WWE Smackdown will air live this evening from Boston, MA starting at 8pm Eastern. We will have live coverage of the show as it happens, including all of the big changes stemming from the Superstar Shakeup. Who will be making the move from WWE Raw? And, who did the blue-brand lose (and will they lose more?)
Join us for live coverage of the program tonight at 8pm, follow along on Twitter @RingRap, and be sure to check out our running list of moves for the Superstar Shakeup as well.
We immediately go into the arena in Boston. Tom Phillips welcomes us to the show, and then…
Kevin Owens’ music hits, and he comes out, US Title on his shoulder, somewhat clean shaven and in a suit. He welcomes us to the “Brand New Kevin Owens Show.” Owens says Smackdown Live got a huge upgrade because he is there, and mentions he brought the United States Championship with him. He brings up his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada (booo!), and he says we should be thankful that the title is in good hands, because it’s a known fact that Canada is much better than the United States. Canadians are better athletes than Americans. He drops some hockey facts on the crowd, and then speaks French at the crowd, translating to “If you have a problem with what I’m saying, step in the ring.” He says he can beat the hell out of anyone in the locker room. He’s not here for us, anyone backstage, or anyone at home. He’s there for himself, and he’s there to be the new face of America.
And then Baron Corbin comes out, apparently, to shut him up. Corbin says he’s sure Owens can beat up everyone in the arena and most in the locker room, but he can’t beat him up. Corbin says he beat Ambrose so bad last week that he ran to Raw, and last night Ambrose beat Owens so bad he ran to Smackdown. “Now if I beat him, and he beat you, you won’t be much of a problem for me.” Corbin challenges him for the title. Kevin Owens starts to shut it down, until Sami Zayn interrupts.
Kevin Owens starts to panic, saying that Zayn can’t be there. Zayn smiles from ear to ear and says it’s real – he’s here to announce that Sami Zayn is “Finally on Smackdown Live.” Corbin doesn’t care. AJ Styles interrupts.
The fans chant for Styles, who would like to be typed as The Face that Runs the Place. The fans chant his name, and he says it’s not the Kevin Owens Show – it’s Smackdown Live. He says it’s not about Zayn or Corbin – it’s about him, the house that AJ Styles built. He says he is still there.
And then Daniel Bryan interrupts. Bryan talks about Owens defending the US Title at Payback, and that match is still on, and whoever is the champion after Payback will be on Smackdown Live. Bryan says that unfortunately, that means the US Title won’t be defended until after Payback, but one of the three men will face either Owens or Chris Jericho for the US. He makes a #1 Contenders Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship for tonight!
After the break, Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan!
Looking at Owens, Styles, Zayn and Corbin in the ring, I feel like WWE was trying to make it official that these four (plus Orton) will be part of the main event crew on the show. If the booking around the US Title continues the way they did the Intercontinental Title, this is not a bad thing. They took a title that had little meaning and gave it viability, and made it seem like whoever is holding the IC Title is one match away from being #1 Contender for the WWE Title.
So far, so good.
Erick Rowan vs. Randy Orton
The Action: The announcers confirm the House of Horrors match at Payback is still on, despite Wyatt being on Raw and he on Smackdown.
The bell rings and Orton is quickly on the top turnbuckle laying into Rowan with punches. Rowan gets some offense. Orton hits a powerslam. The action spills outside, briefly. Orton hits a Draping DDT on Rowan as he re-enters the ring. Orton gets the crowd pumped, but honestly, this is a pretty disappointing match. Anyhow, Wyatt appears on the screen to interrupt. He calls Orton’s attention and asks if he can smell the stench of fear. “You reek of it.” He says their paths will cross once again. He hypes up the House of Horrors match and laughs.
Orton then rolls out of the ring to attack Rowan, who hits him with the steps.
The Winner: Randy Orton via DQ (apparently)
Rowan continues the attack and hits a full nelson slam in the middle of the ring. His music hits, and he plays with his beard.
Up next, American Alpha challenges The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship!
The Usos are already in the ring out of the break, which is kind of an insult to the champs. American Alpha comes out next.
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (c) vs. American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) for the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Action: JBL calls the Smackdown Tag Division “loaded,” which is laughable, as in this very moment, they lost a team to Raw, and Simon Gotch is no longer with the company, effectively losing another team in the Vaudevillains.
Anyhow, American Alpha is working well together, hitting a number of tandem moves on The Usos. We go to break.
Back from break, Jordan is isolated. He dodges attacks from both Jimmy and Jey, as JBL yells platitudes about tag team wrestling. Jordan makes the tag to Gable, who suplexes Jimmy twice, and then starts evening out the suplexes. He heads up and hits a moonsault for two. Jey misses a splash in the corner, and Gable locks in an armbar through the ropes. Jimmy breaks it up. He goes up for the frogsplash, but Gable tucks the knees for two.
Jordan tags in, and sets Jimmy up for a bulldog from the top rope. It’s worth two. The Usos sends AA out of the ring and dive at them through the ropes, but AA catch them and hit belly to belly suplexes. In the ring, Jordan hits a shoulder block in the corner, but eats a super kick. Blind tag, and Gable is hit with a combo Superkick/frogsplash for the win.
The Winner: The Usos to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Out of nowhere, Primo and Epico attack Jordan and Gable from behind. It looks like the Shining Stars – or whatever they’re called these days – are on Raw.
Primo and Epico can go, but this gimmick needs to go. As far as the tag match goes, well once again not enough time or attention for these two teams to really get going and do their thing. The tag division on Smackdown still feels like an afterthought. A lot of work will need to be done.
After the break, it’s time for a match with the newest member of the Smackdown roster.
Mojo Rawley vs. Jinder Mahal
Mojo’s buddy Gronk is in the arena again tonight, so you know he’s getting involved.
The Action: Mahal goes on the offense immediately, but Mojo fires back as the fans chant “We want Gronk.” Hometown crowd, can’t blame them. Anyhow, Jinder catches Mojo with a knee for two. Mojo tries to hit a pounce and nearly runs over Charles Robinson. Jinder slings Mojo into the top turnbuckle, and then heads out to taunt Gronk. The two exchange words as Mojo attacks from behind, Gronk tosses a drink in Jinder’s face, and Mojo hits a running forearm for the win.
The Winner: Mojo Rawley
They sure are getting a lot of mileage out of Rob Gronkowski. At least here it makes sense, being Boston and all. The match is a pretty clear indication that Jinder Mahal will continue to be exactly what he was on Raw.
Mojo literally leaps into over the barricade into Gronk and friends. He stands on the announcer’s desk and wears JBL’s hat.
Up next, Shane McMahon has a “State of the Smackdown Women’s Division” speech.
And sure enough, after the break, out comes Shane McMahon. He thanks Boston for the love, and says he’s a bit biased, but noone does it better than Smackdown Live. He thanks all of those that moved to Raw for showing the world from day one that he and Daniel Bryan would ensure that Smackdown Live is the land of opportunity. He feels they have seized the opportunity in the Women’s division. He invites the entire Smackdown Women’s Division to come out.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi is introduced, and she comes out for a partial intro. Natalya next, then Carmella (with James Ellsworth), and Becky Lynch. Shane congratulates Naomi for winning the title at Wrestlemania. James Ellsworth interrupts him and says Shane is wrong – and he says Naomi is a horrible champion (Duh!) and that people only tune in to SD Live to see Carmella and Carmellsworth. Naomi puts them in their place, and then apologizes to Shane, requesting he announce the newcomers.
The fans start Wooing immediately. Shane calls her a second generation superstar, and says her father is one of the greatest of all time, and is a WWE Hall of Famer. He swerves us and introduces Tamina Snuka.
Shane looks like he’s about to leave, but the fans chant “We want Sasha.” He says the fans sound like they were expecting someone else. Perhaps he was going to announce someone else, and this time, it is indeed, Charlotte. She walks onto the stage but no further as her music plays.
Tamina has been out of the ring for some time, between injury and the death of her father. I’m looking forward to what she brings to Smackdown, as she can be that bruiser that Nia Jax is supposed to be on Raw. As far as Charlotte goes, well they treated it like a pretty big deal, because it is. Charlotte has been built up as a talent equal to (and better than) the men’s roster. She can help elevate the rest of the Smackdown women to the same level.
The announcers plug Sin Cara coming to Smackdown, plus Rusev. I assume he’s with Lana.
Aiden English stands in the middle of the ring, “bereft of any company.” He says the spotlight (ahem) is solely on him. He breaks out into song, but Tye Dillinger cuts him off.
Dillinger is definitely over with the audience.
Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger
The Action: Dillinger takes a moment to look around at the crowd, and the fans cheer him on. Dillinger hits a cartwheel into a taunt early on. Dillinger hits a drop toe hold into an arm lock, broken in the ropes. English goes on the offense. He hits a running body splash in the corner, then sings a taunt, saying it’s his show. He misses a knee drop. Dillinger hits a series of chops, picking up some steam.
The fans chant “10!” as he stomps English in the corner. He drops the kneepad and hits the Tye Breaker for the win.
The Winner: Tye Dillinger
So far, Dillinger is two for two with the crowd, but he had Wrestlemania fans last week and Boston fans this week. Let’s see how this goes in a smaller town. As far as English goes, he’s full of potential, but the tag team and the gimmick held him back. Can he break free? Gotta give it some time to find out.
A video package airs hyping AJ Styles and his desire to stay on Smackdown. The narration paints him as a cocky heel as we hear AJ talk about how great he is and why he wanted to stay on Smackdown, but the video shows the audience chanting for him and AJ doing some of his patented incredible offense. It’s confusing at best.
Out of the break, Dolph Ziggler stands in the middle of the ring. He says among the chaos of the Superstar Shakeup, everyone is asking “What about Dolph Ziggler?” He says he’s staying on Smackdown Live – the show he built, made on his back and made cool. He says in the Superstar Shakeup, we’re gonna get a lot of new toys, and it’ll be shiny the first week, but each week a little less. Meanwhile he’ll do what he does.
Apparently, that means getting interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura enters the ring after a full entrance. The fans chant his name. Ziggler asks if he can help him. Nakamura just smiles. Ziggler says he may not know who he is, and then he says he doesn’t know who Nakamura is. “Who exactly do you think you are?” Nakamura just nods, sizing Ziggler up, not speaking. Ziggler looks like he’s going to hand the mic over, but they milk the moment as the crowd sings Nak’s music. He finally extends a hand and takes the mic.
“Do you wanna know who I am? I am Shinsuke Nakamura.” Ziggler pauses and throws a kick at him, but he catches it, pushes him back and taunts him. Ziggler bails out of the ring, and Nakamura poses in the ring as his music plays him out.
Nakamura makes it incredibly difficult to take your eyes off of him. Just standing in the ring, he has half a dozen minor motions that keep you glued to the screen. Ziggler needs major rehab, maybe a feud with Nakamura will help.
A vignette for Baron Corbin airs, highlighting some of his best offense over the past year. We go to break.
We come back to a vignette that plugs The New Day will be on Smackdown Live “Coming soon,” followed by a vignette for Sami Zayn.
The participants of the main event make their entrance and we go to commercial.
TJ Perkins cuts a heel promo for 205 Live out of the break.
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles to become the #1 Contender to the WWE United States Championship
The Action: All three position themselves. Corbin attacks Zayn, and Zayn and Styles start double-teaming Corbin. They try to suplex Corbin, but Corbin suplexes them instead. He focuses on Zayn. Zayn fights back, hitting a head scissors. He and Styles send Corbin over the top rope, and then stare each other down. They lock up. After some reversals, Styles hits a short head scissors. Zayn connects with a pop-up dropick, sending Styles to the outside. He runs the ropes, and Corbin yanks him out, tossing him into the ramp. He nails Styles with a right hand, also outside.
Zayn is catapulted onto the apron. He hits a springboard moonsault to both men as we go to break.
We return with Corbin in control. Zayn takes a nasty Irish Whip into the corner. Corbin turns his attention to Styles, kneeing him repeatedly. He hits a sidewalk slam on Zayn, slides under the turnbuckle and boots Styles for two. Styles hits a flurry of offense, Corbin counters. Zayn takes Corbin down finally. He launches Styles over the top rope to the floor, and (barely) hits Corbin with an exploder suplex in the corner. He sets up for the Helluva Kick, and Styles counters with the ushigoroshi. Corbin cuts him off with a clothesline.
Corbin goes back to the well, sliding under the ropes in the corner, and AJ takes him out with a running knee on the apron. Zayn hits Styles with a gorgeous Blue Thunder Bomb for two. He sets Styles up on the top turnbuckle and teases a superplex. Corbin comes in and gets Zayn in a Electric Chair. Styles springboards off to hit Zayn, but Zayn ducks and rolls Corbin up for two.
Corbin hits Zayn with a Deep Six, with Styles breaking the pinfall before 1. Corbin misses a charge in the corner, and eats an enzuigiri from Styles, who hits a springboard 450. Zayn breaks the pin. \
Zayn and Styles trade elbows. Styles hits flying elbows. Corbin starts laying in clotheslines, but now Sami hits running boots. Pele from Styles, he goes for the Styles Clash, but Sami sends him over the top rope. Sami hits Corbin with a Helluva Kick , and Styles hits a Phenomenal Forearm on Zayn for the win.
The Winner: AJ Styles to become the #1 Contender for the WWE United States Championship
A lot of people may look at this like as a step down for AJ Styles, but I think it’s a step up for the US Title. Styles is a main eventer, no matter what belt you put on him. If the WWE Champioship is going to be tied up with Orton for a little while, why not put AJ Styles in the second most important program? I’m fine with it.
I need some time to think about all the moves, but first impressions are good. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are good moves for Smackdown, even if their feud is running a bit thin. Charlotte is a stellar move and I think will help elevate an already solid Smackdown Women’s division. The tag team moves are fine, but the division is in shambles, so it’s more about what they can do for the division than anything, and that remains to be seen. I have high hopes though, as New Day are clearly a priority for Vince.
Bill and I will break this all down tomorrow on Ring Rap Audio. Don’t forget to send in your Favorite Thing in Wrestling. 205 Live coverage is up next! Join me there, won’t you?