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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 25, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton
-They opened with a live shot of the crowd as the announcers introduced the show. The ring announcer introduced Kevin Owens as the new U.S. Champion. JBL characterized Owens’ U.S. Title win at Battleground as the equivalent of “slipping on a banana peel.”
-Owens entered the ring and looked at his title belt and said, “This just feels right, doesn’t it?” He said he is their United States Champion. He said he proved at Battleground that if your heart is pure and you’re a good person, good things will happen. He called Styles a thief from whom he took back his title. As the crowd chanted “A.J. Styles,” he said he will reinstate the Kevin Owens U.S. Title Open Title challenge (pause) “next week.” The crowd booed. He said there is no way under any circumstances he would defend his title in front of “a bunch of hicks from Richmond, Virginia.”
Styles’s music played and he walked to the ring. Saxton said Styles wanted to raise the profile of the U.S. Title for the sake of the belt and the Smackdown brand. Owens said Styles better be there to admit he is the better man and congratulate him. Styles said, “Nope. I came out here to get my rematch for that United States Championship.” He said he won’t defend against him or anyone. Then, suddenly Chris Jericho’s music played. JBL laughed and said, “No way!” Out walked Jericho to a huge pop.
Jericho smiled at the crowd. Phillips said the last time they saw him was in May. Owens stood slack-jawed in shock in the ring. Jericho entered the ring and said, “It’s the return of Jericho. Welcome back, mannn!” Owens stammered and asked what he is doing there. Jericho told him, “Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet! And one more time… Quiet!!” He told Owens, “This isn’t Montreal, this is America, man!” He said the last time he was on Smackdown, he left on a stretcher because of him, but after a few months of rehab, Crossfit, eating well, and a few beers, he’s back. He said he is back to get his rematch for the U.S. Title “right here, right now, tonight.” Styles said everyone is glad he’s back and that he hasn’t lost his sense of humor, but a lot of things have happened. He said as of right now, he’s the next guy in line for a U.S. Title match. Jericho asked Styles if he’s trying to butt in front of him in line. He said a guy at the grocery store tried to jump in front of him, and he punched him in the face and put him in the Walls of Jericho in aisle seven in front of the canned corn. Owens strolled out of the ring as those two talked. Jericho asked Styles if he knows what happens when he cuts in front of him for a U.S. Title match. “You just made the list!” he said.
Jericho noticed Owens leaving. He told him to get back to the ring. Instead, Shane McMahon’s music played. Shane said both Jericho and Styles are due rematches for the U.S. Title. He said they’ll both get that opportunity. He said they’d get their opportunity at the same time because it will be defended in a Triple Threat match tonight. Owens lost it. JBL said, “That is awesome!”
-They showed a split screen of Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin backstage heading out for their rematch from Battleground. [c]
(1) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. BARON CORBIN
After Nakamura’s entrance, they showed freeze-frames of Corbin getting himself DQ’d at Battleground. Nakamura clocked and ducked Corbin’s early blows, then took him down with some strikes. Saxton said Nakamura was livid after the DQ last night to the point that he had to be escorted out of the arena. Nakamura took it to Corbin at ringside, but when he charged for a clothesline, Corbin popped up and clotheslined him. Corbin rolled him into the ring and scored an early two count. They cut to an early break. [c]
They aired a split-screen of the commercial and the match. Corbin stayed on offense. Nakamura surprised Corbin with a cross arm breaker, then an overhead facelock. Corbin suplexed out of it. Both were slow to get up. Nakamura mounted a comeback and drove some knees into Corbin’s head. Nakamura landed a second rope sidekick to the jaw of Corbin for a two count. Corbin came back and eventually landed a Deep Six for a near fall. Corbin sold dismay after the kickout. Nakamura came back and kicked Corbin’s right knee followed by a running knee to the back of his head. Then he hit the Kinsasha for the win. Nakamura celebrated and played to the crowd afterward as his music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure of the booking strategy of not giving the Network audience a clean Nakamura win, seemingly to protect Corbin, but then give him a clean win on TV. This is good news for Nakamura fans, as Vince McMahon clearly has high hopes for Corbin, but he was willing to give Nakamura some momentum headed into whatever is in store for him at Summerslam. They still have to find a way to get frame Nakamura’s mission so fans have a sense of what he’s in WWE for and what his goals are.)
-Saxton called the Triple Threat one of the biggest main events in Smackdown history. JBL said Jinder Mahal is going to demand a new opponent for Summerslam tonight. [c]
-Dasha Fuentes interviewed Naomi backstage. She asked about Natalya refusing to shake her hand after the match on Sunday. Naomi said Natalya is tough as nails, but she won’t stand for her disrespecting her. Natalya walked in and said Naomi has tarnished everything that a WWE Championship stands for. She said she turned the belt into a toy. She said she doesn’t respect the Hart Family and she will take the belt and restore honor to the championship. Naomi said Natalya is stuck in the “dirty dungeon of the past.” Naomi said, “This is the now!” She said she respects tradition, but she’s added a little piece of herself to it. She said at Summerslam, she’ll be blinded by the glow. Natalya turned and left. In walked Carmella with her Money in the Bank contract. She said this is part of her future.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. Then Becky Lynch. [c]
(2) TAMINA & LANA vs. BECKY LYNCH & CHARLOTTE
Lana and Tamina made separate ring entrances after the break. Phillips talked about the various personal issues that surfaced during the Battleground match. Saxton said he was curious what’s behind the alliance between Lana and Tamina. At least someone asked that lingering question. Lana tagged in after Tamina beat up Becky for a few minutes. She suplexed Becky and scored a two count. JBL said Lana is an absolute neophyte in the ring, who sometimes shows signs of brilliance and other times looks like she doesn’t belong in there. Wow. Eventually Charlotte and Tamina both tagged in. Tamina kicked Charlotte, but it showed some light (obscured by Charlotte’s hair, but still way off). Lana tagged herself in and went after Charlotte. Charlotte kicked Tamina to the floor and then turned and gave Lana a big boot and scored a clean three count. Charlotte’s boots weren’t much better timed. Tamina looked from ringside at Lana and seemed frustrated with her. She yelled at Lana and pounded the mat in frustration. Lana got pouty-faced as she left the ring.
WINNER: Charlotte & Becky.
(Keller’s Analysis: The point of that match was to tease dissension between Tamina and Lana, even though they have yet to even firmly establish why they’re aligned in the first place. This is reminiscent of some really bad booking years ago where tag teams were broken up before they were even firmly established. Are they aiming to make Lana sympathetic en route to turning her babyface?) [c]
-The announcers threw to highlights of the Punjabi Prison match.
-Jinder Mahal made his ring entrance. No Singh Brothers. (Maybe they were hanging out with Bob Armstrong and taking some more smiling pictures with him to post on Instagram.) He bragged about crushing the legacy of Randy Orton and said the legend of the Modern Day Maharaja was born. He said Orton agreed to face him on his turf at his own game, but he came up short because Orton underestimated him. He demanded to know who his opponent would be at Summerslam and whose hopes he would crush at Summerslam. Jinder demanded silence so he could speak to his people in his language.
Cena’s music played and he entered the ring. Jinder told him he knows what he’s going to say. He’s going to stay he is 16 time champion and that Jinder is a weak champion who relied on the Singh Brothers to win. Cena told him to stop moving his mouth for just one second. Cena said as a mind reader, he’s a piece of crap. Piece of crap? He said he is the one guy who will come out and tell him congratulations. He said he doesn’t like what happened, “but I’m big on respect.” He told Jinder that he respects that he’s in the best shape of his life and that the WWE Championship means so much to him that he’ll do whatever is necessary to keep it. He said this isn’t a crazy moral shakedown, it’s a congratulations. He said it’s also a heads up. He said he is John Cena, and he may know his voice from pistachio commercials. He said he’s giving him a heads up because at Summerslam he’ll face Super Cena. He said that means he is walking out of Summerslam a 17-time champion. He said: “It was nice to see you. You can’t see me. Hit the trumpets.” Cena’s music played and he left the ring. Jinder pointed down at him and yelled.
Suddenly Daniel Bryan’s music played. Bryan congratulated both Cena and Jinder for being victorious at Battleground. Bryan said it’s clear Cena is on a quest to make history, but Cena doesn’t make matches, he and Shane do. “Around here, opportunities are earned, even if your name is John Cena.” He said Cena performed brilliantly at Battleground, and next week he’ll face a man who performed brilliantly tonight – Shinsuke Nakamura. He called it “a first-time dream match.” He said the winner of that match faces Jinder at Summerslam.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not losing my mind over Cena vs. Nakamura taking place with one week’s notice on free TV. Given Nakamura’s relatively flat start relative to expectations, a show-stealing TV match with Cena can actually work to elevate him. I wouldn’t even rule out a Nakamura win, which would be a huge boost to his image among the mainstream WWE viewers and send a message that Vince McMahon and Bryan James are still seriously invested in him. What bugged me is how Cena and Bryan just blew off the tactics Jinder used to retain the title. Jinder’s methods of victory are shameful and undercut the credibility of the championship, and Cena should be fighting not just for himself but to restore respect to the championship, and he should explicitly be saying that.)
-They hyped upcoming matches. [c]
-For some reason after the break the director decided to show Shane McMahon talking on his cell phone. Owens walked in. He said it’s clear Shane doesn’t like him by putting him in the ring with both Jericho and Styles. He said Jericho has it in for him and Styles can’t get over his loss. He said it’s not fair. Shane said they each have a rematch coming. He said he doesn’t actually care who the U.S. Champion is as long as it’s defended on Smackdown because he wants to give the audience great matches. Owens said he doesn’t care about the Smackdown audience or Shane.
(Keller’s Analysis: Are they headed toward an Owens vs. Shane match at some point? I don’t like Shane saying he’s trying to please the audience. Pleasing the audience is inherent in what the actual mission should be for a G.M., which is putting the most deserving wrestlers against each other to find out who the best. The way Shane put it, the fact that Styles and Jericho were owed title matches meant less than the “entertainment factor” involved for the audience. That should be an inherent side effect of just doing the right thing by giving the most deserving challengers the matches they’ve earned.)
(3) TYE DILLINGER & SAMI ZAYN vs. AIDEN ENGLISH & MIKE KANELLIS (w/Maria Kanellis)
They cut to an early break, but stayed with the action during the break with the babyface duo on offense. [c]
Sami eventually landed a Helluva Kick on Bennett for the win.
WINNER: Sami & Tye.
(Keller’s Analysis: Surprising to see Bennett take the pin here. That defines him down a little more when he’s taking the pin instead of English this early since his WWE debut. It’s going to be tough to build him back up to anything even close to U.S. Title contender level if he keeps getting presented this way.)
-As Big E began to introduce New Day, there was a ruckus backstage. The Usos dragged Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston onto the stage. The announcers said they must’ve jumped Big E backstage. They threw Xavier into the edge of the video wall. The announcers just decried the actions of the Usos. Phillips then transitioned to talking about the Cena vs. Nakamura match next week.
-Renee Young interviewed Nakamura backstage. Nakamura said, “Next week, John Cena you can’t see me, which means I’ll see Jinder at Summerslam.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Eh. I still want to hear why Nakamura is in WWE from his mouth. Just doing a cutesy line about Cena not seeing him and then seeing Jinder at Summerslam is clever at the expense of clarity.)
-Ring entrances took place for Jericho, then Styles, then Owens. [c]
(4) KEVIN OWENS vs. CHRIS JERICHO vs. A.J. STYLES – U.S. Title match
Styles knocked Jericho off the ring apron. Owens then caught Styles with a quick clothesline to take over offense. Owens scored some two counts on Styles. He went to ringside to take some shots at Jericho to keep him out of the match a little longer. Then he re-entered the ring and continued to beat on Styles some more. Styles countered Owens and applied a Calf Crusher mid-ring. Jericho broke it up with a Lionsault onto both opponents. Jericho then scored a two count on Styles before they cut to a break. [c]
More back and forth (and forth) action including three-way exchanges. Jericho went for a Walls of Jericho on Owens. Styles ran in to break it up. Jericho saw him coming, released the Walls, and gave Styles a Code Breaker. He covered Styles, but Styles kicked out at the last second. Styles and Jericho exchanged blows. Owens tripped Jericho on a Lionsault attempt on Styles. Owens rolled into the ring and landed a Cannonball on Styles. Then the same to Jericho. Owens went at Styles, but Styles popped up and gave Owens a flying forearm. Jericho caught Styles with a step-up enzuigiri. Owens superkicked Jericho. Styles gave Owens a Pelé kick. All three were down and slow to get up. JBL said, “Someone cover somebody!” JBL said this is living up to being one of the greatest main events in Smackdown history.
Styles charged at Jericho in the corner and then went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Jericho dropkicked him out of mid-air. The crowd was chanting “This is awesome!” Owens then gave Jericho a super kick and a Pop-Up Powerbomb for a believable near fall. Owens couldn’t believe it. A “Y2J!” chant broke out. Owens climbed to the top rope and landed a frog splash. Styles entered and threw Owens off of Jericho and then made the cover and scored the three count.
WINNER: Styles to regain the U.S. Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good main event match. They got the belt right back where they wanted it, didn’t they?)
-Owens threw a fit at ringside, throwing monitors and chairs in frustration. He told everyone to shut up and listen to him. He said this is not fair. He said it wasn’t fair Jericho was in the match and that Shane forced him to defend his title in a Triple Threat match. He said it’s not fair that Styles stole his victory. He told the fans it’s not fair they dislike him because he’s better than they ever will be. He said what is fair is him getting his one-on-one rematch next week.
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