Live (on tape delay) from London, England this is Smackdown Live for episode #925. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
The opening video package focused on Jinder Mahal becoming the #1 contender to the WWE Title three weeks ago. It also showed WWE Champion Randy Orton’s loss to Bray Wyatt at Payback thanks to Mahal’s interference.
Randy Orton made his entrance with the WWE Championship to a nice ovation. The announce team of Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show. Orton entered the ring with a microphone in hand.
Orton said at Payback he didn’t lose because of Bray Wyatt or that damn refrigerator. Orton said he lost because Jinder Mahal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong. Orton talked about what he intends to do at Backlash, but was interrupted by Jinder Mahal and his buddies the Singh Brothers.
Mahal told Orton he didn’t steal anything, he simply took what he’s going to win at Backlash. Mahal said he’s already taken his promotional pictures and showed images of Mahal holding the WWE Title. Mahal walked down to the ring to say he’ll take the WWE Championship to his people and to the Taj Mahal. Jinder said people will no longer disrespect his homeland or him. Mahal said at Backlash the Age of the Maharajah will begin. Mahal said he would speak to his people in Punjabi, but was interrupted by Kevin Owens’ music.
Owens, the United States Champion, walked out in a suit with the title on his left shoulder. Owens told them that nobody cares about the House of Horrors, nobody cares about India and told the crowd nobody cares about England either. Owens said people should care about the US Champion, the Face of American and his name is Kevin Owens. He said he ended Jericho’s career, no more stupid idiot, no more drinking it in, no more List of Jericho – it’s all done because of Owens. Owens said at Backlash he’ll end another career and this time it’s AJ Styles. Owens said when that’s done he won’t just be the US Champion and the Face of America – he’s coming for the WWE Title. Owens said his next goal is to be the Face of WWE as the fans chanted “AJ Styles.” Owens repeated it in French…just because he can. AJ Styles music hit.
Styles entered to a huge ovation from the crowd and of course he had a microphone in hand as well. Loud “AJ Styles” chants for him. Styles told Owens everybody knows how delusional he is and AJ said this is Smackdown Live, the house that Styles built. Styles said with all due respect to Jericho, he’s no Styles and neither is Owens. Styles told Owens to enjoy being the Face of America because he’ll never be the face of Smackdown Live. Baron Corbin’s music hit.
Corbin showed up to say everybody is forgetting something and Sami Zayn showed up to attack Corbin with punches. Zayn sent Corbin into the ring. Orton kicked Mahal while he was on the apron. The three faces cleared the ring of the heels. It wasn’t much of a fight. Orton’s music hit to end it.
Analysis: It was a standard 15-minute opening promo to set up an obvious tag match. All three rivalries will also lead to Backlash matches as well. I thought the reception for Styles was clearly the loudest of anybody there, which is great to see. It was good to see Zayn showing up to attack rather than having them join the promo fest because Zayn has a reason to be mad at Corbin due to his cheap attack two weeks ago. At some point WWE should realize that they can start a show with something other than a promo to set up a match for later.
Coming up: Dolph Ziggler will confront Shinsuke Nakamura. Up next is Lynch vs. Natalya.
A six-man tag was announced by Shane McMahon as shown on a graphic: Orton, Zayn and Styles vs. Mahal, Corbin and Owens. What a shock! Not really.
The trio of Carmella, James Ellsworth and Tamina were in the ring. Ellsworth ripped on the crowd and Carmella bragged about being American. Carmella did a big introduction for Natalya calling her the best there is, was and ever will be. Natalya entered to mostly boos from the crowd.
Naomi, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her glow entrance. Naomi told them to make some “bloody” noise and introduced her buddy Becky Lynch. Nice crowd reaction for Lynch, who is Irish, so pretty close to England. Replays aired from the “Welcoming Committee” heel group attacking Naomi, Charlotte & Lynch last week.
Following Lynch’s entrance, Charlotte Flair also showed up in her ring gear even though she’s not in a match. Charlotte said she didn’t need anybody to introduce her because she didn’t need an introduction. She let out a “WOO” and the show went to break.
Analysis: I really hope they aren’t keeping the “Welcoming Committee” as the name for the heel women stable. It’s not exactly an imposing or intimidating name.
Natalya (w/Tamina, Carmella & James Ellsworth) vs. Becky Lynch (w/Naomi & Charlotte Flair)
Lynch with a dropkick that sent Natalya out of the ring. Natalya drove Lynch back first into the ring apron and hit a suplex on the floor. The announcers keep saying “Welcoming Committee” so I guess the name is sticking around. Back in the ring, Natalya hit a dropkick to the back. Abdominal stretch by Natalya. Lynch fought back with a hip toss. Two clotheslines by Lynch followed by a leaping kick. Running forearm by Lynch, kick to the gut and a Bexploder Suplex. Natalya came back with stiff forearms. Lynch hit a kick off the ropes. Lynch was on the middle ropes. Tamina tried to go after Lynch while Charlotte pulled Naomi back to prevent a brawl on the floor. With Lynch distracted by all of that, Natalya pulled Lynch off the middle ropes so that Lynch took a back bump off the middle ropes and Natalya pinned her after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Natalya
Analysis: *1/2 Good for the time given, but it was a short match. I like watching these two because the moves look great and they are hard hitters. Some of the other women don’t look as good doing basic offense. The finish was almost a replay of Raw when Nia Jax distracted Mickie James leading to Alexa Bliss hitting a move and getting the pin. In this case it was just Natalya pulling Lynch off the ropes and pinning her. I like the cheap win to get Natalya over because they should think about putting the title on her soon to get the heel group some more momentum.
Coming up: Ziggler calling out Nakamura. Breezango doing a Fashion Files skit is up next.
There was a video of dancing Lana on a chair as there has been for the last month or so.
Analysis: I don’t mind it at all, but there’s no indication of when she will arrive on Smackdown Live. It just says “coming soon” every week.
Charlotte and Naomi were arguing backstage with Charlotte telling Naomi that she was the reason Becky lost. Becky asked what they were arguing about. Naomi busted out her “snatched bald” line. Becky talked about the Welcoming Committee causing problems. Becky said they will fight Natalya, Carmella and Tamina a six woman tag match at Backlash. Naomi and Charlotte said they were both prepared to bond. Charlotte showed she still has a big ego by saying “whatever…because I’m the greatest…at bonding.” They all put their hands in together.
Analysis: Apparently, people can just make their own matches now because that’s what they did. It makes sense with the story, so that’s fine. The most awkward part of this was Becky Lynch calling them the “Welcoming Committee” because, as I said earlier, the name is stupid and needs to be changed.
Fashion Files with Breezango aka The Fashion Police
The same Law & Order style introduction set up The Fashion Police. The duo of Tyler Breeze and Fandango were together again talking about traffic offenses. Fandango said London, England is the “Foggy Apple.” They found some paint on the floor saying it belonged to “The Uggos” aka The Usos. Breeze pointed out that The Uggos haven’t worn face paint in months. Fandango said who cares which one is which. There was noise inside a room. They opened the door and it was The Ascension in a room yelling angrily while they had a chain in their hands. The Fashion Police said the case for The Ascension has just re-opened. That was it.
Analysis: Last week’s Fashion Files segment was better and funnier, but they still had some funny lines here. I don’t want to know why The Ascension were in a small room together with a chain in hand.
Luke Harper entered for a match that will begin after a break.
Erick Rowan made his entrance for this clash of former Wyatt Family members.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
Rowan sent Harper over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Harper hit a corner clothesline, Rowan hit a splash and Harper came back with a running dropkick. Rowan took control when he drove Harper’s neck across the top. The crowd chanted “Fire Bradshaw” there I believe. I’m surprised that WWE didn’t edit that out. Rowan hit a spin kick and a splash for a two count. Rowan did his knuckles to the head submission, but Harper came back with a back suplex. Harper ran at Rowan with two forearm smashes, a back elbow and a senton splash. Harper with a big boot to the face for a two count. Harper hit a Boss Man Slam for a two count. Harper went for a Powerbomb, Rowan shoved his way out of it and Rowan hit a sitout uranage move (like a sitout Rock Bottom) for a two count. Rowan grabbed his mask. The ref took it away, so Rowan did a thumb to the eye (ref didn’t see it) and Rowan spun Harper around leading to a body slam finisher for the win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Erick Rowan
Analysis: ** Good action for the brief time they were given. The finish was a bit flat, but the key to it was the thumb to the eye. I don’t think Rowan has won a lot of singles matches in his career, so nice to see him get a win. Harper is one of those guys that I always wish was doing more, but it’s impossible to push everybody at the same time. I doubt that either guy is going to get a significant push any time soon although I would like it especially for Harper.
Six-man tag is coming later. Dolph Ziggler was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
A commercial aired for Smackdown’s Backlash PPV event on May 21 in Chicago featuring Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Title. Please put Owens vs. Styles on last.
Ziggler Calls Out Nakamura
Dolph Ziggler made his way down to the ring in his street clothes, which included a Ziggler shirt under his jacket.
Ziggler talked about how the fans are all hypocrites. Ziggler said for eight long years (and it seems like 12) he’s been doing what he does. Ziggler talked about how he’s been a World Champion, headlined PPVs and dammit he’s a movie star, but do the fans appreciate him? Ziggler said they treat him like a contagious disease. Ziggler asked who they cheer for and the fans chanted “Nakamura” at him. Ziggler pointed out that they cheer for Nakamura, who has never had a match there on Smackdown and the fans chanted “NXT” at him. Ziggler said that it would be edited out, which is funny because it wasn’t. Ziggler mocked the fans for singing along with Nakamura’s music and said that Nakamura is pathetic for calling himself “The Artist.” Ziggler said he never needed “any of you” to do what he’s done in this business. Ziggler told the fans they never cared. Another “Nakamura” chant from the crowd. Ziggler said the fans didn’t care before, but they sure will now. Ziggler: “Nakamura, get out here now!”
Analysis: Really good promo from Ziggler. I think people sometimes forget how good of a talker he can be, but when they give him a meaningful storyline (like that Miz feud last year) he usually delivers. He made this promo about the disdain he has for the fans because they like a guy like Nakamura and they don’t like him anymore. It makes perfect sense for his character to feel that way.
Nakamura’s music hit and he made his entrance to a thunderous ovation as the crowd hummed along to his song. It took a couple of minutes for him to get in there because of all the poses. I don’t think that entrance will ever get old. The fans chanted “Nakamura” as he stood in the ring with Ziggler.
Ziggler said it’s been almost a month of Nakamura walking out to the ring and Ziggler told him if he’s going to keep doing that he needs to put up or…Nakamura took the microphone away to say “shut up” at him. Nakamura asked Ziggler if he wants to see what he can do leading to “yes” chants from the crowd. Nakamura said he’ll show him now. A referee showed up in the ring between them.
Ziggler said “nope” and said they’ll do it when he says so. Ziggler told Nakamura he’ll expose him for the fraud that he is at Backlash. Ziggler threw his jacket at Nakamura and attacked him with punches. Nakamura came back with knee strikes to the ribs followed by a kick that sent Ziggler out of the ring. Fans chanted “Nakamura” as the ref tried to separate them. Ziggler teased going back in the ring, but did the heel thing by leaving. Nakamura’s music hit to end it.
Analysis: It was similar to what they’ve done for a few weeks, but at least they progressed the story a bit with Ziggler calling him out for a match at Backlash. The crowd was on fire for Nakamura like usual. I think they should have used this week to have Ziggler get the advantage during one of their altercations because it would show that he’s capable of looking dominant as well. If Ziggler hit him with a Superkick to end the segment it would have made Ziggler look great. Instead, they are keeping Nakamura looking strong because every time they are in a ring together it’s Nakamura that has the advantage.
The trio of Zayn, Orton and Styles were in the locker room. Zayn rambled on about how they need to talk strategy. He said that Orton is the Viper that should strike first. Zayn told Styles that he’ll brief him a little later on Owens since Zayn knows him so well. Zayn told them to close their eyes and visualize it while he said they will be the winners. The camera zoomed in on Zayn and when it zoomed back out the guys left. Zayn ended up looking like a loser and some of the crowd laughed as the scene ended.
Analysis: That is something they’ve done before with Zayn as the nerdy guy that is awkward when it comes to teaming with others. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that will make him a bigger star, though. It was okay for a cheap laugh. Long term, I hope they don’t make it a regular thing.
There was a video package for The New Day done in a video game format that called the other Smackdown tag teams “Booty” and hyped that New Day is coming soon.
Analysis: Kofi Kingston posted an Instagram video showing he has shed his walking boot on his injured ankle and was walking fine, so it should be soon.
The Ascension were in the ring for a tag match.
The duo of Breezango made their entrance with the fans singing along with the Fandango song. Good reaction for them. They get a Tag Team Title shot at The Usos at Backlash.
Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze) vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
Fandango hit a cross body block on Konnor. Viktor pulled down Fandango’s hair from behind to give the heels control. Viktor grounded Fandango with a headlock followed by a fist drop for two. Breeze got the hot tag and took out both heels. Supermodel kick by Breeze. Viktor sent Breeze into Fandango, who was on the apron. Breeze avoided a punching attack and kicked Viktor in the back of the leg while he was on the top rope. Tag to Fandango. Breeze kicked Konnor out of the ring. Fandango went up top and hit the Last Dance leg drop on Viktor for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Breezango
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win to put over Breezango since they are challenging for titles while The Ascension have no storyline like usual. I think Breezango should try to develop some time of tag team finisher instead of what they did here, but it worked fine. Just saying for the future if they did something more it would help.
After the match, Jimmy and Jey Uso showed up on the ramp. The Usos talked about how Breezango won’t win the titles because in 12 days they are going to get beat down. Jey kept on saying “12 days” leading to Jimmy saying a bunch of different things about things they can do. Jey said that Breezango will think somebody is creeping behind them, but no it’s not paranoia it’s The Usos. JBL put The Usos over as the best tag team in the last number of years.
Analysis: Awesome promo. Lots of creativity shown by The Usos in their heel promos. I like their heel promos a lot more than their face promos. I don’t think The Usos will lose the titles at Backlash, but it’s not a lock. A win for Breezango would really help them in terms of gaining credibility as a tag team.
Six man tag main event still to come.
The commercial for the WrestleMania DVD aired.
Analysis: Sorry to the people that suck up to WWE with quotes, but it was not one of the best WrestleManias ever. Very average show and disappointing for a WrestleMania. Also, I don’t miss that “Greenlight” song.
Talking Smack after Smackdown has Renee Young and John Bradshaw Layfield as hosts with Dolph Ziggler, The Usos and Mojo Rawley as guests.
Analysis: No Daniel Bryan because his wife Brie Bella is due to have their baby daughter any day now. I assume they didn’t fly Shane McMahon there either. At least they didn’t waste time with the co-GM boredom that Raw had.
Brian Kendrick did a promo for 205 Live against Akira Tozawa.
Mojo Rawley was backstage with four kids giving them a tour. He talked about the “eighth wonder of the world” Andre the Giant. Rawley told the kids about how people bullied him because he was different and Andre used that as motivation to become a legend. Rawley talked about something he brought all the way from the US to London. Rawley showed them the Andre the Giant battle royal trophy. A kid touched it, Rawley teased him and the kid kicked him, so they all laughed. Rawley left with the kids to continue the tour.
Analysis: That’s WWE’s way of promoting their anti-bullying work while also showing that Rawley is a good guy that the kids can look up to.
A promo aired from Rusev that he posted on Twitter. Rusev said two weeks ago he said he wanted a championship match at Money in the Bank, but he heard nothing from Commissioner Shane McMahon. Rusev said it was disrespectful. Rusev said he’s coming to Smackdown Live next week.
Analysis: Rusev has been off TV due to a shoulder injury, so this angle is being done to keep him in people’s minds even though he’s still rehabbing. I think it’s very possible that Rusev will win the WWE Title at Money in the Bank in June. Much better choice than Mahal, so if Orton were to retain the title at Backlash he can drop it to Rusev.
Jinder Mahal entered with the Singh Brothers for the main event. The US Champion Kevin Owens was up next followed by Baron to complete the heel team.
The face trio made their separate entrances with Sami Zayn out first, followed by AJ Styles and Randy Orton. The ovation for Styles was clearly the loudest. It wasn’t really close either.
Randy Orton, AJ Styles & Sami Zayn vs. Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin (w/Samir & Sunil Singh)
Three Canadians in the match (Owens, Zayn & Mahal) as well as the Singh Brothers and the other three are Americans. As a Canadian myself, that’s pretty cool.
Styles started with Corbin and hit a dropkick. Zayn tagged in against Mahal as the crowd did the “Ole” chants for Zayn. Mahal pounded on Zayn with punches as JBL started by talking about Mahal’s body like the announcers always do for him. Zayn hit a flying headscissors on Mahal. Orton tagged in, so Mahal tagged in Owens. Orton went for a RKO quickly, but Owens slipped out and bailed to the floor as the show went to break.
Styles was in there for the faces and he hit a dropkick on Mahal as the show returned from break. Mahal tagged in against Zayn, drove Zayn into the heel corner and that led to the heels attacking Zayn. Owens and Zayn did their usual great work together with Owens countering a top rope move by tripping up Zayn to take control. Corbin dumped Zayn out of the ring leading to Mahal hitting Zayn with some kicks on the floor. Back in the ring, Corbin hit a chinlock on Zayn to slow it down. When Zayn tried to make a comeback with a move off the ropes, Corbin decked him with a punch to stop the momentum. Mahal tagged in leading to him applying a chinlock as the heels continued to work over Zayn. Owens tagged in with a headlock of his own, so all three heels applied rest holds. Owens yelled at Styles telling him that’s going to happen to him. Fear those headlocks, I guess. Owens hit a senton splash on Zayn for a two count as the show went to break.
Back from break, the heels were still in control as Corbin worked on Zayn with punches. Corbin decked Orton with a punch to the face while Orton was on the apron. Zayn sunset flip, Corbin punch, Zayn moved and hot tag to Styles. Corner clothesline by Styles followed by a running forearm on Corbin for a two count. Styles applied the Calf Crusher submission on Corbin, but Owens made the save. Orton went after Owens and sent him to the floor. Zayn sent Mahal to the floor. Zayn ran the ropes and hit a somersault plancha over the top onto the three heels on the floor. Styles went after Corbin, but Owens tripped him up while he was doing a springboard attack and Corbin got a two count. Fans were really getting into the match chanting for Styles. Back body drop by Corbin on Styles for a two count. Styles sells that so well. Running knee drop by Mahal and it’s back to the headlock for Mahal on Styles. Knee to the face by Mahal earned a two count. Owens stomped away on Styles leading to a headlock. Styles got his knees up to block a senton attempt. Styles picked up Owens and dropped him face first in a sitout slam. Hot tag to Orton against Mahal with Orton hitting a couple of clotheslines and a powerslam. Orton with a powerslam to Corbin. Orton hit a draping DDT on Owens. The Singh Brothers distracted Orton on the apron, so when Orton turned around Mahal hit him with a superkick. Zayn with a Blue Thunder Bomb to Mahal. Corbin hit a Chokeslam into a backbreaker on Zayn. Styles with a Pele Kick on Corbin to knock him out of the ring. Owens hit Styles with a forearm to the back to send him out of the ring. Orton hit a RKO on Owens. Mahal back in the ring and he hit a Cobra Clutch Slam on Orton for the pinfall win after 22 minutes of action.
Winners by pinfall: Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin
Analysis: ***1/2 Very good main event match that was given a lot of time. It’s pretty rare to have a main event that goes over 20 minutes on Smackdown, so whenever they do it you know the match is going to be pretty good. Choosing Zayn to be the face in peril for most of the match was smart because he sells so well and it built up to the hot tag perfectly. Styles filled the face in peril role as well. Orton getting the hot tag was a smart way to set up the finishing sequence. The last minute of the match featured a lot of big moves, the crowd went wild for all of them and it was Mahal, the legal man, hitting Orton from behind to win. I’m not surprised by Mahal getting the win or that he pinned Orton because it gives Mahal something to brag about. We hate heels that brag, so it’s easy heat for next week.
Mahal posed with the Singh Brothers outside the ring while Orton was in the ring with the WWE Title. That’s how the show went off the air.
Analysis: Mahal was booked strong by getting the pin on Orton, but I’m still not that impressed by Mahal. His offense is very average. Guys like Styles, Owens, Zayn and Orton are way ahead of him in terms of being great all around talents, which the fans clearly know because they don’t react to Mahal as a star. I think he applied more headlocks than did actual moves in the match. I also think Orton was hurt by how poor the Wyatt feud ended up being, so he should have a longer title reign.
I think it would be a mistake to put the WWE Title on Mahal. If they want to try somebody new as a WWE Champion, save it for Rusev at Money in the Bank in June. He’s much more ready if WWE decides to book him right.
Three Stars of the Show
1. AJ Styles
2. Kevin Owens
3. Dolph Ziggler
7 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2017 Average: 7.13
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.75 – Raw is at 5.82
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 7, 6, 8.5, 8
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11)
2017 Low: 6 (Jan. 10, Feb. 21, April 18)
It gets a 7 out of 10.
I enjoyed most of the show. It wasn’t great by any means, but it was right around my yearly average for Smackdown.
The main event was given a lot of time and accomplished their goal of having Mahal pin Orton in a tag match. That’s an easy way to book a title contender strong, which is something they don’t do enough of. Mahal has been racking up the wins for the last month because WWE knows they need to do that to make him look believable. From a booking perspective it makes sense.
I thought Ziggler/Nakamura was okay because it left us wanting more, which is what every Nakamura segment has done. At least they made some progress by setting up the match at Backlash officially.
Good to see the tag division featured with Breezango getting the comedy sketch, the easy win and the promo from the Usos was well done as well. Some weeks the division is ignored, so I feel like praising WWE when they do it right.
I liked the women’s match and the way it sets up the PPV match as well. Keep building those heel women up. That’s important. Only thing I don’t like is the “Welcoming Committee” name.
The win by Erick Rowan surprised me simply because he doesn’t win that much. I feel bad for Harper because he should be used better.
The London crowd was more vocal during this show. It wasn’t that loud all night, but you could tell they were more interested in Smackdown compared to Raw. No surprise since it’s the better show.
It's FINALLY happening! @HEELZiggler will collide with The #KingOfStrongStyle @ShinsukeN at #WWEBacklash, LIVE on @WWENetwork! #TalkingSmack pic.twitter.com/OKjXOH5PId
— WWE (@WWE) May 10, 2017
Here’s what we know for Smackdown’s WWE Backlash PPV on May 21 in Chicago.
WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal
United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. Breezango
Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya, Carmella & Tamina
Another likely match is Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn as well.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook