The John Report: WWE Smackdown Live Review 05/23/17
Live from Toledo, Ohio this is Smackdown Live for episode #927. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top featuring some men that have win/loss records similar to the new WWE Champion.
The show began with highlights from Jinder Mahal beating Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship at Backlash this past Sunday. Read my review of it here.
No pyro in the arena because WWE is being cheap this week (it turns out they were saving it for later). The announce team of Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton were shown on screen. I still miss Mauro Ranallo.
There was a police escort in the parking lot as a black truck pulled up along with a white limo. The Singh Brothers were in it and they pulled out a rug. They put the rug beside the limo and Jinder Mahal exited the limo with the WWE Title on his shoulder.
Shane McMahon, the Smackdown Commissioner, made his entrance to a big ovation. Shane entered the ring and there was a blue Money in the Bank briefcase above the ring.
Shane mentioned the new WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, which led to boos. Shane said in four weeks time, Randy Orton will get his WWE Title rematch at Money in the Bank in his hometown of St. Louis on June 18.
Shane shifted the focus to the Money in the Bank ladder match. He spoke about how the winner will have to climb the ladder to get the briefcase that will give them a WWE Title shot any time they want to cash in for one year. Shane brought out the five entrants for the Money in the Bank ladder match.
The men that were introduced were: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler.
Kevin Owens, the US Champion, made his entrance as well. Shane told the production truck to kill the music. Shane told Owens he is not one of the participants. Shane brought out the fifth participant: Shinsuke Nakamura. Big ovation for Nakamura with the crowd humming along to his song.
The ring had the five wrestlers in the MITB match with Shane and Owens was on the floor.
Owens went into the ring to complain while pointing out that Nakamura and Zayn both won at Backlash, but he won as well at that show. Owens talked about how it’s a dictatorship on Smackdown because Shane thinks he can do what he wants. Owens claimed that Shane is just mad because Owens beat Styles while Shane lost to Styles.
Shane responded to Owens noting he had some salient points. Shane added Owens to the Money in the Bank Ladder Match as well.
Analysis: It made no sense that Owens wasn’t in the match in the first place. Silly booking, really.
Corbin told Owens to stop talking. His microphone wasn’t working, so he got Shane’s microphone. Corbin told the guys they don’t stand a chance and that Shane should just hand him the briefcase.
Styles told Corbin that this was the house that AJ Styles built. Styles said it was built on him being phenomenal night after night. Styles told Owens it wasn’t built with countouts or cheap shots. Styles said he didn’t care if it was WWE’s version of Eric Cartman (Kevin Owens), the Showoff, the Lone Wolf, the underdog or the rock star. Styles said he’ll win the match, get the briefcase and get back his WWE Championship.
Zayn told Styles he didn’t come to Smackdown Live to watch Styles run victory laps. Corbin told Zayn he was lucky. Corbin called Zayn the “Rudy” of Smackdown Live, which is a movie reference from over 20 years ago. Zayn said it wasn’t a fluke because he kicked him in the face and pinned him in the ring. Zayn suggested they have a match right now.
Ziggler told them to shut up and noted that he was the only one in the ring that won Money in the Bank and became World Champion. Ziggler said he would do it again.
Nakamura: “For those of you that don’t know me, I am Shinsuke Nakamura.” He pointed at Ziggler and said that he can call him Mr. Money in the Bank.
Shane set up a match between Corbin vs. Zayn. Also, Dolph Ziggler is going to team up with Kevin Owens against AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. The crowd cheered as the segment ended 20 minutes after the show began.
Analysis: The talent in that Money in the Bank match is pretty awesome. Five of the best workers in the entire company. I don’t mean to single out Corbin, but he’s not at the level of the other five. He’s not that bad, though. I’m really excited about the match because of how talented a group of performers they are. As for the tired show opening promo, I understood why they needed to go that long this time because of the big match announcement for Money in the Bank. Sometimes they do opening promos just because it’s routine and to kill time. If it has a purpose like it did this week then that’s okay with me. They also set up two big matches for later. I’m happy with any of them winning Money in the Bank, but I feel like it will be Corbin that gets it. I may change my mind many times in the next month.
The trio of Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Naomi were walking backstage for a match up next.
The heel team of Natalya and Carmella were in the ring with Tamina and James Ellsworth outside the ring. Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch made their entrances separately with Naomi entering with Lynch.
Natalya & Carmella (w/Tamina & James Ellsworth) vs. Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch (w/Naomi)
The announcers keep saying “Welcoming Committee” for the heels, so that name isn’t going away even though it’s pretty bad. Lynch got a back slide on Carmella and a rollup for two. Lynch wit ha dropkick on Carmella. Natalya went in the ring, so Charlotte hit a dropkick that knocked Natalya out of the ring as the show went to break.
Analysis: In the US, the show is still on with commercials on the screen in a picture-in-picture format. I’m in Canada, so I don’t have that because Sportsnet 360 airs it not USA Network here. It’s okay, though. It’s not like they do finishes during commercials. I like having the breaks when I write.
As the match returned from break, the heels worked on Lynch in the corner. Natalya went for a Sharpshooter, but Charlotte got the hot tag from Lynch. Charlotte was on fire with a back elbow, neckbreaker and a boot to the face for a two count. The crowd was chanting “WOO” during that offensive flurry. Tamina distracted Charlotte, so Naomi hit Tamina with a cross body block on the floor. Natalya hit a release German Suplex on Charlotte. Lynch hit a missile dropkick on Natalya, which led to Carmella tagging in. Ellsworth tried to help Carmella by going on the apron, but Naomi kicked his hand and knocked him off the apron. Lynch slapped on the Disarmer arm bar on Carmella for the submission win after about eight minutes.
Winners by submission: Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair
Analysis: ** Good match for the time given. It’s the standard 50/50 booking I always talk about with WWE because the heels won a tag at Backlash and the faces got the win here. That’s just how WWE loves to book these things. We see it all the time. I don’t mind it because Lynch hasn’t won a meaningful match in a while, so she needed it. I like that it was Carmella that tapped out rather than Natalya because Natalya won for her team at Backlash and I want her to have momentum to get a title shot.
Coming up: Jinder Mahal’s celebration.
Up next is Zayn vs. Corbin.
Zayn and Corbin were in the ring and the bell rang. No need for televised entrants since they already got that earlier in the night.
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Zayn rolled up Corbin and got the pinfall within about ten seconds. It was not a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! It was more of a rollup where he covered him with his body after the rollup.
Winner by pinfall: Sami Zayn
Analysis: That was quick! Not much else to say. It wasn’t the end of this story.
After the match, Corbin sent Zayn out of the ring. Corbin grabbed a steel chair and hit Zayn in the back with it. Corbin sent Zayn head first into a barricade. Corbin picked up Zayn on his shoulders and dropped Zayn head first onto a barricade that was outside the ring in the technical area. Corbin yelled at referees that tried to get him to stop. Corbin hit Zayn with forearm shots to the head while against a barricade at ringside. The shaky cam was in full effect for it. Corbin finally left after the refs told him to get out of there. Referees checked on Zayn. The paramedics showed up with a stretcher for Zayn.
Analysis: Good heel attack by Corbin. It’s understandable that Corbin would be mad about the loss, but the part that makes people want to boo is how he delivered a vicious attack in defeat. It also makes Zayn the perfect sympathetic face after he beat this guy two times in a row.
There was a plug for the main event. Also, the Fashion Files segment is up next.
They replayed the attack that Corbin did after the loss. They even replayed the shocked woman in the crowd because they love shocked fan expressions.
Zayn was shown being taken away on a stretcher during the commercial.
Nakamura and Styles were in the locker room. Styles spoke about how they go way back and earn eachother’s respect. Styles said for the first time ever, Styles and Nakamura are a tag team. Styles told that Nakamura to follow his lead because this is the house that Styles built. Nakamura said tonight they are a team, but at Money in the Bank Nakamura is grabbing the contract and turning the house into his playground.
Analysis: Good line by Nakamura to end it. This is a dream team for sure.
Fashion Files Featuring Breezango aka The Fashion Police
The scene went to Shane’s office with the Fashion Police material. The Fashion Police said they were there to turn in their badges. Shane said he didn’t ask them there and noted they weren’t real cops. Breeze and Fandango took out some plastic water guns. Shane put Tyler in a match against Jey Usos and Breezango is against Jimmy Uso. Fandango and Breeze took their badges and other equipment and left. Always love seeing the Big Boss Man picture on the desk there.
Analysis: That was not as funny as their other bits. It was there to set up their singles matches for later in the show.
The preparations were being made for the 50th WWE Champion ever, Jinder Mahal. It’s next.
Jinder Mahal’s Punjabi WWE Championship Celebration
There were Punjabi drummers and dancers on the stage to start the celebration. The Singh Brothers made their entrance. When the music stopped, Jinder Mahal was introduced with his theme song playing.
Mahal walked out wearing a suit and a turban on his head. He had the WWE Title in his hands. Mahal entered the ring with the Singh Brothers and the dancers surrounded the ring. JBL said he’s never seen anything like this and said this is majestic. JBL also mentioned how awesome the music was and he said he loved it. JBL continued his over the top commentary saying there were 1 billion people in India on their feet for Mahal. The crowd was booing after the music stopped.
Mahal said the people can shower him with hatred, but he noted that 1.3 billion people are celebrating the fact that Mahal is the WWE Champion. Mahal said the people booed him because he looked different and talked different, but now they boo him because he exposed them for being fools. Mahal pointed out that he enlightened the fools to become the WWE Champion. Mahal said Orton’s on the decline like America while Mahal claimed he is already the greatest WWE Champion of all time. Mahal said he was there to celebrate for his people, for Punjab and for India. Mahal spoke in Punjabi to his people. I think he told them to read TJRWrestling. I’ll use that joke all the time.
Mahal posed with the WWE Title on the turnbuckle. Fireworks went off above the ring and on the stage. I guess that’s why they didn’t do the fireworks at the start of the show.
Analysis: It was a basic Mahal promo like all of his promos. I’m trying to like him and support him especially because he’s a fellow Canadian, but he sounds very robotic as if he’s reciting lines fed to him. The better talkers in the business make it sound more natural. JBL’s commentary during this segment was really over the top and annoying, but that’s probably him being told to do that by Vince McMahon to push the 1.3 billion India population number. It’s as if they didn’t know what India’s population was prior to the last month because now they don’t shut up about it. Once they get something in their minds they shove it down our throats and repeat it way too often. On a final note on the celebration, Randy Orton would have received a massive ovation if he attacked Mahal here. Instead, he did absolutely nothing. Remember, Orton lost on Sunday because of cheating and he did nothing to get revenge. That’s pretty lame.
Main event tag match still to come.
A video package aired about Lana “coming soon” to Smackdown Live. It’s been nearly two months. She’s been wrestling NXT live events to continue to improve in the ring, so hopefully she’s improved by the time we see her on Smackdown.
The Usos, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, made their entrance. The Breezango duo entered for the two singles matches mentioned earlier.
Tyler Breeze (w/Fandango) vs. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso)
The bell rang and Jey said that they didn’t deserve to be in the ring with them. Fandango sprayed Jey with a water gun and Breeze did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Jey for the win after about twenty seconds.
Winner by pinfall: Tyler Breeze
Analysis: A quick “match” to put over Breeze with the deadliest finish in WWE.
Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso) vs. Fandango (w/Tyler Breeze)
Jimmy with a punch and a hard whip into the corner where he sent Fandango sternum first into the turnbuckle. Breeze distracted Jey outside the ring, Jey chased him around the ring and Breeze went into the ring with Jimmy getting distracted by it. Fandango did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Jimmy for the pinfall win after thirty seconds.
Winner by pinfall: Fandango
Analysis: At least they had a longer match. WWE really loves that rollup finish.
After the match, Breezango mocked the fashion of The Usos. Breeze asked for a Tag Team Title match. Fandango
Referee Mike Chioda put on a headset to talk to somebody (we assume Shane McMahon) and it’s a go right now. Chioda held up the titles to signify the start of the match.
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze)
The match started during the break. Jimmy had Breeze in a headlock followed by a move where he slammed his head to the mat. Breeze kicked Jimmy out of the ring, Fandango got the tag against Jey and Fandango was on fire. Fandango hit a spinning heel kick to the head. Fandango hit a spinning DDT while hitting a dropkick on Jimmy for a two count. That was sweet. Jey sent Fandango into the ring post. Jimmy got the tag and the Usos hit a double superkick on Breeze. Double superkick on Fandango as well. Jimmy went up top, he jumped off with a splash and Fandango got the knees up leading to an inside cradle by Fandango for two. Jimmy battled Fandango on the top rope. Fandango shoved him off, blind tag by Jey and Fandango hit a top rope leg drop on Jimmy. After he landed, Jey hit a Superfly Splash and pinned Fandango for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Analysis: **1/2 That was one of the most entertaining matches I’ve ever seen in under four minutes. Unfortunately, it was so rushed that it’s tough to rate it higher than what I did, but I really enjoyed it. They did the match in such a way where you thought maybe Breezango was going to get the job done, but in the end The Usos outsmarted them and had better teamwork to win. The crowd was into all of it too.
I thought The New Day might show up here, but they did not. They did appear on Talking Smack after Smackdown, so I guess that was their Smackdown Live debut.
The main event tag is up next.
Shane McMahon was in his office, which still had the Fashion Police stuff in it. Natalya showed up asking for a title match while noting she won the match at Backlash. Carmella and James Ellsworth appeared with Carmella noting that she beat Naomi twice. Becky Lynch joined the fun saying she deserves a title shot. Tamina said that everybody else has had a title shot and they failed, so now it’s her turn. Ellsworth told Tamina they are in the friend zone. Charlotte Flair said the Welcoming Committee exists because she’s such a threat.
Shane said that next week they will have a Fatal 5-Way elimination match and the winner of that match will get a Smackdown Women’s Title match against Naomi at Money in the Bank on June 18. Everybody seemed happy with it and they left.
Analysis: That should be a very good match next week. There was a report on Tuesday from Pro Wrestling Sheet saying that WWE was going to do the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank match, but that may not be true now. I guess it’s possible if they had a cheap finish next week.
Brian Kendrick did a promo about his 205 Live match against Akira Tozawa.
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were already in the ring. Dolph Ziggler made his entrance followed by his partner, the United States Champion Kevin Owens.
Analysis: Since they already did televised entrances earlier in the show, I assume that’s why they didn’t do them here as well.
AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens & Dolph Ziggler
Styles and Ziggler started with neither man really getting the advantage after a few minutes of posturing. Nakamura tagged in against Owens with Nakamura hitting him with strikes. Owens bailed to the floor to avoid further attack as the show went to break.
Back from break, Nakamura hit a knee drop on Owens. When the ref made Nakamura go back, Owens sent Nakamura’s head into the top rope and took control with stomps. Ziggler tagged in for his team. He was wrestling in his t-shirt for some reason this week. Ziggler hit a neckbreaker for a two count. The heels tagged in and out to work on Nakamura. When Nakamura broke free of an Owens headlock, Owens stopped him with a back elbow. Nakamura nearly tagged out, but Ziggler kept him in his corner and Owens tagged in with a cannonball attack in the heel corner for a two count. The show went to break.
The heels were still in control of Nakamura with Owens hitting him with a forearm. When Nakamura tried to fight back against Ziggler, it led to a kick to the knee by Ziggler. Ziggler charged, Nakamura moved and Ziggler went shoulder first into the ring post. The crowd really started to come alive as Styles got the hot tag from Nakamura. Styles with a hard clothesline on Ziggler followed by a running forearm smash for two. Styles hit Owens with a forearm. Styles hit the Ushigoroshi (fireman’s carry neckbreaker) for a two count. Owens distracted, so Ziggler did a stun gun that sent Styles throat first into the top rope. With Styles on the floor, Owens tagged in with a senton splash. Running kick to the back by Owens while Styles was on the apron. Owens worked over Styles with a back body drop. Nobody sells a back body drop as good as Styles. Ziggler got in there for the heel team. Styles slowed him down with a face first slam into the mat. Nakamura got the hot tag against Owens with Nakamura hitting him with two kicks to the chest, a running splash and a knee lift to the gut for a two count. Nakamura missed a kick to the head with one foot and hit him with the other foot. Ziggler broke up the pin attempt. Nakamura with a reverse exploder on Ziggler. Owens went after Nakamura, so Styles hit Owens with a Pele Kick. Ziggler hit a superkick on Styles. Jumping kick to the head by Nakamura on Ziggler. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa running knee strike on Owens for the pinfall win after 25 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good tag match, but went a bit long. If they shaved off five minutes and cut out some of the time where the heels worked over Nakamura it probably would have helped. After Nakamura tagged in Styles, they built to Nakamura getting the hot tag and the win because the match was designed to get Nakamura over as much as possible. It was one of the longest tag matches on WWE TV this year or any year really. You don’t see tag matches getting nearly 30 minutes on TV very often. I thought the last few minutes were outstanding, which is no surprise considering the caliber of these performers. The story of the match was about putting over Nakamura and Styles as two of the top faces on Smackdown. I doubt Nakamura is going to get pinned in a match any time soon.
Styles and Nakamura celebrated the win followed by replays of the key parts of the match.
There was a plug for next week’s Fatal 5-Way elimination match between Natalya, Carmella, Tamina, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. I hope Natalya wins it.
Nakamura’s song played to end the night. Styles and Nakamura did a “too sweet” hand gesture. Both guys looked at the Money in the Bank briefcase above the ring as a preview of what will come next month. That’s how Smackdown ended right at 10pmET as usual.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Shinsuke Nakamura
2. AJ Styles
3. (tie) Kevin Owens
3. (tie) Dolph Ziggler
Shoutout to the Usos and Breezango as well. They made the most of their time.
7 out of 10
Last week: 5
2017 Average: 7.02
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.72 – Raw is at 5.85
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 7, 6.5, 7, 6
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11)
2017 Low: 5 (May 16)
It gets a 7 out of 10.
It was a good show around the yearly average with nothing on the show that felt like a waste of time. I enjoyed the main event even though it wasn’t some legendary tag match that some people might have expected. The Tag Title story was cool as a one show angle.
I thought the presentation of Mahal as the new WWE Champion was done well. I think it would have been great if Orton showed up to break it up because the crowd would have loved it.
What happened to the Rusev angle? They had those promos with him saying he was coming to the show last week and wasn’t there. No sign of him this week. It’s an example of WWE changing plans on the fly, but they don’t address it at all.
The next Smackdown brand PPV is Money in the Bank on June 18 in St. Louis. Here is what we know so far.
.@AJStylesOrg. @HEELZiggler. @FightOwensFight. @iLikeSamiZayn. @BaronCorbinWWE. @ShinsukeN.
Who will grab the briefcase at #MITB? #SDLive pic.twitter.com/ZJCR720Ajw
— WWE (@WWE) May 24, 2017
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
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That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.
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