Raise your hands high, New Day. Not only because you're going to SummerSlam to challenge for the SmackDown tag team titles, but because Tuesday's win by Big E and Kofi Kingston to close out SmackDown was an extraordinary finish to a somewhat pedestrian edition of the show with less than two weeks to go before the second-biggest WWE event of the year.
For the most part, it was words over actions throughout the night. It started with Randy Orton, who opened the show by delivering another uber-intense, if not angry, monologue on why he has unleashed his depraved, lunatic side. According to Orton, he gets no respect, and until he finally gets at least a semblance of deference, he's going to wipe away the identity of every other performer who stands in his way, just as he did to Jeff Hardy a week ago.
From there, The Miz and AJ Styles each had time in front of the mic. The Miz, who claimed he was on the set of "Miz and Mrs." confirmed he will give Daniel Bryan the gift he so desperately wants -- relevancy -- by agreeing to a SummerSlam showdown. Bryan then charged onto the set and attacked Miz, only to get laid low when security got involved and Miz nailed him with a glass vase.
As for Styles, he responded to the scathing personal attack from a week ago by his upcoming foe, Samoa Joe. While each performer brought their bombastic best, the respective fallouts weren't exactly news.
Thankfully, the New Day and The Bar once again showed off some spectacular chemistry in the ring and rewarded the Amway Center in Orlando with a performance to remember in the ring.
In the final of a four-team mini-tournament to determine which tag team gets to face the Bludgeon Brothers at SummerSlam, Kingston gave his team early momentum with a stunning drop kick on Cesaro. But it was Big E, whose onslaught of belly-to-belly suplexes on Sheamus really had the New Day looking strong.
Not surprisingly, there were many momentum swings in a match that lasted close to 30 minutes. At one point, Cesaro delivered a massive superplex to Big E, which was followed by a Sheamus knee drop from the top rope on the other side of the ring. Miraculously, they could land only a two-count on Big E.
As the bout wore on, The Bar was getting stronger. Cesaro had Big E locked in what looked like an inescapable sharpshooter, then a devastating crossface, but a terrific show of strength by Big E allowed him to break free. From there, he and Kingston converted a Midnight Hour, lifting the New Day to SummerSlam, where they are one win away from a fifth tag-team championship.
Even in their mostly title-less tenure on SmackDown, New Day has proved again why the team is so valuable. There's the pancakes, the goofiness -- heck, on Tuesday before their match, Kingston even donned a bow tie and blond wing and played the role of reporter Kramer Kingman -- and that will always be part of their shtick. But it's the thrill of the ride inside the ring that continues to set them apart.
Hits & misses
- A week after Samoa Joe denounced AJ Styles as a bad father and husband, the champ had a few things on his mind Tuesday. Styles delved deep into the difficult work-life balance act he has to deal with every week. "So here's the thing: I want to be one of the greatest WWE superstars for my family. It doesn't make me special. We all make sacrifices for family, [but that's what I do] as a father and real man. I'm away from home over 200 days a year. I miss Little League sports and birthdays. And the truth is my wife is basically a single parent because I can't be there."
While Styles felt compelled to defend the amount of time he spends away from home, he made it clear that Joe went too far a week ago. Rather than some level of friendly competition based on a rivalry that stretches back almost two decades, it's going to be animosity from the get-go. Game on.
- Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are still friends, eh? On Tuesday, they set aside any potential tension heading into their SummerSlam triple threat and defeated The IIconics, but it was Flair who stole the show with a match-ending Figure Eight -- leaving Lynch as a mere spectator.
Is Lynch destined to always be the bridesmaid, as The IIconics said? Or is the Lass Kicker going to have her moment at SummerSlam and overcome both Flair and current champ Carmella? Could the fallout lead us to what would be a tremendous rivalry between the long-time friends heading into the Fall? Let's hope this is a little more straightforward than what Sasha Banks and Bayley have become on Raw.
- Orton not only did reminded everyone what he did to Hardy a week ago, but he reveled in his actions and warned that as gruesome as his actions have been, it's who he is. "I made a vow to alter lives, to end careers and dismantle precious identities. I'll become so violet that you'll want to change the channel." He reminded us that he is indeed RKO, the most dangerous performer in the business.
We can't help but ask the obvious question -- what's Orton's deal as SummerSlam nears? As it stands, Hardy and Shinsuke Nakamura are set for one-one-one action. No doubt Orton will have a prominent role in this one. Speaking of Nakamura, somewhat ironically, he has become the forgotten man since he won the United States championship. Here's hoping that changes, considering it doesn't look like the WWE championship is in the offing for him anytime soon.
- So we finally get The Miz-Daniel Bryan showdown. Hallelujah, but after such a deep-seated dislike for each other that dates back to Bryan's earliest days in WWE, the way this upcoming match came to fruition was anticlimactic. Bryan challenged Miz last week and The Miz accepted Tuesday. Granted, the communication between the two was hardly cordial, and somehow Bryan found his way on to the set to engage in a few punches, but c'mon -- this is a WrestleMania-worthy matchup that deserved more, given the growing animosity between the two. No doubt the actual matchup will far exceed the half-baked build, and will hopefully only be the start of tensions.
- I said it last week, I'll say it again, and I'll continue to rant until I'm blue in the face. The discord between Aiden English and Rusev/Lana has to end. Neither are better without the other. Both Rusev and English were afterthoughts until joining forces. On Tuesday, Lana had a rematch against Zelina Vega and, predictably, English -- who was told by Rusev backstage that, while he forgives him for weeks of careless decisions that have cost both he and Lana matches, English is not welcome ringside -- stormed the ring with good intentions but cost Lana the match.
English ran down the aisle and with full force and knocked Andrade 'Cien' Almas into the ropes where Lana was perched, causing her to lose her balance. This ultimately allowed Vega to deliver a double knee to the head for the win. Don't we already have enough squabbles between allies? Please just let English and Rusev be besties for the foreseeable future.
- Hey, R-Truth was a presence on television again. Yes, he lost to Nakamura, and while that was a no-brainer result, we have to say that Truth is hardly the punching-bag joke the WWE has made him out to be in the last couple of years. Yes, he's oddly hilarious, as we saw when he claimed he was going to earn a title shot the same way everyone else is doing it -- by pinning Carmella. But he's athletic, has good in-ring skills and he's a former United States champ. This isn't Curt Hawkins. Give the man a win once in a while.