WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 10
Five days from a WWE Championship defense against the suddenly surging Rusev, AJ Styles battled old rival Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event of Tuesday's SmackDown Live.
That match, a staple of recent pay-per-view cards, headlined a broadcast that provided fans the final hype for Sunday's Extreme Rules spectacular, including a Lumberjack match that pitted No. 1 contender to the SmackDown Women's Championship Asuka against James Ellsworth.
Sin Cara finally got his hands on Andrade "Cien" Almas, and Samoa Joe returned to action, battling Tye Dillinger to round out the night's festivities.
How did the top stars of the blue brand fare? What developments affected the final build for Sunday's WWE Network presentation?
Find out now with this recap of the July 10 broadcast.
Team Hell No on Miz TV
The Miz kicked off this week's broadcast by welcoming the newly reunited Team Hell No to the ring for an edition of Miz TV.
Early tension between The Hollywood A-Lister and Daniel Bryan gave way to a feigned bit of sincerity by Miz, who aired a video package highlighting the trials and tribulations of the tag team.
Bryan and Miz continued bickering before Kane interrupted and encouraged his teammate to maintain his cool so they could focus on the real issue at hand: The Bludgeon Brothers and the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.
Miz responded by calling Kane "broken down," leading The Big Red Monster to grab hold of the host. The music of The Bludgeon Brothers prevented a monstrous chokeslam. Sanity came from out of nowhere to attack Team Hell No, and The New Day made the save.
The heels, though, overwhelmed their opposition and stood tall to close out the segment.
General manager Paige announced a massive 10-Man Tag Team match for later on Tuesday night.
The segment was better than most opening in-ring promos in that it not only led to the creation of the predictable tag team main event but also continued the mounting tension between Bryan and Miz.
The two have been feuding on and off since 2011 and have a big-money match just waiting for the right stage. Continuing to create the frustration and anger between them will only make their eventual blowoff match that much more anticipated.
Add to it the fact that this 10-man tag match was neither predictable nor repetitive, with immensely talented Superstars to boot, and you have a strong way to start this show.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Before the advertised bout started, Rusev's music played and the No. 1 contender made his way to the ring, flanked by Aiden English.
The action between Styles and Nakamura was furious and back-and-forth, with neither man grabbing an advantage for an extended period of time.
Late in the bout, The Phenomenal One attempted the Styles Clash, but Nakamura fought out. A second attempt was countered into a triangle choke by The Artist, who was unable to secure the victory.
Styles recovered and mocked Nakamura's "bring it on" taunt and followed up moments later with a Phenomenal Forearm to the arena floor.
A brief distraction from English allowed Nakamura to level his opponent and set up for a Kinshasa. Styles evaded the move and signaled for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Rusev pulled him off the apron to draw the disqualification.
After the match, Jeff Hardy made the save, and Paige—who was busy Tuesday night—announced a tag team match.
Styles defeated Nakamura via disqualification
Well, if this is going to lead to the predictable tag team match, at least WWE Creative went about it a different way by using the originally scheduled match to set it up.
This was a fine match, one of Styles and Nakamura's better ones thus far in WWE, with a finish that unfortunately hurt it. Then again, that has been the theme of their series to this point.
Rusev getting involved was obvious from the moment he walked through the curtain and, with Nakamura involved, so was Hardy's save.
AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy vs. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura
Rusev wore down an already-exhausted Styles, working him over with a bear hug.
An ill-fated charge into the corner sent Rusev crashing into the steel post, allowing Styles to create some space. The Phenomenal One tagged Hardy into the match, and the United States champion exploded into the ring.
The face-painted Superstar took the fight to the opposition, even delivering a big Whisper in the Wind on The Bulgarian Brute.
A Twist of Fate set up the Swanton Bomb, but Nakamura appeared and crotched Hardy on the top rope, giving way to a Matchka Kick from Rusev for the win.
Rusev and Nakamura defeated Hardy and Styles
This was as basic a tag match as possible, and it didn't amount to much from an in-ring perspective.
It also did nothing to suggest Rusev can realistically beat Styles at Extreme Rules.
If anything, it created heat for Hardy vs. Nakamura, which is nice but should not have been the objective when Rusev is so desperately in need of credibility ahead of his championship opportunity.
Lumberjack Match: Asuka vs. James Ellsworth
A week after James Ellsworth avoided Asuka's wrath in a traditional one-on-one match, The Chinless Wonder did battle with The Empress of Tomorrow in a Lumberjack match.
SmackDown women's champion Carmella, days from a defense against Asuka, was one of the women surrounding the ring, setting up the inevitable showdown with her top challenger.
Ellsworth talked trash before the match, infuriating the women around the ring. That made it particularly uncomfortable when he sought the sanctuary of the arena floor but was instead greeted by a hoard of angry Superstars.
Back in the ring, The Empress of Tomorrow sent Ellsworth into the ropes, knocking Carmella off the apron. The Asuka Lock finished it for the former NXT women's champion.
After the match, Ellsworth sprayed Asuka in the face with an unknown substance, allowing Carmella to deliver a superkick and leave her rival lying.
Asuka defeated Ellsworth
For what it was, this was effective enough. Asuka scored the one-sided win over Ellsworth as predicted, and Carmella got some heat by wiping out her clearly superior foe.
The question is whether this was the introduction of a spray bottle that may play into the finish of Sunday's title bout.
History tells us that is probably the case.
Sin Cara vs. Andrade 'Cien' Almas
The match between Sin Cara and Andrade "Cien" Almas was put on hold for several weeks because of an injury suffered by the former, but Tuesday night, the friends-turned-enemies squared off in singles competition.
Sin Cara frustrated Almas early, but El Idolo caught him up in the ropes heading into the break.
Unable to maintain the advantage, though, Almas found himself on the receiving end of a reverse hurricanrana out of the corner that drove him into the mat. The former NXT champion attempted to put an end to the match with his trademark hammerlock DDT finisher, but his masked opponent countered into a roll-up that drew a count of two.
Late in the match, the Superstars countered each other's offense, ending when Almas exploded into the corner with a double-knee strike to his opponent's face for the win.
Almas defeated Sin Cara
Was the action rushed? Sure, but this was a fun sprint of a match between two guys who are familiar with each other, and it showed. Almas and Sin Cara maximized their time and delivered a competitive match that made both men look better than they did entering the bout.
Almas continues to impress, delivering phenomenal performance after phenomenal performance in 2018.
For a company that has repeatedly sought its next Mexican star, WWE should look no further than the man who has made the absolute most of the opportunities he has been presented over the last year.
Team Hell No and The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers and Sanity
Daniel Bryan, Kane, Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods wasted little time setting the tone for the wild and chaotic main event of the show, clearing Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain, Harper and Rowan from the squared circle ahead of the final commercial break of the evening.
The heels seized control, working over Woods as the stupid split-screen promo for Extreme Rules aired.
A hot tag to Bryan began the babyface comeback as the bearded Superstar exploded into the match, wiping out anyone in his path.
The action broke down, with the Superstars delivering their trademark offense before Bryan delivered his running knee strike to Young for the big win.
Team Hell No and New Day defeated Sanity and The Bludgeon Brothers
An action-packed main event that was more style than substance.
It was rather one-dimensional from a story standpoint, but everyone worked hard and Bryan scored a big win, so it worked in that regard.
In reality, it did nothing to elevate the importance of either of the Extreme Rules matches, but it did spotlight a tag team division that has received a major boost in the last month.