This week’s WWE SmackDown came to us live from Ontario, California. The Miz immediately opened WWE SmackDown Live with MIZ TV, and The Bludgeon Brothers were his guest. “The A-Lister” looked terrified while interviewing the powerful duo, and to ease the tension, he pointed out that the three of them are good at beating up Daniel Bryan.
The Miz entertained the crowd as he usually does, and this was pretty much a one-man show as The Bludgeon Brothers remained silent. It looked like the two mammoths were about to pummel “The A-Lister,” then Daniel Bryan came out to interrupt, and Harper said he will learn his lesson tonight. It was then announced that Harper and Bryan would have a match later on SmackDown.
Xavier Woods vs. Rusev
Woods was accompanied by the rest of The New Day, and Rusev was introduced by Aiden English. Rusev will face AJ Styles at Extreme Rules for the WWE Championship, so a victory here was expected. Per their usual, the duo put on a solid match and told a great in-ring story of power versus speed. For the finish, Rusev made Woods tap out to the accolade.
Rusev then cut a promo saying that tonight was not about pancakes, but that it was about AJ Styles. Opposing chants of “AJ Styles” and “Rusev Day” then echoed throughout the arena. Rusev is one of the most over superstars in the WWE, and his upcoming title match at Extreme Rules is a reflection of that.
In a backstage segment, almost the entire GLOW cast arrived and cut a promo with Lana and Naomi. Kia Stevens was not part of the GLOW cast in attendance at SmackDown, and the actor used to wrestler for the WWE as Kharma. This was a quick segment, and Alison Brie using a Russian accent to talk to Lana was a refreshingly comical moment of the show.
Jeff Hardy Open U.S. Title Challenge
Initially, this was going to be a title match with Jeff Hardy defending the WWE United States Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura, but as Bleacher Report documented, Nakamura is out with an injury because he was reportedly bit by a police dog in an arena in Bakersfield, California. The timing couldn’t be worse for Nakamura since this was probably going to be the contest to put him back on top after losing four title opportunities in a row to AJ Styles. Hopefully, “The Artist” will recover soon and return to in-ring action.
Jeff Hardy is keeping his character fresh by donning new makeup and a slightly new persona, but the fact that he is drastically slowing down in the ring can’t be ignored. He has performed with reckless abandon throughout the years and it’s starting to show. But nonetheless, the talented wrestler is still able to tell a great in-ring story.
Hardy was in the ring awaiting to see who was going to be his mystery opponent. The Sanity music hit, the crowd popped, and Eric Young challenged Jeff for the belt. These two WWE superstars have wrestled each other in the past in TNA, and it was surreal to see them square off on SmackDown.
It was a solid match from beginning to end, and for the finish, The Usos came down to the ring to seek vengeance on Sanity because of last week’s happenings. The match ended in a disqualification, and Hardy helped The Usos get the better of Sanity. Per SmackDown’s usual, this brawl was turned into a six-man tag team match. This too was a solid contest, and Hardy would hit a swanton bomb on Alexander Wolfe for the three-count.
Becky Lynch vs. Sonya Deville
Deville was accompanied by Mandy Rose and Lynch was by herself. Though they may not be booked in any top spots, Deville and Lynch are two of the best in-ring workers in the WWE, and they showed that tonight on SmackDown. With little heat or shine, the beginning of the contest was a seesaw battle.
The two exchanged blows and counters, and Deville kept powdering to the outside to regroup herself. Sonya eventually got the advantage and delivered snug blows and submissions. Just when it looked like Lynch was going to lose, Deville ended up colliding with Rose, and Becky made Sonya tap to the dis-arm-her. Thanks to the commentators repeatedly driving this point home, the story here is that Sonya and Mandy may be having some issues in their friendship, but only time will tell.
After the contest, James Ellsworth came out and cut a promo on Asuka. He dared “The Empress of Tomorrow” to come down and face him. Paige then made her way down to the ring and called Ellsworth out by saying that he knew Asuka wasn’t in attendance tonight. She then announced that Asuka would once again challenge Carmella for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship at Extreme Rules. Paige usually botches her lines while talking on the mic, but tonight the former wrestler performed flawlessly.
Paige then told James that he would have a match during next week’s SmackDown against Asuka. It’s been a while since a man faced a woman in a WWE ring, and given that this is not the Attitude Era, expect Ellsworth to be squashed or for shenanigans to ensue.
Daniel Bryan vs. Harper
Like his rivalry with the recently fired Big Cass, this was another David-and-Goliath-like contest for Daniel Bryan. These types of matches can sometimes be boring, but given the talents of the two WWE superstars involved, it was anything but.
As expected, Bryan took a lot of heat through the majority of the contest as Harper delivered numerous stiff blows and moves. Daniel had a false comeback spot, and his giant opponent continued to deliver punishment. Bryan finally turned the tide when he countered his opponent with a tornado DDT. Daniel then put Harper in the yes lock, Rowan broke it up, and the match ended in a disqualification.
The Bludgeon Brothers continued pummeling Bryan when the unexpected happened—Kane returned to save his former partner! Glenn Jacobs, who wrestles as Kane, recently won the Republican primary election for the mayoral seat of Knox County, Tennessee, so this return was unexpected. Even more unexpected, Paige then announced that the Bludgeon Brothers would defend the WWE Tag Team titles against Team Hell No at Extreme Rules. It looks like Jacobs may have just enough time for one more title run, or at least another match or two, before the general election in August.
Though it was doubtful at the beginning because of the Nakamura situation, this was a very entertaining episode of SmackDown, and the WWE made sure fans were thrilled from beginning to end.