By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Seth Rollins def. Jey Uso
The video package that aired at the start of the show recapping the brief interaction backstage between Rollins and Uso was a refreshing change of pace in effectively setting up this contest. Furthermore, it made perfect sense from a storyline standpoint with Rollins talking so much trash about Uso's cousin Roman Reigns lately. I was fully expecting a standard squash match from these two, but it turned out to be quite the competitive contest with Uso looking good in defeat. Some of Dean Ambrose's lines were funnier than others, but the one about the ugly ice cream bar was the best of the bunch. On a side note, I really appreciated Mauro Ranallo noting on commentary how it was almost exactly three years ago that these two last met in singles competition on SmackDown. A fun factoid indeed!
Zack Ryder def. Sheamus
First and foremost, Ryder's change in music was much-needed and I'm happy to hear him using the Downstait version of this theme after all these years (it was initially released in 2012). He and Sheamus contested a solid match that had a nice pace to it. Remember when Sheamus defended his WWE Championship against Ryder in a ten second match on Raw back in 2010? Who would have thought that six years later Ryder would be beating Sheamus clean? It was a logical victory for The Long Island Iced Z as he prepares to contend for the United States Championship this coming Monday.
Natalya Attacked Becky Lynch
This rivalry has been excellent for a number of reasons. For one thing, it's simple storytelling with Natalya turning heel on former friend Lynch after reaching her breaking point. Secondly, it's cool to have a feud in the women's division that isn't over a title. Thirdly, it's a great use of both extremely talented performers while they're not chasing the championship. This was a straightforward furthering of the feud with Natayla ambushing Becky from behind.
The Club Interrupted Enzo Amore and Big Cass; AJ Styles def. Amore
I love Enzo and Cass getting involved in this Club vs. John Cena program because not only does it add a different dynamic to the feud, it gives them the ultimate opportunity to solidify themselves as stars on the rise by aligning with the biggest name in the company. The "Beat up John Cena!" line is still hilarious, so here's hoping they don't run it into the ground in the coming weeks. The pre-match verbal exchange was well done, and the match itself was a treat while it lasted. Enzo's bad bump early on aside, they worked well together and I was glad Amore was made to look like an equal to AJ throughout.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz def. Kalisto (Non-title)
Giving this match a little extra meaning via the set-up from earlier in the day regarding the food fight from Raw was a nice touch. It likely would have been a throwaway match otherwise. They put together a pretty entertaining matchup where Kalisto scored enough offense that he wasn't completely shut out. Moreover, Miz winning clean was a pleasant surprise and definitely needed after suffering a string of losses lately.
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton Was Announced For SummerSlam
There were rumblings this past week of this match happening at SummerSlam, but I didn't believe them because Orton isn't even back from injury yet. Well, it's happening! It's a major risk because Lesnar could very well get hurt in his upcoming UFC 200 fight versus Mark Hunt (which the one and only RJ Marceau did an exceptional job of previewing here), but they were smart to capitalize off the buzz surrounding The Beast Incarnate right now. I don't what the storyline reason will be for this match happening, but I'm excited for the marquee matchup, nevertheless.
Sami Zayn def. Chris Jericho
These two have such fantastic chemistry together and it has shown in all of their matches this year. This must be a full-fledged feud after the Draft occurs, assuming they end up on the same show. This was another awesome encounter from them and Kevin Owens only added to my enjoyment of it with his hilarious commentary. I believe Zayn had never beaten Jericho prior to this point, so his victory over Y2J here came off as a big deal. The Zayn vs. Owens rivalry taking center stage to close the show was wonderful and I'm very much looking forward to their final face-off at Battleground.
Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but SmackDown has been absolutely killing it all year round. The quality has been consistently phenomenal by and large, and the strong streak of shows is bound to continue once the Brand Extension goes into effect in two weeks. As for this episode, everything seemed to serve a purpose and there wasn't anything I didn't like, so it easily earns two thumbs up from me and is well worth the watch.
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