WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 26

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterJuly 26, 2016

WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 26

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It's not fair to compare Tuesday's WWE SmackDown to the stellar Raw it had to follow.

    SmackDown leaned on high stakes and clear goals for its wrestlers—just as Raw did on Monday. The blue brand introduced new names and catapulted recent NXT transplants—just like Raw. But where Raw generated magical moments and a star-making debut, SmackDown was simply a strong show.

    Dolph Ziggler kicked his way into a showdown with WWE world champ Dean Ambrose. Heath Slater fought for a job. Randy Orton whipped out his favorite weapon.

    None of that left one with a lump in the throat like Finn Balor's and Sasha Banks' coming-out parties on Monday.

    Still, SmackDown showed it's going in the right direction, too. It utilized a good mix of the old and new guard. It kept things focused. Its wrestling-to-shenanigans ratio was excellent.

    The show's future looks bright. That's especially true now that WWE announced former intercontinental champion Shelton Benjamin is heading back to SmackDown.

    Where did the show most thrive? Where did it stumble? And who shined in the squared circle on Tuesday night? Read on for a full recap and report card for the first SmackDown since the WWE draft.

Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan Set the Stage for SmackDown

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    With the show's Superstars standing around them on the ring apron, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan welcomed fans to SmackDown and set up the evening's big bouts.

    McMahon announced that, on Sept. 11, SmackDown would host Backlash—a pay-per-view exclusive to the blue brand.

    Bryan then explained John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles and Baron Corbin would all collide for a shot at Dean Ambrose's WWE Championship at SummerSlam. A Battle Royal would determine who would join those five men to make it a No. 1 Contender's Six-Pack Challenge.

             

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Who's going to step up? Who's first?"—Ambrose about his next challenger.

           

    Grade

    A-

            

    Analysis

    SmackDown wisely paralleled Monday's Raw. Clear, high stakes made the night's matches more significant than usual. Fresh faces were mixed in with the established names.

    Putting Corbin in the title chase will help establish him. Adding a play-in Battle Royal allowed an underdog to enter the fray in logical fashion.  

    Like with Raw, the authority figures did not linger. This was an effective, efficient setup, although it wasn't especially entertaining.

Qualifying Battle Royal

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    With a spot in the Six-Pack Challenge on the line, Alberto Del Rio, Mojo Rawley and Apollo Crews were among the Superstars battling it out in the ring.

    Simon Gotch was eliminated within the bout's first seconds. Rawley ousted Erick Rowan, but Del Rio quickly tossed the NXT newcomer.

    Zack Ryder, Crews, Kalisto and Kane made it to the bout's final four. The Big Red Machine overpowered everyone but Crews, who ducked out of the monster's way to score the win.

           

    Result

    Crews wins the Battle Royal.

            

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Kane clotheslines both members of The Ascension over the top rope to eliminate both men.

    Kane eliminates both members of Breezango.

    Kalisto hits Kane with a springboard Frog Splash.

    Ryder slips off the top rope before an attempted elbow drop.

    "We said there was no glass ceiling!"—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

          

    Grade

    B

           

    Analysis

    Battle Royals are generally messy and underwhelming. This one continued that tradition. Kane being such a major focus didn't help draw the fans in.

    Why not give that momentum to someone who hasn't already built a Hall of Fame career?

    The result was more important than the action. Crews' win was a smart move. He has had little direction since debuting.

    He still needs more of a storyline, but having a big moment on his resume helped him grab the audience's attention.

Becky Lynch vs. Natalya

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    Much like at Battleground, Becky Lynch struggled against Natalya. The heel grounded the Irishwoman, using a blend of technical wrestling and cheap shots.

    Lynch brawled her way back to control of the match. She left Natalya limping and avoided her best moves. The Lass Kicker was able to counter the Sharpshooter and clamp on the Dis-Arm-Her.

    Alexa Bliss sauntered out to challenge Lynch. Naomi, Carmella and Eva Marie all followed suit.

            

    Result

    Lynch wins via submission.

           

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    JBL compares Lynch to the Buffalo Bills because she has never won the big one.

    Lynch hits a leg drop from the top rope.

    "You are looking at the personification of what the New Era looks like."—Bliss.

           

    Grade

    B

            

    Analysis

    Lynch and Natalya didn't create nearly the amount of fire Sasha Banks and Charlotte churned up on Monday night. Still, it was a solid match.

    Lynch's victory needs to be a precursor to her reign at the top of the SmackDown women's division.

    Thankfully, WWE hinted it will use its full complement of women, not just showcase one or two female wrestlers at a time like it has too often done in the past. Naomi has been criminally underused. Bliss and Carmella will be strong, fresh additions.

    Eva Marie's long intro was artfully grating. Generating heat is not going to be an issue for her. 

    There was no conclusion to the segment, though, and Eva Marie didn't even say anything. Hopefully, that incompleteness isn't something that haunts the division moving forward. 

Randy Orton Crashes Miz TV

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    Maryse introduced her husband by demanding the fans stand up and welcome him to SmackDown. The Miz talked up his accomplishments before announcing he would be his own guest for Miz TV.

    The intercontinental champ talked to himself and his wife.

    Randy Orton interrupted the love fest. He joked around with The Miz before talking up his SummerSlam match with Brock Lesnar. The Viper challenged The Miz to a fight later on in the show.

            

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I can't believe I'm in the ring with The Miz."—The Miz.

    "I just want everyone to be proud of me because they can't be proud of themselves."—The Miz.

    "Clearly, Miz, you're an expert at playing with yourself."—Orton.

    "Are you scared of getting your ass kicked in front of your pretty, little wife?"—Orton to The Miz.

           

    Grade

    D+

             

    Analysis

    To say Orton's current babyface role is ill-fitting is kind. It's a bizarre move to have his return feature him talk so much despite that not being his strength. And why turn a badass predator into a smirking jokester?

    Orton's jokes weren't terrible, but the better move would have been to turn it into a shorter, more intense backstage segment. 

    Orton needs to look like a fearsome gladiator ahead of his Lesnar match. Wisecracking isn't required for that.

The Miz vs. Randy Orton

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    The Miz flung Randy Orton out of the ring and immediately pounced on his recently injured shoulder. The Viper held his arm as his foe beat on him.

    A sudden RKO stopped The Miz's momentum. Orton then waited for the intercontinental champion to stand before landing another RKO.

           

    Result

    Orton wins via pinfall.

          

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "The Miz ran into a buzz saw."—JBL. 

    Orton taps an unmoving, prone Miz with his foot.

    "That damn sure ain't out of nowhere."—JBL on Orton's second RKO.

           

    Grade

    C+

            

    Analysis

    The goal of this bout seemed to be to put over the RKO as Orton's equalizer against Lesnar. The announcers talked up the effectiveness of the move. Orton hit it twice, leaving The Miz out cold each time.

    It looked as if Orton was actually hurt at first. Either he tweaked his shoulder or his selling is commendable.

    Orton could have squashed The Miz here, but protecting the intercontinental champ is good business. The early part of the match reminded us The Miz is not just a braggart, but he is also dangerous.

Heath Slater Demands to Be Signed

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    Credit: WWE.com

    A jobber stood in the ring awaiting his match when Heath Slater charged into the squared circle and attacked him. He barked about not getting drafted and demanded to be in the main event.

    Shane McMahon told him he should send in his resume. Slater rattled off his accomplishments.  

    Rhyno soon ended Slater's rant with a Gore.

            

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "There's got to be a mistake here. How in the world can Heath Slater not get drafted to Raw or SmackDown Live?"—Slater.

    Fans chant "Sign Heath Slater!"

            

    Grade

    B+

              

    Analysis

    What a deft move to make Slater's low draft status an angle to help him get over. WWE gave him direction and purpose while also making SmackDown look like the place to be.

    Rhyno entering the scene was a pleasant surprise. The former ECW and WWE star will help balance out all the youth on the roster.

    As for Slater, this story has to continue. A narrative where he grows more desperate to sign a deal, only to be driven insane by his failed attempts, has big-time potential. WWE can't let Slater's quest fade.

6-Pack Challenge

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews vs. AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin vs. John Cena

    After a chaotic opening, Wyatt and Styles took turns hitting big moves on Crews. The Eater of Worlds ended the game of one-upmanship by attacking Styles. 

    Corbin blasted Ziggler and Crews. Crews powerbombed both Styles and Wyatt.

    The New Face of Fear saved the match by yanking the referee out of the ring. That ended up saving himself, as there was no official to count to three after Ziggler hit Wyatt with a Zig Zag.

    Ziggler, though, superkicked Styles to the mat to take the win.

              

    Result

    Ziggler wins via pinfall.

           

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Styles hits a springboard 450 splash.

    "Count! Count!"—Corbin to the referee.

    Crews and Corbin both hit a Tower of Doom on their foes.

    Styles kicks out of the Attitude Adjustment.

             

    Grade

    A-

           

    Analysis

    SmackDown's main event didn't speed up the heart the way Raw's best matches did on Monday, but it was a fast-paced collision that showcased a number of stars. Corbin looked like a beast on the verge of exploding; Wyatt came off as crafty.

    The announcers offered a hint of Crews' background. WWE needs to fully dive into that at some point.

    Going with Ziggler is the kind of surprise WWE has been missing. Few would have pegged him as getting a key spot at SummerSlam despite his skill and popularity. He's been the poster boy for WWE's hesitance to pull the trigger on guys not named Cena.

    The Showoff is bound to make the most of his opportunity, and SmackDown is already better off by upending expectations and trying out someone new on the top rung.