WWE Smackdown airs live from San Antonio, TX starting at 8pm Eastern, and we will have full coverage of the show as it happens. The show will feature the fall out from AJ Styles defeating Kevin Owens for the WWE United States Championship at a house show at MSG over the weekend, plus Tye Dillinger is scheduled to take on Jinder Mahal in a non-title match, plus much more.
We will have coverage of the event, as it happens, starting at 8pm Eastern. Join us here and on Twitter @RingRap!
The show opens with a recap of AJ Styles defeating Chad Gable last week, and later that night, winning a Battle Royal to become #1 Contender to the US Championship. We then see video clips from Madison Square Garden in New York City, with Styles picking up the win to become the new United States Champion. We see social media posts and official photos to mark the occasion.
The theme kicks in, and we go to the arena. Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton welcome us to the show. Greg Hamilton introduces AJ Styles as the new United States Champion…
Styles stands in the ring as fans chant his name. He says Battleground came a little early for him. He says his face isn’t the face of America, but compared to Kevin Owens, this is an upgrade. He says it’s not about Owens, or himself. It’s about the United States Championship and what it will represent.
Styles says not long ago a United States Champion wanted to prove he was the very best every week. He took on all comers, and called it the US Open Challenge. Styles says it’s time he brings it back – the championship has been overlooked for too long. If you see someone wearing that belt, you know they are the best. He invites anyone that disagrees to come out and challenge him. “Tonight is your lucky night – tonight you can come out here and prove me wrong.” He begins the AJ Styles US Open Challenge… right now!
After a lengthy pause, John Cena’s music hits, and the place erupts. Cena grabs a mic and confirms what AJ said – US Championship Open Challenge. He asks if it’s for everyone else but him. Styles says “Oh no, that’s you. Especially you.” Cena says he accepts, and the two get ready to rumble.
AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena for the United States Championship
Before the bell rings, Kevin Owens walks out shaking his head. He says noone wants to see another stupid John Cena vs. AJ Styles match – we’ve already sat through too many of them. The only thing we should care about is the rightful owner (him) getting it back. He says noone missed Cena and they don’t need him. Cena says it’s not that he doesn’t want to see him, he CAN’T see him. He challenges Owens to step up and do something about it – he’ll run through him, then he’ll run through Styles. But out of nowhere, Rusev attacks Cena from behind. Owens runs in and hits a pop-up power bomb on Styles, and Rusev locks in an Accolade on Cena. Huge USA chants as Rusev’s music hits and the two walk away.
I like that Styles is bringing the Open Challenge back – he’s the kind of wrestler that can rock that gimmick and truly bring some awesome matches to the show. It looks like we’re getting a Styles/Owens rematch first, supposedly at Battleground. As far as Rusev vs. Cena? I’m perfectly fine with that. The two worked well together in the past, and I think they will again here.
We return from the break, and The Singh Brothers introduce Jinder Mahal. His opponent, Tye Dillinger, comes out next.
Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers) vs. Tye Dillinger
The Action: The two lock up immediately. Mahal backs Dillinger into the corner. He gets control of Dillinger early, with clotheslines and dropped knees. He maintains control as we go to break, picture-in-picture.
Dillinger is on the run. Mahal whips him into the corner, and continues working the back. Dillinger tries to fight out of a headlock, but Mahal cuts him off. He keeps the pressure on Dillinger and drops knees near the apron.We go full screen again. Dillinger recovers with a diving elbow and a boot to the face. He catches Mahal in the corner and goes for ten punches. He gets pushed away and eats a knee to the face. Mahal hits the Khallas for the win.
Winner: Jinder Mahal
No shame in losing to the champ, but this was pretty decisive. Dillinger hasn’t exactly been featured well on the main roster, despite being reasonably popular with the audience. I can’t help but wonder if they could have given this match to someone else.
After the match, Mahal takes the mic. He says he speaks the truth every week and he’s still disrespected. “You can boo all you want.” He says he brings class, diversity, and excellence to the WWE. He says the fans still cheer for “that snake” Randy Orton. The fans chant USA, and he shuts them down, saying that 1.3 billion in India know he’s the greatest of all time. He says he’s going to put hell to Randy Orton next week – he’s bringing the Punjabi Prison.
Backstage, The New Day head to the ring.
Xavier Woods (w/ Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso)
The Action: Woods immediately goes on the offense. He drapes Jey over the ropes and runs for an attack, but Jimmy grabs the leg off of a distraction. Kofi and Big E get in the referee’s face, and he kicks both of them and Jimmy out of the arena.
Woods runs for a rollup, but Jey nails him with a superkick for two. Jey goes for a frogsplash, Woods gets the knees up. Woods gets caught on the apron, but manages to go up top and hits a flying elbow on a draping Uso for the win.
Winner: Xavier Woods
Jimmy Uso immediately runs out to the ring, but Woods escapes narrowly.
Not much here. Fine for what it was.
Backstage, Shane McMahon is on the phone. He mentions something about James Ellsworth, and then Naomi walks in. She knows Carmella is lurking, but she wants to know who her next challenger is. Charlotte walks in and says if she sees Lana again, she’ll need to be banned. Becky Lynch walks in, then Natalya too, and Lana, and Tamina. Shane says there will be a five-way elimination match at Backlash – Charlotte, Lynch, Natalya, Tamina, and Lana, with the winner facing Naomi at Summerslam. Charlotte wants to know why Lana is even in the match. Tamina tells her to watch it, Natalya tells Charlotte she’s been riding on daddy’s coattails. Shane makes a match – Tamina & Natalya vs. Lynch & Charlotte. And then, Carmella walks in – she has a letter from her attorney demanding Ellsworth is reinstated. Shane reads it and rips it up. “Decision stands.”
Renee Young interviews Baron Corbin. She asks him about his attack on Nakamura last week. She says Nakamura isn’t afraid of him, and Corbin says he’s afraid of what he’s going to do to him. He’s going to teach him a painful lesson tonight. “Sayanara, Nakamura.”
After the break, Nakamura makes his entrance.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
The Action: Nakamura attacks Corbin during his entrance. Corbin tosses Nakamura over the barricade, and the two start fighting through the audience. Corbin slams Nakamura into the barricade again and he tumbles over the ramp. Agents and referees run down and try to break them up. They struggle to keep the two separated. Nakamura heads into the ring and taunts Corbin to come in. Corbin grabs his briefcase and walks away.
Smart to keep this for the pay-per-view, but this is the second non-match of the night. Not good.
Backstage, John Cena approaches AJ Styles and says the open challenge was a good idea, but to be careful. Styles says he knew Cena would be the first challenger. He says he hasn’t forgotten about the last time they wrestled. Styles says the title proves he’s the best. Cena says he appreciates what Styles is looking to do and he respects him for putting the title up the way he did. He says he’ll worry about the US Title later, but tonight he’s got his back.
Cedric Alexander hypes up his match against Noam Dar for 205 Live. I’ll have coverage on that show tomorrow.
Becky Lynch & Charlotte vs. Natalya & Tamina
The Action: Lynch and Tamina start it off. Tamina lays into Lynch but Lynch recovers. Charlotte blind-tags and drops a knee for two. Charlotte goes for a German suplex, Tamina counters with an elbow and tags in Natalya. Charlotte maintains control and tags in Lynch, who leaps off the ropes with an axe handle. She hits a Becksploder. Lynch slips through the ropes and Natalya slams her into the steps as we go to break, picture-in-picture style.
Natalya maintains control back in the ring. She chokes Lynch across the ropes. Tamina tags in and keeps Lynch from making the tag. Tamina locks a headlock. Lynch fights to her feet. Out of the break, Natalya is legal, has control. Lynch fights free and goes for the tag, but Nattie corners her and tags in Tamina. Lana walks down to the ring and looks on as Tamina cinches the headlock. Natalya and Tamina keep Lynch cornered through a series of tags. Lynch manages to break free, but doesn’t make the tag. She just barely missed the tag, but kicks out of a sharpshooter to tag Charlotte.
Charlotte is on fire, she lays in the chops. Charlotte hits a suplex, but is distracted by Lana. Tamina tags in, but Charlotte doesn’t see it. She nails her with a superkick for the win.
Winners: Tamina & Natalya
Somewhat formulaic, but not a bad match. I appreciate they’re addressing the situation with Lana as being ludicrous. With any luck, she’ll show signs of improvement quickly.
The announcers hype the main event – Cena & Styles vs. Owens and Rusev. Backstage, Maria Kanellis heads to the male locker room. She knocks on the door and Chad Gable answers. She wants Sami Zayn – Gable calls him “Sami Wow Wow.” She’s confused, but he plays it off as a joke. She tells him to pass along a message – the First Lady of Smackdown Live is looking for him. Gable pouts and shakes his head as he closes the door.
Out of the break, Sami finds Maria and Mike Kanellis. They’re oogling over a flower. She demands an apology. Zayn says he’s already apologized twice, and he’s getting sick of apologizing. He’s not even sure why he’s apologizing, because every time he has something important to do (like have a match) they’re the ones in his way. Zayn asks them what they actually do here. “Mike, do you actually compete here?” He says she’s the lover and he’s the fighter. Maria fires back with a nasty slap to the face. Mike breaks the vase over the back of his head. Maria says that was brought to him by the Power of Love, and walk away.
We get a Fashion Files segment, this one mocking Walker: Texas Ranger. It’s called “Runway Walker: Texas Rangers.” There’s some stock footage of Chuck Norris spliced in with footage of Breeze and Fandango. Anyhow, the two ride fake horses backstage. Fandango approaches Zack Ryder and asks him to pull the horse over. The two start chatting, and Dango yells at him to lasso Ryder, but he lasso’s himself. For some reason, Ryder asks Breeze if he wears a bra when undercover, and Breeze says he does – he’s not a hippy. Mojo Rawley walks into frame and asks what he walked into. He and Ryder start bickering about the Battle Royal. Rawley says it wasn’t personal – and he wants to get back to work and pursue the tag titles. Ryder says he might need to get his head back into reality – maybe they all do – and he walks away. Dango says it’s time to hop back on the horse and get back to the office, but the horse is gone. They wonder who took it – ghosts, aliens, or ghost aliens? To be continued…
Kevin Owens comes out to the ring before the break, and Rusev after. Styles and Cena follow.
Kevin Owens & Rusev vs. AJ Styles & John Cena
The Action: Cena and Rusev start it out. Rusev bails out of the ring early and waves his flag. Back in the ring, Cena hits a shoulder block and follows it up with a running bulldog. Two count. Owens tags in. Owens lays in a series of kicks. Rusev tags in and keeps Cena grounded. Owens uses the tag rope on a ref distraction. We go to break.
We return from break. Rusev is still in control of Cena. Rusev misses a second-rope headbutt. Tag to Styles, and he unleashes on Rusev. Rusev connects with an elbow. AJ rolls him into a Calf Crusher, but Owens breaks it up. Styles hits Owens on the apron, Rusev catches Styles from behind for two. Owens legal, he wears Styles down with a headlock. Owens nails a clothesline. Rusev tags in, hits a roundhouse for two. He wrenches a bear hug on Styles.
Styles finally breaks free and struggles to his feet. He makes the hot tag, and it’s Cena and Owens. Cena hits his five moves of doom. Chaos breaks out. Styles hits Rusev with a Phenomenal Forearm and Owens with a Pele Kick. Cena follows it up with an Attitude Adjustment for the win.
Winners: AJ Styles & John Cena
Cena and Styles post in the ring, and Cena hands him his title before raising his hand. Styles looks somewhat surprised but rolls with it. The announcers recap the highlights, and we go back to the ring, where the two look each other in the eyes. Cena once again raises Styles’ hand as the show comes to an end.
More paint-by-numbers heading into Battleground in two weeks. This pay-per-view feels completely unnecessary with Summerslam around the corner, and Money in the Bank barely behind us. That said, WWE needs to make the best out of it if they want anyone to pay (or take time out of their Sunday) to watch.
I’ll give this a thumbs in the middle. The matches we did get were fine, but there were also two matches that just simply never happened. Nothing felt consequential tonight. It’s just moving the pieces, and there’s only two weeks to do it.
I’m going to bump 205 Live coverage until tomorrow, so I apologize if you were looking forward to seeing that tonight. Keep an eye out for those notes, and in the meantime, send in your Favorite Thing in Wrestling on social media with the hashtag #FTIW. Thanks for reading!