WWE Hell in a Cell is just 13 days away, and SmackDown Live on Tuesday night in Detroit did a solid job for the most part in advancing some of its top storylines for the annual pay-per-view. In recent weeks, much of the focus has been on the emergence of Becky Lynch as the pissed off former best friend in her pursuit of Charlotte Flair and the SmackDown women's championship. This week, it was the heated feud surrounding Daniel Bryan, Brie Bella, The Miz and Maryse that took center stage once again.
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Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella aren't falling for tricks
SmackDown kicked off on Tuesday night with Renee Young welcoming Bryan and Brie Bella to the ring. Young first replayed the events of last week where Miz & Maryse were successful in their sneak attack, followed by an in-ring promo shot earlier in the day in the empty Detroit arena where the "it couple" called out Bryan & Bella, who didn't answer the challenge at the time. Bryan & Bella called them both cowards for issuing the challenge with no one around before laying down a callout of their own. Young regretted to inform them that Miz and Maryse were no longer in the building, but they were approached by two others they had issues with during last week's show: Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega. Vega ran them both down, then Almas took the mic to reveal how much fun he had punishing Bryan last week along with Miz. The rematch was on from there.
Daniel Bryan def. Andrade "Cien" Almas via pinfall: In what was yet another fantastic matchup featuring these two, we got a definitive ending this week when Bryan scored the pinfall after the running knee. Afterwards, Bella nailed Vega with a knee to the face of her own on the ropes as revenge for the attack last week. It wasn't all a happy ending, though, as the Miz & Maryse appeared on the Titantron to taunt Bryan & Bella, saying they were going to enjoy a date night in Detroit before they take care of them at Hell in a Cell. Backstage following commercial, Bryan & Bella were making their way through the parking area with their bags in tow. When asked where they were headed, they smugly noted they were headed out for some dinner -- at the same restaurant which Miz and Maryse planned on attending.
While Paige was backstage staring at her phone, Miz and Maryse approached the SmackDown general manager, revealing they were not at dinner after all. Paige then booked Miz in a match for later in the show against anyone who wanted to face him, and if he refused to compete, he'd better not come back to the show. As he was on the search yet again for his recently-announced Mixed Match Challenge partner Carmella backstage, R-Truth approached Maryse from behind believing she was Carmella. Maryse called Carmella " Staten Island trash," and Miz mocked Truth for last being relevant when they tagged together eight years ago as Awesome Truth. Miz vs. R-Truth was set for the main event, with Truth convincing Carmella to accompany him to the ring after revealing with Maryse called her, while at the same time hilariously admitting to Tye Dillinger that he played stupid all along as a means to main event SmackDown.
R-Truth def. The Miz via pinfall: Bryan's music hit the speakers, causing the distraction and allowing Truth to get the quick roll-up for the win. Bryan & Bella hadn't fell for Miz & Maryse's dinner ruse, and they made their way to the ring for the attack. Almas & Vega came out to offer assistance, but were thwarted this week as Bryan & Bella slapped them both in Yes Locks to end the show as Miz & Maryse watched in disbelief.
Almost this entire show was very much centered around the feud between Bryan & Bella and Miz & Maryse, and throwing Almas & Vega in last week was a nice touch -- but just for one week. The inclusion of Almas & Vega this week, to me, felt as if it went a little too far as they sort of come across now as lackeys for Miz & Maryse; I'm not a huge fan of that feeling. But ultimately, given what went down last Tuesday, it made sense for Bryan & his wife to get this sort of revenge on all parties involved. Grade: C+
Don't threaten AJ Styles' family
Despite hinting last week that he was headed to Styles' house to torment his family, Samoa Joe made his way out to the ring. Joe reminded everyone that he made that threat and acknowledged that Styles was there protecting his family. Joe admitted that he only said what he said last week to prove to Styles' wife, Wendy, that he was keeping his promise by making sure the WWE champion goes home to look after his family.
Styles appeared on the Titantron and said that the talking now stops since his family has been threatened. Turns out, Styles wasn't at home, rather he was in the building. Styles flew to the ring and the two started brawling. While Joe initially got the better of the battle, Styles turned the tide with a Phenomenal Forearm from the steps on the outside. The champion grabbed a chair and nearly missed decapitating Joe on the post, but did connect with a springboard forearm on the outside as referees were attempting to break it up. Paige emerged to eventually persuade Styles to head to let up and head to the back.
It was necessary to bring out this vicious side of Styles -- the same one we saw at SummerSlam -- after Joe has continually been toying with the WWE champion and his family. The champ needed to be the aggressor at some point, and with just under two weeks to go until Hell in a Cell, he successfully took on that role. Grade B+
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch set for HIAC
Due to the personal nature of this rivalry, SmackDown general manager Paige requested Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair be placed in separate areas within the arena for this one-on-one interview, so they both appeared via satellite. It was a short segment, with Flair pointing out the attacks from her former best friend as of late and Lynch keeping her focus on what she believes is rightfully hers: the SmackDown women's championship. Near the end of the interview, Flair said she loves to see the fire from Lynch before proclaiming that she'll need it come Hell in a Cell as she simply confirmed the match for the show we all assumed was taking place.
The goal of this one-on-one exchange was simply to make the Herll in a Cell title showdown official, and that mission was accomplished. Both women were fantastic in their roles here, and once again, Lynch showcased why she's quickly morphed into one of the best legit badass characters we've seen in a very long time. So, what completely flattened out this segment? Well, the excitement suffered a bit of a blow when the official graphic did not advertise the bout to be taking place inside the Hell in a Cell structure. The one feud in the entire company that probably warrants usage of the cell the most ultimately won't be getting the necessary treatment. Inexcusable. Grade: C
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Naomi def. Peyton Royce via pinfall: Naomi finally got the best of one member of the duo, pinning Royce with a sunset flip. Of course, following the match, Billie Kay hit the ring for a beat down on the victor. That proved to be the wrong move, though, as Asuka returned and cleaned house to help out Naomi.
- Jeff Hardy-Randy Orton HIAC hype packages: Two separate video packages aired to hype the upcoming Hell in a Cell match between Hardy and Orton. One fantastically covered the fact that this is Hardy's first time entering the cell, while the other covered Orton's history in the match.
- Rusev Day def. SAnitY (via pinfall) and The Usos to advance: Rusev earned the victory over Eric Young after a Machka Kick. Rusev & Aiden English now move on in the No. 1 contender tournament and will face The Bar next week on SmackDown to determine who faces The New Day at Hell in a Cell.