Talking Smack is up next, as Daniel Bryan announces an Intercontinental Title match for Backlash! It's The Miz defending his title against Dolph Ziggler!
AJ Styles is on commentary duty to get a first row seat for the main event between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin. But wait. What is this? A random man shows up and says he has a licence to compete tonight, challenging anyone to come out and face him. The crowd chant 'Who are you?' to him.
Don't pinch yourself. This is downright weird and a bolt from the blue. And not the good kind either. But the Superstar that comes out is Kane, who wastes no time in chokeslamming that man. Whoever he was. I didn't even catch his name properly due to his put on accent.
Let's just pretend that didn't happen.
Baron Corbin is out next for the main event, followed by the WWE Champion Dean Ambrose. Corbin takes the upper hand early before Ambrose snaps into life and sends Corbin reeling out of the ring.
He follows that up by slamming Corbin's head onto the announcer's table, in an attempt to intimidate AJ Styles no doubt. The action is taken back into the ring, where Corbin gains the upper hand again. We cut to commercial.
During the break Ambrose gets sent, painfully, into the steel steps outside of the ring. Corbin in full control here as he looks to establish his rough house offence over the champion.
Corbin attempts a come-back clothesline that is beautifully countered into a neckbreaker by Ambrose. He then runs straight into the ring post as Ambrose gets out of the way just in time. But even this isn't enough for Ambrose to turn the tide firmly in his favour as Corbin recovers pretty quickly to kick out at 2.
Ambrose sends Corbin outside and follows up with a suicide dive through the second rope, even as AJ Styles claims that he has the WWE Champion completely scouted. But Corbin quickly reverses the offence by sending Ambrose into the barricade, before getting into Styles' face at ringside.
Ambrose takes advantage of the distraction and hits an elbow drop from the turnbuckle on Corbin. Near fall! Styles gets involved now as he misses a kick aimed at Ambrose, only to hit Corbin. The referee calls off the match!
Ambrose capitalises again as he hits Corbin with the Dirty Deeds, and manages to thwart Styles' attempted Phenomenal Forearm by getting him hung up on the ropes. Ouch. Ouch.
SmackDown closes out with Dean Ambrose standing tall with his title and AJ Styles in pain. Dem grapefruits tho :p
Headbangers make THE most low-key return of the year as they are up against the team of Slater and Rhyno next. Mosh and Slater lock up, with Trasher also getting in on the action with a clothesline from the turn buckle pretty quick.
The Headbangers seem to be on the same page as they mount continuous offence on Heath Slater. Frequent tags made between the Headbangers as they attempt to keep Slater away from Rhyno.
Apparently one of the shots landed on Rhyno from Mosh has opened up a cut next to his eye. Quite a bit of blood here. But that doesn't prevent Rhyno from tagging in and winning the match for his team with a Gore!
Slater and Rhyno go through!
Natalya and Alexa Bliss take on the team of Naomi and Becky Lynch with Nikki Bella joining the commentary team with a spot of guest-commentating.
And they announce a six-pac challenge at Backlash between the 4 women in the match now, as well as Nikki and Carmella. The winner would be crowned as the SmackDown Women's Champion.
Natalya and Alexa Bliss are taking the attack to Naomi, who is prevented from making the tag to Becky Lynch. Nothing too technical on display, mostly with Bliss and Natalya pandering to the crowd to get classic heel heat more than anything.
But this backfires when Naomi manages to get the hot tag and in comes Becky, blazing through both Natalya and Alexa Bliss. But wait, it's Carmella, who again blindsides Nikki Bella on commentary!
She sends Nikki Bella hard into the barricade, causing a distraction to Becky Lynch who is rolled up from behind for the 3 count by Alexa Bliss. Worth mentioning here that Bliss has a fistful of Becky's tights as well.
Spotlight on Carmella, who stands over Nikki Bella, gloating, to close out the segment.
Bray Wyatt cuts an engaging promo about how the voices in Orton's head should tell him to run away. On cue, Orton's music hits and the Viper makes his way out to a decent pop.
He retorts to Wyatt's allegation that he is a damaged man after SummerSlam : 'From one damaged man to another, you have my attention'
Apparently this was exactly what Bray wanted to hear, as he says he would cut off the Viper's head at Backlash. Orton accepts the challenge and says he would be happy to kick his ass right then and there and makes his way into the ring.
And poof! Everything goes black and we cut to commercials, with Ranallo's voice plugging the fact that Wyatt's mind games continue. What just happened there? Your guess is as good as mine.
We cut to a pre-recorded segment in Heath Slater's home, where Renee Young is paying him a visit to interview him. Rhyno is there, albeit silently, and we get introduced to an effervescent female who is apparently Slater's wife.
We run through everything that has happened since he got left out in the Draft till today, where he is teaming up with Rhyno to have a go at the Tag Team Championship.
By the way, his 'home' is a trailer and apparently his kids are 'out back collecting cans and bottles'. One word to describe that segment? Weird.
AJ Styles is out next, with the ring announcer making it a point to announce that he would like to be referred to as the 'Face that Runs the Place'. Hahaha. That cracked me up.
He beats his own drum about beating John Cena before announcing that he is going to beat Dean Ambrose at Backlash, only to be interrupted by Apollo Crews. They have a match right now it would seem.
Styles opens up with early offence before running the ropes and eating an athletic dropkick from Crews. That sends AJ outside, with Crews even taking a moment from beating him up to remind Ranallo that his name is spelt C-R-E-W-S. Nice, touches like this add a little flavour to his character. God knows he needs it.
Crews looking to keep the pressure up on Styles, who turns the tide in his favour by sending Apollo into the turnbuckle. He gets in a little offence before Crews takes over by virtue of sheer athleticism and power. Styles sent outside before being taken out by a moonsault from Crews.
He's sent back inside the ring where Crews looks to set him up on the turn buckle to go high risk. Styles fights out but Crews nips his momentum in the bud by catching his cross body and converting it into a Samoan Drop. What strength by Crews, as comparisions with Cena are being thrown around by the commentary team.
But just like that, AJ Styles turns around the match by landing a neckbreaker on the ropes followed by a Phenomenal Forearm. Cover. 1-2-3! AJ Styles picks up the win!
AJ Styles is shown pulling his weight backstage, with John Cena's 'Never Give Up' armband adorning his head. He runs into Apollo Crews, who reminds him that his name is spelt C-R-E-W-S. Styles replies that this is SmackDown Live and not Spelling Bee, before telling him to remember that he is the Face that Runs the P-L-A-C-E. Too sweet.
The Hype Bros - Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley - are out for their match against the Vaudevillains in the first round of the Tag Team tournament to determine the first winner of the SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
Ryder opens up the action against English, and the fight quickly spills over onto the outside. Ryder eats a neckbreaker outside, and is sent back inside the ring, for English to tag in Gotch. Gotch, despite his best efforts, cannot keep Ryder from tagging in Rawley.
Rawley runs roughshod over the Vaudevillains - he does look pretty pumped here; before they nail English with a Hype Ryder for the quick pin fall. Wow, that was as close to a squash match that you can get. And a heavily scripted promo to finish up with the segment.
The Miz opens the show in the ring with another great promo. He seems to have mastered the art of bordering on reality with his promos, cutting close to the truth and yet staying in character. Truly, the Miz has evolved into one of the best talkers in the WWE.
Talking about evolution, a man who clearly doesn't understand the word, Dolph Ziggler, is out to interrupt him. He says The Miz is soft and that people see through the fact that all he wants is the fame. Ziggler tells him to prove to himself, his wife and the world that he isn't a coward by asking him to fight him then and there.
Miz walks away, but Ziggler taunts him again, calling him a coward. The Miz is clearly incensed this time around and makes his way back down the ramp to fight him. Maryse gets in the way and veers him away from the ring, telling him that Ziggler hasn't earned a title shot.
Intense segment to kick off SmackDown! Live
And we're up and running. They air Miz's entire promo on Talking Smack, before cutting to backstage where Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are watching the segment back. Shane tells Bryan to apologise to Miz, as it isn't good for him to provoke talent. Bryan agrees but says it's quite ironic that it's coming from the man who has beef with Brock Lesnar. Cracks appearing much?
On a serious note, let us hope that this is the beginning of a big push for Carmella, although she does look a little lost without Enzo and Cass.
Nikki Bella is here on the pre-show, talking about Carmella's attack last week. She said Carmella is smart for choosing to attack her, but that she chose to go after 'the wrong girl in the locker-room'. *Goes to the back and rummages through store room for the shovel*
Wow, pre-show using words like 'lifting the curtain' and 'shoot' in reference to Miz's epic promo on Daniel Bryan last week.
And what do you think that F5 to Shane McMahon to close out SummerSlam will lead to? Surely not a match between Shane and Brock! If Shane fell to the Undertaker, how could he be possibly be booked to take out Brock Lesnar? And the way the WWE seem to want to go about this, what with the highly suggestive segment featuring Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon on Raw yesterday, seems like it's building towards a huge SmackDown vs Raw angle. Lesnar would, of course, represent the red brand. Who do you think will represent SmackDown?
I'm certainly enjoying where they're going with this. Kevin Owens as Universal Champion. Balor beating both Reigns and Rollins cleanly. Nakamura at the top of the pile in NXT. The most refreshing breath of fresh air in a while, in Enzo and Cass. And Eva Marie. Yes, you read that right. Eva Marie. The legend :p
A lot of questions left unanswered as we head into SmackDown today, and I guess that's a much better thing than predictability right? Perhaps the WWE is really transitioning into a new era, and we just have to sit back and let them take us on the ride.