Welcome to The Nerd Hub and our weekly deep dive into SmackDown Live. This week, Dolph Ziggler returned and he rained all sorts of hell down on WWE Champion Kofi Kingston. Yet another villain among a rogue’s gallery of heels rose up to give our ultimate babyface a beatdown. Even on a night Big E returned, Kofi can’t seem to catch a break. So, let’s get into SmackDown Live from the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.
HEADLINE NEWS: DOLPH DESTROYS THE CHAMP
Professional jealousy can make a monster out of anyone. That’s the story Dolph Ziggler spun for us upon his return to WWE TV on Tuesday.
WWE Champion Kofi Kingston retained his belt with a victory over Sami Zayn. However, he had no time to celebrate. Beast Incarnate advocate Paul Heyman came down the entrance ramp with the Money in the Bank briefcase. So, we thought we might get an early Brock Lesnar cash in. Yet, that turned out not to be “the case” at all. WWE swerved us with heel Ziggler swooping in to attack Kingston from behind in the ring.
Heel Ziggler brutally attacked the champion using the ring post and a steel chair. The Hollywood Heel kept the assault going until Kofi required a stretcher. However, our valiant champion refused to go out like that. As a result, he hopped off the stretcher and limped to the backstage area.
Ziggler hadn’t worked a match for WWE since the Royal Rumble. He hadn’t appeared on cable TV since a ferocious beating at the hands of Drew McIntyre in a steel cage match on the New Year’s eve RAW. However, we had a much different heel Ziggler on Tuesday.
In fact, Ziggler came out to address his actions later in the show. He admitted being jealous that Kofi took his opportunity and ran with it up to the company’s top spot. He even seemed to admit some remorse for his actions. However, he claimed he wouldn’t stop until he knocked Kofi off his perch at Super Showdown.
BEST OF THE REST: ALI SHOCKS ANDRADE
Two warriors still hurting from the Money in the Bank men’s ladder match gave us great in-ring storytelling.
Andrade took advantage of Ali’s bandaged and banged-up back early. He bounced the Heart of SmackDown Live back-first off the barricade, slowing Ali down the rest of the match. However, Ali rallied to victory just when it seemed like all hope was lost. Our outmatched babyface tangled up Andrade in an inside cradle for the surprising 1-2-3.
El Idolo will soon face Finn Balor for the Intercontinental Championship, so I expected him to win. Therefore, Ali’s shocker might signal he is on his way to a push soon. He appeared headed in that direction earlier this year before a back injury kept him out of Elimination Chamber. You may recall that opened the door for Kofi Kingston’s magical run to the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
Either way, two of the WWE’s best young Superstars put on fantastic theater in the ring. This one contends with The Revival’s showdown with The Usos on Monday Night RAW for best match on cable TV this week.
BIG WINNER: DOLPH ZIGGLER
Pardon my soap box moment, but here goes. Dolph Ziggler provides a prime example of a guy who could go to any other promotion and be “the guy.” He’s one of the best in-ring technicians in all of the WWE. Furthermore, he’s got the looks and charisma on the mic to play a convincing, conniving baddie. Yet, he’s always served as a gateway heel to put over a babyface on his way to the top.
Ziggler gave us great entertainment on Tuesday. I want to get excited about his match with Kingston on June 7 at Super Showdown at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Yet, this feels like a setup for disappointment for anyone who enjoys Ziggler as much as I do. He will likely put over Kingston and then get dropped off the face of the planet again by the WWE.
However, heel Ziggler reminded us for a night that he’s as vicious and dangerous as anyone in the WWE. I thoroughly enjoyed his return and inclusion with a main eventer this week.
BIG LOSER: BAYLEY
WWE makes a habit of celebrating all of its freshly-crowned champions these days. That is, they did until Bayley won the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank. This week, Bayley received little if any hoopla surrounding her becoming the new ruler of the Blue Brand women’s division. In fact, she teamed with RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch in a match that put over Lynch far more than herself.
In a quintessential Rodney Dangerfield moment for Bayley, she partnered with Lynch against Charlotte Flair and Lacey Evans. This served as more of a platform for Lynch to get revenge on the rivals who cost her the blue belt than any celebration of Bayley. In fact, Lynch and Bayley teased tension backstage as both expressed a desire to reign over both brands.
WWE at least gave The Hugger the honor of settling the match. She caught Flair with an inside cradle for the three count.
However, this match gave us a perfect example of how the “Wild Card” rule complicates things creatively. Logically, you’d think Lynch and Bayley would maintain focus on defending the belts they have. Therefore, it would seem to make more sense to build feuds on their own brands. Teasing a Lynch-Bayley showdown to create a dual-brand champion again doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Roman Reigns – The Big Dog defeated Elias in a rematch of the seconds-long squash match won by Reigns at Money in the Bank. Though Elias at least got through his move set this time, Reigns won again with a ferocious spear. Afterward, Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre interfered. McIntyre laid out Reigns with a Claymore kick. Once again, Reigns gets positioned as the big babyface Superstar on both brands this week. His push to the heavens continues. He will face Shane McMahon at Super Showdown.
Big E – He didn’t get to say much, but the big guy returned in the show’s opening segment. As enjoyable as he became on Twitter with his injury, it’s nice to see the New Day fully healthy. WWE needs capable contenders in the tag team division. Xavier Woods and Big E can give new SmackDown Tag Team Champs Daniel Bryan and Rowan a run for their money.
Lacey Evans – The WWE using a wildcard spot on Evans means they are serious about keeping her feud with Lynch alive. That can only mean good things for a rising Superstar like the Lady of the WWE. Many forget that Sunday’s showing at Money in the Bank served as her first main roster pay-per-view singles match. Though some bickered Lynch had to constantly call out shots, Evans performed well enough to keep her push going. She remains in line to potentially claim a title belt by the end of the year.
Andrade – El Idolo continues to dazzle in the ring. This match with Ali can only help convince those backstage that he’s ready for a big push. Whether that means he beats Finn Balor for Intercontinental title remains to be seen. However, WWE teased the Demon showing up for their Super Showdown match. This will mark the first time the Demon comes out as champion. Therefore, the match will create a stir, regardless of the outcome.
Elias – Sure, he ate a spear and another loss. Yet, The Drifter working a main event match against Reigns marks a high water mark for him. He sure wasn’t working many main events on Mondays. Here’s hoping he gets separated from Shane McMahon soon. Elias can create plenty of heat without being an Authority lackey.
24/7 Champion R-Truth – The new comedic champ dressed in drag to avoid losing his title. He essentially played the clown he’s hired to play. He managed to “successfully” retain his belt by eluding such legends as Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Akira Tozawa and Drake Maverick backstage.
Mandy Rose vs. Carmella – Meanwhile, the dumb chase of R-Truth interrupted a match between God’s Greatest Creation and The Staten Island Princess. The Corey Graves Bowl offered us potentially an exciting women’s division match. Yet, the pursuit of R-Truth caused this to become a no-contest decision as part of the joke. I wasn’t laughing much. I doubt a lot of other people were, either.
Shane McMahon – The most over-exposed McMahon continued to get involved on both brands this week. He tried to take out Roman Reigns after the main event. However, he needed a big assist from Drew McIntyre via a Claymore Kick to escape The Big Dog’s wrath. Can someone explain to me in an era where several talented wrestlers can’t get on TV why the WWE books Vince McMahon’s middle-aged progeny who has little in-ring skills as one of its biggest heels?
Kevin Owens – The Blue Brand’s hottest heel played only a silent role in the opening segment of the show. Way to book to your strengths, WWE. Take one of the best guys on the mic and make him a mute. It made little sense to have Zayn challenge Kingston for his title, too. The Underdog from the Underground just got his butt kicked on the pay-per-view and on RAW. So, obviously he’s worthy of a shot at the WWE Champion.
Sami Zayn – The big push for Sami appears to be over. Weeks ago, he had people talking with his scorched-earth promos against the fans. Now, he’s back to serving as the B-level heel who gets his butt kicked by the babyface flavor of the week. Pour out a little liquor for the best run of Sami’s WWE career, albeit an abbreviated, month-long sprint back to mediocrity.
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