By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Denver, Colorado at Pepsi Center
There was a moment of silence at the beginning of the broadcast for the victims of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, and their loved ones. Video then aired that recapped the feud between Jinder Mahal and Shinsuke Nakamura. It also showed Nakamura taking out Mahal and the Singh Brothers on the last week’s show.
The show began with Renee Young in the ring. She welcomed Shinsuke Nakamura to the ring for an interview. He made his normal ring entrance. He got a big chant upon entering the ring. Renee said Jinder has pushed boundaries with this comments about Nakamura, and some say he had crossed a line. She asked how it has affected him. He said sticks and stones may break his bones, but words will never hurt him. He then went on to say that the easiest thing to fear is the unknown, and that Jinder would know at TLC when he beats him and takes his Championship. He was then interrupted by the Singh Brothers, who they were sorry to interrupt his riveting interview, but they had to introduce the Maharaja.
Mahal snuck up from behind and took a free shot at Nakamura. He brawled back briefly, and even set up for Kinshasa on Jinder, but the Singh Brothers overwhelmed him, and Mahal put him down with the Kulass. Owens and McMahon will meet face to face later. Charlotte and Becky vs Natalya and Carmella is up next…[c]
My Take: They must not have much confidence in Nakamura, because they gave him about 3 sentences before having him interrupted. I think he was doing fine, and thankfully didn’t have the mouthguard in that makes his accent even heavier. I think crowds have reached the point where they are just ready for Mahal to go away. He got some boos when interrupting Nakamura, but they actually faded away significantly when they were beating him down physically.
There was a brief Susan G. Komen promo. Carmella was already in the ring. Natalya made her entrance, followed by Becky and Charlotte. There was a backstage flash interview between Natalya and Carmella, where Nattie told Carmella she better not cash in tonight or on Sunday, or she’d be sorry. She told him her dog Ellsworth better not get involved either. Ellsworth barked at Nattie, and Carmella said down boy. I’m not kidding. Nattie said if Ellsworth is the boy dog, Carmella was the female dog, and she knows what that means.
1. Carmella and Nattie vs Becky and Charlotte: Becky and Carmella started, and Becky quickly sent her down with a dropkick. Carmella retreated to the floor, and Charlotte and and Becky quickly hit baseball slides on both Nattie and Carmella out on the floor…[c]
Nattie cleaned house on the babyfaces, and cut off Becky in her corner. Charlotte tried to get in the ring, but the ref got in her face. Becky avoided a strike and rolled over to her corner for a hot tag to Charlotte. The action broke down quickly after Charlotte cleaned house. Carmella broke up a pin, and Becky tackled her out to the floor. Thanks to an assist from Ellsworth, Carmella was able to hit Becky with the briefcase. This gave Natalya a distraction that allowed Nattie to hit a discus clothesline and apply the Sharpshooter for the win.
Natalya and Carmella defeated Becky and Charlotte at 7:33
The Usos will read the New Day their rights later, and we’ll get a Shane and Kevin Owens video package next.
My Take: This probably sounded a lot better on paper that it came across on TV. The briefcase shot shouldn’t be able to completely derail the focus of a competitor like Charlotte. She knows Becky can take care of herself. Becky Lynch had this problem when they were writing her as a babyface in 2016, where she would fall for just about every heel tactic, to the point where it seemed like she would fall for one of those over the phone tech support scams. I hope this doesn’t become a pattern.
The announce team threw to a video package that recapped the last several months of feud building between Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens….[c]
Mike Kanellis was in the ring as the show came back. Bobby Roode then made his entrance.
2. Mike Kanellis vs. Bobby Roode: Roode backed Kanellis into the corner and then backed up to do his glorious bit. Kanellis landed a big right hand to interrupt, and then taunted the crowd. He turned back around into a spinebuster and a Glorious DDT for the win.
Bobby Roode defeated Mike Kanellis at 1:58.
Dolph Ziggler walked out after the match and said he was a big fan of the whole Roode Production, and he wanted his help putting together an entrance for Sunday. First he played a police siren to no noise. Then he played a bass drum and launched some streamers, and then played an air horn. He then screamed at the crowd and asked if everyone liked him now. He said Bobby thinks his entrance in everything, and he congratulated Bobby on weaseling his way into the back door at WWE after all these years.
He told Roode that he can bring all his smoke and mirrors, but at some point the bell has to ring, and he would expose him for what he his. He said he was nothing more than an entrance, and it was all he’d ever be. Roode then grabbed the mic and said he wanted to answer his question. He told him his entrance was horrible, and that he was doing it all wrong. He then did his own taunt and entrance, and fired up the crowd.
The announce team ran down the Hell in a Cell crowd. THe Usos and New Day are next…[c]
My Take: I feel like Ziggler just repeats himself week after week, and it wasn’t that interesting the first time around. His delivery isn’t terrible, it’s just hard to take the guy seriously when he’s been a loser for so long. I don’t expect that to change on Sunday.
The Usos made their entrance and talked trash about the Usos. They said Sunday one of y’all would be outside eating Booty-Os, while the other two will be inside getting worked. They said they would welcome the New Day to the Uso Penitentiary. There would be no cereal or Trumpets, and they would walk them down the ring, throw them in the cell, take them to hell, and slam it shut. That noise is the sound of the Tag Division going on lockdown. They claimed that they were the team that put in the work and elevated the tag division, and they’ve been down since day one. Jimmy claimed they wasn’t pushing merch, Day One is a lifestyle. He then said on Sunday they would be the Five Time Tag Team Champions, because it’s not paranoia, it’s the Usos.
New Day interrupted, and said they were done talking about rights, but they would talk about some lefts. He said they always left the crowds stunned that the Smackdown Tag Team Division could be this good. Whether they were the kick off or the main show, they always left the arena knowing they had the match of the night. They left with bruises, and they left with scars, but last time they also left with the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. Big E then led the crowd into New Day Rocks.
Backstage, Jinder Mahal showed video from earlier in the night, and said that Shinsuke had underestimated his intelligence. All it took was a simple distraction to take down the Rockstar, and on Sunday the outcome would be the same. He would defeat the rock star, and leave TLC with the WWE Championship once again. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger is next…[c]
My Take: I liked the Usos and New Day Promo. I think it could very well be match of the night on Sunday, just based on what we’ve seen from some of these other matchups in the ring. It’s been the best built feud on Smackdown in recent months, but it’s been going on long enough. Something needs to shift in the tag division and new players need to get involved.
Tye Dillinger was already in the ring. Baron Corbin then made his entrance.
3. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger: Things were back and forth early. Corbin tried to slip under the ropes and surprise Dillinger with a rebound clothesline, but got caught with a superkick for his trouble…[c]
Corbin shoved Dillinger off the apron into the ring steps. Corbin then suplexed Corbin into the ring ropes, and then hit a punch to the injured ribs. Corbin then tossed Dillinger back into the ring, and attempted to suplex Dillinger, but he reversed into a rollup for a surprise win.
Tye Dillinger defeated Baron Corbin at 5:58.
Backstage, AJ Styles said he loves nothing more than watching Corbin squander away another opportunity. He said nothing is handed to him here, and he needs to work harder. If he had, maybe he’d have beaten John Cena at Summerslam, or successfully cashed in his MITB briefcase, or beaten Tye Dillinger tonight. He said he’s going to show Corbin that his shortcuts will not work with him, because if he tries his opportunities will be cut short. A Susan G. Komen video is next…[c]
My Take: This feud has been running on fumes from the start. So, based on WWE’s logic, Styles will lose on Sunday be forced to feud with Corbin until Survivor Series.
Dana Warrior, The Smackdown Women’s division, and several Cancer Survivors were in the ring. Dana Warrior gave a brief speech honoring them, and presented them with WWE Women’s Championship Belts in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. They then shook the ropes together a la Ultimate Warrior. Aiden English and Randy Orton are up next…[c]
Video aired of Orton assaulting Aiden English and Rusev last week during the Rusev Day celebration. In the ring, Rusev said last week was supposed to be a Happy Rusev day until Orotn ruined it. He said that’s ok, because there would be many more Happy Rusev Days to come, like when he beats him on Sunday and his family is embarrassed to look at him.
4. Randy Orton vs. Aiden English: Rusev gave an early distraction that allowed English to get an early jump. English nearly jumped into another RKO, but quickly shoved him off. They went back and forth for a bit, but Orton quickly put English away with by pushing into the air coming off the ropes, and hitting an RKO.
Randy Orton defeated Aiden English at 2:48.
After the match, Rusev considered attacking Orton, but he got sniffed out before he could pull it off. Orton stared him down and back out of the ring. Footage was then shown from last week of Shane running full speed into a chair. Backstage, Sami Zayn tried to warn Shane that he wasn’t dealing with the ordinary Kevin Owens, but rather a man that has snapped because of his obsession. He could tell Shane thinks he’s going to get his revenge and be done with it, but he doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. Shane said that at Hell in a Cell, Owens would be locked in that cell with him, and not the other way around. He said he appreciated Sami’s concern, but told him to take care of himself, and he would do the same…[c]
My Take: The RKO was cool, and Rusev cracks me up. The feud hasn’t been good for much but the occasional laugh, but it could be a good match as long as it doesn’t get dragged down by Orton’s pacing in longer matches. Zayn warning Shane was well done. I like the idea of Shane being the overconfident one that runs into a buzzsaw.
Shane McMahon made his entrance and demanded that Kevin Owens come down to the ring. Owens didn’t show up, and Shane said that was just what he thought. He called Owens a coward, and said he would have nowhere to run on Sunday. He ran from his last week, he refused to show up the week before. He said he would beat some humility into him on Sunday, and he would render him unrecognizable. He then said that he was making their match on Sunday Falls Count Anywhere, because he didn’t want any barriers in the way of his revenge.
Owens piped up and entered the arena via the stands. He called Shane’s music terrible, and called himself the real money. Shane said he wasn’t sure if Kevin understood the concept of face to face, and demanded he come to the ring. Owens said he was there to please, but after a second thought, he had seen enough of Denver already, and he would see him on Sunday. Owens then walked up the stairs out of sight. Shane said he knew Owens was a coward, and if he refused to come to the ring, he would take the fight to him.
Shane walked up the stairs and backstage, but got ambushed. He got a few shots in, but Owens overwhelmed him and powerbombed him through a merch table. Owens then walked back to the arena, and grabbed a microphone as he got to ringside. He asked the crowd if they thought Shane McMahon was having a rough night, and said that was nothing compared to what would happen on Sunday.
Owens said he agreed with him about Falls Count Anywhere, because he wanted to be able to beat him in the ring, out of the ring, in the cell and outside. He would grind flesh off of his face on the chain link. He would powerbomb him over and over until he forgot his kids names. And then he would take him on top of the cell and toss his carcass off, and there would be no getting back up this time.
Shane made his way back to ringside slowly while Owens told him that he had called him smart last week, and now he was proving him wrong. They brawled again at ringside, with Owens tossing Shane over the announce booth. Shane recovered and landed some punches in the ring, but Owens superkicked him. Owens thought about leaving, but got back in the ring. Shane fought to his feet, but Owens headbutted him. He then hit him with a Pop Up Powerbomb as refs pleaded with him to go to the back. Shane looked up at Owens and pointed at him as he walked to the back.
My Take: Finally, a Shane McMahon fight with a wrestler that ended exactly as it should. Jokes aside, this worries me. They’ve been selling Owens as being physically unstoppable since this feud began, and it leads me to believe that Shane will somehow discover the gaps in his armor on Sunday. I’m hoping they avoid some kind of illogical super Shane moment on Sunday, but I don’t know if WWE’s storytelling habits will allow them to do it. It’s absolutely the right move, because Smackdown desperately needs a villain like Owens, but part of me thinks he’s only been built like this so Shane can vanquish him on Sunday. Regardless of the outcome, Owens performances have been fantastic and he deserves a chance to be the rare WWE heel that dominates his opponents rather than using cheap distraction tropes.