This week’s WWE Smackdown Live was held at the O2 Arena in London England.
Tonight’s WWE Smackdown Live opened with a video recapping the six pack challenge from three weeks ago where Jinder Mahal became the number one contender for the WWE Championship. This was followed by footage from Payback where Randy Orton was attacked during his match. The WWE is certainly beating us over the head with “evidence” that the Maharajah is a viable threat to Orton. I’m still not convinced, and I feel a bit confused as to why Jinder was tapped for this role as number one contender.
Perhaps the writing team is trying to play off the cultural climate in the world. Capitalizing on the fact that the fear of anyone with a turban is very high at the moment within certain populations. Even though Jinder is a Sikh, the visual is enough for most ignorant people. I’ve never agreed with this tactic of “US vs. THEM”. I think it’s cheap.
After the video package was over, Randy Orton came down to the ring. He walked with his recently returned championship held high over his head. He opened by telling the crowd that he didn’t lose at Payback due to Bray Wyatt (or the refrigerator….ugh). It was because Jinder stuck his nose where it didn’t belong. Randy didn’t get far into his speech before Mahal showed up with his cronies to put his two cents in.
He told Randy he didn’t take or steal anything. He simply took what he was going to win at Backlash. Jinder then graced the crowd with a few promotional photos of himself with the belt. He continued by saying that he will bring the WWE Championship back to “his” people. The great nation of India will erect a statue of his likeness. He told the crowd (“you people” as he referred to them as) that they will no longer disrespect him or his homeland. He concluded his rant with once again speaking to “his people” in Punjabi.
This is a very forced premise in my eyes. This disrespect or hatred for India or it’s people is such a non issue in my eyes. I may be overthinking this, but I think this character is dangerous to younger viewers. Impressionable youth who don’t have involved parents may watch this and develop a bias to the Indian people simply from watch this “representative”. That may be a stretch, but it certainly isn’t doing any good regarding this topic. On the other hand this may just be WWE writers realizing that Jinder isn’t a strong enough personality to get heat on his own. Putting the anti-American attitude on him is just a cheap way to make that happen. Either way it’s garbage.
Jinder would not get the chance to do so however, as Kevin Owens entered the conversation. He immediately went on the offensive, and I do mean OFFENSIVE. He told both men that no one cares about the House of Horrors match (that I totally agree with). No one cares about India. He made a point to then tell the laughing UK crowd to not get too excited because no one cares about England either. Obviously the only thing people should care about is the United States Champion.
Talked about ending Y2J career. Next career with by AJ Styles. He then warned both men that once that task is finished he will be coming after the WWE Championship. He then made it a point to repeat it once for the people who weren’t paying attention. For good divisive measure, he repeated it in French, just because “he can”.
Of course AJ couldn’t let his name be spoken without making an entrance. He essentially told him to enjoy being the new face of American, but he will never be the face of Smackdown Live.
Let’s get everyone in the picture shall we? Baron Corbin shows up to run his mouth a bit but immediately gets jumped by the man whose beating caused him to be absent last week, Sami Zayn. AJ took this opportunity to start beating up KO, and Randy tried to DDT Jinder but the Singh Brothers made sure that didn’t happen. The segment ended with Randy, AJ and Sami standing in the ring, while the other three men stood staring each other down. You smell a six man tag main event? Oh I do. Let’s get this show started!!
Becky Lynch vs Natalya
In a continuation of the WWE Smackdown Live women’s division feud we had the rest of the “Welcoming Committee” introduce their leader Natalya. Becky then had an impromptu intro from the Smackdown Live Champion Naomi.
Prior to the match starting Queen Charlotte came down to ringside effectively evening the ringside odds for Naomi and Becky. While coming down to the ring she said ” I don’t need someone to introduce me, because I don’t NEED an introduction…..WOOOOOO!” She’s totally right and I love her for it.
I generally don’t like these faction angles, I think it takes away from the individual competitors in some cases. But in the case of the Welcoming Committee, I think that Carmella and Tamina may benefit from this until the WWE writers can find a decent program for them to be involved in. I do however worry a bit about how this angle may change Charlotte’s heel persona.
This was a very short, but technically sound match. Becky was on her way to beating Natalya when Tamina jumped on the ring apron. Naomi came and shoved Tamina away, but then Charlotte picked up Naomi to remove her from the fight. I assume this was her way of trying to keep Becky from getting DQ’d. Natalya took advantage of a distracted Lynch and was able to get the win.
After the match Charlotte and Naomi argued about Becky’s loss. Charlotte blamed Naomi for Becky losing, and there is no excuse for losing in the Queen’s land. As the two continued to argue Becky came and broke it up. She told both Charlotte and Naomi that this is what their enemies wanted. Their only chance to beat them would be to form a stronger bond then the WC. Becky suggested that to do this they would compete in a six-woman tag match at Backlash. Naomi said she was ready to bond like superglue. Charlotte answered with “Whatever, because I’m the greatest at bonding”. This answer, as well as her reluctance to put her hands in with Becky and Naomi calmed my worries about this program hurting her heel persona.
Breezango Fashion Files Episode
In a second consecutive week we were treated to another episode of the Fashion Police : Special London Unit. Once again they hit a home run. They immediately struck a blow to the English crowd. Holding up a picture of the late British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, with his dog Matilda circled. Tyler Breeze stating, in a very David Caruso-esque move, “That’s what I call a real fashion faux paw”…YEEEEAAHHHHHHH!
The two then focused on some spilled face paint on the ground. They concluded that this was lead based paint after Fandango tasted it. There was only one team that would be crazy enough to wear that, the Ugos. As they followed the trail they discussed why the Ugos would wear paint now, after not wearing it for months. Breeze thought that it was so they couldn’t tell them apart, Fandango adding ” But who cares which is which, honestly?”
They stopped at the a door where they heard growling and banging. Thinking a female was in trouble with the Usos they kicked in the door. Only it was not the Usos, it the Ascension psyching each other up in a small room for some reason. A short awkward stare down caused Breezango to close the door. Backing away slowly a-la Homer Simpson into a hedge. Man I hope someone gets that reference.
Once again I have to beg the WWE writers, both Smackdown Live and RAW, to please add more of this type of thing. I don’t know how many times I have said this, or will say it in the future. Gimmick characters are what this company needs. I think the WWE Universe is ready for it. It could be nostalgia, or just that I’m getting a bit bored with the product. I miss the days of guys like The Big Boss Man, The Honkey Tonk Man, Ted Dibiase, etc. We all know it’s scripted, and the WWE writing staff knows we know. So why not embrace it, make it fun. There is a way to take the product seriously without taking it so seriously. I hope that makes sense.
Luke Harper vs Eric Rowan
It seems that someone from the WWE writing staff heard my wish from a few weeks back. Both of these men are very skilled big men, and are in need to develop their singles career. I think it’s alright to reference their tenure in the Wyatt Family to stoke the storyline flame. The key will be to not focus on it too much. There is a fine line here between using the history without relying on it as their rivalry evolves.
In terms of the match itself, both men continue to impress. Finding a big man who is not just strong, but quick/agile and able to give a quality sell is hard enough. In this match you have two. I hope that this rivalry doesn’t go away too quickly. I think that both men will only continue to improve working with someone so similar to themselves.
I’m sure that there will also be a real competitive fire lit under both these men. I would want to one up someone who was so similar to me in the same company. That need should be even more urgent being that they are competing against each other.
You can put two similar paintings on opposite sides of an exhibit and you might think that both are good. However it’s only when you put them right next to each other that you can truly see the subtle differences, as well as the superior product. I’m excited to see where this rivalry takes both men, and I hope that they both come out better.
Dolph Ziggler and Shinsuke Nakamura Confrontation
Dolph continued his criticism this week of Shinsuke Nakamura (I will not call him “The Artist Know As”) and the WWE’s promotion of a man that hasn’t proven himself yet on Smackdown Live.
Ziggler started off by calling the crowd hypocrites. He listed his resume, years in the business, titles held, etc. He then asked if the crowd appreciated him, to which he was answered with a downpour of “booooos”. Dolph told them that they treated him like a contagious disease. When he continued with “But who do you cheer for?” the crowd answered with the familiar and thunderous “NAKAMURA” chant.
Dolph reiterated the fact that he takes issue with the fact that the WWE Universe is cheering a man that has not even had match #1 on Smackdown. The crowd answered his gripe with NXT chants, to which he stated it a very real way “This will all be edited out, so…..”.
On a side note I have to applaud Dolph’s skill and dedication to this character he is playing at the moment. Even though I know he is going by the script, this feels very much like CM Punk. I’m sure that Dolph is using some very real bitterness after years of being punished from when he got on the wrong side of Vince.
At this point Dolph called out Nakamura and the crowd exploded. In terms of the actual confrontation, we were treated to about the same as the previous few encounters these two superstars have had in the past. Dolph tried to belittle Nakamura, and challenged Ziggler to fight. Ziggler pulled the typical heel move and pretended to not be interested in settling it right then and there. This of course was all a ruse, but a ruse that would leave Ziggler on the bad side of a strong style thrashing. We are getting close ladies and gentlemen. When these two actually get into a match, we are going to be treated to something fantastic.
Breezango vs The Ascension
After the Fashion Police interrupted The Ascension’s little behind closed doors two man mosh pit, it seemed a match was in order. The London crowd pretty much proved my point that a well thought out outlandish gimmick can get the crowd going. They love Fandango in London.
This match looked to be a mechanism to solidify the notion that Breezango are a legit threat to the Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. Even though The Ascension aren’t the most popular team, the are solid talents. They did a good job taking it to the number one contenders, providing a solid challenge.
Breezango were able to weather the storm and defeat the Ascension after a successful Last Dance courtesy of Fandango. Case Closed on the Face Paint File.
After the match The Ugos made an appearance trying to intimidate their opponents for Backlash. Their attempt fell flat in delivery in my eyes. The London crowd chanted along with them when they kept mentioning “12 days” left. Let’s be honest though, the London crowds chant with anything. Stick to being mean and aggressive and don’t try to be entertaining in your delivery. You just can’t compete with Breezango.
Main Event : Six Man Tag Match
AJ Styles/Sami Zayne/Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal/Kevin Owens/Baron Corbin
This was a great match. It wasn’t hard to predict as pretty much every competitor in the match is superb. I still have my doubts as to why Jinder Mahal is in the WWE Championship picture, but I’m still holding out my final opinion until after Backlash. The London crowd seemed to energize each superstar involved in this match. Everyone was laying in their shots, and I didn’t see much in the way of mistakes.
In terms of storyline progression there wasn’t much of that in this match. This is understandable due to the type of match that this was. Obviously each man had his current feud counterpart on the other side. There were a few points where the future could be seen.
Kevin Owens talking some trash to Orton foreshadowed a possible future match between the two if Orton retains his title against Mahal. If Owens does happen to lose his title to AJ at Backlash this could be a very real possibility. AJ Styles winning the United States Championship could be a great opportunity to have Baron Corbin enter another title chase.
The final few minutes of the match were a spot-fest, as is per usual in a six man tag main event. The high spots concluded with Randy Orton RKO-ing Kevin Owens. It was at this point that Jinder Mahal, who had successfully avoided Orton for most of the match would strike the Viper. Randy was focused on a fallen KO, and Jinder grabbed Randy from behind and hit the champion with his Cobra Clutch slam. This would be enough for the Maharajah to pick up the victory.