DETROIT - Getting yelled at by Bob Backlund for two months might be a better training plan than we all thought. The WWE Hall of Famer’s quest to “Make Darren Young Great Again” got off to a smashing start when Mr. No Days Off, in his first bout under Mr. Backlund’s tutelage, won a Battle Royal to become next man up for The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship.
Like all great victories, it was equal parts perseverance, skill and luck. The perseverance and skill came by outlasting the majority of WWE's tag team competitors to make the final four alongside Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin. And the luck came when Crews and Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner Corbin simultaneously tossed each other in the closing seconds, leaving Young the winner and causing an overjoyed Backlund to celebrate with him in the ring. This. Is. Happening.
Zack Ryder defeated Sheamus twice last week, which was not exactly a welcome turn of events for the former WWE Champion. This week, right as The Ultimate Broski was about to call Rusev’s bluff and challenge him for the U.S. Title face-to-face, The Celtic Warrior ambushed Ryder from behind and revealed they had been booked for a one-on-one rematch. The Irishman won despite a stiff challenge from the depleted Long Islander. Then, out came Rusev to pick the bones in the form of an Accolade that bent the Broski in two, and only then, with Ryder at his mercy, did he accept the title match challenge. Good luck, bro.
It ain’t easy being good-looking. One week someone locks you in a tanning bed, the other you’re accused of starting a food fight (accurately, mind you, but still). And now Breezango suffered their latest indignity when The Lucha Dragons spilled Tyler Breeze’s drink all over him. The beauty gods smiled on them, though, as Fandango & Tyler Breeze got sweet vengeance against the Dragons later in the night.
Despite isolating Sin Cara, who tossed the beverage on Breeze in the first place, Breezango initially weren’t able to hold back Kalisto when The King of Flight rallied from a whiffed springboard to pepper Breeze with a dizzying variety of kicks to the face. While Sin Cara occupied himself with a meddling Fandango on the outside, however, Breeze stepped up, sneaking behind a turnbuckle-perched Kalisto to deliver a fastball Supermodel Kick through The King of Flight's legs to his face that led to a gorgeous three-count.
It looks like one of the unspoken side goals of Seth Rollins’ “Redesign, Rebuild, Reclaim” mantra was “Get Your Own Talk Show,” because after some political maneuvering among the McMahons, The Architect debuted his very own program, “The Rollins Report,” on Raw. Rollins’ selling point to Shane and Stephanie McMahon was an earthshaking exclusive from Roman Reigns, but “The Man’s” scoop turned out to be a bunch of doctored footage assembled to further tarnish the suspended Reigns.
Enter Dean Ambrose, who did what he does best and riled Rollins into a frenzy, only this time Rollins turned it around, hurling insults that lathered The Lunatic Fringe into a frothing rage. Not only that, but Rollins also got something even sweeter out of the exchange: When Ambrose snarled that he’d accept a one-on-one challenge at any point for his WWE Championship, Rollins laid one down for next week’s Raw. So it's "The Man" vs. "The Dude." Who you got?
… But don’t think for a minute it was that simple: A lot happened en route to Kevin Owens’ win over Cesaro. For a while it looked like the match wouldn’t even happen, since Owens refused to go to the ring when Sami Zayn posted up at commentary. An attempt by to extract Zayn by WWE officials led to a fistfight between him and Owens on the entrance ramp, at which point Mr. McMahon was revealed to have arrived at the building for his blockbuster announcement of the SmackDown Live Commissioner.
Only then did Cesaro get to the ring and the match began in earnest, and both Superstars treated it like highlight reel material for the upcoming WWE Draft. Owens hit The King of Swing with a wicked neckbreaker over the knee; Cesaro unleashed a barrage of uppercuts of all shapes and sizes in response. Owens eked out a win with a spinning torture rack neckbreaker, though Zayn returned by jumping KO on the outside. The King of Swing got the last word in on the scuffle with a Cesaro Swing to The Prizefighter. It looks like everyone’s draft stock went up.
Remember Slater-Gator? Titus O’Neil certainly does not, or in any case, he has no problem beating the snot out of his former tag-team partner, Heath Slater, now that they’ve both moved on to a singles career and a new faction, respectively. Unfortunately, an impressive effort by Slater was derailed by The Big Deal’s unmitigated power. O’Neil threw Slater across the ring like a sack of potatoes, snatched him mid-crossbody into a backbreaker, splashed him into the corner and flattened him with Clash of the Titus. Oh, the humanity. The humanity.
Well, The New Day said they’d do it, but in hindsight, they might have been better off sitting this one out. The WWE Tag Team Champions’ much-anticipated visit to The Wyatt Family’s home base turned out to be an unmitigated horror show for ya boys, who were already at less than full strength with a perpetually shell-shocked Xavier Woods not exactly feeling the power.
Woods luckily found his courage, but it took an extended mauling by the Wyatts to get him to do so. The First Family of Fear encircled New Day in a ring of cars, then beat them with whatever depraved implements they could find. Woods rallied to save his brothers from certain annihilation, but Wyatt’s ace in the hole — a reveal of an entire horde of sheep-masked Family members — sent New Day running for the hills.
You scratch John Cena’s back, he scratches yours: Even ESPY rehearsals weren’t enough to stop the 15-time World Champion from returning the favor Enzo Amore & Big Cass paid him last week and coming to the certified Gs’ aids. He did so when it was looking the most dire for The Realest Guys in the Room, who won a disqualification decision against Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson in a tag-team match, and were in the process of being #BeatUp by the entirety of The Club following the contest. Having insisted Cena was absent all night, Styles & Co. were feeling pretty good about their chances until the famous music hit, at which point Cena, Enzo and Cass turned on the jets and The Club was sent packing in response..
Sasha Banks’ dogged pursuit of the WWE Women’s Championship had to go through Dana Brooke before Charlotte would even consider her as a contender, and go through Dana Brooke it has. Charlotte’s enforcer put up a worthy fight against The Boss, targeting Banks’ stomach and muscling her into a disadvantage that took the majority of the match to crawl out from under.
When she did, though, Brooke was too far behind to even the playing field again. Charlotte’s support at ringside and Dana’s raw power kept her in the fight, but Sasha maneuvered her way off Dana’s shoulders into a Bank Statement to achieve the tapout. So does this mean Sasha is in line for a Women’s Title Match? According to Charlotte, maybe ... if she beats Dana again on SmackDown.
Over the last month, former General Managers and power players attempted to maneuver themselves into the position of SmackDown Live commissioner. Each time, Shane and Stephanie McMahon sent them away, passive-aggressively attempting to install themselves as the frontrunner for the blue brand’s figurehead. Mr. McMahon doesn’t do passive-aggressive. He’s all about open competition, so The Chairman relieved Shane of his Raw duties to install him as SmackDown Live Commissioner, giving Stephanie sole control of Raw ... but there was a twist.
As first order of business among the two new Commissioners, Mr. McMahon commanded that each of his children select a GM next week on Raw to handle their day-to-day business, meaning the competition between Shane and Stephanie has just begun in earnest. And if the face-to-face confrontation between the McMahons was any indication, it’s about to escalate to a whole new level. Game on.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Darren Young (w/ Bob Backlund) won a #1 Contendership Battle Royal for the WWE Intercontinental Championship (13:15)
- Sheamus defeated Zack Ryder (2:16)
- Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) defeated Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) (4:21)
- Kevin Owens defeated Cesaro (12:21)
- Titus O'Neil defeated Heath Slater (w/ Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) (3:09)
- Realest Guys (Big Cass & Enzo Amore) defeated The Club (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) (w/ AJ Styles) by DQ (10:45)
- Sasha Banks defeated Dana Brooke (w/ Charlotte) by submission (12:00)
- Dark Match: Dean Ambrose & Sami Zayn defeated AJ Styles & Seth Rollins
Other on-screen talent