By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Live from Houston, Texas at Toyota Center
Footage aired of the final Survivor Series match with Smackdown ultimately losing the match and the final tally to Raw. Shane McMahon made his entrance right after the video, and Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton piped up on commentary. Shane got a solid chant and played to the crowd. Shane said that Team Blue came up short on Sunday, and despite how Triple H and her Husband will spin it, Smackdown Live proved that even in defeat they should be considered THE show in WWE. He praised the roster for bringing it at Survivor Series with passion and intensity, just like they do each and every night they step in the ring.
He then singled out two individuals who didn’t meet those criteria, and asked Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to make their way to the ring. They made their entrance wearing Raw’s red colors. Owens asked which Shane they’d see tonight, death defying superstar or drunk with power Commissioner? Owens said he feels for Shane, because it has to be hard to come out every week with an excuse for why he failed. Zayn asked if it was harder to come up with excuses for failure, or to man up and apologize for being wrong. Kevin said they can beat anyone on any given night, whether it be The Shield, the Raw Surivor Series Team, or Brock Lesnar. They demanded that he be a man and tell them he’s sorry.
Shane told them they are speaking to the Commissioner tonight, and told them to shut their mouths. He to them they have no respect for the roster in the back, Shane as the commissioner, or any one in the crowd. They agreed, and he said that makes his job easy, because he has just two words for them. Owens said he can’t finish that sentence, because they are too valuable. The roster looks up to them, they are future hall of famers, and no one in the back thinks anything but the fact that they are the top stars in the WWE. Shane told them they are delusional, the Smackdown roster hates their guts, and that no one in the WWE has an ounce of respect for them. Just when he was about to fire them, Daniel Bryan’s music hit.
He asked Shane to put aside his personal feelings for a second before terminating their contracts, as he had a temporary solution.. Zayn started thanking Bryan and saying how reasonable he is, but he told them to shut up. Bryan said the whole roster hated their guts, and especially the New Day, who wanted to get their hands on them for leaving them high and dry last week when Raw attacked. He put them in a Handicap Match with New Day in the Main Event, and the entire roster will get a piece as well, because they will be Lumberjacks. Sami Protested, but Bryan told him to shut up. Charlotte and Natalya would have their Championship Rematch later, and The Usos will face Gable and Benjamin in a Title Match next…[c]
My Take: I’m wondering what Bryan considers the permanent solution to this. Maybe a trade to Raw for a few key talents? Honestly, Owens and Zayn to Raw for Finn Balor and a Tag Team like Gallows and Anderson would do wonders for everyone involved. I’m guessing we may see some newcomers in the Women’s division on this show during the Title Match as well.
Gable and Benjamin made their entrance, followed by The Usos.
1. Jey Uso vs. Shelton Benjamin: Both men traded early offense until Shelton hit a knee in the corner that sent Jey out to the floor…[c]
Benjamin continued the assault during the break. Jey Uso fired back with a superkick and a Rikishi Splash in the corner. Shelton bailed to the floor, and Jey tried a splash, but Gable jumped on the apron and got involved. Shelton got back in the ring and took another Superkick, but Gable caused a distraction that caused Jey to miss the follow up splash from the top rope. Benjamin then spring up and hit Paydirt for the win.
Shelton Benjamin defeated Jey Uso at 6:44
Backstage, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn asked both Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode to join their side in their protest of Shane McMahon’s abuses as General Manager. Corbin told them he didn’t like either of them, and they should try their games on someone more weak minded. Roode said they cost him and the entire roster a huge opportunity by interfering in the match on Sunday, and told them he would see them out there tonight. He hoped they both break a leg. The Bludgeon Brothers were then plugged for tonight…[c]
My Take: I guess Benjamin and Gable are still the tag challengers for the time being. Maybe the Bludgeon Brothers will emerge as more interesting opponents. It’s really going to depend on how well their gimmick comes across on TV. It looks 80s hokey, but that can work if it’s done in a self aware way.
Backstage, Naomi was in the makeup chair when Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan walked up and gave her a beating. Becky Lynch ran up for a save and suffered the same fate. They tossed her through a door, and slammed a door into her ribs. The ref called for a doctor as Becky looked on the verge of tears. Backstage, Shane complemented Bryan on his recent roster moves. He said he didn’t know he was bringing up some of the Smackdown Women, and also his punishment for Owens and Zayn. This way, New Day and the rest of the Smackdown roster get their revenge. The Hype Bros made their entrance in the arena.
My Take: Riot, Morgan, and Logan are a bit of an odd trio. I guess we’ll see where it goes, but I’m not sold yet until they can really establish personalities for them.
The Bludgeon Brothers made their entrance in their spooky outfits carrying large wooden sledgehammers. The arena was mostly darkened until they were most of the way down the ramp. Their outfits are red and black with some leather components.
2. Hype Bros vs. The Bludgeon Brothers: Rowan and Mojo started, with Rowan hitting a shoulder block, and then knocking Ryder off the apron. Harper hit a big boot and threw Ryder into the steps on the outside. Back in the ring, Harper and Rowan hit Mojo with a clothesline and a big boot. They then followed up with a Razor’s Edge Double team maneuver for the win.
The Bludgeon Brothers defeated The Hype Bros at 2:44.
Backstage, Natalya was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. She asked Nattie about the changes to the Women’s division, and she said the only change that matters is her reclaming her Women’s Championship. She called Ric Flair’s blubbering last week disgusting, and said that she would give him a real reason to cry when she defeats Charlotte and reigns as Smackdown Women’s Champion forever. AJ Styles was hyped for next…[c]
My Take: The Bludgeon Brothers look is pretty underwhelming if I’m being honest. It just looks like they are cosplaying as low level henchmen for a comic book villain. I like their intensity and power moves in the ring though.
AJ Styles made his entrance as the show returned, after footage that showed highlight photos of his encounter with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series.
AJ said he wished he could be out there celebrating, but he came up short on Sunday. He ran down some of the reactions from Sunday from his friends, Paul Heyman, etc, and he said all that was nice, but there are no trophies for second place. He then said if Brock ever wants to go again, he’ll be ready, and in the sequel to Rocky, he wins. AJ then turned his attention to Jinder Mahal, who said he was going to take his championship away from him on Smackdown Live. He said he was salty, and took off his shirt and laid down his title, and demanded AJ come down and take it from him.
Jinder appeared on the Tron, and said he will come down when he’s ready. He said he was watching his match with Brock Lesnar on the WWE Network over and over again, and he thought he might have had him. He said he would get his rematch on his time, because AJ had taken advantage of him at a time of weakness, on a long European tour. He said he would take back his championship in a place more worthy than Texas, and then issued a challenge for Clash of Champions. At that moment, the Singh Brothers attacked AJ from behind, but he quickly fended them off and hit a Styles Clash in Mahal’s direction in the Titantron.
Backstage, Kevin and Sami approached Aiden English and Rusev as English was singing about Rusev Day. They talked about how much they had in common, and planted seeds that New Day had said negative things about English’s singing and Rusev Day in general. Natalya vs. Charlotte is next…[c]
My Take: AJ gets to put Jinder on his back for Clash of Champions. I’m hopeful that he retains there and we head towards WrestleMania with AJ leading the charge on Smackdown. It feels like we emerged from a few months on the darkest timeline when Jinder dropped the title.
Charlotte made her entrance, followed by Natalya.
3. Natalya vs. Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte started out with some chops, but Natalya fired back with a discus clothesline. Nattie tried for a sharpshooter, but Charlotte escaped. Nattie then tossed her face first into the second turnbuckle…[c]
Nattie hit a sitout powerbomb and covered for a near fall. Nattie then applied the Sharpshooter, but after spending considerable time in the hold, Charlotte reached the ropes. Charlotte bought herself some time with a backbreaker. She then climbed to the top and went for a moonsault, but Nattie got the knees up. Charlotte recovered and speared Natalya, who ended up outside the ring. The trio of Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan, and Sara Logan appeared and slammed Natalya into the announce table and the ring post. The match was then called off.
The match was declared a no contest at 5:50.
The trio then turned their attention to Charlotte, who was able to fight off Liv and Sara briefly, but Ruby hit a kick and then all three of them pounced. All three of them hit their finishers on Charlotte and then stood tall over her to end the segment…[c]
My Take: This seemed pretty obvious after the attack earlier. I guess we’ll see Becky, Naomi, and Charlotte join forces to feud with these women, but the odd parity between Raw and Smackdown makes these developments a bit bizarre. You’re relying on all three of these women to grow into being stars on the job, as none of them had really embraced that top role in NXT prior to making their way up. Establishing personalities for them is going to be important. I guess that might be next week?
We got some footage of the previous segment as the show came back. Backstage, Daniel Bryan was asked for his reaction to the previous segment. He said it was an interesting situation, but no comment. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn then approached Bryan. Owens said they’re going to get ripped limb from limb because the entire roster is jealous of their success. Zayn said if he fires them after the match, it’ll be the biggest waste of their talent and one of the biggest mistakes of his life. Bryan told them good luck, and then walked away.
In the arena, the lumberjacks made their entrance, followed by New Day…[c]
My Take: Bryan being cagey about things is the most interesting element to this show so far. We’ll see what happens at the end of this match.
We got some footage of last week’s Raw attack as Owens and Zayn bailed on New Day. Owens and Zayd made their entrance for the main event.
5. Owens and Zayn vs. New Day: Big E started with Owens, and Big E powered out of a waist lock and hit a hip toss. Owens grabbed a headlock, but E escaped and tagged in Kofi. Owens quickly tossed Kofi to the outside, but nobody touched him and he just climbed back in. Zayn tagged in and Kofi avoided a clothesline and hit a back elbow. Zayn tossed Kofi out to the floor a second time, but again no one would touch him. Zayn followed out to the floor, but the Lumberjacks swarmed and gave him a beating. He somehow escaped and tried to run up the ramp and escape, but the Lumberjacks caught him and carried him back towards the ring…[c]
Kofi and Big E worked over Owens as the show came back. Zayn offered a distraction for Owens, and he then hit Kofi with a superkick. Zayn tagged in and they worked over Kofi in the corner. Owens then tagged in and hit a body slam and covered for a near fall. Owens then mocked the New Day chant by clapping to the crowd. He then went for a running senton, but Kofi got the knees up. Big E got a hot tag, and Zayn tagged in. Big E threw him around with belly to belly suplexes and covered for a near fall. Kofi then tagged in and hit a big splash from the top. Kofi covered, but Owens broke it up.
Kofi vaulten Sami over the top rope and to the floor, where disorder broke out when Baron Corbin accidentally hit Bobby Roode. After a brawl swallowed up the whole roster, Sami rolled up Kofi and got the win.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens defeated New Day at 14:55.
After the match, Rusev attacked Big E, which allowed Owens to escape. Zayn was still trapped, however, and New Day made him pay by hitting Trouble in Paradise and The Midnight Hour on him. New Day celebrated as the announce team said it may be the last time we see Sami or Kevin.
Backstage, Kevin begged Daniel Bryan for his job. Bryan told him he was never going to fire him, because he recognizes his talent. He told him to be there next week for a one on one match against Randy Orton. Owens tried to protest, but eventually thanked Bryan instead.
My Take: Well, I guess Bryan is a mastermind of chaos at this point. I don’t know what to make of his motivations yet, but I’m more curious about that than anything else they did with this final segment. There’s a lot up in the air about Smackdown right now, and that’s a positive, but I hope it becomes more focused and less amorphous next week. It’d be nice to see some new feuds form that can break the show out of the rut it’s dug into in preparation for Survivor Series.