KFC Yum Center, Louisville, KY
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL & Byron Saxton
In Memory of Matthew “Rosey” Anoai 1970-2017
A week has come and gone and I still have a gig over at Place to Be Nation. Miracles can happen kids. Today we emanate from the KFC “Yum” Center and we’re promised a gigantic Six-Pack Challenge to determine who will face the WWE Champion at Backlash next month. Some not-so-typical names seem to be in that match and we’ll get to that shortly but let’s see how excited we are at the end of the night for week two of the roster shakeup. Was Dolph Ziggler right in saying that the enthusiasm for the new faces in new places wears off as the weeks go by? All I know is we’re here in an arena named after fast-food chicken and a six-pack is on the menu. Anyone else hungry? Let’s head down to the ring!
We open with Charlotte Flair, a.k.a. The Queen, a.k.a. the next SmackDown Women’s Champion who gets a very nice reaction from the Kentucky faithful. Just when you think maybe they are transitioning her into babyface status, out comes the resting bitch face. It seems the Queen has a bee in her bonnet as she is losing patience (already!) in the SD Live brass. How come she hasn’t received a title show yet? It’s only been a whole week for crying out loud! What’s taking so long Shane-O Mac? She also makes a Fast and Furious joke that was slightly less split-your-sides worthy but still an excellent effort for a Charlotte promo. Now out comes the champ, Naomi, who says that we don’t have kings or queens on Tuesday nights. Only champions reside on the blue brand, but she is willing to bow down to the Queen’s demands and offers her a shot at the strap. Then she does the unthinkable and sucker punches Charlotte with a devastating right hand. She peppers Flair with haymakers until Shane takes the stage. He states the Smackdown is still the “land of opportunity” and offers Charlotte a shot to earn a title match for next week. All she needs to do is beat Naomi tonight and she gets her wish. Charlotte jumps Naomi as Shane walks off and dumps the “feeler of the glow” onto the floor. As Flair holds up the SmackDown title for the cameras, Naomi hits the ring again and returns the favor on Ms. Flair. After getting Charlotte/Sasha/Bayley fatigue for the past six months, it’s good to see we’re getting a fresh title program so soon after Mania. Let’s see what this duo can do!
After the break, a not-so-happy Natalya is chatting with Shane. She doesn’t think Charlotte deserves the opportunity she was just given. I can’t imagine why that would be the case. She only owned the Women’s Division since her debut, was a 4-time Raw Women’s Champion, the very last Divas Champ and not to mention a former NXT Champion. But yeah Natty, I can’t see why she should get a chance at a title shot on SmackDown. Anyway, this segment circles the bowl some more when Natty is joined by Carmella (and James Elllsworth) and Tamina. The best part was when Tamina made her claim at a title chance when Ellsworth replied “back of the line, Tamina!” Natalya says she has a plan and the group I’m going to refer to from now on as the “Faction of Losers” walks off.
SIX-PACK CHALLENGE #1 CONTENDERS MATCH
Sami Zayn vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Dolph Ziggler
Holy smokes! There are some random dudes in this match. Seems like last week’s triple threat for the U.S. Title #1 contendership was much more loaded. In hindsight, wouldn’t Miz have been perfect to win this match if he didn’t get shipped to Raw to be in the same spot he was on SD? But I digress. We get some callbacks to previous feuds to start as Mojo and Jinder tussle without Gronk present to interfere. Harper and Rowan rekindle their on again, off again feud for Bray Wyatt’s love. Harper planted Sami with a Michinoku driver just before our commercial break. When we came back we almost had a trio of superplexes thought Zayn spoiled the party by powerbombing Mahal. Then we get a brief superkick party by Ziggler that was crashed by a discus clothesline by Harper. We had insane near falls and even a second commercial break. I loved how JBL played up the fact that countless hall of famers never achieved winning a world championship and referenced greats like Piper, Scott Hall and Goldust. Mojo had me jumping when he knocked out Ziggler with his mighty right hand in the corner. Zayn literally saved the match by an eyelash! Could you imagine Rawley vs. Orton headlining a PPV?
Another moment that nearly ended the match was when Ziggler used the zig-zag to nearly knock off Rowan. There was this cool visual of Harper hung up in the corner and unable to break up the pin. Okay, not to get all play-by-play on you but this match just sizzled from this point on and you’ll have to take my word for it. I’m a pretty honest guy. You can trust me! So finally, Sami delivers his patented corner exploder suplex on Mahal and the fans start to feel that maybe this time, Sami will finally win the big one. But then two men on the outside grabbed Zayn’s legs preventing him from hitting the helluva kick. Mahal scored with his cobra clutch slam and we get that elusive three-count. Holy cheese and crackers? Are you serious? Jinder Mahal is the new #1 contender? Has this world gone topsy-turvy? Byron Saxton is beside himself! Who were those guys? Phillips thinks it’s the Bollywood Boys. Who? You know, the jobber tag team from NXT and 205 Live. I guess SmackDown is the land of opportunity. This truly is unbelievable!
Jinder cuts a scathing promo on American fans saying that they boo him because of his wealth and higher education. Was that character development? Wasn’t this guy jobbing to Enzo Amore a couple months ago? Now he’s in the main event of Backlash? As I said, miracles can happen my friends. Maybe I will host my own podcast someday. #TalkingSnack
Believe it or not, we’re not even done with this segment as out comes Randy Orton. He congratulates his next challenger (assuming he wins at Payback) but says Jinder’s only prize will be an RKO. Orton then goes on to say that if he has to burn down Bray’s House of Horrors at Payback, then so be it. Jinder looks confused and oddly disappears once Bray comes on the jumbotron. Bray wants Orton to feel his pain, suffering and all the agony he endured when Randy burned down his compound. None of that will compare to the terror of this aforementioned house and he promises Orton will never be able to walk out. What the hell are we getting ourselves into with this match? And how is Bray on both shows? Does he come back to SD if he wins the belt? Does Orton go to Raw? Does Bray take the title to Raw? My head is going to explode!
We then get a New Day package. They promise to bring pops and cereal but never any booty. Stay tuned!
Next up, we get a video package on Shinsuke Nakamura. It probably would have been sweet if he was in the six-pack but unless he wins it, it’s probably best that they hold off on his big debut. I’m actually pretty stoked to see him fight Ziggler if we’re being honest with each other.
For the love of Pete (Schirmacher!) we have oodles of backstage segments today. Now it’s the face that runs the place’s turn to talk with Renee Young. AJ Styles doesn’t care if he faces Chris Jericho or Kevin Owens following their match at Payback. He feels he’ll have a nice homefield advantage since SmackDown is the house that AJ built. Now Baron Corbin interrupts because he doesn’t have a role on the show just yet. Long story short, he’s grouchy that AJ will get a title shot before he does. AJ points out that he beat Corbin last week and he’s demanding an encore for this week. The challenge was accepted an our main event is set.
In a different part of the arena, Charlotte is confronted by the Faction of Losers. The group is fake nice with the newest acquisition and the Queen’s reaction to them was tepid at best. She walks right by them and even bumps Carmella for good measure. I guess being catty was Natalya’s big plan. How apropos!
SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP #1 CONENDERS MATCH
Naomi vs. Charlotte Flair
This match started with Flair toying with our champion. The visual of her smiling to the crowd while immediately sneering at Naomi as if she didn’t belong in the ring stood out to me. Charlotte showed the technical skills that have made her a natural while Naomi countered with quick kicks and strikes. A few spots seemed a little choppy and awkward though I’m sure, with more time together, they’ll be able to put on a better match. Naomi showed some frustration with not being able to put away Charlotte with some of her best weapons. When she went for the tried and true rearview, Charlotte countered with a swift kick to the champion’s spine. This led to a natural selection and Charlotte picked up the impressive victory. JBL was gushing that Flair is the “greatest acquisition” of the shake up and now our main event for next week is set.
Backstage again, Charlotte again walks by the Faction of Losers. Once she walks off screen you can hear her put an exclamation point on Natty’s stupid plan by giving us a WOOOOOOOO! Awesome stuff by the Queen!
AMERICAN ALPHA VS. (“ASS-KICKING”) PRIMO & EPICO COLON
Another moniker I’m going to go with whether it catches on or not is calling the newest tag team on the roster “The Ass-Kicking” Primo and Epico. They just exploded onto the scene last week shedding the skins of their previously hideous gimmick while on Raw. They made a statement by handing American Alpha their lunches and now they even added their last name to their graphics. When was the last time they were referred to as Colon? Fast-forwarding a bit here, Jason Jordan gets tagged in and has he reached Billy Gunn levels yet as far as being a hot tag goes? When will he reach Robert Gibson status? In the closing sequence, Jordan gets kicked in the head by Primo allowing Epico to easily roll him up for the victory. Primo and Epico have now won more on SmackDown than they ever did on Raw over the last seven years.
Oh lord! Lana is dancing with a chair again! Holy smokes! How many hours do I have to wait before I’m supposed to contact my physician?
I love Tye Dillinger. Seriously! I’m considering using his theme as our entrance music at my upcoming wedding reception. Yes, I’m a fan of the 10! That being said, did he really need a backstage segment today as well?
KEVIN OWENS FACE OF AMERICA OPEN CHALLENGE
Kevin Owens vs. Gary Gandy
They debuted new “Face of America” tron graphics tonight and they looked swank. If you were hoping, like I was, for Nakamura to come out for the challenge, you were pretty disappointed. Instead we get Gary Gandy who gave the hometown Louisville fans a cheap pop. Owens clobbered this guy in under a minute but not before JBL had the line of the night by saying this was like watching “Secretariat vs. Mr. Ed.” All this was to set up Owens joining the commentary table for our main event.
AJ STYLES VS. BARON CORBIN
Owens immediately starts on AJ for stealing John Cena’s gimmick and states that the only way Styles will get the U.S. Title is by stealing that as well. Corbin is definitely the most improved player on the roster. I feel like he can fight anyone in the company at this point and the match will be above-average to very good. AJ helps too who could probably give my 65 year old father a hell of a match. So AJ is bopping around and taking ferocious punishment as they play up this story that it only takes one shot for Corbin to gain the advantage. The match is flowing well until USA puts up this ridiculous countdown to the start of Team Ninja Warrior. So I guess I’ll know when this match is about to end. With about three minutes left, AJ and Corbin go to the floor. AJ had Corbin in position for a styles clash on the floor. As he does this, he stares down Owens at the table. He takes a few seconds too long and Baron back body drops AJ onto Owens in a nasty spot. Styles recovers and pastes Corbin with a flying forearm that sends the Lone Wolf into the crowd. With only seconds to go, Styles slides back into the ring to salvage a countout victory. That’s it! No run in by Owens. No Corbin to get some heat back. Just AJ celebrating, the clock ticks zero and onto Team Ninja Warrior. Like Teddy KGB in Rounders, I feel “so unsatisfied” with that finish.
In the immortal words of my dear friend, Scott Criscuolo, this episode was “not bad, nothing offensive, didn’t suck or anything.” It was definitely a letdown after all the surprises and twists of last week. I think there was way too much filler and backstage stuff and would have preferred to have seen Tye or Shinsuke wrestle instead of the video package. And what the hell was up with Natalya and the Faction of Losers? Was just standing there the master plan? I do enjoy where they are going with AJ and Owens though I’m having trouble with the U.S. belt having a higher priority currently than the WWE Championship. I’m sure that murky situation will clear up a bit once Payback is over. One can only hope.
The six-pack was tons of fun though and who on the planet could have predicted that ending? This show is truly living up to its name as the “land of opportunity.” Where else could Jinder “freaken” Mahal, “Ass-Kicking Primo & Epico and the Bollywood Boys be top guys? Do you believe in miracles!?