Randy Orton Addressed Jeff Hardy
Orton has never been known as the most amazing talker, especially in recent years, but this was a damn good promo from him. He didn't come off as monotone as he has in the past. Rather, he came across as motivated for a change and I loved his logic for turning on the fans. He recalled his history as The Legend Killer and basically said he is out to annihilate everyone the WWE Universe idolizes, starting with Hardy. Orton's latest heel run is already off to a strong start.
Andrade "Cien" Almas def. Rusev
For two guys who are technically heels at the moment (even though Rusev should badly be a babyface), this was a very enjoyable outing that only got better as it went on. Almas and Rusev beat the holy hell out of each other toward the end and they successfully got the crowd invested in the action. The shenanigans at ringside with Zelina Vega, Lana and Aiden English served as a slight distraction, but it did lead to Almas scoring the victory and further teasing tension between English, Rusev and Lana.
Samoa Joe def. R-Truth
I'm honestly shocked time was wasted on Truth's entrance. He hasn't wrestled a match since the WrestleMania 34 Kickoff show, but he actually hasn't competed in a televised singles match in nearly a year. I'm sure many people probably figured he was fired. At any rate, he had his flurry of offense early on before being absolutely demolished by Joe in under a minute. Joe's facial expression when he locked in his submission maneuver on Truth was perfect, too.
Asuka def. Billie Kay
Asuka was damaged pretty heavily by her back-to-back losses to Carmella over the course of their feud, so I was happy she was able to get back on track with a win here. Similar to the previous match, this was a complete squash in favor of Asuka and shouldn't have been anything more than that. The IIconcis haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire so far on the main roster, but it was more important for Asuka to look dominant again.
SmackDown General Manager Paige Fired James Ellsworth; Samoa Joe Attacked WWE Champion AJ Styles
All the talk about the Evolution pay-per-view coming up later this year made sense given Paige is the general manager of SmackDown Live, but there was so much of it that it felt like it was shoved down our throats by this point. Nevertheless, Paige firing Ellsworth was interesting if only because he just returned at Money in the Bank last month, though it was rumored he was being paid per appearance and never signed an actual contract (unlike last time). Meanwhile, Joe emerging as Styles' SummerSlam opponent brings a massive smile to my face. I've been anxiously anticipating a match between them in WWE and I have no doubt that they'll kill it on the grand stage.
Becky Lynch def. SmackDown Women's Champion Carmella (Non-title)
Carmella has proven on countless occasions during her reign as champion that she is nearly incapable of contesting a capable match, and rarely is she carried by her opponents because she failed to have passable matches with both Charlotte Flair and Asuka. That said, this was her best outing in recent memory and I liked how she did everything in her power to attempt to pick up the win, ultimately to no avail. Here's hoping Lynch can take that title from her at SummerSlam.
The New Day def. SAnitY in a SmackDown Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Tournament Semifinal Match
I really liked the Tables match these two teams had at Extreme Rules, and although this was a little less chaotic, it was still solid and had a nice pace. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for SAnitY to feel like just another act on the roster instead of something special following their latest loss here. New Day entering tag title contention again does very little for me, but The Bar beating The Usos next week and then New Day would be a refreshing change of pace. I'm sure those tandems could create magic together.
Daniel Bryan Crashed the Miz & Mrs. Premiere Party
It was smart to have this segment close the show since Miz & Mrs. premiered after SmackDown Live on USA Network. I wasn't too enamored with the shilling for the show early on, but Miz did an awesome job as always of eliciting heat and being the quintessential heel that he is. Of course, Bryan interrupting the festivities was inevitable, but Miz revealing that he had a fake baby in his hands before blindsiding Bryan was well done. Miz's final promo was fantastic and got me even more excited for their likely match at SummerSlam than I already was.
Obviously, SmackDown has an advantage over Raw in that its two hours compared to three hours in length, but it's just a much more fun show to follow from week to week on the whole. There are simple stories that I'm engaged in as well as multiple matches that actually accomplish something. This was another entertaining episode of SmackDown where almost everything served a purpose and it had a great flow to it. Fingers crossed the blue brand can keep it up heading into SummerSlam next month.