WWE Smackdown is live at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA this evening. Starting at 8pm Eastern, we will have live coverage of the event, featuring a Payback rematch, as newly crowned WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho will defend the title against Kevin Owens.
No other matches announced at this time, however it’s likely that Randy Orton will be seeking a measure of revenge against Jinder Mahal for his interference in the House of Horrors match at Payback. Plus, Breezango is the #1 Contender to the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. What’s next for them? And what about Naomi and Charlotte, who were viciously attacked by Natalya and friends last week?
Join us here for live coverage of the show starting at 8pm Eastern, and follow along on Twitter @RingRap as well!
The show opens up with a clip from earlier, with Jinder Mahal ordering a cameraman to take pictures of him with the WWE Championship. Shane McMahon walks in and tells him that titles are earned on Smackdown, and the title doesn’t belong to him. Mahal says he’ll bring glory to Smackdown and the McMahon family at Backlash, when he wins the title. Shane tells him to worry about tonight – he’s facing Sami Zayn. McMahon takes the title away, with intentions to return it to Randy Orton, and walks away.
The Smackdown intro airs and we go to the arena. Shane McMahon’s music hits as Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and JBL welcome us to the show…
Shane thanks the audience for the cheers. He introduces to us the newest member of Smackdown Live, the new United States Champion, Chris Jericho.
Jericho’s music hits and he heads out to the ring, title around his waist, List in hand. Jericho hypes up the crowd. He says it’s a special night – he’s giving the fans what they want, what they need – it’s the “Show of Jericho. Smack it Down, maaaannnn!”
Shane says everyone is thrilled he’s on Smackdown Live. He confirms that Jericho is defending the United States Championship in a rematch against Kevin Owens.
Before he can continue, AJ Styles interrupts. Styles is the #1 Contender to the US Title. He welcomes his “old friend turned bitter enemy” to the show. He says a lot has changed since they’ve been on the same show together. Styles pauses for an AJ Styles chant, and reminds Jericho that he’s standing in The House that AJ Styles Built. Styles says he hasn’t forgotten about the past – they had Y2AJ shirts! He says nothing would please him more than to take the US Title from him at Backlash – if he’s still champion at the end of the night. Jericho asks him if he saw what happened at Payback – he made “KO TO. He was tappin’ out man!” He says there’s a new face of America – “Chris Jericho be thy name.” He asks Styles if he knows what happens if he doesn’t think he can beat Kevin Owens tonight… and he’s about to put Styles on The List, until Kevin Owens interrupts.
Owens says this is the most pathetic thing he’s ever seen in his career – Shane McMahon, Chris Jericho, and AJ Styles arguing about things that don’t matter. He says tonight he gets his rematch and he takes back what’s rightfully his – the United States Championship. As he’s talking, AJ Styles gets out of the ring and attacks Owens on the ramp. Referees pull the two apart as the announcers plug Naomi & Charlotte vs. Natalya & Carmella. But up next, Jinder Mahal in action.
A commercial for Backlash airs, hyping Shinsuke Nakamura’s Smackdown in-ring debut.
A good opening segment, establishing AJ Styles is still in the picture, regardless of who wins tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised if the match isn’t turned into a triple threat before the end of the night, but no sign of that yet.
Back from break, the announcers recap AJ Styles’ attack on Kevin Owens. They announce that AJ Styles has been banned from ringside during Owens vs. Jericho later tonight.
Sami Zayn makes his entrance as a clip of last week’s Talking Smack shows Baron Corbin attacking Zayn. Corbin was fined and suspended for a week due to the attack. Mahal comes out second with The Singh Brothers at his side. The announcer’s recap Mahal’s attack on Randy Orton at Payback.
Sami Zayn vs. Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers)
The Action: Zayn rolls out of a wristlock early on. Mahal takes him down with an elbow. Zayn springboards into a reverse leapfrog and a head scissors. He hits a dropkick and Mahal bails out of the ring as we go to break. We return to Mahal in control. Zayn fights free of a headlock. Jinder drops a series of knees. Jinder goes up top for a superplex, but Zayn fights out. Mahal cuts him off with a rising knee.
Jinder slaps Zayn. Zayn fires back with a pair of clotheslines. Zayn hits a top-rope cross-body for two. Sunil Singh jumps up onto the apron to distract Zayn, and Mahal goes for a roll-up, which Sami reverses. Zayn goes for a tornado DDT, but it doesn’t connect too well. Anyhow, he sets up the Helluva Kick, but Sunil pulls Jinder out of the ring. Zayn goes for a dive, and Samir Singh grabs the leg. Mahal hits his finisher off of the distraction for the win.
The Winner: Jinder Mahal
We’re starting to lay the groundwork that Mahal can’t get it done without help. The Singh Brothers (formerly The Bollywood Boys) are going to be a regular thorn in the side of whoever Mahal faces. Most importantly though, Mahal is coming off like a star. He has confidence and that’s key to anyone that is supposed to be in a main event program.
Backstage, Becky Lynch approaches Tamina, James Ellsworth, Carmella and Natalya. She calls them her “four favorite ladies.” Natalya is not happy she called them snakes on Talking Smack. She says she’s trying to protect Becky from Charlotte, who has stabbed her in the back repeatedly. Natalya says Lynch should be the one getting title shots, not Charlotte. Carmella says she’s got her back. Natalya wants to help her make it her division again. Becky says she never thought about it that way, and asked for some time to think it over.
Tye Dillinger in action, next!
Another Backlash commercial airs hyping up Shinsuke Nakamura. Backstage, Dolph Ziggler watches the commercial and vents to production team members about it. Shane McMahon stands next to him as Ziggler digs his own hole. He’s upset that the PPV is built around someone that hasn’t proven himself. McMahon tells Ziggler his name is “Shinsuke Nakamura” and he introduced himself to Ziggler last week. Ziggler says watch what he does to Sin Cara tonight, and walks off.
At ringside, Aiden English requests the spotlight be shone on him. He sings a song, calling himself the “Maestro of Mayhem, the Picasso of Pain” and calls himself the Drama King. As he sings, Tye Dillinger’s music cuts him off.
Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger
The Action: English attacks Dillinger from behind. He immediately goes on the offense, pissed he was interrupted. Dillinger fires back with a flying forearm and a series of kicks and clotheslines. Tye stomps English in the corner as the fans chant “Ten!” with each kick. He drops the kneepad and hits a Tye Breaker for the win.
The Winner: Tye Dillinger
After the match, English throws a fit inside the ring.
I wouldn’t call Fresno, CA a “barometer town” by any means, but it’s a good sign to see Dillinger getting over in a place that’s not New York or Chicago. This was a very short match, so nothing really to analyze here. Good for what it was.
Backstage, Chris Jericho is approached by Renee Young (he calls her Ronnie) when Aiden English walks by, frustrated and crying. Jericho tells him not to cry – he’s on Smackdown, he’s good looking and successful, he can sing. Jericho says life is good, and then asks him if he knows what happens when you cry on Chris Jericho’s new show? Jericho adds English to the list, and then adds Renee. Both walk away, leaving English to cry alone.
The announcers recap Naomi vs. Charlotte from last week, with the Smackdown Women’s Title on the line. We see Natalya & Company attack both ladies. Backstage, Dasha Fuentes interviews Charlotte Flair. Charlotte says the Welcoming Committee only stopped the inevitable. She says she may be tagging with Naomi tonight, but the Smackdown Women’s Championship is her destiny.
And then Carmella, Natalya and Tamina attack Charlotte. They throw her into some production crates and taunt her before walking away.
And then Naomi makes her entrance for this match… Charlotte does not.
Naomi & Charlotte (?) vs. Natalya & Carmella (w/ James Ellsworth & Natalya)
The Action: Naomi apparently has a handicap match now. Carmella tries to kick Naomi. It’s like a mosquito bite. Naomi lays into her with her own kicks, which hurt significantly. Naomi unleashes a flurry of kicks. Carmella tags out…
Natalya comes in. Naomi has control. Natalya hits a slingshot slam, but Naomi fires back with a head scissors of her own. Nattie bails out of the ring and counters a baseball slide by slamming Naomi face-first into the steps.
Tag to Carmella. Naomi tries to fight free but Carmella yanks the hair. Tamina attacks Naomi off a distraction, and Carmella goes for a cover worth 2. Natalya tags in, slapping Naomi. Naomi takes Natalya out just as Charlotte’s music hits.
Charlotte walks to the ring slowly, selling the attack from earlier as Naomi and Natalya lay out on the mat for an impossibly long amount of time. Naomi reaches for the tag and makes it. Charlotte nails Carmella off the apron and hits Nattie with chops. Neckbreaker and a boot, and Charlotte is fired up. Charlotte fights on the apron, until Natalya hits her with a clothesline. We go to break.
Charlotte and Carmella go at it out of the break. Carmella gains control out of the corner hitting kicks to the midsection. Carmella misses a Bronco Buster, and Charlotte makes the hot tag. Naomi hits a jaw breaker and the Rear View. Nattie distracts the referee, and Ellsworth distracts Naomi. Carmella gets the roll-up win.
The Winners: Carmella & Natalya
A brawl breaks out almost immediately, and the numbers are in favor of the Welcoming Committee. Becky Lynch’s music hits and she enters the ring looking pretty serious. She looks at Charlotte and Naomi, and then the others. She nods and goes for a handshake, shaking the hands of Tamina, Carmella, and Natalya, and even gives Natalya a hug. She gets to Ellsworth and offers a hug to him too, and then tosses him into Tamina to a huge pop. Lynch attacks the others until Tamina catches her with a kick to the face. Carmella tosses Naomi and Charlotte out of the ring, and they team up on Lynch. Carmella’s music hits as the Welcoming Committee stands tall.
It’s refreshing to see a solid heel women’s faction on Smackdown. There’s logic for both sides banding together, and I’m looking forward to seeing this play out. The women’s division came out of the Superstar Shakeup looking strong. I like what they’re doing right now. I’m looking forward to watching it play out.
After the break, a vignette for The New Day airs.
We go ringside…
Sin Cara vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Action: Sin Cara is sporting some fancy new ring-gear. Sin Cara hits a springboard cross-body and a back elbow. He’s keeping Ziggler on the run. Sin Cara sends Ziggler crashing to the floor and dives through the ropes into Ziggler. He nearly fell short when his feet caught the top rope, but he managed to connect safely.
Back in the ring, Ziggler catches Sin Cara on the ropes with a neckbreaker. Ziggler seems like he has things under control until Sin Cara dodges him, and hits a rollup deadlift powerbomb. Ziggler catches him with his knees off of a moonsault. Superkick connects for three.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Smackdown has a chance to rebuilt Sin Cara into something meaningful, but not when they put him in matches like this. If they can rebuild Jinder Mahal they can rebuild Sin Cara. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.
Our main event, Jericho vs. Owens is up next!
Out of the commercial, a vignette for Lana airs. She dances on a chair in a blue dress. “Coming soon.”
Noam Dar and the worst haircut ever plug 205 Live.
A vignette airs for “The Fashion Files.” It’s for Breezango, and mocks Law and Order. The two are Fashion Police in Fresno. Breeze is typing up a file on The Ascension when Fandango hands him a file on a new pair of ‘Uggos.” It’s The Usos. Fandango runs down a list of offenses, like “Walking around like they own the place (Breeze says it’s Jey-walking, Fandango adds “and Jimmy-walking.”), Being twins (identity theft), and their outfits hurting their eyes. Breeze says the Big Bust goes down May 21st in Chicago – at Backlash. A radio chimes in accusing someone of wearing socks and flip-flops, and the two head off to handle it.
That was pretty dumb, and also completely hilarious. I loved it.
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE United States Championship
The Action: Greg Hamilton gives the match a title match intro. The two immediately go at it. The action spills outside early, Jericho attacking Owen’s hand, hitting the steps with it. Owens rolls inside the ring before Jericho can kick the steps into it. He turns the tide, laying into Jericho with a series of kicks.
Owens lays in the chops in the corner. Jericho counters with his own fists. Owens tries to create distance, but Jericho stays on him with knees and chops. He misses a splash in the corner and tumbles to the floor. Owens hits a running cannonball into the barricade before rolling Jericho back in for a two-count. We go to break.
Out of the break, Owens catches Jericho off the top rope. Jericho counters a pop-up powerbomb, but eats a pair of knees off of a Lionsault. Owens misses a cannonball in the corner. Jericho hits that Lionsault on a second attempt. It’s worth a two-count. Jericho locks in the Walls of Jericho. Owens breaks it on the ropes.
Owens goes for another pop-up powerbomb. Jericho counters with a hurricarana and another Walls of Jericho. Owens is in the center of the ring. Owens crawls towards the ropes and makes it. He rolls out of the ring to recover. Jericho misses a baseball slide and eats a superkick. Owens DDT’s him on the floor, where there’s no padding (right in front of the ramp). He rolls Jericho back into the ring as the fans chant Y2J. He hits another superkick, and gets a two-count. He taunts Jericho. Jericho cradles him for two. Owens manages to hit a pop-up powerbomb and this time, he gets the pin – and the win.
Winner: Kevin Owens to become the United States Champion
After the match, the referee calls for the paramedics. Owens stops and climbs into the ring. He looks distraught, but then attacks Jericho. He hits him with another pop-up powerbomb in the ring, then picks him up and yells at him “You were never my best friend!” Owens holds up his title as referees force him out of the ring.
Jericho sells the injury and the referees and paramedics help him backstage. Out of nowhere, Kevin Owens charges back down and attacks Jericho. He grabs a steel chair, wedges Jericho’s head in it and launches him into the ring-post, chair first. Jericho sells it like he’s been shot in the back of the head, and the little bit of blood he’s got on his lip helps as the show comes to a close.
As expected, another good entry from these two. I would’ve honestly been surprised if Jericho retained here, and this seemingly writes Jericho off television for the near future as he takes a planned departure to tour with his band Fozzy. If (when) Jericho returns to WWE, will he go back after Owens? Or will he pursue a new avenue? Time will tell, but they certainly have left the door open for revenge.
This sets up Owens vs. Styles at Backlash, with Styles firmly in the side of the good guys. I am very much looking forward to this match, which may very well headline the show.
Overall? Thumbs up for Smackdown from me. I like what’s going on with the women’s division. Jinder Mahal is looking solid in his new role, and the Smackdown division is getting some much-needed personality.
I’m heading over to cover 205 Live. Join me for live coverage starting…now!