Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio. The improbable happened at Backlash as Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton to become the new WWE Champion. The world is Mahal’s oyster and we’re just along for the ride as WWE goes for a major money grab in India. Time will tell if their expedition for gold is successful, but how will the modern-day Maharaja fair stateside. Is Mahal a game changer or flop waiting to happen? We shall find out soon enough. In the meantime, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live in no particular order.
· SD Live kicked off with Shane McMahon making several blockbuster announcements regarding next month’s Money in the Bank PPV. Randy Orton will invoke his rematch clause against Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship.
· McMahon also announced the six wrestlers participating in this year’s MITB Ladder Match. They include AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Kevin Owens. Owens whined his way into the match after he bragged about defeating Styles via count-out to retain the United States Championship at Backlash.
· After much hemming and hawing, Shane-O-Mac booked Zayn vs. Corbin and Ziggler and Owens vs. Styles and Nakamura for later tonight as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a fine way to start the show. It went a bit long, but WWE did a nice job setting up the double main event. This could’ve been accomplished in ten minutes instead of twenty, but it’s par for the course when it comes to the layout of the opening segment for Raw and SD Live most weeks.
· Becky Lynch and Charlotte defeated Natalya and Carmella when Lynch made Carmella tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her in a decent match. Naomi took care of Tamina and James Ellsworth at ringside while the babyface team finally got the upper hand against The Welcoming Committee for a change. This feud is far from over, but it’s nice to see the heels get their comeuppance for a change.
· Sami Zayn defeated Baron Corbin with a roll-up in a super quick match. However, the victory was bittersweet as Corbin beat the holy hell out of Zayn after the match was over. Corbin tossed Zayn over the barricade before hitting him in the back with a steel chair.
· Corbin wasn’t done as he carried Zayn to the production area and dropping him neck first into the railing. He continued his assault until WWE officials broke things up.
· It should be interesting to see if Zayn’s injury will prevent him from participating in the MITB Ladder Match next month.
· The Fashion Files will live on! Amen!
· Jinder Mahal’s Punjabi Celebration was okay. The dancers were on point, but Mahal’s promos continue to be repetitive and monotone in nature. He also suffered from a bad case of hoarseness which prevented him from talking at full strength. The presentation was nice, but it was more style versus substance which is not going to help the modern-day Maharajah in the long run.
· Breezango defeated Jimmy and Jey Uso in singles competition. Comedy ensued as Fandango sprayed Jey’s hair with a water gun which allowed Tyler Breeze to score the pin with a roll-up.
· Jimmy suffered a similar fate when Breeze distracted Jey at ringside which allowed Fandango to pick up the win.
· Breezango challenged The Usos to a rematch for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship which took place after the commercial break.
· The Usos retained the SmackDown Tag Team Titles when Jey Uso pinned Fandango with the Samoan Splash. Fandango had a couple of near falls that popped the crowd something fierce, but the outcome was never in doubt.
· Both teams are capable of having very good matches, but the comedy bogs things down a bit. However, the crowd seems to love Breezango’s antics which bodes well for their future. Unfortunately, it does pigeonhole them as a lower card gimmick team that shouldn’t be taken seriously when it comes to winning the “Big One.” Here’s hoping WWE can look beyond the laughs and see that Breeze and Fandango are talented performers in the ring as well.
· Shane McMahon booked a Fatal 5-Way Match featuring Natalya, Carmella, Tamina, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte for next week with the winner going on to face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank.
· AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens when Nakamura nailed Owens with the Kinshasa for the win. This was the longest and best match on the show as Styles and Nakamura had to dig down deep in order to overcome the heels.
· Styles and Nakamura were in sell mode for a large chunk of the match until the hot tags tilted the momentum in their favor down the stretch. During the closing moments of the main event, Styles nailed Owens with a Pele Kick only for Ziggler to counter with a Superkick. Nakamura returned the favor which set up the finish. SD Live went off the air with Styles and Nakamura having a friendly stare down in the ring.
· The mere thought of Styles vs. Nakamura is amazeballs, but patience is a virtue when it comes to building anticipation for this epic showdown. At least we will get a small morsel of what’s to come at MITB, though.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. Most of the matches were short except for the main event. Three bouts ended via roll-up which is the epitome of lazy booking. Some variety when it comes to match finishes would be nice, but I digress.
· The build for the Money in the Bank PPV is coming along nicely as three matches have been announced so far with Naomi waiting on the winner of the Fatal 5-Way match next week. The rest of the card seems a bit thin on paper because the MITB participants take up much of the card. There’s still time to add a few more matches to make sure everything balances out when it comes to the final hard sell. Here’s hoping the creative team can get the job done. Fingers crossed!
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!