Live from Brooklyn, New York this is Smackdown Live for episode #939. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top.
The show started with a quick video of the US Title match at SummerSlam when AJ Styles retained his title against Kevin Owens, who had an issue with referee Shane McMahon. It was only about one minute.
AJ Styles, the United States Champion, made his entrance to a big ovation. He entered the ring for a promo as the announce team of Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show.
Styles welcomed us to Smackdown Live, the house that AJ Styles built and he is still the US Champion after beating Kevin Owens at SummerSlam. Styles said he is the workhorse of WWE and he’s reinstating the United States Open Challenge, which drew cheers. Styles said it starts right now. There was a pause and Kevin Owens made his entrance.
Owens walked out looking angry with a microphone in hand. Styles said this isn’t happening and that they are done. Owens told Styles that he did not beat him at SummerSlam. Owens said that 20 years later, history repeated itself as a McMahon screwed a legendary Canadian out of a title once again. Owens complained about how Shane McMahon screwed him, so Shane’s music hit.
Shane McMahon, the Commissioner of Smackdown, made his entrance to join the fray with the wrestlers in the ring. JBL accidentally called him the Commissioner of Raw and then corrected himself shortly after. Shane asked Brooklyn what’s up, they cheered and Shane said he loved being there in the BK.
Shane was in the ring with the wrestlers. Shane said he called the match right down the middle and in the end, AJ won fair and square. Owens complained that it wasn’t fair. Owens pointed out that Shane survived a helicopter crash, he jumped off Hell in a Cell yet he couldn’t recover in time after a AJ 450 Splash to count a pinfall in time after Owens did a Powerbomb. Owens said he’s “not going to mention” how Shane physically assaulted. Owens cued up some footage of when he hit a Powerbomb, Shane counted the three and after he counted he noticed AJ’s foot on the bottom rope. Owens asked Shane if he saw what he saw. Shane said AJ’s foot was on the bottom rope. Owens pointed out Shane’s hand hit the mat three times. Owens noted that when the idiot referee on Smackdown a few weeks ago counted three with KO’s shoulder up his decision stood, but Shane’s didn’t. Shane said he immediately called it off when he realized AJ’s foot was on the rope. Owens yelled at him that “you counted three” and Owens told Shane to give him the title. Styles told them to shut up.
Styles said that he doesn’t like a “whiny ass little bitch” like Owens. Styles told Owens if he wants a match he can have a match tonight. Owens said for once he agreed with Styles. Shane said if AJ wants to defend the title then they have the match tonight. Owens complained about referees, so Owens suggested they let him pick the referee tonight. Styles said he can pick his own ref because he’s going to beat him again. Styles said a little girl at ringside can count the three. Shane said Owens can pick the referee. Shane added that as long as AJ Styles is the champion, this is KO’s last shot at the US Title. Owens agreed to it to end the segment as Shane’s music hit.
Analysis: It’s a typical WWE opening segment to set up something for later in the night. A lot of what Owens said made a lot of sense, so it’s hard for me to hate him for being a heel. The way Owens complains makes him a heel because he’s a whiner that’s annoying to the average fan, but there was validity to what he said. I liked Styles’ “whiny little bitch” line because it made this rivalry feel more personal. It’s just awkward that he would say that and then point out a little girl in the front row. Hopefully the young lady wasn’t listening too closely! Just being silly. I’m also glad that Shane said it would be their last match for the US Title because the feud has gone on long enough.
Daniel Bryan, the Smackdown GM, was shown talking on the phone about how they have a few surprises. The Singh Brothers went into the room to introduce the WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Bryan pointed out the Singh Brothers help him win. Mahal complained about xenophobic Americans that paints him as a bad guy when he’s really a hero. Bryan said he thinks Nakamura deserves some retribution and said that the Singh Brothers have to face Nakamura later.
Analysis: It’s rare to see the Singh Brothers in a match, but it makes sense to give Nakamura some revenge.
Still to come: Naomi/Becky vs. Natalya/Charlotte.
Images were shown from SummerSlam.
Owens went up to Sami Zayn backstage. Owens said that they have been fighting eachother and by eachother’s side for 15 years. Owens told Zayn he needed somebody he can trust to be the referee of his match with Owens telling him he fits the bill. Zayn said he watched his DVD recently and reliving all that history makes it feel like they’ve been fighting for so long while forgetting what they are fighting about. Owens said maybe they shouldn’t be fighting eachother. Owens insulted him when he said since Zayn has come to Smackdown he really hasn’t done much of anything (truth hurts), so tonight Zayn can do something that counts. Owens asked him to think about it and left.
Analysis: The line about Zayn not doing much of anything on Smackdown is true. It’s also a reason why Smackdown hasn’t been as good as it was before the Superstar Shake-up in April because they aren’t using a great talent like Zayn very well.
Aiden English was in the ring doing his usual singing routine as the crowd booed him. The lights went out and…the piano hit. GLORIOUS! It’s Bobby Roode!
The former NXT Champion Bobby Roode appeared on the stage in his robe. The crowd sang along with the “GLORIOUS” song as Roode made his entrance to a big ovation.
Analysis: Awesome to see Roode on Smackdown. There were rumors of it coming in the last week and there he is. Since Roode lost the NXT Title to Drew McIntyre on Saturday the timing was right for him to join Smackdown.
Bobby Roode vs. Aiden English
The crowd was hot for Roode as the match began. The simple “Glorious” pose drew such a big ovation. English said it was his stage. Roode hit a clothesline to send him to the floor as the show went to break. I think the action continued during the break in the US, but not here in Canada.
Back from break, English was in control as the crowd chanted for Roode. English missed a corner splash, Roode with an atomic drop and a forearm smash. Corner clothesline by Roode. JBL made an interesting reference when he said “hit the pay window, get ya some beer money” in reference to Bobby’s TNA team with James Storm called Beer Money. English came back with a slam called the Director’s Cut for a two count. English went up top, he jumped off, Roode avoided an attack and hit a spinebuster. Roode did the Glorious pose again leading to the Glorious DDT for the pinfall victory after seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bobby Roode
Analysis: ** The match was okay and what it needed to be with Roode winning clean, which is no surprise. English is a guy that I want to see used better, but it wasn’t going to happen in this match. The crowd was very familiar with Roode from his one year run in NXT as well as TNA before that.
Post match, Roode was interviewed by Renee Young in the ring. Roode congratulated Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon for breaking the bank to cash in on the hottest free agent in sports entertainment. Roode said that everything he does is big box office. Roode added that in a New York minute, Smackdown Live went from being great to being absolutely…glorious. Roode’s music played to end it.
Analysis: The difference between NXT and Smackdown is that Roode is now in a face role. I don’t mind it because the Glorious song is so popular with the crowd. They cheered him a lot in NXT, so seeing him as a heel was awkward at times. Roode will do just fine in a heel role because he’s a 20 year pro that knows what he is doing out there. Roode is 40 years old. I’m glad he’s finally on WWE’s main roster where he should have been many years ago. Plus, John Cena leaving Smackdown means there is a slot on Smackdown for somebody to fill as a face. Roode can easily be slotted in near the top of the card on Smackdown.
The announcers hyped matches still to come.
There were more images shown from SummerSlam.
Bryan was in his office on his phone (they love booking GMs to stare at their phones in their office) and Chad Gable showed up to talk to him. Bryan spoke about how he knows it’s hard for him after Jason Jordan moved to Raw with his “dad” Kurt Angle. Gable said that’s all people want to talk about with him, but he is worried about his future. Bryan said he didn’t just give Jason Jordan to Raw because in exchange, Angle had to help Bryan sign one of his friends and Bryan thinks this person could be a great partner to Gable. Bryan introduced Chad to…Shelton Benjamin. Awesome to see that and the crowd cheered a lot for it. Gable was really excited as he told Bryan he won’t regret it. Gable told Benjamin he followed him from back in his college days (both are standout collegiate wrestlers) and Gable said he’s a Minnesota guy too. Bryan told this new tag team to have a test drive next week. Benjamin seemed shocked by Gable’s enthusiasm as Chad left. Bryan shook Benjamin’s hand to welcome him to Smackdown and the crowd cheered.
Analysis: The Benjamin return finally happened. It was going to take place last year, then he had to get shoulder injury that required surgery and here he is a year later. Great to see him back on WWE TV again and the crowd popped big for him, so that’s cool too. Benjamin was a very good tag team wrestler (with Charlie Haas mainly) and midcard wrestler from 2003 to 2010, got released because creative had nothing for him and now he’s back after seven years away. Benjamin is 42 years old, so he’s one of the oldest guys on the roster, but he can still go. They should do well as a team on a show that needs tag team depth.
Owens was backstage. He walked to up to Sami Zayn, who was talking to Jimmy Jacobs (now a creative team member in WWE and close friend of both guys from ROH days). Owens had the referee shirt for Zayn, which led to Zayn saying he thought of all the rotten things Owens has done to him and Zayn tossed the ref shirt at him saying it won’t be him.
Analysis: The ref search continues. It makes sense for Zayn not want to trust Owens.
The Hype Bros made their entrance for a tag match.
The Usos entered for the match. They are the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions after winning the gold at SummerSlam. Highlights were shown from their awesome Kickoff Show match against New Day. One of the best WWE tag matches this year.
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley)
This is not for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles.
Rawley was aggressive early with a shoulder tackle in the corner followed by a gutwrench suplex into a slam. Corner splash by Rawley. Jey distracted Rawley on the apron, Jimmy took advantage and Jey tagged in with a running butt splash in the corner on Rawley. Jimmy slapped on a headlock. Rawley fought his way out of the corner after Jimmy hit the ring post after a corner attack. Ryder got the hot tag, sent Jimmy face first into the mat and the crowd was distracted by a beach ball. Ryder teased a Broski Boot, but Jey saved Jimmy. Rawley hit a running body attack on the floor. Superkick by one of the Usos on Rawley. Ryder had to deal with both Usos. Jimmy pulled Ryder off the turnbuckle and Jimmy hit a running superkick on Ryder for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for the champs. Nice to see champs win a non-title match, which seems to be a rare thing in WWE in this era. The spot by Rawley taking down one of the Usos on the floor was impressive. It also set up the finish well because Rawley took himself out of the match after taking a superkick. The superkick was also used for the finish, which is fine although it’s used a lot in WWE by so many wrestlers.
The Usos did a promo with Jimmy welcoming us to the Usos penitentiary. Jey said they had a message for every tag team in the locker room as they did their bit about goosebumps, head on a swivel and it’s not somebody creeping behind you…it’s not paranoia…it’s The Usos.
Analysis: These guys are one of the best examples of a heel turn doing wonders for a character or characters in this case. Their face act was stale and felt repetitive. When they turned heel it gave them some new life. Good job by them in becoming better performers after the turn.
Shinsuke Nakamura was shown walking backstage for his match up next.
There were more images shown from SummerSlam.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance to a big ovation like usual with the crowd humming along to his song.
The Singh Brothers appeared on the stage with tape on their hands and wrists since they have a match. They introduced the WWE Champion, the Modern Day Maharajah Jinder Mahal. Images were shown from SummerSlam with the Singh Brothers distracting Nakamura leading to Mahal pinning Nakamura to win.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Samir & Sunil Singh
The Singh brothers don’t have to tag in and out. They are both in the ring at the same time.
Nakamura sent both Singh brothers into the turnbuckle. Nakamura placed Sunil on the turnbuckle, then put Samir on top and hit a running knee lift to knock both Singh brothers down. Nakamura sent both Singhs out of the ring. The Singhs went back in the ring and got control as they whipped Nakamura into the turnbuckle. Nakamura kicked down one of the Singhs. Nakamura came back with a triangle choke on a Singh and he tapped out to give Nakamura the win after about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: * Sweet revenge for Nakamura after what happened at SummerSlam. It also shows that the Nakamura/Mahal feud is going to continue even after Mahal beat him at SummerSlam. That’s fine with me especially if it leads to a Nakamura title win.
Post match, Mahal went into the ring and nailed Nakamura with a kick to the face. Nakamura came back with a kick to the gut followed by the Kinshasa knee strike to knock down Mahal. Nakamura’s music played to end it.
Analysis: The revenge for Nakamura continued. It’s the right way to book an angle like that because Nakamura was the loser on Sunday, so he came back two days later looking much better to remind fans that he’s got a shot to be the next WWE Champion.
Owens was shown backstage with the referee shirt. The Breezango duo of Tyler Breeze and Fandango were backstage. They wanted to be the referee of his matches. Owens yelled at them saying no. Breeze said “To Be Continued” and Owens told them to continue walking. Corbin showed up to him to say he’ll be referee if Owens gives him a US Title shot after he wins. Owens agreed to it while handing him the referee shirt.
Analysis: It’s no surprise that there would be a heel ref like Corbin in the match.
Women’s tag is up next.
Natalya made her entrance first with the Smackdown Women’s Title on her right shoulder and she had on the classic Hart Foundation jacket as well. I love that she added that jacket to her look on the weekend because her dad Jim Neidhart and uncle Bret Hart wore it in the early 1990s at SummerSlam too. Images aired of Natalya’s win from SummerSlam with Naomi crying after the loss. Good selling by her.
Natalya did a promo saying that SummerSlam will forever be known as the day the glow was unplugged. Natalya said she proved yet again that she is the best there ever is, the best there ever was and the best there ever will be (the Bret Hart line). Natalya said she’s the new and forever Smackdown Women’s Champion. Natalya said it’s no longer Glow time, it’s her time.
Analysis: I like how on both Raw and Smackdown, the new champions all got a chance to talk a bit about their wins. It’s good to put over the champions like that.
Carmella entered with James Ellsworth. Carmella said that they are so happy for her and James said that Nattie has finally won something. Carmella said she wanted to clear the air since they had to team up. Carmella reminded Natalya that it’s her time, but she is on Carmella’s watch as Carmella held the Money in the Bank briefcase. Carmella told her when the time is right, she’ll trade in her contract for that championship. Ellsworth mentioned to Natalya how honorable it is to have Carmella as her partner because Carmella may not even tag in and cash in the contract tonight. Carmella nudged him to stop.
Analysis: Quick promo to get over the story of the presence of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Becky Lynch and Naomi made their entrances separately as the faces in the match.
Natalya and Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) vs. Naomi and Becky Lynch
Carmella started the match and quickly tagged out to bring Natalya in. The show went to break as Natalya locked up with Naomi.
Back from break, Lynch hit a legdrop on Natalya. Natalya sent Lynch into the turnbuckle. Headlock by Natalya and then a discus clothesline on Lynch. Natalya wanted to tag in Carmella, but Carmella dropped to the floor. Lynch got a rollup for two followed by an enziguri kick to the head. Natalya tripped p Lynch while she was on the turnbuckle as the crowd was doing the wave to entertain themselves. Inside cradle by Lynch got a two count. Naomi got the tag with a sunset flip into a pin on Natalya by two. Naomi slapped on her head/arm submission, but Natalya broke out of it. Carmella was arguing with Ellsworth, so Natalya tagged Carmella in. Lynch went into the ring and hit a Bexploder Suplex on Carmella. Naomi hit the split legged moonsault on Carmella and pinned her to win after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Naomi and Becky Lynch
Analysis: **1/4 The match was good for the time given and the story was interesting with Carmella not wanting to tag in. That strategy ended up coming back to haunt her because when she did get in there she got beat easily. It doesn’t make Carmella look that good, but her gimmick is to be a chickenshit heel, so Carmella being a cheap heel is how she should be booked. I’m also happy that new champion Natalya didn’t get beat in her first match post title. It was her partner rather than her.
Still to come: Styles vs. Owens for the US Title with Corbin as the referee.
There were more images shown from SummerSlam.
Dolph Ziggler was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes backstage. Ziggler said he’s excited to be back re-introducing himself to the WWE Universe…in a backstage interview. “Way to roll out the red carpet guys, it’s good to know where I stand.” Ziggler said he was watching a lot of Raw and Smackdown Live, so now he knows what it takes to be a star in WWE. Ziggler said he’ll start singing, playing guitar, maybe rap a little bit, dance around like an idiot, a bunch of lights, a spotlight and lots of lasers. Ziggler said he’ll get a big fancy robe because that’s what it takes and a beautiful woman escorts him to the ring…that glows to the ring. Ziggler said that’s what he plans on doing…next week.
Analysis: It was an over the top, sarcastic promo from a heel character that is booked to be frustrated where he is on the show, which makes sense because he should be frustrated. I’m not sure what his direction will be or if he has any sort of push whenever he is back in the ring.
Lana was shown talking on a cell phone in the locker room. This company sure loves the “start the scene using a cell phone” thing huh? Tamina showed up with Lana telling her that the ravishing journey to the title begins next week. Lana told her to close her eyes and remember the feeling of being in the locker room full of people, yet feeling all alone because they don’t see you and you don’t fit in. Lana said they are different. Lana told her to let that anger fester inside of her. Lana told Tamina to open her eyes. Lana said that one by one they will crush the competition and they won’t stop until Tamina becomes champion. Lana said Tamina will be the most feared woman on Smackdown Live.
Analysis: There’s finally a storyline for Tamina after all these years. I don’t know if it’s going to work because Tamina isn’t that interesting in the ring or as a character, but Lana’s presence will certainly help.
Styles was shown walking with the US Title on his shoulder. Corbin said he made a deal with Owens. Styles told Corbin there will be an open challenge every week, so he told Corbin to answer the challenge if he wants a shot at the US Title.
Baron Corbin entered as the referee of the main event.
Kevin Owens made his entrance as the challenger for the United States Title.
AJ Styles, the United States Champion, made his entrance. Baron Corbin, the referee, held up the US Title to start the match.
United States Championship: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (Baron Corbin is the referee)
Owens did his usual act of bailing to the floor as soon as the bell rang. Owens went back in to take control. Styles came back with a dropkick that sent Owens out of the ring. Styles jumped over the top with a forearm to knock down Owens as they went to break.
Back from break, Styles went for an attack out of the ring, but Owens tripped him up on the apron. Owens hit a fallaway slam that sent Styles into the barricade. Back in the ring, Owens slapped on the chinlock. Owens let him go and slapped on another chinlock while the announcers said Corbin was doing a good job as the referee. It’s not like he was doing much when the guy was in a chinlock. Styles broke out of it with a front facebuster slam that sent Owens face first into the mat. Styles hit Owens with a series of strikes to the face followed by a running forearm. Corner clothesline by Styles followed by a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for a two count with Corbin counting the pin attempt fairly. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, Owens avoided it and Styles came back with the Calf Crusher submission. Owens nearly tapped, he didn’t get to the ropes and Corbin told Styles that Owens touched the bottom rope while Styles said that he didn’t grab it. Owens shoved Styles, who bumped into Corbin. Rollup by Owens got a two count and another rollup for two. Double clothesline spot by Styles and Owens knocked them both down. Shane McMahon ran down to the ring to yell at Corbin about what he was doing. As Corbin bickered with Shane, Owens hit a low blow punch on Styles. Corbin tried to count, so Shane pulled Corbin out of the ring because Shane saw Owens hit the low blow while Corbin didn’t see it. Shane told Corbin he was done as referee, so Corbin gave Shane the ref shirt. Owens was mad about it as Shane put the shirt on. Owens bickered with Shane in the ring. Styles drove Owens throat first into the top rope. Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm off the top and Shane counted the pin with Styles winning the match after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: *** It was another finish where the refereeing was a bigger story than the actual match, but they did a very good job in telling a story. As much as I like these guys as performers, I’m glad this feud is over for now because they had too many matches in the last few months. Sadly, they didn’t have that classic match I would have expected from them. Styles and Owens did well in terms of telling the story of the match with Owens freaking out about Corbin leaving. Styles got the win immediately after Shane put himself in as the referee.
Replays aired of the finish.
Styles celebrated with the US Title in the ring while Owens was furious as he walked up the ramp. Shane was in the ref shirt in the ring staring at Owens. Styles held up the US Title as the victor as the show came to a close.
Analysis: It should lead to Owens vs. Shane in a match probably at Hell in a Cell in October. Perhaps they will save it for Survivor Series, but I think Hell in a Cell would be a good place to do it. As for Styles, I’m not sure who his next challenger will be for the US Title. Baron Corbin is the most obvious choice since they haven’t had a proper feud yet. There aren’t that many other options unless they put Ziggler in there. Styles vs. Sami Zayn in a face vs. face rivalry would be really good too. Rusev is another guy that could be a contender even though he wasn’t booked well against John Cena or Randy Orton in recent feuds.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Bobby Roode
2. AJ Styles
3. Kevin Owens
Shoutout to Shelton Benjamin too.
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 5
2017 Average: 6.92
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.72 – Raw is at 5.88
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 5, 8.5, 8, 5.5
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11, August 1)
2017 Low: 5 (May 16, July 18, August 8, August 15)
It gets a 6.5 out of 10.
My rating is slightly below the yearly average for Smackdown, but it was still a good show. I thought it was entertaining in terms of not boring me at all in the two hours. In terms of match quality, it was below average, but like I always say about Smackdown it moved at a brisk pace, which always helps. When you don’t have a lot of boring segments or waste of time moments like on Raw it’s a good thing.
The addition of Bobby Roode is great for Smackdown. I’m not surprised that he’s in a face role. I like him better as a heel, but for now this is the right way to use him because he’s so popular with that song.
The next Smackdown pay-per-view is Hell in a Cell on Sunday, October 8.
There’s nothing announced yet. They have plenty of time. Based on this week’s show, I think Mahal vs. Nakamura and Owens vs. Shane are very possible.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.