By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. After Jinder Mahal shocked the world to become the number one contender for Randy Orton’s WWE Championship last we, did the creative team go for a repeat performance in terms of shocking the audience for kicks and giggles or was it back to business as usual on Tuesday nights? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live in no particular order.
· SD Live got off to a puzzling start with Dolph Ziggler interrupting Renee Young’s interview with Shinsuke Nakamura. Ziggler pretended that Nakamura was Michael Jackson and proceeded to run with it for an embarrassingly long period of time. It was beyond cringe-worthy. Nakamura called Ziggler a jackass which led to The Show Off kicking Nakamura in the midsection.
· Nakamura laid Ziggler out with a belly-to-belly suplex and was about to nail him with the Kinshasa, but Ziggler ducked out of the way as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was such a bad segment. The Artist Known As Shinsuke Nakamura intro is lame. Ziggler’s promo was downright dreadful and Nakamura’s giving him the side eye which pretty much summed up the opener. It is well-documented that Nakamura emulates Michael Jackson. AJ Styles discussed this in great detail in various interviews after debuting in WWE last year.
· However, there is no need to hit people over the head with that fact by having Ziggler make fun of Nakamura is such a condescending and icky way. This was ten steps below their first confrontation a few weeks ago. Here’s hoping their in-ring work is superior that the slice of creative bullshit they were handed tonight. This was an awful way to start the show.
· AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin was a nice palate cleanser as they had a solid match that was aided by Kevin Owen’s biting comments on guest commentary. Corbin dominated the match early on, but Styles gained control down the stretch when he shoved Corbin’s head into the turnbuckle before nailing him with the Pele Kick for good measure.
· Styles was about to nail Corbin with the Phenomenal Forearm, but Owens decided to confront Styles at ringside. Styles kicked KO in the face, but the distraction allowed Corbin to hoist him up for a powerbomb attempt. Styles countered with a roll-up to pick up the win.
· Styles didn’t get a chance to celebrate as Owens and Corbin went on the attack. Sami Zayn made the save and nailed Corbin with the Helluva Kick. Owens tossed Zayn out of the ring and dropped Styles with a Popup Powerbomb as the segment came to an end.
· This was a nice way to forward tension between Styles and Owens heading into their presumed United States Championship match at Backlash next month. I’m glad WWE went with the decisive finish because Styles needed the win more than Corbin. Corbin was relatively protected despite the loss and it appears he’s going to be slotted in a feud with Zayn based on the run-in. They should have a good match, but I hope Zayn’s purpose on SD Live is greater than being a utility player to elevate others. It’s a nice gig, but he deserves better than that.
· American Alpha set the pace in the Beat the Clock Challenge when they defeated The Colons in 5:17 when Chad Gable and Jason Jordan laid out Epico with Grand Amplitude for the win. The match was better than their quick bout from last week, but it didn’t set the world on fire either. At least the crowd was behind Alpha which has rarely been the case in recent weeks.
· Rusev doesn’t like his new bosses on SD Live and gave them an ultimatum heading into the Money in the Bank PPV which takes place in June. If he’s not granted a title shot, he will pack his bags and move back to Bulgaria. I think it’s safe to assume that The Bulgarian Brute will be medically cleared to compete by that deadline.
· Randy Orton defeated Erick Rowan with an RKO in a solid No Disqualification match. Orton and Rowan took their fair share of bumps as Orton put Rowan through a table while Rowan rammed Orton’s head with the steel steps.
· Rowan placed a chair between the ropes and was about to finish Orton off when The Viper slammed Rowan’s head into the chair instead which led to the aforementioned finish.
· After the match was over, Orton cut a brief promo on Bray Wyatt by telling the Eater of Worlds that he would experience eternal hell during their House of Horrors match at Payback.
· Jinder Mahal came out and took offense to Orton overlooking him heading into their WWE Championship match at Backlash next month. Mahal chided the fans for being jealous of his wealth, culture, education, & talent and vowed to bring the WWE Title home to his people.
· He proceeded to cut a promo in Punjabi before taking a cheap shot at Orton. Orton was about to drop Mahal with the Draping DDT, but the Bollywood Boyz made the save. Mahal laid Orton out with the Cobra Clutch Slam and left the arena with the WWE Championship.
· This was a nice way to forward two feuds at once as Orton had a short and sweet message for Wyatt while Mahal continues to generate good heel heat as the arrogant foreign heel with a chip on his shoulder. He’s doing a nice job so far, but his in-ring work will tell the true story soon enough.
· Breezango won the Beat the Clock Challenge and will face The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at Backlash when they defeated The Ascension in a decent match.
· The action was solid for the most part, but the dynamic was little off because it was a heel vs. heel match. However, it appears that Breezango is now a babyface team as the fans cheered them on down the stretch.
· The Ascension was about to finish off Fandango with the Fall of Man, but Tyler Breeze saved the day when he nailed Viktor with the Beauty Shot which allowed Fandango to hit The Falcon Arrow for the win.
· Breezango is a talented tag team minus the hokey gimmick. The fans are starting to see that and I hope The Usos vs. Breezango shock the world in Chicago because they have the ability to do so.
· The trio of Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina Snuka derailed Charlotte’s Drive for Five when they interfered in her SmackDown Women’s Championship match against Naomi. The heels got rid of Naomi and focused their attention on Charlotte as they beat down The Queen as the crowd showered them with boos.
· Before the DQ, Naomi and Charlotte had a very good Women’s Title match as it was more evenly matched than their tune-up bout last week. The action was fast-paced and crisp which bodes well for their inevitable PPV rematch down the road. Most importantly, the crowd was hot during the main event which is an encouraging sign that the women are capable of holding down the fort at a moment’s notice.
· The DQ finish was expected because the mean girls are trying to put Charlotte in her place. Becky Lynch was nowhere to be found, but I expect that piece of the puzzle to play out next week because Natalya threatened Lynch to choosing the winning side or else.
· The Women’s Division feels fresh with a lot of possibilities in terms of matchups heading into the summer. Charlotte being the babyface makes sense because she has other heels breathing down her neck. Plus, the fans want to cheer for her based on the constant “wooing” as of late. Unlike her initial babyface run in 2015, she has gained more experience as a wrestler and talker which has better prepared her for this moment. Knowing how WWE operates, Charlotte will turn 1000 times before she retires. Like Father, Like Daughter. It’s a tradition that will last forever.
· Outside of the disastrous opening segment, SmackDown Live was a solid show for the most. The in-ring action ranged from decent to good while the Land of Opportunity mantra continues to ring true as Jinder Mahal continued his unbelievable ascent towards the main event scene while Breezango earned a shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.
· SD Live did a better job hyping Payback than their red counterpart last night. It feels like a joint PPV due to the inter-promotional matches featuring Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt in a House of Horrors Match and Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho for the United States Championship. It has made for awkward television at times, but the finish line is near. At least the creative team is doing a good job building up the Backlash PPV as a major standalone show.
· My only criticism was that awful promo Dolph Ziggler cut on Shinsuke Nakamura that kicked off the show. If my memory serves me correctly, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode never brought up Michael Jackson to hype up their NXT Championship bouts against the King of Strong Style. This was such a WWE thing to do and it was executed poorly. Nakamura’s mystic took a minor hit, but he should recover nicely if he kicks Ziggler’s ass at Backlash and move on to bigger and better things. Is the Money in the Bank Ladder match next on the agenda? We shall see. Considering the shit he had to endure tonight, it’s a fine consolation prize.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!