KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 5/16: Final Backlash hype including Styles vs. Mahal in battle of contenders

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

WWE Smackdown Live logo - new July 2016 (c)


MAY 16, 2017

Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton.


-Phillips introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd. He said it’s the last stop on the way to Backlash. He hyped A.J. Styles vs. Jinder Mahal as “a battle of contenders.”

-They went to Kevin Owens in the ring. He said he is the new host of the Highlight Reel because the old host will never be seen again. A clip aired of Owens attacking Jericho by ramming him into a ringpost with his head inside a steel chair. Sean Spicer, I mean JBL said, “There is absolutely nothing controversial about this.” Owens said what he did to Jericho is only a sneak preview of what’s going to happen Sunday at Backlash when he beats Styles. He introduced his guest for the evening in French “because I can.” Out came Styles. Owens asked what in the hell he was doing there. “Do you honestly think I’d ever invite you onto my show?” he asked.

Styles waited for an “A.J. Styles” chant to gain some momentum. He said he did terribly in high school French class, so “I’m going to say this in English, because I can.” He said he will beat Owens on Sunday for the championship for “the good ol’ U.S. of A.” Jinder Mahal interrupted.

Mahal, flanked by the Bollywood Boys, said he is supposed to be the guest of Kevin Owens. Owens said Styles is like a rude typical American sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Owens said his guest was scheduled to be Mahal. Mahal said what happens to Styles tonight is going to be what happened to Randy Orton “last week on Smackdown.” He didn’t say “Smackdown Live.” Interesting. Mahal said all of the Americans will be bowing down at his feet when he becomes WWE Champion. His voice isn’t projecting at all again this week. He quoted Mahatma Gandhi.  Mahal predicted Styles will lose tonight just like Sunday he’ll lost to Owens. Owens repeated the prediction. Styles entered the ring aggressively. Owens rolled out of the ring. Styles challenged Mahal to enter the ring so they can “start the A.J. Styles Highlight Reel.” [c]

(1) A.J. STYLES vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/the Singh Brothers)

Styles leapfrogged a charging Jinder and then rebounded off the ropes and hit a dropkick. Jinder cross chopped Styles in the throat to take over. Owens, of course, bickered with Saxton and Phillips throughout. Styles came back a minute later with a slingshot forearm. A “USA” chant started. Styles threw some round kicks to Mahal’s chest Daniel Bryan style. The Singh Brothers distracted Styles, giving Mahal an opening to drop Styles throat-first over the top rope and then hit him with a high knee. That led to a two count, then a break. [c]

Back live, Jinder was stomping Styles center-ring. At 12:00 Styles blocked a superplex attempt and dropped Mahal face-first over the corner turnbuckle. Mahal caught a charging Styles with a boot to the face, though. Styles countered with a dropkick. He hit a sitting Mahal with a flying forearm for a two count. More back and forth and more near falls. With Mahal at ringside, Styles dropkicked through the ropes and took Mahal down. He threw him back into the ring. Styles set up a Phenomenal Forearm, but Owens got up and hit Styles in his knee as the Singh Brothers distracted the referee. Mahal then scored a pin after his cobra slam finisher. JBL said if Mahal can beat Styles, it doesn’t matter how, he has a chance to beat Orton on Sunday.

WINNER: Mahal in 15:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. No surprise with Styles, but this was a test with Mahal to see if he could look like he belonged. I wouldn’t say Mahal stood out as anything special, but he looked like he belonged in there which is more than half the battle sometimes when you’re trying to establish yourself at the next level.)

-The announcers hyped Orton vs. Corbin and a contract signing with the women. [c]

-A vignette aired for Lana and it said she is “coming soon.”

-JBL said it’s one of the most anticipated debuts ever. He said she is beautiful. Phillips then threw to another Fashion Files segment.

-Fashion Files: The screen said they were in Manchester, N.H. this week. The camera panned past a photo of Tony Chimmel with a Post-It note saying “The Worst.” There were pictures of American Alpha, The Usos, and even a Vince McMahon mug shot. Fandango said he was up to his neck in atrocities. In walked a janitor who was actually Tyler Breeze. Fandango asked how his undercover work was going. He said Smackdown Live is filthy with fashion felonies. He held up Baron Corbin’s shirt – “three shirt, all wolves.” He said Sami Zayn’s drawers are the same color as his credenza. Breeze held up “Day One Ish” on a black t-shirt. Fandango read it as “Day One Is H” and asked what that means. Fandango said Tyler is “Prince Pretty, Prettiest of all the Princes.” He began to freak out about his janitor outfit. “What did I do?!” he asked. Fandango said on Sunday they will be champions and their day will be “H.” They did a “freeze-frame high five” pose.

-JBL said, “They are strange.”

-Backstage Randy Orton was approached by Rene Young. He asked about his match against Mahal on Sunday. Orton said Mahal thinks people don’t respect him because of what he looks like or sounds like and due to ignorance and intolerance. He said the truth is they don’t like Jinder “because Jinder’s an ass.” JBL said, “That was pretty blunt.”

(Keller’s Analysis: Someone needed to address Jinder’s accusations and say exactly that – that he uses ethnicity-based excuses to blame fans for not liking him when instead it’s his attitude.)

-The ring entrance for Breezango took place. [c]

(2) BREEZANGO (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. EPICO & PRIMO COLON

The match was joined just in progress. Epico scored a near fall with a  handful of tights on Fandango, but Fandango hit a Falcon Arrow right afterward for the win.

WINNERS: Breezango in 2:00.

-The Usos stepped out and told Breezandango do what they do to try to be funny and get retweets, but they do what they do for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. They suggested they flip the script and said this isn’t their precinct, so welcome to the Usos penitentiary “where we make all the rules.” Jimmy said they’re taking Breezango to trial on Sunday. They read them rights: “We have a right to remain vicious. Anything you say can and will leave you with stitches. We have a right to put your ass in a gurney. If you cannot afford a gurney, one will not be provided for you.” Tyler and Fandango looked on with some concern.

-They showed Naomi and Becky Lynch approach Charlotte backstage. Charlotte was all smiles. Phillips said “a first-ever of its kind contract signing is next.” [c]

-Shane McMahon danced to the ring. He said Smackdown Live is WWE’s premiere brand, and he said one of the reasons is the Women’s Division. He said at Backlash some of the most athletically gifted and competitive women will compete in a six-woman match-up. He introduced the threesome “dubbed the Smackdown Welcoming Committee.” The three women made their way to the ring – Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella (w/James Ellsworth).  Then Shane introduced Charlotte. Phillips said she may have been the biggest acquisition in the Superstar Shake-up. Then Becky Lynch. Then Naomi.

Naomi said to her opponents at Backlash that they’re pretending to be friends, but it’s pathetic. She said Becky had a chance to join them, but now it’s too late. She said she can’t wait to say, “I told you so.” Becky said Sunday at Backlash they’ll face even numbers and she can’t wait to slap the face of each of them. She signed the contract. Naomi addressed them next. She said what they should be focused on is their hair appointment because Royal, Glow, and Fire are going to snatch all of them – “especially her,” pointing at Ellsworth – bald! It kind of sounded like “balls.” Like she was going to snatch Ellsworth’s balls.

Charlotte spoke next. She told them to bring everything they have to the table on Sunday because in Chicago they’re going to beat them. She pivoted to Naomi and said after victory on Sunday, “The Queen is coming for her crown.” Ellsworth jumped in and told Shane-o-Mac that he can take care of himself. Shane said, “James, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He said it’s obvious that Becky longingly gazes at him. “I have to drop some water on your straight fire,” he said. “You have no chance in hell.” He took some shots at Charlotte and Becky next. He told Becky that eventually Carmella is going to stop her flow and take her title and steal her glow. “Duh!” Carmella yanked Naomi face-first into the table. Shane held back Naomi as Tamina held back Carmela. Shane said they have a lot of energy, so right now he’s booking Carmella vs. Naomi. “And that match is next!” he said. I wonder what match he cancelled that was planned instead?

(Keller’s Analysis: That worked. Everyone got some effective words in to build the match and establish their respective personalities. In the context of a contract signing, it made more sense they’d stand there and each take turns listening to each other.) [c]

(3) NAOMI (w/Charlotte, Becky Lynch) vs. CARMELLA (w/James Ellsworth, Natalya, Tamina)

Byron said if the babyface threesome can get on the same page for one night, the Welcoming Committee is in trouble. JBL said the WC is already on the same page. A few minutes in, Ellsworth pulled Carmella out of the way of Naomi. The ref booted Ellsworth from ringside. He threw a fit as they cut to a break. [c]

JBL complained about the ref kicking Ellsworth out of ringside. The ref then kicked Tamina and Natalya to the back after they distracted Naomi as she climbed to the top rope. Charlotte and Becky gloated and taunted them at ringside, shoeing them away. Tamina and Natalya had enough and charged back at Charlotte and Becky. That distraction at ringside led to Carmella schoolgirling Naomi for the three count.

WINNER: Carmella in 11:00.

-The announcers, on camera, hyped the main event up next. [c]

-A vignette aired on the arrival “soon” of The New Day.

-Dolph Ziggler addressed the camera in the locker room. He said he wanted to expose Shinsuke Nakamura as a fraud and a nobody. He said he did his homework and research and he found all the remarkable things Nakamura has done in WWE. They went to the start of Shinsuke ring entrance video, but it stopped and the screen said, “No Footage Found.” Ziggler said he has done nothing in WWE, but he has done everything. He threw to a video package highlighting himself. He said Sunday is about the hypocrites who turned their backs on him. By beating Nakamura “before he even begins” will be like spitting on all his critics.

-In a backstage interview, Sami Zayn said he has been granted a match against Baron Corbin at Backlash. He said he thinks Corbin is threatened by him. He said he is more dangerous to a guy like Corbin because he is a constant reminder to him that he isn’t as dominant as he thinks he is. He asked what happens to a guy like that he knows he can’t keep down. He said that is a threat to his ego. Corbin attacked him from behind. Corbin said he should learn to stay down because if he doesn’t stay down and shows up on Sunday, he’ll take him down permanently. He walked away as Zayn grabbed at his face in pain.

-Orton’s ring entrance took place. How big would fans have popped if his ring entrance video said “#Dives”? JBL said Orton was born into greatness and makes success look easy. [c]

-Phillips announced that Talking Smack would feature Erick Rowan, Jinder Mahal, and Naomi & Charlotte & Becky. Then Saxton promoted “205 Live” on WWE Network featuring TJP vs. Austin Aries.

-TJP said people say good things come to those who wait, but the fans have no choice but to wait because they aren’t good enough to take what they want. He said no. 1 contender Aries has what he wants and tonight he’s done waiting.


The match began 44 minutes into the second hour. Plenty of time to have a nice match, or a long headlock without any dives. Phillips mentioned Bryan and Brie Bella welcomed their baby to the world last week. JBL said he already has a flannel onesie. JBL noted how Corbin towers over Orton. [c]

Corbin avoided a knee drop by Orton right after the break. He stomped away at Orton in the corner. Corbin eventually hit a Deep Six for a near fall. Orton came back with an RKO out of nowhere for the win.

WINNER: Orton in 13:00.

-After the match, Mahal walked onto the ramp and he told him to savor his victory and relish his time as champion because at Backlash, he will destroy his pride, body, and future. The Singh Brothers came up behind Orton – and the crowd noise should have tipped Orton off trouble was on its way – and they attacked him. Orton fended them off quickly and easily and set up a middle rope double DDT. Jinder charged in and hit Orton from behind and hit his Krulass (cobra slam) and stood over him as the show ended.

(Keller’s Analysis: It was an okay match. I’d give it a B-. Mahal isn’t a failure or success at this point. He is playing his part well enough, but he doesn’t feel like a breakout heel that just needed a chance to shine. He’s somewhere in the middle. And so was this show. It’s “WWE in May.” This is what we get.)

3 Comments on KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 5/16: Final Backlash hype including Styles vs. Mahal in battle of contenders

  1. re
    That distraction at ringside led to Carmella schoolgirling Naomi for the three count.

    WINNER: Naomi in 11:00.

    Er, surely that should be: WINNER: Carmella?

  2. I could be wrong but it sounds like Jinder may be battling a cold or allergies which might be affecting his promos.

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