WWE Smackdown is live from Des Moines, IA this evening starting at 8pm Eastern. We will have live coverage of the show, as it happens, right here!
It’s already looking to be a strong show, too. Already announced – Naomi defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte, plus Baron Corbin will take on AJ Styles in a rematch, and WWE Champion Randy Orton faces Erick Rowan in a No DQ Match. Also announced, an interview with Shinsuke Nakamura!
Join us here at 8pm Eastern, and on Twitter @RingRap!
We go immediately to the arena, and Tom Phillips welcomes us to the show. Renee Young stands in the middle of the ring and introduces Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura gets a full entrance, and the fans sing along. Young thanks him for granting the interview. She starts a question, and is immediately interrupted by Dolph Ziggler.
Nakamura holds the ropes for Renee Young and she exits the ring as Nakamura and Ziggler stare each other down. Ziggler says he wants to play interview, so let’s play interview. He asks him some pointless questions, and as Nakamura starts to answer, Ziggler cuts him off, saying he speaks Japanese and needs to translate. Ziggler runs down a bunch of platitudes about himself and plays it off like it’s Nakamura’s answer. He then asks him about his “wacky dance moves.” Nak pauses, already onto Ziggler’s game. Ziggler plays it up that Nakamura is intimidated by being in the ring with his hero.
Ziggler says Nakamura is not who we think he is – his name is actually Michael (Jackson), he grew up in Gary, Indiana, and he and his family traveled the world putting smiles on people’s faces. He ran down the Jackson family members, then talked about all the “crazy” things the real Michael Jackson used to do. He says Jackson dipped into obscurity, and reemerged in Japan as Shinsuke Nakamura. He says Nakamura’s name stands for freak.
Nakamura takes the mic and says it’s his turn to ask the questions. “Dolph, what is your problem?” He pulls the mic away and says for those who don’t understand, he will translate. He says something in Japanese, mocking Ziggler, and caps it off with “Jackass.”
Ziggler kicks Nakamura in the gut. Nakamura fires up and hits an exploder suplex on Ziggler. He sets up for the Kinshasa, and Ziggler bails out of the ring before he can strike.
Clearly, Vince McMahon isn’t comfortable with Nakamura cutting a long form promo, otherwise he wouldn’t send Ziggler out there to cut him off and do most of the talking. That said, I had no trouble understanding Nakamura, who is fluent in English (despite having a strong accent). I feel that if they just let him talk, people will understand.
We return from break, and Kevin Owens is sitting in at commentary.
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
The Action: These two have good chemistry together, so hopefully this will be another good match. Early on, Styles uses speed to get the upper hand. Styles locks in a headlock early on. He maintains it as Corbin tries to work his way out. Corbin finally fights free. Styles tries a shoulderblock, and Corbin bounces him back through the ropes, kicking him off the apron to the floor as we go to break.
We return from the break, and Corbin has control. Owens talks about being the Face of America and how he’ll beat both Jericho at Payback and Styles at Backlash. Corbin slips under the ropes and counters Styles, connecting with a chokeslam back breaker. Styles slips out of a superplex attempt and hits a Pele kick. He hits a flying clothesline in the corner, and a flurry of offence, following up with a low flying forearm for two. Styles goes for a Calf Crusher, but Corbin grabs the ropes and Styles isn’t able to roll into the move at all. He catches Corbin with a pair of boots in the corner, when Kevin Owens approaches him, talking trash. Styles kicks him in the face from the apron, and then misses a Phenomenal Forearm inside the ring. Corbin sets Styles up for a powerbomb, which Styles reverses into a sunset flip for a three count
The Winner: AJ Styles
After the match, Owens immediately attacks Styles. Corbin joins in and attacks Styles as well, and then Sami Zayn runs out to make the save! Owens bails out and Zayn fights Corbin, sending him shoulder first into the post. He knocks Owens off the apron and hits a Helluva Kick on Corbin. Owens comes back in, attacks Zayn from behind, and hits Styles with a pop-up powerbomb. He holds up the title and stares down at Styles.
This is the first time in a long time that Baron Corbin has taken a pinfall loss. He was able to get some of the heat back in the post-match attack. Meanwhile, Sami Zayn coming to Styles’ aid seems like Styles is fully a face now.
Backstage, Dasha Fuentes interviews Charlotte about her match against Naomi tonight. Charlotte says gold runs through her veins. She’s held the Raw Women’s Championship on 4 occassions, and now she needs the Smackdown Women’s CHampionship. She says she is already the greatest in WWE history.
Up next, American Alpha vs. The Colons in a Beat the Clock Challenge Match for the #1 Contendership. The announcers confirm there will be two other teams involved in this challenge as well, and the one that wins with the fastest time will be the #1 Contenders for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.
American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) vs. The Colons (Primo & Epico) in a Beat the Clock Challenge Match
The Match: Gable and Epico start it off. Gable goes for multiple pin attempts early on. Tag to Jordan, who hits a nice dropkick for two. Jordan keeps Epico grounded with numerous suplex attempts. Tag to Gable, and he’s backed into the wrong side of town early on.
Epico gets pulled out of the corner by his partner and gives The Colons an opportunity to gain control. They keep Gable grounded in their corner, wearing him down. Nice tandem offense from The Colons, keeping Gable away from Jordan. Epico hits a tilt-a-whirl back breaker for two. Primo continues the offense, hitting a bodyslam, and a Russian Leg Sweep into a submission. Primo knocks Jordan off the apron and sends Gable flying into their corner. Tag to Epico, but Jordan runs in and breaks up the double-team, giving an assist to Gable and hitting Grand Amplitude out of nowhere. It’s enough for the win.
The Winners: American Alpha
Seems like it ended out of nowhere, which is refreshing in one sense, anticlimactic in another. We still don’t really know why we should like American Alpha. It would be nice to see them get more mic time.
We see a hype video for The New Day, who have yet to debut on Smackdown Live. We then go ringside, and the announcers cue up a video from Rusev. He says he doesn’t like Daniel Bryan or Shane McMahon. He doesn’t agree with the Shakeup, and he would only agree to wrestle if he gets a championship match at Money in the Bank, otherwise he’ll go back home to Bulgaria.
Dasha introduces Becky Lynch, who asks her about where she stands with Charlotte. Lynch says they have a “complex” relationship, but she’s stepping in, and stepping up. She doesn’t agree with her methods, but she gets results. Mid-sentence, Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and James Ellsworth approach her. They give her an ultimatum – she’s with them or against them – before walking away.
WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan in a non-title No Disqualification Match
The Action: Rowan immediately goes on the attack. The action spills outside, and Orton takes the fight to Rowan. Orton slams Rowan into the announcers table repeatedly, and caps it off with a back body drop.
Back in the ring, Rowan gets some offense and a near fall. He grabs a kendo stick from under the ring, and lays into Orton’s side and back. Cover for two. He grabs a table from under the ring, but leaves the kendo stick next to Orton. What a dummy. He doesn’t use it though, and blocks a suplex attempt to the floor through the table. Orton hands Rowan up on the ropes, teetering on the apron. He finally grabs the stick and hits him with it, sending him through the table at ringside. We go to break.
Rowan has control when we return. He crushes Orton’s face in the corner. Outside the ring, he sends Orton face-first into the announce table. He grabs the kendo stick and rolls Orton back into the ring. Orton catches him with a draping DDT. Rowan counters an RKO and once more sends Orton to the floor. Rowan nails him with the steps, then grabs a chair, following Orton back into the ring. He sets the chair up in the corner turnbuckle. He whips Orton into the corner, who stops himself short, and Rowan misses a shoulder block, hitting the chair head-first instead. RKO from Orton, and it’s over.
The Winner: Randy Orton
This was one of Rowan’s better showings, masked by the gimmick of the match. That said, this wasn’t a bad match by any means. I just have a hard time getting excited about Randy Orton matches these days.
After the match, Orton cuts a promo, saying he still doesn’t know what a House of Horrors match is, but Sunday he’ll find out. He assures Bray Wyatt the House of Horrors match will be Wyatt’s eternal hell.
He holds the title up high, and is interrupted by Jinder Mahal. “How dare you overlook the Majaraja.” He tells him he shouldn’t be worried about Bray Wyatt or the House of Horrors – he’s the true horror. Mahal says he will take the WWE Title – he has more wealth, talent, class, culture than anyone in the arena, including Orton himself. He says Orton disrespects him because he looks different, and his arrogance and lack of tolerance. Mahal says at Backlash he’ll take back his respect and the Glory of the WWE Championship.
Mahal then says he’s going to address his people in his language – Punjabi. He cuts a promo, Orton just standing there, watching him. Mahal takes a swing, and Orton counters. He goes for a draping DDT, but the Bollywood Boys run in and make the save, holding Orton down. The three attack Orton, and Mahal hits Oron with his finisher, grabbing the WWE Championship and holding it up high. Mahal walks away with the WWE Championship in hand.
A vignette for Lana airs. She dances seductively in front of a chair.
The Jinder Mahal Experiment is growing on me. He carries himself with confidence fitting of a champion. I’m looking forward to learning more about his relationship with the Bollywood Boys, and what their connection is.
After the break, we get a recap of Mahal’s attack on Orton. During the commercial, the three jump into a stretch limo, and Mahal busts out of the sunroof, title in hand as it drives away. I laughed.
The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) in a Beat the Clock Challenge Match
The Action: The time to beat is 5:17. Viktor immediately hits a running uppercut. Near fall. Double team, with Konnor tagging in. They’re keeping Breeze grounded. Viktor tags in and misses a leaping attack in the corner. Fandango legal, he takes out Konnor on the apron, and picks up steam on Viktor, but gets cut off by a rising knee. Two-count.
The pace is frantic as the clock ticks down. Konnor signals for the end and tags Viktor, but Breeze sneaks in. Supermodel kick into a Falcon Arrow by Fandango gets the surprise win, with 2:36 left on the clock.
The Winners; Breezango to become #1 Contenders for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Boy, Smackdown is sure full of surprises lately. I’m not complaining, but I really didn’t see this coming. I’m excited that they’re putting other teams in the title mix – the division has been pretty shallow for some time now and there’s no reason a team like Tyler Breeze and Fandango can’t be credible with some proper booking. I just hope it’s not too late.
Neville cuts a hype promo for 205 Live, later tonight. We then go to the announcers, who cue up a vignette for Bray Wyatt. It recaps his feud with Randy Orton up to this point, including the barn burning.
Renee Young interviews Naomi from Gorilla. She asks if she’s prepared for Charlotte, her biggest threat yet. She says yeah, Charlotte beat her fair last week, but she’s running her mouth like she’s the best. Naomi says she’s going to go out there and show why she’s the Smackdown Women’s Champion, and Charlotte will Feel the Glow. She then heads out to her entrance.
I did a poor job of transcribing this as my attention was on a cat trying to eat my food. I want to stress that Naomi came across as very confident and natural in this promo. It might have been her best one yet.
Naomi (c) vs. Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
The Match: Big fight feel for this one, as Greg Hamilton gives a championship intro to the match. The two lock up, with Charlotte hitting a headlock takedown quickly. Naomi hits a running bulldog, sending Charlotte face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Charlotte sweeps Naomi off the apron to the floor as we go to break.
Charlotte has control coming out of the break. She keeps Naomi grounded with a crevat. Naomi fires back, but Charlotte cuts her off. She connects with a kick to the back and a two-count. Naomi starts to recover, and hits a jawbreaker. She unloads a flurry of kicks. Charlotte catches her and goes for a bodyslam, but Naomi counters, hits a head scissors and a rebound neckbreaker. Roundhouse from the apron, into a sunset flip. Naomi gets Charlotte up on her shoulders and hits a roundhouse for two. Naomi hits a rear view for a believable near fall.
The two reverse each other’s pin attempts. Naomi goes for another head scissors, but Charlotte reverses it into a deadlift powerbomb for two. Charlotte goes up top for a moonsault, Naomi catches her with the knees up. Naomi makes it to her feet first, until out of nowhere, Carmella, Natalya and Tamina attack Charlotte and Naomi.
The Winner: No contest
It’s all about the numbers here. Charlotte and Naomi can’t fend off the attack. Natalya shouts orders, Tamina holds Charlotte and Carmella hits a superkick. The fans chant “We want Becky” as the three ladies (plus Ellsworth) stand in the middle of the ring.
That was a damn good women’s match until the finish. Not that I mind – it feels soon for Naomi to drop the title, and Charlotte just got on the Smackdown scene. I also love that we’re getting a faction of sorts out of Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina. It adds some nice fire to the Smackdown Women’s division, which was already strong.
Strangely missing, however, was a Becky Lynch save. The fans wanted it and it made sense, so why not go for it?
As expected this was a strong episode of Smackdown. The tag division is looking to be heading in a better direction out of the Superstar Shakeup, and Jinder Mahal is starting to come into his own as a challenger worth keeping an eye on. We have a solid feud with AJ Styles and Kevin Owens, supplemented by Baron Corbin, who is dipping his toes in the water here and there as well.
Bill and I will have much more to say about this and a lot of other topics, including Payback, on tomorrow’s Ring Rap Audio. Be sure to tune in! See you then!