By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Intercontinental Champion The Miz Hosted 'Miz TV' with WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler
Similar to two weeks ago, Ambrose and Ziggler had another strong verbal exchange and both men brought their best mic work to the table. And again I say, why haven't we seen this Ziggler prior to this point? Perhaps all of his fans wouldn't have given up on him (or so he claims) had he stayed serious over the past few years. As for Ambrose, he definitely played the heel here and did so very well. I'd honestly see rather Ziggler turn first given he is more in need of a character reboot right now, but either way, I'm officially intrigued for their SummerSlam match and what might happen. Kudos to Miz for staying in the background as well.
American Alpha, The Usos and The Hype Bros def. The Vaudevillians, Breezango and The Ascension
As fun of a multi-man match as this was, I continue to wish that the tag teams were showcased individually as opposed to all at once. The Usos are already established and American Alpha are the most over act in the division on SmackDown, but the rest of the tag teams need some real development, and throwing them into one match won't help anyone get over. Simultaneously, this would have been a fitting time to announce the state of the rumored tag titles for the blue brand.
Naomi vs. Eva Marie Went to a No Contest
It appears Naomi is back as a babyface for no apparent reason. The last time we saw her she was a heel, right? Her updated entrance is interesting, though, I'll give her that. But Eva Marie managed to outshine her and she didn't even show up! Seriously, I don't care whether you love her or loathe her, Eva backing out of the bout due to being stuck in traffic and the narrator apologizing for it was hilariously brilliant.
Heath Slater def. Randy Orton by Disqualification
Well, this one way of getting Slater a SmackDown contract. I'm almost sad to see the angle end because it's been a treat to watch over the past month. Then again, he might not be employed by the blue brand after his encounter with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon backstage. What was even more enjoyable was witnessing Orton decimate him with a hell of a beating, and the crowd ate every bit of it up. I liked how Orton switched it up by not only nailing Slater with an RKO but a series of suplexes in Brock Lesnar fashion, too. Well done.
WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose def. Erick Rowan (Non-title)
It's a shame Rowan has never meant anything as a singles competitor because he could have been a much bigger threat to Ambrose here if he had some credibility. It was a fine match for what it was, but didn't seem to serve a purpose other than teasing dissension within The Wyatt Family, which I am in full favor of by the way as long as it means Wyatt will break off on his own as a babyface sometime soon. On a side note, I'm totally on-board for a Wyatt-Orton feud if their face-off before the bout planted the seeds for said program.
Becky Lynch and Carmella def. Natalya and Alexa Bliss
I really liked the idea of this tag team match because it helped limit the lesser experienced Bliss and Carmella and allowed Lynch and Natayla to showcase their strengths. It was well-wrestled and the crowd was engaged in the action. With Eva Marie showing up during the match, it would not at all surprise me if she is crowned the inaugural Women's Champion on SmackDown. I also appreciated how Naomi confronted Eva and wasn't a complete afterthought.
John Cena def. Alberto Del Rio
I'm sure people rolled their eyes at the announcement of Cena vs. Del Rio happening for what felt like the thousandth time, but if nothing else, I was glad they acknowledged their most recent run-in from Hell in a Cell last year (and then ignoring Del Rio's fall from grace in the ten months since). Additionally, they have always had very good chemistry together and this was another solid outing from them. Granted, Del Rio had zero chance of winning, but it was a serviceable tune-up for Cena prior to his SummerSlam match against AJ Styles, who fared well on commentary during this matchup. Furthermore, Cena's post-match attack on Styles from was strong.
Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I thought this edition of SmackDown was a vast improvement over what we saw from Raw on Monday night and was much more successful in getting me excited for Sunday night. There was plenty of entertaining action, storyline progression, a new match made for the pay-per-view, and a vignette for the returning Curt Hawkins. My only gripe with the show was that the Miz and Apollo Crews segment wasn't televised. All in all, though, an excellent episode and perhaps the best yet since the start of the Brand Extension. As I noted in my Raw review, I will be at SummerSlam for the second straight year, so my review will be up later than usual. Enjoy the rest of the road to SummerSlam!