Hey there, guys. It’s been a weird couple of days in light of the recent tragedy in Manchester, and certainly quite disturbing seeing armed police in the main streets. Still, in the spirit of having a stiff upper lip and not kowtowing to the actions of cowardly dickheads, I am here with a cup of cardomom coffee (meh), a tall glass of bubbly water and we are going to review us some SmackDown.
Let’s do this.
And we take a look back at the fucking absurd ending of the Backlash main event. And I don’t much care that Jinder won; I hadn’t seen that ending coming, and it is occasionally nice to be proven dead wrong. Except the Singh Brothers interfered in such a way that the fact that there was no DQ is pretty mental, and Randy Orton then ignoring the actual threat so that he could focus on the Singhs was just another example of how dumb we’re required to believe that wrestlers are.
Well, at least Jinder’s way better at promos than Randy Orton ever was and will ever be. He’s also better than the Usos, but so are stroke victims and cadavers.
We open the show with someone getting a super-loud police escort to the arena. Inside a big black jeep are the Singh Brothers, and they pull out a carpet to put in front of a white limo so Jinder can get out of the car. I did a little bit of research on this whole carpet thing, in case there was actually something to it other than thinly-veiled racism, and I really haven’t turned up any reason that Jinder should do this. I did find out that India is a goddamn powerhouse when it comes to making awesome carpets and has been since either the 11th or 13th century, but apparently Jinder is doing this in-universe because he’s a huge dick and wants you to know it, and out-of-universe because WWE has all the subtlety of a brick to the head.
Man can goddamn rock a turban, I’ll give him that.
Anyway, Jinder stands and scowls for a little bit, then shows the camera his World Championship and laughs a little. I mean…I’d be laughing too.
Already sold on this Money in the Bank match
And in the arena, Shane McMahon is making his entrance and getting usual affection from the WWE Universe. I have to be honest, one of the things I love about reviewing this show is it having two lovable face authority figures.
Shane brings us up to speed on the Championship situation, that being that Jinder is now WWE Champion and Randy Orton plans on invoking his rematch clause at Money in the Bank, where hopefully he won’t be such a colossal dumbass about it as he was this time. But Money in the Bank has another kind of match, and yes: it’s the Money in the Bank Ladder match.
Shane announces that the competitors have been selected, and brings them out. First off we have AJ Styles, who will hopefully have better luck with ladders than he has with tables. Baron Corbin is next, followed by the man who knocked him the fuck out last night: Sami Zayn. Dolph Ziggler is also in the match, which in storyline terms is surprising but in entertainment terms is pretty much gold. And finally we have Kevin Owens, but Shane asks him qu’est-ce que fuck he’s doing out there because it damn sure isn’t because he’s in the Money in the Bank Ladder match. The fifth and final participant in that match is Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura seizures his way down to the ring, joining the other competitors as KO pouts sullenly. Baron Corbin’s nonverbal ‘the fuck is this guy?’ motion during Shinsuke’s entrance is hilarious. Owens gets into the ring and calls total bullshit on not being in the match seeing as how he beats Styles on Sunday, who is in the match. He calls out Shane on blatant favouritism, then for a follow-up mocks him for not being able to beat AJ Styles. Is that even an insult?
Shane, apparently not one to throw away an opportunity to make an awesome match even better, says fuck it: Owens is the sixth man in the match. Kevin starts celebrating until Corbin tells him to shut the fuck up, and says that Owens just whined his way into the match and that the others don’t stand a chance, so Shane can just lower the briefcase now and hand it to him. Bold strategy, and I’d love nothing more than if Shane did just that: he seems to be in a suggestion-taking mood tonight.
Styles says that Corbin is forgetting that he’s in the House that AJ Styles Built, and that that house wasn’t built on DQs or count-outs. He says it doesn’t matter who else is in the match, teasing a stare-down with Nakamura because I really needed that level of arousal right now. Zayn then butts in, saying he didn’t come to SmackDown Live to watch Styles run victory laps. Corbin interrupts, which is a bold thing to do considering Sami kicked his fucking head in last night. Zayn offers Baron a chance at a rematch.
And now Ziggler’s talking, saying that he’s the only Money in the Bank winner standing in the ring. He’s done it once and he’s going to do it again. Nakamura takes the microphone and introduces himself, before saying that we can just call him Mr Money in the Bank.
Shane makes a rematch between Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin and tag match with Owens and Ziggler vs. Styles and Nakamura. This is already a sweet night.
It feels like we’re almost counting down to the inevitable Charlotte heel turn
Natalya and Carmella are in the ring, set to take on Charlotte and Becky Lynch. Becky comes to the ring with Naomi, whilst Charlotte arrives alone; not sure if that means anything.
Becky and Carmella begin the match, with the Princess of Staten Island applying a headlock before having that countered by Becky, who takes her over into a couple of headlocks of her own. Carmella takes control again, with our fourth headlock of the match, then runs off the ropes to shoulder tackle Becky. She counters a hip toss from Lynch, tries one of her own and takes a shot to the gut before getting taken into a backslide.
Becky almost rolls up Carmella again and then knocks her down with a dropkick as Charlotte catches Natalya in the same fashion. When we come back from the break, the Welcoming Committee have taken control, keeping Becky away from Charlotte. Becky counters a Sharpshooter attempt and tags in Charlotte, who takes Natalya off her feet with chops, punches and a huge big boot.
Charlotte drags Natalya over to the corner and wants a moonsault. Tamina is able to provide a distraction, and Charlotte hops down off the turnbuckle rather than risk anything else as Naomi launches herself at Tamina. Charlotte manages to tag in Becky, who heads up to the top herself and hits a front missile dropkick. Natalya is sent into her own corner, allowing Carmella to get the tag.
Carmella wails on Becky, but suddenly gets her arm locked. Ellsworth hops up onto the apron, but Naomi is there again and kicks him back off. Disarmer is locked in, and Carmella taps out!
I was still really expecting the victory at Backlash, and would have been stunned if Becky and Charlotte hadn’t won here. Good match, with some chain wrestling and good pacing. 2.5 Stars.
Would not have called that
We’re onto our next match here, with Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn. Both men get into the ring and the bell’s rung. Corbin goes on the attack immediately, backing Zayn into a corner and tossing him out of the ring. Sami manages to rally, rolling Corbin up…and he gets him! Zayn wins!
Not much point reviewing that, though I am honestly surprised.
Zayn makes the suicidal decision to stay and celebrate his win and therefore gets fucking murdered by Corbin for a prolonged period of time: just long enough to make it super disturbing.
Meanwhile, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura go over some history, and Styles notes that this is the very first time they’ve built together. It inevitably descends into dick-measuring, because this is professional wrestling and they’re TOUGH, MANLY MEN.
Holy crap, we get the final episode of Fashion Files. Goddamn I’m going to miss this. Please, if you watch no other part of SmackDown, then watch this. The gist of it is that Shane McMahon puts them in singles matches against the Usos and is super freaked-out by both of them.
What’s Punjabi for “super dumb”?
And apparently this segment is called the “Punjabi Championship Celebration”. Yep: let’s start putting the word “Punjabi” in front of everything Jinder related; that won’t get weird at all. Also I have no idea what bits of this are authentically Punjabi, so I’m going to hold off on any offensive jokes and just hope like hell that this is not what my wedding’s going to look like.
I mean, Jinder Mahal being at my wedding would be a weird yet awesome surprise, but the rest of it feels forced.
Anyway, Mahal shows up, rocking a suit instead of his national and cultural clothing like everyone else out here: always has to be one prick who shows up in business attire. At least it’s not a tuxedo. Anyway, we get some music and dancing that JBL manages to resist making any offensive comments about. He’s the racist old uncle we all have, Nazi salutes and all.
People boo, because you call this a Championship celebration? Where’s the booze? Where’s the cigars? Where are the strippers? Seriously, to date only Edge has had an onscreen Championship celebration I’d ever actually want to be a part of. Jinder claims that all of India is celebrating his WWE Championship win, and I think it’s mostly because there’s another Indian World Champ who is not the Great Khali.
Jinder says that he made fools of us all and that we never thought he could beat Randy Orton. Well…yeah. Did anyone? Mahal says that he’s already the great WWE Champion of all time, and I guess he is already better than the aforementioned Great Khali. He then starts speaking Punjabi. Considering that he’s claiming that all of India is on his side, maybe he could occasionally address the nation in one of the 21 other official languages, instead of only the 11th most widely-spoken in India.
Load of fireworks go off, and apparently that’s it. What, no sneak attack from Orton? What about Rusev, who was demanding a title match at Money in the Bank? That really built up to nothing.
I will never become bored of this
Here are the Usos, both ready to take on Breezango in singles action. Breeze and Fandango arrive, still holding their box full of fun.
Breeze is up first against Jey Uso. Jey grabs the microphone and says that they already beat these guys at Backlash and they don’t deserve a match. Fandango then sprays Jey with a water gun, distracting him enough that Tyler gets the three off a roll-up!
Jimmy then takes on Fandango, immediately punishing him. Meanwhile, Tyler is getting dressed up in drag and irritating Jey. This distracts Jimmy enough that Fandango rolls him up and wins too!
I am just loving all of this. I don’t care what you think of me: this is great. 2 Stars.
Breezango mock the Usos and demand a rematch for the titles. And the Usos, in the face of all of the many reasons why this shouldn’t take place, say that they’ll do it.
We see the ref talking in a headset, which is a nice authentic touch, and they announce it! Tag Team Championship match is up next!
When we come back, the Usos are in control, with Jey slamming Breeze’s head off the mat. Tyler suddenly kicks Jey through the ropes and out of the ring, and tags in Fandango! Fandango unloads on Jey, hitting a huge spinning kick to lay him out. He uses Jimmy as a ladder to hit a tornado DDT, and almost gets the pin on Jey!
Fandango goes for the Falcon Arrow, but is flung into the post. The Usos lay both Fashion Police out with stereo superkicks, then Jimmy heads up to the top rope for the Samoan Splash, but lands across Fandango’s raised knees! Fandango rolls him up and almost wins the titles, with Jimmy kicking out at the last second!
Fandango heads up to the top but is caught by Jimmy. Jey gets a blind tag in the confusion, and Fandango hits the Last Dance to Jimmy right before Jey nails Fandango with the Samoan Splash for the win!
Great, great finish, and Fandango looked awesome here. I love that we’re building the Usos back up as being incredible tag team specialists. 2.5 Stars.
Shane McMahon is backstage, and Natalya busts in to ask for a SmackDown Women’s Tag Team Championship match. This pretty much opens the door for everyone to bust in and demand a match. Even Tamina wants a shot, and not enough people laughed at that. Shane makes a Fatal Five-Way Elimination match next week to decide a number one contender, who will face Naomi at Money in the Bank.
Welcome to SmackDown Live, Shinsuke Nakamura
But now it’s time for our main event. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are already in the ring as Ziggler makes his entrance, followed by Kevin Owens. Everyone’s in the ring, and Dolph and AJ start off with collar-and-elbow tie-ups. Both men trade, counter and exchange holds, jockeying for position before Ziggler runs the ropes, misses a dropkick and eats kick from Styles.
Nakamura tags in and Dolph fucks off immediately, tagging in Owens. KO trashtalks Styles as Shinsuke watches, then the Artist smacks Owens around until the US Champ bails out of the ring and into a commercial. When we come back, Owens is still getting taken to task by Nakamura. He hangs Shinsuke up on the ropes and is quick to take advantage, stomping all over him.
Dolph tags in, running his Backlash opponent’s face over the top rope. He chops at Nakamura in the corner, then hits a neckbreaker for a one count. Ziggler locks in a sleeper hold, wrapping his legs around Shinsuke’s waist. Nakamura fights back to his feet, but Ziggler hurls him back down to the mat and tags in Owens. Owens throws hands at Nakamura, then takes him over in a snapmare and locks in a sleeper hold.
Nakamura is kept on the ropes by both Ziggler and Owens as Styles sweats on the apron. Shinsuke finally makes a bid for freedom, but is backed into the corner before he can reach AJ, with Owens knocking Styles off the ropes and hitting a Cannonball to Nakamura. We go to a break, and when we come back Ziggler and Owens are still well in control of both the match and Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura finally dodges a wild charge from Ziggler, and tags in Styles!
Styles takes it to Ziggler, finally beheading him with a clothesline and then lays him out with a forearm. He hits another forearm to Owens before backflipping out of a suplex attempt from Ziggler and hits the ushigoroshi for a two count. He goes for the Styles Clash, gets distracted by Owens and then hung up on the ropes and thrown out of the ring by Dolph.
Owens tags in and hits a back senton to Styles on the outside. Back inside the ring Owens applies a sleeper, trying to slow down the pace completely. Styles gradually fights his way out but runs into a backdrop, allowing Owens to smack and stomp him against the mat. He tags in Dolph, who takes Styles up to the top rope. Styles fights back, and slides out from under Dolph. Ziggler tries to catch him, and gets dumped face-first on the mat!
Nakamura and Owens both tag in, and Owens gets a lot of hard strikes to the head and chest. Huge knee to the midsection of Owens gets a two count, and Shinsuke stays on him, laying him out with an enzuigiri. Dolph jumps into the ring, misses the Fameasser and takes an exploder suplex. Owens jumps on Nakamura, but takes a Pele Kick from Styles. Styles tries to hit the Styles Clash to KO, but eats a superkick from Ziggler! Dropkick from Nakamura knocks Dolph out of the ring, and the Kinshasa to Owens gets the win!
Match of the night, with some great fantasy pairings. Can’t wait until we get Styles vs. Nakamura, but this was a solid advert for Money in the Bank. 3 Stars.
So, the bad: Randy Orton is nowhere to be seen and the World Championship picture continues to be really, really weird. Also the Fashion Police didn’t win the Tag Team Championships, despite it being on an “asking Santa” level for me.
The good: everything else seems to be pretty great. The Women’s Division is proceeding nicely; the Usos are becoming the dominant Champs I love them being again, only this time as heels, and the Money in the Bank match is already my favourite upcoming match. Good week, even without much standout in the way of matches. 7/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Breezango, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, James Ellsworth, jbl, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, naomi, Natalya, Randy Orton, rusev, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, Singh Brothers, smackdown live, Tamina Snuka, the usos, Tom Phillips