By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Cesaro def. Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and Apollo Crews in No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match For the United States Championship
I loved how these four went from facing each other in singles matches last week on SmackDown to competing in tag team action on Raw to colliding in a Fatal 4-Way on this show. It was such a natural, logical progression that I'm actually impressed by because this isn't something we see often. All four guys work very well together, so it was no surprise they produced a fun Fatal 4-Way to set up the subsequent U.S. title match. Del Rio attacking Cesaro afterward should lead to a continuation of their rivalry that I am very much looking forward to.
United States Champion Rusev def. Cesaro
Rusev was a total heel for wanting to defend his title immediately following the ambush on Cesaro, and it made Cesaro look like a strong babyface (literally and figuratively) as a result. Cesaro scored just enough offense for the fans to rally behind him, and that one spot that saw Cesaro reverse the Accolade into a pinfall attempt was excellent and nearly convinced me he had the title won. It was announced Rusev will be defending the star-spangled prize against Titus O'Neil on Monday's Fourth of July Raw (which I called this past week), but Cesaro vs. Rusev would be a great program down the road.
Dana Brooke def. Billie Kay
I'm not quite sure if this was an official call-up for developmental star for Kay or not, especially considering she was the last woman from NXT I expected to see on SmackDown right now, but it's certainly possible with the Brand Extension going into effect soon and both brands needing more women for their respective divisions. The commentators mentioning how Kay took on Becky Lynch, the same woman Brooke has been terrorizing for months, in her debut match for NXT. This was a simple squash match where Brooke shockingly looked better than her opponent for once. That's not to say Kay is awful, but there is still plenty of room for improvement for her.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz Hosted 'Miz TV' with WWE Champion Dean Ambrose
I recall Ambrose appearing on 'Miz TV' in late 2014 and the two having awesome (no pun intended) chemistry together, and that was the case here as well. Ambrose was a bit more cartoony than usual, and while I want him to bring out his serious side more often, there was nothing wrong with a little back-and-forth comedy here since this segment didn't hold much importance. Furthermore, it built toward the night's champion vs. champion main event effectively.
The Wyatt Family def. Local Athletes
Seeing Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan do the in-ring work for The Wyatt Family depresses me slightly simply because Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper are a significantly better duo, but I guess we'll have to deal with it until Harper returns from injury later this year. If nothing else, the match was kept short and sweet. The New Day's comedic antics afterward were fine, but I continue to hope they'll develop an extra aggressive edge in this feud. Otherwise, this rivalry could very well fall flat.
Sasha Banks def. Summer Rae
For those unaware, Banks and Summer Rae have been having matches against one another quite frequently in the past few months on WWE Superstars and Main Event while Banks has been off TV. I wish they would have acknowledged their "BFF" history from NXT, but that was so long ago that I wasn't disappointed it wasn't brought up. The match was well-wrestled in the time it was allotted and served as another opportunity for both women to showcase their skills, specifically Sasha.
WWE Champion Dean Ambrose def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (Non-title)
I truly hope champion vs. champion matches aren't as abused once Raw and SmackDown are their own entities again. They rarely mean anything these days, but such is life. The match itself was entertaining while it lasted and as I noted earlier, these two play extraordinarily well off each other. Needless to say, the ending outcome was never in doubt, but it was a treat for what it was.
Apparently half the roster was already overseas in Hawaii by the time the SmackDown taping took place on Tuesday, hence why there was less star power than usual. That said, they made due with who they had, and the show quality didn't seem to be affected all that much. Granted, nothing of note happened, but I was thoroughly entertained by the two hours, so it gets a thumbs up from me.
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