Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL & Byron Saxton
I want to start this week by thanking Aaron George for his herculean effort last week in filling in for me on the recap. Now that I am back from my one-week hiatus, I’m refreshed and ready to bring you some weekly recap domination that you have come to expect from me each week. And much like AJ Styles used his hometown crowd to try to build the momentum leading into Money in The Bank, so too will I as embark on my labor of love we call SmackDown Live. So without further ado (and because it’s freaken late and I have to go to work in the morning), let’s head down to ringside!
Before our open, we get solo interviews – old school style – of the five participants in tonight’s women’s fatal 5-way elimination match with the winner challenging Naomi for the women’s title at MITB. The only thing missing from the Golden Era was the cartoony backgrounds for each young lady. Remember Mr. Perfect had an image of his face as a stone bust in his background? Anyway, these girls use a boatload of puns with Carmella stealing from Michelle McCool’s teacher gimmick and Natalya making my ears bleed with every word. My bold prediction is that Tamina wins this thing because honestly, who has the stones to pick her in this lot? This is the “Land of Opportunity” afterall. I mean if Jinder Mahal can be your WWE Champion… okay, I won’t go there. Too soon!
Once we finally do get our open, Kevin Owens is already in the ring and he’s bringing back the Kevin Owens’ Highlight Reel. He takes a few jabs at Chris Jericho who he murdered weeks ago and said that even thought Y2J invented the MITB ladder match, his former best friend never won it. This brings out the AJ Styles chants from the ATL faithful so Owens doubles down and says that in three weeks, he will climb the ladder, grab that case and will not only be the US Champ but also the face of the entire WWE. Then he announces his guest for this week’s show and that’s one of the guys he plans to step on at the PPV and that’s none other than the “rock star” and “artist” we all know as Shinsuke Nakamura.
Shinsuke does his usual mannerisms though nearly runs straight into the Jeritron 6500 but reverses course and does his crazy rope pose to the delight of everyone. Owens says he’s going to do to this rock star what he did to another wrestler who considered himself a “rock star” and force him into an early retirement. He promises that if Nakamura bothers to show up at MITB, no one will sing his theme music anymore because that Sunday will be the day that “the music dies.” Great stuff here by KO who continues to be the best talker on any of the WWE programs in my humble opinion. Just when I’m ready, willing and Gable to hear Nakamura’s reply, the third wheel award goes to Baron Corbin who shows highlights of him beating Sami Zayn last week. Owens tells Baron that he’s been beating on Zayn for the past 15 years and instructs the Lone Wolf to get the hell out of his ring. Nakamura then reminds us that he pinned Owens last week and that Sami has beaten Corbin on two separate occasions. This incites a brawl that Shinsuke is at a major disadvantage in until Sami Zayn rises from the ashes like the Canadian phoenix that he is and cleans house on his adversaries. He then says the fight with Corbin is far from over and that his issues with Owens will never be over. And God knows that’s the truth because we’ll literally never see the end of the Zayn/Owens Saga. There could be a zombie apocalypse and all human life will cease to exist and yet we’ll still have cockroaches scurrying around in dark places and Sami Zayn will be fighting Kevin Owens. You mark my words!
Anyway, Sami wants a tag match and he wants to have it right now! So that’s what we get!
SAMI ZAYN & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA VS. KEVIN OWENS & BARON CORBIN
Quick question… How is Sami still alive after being stretchered out last week? Now he’s fighting in our opener this week? People get mad at John Cena for this but with Sami nobody seems to care. Now that’s a double standard if I haven’t heard of one. Corbin is going places as he impresses me each week. How pretty was that counter to the tornado DDT that he turned into a powerslam just before the commercial? Shinsuke provided some stiff knee shots, as you’d expect, to Owens when he finally got the hot tag. In the climax, Zayn smartly shoved Owens into a corner that was occupied by Corbin. The big guy didn’t take too kindly to being in the same atmosphere as the US Champ and started screaming at his tag partner. Owens didn’t appreciate the admonishment and gave a shove to Corbin who responded by punching Owens’ lights out. That left KO a sitting duck for the Kinshasa and the faces picked up the win. In a call back to last week, Zayn and Nakamura stood together and both looked up at the briefcase much like Shinsuke did with AJ. I think the good guys in this upcoming ladder match are getting a bit too chummy. Something is going to give at the PPV and you can quote me on that! MCGINN’S GRADE: 3 ICED COFFEES
The Usos come out to deliver a message to the WWE Universe. They look out into the audience and describe their reaction as a bit “salty.” They think the reason for the hostility is because the brothers are still the champions of the SD tag division. Then they run down a couple of their recent challengers like American Alpha (remember them?) and Breezango. You think those teams could beat the Usos? Nope! Then they completely kick Atlanta in the proverbial cherries by asking the crowd if they thought the Atlanta Falcons would beat the New England Patriots in the greatest Super Bowl to ever be played. Obviously the answer to that was also nope and the fans didn’t like that one bit! So how else can you escape the dark cloud looming over your head after a serious sports burn then the arrival of the NEW DAY who are making their SmackDown Live debut. Byron calls them the Patriarchs of Positivity and Xavier takes great pride in bringing the world famous, two-time champs back to his hometown. The Usos say that they have the division on lock and welcomes New Day to the Uso Penitentiary. Big E makes an awkward prison joke and then proclaims his team’s desire to once again become tag champions. Then the Usos go for broke with an Old Yeller reference because nothing says you’re from the streets like referencing a film made in 1957. Finally, Xavier drops the mic by saying that at Money in The Bank, The New Day has been promised a tag team title match on orders from Commissioner Shane McMahon. Lots of street talk and double entendres for my liking but at least we have a new feud to put in the oven for the next three weeks. MCGINN’S GRADE: 2.5 ICED COFFEES
We next get a very fascinating rewind of Jinder Mahal’s Punjabi Celebration from a week ago. It starts out like a normal highlight package but then you hear a line from his promo from last week in which the new WWE Champ says that he is celebrating for his people and for India. We then get a series of news clips from Indian television and written publications celebrating the achievement of their new favorite son. It made it seem like their national nightly news led off not with some catastrophe or speech made by their leaders but by the victory of Jinder Mahal over Randy Orton. How crazy is that? If the whole idea behind this was to expand into India and make a new international star, these clips would suggest they succeeded. Which brings me to another point. Online, everyone bitches. It’s a fact, not opinion. I’m probably doing it too to some degree. But the biggest hypocrites online are those that complain that WWE doesn’t “make anymore new stars” but then moans that Jinder Mahal shouldn’t be WWE Champion. So it’s only okay if they make a star out of someone you like? That’s funny because I think making Jinder a champ when he used to lose all the time is the exact definition of “making a new star.” Who would have believed this would happen? And now he’s killing it in this new role. Kudos to the company for taking a chance on the guy and seeing it pay off with an intriguing new villain for us all to root against. Don’t hinder Jinder people! That’s all I’m saying! MCGINN’S GRADE: 3.5 ICED COFFEES
In a very special Fashion Files, they do away with Law & Order ripoff and we get a black and white film noir of Fandango called “The Men Whole Knew Too Little.” In this segment, Dango laments over his team’s loss to the Usos and questions where he and Breeze go from here. Back to the Bargain Rack? Then he comes across the Fashion Police Department and sees that the place has been ransacked. Inside, all the pictures are on the floor and the tables are turned over. He then spots the silouette of a beautiful woman but it turns out to be Breeze in disguise. The two partners can hear each other’s narrations and they discover a bottle of cologne on the floor. The believe that the Fashion Po Po got too close to the tag title and another team got spooked. They decide to rejoin as a team and are back on the case. Not nearly as humorous as the original Fashion Files but at least they haven’t banished these two to job duty just yet. MCGINN’S GRADE: 3 ICED COFFEES
FATAL 5-WAY ELIMINATION #1 CONTENDER MATCH
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Tamina vs. Natalya
This match never got started which probably shouldn’t have been much of a shock. Rumors have been circulating for weeks about who might challenge Naomi for the belt at the next PPV. Well we got our answer tonight! A brawl ensued that spilled out of the ring and just in front of the announce table. Everyone seemed to get their licks in but most of the focus seemed to be on Charlotte vs. Tamina. Becky sent Carmella packing into the timekeeper’s area and then the Lass Kicker disappeared herself leaping after James Ellsworth’s “guradian of his galaxy.” (Oh why am I quoting James Ellsworth jokes?) While that is going on, Tamina tore apart the announce table and tried to set up Charlotte to put her through it. But Flair shoves her off and then moonsaults onto Tamina and Natty. Becky and Carmella would emerge but would be taken out before Natty took over. She scored with a discus lariat on Charlotte but the queen recovered and tossed Natalya into the steel steps. This softened up the avid cat lover enough so that Charlotte could make my dreams come true but powerbombing Natty through the announce table. Oh that was just delicious! So out comes Shane O Mac and he is fixing to make some history. He decides that the only way to settle who the #1 contender is to have the very first ever Womens Money in The Bank Ladder match featuring all five of these ladies competing at the PPV. I probably won’t have the stones to pick Tamina in that one. If you ask me now, I’d say it’s about time Charlotte begins a new PPV streak starting in three weeks. MCGINN’S GRADE 4 ICED COFFEES
BREEZANGO VS. THE COLONS
Get it?! They find cologne and now they are fighting the Colons? Get it? Not much to say here except that Breeze keeps playing dress up. First he’s literally in a dress and then he’s back as the lovable janitor. He “cleans” house so to speak. I bet that janitor always wins “clean.” Get it? I’ll be here all week! Try the veal! So at one point, Dango and Primo are fighting over a mop but this one ends when Breeze delivers an unprettier to Primo for the easy win for the Fashion Po Po. Entertaining and short. The perfect combination. A nice bounce back for Breezango who have proven to be silly, yet fan favorites. I’m not complaining. MCGINN’S GRADE: 2.75 ICED COFFEES
Renee interviews AJ Styles who is trying to build momentum entering the PPV. He wants to feed off of the hometown crowd but he’s then interrupted by Dolph Ziggler who he faces tonight. They tease a fight right there in the hallway but Ziggler backs away and we move on.
Randy Orton now returns and cuts a promo about how pro wrestling is in his blood. He keeps tying in America and his family history of success and how in his grandpa’s day, you wouldn’t just talk about doing something, you’d actually go out and do it. He also said that his grandad would likely “smack the hell out of him” for losing to Jinder at Payback. Jinder may have thought that he earned some respect for claiming the belt, but according to Orton, all he earned was an American Ass whooping. Jinder’s music comes on and after a long delay, the champion’s face appears on the tron. He calls Randy ignorant like all Americans and says living on “the coattails of what once was.” The Singhs begin to clap as Mahal calls himself the Modern Day Maharaja. I think they are still clapping as you read this. Kinda blah, I must admit. I’d much rather see Orton sneaking up from the shadows and delivering RKO’s than hear him talk for 10 minutes. I get the feeling though that this rematch will end with the winner getting cashed in on by the MITB contract winner. They need to somehow bridge the gap between these two and the Owens/AJ/Shisuke/Zayn group and that briefcase might be just the thing to do it. MCGINN’S GRADE: 2 ICED COFFEES
Shinsuke vs. Owens next week!
AJ STYLES VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER
How excited am I for this match? Well, I didn’t bother to put up the promo picture so probably not much. It’s been a long day guys, cut me some slack! Anyway, much like Raw is getting everyone involved in their Fatal 5-Way match by using up all of their match combinations, it makes sense that these two headline tonight after the other four were in the tag match earlier. Immediately we get a brief package of Dolph winning the contract in 2012 and then cashing it in on my birthday in 2013. Good lord was 2012 really 5 years ago? Just send me to the nursing home now and get it over with. Speaking of which, let’s fast forward to the end of this one where Styles fails on three occasions to apply the Styles Clash. He then decides to break out the calf crusher and Ziggy barely gets out of it by clawing at AJ’s eyes. Dolph then hits the zig zag for two but his leg is too messed up to execute a superkick. AJ tries for the phenomenal forearm but Zigler crotches him on the top rope. This sets the table for a Dolph superkick to the side of Style’s noggin and just like that, Ziggler wins to establish his claim as a true contender for the briefcase. We probably should have seen this coming though for AJ. If Sasha Banks can lose in Boston and Charlotte can do the favors in, well, Charlotte, then there is no possible way AJ is winning this match in Atlanta. Bruce Pitchard going into business with Jerry Jarrett and Dave Meltzer would have a better chance of succeeding than AJ winning in Atlanta. You get my drift. I’m sure all these guys will be trading wins and losses these next few weeks to leave us all guessing once the match actually starts. MCGINN’S GRADE: 3.5 ICED COFFEES
For once we really didn’t get a blow away show. Once the Womens Divison stuff was over, this show just sort of fizzled out. Mahal not being present hurt some and I’m missing some of the other midcard guys like Mojo and Tye. I know they won’t set the world on fire but it’d be nice to write about different people each week. Hey, at least we got the New Day to make an appearance right? Also, did they just scrap the Rusev angle where he’d only return if he got a title match at MITB? And where the bleep was Lana this week? That in itself brings this baby down faster than Tiger Woods can tarnish his legacy. At least we’re building to a new pay-per-view and I’m guessing more surprises are on the menu for all of us so work up an appetite people until next time.