WWE Smackdown is at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire this evening. It’s the go-home show for Backlash, which airs Sunday night, and we will have full coverage of the show starting at 8pm Eastern.
Already announced: Randy Orton will take on Baron Corbin, plus AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal, and a very special edition of Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel, hosted by Kevin Owens.
Join us here at 8pm Eastern, and on Twitter @RingRap, for all of your Smackdown coverage!
Our show opens up with a plug for tonight’s matches, and we go to the ring, where Kevin Owens stands, ready to host his own Highlight Reel. He’s dressed in a suit and tie, title over his shoulder. He welcomes us to the “New and Improved” Highlight Reel. He’s taking the show over because the original host will “Never, ever be seen, again.” He cues up a video of his destruction of Jericho, and says Jericho is into scarves and lists, but the only list he’s on is the injured list. He calls it a preview of Backlash, where he will beat AJ Styles. He introduces his guest for the evening – in French, but before he can finish, AJ Styles interrupts.
Styles accuses Owens of stealing Chris Jericho’s “everything” for over a year, but he didn’t think he’d stoop to this low by stealing his show. Owens says anything Jericho can do, he can do better – including beating him. He wants to know why he’s there, uninvited. Styles says he did terrible in high school French class – “This Sunday, I’m going to beat you for that United States Championship.” He says he’s bringing it back to the good ol’ “U S of A.” The fans get behind Styles with that. Styles says they don’t have to wait until Sunday, but he’s interrupted by Jinder Mahal.
Mahal asks Styles what he’s doing there – the Maharaja is supposed to be the guest. Owens confirms it and calls Styles a “rude American.” They were going to talk about what’s going to happen at Backlash. Jinder then throws it to a highlight video of last week, when Mahal pinned Orton. Styles tells him to focus on tonight, since they have a match. Jinder quotes Ghandi (in Punjabi). “In order to find yourself, you must first lose yourself.” He says tonight Styles will lose, just like Orton will lose at Backlash. Owens tells Styles he’s losing to Jinder tonight, and Sunday he’ll lose to him. Styles makes a play for Owens, and Owens bails out of the ring. Styles tells Owens he can’t run Sunday, and tells Mahal to get in the ring and they’ll start the AJ Styles Highlight Reel right now. Styles’ music plays as we go to break.
Not a bad opening, and a good way to get the major players out there. Strange there was a complete lack of Randy Orton, though I suspect he’s being saved for the main event.
AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers)
The Action: Kevin Owens is sitting in on commentary. Styles gets control early on. Mahal sends him head-first into the second turnbuckle and starts slowing the pace with a set of knee drops in the corner. He keeps the pace with a set of stomps near the ropes. The referee is not happy with him. Mahal tries to suplex Styles into the ring. Styles counters with a shoulder block and a leaping forearm into the ring.
The fans chant USA as Styles lays in some kicks. He runs the ropes but the Singh brothers tease yanking his feet. It gives Mahal a chance to recover, and he hangs Styles up over the ropes and follows it with a running knee for two. We go to break.
Mahal has a chinlock cinched on after the break. He continues to ground Styles, making a cover for two. Mahal works him over in the corner. Styles catches Mahal off the top rope with a dropkick. The pace quickens, but Mahal catches Styles off guard with a boot to the face. Styles hits a Pele kick and a forearm in the corner. Ushigaroshi for two. The Singh Bros make a move to check on Mahal. Styles sends him out of the ring. Styles on the apron, he teases the Phenomenal Forearm, but Owens hits him from behind with the title. The ref doesn’t see it thanks to a distraction. Mahal capitalizes, hitting his Cobra Clutch Slam for the win.
The Winner: Jinder Mahal
You knew this wouldn’t go down clean, especially with Owens at ringside. Not much to discuss here, everyone played their part well.
A vignette for Lana airs, much like the previous ones. She’s dancing on a chair on stage. “Coming soon…”
Another episode of Fashion Files airs. “Fashionable Intent.” They’re in a precinct, with sticky notes everywhere. Fandango is looking for Breeze, when a “janitor” in disguise walks in. Fandango doesn’t realize it’s Breeze until the reveal. They start running down the “Fashion Offenders,” and make fun of The Uso’s T-shirt. “Day One Is H?” Breeze says the Usos are scary. Breeze acts like he’s becoming a janitor and Fandango shakes him out of it. They freeze frame for a high five as the segment ends.
Renee Young asks Randy Orton about Jinder Mahal. Orton says Mahal feels people don’t like him because of his skin color, heritage, etc, but Orton says people don’t like him because he’s an ass. He walks away.
Breezango vs. The Colons
The Action: We join the match in progress. Breeze fends off both Colon’s at the same time, and they get the best of him, sending him into the ring post. They keep Breeze cornered, but he fights free and makes the hot tag to Fandango. Fandango is on fire. He hits a Falcon Arrow for the win.
The Usos come out after the match and cut a promo. They want to role play – they say it’s like good guys and bad guys, cowboys and indians, cops and robbers, or inmates. They welcome Breezango to the “Uso Penitentiary.” In 5 days, they’ll take them to trial. They have a right to remain vicious, and anything they say will leave them in stitches. They have a right to be left in a gurney. They say right now they’re feeling goosebumps, but it’s not paranoia, it’s the Usos!
This promo style is so difficult to keep up with and capture the spirit of. The Usos really play off each other extremely well. I can’t do the promo justice because I can’t capture the wordplay they have. It’s so refreshing and unique, and I can’t imagine how over these guys would be if they’d had the opportunity to do this sooner.
Shane McMahon heads out to the ring for the Women’s Match contract signing. He welcomes the crowd to the show, and says he feels Smackdown is WWE’s premiere brand. He credits the Women’s Division as part of the reason. He hypes up the six-women’s tag team match, and introduces the participants. He introduces the Welcoming Committee, Natalya, Carmella and Tamina, flanked by James Ellsworth. He then introduces Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Smackdown Women’s Champ Naomi individually.
Natalya starts off, says she looks at the three of them and thinks they are pathetic. She offered Becky Lynch a chance to join them, but she lost that chance. On Sunday they’ll prove they are the best there is, was, and ever will be. She signs the contract.
Lynch says Nattie did give her a chance, but there was no chance in hell she would join the Goon Squad. She’s looking forward to slapping the faces off of them. Naomi takes the mic and tells the three of them (plus Ellsworth) that they’re going to snatch them bald. Charlotte says they’ve had an issue with her since the day she came to Smackdown. They moaned and complained and formed their babysitter’s club. Bring everything to the table because at Chicago, they’ll solve their problems. She says after they beat the three of them, “The queen is coming for her crown.” She looks at Naomi’s title and points.
Ellsworth cuts off Shane before he can end the segment. He says the ladies are all trying to hook up with him. He needs to throw water on Becky’s straight fire because she has no chance in hell. He tells Charlotte she has no chance with him either because she might be the queen, but he’ll always be the prince to the princess of Staten Island. He tells Naomi that Carmella will steal her glow. A brawl starts to begin, but Shane breaks it up and makes a match – Carmella vs. Naomi. We go to break.
I’ve seen better contract signings, but James Ellsworth cracks me up.
Naomi vs. Carmella
The Action: Naomi is kind of pissed and goes after Carmella immediately. Carmella seeks refuge in the ropes. Naomi takes her to the mat with a Lou Thesz Press, and then hits a low dropkick on the apron into the corner for two. Naomi keeps her grounded. Carmella hits a shot to the back of the leg to change the tide, but it’s short lived. Naomi goes for a Rear View, but Ellsworth provides a distraction. The referee ejects him from ringside, and Ellsworth throws a fit as we go to break.
We return and Naomi’s shaking her ass in Carmella’s face.
Moving on, Naomi goes for kicks to the legs. Carmella fires back, but it’s barely a scratch compares to Naomi’s kicks. Carmella screams and cowers, bailing out of the ring. She starts to leave over the barrier, but when Naomi follows her, Carmella nails her with a superkick. Both sides stare down at ringside as the referee starts to count Naomi out. She breaks the count. Carmella immediately attacks. She hits a bronco buster and covers for two. Naomi goes on the offense, picking up steam. She hits a flurry of kicks and follows it up with a jaw breaker. Roundhouse on the apron, but Tamina and Natalya provide a distraction too. The referee also catches that and ejects both of them as well. Before they leave, the two brawl with Charlotte and Lynch. Naomi looks on, distracted, and Carmella manages to get a roll-up victory.
The Winner: Carmella
A fun match with all sorts of bells and whistles heading into Sunday. This whole feud really does feel like they’re just stalling for time with the title, but that’s fine. It’s a nice distraction.
The announcers plug the events on the WWE Network, including a UK Special with Jim Ross calling the action, NXT Takeover: Chicago, and Backlash. We go to break.
A vignette for The New Day airs. They’re also “coming soon.”
Dolph Ziggler cuts a pretaped promo backstage. He says he never understood the hype of Shinsuke Nakamura, and last week he called him a fraud and a phoney, but he’s a professional and he did his research. “And what I found is eye opening.” He wants to show us all of the remarkable things Nakamura has done here.
He plays a clip, it shows part of his entrance video, and then says “Footage Not Found.” He cues up a package about himself next, showing all the things he’s accomplished. He says for all his accomplishments, nothing will bring him more joy than spitting in the face of all the hypocrites that turned their backs on him than by beating Nakamura.
Dasha Fuentes interviews Sami Zayn – he says he’s requested and been granted a match at Backlash against Baron Corbin. He says he’s been a target by Corbin since he arrived, but he feels he’s a threat to him – he’s a reminder that he can’t be kept down and is a threat to Corbin’s ego. Then, of course, Corbin attacks him from behind. Corbin tells him to stay down and not show up on Sunday, or he’ll be put down permanently.
We go to the arena, and Randy Orton heads to the ring. We go to break. We return to TJP cutting a hype promo about his match against Austin Aries on 205 Live. Baron Corbin makes his entrance and the bell rings.
Randy Orton vs. Baron Corbin
The Action: The two lock up. They go back and forth, and quickly it turns into a shoving match. Orton goes for an RKO, but Corbin has it scouted and pushes him away. Orton tries to shoulder block Corbin, Corbin returns a shoulder of his own. Orton grabs a handful of hair and slams him to the mat. He goes to the second rope and hits an axe handle. He keeps Corbin on the run. He whips Corbin into the corner. Corbin slips underneath and slides into the ring, hitting a clothesline for two. We go to break.
Corbin has Orton grounded in the corner when we return. Corbin goes back to the well under the ropes again, and Orton catches it, but he also catches a boot to the face. He talks trash to Orton and picks him up slowly. Orton tries to create space, Corbin, drops him to the mat again. Orton starts to recover. He hits a powerslam and a draping DDT. Corbin counters an RKO and hits a Deep Six for a near fall. Orton sends Corbin into the corner once more, and once more he slips under the ropes and slides back in, but this time, an RKO is awaiting him.
The Winner: Randy Orton
Jinder Mahal’s music hits and he walks out onto the ramp, mic in hand. He tells Orton to savor his victory and relish his time with the WWE Championship. On Sunday, he’ll destroy his pride, his future, and as he talks, The Singh Brothers attack Orton from behind. Orton makes quick work of the two, and Mahal tries to take advantage. The numbers get to Orton, and the Singh brothers keep Orton tied up while Mahal assaults him. He hits Orton with his finisher and demands the title. The three stand over Orton, title in hand as the show comes to an end.
Well, WWE certainly did a good job of making Mahal seem like a credible threat in a short amount of time. I’m actually looking forward to their match on Sunday – not because I think it’ll be a five-star classic or anything, but I’m really curious to see how this all plays out. Will Jinder pick up the win? Will Orton persevere? I have no idea!
Not a bad go-home show, but a little formulaic in a lot of ways. Backlash does look like a good show on paper though. I think we’ll be in for a treat.
Time for 205 Live. Join me there for coverage, won’t you?