The New Kevin Owens Show
Kevin Owens opened the show, declaring his Superstar Shake-Up move to Smackdown. He even wore a blue tie to stay on brand. The sudden announcements didn’t feel as out-of-place as on Raw the previous night. Probably because we’d already had a whole day to get used to the fact: this booking makes no sense.
With Dean Ambrose’s Intercontinental Title now on Raw, Baron Corbin said he deserves a shot at KO’s United States Championship. Logic point No.1. But Owens had two more challengers – complete babyface AJ Styles, thankfully still on Smackdown, and the night’s second Superstar Shake-Up move, Sami Zayn. The Zayn vs Owens feud was driven into the ground on Raw, but trust in Smackdown’s bookers to actually make future matches mean something.
Daniel Bryan pointed out KO can’t defend his US title until after his match with Chris Jericho at Payback. Logic point No. 2! But for tonight’s main event, we’ll have a three-way No. 1 contender’s match to decide who will face the winner.
One night into Smackdown, and the United States Championship already feels far more important than its last six months on Raw.
Randy Orton beat Erick Rowan
The same can’t be said for the show’s main title. Poor Erick Rowan didn’t even get a full entrance for his match against Randy Orton, which The Viper won via disqualification when Rowan used the steel steps after the standard Bray Wyatt Titan Tron distraction. Yes, kind of forgot Orton is WWE Champion too.
The Usos beat American Alpha
American Alpha lost their tag title rematch to The Usos in a fantastic five-minute spotfest, which was pretty much just the final sequence of their pre-Wrestlemania fight. The Shining Stars beat Alpha down afterwards with a much more subdued gimmick.
Mojo Rawley beat Jinder Mahal
Following their epic confrontation at the end of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Mojo Rawley beat No Carbs Jinder Mahal after some help from The Gronk at ringside. Thankfully, no security guards tried to stop him this time.
Shane McMahon Talks Women
Shane McMahon invited what’s left of the Smackdown Women’s division down to the ring – Naomi, Natalya, Carmella and Becky Lynch – to introduce the second generation wrestler whose father was one of the greatest of all time: Tamina. That was awkward.
After Tamina got in the ring, Shane then introduced Charlotte. The Queen unfortunately didn’t get any mic time, though, where she could’ve trolled the Boston crowd who desperately wanted their hometown Boss Sasha Banks.
Throughout the show, Sin Cara, Rusev, Lana and the New Day were also announced for Smackdown. The latter two were just ‘Coming Soon’, so expect Lanalina and The New Dayalina to debut in about five months’ time.
Tye Dillinger beat Aiden English
Now without his Vaudevillians teammate, the recently released Simon Gotch, Aidan English resurrected his singing gimmick from NXT. He’s got a great voice. But it’s not a perfect 10. Tye Dillinger beat him in a short match.
Dolph Ziggler announced he’s staying on Smackdown. Yay. The crowd were much more into Shinsuke Nakamura, who continues to be the coolest freaking guy on the planet. He caught Ziggler’s kick and shoved him over. After I criticised WWE for not letting Nakamura get physical last week, I’ve got to give them credit: I’m now very excited for when he finally gets to kick someone’s head off.
AJ Styles beat Baron Corbin & Sami Zayn
The main event was initially built around Styles and Sami teaming up to take out the monster Corbin, which then broke down into a really entertaining fight – including a beautiful Blue Thunder Bomb from Zayn on AJ and a fantastic striking sequence near the end. Styles won, setting up a tantalising programme against Kevin Owens.
So that was this week’s Smackdown Live review, here’s the usual ratings recap: SmackDamn, Smacktastic, Smack Bang In The Middle, Ellsworthy and Raw.
This week’s Smackdown is Smacktastic.
This episode was greatly helped by the Superstar Shake-Up expectations being set low on Raw the previous night – i.e. we knew not to expect any story or reasoning behind the trades. Along with two really fun matches – the tag bout and main event – Smackdown effectively ended up with my dream non-WWE roster from about five years ago: Kevin Steen, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and El Generico. Add the criminally underused Rusev, and Smackdown’s future looks very, very promising.