Nikki Bella returned to WWE action last night as a surprise replacement for the recently-suspended Eva Marie. As the women's division on SmackDown Live heats up, Nikki Bella made her return and picked up the win in a six-woman tag team match at WWE SummerSlam 2016. Her debut on the Tuesday night show comes at a very opportune time, given the announcement that her brother-in-law -- and SmackDown Live general manager -- Daniel Bryan made about the new SmackDown Women's Championship.SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan announced via Twitter that new titles would be introduced to the blue brand tonight, meeting the needs of the women's division and tag team division on SmackDown Live. While Nikki Bella, Natalya, Becky Lynch, and Naomi will undoubtedly be top contenders for the women's title, the WWE Universe can expect that American Alpha and The Usos will be leading the charge for the new SmackDown-exclusive tag titles.Meanwhile, AJ Styles rightfully made a big deal out of the fact that he defeated John Cena cleanly at WWE SummerSlam 2016. After Cena kissed his "Never Give Up" armband before leaving the ring Sunday night, WWE was acting like Cena may have, in fact, given up. As Styles rubbed his victory in Dolph Ziggler's face, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose found out who he faces next for the biggest prize in the game. And while Bray Wyatt showed interest in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the weeks leading up to SummerSlam, he focused his attention on Randy Orton during this week's SmackDown Live.
WWE SmackDown Live Results
The following includes the results of all the matches and segments from SmackDown Live on August 23. This episode of SmackDown airs live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Although they're doing much better than when the show aired on Thursdays, SmackDown Live hasn't won the ratings war with Monday Night Raw since the week the blue brand hosted the WWE Draft. As the fallout from WWE SummerSlam 2016 rolls into the return of WWE Backlash next month, how will Commissioner Shane McMahon and GM Daniel Bryan try to take the lead in the friendly rivalry with the red brand?
SmackDown Pre-Show On The WWE Network
The regular team of four was back on the half-hour warm-up to SmackDown Live, airing exclusively on the WWE Network. Scott Stanford was joined by three WWE Hall of Famers: Lita, Booker T, and Jerry "The King" Lawler.Dean Ambrose joined the Pre-Show via Skype to talk about his win over Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam. They also showed clips of a couple of AJ Styles interviews, building on the hype he is receiving for defeating John Cena at the biggest party of the summer.
AJ Styles And Dolph Ziggler
SmackDown Live kicked off with a locker room scene. Perhaps indicating he no longer belongs among main event talent after his loss to Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam, Dolph Ziggler is shown with the recently-returned Rhyno, under-card mainstay Erick Rowan, and rookies Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews. AJ Styles, who called himself "the new face that runs this place" after his huge win over John Cena, mocked Ziggler for his loss. The Showoff attacked The Phenomenal One before being pulled off, setting up the main even match for SmackDown Live tonight.
New SmackDown Titles
All of SmackDown's tag teams and women were in the ring with the brand's new titles. After Shane and Daniel came to the ring, they announced that every member of the Six-Woman Tag Team Match from SummerSlam would compete in a Women's Six-Pack Challenge Match for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WWE Backlash 2016. They also announced that all six teams involved in the 12-Man Tag Team Match would be involved in a tournament to crown the first-ever SmackDown Tag Team Champions, culminating at Backlash. Heath Slater made his way to the ring, and the SmackDown management agreed that if he could find a tag team partner before the end of SmackDown Live, his team could enter the tournament next week.As the segment was coming to a close, AJ Styles made his way to the ring. As Styles started to rant, Dolph Ziggler came from backstage and attacked him. Shane had the wrestlers in the ring separate the two as SmackDown Live went to a commercial break.
Becky Lynch Defeated Alexa Bliss
While Nikki Bella helped the heel team pick up the win at SummerSlam, Becky Lynch scored the first win after the women of SmackDown learned about their upcoming Women's Championship Match. With Naomi and Natalya on guest commentary, the build-up for the match at Backlash is already heating up.
The Usos Defeated The Ascension
As the tournament to crown the first SmackDown Tag Team Champions began, The Usos defeated the ever-struggling team of Konnor and Viktor, The Ascension. They're the first of four teams to advance to the next round of the tournament.
AJ Styles And Dolph Ziggler (Part 2)
After telling the Cenation that they were free to start cheering for the new face that runs the place, AJ Styles claimed that he deserved to be the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Having already been called jealous earlier in AJ's rant, Dolph Ziggler came out to the ring to try to get his hands on Styles one more time. GM Bryan came out and said that if Ziggler could defeat Styles in tonight's main event, the title match at Backlash would be a Triple Threat Match: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler. If Styles wins, it just Dean vs. AJ.
Carmella Attacks Nikki Bella -- Match Gets Cancelled
Before the match between Nikki Bella and Carmella could officially begin, Renee Young was asking Nikki about her triumphant return from neck surgery at Sunday night's SummerSlam. Carmella took the opportunity to attack the Bella twin from behind, paying special attention to her neck. As the referees attended to Nikki and her vulnerable cervix, the Princess of Staten Island hit Nikki with the Bella Buster. Like Roman Reigns vs. Rusev at SummerSlam, the match never even started. It was a very heelish tactic for Carmella, who may be filling the void left by Eva Marie so that Nikki can embrace her natural position as a face.
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Bray Wyatt Targets Randy Orton
Randy Orton came to the ring to talk about his brutal match with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam on Sunday night. However, it wasn't long before he was interrupted by Bray Wyatt, who has been sending out some fairly cryptic tweets as of late. It's safe to assume that this is the beginning of a feud between Orton and Wyatt, which will likely come to a head at Backlash.
American Alpha Defeated Breezango
Before the next match in the tournament got under way, Rhyno agreed backstage to be Heath Slater's partner in the tournament next week. No indication was given as to who their opponents would be. In the ring, Breezango put on a surprisingly competitive match against American Alpha, who have to be considered the favorites in the SmackDown tag team tournament. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan got the win after hitting their patented Grand Amplitude finisher. While they advance to the semifinals, it's unclear whether they'll be facing The Usos or one of the four teams yet to compete.
AJ Styles Defeated Dolph Ziggler, Will Face Dean Ambrose At BackLashl
With WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose providing guest commentary, Dolph Ziggler put on another great performance in the main event of this week's SmackDown Live. Unfortunately, just as he did at SummerSlam, Dolph came up short. AJ Styles won a highly competitive match, and The Phenomenal One got in the champ's face as SmackDown ended.
Talking Smack On The WWE Network
Once again, Renee Young and Daniel Bryan hosted the show that airs on the WWE Network immediately following the conclusion of SmackDown Live. Nikki Bella was the first guest this week, as Renee tried to pick up where they left off in the ring prior to Nikki being attacked by Carmella. Bella wasn't safe on Talking Smack, however, as Carmella attacked her from behind once again. The women had to be separated by The Usos before the show could continue.The former WWE Tag Team Champions stuck around to discuss their win in the first round of the tournament to crown the first-ever SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Daniel Bryan didn't shy away from asking Jimmy and Jey how they felt about the fact that they really aren't over with the WWE Universe the way they used to be. The Usos attributed the wavering support of the WWE Universe to their recent affiliation with Roman Reigns.Before Talking Smack concluded, The Miz and Maryse joined Daniel and Renee to discuss the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Given almost no attention on SmackDown Live, plans for the IC title at Backlash weren't even mentioned. As The Miz began to voice his frustration with General Manager Daniel Bryan, they started a very interesting heated argument. The Miz argued that if Daniel Bryan truly loved wrestling as much as he claims, he would quit as the GM of SmackDown Live and return to the bingo halls of the independent circuit, where he would be allowed to compete again. As the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion left the set, it became pretty clear that a feud is being built between Daniel Bryan and The Miz.
The above SmackDown Live results will be corroborated by WWE's official SmackDown Live page.
Updated WWE Backlash 2016 Card
- Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles -- WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
- Nikki Bella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss -- 6-Pack Challenge for the SmackDown Women's Championship
- The Miz (c) vs. TBD -- WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
- Tournament Finals for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
- Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt (unconfirmed)
Where To Watch
WWE SummerSlam 2016, which originally aired Sunday, August 21, is currently available to stream on-demand via the WWE Network. The next SmackDown Live-branded PPV will be WWE Backlash on September 11.WWE SmackDown Live airs Tuesdays on the USA Network at 8/7c. Replays of WWE SmackDown aren't made available on the WWE Network until several weeks after the original air date. However, a replay of SmackDown Live is available to stream on-demand Wednesdays with a Hulu Plus subscription.
[Image via WWE]