By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Richmond, Virginia at The Coliseum
Kevin Owens made his way to the ring to start the show. Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show. JBL said AJ Styles slipped on a banana peel and Owens ended up with the Championship, which is retconning history in the most unbelievable way possible. Owens said things just felt right again now that he is our United States Champion. He said he proved at Battleground that if your heart is pure, and you’re a good person, good things will happen. He claimed he took back his championship from the thief AJ Styles, and he would go back to defending the title with the pride and honor it deserves. Owens ignored AJ Styles chants, and said that he was reinstating the Kevin Owens US Title open challenge, and it begins next week.
Owens said there is no way in any circumstance that he would defend his title in front of a bunch of hicks in Richmond, VA. Queue AJ Styles, noted hick, who interrupted and made his way to the ring. Kevin Owens told Styles to finally admit that he is the better man. Styles said nope, and demanded a rematch. Owens reiterated that he wouldn’t defend the championship against anyone, which prompted a returning Chris Jericho to interrupt. He walked down to a big reaction and a smile on his face. Owens looked like someone stole his car right in front of him.
A big Y2J chant broke out as Jericho grabbed the mic and said it was the return of Jericho, welcome back maaaaaaaan. Owens wanted to know why he’s there, and Jericho just said quiet until he shut up. Jericho said the last time he was on Smackdown he left on a stretcher, but after a few months of crossfit, good eating, a few beers, he was back. He then demanded a rematch for his US Championship. Styles piped up and said he was glad Jericho was back, but a lot had happened since he left and he was first in line.
Jericho asked Styles if he knows what happens to people who butt in line? Jericho said some one butt in line in front of him at the grocery store, do you know what happened to him? Styles said he put him on the list? Jericho said he punched him in the face and put him in the Walls of Jericho in front of the canned corn. Jericho then played to the crowd a bit before putting Styles on the list. Owens left during their conversation, and Jericho called him a stupid idiot as he reached the stage. Shane McMahon interrupted and told Owens to hang on. He booked a triple threat between all three men for the US Championship for tonight, saying both WrestleMania and SummerSlam were too far away to settle it. A Nakamura vs. Corbin rematch is next…[c]
My Take: Jericho returned much sooner than I expected. His shtick didn’t seem to electrify the crowd quite as much as it did prior to his exit, but he was still effective here. The finish to the US Title match could be a surprise, given how close we are to Summerslam. It really depends on which direction they are taking the US Title for that show. An Owens vs. Jericho rematch is a natural fit, but that leaves Styles in a relatively low stakes match.
Nakamura made his entrance, followed by Corbin.
1. Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: They brawled early on, with Nakamura getting an advantage and hitting some big knees. They spilled outside, and Nakamura backed up to take a run at Corbin, but ate a big lariat coming in…[c]
Nakamura level Corbin with a big front kick, and continued the assault with strikes on the ground. He placed Corbin on the top rope and hit a knee to the gut, followed by knee from the second rope for a near fall. He went for Kinsasha, but missed and Corbin hit a uranage into a backbreaker. He then followed up with knees to the ribs on a grounded Nakamura, and then deep six for another near fall. Nakamura fired back with a kick to the back of the head. He then hit a knee to the back of the head, and the Kinsahsa for the win.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Baron Corbin at 12:14.
Nakamura celebrated after the match, and got a nice reaction from the crowd. The announce team hyped up the main event. Jinder Mahal was hyped up for later, and will demand a new opponent for SummerSlam…[c]
My Take: A better match than they had on Sunday. I don’t know why this couldn’t have happened on Sunday, given how poorly that show was booked overall. Nakamura looked strong here, and hopefully this means he ends up in a high profile match at SummerSlam. He needs a showcase match to really show WWE fans what they can expect from him in big match situations.
Naomi was interviewed backstage, and was immediately interrupted by Natalya. She accused her of disrespecting the Championship but making it into a kids toy. She said she had no respect for legends like the Hart family, and she would take back that Women’s Championship and restore honor to something Naomi had tarnished. Naomi fired back and said that she repsected tradition, and she didn’t ruin the championship, she earned it. She said Nattie was stuck in the past, and at Summerslam she would be blinded by the Glow.
Carmella then walked up and said Naomi shouldn’t mind her at all. She’ll just be hanging around in the background, minding her own business. Naomi told her she would always have one eye out for her heading into SummerSlam. In the arena, Becky Lynch and Charlotte made their entrance for a tag match…[c]
My Take: The Women’s division is better off with singles feuds, but putting Nattie in a position to cut another 35 minutes of promos referencing the Hart family is some real Monkey’s Paw stuff.
Lana and Tamina made their entrances. On one hand, putting Becky and Charlotte with these two is a great show of confidence in their ability to get good matches out of mediocre opponents. On the other hand, I have no desire to watch it.
2. Becky and Charlotte vs. Lana and Tamina: Lana ran off and tagged Tamina immediately. Becky hit a nice kick and went for the disarmer, but was repelled quickly. Tamina caught Becky setting up a kick in the corner, and yanked her to the canvas and covered for two. Lana tagged back in and hit a snap suplex for a two count. She then applied a chinlock, but Becky fought to her feet quickly. Lana used a handful of hair to regain control.
Becky hit a big kick on Lana and made a hot tag. Charlotte hit some chops on Tamina. Lana tagged herself in and Charlotte kicked Tamina to the outside. Charlotte hit a big boot to Lana and covered for the win.
Charlotte and Becky defeated Lana and Tamina at 6:01.
After the match, Tamina looked angry and disgusted and told Lana to get to the back. Jinder Mahal is up next…[c]
My Take: Tamina is passable at best and Lana doesn’t belong wrestling on the main roster. I hope this doesn’t turn into a long term feud. I’d rather see Billy Kay and Peyton Royce get called up for a tag feud with Charlotte and Becky if they want to keep them busy for SummerSlam.
A video recap was shown of the Punjabi Prison match and it’s outcome. Jinder Mahal made his entrance. He said he crushed the legacy of Randy Orton at Battleground. He said Orton thought he could beat him at his game on his turf, but he crushed his hopes and dreams. He said now he demanded to know who he would face at SummerSlam, but first he would speak to his people in his language. For some reason, he clearly said John Cena….who then interrupted immediately.
Jinder told him he already knew was he was going to say. He doesn’t deserve anything. He needed the help of the Singh Brothers and the Great Khali, yadda yadda. Cena said he was a maharaja, but a horrible mind reader. He said he respected him for being in the best shape of his life and doing whatever it takes to remain a champion. Cena told him they haven’t been properly introduced, and he may have heard his voice in Pistachio commercials. He told him he hadn’t faced anyone like him before, and at Summerslam, he would face Super Cena, and he would become a 17 Time WWE Champion. He then said “Queue the Trumpets” and went to make his exit.
Daniel Bryan interrupted, and told him that while he knows he wants to make history, unfortunately Bryan and Shane make the matches and not Cena. He then said that everyone needs to earn their opportunities, even if your name is John Cena. He then booked a match for next week between John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura, with the winner facing Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam. The main event was hyped for later…[c]
My Take: Well, I guess Orton is out of the picture. I hope that means some time off for him. He’s had a rough past six months. I’m surprised to see them give away Cena vs. Nakamura this soon. It makes we wonder if we’re in for another Baron Corbin attack.
Backstage, Kevin Owens accused Shane McMahon of disliking him, and that’s why he put him in an unfair match against both AJ Styles and Chris Jericho later on tonight. Shane told him that he made the match for the audience, because the match later will be awesome. Owens still maintained that Shane is targeting him personally, and they got into a close face to face staredown. Seems we are getting Shane and Owens now…
In the arena, Aiden English was in the ring and sang a bit before introducing his tag partner Mike Kanellis. Video was shown of the conflict between Mike Kanellis and Sami Zayn, followed by entrances by Zayn and Tye Dillinger.
3. Tye Dillinger and Sami Zayn vs. Aiden English and Mike Kanellis: English and Dillinger started, with Tye hitting some quick strikes before making a tag to Sami…[c]
Zayn and Dillinger cleaned house on the heels. Dillinger sent Aiden English out to the floor, and Zayn hit a Heluva Kick on Mike Kanellis for the win.
Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger defeated Aiden English and Mike Kanellis at 5:01.
A New Day Celebration is next…[c]
My Take: Kanellis feels like he was out of favor with the Smackdown creative staff before he even started with the company.
New Day started their entrance, but weren’t able to finish it as the Uso’s attacked before it was over. The Uso’s laid out New Day on the stage and walked out talking trash. Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura was interviewed by Renee Young about his match with John Cena next week. He said next week, John Cena can’t see me, and that means he’ll see Jinder at SummerSlam. In the arena, Chris Jericho made his ring entrance, followed by AJ Styles and Kevin Owens…[c]
4. Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho for the US Championship: Styles and Jericho dumped Styles to the floor and traded rollups and pinning attempts until Owens returned and blased Styles with a right hand. Styles was sent to the floor, and Owens and Styles traded punches. Jericho hit a second rope dropkick and covered, but Styles broke it up at one. Jericho blocked a suplex attempt from Styles, but Styles sent him out to the apron and then sent him to the floor.
Owens entered and blasted Styles, and then threw him chest first into the corner. He continued the assault with stomps, and punted Jericho as he attempted to get back in the ring. Owens then hit a running senton and covered Styles for a two count. He stayed in control with a back elbow and a chin lock. Owens got sloppy and AJ caught him in a calf crusher, but Jericho broke it up with a Lionsault and covered for a near fall…[c]
Owens and Styles traded blows. Owens rolled to the floor, but Jericho entered and Styles hit him with some hard chops. Jericho hit a back body drop and some chops of his own, followed by a lariat in the corner. Jericho placed Styles on the top rope, and Owens approached from behind and placed Jericho on his shoulders. Styles fell to the apron, and Jericho reversed into a pinning attempt for a two count.
Styles sent Owens to the floor and hit a springboard 450 on Jericho. Owens entered and shoved Styles out of the ring and covered Jericho for a near fall. Styles jumped back in and was put in the Walls of Jericho. Owens tried to break it up, but got put in the hold himself. Styles popped back up, but Jericho hit a codebreaker for a good near fall.
Owens finally slowed the action with by preventing another Lionsault. He then hit both men with Cannonballs in opposite corners. Styles hit a big forearm on Owens, Jericho hit Styles with an enziguri, and Owens hit a superkick on Jericho, and Styles hit Owens with a pele kick. Styles went up top, but Owens sent him to the floor in a nasty looking fall. He then hit a pop up powerbomb on Jericho, but only got a near fall. Owens went up top and hit a Frog Splash, but Styles quickly threw him out of the ring and covered Jericho for the win.
AJ Styles defeated Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens to capture the US Championship at 15:45.
After the match, Owens grabbed a mic and said the whole thing wasn’t fair. It’s not fair Jericho was here, it wasn’t fair that Shane made him defend in a Triple Threat, or that AJ stole his victory. It’s not fair that the fans hate him for being better than they ever will be. What will be fair is next week he’s going to get his rematch for the US Championship next week, and whether anybody likes it or not, he’s getting his US Championship back. Next week’s show is loaded.
My Take: The main event was top notch. Excellent performances all around. The finish wasn’t too surprising considering the very hasty and unsatisfying conclusion to their PPV match. It makes me wonder if Jericho’s appearance wasn’t finalized until very late, and it had an impact on the booking for this feud on Sunday. Nakamura vs. Cena and AJ vs. Owens should be very good for next week. It makes me wonder if Corbin or Mahal or both will get involved in that match to tarnish it. I can’t see anybody else but Cena taking on Mahal at SummerSlam, and I don’t think Nakamura needs to take a loss to Cena on TV at this point in his run. Owens and Styles should end with AJ retaining, because the show is better off with him holding US Title Open Challenges every week, and facing major opponents to carry PPV’s.