Live from Houston, Texas (for the fourth straight night) this is Smackdown Live for episode #952. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top.
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Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday to those of you in the United States. In Canada we have ours the second Monday in October (Columbus Day), so it's just a regular Thursday for me, but I will spend it watching NFL games most of the day. Enjoy the turkey and time with your families.
The show started with highlights of Survivor Series including Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn attacking Shane McMahon, but Shane took care of them with a chair. Shane was last man left on the Smackdown team and they lost. Raw won, so the last image was Shane sitting against the ring all alone as a loser.
Let’s Hear From Shane McMahon
Shane McMahon, Smackdown’s Commissioner, made his entrance to a good ovation. The Smackdown announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown on camera welcoming us to the show.
Shane said that they came up short at Survivor Series, but they proved (even in defeat) that they will be considered THE show in WWE. Shane said he was proud of the Smackdown roster at Survivor Series. Shane said he’s proud of them each and every night because they bring it in the ring. Shane said they do it with pride and do it for all of us. That is, of course, except for two individuals that he’s asked to come out there right now: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Owens and Zayn walked out to KO’s music. Zayn did his over the top walking antics on his way to the ring. Owens wondered what version of Shane he is talking to. Owens said it must be tough for Shane to start Smackdown with another excuse of why he failed. Zayn wondered if it was harder to make an excuse for why he failed or man up and apologize for being wrong. Owens told Shane he should be begging them for forgiveness. Owens said they would have beaten The Shield and the five guys on Raw. Zayn said yep and then “double yep” to both of those. Owens said each of them could beat Brock Lesnar, so Zayn said “triple yep.” Owens told Shane to be a man and tell them that he is sorry.
Shane said that Kevin is speaking to the Commissioner tonight. Shane told Kevin to shut up. Shane said they don’t have respect for anybody on Smackdown, for Shane or for anyone there tonight (pointed at the fans) and Zayn said all of that was true. Shane said he was going to deliver two words to them.
Owens said that Shane can’t fire them because they are too valuable to this show. Owens claimed the people in the back want to be like them and emulate them. Zayn told Shane he would be a damn fool to do anything to two future WWE Hall of Famers. Owens said there isn’t anybody in the building that doesn’t believe they are the top two superstars in the WWE.
Shane called them delusional and he’s going to take pride in saying those two words. Shane said they are delusional to think they are the top two superstars in the WWE. Shane told them that the entire Smackdown locker room hates their guts, has no respect them and they are the most self-absorbed guys that have ever stepped foot in a WWE ring. Shane said that he had two words for them with great pride. Shane said “Youre…” but here comes Daniel Bryan.
Bryan walked down to the ring to say that Shane had every right to fire these two. Bryan told Shane to put his personal feelings aside. Zayn sucked up saying that Bryan is a reasonable man. Bryan told him to shut up. Bryan said he had a temporary solution than terminating the contracts of Owens and Zayn. Like Shane said, everybody hates their guts and Bryan said he sent Randy Orton home because of what they did since Randy was so mad about it. Bryan said that the New Day were mad at them for leaving them high and dry last week on Smackdown Life. Bryan told them they had to face New Day. Zayn pointed out there’s three of New Day against them. Bryan said that the entire locker room will be surrounding the ring. Bryan said it’s Kevin and Sami vs. The New Day in a Lumberjack Match. Bryan’s music played to end it.
Analysis: The nearly fired thing was obviously going to be interrupted by Bryan to put them in a match. I don’t mind that at all because it’s a good tag match that didn’t have a finish last week. Zayn was hilarious the entire way in backing up everything Owens said, responded to Shane like a jackass and then sucking up to Bryan, which led to Bryan telling him to shut up. The crowd was laughing for that part of it too. I like that Owens and Zayn are featured as two of the top heels on the show. The segment went about 14 minutes, so it was typical for an opening show promo.
Later: Charlotte vs. Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s Title again. AJ Styles is up later. Also, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable were shown walking backstage and The Usos were also walking backstage with Jey set to take on Benjamin.
Some images were shown from Survivor Series.
Shelton Benjamin entered with his tag team partner Chad Gable. Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso, the Tag Team Champions, made their entrance. No pre-match promo for them.
Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. Shelton Benjamin (w/Chad Gable)
Jey nailed an uppercut, Benjamin came back with a shoulder tackle and Jey nailed a back elbow. Jey nailed Benjamin with a punch on the apron. Benjamin came back by nailing an impressive knee lift to knock Jey to the ground. Ouch. That looked nasty. They went to break there.
Benjamin was in control of Jey with a chinlock. Uppercut punches connected for Jey followed by a kick to the gut, another punch and a Samoan Drop connected for Jey. Running butt splash by Jey on Benjamin against the turnbuckle. Benjamin prevented a Jey dive, so Jimmy went after him. Gable sent Jimmy into the barricade. Benjamin with a rollup on Jey for two. Jey nailed a superkick on Benjamin for a two count. Jey up top, Gable distracted a bit, Jey jumped off the top, Benjamin avoided it and Benjamin hit the Paydirt for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shelton Benjamin
Analysis: **1/2 Solid match. Some good spots in there with Jey almost winning with a kick and Shelton almost winning with a rollup where he may have used the tights. I’ve commented in the recent past about the Usos being heels and people telling me they’re faces now. This one felt like a match where they were more like faces since Gable kept trying to interfere. It still doesn’t feel like like they did an official turn, but I’ll stop calling them heels at least. Anyway, the win by Benjamin was similar to Ambrose beating Sheamus on Raw with a tag champ losing a singles match. Way to be creative with how you book tag team feuds, WWE creative team.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown backstage talking to somebody. The camera panned over to show it was Baron Corbin. They asked Corbin if he was in their corner. Corbin told them he can’t stand either one of them and said to find somebody more weak minded. Kevin and Sami went up to Bobby Roode. Sami asked Bobby if he wants to be somebody in WWE. Kevin said that Bobby had a ton of potential, so does he want to stand out and be different? Zayn said he can be different like them. Roode asked if they are out of their minds and Roode said that he was in the match that they ruined. Roode said they ruined it for him and the Smackdown locker room. Roode said he’ll see them out there and he owes them both a receipt.
Analysis: Good way to show that the roster is firmly against Owens and Zayn. A receipt is a wrestling term for payback. They don’t use that term on TV much, but it is more of an insider term in wrestling. I'm surprised Kevin and Sami didn't mention being Canadian like Roode. Easy way to suck up.
A video aired saying the Bludgeon Brothers are on tonight.
Naomi was getting her makeup done talking to the makeup lady about Charlotte’s win on Sunday. Ruby Riot of NXT showed up. She introduced her to some friends Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. The three women beat up Naomi. Becky Lynch showed up to save Naomi and the three women beat her up as well, which included sending her into a door. Refs finally showed up to break it up.
Analysis: Three more new faces on the main roster after two women debuted on Raw with the returning Paige. Of the three, I think Liv has the most long term potential, but Ruby is the most ready right now. I don’t know as much about Sarah Logan. Adding more women makes a women’s Royal Rumble more likely in January.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan were in the office. Shane said it was good move for Bryan to bring thee women up from NXT roster. Shane said that putting Owens and Zayn in a tag team match against New Day was a great idea in a Lumberjack match because everybody can get their hands on them. Shane thinks Bryan will fire them after the match. Shane told him he was going to leave and watch from the hotel.
Analysis: Shane barely works for this company (about five days per month) and leaves during the show. It’s good to be the son of the boss. It was done to tease something in the main event without Shane there or at least that's what I thought.
Hype Bros made their entrance.
The Bludgeon Brothers duo of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan made their entrance to some generic rock music. They have some unique outfits that are maroon and black. Rowan still wears his freaky mask.
The Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) vs. Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley)
Rowan hit a running shoulder tackle Rawley. Harper attacked Ryder outside the ring and sent Ryder into the steel steps. Rawley tried to fight Rowan, but Rowan caught him and hit a body slam. Harper did a hard slap to Rowan leading to a Rowan splash and Harper hit a boot to the head. Harper and Rowan picked up Rawley by the arms and slammed him down like a double Chokeslam for the win after two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Bludgeon Brothers
Analysis: * Dominant win for the returning duo. I like the gear because it’s an update to the old stuff they had. The music is generic, but it’s catchy. I like them as a big man tag team that is capable of good matches. This reboot should turn out well for them. Smackdown needed more tag teams. Their presence helps.
Natalya was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes in the interview area. Natalya addressed her match against Charlotte Flair for the SD Women’s Title later. Natalya called Ric Flair a “hot mess” that went out there blubbering. Natalya credited Charlotte Flair for beating Alexa Bliss at Survivor Series and said her cat 2Pawz can beat Bliss. Natalya said she can’t wait to prove why she will be Smackdown Women’s Champion forever.
AJ Styles is up next.
A video package aired about AJ Styles losing to Brock Lesnar in a great match at Survivor Series.
Let's Hear From AJ Styles
Styles, the WWE Champion, entered the ring to a huge ovation. Styles got into the ring with the crowd cheering. They showed a clip of Paul Heyman praising AJ Styles after Survivor Series when he compared Styles to Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair while saying he’s as good of an in-ring performer as there’s been. He was right. It’s a great video.
Styles stood in the ring with microphone in hand while the fans chanted “AJ Styles” for him. Styles said he wishes he could be out here celebrating about slaying the beat Brock Lesnar, but it didn’t go the way he wanted. Styles talked about how he hit Lesnar with every trick in the book and said that Lesnar is every bit the beast that he thought he was. Styles mentioned all the congratulations he got for going one on one with the beast and holding his own. Styles talked about how some people called him Rocky and even Paul Heyman had to respect the efforts. Styles said this is the WWE and you don’t get trophies for second place. Styles said after their match, he wasn’t the one limping to the back…Brock. Styles wanted another match with Lesnar and said that in the sequel to Rocky, he wins.
Styles moved on to talk about being on Smackdown Live, which is his house. Styles said that Jinder Mahal mentioned that he was going to take the championship from him on Smackdown Live. Styles took the title off from around his waist, put it in the ring and told Jinder Mahal to come take the championship.
Jinder Mahal appeared on the video screen with an India flag behind him. Mahal said he was watching AJ's match against Brock Lesnar over and over on WWE Network and he laughed about it. Mahal said that Styles took advantage of him during a European tour and said that Mahal would have beat Lesnar to be the BeastMaster. Styles told he sounded stupid for saying BeastMaster! Yes! Styles mocked him saying he looked rested because he didn’t do anything at Survivor Series. Mahal said that he gets to choose when he wants his rematch. Mahal said that they will clash in a place more deserving than Texas, which drew boos. Mahal said he will get his rematch at the appropriately named PPV, Clash of Champions on December 17. Mahal laughed.
Samir and Sunil Singh attacked AJ Styles from behind. Styles fought them off. Styles hit Samir with a Styles Clash in the middle of the ring while staring at Styles on the screen. Styles’ music hit while Mahal said “Clash of Champions” at him.
Analysis: Styles’ promo talking about Lesnar makes me want to see that match again, but we may never see it again. Crowd was very supportive of Styles. It was smart to put the title on him to give him a babyface run as champion as opposed to his heel run last year. I’m not surprised that they are doing Styles vs. Mahal at Clash of Champions. It’s the right place for it. I thought Mahal was going to attack after Styles beat up the Singhs, but it didn’t happen. With a month to go until the PPV, there’s plenty of time to build up the story between them. I think Styles will retain the title. No reason to put it back on Mahal. Styles making fun of Mahal for saying BeastMaster was a highlight of that promo too.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown walking backstage. They walked up to Rusev and Aiden English backstage with English singing about Rusev Day. Zayn said that people there wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving, but they are French Canadians that would rather celebrate Rusev Day. Owens pointed out that John Cena got to be on the Survivor Series team without lifting a finger and Rusev didn’t get to be on the team. Zayn said that New Day is jealous that Rusev Day is more popular than New Day. Zayn told them to keep all of this in mind during the Lumberjack Match. Zayn and Owens left while Rusev and English just stared at eachother without saying a word.
Analysis: The theme of Owens and Zayn trying to get support continued by talking to two heels that don’t have other allies either. In this case, it's believable that Rusev and English might support Zayn and Owens.
Charlotte vs. Natalya up next.
The Usos were shown shilling the WWE Shop gear available at WWEShop.com talking about deals available this week.
Charlotte Flair, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her entrance to a nice ovation full of “Woo” chants from the crowd.
Natalya entered to some boos from the crowd.
The women stood in the ring while ring announcer Greg Hamilton introduced them since it’s a championship match. As I have said previously, he’s very good at his job.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya
Natalya was aggressive early on. Natalya sent her face first into the turnbuckle and the show went to break. Looks like it continued during the commercial in the US, but not here in Canada.
Charlotte was on fire with punches when they returned from break. Phillips said that Natalya was in control for most of it. Natalya countered Charlotte’s corner punches with a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Fans chanted for Charlotte. Natalya slapped on the Sharpshooter. Charlotte crawled over to the bottom rope and she got there to break to break the hold. Natalya attacked her with punches. Charlotte did a modified backbreaker followed by a move where she sent Natalya face first into the top turnbuckle. Charlotte went up top for a moonsault, but Natalya got the knees up to block it. Natalya went for the discus clothesline and Charlotte managed to nail her with a spear. Natalya ws on the floor. The trio of Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan ran down to the ring and attacked Natalya outside the ring. The ref called for the bell. It went seven minutes.
Match Result: No Contest (Could be Natalya by DQ, but I think No Contest is more appropriate)
Analysis: ** They were on their way to having a really good match, but it was interrupted. When Natalya was on the floor I thought it was an obvious way to have the new women attack her.
The three women sent Natalya into the announce table. The fans chanted “NXT" for them. Riot kicked Natalya in the head. They also whipped Natalya into the ring post. Charlotte was all alone in the ring as the three newcomers surrounded the ring. The three women entered the ring and Charlotte tried to fend them off, but she couldn’t do it. Logan ran the ropes and kicked Charlotte in the ribs to knock her down. Morgan nailed a move where she jumped up and sent Charlotte’s face into her two knees. Riot picked up Charlotte and nailed a leaping kick to the head. The three women stood over Charlotte as the show went to break.
Analysis: That was well done. Riot and Morgan are both small compared to Charlotte while Logan is pretty big, but when you have three of them together it makes up for the lack of size. As I mentioned earlier, with five new women on the main roster plus Paige’s return it makes it very possible that there will be a women’s Royal Rumble for the first time in January. Perhaps it’s 20 women, but they can certainly do it.
Replays aired of the three new women attacking Natalya and Charlotte Flair.
Daniel Bryan was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. She asked what he thought about what those three women did and Bryan said it’s an interesting situation. Bryan: “No comment.” Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn showed up with Owens saying that they know what Bryan wants to do and Zayn saying it would be a big mistake. Bryan wished them luck and left.
Analysis: Angle alert. Just have a feeling.
The Smackdown men’s locker room made their way down to the ring to serve as lumberjacks for this main event tag match. Shinsuke Nakamura was out first. Congrats to the likes of Mike Bennett and Sin Cara main eventing Smackdown.
The New Day trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods entered for the main event. There were pancakes in their cereal box. I don't have an explanation. I just write here.
Images were shown from Survivor Series again.
It was announced that AJ Styles will face the Singh Brothers in a 2 on 1 handicap match. There’s a new Fashion Files segment next week.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn made their entrance for the main event by walking out to KO’s theme song. Xavier Woods is wearing a toque as well as a lumberjack jacket for this match.
Lumberjack Match: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The New Day’s Big E & Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods)
The faces worked on Owens. When Owens got control he sent Kingston out of the ring and nobody touched Kingston while he was on the floor to put over the story that nobody supported the heels in this match. The fans were chanting for Shinsuke Nakamura. Zayn worked with Kingston for a bit with Zayn dumping Kingston to the floor, but nobody tossed Kingston back in the ring. When Zayn went out of the ring, the lumberjacks punched him and sent him back into the ring. Zayn went up the ramp, but the other lumberjacks picked him up and put him in the ring as the show went to break.
Big E and Kingston were in control of the action as they did their unicorn stampede on Owens in the corner. Graves complained about how these guys were against Owens and Zayn saying they didn’t do anything that bad. Saxton said that they cost those guys a chance to make more money. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s not like WWE tries to make sense when they had nothing on the line at Survivor Series. Owens and Zayn took control of the match by working over Kingston in the corner. Zayn mocked the New Day clapping routine. Zayn hit Kingston with a clothesline. Owens stomped away on Kingston. Owens went for his running senton splash, but Kingston got his knees up to block it.
Big E got the hot tag against Zayn. Big E hit his two belly to belly suplexes followed by a side belly to belly and the running splash. That’s his usual hot tag routine. Big E picked up Zayn, but Zayn sent him into the turnbuckle. Kingston tagged in with a cross body block off the top onto Zayn for a two count that was broken up by Owens. Big E and Owens did a double clothesline spot to knock them both down. Kingston sent Zayn over the top to the floor with a back body drop onto the lumberjacks. Corbin went after Zayn, who moved and Corbin accidentally hit Roode with a forearm. All the wrestlers went into the ring for a brawl. They went brawling out of the ring, so it was back to the four guys in the tag match. Zayn did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Kingston for the victory for his team. It went about 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Analysis: **3/4 It was just an average match that was built around the angle heavily. Since there were all those guys at ringside it was obvious something big was going to happen with them going in the ring. It led to the cheap finish where the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! was used. Why can’t WWE’s smart people that work there think of a better ending to a match than that? It’s so repetitive. Having Owens and Zayn win a match where everybody was against them was the right way to book that.
Post match, Rusev knocked down Big E at ringside. Owens ran away by jumping the barricade and leaving through the crowd. Kingston nailed a leaping attack like a double axehandle off the top rope onto Rusev and English.
Woods sent Zayn into the ring. That left Zayn in the ring alone against all three members of The New Day. Kingston nailed Zayn with the Trouble in Paradise kick. Big E picked up Zayn and Woods jumped off the turnbuckle as they did the Midnight Hour double team move. New Day’s music played.
Replays aired showing what happened.
Zayn was shown on the floor. New Day danced in the ring.
Owens was backstage alone. He walked up to Daniel Bryan. Owens begged him to not fire him. Owens went down on his knees. Bryan said he was never going to fire him because he recognizes KO’s talent. Bryan told him he needed him there next week to face Randy Orton. Owens said you can’t, Bryan questioned and Owens just said “thank you” to end the show.
Analysis: I was expecting a bigger angle there. Nope. Nothing special. Just a way to announce a match for next week. The reason I expected more is because they made a point to say Shane was leaving the building, so I figured Bryan would have some role in the main event or after the show. It ended up being nothing. That’s what I get for wanting something bigger to happen. The story is something like Shane wanted Bryan to fire them, Bryan didn't and now they might have issues because of it. It's not that big of an issue.
It feels like the right time to have either Bryan or McMahon turn heel. Keeping them both faces is boring. I want one of them to be a heel authority figure and it feels like Bryan is going that route slowly because he had no reply to the attack from the three women earlier. Perhaps it’s just a slow build to it. I’m just throwing it out there, but I really think that’s the direction they are going
Three Stars of the Show
- Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
- The New Day
- Shelton Benjamin
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2017 Average: 6.72
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.62 - Raw is at 5.81
Last 5 Weeks: 7.5, 6.5, 8, 7, 6, 6.5
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11, August 1)
2017 Low: 4 (August 29)
It gets a 5.5 out of 10.
It was a below average show from an in-ring perspective, but I thought most of the angles were good. The show long theme of Owens and Zayn having no allies made for an interesting main event. As I wrote above, I was hoping for more of an angle with a heel turn or something significant.
I like the debuting trio of women because they were booked in a strong manner immediately upon their arrival. It sure seems like WWE is building to a women’s Royal Rumble in January.
The next Smackdown PPV is Clash of Champions is December 17. Only one match announced so far.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal
That’s all for now. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.
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