By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Boston, Massachusetts at TD Garden
Kevin Owens walked out in a suit and tie carrying the US Championship. He was shaven a bit closer than usual as well. Byron Saxton joined Tom Phillips and JBL on the announce team. He welcomed everyone to the new Kevin Owens Show. Kevin said Smackdown Live got a huge upgrade, because he’s there now and he brought the United States Championship with him. Kevin then said it might be confusing for some that he’s the US Champion because he’s from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, but Canada is far superior to the United States. He asked the crowd if they were upset because he’s telling the truth? He the spoke a bit in French.
He then translated and said if anyone has a problem with what he’s saying, get in the ring, because he can beat anyone who says different. He said he’s not there for anybody but him, and especially not for the neanderthals in the arena. Baron Corbin interrupted and said he believes Kevin can beat up this crowd, but he knows he can’t beat him. He said he knows he can beat Owens, because he beat Ambrose so bad last week he ran to Raw. Ambrose beat Owens so bad last night he ran to Smackdown. Corbin said he’s owed a title match, and since Owens is the only one out there wearing one, it might as well be his. Owens said Corbin was delusional, and he doesn’t deserve a shot at anything…
Sami Zayn then interrupted and made his way to the ring. Owens was beside himself and said this can’t possibly be real. Zayn said it’s very real and he’s officially on Smackdown live. That prompted AJ Styles to make his entrance to cheers. The crowd chanted for Styles once his music died. AJ said this was about Smackdown, the place that AJ Styles built, and he was still there. This prompted Daniel Bryan to make his entrance and said that the US Championship won’t be defended on the blue side until after Payback. He announced a number one contenders Triple Threat between Corbin, Styles and Zayn for later in the show. American Alpha vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships will happen later as well, along with Shane McMahon addressing the state of the Smackdown Women’s division. Randy Orton is next…[c]
My Take: I hope they have more surprises ahead, because Smackdown lost a lot of star power in exchange for Owens and Zayn. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of matchups that I want to see with those two involved, but one or hopefully two more main event quality talents would feel a lot better.
Erick Rowan was already in the ring. Randy Orton made his entrance. Orton vs. Wyatt will take place at Payback, a Raw exclusive PPV. I guess that gets them out of having Lesnar on the show.
1. Erick Rowan vs. Randy Orton: Orton opened up on Rowan early on with punches. They both ended up on the top turnbuckle trading strikes. Orton knocked him down and hit a quick powerslam and Rowan rolled outside. Orton followed, and Rowan charged him. Orton got out of the way as Rowan crashed into the steps. He followed up with a draping DDT…until Bray Wyatt interrupted and showed up on the tron. He said he is everywhere, and he would see Randy again very soon. He then laughed uncontrollably before the lights came on. Orton went outside to pursue Orton, and smashed him with the top half of the ring steps for a DQ. He then dragged Orton into the ring and hit a full nelson slam to leave Orton laying.
Randy Orton defeated Erick Rowan via DQ at 4:51.
The Usos vs. American Alpha are next…[c]
My Take: Bray Wyatt vs. Orton ruined another Smackdown segment, and Bray isn’t even technically on the show anymore! Rowan needs a new gimmick in a bad way.
American Alpha made their entrance. The Usos were already in the ring. This match is for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.
2. American Alpha vs. The Usos: Jason Jordan hit a spinebuster early in Jimmy. Jey tagged in and traded punches, but Alpha quickly cleared him from the ring…[c]
Jey hit an Enziguri on Jordan and tagged in Jimmy. They talked trash at Gable, which set up Jordan to recover and avoid a charging Jimmy and toss Jey out to the floor for a tag. Gable entered and cleaned house. He applied an armbar on Jimmy over the ropes, but got superkicked by Jey from the floor. Jimmy then attempted a top rope splash, but Gable got the knees up and rolled through. Jey had to break up the pin. Jordan and Gable hit a top rope bulldog and the pin was broken up again.
Things got out of control with bodies flying everywhere. The Usos attempted suicide dives out to the floor on to Alpha, but they got caught and suplexed. Alpha attempted Grand Amplitude, but got interrupted and Jordan was sent to the floor. Jimmy hit a big splash onto Gable and covered for the win and to retain the Championships.
The Usos defeated American Alpha at 10:33.
Post-match, Primo and Epico entered and attacked Alpha on the floor. They then hit a combo Powerbomb into Backstabber combo. Jinder Mahal vs. Mojo Rawley is set for next…[c]
My Take: Fun match with the right finish, but Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon have shown massive incompetence thus far. The show must have underwent serious budget cuts. Primo and Epico aren’t moving anyone’s needle, and neither is HGH Mahal.
Mojo made his entrance. Gronk was shown in the crowd. Jinder Mahal then made his entrance.
3. Jinder Mahal vs. Mojo Rawley: They went back and forth early on. Mojo nearly took out Charles Robinson hitting the ropes in an awkward spot. Jinder dropped Mojo on the top rope and then went out to get in Gronk’s face. Mojo grabbed him from behind and slugged him. Gronk then threw some beer in his face. Mojo then hit his running haymaker in the ring for the win.
Mojo Rawley defeated Jinder Mahal at 3:22.
After the match, Mojo took a leap into the crowd and celebrated with Gronk and his buddies. Shane McMahon will address the Women’s division next…[c]
My Take: Jinder was a great trade for Curt Hawkins.
Shane McMahon made his entrance and thanked the crowd for the love. He thanked the Smackdown Live stars that moved onto Raw, and said they made SDL the land of opportunity. He said he wanted to introduce the next member of SDL, but first he introduced the rest of the Smackdown Women’s division. Naomi, Natalya, Carmella, and Becky Lynch made their entrances. Shane introduced Naomi as the Champion, and Ellsworth interrupted and called her a horrible Champion. Naomi got in his face, and then apologized to Shane and asked to know who was joining SDL.
Shane said this superstar was a second generation superstar, daughter of a champion and a hall of famer. He then introduced Tamina…..and the crowd went mild. Shane said he thinks the crowd was probably thinking of someone else, and perhaps he was. He then introduced Charlotte. Shane called her the biggest acquisition of the draft. She walked out on stage and posed. The main event was plugged for later…[c]
My Take: Charlotte is a big addition to Smackdown, but Tamina isn’t a replacement for either Mickie James or Alexa Bliss. She has basically one offensive move.
The announce team said that Sin Cara and Rusev were coming to Smackdown. Aiden English was in the ring, and started to sing before he was interrupted by Tye Dillinger.
4. Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English: English went after Dillinger immediately, but he cartwheeled out of the way and led a 10 chant. There was a bit of back and forth, but this was a spotlight for Dillinger. He didn’t waste any time and put English down with the Tye Breaker.
Tye Dillinger defeated Aiden English at 3:44.
An AJ Styles video package was shown. He was then shown backstage preparing for the main event…[c]
My Take: Dillinger vs. English could be a feud if they could get English off the ground as a singles wrestler, but it doesn’t seem like that was the point here. It was a good spotlight for Dillinger, though. Rusev coming to Smackdown feels like a good move, but they made no mention of Lana. Is that presumed?
We got a video package for Lana, who was introduced separately from Rusev. Dolph Ziggler was in the ring. He said the question on everybody’s mind is what’s going to happen to Dolph Ziggler, and he said he’s staying right there on Smackdown. Ziggler said that Raw superstars are going to try and glom onto the show he put on his back and made cool, but after a few weeks they’ll all be looking for Ziggler to what he does better than anyone else in the business. Cue Shinsuke Nakamura, who entered and smiled at Ziggler. The crowd chanted and Dolph asked if he could help him. Dolph said he must be new and excused the interruption, and asked who he thought he was. The crowd chanted Nakamura, but he remained silent. They inched closer to each other, and the crowd sang the tune of Nakamura’s music.
Nakamura repeated his question, and introduced himself. He didn’t take his mouthguard out, for some odd reason. The crowd continued to chant. Dolph went for a superkick, but Nak shoved him away and begged him to try again. Ziggler decided against it and bailed up the ramp. A video package for Baron Corbin was then introduced…[c]
My Take: Nakamura’s english was not helped by keeping in his mouthguard. That aside, this was a fun segment. They won’t need to have him talk much to grab the crowds.
New Day was announced for Smackdown Live in a video. We then got another video, this time for Sami Zayn. He then made his ring entrance. He was followed by Baron Corbin, and then AJ Styles…[c]
5. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin: Styles and Zayn went after Corbin early on, but he turned them both away with a double suplex. Corbin dumped Styles hard over the ropes to the floor. Zayn avoided Corbin with this speed, and Styles recovered just in time to assist Zayn in dumping Corbin to the floor. Zayn took Styles down with a double leg, but AJ kipped up and hit a headscissors takedown. Zayn recovered and hit a clotheslined Styles to the floor. He then setup for a suicide dive, but Corbin grabbed his legs. Styles went after Corbin out on the floor, but Zayn hit a springboard moonsault onto both of them from the apron…[c]
Corbin beat down both Zayn and Styles in opposite corners. Zayn got to his feet and threw some punches, but ran into a side slam for a two count. Styles then got up. Corbin charged him and dove under the ropes, re-entered the ring and hit a big boot. Styles got launched to the floor by Zayn. He then hit Corbin with an exploder in the corner, and nearly dropped him on his head. Styles hit Zayn with an Ushigoroshi, and then Corbin killed Styles with a lariat. Nobody made a cover.
Zayn threw Corbin into the corner. He attempted to dive under the ropes again and u-turn back into the ring, but Styles kneed him in the face and he was dazed. They set up for a tower of doom spot in the corner, but Styles dropped down from the top spot and Zayn was setup for a doomsday device. Styles went for a phenomenal forearm, but Zayn managed to slip out and roll up Corbin while Styles crashed and burned. Corbin recovered and hit Zayn with a deep six. Styles broke up the pin. Styles managed to hit Corbin with a springboard 450, and Zay had to break up the pinfall attempt.
Styles and Zayn traded blows. All three men took turned hitting haymakers. Corbin got cleared from the ring with a big Helluva Kick. Zayn turned around into a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
AJ Styles defeated Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin at 17:23.
My Take: This was an entertaining match, but I’m not sure how thrilled I am with AJ Styles suddenly defined down to the US Title picture. I love the idea of a Styles vs. Owens feud, though, so we’ll have to see what comes of it. Zayn feels like he fits right in.
Smackdown is going to struggle after it gets through the first few interesting feuds. Raw is overloaded with talent that it will struggle to take advantage of. If only there were a way to sort out this problem….ah well. We’ll have to see how the show feels once everyone is in full swing and John Cena gets back from filming other television. I don’t think they will struggle to fill two hours, but variety is going to be struggle. Raw ended up with about 20 more active roster talents than Smackdown for one extra hour of television. It seems like there is an imbalance here that will have to be addressed at some point. That said, having Orton, Cena, Styles, Nakamura, Owens, Zayn, Ziggler, Corbin, Charlotte, New Day, etc all fighting for time on a two hour show might feel a bit cramped too when everybody is around. Luke Harper seems poised for a singles run as well, and I’m looking forward to that quite a bit.
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