The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown on August 8
The rivalry between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins completely encapsulated the August 8 episode of SmackDown, kicking the show off and ending it as the former friends and partners moved one step closer to their SummerSlam clash a week from Sunday.
Ambrose revealed that their match would be a Lumberjack match, leaving Rollins with no place to run or hide come bell time. Rollins responded by assaulting Ambrose to close out the show. The spotlight shone on their rivalry, and the Superstars made the most of the opportunity, ensuring that their match on August 17 is one of the most anticipated on the SummerSlam card.
Otherwise, this week's show was light on meaningful content.
Big Show, Mark Henry and Sin Cara were put in positions to shine, despite doing nothing of significance for months. The lack of star power was noticeable, as the tour of Australia is doing the company no favors as it attempted to wrap up the build to its second most important pay-per-view.
Still, there were certainly matches and segments to enjoy, with most centering on feuds that will play out when WWE presents it latest extravaganza on the WWE Network. (Do you know it's only $9.99 to subscribe?)
Without further ado, relive the best from the August 8 edition of SmackDown with The Good, the Great and the Awesome!
Natalya vs. Paige
Just nine days before her rematch against AJ Lee for the Divas Championship, Paige battled Natalya on SmackDown.
The match did not have nearly enough time to demonstrate the considerable abilities of the women involved, but it did give Paige a competitive win over one of the better workers in women's wrestling.
The Brit has made the most of her recent heel turn and finally feels comfortable after months of generic babyface work. "I do love her. She's my best friend," she said after footage of last week's sneak attack on AJ aired. It continued her curious response to her relationship with AJ, which has seen Paige repeatedly profess her friendship and admiration for the Divas champion despite her vicious and brutal assaults of AJ in recent weeks.
How she reacts to another potential loss at SummerSlam should be interesting. Will it cause Paige to crack, sending her over the proverbial edge and into madness? Will she become more violent and dangerous?
Whatever the case may be, the character is interesting, and that is a step in the right direction for one of the most talented women on the roster.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins made his second appearance of the evening, taking to the ring for an impromptu match against No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship, Dolph Ziggler. The match was set up via a backstage segment in which Ziggler watched Dean Ambrose trash Rollins' Money in the Bank briefcase from Raw, drawing the ire of The Authority's golden boy.
The challenge was laid down and accepted by the Showoff.
Rollins, showing great aggression, dominated the match against Ziggler, never letting him mount any sort of extended offense. The Curb Stomp won it for Rollins, who looked quite impressive ahead of his SummerSlam bout with Ambrose.
A win over someone as established and respected as Ziggler was exactly what Rollins needed to recover after his upset loss to Heath Slater on Raw. That he did so convincingly was a great way to remind fans that he is every bit as dangerous as and equal to Ambrose.
It will not be a cakewalk for the former United States champion come SummerSlam—no matter how much rage and fury he has to unleash.
Dean Ambrose Promo
Dean Ambrose kicked off this week's episode of SmackDown and addressed his actions from Monday night and the stipulation for his match against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. He pulled out a list he had compiled of some of the worst gimmick matches in wrestling history (Coal Miner's Glove match, anyone?) before revealing that their battle on August 17 will be a Lumberjack match.
The announcement, at first, appears to be further proof of WWE Creative's disconnect with logic. Why would two men with as much hatred between them try to contain their rivalry in the confines of a traditional wrestling match? Outside of the fact that wrestlers surround the ring, a Lumberjack match is very much a basic singles bout.
But Ambrose, thanks to his excellent promo skills, made the decision sound like a valid one. After repeated escapes by Rollins, he will now be faced with a scenario where he must face Ambrose one-on-one with nowhere to run. It was a nice touch by the Lunatic Fringe to point out that the men surrounding the ring would be Superstars whom The Shield left lying during their reign over WWE—although that also means they will be equally as angry and vengeful toward Ambrose as Rollins.
Rollins' interruption of Ambrose was fine enough, but no matter how strong his work on the mic may have been, the former "architect" of The Shield cannot measure up to the work laid down by Ambrose, who is quickly becoming the MVP of Friday Night SmackDown.
Ambrose vs. Randy Orton
The main event of this week's show, set up by Rollins earlier in the night, featured Ambrose squaring off with "The Viper" Randy Orton.
An outstanding, competitive and dramatic main event unfolded in front of the fans in Laredo, Texas, one that highlighted two of the higher-profile Superstars leading into the SummerSlam pay-per-view on August 17.
Ambrose talked trash to his opponent throughout the match, even while trapped in a painful armbar. "Why don't you add more pressure?" he asked Orton, who had focused his attack on Ambrose's previously injured shoulder. While small, it was another indicator of the Lunatic Fringe's undeniable toughness.
The finish of the match was disappointing, considering the action that preceded it, but it was essential in maintaining the momentum of both Ambrose and Orton while also putting even more heat on the former's feud with Rollins, who attacked his former partner and drew a disqualification.