By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. With one week to go until the Battleground PPV, WWE had to kick the hype machine into high gear as the penultimate event before SummerSlam draws near. Did the company give fans a reason to care about a show centered on pretty flags emblazoned with each wrestler’s insignia that asserted his or her dominance in a fictional battlefield? 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.
· Fans were on the brink of witnessing John Cena vs. AJ Styles for the United States Championship, but Kevin Owens and Rusev ruined the wet dream when they attacked both men to kick off SD Live.
· Cena stepping up to the plate was a pleasant surprise, but I knew that there was a twist coming due to his Flag Match against Rusev at Battleground. Therefore, Owens crashing the party made perfect sense.
· Cena was willing to run through Owens and Styles but got ran over by Rusev instead. Styles tried to make the save, but KO laid him out with the Popup Powerbomb.
· Rusev nailed Cena with a Superkick before locking in The Accolade as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a hot way to start the show. I have a sinking feeling that a tag team match is afoot with Cena and Styles teaming up to face Rusev and Owens later tonight. It’s a great way to forward two feuds at once while teasing tension between Cena and Styles as they join forces for the first time.
· And just like that, Shane McMahon made the match official for later tonight. My wrestling spidey sense rarely steers me wrong.
· Jinder Mahal defeated Tye Dillinger with the Cobra Clutch Slam in a decent match. Dillinger was dominated for the most part. Throw in the outcome never being in doubt and this was a complete misuse of Dillinger as an up and coming star on the SD Live roster.
· After the match was over, Mahal vowed to unleash hell on Randy Orton by bringing the Punjabi Prison to Birmingham, Alabama next week. That monstrosity of a structure will be unveiled for the first time in ten years and some poor panda bear continues to starve his or her ass off due to a bamboo shortage. Shameful…
· Xavier Woods defeated Jey Uso with a flying elbow from the top rope while Jey was draped on the middle rope in a quick match. Referee Charles Robinson ejected Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Jimmy Uso from ringside after both teams got involved in the action. Woods built momentum for his team heading into their SmackDown Tag Team Championship match at Battleground while The Usos continue to stew over getting one-upped in the rap battle last week (even though they technically won) and eating another loss in the ring. I am sure the twins will bounce back during the go-home show next week.
· Shane McMahon announced that Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Tamina, and Lana will face off in a Fatal Five Elimination Match at Battleground with the winner going on to face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam next month.
· Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin never got underway because Nakamura took the fight to Corbin at ringside. Both men brawled into the crowd as the fans enjoyed seeing the action up close and personal.
· WWE Officials broke things up which drew boos from the audience. Nakamura got back in the ring and did his signature “Come On” pose as he goaded Corbin to get in the ring. Mr. Money in the Bank raised his briefcase in the air to signal that he had nothing to fight for and headed up the ramp as the segment came to an end.
· Considering the fact that most fans expected to see Nakamura vs. Corbin at Battleground, the non-match didn’t surprise me one bit. This was a clever way to get the King of Strong Style on the show without giving his PPV match against Corbin away on free television.
· Natalya and Tamina defeated Becky Lynch and Charlotte when Tamina nailed Charlotte with a Superkick for the win. Lana provided the assist down the stretch when she climbed on the ring apron to distract Charlotte. The Queen tried to swat her away, but the diversion allowed Natalya to make the hot tag to Tamina while the referee was in plain sight.
· Charlotte tried to lock Natalya in the Figure Four, but Tamina broke things up which led to the finish.
· This was a solid match and easily the best thing on the show thus far from a wrestling standpoint.
· The Power of Love hit Sami Zayn in the face in more ways than one when Maria Kanellis slapped him while her husband Mike Kanellis smashed a glass vase over his head. Love hurts…
· Runway Walker Texas Rangers was a hit just for the opening sequence alone as they paid tribute to Walker Texas Ranger. The Fashion X-Files closer was even better as the Truth is Not H. I love Fandango and Tyler Breeze to no end.
· AJ Styles and John Cena defeated Kevin Owens and Rusev when Cena pinned Owens with the AA in a good main event match. Styles and Cena managed to put their differences aside and worked as a unit as they squeaked out a win over their Battleground opponents.
· Styles played the babyface in peril as he was worked over for a large chunk of the match until he made the hot tag to Cena. After Cena nailed Owens with the Five Knuckle Shuffle, he went for the AA only to get nailed with a Superkick by Rusev.
· Styles countered with the Phenomenal Forearm and nailed Owens with a Pele Kick before Cena hit his finisher for the win. SD Live went off the air with Cena and Styles celebrating in the ring while hinting at a future United States Title match in the not too distant future.
· This was a fine way to end the show. All four men delivered the goods in the ring which built anticipation for their respective matches at Battleground next Sunday. The heels will probably get a measure of revenge next week, but this was the faces night to shine. After a heel heavy Raw exclusive PPV two nights ago, seeing the good guys come out on top was a nice change of pace.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. This was not a blow away show, but WWE did a nice job hyping the Battleground PPV. The card is coming together nicely it should be a very good show if everything goes according to plan. Their red counterpart turned Great Balls of Fire into a must-see event despite the shitty name. Can the blue brand return fire next Sunday by delivering an equally entertaining show by balancing out the face/heel win ratio? We shall find out soon enough.
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!