Smackdown comes this week with many questions waiting to be answered after Hell in a Cell. “Why, Sami, why?” is top of the list. How will KO react to his former friend’s help? Other questions to be answered are: what now for The Usos and The New Day after their epic encounter? How can the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev pick themselves up from disappointing defeats? How many rematches will we see? Can Shane McMahon still even walk? Time to find out.
The Usos Promo
The Usos kick off the show and immediately call out The New Day. The trio oblige with Big E and Xavier Woods not as full of energy as normal as they gingerly approach the ring after Sunday’s beating. The Usos do a great job of putting the match and their opponents over. They talk about the brutality of the match and how they suffered afterwards with only The New Day capable of understanding. As they go to shake hands in a show of respect, The Hype Bros come out. Mojo Rawley complains how the two teams in the ring have hogged the spotlight. Gable and Benjamin then join them (ah, it seems the same booking used over the last few months for the women’s division is now being applied to the tag teams). The Hype Bros are told to get to the back of the line and then, predictably, more teams come out in the shape of Breezango and The Ascension. Daniel Bryan follows to maintain the recycled booking format. He orders The Usos and The New Day out of the ring and announces a fatal four-way match to determine the number one contenders.
The Hype Bros v. Gable & Benjamin v. Breezango v. The Ascension
The match kicks off right away with The Usos at ringside. With anyone allowed to tag themselves in, the pace is hectic as each team gets a chance to show off their offence. Once again, the action shrinks into the corner during commercials – why can’t they just cut down on the promo/segment time and let us see more matches? Smackdown was billed as the ‘wrestling show’ after last year’s brand split, wasn’t it? There are a couple of funny moments as every team piles in to break up pinfalls. We see more conflict between The Hype Bros as Rawley gets pushed off the top tope during a Hype Ryder attempt. It comes down to Gable & Benjamin and Breezango. Both team try to hit but miss big moves until Gable tosses Tyler Breeze onto the shoulders of Benjamin. They hit their finisher and become number one contenders. That was a fun match but we could have done with more action and less ads. Winners: Gable & Benjamin
Women’s Division Goes Wild
Backstage we see Natalya gloating over holding onto the title at Hell in a Cell. Tamina and Lana announce their intentions to challenge her in the near future and Carmella pops up to flash her Money in the Bank briefcase. After a few insults directed at Charlotte, a brawl breaks out with Becky Lynch and Naomi joining the fray.
Carmella v. Becky Lynch
Becky returns to singles action for the first time in what seems like ages, getting a big reaction from the crowd during her entrance. She goes right after Carmella but gets clipped on the knee after a distraction from James Ellsworth, who is once again tied up on a leash at ringside. The Princess of Staten Island takes control as the crowd chant for Becky. The comeback soon arrives and Carmella taps out to the Disarmer. A welcome return to winning ways. Winner: Becky Lynch
Sami & Kevin Explain It All
KO comes out limping heavily as the announce team inform us Shane McMahon os recuperating at home. Facing a vocal crowd, Owens proclaims he did exactly what he said he would do at Hell in a Cell. He talks about having an out of body experience, building on his previous claim that people like him go to heaven. He claims St. Peter told him he was still needed on earth and sent Sami Zayn as a guardian angel. Sami Zayn comes out with a big smile on his face and is thanked by KO. Sami talks about his frustration at trying to please people and getting nowhere while Owens won titles and rose to the top of the card. He says Shane broke promises made when he was drafted to SD Live and refused to listen to him when he warned him about KO being dangerous. He explains that during the Hell in a Cell main event, he realised Shane was the dangerous one and came out to save his ‘brother’ from career ending injury. They make an over-the-top show of friendship to end the segment.
Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton v. Rusev & Aiden English
The match begins with Randy Orton on a tear, back-dropping Rusev into the commentary table. Aiden English interferes to swing momentum back his team’s way and… again, we go into commercials. Back to full-screen mode, Orton is taking a beating and Nakamura is desperately waiting to get into the match. Randy dips into his repertoire of five moves to hit a powerslam and make the hot tag. Rusev then eats an RKO as Nakamura hits Kinshasa on Aiden English. It seems these days Smackdown matches are either 3 minutes or 10 minutes with 7 minutes of commercials… Winners: Nakamura & Orton
NEWSFLASH! Luke Harper and Erik Rowan Sighting!!
In a brief promo, we see a repackaged Harper & Rowan sporting new attire and foam, er…, stone mallets. They announce themselves as The Bludgeon Brothers. A little cheesy but it will be good to see more competition in the tag division and the under-rated Harper back in action.
Bobby Roode Promo
The Glorious One declares his first PPV victory ‘glorious’ and calls out Ziggler for another fight to a distinctly muted audience reaction. Ziggler again enters with his music cut short and no lights show. He claims he exposed Roode at Hell in a Cell and forced him to resort to cheating to win. Roode counters that he isn’t a cheat, he’s just smart. He calls Dolph a sore loser and accepts the rematch challenge – not a muted reaction from the audience this time but no reaction. The silence is really uncomfortable. A slight response comes to Roode calling for the match to happen now as both guys shout into the mic to wake the crowd up. Ziggler predictably bails and says the match will come when he wants. Hopefully, not soon.
US Title Rematch: Baron Corbin (c) v. AJ Styles
In a completely refreshing booking decision, we are told AJ Styles has activated his rematch clause (though with no Tye Dillinger, it’s not a full rehash of Sunday’s bout). Once again, we quickly go to commercials and when we return to the action, Styles starts to gain the upper hand. He hits some of his signature moves, much to the delight of the crowd but Corbin comes back with Deep Six. After Corbin smashes into the post, Styles gets a near fall and then applies the calf crusher. Corbin powers his way out and goes for The End of Days but Styles ducks it and hits a Pele Kick. With the pace picking up, The Lone Wolf tosses Styles to the floor then lands End of Days moments later to retain the title with a clean victory. Winner: Baron Corbin
This was a much better show than last week as a number of our questions were answered, at least in part. We had new faces inserted into the tag team picture, the much-anticipated explanation from Sami Zayn, and Becky Lynch and Nakamura getting back to winning ways, though Rusev still seems lost in the shuffle. It was not all good as we saw repetitive booking with the tag and women’s divisions having every available superstar inserted into short angles. Roode and Ziggler’s programme is also completely flat and needs to be wrapped up quickly so both men can move onto better things. At least a fun US title match wrapped things up. I can’t help but feel though that if WWE want to improve attendance and ratings for Smackdown they need to give less talk, more action, and fewer commercials.