One week after Daniel Bryan and The Miz had a memorable, intense worked-shoot segment on the WWE Network exclusive Talking Smack, the SmackDown commissioner didn’t announce an in-ring comeback as many had hoped. Instead, Bryan made it official Tuesday night, booking an Intercontinental Championship match between his current storyline rival, and the man who had lost the WWE World Championship match against Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam, Dolph Ziggler.

Miz not through cutting down Bryan, but will have hands full vs. Ziggler

The opening promo of last night’s episode of SmackDown Live went to The Miz, red-hot after the previous week’s Talking Smack and still furious at Daniel Bryan for suggesting he wrestles like a coward. After promising to restore prestige to the Intercontinental title, he stressed that he’s one of WWE’s hardest-working individuals, a star of the company’s movies, someone who defends titles when needed, and one who does everything the company asks of him, all without getting injured.

Miz’s promo, however, was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, who challenged him to fight one-on-one in the ring, “right here, right now,” as a chance for him to prove he isn’t a coward as claimed. The Miz would eventually walk out and decline the challenge, but on Talking Smack, Bryan announced that it would be Miz vs. Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship at the SmackDown-specific pay-per-view Backlash on September 11.

Heath Slater and Rhyno make it to semifinals of SmackDown Tag Team title tournament

The SmackDown Tag Team Championship tournament continued last night, as The Hype Bros. dominated The Vaudevillains, to make it three babyface teams in the semifinals. A heel turn from one of the faces may be forthcoming, but for the meantime, the semifinals are complete, and Heath Slater and Rhyno made it as the fourth team in the semis, defeating the returning Headbangers in the final elimination match.

Moments after an entertaining segment featuring Renee Young interviewing Heath Slater and Rhyno at the former’s home, the Slater and Rhyno duo entered to cheers from the audience despite being booked as the heels, proof that Slater’s “free agent” storyline has quietly been one of WWE’s most entertaining in the post-brand split era. The Headbangers, who made their return to WWE after sixteen years away from the company, were able to make the match competitive, but Rhyno finished them off with a Gore, as he and Slater cracked the semifinal round with a bang.

Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton cut another promo to tease match at Backlash

The second big promo of the night featured Bray Wyatt calling out Randy Orton, calling him a “sick” man as they had their second confrontation last night. The roles were reversed this time, as it was Orton interrupting Wyatt, saying he has been “damaged for a long time,” and has had to deal with battle scars and emotional scars alike throughout his long WWE career. The promo concluded with Orton accepting Wyatt’s challenge and confirming their match at Backlash, and saying he’s not scared of him.

Elsewhere on the card – More buildups for Backlash

The rest of the card’s matches were solid, yet business-as-usual buildups for the WWE World Championship match at Backlash, as AJ Styles defeated Apollo Crews and reigning champ, Dean Ambrose beat Baron Corbin in the SmackDown Live main event. Carmella also attacked Nikki Bella, who was on commentary, and provided the distraction that allowed Natalya and Alexa Bliss to defeat Becky Lynch and Naomi. This served as another buildup for the SmackDown Women’s Championship Six-Pack Challenge, also to be held at Backlash.

Quick results:

The Hype Bros. d. The Vaudevillains (SmackDown Tag Team Championship tournament)

AJ Styles d. Apollo Crews

Natalya and Alexa Bliss d. Becky Lynch and Naomi

Heath Slater and Rhyno d. The Headbangers (SmackDown Tag Team Championship tournament)

Dean Ambrose d. Baron Corbin

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