By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Toronto, Ontario at Air Canada Centre
A video package went over the highlights of the main event from last week’s Smackdown. It also covered the post-Smackdown attack by Baron Corbin on Shinsuke Nakamura, that resulted in John Cena returning to the ring put Corbin through the announce table. John Cena made his way to the ring in the arena, with Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton on commentary. Cena thankfully appears to be no worse for wear following his rough landing last week. Cena felt out the crowd a moment and payed to the cheering and booing factions. He said he was as fired up as anybody, because anytime you get in the ring, it creates moments that last a lifetime. You can almost hear Vince McMahon saying that….
He said last week saw the stage set for an epic encounter between Super Cena and the King of Strong Style Shinsuke Nakamura. He said he found out quick that Shinsuke is afraid of nothing. A chant broke out for Nakamura, and Cena was fairly chill with the fact that he lost. He said he didn’t understand those chants at first, but now he understands, because Shinsuke hits hard and he earned the right to become a champion. He said when he lost, which doesn’t happen to him often, he offered his hand, and Shinsuke had earned his respect…..but he was then interrupted by Baron Corbin.
Corbin said he was tired of hearing about the handshake, and he was tired of being lectured by Cena about respect. He said he was the future, and he had no problem making Cena the past. Cena replied that Corbin was a skinny fat overrated dumpster fire, just like a sign said in the front row. Cena said he’s heard a lot of chants in his life, but he’s never been called a dumpster fire. If he wants some, he can come down to the ring and get it. Corbin considered it for a moment and said that Cena has nothing he wants or needs, so he doesn’t have to beat him to prove anything. He told Cena he could take his respect and shove it.
Daniel Bryan made an entrance as Corbin attempted to walk out. He got a big crowd reaction, and then booked a match between John Cena and Baron Corbin at Summerslam, because Corbin was clearly not dressed to compete tonight. Cena got fired up and played to the crowd.
My Take: A somewhat clunky promo from Cena. He didn’t seem to be bothered at all by the fact that Shinsuke beat him. I guess that’s big of him in a way, but he wasn’t conciliatory as much as he seemed downright giddy about it. It came across as somewhat put on and artificial, rather than sincere. Corbin was fine here, but I can’t help but think this just adds yet another match to the Summerslam card that has a slapdash build. WWE is really leaning on quantity over quality this year, and as someone who enjoys storytelling and character as much as he likes match quality, it’s disappointing.
The Usos made their entrance as video was shown of them roughing up New Day from a few weeks ago. Tye Dillinger then made his entrance, followed by Sami Zayn.
1. Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger vs. The Usos: Jimmy and Tye started the match, with Tye hitting some mounted punches in the corner before tagging out to Sami. Sami immediately set up for a Helluva Kick, but Jey pulled Jimmy to the outside to regroup…[c]
During the break, the Usos broke down Sami Zayn in their corner. Sami flipped out of a suplex and made a hot tag to Dillinger, who cleaned house and forced the Usos to retreat to the floor. Sami then hit a splash out to the floor and tossed Jey Uso back into the ring. Dillinger hit a sit out spinebuster for a near fall. Jimmy Uso tagged in blind, and interrupted Tye Dillinger attempting a Tye Breaker. They then took a shot at the back of his knee, and Jimmy applied a Tequila Sunrise and got the tap out victory.
The Usos defeated Tye Dillinger and Sami Zayn at 7:04.
After the match, The Usos called out New Day, and said they would be the new Champions at Summerslam. New Day’s music hit and Big E appeared the ramp. Woods and Kingston then jumped The Usos from behind and grabbed some chairs from under the ring. Jey managed to save Jimmy from a chairshot and they bailed up the ramp. More Twin Peaks Fashion Files is next…[c]
My Take: The commercial break ate up a significant portion of the match, but honestly it doesn’t appear that we missed much. It served it’s purpose of showing some viciousness from The Usos, but was otherwise unspectacular. New Day getting fired up was a welcome change of pace for them, as they rarely get past clowning on their opponents. If they have hot angle for this feud planned for next week, it might end up one of the better built matches on the card.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Randy Orton about Rusev and Jinder Mahal. He said Rusev was in the wrong place at the wrong time talking about not fearing anyone in the locker room, and he decided to make an example out of him. He then said Jinder Mahal had spent the last three months terrorizing him, and tonight he was was going to extract his revenge.
Elsewhere, Tyler Breeze was talking to The Ascension about his crazy dream. They didn’t care about it, and instead stole the cherry pie from the catering on their desk and walked away. Breeze then stared and his corkboard and wondered where Fandango was, until he walked up behind them. He asked what happened to him, and he said aliens. Breeze asked how he escaped, and Dango said he could have left anytime he wanted. He then asked why he didn’t just leave, and he said anal probes. He then played it off and said he meant wardrobes. Fandango then said the aliens gave him the power of clairvoyance, and that the next person who walked into the room was the person who destroyed their horse Tully.
Arn Anderson walked in and asked them to point him to catering. Breeze asked if he was the one who destroyed Tully the Horse, and he said damn right. They should have named it Arn, because anyone with any sense at all knows he was the hoss of that group. He then grabbed two donuts and walked out of the office. Breeze and Fandango said their case is just beginning. Charlotte made her entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Orton’s promo was boilerplate, but given how little he had to work with it isn’t surprising. The Fashion Files are now being written in a way that they don’t resolve anything and focus on humor, like any sitcom really. It reads more as an inside joke than a true comedy, though, which always has a limited shelf life.
In the arena, Lana made her entrance. Video was shown of her expressing admiration for Tamina and deciding to challenge Charlotte after feeling inspired to be a more charismatic and beautiful version of Tamina.
2. Charlotte vs Lana: We had a lot of stalling and awkwardness early on. Lana slapped Charlotte across the face, which prompted her to fire back with a big boot and a figure 8 for the tapout victory.
Charlotte defeated Lana at 2:11.
Charlotte celebrated as Lana was helped from the ring by trainers. Shane McMahon will address the US Championship match next…[c]
My Take: Lana is very good as losing in two minutes. Shane McMahon is set to come across as a heel in Canada if he goes after Owens in his promo.
Shane made his entrance while footage was shown of last week’s US Title Match and subsequent booking of Shane booked as a referee for the rematch at Summerslam. Shane explained how he was added to the match, and introduced Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. Owens got a big reaction, as did Styles. There was a big back and forth chant that broke out once both wrestlers were in the ring. Shane said Owens expressed apprehension about him as the referee, and screamed in his face last week. Owens reflected and gave a faux apology, saying that what he said was in the heat of the moment. He said he wasn’t worried about Shane screwing him over, because the McMahons had already done that to a legendary Canadian before, and it would be terrible PR to do it to another legendary Canadian.
Owens said if he should be worried about anybody, it’s AJ, and he threw to footage of AJ Styles beating the crap out of Shane McMahon from prior to WrestleMania. AJ said that he’ll admit that he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Shane being the referee, because he doesn’t trust anybody, let alone a McMahon. But their history is history and Owens is trying to stir the pot, and it isn’t going to work. Owens then introduced some footage of Shane McMahon screwing over Steve Austin in 1998, and said there was a treasure trove of footage of Shane screwing over wrestlers, enough to make a collection out of it.
Shane interjected and said that he was committed to calling the match right down the middle, and asked that neither of them give him a reason to get involved. AJ said they didn’t have to wait until Summerslam, and could move Shane out of the picture and have the match right then and there. Owens said he’d rather win the US Title in the United States in a city that matters. AJ said what does matter is that this was the closest he would ever get to being the US Champion, which caused Owens to take a cheap shot. Shane got involved, and Owens tossed him into the way of a pele kick…[c]
My Take: Owens gave a great performance there, but I can’t say I was thrilled with Shane or AJ. Styles seemed a bit lost during the talking portion of the segment, and I don’t think Shane did nearly enough to defend himself, or at least act offended by Owens 20 year old accusations.
Backstage, Tamina approached Lana and asked if she felt like she was a more charismatic and beautiful version of Tamina. Lana apologized for her earlier comment, and Tamina told her she’s never going to be the wrestler that she is. Lana said Tamina will never be as ravishing as her. Tamina said Lana got three title shots because of her ambition, and now she would help her get hers. Carmella and Naomi made their entrances in the building.
3. Naomi vs Carmella: Naomi blasted Carmella with a kick, and then did her sliding slap that she debuted last week…[c]
During the break, Carmella gained control the match and used Orton levels of commitment to a chinlock to keep her grounded on the mat. The show returned with Naomi fighting back to her feet, only to get dragged back down with a hair pull back into a chin lock. Natalya was shown watching backstage as Naomi battled back into the match. She hit a kick out of the corner and then rapid fire kicks center ring. She then climbed the turnbuckle, but Carmella knocked her back to a seated position. They fought for position for a bit, until the ref separated Carmella for hair pulling. The ref was distracted long enough to allow James Ellsworth to cause Naomi to slip. Carmella then hit a superkick and covered Naomi for the win.
Carmella defeated Naomi at 5:40.
Carmella and Ellsworth celebrated up the ramp post match…[c]
My Take: Oh yay, Ellsworth. Just when the Women’s division was starting to recover from six months of not having a singles feud…
Backstage, Natalya approached Carmella and Ellsworth backstage, and told them to stay out of her business at Summerslam. Carmells asked what she was so worried about, and pointed to the briefcase. Ellsworth wished her good luck, and sarcastically said that they were really counting on her getting a win.
Shinsuke Nakamura was interviewed by Renee Young in a pretaped sit down interview. She asked about what it was like to debut on Smackdown. He said always wanted to be in WWE for his entire career, to compete with the best in the world, first in NXT and now Smackdown. She then asked about John Cena, who he called the measuring stick in WWE for a decade, and said he couldn’t put into words what it meant to compete with him and defeat him. Renee then moved on to Jinder Mahal, and Nakamura said that at Summerslam, he would fulfill his destiny to become WWE Champion, and the Nakamura Dynasty would begin.
In the arena, Jinder Mahal made his entrance for the main event…[c]
My Take: The Shinsuke interview was good, but I still don’t feel like a have an understanding about what makes his character tick. He talked about a Nakamura Dynasty likes it’s something he’s always dreamed about. Why are we just hearing about it now, and why not spend some more time explaining what it means to him?
Randy Orton made his ring entrance.
4. Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal: Lots of kick/punch early on. Orton his a Thesz Press, which caused Mahal to retreat to the floor. Orton followed and tossed Mahal into the barricade a few times before being sent back into the ring. Mahal retreated back to the floor and Orton slammed him into the announce table. Randy prepared the table for destruction, but Mahal got back in the ring. Eventually Randy dragged him back out there and set up for an RKO on the table, but Mahal shoved him off the table and into the timekeeper’s area…[c]
Mahal turned the tide before the break and remained in control. He held into a chinlock, but Orton escaped, and Mahal ran into the ringpost as he attempted to chase him down. Orton positioned Mahal for a superplex and nailed it, but couldn’t recover in time to put Mahal away. Orton followed up with clotheslines and a fallaway slam. Mahal got up and backed into a corner, and Orton hit some mounted punches. Mahal escaped and hit the ropes, but ran into a powerslam for a near fall.
Mahal hit a high knee that rattled Orton and covered for a near fall. He measured Orton for a Cobra Clutch Slam, but Orton avoided it and hit a hanging DDT. Orton then fired up for the RKO, but he avoided it and rolled up Orton for a two count. Mahal hit a big side kick and set up for another Cobra Clutch Slam, but Orton reversed and hit an RKO for the win.
Randy Orton defeated Jinder Mahal at 12:33.
Orton backed up the ramp, and just as the show went off the air, Rusev surprised him with a superkick from behind as the show faded to black.
My Take: This might be their best match together, since it wasn’t tarnished by a pile of interference or an asinine stipulation. Overall, this was a bit of a letdown episode in comparison last week, which was a loaded show with big expectations. The advertised matches delivered about what we could have expected, which unfortunately didn’t amount to any more than the sum of their parts. Next week is going to be a very important edition of Smackdown, as they have to make several feuds feel very important in a very short period of time.