By Steven Flora
With the epic Money in the Bank PPV fast approaching, Tuesday night was pivotal with all important momentum and invaluable opportunities in the balance. Smackdown Live emanated from Rochester, NY and the WWE universe is still buzzing over the historic announcement last week that rocked WWE to its core.
The Lone Wolf Strikes
Non-Title Match: Shinsuke Nakamura def. Kevin Owens (c)
The biggest story of the night was indeed the cowardly attack delivered to Nakamura after his victory over Owens by Corbin. Earlier that evening, Sami Zayn was interviewed and relished at the fact he’d be ringside for the main event of Smackdown Live … that was until Corbin came along. Corbin assaulted him AGAIN before taking his “spot” on commentary.
I am not a fan of the unnecessary pyro during Nakamura’s entrance, maybe it’s just me, it feels really forced. Corbin buries Sami on commentary, Owens and Nakamura work back and forth, with Nakamura then laying in kicks and sending Owens to the floor as we take a break. Owens was in control and laying the boots to Nakamura. Owens then works the chinlock, grounding Nakamura. Owens then hits a DDT for 2. Owens then goes back to the chinlock, Nakamura battles to his feet and they trade strikes. Nakamura then hits a running kick, fires up, lays in more kicks to Owens, and takes him down. Nakamura then hits the corner charge, sets Owens on the ropes, and hits the running knee strike, covers for 2. Owens battles back, hitting a head butt, and then sets Nakamura up top. Owens follows him up and Nakamura fights him off, and Owens then pulls him off the ropes and hits the cannonball but Nakamura avoids the pop up powerbomb. Reverse XPLODER by Nakamura, the Kinshasa connects and Nakamura beat Owens again. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Post match, Corbin lays out Nakamura with the End of Days … possibly signifying his desire to become Mr. Money in the Bank.
Side Note: This match for the most part was average. Smackdown seem to have a formula where there is a lot of talking in the beginning and toward the end, they have a 15+-minute main event match. The main event in itself seems so dragged that by the end of it, the WWE Universe and the viewers at home are disinterested. Regardless of this, Owens and Nakamura put on a solid performance and with a win over the United States champion, Smackdown Live commissioner Shane McMahon may consider putting Nakamura in the U.S. title picture post MITB. Corbin has been irrelevant this year and the attack on Nakamura didn’t necessarily help him but at least WWE are giving opportunities to Corbin to prove he can be THE top guy.
Lana wants an opportunity; Smackdown women’s division goes to war
Lana finally makes her debut! At an even quicker rate than Emmalina mind you. Shane puts over the dangers of the match, and the fact the winner will have a guaranteed Smackdown Women’s title shot, and says it is almost a lock the winner will become the champion. Naomi now arrives. She says as much as she loves being champion, she wishes she could be in the MITB match. She puts over the match, and notes she is ready. Lana then arrives in her Smackdown themed evening gown. Shane says this isn’t the time for her to be here, but she says she promises it works for her and will make it work for him. She says Naomi can’t be in the match but she can, and the others laugh at her. Naomi says Lana can’t hang in the MITB, and adds she hasn’t had a match or beaten anyone. Lana says she can beat her, they argue and Shane says Lana needs to earn a title match and she throws a fit; very classy.
Tamina, Carmella & Natalya def. Becky Lynch, Charlotte & Naomi (c)
Natalya & Charlotte to begin. They work back and forth, with Natalya hitting a shoulder block, but Charlotte firing back with chops and a knee drop. Becky tags in and attacks the arm, and Natalya tags out to Carmella. Becky then goes for repeated covers, and then rolls her around the ring with a body scissors. Becky fights for a tag, but Tamina stops that and grounds her with a chinlock. The heels beat down Becky in their corner; Natalya hits a series of suplexes and then grounds Becky with a chinlock. Back to full screen action as Natalya cuts off the tag, and the heels again isolate Becky in their corner. Tamina and Natalya work quick tags, as Natalya keeps beating down Becky, hits a Michinoku driver, which gets 2. Becky hits a desperation enziguri and then gets the hot tag to Naomi. She runs wild, hits the speedball kicks on Carmella and then lays in kicks on Tamina. Naomi then takes her down, hits a springboard high cross and it breaks down. Tamina and Natalya work over Charlotte, but here comes Lana. Naomi to the apron, Lana distracts her and then trips her up. That allows Tamina to hit a superkick and pick up the win. Winner: Tamina, Carmella & Natalya
Side Note: Lana was really over tonight on Smackdown. She got a good pop coming out and when she left the crowd chanted in unison, “We want Lana”. I was confused at how Lana already gets a title shot yet Shane McMahon says, “you have to earn your opportunities”. Nevertheless, Naomi has been doing well as champion but she seriously needs to defend the title. Hopefully, when Lana makes her in-ring debut, she’ll get through it without any mistakes and from reading online sources, her in-ring work at house shows and NXT live events have been really good; so hoping it stays that way heading into MITB. As for the six-women tag match, it was okay, but not really, something you need to see once you’ve seen it about 100 times before. Glad Tamina got the pinfall though; she’s been somewhat underutilised for a long time.
Usos send a message to New Day
New Day def. The Colons
Woods in to begin, he and Primo work back and forth until Woods hits a head scissors and a dropkick. Primo then cuts him off, tags in Epico but Woods lays him out with a forearm. Big E tags in, New Day works double teams and Big E then covers for 2. Big E locks in an abdominal stretch, as does Woods; they do the rhythmic clapping on the Colon’s rear ends. We take a screen in screen commercial break, as a delicious looking Red Lobster commercial runs. New Day keeps control, working double teams, but Primo distracts Woods, allowing Epico to toss him to the floor. The Colons take the heat, and back to full screen as Epico lays the boots to Woods. Woods fights, but gets cut off before he could get the tag. Woods eventually fights off Epico, hits a missile dropkick and that leads to a double down. Big E tags in, runs wild and hits suplexes on the Colons. He hits the running splash, tosses Epico and then tosses Woods over the top and onto him. New Day hits midnight hour and wins. Winner: The New Day
Post match, The Usos arrive, they aren’t impressed and claim New Day is old news, and that they have the tag division on lockdown. They then say they can do jokes, and mock Kofi’s hair and clothes. They then mock Big E’s large pecs, before making fun of Wood’s shoes. At MITB there will be no jokes, because it will get real. It won’t be paranoia, it will just be the Usos.
Side Note: The match itself was just to give the New Day momentum heading into MITB. I suspect The Ascension will have the job of doing the same thing next week in New Orleans. The Usos and New Day have such chemistry together they can act serious at one point and then be completely foolish around each other, it’s great entertainment. I can’t pick a winner in this match but I do hope The Usos can retain the titles so that this feud can continue.
The Modern Day Maharaja gets Revenge
Non-Title Match: Jinder Mahal (c) def. Mojo Rawley
This is non-title, but if Mojo wins, he gets in MITB. The Singh brothers are out with Mahal, and do a pre-match promo, introducing Mahal. They lock up and work power against power to begin. Rawley then works strikes, hits a hip toss and Mahal rolls to the apron. Mahal back in and works over Rawley with kicks and strikes. Rawley fires back with a shoulder block, sending Mahal to the floor. Mahal throws a fit on the floor, as Rawley tells us Mahal isn’t hype. Back in and Rawley hits a shoulder block, one of the Singhs distract him, allowing Mahal to take control. He then grounds Rawley, likely trying to de-hype him. Rawley battles to his feet hits a belly to back suplex and then a shoulder block. Clotheslines and the corner splash connect, but Mahal rakes the eyes, posts Rawley and hits the Khallas for the win.
Side Note: First off, that entrance by WWE Champion Jinder Mahal was epic … the way it was all set up was just magnificent. Mahal was obviously getting the win here to keep momentum heading into MITB. As for Mojo, I can’t see a way back for him in all honesty. He voiced his concerns to Shane McMahon and Shane gave Mojo the opportunity, in which he failed. I did have high expectations when he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 33 and to see him barely on WWE TV in over two months is just a complete waste. How he bounces back from the defeat I don’t know but if he takes more time off, it may just be the end of the hype train.
Other notable moments
AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler was a decent return match from last week. Ziggler looks to ground Styles right away, but Styles has mat skills as well and they grapple back and forth. Ziggler hits a dropkick and then gets a cradle, using the ropes, but the ref saw it. Ziggler then hits the fameasser, covering for 2. Ziggler sets Styles up top, looks for a superplex, but Styles slips out and then avoids the tornado DDT. Styles to the apron, hits a right and then looks for a sunset flip, but Ziggler grabs the ropes and counters for 2. Styles transitions into the clash, and pins Ziggler. Winner: A.J. Styles.
Fashion Files: Fandango tasted the cologne bottle for prints, but doesn’t think it is the Colon’s cologne (say that five times). The pictures on the bulletin board for the fashion offenders are amazing. We then see New Day, who goes to meet them and they seamlessly transition from colour to black and white. They have a case for the fashion police. The fashion police do the noir talk, so New Day can’t hear them. New Day has a romper, but this offends Fandango. He says they don’t take bribes, and won’t sell out, but Breeze puts on the romper and loves it. New Day wants Intel on the Usos. The fashion police give them boxes of evidence, and after an awkward stare down, New Day bails.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: C+
Things to look forward to next week
Where is Rusev Machka?
How will Mojo bounce back after his defeat next week?
What momentum will Tamina, Natalya & Carmella have walking into Smackdown next week?
Where is American Alpha?
What’s next for Tye Dillinger?