By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Due to WWE breaking major news earlier in the day, I am not doing my weekly teaser for this week’s blog. The headline pretty much says it all. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· The opening segment of SD Live was a mirror image of what happened last night on Raw with one major exception. The crowd was hyped from start to finish. Shane McMahon, The New Day, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn were entertaining on the mic which prevented the opener from being a total bore to watch.
· Owens and Zayn playing the dual role of Debbie Downer provided laughs while The New Day threw a few zingers that popped the crowd as well. In order to teach Zayn a lesson in respect, McMahon booked him in a match against Kofi Kingston which took place after the commercial break.
· Kofi Kingston defeated Sami Zayn with a cross body in a solid match. The bout featured a nice blend of mat wrestling and high flying action which complimented both men’s respective in-ring style.
· Kingston didn’t get a chance to celebrate the win because Owens went on the attack until Big E and Xavier Woods made the save. Something tells me that The New Day, Owens, and Zayn have some unfinished business that will be resolved during the go-home show next week. Just a hunch.
· The final spot on Team SD Live on the men’s side is still up for grabs as Randy Orton defeated Rusev with an RKO in a decent match. Rusev dominated the action for the most part, but The Viper hit his finisher out of nowhere for the win. It should be noted that the Bulgarian Brute had his fair share of fans as they cheered him on during the match.
· In a Battle of the Sexes, Becky Lynch made James Ellsworth tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her in a serviceable match. You read that right, ladies and gentleman. I am usually not a fan of intergender matches, but this worked in terms of Lynch schooling Ellsworth in the ring. The in-ring action was clean and inoffensive for the most part. WWE shouldn’t do this on a regular basis, but this was a fun way to make Ellsworth look like a fool in the best possible way.
· After the match was over, Carmella nailed the Chinless One with a Superkick in a surprising moment that popped the crowd. I guess she overheard Ellsworth’s comments about women having no place in the ring. Famous last words…
· Natalya’s hopes of representing Team Blue at Survivor Series as SmackDown Women’s Champion is in jeopardy because Shane McMahon booked her in a title match against Charlotte next week. One championship has already changed hands in the past 24 hours with Sheamus and Cesaro winning the Raw Tag Team Titles from Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Will there be another switch leading up to Brand Wars 2017? We shall find out soon enough.
· The SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match featuring Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin vs. The Usos ended via count-out after Jey Uso failed to get back in the ring before the count of ten thanks to a nasty chop block from Chad Gable. The announcers reminded viewers that The Usos did the same thing to Gable last year which prevented American Alpha from competing in the Tag Team Title match at the Backlash PPV last year. Karma bit The Usos in the ass at the wrong time heading into the Survivor Series next Sunday.
· Here’s hoping the copout finish was just for show because there have been unconfirmed reports that Jey Uso suffered a legit injury which caused the match to end abruptly.
· In a shocker, AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal with the Phenomenal Forearm to become the NEW WWE Champion. This is not a typo or misprint. Styles has earned the right to face Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series in a Champion vs. Champion match that should be great if Lesnar wrestles longer than five minutes.
· As for the match itself, this was Mahal’s best showing to date. Styles tend to bring out the best in his opponents and tonight was no exception. Mahal’s power was on full display as he asserted his dominance early on. Styles did a great job selling the impact of Mahal’s offense which gave the title bout an extra touch of physicality.
· The Singh Brothers got involved down the stretch when they pulled Mahal out of the ring after Styles hit him with the 450 Splash. Styles neutralized Singh One and Singh Two and was about to nail Mahal with the Phenomenal Forearm until The Modern Day Maharaja caught him in midair and hit the Khallas for a near fall. Mahal tried to hit a Super Khallas from the top rope, but Styles countered by slamming Mahal’s face against the ropes which led to the aforementioned finish moments later.
· The fans lost their shit as they witnessed the WWE Championship change hands outside of North America for the first time in history. Mahal went ballistic at ringside as he laid out The Singh Brothers while the fans continued to celebrate with Styles as SD Live went off the air.
· This was a great way to end the show. Styles is a much better opponent for Lesnar at Survivor Series, but I am tempering expectations because The Beast has let me down in recent years when it comes to showing up big on PPV. With the exception of his matches against The Undertaker and Goldberg, his singles matches have been short and repetitive in nature over the past couple of years unless he’s involved in a multi-person match. Styles is an elite performer who deserves better than eating a bunch of German Suplexes and an F5 in five minutes or less. Here’s hoping the booking team gives Lesnar and Styles some leeway when it comes to delivering an entertaining match despite the outcome being damn near academic.
· However, nothing is set in stone until the go home show next week. Mahal could regain the WWE Title which puts him back in The Beast’s Lair. Here’s hoping the Powers That Be shows restraint and give the people what they want instead of reverting back to the status quo. Fingers crossed!
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. The show was light on in-ring action, but the main event over-delivered in terms of shock and awe as AJ Styles became a two-time WWE Champion.
· Next week’s go-home show is equally stacked as two more titles are up for grabs as Charlotte challenges Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s Championship while Sin Cara goes one-on-one against Baron Corbin for the United States Title. The entire complexion of Survivor Series might change once again which will add a whole new dimension to Brand Wars 2017.
· Most importantly, will Raw lead an ambush on SD Live as a final parting shot heading into Survivor Series? The red brand has been made to look like a bunch of punks over the past couple of weeks and one can only assume that they want their pound of flesh with five days to spare before the PPV. Expect pandemonium as the show emanates from Charlotte, North Carolina next week.
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!