WWE SmackDown Live aired from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. This week on SmackDown Live, five matches took place, including a United States Championship match, and for the first time in years, the WWE booked a mixed gender contest.
As the Inquisitr reported, Team Hell No reunited on last week’s SmackDown. The team will face The Bludgeon Brothers at Extreme Rules for the WWE Tag Team Championship. To open this week’s show, Daniel Bryan and Kane were interviewed by Renee Young in the ring. The two did their old routine of playfully arguing with one another, and then The Usos interrupted.
In perhaps the funniest moment of the night, Jimmy and Jey pointed out that the only reason Team Hell No is getting a title shot is because they hugged, and The Usos then hugged each other four times and stated that they now deserve four title shots. Paige came out and declared that the two teams will wrestle later on in the evening, and if The Usos win, then they will be entered in The Extreme Rules contest for the titles in a three-way match.
Independence Day United States Championship Open Challenge
Jeff Hardy was decked out in red, white, and blue to celebrate the Fourth of July. Hardy defended his title in an open challenge against The Miz. These two superstars are certainly over with the WWE universe, and arguably, “The A-Lister” got a bigger reaction than Hardy.
The last time these two met on SmackDown it was to battle for a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match, and The Miz won that contest. As expected, the two veterans told a great in-ring story once again, and the crowd was really into it. For the finish, this time it would be Jeff Hardy that went over after he hit his swanton bomb to retain clean over the challenger.
Sanity Goes Insane
The New Day unveiled their First Annual Third of July Pancake Eating Contest. The contest was supposed to last for five minutes, but in the opening moments, the lights went out and Sanity attacked. At the end of the scuffle, Xavier Woods was placed on a table, and Eric Young hit a flying elbow from the top rope that sent both competitors crashing through the table.
Most likely, this will lead to a contest between the six wrestlers. Aside from making fans laugh with their pancake antics, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E haven’t been up to much as of late in the WWE, so this feud is a welcomed one. Eric Young, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe need to make an impact on SmackDown if their faction is going to get momentum, and a feud with the record-breaking New Day is a perfect way to do that. Plus, each team has three members, so it’s easy and convenient booking.
Battle of the Sexes
In a mixed gender contest, Asuka squared off against James Ellsworth. Before this oddly booked bout started, the WWE compared it to the famed 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Perhaps the WWE should have paid closer attention to that ’73 contest, because that legit finish (King won) was better than this scripted one. The WWE SmackDown women’s champion, Carmella, joined the commentators at ringside.
At first, the crowd was checked out of this one, but once “The Empress of Tomorrow” started pummeling Ellsworth, they got into it for a bit. Just a few minutes into the contest, Asuka chased James through the crowd and both were counted out. The two returned at ringside, and Carmella saved Ellsworth by pushing Asuka into the ringside barrier. James and Carmella walked off, and “The Empress of Tomorrow” looked angry.
The live audience looked largely disappointed that this contest took place. As if this wasn’t bad enough the first time around, later during the show, Paige announced that Ellsworth will once again face Asuka next week on SmackDown Live. “The Empress of Tomorrow” faces Carmella at Extreme Rules for the title, so expect next week’s bout to build on that program.
AJ Styles vs. Aiden English
AJ Styles is the WWE champion, but it would be easy for a fan to forget that since he is rarely in the main event these days. Styles came down to cut a promo on his upcoming Extreme Rules match against Rusev. Styles barely got anything out before Rusev and English Aiden came down to interrupt. Rusev declared he will become the new champion when he wrestles AJ, and then the match at hand started.
This swift bout lasted about four minutes, and “The Phenomenal One” was the victor after English tapped out to the calf crusher. Rusev then attacked Styles and put him in the accolade. The WWE is clearly trying to keep “Rusev Day” heel, but even after attacking the beloved champion, the crowd seemed neutral. Many pundits feel that Styles is a much better heel than a face, and given how over Rusev is with the WWE universe, perhaps these two wrestlers should switch heel and face positions.
Becky Lynch vs. Peyton Royce
The IIconics are over big time as heels, and they continue to be two of the most entertaining superstars on SmackDown. Unfortunately, the IIconics and Becky Lynch didn’t get the time they deserve this week. As expected, Billie Kay was in Royce’s corner. This was a very quick one, and after taking some brief heat, Lynch won by making Peyton tap to the dis-arm-her. This could have been a great 10- or 15-minute match, and hopefully these two will get more time in the future.
Shinsuke Nakamura was supposed to face Jeff Hardy for the United States Championship two weeks ago on SmackDown. Unfortunately, Nakamura was bitten by a police dog while in a Bakersfield arena, so that contest never took place, as Deadspin reported. It looks like Nakamura will be cleared in time for the next pay-per-view because it was announced that Hardy will defend his title against “The Artist” at Extreme Rules.
The Usos vs. Team Hell No
The WWE universe loved this one from beginning to end. It’s been a while since Kane has competed in a televised match, and the veteran hasn’t missed a beat. As expected, Bryan took the heat. This was a well-booked bout since much of the WWE universe assumed that Jimmy and Jey were going to go over since this had Extreme Rules implications. For the finish, “The Big Red Machine” choke-slammed Jey for the three-count. The Bludgeon Brothers arrived at the top of the stage to stare at the victors creepily.
SmackDown Live was a mixed bag this week. It would have been nice to see Royce and Lynch get more in-ring time in their match, and this easily could have happened if the WWE didn’t book that weird mixed gender contest. The WWE did successfully build some angles for Extreme Rules, and there were some entertaining matches, so this week’s SmackDown wasn’t a complete bust.