Live from Glendale (Phoenix), Arizona this is Smackdown Live for episode #944. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top.
The opening video package showed the speeches from Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens from last week as well as their many incidents over the last few months.
Let’s Hear From Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens made his entrance to start the show with a serious look on his face. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show. Thanks again for not calling Saxton “the insider” like they had done in the past.
A graphic reminded us that Kevin Owens faces Shane McMahon at Hell in a Cell in Detroit on October 8 in what will likely be the main event of that show.
Owens was in the ring doing a promo asking where Shane McMahon is. Owens said that he was called a coward last week for not being at Smackdown Live, but he’s standing in the ring right now, so maybe Shane is the coward. Owens admitted that Shane isn’t actually a coward, he’s a very smart man. Owens said that he had nothing but respect for Vince McMahon, he means it and he actually likes Vince. Owens told Shane that we saw what he would do to a man he likes like Vince McMahon, so imagine what he’ll do to a man he doesn’t like such as Shane.
Sami Zayn made his entrance to interrupt his former best friend and long time rival Kevin Owens. Zayn got into the ring to ask Owens what was wrong with him. Zayn told Owens he has lost control and he reminded him that he headbutted Vince McMahon. Zayn told Owens when he snaps it never ends well. Zayn said when he saw Owens headbutt Vince he knew that Owens snapped. Zayn said he’s there against his better judgment because right now he’s on a collision course with Shane McMahon at Hell in a Cell where he will cross a line he’s never crossed before. Zayn mentioned Kevin’s family and told Owens to get a grip and stop thinking like this right now.
Owens told Sami he didn’t snap. Owens told him not to worry because that’s for Kevin to worry about. Owens said that Sami is out there because once again Owens has completely outshined and eclipsed him like he has done for the last 15 years of their lives. Owens said look at their WWE careers with Owens telling Sami he signed with WWE 2.5 years before Owens yet Owens has been IC Champ twice, he’s been Universal Champion and he won the US Title at WrestleMania while Zayn watched from the back just like Zayn will watch Owens main event Hell in a Cell and destroy Shane McMahon. Owens said if Zayn think he’s gone too far, just watch Hell in a Cell.
Owens asked Zayn what has he ever done that ever had as much impact as Owens smashing his skull on Vince McMahon’s head? Zayn told Owens since coming to WWE, Owens has done more than he’s done because he’s taken every cheap shot, cut every corner and when Sami’s day comes he’s going to do it his way, he’ll do it the right way. The crowd cheered. Zayn put over Owens winning those three titles that Sami hasn’t won and Sami said when he looks himself in the mirror he doesn’t see a giant piece of trash looking back at him.
Owens dropped his microphone and Zayn dropped his microphone. Cue Smackdown’s General Manager Daniel Bryan.
Bryan appeared on the ramp saying that Shane is not there right now and he doesn’t know if he will be there. Bryan said that it might be better for Owens. Bryan said that we’re going to see Kevin Owens fight Sami Zayn and we’re going to see it tonight. Owens walked out of the ring while Zayn stood in the ring staring at him.
Analysis: I thought the promo work from both guys was very good. The crowd was quiet for some of it, but when Zayn got to the part about how he’s going to do everything Owens has done the right way the crowd cheered that loudly. That tells me the people still believe in Zayn a lot even if WWE’s creative team continues to book Zayn poorly despite the fact that he’s one of the best all around talents in the company. As far as Bryan making the match goes, it’s the typical WWE opening segment to set up a match later in the night. It’s as if this company is unable to book a match later in the night without using the opening segment. Some variety would be nice.
There will be a celebration for Rusev later in the show. Also, Tye Dillinger faces Baron Corbin up next.
Baron Corbin made his entrance first. I think Corbin’s entrance song fits his character. Nice to have a song with lyrics as well since so many songs in WWE are just instrumental these days. Highlights aired from last week with Corbin not getting his US Title shot at AJ Styles because of Tye Dillinger attacking him.
Tye Dillinger made his entrance to a pretty good reaction.
The US Champion AJ Styles made his entrance and joined the commentary team for this match.
Corbin yelled at Styles, so Dillinger dumped Corbin over the top to the floor before the bell rang.
Tye Dillinger vs. Baron Corbin
Dillinger was in control as they returned from break, but Corbin came back with a Chokeslam into a backbreaker. Dillinger sent Corbin out of the ring, so Corbin did his run out of the ring and run back in spot. Dillinger stopped him with a kick to the face followed by a knee to the face for a two count. Corbin was on the floor, Dillinger went out and Corbin charged at him, Dillinger moved and Corbin hit the ring steps. Boot to the face by Dillinger while Corbin was on the floor. Corbin slapped Styles in the face. Dillinger went outside the ring, so Corbin whipped Dillinger into Styles. Dillinger couldn’t get back in the ring, so Corbin won by disqualification in about four minutes.
Winner by countout: Baron Corbin
Analysis: *1/2 It was a short match that was okay for the time given until Corbin ended it with the cheap attack. I don’t mind a countout finish like that once in a while if it advances a storyline.
Post match, Corbin kicked Dillinger to knock him down. Styles went into the ring and Corbin left.
Corbin had a microphone while on the ramp. Corbin said he knew Styles and Dillinger were going to work together. Corbin told Styles he can’t beat Corbin one on one for that title. Corbin said that at Hell in a Cell, he wants to face Styles and he’s going to take his United States Championship.
Analysis: Predictable challenge by Corbin.
Rusev is coming up later.
Jinder Mahal was shown walking backstage with the Singh Brothers because they are up next.
A replay aired of what happened before the break.
It was announced that AJ Styles will in fact defend the US Title against Baron Corbin at Hell in a Cell.
Analysis: I’m picking Styles to retain the title in that match, but if Corbin wins that’s fine because I want Styles to lose the US Title. I’d rather see Styles in the main events where he belongs.
Let’s Hear From Jinder Mahal
Jinder Mahal, the WWE Champion, was in the ring with the Singh Brothers and they had the rug in the ring. No televised entrance for Mahal is a bit of a surprise.
Mahal said that he had controversial comments for Shinsuke Nakamura last week and he knew Nakamura was upset, so he had more positive comments this week. Mahal said let’s look at what Nakamura looked like when he saw those comments and then he had a Nakamura picture up. Mahal mocked another Nakamura photo and the Singh brothers did over the top laughter about it. Jinder showed another picture of Nakamura, but this time the picture moved because it was a live shot of Nakamura on the screen. The fans chanted “Nakamura” loudly.
Nakamura said he’s looking at him right here on Smackdown Live. The lights went out in the arena and Nakamura made his full entrance.
Analysis: They did the photos mocking Nakamura the last two weeks and I thought both times it was pretty bad. Last week also crossed a line without providing the laughs they intended. Having Nakamura finally interrupt Mahal is the right way to go.
Nakamura made his entrance to a really good reaction as usual. Mahal sent the Singh Brothers at Nakamura and Nakamura struck them. Mahal attacked Nakamura from behind and sent him into the ring post. Mahal sent Nakamura into the ring. Nakamura came back with a spinning kick to the head. Nakamura hit one of the Singhs with a knee and an elbow. Mahal tried the Khallas, but Nakamura kicked him in the head and Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike to knock Jinder out of the ring. Nakamura posed in the ring as his music played.
Analysis: That was simple and effective. It was Nakamura finally putting end to the trash talk of Mahal by bringing the physicality and knocking out Mahal with the knee to the face. That’s what they should have done last week. A segment like that helps the rivalry because they needed to have a fight to help add to this story that badly needed something fresh like that.
Later on Smackdown is Zayn vs. Owens and Hype Bros vs. The Usos is up next.
The New Day, Smackdown’s Tag Team Champions, made their entrance for the tag match.
The New Day were sitting in the crowd to watch the match as The Usos made their entrance while the Hype Bros were already in the ring. New Day vs. The Usos for SD Tag Titles at Hell in a Cell.
Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Mojo started off with some power with a shoulder tackle, but Jimmy distracted him and Jay clipped the back of the leg of Rawley. Jimmy slapped on a headlock, the New Day tried starting a Mojo chant and it didn’t happen. Mojo hit a back suplex to break free. Ryder got the tag with a clothesline followed by a flapjack. Jimmy punched Rawley to knock him off the apron. Ryder hit a neckbreaker for two. Ryder went to the middle rope, Rawley tagged himself in, Ryder yelled at him for it, Jimmy shoved Mojo into Ryder and Ryder fell to the floor. Jey tagged in and hit a top rope splash on Rawley and pinned him to win the match after three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Analysis: * Easy win for The Usos as expected. The Hype Bros problems continued, so it accomplished the goal of putting over The Usos and also accelerating those Hype Bros problems.
Post match, The Usos told New Day that they belong on the sideline along with the rest of the chumps. The Usos said that come Hell in a Cell, you’re looking at the five-time WWE Tag Team Champions. Big E pulled out a microphone from the popcorn he was holding. Kofi Kingston said that The Usos are talking a big game for two guys that just lost those titles. Big E mentioned The Usos penitentiary and Woods added that they don’t just want to defend the titles at Hell in a Cell, they want to defend the titles INSIDE Hell in a Cell. The Usos seemed interested in that. The crowd let out a small cheer, but not a big reaction.
Analysis: I love that idea and thought that it should have been announced when they first announced the Tag Team Title match at Hell in a Cell. This crowd should have cheered what Woods said a lot more than they did, but they were not a very vocal crowd.
Later in the show is Zayn vs. Owens.
Rusev’s big celebration is up next.
Rusev’s Bulgarian Celebration
Aiden English was in the ring as the Master of Ceremonies for this celebration. English introduced Rusev and noted that Rusev was entering to his country’s national anthem. English introduced Rusev as the man that beat Randy Orton in nine seconds. English even sang the anthem as Rusev made his entrance. I wasn’t expecting that from English, but that’s very impressive.
Rusev entered the ring with the Bulgarian flag. Rusev stood on a platform while a guy said something in Bulgarian about Rusev receiving a key to his city. The fans chanted “what” at the guy. The fans were also booing this guy. The guy spoke in English to say on behalf of the city where Rusev is from (Plovdiv), they are presenting the key to the city to Rusev. He also proclaimed the day, September the 26th as Rusev Day.
Rusev said before we move forward, he would like to take this time to relive his victory from last week when he beat a surprised Randy Orton in nine seconds. Rusev said that last week, the lion of Bulgaria ripped the fangs from The Viper’s mouth. Rusev said Smackdown Live is his jungle now.
English told Rusev he has prepared a song in honor of Rusev Day. English sang about how with Randy’s nine second fail, Rusev became the Alpha Male. English sang that it’s Rusev Day and that’s when Randy Orton showed up with a RKO on Aiden English. Rusev tried to attack, but Orton also hit a RKO on Rusev, who sold it with a headfirst bump that looked nasty just like at SummerSlam. The guy that presented the key got out of there without getting attacked.
Orton celebrated his attack on Rusev as his music played and the segment came to a close.
Analysis: It was fine and felt like every other heel celebration that WWE has ever booked. If you didn't think Orton was going to interrupt with a RKO then you haven't watched enough WWE in your life. That was a predictable way for it to go. I think my favorite part was English’s singing. He’s got so much talent. Taking Lana away from her husband Rusev on screen hasn't been good for either of them.
Sami Zayn went up to Daniel Bryan in the office. Bryan told Zayn that Shane McMahon just landed and Shane said he is coming for Kevin Owens. Zayn pleaded with Bryan saying that Shane is getting Owens at Hell in a Cell in two weeks, so he didn’t want Shane to do anything during the match. Bryan said he would try to talk to Shane.
Analysis: It would be nice if Zayn asked Bryan for a match at Hell in a Cell because he has nothing else to do, but instead it was just about the match on this show. Also if Shane wanted to fight Owens so badly, he should have got to the city much earlier in the day. Sorry for using logic.
Charlotte Flair vs. Carmella is up next.
Randy Orton went up to Renee Young backstage. He wanted Renee Young pass on a message to Rusev that when Rusev wakes up, Orton would love to see him at Hell in a Cell. Orton wished her a Happy Rusev Day.
Analysis: Their match at SummerSlam was done quickly as well as their match on Smackdown last week. They will have a more proper match at Hell in a Cell, I assume. Orton is likely to get the win there.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance. She wore golden knee pads for WWEAuction.com for people to bid on to benefit Connors Cure. Charlotte challenges Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell in less than two weeks.
Carmella made her entrance with the Money in the Bank briefcase and she had James Ellsworth with her with Ellsworth on a chain leash. She tied the leash to the turnbuckle.
Charlotte Flair vs. Carmella (w/James Ellsworth)
They did a spot early in the match with Charlotte on the middle rope, Ellsworth grabbed her foot and Carmella took down Charlotte as they went to break one minute into it.
Back from break, Carmella slapped on a headlock on Charlotte because the heel is usually in control of the action after a break. The headlock was on for too long if I’m being picky and I guess I am. Charlotte got back to her feet, so Charlotte pulled her down by the hair. Carmella went up top and hit a cross body block to knock Charlotte down for a two count. Carmella kicked Charlotte in the back and sent her into the turnbuckle. Reverse DDT by Carmella looked weak and it got a two count. The crowd was dead for a few minutes of this match. Carmella got a rollup and sat on top for a two count. Charlotte hit a boot to the face to win the match by pinfall. It went about six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: * Boring match with Charlotte getting a little bit of offense, but it wasn’t much as she finished off Carmella easily. Carmella is still limited in what she can do in a match where she has to be on offense for most of it. The result made Carmella look like a loser and not very competitive at all.
Natalya appeared on the ramp with the Women’s Title on her shoulder. Natalya said that nothing makes her happier than knowing that Charlotte's dad Ric Flair is doing better and he can watch Hell in a Cell and see his overrated daughter fail. Natalya laughed about it. Charlotte told her to come into the ring, but Natalya didn’t do it. The segment ended like that.
Analysis: Quick promo from Natalya there. I think they need to add to this story by giving them more promo time and try to make the feud feel personal. Right now it feels just like a match and they need to do more than that. Do something where Charlotte talks about how she has beat Natalya in NXT, she beat her last year when she was the champion and she'll take the title from Natalya. They can have Natalya back saying that those losses to Charlotte motivated her and now she's better than ever. At least it gives them a story instead of just putting two women against eachother to have a match.
There was a moment in history video about John Cena nearly beating Kurt Angle during his Smackdown debut in 2002. Eat a Snickers. Or don’t. Up to you.
It was announced that the Fashion Files will return next week to Smackdown Live.
The lights went out in the arena and The Undertaker’s theme music began to play. However, it was not The Undertaker. It was Dolph Ziggler portraying The Undertaker. The announcers are booked like idiots and thought it was Undertaker until he got to the ring when Graves realized it was Undertaker. Graves said it was disrespectful to The Undertaker. When Ziggler went on the steel steps, he raised his arms like Undertaker and the lights came on at that point so it was an authentic Undertaker entrance.
Analysis: Ziggler did a good job with the interruption. He got all of the mannerisms right. As the heel announcer, I'd rather hear Graves say that Ziggler's portrayal of The Undertaker was a fitting tribute.
Ziggler mocked the fans saying they looked like they had seen a ghost. Ziggler joked about how fans were stupid thinking they would see The Undertaker two times in one year. Actually he was around more than once because he was in the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania this year, but I’ll forgive Ziggler. That led to Ziggler saying that anybody can put on a costume like that, but nobody can do what he can do in the ring.
Bobby Roode’s music interrupted as Roode finally shut up Ziggler with his “GLORIOUS” entrance as the crowd sang along.
Roode went into the ring saying that Ziggler is a great athlete, but he’s a hypocrite trying to tell the crowd that he doesn’t care about them. Roode said that they are alike in many ways because they demand respect in the ring. Roode talked about how Ziggler thinks he is one of the best in-ring competitors in WWE, so why doesn’t he back up that claim and Roode challenged Ziggler to a match at Hell in a Cell. The fans chanted “YES” for that idea, so Ziggler told the fans to shut up.
Ziggler talked about the flashy robe for Roode, the elaborate smoke and mirrors entrance with audience participation and added that Roode doesn’t have in-ring skills like him. Ziggler told Roode he is everything that is wrong with WWE. Ziggler said that Roode is on at Hell in a Cell. Ziggler added that anybody that steps foot in the ring with him they…Rest In…and Roode covered his mouth.
Roode: “Hell in a Cell is going to be absolutely…GLORIOUS.” Roode’s music played to end it.
Analysis: That was building for weeks even without Roode there because you knew Ziggler ripping on the entrances was going to lead to Roode interrupting since Roode had nothing else to do. I think it’s a great idea for a first feud for Roode because Ziggler was also the first feud for Shinsuke Nakamura on the main roster. Just like with Nakamura, Ziggler is going to put over the new guy from NXT because that is Ziggler’s role whether we like it or not. It should be a pretty good match. They've been wrestling non-television for a few weeks, so they should have developed chemistry by now.
Zayn and Owens were shown on the split screen walking backstage for their match.
There was a commercial for 205 Live coming up after Smackdown.
The end of Sami Zayn’s entrance was shown.
Kevin Owens got his full entrance as the match started with about 13 minutes left in the show.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
They started off punching right away, which is the usual start for them. Owens decked Zayn with a clothesline. Corner clothesline by Owens followed by a cannonball attack against the turnbuckle. Owens sent Zayn into the barricade and there was a shot of empty seats in the front row. Not a good look in the crowd. Back in the ring, Owens ran the ropes and Zayn nailed a clothesline. Owens dumped Zayn out of the ring. Owens charged at Zayn on the floor and Zayn hit a clothesline to knock him down. There was a shot of the arena backstage with Shane McMahon arriving and the show went to break there.
Back from break, Zayn was on the top rope and missed an attack as Owens moved out of the way. Owens nailed a superkick on Zayn for a two count. There was a replay of a spot during the break with Zayn giving Owens a suplex on the ring apron. Zayn fought back by jumping to the top rope and hitting a DDT out of the corner. Owens hit another superkick. Zayn nailed a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. He never wins with that move, but it always gets a good reaction and the crowd chanted “this is awesome” for them. Owens rolled to the floor to avoid the Helluva Kick. Zayn nailed a somersault dive over the top to take out Owens on the floor. That connected very well because Zayn hit hard. Zayn charged at Owens going for his DDT on the floor, but Owens avoided it and hit another superkick this time outside the ring. Owens picked up Zayn and gave him a Powerbomb against the ring apron. The ref Charles Robinson checked on Zayn and called for the bell because Zayn was out. The match went about 10 minutes.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Analysis: ***1/4 Very good match as usual for them even though it was only ten minutes. It was what it needed to be with Owens looking dominant. No surprise that Owens got the win since he’s in the featured match at Hell in a Cell. I don’t mind the “knockout” finish because once again it puts over Owens as a vicious heel that’s not afraid to hurt anybody he sees fit. Zayn is the perfect guy in terms of selling that Powerbomb on the apron because it’s happened to him many times, so it’s all about making Owens look strong. The Powerbomb on the apron spot was sold really well by Zayn as usual. As for Zayn, WWE goes from not even booking him in a TV match for several weeks to putting him in a main event. What a weird way to use a guy.
Post match, doctors went to ringside to check on Zayn while Owens sat on the announce table watching Zayn in pain. Owens had a “disturbing calm demeanor” at ringside as described by Graves until Owens ran at Zayn and knocked him down with a punch to the back. Owens grabbed a steel chair from ringside. Owens put a chair around the neck of Zayn and Shane McMahon’s music hit, so Owens stopped. That's the spot Owens did to Chris Jericho to injury him to end their feud.
Shane ran down to the ring to go after Owens, so Owens shoved Zayn into Shane’s face with the chair that was wrapped around Zayn’s head. Owens ran into the crowd and went up the aisle while Shane was staggered from getting hit in the face. Shane went in the ring and stood in the ring telling Owens to come back down to fight.
A replay aired of Owens giving Zayn the Powerbomb on the ring apron followed by Owens shoving Zayn into McMahon as he got close to him.
The show ended with Shane standing in the ring while Owens was in the crowd taunting him. A graphic reminded us it’s Owens vs. Shane at Hell in a Cell and more staring from Shane and Kevin as the show ended.
Analysis: I like the idea of not having Owens and Shane get physically involved with eachother for the second week in a row. Build up the anticipation more. That’s the right way to do it.
Way to completely ignore Zayn at ringside by focusing on the other two at ringside. That’s real considerate, WWE. I’m only teasing by saying that, but I found it funny that Zayn was the victim of a vicious assault and they totally ignored him in the last few minutes.
On another Zayn note, how can this company book Zayn to be in the opening promo where he did a good job, a backstage segment and the main event where he does well in all three segments, yet they are unable to give him a proper feud on Smackdown or when he was on Raw? Come on WWE creative team, you need to utilize a tremendous all around talent like Zayn much better than you currently are.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kevin Owens
- Sami Zayn
- Aiden English – His singing impressed me, so he gets the spot since I can’t think of somebody else.
5 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2017 Average: 6.72
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.61 - Raw is at 5.88
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 6, 4, 6.5, 5, 5
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11, August 1)
2017 Low: 4 (August 29)
It gets a 5 out of 10.
This was another show that felt average in a lot of ways and is well below the average score that I was giving Smackdown earlier this year.
The booking of Owens as a badass heel was great. He has cut out the comedy heel routine and is strictly being a serious heel, which is something he is great at.
My favorite part about the show was all of the interactions between Owens and Zayn. Clearly, WWE knows that Zayn brings out the best in Owens, so in order to put Owens over as a badass heel they utilized Zayn, which is a nice change of pace after doing nothing with Zayn for several months.
I’m also happy that the Jinder Mahal and Dolph Ziggler were finally interrupted. It was a week too late in both cases, but what’s done is done.
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) September 27, 2017
The next Smackdown brand PPV is called Hell in a Cell on October 8 in Detroit. Here’s what we know so far.
Hell in a Cell Match: Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
United States Championship: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
Smackdown Tag Team Championships Hell in a Cell Match: The New Day vs. The Usos
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair
Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler
That could be the full card since they have announced seven matches just like No Mercy had. They added a Kickoff Show to No Mercy as well, so there might be something on the Kickoff Show too.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.