With just five days to go until, the final pay-per-view stop on the road to SummerSlam in Brooklyn, Tuesday night's SmackDown Live brought us the final weekly television offering before Sunday's show takes place in Pittsburgh. The primary focus of SmackDown the past few weeks has been the reunion of Team Hell No, Daniel Bryan & Kane, and that didn't stop as they get set to face The Bludgeon Brothers for the SmackDown tag team championship on Sunday. Though this week, they had quite a bit of company sharing the spotlight with them.
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Colossal 10-man tag before Extreme Rules
SmackDown opened up with Miz already settled in the ring for Miz TV. After plugging the premiere of his upcoming reality show, he welcomed out Team Hell No. Miz immediately teased Bryan about defeating him in the No. 1 contender gauntlet match a few weeks ago and asked him to be a professional for the segment. Bryan got the crowd riled up by alluding to punching Miz in the face, but after a nudge from Kane, Bryan agreed to act professionally. Ever the instigator, Miz played back all the beatings that Kane handed out to Bryan during their 2014 feud on the TitanTron, and Miz arrogantly played it off as if the footage was an accident. Bryan quickly pumped the brakes on Miz's attempt to stir the pot by telling him that he's terrible at everything he does -- especially wrestling. Miz fired back by telling Bryan that he's wished for nothing more than to be the man who ends Bryan's career for good, then he took a dig at Kane as he was trying to cool down Bryan. As Kane grabbed Miz for a chokeslam, everything imploded from there.
The Bludgeon Brothers made their way out, and just as they did, SAnitY's music hit and the group ambushed Bryan & Kane in the ring. This brought out the New Day to help, and while they were slightly effective for a bit, the heels ended up leaving the babyfaces laying when the segment came to a close. Following the commercial break, the 10-man tag as Tuesday night's main event was announced.
Team Hell No & The New Day def. The Bludgeon Brothers & SAnitY via pinfall: In what was a solid match to close the show, Bryan got the pinfall on Eric Young after the running knee. Afterward, there was a funny moment at the top of the ramp where Bryan attempted a few times to summon the fire as Kane does, and on the third try, he ultimately succeeded to the delight of the fans.
The crowded tag team bout to end the show was entertaining, but still not as entertaining as Miz and Bryan teasing their eventual feud yet again to begin the show. When it boils down to it, that's where all of this is headed in the end. These subtle teases here and there are leading into what will become the hottest feud in WWE -- and maybe professional wrestling altogether -- when the trigger is finally pulled. Grade: B+
WrestleMania rematch turns into a tag team affair
AJ Styles def. Shinsuke Nakamura via disqualification: Just as yet another match was about to commence, Rusev headed out with Aiden English to again inform Styles that he's ready to destroy the house that the champ built come Sunday. When the action spilled to the outside, Styles took out English, and so did Nakamura inadvertently, which caused Rusev to pull the champ off the apron for the disqualification. Just as Rusev and Nakamura were about to punish Styles in the ring, United States champion Jeff Hardy flew to the ring to make the save. Paige then emerged to give her best Teddy Long impression (she's doing this a lot lately) and set up an impromptu tag bout.
Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura def. AJ Styles & Jeff Hardy via pinfall: Hardy was looking for the Swanton Bomb on Rusev, but Nakamura pulled him off the top rope. Rusev then connected with the Machka Kick to get the win.
This was an OK showcase for the participants in the men's singles title matches this Sunday, even though neither feud has been made to feel all that important. Despite Rusev and Styles vying for the most prestigious prize in the company, they've not once enjoyed the main event slot on SmackDown since the challenger became the No. 1 contender. Rusev has been built as a credible challenger -- I'll give them that -- but it's been made blatantly obvious this is a throwaway feud to get Styles to SummerSlam. And in the case of the U.S. title feud, well, Nakamura having a run-in with a police dog didn't help matters. Still, they put this entire segment in a dead spot after a hot opening to the show, and all four of these men need a bit of a reset after Sunday. Grade: C-
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Asuka def. James Ellsworth via submission (Lumberjack Match): Carmella attempted to help Ellsworth get the victory as the women's roster fought each other on the outside by handing him a can of hairspray but to no avail. Asuka slapped on the Asuka Lock for the victory. The hairspray would come into play, though, as Ellsworth used it to blind Asuka and save the SmackDown women's champion from a beating post-match. Carmella nailed Asuka with a kick to stand tall as their title match looms on Sunday.
- Andrade "Cien" Almas def. Sin Cara via pinfall: After a month of stalling, the match between these two finally took place. Almas earned the victory after connecting with the double running knees in the corner. Beginning next week and heading into SummerSlam, hopefully Almas and Vega receive more consistent roles on the blue brand.