By David Dodgson @DodgeeWriter
After a Summerslam which saw two title changes, a climax to the AJ Styles-Kevin Owens rivalry, and John Cena moving over to Raw, the stage was set for change on Smackdown. Who would be out for revenge? What new rivalries would develop? And would we see any new additions to the roster? Let’s take a look…
AJ styles kicks off the show, basking in the cheers of a noisy crowd before reminding us that this is the House that AJ Styles built. He announces the return of the US Open Challenge and who comes out but… Kevin Owens. I guess this rivalry is not quite done yet!
Shane O’Mac soon joins them and states that he called their Summerslam match down the middle. KO shows footage of Shane counting three before noticing AJ’s foot on the rope. AJ styles tells Owens to stop bitchin’ and agrees to a re-match but KO insists he gets to choose the ref. Shane agrees and adds that this will be KO’s last shot at the US title as long as AJ Styles is the champ.
Aiden English v. Bobby Roode
Aiden English is in the ring next to serenade us once again but is interrupted by our first NXT call-up of thee night Bobby Roode, who gets a huge pop from the crowd. The match itself is an extended squash with Roode drawing a couple of ‘Glorious’ chants from the crowd. He wins with the Glorious DDT. In a post-match interview, he congratulates Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon for ‘cashing in’ and breaking the bank to sign him. Winner: Bobby Roode
Hype Bros v. The Usos
For what seems like the first time in forever, the Hype Bros are back in action to face newly-crowned Smackdown Tag Team Champions the Usos. Mojo Rawley is taking it to the Usos early but soon finds himself stranded. A hot tag to Zack Ryder swings the match again as he goes on a tear but a distraction from Jey allowed Jimmy to connect with a superkick for the pinfall win. After the match, the champs cut a promo to let the whole tag division know they are ‘on lock’ at The Uso Penitentiary. Winners: The Usos
Shinsuke Nakamura v. The Singh Brothers (Handicap Match)
This match was booked by Daniel Bryan backstage earlier in the show to allow The King of Strong Style retribution for Summerslam. Nakamura, as usual, gets a huge ovation with all in attendance singing along with the music – this truly is one of those entrances that never gets old. Jinder is ringside for the match. Bizarrely, The Singh Brothers are wrestling in dress trousers and button-down shirts. Despite the 2-on-1 set-up and a distraction from the champ, Nakamura dominates most of a short match before making one of the Singhs tap out to a triangle lock. Post-match, Jinder tries to jump Nakamura but ends up eating a Kinshasa instead. Winner – Shinsuke Nakamura
Kevin Owens searches for a referee
Backstage KO approaches Sami Zayn to be the guest referee, asking him to put their differences aside. Zayn promises to think about it but later, recalling all the times he’s been stabbed in the back,
refuses. The Fashion Police then offer to don the black and white stripes but KO shouts them off before Baron Corbin appears. He agrees to be ref on the condition that he gets a title shot if Owens wins. The ex-Mr Money in the Bank then tries to get AJ Styles to also promise him a title opportunity. The Phenomenal one tells him to answer the open challenge next week.
Becky Lynch & Naomi v. Natalya & Carmella
Natalya cuts a promo before the match (rasping like she has been screaming a bit too loudly about her win). She brags about extinguishing ‘the glow’ and shows off the non-phosphorous championship belt (are they seriously feuding about some glow-in-the-dark paint?) Carmella and Ellsworth come out, get some cheap heel heat, and remind Natalya about the ever-present threat of the Money in the Bank contract. Carmella starts the match but immediately tags out. She later jumps off the apron to avoid a tag back in, essentially leaving the champ in a handicap match. Natalya eventually forces Carmella back into the match. She distracts her for long enough for Lynch to deliver a Beck-sploder followed by Naomi’s split-legged moonsault for the pin. Winners – Becky Lynch & Naomi
Daniel Bryan calls Chad Gable into his office. Shelton Benjamin is introduced as his new partner. Bryan offers them the chance to debut as a team next week. Gable accepts before Benjamin can say anything.
Dolph Ziggler returns to TV lamenting the lack of exposure he’s been getting. He launches into a tirade about how other superstar’s get attention before promising to return… next week.
Lana promises Tamina her journey to the title starts…. you guessed it next week.
AJ Styles v. Kevin Owens w/ Baron Corbin as guest referee (US Title Match)
We’ve seen these two clash many times in the last few months and this match is largely the same. The momentum swings back and forth with Corbin calling it straight down the middle early on. That is until Corbin controversially forces Styles to release the calf crusher after he rolls Owens away from the ropes. Owens then pushes Styles into Corbin, enraging the guest ref who then makes a series of quick counts as KO rolls AJ up. That brings Shane down to ringside. As he argues with Corbin, KO hits a low-blow on Styles. Shane pulls Corbin out of the ring before he can make the three-count. Corbin then storms off throwing the ref’s shirt at McMahon. One phenomenal forearm later, Styles retains. Owens looks back at Shane in disbelief and anger from the ramp as the programme ends. Winner – AJ Styles
The US Title Open Challenge is back! …. next week
Not the best episode of Smackdown – most of the matches were short and there were a lot of backstage spots setting up for future weeks. That is understandable on the back of a major pay-per-view with the next event not until Hell in a Cell in October. Still, it’s frustrating that the only match of meaningful length was a re-match from two days’ previously. Great to see Bobby Roode called up to the main roster though and interesting that he was positioned as a babyface. With the US Title Open
Challenge set to take centre stage, it would appear fun times are ahead – it’s just a shame that this week was more about setting everything up for… next week.