By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Aired live from Memphis, Tennessee at FedExForum
Shane was shown on video to open the show saying that he won’t be a part of Smackdown Live tonight, and he blamed it on the attacks from Kevin Owens over the past few weeks. He said tonight was going to be his payback, but his life coach sat him down and told him to get his emotions in check and center himself before SummerSlam in two weeks. He said he got his aura back and his glow, and he feels good. Shane then addressed Kevin Owens and said in two weeks he will be forced to look him in the eye and tell him he’s the better man, and that he quits.
In the arena, Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, an Byron Saxton announced AJ Styles vs. Kofi Kingston, and Daniel Bryan will make his career altering announcement. Jerry Lawler will interview Trish Stratus, and Roman Reigns will issue a SummerSlam Challenge. Kevin Owens then made his ring entrance. Footage was shown of his Stunners on Shane McMahon from last week.
Owens told everyone not to panic. He said Shane McMahon is not there tonight, but they can all make it through together. Owens feigned tears, and said they would all move on together. He then said maybe tonight Smackdown can be about wrestling, instead of his stupid face. Owens then told Shane that he might be at peace with whatever crap his life coach is selling him, but he would not quit because he would beat him so badly that he would finally understand that he does not belong in ther ing with people like him.
Owens said he could not stop him from showing up because of his name, but he would make sure he knows he doesn’t belong in this ring, because it isn’t his show, it’s the Kevin Owens show. Owens was then interrupted by Drew McIntyre. Drew told Kevin he talks too much. He then mentioned that he and Kevin have a match later, and then bludgeoned him with a microphone. Drew pulled Owens to the floor and threw Owens into the post, and then over the announce table. He grabbed another microphone and told Owens to dust himself off, because that match is now…[c]
My Take: Shane was apparently pretty busy this week, because he looked like he recorded his promo from an airport bathroom on a cell phone. Owens showed some good fire in his promo, and Drew McIntyre came across like a star in his brief time on screen. It’s a shame they have Drew saddled in losing feuds as Shane’s stooge, because he has great screen presence.
1. Drew McIntyre vs. Kevin Owens: Drew was in control as the match was joined in progress. He kept Owens grounded with holds and stomps and shut down a comeback attempt with some heavy chops. Owens battled back with some strikes and some clothelines, and both men were down heading into a commercial break. During the split screen action, Owens clotheslined Drew to the floor and they battled back and forth on the outside. Owenst shoved Drew into the steps, and Drew returned the favor and sent Owens into the barricade.
Back in the ring both men ended up on the top rope. Drew went for a superplex, but Owens fought back and shoved him to the floor. He then followed up with a Swanton for a two count. Owens went for a stunner, but Drew hit a Glasgow Kiss and hit a sit out side slam for a near fall of his own. Drew stumbled to his feet and set up in the corner, and charged into an Owens superkick. Owens then hit another superkick followed by a pop up powerbomb for a close near fall.
Kevin climbed back up top, but was met by McIntyre, who hit an air raid crash from the second turnbuckle for another near fall. Both men spilled out of the ring, where McIntyre put Owens on top of the announce table. Owens managed to hit McIntyre with a stunner on top of the announce table. He then hit a superkick and a stunner in the ring for the win.
Kevin Owens defeated Drew McIntyre at 13:14
Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Dolph Ziggler, and said a number of superstars are displeased with his actions from last week. Footage was then shown of him hitting Sweet Chin Music on HBK last week. Ziggler cut a rambling promo about HBK, The Miz, Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, and The OC. He said he was the main event, and the best damn thing going today.
Elsewhere, Ember Moon was approached by Bayley. She said she hadn’t forgotten the Eclipse from last week, and reminded her that she wouldn’t be in position for a title match if she hadn’t chosen her for it. Bayley then said they have to get through their tag match tonight, and if Ember pulls something again she’d regret it…[c]
My Take: I enjoyed the competitive Owens and McIntyre match, and it’s one I wish neither guy had to lose. Drew deserves to be a bigger deal than he’s being portrayed as right now. Dolph Ziggler continues to speak a lot of words, yet not have a lot to say. Ember Moon and Bayley are both completely unlikable, but I don’t get the impression anyone in WWE sees it as a problem.
I had some internet issues during a backstage promo from Aleister Black, but the gist of it was that he commended Cesaro for being a man and stepping up to challenge him, and he was waiting impatiently backstage for someone else to pick a fight so he could write his next chapter.
In the arena, Ember Moon made her entrance. Footage was shown of her roll up victory on Charlotte last week, and the Eclipses she hit in both Bayley and Charlotte after the fact. Bayley then made her entrance, followed by Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss.
2. Ember Moon and Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross: Ember and Alexa started the match, but a quick tag was made to Bayley, who dumped Alexa outside the ring. Bayley pursued and hit a dropkick through the post, and Ember splashed Cross through the ropes…[c]
Nikki tied up Bayley in the ring apron and landed some forearms to the chest. She then tagged Alexa, who hit some free shots of her own. The heels then controlled Bayley and cut her off on their side of the ring for a short while, but Bayley used the corner turnbuckle to avoid Alexa and made a tag to Ember.
Ember managed to take down both Nikki and Alexa, and then hit an Eclipse on Nikki. Alexa was the legal woman, though, and ended up taking out both Ember and Bayley, before hitting Twisted Bliss on Ember Moon for the win.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defeated Ember Moon and Bayley at 7:42
After the match, Bayley bit a Bayley to Belly on Ember to even the score from last week. Backstage, Sami Zayn laid out a challenge for Aleister Black. He said he doesn’t see a guy looking for a fight, he sees a guy crying out for help. He claimed Black is under a lot of pressure and could never live up to the hype, and Sami said he would put an end to his misery at SummerSlam…[c]
My Take: Not much of a match to speak of there. It wasn’t bad, but with the commercial break and all the movement in and out of the ring, there just wasn’t much sustained action. I like Sami challenging Aleister Black in theory because it will produce a quality match, but the outcome doesn’t seem much in question.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan was interviewed by Kayla Braxton, but didn’t say anything. In the ring, Jerry Lawler got an ovation for the King’s Court. He mentioned Memphis for the cheap pop, and welcomed Trish Stratus to the ring as his guest.
Trish played a bit to the crowd, and then King plugged her instagram and said she had been on vacation as an excuse for missing Raw Reunion. King recalled being with all the legends at the end of the show, and called it magical, but said afterwards there were a lot of legends who still wished they could have one last match. Lawler then posed the question to Trish if she ever wished she could have that one final match.
She replied that WWE is in her blood and she’ll always have the itch, but she’s a Mom not and she needs to focus on that part of her life. She was then interrupted by Charlotte Flair, who complained about being The Queen and not being on SummerSlam. She then addressed Trish and criticized her sappy reminiscing, and told her to stop using being a Mom as an excuse not to be in the ring. Charlotte then challenged her to a match in front of her precious children in Toronto.
Trish didn’t answer immediately, so Charlotte went in a tirade about how she couldn’t hang with the queen, because she’s not a model shaking her assets, she’s a woman changing the industry. Charlotte told her to go out to her minivan and go back to changing diapers. Trish replied that she respected Charlotte as a performer, but right now she was just being a bitch. She told her she wouldn’t have a trail to blaze if it wasn’t for her, and Jaqueline, Lita, and Beth Phoenix. She said she should know better than anyone that to be the woman, you have to beat the woman, and accepted her challenge.
Backstage, The OC were excited about SummerSlam, and said Kofi Kingston would find out why Smackdown was the house that AJ Styles built. The show then quickly cut to the Firefly Funhouse. Rambling rabbit said he was excited for SummerSlam because he’s Bray Wyatt’s biggest fan. He said he flies through the air like a honey bee, and does extraordinary things. He said Finn made a huge mistake though, because the Fiend has been unleashed. Rabbit said Balor doesn’t understand what the Fun House really is, and then he had to leave quickly. Bray Wyatt appeared and was looking for the rabbit, but couldn’t find him. He looked at the camera and said let me in, before the Fiend appeared in flashes on the screen.
My Take: Trish was ok there, but she came across very much like a Mom rather than a bombastic wrestling personality. Charlotte had the same issue she always does where she substitutes genuine intensity for talking louder and louder as she goes on. The Fun House segment was really good, and I continue to look forward to Balor vs. Wyatt.
Footage was shown of the beating Brock Lesnar gave Seth Rollins on Raw. After the video, Dolph Ziggler made his entrance, followed by Finn Balor.
3. Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler: The match went back and forth early on, with neither competitor getting a clear advantage. Balor clotheslined Ziggler to the floor when the lights dimmed and The Fiend appeared in the arena before the match went dark. The lights came back up and Ziggler hit a Superkick and picked up the win.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Finn Balor at 3:54
The announce team plugged Kingston vs. Styles, and then an “Inside the Mind of The Viper” segment for later…[c]
My Take: Another visually interesting appearance from the Fiend, but not much action in the match itself…
Shinsuke Nakamura made his ring entrance, followed by Ali.
4. Ali vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: Ali started out on fire with a running kick that knocked Nakamura to the outside. He then hit a splash and then a top rope cross body for a two count. Nakamura fired back with a trip into the turnbuckle. He then went for a reverse exploder, but Ali reversed out. He then hit a superkick and went for a 450, but Nakamura ducked. He set up for Kinshasa, but Ali ducked and rolled him up. Nakamura rolled out and hit a DDT. He set up for Kinshasa again, but once again Ali rolled him up and got an upset victory.
Ali defeated Shinsuke Nakamura at 4:42
After the match, Ali celebrated up the stage. We then got a video package from Randy Orton, which explained his perspective on sending Kofi to the bottom of the ladder back in 2009, and then creating Kofi’s opportunity by injuring Ali’s eye before WrestleMania. He said Kofi challenging him in 2019 is stupid…stupid…stupid.
Backstage, New Day cut a promo on AJ Styles. They said they had all the Smackdown championships, and the show is no longer the house that AJ Styles built, it’s the Palace of Positivity. Kofi vs. AJ Styles is next…[c]
My Take: Shinsuke becomes the latest in a long line of mid-card champions to lose non-title matches to set up future title matches. I guess nobody else was available to wrestle Ali in an number one contenders match? I still don’t understand why it’s the champions that have to lose 5 minute matches on TV.
The OC made their entrance for the main event. New Day were down dancing to AJ’s music.
5. AJ Styles vs. Kofi Kingston: Both men talked trash to start, and AJ grabbed a headlock. Kofi shoved AJ into the ropes, and he returned with a shoulder block. Kofi then grabbed a waist lock and took AJ to the ground, but he quickly made it to the ropes to break the grapple. AJ then grabbed a single leg take down and worked another headlock, but Kofi quickened the pace by getting to his feet and hitting a couple of dropkicks. The second one sent AJ out to the floor.
Kofi wanted to splash Styles on the floor, but a distraction by The OC on the outside caused him to hesitate. Kofi then got out of the ring to confront The OC, but Styles hit him with a running knee from the apron. He then sent him into the barricade…[c]
Styles threw Kofi to the mat, and then followed up with a backbreaker for a two count. After a struggle in the corner, Kofi hit a diving tornado DDT from the second rope. He then followed up with some clotheslines and a boom drop. Kofi fired up for a splash in the corner, but Styles avoided it. Kofi then came back with a standing double stomp for a near fall. Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise, but Styles caught him and went for an Ushigoroshi, but Kofi flipped out and landed on his feet. Kofi then landed SOS for another near fall.
Kofi picked up Styles for a vertical suplex, but AJ hit a knee and then an enziguri. Kofi managed to hit a splash from the top rope, but the OC pulled him out of the ring. There was a melee at ringside caused by AJ taking a shot at Big E. Styles managed to gain control afterward with an Ushigorishi, but Kofi intercepted a Phenomenal Forearm with Trouble in Paradise for the victory.
Kofi Kingston defeated AJ Styles at 12:55
Backstage, Roman Reigns was shown walking towards the interview set to announce his SummerSlam Challenge, but a large piece of stage equipment and some boxes fell on him before he could reach Kayla Braxton. She called for EMT’s and Roman was pulled from the wreck, but he never got a chance to speak on camera. He ended up refusing medical attention and walked away to close the show.
My Take: A very entertaining Styles and Kingston match was followed up with an absolutely bizarre Roman Reigns moment to close the show. I guess we’ll have to see where it goes next week, but I can’t imagine it was the type of cliffhanger that has people holding their breath about what happens to his match at SummerSlam.
The Best of The Boom features Eric Bischoff joining Jason Powell in this March 20, 2019 discussion on whether there are similarities between Verne Gagne's booking during the AWA's dying days and Vince McMahon's WWE booking today, AEW, a Turner network shakeup, and more...