The show opens with AJ Styles backstage. He's in the locker room bragging to Apollo Crews, Erick Rowan, & Rhyno about his victory over John Cena at SummerSlam. He wraps Cena's "Never Give Up" band around his head and starts mocking Dolph Ziggler who's sitting in a chair with his head in his hands. ZIGGLER HEADBUTTS STYLES! PULL APART BRAWL! Good stuff.
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon are in the ring with the rest of the roster to present the Smackdown Divas and Tag Team Titles. The first Smackdown exclusive PPV takes place in a few weeks and it's Backlash! YESSSS. The nostalgia that brings. Even though it used to be a RAW PPV back in my day, it's still hype to see it back. They announce a 6 pack women's title match for the event and that a tag tournament will culminate there, so that will start tonight. In the middle of this, Heath Slater marches down and talks his way into the tag tournament, but the catch is that if he's able to find a partner he's in, but if they don't win, he doesn't get a Smackdown contract so that's gonna be interesting. AJ Styles comes down and crashes the whole shindig. He's attacked by Dolph Ziggler from behind. That whole thing ruled. AJ's role as the top heel of Smackdown is perfect. He's killing it right now. The roster separates AJ & Zigs as we go to break.
1) Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss
This is pretty short and to the point. Becky is super over and Alexa holds her own. Becky gets the win by making Bliss submit. BECKY 4 SMACKDOWN WOMENS CHAMP 2016.
Match rating - **
2) The Usos vs. The Ascension
The tag title tournament begins here and it's a match we got multiple times when The Ascension first debuted, but it's a match none the less. They keep it short & sweet. Ascension flurry early with the doomsday device. Usos fight back and are able to pick up the win to advance in the tourney.
Match rating - **1/4
AJ Styles comes out randomly out of nowhere and gets just as stellar of a reaction as he did during his first two appearances of the night. This man is the face of Smackdown and a bonafide star, ladies and gents. Mauro reacts perfectly on commentary when his music hits, just watch his face. But anyway, he cuts a promo on being the #1 Contender to the WWE Title when Dolph Ziggler runs back out with security behind him trying to stop him. Daniel Bryan comes out yelling for them to stop because he isn't letting them ruin the show. He says they'll face off one on one later tonight with the winner facing Ambrose at Backlash.
3) Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
This was Nikki's first Smackdown appearance since returning at SummerSlam, she gets a nice pop and a pre-match interview only to get jumped by Carmella before the bell. Carmella leaves Nikki laying in the center of the ring.
Randy Orton is here to address what happened with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. He talks about that for a bit before Bray Wyatt interrupts. Oh, boy. Is it bad that I just want Bray to go away at this point? I literally left the room for this. I guess we're getting an Orton/Wyatt feud now. Zzzzzzz.
4) American Alpha vs. Tyler Breeze & Fandango
Wtf!? This was so fucking good. I didn't know Breeze & Fandango had this entertaining of a match left in them at this stage in their careers. The Alpha delivered their signature top notch performance and Breeze & Dango matched it. Sick reversals like Breeze hitting a hurricanrana to counter out of a double team attempt when Gable had him on his shoulders. Breeze angles Gable's head down in the turnbuckle and SUPERKICK. That was tight. American Alpha hit a flurry of awesome double teams which leads them to victory. Alpha/Usos inthe finals at Backlash, pls?
Match rating - ***1/4
5) AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler
These two have faced off before however the stakes were never this high. In one night they built this to be a match with legit tension so I was pretty stoked considering there was actually backstory and not just a bunch of action with no meaning. Mauro and everyone else on commentary added to this so much and made it feel like a legitimate emotional rollercoaster for Ziggler fighting for his last chance at the WWE Title. The crowd bit on each nearfall Ziggler had including one hell of a zig zag that bent Styles inside out. In the end, AJ would take a cheapshot and hit the Styles Clash to pick up the victory and crush Ziggler's dreams. Hell of a main event here. Styles' killer run continues as he strolls outside the ring to have a great staredown with the champion himself, Dean Ambrose to close the show.
Match rating - ***3/4
Smackdown trumped Raw this week. TEAM BLUE BABY.
Monday, August 22, 2016
For the first time since SummerSlam 2013, I was willing and able to watch a WWE PPV live. I admittedly was just as excited for this show as I was for that one. All I needed to see was the first week of build for this event to be sold on it. This is also my first WWE Network experience considering I'm behind the times so let's party.
1) Enzo & Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
Enzo Amore & Cass open the show and get everybody fired up. They are so hot right now and I can't think of a better entertainment act on the roster right now. After their usual schtick, the crowd is riled up and they call out Jericho & Owens for their match. Jericho looks even more sassy than normal. I don't even know what to say. He & Owens isolate Enzo which builds to the Cass hot tag. It breaks down and Owens cannon balls Cass on the floor. Good back & forth action in the final few minutes that ends with a pop up power bomb into a code breaker.
Match rating - **3/4
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon are backstage and they run into Mick Foley. Cheap plug for his show that debuts after the ppv tonight. Jon Stewart walks up with his son and they do a Booty O's bit with the New Day.
2) Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte - Divas Championship Match
What do ya know? These women have another killer match here that came close to matching the level of their Raw match from a few weeks back. A nasty head drop in the corner from Charlotte to Sasha was the first of many breathtaking moments that this match would provide us. I legitimately lost it on several occasions. From the razor's edge into hurricanrana off the top turnbuckle spot to the meteora off the top rope to the floor, this was the definition of top notch women's professional wrestling in 2016. After multiple exchanges of momentum, Charlotte sneaks a win with a roll up out of the bank statement to regain the Divas Title. There were mixed reactions on this decision, but I was too blown away by the match to even be mad.
Match rating - ****
3) The Miz (c) vs. Apollo Crews - Intercontinental Championship Match
This was meh. Miz is great and Apollo is fun to watch however it just didn't click and the crowd was exhausted after the divas match which was on a completely different level. Thankfully they kept it pretty short which I was completely fine with under the circumstances, even though I was hoping for more. Miz retains.
Match rating - **
4) John Cena vs. AJ Styles
The hits keep on coming and dear lord, they knocked this one out of the fucking park. It started out really good with basic back & forth action. Then it took a turn with the two trading finishers only 10 or so minutes in. This made me lose interest for a second because I was worried this would become just a finisher fest and end however the emotion got turned up a notch to match the action the two delivered and this became another Cena classic. Cena busted out everything he had and Styles matched it. Tit for fucking tat. Then came the monumental moment of Cena nailing Styles with a flying AA off the top turnbuckle and it's 1..2..STYLES KICKS OUT! From this moment forward, this match sky rocketed to an entirely different platform. No one could believe what just happened. Styles kicking out of one AA and escaping the STF a few times is one thing, but kicking out of an avalanche attitude adjustment is just bonkers. Cena backed into the corner with a face of utter shock and awe. Styles fought to his feet with a bloody mouth ready for more. Cena scoops him up for another AA, Styles fights out, STYLES CLASH. AJ pins Cena clean in the center of the ring at one of the biggest PPV's of the year. Post match, Cena slides off his "Never Give Up" arm band and leaves it in the ring. THE STORYTELLING BAH GAWD. This ruled on every level and looking back, it was honestly even better than I expected it to be.
Match rating - ****1/2
5) Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (c) vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows - WWE Tag Team Championship Match
This was in a cool down spot on the card so it wasn't much. It's worth seeing for Big E's return though. He makes a run in to make the save during some of the Club's shenanigans. Good moment and pop for the big man in New Day. Their title reign continues here, but I feel like it's going to come to an end very soon. Possibly even tonight on Raw.
Match rating - **1/4
6) Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler - WWE Championship Match
I had high hopes for this one based off their past encounters, but it honestly fell short. They had a fun match however it never felt like a full fledged WWE Title match on a PPV. It was an easy watch, though, it just never made me mark out or anything. Plus, it never truly felt like Ziggler would win despite him having a few flurries. Still a solid little match, though. Ambrose retains with Dirty Deeds in somewhat abrupt fashion.
Match rating - ***
7) Nikki Bella, Natalya, & Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch, Naomi, & Carmella
The show starts to really drag at this point, to be completely honest. BUT this did have a highlight in the form of Nikki Bella's surprise return. So that was dope! This only lasted 11 minutes however it felt like twice that. I'm glad to see Nikki back, though, she rules.
Match rating - **1/4
8) Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor - WWE Universal Championship Match
Time to crown the first ever WWE Universal Champion and determine who will be the face of the Monday Night Raw brand. Rollins seems to be the favorite, but Balor has the momentum. He's got all the paint on tonight and looks like a full fledged star. The Demon jumps Rollins from the bell with a flying kick and this thing gets going. Rollins & Balor trade moves in this battle to have their name in the history books. It heats up, but never really reached that fever pitch that I was waiting for. This felt like a TV main event more so than a PPV caliber match. Still a huge moment for Balor regardless and an enjoyable watch. Balor wins and becomes the first ever WWE Universal Champion.
Match rating - ***1/2
9) Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns - United States Championship Match
This never even gets going. The bell doesn't ring and Rusev jumps Reigns before it can. They brawl around outside and it's pretty good. It goes on kinda long, though. Reigns looks awesome as he comes out on top and then runs back down to hit an epic spear on Rusev at the bottom of the ramp.
10) Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
I always seem to enjoy Brock Lesnar matches more than I anticipate. That was the case here as well so yeah, this was pretty awesome. It got mixed responses, but the truth is that I guarantee everyone was glued to their screen the entire duration of this match. I felt like a true fight and it went to the outside after only a few minutes with Brock slinging Orton through a table and Orton retaliating with an RKO on a table that WOULD NOT BREAK. Randy has the worst luck with those. Things go back in the ring and the controversy begins. Brock hard way busts open Orton with one of his signature elbows to the crown and temple of the head. Orton is cut open and pouring blood. The ref calls for the bell only for Brock to assault Orton even more. Shane McMahon runs out and gets F5'd. Lesnar leaves everyone laying as Orton is curled up in the corner bleeding out. Brock's a monster and this reiterated that however it was a questionable ending to the second biggest event of the entire year.
Match rating - ***1/2