This week’s WWE Smackdown Live follows Sunday’s Hell in a Cell PPV. I haven’t written a review of the show yet because I was on vacation for a friend's wedding, but I did watch it with friends. I’ll get around to writing about it in the next day or two (probably a Thursday posting). Quickly, my thoughts are that the Tag Title HIAC match was one of the best WWE matches this year, I’m perfectly fine with AJ Styles no longer being the US Champion so he can do more important things, Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion continues to bore me and I thought Sami Zayn’s actions in the main event were shocking. I am more interested in Smackdown today than I was a few days ago because seeing Zayn in a more important role is something I have wanted for a long time. Anyway, full review coming later in the week.
Live from Grand Rapids, Michigan this is Smackdown Live for episode #946. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top. I’m not much of a Star Wars fan, but I think that banner is great.
The show began with images from Hell in a Cell with a focus on when Shane McMahon jumped off the cell going for an elbow drop on Kevin Owens, but Sami Zayn pulled Owens away to save him. Zayn put Owens on top of McMahon to give him the victory in the match. Shane was carted off on a stretcher.
Coming up we’ll hear from Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Plus, Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles for the US Title.
The Usos made their entrance to start the show. They regained the Smackdown Tag Team Titles at Hell in a Cell on Sunday in a fantastic match.
Let’s Hear From The Usos
The Usos bragged about their victory at Hell in a Cell on Sunday. They said they told us and welcomed us to The Usos penitentiary like they tend to do. They called out The New Day.
The New Day trio entered. Smackdown’s announce team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves were shown on camera welcoming us to the show.
Jey Uso said that they made history on Sunday night and said that compared to them, the other teams in the back suck. Big E said the other teams don’t suck, but Xavier Woods said they are the best. Jimmy talked about how when that cage came down inside that cell it got real vicious with kendo sticks, handcuffs, chairs and Woods even broke out a cowbell. Jimmy said what the WWE Universe knows for a fact is when Usos vs. New Day step in the ring it’s clash of the titans and it’s hard to follow. Fans cheered that.
Jimmy said what the WWE Universe doesn’t know is they didn’t see an ice pack on Jey’s face or Jimmy driving with one arm because his shoulder was hurting. Jimmy said the woman at the hotel asked them if it’s okay. Jey said that the fans don’t see their families concerned about them. Jimmy said that nobody can understand what The Usos are going through other than you three in the New Day. Jimmy said after all they’ve been through and beating the hell out of each other, they are the tag division and they run the tag division.
The New Day wondered if The Usos were calling for a truce, an “uce truce.” Jimmy and Jey each said “respect.”
Hype Bros duo of Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder showed up. Mojo said that the same two teams talk about things while ignoring other teams. The Usos said they were the stars on the field and told Mojo to sit on the bench like during his NFL career.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin joined the party. Gable told Hype Bros they should be in the back of the line behind the two guys that broke them at Hell in a Cell. Jimmy complimented Gable for getting Shelton Benjamin and The Usos went over Shelton’s credentials.
The Breezango duo of Fandango and Tyler Breeze entered to a good reaction from the crowd. Before they could say anything, The Ascension showed up to interrupt. Breeze asked them to stop following them. Konnor said they are tired of being in the wasteland.
The Usos told the other teams they are locked up in the Usos penitentiary. Woods said Breezango is cool and the crowd cheered. The Usos talked some more trash.
Daniel Bryan, Smackdown’s General Manager, interrupted the promo fest as he stood on the ramp. Bryan told The Usos and New Day to get out of the ring. The fans didn’t like that, but Bryan told them to do it.
Bryan put the other four teams in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match to determine who gets a Tag Team Title match against The Usos. Fans cheered that as the show went to break.
Analysis: Awesome promo from The Usos. I’m glad they got some time to put over how great the match was on Sunday because I thought it was a special match. The fans showed them appreciation with a nice ovation, which they deserved. I'm a bit surprised that The Usos weren't more over the top as heels bragging about their success, but there's nothing wrong with what they did in showing The New Day some respect. The Usos were heelish towards the other teams. Involving the other teams is fine because it gives us something else to look forward to.
The match began after the break.
Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
Two wrestlers are in the ring, the other six guys watch from the apron and anybody can tag in at any time. First fall wins. The Usos are sitting at ringside watching the match.
Benjamin hit a body slam on Viktor for a two count. Viktor pulled down Gable by the hair. Gable did some quick moves to trip up Viktor followed by an armbar. Konnor tagged in, splash in the corner and Viktor hit a knee to the face on Gable to knock him down. Everybody on the other teams got in the ring as the show went to break although I think it continued in the US during the break, but it went to commercial here in Canada.
Back from break, Rawley hit a spinning slam on Breeze for a two count as a bunch of other dudes made the save. Ryder tagged in and went for a move off the ropes, but Viktor pushed Ryder into Rawley leading to a Hype Bros argument. Konnor clothesline sent Rawley to the floor. Breeze rollup on Ryder got two. Ryder went for the Broski Boot, but Fandango saved Breeze. Benjamin tagged in and cleaned house with spinebusters while Gable hit two overhead suplexes. Benjamin with a spinebuster on Konnor. Fandango saved Breeze from a double team attack from Gable and Benjamin. Gable hit a moonsault off the top on Fandango. Benjamin held up Breeze in a Powerbomb position and Gable hit a top rope clothesline on Breeze to complete the finishing move of Benjamin and Gable for the win. It went 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable
Analysis: **3/4 That was a fun tag match with a lot of action. Plenty of moments in there where the match could have ended. I thought Breezango might get the win since they have gotten over the most of the teams in the match, but I have no problem with Benjamin and Gable getting a title shot. Also worth noting the problems between the Hype Bros continued.
There was a shot of the locker room of “Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn” with Dasha Fuentes back there ready to talk to them.
Still to come: Nakamura and Orton vs. Rusev and English.
There was a plug for WWE’s work to raise awareness for breast cancer research.
Images were shown of Natalya retaining her Women’s Title by disqualification at Hell in a Cell when she attacked Charlotte Flair with a chair.
Natalya was in the back celebrating with the Smackdown Women’s Title. She was joined in a room by Lana talking about how great Tamina is and Carmella walked in with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Charlotte Flair showed up and it looked like she had too much makeup on. Anyway, Natalya made a snide remark asking Charlotte if she broke her father’s heart again, so Charlotte hit her with a forearm. Other women like Becky Lynch and Naomi went into the room to start a brawl. Referees pulled Charlotte off Natalya and the segment ended there.
Analysis: That was a personal shot by Natalya in referencing Ric Flair’s hospital stay from two months ago. I don’t think it crossed a line, but it definitely falls in the category of cheap heel heat.
Baron Corbin, the United States Champion, was interviewed by Renee Young in the interview area. Corbin said he didn’t need shortcuts to beat two men at Hell in a Cell or to beat one man tonight. Corbin said tonight will be an opportunity that AJ Styles squandered.
Becky Lynch vs. Carmella is up next.
Carmella was in the ring with her buddy James Ellsworth on a leash. Ellsworth was tied to the turnbuckle. Becky Lynch made her entrance.
Becky Lynch vs. Carmella (w/James Ellsworth)
Lynch took control early with a Bexploder suplex that sent Carmella out of the ring. Ellsworth stood in front of Carmella, so Carmella kicked Lynch in the leg. Carmella slammed Lynch’s head into the ring apron a few times. Back in the ring, Carmella slapped on a headlock as fans chanted for Becky. Rollup for Lynch got a two count. Lynch hit a kick to the chest. Carmella blocked an attack with a kick to the gut. Lynch took down Carmella and slapped on the Disarmer armbar submission for the win after about four minutes.
Winner by submission: Becky Lynch
Analysis: * It was just a quick match to put over Lynch because she hasn’t had a win in a while. She hasn’t been used that well in the last few months. As for Carmella, she continues to lose matches while holding the Money in the Bank briefcase because that’s how WWE loves to book MITB briefcase holders whether we like it or not.
Up next we may hear from Sami Zayn.
Let’s Hear From Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Kevin Owens was introduced as the show reached the bottom of the first hour. Owens was introduced as “The Victorious Kevin Owens” by announcer Greg Hamilton.
The announce team said that Shane McMahon was at home recuperating.
Owens had tape on his left arm to sell injuries from Hell in a Cell. Owens said that at HIAC he did what he said he was going to do because he sent Shane McMahon to hell and he’s never coming back. Owens spoke about how on Sunday night, the people almost lost him. Owens said that he was blinded by that white light you hear so much about and he felt his soul about to separate from his body and then he began to ascend. Owens said that all of a sudden he was standing at the long line at the pearly gates. Owens talked about how he doesn’t like standing in lines, but he was waved to the front by St. Peter himself. Owens claimed that St. Peter said as much as they would love to have him, they need you down on Earth because “they need Kevin Owens.” Owens said they even provided him with his very own guardian angel…Sami Zayn. Crowd booed.
Owens said that his new purpose is to turn Smackdown Live into his own personal paradise and here we are in Kevin’s Heaven or as he likes to call it, the Kevin Owens Show. Owens introduced his best friend and guardian angel Sami Zayn.
Zayn made his entrance to his usual music. He was wearing a black outfit similar to what he wore at Hell in a Cell. The fans didn’t react to him like they used to and there were boos for him.
Zayn stood in the ring with Owens. Zayn tried to talk, but Owens interrupted saying that he had no idea that Zayn would do what he would do. Owens told Zayn to explain that to the people. Owens told Zayn from the bottom of his heart, “Sami, thank you.”
Zayn said he’ll explain everything and told Owens that when Owens hit a Powerbomb on him against the apron it opened up Sami’s eyes. Zayn said he tried to do things the right way. Zayn said that it brought him to mediocrity. Meanwhile, Owens became the Intercontinental Champion, the Universal Champion, the United States Champion, but that’s okay because he gets to sleep at night with a clear conscious. Zayn said he thought his time had come when Shane McMahon invited him to the “land of opportunity” on Smackdown Live. Zayn said that Shane told him everything he wanted to hear about how Raw had been misusing him, which was true. Zayn claimed that Shane told him he would get the respect he deserved and said that was the last meeting he had with Shane. Zayn talked about how it’s okay because Shane was busy with birthdays and had that helicopter thing.
Zayn talked about how a few weeks ago he tried to warn Shane McMahon what Owens was capable of and added that we saw what Owens was capable of at Hell in a Cell. Zayn mentioned that Shane brushed him off. Zayn said he realized that Shane never cared about him or wanted Sami to get an opportunity. Zayn said cut to Hell in a Cell and he’s watching the match with baited breath with Sami saying he wanted Shane to win. Zayn said when Shane sent Owens off the cell and through the announce table, he had that match won, but then Shane climbed all the way back to the top of the cell. Zayn said that Owens has been a lot of things to him over the years like his best friend, bitter rival and everything in between, but what Owens will always be is his brother. Zayn said that Shane only cared about wanting to end Kevin’s career or worse, so Zayn saved his brother because it was the right thing to do. Zayn added that Shane had become a psychopath.
Zayn gave Owens a big hug in the ring. Each guy ended up raising the hand of the other guy. Zayn said “The Victorious Kevin Owens” and KO’s music played to end it as they raised eachother’s hands to celebrate their friendship.
Analysis: That was really well done. I thought Zayn knocked it out of the park in terms of hitting all the key points and explaining what he was thinking by helping Owens win at Hell in a Cell. Zayn had every right to complain about how he was used on Smackdown Live because we all knew he wasn’t being used right, so they might as well use that in the storyline because fans can understand it. Owens was great as the egotistical heel that also put over Zayn by saying that it was Zayn’s idea to save him in that moment and that Owens had nothing to do with it. If Owens took credit for that then it would undermine Zayn, so it makes Zayn look like a crafty heel. I’m a little surprised that somebody like Daniel Bryan or a face wrestler didn’t interrupt it, but that can happen next week. What matters is that WWE did a great angle on Sunday with the Zayn heel turn and I thought the follow up here went very well. Zayn and Owens are two of my three favorite guys on this show along with AJ Styles, so seeing them together as allies is a great thing. I’m excited about this.
Still to come: Corbin vs. Styles. Also, Nakamura and Orton vs. Rusev and English is up next.
The heel duo of Rusev and Aiden English were in the ring to lose…I mean have…this match.
Randy Orton made his entrance to a good ovation. Shinsuke Nakamura got a great reaction for his entrance.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton vs. Rusev and Aiden English
Orton was aggressive early on Rusev going for a RKO, but he couldn’t do it. Orton took the fight to Rusev on the floor with a back suplex onto the announce table. The table didn’t break because Orton does it softly. English grabbed Orton’s foot while he was on the apron and Rusev hit a kick to the head. English hit a neckbreaker on Orton on the floor as the show went to break there.
Back from break, the heels were still working on Orton until Orton hit a powerslam on English. Nakamura got the hot tag with kicks for English. When English caught a leg, Nakamura hit a kick with the other leg. Nakamura hit a running knee to the gut with English perched on the top rope. Rusev went into the ring, spin kick from Nakamura and Orton with a RKO on Rusev. Nakamura with a Kinshasa knee strike on English for the pinfall win after six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton
Analysis: *1/2 A standard tag match to put over the face team and in particular Shinsuke Nakamura because he lost the WWE Title match on Sunday. It was obvious as soon as the match was announced. I enjoy the work of Rusev and English a lot, but have a hard time seeing WWE pushing either of them over the faces they were against here.
AJ Styles was interviewed by Renee Young in the backstage area. Styles talked about how Corbin didn’t pin him to win the US Title. Styles said Smackdown Live is the house that AJ Styles built and that he’s not going to let the Lone Wolf walk out. Styles said it is the “end of days” for Baron Corbin’s title reign.
Analysis: Solid promo from Styles ahead of his title match.
There was a shot of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan standing together in a darkened room. Harper said there is no conscience and Rowan said there is no moral compass. They kept on talking about things that cause pain. They said they were the “Bludgeon Brothers” and made serious faces at the camera.
Analysis: Good to see WWE remembered them. They are too good to not have a role, especially Harper. Rowan is just okay. Harper can be great. Bludgeon Brothers is a bit silly as a name, but it’s better to have a name than just go by your wrestling names. Also, this is another example of why the Wyatt Family never should have ended. If they were with Wyatt right now it would help him a lot.
Analysis x2: I had some readers point out that the Fashion Files skit at Hell in a Cell mentioned "Searching for 2B" and now we know it's the Bludgeon Brothers, so that's finally a storyline.
This week on 205 Live is Swann vs. Perkins.
Bobby Roode made his entrance to say that his first WWE pay-per-view match was absolutely glorious. He said that was until after his victory when Dolph Ziggler attacked him from behind. Roode said if Dolph wants a fight, “let’s fight.”
Dolph Ziggler congratulated Roode on his very first WWE pay-per-view match at Hell in a Cell. Ziggler said he looked like a million bucks, the WWE Universe sang along with him and then the bell rang. Ziggler called himself the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history and said that he exposed Roode for being a fraud. Ziggler claimed he dominated Roode and that he was the better wrestler and man. Ziggler said that Roode panicked because the elaborate lie was unraveling before him. Ziggler told Roode to take a look at the photo, which saw Roode holding the tights to get his victory.
Ziggler said he was wrong about Bobby because he’s not just a flashy entrance because he’s also a cheater. Bobby said that he proved he was smarter than Ziggler. Ziggler said that he’s the smartest man and best in-ring performer in WWE with Ziggler saying he wanted his rematch. Roode told him if he wants his rematch, he’s got it. Ziggler said “any time, any place.” Roode said it will go exactly the same way the first match went with Ziggler telling him he won’t have a chance in hell of beating Ziggler. Roode said he’s sick and tired of Ziggler talking. It looked like Roode forgot a line in there somewhere. Roode suggested that Ziggler come into the ring right now so they an have their rematch. Ziggler teased going into the ring for a match and then did the heel thing by leaving. Ziggler told him you can’t always get what you want. Ziggler said the rematch will be when he wants and it won’t be here tonight.
Analysis: That felt sloppy. They just didn’t come off as a natural promo between two rivals. Roode is much better as a heel and he has trouble doing promos as a face other than saying the word “glorious” to pop the crowd. As I mentioned, Roode may have forgotten a line in there too.
Baron Corbin was shown walking backstage with the US Title because his main event match is next.
Next week on Smackdown Live: Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler.
AJ Styles had just entered the ring as the show came back from break. It’s weird not to see full ring entrances for a main event match.
United States Championship: Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles
The match started with about 13 minutes left in the show.
The crowd was firmly behind Styles at the start of the match. Styles was the aggressor early on, Corbin bailed to the floor and they went to break about two minutes into it.
Back from break, Corbin was in control because heels usually get control during the break. They showed a clip of Corbin whipping Styles into the ring steps. Styles got his momentum back when Corbin went for his slide out of the ring spot and Styles hit a dropkick that sent Corbin over the announce table. Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm back in the ring. Styles hit the Ushigoroshi for a two count. Phillips calls it the fireman’s carry neckbreaker, but Graves chimed in to use the Ushigoroshi that Mauro Ranallo used to say. I miss you on Smackdown, Mauro. Styles charged in and Corbin hit the spinning Deep Six slam, so both guys were down. Corbin set up Styles on the top rope. Styles fought out of it, sent Corbin shoulder first into the ring post and got a rollup for two. Styles slapped on the Calf Crusher submission on Corbin in the middle of the ring. Styles escaped the End of Days attempt with a Pele Kick to the head to send Corbin out of the ring. Styles charged at Corbin on the apron, but Corbin was ready for him and slammed Styles onto the floor. Back in the ring, Corbin hit the End of Days slam and covered for the win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Baron Corbin
Analysis: *** That was pretty good with Styles bumping his ass off to make Corbin look strong. Corbin did his part to keep up with Styles. There were some smart spots in there like the dropkick Styles did that sent Corbin over the announce table and Corbin sold it perfectly. That spot on the floor with Corbin slamming Styles down was really awesome because of how Style sold it at full speed. It looked painful. Corbin finishing him with End of Days right after was the right way to end it. I’m a bit surprised that Styles lost clean, but that makes Corbin look good, so it’s not like it’s a bad thing. Plus, getting AJ out of the US title picture is fine with me because now he can go after the WWE Title again or perhaps have a feud with Zayn/Owens. There are plenty of good options for Styles and I won’t miss him in US Title matches.
Post match, Corbin was interviewed in the ring by Renee Young. Corbin said that everybody can look at the championship and can eat it. Corbin said that people can cry about it, so he’ll buy a boat. Corbin ended it as the show went off the air right at 10pmET like usual.
Analysis: That was a weird promo, but that’s how Smackdown ended. There was less than a minute left in the show and it just ended awkwardly.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Sami Zayn
2. AJ Styles
3. (tie) Kevin Owens
3. (tie) Baron Corbin
6.5 out of 10
Last week: No review
2017 Average: 6.71
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.61 - Raw is at 5.85
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 5.5, 6, 4, 6.5, 5
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11, August 1)
2017 Low: 4 (August 29)
It gets a 6.5 out of 10.
I enjoyed it although it is below the yearly average score by a bit.
The high points were the Zayn/Owens promo that was the most important part of the show and I thought Zayn did a great job of explaining his actions at Hell in a Cell. Main event was enjoyable for the time given.
The opening promo from The Usos was very good as well. It set up the tag match, which was a bit hectic at times, but overall was well done.
Some stuff like Roode/Ziggler promo didn’t come off very well and Lynch vs. Carmella was a below average match. Orton/Nakamura winning didn’t provide much in the way of excitement.
I thought that Daniel Bryan should have said something about Shane McMahon’s injury and what Sami Zayn did. Why isn’t Bryan mad about what happened? Shouldn’t he be mad at Zayn? To not even have Bryan talk to Zayn or Owens felt like a mistake.
Did you miss WWE Champion Jinder Mahal? I definitely did not.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.