Welcome to The Nerd Hub’s weekly smack talk about WWE SmackDown Live. Kofi Kingston finished his three-match sweep of Dolph Ziggler in the main event. Their best-of-3 falls match actually bested previous battles at both Super ShowDown and Stomping Grounds. However, the fans at Moda Center in Portland had little great content to watch prior to the main event. Let’s break down Kofi sweeps week and more.
HEADLINE NEWS: KOFI-ZIGGLER III AN INSTANT CLASSIC
SmackDown Live opened with an impassioned promo from the WWE Champion. He said he’s enjoyed the best height of his career over the past few months. However, Samoa Joe attempted to eat him alive on Monday Night Raw. Kofi said he wouldn’t take that lying down. That’s when Ziggler interrupted, refusing to allow anyone to leapfrog him for another shot at the WWE Championship. The #Heel revealed that he arranged a best-of-3 falls match with Kofi for the main event.
Ziggler dominated the early moments of the main event. A turning point came when The Showoff sat down on a Sunset Flip attempt and grabbed the rope for leverage. The referee caught him cheating and interrupted his count on the fall. As a result, Kofi got the opening he needed. He rolled up Dolph for fall #1.
Unfortunately, Ziggler got worked up into a frenzy and took his brutality up a notch after the first fall. Then, he devastated Kingston with a Zig Zag. The resilient champ nearly scored the decisive fall on another roll-up attempt. Yet, Ziggler escaped this time and hit a superkick to even the falls.
The closing sequence turned into a sprint of reversals, counters and roll-up attempts. However, Kofi closed things out with Trouble in Paradise for the victory. This one far exceeded either of the pay-per-view matches. So, Kofi put a fitting cap on the rivalry if it is indeed an end to their program.
BEST OF THE REST: NIKKI CROSS EARNS ALEXA BLISS REMATCH
Nikki Cross came out as a woman on a mission against SmackDown Women’s Champ Bayley. The desperation and determination of the Scot came across as she passionately fought for her friend’s rematch. Cross gained the early edge on her frenetic energy.
However, The Hugger worked her way back into the match and gained control with an armbar. Nikki rallied and hit a neckbreaker for a two count. Then, Cross and Bayley engaged in a number of roll-ups and counters. However, Nikki ended the seesaw struggle by shifting her weight to keep the champ’s shoulders pinned for the 1-2-3.
As a result, Cross earned The Goddess a rematch for the blue belt at Extreme Rules on July 14. Furthermore, Nikki winning the match and title shot for Bliss takes their story to the next stage. Cross wins the match and beats the champion, but the selfish Twisted Sister reaps the rewards because that’s so Alexa. These three continued to work well off each other.
BIG WINNER: SONYA DEVILLE/MANDY ROSE
The War Goddess attempted to retaliate after weeks of being bullied by Deville & Rose. However, Fire & Desire used the dreaded numbers game to come out on top like we knew they would.
Yet, Ember Moon brought the fire and fury early on. She took it to Deville with a series of dropkicks, pounding her around the squared circle. But Mandy Rose picked an opportune time to provide a distraction. Deville capitalized, shoving her into the ring post and stacking her up for a pinfall victory.
These three suffered from the lack of ring time devoted to them. However, the story they needed to present got over. First and foremost, it served to continue the ongoing beef between Moon and Rose. Most importantly, Deville picked up a win to continue building her credibility for the inevitable Fire & Desire split. In my opinion, WWE can build a legitimate main-event star out of Deville if they’re interested in doing so. She can pull off the heel personality well and contains a wide arsenal of ground-and-pound, MMA moves.
BIG LOSER: THE MIZ
Through no fault of his own, The A-Lister ended up the big loser on both Monday and Tuesday. This time, he fell to Elias in a best-of-3 falls match. The dreaded numbers game came into play at the end. “The Best in the World” Shane McMahon teamed up with Elias to put a hurting on Miz.
Shane-O-Mac sent a message to Roman Reigns with a spear. Then, Elias piled on with a top-rope elbow drop for the decisive fall. Adding insult, Shane then ascended the top rope and delivered his patented Coast-to-Coast.
Unfortunately, Miz remained McMahon’s personal torture instrument. He’s served as a punching bag for “The Best in the World” since WrestleMania 35. Not only can’t he beat his former tag team partner, he always gets served a humbling butt-kicking by McMahon and his minions. Fans continue to openly wonder why McMahon continues to ride the monstrous heel push at the expense of big-name Superstars each week.
Shinsuka Nakamura/Finn Balor – Two of the greatest NXT Champions collided in a backstage segment. “The Artist” confronted the Intercontinental Champion, perhaps signaling an end to his tag team days with Rusev. Since Balor spent several weeks off TV, fans of the champ delighted in the teasing of a new storyline. However, the use of Nakamura with Balor seems puzzling considering things with Andrade didn’t feel completely settled.
New Day – We told you they would not skip a beat with that loss to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Xavier Woods broke up the LeBell Lock and combined with Big E to hit Midnight Hour on Daniel Bryan. They didn’t get much time to celebrate the non-title match victory over the SmackDown Tag Team Champs. The Pancakes & Unicorns Crew found themselves victims of an attack from KO and Zayn. However, Heavy Machinery came out to aid New Day. Then, the two babyface teams teamed up against the two heel teams.
Heavy Machinery – Otis and Tucker got an important thumbs after their Stomping Grounds appearance by making WWE TV. The segment felt a little clumsy. The most important plot point of the eight-man tag match seemed to be KO walking out on Zayn. With that being the case, Heavy Machinery against those two probably would’ve went off a little less wonky. Nonetheless, the Steaks & Weights boys still seem to figure prominently in WWE’s plans.
Elias – We’d love to see him no longer attached to Shane McMahon’s hip. However, he scored a victory over The Miz. This provided the one positive note to the continued devotion to Heel Shane’s destruction of The Miz.
Ember Moon – Sure, she got beat by the heel tandem of Rose and Deville. However, she broke through to get some ring time on WWE TV. Considering the sparse amount of time for women not named Becky Lynch, Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, Bayley and Nikki Cross lately, that’s a victory.
Aleister Black – Okay, it’s seriously time for WWE to pull the trigger on putting the former NXT Champ in the ring. We’re working on a solid month of promos talking about people coming through a door to challenge him. Look no further than Ricochet to see how Black has stagnated. His former tag partner just won the United States Championship at Stomping Grounds and wrestled AJ Styles in Raw’s main event. Meanwhile, Black gets reduced to edgy 60-90 second promos each week.
Charlotte Flair – Perhaps The Queen just asked for some vacation time. However, it seems a bit weird to not see her featured for weeks at a time on WWE TV. I know fans have raged about her frequent turns with the championship belts. Yet, the simple fact remains she’s one of the best performers in the company.
The IIconics – The women’s tag champs had some regular segments for weeks with Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss that went well. However, they’re back to being purely backstage or non-entities. Here’s where the predictability of the WWE gets in the way of the product. It’s understandable if Billie Kay and Peyton Royce don’t always fit into the Raw or SmackDown storylines. Yet, wouldn’t that present the perfect opportunity to have them make a cameo on NXT?
Roman Reigns – Don’t get me wrong. The Big Dog remains a weekly presence on TV. I know the WWE Wild Card Era essentially made the brand split a moot point. However, I still think it’s a wrong that the “biggest acquisition” in SmackDown history makes fewer appearances on Tuesdays than Mondays.
Andrade – Flip the calendar back a month or so and we thought El Idolo might ride a rocket to the top. Now, he’s back to being left off TV for weeks at a time. It’s inconsistent handling of guys like this that causes fan pushback when matches seemingly fall out of the sky.