McGinn’s SmackDown Live Recap – 5/16/17

SmackDown Live
SNHU Arena, Manchester, NH
5/16/17
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL & Byron Saxton

Welcome to Backlash week! I hope you plan to taking next Monday off because it’s about to get cray cray up in this recap! Anyone have an extra seat of couch space they are willing to share this Sunday? Let’s throw a party! We jumped back across the pond this week to WWE hot bed Manchester, New Hampshire for the “go home” episode of the longest running most watchable episodic television show in company history! Plenty of questions left to be answered as we head into the 10th biggest show of the year. Will Rusev get his demand of a title match? Will the “Welcoming Committee” keep steamrolling over the SD Women’s Division? Who will gain the moment in the battle of the #1 contenders heading into the pay-per-view? Might I ever appear on PTBN’s Main Event? (Nah, they can’t afford me!) Anyway, enough jibber-jabber! Pour a cup of joe and let’s head down to ringside!

After the open, we begin with Kevin Owens, dressed to the nines and standing in a very familiar scene. The JeriTron 6500 is on display but the usual host of this talking segment is nowhere to be found. He’s apparently too busy lending his music to NXT to promote their next special event but that’s besides the point. So in his place, Owens take the reigns of The Highlight Reel and calls his show new and improved because the original host will never… ever… be seen again! We get highlights, naturally, of Owens’ post-match mugging of Chris Jericho from two weeks ago and Owens caps it off by saying that the only list Y2J is on is the “injured” list. That beating will be just a sneak preview of what’s going to happen at Backlash to AJ Styles according to the United States Champion. Then Owens starts speaking in French… because he can… but his announcement is interupted by his challenger on Sunday. AJ jokes that KO has been stealing Jericho’s thunder all year but he never expected that he would steal his talk show as well. Owens responds by saying that he can do anything and everything better than Y2J including beating AJ Styles. Were these two not made for each other or what? AJ then mocks Owens by speaking in English… because he can… that he’ll beat KO on Sunday and bring back the US title to the country that bears its name. This then brings out our #1 Contender for the WWE Championship, Jinder Mahal, who will face AJ tonight. He questions why AJ is even out there since he was the scheduled guest of the revamped Highlight Reel. From the aisle he said he would do to Orton on Sunday what he did last week on SD Live when he pinned the WWE Champion. Jinder then quotes Ghandi, in Punjabi… because he can… which triggers Owens to predict that Styles will lose both to Jinder tonight and to him at Backlash. AJ charges after Owens who ducks out of the ring. Styles then said that Owens will have nowhere to run on Sunday and invites Jinder to his own version of the Highlight Reel right here and right now! Terrific build to the PPV with two pros taking charge and the always improving Jinder holding up his end of the bargain. These guys are showing tremendous chemistry in this segment and they set up tonight’s show nicely. MCGINN’S GRADE: 4 ICED COFFEES

AJ STYLES VS. JINDER MAHAL

After such a great segment, how could I not throw up the promo photo here? It’s a battle of #1 contenders by gawd! I figured this would be our main event I’m not complaining if this dominates our entire first hour. Owens is back at the commentary table. I really enjoy them not overdoing it with him in the ring. It makes his matches more of an attraction when he finally does get in there and fight. Plus his comments are usually some of the best work by the announcers in the entire two hours. Anyway, he puts Jinder over strong saying that now one has proven that SD is the land of opportunity more than Jinder the past month or so. He calls the Maharajah dangerous and he has all the momentum in the world. This match told a good story as well. He is taking pleasure in seeing Jinder’s mean streak which only benefits Owens since AJ is getting softened up with all the punishment being delivered. On a side note, Jinder’s moves just look painful. Either that or Styles is a selling monster out there. Those high knees and boots to the face look devastating. No wonder guys who survive a Jinder match enter the concussion protocol for WWE. Towards the conclusion of the match, AJ’s phenomenal forearm attempt was thwarted thanks to some well-timed interference put on by the Singh Bros. With the ref distracted, Owens blasted AJ’s right leg with the U.S. belt. With Styles in agony after being clipped, Jinder dropped him with the full nelson slam that will now and forever be known as the “Khallas” which means “finished” in Arabic. See, who said you never learn anything from a wrestling review? Styles eats the pin but might he win the war come Sunday? MCGINN’S GRADE: 3.5 ICED COFFEES

LANA VS. CHAIRS

OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS! OF ALL THE DRAMATIC THINGS I’VE EVER SEEN! This montage even had wardrobe changes! I can’t even keep up! My heart, and other areas of my anatomy, can’t take this much longer! MCGINN’S GRADE: INFINITY ICED COFFEES

THE FASHION FILES

This is easily becoming my favorite bit in my weekly wrestling watching. How can you not like these guys by now? We start with a poster of Shinsuke Nakamura. He has a pair of sticky notes on his person. One reads “No Style” while the other on his pants says “spandex.” For their own well-being, these guys better not take issue with the King of Strong Style. They have other photos with sticky notes along their wall including one of American Alpha that is titled “Fashion Beta.” There is another picture just below that one however that caught my eye. Was that Kevin Kelly under the title “Absolute Worst?” (Probably not but my TV was a little blurry and I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a KK joke in here!) Fandango looks at all the cases on the bulletin board and says he is up to his ears in “apparel atrocities.” Then a janitor walks in and Dango proceeds to make fun of the poor bastard. He says that this poor schlub is lucky that his partner isn’t here, but of course that man turns out to be Tyler Breeze in disguise. It seems Breeze is going deep undercover looking for fashion felonies on the SmackDown Live roster. He takes umbrage with Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn’s sense of style but finishes with a t-shirt of the Usos that reads “Day One Ish.” I’m not exactly sure what that means either but the Fashion Po Po make fun of it and read it as if it says “Day One is H.” Then Breeze loses his grip and calls the Usos scary and goes on to say that the tag champs hair is well-conditioned and luscious. He fears they don’t have a chance against them on Sunday when Dango tells him to snap out of it. He says they will be victorious and they will add the tag team belts to their wardrobe. Breeze caps it off by saying “And finally our day one will be H!” I’m sorry but these guys are kicking ass! I love this stuff! I hope their push isn’t one PPV and done but at least the build up to this match has been thoroughly entertaining. MCGINN’S GRADE: 4 ICED COFFEES 

Orton is seen walking in the back and is stopped by Renee Young. She asks about Jinder’s comments from earlier and Randy says that the real reason why people don’t like Mahal is simply because he is an ass. Short and to the point though maybe the name calling is the sign of a desperate man who is about to drop his strap. Goodness, when exactly do I get my check for helping this company put over Jinder Mahal? I have a honeymoon to pay for after all!

BREEZANGO VS. THE COLONS

Not much to say here except another relatively short tune up match to put over the Fashion Po Po. Saxton had an idiotic comment about comparing Breezango to a modern day APA. This ruffled JBL’s feathers quite a bit. Dango looks great in his hot tag role. He uncorked a sweet spinning heel kick in this one and finished off the suddenly ice cold Colons with a falcon arrow. MCGINN’S GRADE: 2.5 ICED COFFEES

This brings The Usos out. Do they even wrestle anymore? My fiance was watching with me this week and asked me this question then added “all I ever see them do is watch matches on monitors.” It’s a fair point. It’s almost like Owens but at least KO has been on the last few pay-per-views unlike these two clowns. I won’t give you the full rap that they did this week because it was mostly incoherent but they did play off of the whole police angle and introduced us to The Uso Penitentiary. On the one hand, I like how thugged out Jimmy and Jey have become but on the other hand, give me more Fashion Files! MCGINN’S GRADE: 2 ICED COFFEES

Shane McMahon comes out next and says that SD Live is the premier brand in WWE. Does that mean I write the premier recap on PTBN? I guess the number of clicks will decide that question. Shane-O then introduces the participants in Sunday’s Six-Woman Tag Match that basically involves everyone on the SD Live Women’s roster. The Welcoming Committee is announced first followed by Charlotte, Becky and Naomi who came out individually. Natty thinks the faces are pretending to be BFF’s but she thinks her opponents are pathetic. It’s kind of true though because the Committee has completely dominated this feud which seems unthinkable considering Charlotte is on the other side. Natty also pokes at Becky who she said blew her chance to join them and take over the division. Becky responded by saying that there was no chance in hell that she would join Natalya’s “Good Squad.” Then she said she couldn’t wait to slap all of their faces especially Ellsworth who looked especially ridiculous tonight. Naomi grabbed the mic next and mentioned something about snatching all their hair but did give her team little nicknames in “Royal, Glow, & Fire.” Charlotte then continued her tweener role by saying that after they win on Sunday, she is coming for her crown and pointed at Naomi’s championship. Ellsworth then goes on this long rant about how none of the good gals can have him which prompted Naomi to reach out and grab the Prince of Staten Island. Carmella protected her man and slammed the champ’s face on the table. A small melee ensued with Shane calling for a match between Naomi and Carmella. This was equal parts good build and agonizing yikes moments, particularly from Ellsworth. The match Sunday might be fine, but I think this will get better once they split up these trios into individual feuds. MCGINN’S GRADE: 2.5 ICED COFFEES

NAOMI VS. CARMELLA

I’d say this is a preview of our next title program, but how is Charlotte not the next SD Women’s champ? I do find it interesting though that only Carmella seems to have title aspirations currently within the Committee. Natty seems content with bashing Becky for her poor decisions and Tamina is just throwing superkicks at people these days. Anyway, Ellsworth gets involved and pulls Carmella out of the ring when the going got tough on the Queen of Staten Island. Then the ref ejected Ellsworth seemingly evening the odds for the faces. These two exchanged a volley of kicks to the legs and each time Naomi connected, Carmella would release an increasingly ear-piercing shriek that caused my fiance to curl up in a ball on the couch, blocking her ears. JBL raised a fantastic point when he said that the faces have too many agendas heading into the tag match while the Welcoming Committee only has one. How will Becky, Naomi and Charlotte coexist when they haven’t completely bonded yet? Late in the bout, Tamina and Natty jump on the apron when Naomi was about to go upstairs. The ref gets fed up and ejects the two ladies from ringside leaving Carmella all by her lonesome. Charlotte and Becky usher their adversaries away but they stop halfway up the aisle and then charge the ring. A brawl commences and lasts long enough for Naomi to be rolled up and pinned by Carmella for the cheap, and shocking, victory. Unbelievable! I’d give this match two middle fingers if not for the fact that they are continuing to tell the story that the Committee is a cohesive unit who have the face team’s number. Perhaps Carmella in the title picture will have some legs after all. I still say Royal Glow and Fire figure it out by the weekend. MCGINN’S GRADE: 3.5 ICED COFFEES

We then get Dolph Ziggler in the locker room. He still doesn’t understand the hype when it comes to Shinsuke Nakamura. He said he did some research and shows a video of all the remarkable things Nakamura has done in the WWE. The tape only shows bars and a black screen that reads “footage not found.” I laughed, I’ll admit it! So then Dolph plays a video package of his career including his title victories along with him getting the upper hand in his interactions with Shinsuke. He closes by saying that nothing will bring him more joy than to stop Nakamura before he even begins. Just amazing work by Dolph. He is unappreciated no doubt and I can see why people are tired of all the false starts he’s had in his career. But in this little piece here, I think he hit a moonshot home run with this promo. I don’t know about you, but this match has me pumped for Backlash. I’d hate to be the poor saps who have to follow this one. MCGINN’S GRADE: 5 ICED COFFEES

Sami Zayn is interviewed backstage by Dasha Fuentes which peaked the interest of my fiance again who asked “what the hell is wrong with her hair?” Before I could answer, Sami started talking about his just announced match at Backlash against Baron Corbin. Zayn then explains how he is the perfect opponent for The Lone Wolf because Sami is a reminder that Baron is not as dominant as he thinks he is. Because Zayn never stays down, Corbin is failing at being the alpha male on SmackDown because he can’t get the job done in stopping Zayn. Before he can continue, Corbin attacks Sami from behind and tells him that if he bothers to show up on Sunday, he will put him down permanently. WooHoo! There could be murders at Backlash! Sign up for the WWE Network! Kids, get your parents permission before ordering to see live homicide for only $9.99 a month! MCGINN’S GRADE: 2.75 ICED COFFEES

RANDY ORTON VS. BARON CORBIN

Nice to see Randy back at the ends of these cards once more. Corbin definitely deserves these main event spots as he’s easily the most improved man on the roster. I can’t hate on him much these days because his stuff with AJ, Sami and now here against the WWE Champ has been very good to great. This match had it’s share of good ring psychology as Corbin dominated most of the contest but his fatal flaw was going to the well one too many times. You know that move where Corbin is thrown into the turnbuckle but instead of hitting the corner, he slides under the ring, runs around, slides back in and crushes his opponent with some power move? Well Randy couldn’t figure this out. First he eats a clothesline and then he is nearly done in with a big boot. Corbin was rolling and he even had time to talk massive amounts of trash while delivering said beatings. Orton made his comeback of rapid clotheslines, power slams and the vintage DDT. On the RKO attempt however, Corbin shoved him off and scored with a Deep 6. Finally on the third Corbin slide, Randy caught The Lone Wolf with an RKO and gave the champion a much needed win. I guess the third time was the charm for The Viper. MCGINN’S GRADE: 3 ICED COFFEES

Just when I’m about to throw down the notebook and call it a night, Jinder’s music hits once again. He told Randy to savor his victory and relish in the time he has with the belt because come Sunday, Jinder is going to destroy his body, his pride and his future. This was all a set up for the Singh Bros. to come in and jump Orton from behind. Mahal then joins the fray and eventually gets Orton up in the Khallas and stands over his foe while holding up the WWE Championship.

LAST CALL

One observation I have from this show is that they are doing their best not to just shoehorn guys into the program just for the sake of using them. Rather than squeeze in a quick match for Tye Dillinger or Mojo Rawley who are doing nothing right now, they give segments more time allowing storylines to be fully developed right before the PPV. The Fashion Police for instance got a whole Fashion Files segment followed by a match followed by The Usos doing their bit. Now I want to see that match. The women had a contract signing followed by a match that was set up based on the events of the contract signing. Then Jinder gets his chance to get some mic work in with Owens and AJ, has a match of his own that ends in a win, and then comes out later to get involved with Orton. What do we get from all that Jinder time? More interest and intrigue heading into our main event in Chicago. I understand that eventually we’ll have shorter segments once New Day, Lana, Rusev and Shinsuke all start getting regular TV time, but for right now, let’s stop and enjoy good story telling and character building that SD Live has to offer!

Now, who has a couch for me to watch Backlash this weekend? I have a feeling my fiance is sick of watching wrestling with me already!

FINAL GRADE: 3.75 ICED COFFEES… Ahhhhhh!

Author: Dan McGinn

Dan McGinn is a former Minor League Baseball announcer, a five-star General in the #sweatervestarmy and an all around babyface who you should be happy to take home to dinner. He also happens to write about wrestling.