By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Atlanta, Georgia at Philips Arena
We got a brief promo from each competitor on the Women’s Fatal Five Way match for the #1 Contendership. Nobody had any really good lines. Charlotte talked about being royalty, Carmella said she was high class, Natalya talked about her lineage, Becky is suddenly representing Ireland, and Tamina was just kind of there. In the arena, Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton welcomed everyone to the arena. Kevin Owens was in the ring for his version of the Highlight Reel. He called himself the new face of America to a smattering of boos.
He made reference to Chris Jericho inventing the Money in the Bank match, but said he never won one of them. An AJ Styles chant broke out as Owens said he would do what Jericho never could, and capture the Money in the Bank briefcase. He said he would use the briefcase to become the new champion and face of the entire WWE. He then introduced Shinsuke Nakamura, and mocked his labels as WWE’s resident rock star and “the artist”.
Nakamura made his entrance and the crowd hummed out his music after it stopped. Owens told him this was his highlight reel and not America’s Got Talent, so enough of his dancing. He said he was shrouded in mystery, and people wanted to know who he is and why he’s here. Owens told he put the last guy who called himself a rock star in early retirement, and would do the same to him if he showed up at Money in the Bank.
Nakamura started to respond, but Baron Corbin interrupted and introduced a highlight reel of his own, with footage of him beating up Sami Zayn from last week. Owens said he’s been beating up Sami Zayn for 15 years, so he had nothing to brag about. He then told Corbin to leave his show. Corbin responded and asked if he wanted him to respect his authority, and called him Cartman. Nakamura laughed, and Corbin told him to keep on being an artist, while he keeps on producing highlight reels.
Nakamura told Owens and Corbin that they are forgetting things. He told Owens that he pinned him last week, and he reminded Corbin that Sami Zayn has now beating him twice. Corbin and Owens beat down Nakamura briefly, but Zayn quickly made the save. They cleared Owens and Corbin from the ring, and Zayn challenged them to a tag match with them for right then and now…[c]
My Take: Sami Zayn can make matches now? Nakamura had a bit of a rough outing on the microphone. It was difficult to understand him, more so than previous weeks. I’m not sure if he forgot a line and kind of mumbled or what the issue was. Hopefully he shows improvement. Otherwise, this was an entertaining promo, if a little formula. I guess that leaves AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler for a match later?
The announcers said that Shane McMahon had made things official during the break. That’s better.
1. Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens: Nakamura and Corbin started the match. Nakamura opened up controlling the action with Corbin. He tagged in Zayn after hitting some strikes and dragging Corbin over to his corner. Corbin spun away and tagged in Owens to take down Zayn. Owens took control and the heel team begun the process of making repeated tags and wearing down Sami Zayn in their corner. Zayn attempted a tornado DDT on Corbin, but he stopped it in mid-air and turned it into a slam on Zayn instead…[c]
During the commercial, Owens and Corbin had controlled Zayn with strikes and holds. Owens hit a Blue Thunder Bomb to break free, but Corbin tagged in and intercepted before he could tag Nakamura. Sami hit a big clothesline on Corbin and made the hot tag to Nakamura, who entered and hit a single leg dropkick on Owens, followed by some knees for a two count. He hit him with a solid kick a moment later, and Corbin had to break up the pinfall.
Owens and Corbin collided when Owens got shoved into him, and that led to Corbin and Owens imploding. Zayn cleared Corbin from the ring and Nakamura hit Kinshasa on Owens for the win.
Shinsuke Namamura and Sami Zayn defeated Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens at 13:17.
Nakamura and Zayn celebrated after the match, with Nakamura doing his signature poses. The Women’s 5-Way Elimination Match was hyped for later, and The Usos were plugged for next…[c]
My Take: I keep getting the Raw 5-Way and the Extreme Rules Fatal Five Way mixed up. The match later in the show is an elimination match. This was a fairly standard tag outing to open the show. WWE has thus far not shown much restraint when it comes to making Shinsuke Nakamura appearances feel special.
The Usos were in the ring and Jimmy said the crowd was looking salty and a little mad because they were still the Tag Team Champions. They ran down Breezango and American Alpha, comparing themselves to the Patriots in comparison to the Atlanta Falcons. Big E interrupted and New Day made their entrance. Woods and Kofi lifted Big E triumphantly before they headed to the ring.
Woods said hi to his Mom, and called out to his hometown of Atlanta. The Usos asked them if they got lost skipping down the yellow brick road. They said they had the Smackdown Tag Team Division on lock. They then welcomed them to the Usos penitentiary. Big E said that they like the Smackdown Tag Team Championships, and they want them. Kofi said they could do it the easy way or the hard way, and the answer better be yes.
Jimmy said that they run the division, and they better wake up out of their little fairy tale before they take three Unicorns out back and take care of them Old Yeller style. New Day acted like that was a bit too much, and told them they know who actually runs the place, and Shane McMahon had made a match between them for Money in the Bank. New Day gyrated and The Usos looked disgruntled to close the segment.
The announce team plugged a look back at last week’s Punjabi Celebration for next…[c]
My Take: I like both The Usos and New Day, so this should be fun. This was New Day’s big return, so they bogarted this segment a bit, but in the future I hope New Day gets a bit more oxygen on the Microphone, because the battles could be highly entertaining. I’m looking forward to this feud taking off. Hopefully it’s a lengthy chase.
A video package aired that showed Jinder Mahal’s championship win, the press coverage around it, and last week’s celebration. They then threw to a Fashion Files sketch that focused individually on Fandango. He was dressed as a PI, and it was set up as a Noire Black and White crime drama with Fandango narrating his own adventure. He stumbled into the Fashion Files office where things were torn apart. There was a silhouette of a curvaceous woman on the wall, and Fandango told her to “freeze”.
Tyler Breeze popped up in a wig and they both were narrating, but could somehow hear each other. They discovered a bit of evidence on the floor, and said they needed to find out who destroyed their office. They declared it their next case. In the arena, Charlotte made her entrance…[c]
My Take: The noir crime drama feels like a bit of a rip off from this year’s season of Archer, but let’s hope Fandango and Breeze can keep it interesting. Breeze dressed up like a woman seems like a recurring thing for him at this point, and this was the best use of the joke so far.
Carmella made her entrance, followed by Tamina, Natalya, and Becky Lynch.
Things broke down quickly before the match started. Tamina took a shot at Charlotte before the bell and all hell broke loose. Tamina tried to put Charlotte through the announce table, but she broke free and took out both Tamina and Natalya. Becky Lynch jumped off the barricade and hit a forearm and took out Carmella and Ellsworth. All five women threw haymakers at one another at ringside until Natalya and Charlotte were standing. Nattie tried to put Charlotte through the announce table, but she reversed and tossed her into the steps. Charlotte eventually picked up Nattie and put her through the announce table with a powerbomb.
Shane McMahon’s music hit and said hello to Hotlanta. He then said the competition in the Women’s division is so hot and intense, that he wants to do something historic. He told the women that since they couldn’t settle their problems tonight, they would have to do so in the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank Match in St. Louis at WWE Money in the Bank. Charlotte smiled, and everybody else looked to be in various states of surprise or shock….[c]
My Take: That was an entertaining brawl. The table spot looked great. I’m curious how they plan on filling out this PPV now that most of the star power on the show is locked up in the top 4 matches. I guess we’ll have to see some of the other players pick up the slack.
The Colons are already in the ring. Breezango then made their entrance. Tyler Breeze still had his dress and wig on over his gear.
2. Breezango vs. The Colons: Breeze and Primo started the match. Breeze took off his dress after getting decked, and then Fandango tagged in and wrestled in his gumshoe trenchcoat. They both shot Primo and Epico with their squirt guns and dumped them out to the floor…[c]
Epico and Primo worked over Fandango and kept him out of the match during the break. Epico placed him in the top rope, and Fandango countered with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb. Suddenly Breeze appeared on the apron with his Janitor outfit on, and got the hot tag. Fandango and Primo played tug of war over the mop, and Fandango let go, which sent Primo into an unprettier from Breeze. He covered for the win.
Breezango defeated The Colons at 5:12.
Backstage, AJ Styles said he was going to build momentum tonight by defeating Dolph Ziggler and going on to win at Money in the Bank. Ziggler interrupted and repeated himself about being the only Money in the Bank winner in the match, and said he would win again. He asked Styles if he wanted to go right now, and Styles was ready. Ziggler told him he’d see him later.
Randy Orton was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: Breezango could be fun if they could find cleverer ways of integrating their backstage skits and stories into their matches. As is, it feels like they are a bit disjointed.
All five members of the Women’s Money in the Bank Match will be on Talking Smack later tonight. In the arena, Randy Orton made his entrance. The announce team plugged his rematch clause being executed at Money in the Bank in his hometown of St. Louis.
Orton said he’s beaten the best pro wrestling has to offer. He mentioned Mick Foley, Shawn Micheals, and The Undertaker. He mentioned his father being in the Main Event at WrestleMania 1, and how it’s in his blood. Orton this said if his grandfather was still around, he’d slap him for losing to a guy like Jinder Mahal. He said his grandfather was from the silent generation, where they didn’t talk about what they were going to do, they just did it.
Orton said you can ask any of the greats, and mentioned his Dad and the Gagne’s, and said that winning is the only option. He would stop talking about taking his Championship back, and just go do it. He then dropped the mic and started to pose, when Jinder Mahal appeared on the tron. He told Orton that he celebrates his father and grandfather while his world crumbles around him. He called him a symbol of America, living on the coattails of the past. He called himself the future, and called himself the modern day Maharajah. He said he would put the past behind him at Money in the Bank…[c]
My Take: A pretty basic promo from both men. I guess they are taking a more simplistic approach with this story, with Orton leaning heavily on his American Roots, and Mahal hailing himself as the international future. We’ll see how this goes long term, but I’m not sure Orton will be particularly effective at this. He’s never worn patriotism on his sleeve. It feels like they are setting up Cena for a future feud with Mahal with this tone.
Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was hyped for next week. Dolph Ziggler made his ring entrance for the main event. He was followed by AJ Styles.
3. AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler: Styles hit a nice dropkick and got the crowd fired up. Ziggler responded and threw him ribs first into the ring post…[c]
AJ suplexed out of a headlock, and both men were laid out. Styles hit a snap mare and a running forearm to a grounded Ziggler. He then hit a wheelbarrow facebuster for a near fall. We saw another near fall after a big clothesline. He went for a Styles Clash, but Dolph blocked it. Styles then hit a hard right hand and snap suplexed him into the turnbuckle in the corner.
Styles went for a Clash off the top, but Ziggler got free and hit a DDT that he couldn’t capitalize on. Dolph pulled AJ to his feet eventually and went for a fameasser, but Styles reversed into another failed Styles Clash attempt. Ziggler went for another fameasser, but Styles pulled him into a backbreaker. Styles went for a running forearm, but Ziggler caught him with a knee strike.
Dolph placed Styles on the top rope, but he slipped out and rolled Ziggler into the Calf Crusher. Ziggler clawed at Styles face to break the hold. He then tripped Styles into the middle rope and hit a Zig Zag for a near fall. Styles got to his feet and ran at Ziggler, but got sent out to the apron. Styles hit a punch and setup for a phenomenal forearm, but Ziggler crotched him in the top rope and hit a superkick. He then covered him for the win.
Dolph Ziggler defeated AJ Styles at 14:32.
My Take: The hometown curse continues. Styles gets pinned in Atlanta, which killed the crowd to close the show just in time for 205 Live. It was a solid match, but a little clunky in spots, and the superkick finish just isn’t as exciting as it once was. Dolph needed to feel dangerous heading into the match, so a surprise victory makes sense, but they’ll need to give Styles a the same bump in momentum in the next few weeks to lift him back up.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Richard Holliday discussing The Dynasty faction in MLW, MJF's departure, the addition of Gino Medina, training under Paul Roma, and much more. Check out MLW Fusion Saturdays on beIN Sports and on the MLW YouTube Page...