Live from Fresno, California this is Smackdown Live for episode #924. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.

The show began with a clip of Jinder Mahal holding the WWE Title while taking a photo shoot from “earlier today.” Shane McMahon showed up to tell him that the title doesn’t belong to him. Shane told him that he’s facing Sami Zayn later. Shane said he’s going to give the title to its rightful owner Randy Orton.

The Smackdown opening video aired.

Shane McMahon, the Commissioner of Smackdown, made his entrance. The announce team of Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show.

Shane introduced the new United States Champion Chris Jericho, who was moved to Smackdown after winning the US Title at Payback on Sunday.

Chris Jericho made his entrance wearing a scarf, the US Title and of course he had the List of Jericho with him. The crowd gave him a big ovation as usual.

Jericho said this is the “Show of Jericho” and told the fans to drink it in, man. The crowd loved that of course. Shane mentioned what we already knew – Jericho will defend the US Title against Kevin Owens later in the show.

AJ Styles made his entrance. He spoke about how Jericho was his old friend turned bitter enemy. Fans chanted “AJ Styles” before Styles could really get going. Styles told Jericho that he was standing in the house that AJ Styles built as Styles entered the ring. Styles mentioned the brief “Y2AJ” shirts, so to be honest with him nothing would please Styles than to take the US Title from Jericho at Backlash…if Jericho is champion at the end of the night.

Jericho noted that he made Kevin Owens tap out at Payback. Jericho said there’s a new Face of America and “Chris Jericho be thy name.” Jericho did his “you know what happens” bit to tell Styles what happens when you don’t think Jericho can beat Owens. Jericho went to put Styles on the list, but Kevin Owens’ music interrupted.

Kevin Owens, who never walks on his own face graphic when he’s on the ramp, made his entrance. Owens said it’s pathetic to see them arguing about things that don’t matter. Fans chanted “you tapped out” at Owens, who said he’ll take back his US Championship. Owens said that Jericho has no idea what’s going to happen to him tonight and he told Styles to get the hell out of his ring. Styles went out of the ring to start brawling with Owens on the ramp. Referees went out there to break them up as the show went to break.

Analysis: Good opening segment to welcome Jericho, who did his usual catchphrases to get the crowd behind him. Owens was understandably pissed off to see his rival Jericho there as well as a future potential opponent in Styles. Owens brawling with Styles was a smart way to end it on a high note because it keeps fans interested in what’s still to come on the show.

Coming up: Naomi and Charlotte vs. Natalya and Carmella. Also, Jinder Mahal was shown backstage with the Singh Brothers because he’s up against Sami Zayn next.

(Commercial)

There was a recap of what happened before the break. The announcers noted that AJ Styles is banned from ringside for the Owens/Jericho match since he attacked Owens.

Sami Zayn entered. A clip aired from last week’s Talking Smack featuring Baron Corbin’s attack on Zayn, which also included Corbin shoving a referee. Corbin was fined and suspended for one week in the storyline.

Jinder Mahal made his entrance with the Singh Brothers. Images aired of Mahal and friends costing Randy Orton his match against Bray Wyatt at Payback.

Jinder Mahal (w/Singh Brothers) vs. Sami Zayn

All four guys involved here are Canadians. Zayn took control early on with a dropkick. Mahal bailed to the floor and they went to break one minute into the match.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Mahal was in control with a headlock. When Zayn broke free, Mahal hit a body slam. Mahal followed with knee strikes. Mahal hit Zayn with a couple of elbows followed by a clothesline. JBL did his usual spiel about how it took him a lot of years to get a shot at the WWE Title and he was able to win it against Eddie Guerrero. Another chinlock by Mahal. Zayn fought back with a headbutt while he was on the top rope. Mahal avoided an attack and hit a running knee to the face for a two count. Zayn came back with two clotheslines, a back elbow, kick to the face and a cross body block off the top by Zayn earned a two count. Mahal got an inside cradle for two and Zayn got an inside cradle for two as well. Mahal blocked a Blue Thunder Bomb attempt. Zayn hit a Tornado DDT out of the corner, but he didn’t hit it perfectly. It was effective enough in terms of the result. Zayn charged, but one of the Singh Bros pulled Mahal out of the ring. When Zayn ran the ropes, Samir Singh grabbed his leg. The ref was on the other side and never saw it. Mahal went back in the ring and hit a Cobra Clutch Slam on Zayn for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Jinder Mahal

Analysis: **1/2 It was a decent match. Mahal’s offense is something a lot of us are still getting used to because he really hasn’t had a lot of matches on television this year. Mahal getting the cheap win because of the Singh Bros is the right way to book him at this point. He needs their help to win matches because he can’t do it on his own. That’s how you book a cheap heel. There really wasn’t a point in the match where I thought Zayn would win. He didn’t get the kind of nearfalls he would usually get in a competitive match. This was about putting over Mahal, so that’s what they did even though it was cheap. I think that is the first singles win on TV for Mahal this year. I mean Raw or SD. He won a 6 pack challenge a few weeks ago.

The group of Natalya, Carmella (with James Ellsworth) and Tamina were backstage. Becky Lynch walked up to them calling them four ladies, which is a joke on Ellsworth. Natalya pointed out that Charlotte turned on Becky multiple times. Natalya said that they need Becky and Smackdown Live needs her. Becky said she’ll think about it.

Analysis: It doesn’t make sense for Lynch to side with the heel girls, but I like that the heel girls don’t like that Charlotte is there. It’s a simple angle to help turn Charlotte face in the eyes of the fans.

Tye Dillinger was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.

(Commercial)

A video aired about Shinsuke Nakamura.

Dolph Ziggler was shown backstage watching on a monitor. He was taking to some random people backstage. Ziggler noted that Nakamura wasn’t there and hasn’t even had a match on Smackdown yet. Shane McMahon showed up behind Ziggler. Shane said that his name is Shinsuke Nakamura and he introduced himself to Ziggler last week. Ziggler told Shane to watch what he does to Sin Cara later.

Analysis: It’s a shame that there’s no Nakamura on the show this week. They can always use his star power. Nakamura vs. Ziggler is the obvious debut match for Nakamura at Backlash.

Aiden English was in the ring with a microphone. He called for the spotlight and sang about how the spotlight is finally on him. English sang. He called himself the Drama King, which is good as a nickname. He was interrupted by Tye Dillinger.

Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English

English attacked Dillinger as soon as the bell rang. Dillinger came back with a forearm smash and a clothesline. As Dillinger stomped on English in the corner, the crowd chanted “ten” for every stomp. Dillinger hit the Tyebreaker for the win after one minute. Phillips didn’t even call the finisher by its name.

Winner by pinfall: Tye Dillinger

Post match, the camera was on English in the ring and he was freaking out about the loss while the announcers wondered if he was alright.

Analysis: 1/2* It was a simple win for Dillinger, who is still a newcomer on Smackdown. He needs a real feud. I’d like to see English get a push at some point, but it is likely going to take a while to establish this new character of his.

Main event is Jericho vs. Owens for US Title.

(Commercial)

There was a commercial for WWE Table for 3 with Kurt Angle, Edge & Christian that is on demand on WWE Network. I will have a review of it probably on Wednesday at some point.

Chris Jericho was shown walking backstage with Renee Young there to interview her. Jericho called her “Ronnie.” Aiden English walked by him and he was crying. Jericho told him there’s no crying on Smackdown. Jericho pointed out how there’s no need to cry because Aiden’s a good looking man with a hairy chest. Jericho asked English if he knows what happens when you cry on Jericho’s new show. Jericho told English he just made the list and wrote his name down. Jericho put Renee on the list too. Aiden cried some more as the scene ended.

Analysis: I hope the crying gimmick isn’t a regular thing for English. It’s fine to do it once, but if they do it all the time it’s too silly. Jericho screwing up Renee’s name has been his thing for nearly 20 years now. That’s what he does. Good for cheap laughs.

A clip aired of last week showing the heel Smackdown women attacking Charlotte and Naomi during the main even on last week’s show.

Charlotte Flair was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes backstage. Charlotte said what the “welcoming committee” did last week was stop the inevitable because you can’t stop the “Queen” on Smackdown Live. Carmella, Natalya and Tamina showed up, so Charlotte tried to fight them off. The three women beat her down, so Natalya and Tamina tossed Charlotte into some boxes. Tamina said “welcome to Smackdown Live” and Natalya said they’ll see her out there.

Analysis: Classic heel attack to get sympathy for Charlotte as a new face.

Naomi, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her “feel the glow” entrance that always looks good. The show went to break.

(Commercial)

Natalya made her entrance with her tag team partner Carmella along with friends James Ellsworth and Tamina.

The announcers noted that Charlotte Flair’s music hit during the break, but she didn’t come out due to being attacked.

Natalya & Carmella (w/James Ellsworth & Tamina) vs. Naomi & Charlotte Flair

Naomi started with Carmella and hit her with a barrage of kicks. Natalya tagged in, hit a slingshot back suplex and Naomi came back with a hurricanrana that sent Natalya out of the ring. When Naomi tried to attack Natalya out of the ring, Natalya sent Naomi face first into the steel steps. The heels did a double team head slam to Naomi. Carmella applied a weak looking headlock on Naomi, which led to Naomi easily getting out of it. Carmella yanked Naomi down by the hair. Natalya tagged in and stomped away on Naomi in the corner. Natalya and Naomi each ran the ropes leading to a double cross body block. Charlotte Flair’s music hit as she slowly limped her way out to the ring while Naomi and Natalya were both down. Charlotte stood on the ring apron and stuck out her hand for a tag. Naomi kicked Natalya away. Charlotte got the hot tag, knocked Carmella off the apron and hit Natalya with a neckbreaker followed by a boot to the face. The crowd was fully behind Charlotte with a lot of “Woo” chants. Charlotte kicked Carmella on the apron, but Natalya came back with a clothesline as the show went to break.

Analysis: The crowd is fully behind Charlotte already. That face turn wasn’t hard to do.

(Commercial)

When the match returned from break, Carmella was working on Charlotte. Carmella missed an attack in the corner, leading to Charlotte tagging in Naomi, who hit Carmella with a springboard cross body block. Naomi knocked Natalya off the apron, kick to the face by Naomi on Carmella and a jawbreaker by Naomi. Naomi hit the Rear View on Carmella. Natalya was on the apron, Naomi kicked her with an enziguri kick, Ellsworth distracted Naomi and Carmella did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! with the tights grab on Naomi for the pinfall win at 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Carmella & Natalya

Analysis: **1/2 Good effort by the four ladies. The crowd was solidly behind Charlotte as a face teaming with Naomi. Charlotte sold the pre-match beating well even when she was on offense. Cheap ending to the match similar to the Mahal match at ringside. The heels have more people at ringside, so they use it to their advantage. I’m not surprised by the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish because we haven’t seen it for a few weeks. I would rather see Natalya get the win, but nothing wrong with trying to elevate Carmella.

Post match, the heels attacked Charlotte and Naomi. The crowd chanted “Becky” and Becky Lynch’s music hit. Lynch slowly made her way down to the ring. Lynch looked at the women that were out on the mat. Lynch shook hands with Tamina, Carmella and Natalya. The crowd booed. When Lynch got to Ellsworth, she shoved Ellsworth into the other girls. Lynch attacked the heel women. Tamina recovered and hit Lynch with a superkick. The heels kicked Naomi and Charlotte out of the ring. Tamina and Carmella hit Becky with kicks to the head while Natalya held Becky. The crowd booed as the heel women stood together in the ring. Carmella’s music played to end it.

Analysis: Lynch helping the face women made sense. She’s been a face for a few years now and there was no need to turn even though the fans actually bought it when she shook the hands of the heels. I like that the heels managed to stay in control after Lynch tried to attack. The heel trio needs to be dominant in order to establish them as a viable threat. This will likely lead to a six woman tag match on TV in the near future or perhaps at Backlash in three weeks. I’d also like to see Natalya win the title soon to give the faces something to chase after. This angle would work better that way.

Still to come: Jericho vs. Owens for the US Title with AJ Styles banned from ringside.

(Commercial)

A video aired about The New Day trio, who are coming to Smackdown Live soon. That return will be whenever Kofi Kingston is ready after ankle surgery. JBL noted that a guy named Xavier Woods was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Draft last week. He was acting as if it was WWE’s Xavier even though it’s not. Plus, WWE’s Xavier Woods is just his character name.

Sin Cara was in the ring rocking some new ring gear that looks pretty cool. Dolph Ziggler made his entrance.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sin Cara

Ziggler hit Cara with a punch, but Cara came back with a springboard cross body block. Cara hit a springboard back elbow. Cara hit a springboard moonsault because he really likes springboard moves. Sin Cara hit Ziggler with a kick while he was on the apron to send Ziggler out of the ring. Sin Cara hit a suicide dive to take out Ziggler on the floor mostly with his hands because Ziggler was too far away. Ziggler recovered quickly with a neckbreaker in the ring for a two count. Elbow drop by Ziggler earned a two count. Ziggler followed up with a dropkick. Sin Cara got a rollup and then turned it into a one armed Powerbomb for a two count. Sin Cara went for a Lionsault, but Ziggler got his knees up to block it. Both guys struggled to their feet and Ziggler hit a superkick for the win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

Analysis: ** That was a very good four minute match. They made the most of their time. Ziggler got in his offense, Sin Cara did a good job of coming back and I liked the ending with Ziggler hitting the superkick for the win. Ziggler’s likely the opponent of Shinsuke Nakamura at Backlash, so it was obvious he was going win here.

Jericho vs. Owens is up next.

(Commercial)

The dancing Lana video aired to let us know she’ll be on Smackdown Live soon. Great.

Noam Dar did a promo for 205 Live coming up on WWE Network after Smackdown. He’s against Rich Swann.

There was a video called “The Fashion Files” done the way Law & Order was shot at least in terms of the graphics. It featured the Fashion Police duo of Tyler Breeze and Fandango. They had pictures of people like Big Boss Man and Freddie Blassie on their desk. Breeze called The Usos the “Uggos” and Fandango talked about the things against The Usos. Fandango said their outfits hurt their eyes. Breeze said that the big bust goes down May 21st at Backlash in Chicago. They called it the Windy Apple, which is a Simpsons reference. There was a voiceover telling them about a guy walking around downtown with socks and flip flops. The Fashion Files graphic ended it.

Analysis: It was a unique way to develop the characters of Breeze and Fandango. There were some cheeky one liners in there to make it even sillier as well.

Chris Jericho, the United States Champion, made his entrance.

Talking Smack has AJ Styles, the winner of this match, Natalya, Tamina and Carmella on the show.

Kevin Owens made his entrance for the main event, which is up next.

(Commercial)

There were images shown of Jericho winning back the US Title at Payback.

Ring announcer Greg Hamilton did the in-ring intros for the main event while calling Owens the “new Face of America.”

United States Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens

The fans chanted “you tapped out” at Owens as Jericho stepped on the left hand of Owens. Owens had the left hand taped to sell the injury from Sunday. Jericho tried to kick the steps into the hand again, but Owens broke free and hit a hard kick to the head as they went back into the ring. The fans chanted “stupid idiot” while Owens was on offense with KO hitting the senton back splash for two. Jericho got his boot up to stun Owens and hit a missile dropkick. Jericho whipped Owens across the ring, KO moved, Jericho hit the turnbuckle face first and bumped all the way to the floor. Owens attacked on the floor with a cannonball against the barricade. Owens rolled Jericho back into the ring for a two count as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Jericho jumped off the top rope with a double axe, but Owens avoided it. Jericho avoided a Powerbomb, went for a Lionsault and Owens got the knees up. Owens missed a cannonball in the corner. Jericho hit a Lionsault for a two count. Good sequence there featuring each man countering signature moves of the other man. Owens powered out of a Walls of Jericho attempt, but Jericho applied it again and Owens crawled to the ropes. Owens teased tapping out, but he got to the ropes by grabbing it with his right hand to break the hold. Owens came back with a superkick to the jaw for a two count. Fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Owens went for a Popup Powerbomb, but Jericho countered with a hurricanrana, which was impressive especially for a guy in his mid-40s. Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho in the middle of the ring. Owens crawled to the ropes again and got his right hand on the bottom rope again. They took the fight to the floor with Owens hitting a superkick. Owens hit Jericho with a DDT on a hard black part on the bottom of the ramp. Back in the ring, Owens hit a superkick for a two count. Jericho came back with an inside cradle for a two count. Owens stomped on him again. Owens sent Jericho into the ropes and hit a Popup Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winner and New United States Champion: Kevin Owens

Analysis: ***1/2 They had a good match similar to what they did at WrestleMania and Payback. Those matches were a bit longer with a few of the same spots. I liked the spot where Owens hit Jericho with a DDT on the bottom of the ramp on whatever hard surface that was. They sold it as a big move with the announcers also putting it over in a big way. Jericho was never able to come back from that as Owens hit a superkick and Popup Powerbomb to win. The match result was no surprise since we knew Jericho was taking time off and Owens would get it back.

After the match, paramedics were in the ring checking on Jericho. Owens looked on from ringside.

Owens looked sad about it, but then he went into the ring and hit Jericho with another Popup Powerbomb. Owens yelled at Jericho telling him he was never his best friend. When Owens tried to whip him into the ropes again, Jericho just collapsed. Owens left with his new US Title to boos from the crowd.

The camera focused on Jericho in the ring getting helped out by paramedics and referees. Jericho had a stunned look on his face as referees helped him walk to the back. Owens ran back down to ringside with a punch to the head. Owens grabbed a steel chair from ringside. Owens put the chair around Jericho’s head and whipped him into the steel ring post. Jericho was getting looked at by paramedics at ringside while Owens walked away triumphantly. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: Jericho is heading on tour with his band Fozzy this coming weekend and will be out of WWE for a few months at least, so this was an injury angle to write him out of storylines. Good selling job by him. Also, it’s a smart way to really put over Owens as an evil heel that put an end to his rivalry with Jericho by doing a vicious attack with the chair.

Jericho will be missed while he’s gone. No question about it. With that said, it’s easy to see why he would want a break from being in the ring since he’s 46 years old. We don’t know when his return will be, but hopefully it’s later in the year.

Owens winning the US Title back also means he is facing AJ Styles at Backlash for the US Title. That should be an outstanding match and possibly the main event of Backlash.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Chris Jericho – Welcome to Smackdown. Enjoy the break of Jericho…man.

2. Kevin Owens

3. Sami Zayn

 

The Scoreboard

6.5 out of 10

Last week: 7

2017 Average: 7.14

Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.74 – Raw is at 5.84

Last 5 Weeks: 7, 6, 8.5, 8, 7

2017 High: 8.5 (April 11)

2017 Low: 6 (Jan. 10, Feb. 21, April 18)

 

Final Thoughts

It gets a 6.5 out of 10.

The show was good with nothing that was that bad. I thought the main event US Title match and the women’s tag were the clear highlights. Everything else was pretty average. I think what’s lacking on Smackdown now compared to earlier in the year is they don’t have a lot of memorable promos whereas a few months ago we had the likes of The Miz and John Cena doing a great job with that. The format has changed a bit because they are trying to get over different people and devoting time to them.

The tag team division was ignored this week aside from a two-minute video. It would be nice if some tag teams were featured in a match, though.

No sign of WWE Champion Randy Orton and no explanation given for why he was off other than a brief image shown of Jinder Mahal attacking him on Sunday. I thought Orton should have been on the show to add to his story with Mahal because they need to build it up more.

Here’s what we know for Smackdown’s WWE Backlash PPV on May 21 in Chicago.

WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal

United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles

Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. Breezango

That’s it for official matches at this point. Some other likely matches are Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn as well. A six-women tag is possible as well.

That’s all for now. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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