Live from Louisville, Kentucky this is Smackdown Live for episode #922. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
The show began with a graphic honoring the late Matt Anoi’a aka WWE Superstar Rosey. He was the son of Sika, brother of Roman Reigns, a father of three and he died at age 47. Rest in peace, Matt aka Rosey.
— WWE (@WWE) April 19, 2017
A video package aired featuring highlights of last week’s Smackdown Live by showcasing people that moved to SD Live from Raw in the Superstar Shake-up.
Charlotte Flair Has Things To Say
The show began with Charlotte Flair making her entrance in her robe and wrestling gear.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show with JBL talking about how great Charlotte is.
Charlotte noted that seven days ago, the “Queen” arrived at Smackdown Live. She said she’s already lost her patience. She wondered if Shane and Daniel were binge watching the Fast and the Furious as she said she is “fastly getting furious.” Bad line. She said now they have to deal with the fury of a queen scorned. Charlotte let out a “WOO” while calling herself the greatest superstar to step into the ring and wondered why she hasn’t been granted a SD Women’s Title match yet. Charlotte: “What is taking so long? Now!”
Naomi’s music hit as the SD Women’s Champion made her “glow” entrance. Naomi welcomed her to Smackdown Live while noting that around there they don’t have kings or queens. Naomi said what they do have are champions and she is one.
Naomi got in the ring as she told Charlotte she knows what she is about and she knows what she wants. Naomi said let’s not waste anymore time because she ain’t scared…never. Naomi hit Charlotte with a forearm. Naomi sent Charlotte out of the ring. When Charlotte went on the apron, Naomi hit a dropkick to knock her out. Shane McMahon’s music hit.
Shane O-Mac, the SD Commissioner, asked the crowd if they wanted to see them fight. The fans cheered. Shane said that superstars have to earn opportunities on Smackdown Live and as it pertains to titles she has to earn it. Shane said if Charlotte can beat Naomi then she’ll get a title shot next week. Shane wished her the best of luck.
The announcers talked about the situation. Charlotte went back in the ring, punched Naomi a bit and sent her out of the ring. Charlotte held up the title. Naomi went back in the ring, punched her and sent Charlotte back out. Naomi held up her title as her music played to end the segment.
Analysis: It’s a typical WWE opening segment to set up something for later. No surprise by that because that’s what WWE does in those situations. I thought Charlotte did well with the promo aside from the cheesy “fury” line that was obviously scripted by somebody that didn’t make it sound natural coming from her. Naomi did the face champion thing by not backing down. What I don’t like about it is that it should be Charlotte beating another contender to get a title shot rather than facing the champ non-title. Having non-title matches is what WWE loves, but I get sick of it.
Up next is a Six Pack Challenge with the winner getting a shot at the WWE Title.
Natalya, who was rocking a crazy hair look, was in the office of the bosses. Shane McMahon walked into the screen as she complained about Charlotte. Natalya said that the match at WrestleMania was not a real opportunity. Shane told her that all she had to do was ask for a title shot like Charlotte. Natalya complained some more, which led to Carmella walking into the picture with James Ellsworth. Carmella talked about how she deserved an opportunity. Tamina walked in to say she deserves a shot too. It led to a lot of bickering. Natalya said this is all Charlotte’s fault and suggested they talked about it together. They all left Shane alone in the office.
Analysis: It makes sense for the other women to bitch about Charlotte. Easy story to tell.
Here’s the order of entrants for the Six Pack Challenge: Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Jinder Mahal (thanks for not calling him “Hardbody” anymore), Mojo “friends with Gronk” Rawley, Luke Harper and Sami Zayn. The first three are the heels while the last three are the faces.
Analysis: Do we get a storyline explanation to cover why guys like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura or Baron Corbin aren’t in this match while the likes of Rowan and Mahal are in when they never win matches? Nope, of course not. That’s a problem with something like this that WWE doesn’t explain.
Six-Pack Challenge: Dolph Ziggler vs. Erick Rowan vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Luke Harper vs. Sami Zayn
The winner gets a WWE Title shot. First pinfall or submission wins.
All six guys started brawling to start the match. Harper hit a big boot on Ziggler for a two count. Harper knocked down Rowan leading to a senton splash. Sitout slam by Harper on Zayn for a two count as they went to break two minutes into it.
As the show came back from break, Rawley hit a superplex on Ziggler, Harper hit a superplex on Rowan and Zayn countered a superplex into a sunset flip powerbomb for a two count on Mahal. Ziggler nailed Zayn with a superkick and Harper hit Ziggler with a superkick for a two count. Rowan with a Powerbomb on Harper. Mahal got a rollup on Rowan for two and then they did a double clothesline to knock them both down. Rawley nailed Mahal with a shoulder tackle. Zayn sent Rawley to the floor and Harper dumped Zayn out of the ring. Harper hit a suicide dive outside the ring to knock down Mahal. Harper went back in the ring to hit another suicide dive on Zayn and Rawley. Ziggler hit a dropkick on Harper while he was on the apron. Rowan with a spin kick on Ziggler for a two count. Rowan picked up Ziggler and dumped him over the top Powerbomb-style onto the four other guys on the floor. Cool spot. Zayn went into the ring, Rowan got a two count and dumped Zayn back out. They went to break again.
Back from break, Rawley hit shoulder tackles on Ziggler followed by a corner splash and Ziggler tried a comeback, but Rawley picked him up onto his shoulders and sent him down. Rawley hit his running forearm shot on Ziggler, Mahal dumped Rawley out of the ring and Mahal covered for a two count on Ziggler as Zayn made the save. Mahal with a high knee on Zayn. Rowan with a one arm slam on Mahal for a two count as Harper made the save. Ziggler back in the ring with a Zig Zag on Rowan for a two count, which happened after Harper was crotched on the top rope. Fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Harper got back to his feet and hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Mahal pulled Harper out of the ring and sent him into the steel steps. Zayn avoided a Mahal charge and Mahal hit the steel post. Zayn with a somersault dive over the top to take out Harper on the floor. Rawley tackled Rowan on the floor. Zayn with a moonsault onto Rawley on the floor. Back in the ring, Zayn with an Exploder Suplex on Mahal into the turnbuckle. When Zayn went to finish off Mahal, the Bollywood Boyz showed up at ringside to grab Zayn’s foot. Mahal capitalized on that with a Cobra Clutch Slam on Zayn for the pinfall win at 19 minutes. What? Yes, Jinder won.
Winner by pinfall: Jinder Mahal
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a good match that was given a lot of time with no story and earned that “this is awesome” chant from the crowd. It was put together very well. The outcome is going to get a lot of people talking perhaps in a negative way, but if you just focus on the action the performers deserve a lot of praise. I’m surprised by the Mahal choice since he probably lost 95% of his main roster matches in the last six years, yet here he is as the number one contender to the WWE Title. It’s one of those things where some fans are going to be happy that we got somebody “new” in the title picture while others will say he doesn’t deserve it because from a character standpoint he’s been a loser for so long. I’d rather have a guy like Zayn win because he can have a much better match with Randy Orton, but this is WWE’s attempt at trying to create a new heel star. It doesn’t mean that Mahal is going to win the title. He’s just a guy for Orton to beat. Then again, Bradshaw went from a tag wrestler to JBL the WWE Champion within a few months in 2004, so you never know.
Replays aired of the finish with Phillips noting it was the Bollywood Boyz that helped Jinder get the win.
Analysis: The Bollywood Boyz are a tag team that were both competitors in the Cruiserweight Classic last summer and signed WWE deals. Like Jinder, they are Canadians that are also Indian. Jinder is from Calgary and the Bollywood Boyz are from Vancouver.
Mahal was interviewed by Renee Young in the ring after the match. The fans booed and Mahal called himself the “Maharajah.” He said people boo because he’s not the typical All-American, he wondered if it was because of his family’s wealth, his higher education or the fact that he speaks two languages. Mahal said that Americans don’t accept diversity, but they will have to accept Jinder Mahal as your next WWE Champion. He should have said “don’t hinder Jinder” to end it. Renee left the ring while Mahal posed.
Analysis: It is weird writing about Jinder as a WWE Title contender, but that’s the world we are in right now. On WWE.com, it notes that Mahal vs. Orton is set for Backlash in Chicago on May 21.
Randy Orton’s music hit as the WWE Champion made his entrance to a big ovation from the crowd. Orton congratulated Mahal on the victory while adding that Mahal’s prize won’t be this title. Orton said Mahal’s prize will be a RKO, but before he puts his hands on Mahal he has another hand on his side – his name is Bray Wyatt. Orton said he will burn down Wyatt’s “House of Horrors” like the last house.
Wyatt appeared on the video screen. He said he wanted Orton to feel his pain. Clips aired of Orton burning down the Wyatt house leading up to their WrestleMania match. Wyatt said none of those things will compare to the House of Horrors. Wyatt talked about how Orton will walk in as a fighter, but Wyatt promised him that he will never walk out…never. Wyatt ended it with “run” and that was it. I guess Orton and Mahal just left.
Analysis: It was a typical Wyatt promo talking about his usual weird things. Orton didn’t dismiss as a contender, but also barely focused on him. They will have time to build that up since it’s one month away.
Later: Naomi vs. Charlotte and a Shinsuke Nakamura video package is up next.
A video aired about The New Day, who are coming to Smackdown soon. It will likely be whenever Kofi Kingston is ready after ankle surgery in a month or two. Enjoy the break, Big E and Xavier as well.
A video package aired about Shinsuke Nakamura. It focused on the way he has a special connection with the crowd because they sing along with his song and chant his name a lot.
Analysis: Nakamura is a favorite of mine, but they clearly had nothing for him this week and that’s why they filled a few minutes with this. It seems like they are building up to his first match – possibly against Ziggler – at Backlash next month.
AJ Styles was interviewed by Renee Young backstage. He talked about how he built Smackdown Live. Baron Corbin showed up to crash the interview with Styles noting that he beat Corbin and Zayn last week to get the US Title shot at Kevin Owens. Corbin complained about it, so Styles said he’s willing to do an encore against Corbin later tonight. Corbin said okay, but for Styles to remember he asked for it.
Analysis: As I mentioned earlier, it would have been nice to get an explanation as to why neither of those two men were in the match to earn a WWE Title shot, but we never got that. Instead, they set up their own match for later. Styles is clearly in a face role now as well.
Charlotte was shown walking backstage as Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and James Ellsworth stood in her way. Natalya said they wanted to welcome her to the show and Ellsworth sarcastically said they are honored to be in the presence of greatness. Charlotte just walked by, but was bumped by Natalya as the segment ended.
Analysis: It was a simple backstage segment to build the story of the other women (and Ellsworth) not liking that Charlotte is there. Just because they are heels does not mean they have to get along.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance to mostly boos from the crowd. Naomi did her two minute “glow” entrance to a nice ovation.
Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi
This is not for Naomi’s Smackdown Women’s Title.
Charlotte worked over Naomi with a chinlock on early on as the SD Live heels Natalya, Carmella (with Ellsworth) and Tamina watched on a monitor backstage. Naomi got a backslide for a two count. Charlotte did her spot where she wrapped her legs around the neck of her opponent leading to Charlotte sending her across the ring using her legs. Naomi made a comeback using a series of kicks ending with a kick to the head for a two count. They did a spot where Charlotte was going to send her to the floor, but Naomi countered with a headscissors over the top to the floor as the show went to break.
Back from break, Charlotte had Naomi in a headlock followed by a leg drop for a two count as Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and Ellsworth were still watching on a screen backstage while making angry faces. Charlotte missed a knee drop as Naomi moved out of the way. I could hear them calling spots. Naomi came back with a leaping kick to the face. Naomi nailed another kick to the head followed by a hurricanrana, a clothesline and a neckbreaker type move. It would be nice if Phillips called moves more, but he doesn’t do it that much. Naomi with another kick to the head and a top rope cross body block for a two count. When Naomi went for a Rear View attack, Charlotte kicked her in the back and Charlotte hit the Natural Selection neckbreaker for the win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: **1/2 The match was okay, but a bit disappointing because I thought it would be better. Perhaps it’s a lack of chemistry, which is something they can work on. Naomi got in some offense, but there were really moments in the match where it looked like she was going to win. Charlotte was able to outsmart her for the win and it put her over well. The champion lost non-title, which is what WWE loves to do. It’s not what I love to see since they do it so often and I think it hurts the champion. It’s hard for me to get that excited for their next match next week when we just saw it tonight. That next one should be better, though.
Coming up later: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin.
American Alpha were shown walking backstage for a match.
Charlotte was shown backstage as she walked by Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and Ellsworth again. She just said “WOO” at them and kept walking.
Primo & Epico Colon were in the ring. They were not called the Shining Stars. A replay aired from last week when the Colons attacked American Alpha.
Analysis: It’s smart to stop calling them the Shining Stars because they were a joke tag team that didn’t do well. This is a way to try to reboot them.
American Alpha made their entrance.
American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) vs. Primo & Epico Colon
The AA boys worked well together early on as Gable hit a Northern Lights Suplex on Primo. Epico distracted the ref, so Primo sent Gable into the ring post. Epico hit a double underhook suplex into a gutbuster on Gable. Hard clothesline by Epico. Gable applied an armbar on Epico while using the ropes as an assist. Hot tag to Gable, who nailed Epico with a belly to belly suplex and a shoulder tackle for a two count as Primo made the save. Gable with a clothesline on Primo. The ref sent Gable out of the ring, so Primo kicked Jordan in the head and Epico rolled up Jordan (not a ROLLUP OF DEATH~!) for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Primo & Epico Colon
Analysis: *1/4 It was a quick match with a dead crowd. I thought the finish was weak because it was only a kick to the head, which shouldn’t be enough to beat a guy like Jordan. As I said earlier, it was a reboot of the Colons as a team. Giving them a win over a team like AA should, in theory, make the fans buy into the Colons as a legit team. I don’t know if it’s going to work, but it’s better than being a joke team that loses all the time.
Replays aired from earlier showing Jinder Mahal’s win thanks to the help of the Bollywood Boyz. The stunned fan reaction is funny.
Kevin Owens is up next.
A video aired of Lana dancing around a chair just like last week. It said “Lana Coming Soon” to end it. Good.
This week on Talking Smack it was Renee Young and Shane McMahon hosting with Charlotte Flair, Jinder Mahal and Primo/Epico Colon.
Analysis: I assume no Daniel Bryan on the show because wife Brie Bella is due to give birth to their daughter any day or week now.
Tye Dillinger was interviewed backstage with Dasha Fuentes. They said “WWE Universe” a few times as Dillinger said he had something to explain why the people love him “ten times better” than he could. A one minute video package aired about Dillinger. It led to Dillinger saying that’s why they call him the “perfect ten.”
Analysis: The interview was less than a minute leading to the video, which is similar to what they did with Nakamura. It’s good to air videos for new stars to introduce them to the people that don’t watch NXT, but it would also be nice if they were given a storyline or another match.
Kevin Owens made his entrance wearing his KO-Mania 2 shirt. There was a picture of his face on the ramp. Owens defends his US Title against Chris Jericho at Payback.
Owens took the microphone from ring announcer Greg Hamilton and told him to get out. Owens noted he was the United States Champion from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and he said his name to boos. His opponent said his name: “Gary Gandy from Louisville, Kentucky.” That drew cheers.
Face of America Open Challenge: Kevin Owens vs. Gary Gandy
Owens stomped away on Gandy in the corner and hit him with some punches. Owens sent him into the ropes and hit Gandy with a Popup Powerbomb to win the match in about 30 seconds.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
Analysis: No star rating because it was so short. Easy win for Owens over an unknown wrestler as it should be.
After the match, JBL said that Owens is like an American hero while the others mentioned that KO is Canadian.
Owens grabbed the microphone to tell the lazy citizens of the US to put the hot dogs down, shut up and listen to him. Owens said that as long as he is our US Champion, he will remain the Face of America. He said that Chris Jericho is not going to take it away from him and neither will AJ Styles. “Nobody will take that away from me.” Owens said he’ll join commentary for the next match because they need it and then he ended it in French. JBL was excited about it.
Analysis: I like this gimmick for Owens. It allows him to get a lot of heat by pissing off the US fans by saying he was the Face of America, which is funny because he’s a Canadian.
Baron Corbin made his entrance for the main event. JBL welcomed Owens to commentary and
Next week on Smackdown: Naomi vs. Charlotte Flair for the SD Women’s Championship.
Austin Aries did a promo for 205 Live plugging his match against TJ Perkins, who he called “Teddy Joystick” during the promo. Perkins is a huge gamer, so that works.
The great AJ Styles made his entrance for the main event. All cheers for him. As I noted earlier, he’s clearly in a face role now since he’s booked against a heel like Corbin and gets a title shot at the US Champion down the road.
Replays aired of last week’s triple threat match that Styles won to earn a shot at the US Champion.
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
Kevin Owens is on commentary for this match. This match is sponsored by Geico, which they mentioned a few times during the show.
They started off at a slow pace. Owens to JBL: “Thank God you’re here, John.” Heels like heels on commentary. Corbin decked Styles with a punch to the face. Styles jumped on Corbin’s back and Corbin sent him back into the turnbuckle. They battled outside the ring with Corbin dropping him face first onto the side of the ring apron as the show went to break.
Back from break, Corbin whipped Styles across the ring, which led to Styles hitting ribs first into the ring post. Great sell by Styles on a cool looking move. Corbin sent Styles back first into the side of the ring apron. Back in the ring, Styles got his feet up to slow the big man down. Fans chanted for Styles as Styles sent him shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Styles came back with a Pele Kick, forearm smash in the corner and a hard kick to the legs. Styles hit a flying forearm for a two count. Corbin came back with a move where he picked up Styles in the air and dropped him back first across the knee. The fans cheered for Styles as Styles took down Corbin and applied the Calf Crusher submission. Corbin made it to the rope quickly after the move was applied. Corbin hit a Deep Six slam for a two count, which is a move that always gets a two count for him. It’s one of the better two counts in WWE these days. Styles avoided a Corbin charge, which led to Corbin going over the top to the floor. Styles hit a running knee strike outside the ring. Styles stared at Owens, which led to Corbin doing a back drop on Styles onto Owens on the floor. There was a shot of a stunned fan in the crowd, which was pretty funny. Styles got back to his feet and hit a jumping kick to stun Corbin. Styles jumped off the ring steps leading to a Phenomenal Forearm that sent Corbin over the barricade into the crowd. Great bump by Corbin. The ref was counting them out, so Styles rolled back into the ring and the ref rang the bell to end his ten count. Styles won by countout after 13 minutes.
Winner by countout: AJ Styles
Analysis: *** Good match as usual from Styles in a main event match. They wrestled at a slow pace early on, but it picked up. There weren’t a lot nearfalls in the match where it looked like the match might end. It was more about each guy getting their moves in. The countout finish isn’t that common for a main event match, but it protects Corbin from taking a loss. It also sets up a rematch for them next week or another show soon after that. I like the idea of building up to another match. That’s simple wrestling booking.
Styles celebrated the win in the ring while Owens looked angry at ringside. Styles posed in the ring as the show ended.
Analysis: I’m glad that Styles is fully a face rather than being a heel that got cheered because he was so good in the ring. It’s better this way even though heels tend to get more promo time.
Three Stars of the Show
1. AJ Styles
2. Jinder Mahal
3. (tie) Baron Corbin
3. (tie) Sami Zayn
I did not expect to put Jinder in that spot, but there he is.
6 out of 10
Last week: 8.5
2017 Average: 7.19
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.74 – Raw is at 5.86
Last 5 Weeks: 8.5, 8, 7, 7, 6.5
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11)
2017 Low: 6 (Jan. 10, Feb. 21, April 18)
It gets a 6 out of 10.
The show was good for the most part, but below my yearly average from the high standard that Smackdown has set this year.
The three main matches featured different types of booking. There was Jinder Mahal earning a title shot by beating other contenders, which is good, while Charlotte got a title match against the same woman she just beat, which I don’t like. Then there was Corbin losing by countout to protect him and building to another match against Styles down the road.
I think the biggest talking point from this week will be from fans arguing about Jinder’s win. Since he lost so many matches for so many years fans are going to be upset that he got a huge push in one show. The other argument is that it’s a bad choice, which I tend to agree with at this point. It’s not like Jinder is going to bring a lot of excited fans to the show, but he does appeal to fans in India obviously. Anyway, here’s hoping he gets over with the crowd because he’s not a bad performer. He just hasn’t been used right for a long time.
It was a solid Smackdown with some decent matches, but nothing really stood out either.
That’s all for now. Go Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org