WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Solid go-home effort for Hell in a Cell on Sunday

We're just a mere five days away from the annual Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event, and while the upcoming Super Show-Down special set to air in a little over three weeks from Melbourne, Australia, may have cast a bit of a shadow over this Sunday, it's been hard to ignore the build related to some of SmackDown Live's biggest programs. Overall, they've been quite well done, and the go-home show for the blue brand delivered some last bit of icing on the cake prior to Sunday -- at least for two of the top three programs. 

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Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella stand tall again

Backstage early in the show, Miz was set to be interviewed by Kayla Braxton but he said the attention isn't on him tonight, it's his wife who's in the main event. Maryse appeared and said she's going to go out there against Bella and show her daughter how enjoyable it is to punch her in the face. Miz finished off the interview by pointing out how convenient it was that Bryan had to bring Brie in to fight his battles for him. 

Brie Bella def. Maryse via disqualification: Miz and Maryse attempted to walk out on the main event, but Bella rushed up the ramp and got Maryse back into the ring. Just as Bella looked like she was set for the win with the Yes Lock, Miz yanked Bella out of the ring which prompted the disqualification --  and also Bryan to charge Miz on the outside for putting his hands on his wife. On the outside, Bryan was inadvertently thrown into Bella, which opened him up for an attack from Miz. Maryse and her husband thought they had Bella all to themselves in the middle of the ring with Bryan incapacitated, but he fired back to get into the ring and save his wife. Bryan and Bella stood tall for the second week in a row after they both disposed of Miz from the ring. 

Whether anyone enjoys the inclusion of the wives into the feud or not (I personally do), the crowd reactions they've been getting show that it's been working well. Mixed tag matches can oftentimes be tricky to get over with a crowd, but given the personal nature of this Miz-Bryan rivalry, it's just added fuel to the fire. This little tease of Maryse vs. Bella on Tuesday night -- coupled with Miz getting violent with Bella -- was enough to maintain the interest they've built up for the match headed into Sunday. Grade: B-

AJ Styles, Samoa Joe deliver final messages

Styles came to the arena early on Tuesday. Sitting on the ring steps inside the empty arena, the WWE champion admitted that he's aware Samoa Joe knows how to push his buttons by bringing his family into the rivalry. While he's known Joe for over 20 years, Styles said he would never bring his family into the feud because he's a man of integrity. Styles told Joe that when the bell rings, no one has the upper hand on AJ Styles. The talking stops, the intimidation ends and he then reminded Joe that between SummerSlam and last week, he's only received a taste of what happens when you involve his family. Sunday at Hell in a Cell, he'll show Joe just how phenomenal he really is. This is the house that AJ Styles built ... and it's not for rent, nor is it for sale. 

Later on in the show, Joe cut a promo of his own backstage. The challenger for Sunday wanted everyone to gather around for a bedtime story titled, "Night Night, AJ." Joe read the fairytale, which was simply Joe once again involving Styles' wife and young daughter while reliving his attacks over the past few weeks. The story concluded with a drawing of Joe next to the champion's wife and daughter as he clutched the WWE championship he plans to take on Sunday. 

While this feud has continually taken a backseat to others on Tuesday nights, you can't ignore the effort both men have put in to keep the intrigue alive. Sometimes trying to build personal rivalries falls a little flat, but that's not the case here with Styles and Joe. You're drawn to the fact that you get to see them get their hands on one another, and as opposed to some of the other programs, it doesn't feel all that bothersome that we know in advance we're going to see them run it back once again in Australia. Tuesday night was one of the best promos Styles has delivered since he's been in the company, and Joe once again displayed what a terrific heel he truly is. Grade: B+

Becky Lynch gets creative with her ambush

SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair said she specifically requested the match with Sonya Deville on Tuesday -- just five days before her defense against Lynch on Sunday -- because she thrives on competition, unlike Lynch. She said she hopes her former best friend is watching this upcoming match.  

Charlotte Flair (c) def. Sonya Deville via submission: Flair got the win with the Figure Eight in this non-title match. Following the bout, Flair was taking pictures with fans at ringside when she was attacked by Lynch, who was disguised as a spectator. Lynch jumped the barricade and slapped Flair in the Dis-Arm-Her on the ramp before officials were able to break up the attack. Backstage, Lynch told Braxton that she's going to break Flair's arm on Sunday before she takes her title back. 

They're still -- for whatever reason -- trying to portray Lynch as this dastardly hell character. And -- once again -- the people want absolutely none of what WWE is selling here, as the fans chanted Lynch's name while she dismantled Flair. WWE is best served to call an audible and execute some sort of double turn come Sunday before the flame surrounding Lynch burns out eventually, but sadly, I can't give them that much credit. Grade: D

What else happened on SmackDown?

  • Jeff Hardy def. Shinsuke Nakamura via disqualification: Prior to the match beginning, Hardy cut a promo to open the Hell in a Cell go-home edition of SmackDown. He said that demons are all around us and you have to face them head on, and that's what he intends to do Sunday when he steps into the cell for the first time in his career to battle Randy Orton. As for his non-title bout with the United States champion Nakamura, just as Hardy was setting up for the Swanton bomb, Orton emerged to knock him off the turnbuckle and to the outside. Orton rolled Hardy back into the ring and brutalized him with a steel chair, but Hardy eventually got hold of the weapon and turned the tables. Hardy set the exclamation point headed into the match with Orton on Sunday as he nailed him with a Swanton bomb to end the opening segment. 
  • Rusev Day def. The Bar via pinfall to become No. 1 contenders: Aiden English & Rusev will now face New Day Sunday at Hell in a Cell for the SmackDown tag team championship. Sheamus was aiming to nail Rusev with the Brogue Kick, but English took the hit for him. As Sheamus turned around, Rusev nailed him with the Machka Kick and picked up the 1-2-3. 
  • Andrade "Cien" Almas def. R-Truth via pinfall: As Almas & Zelina Vega were performing their signature tranquilo pose, Carmella ripped Vega off the apron, causing the distraction. That distraction allowed Almas to roll up Truth and get the win by hanging on to the jorts. 
  • Asuka and Naomi backstage interview: Naomi asked Asuka why she helped her last week, to which Asuka replied she can't stand the IIconics and she can't understand their accents. A comedy bit ensued where Asuka and Naomi had difficulty understanding one another. Asuka's misuse by WWE is getting cringeworthy. 

Jack joined CBS Sports in 2018 as an editor and writer covering college football, combat sports and golf. He was raised to love the New York Yankees unconditionally since birth and firmly believes a four-team... Full Bio

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