Extreme Rules has come and gone, and much of the blue brand remains the same – with one notable exception.  Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania is the scene of the July 17 Smackdown Live, and Shinsuke Nakamura is scheduled for his first defence of the United States Championship against the Charismatic Enigma, Jeff Hardy.

As per usual, I’m Spencer Love with Win Column Sports’ preview of the July 17 Smackdown!

A Quick Extreme Rules Recap:

  • Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Sin Cara
  • SAnitY def. the New Day in a tables match
  • Carmella def. Asuka to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship
  • Shinsuke Nakamura def. Jeff Hardy to win the United States Championship
  • The Bludgeon Brothers def. Team Hell No to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
  • AJ Styles def. Rusev

One Big Thought:

Are we finally heading toward The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan?

Two years after the Miz cut this now-legendary promo on Talking Smack – god, I miss that show – both Bryan and Miz lack a clear direction heading into one of the biggest shows on the WWE schedule. Hell, the Miz didn’t even appear at Extreme Rules due to appearing at the MLB Celebrity All Star Game. Now, the two look primed to collide, especially with Bryan’s Team Hell No partner Kane on the shelf for the foreseeable future.

Give us what we want, WWE – we need it.

State of the Belts:

AJ Styles defeated Rusev on Sunday, and it was conclusive enough that I don’t believe the Bulgarian Brute will earn another opportunity, despite a fantastic showing. Now, Styles looks toward his Summerslam opponent; while nothing is confirmed, Samoa Joe has been rumoured to be the next #1 contender. Expect something to be revealed tonight.

Shinsuke Nakamura is the new United States Champion after a quick victory over Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules. Quick doesn’t even begin to describe it; frankly, it was the definition of a squash match after yet another Nakamura low-blow to Hardy prior to their match officially starting. However, the most interesting point of the match may have been the return of Randy Orton; he appeared to be in full-fledged heel mode, hitting Hardy with a second low-blow. Nakamura and Hardy will face off tonight in Brother Nero’s contractually obliged rematch; however, Orton will surely be waiting in the wings. Could he be the next challenger for the U.S title? Or, are his sights set on the Charismatic Enigma?

Carmella has now thrice defeated Asuka, which likely ends her championship opportunities. Now, ‘Mella and her compatriot James Ellsworth look towards Summerslam. Who will step up and challenge the Princess of Staten Island?

The Bludgeon Brothers bludgeoned Team Hell Noboth prior to their match and during the match itself. In fact, Kane entered the match halfway through with a walking boot on. If he’s truly injured, I can’t see THN challenging for the tag team championships again, and much like both Carmella and Styles, we have yet to find their next challenger. If we don’t find out tonight, I’d expect we find out earlier!

Three Things to Watch For:

  • Last week, we were advertised a Samoa Joe/Tye Dillinger matchup on Smackdown; however, the match never happened after Joe attacked Dillinger prior to Smackdown even beginning. Will we see either of them on tonight’s episode?
  • As mentioned, Carmella is likely in need of a new challenger heading into Summerslam, and while there may be a number of contenders for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, there’s only one clear choice in this writer’s mind. Becky Lynch has been picking up wins at a consistent rate, and I’m nearly positive that she’ll emerge as the next #1 contender.
  • My early bets to challenge for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships at Summerslam? SAnitY.

That’s our show! You watching? Follow along with us on Twitter @WCSportsCA or let me know your thoughts personally and tweet me @SpennyLove_WCS!

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Smackdown Live Preview: July 17
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Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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