02 Arena, London, England
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL & Byron Saxton
Cheerio mates! The SmackDown Live Recap goes across the pond this week. Are they really live this week? Doesn’t the show end at 3 in the morning out there? Should I even bother to research this? Nah! Okay, no long intro today. We’re promised Randy Orton’s first SD appearance since Payback, a one-on-one cat fight of sorts between Becky and Natty and, most important of all, another edition of The Fashion Files. I don’t know about you all, but I am in bunches now. Let’s head down to the ring!
We begin with highlights from three weeks ago when Jinder Mahal, with the help of his friends, defeated Sami Zayn in the six-pack challenge. There is a booing Jinder montage set to his scathing promo from that episode to get us behind his sudden title push. Then we get equally haunting scenes from Payback where Jinder and the Singhs (Not a bad band name) put down Orton en route to Bray pulling off the upset. Is it me, or is Jinder coming across like a major badass in these packages? Is he a legit title contender now or am I just licking too many wedding invitation envelopes?
After the open, Randy Orton heads down the aisle. The 13-time champ looks ready to pounce on someone and said he didn’t lose last week at Payback because of Bray or the vaunted refrigerator that was dropped on his carcass. Naturally he blames The Maharajah and his cronies. This brings out Jinder who says at first that he didn’t “take” anything or “steal” anything but he simply took what he’ll win at Backlash. Huh? Line flub aside, I thought it was great how he payed off his photo shoot with the title belt last week by posting the pictures of him wearing the strap on the tron. He made up for his earlier mistake with his line about cleansing our ignorance with his greatness. I honestly think this kick in the butt has helped him with his character work. Each week he’s looking less like the jobber we’ve known him to be. Anyway, before he can continue his promo in Punjabi, Kevin Owens comes out. The U.S. Champ says that no one cares about House of Horrors of India for that matter because all people should care about is him, the Face of America. Kevin plans on ending AJ Styles career at Backlash much like he did to Chris Jericho last week on SD Live. Owens jokes that Y2J couldn’t even last two hours on SmackDown then states that when he’s finished with AJ, he’s going for the WWE Championship. Owens wants to become the face of the WWE. Then he says it in French because there is nothing more heelish then a man speaking French. This brings out AJ Styles! Loud chants for the Face That Runs the Place who calls KO delusional and says that the U.S. Champ will never be the face of SD Live. If that wasn’t enough, Baron Corbin’s music plays. The Lone Wolf is about to add his two cents when he is jumped from behind by Sami Zayn. This begins a bit of a scrum with the faces clearing the ring while all the bad guys regroup on the floor. It’s announced after the break that we’ll have a Six-Man Tag main event later tonight. Teddy Long booking aside, there is no better way to build up three PPV programs at once like a first hour brawl that leads to a second hour match. All these guys belong at the top of the card right now though we’ll see if this thins out the rest of the show. MCGINN’S GRADE: 3.5 ICED COFFEES
Back from break, the Welcoming Committee is already in the ring minus Natalya. Someone who should be fired handed James Ellsworth a microphone and he makes the usual British bad teeth jokes and says that none of the chaps in the 02 tonight deserve to see such beauty that is the Committee. Then Carmella says something I chose to block out and then introduces Natalya for her big match tonight. How big a match you might ask? Well…
BECKY LYNCH VS. NATALYA
Ah Hah! You didn’t think I would go with the match card here did ya? There’s no law that says I only pull out the promo picture for the main event! You don’t own me readers! I’m unpredictable! I’m a loose cannon! I’m from the streets! Anyway, they have built up the Welcoming Committee so strongly the last few weeks, this might as well headline the show. So before Becky comes out, Naomi’s music plays to the surprise of everyone on the heel side. She properly introduces the Lass-Kicker who gets a tremendous ovation. Then Charlotte’s music blasts and the Queen brings her own microphone and tells us that she doesn’t need an introduction. Boy, they are really stretching this out probably due to the lack of depth on the roster. On a side note, can they find someone to take out Ellsworth so we can even the sides better. My suggestions would be either Hornswaggle, El Torito or, I can’t believe I’m saying this, Eugene! There have been worse ideas out there right? Natty had the upperhand early but Becky made a comeback highlighted by her Straight Fire and Beckspoder suplex. She inexplicably went to the middle ropes only to have Tamina run interference. Naomi shoved Snuka to the mat but was pulled away by Charlotte to keep Becky from being disqualified. With all the chaos outside, Becky got her legs swept up from underneath her by Natty and the Committee picked up the win. Charlotte and Naomi continued to argue after the match. The match was fine but we definitely didn’t need everyone to make an entrance. Plus Ellsworth talking and not getting punched in the face will always bring the grade down. MCGINN’S GRADE: 1.5 ICED COFFEES
LANA VS. THE CHAIR
Ooooh high-heeled boots! Lana doing the splits! Ooooh she’s begging me to come over! I need a cigarette! MCGINN’S GRADE: A BILLION KAJILLION ICED COFFEES
Backstage, Charlotte blames Naomi for Becky’s loss. The girls nearly come to blows when Becky attempts to play peacemaker. Naomi threatens to rip out all of Charlotte’s hair while Flair retorts by asking, “What are you going to do, Glow on me?” Seems like a reasonable question. Becky than gives the promo of her life saying that the Committee has formed a bond and that as long as Naomi and Charlotte keep fighting with one another, they will always fail against Natty’s gang. She says they need to “out-bond” them with a bond of their own and proposes a six-woman tag match at Backlash in less than two weeks. She then tries to bring them all in for one of those “all-for-one and one-for-all” bits with Charlotte reluctantly taking part but eventually coming around on the idea. I love, love, love Becky in this segment. She was on point and strong in her convictions. She made you want to run through a wall and her promos aren’t usually her strong suit. It looks like the Backlash card is starting to fill out quite nicely. MCGINN’S GRADE: 4.5 ICED COFFEES
Now the part of the show we’ve all been waiting for. The second installment of The Fashion Files: Special London Edition. We begin by noticing some paint on the floor and evidence of boot prints in the hallway. Breeze holds up a file with Davey Boy Smith on the cover along with his trusted companion, Winston, from his 1991 run. The bulldog is circled and the words “Fashion Faux Paw” is written on three sticky notes pointing at the canine. Already I’m laughing my ass off. Tyler is dressed like an English Bobby while Dango is sporting his Sherlock Holmes costume. After making a Cherrios joke and acknowledging that they are in the “Foggy Apple” they investigate the paint situation. They talk of the Ugos (The Usos) and their affinity towards using face paint. It’s pointed out that they haven’t worn it in a while and then they spot a door with painted hand prints. Yelling can be heard inside that door and Dango attempts to open it by typing in a number on the combination pad. Breeze then says there is no time for that and then weakly kicks it before going for the knob and opening their obstacle. Inside is The Ascension. What the hell are they doing in a dark room and yelling I’ll never know but I loved Breeze screaming “Let the girl go you freaks” before he entered the room. The gumshoes then close the door and say that The Ascension case has been reopened and we’re to assume that these two teams will square off later tonight. Not nearly as wonderful as last week, but I still enjoyed the inside jokes and one-liners this segment had to offer. I’m glad these guys are getting a chance at least to shine. MCGINN’S GRADE: 3/5 ICED COFFEES
LUKE HARPER VS. ERICK ROWAN
Wow how the might have fallen. Wasn’t Harper rumored to be involved in the title match at Mania not long ago? Why don’t they just pair these guys up again and they can be that monster team Vince loves so much? Anyway, the announcers play up the fact that Rowan is now unchained with Bray jumping to Raw. Apparently he learned a few tricks though before going out into the wild as he picks up a surprise victory with the assist from the old thumb to the eye. Rowan went to hit Harper with his mask only to see the ref take it away. With the zebra out of position, Rowan blinded Harper then spun his former brother around with a power slam to win in what some would consider an upset. Not a bad match… to get up and pick out a snack! MCGINN’S GRADE: 2 ICED COFFEES
Next up, we get the brooding Dolph Ziggler who runs down his resume and calls us all hypocrites. He feels a lack of appreciation after eight years and he can’t understand why people cheer a guy how hasn’t even had a match yet. While this is going on, the London faithful are chanting like crazy for Nakamura. On that line about not having a match, the clever fans start chanting NXT! NXT! Dolph shrugs that off and mocks all of us for singing Shinsuke’s music, which we all started doing like sheep immediately after he said it. Dolph finally calls out The King of Strong Style which was production’s cue to set off the strobe lights! After his usual entrance, Dolph tells Nakamura to quit the theatrics. He’s about to tell him to put up or shut up when Shinsuke snatched the mic and tells Ziggler to shut up! Shinsuke is ready to go right now and Dolph looks ready to accept the challenge. Even a referee shows up out of the blue. Jackets are tossed, shirts are removed, but Ziggler pulls the plug on the whole thing saying he’ll wait until Backlash where he’ll expose Nakamura as the fraud that he is. So then Dolph tries to sucker punch his new foe but Shinsuke counters with some stiff knees as Ziggy heads for the exits. Long story short, I really can’t wait to see this match from Chi-Town! MCGINN’S GRADE: 3 ICED COFFEES
A new promo for the New Day’s arrival to SmackDown happens next as we’re introduced to the SD Live Arcade Game. We get 8-bit graphics and menus featuring all the tag teams followed by Big E calling them all booty. Then when New Day is selected, they are declared the winners of the game! Byron can’t control his excitement. Soon I’ll be scribing long talking segments featuring New Day humor. Get excited people!
THE ASCENSION VS. BREEZANGO
When the Fashion Po Po come out, it’s important to note the roar the crowd makes when Fandango’s music hits. The place explodes. I kid you not! These people went absolutely bananas and started doing the old Fandango dance. It was unbelievable. Apparently it is still 2013 in England. Anyway, Breezango wins easily after Dango scored with his Last Dance leg drop off the top rope which was set up by a super model kick by Breeze. The only thing missing from this was Summer Rae who I believe managed both these guys at one time or another. MCGINN’S GRADE: 2.5 ICED COFFEES
After the contest, the Usos made a rare television appearance. They started rapping I guess using the phrase “In 12 days” as their hook. For those keeping score, that’s when Backlash takes place. Without giving you all the lyrics, they plan on being victorious at the PPV over their opponents. It did get kind of weird though when Jimmy said things like “In 12 days, you’ll lick each other’s backs.” Let’s just move on!
Not to be forgotten, Mojo Rawley is giving a tour to a bunch of small children. Again, isn’t it 2 in the morning out there when this is aired live in the states? My head hurts! He tells them a story about Andre The Giant and how he took what made him different and became something special. A legend. Then he shows them the Andre trophy from WrestleMania, gets kicked in the shins, laughs it off and the tour continued after that to places we may never find out. Yay Mojo! Way to put over that little kid! MCGINN’S GRADE: 2 ICED COFFEES
Rusev, as you may recall, took to social media and said he would only go on SmackDown if he received a title shot at Money in The Bank. Well the handsome one was at it again tonight as he went on Twitter and said he hasn’t heard anything yet from Shane McMahon regarding his demand. He does not like to be ignored and says that’s even worse than being disrespected. He plans on receiving an answer from the commissioner next week when he appears on the show for the first time since the shake up. Now, if he does get his wish, this may telegraph that Jinder is losing at Backlash right? Is Mahal really only going to be built up this much to get shelled in his only title shot? Possibly? Though maybe Rusev will be placed in the ladder match itself and cash in that night. Time will tell on that one. MCGINN’S GRADE: 3 ICED COFFEES
AJ STYLES, SAMI ZANI & RANDY ORTON VS. KEVIN OWENS, BARON CORBIN & JINDER MAHAL
Here we go! As usual all the heels take their turns in ducking their rivals at the beginning. We get a brief preview of a possible feud between Owens and Orton as each guy threw some trash-talk at one another. We then get treated to Owens vs. Zayn for the 500th time on TV. After one break, Sami is the natural face-in-peril as he takes a pummeling from everyone on the heel side. The ref reached for his gloves midway through as Sami’s nose started bleeding. Eventually, Zayn finds AJ for a tag and he nearly gains the victory on a calf crusher to Corbin. Owens breaks that up and a melee ensues. The turning point came when Owens pulled the leg out from under Styles on a phenomenal forearm attempt. AJ wiped out on the top rope and then took a stiff knee to the face by Jinder minutes later. AJ slipped away and tagged in Orton who cleaned house. He went for an RKO on Jinder when the Singh’s finally got involved allowing Mahal to drill The Viper with a boot to the skull. That opened the door for a high spot party with everyone getting involved. That was culminated by an RKO (out of nowhere) on Owens but KO wasn’t the legal man. That nod went to Jinder who caught Randy with a full nelson slam to pick up the pin on the WWE Champion. Mahal and the Singh Brothers celebrate up the aisle as the dejected Orton can only watch. Is that belt actually going to slip out of the hands of the Apex Predator? The seeds of doubt have been planted! MCGINN’S GRADE: 4 ICED COFFEES
Okay. I might be a tad dramatic on the Jinder as a title contender thing but I do think the company is doing a terrific job in building him up. A month ago he was a joke and now he’s pinning Orton in the main event of SD Live. If nothing else, that title match is maybe 60% more intriguing then it was when this feud first began. As for the other two pairings from the main event, Owens/AJ is shaping up to be an instant classic that his hard to predict, Corbin is improving by leaps and bounds while Zayn could have a good match against my dog Basil if he wanted. I remain giddy about Shinsuke and Dolph and Breezango is nothing if not humorous and entertaining. Backlash is shaping up to be one of the better PPV cards we’ve seen all year and that’s a hot take anywhere in the country. My one criticism is the sudden lack of depth on display tonight with all those top guys in one match. That led to some dead segments which wasn’t the case for this show since the shake up. Split those six up next week and add Rusev to the mix and I believe better days are ahead for all of us.
FINAL GRADE: 3.25 ICED COFFEES