By Steven Flora
This week's edition of Smackdown Live features the Fashion X-Files, the in-ring debut of SDLive superstar Mike Kanellis, Jinder Mahal promising to bring the Punjabi Prison structure and Rusev looking to silence John Cena once and for all.
Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin stand tall ahead of Battleground
Owens & Corbin def. WWE U.S. Champion AJ Styles (c) & Shinsuke Nakamura
The biggest story of the night was Styles & Nakamura overcoming Owens and Corbin in the main event. Styles earlier in the night was approached by Nakamura, who seems fixated on his U.S. title, so with this conflict potentially arising, can Styles really trust Nakamura at all?
Nakamura follows with knee strikes, but Corbin low bridges Nakamura, sending him to the floor. He rolls him back in and Owens hits the running senton, and Corbin tags in, beats down Nakamura in the corner. He and Owens work quick tags, isolating Nakamura. He escapes the bear hug and takes out Corbin with the running kick. Corbin stops the tag attempt, but Nakamura fires up with kicks and takes out Owens, but runs into deep six by Corbin. Nakamura fights back with kicks, and Styles and Owens get the tag. Styles pummels Owens with strikes, hits a clothesline and a sliding forearm for a near fall. Styles follows with a wheelbarrow slam, which gets the near fall. Owens turns Styles inside out with a big lariat, Corbin tags back in and tosses Styles across the ring. Styles then rolls into the calf crusher, Corbin fights and makes the ropes. Styles gets taken out by Owens, Nakamura attacks him and they brawl on the floor and Corbin slides Styles back in but Styles counters end of days, hits the PELE and Owens blind tags in, superkicks Styles and hits the pop up powerbomb for the win. Winner: Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin.
Side Note: The match worked in terms of using it to build up two of the Battleground matches, but it was a bit disappointing considering the talent involved. It was a pretty good match, worked in a laid-back house show like pacing. It was imperative the heels picked up the victory and indeed they did to gain momentum heading into Battleground this Sunday.
Orton vows to dethrone The Maharaja
Jinder Mahal heads to the ring, and as promised, the Punjabi Prison is set up. The Singh brothers had a busy day. Mahal says the prison will be the final resting place of Orton’s legacy. The Singh brothers break down the rules, the inner cage has four doors, and when instructed, a referee will open the door for 60-seconds. Once that expires, the door will close. To win, you have to escape the outer structure by climbing. There are no rules otherwise. Mahal promises to smash Orton’s face and give him the khallas from the top of the structure to end him, and he will then walk out as champion. Orton says there will be no escape on Sunday and he has nothing left to lose. Mahal tried to leave him for dead. He says Mahal has everything to lose. Orton starts to climb into the prison. What will you do when those 1.3 billion look at you as a disgrace? On Sunday, Orton says he will leave Mahal’s jacked up rear end for dead, and Orton will be announced as the new WWE Champion.
Side Note: This was a solid segment to set up the third-ever Punjabi Prison match this Sunday at WWE Battleground. Displaying the Punjabi Prison structure is a great way for new fans to get a look at how the match will look/play out before the event this Sunday. This feud whilst slightly dragged out, should definitely come to an end this Sunday and if it means Jinder retains/Orton almost kills him, then so be it.
The Fallout from Angle's Reveal
Renee Young interviews Chad Gable now. Gable says he knew nothing and some heads up would have been nice. Jordan called him afterward, but he knew something was wrong as Jordan had been distant as of late. Gable says they accomplished a lot together, and he supports Jordan. But for him, he has some ideas as to what is next, but won’t ruin the surprise. This is a great chance to see Chad Gable on his own.
Side Note: Gable came off great in this interview. He understands the position Jason Jordan is in right now, but he also knows it's his time to shine and American Alpha is in the past. I'm excited to see how Gable is treated from now on, considering he's like 5-foot-5 and 180 pounds. With the great matches he's put on with the likes of AJ Styles, it'll be great to see how Gable develops as a talent in the near future.
Mike Kanellis steals a victory in his in-ring debut
Mike Kanellis def. Sami Zayn
Kanellis tries to attack at the bell, but Sami immediately cuts him off and works him over in the corner. Sami hits Kanellis with rapid-fire punches, and Kanellis takes a powder, but Sami follows and levels him with a lariat on the floor. Back in the ring, Sami hits clotheslines and sends Kanellis to the floor. Sami again follows and slams Kanellis to the barricade and then tosses him back in. Kanellis cuts off Sami with strikes, but runs into a lariat. XPLODER to the buckles by Sami and Maria runs in to save Mike. Mike then sucker punches Sami and hits the Samoan driver for the win. Winner: Mike Kanellis.
Side Note: A solid match which pits the prototypical heel vs the typical babyface. Sami always puts on a great performance every time he's in the ring. Kanellis was pretty decent in his first match in WWE but the jury is still out if he belongs within WWE. Having seen Kanellis wrestle in ROH and that company based in Orlando, Kanellis is a decent wrestler but is much stronger as a personality. From that, it'll be interesting to see how WWE uses Maria and Mike Kanellis.
Other Notable Moments
Cena hits the ring and the flags are in the corners to set the mood. Cena plays to the crowd, hypes Sunday’s PPV up and then hypes the big flag match between he and Rusev. He says you will remember this flag match. To win the match you have to get your flag and put it past the finish line. Cena says through history and all of the bad, the flag always flew high. Even when the towers fell, the flag flew high. On Sunday, he will prove these colors do not run, they kick ass. Rusev then attacks from behind and beats Cena down and lays him out with a superkick. Rusev then applies the accolade but Cena fights to his feet and tries to escape, but Rusev hangs on. Rusev stands tall.
It's Women’s division action as Charlotte Flair takes on Becky Lynch. They work some basic back and forth, with neither able to gain control. They pick up the pace and end in a stand off. Becky then starts to hit arm drags and a dropkick, frustrating Charlotte. Charlotte hits some random back flips to show off, and then rolls up Becky for 2. Charlotte counters the arm bar, clips out the knee and goes for natural selection, but Becky goes for the disarmher. Charlotte counters into a roll up and follows with a big boot for 2. Charlotte up top and MISSES the moonsault, Becky locks in the disarmher and Charlotte fights but has to tap. Winner: Becky Lynch.
Fashion X-Files: Breeze, of course, plays Scully. The bulletin board is again filled with a ton of fun things. Fandango is freaking out about ghosts, and Aiden English is warming up and they think he’s a ghost. A delivery guy turns on the light, they think it’s a spaceship and that he’s an alien. They get a delivery and it’s TULLY’s HEAD! There is a note that says “Battleground,” this will all end on Sunday. My guess is it’s Luke Harper and Erik Rowan. At this point, Smackdown may be better off as a two-hour Fashion Files.
We get another singles match between The Usos and New Day as Jimmy Uso takes on Kofi Kingston. Jimmy grounds Kofi, working a chinlock for the heat. Kofi tries to fire up but gets slammed back to the mat. Back to the full screen now as Jimmy maintains control. Kofi finally hits a jawbreaker, but Jimmy cuts him off with an enziguri and covers for 2. Jimmy charges and Kofi cuts him off with a jumping double stomp. This allows Kofi to run wild, hitting the boom drop. Kofi fights back with a kick in the corner, heads up top and Jimmy cuts that off. They battle up top, and Kofi shoves Jimmy to the mat. Jey distracts Kofi, but Kofi hits a high cross, but Jimmy rolls through and picks up the win. Winner: Jimmy Uso.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: B-
Things to look forward to next week
How will Sami Zayn bounce back after his string of losses?
What's next for Chad Gable?
Is Naomi truly the Queen of the Women’s division?
Who will walk out Punjabi Prison as the new WWE Champion?
What's next for Breezango?