WWE Smackdown is in Louisville, KY this evening, and starting at 8:00pm Eastern we will have live coverage of the show as it happens. Already announced – a Six-Pack Challenge to determine a #1 Contender to the WWE Championship. Mojo Rawley, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Jinder Mahal, and Sami Zayn will all compete for a chance to face the WWE Champion (currently Randy Orton).
Also announced, Kevin Owens will hold a “Face of America Open Challenge” for the WWE United States Championship.
All this plus much more starting at 8pm Eastern. Join us here and on Twitter, @RingRap!
The show begins with an “In Memory Of” card for Matthew Anoa’i, best known as Rosey, who passed away earlier today.
We see a video recap highlighting the happenings of last week’s show coming out of the Superstar Shakeup. We see clips of all the new talent from NXT, as well as those that came over in the trade. It’s a solid hype video that makes each newcomer feel like a big deal.
We go ringside, and Charlotte Flair heads out to the ring. Tom Phillips, JBL and Byron Saxton welcome us to the show. Apparently, we’re calling Charlotte by her “full” name now, as the announcers called her “Charlotte Flair” back to back to back about five times.
Charlotte stands in the ring and says the Queen arrived at Smackdown Live seven days ago. She says she’s already lost her patience. “What is taking so long?” She wonders if Daniel and Shane are on vacation or binge watching Fast and Furious while she’s “fastly getting furious.” She wants to know why she hasn’t been granted a Smackdown Women’s Title Match yet. “I’m only going to ask one more time, what is taking so long?”
Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi hits the ramp. She walks down as she cuts her promo. Naomi says she doesn’t know where she thinks she’s at, but this is “Smackdown Live!” She says around here they do not have kings and queens, but they do have champions. “And you’re looking at one.” She says she’s watched Charlotte for a long time, and she knows what she wants, but she hates seeing her begging like this. Naomi says she’ll give her what she wants because she isn’t ever scared. “So we gonna do this right here, and right now.”
Naomi takes a swing at Charlotte and drops her with a forearm. Charlotte bails out of the ring and tries to get back in, but Naomi dropkicks her off of the apron as a referee tries to break up the fight. Shane McMahon’s music hits and he comes out. He says he’ll make the match, but Charlotte needs to earn her opportunity – despite her pedigree and resume. He says if Charlotte can beat Naomi, she’ll become the #1 Contender for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, which will be defended next week. He wishes them both the best of luck and leaves.
As the announcers talk about what just happened, Charlotte attacks Naomi and tosses her out of the ring, and holds the title up high. Naomi runs in and tosses Charlotte out of the ring, holding her title up high.
They’re going full-on with the “Charlotte Flair” name. It’s a little obnoxious to be honest. Her promo was well delivered, but it was clearly forced and scripted. Naomi came across more natural here. I do like that Shane is willing to give Charlotte an opportunity, but isn’t simply handing her a title shot. It’s consistent with his character and the booking of the show since the brand split.
After the break, Natalya is waiting for Shane McMahon. She’s jealous of Charlotte’s entrance last week, and #1 Contendership this week. Shane reminds her she had a chance to become the champ at Wrestlemania. He says she just needs to ask for her singles opportunity. Carmella and James Ellsworth knock and come in. She agrees with Nattie – that Charlotte just asks and gets what she wants. Ellsworth says the only one that’s worth the title is Carmella. They start bickering when Tamina walks in and wants her opportunity too. More bickering. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the end of this exchange. I assume it’s a match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Erick Rowan vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Luke Harper vs. Sami Zayn to determine the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship
The Match: The bell rings, and Jinder is the first to break ranks, attacking Dolph Ziggler. Everyone breaks off in pairs and works in the corners. Jinder tosses Mojo out of the ring and they begin to brawl. Rowan and Zayn too. Harper hits a big boot on Ziggler for two. Harper hits a rolling senton off the apron on Rowan. Huge slam to Zayn for two as we go to break.
We return to a a pair of superplexes and a sunset flip powerbomb, with Zayn getting a two-count on Jinder. Ziggler goes for a Zig Zag, misses, but superkicks Zayn. Harper hits his own and a clothesline for two. Rowan breaks it up, powerbombing Rowan. Jinder with a roll-up for two, and both men clothesline each other.
Mojo and Jinder go at it, with Mojo getting the better. Zayn sends Mojo over the top rope, Harper dumps Zayn. He runs the ropes and dives through the middle on Jinder, then again on Mojo and Zayn. Ziggler dropkicks him on the apron, and then gets kicked in the face by Rowan. Two-count.
Rowan picks Ziggler up and tosses him onto the other four at ringside. He heads out and tosses Zayn back into the ring for two. We go to break. We return to Ziggler and Mojo in the ring. Ziggler goes on the offense, hitting a headbutt on Mojo. Mojo fires up with shoulder blocks. He hits a splash in the corner, gets cut off by an uppercut, but Mojo catches him and tosses him into the air. He fends Rowan off the apron, and goes back to Ziggler. Mojo hits the running right, but Mahal out of nowhere tosses Mojo out of the ring and makes the cover. Zayn barely breaks it up.
Jinder hits a leaping knee to Zayn. Rowan and Harper go at it. Ziggler pushes Rowan into Harper and hits a Zig Zag on Rowan for two. A “this is awesome” chant breaks out. Harper with a sitout powerbomb for two. Jinder pulls Harper out of the ring and tosses him into the stairs. He heads towards Zayn and eats the ringpost. Zayn is left in the ring alone. He dives out of the ring onto Harper at ringside. Mojo takes Rowan out and Zayn hits a springboard moonsault on Mojo. Back in the ring, Zayn hits the exploder suplex in the corner on Jinder Mahal. He rallies up, but two men dressed in white shirts grab his legs and hold him back. Jinder Mahal hits his finisher on Zayn and gets the surprising win.
The Winner: Jinder Mahal to become the #1 Contender to the WWE Championship
So I didn’t see that coming. At all. And if you listened to my Around the Ring from earlier, you would’ve heard me explicitly say I didn’t think Jinder would win. And here we have it. Jinder Mahal is your #1 Contender for the WWE Championship. I don’t know how I feel about it – he’s a talented guy for sure, but he hasn’t exactly been booked in a way that’s positive previously. That said, I’m all for him getting a chance to prove us wrong, and I think he can.
Regarding the two unknown men that contributed to the win, the announcers confirmed that it’s the Bollywood Boys, Harv and Gurv Sihra.
Renee Young interviews Mahal in the ring immediately after the win, and the fans BOOO THE CRAP out of him. “You people boo me? You wanna boo the Majaraja?” He says he’s booed because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the All American, or he’s rich, or speaks two languages. He says we don’t accept diversity, but we will have no choice to accept Jinder Mahal as our next WWE World Champion.
And then Randy Orton’s music hits. Mahal looks pumped up and paces in the ring. Orton strolls out to the ramp. He stops short of the ring and congratulates Mahal for “winning the jackpot.” He says his prize won’t be the title. Orton slides in the ring. “The only prize you’ve awarded yourself is an RKO from yours truly.” Orton says before he gets to Mahal, he’s got another thorn in his side – Bray Wyatt. He doesn’t know what a House of Horror’s match is, but he’ll burn it down like the last house Bray brought him to.
Wyatt appears on the screen. He says he wants Orton to feel his pain, his agony. Clips of the fire Orton set are edited in to the promo. Wyatt says nothing he’s endured will compare to the House of Horrors. “You may walk into the House of Horrors as the man you are, but I promise you you will never walk out.” He tells him to run as the segment ends.
I really can’t wait for that match to happen, so we can be done with it.
Shinsuke Nakamura is up next.
We come back from the break to a vignette about Shinsuke. We see clips of his entrance, fans singing his theme, all the cool things he’s done and we’ve seen since his debut in NXT.
Renee Young interviews AJ Styles. She asks who he’d prefer to face Chris Jericho or Kevin Owens. He says he’s got the homefield advantage either way, as it’s the house that AJ Styles built. Baron Corbin interrupts and wants to know why she’d bother interviewing him. He says he beat both Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin to be the #1 Contender. Corbin says he didn’t get pinned and he was the one that called Owens out like a man. He’s upset that Styles got in his business. Styles says he’s in the business of winning – that’s what he does. He challenges Corbin to a match, and Corbin agrees. “Just remember, you asked for this.
Charlotte is backstage when her path is blocked by Tamina, Natalya, Carmella, and Ellsworth. Natalya says it’s so good to see her, and they want to stop and welcome her to Smackdown. Ellsworth says they’re humbled to be in her greatness. Charlotte goes to walk by and Nattie gives her a stiff shoulder. We go to break.
Charlotte makes her ring entrance at the top of the hour.
Charlotte vs. Naomi in a non-title match. If Charlotte wins, she becomes #1 Contender to the Smackdown Women’s Championship
The Match: Early on, Charlotte corners Naomi. She throws her across the ring by the hair. Naomi kicks out at one. Charlotte locks in a chinlock and taunts Naomi, saying it’s “too easy.” Naomi counters, and Charlotte pushes her away in disgust. The two reverse back slides. Naomi wrenches the wrist. Charlotte counters and sweeps the leg for two.
Charlotte talks trash as she locks in a head scissors. She flips Naomi over head over heels three times, breaking the hold. Charlotte stomps Naomi in the corner. As she gloats, Naomi goes for a roll-up for a near fall.
Naomi strikes Charlotte in the legs, and unleashes a flurry of kicks for two. Both ladies go tumbling over the top rope as we go to break.
When we return, Charlotte has control. Naomi starts to recover. She hits a springboard neckbreaker of sorts, but Charlotte fires back with her own neckbreaker. Charlotte misses the rolling knee. Naomi fires back with an enzuigiri. Naomi hits a hurricarana and a split-legged jaw breaker. On the apron, she connects with a roundhouse to the temple. Cross-body from Naomi is worth two. She sets Charlotte up for another kick, misses, and then misses a Rear View. Charlotte hits Natural Selection to pick up the win.
The Winner: Charlotte Flair to become #1 Contender for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Not the best match for either woman. Things were very one-sided in the beginning, and I feel that Naomi should’ve put up a better fight from the get-go. The two lacked synergy in some spots too, and were a little clunky in places. Give them a little more time to work and I think we can be in for a treat, but for the first outing, I expected better.
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin is confirmed for the main event. Up next, American Alpha!
Charlotte is walking back from her match when she struts past Ellsworth, Carmella, Natalya and Tamina. She smirks and Wooo’s.
Primo & Epico Colon vs. American Alpha
The Match: Primo charges Gable out of the gate, and Gable slams him to the mat. Tag to Jordan, who keeps Primo grounded. Gable in, he hits a Northern Lights into a bridge, but the ref is distracted by Epico. It gives them the opening they need. Epico hits a double-underhook gut buster. He connects with a deep clothesline, and sets Gable up on the top rope. Gable drops it into an armbar. He slides under the legs and makes the hot tag.
Jordan is on fire and tosses Epico across the ring with a belly to belly. Gable takes Primo out over the top rope, but the referee sends Gable out of the ring, giving Primo and Epico an opportunity to get the roll-up victory.
The Winners: The Colon’s
Not much here. Seems Primo and Epico have dropped the Shining Star gimmick. Good.
We see a recap of The Bollywood Boys holding Sami Zayn’s legs earlier, allowing Jinder Mahal to get the win.
Up next, a Kevin Owens “Face of America” Open Challenge.
We see a vignette of Lana dancing on a chair, kind of like a stripper. That’s… disappointing.
Dasha Fuentes introduces Tye Dillinger backstage. She says the fans have welcomed him with open arms, and wonders why they’ve accepted him. He says they get to make their voices heard, and he has a few ideas why they like him, but he has something that can explain it 10 times better.
He cues up a vignette showing highlights of his NXT career, his Royal Rumble debut, and the fans chanting for him. Back to Dillinger, he says that’s why he’s called the Perfect 10.
Kevin Owens walks out to a new video wall, with the American Flag prominent, as well as his face.
Kevin Owens vs. Gary Gandy in a Face of America Open Challenge
The Match: Owens takes the mic away from Greg Hamilton, telling him he’s not good at this and to get out of the ring. He introduces himself from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He points at the jobber in the corner, and tells him to say his name. “Gary Gandy, from Louisville, Kentucky.”
The bell rings and Owens immediately stomps the crap out of Gandy. He hits him with a punch to the jaw, and hits the pop-up powerbomb for the win.
Winner: Kevin Owens
After the match, Owens demands his belt and the mic. He calls the fans lazy citizens of the United States, and tells them to “put the hot dogs down and listen to me.” He says he will remain the Face of America as long as he’s champ. He says Jericho and Styles can’t take it away from him, and says he’s going to give some Canadian insight to the commentary table for the main event.
The announcers confirm that Naomi vs. Charlotte for the Women’s Title will happen next week. Austin Aries then plugs his match against TJ Perkins on 205 Live.
Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles
The Match: Corbin grabs Styles early on, and Styles counters with a kick to the legs. Corbin tries to stomp Styles. Styles rolls away, and goes for the legs again. Corbin fires off with a right hand, sending Styles rolling back. Corbin tosses Styles under the ropes to the floor. They trade places. Corbin catches Styles on his shoulders and tosses him face-first into the apron as we go to break.
We return, and Corbin has Styles in a chinlock. Corbin whips Styles into the ring post rib-first. Ouch! Corbin drives Styles into the apron. Back in the ring, Styles tries to rally. Corbin staggers him. Styles hits him with a pair of boots to the face. Corbin slides under the ring ropes and rebounds back into the ring, but misses a shoulder block, going into the ring post. Styles hits a flurry of offense, capping it with a Pele Kick. He hits a running forearm, and picks Corbin up, barely. Corbin breaks free, Styles hits a low flying forearm for two.
Styles teases a Clash. Corbin hits a chokeslam backbreaker for two. Styles rolls into a Calf Crusher out of the corner. Corbin breaks it on the bottom rope. Corbin connects with a gorgeous Deep Six for two. Styles pulls the top rope, sending Corbin to the floor. He hits a forearm and a running knee on the apron. Styles sets up a Clash on the floor, but Corbin counters and flips Styles into Owens. He goes for End of Days, Styles counters. He hits a Phenomenal Forearm on Corbin, sending him over the barricade, and makes it back into the ring before the 10-count.
The Winner: AJ Styles via Countout
Corbin put on a good showing against Styles here, but he’s been protected (once more) by avoiding a clean loss. They’re doing a great job of creatively keeping Corbin from getting pinned, yet he just can’t seem to get the job done either.
Even though he’s going for the US Title, it’s evident that Styles is the biggest star on Smackdown right now. WWE is going to continue to push him in their top feud, whatever that may be. I’m all for it – it’ll elevate the US Title and give the rest of the card a fresh shake.
Overall, a positive episode of Smackdown. Charlotte’s making her presence known immediately, and is already in the Women’s title picture. The tag division is getting a much-needed shakeup with Primo and Epico taking on a more serious role, and Jinder Mahal (!) is your #1 Contender to the WWE Championship. Wow. What a time to be alive.
I’m heading over to cover 205 Live, so be sure to join me there for all the fun! Thanks for following along tonight!