By Steven Flora
WWE continues its European tour with its second night at the O2 arena. Over 17,000 members of the WWE universe came to see superstars such as Sami Zayn, Jinder Mahal & WWE Champion Randy Orton.
Mahal pins the WWE Champion
Jinder Mahal, Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens (c) def. Randy Orton (c), Sami Zayn & AJ Styles
The crowd is behind Styles to begin. He starts off with Corbin, renewing their recent short rivalry. Styles takes control, tagging in Sami, but Corbin backs off and tags in Mahal. Mahal takes control, working over Sami in the corner, but Sami fights back with a head scissors. Orton tags in and Mahal tags on Owens. Owens and Orton brawl, Orton teases the RKO but Owens bails to the floor for the commercial break. Post break, Styles and Corbin are back in, with Corbin working over Styles in the corner. Styles then looks for the calf cutter, but Corbin stops that and tags in Mahal. Styles hits the dropkick and tags in Sami, but the heels swarm him in their corner and that leads to Sami and Owens battling. Sami connects with mounted rights, but Owens crotches him on the ropes and lays the boots to him. Quick tags by the heels as Corbin returns and tosses Sami to the floor, allowing Mahal to attack. Styles fights to his feet but Mahal hits the knee strike and tags in Owens, who lays the boots to Styles. Styles counters the senton with the knees and tags in Orton, he and Mahal go back and forth; Orton runs wild with snap slams and the draping DDT on Owens. The Singh brothers distract Orton, it breaks down, RKO to Owens but Mahal hits the cobra clutch slam on Orton to pick up the win. Winner: Jinder Mahal, Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens.
Side Note: I’m shocked that Mahal even got a clean pin on the WWE champion. This also makes you question whether or not WWE will run with Mahal as WWE champion, one week from Sunday. Mahal’s victory over Randy Orton now will plant doubts inside the ‘Viper’s’ head. The No. 1 contender now has Orton’s number and looks to do it again, so that he can finally reach the top of WWE.
The Fashion Police look to dethrone The ‘Uggos’
Breezango def. The Ascension
Fandango and Konnor to begin, Fandango used his speed early but Viktor got in a cheap shot, allowing Konnor to take control. The Ascension isolates Fandango in their corner, Viktor in and continues the heat, grounding Fandango. Fandango then slips out of a slam, tag to Breeze who runs wild, the superkick connects. Fandango and Breeze take control, top rope leg drop by Fandango connects and that’s that.
After the match, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos came out to try to get in the heads of their challengers, suggesting that Breezango would be in for more than they could handle in 12 days at WWE Backlash in Chicago.
Side Note: A really solid feud with The Usos taking shots at Breezango before their match at Backlash. Breezango have been picking up a lot of steam recently which leads me to believe they can be the next team to dethrone the tag team champions. Regardless of this, it’s refreshing to see two stars getting their chance at glory, especially Tyler Breeze, who deserves this after his successful NXT run.
The Welcoming Committee continues its dominance
Natalya def. Becky Lynch
Lynch looks to attack the arm right away, and then sends Natalya to the floor. Natalya trips her up on the apron, and then hits a suplex on the floor. Back in the ring, Natalya takes control and works an abdominal stretch. Lynch escapes, lays in forearm strikes and clotheslines. Lynch then hits a running forearm and XPLODER. Natalya fires back with elbows and strikes, but Lynch cuts her off with a kick. Lynch fights off Tamina, allowing Natalya to pull her off the ropes for the anticlimactic win.
Side Note: This was a solid match, though I felt both talents deserved more time in the ring to show off their stellar moves. This feud is slowly building up to a 6 woman tag match at Backlash which is fine, but I’d like to see someone go after the Smackdown Women’s title as it seems it’s being forgotten of late.
The Artist looks to show up the ‘Show off’
Dolph Ziggler calls the crowd hypocrites, noting he’s been doing this for eight years, is a former world champion and movie star, but no one appreciates him. Ziggler says he suffers for his art in the ring, but doesn’t call himself an artist. He did it all by himself and never needed any of you fans, telling the fans they never cared. He then calls out Nakamura, who makes his way to the ring to a great reaction. Ziggler calls for an end to the theatrics, and tells Nakamura to put up or shut up. Nakamura takes the mic and tells Ziggler to shut up, and then challenges him to a match right now. Ziggler declines his request, noting they will do this at Backlash. Ziggler tosses his jacket at Nakamura, but Nakamura quickly fights back and sends Ziggler packing.
Side Note: Essentially this is a slow build for Nakamura’s in-ring debut. The Artist got in some strong strikes against Ziggler and provides a preview as to what to expect from the King of Strong Style. Ziggler plays on the “old toy being tossed out for a new toy” metaphor and helps to establish Nakamura as a superstar on the main roster. Of course Ziggler alone can’t help elevate the former IWGP Heavyweight champion, but this is merely a stepping stone on Nakamura’s quest to become a star within WWE.
Other notable moments
Erick Rowan & Luke Harper competed in a singles match for the 9,000th time. Rowan attacks at the bell, tossing Harper to the floor. They quickly work back into the ring, Rowan hits a corner splash but runs into a dropkick by Harper. Rowan takes time to talk to his mask, stuns Harper off the ropes and then hits the spin kick and splash for 2. Harper looks for a powerbomb, but Rowan escapes and hits a sitout uranage for 2. Rowan distracts the ref, thumbs Harper in the eyes and hits a spinning slam for the win. Winner: Erick Rowan.
+1 for every time JBL says, “MAHARAJA”.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: C+
Things to look forward to next week
Where is Tye Dillinger?
How will The Ascension bounce back from their recent losses?
How will Becky, Charlotte and Naomi respond to the welcoming committee?
When will we see Chris Jericho?
How will Rusev respond to the lack of communication from both the General Manager & Commissioner of Smackdown Live?