Shake hands with the Welcoming Committee folks, it’s time once again for the Smackdown Shakedown. Let’s get right to it!
We’ll do it live. WE’LL DO IT LIVE!
Smackdown Live kicked off tonight with an “earlier today” segment, featuring Jinder Mahal in a photoshoot with the title he stole that, I guess, he paid for himself or something? That was weird. Anyway, Shane turns up and takes the title back, and Jinder said something to the effect of “At Backlash I’m going to win that title and play glory to Smackdown Live”. No, that wasn’t a typo. He said “play glory”.
This was “earlier today”. So, surely it was a pre-tape? If that’s the case, why wasn’t this re-done? And if this is the best Jinder can do, it just shows that on the mic especially, he’s not ready. Especially with over the top facial expressions and almost yelling at Shane.
A long time ago, we used to be friends.
The show proper kicked off this week with Shane McMahon introducing the new United States Champion Chris Jericho to the crowd, and telling us that Kevin Owens would be getting a rematch for the US title tonight. Jericho did his “something” of Jericho bit, before being interrupted by AJ Styles, reminding Y2J that he is the number one contender, and that at one time they were friends, and then bitter enemies. Finally they were both interrupted by Kevin Owens. It all felt really good. KO told AJ to get out of his ring, and AJ complied, only to get into a brawl with Owens on the entrance ramp. They were broken up and the segment ended. Excellent actual opening to the show.
Foreign Heel 101.
The first match of the night was Jinder Mahal with the Singh brothers, which is much more generic than their original name, up against Sami Zayn. Something seemed a bit off with Sami tonight. Hopefully it’s just a one time thing though.
At one point in the match Byron Saxton said “Jinder Mahal was sick of being stereotyped” to talk about why he changed so much recently. Well that’s great, but isn’t he still being stereotyped? Right now he’s a generic foreign “I am not from your country therefore I am better and here’s my foreign friends to help” heel. It’s frustrating, because at least right now, he’s got enough talent in the ring, and enough potential to be so much more. But right now it’s too much too soon, and there’s been no build, so we have no history. Only that he was an opening match guy in a low-card stable and then he got let go.
The ending of the match was completely predictable as well. Distraction, bad guy gets advantage, pinfall. If it hadn’t happened straight after a huge botch by Mahal it may have been ok, but for me, this just didn’t work. Do something different, or people will just not want to see him, instead of wanting to see him get beaten up.
Next up, Tye Dillinger faced “The Drama King” Aiden English. This was a quick, fun match, and a great way to not only keep building Tye, especially with that new finisher(amazing), but to build a new potential mid-card heel. Aiden seems really comfortable with this type of character, he has prior theater experience and can legitimately sing, and he’s getting the right kind of heat. So Tye gets the quick win, and English throws a tantrum in the ring followed by being so emotionally affected by the loss that he starts crying. That’s really interesting and really different. My only worry is that it will devolve into “Man is bad because man cries. Man who don’t cry is better” typical macho rubbish. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen though.
Also the very next segment, was Renee Young interviewing Chris Jericho, with English walking through the hall still upset. Jericho put him on the list for crying, which isn’t a great sign, but it was a great bit. English’s face and emotional reaction to being put on the list was fantastic. Again, let’s hope it doesn’t become something negative.
Join us, or ELSE(worth)
Next up, Natalya and Carmella teamed up to face Naomi, and originally Charlotte, who didn’t make it to the ring for the start of the match because Natalya’s group attacked her backstage. So it became, at least initially, a handicap match.
Carmella looked completely ridiculous taking Naomi’s rapid fire kicks. I understand blocking them, but it looked stupidly “pro wrestling” .. it looked planned out and fake. That’s never good.
I wish Natalya was given more of a chance to do something character-wise. Just being a little arrogant and yelling YAY while posing like a gymnast doesn’t really cut it. She could be SO much more. She’s a Hart after all. But it feels like they don’t see her as anywhere near the level that name brings. Which is a shame.
Charlotte finally made her way to the ring, coincidentally right at the same time there was a double knock-down in the match. It feels strange that she’s all of a sudden a babyface, but it’s similar to the situation on Raw, they need to keep things balanced in terms of Babyface and Heel. And she gets a good crowd reaction too. It’s just a bit of a sudden shift.
Once again the women get two segments for their match which is great, but once we get back from the ad break, it felt like a super quick roll up win for Carmella. Probably so that they had time for the post-match beatdown, but still, it felt a bit rushed. And finally after Natalya, Carmella and Tamina have beaten Charlotte and Naomi down sufficiently, Becky Lynch comes out, fakes joining the group and then tries to take out everyone, before getting beaten down herself. It’s interesting that it seems to be the 3 top stars on one side, that feels a bit lopsided. But, Natalya’s group feels more credible as a threat, and that’s good.
Lying is a sin .. cara.
Dolph Ziggler vs Sin Cara. I had pegged this to be a snore. I was sure it would be. But, I found myself completely entertained. Sin Cara needed something to kickstart his time on Smackdown, and this was it. He delivered an impressive one armed powerbomb from the mat, and did seem like he could have picked up the victory at a few points during the match. It was definitely designed to showcase Ziggler and that he thinks Nakamura isn’t worthy of a match with him, but it helped get Cara over a little as well.
Now that’s a fashion statement.
I’ll admit it. I haven’t been a fan of Tyler Breeze and Fandango. Quite the opposite in fact. However, after talking smack, and especially after this week’s skit, that’s all changed. The Law and Order kind of skit was incredibly witty and funny. And as a fan of puns, I was thoroughly entertained. Jey walking, and Jimmy walking. Yes. Well done whoever wrote that. Not to mention a Classy Freddie Blassie photo in the background. He was of course, the Hollywood Fashion Plate. And Vince’s mugshot. Perfect.
As well as their theme music, and their obliviously stupid chatter about Chicago being the Windy Apple. All in all it was amazing.
The Agony of Jericho.
Time for the main event. Chris Jericho vs Kevin Owens in a rematch for the United States Championship. And it was great. Maybe not quite as good as their match at Payback, but definitely close. Owens had his hand extra taped after the “new finger of america” was injured by Jericho in their last match. And yes, JBL called it the New Finger of America. This makes me extremely happy.
Great back and forth action with both guys countering even more moves. They’ve told an amazing story over many months with this rivalry, and the best part is that it wasn’t just rapid fire short term booking for once. The best friends angle started mid-last year. That just doesn’t happen often anymore, especially in WWE.
Owens also managed to escape the Walls of Jericho twice, highlighting how desperate he was to get back his US title. And the finishing sequence only did the same. The DDT on the floor, the savage Super Kick, and finally the Pop-up Powerbomb for the 1,2,3. And once again, Kevin Owens is the United States champion.
And then, the post match attack. Firstly it looked like they were going with a concussion angle for Jericho, with him collapsing and holding his head a lot, which would have been interesting. But then, and it feels strange to write this in this PG era, Kevin Owens put a chair around Jericho’s neck, and threw him headfirst into the ring post. Which was brutal, and incredible. And a fantastic way to give Jericho some time off for his band.
KO gets to be the New Face of America again, Jericho has an immediate huge match if and when he returns, and we get to move forward with Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles. All in all, a great way to end this rivalry. For now.
- JBL Talks too much. Bradshaw needs to tone it down a bit. Especially during the Ziggler/Sin Cara match, he didn’t shut up for Cara’s entire intro. It’s distracting from the show.
- “The Welcoming Committee” is definitely the worst name for a stable. They can’t keep using it, surely. Especially when they’ve welcomed Charlotte now (even though she’s been there 3 weeks).
- Byron Saxton might just be in the doghouse now. It seems like he prematurely announced the Ziggler vs Nakamura match during Ziggler/Sin Cara tonight. There was a strange pause, and then very awkwardly, JBL said something like “What match are you talking about Byron? Nothing’s been announced for Ziggler and Nakamura”. Oops.
And there it is folks. All in all, a great episode of Smackdown Live. Do you agree? What was your favourite part of the show? Let us know in the comments below!