By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from The O2 Arena in London, England. After the London crowd was subjected to a boring episode of Raw last night, did SD Live suffer a similar fate or did they deliver the goods heading into the Backlash go-home show next week? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· The opening segment of SD Live featured a lot of talking from Randy Orton, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles. Baron Corbin had something to say as well, but Sami Zayn spared the audience by attacking him from behind which led to a six-man brawl which saw the babyfaces come out on top.
· The promos were fine, but Owens had the best material as he warned Mahal and Orton that he was coming after the WWE Championship once he successfully defends the United States Title against AJ Styles at Backlash next Sunday.
· Styles got the biggest pop while Zayn came off like a star as the fans sang along to his theme song. The opener wasn’t earth shattering, but it did a nice job of setting up the main event for later in the show.
· Natalya defeated Becky Lynch by yanking her off the top rope which was enough to keep Lynch down for the three count. The booking of this match was a little lazy because Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James ended the exact same way last night. Some variety would be nice when it comes to match layout, but I digress.
· Tamina Snuka provided the distraction which caused Naomi to shove Tamina on the floor. Charlotte grabbed Naomi because she didn’t want Lynch to get disqualified, but the damage was already done as Natalya took advantage of the situation which led to the aforementioned finish.
· On the plus side, the heel trio of Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina continued to look strong leading up to their six-woman tag team match against Lynch, Naomi, and Charlotte at Backlash. Let’s hope that the babyfaces get on the same page like this legendary trio of badasses:
· The Fashion Files took quite the turn this week as Breezango discovered The Ascension in a cramped room yelling at each other for no apparent reason. It was random but oddly compelling to watch.
· Erick Rowan picked up a surprise victory over Luke Harper after he pinned Harper with a spinning side slam. Rowan didn’t win the match clean as he thumbed Harper in the eye while the referee was busy placing his sheep mask back on the top turnbuckle. The mask was whispering sweet nothings in Rowan’s ear which caused him to grab it from the corner. The mask was a misdirection because he found another heelish way to squeak out the win. Based on the outcome, Rowan and Harper might have a rematch at Backlash to settle the score. Just a hunch…
· Dolph Ziggler called out Shinsuke Nakamura and told the King of Strong Style that it’s time to put up or shut up. Nakamura challenged Ziggler to a match, but The Showoff declined and challenged Nakamura to a match at Backlash instead. He feigned walking away as he tossed his jacket in Nakamura’s face and attacked him in the ring.
· Nakamura quickly got back on offense as he nailed Ziggler with a series of stiff kicks and knee strikes which caused Ziggler to run away like a scolded dog.
· This was a much better segment than their disastrous encounter from a couple of weeks ago. There were no lame Michael Jackson jokes that infuriated me to no end. Sad and pathetic Dolph Ziggler is better than wannabe comedian Dolph Ziggler.
· Nakamura held his own on the mic by saying as little as possible. The mouth guard is still making it difficult for people to understand what he’s saying at times, but that is a minor issue that didn’t detract from the segment as a whole.
· Breezango made quick work of The Ascension when Fandango pinned Viktor with the Last Dance. The match was decent, but The Usos’ post-match promo was a sight to behold.
· Jimmy and Jey cut an amazing promo about Breezango facing them for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at Backlash and how they needed to do a lot of things to each other’s backs leading up to the match. Jey kept shouting “Twelve Days” while Jimmy went on his rant. Unfortunately, they recycled the paranoia line from their promo on American Alpha earlier this year. The Usos need a better closer, but their delivery is spot on for the most part.
· Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin, and Jinder Mahal defeated Sami Zayn, AJ Styles, and Randy Orton when Mahal pinned Orton with the Cobra Clutch Slam. The Six Man Tag Team Match was very good as it featured solid action throughout.
· Zayn was the babyface in peril as he was isolated from his teammates for a large chunk of the match. The crowd popped for Styles when he made the hot tag and cleaned house. Zayn wiped out the heels with a flip dive while Styles was about to finish Corbin off with the Phenomenal Forearm.
· Owens yanked Styles off the top rope which led to a near fall. Styles eventually made the tag to Orton and The Viper dropped Mahal and Corbin with a pair of Exploder Suplexes before nailing Owens with a Draping DDT for good measure.
· A parade of finishes ensued which saw Zayn drop Mahal with the Blue Thunder Bomb only for Corbin to take Zayn out with a spinning backbreaker.
· Styles nailed Corbin with a Pele Kick only for Owens to shove Styles out of the ring. KO didn’t get a chance to celebrate as Orton nailed him with an RKO. However, the craziness allowed Mahal to hit his finisher for the win as the O2 Arena went silent after coming unglued down the stretch.
· Mahal beating Orton made sense, but it killed the crowd dead as SD Live went off the air. Despite that minor criticism, this was the best match on the show as it forwarded three feuds heading into the Backlash PPV next Sunday.
· Mahal needs to have the match of his life against Orton. The Chicago crowd will be very vocal which might rattle his cage a bit. If he rises to the occasion, WWE might have a new star on their hands. If not, the company’s foray into the India market will hit a major snag.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. It was an easy show to get through and the London crowd was much hotter than they were last night which added to the overall viewing experience. Historically, SD Live has been the forgotten show when it comes to Raw making a splash in the UK first but the roles were reversed as the blue brand came off as the superior show while their red counterpart laid an egg due to the untimely injury of Braun Strowman which threw everything off balance from a creative standpoint.
· The in-ring action was so-so outside of the main event, but WWE did a good hyping the Backlash PPV since the go-home show is next week. The card is coming together nicely, but Orton and Mahal wrestling for the WWE Title jumps off the page as the one match that might get destroyed by the Chicago crowd. The company might have to position the United States Championship match between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles in the main event spot in order to placate fans since that title has been front and center in recent weeks. The creative team has a couple of options to work with and it should be interesting to see how it all unfolds next Sunday. In any event, Backlash will be a very newsworthy show, to say the least.
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!