TD Garden, Boston, MA
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL & Byron Saxton
Well, well, well. We meet again. It seems the “shake-up” was not limited to the WWE roster. For those newcomers in the audience, allow me to reintroduce myself. I’m Dan. You may remember me from such failed podcasts as The Steve Corino Show, The Extreme Odd Couple and another instant classic that left us way too soon, like Deadwood and Jericho, The History of Wrestling. For the past year, I feel like I’ve been stuck in the year 1985, but now I’m here in the present and SmackDown Live is finally getting its due. And what a week to start recapping! I wore out my pause and rewind buttons because of all the exciting twists, turns and curves and that’s just talking about the Lana dance segment!
We open in Boston (how fitting to start this column up again in my “hometown”) to a salivating audience as we await our first surprise of the evening and the Blue Show doesn’t disappoint as SmackDown Live has now become the Kevin Owens Show! That’s right! With Dean Ambrose taking the IC strap over to Monday nights, it’s only fitting that Raw’s secondary title holder takes his talents to SmackDown. Owens is looking all cleaned up with his pressed suit, shaved face and cute blue tie. The crowd goes bonkers as always. Getting slightly less of a reaction is Byron Saxton who pushed over David Otunga’s corpse and has now joined the Tuesday night announce team.
Owens calls his acquisition a “huge upgrade” and then starts ripping Boston and America by stating that Canada is much better, produces superior athletes and that the Canadians own the Boston Bruins. He then proclaims that he can beat up anyone in the Garden and that as US Champ, he is here to be the “new face of America.” This brings out Baron Corbin who feels he is owed a title match by virtue of the fact that he beat Dean Ambrose last week while the Lunatic Fringe sent Owens packing with a loss Monday night on Raw. This sets up a most peculiar little heel-on-heel feud until our next big surprise lands in our laps.
Sami Zayn is here! Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh! Let’s Go! After many rumors and Kurt Angle’s subtle hinting on Raw, the Underdog from the Underground is now playing for team blue. KO can’t believe this is happening and must think Zayn is the human equivalent to having a psoriasis. He just won’t go away! Dermatological jokes aside, we’re not even done with the Earth-shattering news as whose music plays next but the face who runs the place, A.J. Styles.
Styles emphatically states that he isn’t going anywhere and that SmackDown Live is the house that A.J. Styles built. This brings out our wheeling and dealing GM, Daniel Bryan, who is happier than a pig in slop over his newly minted roster. He reminds the audience that Kevin Owens will face Chris Jericho on the Raw exclusive PPV Payback. Until that event, the U.S. Title cannot be defended on SmackDown so that rules out any of these guys getting their hands on Owens right away. Bryan did say that the winner of Owens/Jericho would bring that belt with them onto SmackDown Live. Finally, we’re told that the winner of tonight’s triple threat main event, would become the new #1 contender for the United States Championship! That’s our first segment and I’m already about to pass out! We’re off to the races wrestling fans! I could get used to this whole “shake-up” idea!
ERICK ROWAN VS. WWE CHAMPION RANDY ORTON
So we get our first match of the evening. Randy Orton tackles Bray Wyatt’s top henchman. This is a very odd dynamic because Bray is now a Raw guy and Rowan is kind of on his own little island but still very much aligned with Brother Bray. Orton and Bray will meet in a House of Horrors Match at Payback for the WWE Championship. I sincerely hope that match ranks higher in quality than such stinkers as the Kennel from Hell or the more recent Asylum match. Anyway, typical Orton match with his usual move set. Rowan lumbers around and sometimes into things like the ring steps outside. Orton connects with his “vintage” DDT off the ropes and is looking to strike before Bray interjects from the video board. He says he can smell the stench of fear on Randy. Orton shakes it off and goes after Rowan who escaped to the floor. The big guy rocked Orton’s skull with those ring stairs leading to the ref to call for the bell. Erick “The Red” then scored with his rarely-used full nelson slam in the middle of the ring on the champ as his xylophone music played us out. Not exactly the way I imagined this match ending to say the least.
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The Usos (C) vs. American Alpha
The Usos are getting no respect. First they can’t get a proper title defense on Mania and now they are getting the Jack Swagger “already in the ring” treatment here tonight. Alpha comes out looking more and more like the Steiner Brothers every week and are looking to reclaim the blue belts. This match had a frenetic pace with both teams getting time to shine. Gable was a suplex machine at one point mixing some Germans with some exploders while finishing up the sequence with a perfect moonsault off the top rope. The Alphas nearly pulled off the win when Gable countered an Uso splash with a small package for two. They even did the Steiner bulldog maneuver that only yielded another near-fall. But in the end, a blind tag did in our challengers as Gable ate a superkick followed by a splash by Jimmy and the Usos stunned Beantown by retaining their titles. After the match two shirtless men attacked Gable and Jordan and those men were referred to as Primo and Epico. Gone were the brouchures for time shares and in come two serious ass-kickers. Not even the announce team acknowledged that failed gimmick and all of a sudden, we have a revamped tag division.
MOJO RAWLEY VS. JINDER MAHAL
Ahh the rematch you never thought you’d see. Is Gronk in the house? Oh hell yeah he is! They recap the Gronk/Jinder altercation at WrestleMania that ended in a spilled beer and Mojo earning his Mania moment. After a series of “We Want Gronk” chants, Jinder went to the floor to smack talk with the Super Bowl Champion tight end. Mojo made the save and sent Mahal into the barrier. Then the real fun started as Gronk got his win back on Jinder by absolutely drenching the heel’s face with Sam Adams (I’m just guessing. We are in Boston after all!). Back in the ring, Mojo decks Jinder into next week’s show for the victory and then Mojo jumps into the crowd, hugging Gronk in the process and the “Mojo Leap” was born.
Shane McMahon starts the second hour by dishing on the SmackDown Womens Division. Gone are Alexa and Mickie so many were speculating who would be making the jump from Raw. Shane-O invited the whole women’s roster out to the ring and by “whole roster” I mean four women and James Ellsworth. Shane said that the newest member of SmackDown Live was a second generation star who’s father was a hall of famer. Naturally everyone thought it was Charlotte but y’all been swerved as Shane actually meant Tamina who none of us have seen since Team B.A.D was a thing. Fans were unimpressed by this selection and started chanting for Sasha (We are in Boston after all). McMahon picked up on the crowd’s reaction and then presented us with what he called “the biggest acquisition of the roster shake up” when Charlotte actually made an appearance on SmackDown Live. Now we may have something here!
In the not-good-enough-to-appear-on-the-show-but-we-felt-it-neccessary-to-mention-that-they-too-will-be-joining-SmackDown segment, Sin Cara and Rusev were announced as switching brands. My have the mighty have fallen!
Aiden English is by himself in the ring. No mention of Simon Goch’s release but it’s clear English hasn’t received his walking papers yet. In a cool moment, he notes that he’s alone but the spotlight is now solely on him as the lights go down. He begins to sing when my guilty pleasure, Tye Dillinger, hits the stage. This sets up…
TYE DILLINGER VS. AIDEN ENGLISH
The best part of this match, believe it or not, was Saxton joking that the best part about the “10” chants is that the fans only have to remember one number. Tye is over like rover right now. You can’t escape the “10!” Our new hero wins with a tye breaker and we move on.
Guys, make sure your girlfriend (or fiance) doesn’t walk in on your when Lana starts dancing with a chair. You may have to answer some questions you won’t feel comfortable answering. Holy Moses that woman is a smoke show! I am definitely glad to be writing about this show! Sorry Brian Bayless. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to take a cold shower!
Dolph Ziggler is in the ring now. He pulls a “What about Dolph Ziggler” comment and basically describes my emotions about this roster shake up. Right now, it is exciting but in his opinion, maybe it all goes down from here. Dolph spews more nonsense about how he’ll have to steal the show when everything comes to a stop and Shinsuke Nakamura emerges. He reintroduces himself to Dolph and the Bean Town faithful who have lost their collected minds over what has happened tonight. Dolph attempts a superkick but Shinsuke drops him on his ass while screaming “come on!” Ziggy retreats like any good heel should. Kudos to Dolph as he now gets promoted from dealing with Apollo Crews to one of the hottest men in the whole company.
Before our main event, the announcers set up a quick vignette of the final big name who will be eventually jumping ship from Raw. After a small build, it is finally revealed that your world famous, two-time champs, The New Day are bringing the power of positivity to Tuesday nights. Sweet sassy molassie! Byron Saxton cannot contain his excitement. So Shane loses Rhyno and Slater and gains ass-kicking Primo and Epico along with the most dominant tag team in the last two years? Not bad!
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP #1 CONTENDER TRIPLE THREAT MATCH
A.J. Styles vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Whoa! Where to begin! You had a dominating big man taking on a tweaner ex-champ who everyone is dying to see make a face turn, not to mention the underdog seeking a career-making victory. Naturally the smaller competitors doubled up on the larger Corbin early and often. Once The Lone Wolf was dumped to the floor, the internet got its dream match between Styles and Zayn. Corbin eventually put the boots to both men and he looked in complete control of the match establishing himself as a monster. This match got cooking after the break with a series of near falls. Sami nearly had it with a blue thunder bomb. There was a great spot when Zayn, on Corbin’s shoulders, rolled him up a victory roll in order to avoid a phenomenal forearm by Styles. Eventually, Zayn would kill Corbin for good by drilling him off the apron with his patented helluva kick though Styles would get the last laugh as he pasted Sami with a forearm to pick up the win and a future shot at the suddenly important U.S. title. Fantastic effort by all three men. Definitely a match worth rewatching and would eat my hat if it doesn’t end up on one of those “Best of” DVDs.
In the immortal words of Ron Simmons, Damn! Now that’s a way to reboot your roster! If you were like me prior to Mania, you were a very handsome and charismatic individual. But that’s beside the point. But seriously, if you were really like me, you also leaned towards SmackDown being a better show week in and week out. Now with the additions of Owens, Zayn, Charlotte, Nakamura, Dillinger and eventually The New Day and Rusev, SmackDown Live might become must-watch every week. Cancel your plans for Tuesday guys! I didn’t event mention that they kept A.J. I remember being nervous on Monday thinking that I agreed to this assignment and Styles would jump to the red brand. I think the talent divide between the two brands has narrowed significantly with the call ups and shake ups.
It’s time for a new adventure suckas! Man, it’s good to be back!