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WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE REVIEW – 1/8/17

Welcome to Indie Wrestling Podcast’s review of this week’s edition of Smackdown Live. Two huge matches are set for this week: Kevin Owens has invoked his rematch clause for an opportunity against AJ Styles for the United States championship, and a dream match in the form of Shinsuke Nakamura versus John Cena headlines the show in a WWE championship number one contendership match.

What will come of these matches? What’s in store for the ladies of Smackdown Live? Will we get more insight as to who attacked Breezango? Read on to find out!

Match #1: AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens to retain the United States championship (10:20)

We kick off the show straight with a match, which is a nice change of pace. Allows the matches on the card more room to breathe.

The initial in-ring portion of this match was well paced – started slow, before moving up a gear. Styles went for a phenomenal forearm, but avoided it as the action spilled to the outside, with Owens ramming Styles into the barricade. Back in the ring, and Styles locked in the Calf Crusher several times. It appeared Owens would tap out, but he made it out every time.

The big talking point of this match will once again be the ending. There was a ref bump in this match that was badly botched. With the ref positioned behind Styles, Owens was to swing for the Phenomenal One, who would duck, leading to Owens striking the ref. Most of this went perfect, but due to the ref being slightly out of position, there was absolutely no contact between Owens and the ref, making for quite the ugly botch. Following this, Owens went for a pop-up powerbomb which Styles reversed into a pin. The dazed ref counted 3, despite KO’s right shoulder being up for the entire count. They packed a lot into a not-so-long match.

Backstage, and Daniel Bryan and Shane O’Mac are tending to ref Mike Chioda, whilst also stating he made a bad call. KO walks in and is losing it with Shane McMahon about the finish to his earlier match. Shane agrees he has a valid claim to another match for the US title. Owens complains about wanting a competent referee for the match. Daniel Bryan butts in, and says he has a ref, and that it will be Shane. Owens goes even crazier. Shane then decides that Owens will only get his rematch, if Shane is the guest referee. Owens agrees and storms off. Infuriated Owens is the best kind of Owens.

Back in the arena, and we hear Big E’s pre-match mic shtick, but it’s very off, saying “clap your hands for your buster up tag champs”. It turns out it was the Uso’s mocking the New Day. The cut a promo, beginning “What did you expect?”, running down the New Day. They claim they’ll take their catchphrases and their titles, then end with an “Uso’s Rock” chant. Uso’s have been on fire of late.

The Fashion Files

This week’s edition of the Fashion Files has a Twin Peaks theme. We cut to Breeze in his office, as he makes a voice recording while looking at his notice board. He asks 2 questions: “Who kidnapped Fandango?”, and “Why didn’t I just call you instead of recording this?”. Breeze reached for a coffee, but it’s thick and lumpy. As he looks up, Fandango appears as an illusion. Konnor and Victor also emerge, as Konnor pours syrup onto a log, and Victor gives Fandango a rose. An evil laugh bellows throughout the room, as Breeze can no longer take the metaphors. He wakes up dazed, and records another message saying he knows who kidnapped Fandango. Not the best Fashion Files segment, but entertaining nonetheless.

Match #2: Aidan English def. Sami Zayn (1:58)

Pre-match, The Mozart of Mayhem “wowed” the audience with another of his attempts at singing. There wasn’t much meat to the match, as English defeated Zayn with a roll-up in under 2 minutes.

Yes, you read that right. English appears to be getting a bit of a push, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing. It’s hard to see him being a big draw, but could fit well into a solid mid-card heel role. He’s been getting quite good heat of late. He could do with new music, however. On the other hand, plenty of people will be unhappy with Zayn losing these types of matches, especially in these circumstances. This writer feels it’s all part of the bigger picture for Zayn, though.

After the match, Mike and Maria Kannelis emerged, stating they are in love and that they love that Zayn just lost. Pointless isn’t a strong enough word.

Match #3: Naomi and Becky Lynch def. Carmella and Natalya (4:52)

Ms. Money in the Bank, and the number one contender to the Smackdown Women’s championship get the jobber’s entrance, to this writer’s utter bemusement.

This match underwhelmed, as it never really got into a high gear. Shame, given the level of talent involved. Towards the end, The Queen of Harts had Naomi locked into a sharpshooter, but Naomi made a rope break. While in the corner, to Natalya’s surprise and dismay, Carmella tagged herself in. After transitioning Carmella’s Code of Silence into a Rings of Saturn, Carmella was forced to tap out.

Backstage segment with Jinder Mahal. He claims he doesn’t care who wins tonight’s number one contendership match, as he will watch Cena vs. Nakamura from his personal skybox. The only thing he feels is xenophobia whenever he walks down the street. He believes no one can end his reign, as he always takes down our heroes. The skybox move should be used slightly more frequently, but not too much more frequently. It’s very different, and feels like a big deal when someone employs it.

Match #4: Rusev def. Chad Gable (6:15)

Gable was allowed to show off his technical prowess and incredible strength in a way that we haven’t yet seen from him on the main roster. Despite the big storyline Jason Jordan has been thrown into, Gable has all the potential to be a big star on his own. It was interesting to note that Gable is now using a version Eddie Guerrero’s “Three Amigos”, but he uses overhead no-release belly-to-belly suplexes. That should prove to be a popular weapon in his arsenal. During the match, Gable pulled out a moonsault and an ankle lock. Coincidence?

Gable was all over Rusev for the majority of the match, but Rusev had an answer for everything thrown at him. Rusev broke an ankle lock, forcing Gable out of the ring. When he re-entered, he was met with a kick to the jaw, and an Accolade, leading to a submission victory for Rusev.

This match was a perfect example of how to make 2 superstars look good coming out of a match, even with one winning clean. It was highly competitive, with either superstar looking like they could come out on top throughout.

Post-match, Rusev complains about a lack of competition, stating Cena didn’t beat him in the ring. Orton comes out, and despite people calling him bland or boring, he is extremely popular with the crowd. Randy strolls down to the announce tables, and says if he were Rusev, he wouldn’t want for Orton to get into the ring either. As Orton gets into the ring, Rusev begins trash-talking in Bulgarian, when he goes to attack Orton, who avoids the attempt and lays him out with an RKO.

We’re getting Orton vs Rusev at Summerslam, which should be fantastic. This is the level of competition Rusev should be facing if he wants to propel himself up the card. Let’s hope Randy does the honours at Summerslam.

It’s announced that next week on Smackdown, Carmella will take on Naomi in non-title action, as per a request of hers following her tap out earlier in the show.

Match #5: Shinsuke Nakamura def. John Cena (10:16)

As the match opens, we get shots of Mahal from his skybox. The crowd is electric as the bell rings. Some mind games played by both at the beginning, appropriate given those involved. Nakamura displays some athleticism, he escapes some wristlocks. The mind games transition to chain wrestling, as we head into the break.

As we come back from the break, Nakamura does a kip-up followed by some stiff kicks to Cena’s chest, which riles up the crowd. Cena takes the advantage. He goes for the 5 knuckle shuffle, but Nakamura counters into a cross armbreaker. Cena counters by powering up Nakamura from the ground, hitting an AA but failed to put his opponent away. Nakamura went for a Kinshaha, but Cena hit a take down and put Nakamura into an STF, but he forced a break.

At the end, Cena hit an AA, then rolled through to hit another. This was countered by a Nakamura reverse suplex. Cena took a nasty bump here, landing on the back of his neck. A Kinshasa ended the match, to set up Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuka Nakamura for the WWE championship at Summerslam. If you said that would be the Summerslam WWE title match one week before Wrestlemania, you’d be called crazy.

This edition of Smackdown was much better than in past weeks. Gable, Nakamura, and Owens all got chances to shine, as Smackdown presented a good mixture of in-ring action and storyline development towards Summerslam. Long may it continue

Thanks for reading my review!

Conor Doran

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