This week’s Smackdown Live has the following matches announced for this week: Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (not for KO’s US Title), AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler in a rematch from last week, the trio of Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya, Carmella & Tamina in a rematch from Backlash. Plus, the New Day makes their in-ring “debut” on Smackdown Live. Good job by WWE announcing so much before the show.
Live from Rochester, New York this is Smackdown Live for episode #929. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the creative banner up top.
The opening video package featured the women of Smackdown having a wild brawl last week, which led to the announcement of the first ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match on June 18.
Women’s Money in the Bank briefcase reveal
The women in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match were in the ring as Commissioner Shane McMahon made his entrance to a nice ovation. Shane entered the ring. The announce team is Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton like usual.
Shane welcomed us to Smackdown Live and asked Rochester how they’re doing, which led to cheers. Shane introduced us to the participants of the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match.
Shane introduced the women in order: Tamina, Natalya, Carmella (with James Ellsworth), Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Loud cheers for the last two and boos for the first three. Shane asked for a drumroll.
The briefcase lowered and Shane took off the cover to reveal the white Money in the Bank briefcase that the women will be competing for. Shane wondered what woman will be holding that briefcase on June 18.
— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2017
Shane talked about the great risk in the Money in the Bank match. Shane said that inside the case is a contract for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Champion any time and any place whenever the winner wants. Shane noted that it’s almost a guarantee that whoever cashes in has gone on to become the champion.
James Ellsworth complained about Shane explaining Money in the Bank because we know what’s going to happen with Carmella winning. Carmella said she’s going to win. Charlotte Flair told her to pipe down. Charlotte said she was more genetically superior than all of them combined and let out a WOO. Natalya complained about Charlotte ripping off her father’s WOO phrase, so Natalya did her “best there is…” speech and Lynch told Natalya the only thing she’s good at is ripping off her uncle. That was clever. Lynch said she’ll be Miss Money in the Bank. Tamina said they all talk too much, but when they get to St. Louis she’ll take that briefcase and shut them up.
Naomi made her “feel the glow” entrance. She’s the Smackdown Women’s Champion and is a part of this six woman tag match. Naomi said she knows that Money in the Bank match will be “lit” and she wishes she was in it, but she’s not because she’s the champion. Naomi said she’s ready and was cut off by some music.
Lana made her “debut” wearing a blue dress looking ravishing as usual. Lana entered the ring with the other women.
Shane told Lana this isn’t the correct time. Fans chanted “Lana” when she got out there. Lana did her accent like usual while saying that Naomi can’t compete, but she can. Fans chanted “yes” while other women in the ring were laughing.
Naomi laughed about Lana wanting to be in the match. Naomi noted that Lana hasn’t even had a singles match yet (on television) and asked who she has ever beat. Fans booed because they like Lana. Lana told Naomi she can beat her. Shane said that a championship match is something that Lana needs to earn. Lana yelled angrily in Russian and left, which led to boos. Match is up next.
Analysis: There was a lot to digest in the 15 minutes there. That’s a typical length of a show opening promo, which Smackdown doesn’t do as often as Raw. I liked it for the most part. The women each cut quick promos, Shane got to reveal the white briefcase (same as the background of the women’s title) they are competing for and Lana tried to get added to the mix. It should lead to something where Lana gets put in a match to try to prove herself. The opening promos feel repetitive a lot of the time, but at least it felt different with the women in there.
Shane said let’s clear the ring and get this match going after the break.
A commercial aired for Raw next Monday with Brock Lesnar returning.
The match started during the break. It’s a rematch from Backlash.
Natalya, Tamina & Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) vs. Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch & Naomi
Charlotte started with Natalya. Some hard chops by both women. Charlotte hit a knee drop and brought in Lynch, who hit a jumping kick to the face. Lynch battled with Carmella with Lynch getting multiple nearfalls on her. They did a spot where Lynch spun her around the ring using her legs. Running forearm smash by Lynch for two on Carmella. Lynch went for a move off the ropes, Carmella sent her to the floor and Natalya hit a discus clothesline on Lynch on the floor. They went to break about four minutes into it.
Back from break, the heels were still in control of Lynch in their corner with Tamina applying a chinlock. Natalya slammed Lynch by the back of the head and Lynch came back with a rollup for two, so Natalya hit her with a forearm. Sitout slam by Natalya earned a two count. Lynch hit an enziguri kick on Natalya. Carmella got the tag and Naomi did as well. Back elbow by Naomi, kicks to the body and a jawbreaker by Naomi. Hard kicks by Naomi to Tamina, but Tamina drove her back into the turnbuckle. Naomi hit a kick to the face and a cross body block off the top rope for a two count. Charlotte into the ring with a boot to the face of Carmella. Lana made her way down to ringside. Naomi was distracted by her. Naomi kicked Tamina, so Lana tripped up Naomi on the apron with Naomi bumping on her back on the apron. The ref was distracted by the others on the other side of the ring. Tamina hit a superkick on Naomi for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Natalya, Tamina & Carmella
Analysis: **1/2 It was a pretty good match with a cheap finish. The heels isolated Becky Lynch for most of it. I thought Charlotte would have a bigger role, but she was barely in the match. I’m not surprised that Lana played a part in the end because she felt disrespected earlier and as a heel she should cost the woman that laughed at her, which was Naomi in this case. It’s easy to see why Lana would do that. Tamina getting a win is good for her because she rarely gets wins, so it gives her some momentum heading into the women’s MITB match. I want Natalya to win that ladder match, but I can see it going to Charlotte too.
Shane McMahon was in his “office” with the Andre the Giant battle royal trophy there. Mojo Rawley went up to him saying winning that trophy at WrestleMania was the greatest moment of his career. Rawley noted that he’s been on the bench for like two months now. Rawley said he just wants an opportunity. Rawley said there’s only one person on the entire roster that has beaten Jinder Mahal since he’s been on Smackdown and that’s him. Shane mentioned a lot of talent there like Tye Dillinger and Luke Harper (led to cheers since he’s from Rochester). Shane told Rawley that he will have a match with Jinder Mahal and if he wins he can be a part of Money in the Bank match. Mojo was excited about it, so he shook Shane’s hand and left.
Analysis: Rawley made a good point that it felt like he was on the bench since WrestleMania. It’s right for him to want to get an opportunity and be excited about it. There are a lot of other performers that need more time too. It’s just tough to fit them all in.
Still to come: Nakamura vs. Owens and Styles vs. Ziggler.
AJ Styles made his entrance first to a huge ovation. Dolph Ziggler entered next to boos. Ziggler beat Styles in last week’s main event. Both men are a part of the Money in the Bank contract ladder match on June 18.
AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler
They started out with some mat wrestling early on. Ziggler hit a headbutt, Styles with forearms and Ziggler with a dropkick. They went to break about one minute into it.
Back from break, they exchanged punches in the ring. Styles avoided a Fameasser and hit a hard clothesline. Ziggler tripped up Styles leading to a pin with his feet on the ropes, but the ref saw it. Ziggler hit a Fameasser for a two count. Ziggler went for a superplex, Styles slipped out and Styles shoved him when Ziggler went for a tornado DDT. Styles hit a forearm. Styles was able to avoid Ziggler’s attempt at blocking a springboard move. Ziggler went for a pin attempt with his hand on the ropes, but was only good for a two count. Styles did a fantastic counter of a Ziggler move in the center of the ring and Styles hit the Styles Clash to win by pinfall after about seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: **1/4 Good for the time given. They got more time last week and it was better because of that. I don’t like when a match that’s under ten minutes has a commercial break. They need to time that better. No surprise that Styles got the win since Ziggler won last week, so the typical 50/50 booking strikes again. They should have shaved some time off the women’s opening promo segment and given more time to this match.
Fashion Files featuring the Fashion Police (Breezango)
There was a video of Tyler Breeze looking at some pics on his wall such as Michael Hayes as a “repeat offender” as well as photos of guys like Billy Kidman, Tony Chimel and Enzo Amore among others. Fandango said he found out that it wasn’t the Colon’s cologne last week, so they kept saying “Colon’s cologne” repeatedly and then they thought they were close to figuring something out.
The New Day trio went up to the Fashion Files office. Big E commented that they were in black and white (because Fashion Files scenes are in black and white rather than color), which was good for a cheap laugh. New Day said they had a case for them. New Day gave them rompers to wear. Fandango threw it down. Breeze put on his romper and looked ridiculous in it. New Day asked them if they had intel on The Usos. Breezango gave them three boxes. They showed the “Day One Ish” shirts and said “Day One Is H” again. There was an ongoing bit where Breezango was thinking stuff without saying it, so New Day had no idea how to react yet those of us watching could hear what Fashion Police were thinking. New Day trio slowly backed out.
Analysis: There were some funny moments in there. I’m glad that they are continuing the Fashion Files scenes even though they’re not in the title picture anymore. Breeze wearing the romper looked ridiculous, but that’s why they did it for a cheap laugh. If they skipped this segment and gave the time to Styles/Ziggler that would have been better.
Mojo Rawley made his entrance. He was excited like usual.
There was a video for John Cena making his Smackdown return on July 4 in Phoenix. Cena tweeted about it last week.
The Singh Brothers stood on the ramp and introduced the WWE Champion, “The Modern Day Maharajah” Jinder Mahal.
Mahal made his entrance with the WWE Title on his shoulder. The Singh Brothers put a carpet in the ring, so that when Mahal entered the ring he stood on the carpet while holding up the WWE Title.
Analysis: Putting the carpet in the ring after the entrance is a nice touch. It’s a small thing, but I like it because it’s unique to Jinder.
Jinder Mahal (w/Samir & Sunil Singh) vs. Mojo Rawley
This is not for Mahal’s WWE Title.
Rawley hit an arm drag early on with Mahal escaping to the apron to create some space. Rawley hit a shoulder tackle to knock Mahal out of the ring. Mahal went back in the ring and Rawley hit another shoulder tackle. The Singh Bros distracted Rawley, so Mahal hit a kick to the head to take control. Stomps by Mahal followed by a clothesline. Rawley hit a back suplex to counter a headlock. Rawley with two shoulder tackles, a clothesline and a corner splash. Rawley put Mahal on his shoulders, Mahal gouged the eyes, Mahal sent Rawley into the ring post and Mahal hit the Cobra Clutch Slam called The Khallas for the win. It went about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jinder Mahal
Analysis: *1/4 It was an easy win for Mahal. Rawley got some offense in (he does too many shoulder tackles), but there wasn’t a point in the match where it looked like Rawley might win. There was only a mild distraction from the Singh Brothers, so it wasn’t that cheap of a win by Mahal. This felt like a house show match or on Superstars, which is where these guys used to be a lot.
Post match, Mahal had the microphone in hand. Mahal said that he was the WWE Champion and the fans chanted “USA” at him. Mahal said he dismantled the dreams of Mojo Rawley just like he’s going to do to Randy Orton in St. Louis in the USA. Mahal said that Orton is sick and he’s the antidote while noting that we will have to accept him as the Modern Day Maharajah. Mahal spoke in Punjabi as the crowd booed. Mahal posed with the title to end it.
Analysis: Simple promo to get heat. No sign of Orton. The fans chanting “USA” is the kind of reaction WWE wants them to do.
A quick video package aired about Shinsuke Nakamura with somebody drawing a picture of while also showing clips of him in action.
The New Day was shown walking backstage for their first match on Smackdown Live.
Analysis: It is not their Smackdown debut, but it’s the first time they’re in a match since the show was named Smackdown Live last year, so that’s why WWE says people make their “debut” even though they were on in previous years. It’s confusing, I know.
Randy Orton was backstage and Renee Young interviewed him. Orton said last week after Smackdown Live, he had the honor of getting calls from legends like his dad, Ric Flair and Harley Race. Orton said they said that actions speak louder than words. Orton talked about how he doesn’t even have to say one word and Jinder Mahal is going to hear him just fine.
Analysis: That was quick and to the point by Mr. RKO, who isn’t known for speaking a lot. I think the feud needs more in terms of physical interaction with Orton and Mahal. Have them brawl or do something exciting because right now it’s pretty boring.
The Colons were in the ring to face The New Day.
The New Day made their entrance to a big ovation from the crowd. Big E dumped some cereal on some fans. No promo from them.
The New Day’s Big E & Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. The Colons (Primo & Epico)
Woods took down Primo with a headscissors. Woods with a running dropkick to the back of Primo while he was up against the ropes. Epico tagged in, Woods ducked an attack and hit a forearm. Big E tagged in with a shoulder tackle followed by a clothesline. Double abdominal stretch by the two New Day guys. They sent the heels out of the ring and the show went to break.
Back from break, Primo hit a clothesline on Woods against the turnbuckle. Woods broke free from the corner and hit the missile dropkick on Primo that looked impressive. Hot tag to Big E against Epico. Big E hit two belly to belly overhead suplexes and a side belly to belly followed by a big splash. Big E dumped Primo over the top to the floor. Woods hit a somersault dive over the top to take out Primo on the floor. Epico rollup for two. Woods hit a kick to the head of Epico, Woods tagged in and Big E picked up Epico for the Midnight Hour finisher (double team Big Ending) for the win after seven minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day
Analysis: **1/4 Easy win by New Day as expected. The Colons rarely get victories and are just there to put over the face teams on the roster. Good to see Woods showing off his athleticism because he’s a talented in-ring performer. They set up the finish well with the Midnight Hour finisher.
The Usos showed up on stage to do a promo. They congratulated them on the win, but Jimmy said they had the tag division on lock. Jey welcomed them to the Usos penitentiary. Jimmy said that Kofi Kingston is missing a tutu and Jey called him a ballerina with that hair Kofi has. Jimmy asked Big E if those are his initials or his bra size. Fans laughed. Jey told Woods to look “up up, down down” (video game channel on Youtube that Woods runs) and asked what are those curled boots. Fans laughed again. The Usos ended it saying it’s not paranoia, it’s The Usos.
Analysis: I’m a big fan of the heel Usos. Those promos are fun and unique. The jokes were a bit cheesy, but that’s okay because they’re heels that can get away with being like that. I would like to see them have matches more often. However, if there’s not time then doing quality two minute promos like that is a good thing.
Kevin Owens was shown getting ready backstage.
Sami Zayn was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes in the interview area backstage. Zayn said he’s been watching a lot of footage on his opponents to get ready. Zayn noted that the one guy he can’t figure out is Shinsuke Nakamura. Zayn said he’s going to do commentary on the Nakamura/Owens match. Zayn talked about how Nakamura is so charismatic that you forget how hard he can strike out there. Baron Corbin interrupted and took the microphone. Corbin punched Zayn in the face. Why wasn’t Zayn ready for that? Poor Sami. Corbin hit Zayn in the back with a ladder that just happened to be there. Corbin told Zayn that Nakamura isn’t who he should worry about…and he threw him into ladders. Corbin said it looks like a spot on commentary just opened up and walked away.
Analysis: Funny how those ladders just happened to be there, huh? What a coincidence! Anyway, Zayn getting beat up by Corbin is something that happens way too often. It should lead to Zayn getting revenge later. (He did not. I thought he should have!)
Shane McMahon was talking on the phone with somebody (Daniel Bryan?) about what just happened. Naomi went into the office to complain about Lana. Shane said he’s busy and Naomi has no obligation to fight her. Naomi said she really wants to fight her and put her title on the line. Shane asked if she really wants it. Shane announced Naomi vs. Lana at Money in the Bank for the Smackdown Women’s Title. Naomi suggested that Lana invests in a Russian hat because she’s going to snatch Lana bald.
Analysis: They needed more matches at Money in the Bank, so that’s a way to do it. Lana has been wrestling at NXT live events for a few months. She must have improved enough for WWE to put her in a PPV title match. Did she earn it by winning on TV? Nope. That’s something some fans will complain about, I’m sure. It would be nice if she actually won a match to earn it, but instead it’s a face champion in Naomi willing to do it because she doesn’t like her. That’s enough of a story to make it work. I doubt Lana wins the title. You never know, though. Look at Jinder as WWE Champion. That’s why the “land of opportunity” phrase works.
Kevin Owens, the US Champion, made his entrance for the main event.
Talking Smack is up later on WWE Network. It has Renee Young and Shane McMahon hosting with AJ Styles, Mojo Rawley & Lana as the guests.
There was a 205 Live promo from TJP talking about his Cruiserweight Title match against Neville.
Baron Corbin joined the announce team.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his spectacular entrance to a huge ovation from the crowd. There was pyro that went off when he did his in-ring pose, so that is new to the intro.
Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is not for KO’s US Title. Owens has a broken right thumb, so he has a cover on it. Owens noted on Twitter that he won’t miss any time because of it and he’s right because he’s out there in the main event.
The main event started at 9:46pmET with the crowd chanting for Nakamura. Owens tried an attack, but Nakamura avoided it and hit an enziguri kick to the head. They went to break one minute into the match.
Owens was in control of the action when they returned from break as he slapped on a headlock. A replay aired from action during the break with Owens hitting a fallaway slam into the barricade. Owens hit a DDT for a two count. Nakamura got back to his feet, hit some punches and a running kick to the face. Nakamura hit Owens with kicks, a forearm and a hard kick to the face. Running knee in the corner by Nakamura followed by the knee lift in the corner for a two count. JBL said best wishes to Harley Race, who suffered two broken legs recently. Owens came back with a headbutt and a corner clothesline. Owens wanted a superplex, Nakamura fought him off and Owens pulled him down by the leg. Owens with a cannonball in the corner. Nakamura hit his spin kick followed by a reverse exploder suplex. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa running knee and the pinfall win after 12 minutes. I miss Graves on commentary yelling Kinshasa when Nakamura hits it.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: *** Good match for the time given. It’s another match on this show where I wish they got more time because at no point did I think Owens was going to win. There wasn’t time for him to get nearfalls to make you think Nakamura would lose. Nakamura has pinned Owens in consecutive weeks leading up to this, so no surprise that he got the win here. A champion like Owens losing non-title makes the US Title look bad, but that’s something WWE does all the time. I have no problem with Nakamura going over because it gives him a lot of momentum going into Money in the Bank as a favorite to win that match.
After the match was over, they showed replays and Nakamura celebrated the win. Corbin went into the ring and hit the End of Days slam on Nakamura, who never saw it coming.
Analysis: It was obvious that was coming with Nakamura posing in the ring with Corbin out there. That’s what a heel like Corbin should do.
Corbin walked up the ramp as replays showed of his attack. A graphic reminded us of the Money in the Bank match on June 18. Smackdown went off the air with Corbin walking up the ramp. Nakamura was out in the ring while Corbin posed on the ramp to end the show right at 10pmET.
Analysis: I thought Zayn might get out there to fight with Corbin to end the show. Nope. Maybe next week.
I’ll keep going with Corbin as my Money in the Bank ladder match winner, but it really could be any of the others. I may change my mind on that prediction in the next two weeks.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Shinsuke Nakamura
2. Kevin Owens
3. AJ Styles
7 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2017 Average: 7.04
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.74 – Raw is at 5.87
Last 5 Weeks: 7.5, 7, 5, 7, 6.5, 7
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11)
2017 Low: 5 (May 16)
It gets a 7 out of 10.
That was a good show and right around the yearly average for Smackdown. There were good matches all night long although none of them really stood out.
I liked the main event, but I wish they got more time. I said that about Styles/Ziggler too. That doesn’t mean I want the show to be three hours like Raw is. It’s just tough to have amazing matches when time is limited.
— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2017
The next Smackdown brand PPV is Money in the Bank on June 18 in St. Louis. Here is what we know so far.
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The Usos vs. The New Day
Money in the Bank Women’s Ladder Match: Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Tamina
Smackdown Women’s Title: Naomi vs. Lana
There should be some more matches added next week as well.
Please give a listen to our TJRWrestling Podcast on Podbean, which has at least one new episode per week and sometimes two in a week. You can subscribe on iTunes by searching “TJRWrestling” for it.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.