Welcome to SmackDown Live! We open with Renee Young in the ring, introducing Shinsuke Nakamura! I still haven’t gotten over my excitement at Shinsuke being on SmackDown, and he’s showing me exactly why right now.
Renee gets less than a sentence into her interview when Dolph Ziggler’s music hits and he makes his way to the ring, beautifully clad in a suit with sneakers. He beckons for the microphone while the crowd takes up in a “Nakamura!” chant. Ziggler lays into Nakamura for not speaking English as his first language and also for his ‘wacky’ dance moves. Half of that is racist and the other half is frankly hypocritical, Dolph.
Ziggler embarks on a really long bit claiming that Shinsuke is secretly Michael Jackson in disguise, and Nakamura just looks like he’s half confused and half sick of this shit already. In the end, Nakamura takes the mic to ask Dolph what his problem is. A kick from Ziggler knocks Nakamura to his knees, but Nakamura catches the superkick that follows and sets up for the Kinshasa. Ziggler rolls out of the ring rather than take the knee, and Nakamura stands tall as we cut away.
MATCH: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
We have Kevin Owens on commentary for this match, and commentary briefly reminds us that Kevin is facing Chris Jericho at the upcoming RAW pay-per-view before AJ makes his entrance. Corbin follows, staring down AJ Styles, and who can blame him? AJ Styles looks great today.
- “AJ Styles” chants start us off as AJ rolls under Corbin’s first offense and the two men circle.
- Waistlock from Styles, then Corbin grabs AJ by the leg and knocks him off balance.
- AJ attempts a rollup, but can’t knock Corbin appropriately off-balance.
- Side-headlock from AJ, but Corbin creates separation; AJ kicks him in the knee to knock him back down to the mat and locks in the headlock again.
- Corbin backs AJ into the corner, but AJ goes for the headlock again swiftly afterwards.
- Corbin breaks out again with strikes; AJ rebounds and goes for a shoulder block that doesn’t knock Corbin off his feet. AJ tumbles back into the ropes and Corbin kicks him out of the ring as we cut to commercial.
- When we’re back, Corbin has the upper hand in the ring with a half-nelson. AJ struggles to his feet and breaks out with strikes to Corbin’s midsection with his free arm.
- Corbin throws him into the corner, but AJ gets him with a kick.
- Corbin catches AJ with a chokeslam backbreaker onto his knee. AJ kicks out at two, then Corbin mounts him for some forearms to the face.
- Corbin stops to eye off Owens at ringside, then props AJ up on the turnbuckle for a superplex. AJ slips out and Corbin turns around into a Pele Kick. Over on commentary, Owens tells JBL that he makes him miss Michael Cole. That is a terrible insult.
- AJ with a pair of forearms to Corbin, but Corbin kicks out at two.
- AJ sets up for the Styles Clash, but Corbin counters. AJ tries to reverse into the Calf Crusher but Corbin able to hang on to the ropes and stay vertical.
- Kevin gets up to interfere as AJ starts to set up for the Phenomenal Forearm, and AJ kicks him away. Corbin able to duck the Forearm, but AJ able to flip him into a pin anyway.
Kevin starts stomping AJ, when some more music hits – it’s Sami Zayn coming in for the save! Kevin rolls out of the ring rather than face Sami, but Corbin takes a Helluva Kick from Sami. Kevin knocks Sami out of the ring once that’s down, and hits AJ with the Pop-Up Powerbomb before standing tall with his title.
Backstage, Charlotte is being interviewed about her match against Naomi tonight for the championship. Charlotte explains that she knows that she’s the greatest superstar in WWE history and deserves the championship accordingly.
MATCH: American Alpha vs. The Colóns – Beat the Clock Tag Team Championship Number One Contender’s Match
In an event that I did not recap appropriately as I should, Primo and Epico have undergone a rebranding into The Colóns. Tonight, American Alpha are facing the Colón’s and Breezango are facing The Ascension in a beat the clock challenge to become number one contenders.
- Chad Gable immediately goes for a backslide on Epico for a quick one-count.
- Epico with a side headlock, the two rebound off the ropes, then Gable grabs Epico in a wrist lock and tags in Jordan.
- Jordan gets a quick one-count, then another, then another. The Usos are backstage watching at an awkward angle.
- Jordan makes the tag back to Gable, rolling up Epico for a two-count. Wristlock, but Epico grabs a handful of Gable’s hair and backs him to the corner to tag in Primo.
- Primo does not make the tag, as Gable drags Epico away, but Epico knocks Gable down with a boot and makes the tag to Primo.
- Primo mounts and beats on Gable, as the crowd chants “Let’s go Gable!”.
- Armbar from Primo, but Gable able to break out.
- Epico tags back in, with a knee and a clothesline dropping Gable for a two-count. We’re at over three minutes now, and I have to assume The Ascension or Breezango are our new number one contenders because I don’t see either team having a match that goes for more than three minutes. Sorry, was that mean?
- Backbreaker from Epico to Gable, then tag back to Primo who hits Gable with a senton from the apron for a two-count.
- Power slam then a leg drop from Primo, but Gable still kicks out at two.
- Submission from Primo, then as Jordan tries to get involved, Primo knocks him off the apron and knocks Gable down with a dropkick.
- Epico back in, setting up for the double-team backstabber, but Jordan is back in with Grand Amplitude – American Alpha win, at 5 minutes and 17 seconds!
American Alpha celebrate together, and the Usos look concerned next to their weird television. I have to say, SmackDown aren’t really selling me on the tag division with their image for the other half of the beat the clock challenge, showing Breezango in fashion police gear and the Ascension in their paint. Neither team looks really credible, is my point here.
Another video reminding us that the New Day are coming to SmackDown soon! Tom Phillips uses this as a way to segue into a video from Rusev.
Rusev tells us that he doesn’t like Daniel Bryan or Shane McMahon, and he doesn’t want to be on SmackDown. What he does want, however, is a championship match at Money in the Bank. If he doesn’t get that, he’s going home to Bulgaria.
Becky Lynch is being interviewed by Dasha Fuentes! She doesn’t like Charlotte much, but she respects her and what she’s doing. Before she can get far, though, she’s interrupted by Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and Ellsworth telling her she needs to decide where she stands on Charlotte properly.
MATCH: Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan – No DQ Match
I actually really don’t care about our champion. I kind of don’t even want to recap this match, which is something I usually reserve for boring tagteam matches I don’t care about. I shouldn’t care this little about the champion. Erick Rowan looks like a steampunk sheep.
- Collar and elbow tie-up, then a headbutt from Rowan. Randy knees him in the head.
- Rowan drags Orton out of the ring, and they trade blows next to a barricade on the outside. Orton pushes Rowan into the ringpost, then back into the barricade.
- Spinebuster onto the barricade from Orton, then bounces Rowan’s head off the announce table several times.
- Orton thrown into the steel steps, then Rowan throws him back into the ring. Dropkick from Rowan for a two-count.
- Rowan fishes out a kendo stick, beating Orton round the back and shoulders with it before going for another cover – and another two-count!
- Rowan fishes out a table next, setting it up at ringside. Unfortunately this means he’s thrown the kendo stick aside, and Orton picks it up.
- Rowan back in the ring once he’s set up his table, forcing Orton to drop the kendo stick and setting up to suplex Orton through the table.
- Orton fights him off with strikes, then manages to pick up the kendo stick again and hitting Rowan with it until he falls through his own table.
- When we’re back, both men are in the ring and Rowan throws Orton into the turnbuckle. Series of stomps drops Orton to the mat until the referee makes Rowan create separation.
- In the middle of the ring, Rowan with more strikes to Orton’s head. Orton rolls out of the ring, so Rowan follows, throwing him into the announce table.
- Orton back in the ring, and Rowan picks up the kendo stick again. As he climbs back in, Orton hits him with the draping DDT.
- Orton pounds the mat for the RKO, but Rowan sees it coming and hits him with the kendo stick.
- Both men out of the ring again, and Rowan gets himself a chair, wedging it in the turnbuckle.
- Rowan tries to whip Orton into the chair, but Orton catches himself before hitting it, and sends Rowan into it instead.
- RKO – and Orton wins.
Orton cuts a promo about how he doesn’t really know what a House of Horrors match is, when Jinder Mahal’s music hits and he comes out – also in a suit, if we’re keeping track. He’s furious about being overlooked, as the crowd starts chanting “USA!”. Mahal yells some more about how Randy Orton is like everyone else; disrespecting him because he looks different and showing a lack of tolerance.
Am I suppose to dislike Mahal here? Can someone explain why?
The crowd starts chanting “RKO!” as Mahal starts to cut a promo in Punjabi. Predictably, Orton attacks him, but the Bollywood Boyz (sorry; the Singh Brothers) save Mahal from a draping DDT, and Jinder slams Orton and walks off with his title.
During commercial break, Jinder Mahal ran away with the championship. He left the arena and took the title with him.
MATCH: Breezango vs. The Ascension – Beat the Clock Tag Team Championship Number One Contender’s Match
Fandango comes out shirtless today. I guess this match is so short he won’t have time to take off his shirt during the match! Not that I’m complaining. Commentary tells us these teams have flown under the radar so far, which is a polite way of saying that both teams have been basically booked as jobbers.
- Viktor and Tyler start in the ring, Viktor gaining the upper hand.
- Tag to Konnor, going for a pin on Tyler that Fandango has to break up. This is not looking good for Breezango.
- Enzuigiri from Breeze, but Konnor tags in Viktor. Tries to splash Breeze in the corner, but he ducks, and Viktor hits the turnbuckle.
- Tag to Fandango, knocking Konnor off the apron then going after Viktor. Knee from Viktor, for a two-count cover.
- Viktor thrown into the turnbuckle again, but tag made back to Konnor. Another knee, and Fandango kicks out at two.
- Fandango reaches for a tag from Breeze, but Breeze is still out. Konnor tags to Viktor.
- Breeze manages to scramble to his feet and hits Viktor with the Supermodel Kick. Falcon Arrow from Fandango and… Breezango win?!
Oh my God, Fandango looks at the clock absolutely astonished like he doesn’t believe that not only did they win, but that they did it with more than two and a half minutes to spare. He nearly knocks Breeze off his feet with a hug and Tyler looks confused as well until Fandango points at the clock and Tyler seems to realize what happened as well – the two men embrace and Fandango messes up Tyler’s hair, and some people are Fandangoing in the audience. The guy they cut to is doing it a bit half-heartedly, but they’re doing it!
I was about to say that I don’t know how I could get more excited about this episode of SmackDown, but then I remembered that there’s a women’s title match main eventing tonight!
Before we get there, though, there’s a vignette about Bray and Randy’s upcoming House of Horrors match. Bray Wyatt is spooky, but he’s on RAW now, so I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to care about this.
Renee Young is interviewing Naomi! Naomi assures us that Charlotte has been an excellent competitor, she’s the champ, as much as Charlotte keeps trying to claim that she’s the best.
MATCH: Naomi vs. Charlotte – SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Naomi comes out first to defend her title, but I love her entrance so there’s only so much I can complain. Naomi looks at her title with something like concern before handing it over to the referee. Perhaps she’s concerned that even if she retains, Charlotte will pull a Jinder and run off with it.
- Collar and elbow tieup, then Charlotte slams Naomi to the mat in a side headlock.
- Naomi sends Charlotte face-first into the turnbuckle to break the hold. Charlotte rolls out of the ring, but Naomi tries to drag her back in. Charlotte slams her onto the apron, then drags her to the floor by the ankle.
- When we’re back from commercial, Charlotte has Naomi in a chinlock in the ring. Naomi gets to her feet and breaks out with strikes; Charlotte throws her into the corner.
- Naomi tries to kick Charlotte away, but Charlotte hangs her up on the ropes for a kick, then gets a two-count cover.
- A pair of one-count covers as Charlotte yells at the referee, then Naomi back in the corner for some forearms from Charlotte.
- Both women stunned, but Naomi recovers for a series of kicks; Charlotte grabs her leg to intercept, but Naomi able to hit a hurricanrana and a back elbow.
- Naomi sent to the outside when she goes for a splash in the corner; a kick and then a sunset flip, but Charlotte keeps rolling.
- Kick from Naomi for a two-count.
- Strikes back and forth, which Naomi is able to get the upper hand. Rear View for a two and a half count!
- Charlotte tries to roll Naomi up, but Naomi kicks out.
- Hurricanrana from Naomi reversed into a sitout powerbomb, but Naomi kicks out at two.
- Charlotte up to the top rope, looking for that moonsault, but Naomi gets her knees up. Charlotte is down, but Naomi is struggling too.
- Suddenly, Natalya pulls Naomi out of the ring and the bell rings – it’s a DQ!
So Naomi has retained, but Carmella and Tamina are attacking Charlotte, quickly joined by Natalya. Carmella and Natalya hold Charlotte in place for a superkick from Tamina, then Tamina holds Charlotte up on her knees for a kick from Carmella. Those three women, joined by Ellsworth, stand tall as Natalya’s music plays. Naomi clutches her title, and Charlotte cries in the ring.