KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 23, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with freeze-frames of Jinder Mahal pinning Randy Orton to capture the WWE Championship at Backlash on Sunday night. They flashed headlines on the screen including ESPN’s basic headline about the title change and IndiaToday’s headline: “Jinder Mahal wins WWE Championship, faces backlash from fans.” Also, headlines from Hindustan Times, USA Today, and Bleacher Report, giving the impression this is big international and mainstream media news.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who reacted with shock to the title change. They were quickly interrupted by sirens outside. They cut outside to a black SUV and a white limo pulling up. The Singh brothers got out of the black limo and unrolled a rug in front of the white limo. Out stepped Jinder Mahal, looking dapper in a nice suit, who did his cartoon nose snarl. Then he placed the WWE Championship belt over his shoulder and broke into a big smile.
-Shane McMahon came out to his music. Shane said Orton has instituted his title rematch clause at Money in the Bank in St. Louis, Mo. He said the Money in the Bank match will take place, of course, at that event. He introduced the five participants for the 2017 version. Out came A.J. Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, and Kevin Owens. Shane asked the production truck to kill the music. He said Owens knows very well he is not one of the participants. Instead, out came Shinsuke Nakamura who did his full entrance routine. Owens protested. He asked if Shane was kidding him because he gets why some of them would be in it. He said Sami and Nakamura won their matches at Backlash, but so did he. He held up his U.S. Title, yet the guy he beat is in the MITB ladder match, but he’s not. He said it comes down to favoritism. He said Shane isn’t putting him in the match because he did what Shane couldn’t do at WrestleMania, which is beat the “crown jewel of Smackdown Live, A.J. Styles.” Shane told Owens that as usual he had a lot to say and has salient points, and because of his performance at Backlash, and because he’s U.S. Champion, he’s making him the sixth participant in the MITB ladder match. Boos from the crowd.
Corbin interrupted Owens and told him to stop talking. Corbin told everyone they don’t stand a chance. He told Shane to lower the briefcase now and just give it to him. Styles said Smackdown is the house he built through phenomenal performances. He said it wasn’t built on cheap countout victories. He said it wasn’t built on WWE’s version of Eric Cartman, or The Showoff, or The Lone Wolf, or The Underdog, or The Rock Star. He vowed to retrieve the briefcase and get his championship back. Sami said he respects Styles, but he’s not here to watch him run victory laps. Corbin interrupted him and said he is the Rudy of Smackdown Live. He said there was no sequel because Rudy scored against garbage players once and lived off of it his entire life. Sami said it wasn’t a fluke. Sami asked him to go double or nothing. Shane stepped between them. Ziggler told Owens to shut up when he tried to intervene. Ziggler said he’s the only one in the ring who has actually won Money in the Bank. He said he cashed it in and became World Champion and he’ll be damned if he doesn’t do it again.
Nakamura took the mic from him. A “Nakamura” chant broke out. He introduced himself to those who don’t know him. He told Ziggler he can call him Mr. Money in the Bank. He pointed up and then gyrated and struck a pose. Shane said tensions are rising high, so he booked a Sami vs. Corbin rematch. He teamed Ziggler & Owens against Styles & Nakamura. Shane’s music played. JBL called it a huge announcement.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was fine. Some will argue for Shinsuke being kept out of the main mix and treated more special, but going 15+ minutes with Ziggler on Sunday night undid any chance of that. Now we can discuss for the next month the merits of each wrestler winning MITB.)
-They cut to Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch backstage. [c]
(1) CHARLOTTE & BECKY LYNCH (w/Naomi) vs. NATAYA & CARMELLA (w/James Ellsworth, Tamina)
A couple minutes in, Charlotte knocked an interfering Natalya out of the ring. The heels regrouped at ringside. They cut to a commercial break, but showed the match on a smaller screen on the left of the commercial throughout the break. After the break ended, the heels had Becky isolated in their corner. Charlotte hot-tagged in and rallied against Natalya. When Charlotte climbed to the top rope, Tamina tried to stop her. Charlotte kicked her away. Tamina smiled for some reason. Naomi then dove onto her at ringside. By then, Natalya got up and suplexed Charlotte. Charlotte tagged in Becky, who dropkicked Natalya. Natalya tagged Carmella back in. Ellsworth tried to help Carmella block the Disarm Her. Naomi kicked him off the ring apron. Becky got a much-needed win via tapout seconds later. Naomi joined in the celebration afterward.
WINNERS: Becky & Charlotte in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Charlotte suddenly got very boring as a babyface.)
-The announcers hyped Corbin vs. Sami. If Corbin wants to know what he’ll look like when he’s 65, check out the photo they used for him in that graphic. [c]
(2) SAMI ZAYN vs. BARON COBIN
Corbin tossed Sami across the ring. Sami got up and rolled up Corbin for a sudden surprise three count.
WINNER: Sami in less than 20 seconds.
-Corbin attacked Sami afterward at ringside and then in the crowd. Corbin left and three referees tended to Sami.
(Keller’s Analysis: The beatdown doesn’t work as well from an optics standpoint when a dad and his two sons (presumably) are standing two feet away laughing and smiling.)
-The announcers shifted to hyping the main event tag match. [c]
-They replayed the Corbin-Sami beatdown.
-Backstage Styles approached Shinsuke. He talked about how they’ve had their battles and earned each other’s respect. He said for the first time ever they’re a tag team tonight. He said he’s learned a thing or two from him, but tonight Styles should follow his lead because this is the house that he built. Nakamura yanked his mouthguard out and said that’s fine tonight, but at MITB he’ll turn his house into his playground. He snickered and left.
-The announcers reacted at ringside. Phillips said there will be no friends in the MITB match. He said, “Speaking of friends,” and then threw to the latest Fashion Files. He asked if this might be the final Fashion Files.
-Fashion Files: Shane McMahon was shown observing a bulletin board with a picture of Chris Jericho, The Usos, Freddie Blassie, Tony Chimmel, and Mean Street Posse. The Post-It note on Blassie said, “Genius.” Shane wondered who did all that. In walked Fandango who said Shane must’ve shaved his mustache. Shane said he never had a mustache. Shane said he didn’t invite them. Breezango said they know he invited them to his office to turn in their badges because they lost on Sunday night. Breeze offered to turn in their guns. Shane flinched as they reached behind them to pull out their guns, but they were light-blue squirt gun toys. They began handing over other props and their belts. When Breeze pulled his pants down, Shane told them to stop. He booked Breeze vs. Jey Uso and Fandango vs. Jimmy Uso later. Breeze said that means they’re back on the case. Breeze excitedly put their gear in a box and walked away. Fandango took a donut with him. Shane shot the squirt gun a couple times and seemed to get a thrill out of it.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m still largely getting a kick out of the Breezango team and their sense of humor.) [c]
-An elaborate dance celebration took place on the Smackdown entrance stage for Jinder Mahal. The Singh Brothers came out. Then out came Jinder Mahal with the belt. He walked through a parade of people dancing for him. JBL said the music is awesome and it makes him want to move. I can totally hear Vince McMahon feeding JBL that line.
Jinder said the fans can shower him with hatred, but that doesn’t change that 1.3 million people in India are celebrating his victory. He said the fans boo him because he looks different and talks different. He said now they boo him because he exposed them for the fools that they are. His voice sounded like it was giving out. He said at Backlash he enlightened the fools and became WWE Champion. He said Orton is just like America, he’s on the decline. He said he is on the rise and he is already the greatest WWE Champion of all-time. His dancers applauded and smiled and saluted him at ringside. He told the fans they will not hijack his crowning because this night is about him and celebrating for his people. He spoke in his language, Punjabi, to close out the segment. JBL said the country that has given the world Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi has now given them the greatest WWE Champion of all-time. Saxton said they are truly now in the Era of the Maharaja.
(Keller’s Analysis: Still mixed feels on Jinder. His promos are not what they could or should be if he had his voice, but is sounds like he’s got something going on with it where he can’t speak at full volume. He coughed during the promo to try to clear his throat. That aside, this feels like they’re trying to create an India vs. U.S.A. rivalry along the lines of Bret Hart as a heel in the U.S. and a babyface in Canada. The difference is Bret had a decade-plus of world class matches and a strong respect earned, whereas Jinder came out of nowhere from jobbing and being a lackey to Rusev. It’s a big leap and still feels like a stretch. But maybe it doesn’t matter. The bright side is it’s fresher than a bland continuation of Orton as champ.) [c]
How do you feel about Jinder Mahal being champion?
— Pro Wrestling Torch (@PWTorch) May 24, 2017
-Another Lana vignette aired saying she is coming soon. JBL said that’s a debut he can’t wait for.
-The Usos made their ring entrance. Then Breezango.
(3) TYLER BREEZE vs. JEY USO
Jey complained about having to wrestle tonight since they already beat them at Backlash. Fandango sprayed Jey with a squirt gun. Breeze rolled up Jey for the three count almost exactly like Sami did against Corbin earlier.
WINNER: Breeze in about 20 seconds.
(4) FANDANGO vs. JIMMY USO
Breeze put on a wig at ringside and taunted Jey with handcuffs. They sprinted around the ring two laps and eventually the distraction led to Fandango scoring a schoolboy three count also.
WINNER: Fandango in about 20 seconds.
-Fandango asked why the Usos have such long faces. “It’s as if you got caught wearing white after Labor Day.” Breeze suggested they give them a rematch for the tag team titles. Fandango asked if they’re worried that the belts will look better around their waists. The Usos agreed to a match right now. The ref checked with the back on a headset, presumably to see if the puck crossed the red line. Indeed it did, so the ring announcer said the tag team titles indeed be on the line in a match right now.
(5) THE USOS vs. BREEZANGO – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title match
The cut to a commercial just as the match began, but showed the match in the upper left corner of the screen as the commercial aired. The Usos beat up on Breeze the whole time. [c]
Breeze made a hot-tag to Fandango shortly after the commercial ended. Fandango came in and aggressively went after Jey, including overshooting on a jump spin wheel kick. Jey sold it anyway. Fandango scored a DDT despite an attempt by Jimmy to interfere. JBL said it’d be bad for Smackdown Live if “these weirdos” won the tag titles. The Usos took over and gave Fandango a double superkick. Jimmy climbed to the top rope and went for a top rope splash, but Fandango raised his knees, then small packaged Jimmy for a near fall. JBL said it feels like a fairy tail on acid. Fandango climbed to the top rope, but Jey distracted him. Jimmy then went for a superplex. Jey tagged in. Fandango headbutted Jimmy and hit a top rope legdrop, but Jey then surprised Fandango with a top rope splash for the win.
WINNERS: The Usos to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in 7:00. [c]
-They went backstage to Shane McMahon apparently to film him talking on the phone. Then coincidently in barged Natalya who said she knows he’s busy but he told her weeks ago all she had to do was ask for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Title. She said she wants her opportunity. In walked James Ellsworth and Carmella. Carmella said she’s the only one who deserves an opportunity because of her recent wins. Becky entered the picture and said she was the first-ever Smackdown Women’s Champion and therefore it is her title to regain. Tamina walked in and said they all have had their chance and they all failed, so its her turn. Ellsworth said the real reason she hasn’t gotten an opportunity is because she’s so busy giving him the goo-goo eyes, but she’s in his friend zone. Charlotte walked in and said the only reason the Welcoming Committee exists is because of her arrival. She said she is waiting for her crown. They all started yelling. Shane announced a Fatal Five-way match, and the winner would face Naomi at MITB for the title. He wished them all luck.
-The announcers hyped the Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick match on 205 Live. A soundbite aired with Kendrick saying tonight Tozawa learns his final lesson in a street fight where there are no rules to protect him.
-The announcers hyped that Nakamura’s first-ever match on Smackdown is up next.
-Styles and Nakamura were already in the ring as Ziggler concluded his ring entrance. I guess only one Nakamura ring entrance per week. Owens then came out to his music.
(6) DOLPH ZIGLER & KEVIN OWENS vs. A.J. STYLES & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
The announcers talked about whether Styles and Nakamura would have chemistry as Styles battled Ziggler. A couple minutes in, Shinsuke and Owens tagged in. Owens trash-talked Styles. He said Styles is a loser and Nakamura will be soon. Shinsuke went into a barrage of “strong style strikes” so Owens retreated to ringside. They cut to a break. No view of the match during this break. [c]
Back from the break, Nakamura egged on Owens and then went on offense when Owens charged. Owens finally took over by snapping Nakamura’s neck over the top rope. He stomped away at him, then tagged in Ziggler. Owens settled into a chinlock. Owens tagged in Ziggler who stayed on Nakamura. Nakamura fought back and went for a tag, but Ziggler blocked him. Nakamura reached for the tag and came up just short. Owens tagged in and nailed Nakamura with a running clothesline in the corner. Then a cannonball in his corner leading to a two count.
(Keller’s Analysis: This match has already “normalized” Nakamura even further after Sunday’s effort to bring him “into the mix” with a long back-and-forth match with Ziggler.) [c]
Nakamura finally hot-tagged Styles who went to work on Ziggler. Styles got in a flurry of offense, but eventually succumbed to the heels. He hot-tagged Nakamura, who went on a flurry against Owens. Nakamura nailed Owens with a tornado kick for a near fall, broken up by Ziggler. Four-way chaos broke out. Owens stopped Nakamura’s Kinshasa Kick against Ziggler. Styles set up a Styles Clash on Owens. Ziggler broke it up with a super kick. Nakamura came back and took Owens out with the Kinshasa Kick for the win. Nakamura and Styles congratulated each other. Nakamura danced as Styles watched to close out the show.
WINNER: Nakamura & Styles in 26:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice match, and Shinsuke got to show off some of his style and charisma. It still feels like less than it should be given his track record and how he has owned the ring so much better in other settings over the years.)
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