SmackDown Live’s New Era finally has the hardware to match.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan kicked off the show with members from the women’s and tag team rosters behind them to both announce and unveil two highly anticipated new championships for each respective division.
Shane-O-Mac and Bryan declared that the SmackDown Women’s Champion would be decided via a Six-Pack Challenge at Backlash on Sept. 11. Team Blue’s new Tag Team Champions would also be decided at Backlash, however the two teams that would fend for the pay-per-view finals would be decided via a tournament that would kick off tonight!
It all seemed pretty straightforward … and then Heath Slater showed up, still yearning for both a SmackDown Live contract and, now, a title opportunity. Ultimately, he, Shane and Bryan reached a compromise — if Slater could find a partner, they would be entered in the tournament for the brand’s Tag Team Championships next week. The rub? Slater and his partner would have to win the entire tournament if he wanted to be signed to the blue brand.
In the wake of his brutal encounter with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, Orton had time scheduled on SmackDown Live to speak on what is next for him … but then darkness came.
Suddenly, Bray Wyatt slowly crept to near the ring and sat ominously in his rocking chair. Wyatt would proceed to talk The Viper down, venting about the many frustrations and grievances he has with The Apex Predator.
Finally, Orton had enough with The New Face of Fear’s maniacal rant and challenged him to step into the ring and duke it out. However, before he could get his hands on The Eater or Worlds, the lights went out again and when they relit, Wyatt was gone and all that remained was an empty rocking chair.
AJ Styles then made his way to down ringside. Styles was disgruntled over a brawl he and Dolph Ziggler had backstage moments prior and wanted to air his grievances to the SmackDown Live Commissioner and General Manager. However, before he could even get the complaint out of his mouth, he was ambushed from behind by The Showoff. The two picked up right where they left off backstage, prompting Shane and Bryan to have the competitors in the ring separate the two.
In case you didn’t hear, “AJ Styles beat up John Cena.” More importantly, AJ Styles beat John Cena, clean as a whistle with no outside help at SummerSlam … and boy, could he not wait to tell literally everyone about it.
One person who didn’t want to hear it, however? Dolph Ziggler. After falling just short against Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship at SummerSlam, Ziggler was in no mood for Styles’ mouth. The two got into two brawls earlier in the night and The Showoff could not resist interrupting The Phenomenal One here as well, attempting to engage in round three as security surrounded him while charging out.
However, before matters could get too out of control between the stars of the New Era, Daniel Bryan came out in an attempt to cool down the situation by separating the two.
Bryan then attempted to give both men what they wanted. He informed Styles that, due to his victory over Cena at SummerSlam, that he was now locked in as the No. 1 Contender for the WWE World Championship at Backlash. However, he would also square off with The Showoff tonight and if Dolph could defeat him, then Ziggler would be inserted into the championship match at Backlash, subsequently making it a Triple Threat Match with it all on the line.
Later on SmackDown, WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose sat in on commentary as The Showoff and The Phenomenal One dazzled the WWE Universe in the main event.
The study in contrast between the two was evident during the contest – Styles, coming off the biggest win of his career – was confident and loose. Meanwhile, Ziggler, reeling from quite possibly the most critical defeat of his WWE tenure, was aggressive and possibly pressing a bit too hard.
The end result was not kind for Ziggler, with Styles surging to victory by connecting with the Styles Clash after using the middle rope to assist him with a low-blow when the referee was not looking in the contest’s closing moments. Ziggler would once again show, yet not win, eliminating him from the WWE World Championship picture at Backlash.
SmackDown Live went off the air with Ambrose and Styles locked into one another, knowing the stakes that they were now presented with at Backlash.
In other action... Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss... The Usos def. The Ascension in a SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament Match... Carmella ambushed Nikki Bella’s return to SmackDown Live... and American Alpha def. Breezango in a SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament Match