With Extreme Rules drawing closer, Tuesday night’s edition of SmackDown Live took place in Ontario, California. While this wasn’t the overall strongest showing for the blue brand, which has been putting out impressive efforts in recent weeks, there were some notable developments as we continue on the road to SummerSlam. But unquestionably, there was no bigger development than the reunion we were treated to that closed the show this week.
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Team Hell No is back together
The Miz brought out The Bludgeon Brothers to kickoff this week’s SmackDown. After they refused to answer his first question, Miz then played back everything that went down last week — from Bryan throwing shade at him to the stare down with the Bludgeon Brothers to Miz stealing the victory. Bryan then made his way out to the ramp and proclaimed he wasn’t afraid of any of the three men standing in the ring and asked who wanted some first. Harper would answer the challenge.
Daniel Bryan def. Harper via disqualification: When Rowan interfered just as Bryan was about to earn the victory with the Yes Lock, the match was called. The Bludgeon Brothers were beginning to tear Bryan apart — until a familiar face made his way to the ring to assist Bryan, to the delight of everyone. Fire engulfed the building and Kane marched toward the ring to make sure his Team Hell No partner didn’t suffer anymore punishment. The two eventually cleared the ring of Bludgeon Brothers, and then all Kane wanted was one of their signature hugs. Bryan teased the crowd a bit by being hesitant but eventually jumped into the arms of Kane which drew a massive pop from everyone in the arena.
We weren’t finished just yet, though, as general manager Paige emerged to announce that at the Extreme Rules event, Team Hell No will challenge Bludgeon Brothers for the SmackDown tag team titles.
One of the questions coming out of last week would be whether Bryan would enter a mini-feud with Bludgeon Brothers with a partner. Given his political obligations, the chances seemed slim that it would actually be Kane. But, sometimes WWE can surprise us in a good way, and it ended up doing just that at the end of this week’s SmackDown. Now, for the next couple weeks at least, we’ll get some of those highly-entertaining Bryan-Kane segments everyone enjoyed so much in the past as they get set for another run at tag team gold. Grade: A+
Rusev begins his march toward the WWE title
Rusev def. Xavier Woods via submission: In his first television match since he earned the right to be named No. 1 contender last week, Rusev bested Woods by making him submit to the Accolade. Following the match, Rusev took the microphone and said that this win was not about anything else other than AJ Styles. The WWE championship challenger at Extreme Rules said he knows Styles is watching, and he knows that he’s a coward, which brought upon dueling chants for both men. He finished the promo by saying he’s taking the title and it’s going to be a great Rusev Day.
With the champion Styles absent from this week’s SmackDown while in Australia promoting this fall’s Super Show-Down event, Rusev was the only half of the WWE title match at Extreme Rules featured this week. While the match with Woods was competitive, Rusev looked dominant as possible here with the submission win, which is exactly how he should continue be portrayed heading into his first opportunity at the WWE championship. Good start to this refreshing program, and more importantly, a good start for Rusev. Grade: B+
What else happened on SmackDown?
- “GLOW” cast invades SmackDown: With season two of the popular Netflix series premiering this Friday, the ladies of “GLOW” appeared in a backstage segment with Lana and Naomi. The two WWE superstars were arguing about their recent dance-off when the cast showed up. There was a funny bit where star Allison Brie morphed into her Russian Zoya The Destroyer character from the show while standing next to Lana, before everyone was happy while chanting “Feel the Glow!”
- United States Championship — Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Eric Young ended in a no contest: With Shinsuke Nakamura removed from the scheduled U.S. title match, Hardy held an open challenge. The challenge was answered by SAnitY’s leader, Eric Young, but the match never saw a clean finish. During the bout, the Usos — who were attacked by the debuting SAnitY last week — made their way through the crowd and brawled with Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe. Young made his way to the ringside area, eventually carrying the fight into the ring allowing for the referee to call for the bell. The scuffle ended with the Usos and Hardy dispatching of SAnitY. During the commercial break, though, we would learn that general manager Paige again did her best Teddy Long impression, ordering a six-man tag team match.
- Jeff Hardy and The Usos def. SAnitY via pinfall: In the impromptu six-man tag team match, Hardy got the win for his squad following a Swanton Bomb onto Wolfe.
- Becky Lynch def. Sonya Deville via submission: The momentum for Lynch on TV continues to build. Lynch made Deville tap to the Dis-Arm-Her to earn herself another victory.
- Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega promo: Vega recalled how Almas took out Sin Cara weeks ago and warned that everyone on the roster should stay out of their way. Brief promo segment here, but it’s nice to see they haven’t been completely forgotten about the talented pairing.
- Asuka vs. James Ellsworth set for next week: Ellsworth cut a promo on Asuka in the ring, calling her out even though she wasn’t in attendance. Paige, however, did make her way out to the squared circle. Not only did she announce that Carmella will defend her women’s championship against Asuka at Extreme Rules, but she also revealed Asuka will face Ellsworth next week on SmackDown.