By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose Called Out Dolph Ziggler
I really liked how they didn't waste time showing respect toward each other like typical babyfaces and instead cut to the case by proclaiming their superiority over one another. Both Ziggler and Ambrose are exceptional on the mic when in serious mode, and thankfully, that was what we received from them here. I appreciate all the "overlooked and overvalued" talk from Ziggler, but we've heard it time and time again, and I really hope his push will be more than just a one-off for SummerSlam. This was shades of his heel self and I would love for him to flip the switch again in the near future. Bray Wyatt's attack afterward on Ziggler was a pleasant surprise and served as nice hype for the night's main event.
Apollo Crews def. Kalisto and Baron Corbin in a No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match For the Intercontinental Championship
I guess Daniel Bryan justified why he drafted The Miz so low in the WWE Draft because he didn't want Miz but rather the title. It still doesn't make the strap look too good, but with matches such as this one, it can be built back up to mean something again. This was a very enjoyable Triple Threat match and all three Superstars worked well together. I love the idea of Crews going after the gold at SummerSlam and if he wins (and he should), it will mean he will have captured his first singles title in the same building he debuted in almost exactly one year earlier. Corbin being the last man standing was a weird move, but perhaps it's leading to something bigger for him, which I am totally in favor of.
Becky Lynch vs. Eva Marie Ended in a No Contest
I'm not sure what this was supposed to accomplish other than help Eva generate heat, but if that what it was designed to do, it was much more effective than having her wrestle. Whatever keeps her out of the ring, I'm content because wrestling is obviously not her strong suit. By the way, the over-the-top introduction of Eva continues to work wonders because it separates her from the rest of the women.
American Alpha def. The Vaudevillians
Jason Jordan and Chad Gable were main roster ready arguably the moment they joined forces a little over a year ago, and it's exciting to see them finally arrive on SmackDown. For anyone unfamiliar with them from NXT, they're amazing athletes and they put their skills on full display in this matchup. David Otunga saying these two are future tag team champions is like saying the sky is blue. They will without question take the tag team scene by storm in WWE.
AJ Styles Called Out John Cena
Styles and Cena sharing the spotlight with The Club and Enzo Amore and Big Cass for a few weeks was fun, but it's great we're getting back to the core of the program between solely these two. Both of them cut passionate promos, and while we've seen some strong mic work from them both throughout this feud, this might have been their best back-and-forth on the stick yet. Just sensational stuff, and I'm already amped up for their rematch at SummerSlam!
Randy Orton def. Fandango by Disqualification
I loved how this match wasn't completely random and actually stemmed from the comments Orton made about Fandango at Battleground last Sunday. It's a little thing, but it made this match significantly more meaningful as a result. To boot, Fandango isn't an awful wrestler, and in fact, he's quite good. Thus, he and Orton contested a pleasant little match although Orton was on offense the entire time (and I expected nothing less). And no, as I said in my Raw review, Lesnar and Orton appearing on each other's brands doesn't demean the Brand Split whatsoever. These little invasions add excitement to their upcoming encounter and give each show that feeling that anything can happen.
Natayla Attacked Carmella
Jeez, Natayla apparently has a knack for attacking other women from behind. The lovely ladies of SmackDown should watch their backs! I'm fine with this feud if the intent is to get over Carmella in the long haul, but while watching this, I came to the conclusion that it might have been too early to call her up to the main roster. She has a bright upside on her own, but at this juncture, she comes across like a lite version of Enzo and Cass. Technically, she is, but she will need to establish her own identity if she has hopes of connecting with crowds.
Dolph Ziggler def. Bray Wyatt in a No. 1 Contender's Match For the WWE World Championship
It amazes me how this would have been nothing more than a midcard match at best on Raw pre-Brand Split, yet it felt like a marquee match in the main event of SmackDown because of what was at stake. It doesn't hurt that these two have awesome in-ring chemistry together and produced a quality contest here. I was definitely invested in all of the suspenseful nearfalls down the stretch and the exposed turnbuckle costing Wyatt the win (which he initiated) was solid storytelling. It looks like The Wyatt Family isn't dead just yet with Erick Rowan joining Wyatt's side afterward, and I'd be down for a tag team match pitting what's left of The Wyatt Family against Ambrose and Ziggler next week.
Maybe it was just me, but I enjoyed this edition of SmackDown significantly more than last week's, which wasn't terrible in its own right. See, what did I tell you? The blue brand will be a long-term project, and if WWE continues to deliver shows like these, it will be on the same level as Raw in no time (implying it isn't already). The lack of women's matches was slightly disappointing, but other than that, this was an above-average episode, and SummerSlam has the potential to be a blockbuster. What a card we have and it isn't even entirely complete!