Thursday, September 23, 2021

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SmackDown 07/31/18: The Queen is Back

SmackDown Live! was live last night from Tampa, FL. Being as Tampa is my hometown, I wish I was in attendance, but alas I was not. With the hottest event of the summer just a few weeks away and Evolution just a few months away, the women are front and center.

SummerSlam is fast approaching and Becky Lynch has her eyes set on the prize. Smackdown Live! kicks off with Renee Young in the ring. Last week, Lynch beat Carmella to earn her a title match. Young introduces the number one contender, Lynch, and invites her to the ring. Once Lynch enters the ring, Young asks her after so much perseverance how does it feel to be back in the title picture. Lynch said she knew that if she kept pushing she would get what she wanted. She starts rattling off statistics. She hasn’t been champion since December of 2016, and she hasn’t been in a title match since Wrestlemania 33, which was in April of 2017.

She speaks about the honor, excitement, and pressure to be champion. She claims that she will beat Carmella at SummerSlam and walk into Evolution as SmackDown Women’s Champion. Carmella’s music hits, and the trash talking champion makes her way to the ring. Carmella comes out rather somber and serious, unlike her normal gloating antics. She tries to make Lynch feel at ease saying that she will not try to make excuses for her loss last week. She states that she could say that she was distracted by James Ellsworth‘s firing last week, but she will not use that as an excuse for losing her match. She says also that Lynch beat her fair and square and that she earned this title shot.

Carmella breaks kayfabe for a moment and is genuine about the all women PPV, Evolution coming in October. She states that this PPV is not just going to be for the RAW roster or the SmackDown roster, but for all Women Wrestlers, including the ones that paved the way. Carmella went on to say how Lynch and she have always been received different, and how originally Carmella never thought she would become anything besides a manager. She states Lynch was always popular in NXT and part of the Four horsewomen. Lynch was the first woman to be drafted to SmackDown as Carmella was the very last pick out of all the choices. The champion says how everyone has always loved Lynch, whereas she has to constantly be told that she doesn’t deserve to be champion and that she sucks. Carmella states that she truly does feel that Lynch has earned this title shot. She wishes her opponent good luck and extends her hand for a shake. As Lynch thinks about it, Ellsworth’s music hits.

Ellsworth does not appear, and his music playing was just a distraction to Lynch and for Carmella to attack her from behind. Carmella gets a kick right to the number one contenders face. She goes out of the ring and grabs a chair from underneath the ring. She lays the chair down in the middle of the ring and sets Lynch up for a DDT on the chair. Charlotte Flair’s music hits and the Queen has returned to save her best friend. Carmella quickly grabs the chair to hit Flair with it, but Flair just as quickly kicks it out of her hands. Flair performs a suplex on Carmella who then rolls out of the ring and runs up the ramp to get away.

After Carmella makes it to the backstage area, she heads to General Manager Paige‘s office. Paige says how she was really believing Carmella for a moment. Carmella’s little woman empowerment speech out in the ring actually had Paige fooled. The champ rants on how about she poured her heart out in the ring, but can’t believe that after beating Flair twice she still gets no respect from her and the odds are always stacked against her. She continues by saying how she is sorry she can’t be a role model like Paige. She then says there is one thing she knows that she is that Paige will never be again, and that is the champ (SAVAGE!). Paige then says she will teach her how to be a real champ, one who always has the odds stacked against her. She announces that the champ will have a match against Flair later on in the night, and if Flair wins, the title match at SummerSlam becomes a triple threat match!

Throughout the night, Young interviews both the returning Flair, who has been out since the Money in the Bank PPV in June, and the number 1 contender Lynch. The first interview was with Flair. Young asks Flair how it feels to get the opportunity to get added to the title match at SummerSlam. Flair answers saying that she came to see her best friend (Lynch), and didn’t expect to even be at SummerSlam let alone have a title match. Flair says that she and Lynch have always had each other’s backs. Young reminds Flair that she has to get through Carmella first. Flair says the queen is back and she is ready to claim her throne.

A little later on in the night, Young interviews Lynch on how she feels about Flair getting a chance to be added to the match at the biggest event of the summer. Lynch agreed that Flair has this golden opportunity to make it into the match. Lynch knows for a fact she can beat Carmella, or anyone else for that matter, one on one. She has blazed through the roster in the past few months, submitting all of her opponents. Young ends the interview by asking if Lynch is rooting against Flair tonight. Lynch replies that she never roots against her best friend.

The first women’s match had Lana face off against Zelina Vega. This is Vega’s debut match on the main roster. The build up for the match started last week when Lana and Vega were ringside for the Rusev/Andrade “Cien” Almas match. The heated arguing between these two turned physical until Aiden English came out to break them up. English’s actions cost Rusev the match as he was distracted by the ruckus.

Lana makes her way to the ring first, without her husband Rusev. Vega then comes to the ring, but unlike Lana, she has backup with her client Almas in tow. Some key points of the match are as follows:

Vega dominates through the majority of the match. She focuses on executing Almas’ moves. She was able to get the doubles knees to Lana in the corner of the ring. She attempted a pin, but Lana kicked out at 2. Vega follows it up with an attempt to perform a hammerlock DDT, but Lana counters. Lana picks up momentum, and the match starts to get fast paced. Lana performs a spinarooni (which was the best part of the match in my opinion). Lana has Vega in position to attempt a mid rope maneuver, but Almas gets on the ring rope to create the diversion. English runs down to the ring and pulls Almas off the ring apron to the floor. This distraction was enough for Vega to capitalize and she rolled up Lana for the win.

After the match, English approaches Lana backstage. He apologizes for what happened and although he knows Rusev wants space, he couldn’t help but to try and help Lana when she was in trouble. Rusev, coming from off-screen, screams English’s name which causes English to run away. Rusev asks her if she was okay and that if he was out there, this would have never happened. Lana explains that she understands Rusev needs a break from Rusev Day and to collect his thoughts about English, but she needed him out there and he was not there to help her. She walks away leaving Rusev behind.

Our main event has come, Flair takes on Carmella for a chance to be added to the title match at SummerSlam. Flair makes her way to the ring first. The statistics on the side of the screen are wrong, but we will get into that in the “Thoughts” section below. Young speaks to Carmella before she steps out onto the stage about the potential triple threat match looming. Carmella does not appear worried. She explains the real tea, and that is Lynch hopes Flair loses tonight. She doesn’t believe this “best friendship” between the tea sisters.

Some key points of the match are as follows:

Flair takes advantage early on. She attempts several of her famous moves, including a moonsault, Charlotte’s web, and chops to the chest. Carmella eventually gets some offense in by throwing Flair out of the ring. The referee starts the count. The champ is trying to win via DQ so that she can keep the SummerSlam match to one on one. Flair attempts to get back in the ring, and Carmella knocks her back down. Carmella then gets out of the ring and knocks her opponent over the barricade in the timekeeper area. Flair is able to beat the count of 10 from the referee and enters the ring. Carmella stays on offense after Flair crawled in the ring. The ladies trade boots to the face, which leads to Flair getting a near fall as Carmella kicks out at 2.

The action spills to the outside yet again. Flair hits a moonsault from the barricade and takes her down. Flair follows up by throwing her in the ring and executes natural selection. Carmella kicks out again at 2. Both women get to a vertical base, and the queen attempts a spear but the princess gets a knee in on Flair’s face and follows up to a kick to the chin. After another near fall, the champ attempts to put Flair in the figure four, but she is able to counter and get the champ into the figure eight. Carmella taps out and Flair wins. Flair is moving on to SummerSlam and the match becomes a triple threat. The show ends with Flair celebrating in the ring, Carmella sitting on the floor outside the ring, clearly mad, and Lynch, also not pleased, backstage watching it on a monitor.

In a WWE Exclusive, Dasha, asks Flair how she feels now that she will have to face her best friend in a triple threat at SummerSlam. Flair explains her goal is to regain her throne.

Thoughts: I felt SmackDown was real good this week. Carmella excelled in her heel persona, and she didn’t have the annoyance of Ellsworth around her. He is honestly not needed. He doesn’t have to be involved in any storyline with the women, it loses interest for me. Her speech at the beginning of the show was great. She was able to tell her true feelings that I am sure she feels about Evolution and the women, but also do it in a way that puts her over as a heel when she attacks Becky from behind.

Let me first give my thoughts on the Lana vs Zelina match. It still shows that Lana is a little green, but I hope they continue to give her matches. I feel that the match was slow through most of it, however, when Lana picked up speed the match became good. However, once that occurred, the match was basically over. I hope they continue this feud, it has great potential. Plus, I am interested if they break apart Lana from Rusev. I think she needs to shine on her own anyway.

The Charlotte vs Carmella match was good, probably better then their previous matches. I enjoy when Carmella kept trying to get Charlotte counted out. I also like all the near falls. I am a big fan of near falls. As a long time wrestling fan, when I see a near fall that I really think will be the end of the match, and the fall doesn’t happen, it makes the match, a good match. This match had several near falls that would not have been possible when the women’s matches used to be 3 minutes.

I do have to throw some shade to these “statistics, or information” on the wrestlers when they come out. Charlotte’s this week said she is a 4 time women’s champion. She isn’t. She is a total of 5 time, plus Diva’s champion once. As much as Michael Cole botches, I think he probably wrote that misinformation.

I still miss Naomi.

I am looking forward to the triple threat match, however, I hope that Charlotte does not win. I am hoping it just leads to a Charlotte heel turn and Becky wins the title at SummerSlam and faces Charlotte in the future. I just do not see Carmella, as much as I like her, heading into Evolution as champion. I still hold true that Becky and Ronda will be the champs heading into Evolution. This weeks’ SmackDown was a hit for me.

Did you like this weeks show? Are you excited to have Charlotte Flair back and her being added to the SummerSlam match? Did you like seeing the Lana vs Zelina match? Please sound off in the comments below!!!

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