WWE Smackdown is in London, England this week, and we will have live coverage of the pre-taped show starting at 8pm Eastern. Already announced – the return of Randy Orton to the broadcast, who hasn’t been seen since the House of Horror’s match at Payback. Heading into his Backlash match against Jinder Mahal, what will Orton have to say?
Plus, Becky Lynch takes on Natalya in a singles match, Dolph Ziggler confronts Shinsuke Nakamura, and more.
We will post the spoilers of the show as it happens, but we will also have live coverage of the broadcast as it airs in the United States. Join us at 8pm Eastern both here and on Twitter, @RingRap!
Our show opens up with a video recap of the Six-Pack Challenge from three weeks ago, with Jinder Mahal winning an opportunity for the WWE Championship (with a little help from the Singh Brothers). We see Randy Orton losing the House of Horrors match at Payback, thanks to Mahal’s interference.
We head to the arena, which thankfully has no silly British phonebooth on the stage. Tom Phillips, JBL and Byron Saxton welcome us to the show.
Randy Orton’s music hits and he heads down the ramp, title in hand. In case you’re wondering, no, he’s not wearing pants. In fact, he looks ready to compete. Orton says that he didn’t lose at Payback because of Bray Wyatt, or the refrigerator. He lost because of Jinder Mahal. He says where he’s from, you have to win a match to become a champion… but he’s interrupted by Mahal and the Singh Brothers.
Mahal says he didn’t take or steal anything – he simply took what he’s going to win at Backlash (line flub?). He says he took his promotional pictures already, and cues up a photoshoot he had with WWE.com. He says he’s going to take the title back to his people. India will erect a statue of his likeness. He says the fans will no longer disrespect his homeland or him – he’ll cleanse their ignorance. At Backlash, the Age of the Maharaja will begin.
Mahal starts to cut a promo in Punjabi, but Kevin Owens (of all people interrupts him). He tells both of them to “stop this crap right now.” He says the only thing people care about is the United States Champion – Kevin Owens. He talks about ending Chris Jericho’s career. He says he’s going to move past AJ Styles at Backlash, and when he does, he won’t just be the US Champ, the New Face of America – he’ll become the Face of WWE and win the WWE Championship. He repeats it in French, until AJ Styles cuts him off.
Styles says everyone knows how delusional he is. He says this isn’t Backlash, it’s Smackdown – the House that AJ Styles Built. He says Chris Jericho is no AJ Styles – and neither is Owens. He tells him to enjoy being the Face of America while he can, but he’ll never be the face of Smackdown Live.
And then Baron Corbin comes out. He starts to speak, but Sami Zayn runs out and attacks him from behind. Naturally, a brawl breaks out, and the battle lines are drawn.
Well, Mahal flubbed one of his lines, and they cut Corbin off before he could really speak, so we’re off to a good start with the promo work. All in all, not a terrible segment, but definitely paint by numbers.
Back from break, James Ellsworth, Carmella and Tamina are in the ring. He tells the fans none of them deserve this beauty, or to stand on the same level of them. He tells them to close their mouths “because we don’t wanna see your teeth, duh.” Carmella introduces “The best there is, was, and ever will be – Natalya.”
Nattie comes out, and then Naomi’s music hits. She comes out and hypes up the “Lass Kicking” Becky Lynch. Lynch comes out, but before the bell rings, so does Charlotte Flair. She says she doesn’t need anyone to introduce her – she doesn’t need an introduction. We go to break.
Natalya vs. Becky Lynch
The Action: Out of the break, the action gets heavy immediately. They brawl at ringside, with Nattie sending Lynch into the apron back-first. Back in the ring, Natalya stretches out Lynch. Lynch fights free with some forearms, and fires back with clotheslines. She hits her straight fire forearm. Exploder suplex connects, but Nattle elbows her repeatedly in the corner.
Outside the ring, Tamina goes for a distraction, but Naomi sends her packing. Lynch is distracted enough anyhow, and Natalya yanks Lynch off the ropes, getting the sudden pin.
The Winner: Natalya
This match wasn’t pretty. The focus was on the feuding factions, and really, not much else.
A vignette for Lana airs. She dances and poses seductively on a chair.
Backstage, Charlotte and Naomi are bickering about Lynch losing. Becky Lynch breaks in and tells them to stop bickering. Lynch tries to get them to make peace – and tells them they’re going to take on the Welcoming Committee at Backlash. Charlotte reluctantly agrees.
We go to another “Fashion Files” segment. This is a “Special London Unit.” They’re in the O2 Arena, and there’s paint on the floor. As one would imagine, this is full of puns, as Breeze holds up a picture of the British Bulldog (and Matilda) with a sticky note that says “Fashion Faux Paw.” Fandango is dressed like Sherlock Holmes, Breeze like a British cop. Fandango says “Cheerio.” Breeze replies “No thanks, I already had breakfast.” Fandano tastes the paint and says it’s lead paint – and there’s only one team crazy enough to wear that – The Uggos. Breeze says they haven’t worn facepaint in months. They hear grunts coming from a door, and they try to kick it in, but it’s just The Ascension yelling and grunting for some reason. They make some more puns before walking off.
Last week’s was better.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
The Action: Rowan sets his mask on the ring post. The bell rings and Harper is quickly tossed outside. That lasts about two seconds, and Harper rolls back in. They brawl back and forth. Rowan hangs Harper up on the top rope.
Both men are laid out and make it to their feet at the same time. Harper catches Rowan out of the corner, and hits a senton from the apron. Boot to the face for two. Harper hits a sidewalk slam of sorts for two. He sets up to hit Harper with the mask, but the referee stops him, and while he’s distracted, Rowan thumbs Harper in the eye. He hits a spinning slam for the win.
The Winner: Erick Rowan
This was not pretty. There’s no heat on either of them right now, and the match served no purpose. Plus, it was very back and forth, with neither really heating up. Utterly forgettable.
After the break, Dolph Ziggler heads out to the ring. He immediately calls the fans hypocrites. He says he’s been coming out here for 8 years, sometimes twice a night. He’s been World Champion, headlined pay-per-views, and is a movie star, but noone appreciates him. He says the fans treat him like a contagious disease and don’t cheer for him (they chant for Nakamura) – they cheer for someone that has never had a match on Smackdown Live (the fans chant back NXT). He says Nak’s music hits and the fans sing along, just like they’re supposed to. “I suffer for my art in this ring, but I don’t call myself The Artist.” He says he’s the strongest man that’s stepped into the ring, because everything he’s done he did himself. “I never needed any of you.” The fans chant for Nakamura again, and Ziggler calls him out.
Nakamura’s music hits, and of course, the fans sing along with him. He stares down Ziggler. Ziggler tells him to stop with the theatrics – it’s been almost a month since he’s been brought to Smackdown. “If you’re going to stand toe to toe in this ring, it’s time to put up or…” Nakamura takes the microphone and tells him to shut up. “You want to see what I can do? Get a referee – I’ll show you. NOW.” A referee comes down and gets ready to ring the bell, but Ziggler says “Nope!” and bails out. “We do this when I say so.” He threatens to expose him as a fraud at Backlash, and then he attacks Nakamura. He hits a series of elbows, but Nakamura fires back with strikes and knees of his own. He kicks Dolph to the floor. Ziggler teases getting back in the ring but backs off.
Possibly the best segment of the show thus far. We got a glimpse of Nakamura’s offense, and they seem to be letting him speak a bit more (though the mouthpiece is not helping in my opinion). Dolph Ziggler did a better job here on the mic than he has in the past, but I still can’t help but feel like he’s got a long way to go on promos. Granted, he didn’t get scream happy, but it doesn’t take much for him to get there either.
Backstage, Sami Zayn is thanking Randy Orton and AJ Styles. He’s hyper, speaking quickly, and using a lot of hand motions, and wants to discuss strategy. Neither Orton nor Styles know what to do with Zayn, and neither speaks. He closes his eyes in a moment of visualization, but when he opens them, they’re both gone.
After the break, a vignette for The New Day hypes up their return.
The Ascension vs. Breezango
The Action: Fandango and Konnor start it out. It’s speed vs. strength. Konnor whips Fandango into the corner, and a little help from Viktor gives the advantage. Viktor in, he wears Fandango down.
Fandango tags in and Breeze is on fire. He catches Viktor in the corner with a superkick. Tag to Fandango, who hits his legdrop from the top for the win.
The Winners: Breezango
After the match, The Usos head out and says they got a win, but in 12 days they’ll get beat down. The two play off of each other, with one playing the crazy Uso and the other the straight Uso. They keep repeating 12 days and bounce off each other. They close with “It’s not paranoia – it’s the Usos!”
The Usos are definitely going off script with their promos and it’s refreshing. They have a good chemistry on the mic and a very, very unique style that literally noone is doing right now. I’d like to see more of it, but they went just a little too far with the “12 Days” stuff. As far as the match goes? Nothing to see here. Move along.
Brian Kendrick cuts a promo on Akira Tozawa, hyping up their match on 205 Live.
Backstage, we see Mojo Rawley giving some children a tour backstage. He tell a story about Andre the Giant, and turns it into a story about someone that was different and turned it into fuel to become something special. He reveals the Andre the Giant statue, and jokes around with the kids as he continues the tour.
We see a clip of Rusev demanding a WWE Title opportunity two weeks ago. He says he’s heard nothing and doesn’t like being ignored. He wants an answer when he comes to Smackdown next week.
Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers) & Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin vs. Randy Orton & AJ Styles & Sami Zayn
The Action: Styles and Corbin start it out. Styles backflips over Corbin, Corbin misses a charge in the corner but slips under the ropes and slides back in. Styles catches him anyhow. Tag to Zayn. Naturally, Corbin tags out to Jinder Mahal.
Mahal catches Zayn with a series of strikes and shoulders in the corner. Zayn hits a head scissors. The two stare down, and Orton begs for a tag. Mahal tags out, Owens is in. Orton goes for an RKO early on and Owens counters, bailing out of the ring as we go to break.
Back from break, and we’re back to Corbin and Styles. Surprising. Corbin has control. Styles tries to roll him into a Calf Crusher. Corbin counters and tags in Mahal. Styles hits a dropkick and tags in Zayn. Mahal quickly tags out to Owens, and once more the two that fight forever fight (Tom Phillips makes a reference to this just as I’m typing it). Zayn hits a series of fists on the turnbuckle, but Owens crotches him on the top rope. Zayn is sent to the floor and Mahal makes some cheap shots. Corbin tags in, makes the cover for two. Corbin keeps the pressure, and Zayn appears to be bleeding from the nose. Mahal tags in, hits a dropkick to the back for two. The heels keep Zayn cornered as Owens tags in and wrenches on a headlock. He hits a senton as we go to break.
Zayn is still under fire out of the break. He elbows Baron Corbin repeatedly, but Corbin slams him into the corner. Corbin takes Orton off the apron with a right. Zayn tries for a sunset flip and makes the tag to Styles. Styles goes on the offense, hitting a flurry of moves on Corbin. He goes for a Styles Clash, Corbin counters, but this time Styles locks in the Calf Crusher, until Owens breaks it up.
All hell breaks loose. Zayn leaps over the ropes onto Mahal and Corbin at ringside. He rolls Corbin in and Styles hits a forearm, but Owens yanks him off the ropes before he can hit a Phenomenal Forearm. Styles barely kicks out. Corbin hits a huge back body drop for two. Mahal tags in and goes for the cover, gets two. He catches Styles with rising knee. Tag to Owens. Owens goes for another senton, but Styles gets the knees up. Hit hits a flapjack face buster and finally makes the hot tag to Orton.
It’s Orton and Mahal. Orton hits a powerslam on Mahal, then on Corbin. He catches Owens with a draping DDT. Orton readies for an RKO, but The Singh Brothers distract him. Mahal hits Orton with a kick to the face. Zayn hits a Blue Thunder Bomb, Corbin with a backbreaker, Styles with a Pele Kick, Owens attacks Styles, RKO to Owens, and Mahal hits a Cobra Clutch Slam to Oron for the win.
The Winners: Jinder Mahal & Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin
Match of the night, but it wasn’t a difficult path to get there. That said, it was pretty paint by numbers. They got some nice heat on Jinder by giving him a pin over Orton heading into their title match at Backlash, while keeping the other two feuds in the mix.
Unfortunately, this show really never felt special. With a pay-per-view in two weeks, WWE needs to do more to amp up the feuds and get me excited, but so far, they’ve failed. The most interesting thing right now is Jinder Mahal’s meteoric push, which he really does seem to be responding well to. Let’s see where it leads.
Let’s see if 205 Live can do a better job of picking up the pace. Thanks for reading folks.