Smackdown Live: Brand of Opportunity

This 8/23/2016 episode comes to you from the Mohegan Sun Casino somewhere in Connecticut.

I’m going to start off this recap by admitting that I’m a little burnt out from this very long weekend of wrestling.  There was lots of excitement, sprinkled with a little disappointment and horror.  It was all exhausting.  I needed a bit of a break and went on a double-date to see a Werner Hertzog documentary.

Here’s the trailer:

Did you know that a big solar flare can literally destroy modern life as we know it?  It’s a completely new thing that I can now be terrified of.  Who cares who’s the tag team champions if there’s no working power anywhere on earth?

And I ate some excellent ramen at Tatsu in Los Angeles, despite the DietBet.  It was a great break from all this wrestling.  I started off watching SmackDown Live refreshed and ready to go.  Let’s get to it!

New Belts, New Opportunities

After a quick cold open in the Locker Room where AJ and Dolph getting in a scuffle, we join Shane, DB, the tag team division, and the women’s devision with two new beautiful titles.

SmackDown Live! Women's Championship

SmackDown Live’s Women’s Championship

SmackDown Live's Tag Team Championship

SmackDown Live’s Tag Team Championship

Beautiful, right?

The Women’s Division will have a 6-Pack challenge to determine the first Championship.  I’m not a big fan of that choice but the match has the potential to be good, if given the proper amount of time.  I’d rather see a one-on-one match.  However, it gives a couple of the new main roster call-ups to find their footing and get used to the big stage.

The Tag Team Division will be doing a tournament, starting tonight and ending by crowning new Champions at Backlash on September 11th.

Hit Heath Slater’s Music!

Heath Slater Gif

I think we’ve finally found Heath’s place on a roster.  He interrupts the festivities and not only demands a spot on the roster, but also claims he deserves a shot at Championship gold.  Shane and Daniel points out that he’s neither a woman or on a tag team.  But…there’s always a but…if he can find a tag team partner by the end of the night, he can have a match in the tournament for the tag team titles.  If he wants to have a roster position, he’ll need to win the entire tournament.  It got boos.  For the second week in a row, Shane McMahon, arguably the most over face in the entire company got the crowd to boo him for his treatment of the hottest free agent in sports entertainment.  Let that sink in for a second.

Another important thing is that DB said he’d find a team for them to face.  That means we will suddenly be up to 8 teams, even if one of them is temporary.  Could we get The Revival, Gargano and Ciampa, or some other indy team?  Or rescue a team from TNA the depths of deletion?

Slater spends the show trying to convince Miz, Arn Anderson, and others to join him on his quest for gol…er…silver.  Finally, about to give up, Rhyno comes to the rescue.

Tag Team Tournament: Round 1

In the opening segment, DB mentioned that SmackDown Live was the land of opportunity.  He wasn’t just talking about the belts.  It was giving new opportunities and second chances to those who have languished in the pre-draft WWE.

The Usos Vs. The Ascension

You knew The Usos were going to win right?  The Ascension were treated to a jobber entrance, already in the ring during the commercial break.  They took The Usos to task though.  Both teams worked well together.  I was so tempted to fast-forward through the match, Uce, but you guys kept me interested.  It would have been a great upset for the Usos to lose but they went with the safe outcome.  Usos get the pin to advance to Round 2.

FaBreeze Vs. American Alpha

I always got the sense that FaBreeze and Breeze and Fandango were always on the verge of being buried.  Someone in creative made it their mission to make them relevant and get them over with VKM.  Great teamwork and some brutal maneuvers from FaBreeze really make it clear that they are going to be treated fairly and with respect when it comes to the booking.  American Alpha gets the win here with the Grand Amplitude.  Unlike previous week’s, it was a hard fought match.  It not completely obvious that American Alpha is going to win anymore.

I’m looking forward to the rest of round 1.  Hopefully, the Vaudevillians can look strong again while we stay hyped!

Carmella Turns Heel

In a match with Nikki Bella, Carmella focuses on Nikki’s neck for the entire match and seemed to revel in brining the pain.  It’s been a quick turnaround for Carmella.  People were complaining just last week that Carmella felt a little stale as babyface.  It’s possible that this was the plan all along, post 6-woman tag, but you can’t argue that it’s conveinant.

Later on Talking Smack, Carmella attacks Nikki during her interview and throws Bella down the front of the desk.  I like it.  I think it’s a good pairing.  I kind of wish they were doing a tournament so we could get this match one-on-one.

The Match We Should Have Had From Dolph at SummerSlam

At SummerSlam, the World Championship match was fine but didn’t match the story that they spent a month building.  It was a build that I liked very, very much.  It didn’t have the fire that Dolph and Dean had built-up.

Throughout the whole show, AJ taunts Dolph for being a loser, which brings back that fire.  After getting in scuffles all night, Bryan makes the match.  AJ already has a title shot at Backlash for beating John Cena.  If Dolph wins, he’ll get added to the match to make it a triple threat.

Dolph Ziggler Vs. AJ Styles

This was a really solid match with a lot of intensity.  I loved it.  Particularly satisfying was the false finish of the excellent ZigZag.  Also, Dolph kicks his way out of the first attempt at a Styles Clash.  If you watch no other match from this episode, watch this one.

AJ gets it done with a Styles Clash to keep the match a one-on-one match at Backlash.

The Miz Gives the Promo of his Life

If you’re coming to a wrestling news/recap site, chances are that you’ve already seen this promo last night or this morning.  Here it is again here.

Just like Sunday, the lines between kayfabe become blurred.  It seems like Miz has been waiting a long time to say some of these things.

Other Stuff Happened

  • Randy Orton comes out to show that he’s fine and has no regrets for entering this match with Lesnar.  Bray Wyatt appears to challenge Orton.  This could be interesting.
  • Apparently Stephanie McMahon has fined Brock $500 for the F5 to Shane.  Shane claims this isn’t over.  Please god don’t book a match between Brock and Shane.
  • Becky and Alexa Bliss had a really solid two segment match early on in the night.  Lots of great mat work from both ladies.  I love Becky but I also love that Alexa Bliss is starting to find her footing on the main roster.  Becky picks up the win here.
  • We’ve got new Smackdown sets modified from the SummerSlam sets.  I love them.  The initial post-draft sets were fine, but these are great.  Mauro confirmed on twitter that these are here to stay.
  • Dean wears a wacky hat and a Casino tee-shirt.  Advertising?
  • I actually didn’t hate the Usos on Talking Smack.  I still think they’re annoying but they’re more tolerable here.