Welcome to The Nerd Hub and our weekly breakdown of WWE SmackDown Live. This week, we applaud the return of Alexa Bliss at her worst. The Goddess once again turned “A Moment of Bliss” into a segment spent dissing Bayley. Bliss will face The Hugger for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Stomping Grounds on Sunday. As a result, Alexa Bliss used her friendship with Nikki Cross to get over on Bayley and generate heat for their match. As usual, the Stomping Grounds go-home show for SmackDown Live from Ontario, California, succeeded a bit more than Raw did in setting up Sunday’s show in Tacoma. So, get your coffee mugs ready, Blissfits, it’s time to “break it down.”
HEADLINE NEWS: BLISS GETS TWISTED ON BAYLEY
I know I’ve lobbed some criticism at “A Moment of Bliss” segments in the past. However, this week Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross and SmackDown Women’s Champ Bayley stole the show in their segment. They took a feud with little to no heat heading into Stomping Grounds and went nuclear.
The Hugger came out in an uncharacteristic mocking manner of Bliss and her love of coffee. However, Alexa Bliss had none of it and quickly flipped the script on the champ. The Goddess called Bayley an entitled, bully champion who will never be as good as she thinks. (You know, the same criticism grenade people hurled at Alexa Bliss for years). As a result, a brawl broke out. The Hugger got the initial jump on Alexa Bliss. Yet, Bliss’ new bestie, Cross, pulled Bayley off and that allowed Alexa to gain the upper hand. In fact, Little Miss Bliss suckerpunched Bayley and eventually left her laid out.
Alexa Bliss always shines on the mic. The big surprise this week came in the form of Bayley hanging with her on the verbal jabs. These two took a break from being at each other’s throats for a singles title since 2017. Yet, they quickly made their rivalry feel important again with this shining star of a segment. It easily stood out as one of the best on WWE TV this week. Alexa Bliss also announced that Cross would appear in her corner at Stomping Grounds.
More importantly, the women’s division bounced back as a whole on both Raw and SmackDown Live. WWE fans once again saw the women sit out another show in Saudi Arabia and were disappointed with the news that there are no plans for a second Evolution show this year. Though it’s disappointing WWE refuses to revisit the success its all women’s pay per view had last year, it’s encouraging that the women had a few strong storylines after weeks of being minimized.
BEST OF THE REST: DOLPH ZIGGLER GAINS REVENGE
The Hollywood Heel made a point of blaming Xavier Woods for his loss at Super ShowDown. So, booking the two against each other to set up Ziggler’s rematch with WWE Champ Kofi Kingston at Stomping Grounds made sense.
Before the match, Woods, Kingston and Big E poked fun of Ziggler. As a result, the #Heel responded with criticism of Kingston’s worthiness as champ. Then, Kevin Owens attacked Kofi and Big E at ringside before they all got barred from the match.
Soon after, Ziggler took advantage of Woods without his buddies to protect him. The Showoff superkicked Woods off the ring apron before hitting a Zig Zag and another superkick for the pin.
Like Alexa Bliss, Ziggler did a good job of working some heat into a feud that hasn’t had much room to grow. Despite facing each other at Super ShowDown, Ziggler and Kingston still feel like a thrown together rivalry without much tension. The Showoff looked a little flat in his first shot at Kingston in Jeddah. Here’s hoping he brings more magic to a steel cage match like he did with Drew McIntyre this winter on Raw.
BIG WINNER: THE MIZ
Technically speaking, Drew McIntyre and Elias defeated The A-Lister and 24/7 Champ R-Truth in an elimination tag match. However, The Miz stood out above the rest in his role of putting over every heel in the segment.
Before the match, McIntyre vowed to take out Roman Reigns at Stomping Grounds. As a result, The Miz responded with contempt and mockery for McIntyre and Shane McMahon over Reigns destroying them on Raw. Furthermore, Miz shined on the mic as he took responsibility for what Shane has become. The A-Lister said he took it upon himself to finally beat “The Best in the World.”
Then, Shane O’Mac announced Miz would face McIntyre and Elias in an elimination tag match with a partner of his choosing. That’s when R-Truth popped up from under the ring. Shane then kept the heat on, making sure Miz couldn’t tag Truth out until he ate a running high knee from Elias to get eliminated.
Soon after, McIntyre brutally manhandled the A-Lister as Truth had to flee from the horde of mid-carders who chased him for his title. The Scottish Psychopath took out Miz with a Glasgow Kiss-Claymore Kick finishing burst. However, the beatdown continued after the bell. Shane dragged Miz into position for a second and then a third Claymore from McIntyre.
This seemed like a perfect setup for The Big Dog to emerge from backstage for the big save. However, his absence actually helped The Miz. Hopefully, The A-Lister’s ability to maintain the spotlight on his feud with Shane, even in the shadow of Reigns’ beef with Shane O’Mac, sets up his ultimate revenge on “The Best in the World.”
BIG LOSER: HEAVY MACHINERY
Though Otis and Tucker scored a victory, it came against The B-Team. When has beating Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel done much for anybody’s career? In fact, the most effective part of this segment came in the form of SmackDown Tag Team Champ Daniel Bryan berating Heavy Machinery as a guest commentator. Bryan almost always stars on the microphone.
As for what happened in the ring, Otis and Tucker wore down The B-Team with its power. Ultimately, Big Otis performed the caterpillar to set up The Compactor for the 1-2-3. After the match, Universal Champ Seth Rollins pounded Dallas and Axel with chair shots because they considered serving as Baron Corbin’s guest referee at Stomping Grounds.
To sum up, Heavy Machinery got a victory and will get a title shot against Bryan and Rowan at Stomping Grounds. However, they have yet to get booked as much more than comedic relief. As a result, it’s difficult to evaluate how serious of a threat they pose for the SmackDown Tag Team champs. Unfortunately, this match against The B-Team failed to give them much more credibility with the fans or heat with the champs. Like Ricochet in his match against United States champ Samoa Joe, Heavy Machinery must make a favorable impression at Stomping Grounds to stay relevant.
Women’s Tag Team Division – Paige announced in a backstage segment that The Kabuki Warriors, Asuka and Kairi Sane, may finally get a title shot. They will face WWE Women’s Tag Champs The IIconics at a WWE Live event in Tokyo on Friday. With a victory, Asuka and Sane will get a future title opportunity against Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. This seems like a slam dunk. WWE will likely book Asuka and Sane strongly in Japan. Therefore, we may finally get the serious women’s tag team championship match we’ve waited to see.
Sonya Deville/Mandy Rose-Ember Moon – Also backstage, the War Goddess finally confronted Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose after week of torment. Moon rolled up on Deville and Rose while they were munching on some donuts. For those unfamiliar, Deville and Rose host a donut review show on their YouTube channel. Meanwhile, Moon eventually decked Rose to the ground. As a result, she sparked a brawl with Deville. Here’s hoping we get the payoff of the great content these three could deliver in the ring against each other.
Aleister Black – The Dutch Destroyer continued to work some magic with behind-the-scenes promo work. His character appears trending in a darker direction, and hopefully his excellent mic work leads to in-ring work after Stomping Grounds. Fans remain invested in Black, and he’s done all he can to shine in his limited time in the spotlight each week. However, WWE needs to pull the trigger on a feud for him soon. Another month of promos and people will lose interest entirely.
Andrade-Apollo Crews – El Idolo ambushed Apollo Crews backstage this week. Since there’s no announced match with Intercontinental Champ Finn Balor for Stomping Grounds, Andrade needs someone else to keep his momentum going. He and Crews represent two of the most athletic guys on the roster. It’s up to WWE on actually giving these guys some time to deliver in the ring.
Drake Maverick – The weeks of social media work by the 205 Live General Manager finally paid off. Maverick kept up the 24/7 Championship shenanigans by disguising himself as Carmella. He ambushed R-Truth on his way out of the arena at Ontario, California, to claim the 24/7 belt. To sum up how ridiculous this is, a YouTube commenter pointed out on WWE’s video clip that Maverick won a main roster title before Sami Zayn. That sums it up better than I could, folks.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn – WWE’s version of the Washington Generals continued their losing streak. This week, they jobbed out to Universal Champ Seth Rollins and WWE Champ Kofi Kingston in a best-of-3 falls tag team main event. KO and Zayn’s weakness hit a new level this week. Kofi pinned Zayn immediately after a Trouble in Paradise right after the opening bell for the match. Rollins ended the match, 2 falls to none, with a Stomp of Kevin Owens. WWE also announced Owens and Zayn would face Big E and Xavier Woods at Stomping Grounds. Seems like KO and Zayn will eat another “L” on Sunday, too.
Paul Heyman – WWE made a point of showing the Beast in the Bank’s advocate intently watching the main event backstage. This constant reminder that Lesnar holds the fate of the champions in his hands just looks forced at this point. We all know Rollins will retain against Corbin at Stomping Grounds. Does anybody need a reminder that Lesnar wants retribution against the Beastslayer?
Roman Reigns – It made little sense that a SmackDown Superstar like Reigns goes MIA on his own show after such a big impact on Raw. The Wild Card Era in WWE continues to make a mockery of the brand split and show bookings. Furthermore, Reigns represents one of the few Superstars people buy tickets to see. I’m sure plenty of people left Citizens Business Bank Arena on Tuesday feeling let down Reigns no-showed his brand.
Finn Balor – It’s understandable if the Intercontinental Champ needs to miss time due to injury. However, it’s something the show should address. He’s one of the faces of the SmackDown brand now. His absence from the TV taping and the upcoming pay-per-view sticks out with little to no explanation why.
Shane McMahon – I know it seems like I harp on it every week. However, plenty of stories hitting online rumor sites speak to frustration from Superstars over the push Shane is getting. For another week, Shane gets premium placement on both shows. Meanwhile, SmackDown draws such as Charlotte Flair, Liv Morgan, Carmella, Ali and others remained off TV this week. I know Shane remains a part of the Stomping Grounds show on Sunday. However, it seems counter to what the fans would like to see on a weekly basis.
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