By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Toledo, Ohio at Huntington Center
Footage was shown of Jinder Mahal’s title victory and the reaction from fans. Snippets were shown from various online media outlets, including the Hindustan Times. In the arena, Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton welcomed everyone to Smackdown. Police sirens could be heard, and a motorcade was showin arriving at the building being escorted by police. The Singh Brothers got out of their truck and rolled out a carpet for Jinder Mahal. He then exited his limo and laughed while holding the WWE Championship.
Shane McMahon made his entrance in the arena. He played to the crowd in Toledo and said that history was made with Jinder being crowned Champion. He then announced that Randy Orton would get a rematch in his hometown of St. Louis at the Money in the Bank PPV. He then ran down the nature of the Money in the Bank match itself. Shane then announced 5 participants for the WWE Money in the Bank Ladder Match. First out was AJ Styles, followed by Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, and Dolph Ziggler. Kevin Owens made an entrance, and Shane interrupted to tell him he wasn’t a participant.
Shane asked the fifth participant to come on out, and Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance wearing what looked like a new shirt. He did his full entrance while everyone just kind of awkwardly stood there. Shane announced them as he five contenders, and Kevin Owens immediately interrupted them. He said it was favoritism that people who lost on Sunday were in the match. He said he thought that he was jealous of him, because he did what he couldn’t do at WrestleMania, and that’s beat AJ Styles.
Shane conceded that he made a few good points, and added him as a sixth competitor to the match. Corbin grabbed a microphone and told Owens to shut up. He had mic issues and had to grab another one. He said they should just lower the briefcase now and hand it to him, because nobody else had a chance. Styles grabbed a mic and said this was the house he built by being phenomenal night after night. He didn’t care if it was WWE’s version of Eric Cartman, The Showoff, The Lone Wolf, The Underdog, or The Rock Star, he was going to climb that ladder and take back the WWE Championship that belonged to him.
Zayn piped up and said that he didn’t come to Smackdown to watch Styles take victory laps. Corbin interrupted and told him to enjoy his fluke victory, because he’s the Rudy of WWE that gets one good play during garbage time. Zayn said he’d be happy to kick Corbin in the face again, and they didn’t have to wait until Money in the Bank. Ziggler then interrupted and reminded everyone that he was the only one that had ever won a briefcase and cash it in, and he would do it again.
Nakamura finally got a word in, and introduced himself for those in the crowd who were unaware. He said they could call him Shinsuke Nakamura for now, but soon they could call him Mr. Money in the Bank. Shane said he could see tensions were high, and made a rematch between Zayn and Corbin for later. Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch were shown walking towards the ring backstage…[c]
My Take: A fun opening segment with some nice verbal barbs. I like the MITB line up for the men, as it’s the best Smackdown has to offer. It will be a huge challenge to fill out the remainder of the show, but I hope that allows some added focus on the tag division, the women’s division, and maybe even the lower card might get some creative attention.
Carmella and Natalya were already in the ring. Ellsworth and Tamina are at ringside. Charlotte made her entrance, followed by Becky Lynch. Naomi offered support at ringside.
1. Charlotte and Becky vs. Carmella and Natalya: Carmella grabbed and held a headlock for a bit early, and then knocked Becky down with a shoulder block. She then mocked her with a taunt. Becky grabbed a waist lock and hit a kick. Natalya tried to interfere, but Charlotte entered and kicked her to the floor…[c]
During the break, picture in picture action was shown in the corner of the screen. It consisted of Nattie and Carmella working over Becky with headlocks and strikes, isolating her in the heel corner. Becky hit a kick in the face as Nattie charged in the corner and Charlotte made a hot tag. She hit a back elbow and a big boot, followed by a pin for near fall. She climbed to the top for a moonsault. Tamina tried to interfere, but Naomi stopped her. Charlotte made a blind tag, and Becky flew in with a kick from the top.
Carmella tagged in and Becky quickly grabbed control of her arm. Ellsworth tried to interfere and keep her from being dragged to the ground, but Naomi prevented it. Becky then pulled Carmella into the Disarmer for the win.
Becky and Charlotte defeated Carmella and Natalya at 8:09.
The Punjabi Celebration was plugged for later…[c]
My Take: I guess Becky gets her win back? The even steven booking in uninspiring to say the least. They need to get back to telling stories with the women.
Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin were already in the ring…
2. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin: Sami hit a rollup about 10 seconds into the match and got a victory.
Sami Zayn defeated Baron Corbin at 0:10.
After the pin, Corbin lost it and tossed Sami to the outside and into the timekeeper’s area. He then hit Zayn over the back with a chair. They spilled into the arena behind the timekeeper’s area, where Corbin threw Zayn into a barricade. He eventually dragged him back to the ringside barricade, and hit him with repeated forearms until they were eventually separated by referees. Corbin walked to the back and Zayn was stretchered out. A match was announced with Styles and Nakamura vs. Ziggler and Styles. Fashion Files are up next…[c]
My Take: Corbin needed the heat, so I understand the stretcher job, but it wasn’t the most convincing thing in the world to watch from a consistency standpoint. We’ve seen other guys take that level of violence over the course of a match and come back to win.
Backstage, Styles and Nakamura talked about their tag match. Nakamura told Styles that at Money in the Bank, he would climb the ladder and turn AJ’s house into his playground. We then got a Fashion Police segment from the Toledo Fashion Department.
Shane McMahon was shown backstage in his office with all the Fashion Files stuff. Fandango called him commissioner and Breeze asked him when he shaved his moustache. They started turning in all their gear like they were resigning, but Shane said they already proved they belonged. Shane made singles matches between then and the Usos for later. They said they were back on the case, and made off with their stuff. The punjabi celebration is next…[c]
My Take: I’m hoping Breezango are able to find a middle ground between taking their title opportunities seriously and going for some laughs. The best personalities are able to have it both ways to a degree, and I’d like to see them get there if this is to continue.
A drummer played a beat and some lined the entrance ramp while the Singh Brothers made their way out, followed soon after by Jinder Mahal. He made his entrance and the dancers surrounded the ring. They completed a dance number to his music while the announcers put over how India was celebrating his victory. The crowd booed loudly when the music dropped.
Jinder said they can shower him with his hatred, but that won’t change the fact that 1.3 billion people in India are celebrating that he’s the WWE Champion. He said people hated him because he looks and talks different, and it was their lack of belief in him that fueled him to the Championship. He said Randy Orton was on his way down, and he was ascendant as the greatest WWE Champion of all time. He then spoke to “my people’ in “my language”. He said a few words in punjabi and then celebrated on the turnbuckle with a pyro display. The main event was hyped for later…[c]
My Take: Jinder sounded like he was fighting off a bit of laryngitis or something. I was having a hard time hearing him again, and his voice broke several times. WWE is really doing the hard sell on Jinder being a hero in India and a villain in the US. Without some serious improvement in his promo skills, it’s going to be pretty difficult to make this last.
We got another Lana video package, followed by The Usos making their entrance. Jey Uso will be competing against Tyler Breeze. Breezango then made their entrance.
3. Tyler Breeze vs. Jey Uso: Jey grabbed a mic and said they had already beaten those chumps at Backlash. Fandango began spraying Jey with a squirt gun, at which point Jey charged at the ropes. Breeze then rolled him up from behind for the win.
Tyler Breeze defeated Jey Uso at 0:24.
The next match immediately began.
4. Fandango vs Jimmy Uso: Jey chased Breeze around the ring, which eventually distracted Jimmy long enough to be rolled up.
Fandango defeated Jimmy Uso at 0:40.
After the match, Fandango and Breeze challenged The Usos to rematch for the Tag Team Championships. The Usos said they’d do it right now. The ref got on the communicator at ringside, and eventually the match was announced.
5. The Usos vs. Breezango for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The show went to commercial as the match began, but the match was visible in the corner of the screen. The Usos dominated Tyler Breeze and cut off the ring. They made frequent tags and got in some double team offense with strikes. As the show came back from commercial, Fandango got a hot tag and cleared Jimmy from the apron. He then hit a DDT on Jey for a near fall. He went for a falcon arrow, but it was blocked. The Usos hit double superkicks on Breeze and then Fandango. Jimmy then went for a splash attempt, but Fandango got the knees up and rolled him over for a good near fall.
Fandango climbed up top, but was met by Jimmy Uso. Jey made a blind tag right before Fandango hit the Last Dance on Jimmy. Jey came off the opposite turnbuckle with a splash and covered Fandango for the win.
The Usos defeated Breezango at 6:40.
The main event is up next…[c]
My Take: A fun segment that was capped off with a few very entertaining minutes of Tag Team Wrestling. These two teams would be capable of having even better matches if given some more time and more than a 3 or 4 minutes of Breezango taking thing seriously.
Shane was backstage when the women all showed up simultaneously to ask for Women’s Championship opportunity. First it was Natalya, then it was Carmella, then Becky, Tamina, and Charlotte. Natalya said that she was told all she had to do was ask for an opportunity, and this is her asking. Ellsworth walked up and said all Natalya was good at was holding up the back of the line. Carmella said she has two pinfalls over Naomi and she deserves a shot. Becky Lynch said that she submitted Carmell and was the first Women’s Champion and wanted to reclaim it. Charlotte then said that the only reason the Welcoming Committee exists was to cost her a Championship opportunity, and the Queen was waiting for her crowd. Shane quieted them all down and said that he was making a 5-way eliminatio match for next week for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank.
In the arena, Nakamura and Styles were already in the ring. Ziggler and Owens made their entrances.
6. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens: Ziggler grabbed a headlock early, but Styles quickly fought out of it and hit a dropkick. Styles made a tag to Nakamura, and Ziggler quickly bailed. Owens tagged and started talking trash to Styles and Nakamura immediately. He called them all losers, but Nak caught him napping with some knee and forearm strikes. He lined up for Kinshasa, but Owens bailed to the outside…[c]
Nakamura hit another knee to Owens, but Owens turned the table with some strikes of his own and dragged Nakamura over to the heel corner for a tag to Ziggler. Nakamura traded blows with Ziggler, but couldn’t keep up as Ziggler hit a neckbreaker. They kept Nakamura grounded with holds and frequent tags. Owens talked trash to Styles and then hit strikes to a downed Nakamura. He fought to his feet several times, but couldn’t overcome the double team. Owens knocked Styles off the apron and hit a cannonball on Nakamura for a two count…[c]
Owens tagged in Ziggler and told him to get his revenge for Backlash. Dolph charged hard at Nakamura and ate the post in the corner. Nakamura made a hot tag to Styles, who hit a big clothesline and a forearm on Ziggler for a near fall. He then hit a forearm on Owens and an Ushigoroshi on Ziggler for another near fall. A distraction from Owens led to Ziggler hotshotting Styles on the top rope. He then rolled to the apron.
Owens then tagged in and hit a running knee to the back of Styles. He then grabbed a headlock. Styles fought to his feet but Owens shut him down with a back body drop and tagged in Ziggler. He entered and placed Styles on the turnbuckle. AJ slipped out to go for a tag, but Ziggler grabbed him by the hair to stop him. Styles countered with a wheelbarrow facebuster and tagged in Nakamura. Owens tagged in and ate strikes. He hit some knees in the corner and covered for a two count. He went for a suplex, but Owens blocked it. Nakamura fired back with a roundhouse kick, and Owens broke up the pin.
Styles entered and tried to hit a Styles Clash on Owens, but Ziggler hit him with a Superkick. Nakamura hit a single leg dropkick on Ziggler, and then Kinshasa on Owens for the pinfall.
Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler at 25:48.
After the match, the announce team plugged the Fatal 5-Way Elimination match in the Women’s Division for next week. Styles and Nakamura celebrated and then eventually had a brief staredown to close the show.
My Take: It’s a shame these guys had a to fill so much time in this format, because the match lacked flow and the crowd wasn’t giving the heels the kind of heat required to sustain the long periods of grinding offense they planned out. They crowd responded to the pace picking up late in the match and was happy about Nakamura’s victory, but I don’t think this match was particularly special in anyway. I was happy to see they are doing a slow burn on any potential AJ and Nakamura feud. That is worthy of a Summerslam or even WrestleMania match, and they shouldn’t rush into it. In fact, I’d avoid having them engage directly for any extended length of time in the Money in the Bank match if at all possible. Overall, this was a newsworthy show, but I can’t really recommend you go way out of your way to see many of the matches. It was heavy on announcements and it furthered several angles though, so it was worthwhile to catch the show in the grand scheme.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Colt Cabana on his role in ROH, the state of the independent wrestling scene, the future of his podcast, the ROH Global Wars tour, the new ROH television format, Starrcast III, and much more...