Tonight’s WWE Smackdown Live was held at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In the wake of Sunday’s Hell in a Cell, tonight’s show dealt with the aftermath in both action and explanations. We saw feuds turn to respect and friendship, as well as rivalries that seem to have no intention of slowing down. This was a WWE main roster show so there was also no shortage of “what are they doing?” moments. Prior to the show open we also got to see a recap of the Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens match. This match had all the high spots you would expect from Shane O Mac participating in Hell In A Cell, including the seemingly now obligatory elbow attempt from the top of the cage. Side note: I am on record saying that Shane might seriously injure himself this time if he attempted to perform like he has in the past. All I have to say is get well soon Shane.
The funny thing though is that this wasn’t the most shocking moment of the match. The reason why Shane missed the elbow was not because Kevin Owens had the presence of mind to move. It was because Sami Zayn, both long time friend AND enemy of KO, pulled him out of the way just in time. Sami…..you got some ‘splainin to do. Let’s do it!
The now five time tag team champs, the Usos, opened the show with a great segment. You would expect that after Sunday the very confident Usos, who are often openly dismissive of other tag teams, would spend the entire time patting themselves on the back. Not tonight. They almost immediately invited the New Day down to the ring and basically gave one of the most genuine speeches I have seen in a while.
The Usos essentially said that both they and the New Day are beyond all the other teams on the roster by a large margin. The Usos said that all the other teams were garbage, although thanks to Xavier Woods, both teams conceded that they like Breezango. After the Usos were done extolling the virtues of both teams I wouldn’t have been surprised if half the crowd would leave the arena believing that the Usos and New Day could walk on water. This genuine show of respect had the crowd loving the segment, but the cutting down of the entire tag roster had the expected result. Here comes the Hype Bros, American Alpha 2.0, Breezango and The Ascension.
This was a fairly long segment so I will cut to the end. The entire tag team division came out and the Usos essentially dismissed them all. Just before there was an all out brawl, Daniel Bryan came out to address the situation. It seemed like Bryan was in a foul mood and told the Usos and New Day to leave the ring, saying that tonight was “not a good night for this”. That Daniel Bryan though, he’s a trickster. He only wanted them out of the ring so that the four teams that came out could compete in a match. A match that would determine the new number one contenders to the Uso’s titles.
Fatal Four Way – Winners: American Alpha 2.0
Even though there were multiple commercial breaks during the match, there was still plenty of action to be seen. It seems like the crowd could sense who would win the match because they were totally behind AA 2.0. They were the stars of the match, with a very close second going to Breezango. The end of the match featured the two crowd favorite teams in a series of counters that eventually saw Chad and Shelton picking up the win.
I’m not mad at this decision to push AA 2.0 as the number one contenders. Obviously both Chad and Shelton have the ability to have amazing matches with the Usos. I’m even beginning to think that in terms of in ring ability. AA 2.0 could out perform New Day. The only thing that they may struggle with is getting the crowd invested in the feud with mic work. That was what made the Usos/New Day feud so compelling. I can’t see Chad Gable outshining Xavier Woods’ insults, inflection and sarcasm.
Charlotte Confronts Natalya
We are shown a recap of Charlotte and Natalya’s match, and how Nattie intentionally got herself intentionally disqualified. Once the video ended, we see Natalya holding the belt with a very satisfied look on her face. She was joined by Tamina and Lana, and although Lana said that the belt looks good on her, it would look more ravishing on Tamina. Natalya said that this was just a fantasy. Being that this is a Smackdown women’s division segment, you can’t possibly have just three women on screen right? Of course not. Carmella then joined the discussion. She said that her fantasy was more of a reality, due to her MITB contract.
It was at this point that Charlotte arrived with a very intense look on her face. Natalya being the class act that she is mentioned something about Charlotte’s father and all hell broke loose. For some reason Naomi and Becky arrived to join the fight as well. After all of this, nothing of consequence came of it and the segment ended. I was disappointed that Charlotte didn’t pick up the win Sunday night. I don’t think that Natalya is going to be able to hold the WWE Universe’s attention as a worthy nemesis of The Queen of Smackdown Live.
We then see the new U.S. Champion Baron Corbin who speaks briefly to Renee Young. When asked how it feels to pick up the win against AJ, Baron responds that it feels good to quiet the keyboard warriors. Styles chose to use his rematch clause tonight, and Baron did not seemed phased in the least. He ended the interview by saying that he would turn the house that AJ Styles built into the opportunity that AJ squandered.
Becky Lynch vs Carmella – Winner: Becky Lynch
You have to have at least one women’s match per show right? Even if it means absolutely nothing to the story or the race to the championship? The answer is no. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to see any match where Becky can get a clean win in singles competition. I just seems like sometimes they just have matches because they feel like they are required to. I’m not one of those people that think that the Attitude Era could do no wrong, but they could certainly tell a story with out of ring segments. I think that WWE creative really needs to push themselves to just sit down and write. Don’t go for the easy way out. There is no reason that they can’t strike gold in the women’s division like they did with Fashion Files with the guys. Here’s hoping.
Sami Zayn Explains Himself
As mentioned earlier, the shock of the night at Hell In A Cell was Sami Zayn saving his former best friend from guaranteed destruction at the hands (or rather elbow) of Shane McMahon. Kevin Owens came out first and tried to explain to the crowd how it felt during the final moments of his match on Sunday. Owens was in rare form tonight with his explanation of what he experienced after Shane sent him into the announce desk.
He told the WWE Universe that it felt like his soul left his body. He found himself standing in a line in front of Heaven’s pearly gates. Never one to break character he mentioned that even as he stood there, so close to Heaven, he was plotting how to cut the line. It was then that St. Peter himself waved Owens to the front of the line. He told him that he was NEEDED back on Earth. It was at this time that he was sent back. He was even sent back with his own guardian angel, and that angel was none other than Sami Zayn.
I’m sure that if you have read my articles before you know that I am never one who is short of words. This segment however is just one of those things that you have to watch to get the full experience from. This is just after Kevin Owens invited Sami Zayn to the ring to explain why he did what he did. Enjoy.
Randy Orton/Shinsuke Nakamura vs Rusev/Aiden English – Winners: Shinsuke/Randy
Again with these “no consequences” matches. I really have no idea why the included this match on tonight’s show, and even less of an idea as to why Shinsuke was involved in it. I know I sound like a broken record, I know. I’m also keenly aware that sometimes the WWE just phones it in the night after a PPV. I just can’t get behind random tag matches that are thrust into the lineup because the writers just can’t seem to be creative.
Bobby Roode Calls Out Dolph Ziggler
Even though Bobby Roode picked up the victory of Dolph at HIAC, the beating that Dolph put on Bobby after the match obviously keeps the feud going. Roode didn’t waste any time in calling out Ziggler for a fight. The Show Off made his entrance, or lack there of and immediately began to mock the glorious one. After sarcastically congratulating Roode on his first WWE main roster PPV and fantastic entrance, he went into full “no gimmicks needed” Ziggler.
Dolph said that he exposed Roode as soon as the bell rang. He believes that he controlled the match so much that Roode got rattled. So much so that he had to resort to pulling Ziggler’s tights during a roll up to assure his victory.
Unfortunately after this the two superstars seemed to completely go off the rails and the script. For some reason the two of them went from being two of the better superstars on the mic, to a couple of middle schoolers screaming “you wanna go?” at each other. Roode attempted to get Ziggler into the ring for a rematch, but in typical heel fashion, Ziggler said a rematch would be on his time and left ringside.
AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin – Winner: Baron Corbin
Simply stated this was the best match of the night. It was a slow burn, but as the match revved up both superstars did not disappoint. AJ went right after Corbin as soon as the bell rang. Corbin got frustrated early, but as the match progressed he showed great resilience and withstood the barrage of a determined Styles. During the final few minutes of the match, Corbin was able to counter much of what AJ threw at him, even getting out of the Calf Crusher by using his large frame to reach back and slam AJ’s head into the mat. AJ’s fate was sealed when Corbin caught him as he was diving from the ring apron to the outside. Corbin then used AJ’s momentum to slam his body HARD onto the floor. All that was left was Corbin hitting the End of Days to beat AJ Styles clean.
It seems that with this clean win that the top brass may be getting behind Corbin again. Hopefully this trend of a more determined and strong Baron Corbin continues. I know that the “Pro Baron Corbin” bandwagon still has plenty of seats available. I do believe though that if the writers don’t bury him again he can get over with the crowd. Either as a heel or a face. Either way he is our U.S. Champ for now, and as he told the crowd after the match, the title “isn’t going anywhere”.