WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from June 25
A brutal assault by Samoa Joe left Kofi Kingston battered and bruised Monday, but the WWE champion squared off with Dolph Ziggler Tuesday night on SmackDown Live in a best 2-out-of-3 Falls match with Extreme Rules implications.
Was the charismatic titleholder able to thwart one last challenge from The Showoff, or did Ziggler make the most of his opportunity and receive one last championship match with his bitter rival?
Find out now with this recap of the June 25 episode.
Kofi Kingston Kicks Off SmackDown
In a pretaped promo, Shane McMahon vowed hell to pay for Roman Reigns after the events of Raw, where The Undertaker returned. Moments later, WWE champion Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E hit the ring to kick off the live portion of the show.
Kingston said the last few months have been the best period of his career. He segued into the attack he suffered at the hands of Samoa Joe on Monday night and said he would be damned if he lets The Destroyer eat him alive like a shark circling its prey.
Dolph Ziggler interrupted and refused to allow someone else to leapfrog him in contention for the WWE title.
He revealed that after talking to WWE management earlier in the show, he will square off with Kingston in a best 2-out-of-3 Falls match. If he wins, the title match at Extreme Rules between Kingston and Joe will become a Triple Threat.
The fire Kingston demonstrated in response to Joe's attack earned this the + grade.
Otherwise, this was just another in-ring promo that set up a match later in the show. It is the same, tired trope WWE has used to format its shows since the Attitude Era and one it can feel free to retire any day now because it is that type of antiquated booking that is hurting the company, not the efforts of its talent.
Xavier Woods and Big E vs. Daniel Bryan and Rowan
SmackDown tag team champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan wasted little time seizing control of their match with Big E and Xavier Woods of New Day, grounding the latter and isolating him from his bigger, stronger partner.
The heels worked over Woods through the break, essentially proving wrong a Wrestling Observer Radio report that Vince McMahon had announced there would be no wrestling during commercials.
Woods eventually created separation and made the hot tag to Big E.
The powerhouse ran over Bryan while Woods took out Rowan with a dropkick at ringside. Back inside, Woods broke up a LeBell Lock by Bryan and, with his partner, delivered Midnight Hour to defeat the tag champions in non-title action.
After the bell, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn attacked the victors. Heavy Machinery made the save, and the result was a post-match eight-man tag team bout.
New Day defeated Bryan and Rowan
Look at that: a two-for-one special in formulaic WWE booking.
Not only did the challengers beat the champions in a non-title match that will likely get them a title match, but the post-match beatdown also set up a multi-man tag team match.
Yes, the effort was there from all involved, as is always the case, and New Day, Bryan and Rowan delivered a solid TV match that accomplished exactly what it intended.
Unfortunately, the creative process failed to support their efforts.
New Day and Heavy Machinery vs. Bryan, Rowan, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The follow-up to the previous segment saw Tucker isolated from Big E, Xavier Woods and Otis and at the mercy of Bryan, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Rowan for the majority of the eight-man tag team match.
The action broke down late, though, and Heavy Machinery was able to throw its name into tag team title contention by flattening Zayn with the Compactor after Owens left his partner to fend for himself.
Heavy Machinery and New Day defeated Owens, Zayn, Bryan and Rowan
If the point was to give Heavy Machinery a win and set up Owens leaving Zayn high and dry, as Corey Graves emphasized on commentary, why not book a match between those two teams and leave New Day and the tag champs out of it?
That it was such an abbreviated match with no real flow or narrative makes its existence that much more puzzling.
Best 2-Out-Of-3 Falls Match: The Miz vs. Elias
Minutes into the best 2-out-of-3 Falls match that would determine if The Miz got his desired rematch with Shane McMahon, the self-proclaimed "Best in the World" interfered and helped Elias score the first fall of the match following Drift Away.
After the break, the attack from Elias bled over into the second fall before he grounded The Hollywood A-Lister with a headlock. Miz fought back, delivered a DDT and scored a two-count. A series of "Yes!" Kicks followed while Miz stared down McMahon.
The Skull-Crushing Finale set up Miz for the win, but McMahon attacked to draw the disqualification.
After the bell, McMahon and Elias beat down Miz, culminating with a spear from Shane-O-Mac that served as a message to Roman Reigns.
Back in the squared circle, Elias dropped a top-rope elbow and scored the pin to win the match.
After the match, McMahon put an exclamation point on the two-on-one mugging endured by Miz with Coast-to-Coast.
Elias defeated Miz
In case you hadn't noticed before, Miz has been McMahon's personal whipping boy since WrestleMania 35. He cannot beat the boss' son, cannot get one over on him and almost always finds himself beaten down and humbled by night's end.
This was no different.
The match itself was a whole lot of nothing despite some cool counters and reversals in the second fall.
McMahon again got to look like a world-beater at almost 50 years old, while Elias was the sidekick who was finally allowed to win a match for once. That is, I guess, the one silver lining in the continued dark cloud that is Shane-O-Mac's on-air midlife crisis.
Bayley vs. Nikki Cross
Nikki Cross was aggressive from the opening bell of her match with SmackDown women's champion Bayley, desperate and determined to earn Alexa Bliss a title match at Extreme Rules.
Bayley turned the tide and controlled the match through the break, grounding the Scot and trapping her in an armbar.
Cross fought out and started the babyface comeback. She dodged a corner charge from the champion and dropped her with a neckbreaker for two. From there, a series of roll-ups and counters ensued before she was able to shift her weight and keep Bayley's shoulders on the mat for the three-count.
An elated Cross celebrated at the announce table, so excited about her victory and securing Bliss' title opportunity on July 14.
Cross defeated Bayley
Cross brings such an energy to the show it is impossible not to enjoy every moment she is on screen. In this instance, she brought a more aggressive side out of Bayley and, more importantly, allowed the champion to fill the heel role as she set the pace of the bout.
Cross winning the match and title shot for Bliss is the next logical step in their story. She beats the champion, but the selfish Bliss reaps the rewards because of course, she would.
This will ultimately end with Cross realizing her own worth, taking out her frustrations on the egotistical Bliss and becoming a force in the division.
As for Bayley, she has been as consistently good as any other woman on the roster, if not better. She has found herself and her confidence as a champion, and it shows with every passing performance.
Ember Moon vs. Sonya Deville
After weeks of provocation by Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, Ember Moon returned to the squared circle this week, battling the latter in singles competition.
An aggressive Moon sought to unleash her frustrations on Deville and did just that, pummeling her around the squared circle in the opening moments of the bout.
A distraction by Rose forced Moon to take her eyes off her opponent, though. Deville capitalized, shoving her into the ring post and stacking her up for a pinfall victory.
Deville defeated Moon
This was too short to really showcase either Moon or Deville's in-ring game, but it didn't have to. This was but a chapter in the story, the impetus for the continuation of Moon's feud with Rose.
In that respect, it worked wonders. Furthermore, it gave Deville a victory. The former MMA fighter has developed into quite the promising young star and a performer around whom WWE can plan the future of its women's division.
Best 2-Out-Of-3 Falls Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler took advantage of a Kofi Kingston still reeling from the beating he endured Monday on Raw at the hands of Samoa Joe, dominating the opening moments of this week's main event.
At one point, he sat down on a sunset flip attempt by Kingston and grabbed the rope for added leverage. The official interrupted his own count, catching The Showoff in the act of cheating. The momentary distraction allowed the New Day member to finish the roll-up and win the first fall.
After the bell, Ziggler brutalized Kingston, dropping him with a Zig Zag on the floor as the commentary team repeatedly reminded the audience of the reset between falls.
Back from the break, the bell rang and the WWE champion nearly scored a pinfall off a roll-up. Ziggler survived and dropped him with a superkick and scored the second fall.
Ziggler continued his focused attack on Kingston into the third fall, but the New Day man continued to fight. At one point, he countered a Fameasser attempt with a powerbomb for two.
Dramatic near-falls kept fans on the edge of their seats before Ziggler tossed the champion shoulder-first into the ring post. A Zig Zag followed, but Kingston was able to shoot his shoulder off the mat at the last second, evading defeat.
Reversals and counters continued until Kingston delivered Trouble in Paradise and scored the pinfall victory that secured him the match.
Kingston defeated Ziggler
This was the match we needed at Super ShowDown and Stomping Grounds.
No match better represented what Kingston and Ziggler can do between the ropes than this one, which put the WWE champ at a disadvantage and forced him to fight from underneath. He did just that, staving off defeat at the hands of his career-long rival and silencing The Showoff once and for all.
The bout was dramatic, energetic and had fans biting on every near-fall late. That is the sign of two masterful vets telling their story to near-perfection.