Live from New Orleans, Louisiana this is Smackdown Live for episode #930. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
The Smackdown intro video aired to start the show.
Coming up: Nakamura, Zayn & Styles vs. Owens, Ziggler & Corbin. Mahal and Orton go “face to face” as well. There’s also an eight man tag team between New Day & Breezango vs. The Usos & The Colons. The announce team is Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton.
The New Day trio made their entrance along with a band that made it feel like a party atmosphere to start the show in New Orleans. The New Day thanked the Soul Rebels for the music.
Kofi Kingston started it off saying that New Orleans is the host of next year’s WrestleMania. Xavier Woods said once they beat The Usos for the Tag Titles at the Money in the Bank PPV, The Usos can return to their roles as part of the off off off off Broadway edition of Straight Outta Compton. Woods said they would enter WrestleMania as the Tag Team Champions. Big E didn’t get to talk because The Usos interrupted.
Jimmy and Jey Uso walked down to the ring with their tag titles. They reminded New Day they were the Tag Team Champions.
The Fashion Police duo of Fandango and Tyler Breeze interrupted. Fandango said their Day One is not H and Breeze added that their Day One is G – thanks to Fandango for helping him with that one.
The Colons cousins of Primo & Epico joined the party. Epico said the Fashion Police are the worst detectives ever with horrible fashion sense. Primo told the Fashion Police they didn’t trash their office, but the Colons will trash them.
Big E ended the promo fest by leading the “New Day Rocks” chants. The match begins after a break.
Analysis: The match was already announced, so the promos were unnecessary. It’s just that WWE loves to start the show with a promo. There were some okay lines in there by the faces, but nothing really stood out.
The match started after a break.
Fandango, Tyler Breeze, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (w/Big E) vs. Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Primo Colon & Epico Colon
The faces were in control for a few minutes. Fandango did a funny counter to a sunset flip and hit a leg drop. Double elbow drop by the Breezango duo. Jey hit a kick to the gut followed by a body slam and a punch to the face. Plenty of quick tags by the heel side. Breeze broke free with a jumping kick to the head of Primo. Woods and Breeze did a double team slam onto Primo for a two count for Woods. Running dropkick by Woods to the back of Primo for a two count. Woods continued on offense for the faces. All the heels went into the ring. There was a double clothesline spot by the faces to knock the heels out of the ring as the show went to break about five minutes into it.
Back from break, Primo worked on Breeze with a knee in the back submission as the heels isolated Breeze from his teammates. Primo hit a running splash to the back of Breeze followed by a senton splash by Epico for a two count. Jey hit a forearm smash off the top onto Breeze and a running butt splash by Jey in the corner earned a two count on Breeze. Epico hit a delayed suplex on Breeze. Primo hit a backbreaker on Breeze and then he decked Fandango with a punch. Breeze broke free by taking out the Colons and Woods got the hot tag against Jimmy. Blind tag by Kingston as Woods hit a somersault dive onto two guys on the floor. Kingston hit a chop off the top followed by the boom drop. Jimmy avoided Trouble in Paradise on the first attempt, but Kofi was able to hit him with it. Fandango with a clothesline on Jey, but Jey didn’t go over the top to the floor, so Jey went out under the bottom rope. Primo was legal, so the New Day guys worked on him with Kingston holding Primo over his knee and Woods hit a double foot stomp to the face of Primo for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Fandango, Tyler Breeze, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods
Analysis: *** Good match that was given a lot of time. It’s pretty standard in WWE that if a tag match gets that much time they’ll follow the standard formula of a face getting worked over for most of it leading to the exciting finish. That spot with Jey not bumping over the top after the Fandango clothesline was a bit of a botch, but they made it work the best they could. New Day getting the win for their team is smart because it shows they are ready for the Tag Title match heading into MITB on Sunday. Since New Day is “new” on SD, they need some wins to build them up more. On another note, I miss American Alpha.
A graphic reminded us it’s The Usos vs. The New Day for SD Tag Titles at Money in the Bank on Sunday.
Still to come: Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya.
PLUG TIME: Check out my 15 Questions & Answers About WWE Money in the Bank column looking at things on my mind heading into the PPV on Sunday night. We will have an in-depth MITB preview posted on Friday afternoon.
A video aired hyping up “Free Agent” John Cena returning to Smackdown Live on July 4.
Analysis: I didn’t note the “Free Agent” part on Monday when they showed that graphic. It is WWE’s way of telling us he could be on Raw as well as Smackdown since he’s a proven ratings draw that could help Raw.
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were shown talking backstage. Sami Zayn walked up to them to suggest that they talk strategy. Zayn went into his annoying routine of where he talks too much while the other guys just stand there looking at him like he’s crazy. Zayn asked if they had ideas and Styles said they are great. Zayn wanted a high five, but then he said they can save it for later. Nakamura just winked at him. Zayn said he was going to stretch and see them later. Nakamura: “I like him.” Styles: “Of course you do.”
Analysis: The gimmick of Zayn as an awkward nerdy guy isn’t going to lead to him becoming a huge draw, but at least it gives him some character traits that he has been lacking. I want Zayn to succeed. I just don’t think it’s wise to build his character that way. It’s not a big deal at this point, though. Also, having Nakamura speak rarely is the right way to use him.
Mojo Rawley was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. He thanked Shane McMahon for his opportunity last week against Jinder Mahal. Rawley said a loss like last week was devastating, but to be honest there’s a small part of him that is glad the he lost because he knows how he bounces back from defeat. Rawley said the best of Mojo is yet to come. Zack Ryder showed up in a suit and said he’s back. Ryder shook his hand saying they have unfinished business as a team.
Analysis: Good to see Ryder back after his devastating knee injury kept him out for over six months. I think if they team up again as the Hype Bros they should have them lose some matches and have Ryder turn heel. Let’s see what Ryder can do as a heel because he’s changed his look a lot. It could be the best thing for him.
Naomi, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her “feel the glow” entrance as the show went to break.
Tamina made her entrance. There was a clip from last week showing Tamina pinning Naomi in the women’s tag match after Lana tripped up Naomi on the apron.
Speaking of Lana, she made her ravishing entrance in a blue dress. She challenges Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Title at Money in the Bank on Sunday.
Naomi vs. Tamina
This is not for Naomi’s SD Women’s Title. Lana was watching at ringside.
Tamina hit a headbutt Naomi that gave her control. Tamina tossed Naomi across the ring followed by a chinlock. JBL pointed out that Naomi has nothing to study in terms of what Lana can do in the ring. Naomi came back two kicks to the head, but Tamina knocked her down with a punch. Tamina hit a running hip attack on Naomi in the corner. That looked better than when the Usos do it. Clothesline by Tamina followed by another chinlock. Naomi with a kick to the head, kicks to the legs and Tamina hit a spinning slam for a two count. Tamina went up top, so Naomi hit an enziguri kick on her and Naomi followed by a with a split legged moonsault for the pinfall win after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Naomi
Analysis: ** Solid match. I was impressed by some of Tamina’s offense. She isn’t featured in singles matches that much, but Naomi is the perfect kind of opponent for her because she can sell well and put over Tamina’s power. I thought the finish was done well with the enziguri kick followed by the moonsault. Having a champ win a non-title match is a good thing that doesn’t happen enough.
After the match, Lana hit Naomi with a forearm to the back. Lana picked up Naomi and hit a sitout spinebuster on her. That was impressive. Lana held up the Smackdown Women’s Title to end the segment. Lana put the title onto Naomi and left as her music played. That song is catchy.
Analysis: Nice job by Lana with that move. People have low expectations of her as a worker, so anything she does is going to lead to a good reaction. She did well with that move. I know Lana and Naomi are very good friends, so they may be able to surprise people with a decent match at Money in the Bank. I think Naomi retains, but I hope it works out well for Lana.
Jinder Mahal, the WWE Champion, was shown walking backstage with the Singh Brothers at the end of hour one.
The Singh Brothers stood on the stage and introduced the “Modern Day Maharajah” Jinder Mahal, who is the WWE Champion. The carpet was in the ring as Mahal entered to mostly boos from the crowd.
Mahal told the crowd to rise and show respect for the WWE Champion. The crowd booed him in response. Mahal said this Sunday he’ll prove that Randy Orton is nothing but a coward that is afraid of disappointing his friends and family. Mahal said that Bob Orton Jr., Randy’s father, will be ringside for the match along with others. Mahal talked about how Randy had a fear of Jinder Mahal. Mahal took off his turban and said he’s going to cut down Randy’s legacy piece by piece until there is nothing left. Mahal said the sun has risen on a new era, the era of the Modern Day Maharajah. Mahal said he would speak to his people in his language of Punjabi. Fans chanted “USA” at him.
Analysis: That was better than some of Mahal’s promos in the last two months. He said the same things he always says because WWE loves their stars to be repetitive, but the delivery was better this time.
Randy Orton’s music hit. Mahal sent the Sing Brothers to go after Orton in the aisle. Orton popped up from the other side of the ring (where the announce table is) and dropped Mahal with a RKO. Huge pop for that. Orton left through the crowd as the fans chanted “Randy” for him. Orton posed in the crowd and his music played to end it. Replays aired of the surprising attack by Orton. Mahal sold that RKO very well.
Analysis: That was well done. It popped the crowd in a big way. They didn’t need to do a long back and forth promo. Keeping it simple is the right way to do it. If this was on Raw it would have gone 15 minutes and bored us after both guys talked for too long. Instead, it was a quick appearance from Orton sending Mahal a message. It worked for me. I’m picking Mahal on Sunday mainly because I think WWE wants to give him a lengthy run and one month just isn’t long enough to see what he can do.
The heel trio of Kevin Owens (the US Champion), Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin were together in the locker room. Owens told Corbin he didn’t like him and said he didn’t like Ziggler much, but he likes him more than Corbin. Owens said they had two options in his opinion. Owens said that if they work together they can take out all three guys on the other side. Owens also said another option is for them to attack eachother and walk into that ladder match worse than they are now. Owens told them he’s not saying they should be friends, but they also shouldn’t be their worst enemies either.
Analysis: Good job by Owens trying to be a peacemaker for his team while also acting like a cowardly heel that didn’t want to get his ass kicked by his partners.
Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya up next.
Replays aired of Orton’s attack.
Orton was interviewed by Renee Young backstage. Orton said he didn’t need to say a lot because he said it in that ring with that RKO. Orton said he’s going to take back his WWE Title in his hometown of St. Louis on Sunday. That was it.
Analysis: He’s a man of few words and I think it’s fine. We don’t need to see a long-winded promo from him. I wish Raw would understand that keeping things simple is better than complicating things.
Natalya made her entrance first followed by Charlotte Flair. The women’s Money in the Bank briefcase was above the ring.
Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair
They did some mat wrestling to start. Natalya yanked Charlotte down by the hair. Phillips noted the action would continue during the break, but here in Canada we get commercials while my friends in the US get to see the action.
Back from break, Natalya was in control as she sent Charlotte face first into the middle turnbuckle. Charlotte came back with a backslide for two followed by three hard chops and a knee drop. Charlotte hit an overhead suplex. Charlotte went up top for a moonsault, she jumped off and connected with it for a two count. Carmella and James Ellsworth were shown watching backstage. Charlotte went up top again, so Natalya grabbed her and hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Great nearfall with Charlotte getting her shoulder up at the last possible moment. Charlotte got a rollup for two and a boot to the face for two. Natalya got a cradle for two. Charlotte hit the Natural Selection for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: **3/4 Very good match in under ten minutes. I wish they got more time, but that’s what happens on TV sometimes. They did some cool moves, the counters were well done and Charlotte getting the win gives her momentum going into Sunday’s PPV match. I think of the two women, Natalya is more likely to win the briefcase although having a face like Charlotte win wouldn’t be a bad thing either. It’s a tough match to predict. That’s why I like it.
The announcers talked about WWE Network and the Money in the Bank lineup.
Breezango was shown backstage looking in a mirror wondering where Breeze was. There was a shot of Breeze in their office looking like he was attacked. He described his attackers, so Fandango drew a picture of stick men and Breeze said that’s them. They left. That was it.
Analysis: It looks like Smackdown is borrowing the “mystery attacker” story from Raw. There wasn’t as much comedy in the segment this week aside from the stick figures as a drawing.
A commercial aired for 205 Live wondering what the future holds for Austin Aries.
There was a video package about everyday heroes. They did a video honoring Jarrius Robertson, who has been dealing with a liver disease and in April 2017 had a successful surgery. Jarrius got to go in the ring before the show and hang out with the superstars. He was presented with a WWE Title by Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. Jarrius Robertson was shown in the front row with his family and he was dancing. He got a big ovation from the crowd.
Analysis: It’s great to see stuff like that. Jarrius has done a lot of funny interviews with WWE stars as well. He’s got a great personality. I wish him the best.
Lana was shown walking backstage when Dasha Fuentes showed up for an interview. Lana said she didn’t care what Dasha or the WWE Universe thinks about her. Lana claimed she would shock the world when she crushes Naomi to become the first ever “Ravishing” Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Analysis: Simple promo from the Women’s Title challenger Lana. I like that she has confidence going into the title match. She’ll either be proven right or be humbled. That’s why we tune in to see what might happen.
Kevin Owens, the United States Champion, made his entrance for the main event. There were ladders in the aisle to hype up Sunday’s Money in the Bank ladder match. Baron Corbin was up next. Replays aired from last week of Corbin attacking Sami Zayn backstage and then he attacked Nakamura after Nakamura’s win over Owens. Dolph Ziggler made his entrance to complete the competitors for the heel team.
This week on Talking Smack it’s Renee Young hosting with John Bradshaw Layfield. The guests are Jinder Mahal, Shinsuke Nakamura, Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley.
Sami Zayn was up first for the face team. AJ Styles was up next. Shinsuke Nakamura was up last. He got a huge ovation as the show went to break.
They started during the break. The blue Money in the Bank briefcase was hanging above the ring.
Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles & Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler & Baron Corbin
It started at 9:44pmET so they should have plenty of time. Nakamura started with Ziggler, which saw Nakamura get some stomps in the corner, but Ziggler came back with an impressive dropkick. The heel trio isolated Nakamura in their corner. Styles got the tag and hit a gutbuster on Ziggler. Styles hit a fireman’s carry neckbreaker (aka the Ushigoroshi) for a pin attempt, but Owens broke it up. Zayn threw Owens out of the ring and Zayn hit a somersault dive over the top onto Owens on the floor to a big ovation. Styles picked up Ziggler and Ziggler came back with a sweet DDT for a two count. That was great. Zayn got the tag against Corbin with Corbin hitting the Deep Six slam for two as Nakamura made the save. Show went to break there.
A video aired for John Cena’s return to Smackdown on July 4.
Back from break, the heels isolated Zayn with Ziggler knocking him down with a back elbow. Owens tagged in, Zayn nearly tagged out and Owens dropped him with a DDT for a two count. Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Owens. Corbin got the tag and prevented a tag. Corbin with a clothesline. Zayn came back with a huge clothesline of his own. Zayn avoided attacks from Ziggler and Owens and sent Corbin over the top to the floor. The crowd went wild for the hot tag, but Owens and Ziggler pulled the faces off the apron. Styles hit a forearm on Corbin and Zayn hit a Helluva Kick on Corbin to get the win for his team. The match went 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles & Sami Zayn
Analysis: ***1/2 Very good tag match with an exciting finish as Zayn got the win for his team. It was a bit of a surprise that they didn’t do the hot tag spot for the finish. I liked seeing something different, though. Did you hear the crowd get excited about it? They bought into the hot tag being a big deal and then there wasn’t one, yet Zayn was still able to get the win after Styles stunned Corbin with the kick to the head. It would have been nice to see Styles in the ring for longer because he didn’t get to do much, but that’s okay. Having Zayn beat Corbin continues their story with Zayn getting the revenge after Corbin attacked him last week.
After the match was over, the heel trio worked together to attack the faces. Ziggler and Owens picked up a ladder. They knocked down Zayn with the ladder followed by a ladder shot on Styles as well. Owens argued with Ziggler about who is going to win on Sunday. Corbin went back into the ring to knock them both down. Corbin ran over Owens with a ladder shot to the face. Corbin knocked Ziggler off the apron with a ladder as well. Corbin set up the ladder, did a slow climb and Nakamura showed up to shove Corbin off the ladder. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike. Nakamura climbed up the ladder and grabbed the briefcase. Nakamura’s music played to end it.
Analysis: That was a fun post match angle. It’s the classic symbolism ending with Nakamura showing that he might win the briefcase on Sunday. My pick since day one of this match being announced has been Baron Corbin and I’m going to stick with that especially with how he was booked during this week’s show.
Smackdown ended with Nakamura holding the MITB briefcase as the show went off the air right at 10pmET.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Sami Zayn
2. Shinsuke Nakamura
3. AJ Styles
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2017 Average: 7.06
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.76 – Raw is at 5.83
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 7.5, 7, 5, 7, 6.5, 7
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11)
2017 Low: 5 (May 16)
It gets a 7.5 out of 10.
I thought it was a very entertaining show from top to bottom. The opening promo that wasn’t necessary was a bit of a downer, but I liked everything else.
The main event was the standout match while the opening tag was also very good. Both women’s matches were good even though they were under ten minutes.
I mentioned it during the Orton/Mahal segment and it’s worth repeating. Smackdown makes the most of their minutes. There’s a lot less of that filler that you might see on Raw on a regular basis. Orton showing up out of nowhere to drop Mahal with a RKO is a great way for the challenger to send a message to the champion. It’s simple and it works. That’s much better than whatever the hell that “Bear” segment was on Raw. Keep it simple and it works.
It is concerning that there are only five matches announced for MITB, but I think they will add another two matches by Sunday. It would have been nice if more matches were set up on this show, so that the card looked more complete.
The next Smackdown brand PPV is Money in the Bank this Sunday June 18 in St. Louis. Here is what we know so far.
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
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The Usos vs. The New Day
Money in the Bank Women’s Ladder Match: Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Tamina
Smackdown Women’s Title: Naomi vs. Lana
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