By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena
[Q1] Smackdown opened with still shots from Hell in a Cell and the main event angle with Sami Zayn saving Kevin Owens from Shane McMahon’s elbow drop off the HIAC structure… The broadcast team was Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton, and Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer. The broadcast team said they expected to hear Zayn’s explanation and hyped Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship…
Smackdown Tag Champions Jimmy and Jey Uso headed to the ring. They boasted that they have the tag division on lock. They said coming out of Hell in a Cell leaves people changed. They called for New Day to come out because they wanted to say something face to face. New Day made their entrance. Phillips spoke about how entertaining New Day can be while pointing out that they brought it on Sunday.
The Usos spoke about how they brought out weapons inside the HIAC match. “You gonged me,” one of them said. Funny. They spoke about how it’s like Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier when the teams step in the ring together. They said fans don’t see them driving to the next town injured or hear their children call to ask if they are okay. “We belong here,” one of the Usos said. “We are the tag division and we run the tag division.”
Big E asked if they knocked a screw loose. “What we’re trying to say is this, respect,” the Usos said. New Day offered handshakes. Before the Usos could oblige, they were interrupted by “The Hype Bros” Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder. Rawley complained that it’s the same two teams every week, leaving the other teams out.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin were out next. Gable said they weren’t there to complain. He told the Hype Bros to get to the back of the line since they just “broke” them at HIAC. The Usos said Gable was smart for getting Benjamin to team with him. “Back of the line,” the Usos told them.
[Q2] Tyler Breeze and Fandango came out to a favorable reaction. Before they could speak, The Ascension made their entrance. Tyler Breezed asked them to stop following him and Fandango. The Ascension started to talk about the Wasteland. The Usos told the teams at ringside that they are locked up. They were about to tell Breezango the same, but New Day cut them off and said they are cool. The Usos told the teams to step up if they want a tag title shot.
Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan made his entrance and spoke from the stage. Bryan said this isn’t a good night for this. He thanked the Usos and New Day for the incredible match at HIAC. “But please get the hell out of the ring,” he said. The fans chanted no at Bryan. He said they wouldn’t like it, but when he says get out of the ring they should get out of the ring. He booked the other four teams in a four-way match to determine the No. 1 contenders…
Powell’s POV: A good segment that helped make the tag team division feel like it’s about more than just the Usos and New Day. Here’s hoping the four-way match doesn’t undo whatever good was done for three of the four teams. By the way, happy anniversary to Jake Barnett and his wife. Jake is off enjoying the evening with her, but he will be sharing his thoughts on the show tomorrow via the Smackdown Hit List.
1. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin vs. Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. Konnor and Viktor in a four-way for a shot at the Smackdown Tag Titles. Phillips explained that two wrestlers were allowed in the ring, but tags could be made to anyone. The Usos watched the match from office chairs next to the broadcast table.
[Q3] Gable and Benjamin went on a roll and hit the other teams with suplexes and spinebusters. They set up for their finisher, but Fandango pushed Gable off the top rope. Fandango missed his top rope legdrop when Benjamin rolled out of the way. Moments later, they hit their top rope clothesline finisher on Breeze and got the win…
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin beat The Hype Bros, Breezango, and The Ascension in 9:20 to become No. 1 contenders to the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Backstage, Dasha Fuentes stood in front of a locker room door that red “Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn”. Fuentes said she tried to get a word with the two of them, but “unfortunately, they are making us wait”…
The broadcast team said viewers would hear from Owens and Zayn before the end of the night. They also hyped Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev and Aiden English for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: The four-way tag match was fun and the expected team went over. I know a lot of people get a kick out of Breezango’s comedy, but I still hope they will eventually be positioned as a more serious team. Meanwhile, am I the only one who finds it odd that Shinsuke Nakamura is teaming with the man who RKO’d him the last time they teamed up in a Smackdown match against Rusev and Jinder Mahal? Let’s see if they address it. On a positive note, I like they way they are making us wait to hear from Owens and Zayn.
The breast cancer charity drive was pushed and then the broadcast team recapped still shots of Natalya vs. Charlotte from HIAC…
Backstage, Natalya was showing off her Smackdown Women’s Championship to Lana and Tamina. Lana said it will look much better on Tamina. Natalya said she used to fantasize about being the champion, but now it’s real and it’s hers. Carmella showed up and said her fantasies are a little more real than other’s as she held up the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Natalya said they all agree that they deserve to be champion way more than Charlotte Flair. Charlotte entered the picture and Natalya asked why she had a long boo boo face. “Did you break your father’s heart again?” Charlotte smacked her and had to be pulled off by referees…
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed new U.S. Champion Baron Corbin, who said it feels good to shove the belt in the face of keyboard warriors. He mentioned AJ Styles mocking him for squandering opportunities. He said the house that Styles built becomes the house that Styles squandered when they meet later in the show… Phillips hyped Becky Lynch vs. Carmella for after the break… [C]
[Q4] 2. Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) vs. Becky Lynch. Only Lynch’s entrance was televised. Carmella used Ellsworth as a distraction and kicked the knee of Lynch to take offensive control at one point. Lynch came back and applied the Disarmer for the win…
Becky Lynch beat Carmella by submission in 3:00.
Graves said they hope to hear an explanation from Sami Zayn after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The broadcast team tried to position this as a big win for Lynch and said she reasserted herself in the women’s division. Unfortunately, it was presented as just a random match with zero build, though it was nice to see Lynch get some television time.
Kevin Owens made his entrance and limped to the ring and had his left arm wrapped. The broadcast team said Shane McMahon did not suffer any broken bones. Owens smiled once he was in the ring. He said he did exactly what he said he would. “I sent Shane McMahon to hell,” Owens said. “And now Shane McMahon is gone and he is never coming back.”
Owens said the fans almost lost him too. He said he saw the white light at one point during the match and he felt his soul start to leave his body. He said he was floating outside of his body and looking down at himself, and stood at a long line at the pearly gates. Owens said he was aggravated and thinking about how to cut in front of people because he doesn’t like lines, but he was waved to the front by Saint Peter.
[Q5] Owens said Saint Peter said they would love to have him, but the people need Owens on earth. He said Saint Peter gave him his own guardian angel in the form of Sami Zayn. “And here we are, all gathered tonight in Kevin’s Heaven” Owens said. Owens introduced Zayn as his “best friend and guardian angel.”
Sami made his entrance to his usual music and did his dance. Zayn joined Owens in the ring. Owens asked Zayn to explain that he had no idea that Zayn was going to help him on Sunday. Owens also thanked Zayn from the bottom of his heart. Zayn laughed.
Zayn said it’s funny that Owens thanked him because Owens powerbombing him on the apron made him open his eyes. He said his life has been about pleasing people and trying to do everything the right way. Zayn said that brought him all the way to mediocrity, whereas Owens became the Intercontinental Champion, the WWE Universal Champion, and the United States Champion.
Zayn said he thought his day would come down the road if he did things the right way. He said he thought that day would come when Shane McMahon invited him for join Smackdown. Zayn said that was the last meeting he ever had with Shane. He said he kept coming to work with a smile on his face until he tried to warn Shane about what Owens is capable of. “He brushed me off,” Zayn said. “He ignored me.” Zayn said that’s when he realized that Shane never cared about him.
Zayn said he wanted Shane to win the HIAC match. He said Shane had Owens beat, but then he climbed back to the top of the HIAC structure. He said Owens has been a lot of things to him over the years, but one thing he will always be is his brother. Zayn said Shane just wanted to end the career of Owens or worse.
“So I saved my brother because it was the right thing to do,” said Zayn. He added that he despised Owens for a long time, but he figured out that he despised the fact that Owens was right. Zayn said there’s nothing left to say but thank you. Zayn and Owens hugged in the middle of the ring. Owens pulled him back in for another hug. They took turns introducing one another. Graves said this was the definition of friendship… [C]
Powell’s POV: Zayn used strong heel logic in explaining his turn. The big question now is who these two work with going forward. New Day need fresh opponents, but they don’t have the tag titles and it feels like there should be something bigger for Owens and Zayn at the moment. I’m curious to see where they go from here.
Rusev and Aiden English were already in the ring. Randy Orton made his entrance.
[Q6] Shinsuke Nakamura his entrance for the tag match…
3. Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev and Aiden English. Orton dumped Rusev onto the broadcast table early in the match. Rusev caught Orton with a kick as he was on the apron. English performed a neckbreaker on Orton heading into a break. [C] Nakamura tagged in and worked over English. He set up for his finisher, but Rusev broke it up. Orton took out Rusev with an RKO, then Nakamura delivered the Kinshasa on English and pinned him…
Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura beat Rusev and Aiden English in 5:55.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles and asked how confident he is that he will regain the U.S. Title. Styles pointed out that Corbin didn’t pin him to win the title. Styles said Corbin makes mistakes and is prone to doing so. Styles said Smackdown Live is the house that he built and he’ll be damned if a lone wolf is going to steal his championship and walk out with his head held high. Styles said it’s the end of days for Corbin’s title reign…
Powell’s POV: A crowd pleasing win for the team of Orton and Nakamura on the heels of Nakamura losing at the pay-per-view. Meanwhile, Styles cut a good, confident promo heading into his rematch for the U.S. Title.
[Q7] Luke Harper and Erick Rowan appeared. Harper had a hood over his head, and Rowan wore his mask briefly. They held odd looking giant hammers. Harper’s teeth had a rotted look. They said there is no conscience or moral compass. The wicked will rise. Broken bones. Severed spines. They also referred to themselves as Bludgeon Brothers…
Powell’s POV: I’m not a fan of Bludgeon Brothers as a tag name if that’s what they intend to use, but it’s nice to see these two back together given that the company didn’t do much with Harper as a singles wrestler. Plus, the tag division could use them. They appear to be going for an executioner style gimmick based on the big hammers and their wording. By the way, Dot Net reader Kip asked on Twitter if the Bludgeon Brothers are the “2B” from the Fashion Files skits. It makes sense to me, but I hope they find a way to make it a serious feud rather than the usual Breezango comedy.
The broadcast team hyped Rich Swann vs. TJP as a best of three falls match for 205 Live…
Bobby Roode made his entrance and said he’s very happy to say that his first WWE pay-per-view match was glorious. He was more excited by the line than the live crowd seemed to be. He recalled Dolph Ziggler attacking him after the match. “So Dolph, if you want a fight, let’s fight.”
Ziggler’s awful entrance music started and then a record scratching sound cut it off. Ziggler came out and congratulated Roode on finally having his first pay-per-view match. Ziggler spoke about how the fans sing along with his entrance and then the bell rings. Ziggler said he is the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history and he claimed he exposed Roode as a fraud.
Ziggler said he was the better wrestler and man and even Roode knew it. Ziggler claimed Roode panicked and did the only thing he could do to beat him. He had the still shot of Roode holding his tights while getting the pin appear on the big screen. Ziggler said Roode isn’t just a flashy entrance, he’s a cheater.
Roode said he proved he is smarter than Ziggler. Dolph got fired up and said he’s the smartest man alive and the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history. Ziggler demanded a rematch anytime, any place. Roode said it’s obvious that Ziggler doesn’t handle losing very well. Roode said that if he wants his rematch then he has it.
Roode stumbled over his words while trying to say that the rematch will go the same way as the first match. Roode said he speaks for everyone in the arena in saying that he’s sick of Ziggler talking. Roode invited Ziggler to have their rematch. Ziggler teased getting in the ring and then said, “You can’t always get what you want, brother.” Ziggler said he will have his rematch where and when he wants and it sure as hell won’t be tonight…
Powell’s POV: This segment didn’t do anything to make me look forward to their rematch. I hope this Roode babyface run is short lived because it just feels awkward that his gimmick is built around him claiming to be glorious, yet he’s a babyface. He’s been a strong heel over the years and I hope the plan is to turn him sooner rather than later, but it won’t happen while he’s feuding with Ziggler.
Phillips announced Roode vs. Ziggler for next week’s Smackdown television show…
[Q8] 4. Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship. Neither wrestler’s entrance was televised, but they did show Greg Hamilton delivering in-ring introductions for the title match. They took a break in the first couple minutes of the match after Styles held down the top rope and Corbin tumbled to the floor. [C]
Late in the match, Styles went for a Calf Crusher roll, but Corbin held the ropes. Styles simply shoved him through the ropes and into the post in a cool spot. Moments later, Styles applied the Calf Crusher, but Corbin drove him into the mat to break the hold. Styles came back with a Pele Kick that sent Corbin to ringside.
Styles ran toward Corbin on the apron, but Corbin grabbed him and tossed him from the apron to the floor. Another cool spot. Back inside the ring, Corbin hit End of Days and pinned Styles to win the match…
Baron Corbin defeated AJ Styles in 11:35 to retain the U.S. Championship.
After the match, Young entered the ring and asked Corbin if he had any comment. He said the fans could look at the championship and eat it because it’s not going anywhere. He said they could cry and cry and he would buy a boat and float down the river of their tears…
Powell’s POV: A big win for Corbin. In retrospect, I’m not sure why they had Tye Dillinger in the pay-per-view match if they were just going to have Corbin beat Styles. Even so, it was an enjoyable match and I like that they tried to make Corbin rather than going with a cheap finish that allowed him to retain the title. Styles fans will grumble, but one loss isn’t going to damage someone as over as he is and he helped put over Corbin in a major way. Overall, an entertaining show and a good post pay-per-view edition. I will have more to say in my member exclusive audio review later tonight. Join us on the ad-free website and hear nearly ten years of exclusive audio content by signing up via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.