By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center
The announcers were Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton. AJ Styles opened the show and headed to the ring. He got some chants and welcomed everyone to the house that AJ Styles built. He said he was still the United States Champion after beating Kevin Owens, and called himself the workhorse of WWE. AJ said he was reinstating the United States open challenge, and it started right now. Kevin Owens walked out with a microphone in response, and AJ said no, it wasn’t happening. He said he beat him at Summerslam and it’s over.
Owens said he didn’t win at SummerSlam, because history had repeated itself and a McMahon had screwed a legendary Canadian out of his championship. Owens mentioned Shane McMahon by name, and on cue he made his way out to interrupt. AJ did a little dance around the ring and grabbed a microphone. Shane told Owens that he called the match right down the middle like he said he would, and AJ had won the match fair and square. Owens complained about Shane assaulting him and getting knocked out after being grazed by a 450 Splash. Owens threw to some footage of AJ’s foot being on the ropes for a pinfall, and complained that Shane had slapped the mat three times before seeing his foot. The ref two weeks ago didn’t notice his shoulder up and his count stood, so Shane’s should as well.
Owens demanded Shane give him his United States Championship. Shane told him the better man won, and he and Owens bickered. AJ told him to shut up. He called Owens a whiny ass bitch, and told him he’d give him another title shot, because nothing would change. He’d beat him again, and he’ll give him the match if it will shut him up. Shane made the match against his better judgement. Owens then said that since he got screwed by a WWE official and Shane McMahon, he should get to name his own referee. AJ, like an idiot, agreed because he said he could beat Owens no matter who the ref is.
Backstage, Jinder Mahal and the Singh brothers approached Daniel Bryan. They talked about Summerslam being an international success because of him, and that he Danield Bryan should bow in his presence. Bryan said he sees a man who can’t win without help from the Singh brothers, and he thinks Shinsuke Nakamura deserves some retribution. Mahal complained about having to defend his title so soon, and Bryan said he didn’t have to face Nakamura, they did (the Singh brothers)…[c]
My Take: Summerslam should have been the end of the line for AJ and Owens. An exciting challenger for the US Open challenge would have been a nice open to the show. This is taxing everyone’s patience, and hopefully tonight is the end of the road.
Backstage, Kevin Owens asked Sami Zayn to be his referee, since he’s the only one he can trust. He’s known him for 15 years, and that’s the longest he’s known anyone in wrestling. Sami said he recently watched Kevin’s DVD, and seeing all those memories made him question what they were even fighting about for all those years. Owens then said Sami hasn’t done anything of any real importance since coming to Smackdown, and tonight he has a chance to do something of real importance.
In the arena, Aiden English sang for a bit before being interrupted by Bobby Roode and his technicolor robe and entrance. The crowd ate it up.
1. Aiden English vs. Bobby Roode: Bobby fired up the crowd with his Glorious taunt, and English responded with his own. Roode quickly sent him out of the ring with a clothesline…[c]
English charged and sent English into the corner with a shoulder tackle. He then hit an inverted atomic drop and a running clothesline. He then went to the second rope and hit a blockbuster. English fought out of a fireman’s carry and hit the “Director’s Cut” for a near fall. English then went up top, but missed and walked into a big spinebuster. Roode then hit a Glorious DDT and got the win.
Bobby Roode defeated Aiden English at 6:55.
Roode was interviewed after the match by Renee Young. She said he shocked the WWE Universe with his debut, so how does he feel? Roode congratulated Shane and Daniel Bryan on breaking the bank so sign the hottest free agent in Sports Entertainment, and told the crowd that everything he touches turns into big box office. He said Smackdown just went from being great to absolutely glorious. Owens vs. Styles was advertised for later, as well as Nakamura vs. the Singh Brothers….[c]
My Take: A nice get for Smackdown in Roode. While I don’t think Roode is a dynamo in the ring, he’s undoubtedly won over WWE crowds with his gimmick. Hopefully that translates into some narrative momentum for him and the show in general, because it has been sorely lacking creatively in recent months.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan apologized to Chad Gable for the situation regarding Jason Jordan getting moved to Raw. Bryan said he didn’t give Jordan away to Raw, in exchange Kurt Angle helped him sign one of his friends. He introduced Gable to Shelton Benjamin, and told him that he thinks they’d make a great tag team together. Bryan said they can test drive their new team next week. Gable was ecstatic, but Benjamin looked a little skeptical. Gable said he followed Benjamin’s career all the way back to College, and Benjamin said the same of Gable. Shelton attended the University of Minnesota, and Gable is originally from Minneapolis. The Hype Bros made their entrance for a match against the Usos.
My Take: I was hoping Gable would take on the singles division. We’ll see what they have cooking between him and Benjamin. It would make for an excellent feud if they turn Shelton on him eventually.
The Usos made their ring entrance while footage aired of their title victory from Sunday.
2. HypeBros vs. The Usos: Mojo got the early advantage until he got bamboozled by a distraction and attacked from behind. From there the Usos made quick tags in and out and isolated him in their corner of the ring. Jimmy attempted a cover after a leg drop and got a two count. Mojo knocked Jey off the apron and sent Jimmy into the corner, which allowed him to make a hot tag. Zack Ryder hit a facebuster and lined up for the Broski Boot, but Jey pulled Jimmy out of the ring. Mojo blindsided Jimmy on the floor, and Ryder slid out and kicked Jey. Ryder tossed Jimmy into the ring and climbed to the second rope, but a distraction from Jey allowed Jimmy to pull him down and hit a Superkick for the win.
The Usos defeated HypeBros at 4:30.
After the match, Jey said they had Smackdown on lock, and welcomed everyone to the Uso Penitentiary. They called out all of the tag division, and told them they would all start feeling what New Day felt. They’d feel the hair standing on their neck, and goosebumps, and it’s not paranoia, it’s the Usos. Nakamura was shown heading to the ring next…[c]
My Take: An energetic tag match that felt fresh after watching The Usos and New Day for a few months. Ryder and Mojo aren’t lighting the world on fire with their characters, but they are competent in the ring and they made the Usos look like killers here. I’m hopeful the returning Breezango or Gable/Shelton can provide a good feud for The Usos, because the division just ran through it’s best feud on paper.
Nakamura made his entrance, followed by the Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers.
3. Shinsuke Namakura vs. The Singh Brothers in a Tornado Handicap Match: Both Singh Brothers were in dress shoes and semi-formal wear. Nakamura crushed them both with kicks and Good Vibrations. He then set both of them up for a big knee in the corner, followed by tossing both men out of the ring. Nakamura taunted Jinder Mahal, which allowed the Singh Brothers to double up on him for a bit. Shinsuke caught one of them coming into the corner with a knee, and then hit a flying triangle off the second rope to get the other to tap out.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated The Singh Brothers at 3:42.
After the match, Jinder Mahal assaulted Nakamura from behind, but he quickly recovered and hit Kinshasa. Mahal was left laying.
Backstage, Breezango stopped Kevin Owens and offered to be his referees. He said no and berated them. They tried to touch is ref shirt, but he shooed them away. They told him “to be continued”, but he said they should continue walking. Baron Corbin walked up from behind Owens and offered to do it if he gave him the first shot at the US Championship if he wins. Owen said it was when he wins, and told him he had a deal.
My Take: Corbin as the ref should make for a nice bit of bullshit in the main event. Mahal and Nakamura has now been reduced to Nakamura vs. Screwy Finishes. Mahal has been established to pose no real threat unless he has help.
Natalya made her entrance with photos of Summerslam being shown. She wore a Hart Foundation style jacket, and said that Sunday will forever be known as the day the Glow was unplugged. She then she proved she is the best there is…yadda yadda yadda. It’s no longer Glow time, it’s her time. Carmella then made her entrance with James Ellsworth. Ellsworth told Nattie congratulations on finally winning something, and that it only took her a billion years. Carmella told her she was on her watch now, and Ellsworth said she was on borrowed time. Carmella then said when she was ready, she would turn in her contract for that Championship. Ellsworth piped in and gave away the idea that Carmella could just refuse to tag in and cash in after Nattie gets beat up. Naomi and Becky made their entrances. Naomi had a new technicolor dreamcoat.
4. Naomi and Becky vs. Nattie and Carmella: Carmella ducked out early and tagged in Nattie, who got worked over by Naomi and Becky…[c]
Carmella continued to refuse to tag, even after Nattie had turned the tables. Becky hit an enziguri as the crowd started doing the wave for some stupid ass reason. Nattie took control with a clothesline, but Becky fired back with a kick and was able to make a tag out to Naomi. Nattie got ran Noami, but ate a kick and a sunset flip for a near fall. Naomi tried to maneuver into her neck crack submission, but Nattie escaped. She tried to apply the sharpshooter, but Naomi kicked her away. Nattie had enough and slapped Carmella for a tag, and then chased her around the ring. Carmella ran into an exploder suplex from Becky, and a split legged moonsault from Naomi for the win.
Naomi and Becky defeated Carmella and Nattie at 7:33.
After the match, Naomi and Becky celebrated as Nattie stormed to the back.
My Take: The Money in the Bank briefcase is not enhancing Carmella or the women’s division at this point. They had her win it twice, and look fairly strong in the process, and now she’s back to being a laughing stock that isn’t competitive with the rest of the division.
Backstage, Dolph Ziggler was reintroduced to Smackdown in a backstage interview. He said while he was away he watched a lot of Raw and Smackdown, and he had finally figured out the key to being a big star in WWE. He was going to get a big spotlight, a fancy robe, and a beautiful woman that glows in the dark, because that’s what it takes to be a big star. And he would do it all…..next week.
Elsewhere, Lana gave Tamina some meditation instructions. She told her to imagine being in a locker room full of people, but nobody sees you. You are being ignored because you are different, and it makes you angry. She then told her embrace that rage and let it fester and multiply. She then told her to open here eyes, and told her she sees the rage in her eyes. She said now the ravishing reign of terror begins, and they will crush everyone in their path.
Backstage, Baron Corbin asked AJ Styles if he would give him a title shot like Kevin Owens promised. AJ replied that he was going to have an open challenge every week, and all he had to do is answer the challenge. Corbin slapped him on the chest and told him he’d see him out there. Corbin then made his entrance in the arena.
My Take: Ziggler’s back, for better or worse. We’ll see him his new gimmick of ripping other people’s gimmicks gets any traction. Seemed like more of the same whining from him.
Kevin Owens made his entrance, followed by AJ Styles.
5. Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles: Owens rolled to the outside and Styles jawed with Cobin. Owens took that opportunity to attack AJ from behind. It didn’t last, however, as Styles turned the tables and Owens retreated to the floor. AJ hit a springboard forearm out to the floor…[c]
Owens avoided a knee on the apron, and then hit a fallaway slam on Styles into the barraicde on the outside. They went back and forth in the ring, with Owens hitting a cannonball, and Styles firing back with a Fireman’s Carry Neckbreaker. Styles set up for the phenomenal forearm, but Owens avoided it. Styles was quickly able to recover and roll into a calf crusher. Owens was close to reaching the ropes, and Styles rolled him back into the center of the ring.
Corbin made Styles break the hold after he touched the ropes. Styles argued that he needed to grab the ropes. This allowed Owens to shove Styles into Corbin, who shoved him back into a rollup and a fast count near fall. He then tried it again and got the same result. Shane McMahon walked down to argue with Corbin’s shoddy officiating, and that resulted in Corbin missing a low blow from Owens to Styles. Owens made a cover, and Corbin counted it, but Shane pulled him from the ring. After some arguing, Corbin threw the ref shirt at Shane, and he took over. Styles got on a roll and hit the phenomenal forearm for the win a moment later.
AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens at 13:28
Styles celebrated in the ring while Owens looked on in disbelief from the ramp. Shane shrugged at him to close the show.
My Take: It’s almost like this entire show was completely unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, there were some entertaining moments on this two hour broadcast, but there wasn’t any narrative momentum built whatsoever. Next week we’ll get AJ Styles and the Open Challenge, whoever is going to challenge in the tag division, more Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal and India, and maybe we’ll get a women’s feud this month? Who knows. In any case, the show feels a bit adrift at this point. Hopefully they can hit the reset button on some of this and reorder the show around some more interesting feuds.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Vice TV's "Dark Side of the Ring" executive producers Evan Husney and Jason Eisner discussing the March 24 second season premiere focusing on the Benoit family tragedy, plus their pro wrestling fandom, the show's name and origins, highlights of season two, Chris Jericho becoming the narrator, and much more...