Welcome to Indie Wrestling Podcast’s review of this week’s edition of Smackdown Live. Tonight we expect fallout from an underwhelming and disappointing Battleground, as WWE builds the Smackdown side of the upcoming Summerslam card. After a controversial finish at Battleground, what will be the fate of the United States championship? Will we find out who has been attacking Breezango? Who will step up to challenge Jinder Mahal? Read on to find out all.
Newly crowned US champion Kevin Owens makes his entrance in formal wear to a mixed but mostly negative reaction from the crowd. He talks about being a 3-time champion now, and brags about being the best. He mentions the US open challenge, and claims it will be held “Nnnnnext week”, to a chorus of boos after teasing the fans. Owens says the “hicks” in Richmond, Virginia don’t deserve to see him defend his title. AJ Styles emerges, claiming he wants his rematch and wants it tonight. The crowd is really good tonight. Owens reiterates that he won’t be defending his title tonight. They fail to mention the finish to the Battleground match, suggesting it may well have been botched.
Holy Sh*t! Chris Jericho has returned! The crowd goes absolutely nuts for Y2J!
“It’s the return of Jericho. Welcome back mannnnn!” KO questions why Y2J is here, and Jericho does the “quiet” shitck. Jericho claims he is back for his mandatory rematch, but AJ states he’s next in line for a title shot. Jericho explains how he once “punched [a guy] in the face and put him in a walls of Jericho in aisle 7 in front of the canned corn” for cutting in line in a supermarket. Jericho adds Styles to the list, and as KO scurries off Jericho calls him a stupid idiot.
Shane O’Mac emerges, announcing that tonight’s main event will be a triple threat for the US title! Great opening segment.
Match #1: Shinsuke Nakamura def. Baron Corbin
This was far superior to their match at Battleground. Corbin worked a particularly nasty style. Slow, methodical, and cunning. Corbin attempted to hit the reverse kick low blow as he did at Battleground, but in a nice spot of continuity and awareness, Nakamura avoided it. After hitting Corbin with a nasty knee to the back of the head, he finished off Corbin with a Kinshasa for the win. As this feud now appears to be over, where this leaves Corbin going forward, and in particular for Summerslam, remains to be seen.
Backstage segment between Naomi and Natalya
Natalya claims Naomi is a bad champion, and has made a mockery of the title by making it look like a toy. Naomi claims Nattie will be “blinded by the glow”. Carmella drops by to remind Naomi to her and her Money in the Bank contract are just “looking to the future”.
Match #2: Charlotte and Becky Lynch def. Tamina and Lana
They really need to do some character work with Tamina, she gets an absolutely dead reaction every night. Change her music, at least.
The heels got the early advantage of Becky. Lana again looked very out of her depth here, she really needed more seasoning before getting in the ring.
The ending came as Charlotte was legal and Lana made a blind tag to Tamina. The Queen ducked a Lana clothesline, cleared Tamina from the ring and hit the Ravishing Russian with a big boot for the win. Post-match, Tamina was furious with Lana, her kayfabe inexperience proving to be their downfall in this match.
Jinder Mahal demands a Summerslam opponent
Jinder enters to unreal heel heat. He’s getting better reactions every single week.
Mahal claims he destroyed Ortons legacy, and that Orton underestimated him. He demands to find out his Summerslam opponent, and begins speaking to “his people in his language”, which gets a lot of heat.
Who emerges only the face that runs the place, John Cena, to a thunderous ovation. We can’t say this wasn’t expected. Jinder claims he knows what Cena was going to say, such as his amount of title reigns and that Mahal doesn’t deserve to be champion. Cena contradicts this, as he congratulates Mahal. He respects Mahal for being in such good shape, and the WWE title means so much to him that he’ll do anything to keep it.
Cena gives Jinder a heads up, saying that at Summerslam he is facing “Supercena”. He claims he will walk out a 17-time champion, to a mixed reaction. Short, sweet and to the point.
General manager Daniel Bryan enters the fray, saying that Cena doesn’t make the matches, he and Shane do. So, he decides that next week, John Cena will face Shinsuke Nakamura for the number one contendership at Summerslam. Wow! Are ratings really that bad, or are they just trying to improve the product in general?
Backstage segment with Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon
KO complains about how the title match tonight is unfair, and claims he dislikes the commissioner. Shane expresses similar feelings towards Owens, and says he doesn’t care who is US champion, as long as it is defended on Smackdown Live.
Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger def. Mike Kanellis & Aidan English
English serenades the crowd prior to the match, as he introduces his partner. The Maestro of Mayhem is actually getting very good heat lately. It could be because he is feuding with Dillinger, but much credit must go to himself. He could prove to be a solid mid-card heel for years to come.
Sidenote: The Kanellis’s theme is absolutely awesome. They are so self-consumed within their own bubble of affection.\
The heels isolated Zayn in the early going, as the fans in attendance were firmly behind the babyfaces. Dillinger got the hot tag and went to work on Kanellis. After a brief exchange, Zayn tagged himself in and scored the win off a Helluva Kick. “Love is dead”, proclaimed JBL after the bell rang.
New Day make an appearance
Well, they did, albeit brief and unrewarding. Big E was doing his voiceover to introduce his team, when it was cut mid-way through. Fans were confused for a moment, until we saw the Uso’s Clobbering Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston. They tossed Kofi into the edge of one of the LED boards, as they laid waste to the New Day. A segement doesn’t need to be long to be effective, and this was a perfect example of that.
AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens to become new the United States champion
It was billed as one of the biggest main events in Smackdown history, and didn’t disappoint.
Jericho and Styles jointly targeted Owens right out of the gate, after which Jericho and Styles went through a series of quick pin attempts. Styles was cleared from the ring, which left just Owens and Y2J to tear into each other. At one point, in a great spot, Styles had Owens trapped in the Calf Crusher and it appeared he would tap, but Jericho managed to break it up with a Lionsault. The Phenomenal One hit Y2J with a springboard 450 splash, but KO cleared him from the ring for the pin attempt, but Jericho kicked out.
Y2J got Styles into a Walls of Jericho, but broke it as KO was oncoming. He got Owens in position for one also, but instead flung him into Styles. He got Owens into the Walls, with with some savy ring awareness, broke it to hit Styles with a Codebreaker. After an exchange which left all 3 men were grounded, the fans went crazy.
Styles set u for a springboard move, but Jericho knocked him off in a nasty-looking spot with a springboard kick of his own, after which he walked directly into a Superkick from Owens. KO then hit a Pop-up Powerbomb, but Y2J kicked out.
The ending came when KO hit a Frog Splash on Jericho, got to a 2-count, but Styles reappeared, pulled Owens off, and got the pin himself.
After the match, Owens complained that this match wasn’t fair in the first place, and that he’ll get his rematch on Smackdown next week.
This exactly the kind of show Smackdown needed to rebound after a poor edition of Battleground. Good storyline development, great in-ring action, big announcements and surprise returns was the injection of energy needed into the brand. Cena versus Nakamura next week will be absolutely huge, and will surely be one of the best TV matches this year.
Thanks for reading my review!