By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville hasn’t had a live televised event in a few years and they were in for quite the show as the fallout from the Superstar Shakeup continues. Did the newest members of the SD Live roster rise to the occasion or did they stall at the gate like a frighten horse at the Kentucky Derby? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· After much pleading and begging, Shane McMahon announced that Charlotte will face Naomi in a nontitle match later tonight. If Charlotte wins, she’ll get a SmackDown Women’s Championship shot next week.
· Both ladies got physical and I loved the intensity they showed which bodes well for their match later tonight. This was a hot way to start the show.
· In what has to be considered a major upset, Jinder Mahal defeated Sami Zayn to become the number one contender for Randy Orton’s WWE Championship.
· The Six Pack Challenge featuring Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Jinder Mahal, Sami Zayn, Mojo Rawley, and Luke Harper was very good as it featured hard-hitting and fast-paced action throughout. Ziggler nailing Harper with a Superkick only for Harper to nail him with a Discus Clothesline was an early highlight that created the first dramatic near fall of the match.
· Everyone had a chance to shine as Harper wiped out half of his opponents with a pair of topes onto the outside. Zayn also took to the air to as he laid out Rawley and Harper with a pair of flip dives.
· Zayn had the match won when he dropped Mahal with an Exploder Suplex in the corner. He had Mahal in position for the Helluva Kick until The Bollywood Boys held his legs which prevented him from nailing the move. The distraction allowed Mahal to drop Zayn with the Cobra Clutch Slam for the win.
· After the match was over, Renee Young interviewed Mahal in the ring. Mahal cut a heel promo about being educated, rich, and bilingual which gets under people’s skin. He vowed to become the next WWE Champion as the fans booed him out of the building.
· Randy Orton congratulated Mahal on his victory. Orton warned Mahal that an RKO was in his future before switching his attention to Bray Wyatt and their House of Horrors match which takes place next Sunday.
· Wyatt appeared on the Titantron and spewed his usual mumbo jumbo as the segment came to an end.
· Mahal vying for the WWE Title is a head scratcher. It’s an interesting choice and it makes sense if the creative team is trying to keep their marquee main event matches under wraps until SummerSlam. This should be a cakewalk for Orton, but the debut of The Bollywood Boys will create a wrinkle in that plan if they get involved during his championship match at Backlash next month. Mahal as WWE Champion? I shudder the thought, but stranger things have happened…
· Charlotte’s Quest for Five is within reach as she defeated Naomi with Natural Selection to become the number one contender for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. The Queen will cash in her title shot next week and it should be interesting to see if the title changes hands for the second time in three weeks.
· Charlotte and Naomi had a good match that was a little rough in spots when it came to fluidity, but they really gelled in the ring for the most part. Naomi had one of her better matches while Charlotte continues to demonstrate why she is the best women’s wrestler in WWE. Their championship match next week should be very good, but I have a feeling that Natalya, Tamina Snuka, and Carmella might get involved to tilt the scales in their favor when it comes to getting a title shot for themselves. Becky Lynch was kept out of the mix which might play into the heel/face allegiances down the road.
· The Colons made another statement against American Alpha when Epico pinned Jason Jordan with a roll-up after Primo nailed Jordan with a kick in the head behind the referee’s back. The match was fine, but it was short on time. Throw in the lack of crowd heat and this was the first ho-hum segment of the night. American Alpha deserve better, but I’ve been saying that for months. At least the lame Shining Stars gimmick is no more.
· The Face of America Open Challenge got off to a rousing start when Kevin Owens defeated Louisville native Gary Gandy with a Popup Powerbomb in quick and decisive fashion. Owens is such an American hero by way of Montreal.
· AJ Styles defeated Baron Corbin count-out after he nailed Corbin with a forearm that sent The Lone Wolf flying over the barricade.
· Prior to the finish, Corbin threw Styles into Owens while the new Face of America was sitting on guest commentary. The referee started the ten-count as Corbin tried to finish off Styles with the End of Days onto the floor only for Styles to wiggle out of the move. He nailed Corbin with an Enzuigiri which led to the aforementioned finish. SD Live went off the air with Styles standing tall while Owens sulked like a toddler in time out at ringside.
· Corbin and Styles had a good match that featured Corbin on offense for a large chunk of the match. The slow pace impacted the crowd heat, but Styles’ offensive flurry livened things up down the stretch. The ending makes sense because WWE is trying to protect Corbin as a top heel. Eating a pin would’ve done more harm than good.
· The count out finish protected both men and it gives Corbin something to crow about since Styles couldn’t beat him clean in the ring. Throw in Owens having an ax to grind with Styles and we have the makings of an epic feud over the United States Championship heading into Backlash next month. All in all, the main event was a success with Owens pushing things over the top on guest commentary as he roasted Byron Saxton like a rotisserie chicken.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was very good. The wrestling action was strong as the Six Pack Challenge exceeded expectations despite Jinder Mahal pulling off the improbable upset. Mahal is in a plum position and it should be interesting to see if he generates the right kind of heat leading up to his WWE Championship match against Randy Orton next month. Let’s hope Mr. Mahal makes the best of this opportunity because a dalliance in the main event scene can be an enjoyable, yet fleeting experience.
· Charlotte is also in line for a title shot as she faces Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Title next week, but I have a feeling that her coronation will be delayed thanks to an alliance between Natalya, Tamina Snuka, and Carmella. Becky Lynch was absent this week which leads me to believable that Charlotte might be a babyface temporarily to balance the scales if things get a bit hairy during her championship match.
· The Tag Team Division was thrown a bone, but The Usos were nowhere to be found. Let’s hope they don’t go ghost for a prolonged period of time.
· Shinsuke Nakamura was not on the show, but fans were treated to a video package highlighting his greatest moments on NXT. Since Dolph Ziggler was involved in the Six Pack Challenge, it made sense for Nakamura to sit on the sidelines this week. He is a rare talent who should be handled with care. His feud with Ziggler can resume next week which should build to their inevitable match at Backlash next month.
· The aftermath of the Superstar Shakeup is in the books. SD Live felt fresh despite the questionable booking of Mahal getting pushed to the main event spot. If there is an ace that the creative team is trying to keep in their back pocket heading into the summer, I am fine with Mahal having his moment in the sun. If not, my rose-colored glasses are going in the trash can because my hope will no longer spring eternal when it comes to understanding WWE Logic. A girl has her limits…
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!