WWE SmackDown Live REVIEW: Full Results, Grades and Highlights 07/10/18

SmackDown gains steam as the blue brand heads into Extreme Rules.

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What’s past is prologue”, wrote William Shakespeare in The Tempest. He was clearly referring to tonight’s SmackDown broadcast, which will feature WWE Champion AJ Styles wrestling Shinsuke Nakamura for the 46th time on television this year. This match may serve the unwanted purpose of reminding Nakamura that he’s (allegedly) not getting his industry’s major singles championship due to the selection of Styles as cover boy for the WWE 2K19 video game. And, as Paige decreed last week, James Ellsworth must fight Asuka in a lumberjack match. We’ll see what shenanigans Ellsworth employs to save himself after last week’s unabashed retreat.

Intro: Team Hell No is welcomed to Miz TV. The Miz looks like a groomsman in that suit, while Daniel Bryan sports a goofy Team Hell No t-shirt. Miz immediately brings up his victory over Bryan in last month’s gauntlet match. Bryan considers punching Miz in the face until Kane plays the voice of reason. The crowd boos Bryan’s refusal to assault the man interviewing him. Miz compares their reunion to Justin Timberlake reuniting with *NSYNC.

FIGHTING WORDS: “First of all, *NSYNC will never reunite.” – Kane, dashing the hopes of poptimists everywhere by acknowledging that “JT’s just too big a star now.”

The Big Red Machine praises The Bludgeon Brothers for running roughshod over the tag-team division. But they’re not Team Hell No. Miz agrees that they may be the only duo that can defeat the Bludgeons, then introduces a video tribute. The tribute goes south after about 10 seconds, transitioning to a focus on Kane trying to maim Bryan and abduct his wife. Miz facetiously apologizes for showing the “wrong” footage. Bryan stops Miz from stirring the pot. It won’t work, he claims, because, “You’re the Miz, and you’re terrible at everything.” Bryan even accuses Miz of being worse at wrestling than pot-stirring.

Miz turns serious, warning that Kane will turn on Bryan like he always does. Since DB returned this spring, Miz says, the only thing he can think about is ending Bryan’s career for good. But Bryan hides behind his giant frenemy because he can no longer hang with Miz in the ring. Impressive fire spit by an indignant Miz. Kane takes a perturbed Bryan aside and advises him to breathe from the diaphragm. Miz chimes in, telling Bryan to hide behind his “broken-down demon one more time.” Kane turns and seizes Miz by the throat. The Bludgeon Brothers’ music hits, sparing Miz, who exits through the timekeeper’s area.

The Bludgeons make their way to ringside. They are interrupted by the sound of helicopters, as Sanity’s music plays. The trio jumps Team Hell No in the ring, throwing Kane to ringside. Harper and Rowan heave Kane into the ring-steps while Sanity beats on Bryan. The New Day tries to even the odds, but are overwhelmed by Sanity, which hits their finishers on Xavier Woods and Big E. The Bludgeons get on the apron to briefly stare down Sanity, then forgo more carnage to exit the ringside area. They’ll team up later tonight in a ten-man tag-team match against Team Hell No and New Day.

Nakamura vogues backstage while wearing Jeff Hardy-esque arm-sleeves, then discards them. He faces Styles next. Tom Phillips says that Extreme Rules will mark Nakamura’s first title opportunity since Money in the Bank. Wasn’t that the last pay-per-view? And how about the pay-per-view before that? And the pay-per-view before that? That’s a poorly considered remark on commentary.

Nakamura and Styles make their entrances. As they prepare to lock up, Rusev and Aiden English show up. Rusev cautions AJ to bar the windows and lock himself in the basement, as he’s coming to destroy the house that AJ Styles built.

WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (non-title)

The bell rings just as English finishes crooning “Rusev Day”, and Nakamura ambushes Styles with a kick and punches. AJ fights him off with a dropkick as Nakamura springs off the ropes for momentum. He pursues Nakamura to the outside, and gets thrown into the barricade for his effort. Nakamura brings the fight back inside the ring. The two men jostle over a suplex. When Nakamura can’t lift Styles, he just rams knees into him instead. Styles comes back with his own suplex, following up with a side-backbreaker. AJ gets a two-and-a-half count off a running knee-drop, then grounds Nakamura.

Nakamura breaks the hold and boxes Styles into a corner, where he peppers him with knee strikes. AJ comes back with a side-kick to the sternum. When Styles fires Nakamura into the corner, Shinsuke back-drops him to the apron, then cuts off a Phenomenal Forearm attempt by tripping AJ off the ropes. He flings Styles into the barricade before bringing him back inside for a one-count. When guest commentator Rusev is told that Styles is drinking a lot of milk to prepare for his championship match, he laughs and says, “Milk is for babies. I don’t know if you know that.” Bless this guy.

Nakamura out-spars Styles, then lands an axe-kick. He sets up for the Kinshasa. AJ sidesteps Nakamura and rolls him up for a schoolboy pinning combination, then zaps him with an enziguri. Nakamura stifles a corner charge, however, then hangs AJ over the top turnbuckle to bury a knee into his ribs. He hits an awkward powerslam, then catches AJ with a right boot to the face for a two-count as we go to commercial.

Back from break, Styles ducks two Nakamura kicks, then nails Shinsuke with his strike flurry. AJ connects on his leaping corner clothesline, then delivers ushigoroshi on his second attempt for a near-fall. He goes for the Styles Clash, forcing an upside-down Nakamura to kick himself free. Shinsuke transitions the move to a triangle submission. AJ finally breaks free, flips out of a reverse exploder, then mockingly motions for Nakamura to “Come aaaawn.” An irate Nakamura charges him, prompting AJ to play matador as Shinsuke tumbles through the ropes to the arena floor. Styles slingshots himself over the top-rope to bash Nakamura with a Phenomenal Forearm.

Both men recover slowly at ringside. English starts barking at Styles, who turns and decks him. That distraction allows Nakamura to get up and crack AJ with a roundhouse kick. Shinsuke calls for the Kinshasa on the floor. AJ dives out of the way, and English gets rocked with the running knee. Rusev complains that Styles did that on purpose, and pulls Styles off the ring apron for the DQ.

Result: AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura via disqualification when Rusev interfered.

Grade: B

After the match, Rusev throws Styles into the ring, holding him for a Kinshasa. As Nakamura measures the move, Hardy jogs out to save Styles. There was plenty of time to complete that Kinshasa if they really wanted to do it. Hardy ducks under a double-clothesline and floors both men with a double-dropkick, then a double-baseball-slide to the outside. Paige goes into Teddy Long mode and books a tag-team match.

AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy vs. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura

Rusev overpowers Styles with strikes to start. He locks in a bearhug. Styles breaks the hold, only to get bodyslammed and suplexed. Rusev reapplies the bearhug, parading Styles around the ring. Another suplex doesn’t work, however, as Styles flips out and grabs a sleeper. Rusev breaks the hold, only to miss a shoulder-tackle and ram himself into the steel-post.

Hardy tags in and floors Rusev with a flying forearm. He yells out, “Man-che-stah!”, executing a double-legdrop and basement dropkick for a two-count. Jeff blasts Rusev with a Whisper in the Wind. Nakamura breaks up the pin before even a one-count, then pays the price by absorbing a sliding knee from Styles. Back on his feet, Rusev knocks Styles to ringside with a Machka Kick. He misses that same move on Hardy, who hits the Twist of Fate (Stunner version). Rusev elects to sell that move similarly to Scott Hall at WrestleMania X8.

Hardy goes up top to end the match. Nakamura trips him up, crotching Hardy on the turnbuckle and allowing Rusev to hit a Machka Kick flush for the win.

Result: Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura beat AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy when Rusev pinned Hardy following a Machka Kick.

Grade: B-

Backstage, Ellsworth fails to do push-ups and sit-ups. He tells Carmella not to worry about his fight with Asuka tonight. She threatens to beat Ellsworth severely if he ever winks at her again. Once in the ring, Ellsworth strips off his shirt. He begs the lady lumberjacks to show some romantic restraint with him tonight, then brags that, unlike them, he is ready for Asuka.

Asuka vs. James Ellsworth (Lumberjack Match)

Ellsworth immediately dips to ringside to avoid a spinning back-fist. Becky Lynch and Naomi force him back into the ring. Ellsworth begs Asuka for mercy, then tries vainly to escape again. Asuka knocks him back to ringside with a running hip-attack. The women’s division tosses Ellsworth back inside the ring. Asuka pelts him with strikes and a running knee. Ellsworth tries to run away, but is caught once more. The lumberjacks start fighting each other, allowing Ellsworth to run/crawl to the ramp. Lynch runs him down, and she and Naomi carry him back toward the ring. The brouhaha engulfs them, freeing Ellsworth.

Fed up, Asuka leaps off the top rope onto the squabbling lumberjacks. On the other end of the ring, Carmella hands Ellsworth what appears to be a can of mace. He tries to spray it at Asuka, who doubles him over with a spin-kick. She knocks him into Carmella (ending her ring-apron diatribe), then applies the Asuka Lock for the tapout.

Result: Asuka beat James Ellsworth via submission with the Asuka Lock.

Grade: D+

Carmella attacks Asuka after the match, only to get slapped around. When she grabs for Ellsworth, he sprays the foreign substance in her eyes, then grabs her left leg. Carmella wipes out Asuka with a kick, then holds her championship belt over her fallen foe. Byron Saxton complains that this may have been the worst wrestling match he’s ever seen.

Team Hell No and New Day convalesce backstage. They debate what strategy to use against the Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity in tonight’s main event. Bryan suggests negating their opponents’ overall size advantage by targeting their knees. Kane argues for setting them on fire and dragging them to Hell. He informs Bryan that Satan opens a gateway, not a portal, to the fiery underworld. They get into a Yes/No shouting match over whether they could’ve prevented the attack by having Bryan punch Miz in the first place. Kane vows they will win by quoting the *NSYNC tune “This I Promise You.”

Paige approaches Carmella and Ellsworth, the latter of whom makes an exception to allow Paige to kiss him. She demurs, telling Ellsworth he’ll be stuck in a shark-cage suspended above the ring for the SmackDown women’s title match at Extreme Rules.

Sin Cara vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas

Resounding slap to the chest from Almas to start this match. Sin Cara fires back with an arm drag and flying head-scissors, then knocks Almas back toward the ramp with a suicide dive to the outside. Back inside the ring, Almas counters a move near the turnbuckles, then drops Sin Cara with an inverted backbreaker. He sits up Sin Cara on the ring apron, then slingshots himself back into the ring, dropkicking his former friend to the arena floor.

Back in the ring, Cien grabs an armlock on Sin Cara while his opponent is in the ropes. He breaks the hold in time, then goes for another backbreaker with his opponent seated on the middle rope. Sin Cara elbows his way out of that move, then ducks to avoid an Almas corner splash. Both men trade forearms. Sin Cara wins the exchange by lacing into Almas with chops, then connecting on a springboard cross-body-block. He gets a lot of air on his high-flying maneuvers. A springboard moonsault knocks Almas back down, and a remarkable head-scissors move (reminiscent of a Frankensteiner/Canadian Destroyer hybrid) scores a near-fall.

Sin Cara goes for a suplex. Almas flips out, then clobbers Sin Cara with a spinning back-elbow. He attempts the Hammerlock DDT, which Sin Cara counters for a small package. Almas kicks out, then runs at Sin Cara, who back-drops him over the top rope to the floor. Sin Cara skies to deliver a slingshot hurricanrana to the arena floor. He tosses Almas back into the ring, and attempts a top-rope splash, which Almas counters by lifting his knees. Almas goes to the top rope himself. Sin Cara knocks him down onto the top turnbuckle, but can’t follow up, as Almas trips him so that Sin Cara hovers horizontally above the apron on the middle rope. Cien smashes Sin Cara with a double-stomp from the top rope. With his seated opponent propped up against the turnbuckles, Almas slams into Sin Cara with the double-knees for the win. That match ran hot for all 6-7 minutes.

Result: Andrade “Cien” Almas pinned Sin Cara after connecting on the double-knees in the corner.

Grade: B+

Backstage, Sanity promises to break the status quo and turn happiness into havoc. Young proclaims that only pure, unadulterated chaos is left. The Bludgeons approach them from their flank. Rowan announces, “Let the bludgeoning begin.”

The New Day and Team Hell No vs. The Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity

The 10 combatants engage in a donnybrook as soon as the bell rings. Team Hell No and New Day take the ring. When the referee regains control, Woods squares off with Alexander Wolfe. Woods snap-mares Wolfe before tagging Kofi Kingston. The two take turns dropping individual moves (a running clothesline, a running senton, and an elbow off the middle turnbuckle) onto Wolfe. Big E tags in to deliver a running splash to Wolfe for a two-count. Woods reenters to get punched in the face. He comes back on Wolfe with a big-boot and turnbuckle smash, then trains his fury on Young and Dain on the apron. Wolfe takes advantage by seizing Woods in a German suplex, then tagging Rowan.

The big man stares down Wolfe, then punishes Woods with a pump-handle backbreaker and a bodyslam. He tags Harper, who hits a slingshot-senton on Woods before gator-rolling him into a reverse-chinlock. Dain tags in to twist Woods’ neck. He dumps Woods with a Wasteland-like maneuver, then squashes him with a senton as we take our final break.

Rowan is jamming his fists into the sides of Woods’ head when we return. Woods breaks the hold with a jawbreaker, then gets knocked back down with a back elbow. Rowan tags Harper, who slaps him hard. Both men crush Woods against the turnbuckles before Rowan feeds their prey into Harper’s Michinoku Driver. Both Big E and Kofi break up that pinfall. In the midst of the fray, Woods snares Harper with his rope-vault DDT.

Eric Young and Daniel Bryan tag into the match. Bryan punches Young into the corner, then belts him with Yes Kicks. Young cannot corral Bryan, who cracks him with a running clothesline. Bryan hits a running corner dropkick, then mounts Young on the top-turnbuckle for a big hurricanrana. More Yes Kicks for Young, who ducks the roundhouse kick and schoolboys Bryan. DB kicks out and tries to apply the Yes Lock, which is broken up by Wolfe. Kane finally enters to chokeslam Wolfe. This move sets off a chain reaction of big moves from their teammates, culminating in a Trouble in Paradise kick to Harper.

Big E rouses the crowd, then alley-oops Kingston over the top rope onto Harper at ringside. Dain slams into Woods with the Divide at ringside, then falls victim to Big E’s running shoulder-tackle through the ropes. Back in the ring, Bryan wallops Young with the flying knee for the victory.

Result: The New Day and Team Hell No beat The Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity when Daniel Bryan pinned Eric Young following the flying knee.

Grade: B+

Following the match, Kane and Bryan quarrel on the entrance ramp over the proper way to finger-point and scream “Yes”. Phillips makes an inspired *NSYNC reference as Bryan twice tries and fails to summon hellfire. Over his partner’s protests, Bryan then successfully sets off the pyro as Kane smiles in pleasant disbelief.

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