bellabuster. Carmella makes her way out of the ring looking extremely cocky, making mocking crying gestures while staring up the ramp at her.
I’m getting really tired of women’s matches that don’t end up happening.
Randy Orton makes his way down to the ring next, wearing regular clothes for some reason. He shows off the ten staples in his head, and explains that he didn’t want the match to end that way, that he would have preferred to have been wheeled out of there actually unconscious, but Shane obviously made the call for him. Before he can continue, the arena goes dark and lights up with fireflies – Bray Wyatt has something to say to Randy Orton.
He sits himself down in his rocking chair adjacent to the ring, and lays down a challenge. Orton makes a move like “well, come on then”, and Bray gets to his feet and slowly starts to remove his jacket, but then – the lights cut, his video plays, and he’s gone.
Shane is backstage, and is asked how he feels about the whole Brock Lesnar thing. He states that he’s already made his feelings on the matter clear, but the interviewer pushes a little further. He goes on to say that a $500 fine is clearly insufficient, proving that neither Stephanie nor Brock are taking this seriously, and that this is far from over.
I’m pleased that Shane is taking that line, but the wind is quickly taken out of my sails when I see that the next round of the tag team tournament is Breezango vs. American Alpha. I love Breezango with my whole heart, so the last thing I want is to see them squashed by Alpha.
Heath Slater is backstage being terrible at making friends for the tag division – but Rhyno comes in and warmly tells him that a tag team champion can make a payment on an above-ground pool.
MATCH: Breezango vs. American Alpha
Before the match, Tyler and Fandango are drinking cocktails and talking. Tyler says the tournament is going to be a breeze, and Fandango starts to talk about how nice the belts will look on their gyrating hips, when he suddenly realizes how clever Tyler is and just lights up – “Breeze! Like your name! Did you just think of that?” As American Alpha enters, I swear I see Fandango slap Tyler on the ass, but I’m probably just looking for reasons to enjoy this match given that I’m not hopeful my boys will make it.
- Fandango and Chad Gable start in the ring together. Fandango manages to floor Gable and starts to gyrate proudly, but this gives Gable time to knock him off his feet.
- Fandango tags in Tyler, who takes a deep arm drag from Gable, before Jordan tags in and Gable whips Tyler into a dropkick. Fandango comes in to interfere, and takes another dropkick.
- Tyler in an armbar from Jordan, then Gable tags in and starts working Tyler’s arm too.
- Jordan tags back in, and then tags Gable as they set up for Grand Amplitude, but Tyler fights out. While the referee tells Jordan to get out of the ring, Tyler manages a go-behind and throws Gable at Fandango for a clothesline, Fandango back out of the ring before the ref turns around.
- When we’re back from the ads, Gable and Fandango are in the ring together. Fandango throws Gable onto the apron, but Gable kicks Fandango out onto the barricade. Gable crawls to make the tag to Jordan, and Tyler tags in just shy of being able to stop him.
- Over the head belly suplex then a spear from Jordan into the corner; Fandango interrupts the pin following the tag from Gable and the bridging cover.
- Gable and Tyler both down in the ring, and Gable eventually gets them both up. Another interference from Fandango, and Tyler escapes again.
- Supermodel kick to Jordan on the turnbuckle, but pin disrupted by Gable.
- Tyler motions for Fandango to come help him, but Gable interferes, leaving Tyler and Jordan alone in the ring with Gable and Fandango fighting on the outside.
- Superkick dodged and reversed into an Alphaplex into a tag to Gable for Grand Amplitude. Fandango can’t save him this time! It’s a three-count.
I didn’t expect anything less, but damn was that a hard-fought match! I didn’t expect Breezango to put up such a good fight, and I was breathless a couple of times actually thinking that they might just get there, even though if they had I’d be complaining about how much Alpha deserved it. Fandango pulls Tyler out of the ring, and Alpha celebrate their progression to the semi finals.
Dean Ambrose is wearing a comically large hat and a themed shirt. He was busy upstairs playing in the casino, so he had no idea that AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler were fighting and wants to know if it’s Bigfoot vs. a grizzly bear. Our champion, folks! AJ vs. Ziggler makes much more sense, though. Someone brings him a coffee, and he tips hugely because he’s a great champion like that.
MATCH: AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dean Ambrose makes his way down to the ring for commentary, throwing his comical hat to the crowd. He settles in as Ziggler and AJ make their way down to follow. Just a reminder – if Dolph Ziggler wins, it’s a triple threat at Backlash. If not, AJ is number one contender.
- Dueling chants of “AJ Styles!” and “Let’s go, Ziggler!”
- Offense by both men; Ziggler takes AJ down with a dropkick, but AJ is able to recover easily and takes Ziggler to the mat.
- Strikes from AJ, then a roundhouse kick to the head to keep Ziggler from getting up again.
- Rollup from Ziggler; AJ kicks out but Ziggler gets a waistlock. AJ fights out and starts laying in more offense, throwing Ziggler’s head into the turnbuckle and following it up with stomps.
- Ziggler rallies and fights back, sending AJ over the apron, but an attempted headbutt is blocked and he takes a neckbreaker over the middle rope.
- AJ working Ziggler’s arm, Ziggler eventually managing to fight back with strikes, but AJ knees him in the midsection to take him to the mat. AJ rebounds off the ropes, into a dropkick from Ziggler.
- Ziggler connects with the Famouser for a two-count, but still clutching his left arm.
- AJ misses a springboard 450 splash, and Ziggler hits a satellite DDT, but AJ kicks out of the cover.
- Ziggler goes for a kick, which AJ catches and tries to convert Ziggler into the Styles Clash, but Ziggler fights out.
- Styles Clash, and Ziggler’s out. AJ is facing Dean Ambrose at Backlash in a singles match!
AJ on his feet celebrating, then as Dean is talking about how he understands Ziggler’s heartbreak, AJ comes over to confront him. Dean gets to his feet and they stare down, nose to nose. A referee comes to stand between them, but AJ raises his hands like he wasn’t planning to do anything, and the show closes on Dean grinning.