Tonight on SmackDown Live, it’s the first show following Sunday’s Backlash pay-per-view, and AJ Styles will make his debut as the new WWE World Champion. The show will be broadcast from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the USA Network. Read on for match results and spoilers, followed by a preview of the night’s events written earlier this afternoon.
8:00 – AJ Styles enters, introduced as the face that runs the place. He says “I told you so,” saying he did everything he said he was going to do, i.e. beat John Cena and Dean Ambrose. The belt (which he’s actually wearing as a belt) is the proof that he’s now the champ that runs the camp.
John Cena enters. “You have something that belongs to me,” Cena says. AJ Styles gives Cena back his “Never Give Up” armband, but that’s not what he meant. Cena says he finally decided he’d like to take the World Championship back. Cena announces to the audience that the 16 time champ is here, and he wants to win the title one more time.
Dean Ambrose enters. He says Styles made the biggest mistake of his life on Sunday. He can handle losing a match, but Styles’ low blow made Ambrose his enemy. He’s going to bury Styles into the ground and take back what’s his. Cena interrupts and grabs Ambrose, mocking him for complaining and telling him that he’s “got no balls.” Ambrose says he doesn’t give a damn what Cena thinks because Cena is just a lazy part-timer who’s better off doing award shows and movies and can’t get it done in the ring anymore.
Shane McMahon enters. He says that at SummerSlam, AJ Styles defeated Cena clean, which is an enormous accomplishment. He earned the right to call himself the face that runs the place. But he took the easy way out in his match against Dean Ambrose. Still, Styles is the WWE World Champion. At No Mercy, AJ Styles will be defending the WWE World Championship against John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a triple threat match.
But tonight, John Cena and Dean Ambrose will team up in a tag team match against AJ Styles and a partner of his choosing.
8:24 – The Usos defeat The Hype Bros.
8:32 – The Miz enters. He says that he’s been called a coward for weeks, but he left Backlash with the Intercontinental Championship on his shoulder. He’s made the title more prestigious than it ever has been, he says.
Dolph Ziggler enters. He observes that The Miz is trying to prove to everyone that he really is champion, but he knows deep down inside that no matter what he does, the WWE universe will never see him as a top guy. Miz says that any time he’s on this show or any show, he is the main event. Ziggler asks Miz that if he actually wants to earn some respect, they need to have one more match, this time with no Maryse and no excuses.
Daniel Bryan enters. He says that Maryse cheated at Backlash and is the only reason The Miz is the champion. Dolph Ziggler will get his rematch, Bryan enters, but Miz says Ziggler didn’t earn the right to be #1 contender. Miz also says that he wants his contract renegotiated before any of this happens. Before anything more can happen, The Miz storms off.
8:41 – AJ Styles tries to recruit Baron Corbin as his tag team partner, but Corbin says he’d rather be Styles’ opponent because he wants that title.
8:46 – Apollo Crews is scheduled to fight Baron Corbin, but Corbin assaults Crews before the match can even begin.
Jack Swagger enters, and Corbin immediately retreats. Swagger says that he has officially moved from Raw to SmackDown. Forget everything you think you know about Jack Swagger, he says, because he’s going to be a big problem going forward.
8:54 – Becky Lynch enters. She says her match at Backlash was the fight of her life, and challenges the rest of the women’s division to “come at me, bros.”
8:57 – Alexa Bliss defeats Naomi, Nikki Bella, Carmella, and Natalya in a fatal five-way match. She is now the #1 contender.
9:07 – AJ Styles asks Kane to be his tag team partner. Kane laughs and walks off.
9:12 – Heath Slater enters to sign his SmackDown contract. Joined by Rhyno, he signs it and revs up the audience, thanking Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan and Rhyno. He brags that he and Rhyno will take on anyone at any time. As he’s thanking his kids, he’s interrupted by The Ascension. They challenge Slater and Rhyno, and McMahon agrees to let this match take place next. Titles will be on the line.
9:21 – Heath Slater and Rhyno defeat The Ascension.
9:23 – Daniel Bryan tells AJ Styles that since he was unable to find a tag team partner, he will be assigned one: James Ellsworth, a.k.a. the local jobber who was destroyed by Braun Strowman a few weeks ago.
9:29 – Randy Orton enters. He says that all Bray Wyatt does is talk. He says he’s the face of fear, but really he’s afraid of Orton, which is why he attacked him from behind before Backlash. Orton says he’s ready for a fight right now, challenging Wyatt to come on down.
From a video, Wyatt says that he gave Orton a way out, and all he had to do was stay down. But instead, Orton chose to embarrass Wyatt, and now he knows what he must do. “Don’t sleep, Randy,” Wyatt warns. After the video ends, Wyatt appears from behind Orton outside the ring. Just as they’re apparently about to fight, Erick Rowan attacks Orton from behind. Orton strikes back with an RKO. Wyatt is nowhere to be found.
9:40 – AJ Styles and James Ellsworth prepare for their match, but before it can begin, The Miz assaults Ellsworth and screams into the camera that “I’m the main event, Daniel!” The Miz takes over as Styles’ partner.
9:42 – John Cena & Dean Ambrose defeat AJ Styles & The Miz. After the match ends, Dean Ambrose assaults his tag team partner, John Cena, as the crowd erupts in boos.
At Backlash on Sunday, AJ Styles shocked the world by defeating Dean Ambrose and becoming WWE World Champion. He did so with a pretty low blow to Ambrose, though, and so the Lunatic Fringe will likely not go away quietly. Still, Styles has officially proven himself as the face that runs the place, and so we should expect this evening’s SmackDown to serve as his victory lap. Who will come after him and the title, and could John Cena potentially return to confront Backlash‘s victor?
Styles isn’t the only new champion making their debut tonight. There’s also Becky Lynch, who became the first ever SmackDown Live Women’s Champion at Backlash. She defeated Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Naomi, Natalya, and Nikki Bella, and so all five of these superstars will likely go after the new top dog, the Irish Lass Kicker. And in addition to Lynch, we also have Heath Slater and Rhyno making their debut as SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions, as well as Slater being officially signed to the roster. His kids will be quite proud.
The future of Dolph Ziggler must also be addressed on tonight’s show. After being defeated by Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam, Ziggler was again unsuccessful at challenging a title holder this weekend, being defeated by Intercontinental Champion The Miz. However, Ziggler will likely not see this as a real failure on his part, considering he lost thanks to the interference of Maryse, who sprayed him with pepper spray towards the end of the match. Finally, we’ll have to see how the feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt is continued, especially since Orton is injured in real life and was not cleared to compete at Backlash. It all goes down tonight at 8 on the USA Network.