We start off with a highlight package of Orton turning on the smiling Nakamura, RKO’ing him so he can sit on his ass and do some smiling of his own. Will Nakamura ever get to the real main event picture? Is competing with Mahal and Orton for the World title a downgrade from the US belt and AJ Styles?
JBL is gone
JBL announced he was leaving Smackdown to focus on his charity work with at-risk youth. There have been conflicting reports explaining his departure, but I’m happy to see him gone. He was phoning it in most of the time with tired clichés and inconsistent remarks. One report claimed he started arriving at Smackdown right before showtime instead of the usual few days before to prepare. It showed in his work. Other reports allege that WWE knew JBL wouldn’t be returning and used him as a scapegoat for the Renallo bullying controversy.
Whatever the reason, Graves is the most talented member of the broadcast team and this is a definite upgrade.
Carmella and Ellsworth promo
They get a few words in before…
Kevin Owens interrupts
KO informs them that he will be the referee for the match (what match?) and demands the ref give him his shirt. The ref scampers off as….
‘Here Comes the Money’
Shane comes down, does his whatsup and promptly forgets his line, breathing into the mic as the crowd laughs with realization. KO and the crowd cover for Shane.
Once Shane remembers the script, the promo gets pretty good. It seems like WWE was so surprised by how well Cena/Reigns was received that they’re copying the formula here. Which is great!
Shane says KO should stop blaming him for losses.
KO claims Shane didn’t want him on Smackdown, agrees with him and says he would rather be on RAW (great heel line to the Smackdown crowd).
Shane says KO must have liked RAW because HHH handed him the Championship (great callback!).
KO says of course the losses were to do with Shane since everything here has to do with him. He asks if it’s because Vince didn’t give him enough attention, and if that’s why he parades his kids out.
Shane takes exception to his kids being mentioned.
KO says Shane performs stunts to impress Vince. And that the entire McMahon family would be better off if Shane died in the helicopter crash. Upon mentioning his kids again, Shane attacks with his horrible punches.
The refs and officials try to pull super Shane off KO. Daniel Bryan eventually gets Shane to stop, giving him disappointed puppydog eyes as he tends to KO’s beaten body.
The crowd chants for Shane as we go to commercial.
I loved the promo style and hope WWE keeps this direction. The lines rang true and felt electric. The only criticism is that Shane – a 47 year old owner’s son – is beating the hell out of one of WWE’s top talents to look impressive. If he’s going to do that, then at least learn how to throw a goddamn punch.
KO threatens Bryan and the WWE
Owens threaten to sue the company and press criminal charges on Shane.
Carmella vs Natalya
Right there actually was a match planned. We’re reminded Natalya will face Naomi next week at Sin City Smackdown in Vegas.
The match starts with an energetic, highly choreagaphed sequence. Carmella does an interesting sideways hurricanrana that goes through several more rotations than expected, looking like a giant swing.
Natalya impressively powers out of a submission to slam Carmella down, the crowd applauds. Carmella eventually gets control after a superkick and Ellsworth hops up on the apron, accidentally dropping the briefcase into the ring. The ref thinks this is a cash-in, which distracts Carmella as she tosses the case back out. This allows Natty to score the roll-up pin.
Carmella cuts a promo on Ellsworth
Carmella knows he’s sorry, because he’s the sorriest human she’s ever met, and that he’s not a human. Then she REPEATS the line about him being the sorries human being she ever met. She says his mother should have given him up, insults his chin etc.
She says they’re through.
Nice to see some story but not quite sure where it’s going. Carmella had the crowd cheering her for dumping Ellsworth, but did it in a nasty way. Slow turn or just killing time for Ellsworth to work his way back in. I don’t care what they do as long as they keep on pushing forward.
Dolph Ziggler re-debuts
With the same music. The commentators also mention this.
Ziggler tells the crowd they don’t appreciate him (same ol’ shtick).
He says they just want a dumb gimmick. The lights go out and he heads backstage.
Cena’s Music hits.
Ziggler comes out impersonating Cena, wearing the hat, talking to the camera, dancing etc.
He asks if they like nostalgia and goes backstage again.
Macho Man’s music plays
He comes out wearing a robe with a Liz-a-like. He sends the girl back and tries again.
Ziggler impersonates Naomi’s entrance, complete with glowing hair and the slide.
He says anyone could do those entrance, but he’s the only one that can do it in the ring.
This was ok. For a self-professed full-time comedian, Ziggler isn’t very funny. Especially compared to the shootish’ promos we’ve seen lately, I expected a lot more than the usual heel Ziggler promo.
Aidan English vs Sami Zayn
English starts in the ring singing but Zayn’s music interrupts.
Zayn comes out flying but then actually misses a flying cross-body, leading to English scoring the roll-up pin!
Zayn sits dejected while English finishes his song. Zayn chases him away while English sings ‘no no’.
WTF are they doing with Zayn.
New Day backstage with Bryan
Usos join to announce their stipulation. A Street Fight.
Big E says they’re the dealers and the Usos are about to bust. The other New Days and Sweet Beets don’t laugh.
Bryan gets a call and we hear him say ‘do what? in the ring?’. The crowd thinks he’ll wrestle, but it’s probably an announcement as he walks down wearing his dad clothes.
He calls Shane to the ring.
oh no super shane bad-ass will get called down like the rattlesnake he is.
Shane doesn’t come down right away (hopefully he’s taking a last-minute look at his lines.
Bryan berates him for getting out of hand. He references the Miz antagonizing him about not being able to wrestle, yet he stayed in control, because Shane told him a GM has to put the WWE and Universe first.
DB explains he got a call from Vincey, and he has to suspend him indefinitely.
Like I said before, I don’t like Shane being booked stronger than the best talent, but at least they’re doing something interesting.
Mahal talks about Nakamura vs Orton and doesn’t mention racism once.
Mahal is not very interesting, but at least this was different from every other promo.
Baron Corbin vs Tye Dillinger
With Styles on commentary.
Corbin interrupted Dillinger’s US Open opportunity last week, and the announcers also mention these two getting a chance to stand out in the hunt for the belt.
Corbin starts the match by jawing at Styles, so Dillinger dives out to hit him.
The match is mostly 50/50 and Corbin picks up the win after a cheap shot. I guess his punishment is over as it looks like he’s poised to feud with Style for the belt.
Styles comforts Dillinger backstage about the cheapshots, and offers the US Open challenge next week to him. They shake on it.
Bobby Roode video package
Roode’s debut has been watered-down and bizarrely baby-face. But the video package shows WWE is still high on him.
Ellsworth confronts Carmella
Ellsworth agrees with what she said and begs forgiveness.
She says from now on, they’re doing things her way.
Then kisses him!
Then slaps him!?
Nakamura vs Orton
I wasn’t too excited for this one but it ended up being a pretty good match. Orton I find boring and Nakamura hasn’t shone as bright as we expected since his debut.
Plety of back and forth and enough time to tell a proper story with drama. Nakamura won with a beautiful counter to Orton’s RKO, setting up his finisher and picking up the win.
Maybe Orton really likes Nakamura? Kudos to both for a fantastic main event we haven’t seen on Smackdown (or from these two) in quite some time. It was so good, I actually hope Nakamura beats Mahal and feuds with Orton again!
Vince McMahon is coming to Smackdown next week
That’s it. A much better show than we’ve seen in months. Great matches and storylines that actually progressed. I’m interested in seeing the next chapter and that’s all you can ask for.