WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE! (4/18/17)
-WWE World Championship #1 Contender 6 Pack Challenge: Dolph Ziggler VS Jinder Mahal VS Mojo Rawley VS Luke Harper VS Erick Rowan VS Sami Zayn; Mahal wins and challenges the WWE Champion at Backlash.
-Charlotte Flair VS Naomi; Charlotte wins and becomes the #1 Contender to the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
-American Alpha VS Primo & Epico Colon; The Colons win.
-Face of America Open Challenge: Kevin Owens VS ???; Owens wins.
-AJ Styles VS Baron Corbin; Styles wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
The WWE lost another icon as Matthew “Rosey” Anoa’i passes away at the age of 47. One half of 3-Minute Warning as well as the heroic sidekick to The Hurricane, he will be missed.
The Superstar Shakeup changed much of the SmackDown landscape. As such, we open with The Queen, Charlotte Flair!
Seven days has been seven days too long for her, what is keeping Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon from making her, “the greatest superstar to set foot in this ring”, the #1 contender to the SmackDown Women’s Championship? She wants an answer, NOW. And it’s the current champion, Naomi, that comes out to give that answer!
Charlotte, this is SmackDown, not Raw. There are no kings or queens here, there are only champions. Naomi’s watched Charlotte a long time, and knows what Charlotte is like. It’s sad to see her begging like this. But Naomi will give Charlotte what she wants, because Naomi is never scared of a challenge. They can do this here and now! Naomi then decks Charlotte and throws her out of the ring, robe and all. A referee rushes to the ring to keep them apart but doesn’t help, Naomi gives Charlotte a dropkick to send her back out of the ring! So Commissioner Shane O’Mac steps in. Does Louisville want to see this fight? Yes? Then we’ll see this fight. But Shane agrees with Naomi, things must be earned here, regardless of pedigree. Charlotte will face Naomi–in a non-title match–and if Charlotte wins, she will become the #1 Contender. Shane leaves, Charlotte gets her revenge on Naomi by tackling her, punching her, and throwing her out before raising that belt. Naomi comes back for more, Naomi throws Charlotte out again to take back her belt!
Backstage, Natalya complains to Shane McMahon. Charlotte, the new girl, gets a contender’s match already? What about the Queen of Harts? Natty has had her chances, such as at Wrestlemania. That counts? Please, that barely counts. Well she could’ve just asked for a 1v1 shot. Ask? Natty is the new Best There Is, Best There Was, and Best There Ever Will Be. That’s when #Carmellsworth enters. The Princess of Staten Island actually agrees with Natty, that “Daddy’s Little Wannabe” shouldn’t be getting a chance so soon. However, where they disagree is that Carmella should be getting the shot, not Natty. Then Tamina appears! Where’s her chance? Back of the line, duh. Natty quiets down the argument. These three can discuss what to do, since management clearly dropped the ball. What is Natty planning?
WWE World Championship #1 Contender 6 Pack Challenge
Dolph Ziggler VS Jinder Mahal VS Mojo Rawley VS Luke Harper VS Erick Rowan VS Sami Zayn!
Payback will see the first ever House of Horrors Match between the Eater of Worlds and The Viper, but whoever returns to SmackDown as world champion will not rest long. Between the Show-Off, Hard Body Mahal, the Hype Bro, the Swamp Thing, the Big Red Lamb of Wyatt and the Underdog of the Underground, one of them will challenge the champion at Backlash! Everyone is tense at the start but it quickly breaks down into three pairs. Mahal grinds a knee into Ziggler while Harper takes Mojo corner to corner and Rowan keeps Sami stuck in a corner. Things then shuffle, Mojo taking strikes from Mahal as payback for that battle royal win. Erick finds Harper and the former Wyatts brawl a second. Harper clears the ring before booting Ziggler down, TWO. Rowan returns to club and whip Harper, Harper goes to the apron and knocks Rowan down before a slingshot senton rolls over Big Red. Sami flies back in, but Harper gives him a sudden Michinoku Driver, TWO. Harper controls the ring as we go to commercials.
We return to three corners each with a pair, we get one Superplex to Ziggler, a Superplex to Rowan, and then Sami turns what would’ve been a Superplex into a Sunset Powerbomb! TWO! Sami sees he’s got control of the ring, goes after Ziggler but Ziggler fights back. Sami denies the Zig Zag, goes running into a SUPERKICK! SUPERKICK to Harper, but Discus Lariat to Ziggler! Rowan breaks that pin to then powerbomb Harper, Mahal rolls Rowan, TWO, Rowan and Mahal collide with clotheslines! Mahal and Harper are the two in the ring, but Mojo slips in and tackles Mr. Hard Body. Sami returns and dumps Sami out, Harper dumps Sami out. The fans rally, Harper speeds up, FLYING SWAMP THING topples Mahal! Harper goes again, FLYING SWAMP THING wipes out Sami and Mojo! Ziggler dropkicks Harper down, sees his opening, but then sees Rowan’s boot! TWO! Big Red is shocked, but he doesn’t slow down. He drags Ziggler up, prepares a powerbomb, but Ziggler fights back so Rowan powerbombs Ziggler to the outside!
Ziggler bowls everyone over, leaving Rowan alone in the ring. Rowan comes out to fetch Sami, brings him in, TWO for the Underdog. Rowan throws Sami back out, Harper gets back in the ring as we go to another commercial break.
Upon returning, Ziggler and Mojo are in the ring now, and the Show-Off stalks the Hype Bro. Mojo slips out of the neckbreaker to rally with shoulder tackles and a lariat. Hype Splash in a corner, go corner to corner but Ziggler back elbows. Ziggler jumps from the second rope but is caught and put into a Fireman Flapjack. Mojo bumps Rowan off the apron before boxing Ziggler in a corner. Mojo gets running, HYPE ARM! Mahal capitalizes! Sami just BARELY breaks that pin! Sami takes it to Mahal with right hands, but his whip is reversed into a Hard Body knee. Rowan comes in, sit-out yurinagi, Harper breaks things up. Rowan goes after his former brother, puts him top rope but Harper slaps him away. Rowan trips Harper up on the top, Ziggler Zig Zags Rowan, TWO! Harper tumbles down as Rowan rolls out, and the fans are loving it! Harper gets up, Ziggler dropkicks him, but Harper counters the Famouser into a Sit-out Powerbomb, TWO! Harper knows he’s close, so he prepares his lariat. Mahal drags Harper out and throws him into steps. Mahal gets in there with Sami, Sami dodges and sends Mahal into a post! Sami sees Harper, gains speed, and FLIES! Sami topples Harper, then fires up to get back in the ring. Rowan grabs Sami at the apron, Mojo POUNCES on Rowan! Sami springboard split-leg moonsaults to topple Mojo down, Mahal goes after Sami again, EXPLODER into the buckles. Sami lines it up, but the BOLLYWOOD BOYZ anchor his feet! Mahal hits a Cobra Clutch Slam, MAHAL wins!! A massive leap into the stratosphere, but give huge assists to Harv & Gurv Sihra!
Renee Young congratulates him, Mahal responds to the boos and jeers. They only boo because he’s not an “All American”, and that he is wealthy, smarter and better than America! The WWE Universe may not accept him, but they will have to call him “Champion”! Speaking of champion, Randy Orton comes out to see this new contender. The Viper “congratulates” Mahal, but he won’t be winning the title. The “jackpot” Mahal just won will be an “RKO from yours truly.” But Orton knows he has to deal with Bray Wyatt first, and whatever this House of Horrors match will be, Orton will burn it down all the same. Wyatt then responds, wanting Orton to feel the same pain Orton made him feel. All of Bray’s suffering was “orchestrated by your hand,” but Orton cannot imagine the terror he will experience in their match. Orton walks in the House of Horror as The Viper, but he will “never walk out. Never. Run.” Will the Viper give in to fear at Payback?
Backstage interview with AJ Styles. The #1 contender to the United States Championship doesn’t mind whether it’s Kevin Owens or Chris Jericho that he challenges. SmackDown is the “House that AJ Styles Built.” Baron Corbin shows up, and is confused as to why this interview is for Styles. Styles says it’s because Styles beat Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin in a triple threat. First off, Corbin wasn’t pinned. Second, Corbin was the first to get in Kevin’s face. Well if Corbin is asking for an encore, Styles is up for it. Corbin is up for it to, but remember Styles, “you asked for it.”
Charlotte Flair is backstage when she comes across Natalya, Tamina Snuka, and #Carmellsworth. They’re all so happy to see she’s on SmackDown now. They let her pass through, but there seems to be more to this alliance than just sarcasm.
Charlotte Flair VS Naomi!
The Queen wants the SmackDown Women’s Championship and she wants it ASAP. If she wins tonight, she becomes the #1 contender and could have a championship match against Naomi as soon as next week. She’s therefore very confident as she backs Naomi down into a corner then gives a spinning right hand before stomping Naomi down. Charlotte picks Naomi up and throws her, Naomi kicks out but Charlotte keeps on her with a chinlock. Natty and “friends” watch backstage as Naomi kicks out again, only to be put right back in a chinlock. Chalrotte says it’s “too easy”, but Naomi slips out and around to put Charlotte into a hammerlock. Charlotte slips out and shoves Naomi away, Naomi takes her down but Charlotte bridges out. They spin around, backslide from Naomi, TWO for Charlotte. They stand up, Charlotte gets caught in a wristlock, Naomi wrenches the arm, but Charlotte cartwheels to trip Naomi, TWO. Headscissor lock from Charlotte, she drives Naomi’s head into the mat a couple times before sitting back and squeezing. Charlotte turns it into a pin, Naomi kicks out, so Charlotte throws Naomi around in the headscissors three times. Naomi ends up in a corner, Charlotte grinds a boot into her face. Charlotte embraces the “Wooo~” but Naomi comes back and rolls her up. Charlotte kicks out, knocks Naomi down again and puts that chinlock back on. The fans rally, Naomi stands up and throws Charlotte off her. Naomi cartwheels into a headscissors of her own, then a jumping legdrop, TWO! Naomi takes a running Flair Chop to give a kick to Charlotte’s thigh. Repeat the chop, repeat the kick, then Naomi lights it up with furious kicks, roundhouse to the head, TWO! Charlotte is stunned, Naomi rushes her, but the headscissors is countered and both women tumble to the floor. Champion and Queen are both down as we go to commercials.
We return to find Charlotte giving Naomi endless backbreakers while holding the champ in a dragon sleeper position. Naomi does not give in, so Charlotte gives her a legdrop, TWO! Charlotte picks Naomi up and drops her with a back suplex, TWO. Charlotte brings a knee pad down, and drops knees to Naomi’s face, TWO. Naomi’s endurance is starting to frustrate Charlotte. Charlotte goes for another back suplex but Naomi slips out and attempts a springboard sunset flip, but Charlotte rolls that over to a knee drop to the back of Naomi’s head! TWO! Charlotte goes for a Flair knee drop but Naomi gets out of the way. Naomi kicks back from the corner, then rolls Charlotte up, TWO. Naomi gives may, many forearms and a sharp roundhouse, then a running headscissors before a wheelbarrow stunner! Naomi is fired up, but she’s put to the apron. Another roundhouse stuns Charlotte, Naomi hits a top rope crossbody, TWO! Naomi herself is frustrated, so she lifts Charlotte up and tries her take on the Detonation Kick. Charlotte blocks the kick, gives a chop, goes running and sees the Rear View coming so she boots it down, Natural Selection! Charlotte wins and is the new #1 contender! The Queen reigned over Raw, will she soon do the same on SmackDown?
Charlotte is backstage when Natty and the rest find her again. She brushes them off with a “WOOO~”, what will the three make of her becoming #1 contender?
American Alpha VS Primo & Epico!
After losing their SmackDown Tag Team Championship rematch, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable then got jumped by the former Shining Stars, who wanted to make an impact during the Superstar Shakeup. Now these two teams face off to see who is really #ReadyWilling&Gable to compete. Primo goes right at Gable but gets driven to the mat. Gable rides him while giving crossface punches, then tags in JJ to go after an arm. Primo mule kicks but gets a flapjack toss, TWO. JJ tags Gable back in, passes off the armlock and then Gable Northern Lights Suplex but Epico distracts. Primo gets up and throws Gable to a ring post. Hammerlock with the rope wrenches Gable’s arm, tag to Epico and the Colon cousins have Gable isolated. Stalling double underhook lift leads to a gutbuster, the Shining Stars are showing off what they can do to former NXT and SmackDown tag champions. Gable fires up out of a chinlock, armdrags Epico away only to get run over by a clothesline. Epico sets Gable on the top rope, but he gets caught into the hanging armbar! Gable lets go, then slides under to tag JJ! JJ starts rallying, bringing Epico to a corner to then overhead throw him out. Straps down, shoulder tackle, Primo saves Epico. Gable takes Primo over the top but only to the apron. Primo gets a cheap shot on JJ, Epico rolls him up, The Colons win! Seems ditching the resort business has done wonders for them in the ring.
Backstage interview with Tye Dillinger. The Perfect Ten loves that the WWE Universe makes their voices heard. He has an idea as to why the fans like him, but his video package will explain it ten times better than he could. How far will the Perfect Ten go in the Land of Opportunity that is SmackDown?
Face of America Open Challenge
Kevin Owens VS ???
Kevin Owens may have Chris Jericho as his opponent at Payback, but the Prizefighter–who introduces “your United States of America Champion from Montreal, Quebec, Canada” personally–sees his opponent, Gary Gandy from right in Louisville, Kentucky, as a warm-up. He takes it right to Gandy, stomping away in a corner! He punches away in a corner, too! He slaps Gandy, throws Gandy to the ropes, POP-UP POWERBOMB! Kevin wins his open challenge easily, takes his belt back, and continues on the mic to tell the “lazy citizens of the United States” to “shut up and listen”. As long as he is the US Champion, he will remain the Face of America. Jericho is not going to change that, AJ Styles is not going to change that, NO ONE is going to change that. Then Kevin will join commentary for the main event, because it needs him.
AJ Styles VS Baron Corbin!
The Phenomenal One is the #1 contender to Kevin Owens’ WWE United States Championship, but the Lone Wolf is far from through with him. He corners Styles at the start of the match, but Styles slips under and kicks at a leg. Styles grins with confidence as they circle each other. Styles goes for another kick but Corbin catches it to throw Styles down, Styles dodges stomp after stomp before getting to the ropes. Corbin says he was inches away. Styles dares Corbin to swing on him, Corbin’s boot misses, Styles gives several kicks back only to be floored by a right hand. Corbin says “It only takes one.” Styles jumps on Corbin with a sleeper hold, Corbin backs him into a corner. The hold breaks, Corbin slides Styles all the way out of the ring. Styles slips back in as Corbin slides out, but Corbin grabs Styles and brings him back outside. Corbni tries to throw Styles to the apron but Styles lands on his feet, Styles tries his sliding knee but Corbin blocks that and flapjacks Styles’ face off the apron! The Lone Wolf stands over Styles as we go to a commercial.
We return to find Corbin has Styles in the ring in a half nelson neckwrench, and that was after Corbin’s signature slide-out-then-in lariat. Styles fights out of this hold, fights back against Corbin, but Corbin just slides Styles into a post. Corbin won’t let the ring count finish this, he stalks Styles on the outside. Corbin rams Styles’ back into the apron, then trash talks Kevin before entering the ring. Corbin stomps Styles’ leg, Styles fires back with chops. Corbin’s forearm staggers Styles, but runs into boots from the corner. Styles and Corbin brawl, Corbin tries his slide-out again but this time meets ring post! Styles fires off the Phenomenal Blitz and the PELE to knock Corbin down. Styles fires up, jumping clothesline into a corner, but Corbin is too big for the fireman carry. Styles slips out of Corbin’s back suplex, kicks out a leg, and then hits a low flying forearm, TWO! Styles drags Corbin up, prepares for the Styles Clash but Corbin powers out, Choke Slam Backbreaker, TWO! Corbin is furious, Kevin is enjoying “two guys leaving it all in the ring.” Corbin runs at Styles to get another boot, Styles rolls Corbin into the Calf Crusher! Corbin endures, reaches for ropes, and gets the ropebreak. Styles lets go, grabs at Corbin’s leg but is pushed away. DEEP SIX to Styles, TWO! Styles rolls to ropes, Corbin gets up first but Styles dumps him out to the floor. Corbin goes to the apron, Styles knocks him off, sliding knee knocks him down. Styles watches Kevin as he prepares the Clash, Corbin back body drops Styles onto Kevin!
Corbin then tries End of Days, gets an enziguri instead. Styles jumps from steps to forearm Corbin into the crowd! The ring count is high, Styles breaks it, Corbin is counted out! Styles wins! Can the Phenomenal One defeat the Prizefighter to become the American Face of America?
The Superstar Shakeup may have confused us on the WWE World Championship, in that they gave away the ending that Orton will win, I’m actually rather intrigued that it’s Jinder Mahal who gets the bump up to contender status. Especially when it comes about through the Bollywood Boyz going even more Heel by helping him, and thereby finally showing up on a main roster show. We could be seeing a new trio forming, with Hard Body Mahal going for a singles title and returning the favor by helping the Sihra brothers when they go for tag championship gold. For that matter, we could be seeing a resurgence of the three-man stable via SmackDown, as The New Day will be back once Kofi Kingston has recovered and the door is open to Carlito Colon returning to the WWE and joining forces with Primo & Epico. Personally, I don’t see Mahal defeating Orton without interference, but his and the Sihras’ Heel stocks are all rising from here on out.
As I estimated, Charlotte is poised to become one of the first women to have held both Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships within the same year, Alexa Bliss being the other. She and Naomi had a really good first match tonight, and with next week being the title match, they can potentially steal the show. What is curious is this tense alliance of Queen of Harts, Princess of Staten Island and second generation Snuka. They might try to interfere and screw over Charlotte, but they’re just as likely to get on Naomi’s bad side if they do.
Oddly, the United States Championship is feeling like the top title of SmackDown right now as it is being fought over by Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens and eventually AJ Styles. These three top names will be able to put on great matches, both for in-ring style and storytelling chops, and Styles himself is having great matches on the road to that title. His main event match with Corbin was really good, just as the triple threat was last week. There’s a good chance Kevin will win, just as Orton will win against Bray, but the US title could go to either Kevin or Styles after that as both men are cornerstones of whatever roster they’re on.
My Score: 8.5/10