By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Little Rock, Arkansas at Verizon Arena
Tom Phillips announced Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal and Rusev would take place on the show. He then threw to the Singh Brothers, who announced Jinder Mahal’s entrance. JBL and Byron Saxton piped in during video of Nakamura taking out Jinder and the Singhs last week. Jinder plugged his match, but said that no one in the arena knows what it’s like to walk a mile in his shows. He said he is shown nothing but disrespect as a representative of the great continent of Asia, he receives nothing but disdain when he should be revered as a great WWE Champion.
Jinder continued to complain about being disrespected, and then complained about the disrespect shown to the Singh Brothers by Shinsuke Nakamura last week. They grabbed the mic and groveled to the people of India, and to Jinder Mahal for failing him and disrespecting him by allowing Nakamura to touch him last week. They said they would pledge that Nakamura never touch him again, and on behalf of the Great Nation of India, they would like to kiss his Royal Feet.
The both got down on their knees, and before they could kiss boots, Nakamura interrupted. He did some good vibrations at ringside and entered the ring. He quickly shoved the Singh Brothers aside and traded blows with Mahal, but was quickly overwhelmed by the three men. Orton’s music hit and he ran in for the save, but Rusev came down and tipped the scales. Rusev hit a big boot to Orton and then tossed him to the floor. Mahal then hit the Khallas on Nakamura and the heels posed to close the segment.
The announce team plugged Gable and Benjamin for next, and AJ Styles US Open challenge as next.
My Take: Not much to love about that opening segment. Mahal gave another gravely redundant promo, and the physicality wasn’t able to save it. The US Open challenge will be fun, though, and I’m looking forward to Gable and Benjamin.
Nakamura vs Orton was announced next week, with the winner receiving a WWE Championship Match.
1. The Ascension vs. Gable and Benjamin: Gable and Viktor began the match, with Gable hitting a fireman’s carry and an arm twist. He tagged out to Benjamin, who hit a butterfly suplex and covered for two. He then tagged Gable back in, and then ran Viktor into a Belly to Belly Overhead Suplex. Viktor sent Gable into the ropes, and Konnor low bridged him out to the floor…[c]
Konnor hit a big spinebuster on Gable for a two count. They worked frequent tags and wore him down during the break, and continued that here. Gable made a valiant effort to make a tag, but got shut down. After sending Konnor into the post, he made the hot tag to Benjamin. Shelton entered and cleaned house. He hit a hard kick to Viktor and then a flying clothesline. Konnor broke up the cover, but got sent out of the ring by Gable. He then shoved Viktor into Paydirt by Benjamin, who covered him for the win.
Benjamin and Gable defeated The Ascension at 8:33
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Baron Corbin, who asked him about squandering away his briefcase. He said that he didn’t squander it, John Cena distracted him during his best opportunity, and then ran off to Raw before he could right a wrong. He said that’s life, and he would move on. Last week, AJ Styles offered him an opportunity to take him up on the open challenge for the US Championship, so he would just cash in on that…[c]
My Take: Benjamin and Gable have some things to work out when it comes to chemistry and timing, but I see a lot of promise there. It’s too early to tell where they will take this from a story perspective, but there’s plenty to like about it. I was hoping to see Corbin a bit more fired up after his feud with Cena, but he seems to have shrugged the whole thing off. I’m not sure if that’s a positive thing or not yet.
AJ Styles made his way to the way and soaked in some chants. He then said that last week, Kevin Owens lost the ability to challenge for the US Championship as long as he holds it. So, he can now open up the opportunity to the rest of the roster, and it starts right now. Tye Dillinger made his way out first, but got clobbered by Baron Corbin as he walked down to the ring. Corbin jumped up on the apron, and Dillinger got him from behind and knocked him down to the floor. Dillinger then demanded the ref ring the bell and start the match.
2. AJ Styles vs. Tye Dillinger: Dillinger rushed Styles, who hit a flurry of offense before Dillinger snuck in a punch. Dillinger continued to ratchet up the pressure, but Styles had an answer at every turn. Styles lined up for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Dillinger grabbed him and set up for a fireman’s carry neckbreaker. Styles adjusted and landed on his feet, and rolled into Calf Crusher for the tap out victory.
AJ Styles defeated Tye Dillinger in 1:54.
After the match, Baron Corbin tossed Dillinger into the barricade, and then tried to go after Styles, but was repelled easily. Corbin sold frustration on the outside and kicked the steps. Backstage, Mahal approached Rusev and tried to buddy up to him about being disrespected over their ethnicity. Rusev shut him down and said they weren’t friends, and after they win tonight, he’s coming after the WWE Championship…[c]
My Take: An inauspicious start to the challenge. I guess I’ll continue to hope they give these matches more time.
Mike Kanellis was already in the ring. Bobby Roode then made his entrance.
3. Bobby Roode vs. Mike Kanellis: Roode clowned on Kanellis early on with a taunt. Kanellis got in a few boots and punches, but Roode cruised to a win with a clothesline, a blockbuster, and flying forearm, and a Glorious DDT.
Bobby Roode defeated Mike Kanellis at 3:01.
The Main Event was plugged. Kevin Owens was shown heading to the ring for next…[c]
My Take: A squash match all the way for Roode. He hasn’t showed anything overtly heelish yet. Smackdown is really light on babyfaces, so this might be the direction they have to go with him for now. Mike Kanellis is an afterthought at this point.
Aiden English was singing in the ring before being interrupted by Kevin Owens. He told him that these Arkansas hayseeds can’t possibly appreciate his talent, so he should vacate the ring. He told him he would only ask once, and so he left. Owens said last week he was supposed to choose his referee, and the person he didn’t pick was Shane McMahon. He then threw to footage of last week’s show where Owens lost to AJ Styles. Owens asked what gave Shane the right to put his hands on the referee last week, and put on the shirt. He said 365 days ago, the greatest moment in the history of WWE happened, when he was crowned Universal Champion.
He then said a year later, he was screwed out of his US Championship twice, which never would have happened on Raw. Stephanie McMahon would never abuse her power. He called Smackdown a joke, and it’s not the land of opportunity, it’s Shane McMahon’s personal playground. This brought out Shane, who explained that his personal referee bailed on the match, and he had no choice but to step in. Shane said he counted a proper 3-count and Kevin lost fair and square to AJ Styles. He then said everyone was tired of Owens complaining, and told him to get out of the ring so English could get back in. Shane said he has a match right now, and Sami Zayn then made his entrance.
4. Sami Zayn vs. Aiden English: English controlled the early going until Sami turned the tables and sent him to the floor. He then hit a suicide dive. Kevin Owens then stole the shirt off the referee because he was mad the ref wasn’t doing his job. He then proceeded to hit a pop up powerbomb on Sami and made a fast count for Aiden English.
Aiden English defeated Sami Zayn at 3:19.
The Usos vs. New Day is next…[c]
My Take: I like Owens losing his mind, but are we going to see him run through a cadre of struggling Smackdown babyfaces on his way to an eventual Shane McMahon match? If so, how is that a positive for the brand overall?
The Usos’s made their ring entrance, followed by New Day. The winner of this match will choose the stipulation for the New Day’s Tag Team Championship rematch.
5. The Usos vs. New Day: The match was joined in progress, with Big E in trouble after being worked over on the outside. He fired back with a Uranage out of the corner. Kofi and Jey Uso tagged in, and Kofi fired up with clotheslines and a boom drop. He went for Trouble in Paradise, but missed. He then successfully hit a top rope cross body, but Jimmy broke up the cover. Big E was sent to the floor and Kofi got tricked by a blind tag. Kofi was in position for a rollup, but Jimmy entered and rolled him up and grabbed the tights for the win.
The Usos defeated New Day at 5:10.
Backstage, James Ellsworth introduced Carmella, and asked her what she her plan was for her briefcase. Carmella told him that she wasn’t saying anything after he ruined her plans last week. Natalya approached and said she was lucky Ellsworth stooged her off, because she would have made her the female Baron Corbin. Carmella replied that they had a match next week, so she should keep her title warm for her. Naomi then walked up and told Nattie that in two weeks, she would have her title rematch here on Smackdown. Nattie seemed flustered at the lined up challengers.
My Take: Why do they keep giving away New Day and Usos matches on TV? This one wasn’t nearly the match they had at SummerSlam, but they really risk burning people out if they aren’t already. The Women’s division continues to plow forward without any significant character development.
Lana was in the ring and announced that the Ravishing Reign of Terror would start tonight. She announced Tamina as the most dominant and feared WWE female superstar, and a future Smackdown Women’s Champion.
6. Tamina vs. Jobber: Tamina Crush. She tossed the woman around while Lana told her to crush on the microphone. She won with a Superkick.
Tamina defeated Jobber at 0:52.
After the match, Tamina and Lana celebrated. The announce team threw to Season 2 of the Fashion Files, titled Back 2 Basics. Breeze asked Fandango if he enjoyed his vacation, and he said crime doesn’t take vacations. They then looked at some of their police tools, and made a joke about confusing the name between a title and a belt. They turned off the lights and put a black light on. It discovered an arrow that led to a Two B or not 2 B reference, which pointed them towards Shakespeare, and Aiden English. Fandango put on a second pair of sunglasses to close the segment…[c]
My Take: Tamina still has one move, and Lana shrieking from outside the ring doesn’t make it seem any more dramatic. Fashion Files Season 2 is off to a questionable start, with few jokes to be found that were worth the airtime.
Jinder Mahal, Rusev, and Nakamura were already in the ring. Randy Orton made his entrance for the main event. Orton and Nakamura tossed Mahal and Rusev into the crowd during a quick brawl at ringside after Orton made his entrance…[c]
7. Nakamura and Orton vs. Jinder Mahal and Rusev: Mahal held onto Nakamura mid ring to prevent a tag. Eventually, he escaped and tagged in Orton who nearly hit an RKO on Mahal before he bailed to the outside. Orton followed and sent Mahal into the barricade and then back into the ring. Mahal shoved Orton to the outside, and a Singh Brothers distraction allowed Rusev to shove him into the ring post. Rusev then tagged in and argued with the ref while Mahal choked Orton in the heel corner.
Rusev then applied a front facelock. Orton fought to his feet, and Rusev hit a wheel kick that put Orton down. Mahal then tagged back in and dropped a knee and covered for a two count. Rusev tagged back in, and Orton made a desperate tag to Nakamura. Nak entered and took Rusev down with knees. He set up for a reverse suplex, but Rusev blocked it. Mahal entered the ring to interfere, but Orton stopped him and cleared him from the ring with a DDT. Nakamura then finished off Rusev with a flying knee from the second Rope and Kinshasa for the 3-count victory.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton defeated Jinder Mahal and Rusev at 13:48
After the match, Orton spoke briefly with Nakamura before hitting him with an RKO. Nakamura had a great sell on it and it looked great on TV.
My Take: A boilerplate WWE House Show style tag match. It was entertaining, but the real purpose was the post match surprise for Nakamura to set up the #1 Contender’s match next week. I’m cautiously optimistic about that match. It’s almost 50/50 as to whether Orton will be motivated by Nakamura’s pace enough to put on a quality match, or if Nakamura will slow down to match Orton’s tendencies. No matter what, there’s a pretty good chance the last 5 minutes will be excellent. Overall, this show as just kind of there. Kevin Owens freak out might have been the best moment this week, followed closely by the promise shown by Benjamin and Gable and AJ Styles’ future open challenges.
The Best of The Boom features Jim Ross joining Jason Powell in this May 9, 2018 discussion regarding his relationship with Vince McMahon, why Vince sticks with Roman Reigns, how Triple H has changed over the years, and more. New episodes of the Boom are typically available mid-week...