Oli Davis rounds up the biggest professional wrestling news in his daily WrestleTalk column…
Kevin Owens Highlight Reel
Kevin Owens isn’t just the new face of America. He’s also the new face of the Highlight Reel, heelishly stealing his former best friend Chris Jericho’s talk show segment. Smackdown then proceeded to do a different kind of International – the moveset name for wrestling’s most common opening sequence – with KO talking in French and Jinder Mahal later interrupting to speak Punjabi; all a rather thinly veiled attempt to make the crowd chant USA! USA!
Owens seemed revitalised moving to Smackdown a month ago, viciously taking out Jericho and changing up his gimmick. But the suits and Face of America schtick is becoming trite. The overly violent, self-absorbed prizefighter character was never broken.
Jinder Mahal beat AJ Styles
The Highlight Reel soon became the night’s opening match, where AJ Styles was pinned by Jinder Mahal. The last part of that sentence makes the Universe seem a confusing place, but, like it or not, that’s the confusing WWE Universe in which we live. One where Jinder has a shot at Smackdown’s top title this weekend. To give him at least some credibility, he needs to beat top guys.
On top of that, this was in no way a clean win. Both the Singh Brothers and KO got involved, with the latter taking out AJ’s knee with the US title belt. Styles’ selling of the leg was fantastic, the best part of the match, and hopefully plays into their Backlash encounter this weekend.
Breezeango beat The Colons
Despite months of being an afterthought, though, it’s the tag team division that continues to excel on Smackdown. Breezeango had their best Fashion Files skit yet, with Tyler Breeze going deep undercover as a janitor, reading the Uso’s t-shirt as ‘Day One Is H’ (I also don’t know what that means), and – in a gimmick of Edge and Christian five-second pose proportions – they did a freeze frame high five finish. That better become their post-match celebration. It’s a shame Smackdown can only properly book two tag teams at any one time, making the Colons fodder for Breezeango’s Backlash momentum.
But as good as the Fashion Files skit was, The Usos stole the show yet again with another excellent promo.
Carmella beat Naomi
The same can’t be said for the women’s division. After being one of Smackdown’s more intriguing storylines, the contract signing between The Welcoming Committee and… the rest of the women’s division was pretty dull. Carmella beat Naomi after a distraction finish in the following match.
Dolph Ziggler Promo
Dolph Ziggler introduced a video of Shinsuke Nakamura highlights since his main roster debut. It was a blank tape. Good gag. Thankfully this was backstage rather than another in-ring segment where Shinsuke Nakamura gurns his own name through a gumshield.
Sami Zayn vs Baron Corbin Booked
Sami Zayn announced he’ll face Baron Corbin at Backlash to Generic WWE Interviewer No. 7, to be attacked by The Lone Wolf immediately after.
Randy Orton beat Baron Corbin
Corbin then took on Randy Orton – lockup – in the night’s main event – headlock – where the two had a 15 minute match – rest hold – which the Viper eventually won from outta nowhere – RKO. Jinder Unit attacked Orton afterwards, closing the show with Mahal holding the WWE Championship above his head – a disappointing close, especially with the preannounced Rusev segment seemingly bumped from the show.
So that was this week’s Smackdown Live in about 4 minutes, here’s the usual ratings recap from top to bottom: SmackDamn, Smacktastic, Smack Bang In The Middle, Ellsworthy and Raw.
Why can’t WWE book exciting go-home shows at the moment? The Raw or Smackdown before a pay-per-view was always worth watching to see the big cliffhangers leading into the weekend. But now with the Network, the pressure to sell pay-per-view buys is somewhat off. People’s $9.99 payments just roll on from month into month. So without the need to build shows properly, we’re left with a very weak Backlash card, and a totally forgetful go-home episode.
This week’s Smackdown is Ellsworthy.
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