By Steven Flora
Smackdown Live continues to outshine its counterpart (Raw), putting on another stellar show last night. A vicious prize-fighter and a defiant Maharaja provided the start of some interesting stories to be developed over the course of the next few weeks.
Kevin Owens KO’s Chris Jericho
United States Championship match: Kevin Owens def. Chris Jericho (c) to win the U.S. Title
The biggest story of the night was the Payback rematch between two bitter enemies.
Owens hit the running senton for a near fall, and then attacked with chops. Jericho caught Owens with a boot and then a second rope dropkick and mounted strikes. Chops followed, but Owens sidestepped a charge and Jericho fell all the way to the floor. Owens followed and hit the cannonball, rolled him back in and covered for 2 as we went to break. Post break, Jericho fights back, but as he comes off the ropes Owens cuts him off but Jericho avoids the pop-up powerbomb, but Owens stops the lionsault with knees and then misses the cannonball. Jericho hits the lionsault for 2. Owens fights off the walls once, but Jericho goes right back to it and locks it in. Owens makes the ropes and rolls to the apron, counters the dropkick and then hits the superkick for 2. Owens looks for the powerbomb but Jericho hits a RANA and rolls for the walls and locks it in again. Owens again struggles for the ropes, crawls and makes it. Owens rolls to the floor; Jericho follows and eats a superkick and DDT on the floor. Back in the ring they go, superkick by Owens and that gets 2. Owens is pissed that Jericho is still alive here, drags him to his feet and Jericho rolls him up for 2. Owens then hits the pop-up powerbomb and wins the title.
Post match EMTs check on Jericho, but Owens returns and attacks Y2J. He grabs a chair and wraps it around Jericho’s head and pushes him into the ring post.
Side Note: By far the best match on the show and just shows how well these two superstars work together. Jericho putting over Owens is a testament to Jericho’s belief in building stars and the post match attack was a smart way to write Y2J off television.
The Maharaja reigns supreme
Jinder Mahal def. Sami Zayn
Both competitors did some back and forth, countering each other’s work on the arm. RANA and chops by Sami, he picks up the pace and hits a dropkick and sends Mahal to the. Mahal then took Sami up top, but he fought him off only to run into a running knee strike, Mahal covered for 2. Sami started to fire up by executing clotheslines and a high cross for the near fall. One of the Singh brothers saved Mahal from the helluva, the other tripped up Sami and that allowed Mahal to hit the cobra clutch slam for the win.
Side Note: Who would have thought, Mahal beating Zayn? Absolutely crazy. However in saying this I find this angle so refreshing and I’m eagerly awaiting the championship match at Backlash. On the card it seems as though Orton will breeze through this match, however, with the help of the Singh brothers, it’s quite possible Mahal can do the unthinkable and become the new WWE Champion.
The Welcoming Committee continues its dominance
Carmella & Natalya def. Naomi & Charlotte
Naomi has to go it alone due to the attack on Charlotte. Tamina gets on some cheap shots and Natalya returns to work over Naomi in the corner. Natalya and Naomi both go for running cross bodies and do a double down. Charlotte’s music hits and she slowly makes her way to the ring. Naomi gets the tag and Charlotte is all fired up and runs wild. She hits the neck breaker and running boot to Natalya, takes out Carmella and then works over Natalya in the corner. Natalya then cuts her off and we head to a break. Post break, Charlotte tries to fight off Carmella, but Carmella uses the hair to cut her off and then misses the broncobuster. Tag to Naomi, she hits a great high cross on Carmella and then a kick and jawbreaker follows. The rear view connects, but Natalya distracts the ref. Naomi takes her out, Ellsworth distracts Naomi, allowing Carmella to pick up the pin.
Side Note: Teasing the Becky Lynch turn was interesting but it was inevitable Lynch would side with Charlotte & Naomi. Once again Smackdown Live manages to involve all of their women in a storyline which can only benefit themselves as well as the WWE universe. This feud picks up steam as Lynch evens out the opposition and potentially sets up a 6-man tag match at Backlash.
A Perfect (10) performance
English attacks at the bell, but Tye fires up and makes the comeback, laying the boots to English. The Tye breaker finishes it. Yes, it was actually that short believe it or not.
Side Note: Essentially a squash match against Aiden English, however, what I noticed was Dillinger’s intensity and ferocity with every move he was making ... boy was he on fire! Dillinger does indeed need competition to further prove himself to the WWE universe. With English, I do see potential with him and I think with the right direction and character, he can emulate Dillinger’s current run. Furthermore I know he gets a lot of hate due to the Ranallo situation, but JBL was so hilarious on commentary this week.
Other notable moments
Sin Cara took on Dolph Ziggler in a match that didn’t interest me, nor the fans in attendance. They did some back and forth grappling to begin, with Cara hitting a springboard cross body and then a back elbow. Cara then laid in the leg kicks and followed with a moonsault press. Cara then sent Ziggler to the floor with an enziguri and followed with a suicide dive that almost was a disaster as his feet got caught in the ropes. That could have been really bad. Ziggler then took control, and it got a bit sloppy in the transitions, Ziggler then hit the dropkick but Cara countered the fameasser and hit a one armed powerbomb for 2. Ziggler blocked the lionsault with the knees, hit the superkick and won. Winner: Dolph Ziggler.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: B
Things to look forward to next week
How will Randy Orton respond to Mahal’s recent attacks?
When will we see Shinsuke Nakamura in the ring?
How will Becky, Charlotte and Naomi respond to the welcoming committee?
Where are the tag teams?
When will we see the New Day on Smackdown Live?