By Steven Flora
In one of the more chaotic scenes in SmackDown Live history, United States Champion AJ Styles held onto his title when he defeated Kevin Owens in a match that saw both Baron Corbin and Shane McMahon act as Special Guest Referees. Team Blue was also shaken to its core by the debuting Bobby Roode and the return of Shelton Benjamin to WWE.
SmackDown Live went from great to GLORIOUS
Bobby Roode def. Aiden English
SmackDown Live just got GLORIOUS!
Much to the surprise of the WWE Universe, former NXT Champion Bobby Roode arrived on Team Blue and made an immediate impact, emphatically defeating Aiden English with a head-ringing Glorious DDT in an impressive debut bout. After the contest, Renee Young interviewed Roode in the ring, asking what had brought him to SmackDown Live. Winner: Bobby Roode.
After congratulating Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan for breaking the bank to bring him to the blue brand, Roode very simply stated that SmackDown Live just went from being “great” to … you guessed it, glorious.
Side Note: Maaaaaan he got such a great response from a tired, beat-up WWE crowd. A lot of people on social media were unhappy with his debut as the match went 50/50 with Aiden English, however, on the contrary, it shows Roode is human and that no matter if he gets beaten down, he'll get back up and nail you with the glorious DDT. As for the future? I clearly see Roode controlling SmackDown Live and bringing it back to being the A show it truly is. That's right, I see him being the one to dethrone Jinder Mahal, aka MAHARAJA.
Kevin Owens is officially BROKEN
WWE United States Championship Match: U.S. Champion AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens (with Baron Corbin as the guest referee) to retain the United States title
After attempting to lock down several options, Kevin Owens finally landed on Baron Corbin as his choice to be the special guest referee for his United States Title Match against AJ Styles. Corbin agreed to the officiating role on the condition that KO gives him an opportunity to challenge him for the United States Title if he wins back the championship, to which Owens agreed. However, after confronting Styles in the backstage area, The Phenomenal One told Corbin to answer the call of his United States Championship Open Challenge after he defends his title.
Corbin remained mostly impartial throughout the high-stakes title bout, but the mood quickly changed when Styles inadvertently bumped into Corbin after Owens shoved him. The Lone Wolf then got in Styles’ face and shoved him back, leading to several near falls on a pair of rollups by KO. Shane McMahon then rushed out to make sure no injustice would be served.
Shane and Corbin began getting into it, allowing Owens to low-blow The Phenomenal One behind Corbin’s back. Owens attempted to capitalize on his rule-breaking ways, but Shane, having seen the low blow, pulled Corbin out of the ring during his count. Enraged over Shane’s actions, The Lone Wolf took off his referee shirt, tossed it at Shane-O-Mac and made his exit. Shane, thinking on his feet, donned the referee shirt as the match continued.
A furious Owens tried to get his head back in the game, but he could not recover from the shock, which allowed Styles to mount some offense and connect with the devastating Phenomenal Forearm for the win. Winner: A.J. Styles (c) (remains champion).
Shane raised Styles’ hand, Corbin was nowhere to be found, and Owens, now with no more opportunities at the United States Title anytime soon, walked off in utter shock.
The New Face of America was now rocking a pretty mean frown.
Side Note: I'm actually glad this feud appears finished. They've had several matches since Money in the Bank and while they've put on a great series of matches as two of the best talents in Sports Entertainment, I'm happy that some other talent will get a chance to prove themselves against Styles. As for Owens, he legit looked broken, like tears streaming from his eyes broken. You can tell he's sharing the same hatred Styles felt for Shane McMahon back in March. This is clearly going to lead to a Hell in a Cell match in October and I can't wait for them to tear each other apart.
Nakamura gets his revenge over Jinder Mahal
Two-On-One Handicap Match: Shinsuke Nakamura def. The Singh Brothers
With Shinsuke Nakamura closing in on the WWE Title against Jinder Mahal this past Sunday at SummerSlam, the pesky Singh Brothers interjected themselves into the bout, drawing Nakamura’s attention. The King of Strong Style immediately eliminated them from the equation, but the distraction allowed Mahal to sneak up behind The Artist and defeat him with the ring-shaking Khallas.
The repercussions were less than pleasant for The Singh Brothers on Team Blue, as The King of Strong Style decimated them in a 1-on-2 Handicap Match that saw WWE’s Rockstar absolutely dominate, defeating Samir with a Triangle Choke. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura.
After the match, The Modern Day Maharaja attempted to blindside The Artist, but to no avail, as Nakamura fended off the attack and left Mahal seeing stars after connecting squarely with the Kinshasa.
Side Note: For what it was worth, it served its purpose of Nakamura getting revenge. The Singh Brothers never stood a chance with their small frames and Nakamura nailing the Kinshasa on Mahal was just the icing on the cake for the King of Strong Style. I hope WWE treats Nakamura with some respect going forward though.
Naomi gains some retribution over the SmackDown Women's Champion
Naomi & Becky Lynch def. Natalya & Carmella
As the new SmackDown Women’s Champion, Natalya wasted no time gloating over her triumph against Naomi at The Biggest Event of the Summer. However, before she could get too far into her celebratory diatribe, her partner for the upcoming match and Ms. Money in the Bank, Carmella, arrived to remind The Queen of Harts that she could cash in at any moment, with James Ellsworth chiming in that it could even be tonight. That statement prompted Carmella to nudge Ellsworth, implying he shouldn’t give away her potential game plan.
Naomi, looking to get a measure of redemption after losing her title on Sunday, appeared as focused as ever as she teamed up with the Straight Fire of Becky Lynch. It appeared Ellsworth’s pre-match proclamation appeared to be the actual strategy, as Carmella did everything she could to avoid being tagged in to the contest, perhaps hoping she would have a chance to cash in after Natalya was worn down by her opponents. However, after Natalya became hip to her jive, she was able to forcefully tag in Carmella, who was immediately dropped with a Bexploder. Naomi followed up by finishing off The Princess of Staten Island with the Split-Legged Moonsault for the win. Winner: Naomi & Becky Lynch.
Side Note: Decent match and continues the feud of Naomi and Natalya going forward. Carmella's MITB briefcase always becomes a factor in this feud and she plays that role extremely well. Becky Lynch seems lost in the shuffle, but no one can deny she is one of the most underrated performers in WWE today.
Other Notable Moments
Dolph Ziggler is BACK!: Acting a bit erratic in an interview with Dasha Fuentes, Ziggler promised to start acting like the “star” of WWE, doing everything from singing, to wearing a flashy robe, to having a theatrical entrance. The Showoff promised these changes would start next week before abruptly storming off.
Non-Title Match: The Usos vs. Hype Bros: Fresh off regaining the SmackDown Tag Team Championship with a victory over The New Day at SummerSlam Kickoff, The Usos looked to keep the momentum going against The Hype Bros. Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley gave it a valiant effort, pushing the pace against Jimmy and Jey, but The Usos prevailed with a merciless kick to The Ultimate Broski’s head for the 1-2-3. After the match, The Usos put the entire Team Blue Tag Team division on notice, letting them know the titles were back in The Uso Penitentiary for good. Winner: The Usos (c).
Shelton Benjamin is BACK WOOO!: Now that his former partner Jason Jordan had moved to Raw, Chad Gable paid a visit to SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan’s office to inquire about his future on the brand, and the “Yes!” Man had some great news for the former Olympian: In exchange for sending Jordan to Raw, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle helped SmackDown Live sign a good friend of The Olympic Hero: Shelton Benjamin! And, not only had Team Blue inked the former Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team Champion, but the “Gold Standard” was interested in forming a tag team with Gable. Astonished that he would get the chance to team up with one of his heroes, Gable jumped at the opportunity, and Bryan informed the new team that they would have their first match together next week.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: B-
Things to look forward to next week
What will happen to Breezango next week?
What's next for Kevin Owens?
What's next for Naomi?
Where is Mike Kanellis and the power of love?
What can we expect from Gable and Shelton Benjamin?