Welcome to the weekly SmackDown React-Down.
I'll be taking you through all the happenings on last night's episode of the B Show.*
If you missed yesterday's Uncooked Raw Reaction, in which Seth Rollins was Linus in The Great Pumpkin, Finn Balor was The Great Pumpkin in The Great Pumpkin, and Roman Reigns was every asshole-ish entitled jerk in every 80s coming-of-age movie except he wins in the end, click HERE.
What a world we live in, folks. SmackDown continues to improve, and Raw continues to fall off a cliff while soaked in gasoline and on fire. Oh and it's that cliff at the end of Temple of Doom where there are crocodiles at the bottom.
Let's see what's going on with the Blue Side of things.
My first thought was: Isn't it a little late for this? Did Brock have to sign it first, and he had to Fed-Ex it from Saskatchewan?
My second thought was: Hooray! Heath Slater's here! And he stole a fruit basket from a funeral!
Heath is doing the best work of anyone in the company right now, and earning double paychecks at that. The only guy who appears on both Raw and Smackdown consistently.
Of course, in kayfabe, he's a desperate man with two little daughters at home and a bunch of other kids too. He needs a job.
He says that he wants that contract that Shane-O Bryan was going to offer him last week before he told them off and stormed out of the building.
They say no, because they are assholes.
However, if he can't get a job on Raw or Smackdown Live, I think he should start one of those Trick Shot YouTube channels. He gots mad skillz.
That sh*t is impressive.
Randy says he has an idea. Then pauses, then takes a huge bite of the apple. then pauses for another seventeen seconds, then they cut to the opening theme. I think someone fell asleep in the production truck.
He doesn't say what his idea is, but it's obvious. Randy vs Heath later in the show, with a contract on the line if Heath wins.
So basically the same thing both shows have been doing for three weeks, but with more snake imagery. Good idea Randy.
How ever did you come up with it?
"Kick your head right off your face."
For those of you who don't know, Sean Ross Sapp plucked me from relative obscurity, writing about Main Event and Superstars for another site.
During the time that I was writing there, Dolph Ziggler was on guest commentary for the lower tier shows like every week. He was in full Douche Ziggler mode, making chauvinist jokes and screaming color commentary, insisting on calling Tom Phillips "T.P." He was the literal, honest to God, Dirt Worst. I hated him. I used to say that his commentary was worse than cholera. I used to say that he was as douchey as a literal box of Summer's Eve.
"When you get that 'not-so-fresh feeling,' use Dolph Ziggler. With natural ingredients like Vinegar & Water or Baking Soda, Dolph Ziggler is the brand of douche that more doctors recommend."
I used to make jokes that he was douchier than THIS. That was how douchey he was, I said.
I really hated Dolph Ziggler, you guys. And now?
Now, I think I'm rooting for him to win the WWE Title at Summerslam.
What has happened to me?
I'll tell you what happened: Ziggler happened.
I thought it was a terrible choice for him to win that Six Pack Challenge for the #1 Contendership, and I said so here.
But Ziggler said it would only take three minutes for him to talk on camera in front of the WWE Universe to make them get behind him.
He was wrong. It took three weeks.
The promo between arrogant tweener champ Dean Ambrose and one-last-shot-for-all-the-marbles Dolph Ziggler was pretty great. I found it curious that Dean's point of view consisted of mainly "You doing want to be the champ, being the champ sucks," but whatever, I'll allow it. I also love how this was ostensibly supposed to be an episode of MizTV and after about two minutes, he and Maryse just faded into the background and made reaction-gif-worthy faces.
The whole thing built to Dolph Ziggler sucker-superkicking Dean in the mouth.
Ziggler was basically saying "If you want to beat me, you're going to have to kill me, and there's nothing in your arsenal that can do that," and he ain't lying. It's why I'll never be a Dean Ambrose guy. His moveset looks like he couldn't beat a five year old with it. The Lunatic Lariat is so telegraphed it's from like 1910, and his "Suicide Dive" is more like a "Gentle Horizontal Push." Then there his elbow drop from the top rope, which is basically just him putting his armpit in they other guy's face. I do like the Dirty Deeds as a finisher, though I prefer the old version:
Whatever happened to that version?
Anyway, at one point during this segment, Dolph Ziggler threatens to kick Dean's head right off his face. Which doesn't seem possible. But then I realized, that's what he did to me. Metaphorically speaking. My head remembers how much I hated Ziggler, and not just because of him on commentary on Superstars and Main Event, because of the crap he pulled on Rusev and Lana, and Tyler Breeze and Summer Rae, and Big E and AJ Lee, and the rest of the Spirit Squad, and Kerwin White. I've never really been a fan, and my head knows this. But now, after the past three weeks, my face can't help but smile when I see Ziggler on screen. Then of course, my head tells my face to stop smiling. But after last night, after that Superkick to Ambrose, it's like my head has been separated from my face.
They've been kicked apart, if you will.
And now I can't wait for Sunday.
Rooting for you, Ziggles.
And that's a thing I never thought I'd type.
You can't sell me.
Couple things before we get into the meat of what happens in the video.
First of all, after jobbing to Randy Orton last week, Del Rio gets a match with John Cena this week. They're promoting it as "John Cena vs the guy who put him on the shelf," and they even run a little video package about what happened at Hell in a Cell last October.
(Quick note: The video is edited perfectly to cut out any sign of Zeb Colter from the proceedings. RIP MexAmerica.)
This has the aura of finality to it, wouldn't you say? More on that in a couple paragraphs.
Coming out of that video package, there is a little segment backstage with an interaction between Del Rio and AJ Styles. AJ talks up Del Rio, how he beat John Cena, put him on the shelf, etc., all this week's talking points, and Del Rio interrupts him, says he knows the rookie is still so excited about beating up John Cena, but that's old news to Del Rio, and he doesn't need AJ's pep talk. AJ then ETHERS Del Rio, saying "Maybe that's why I'm in the Main Event at Summerslam, and you're not even on the card."
Makes you wonder if HHH wrote that line for Styles.
Also, the news today that Del Rio's been suspended for a month for violating the wellness policy makes you wonder if HHH spiked Alberto's protein drink or something.
Anyway, to the match and its aftermath:
Good, decent match, and though we've seen Cena and Del Rio many times before, today's suspension news makes you wonder if this will be the last time. Del Rio's contract is up in October, there's been rumblings that he doesn't want to re-sign, so they might keep him off TV when the suspension runs out in a month. We shall see.
After the match, which Cena wins LOL, Styles, who has been doing a great job on commentary, nails a surprise Phenomenal Phore-arm.
He then delivers a promo to the apparently unconscious Cena, where he says that after Sunday, he will be the new face that runs this place. He starts to exit, then gets greedy. He goes back to put Cena in position for a Styles Clash, but Cena was playing possum, because of course he was:
It was a very cool reversal, and seeing it here virtually guarantees that we won't see it on Sunday. Also what happens next, virtually guarantees that we won't see a Cena win on Sunday:
I mean, come on.
By the way, it would have been nice, just once, to have Cena sell that Phenomenal Forearm. Like rub his jaw, check his mouth for blood, check to see if one of his teeth is loose, something.
But you know. Cena.
At least, like I said, him getting the last laugh on the go-home traditionally means that he won't win at the PPV. So there's that.
Does anybody know when the next season of American Grit starts filiming? Are we saying Bye Bye to Cena for a while? Honestly, this program with Styles has been great, but I'm ready for it to be over.
LEAVE HEATH SLATER ALONE!
This is just Randy Orton being a bully. It's brutal, it's excessive, it's over the top. It's disgusting, is what it is.
He beats on poor Heath Slater so much that the ref calls for the bell. But Randy's only getting started.
The one fun part about this is when Randy delivers a trademark Lesnar German Suplex to Slater, then mocks Brock's trot-in-place thing:
But he could have done that as part of a quick merciful squash match. Instead he tries to make Slater's kids into orphans. And before you say "but A-Train, I'm pretty sure they have a mother," I would imagine that she would die of grief.
Randy finally finishes Heath with an RKO.
I think Orton would still be beating on Slater right now eighteen hours later, but he just got bored.
Through all this, I was thinking "This is an Orton heel turn, right?" Babyfaces don't do this to people.
Nope, I was wrong.
TAKE THIS MAN TO THE HOSPITAL.
HE HAS A SERIOUS BRAIN INJURY.
Backstage, after the match, Slater can barely string three words together. His eyes are glassy. No matter how many fingers you hold up, if you asked him, he's going to tell you eleven.
Now, technically he won the match with Orton, since Randy got himself disqualified, so Shane-O Bryan comes in to get him to sign his contract.
Heath Slater thinks he's on Raw. He thinks that Bryan is Foley, and he tells "Foley" that the other general manager "Bryan" is a loser. He thinks Shane is Stephanie, and he tells "Stephanie" that she looks beautiful tonight.
Okay. Fun's over. This man has suffered a traumatic head injury he needs medical attention.
Daniel Bryan, you had to retire because of repeated concussions. Why are you laughing at him?
Why is this supposed to be funny?
WHY IS NOBODY CALLING 911?
These are two babyface authority figures, and they are so petty, they rescind the contract offer on the spot.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Then I realized, according to Vince, Heath Slater is a heel. We all love him. We're all rooting for him. But Vince thinks he's weak. Begging for a contract, week after week. It's pathetic. He deserves to be beaten up. Those twenty-three kids of his deserve to go hungry, his family deserves to be thrown out of their house, live on the streets. Vince McMahon doesn't have an sympathetic bone in his body.
He's sitting there watching Randy beat the crap out of Heath, and he's laughing his ass off.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there's going to be a great payoff for this.
I hope this is it:
Heath shows up at Summerslam, and demands one more match, one more shot at a contract, he'll face anybody, and he has to pin or submit them, no count-outs, no wins by DQ. Shane and Steph come out, they say they've conferred backstage and they'll give Heath one last chance. No more after this one. If he wins, he gets to pick which show he wants to join. They've discussed it, and they feel they have the perfect opponent for Heath Slater.
"Bring it on, baybay!"
Braun Strowman's music hits.
It's a squash, but Braun refuses to pin Slater. He just keeps beating on him. On the outside, Strowman sets Slater up against the steel steps. Strowman rushes him, Slater falls over, Strowman knocks himself out. Slater has to pull the giant into the ring before the ten count is up, so he can pin him. He finally gets him up and in the ring, gets the pinfall.
Then the next month is Slater visiting both shows, getting cocky, interviewing Shane and Steph, why should he choose their brand, giving Bryan and Foley booking ideas, deciding which color looks best on him, talking to potential stablemates and tag partners. You can even get the Social Outcasts back together for one show on Raw, but Heath decides he's outgrown them. Tell me you wouldn't love that.
He'd get some good heel heat back, and wherever he winds up, whoever takes him out gets a good rub from it.
Just please, for now, at least get the guy some Advil.
The Shepherd Leaves The Sheep Behind.
Dean Ambrose gets a tune-up win, looking strong against Erick Rowan. Fine.
But really, the match is meaningless. It's what happens after the match that's important.
I honestly thought that the Wyatts were broken up after the draft. Braun was on Raw, Harper's injured, Rowan and Bray didn't associate with one another on the first Smackdown Live. Then they got Bray back together with Rowan, to tease Bray's insertion into the title match on Sunday.
After that fell through, though, maybe this:
Means we're going to finally get more of this:
PLEASE LET BRAY BE A BABYFACE.
Honestly, the thing I am most looking forward to on Sunday is seeing how Bray gets involved.
Hey, Remember This Thing? We didn't!
This was the build-up to Miz vs Apollo Crews for the IC Belt at Summerslam. I mean, I'm glad that they didn't have a twenty minute match where Apollo won clean. That would have been stupid. No one would be stupid enough to book that for the go-home show before the pay-per-view?
Hey Rusev, if someone asked you if that would have been a good idea, what would you say to that person?
Anyway, so Smackdown learns from Raw's mistake with the US Title, and goes so far in the opposite direction, that the build to the IC Title happens DURING A COMMERCIAL.
To make up for it, they put two interview segments up on YouTube:
The Miz insists on calling Apollo Crews "Apollo Creed" and admittedly, it's pretty funny.
It gets tragic in this next video.
If you chose not to click and watch all the way to the end, Apollo says this:
"Oh, and as far as him calling me Apollo Creed, if he wants to be the Rocky in this situation, hey, Apollo had Rocky's number."
What are you talking about?
The first match was a draw, the second match Rocky won. Apollo did not have Rocky's number.
You do know that, right? Apollo?
Have you never seen Rocky?
This is unforgivable.
First he's got no personality, now this.
Hey WWE, it might be time to admit defeat on this one.
After Apollo loses this weekend, I think you might want to
And now, a tour through the Smackdown Tag Division:
The Young Upstarts
The Former Champs
The Lost Causes
The Even Loster Causes
The Coke Addicts
The Best Looking Team on Smackdown Live
(and also, The Best Looking Team on Smackdown Live)
Seriously, I really liked these. Thirty second showcases of each of these teams. I don't know how you can repair the damage done to The Ascension, and The Vaudevillains have almost reached rock bottom as well, but I'd pay good money to watch an American Alpha vs heel Usos feud. Plus, the Hype Bros are never boring, and Breezango has the potential to be the best comedy heel tag team of all time.
This all built to a fun 12 man tag match:
but it appears that none of these guys have anything to do at Summerslam.
My hope is that American Alpha appears at NXT Takeover, and takes care of some unfinished business with The Authors of Pain.
Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?
Brevity is the soul of smushing a dude's face against a wall.
Man, when Kalisto finally beats Corbin in a match at Wrestlemania next year, we're going to look back on this and wonder how they built a Giant Bully vs Tiny Underdog story in just 30 seconds a week.
And Finally, THE WOMEN!
Feel The Glow.
That's been Naomi's tag line for as long as I can remember, and she's finally got a gimmick to back it up.
I love it, the crowd loves it, and when she gets to show off all the things she can do in the ring, she's going to be a star.
Eva Marie, however, is already a star, and she hasn't even had a match.
I hope she never does.
"EVA MARIE! ... Has been delayed by traffic and will be unable to compete."
She shows up later and causes a distraction during this Women's tag match:
This sets up a Six-Woman Tag Match at Summerslam.
The only question now is how Eva Marie will avoid being in this match.
Our comments section had a few ideas on that front: