The first Smackdown PPV since WWE’s biggest show of the year, and also the first the first Smackdown PPV since the Superstar Shakeup was a huge disappointment. Smackdown has coined the term “Land of Opportunity” as it’s theme, but it has officially gone too far. It used to be the most enjoyable show of the week, now I don’t for see myself watching an episode for a long time.
Shinsuke Nakamura Vs. Dolph Ziggler
Oh what could have been. This was the match that the PPV was based on, and for some odd reason it opened the show. Nakamura’s face was plastered on every promotional poster, every TV ad, and all over the network. Had this been a great match, it would’ve been fine opening the show, but the fact is that it never really got out of second gear. I guess because Nakamura is so over with the crowd, he doesn’t necessarily need to put on great matches all the time, but this was his first PPV match in front of an audience who may not be completely familiar with him, so it was definitely seen as a let down. Obviously the entire match wasn’t bad, but it could’ve been so much more.
Dolph dominated the entire match until he made one crucial mistake by spitting in the face of Nakamura. This sent him into a rage, Nakamura gave Ziggler closed fist punches, brutal looking knees, a knee while hanging from the ropes, and finally a Kinshasa to put Ziggler down for the 3 count. It was tough to see a boring match between 2 fast paced, and very gifted workers.
Nakamura was recognized by many people as one of the best wrestlers in the world, but after tonight, he may seem over-hyped by a certain part of wrestling fans after an underwhelming match. I for one am not part of that population because I’ve seen the classics that Nakamura can have. Nakamura needs to have fans on the edge of their seats on his next PPV bout to get his allure back.
The Usos Vs. Breezango: Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
This may be the first instance of taking “Land of Opportunity” a bit too far. I was as big of a fan as anyone when it came to the Fashion Files segment, but when Tyler Breeze came out dressed as a janitor I was so confused. Championship titles, and title matches, are supposed to carry some prestige. When Tyler Breeze kept changing his outfits mid-match, it came off as very silly, and misplaced. Sure, I may have laughed for 2 seconds, but during a title match this felt stupid.
The match was very fact paced, but the match also ended rather quickly. It may have felt that way because of the constant shenanigans that Breeze was pulling, it did take up half of the match time. Fandango went on a flurry late in the match, getting the crowd pumped, even hitting a Topé on both Usos outside the ring. It wasn’t enough though, as Jimmy hit Fandango with a super kick that knocked him off the top rope, and led to the three count. Yet another underwhelming match on the show.
With the New Day coming back to TV Tuesday, I can’t see Breezango being in the title picture much longer considering how good The New Day are.
Sami Zayn Vs. Baron Corbin
I was extremely shocked when I saw that Sami Zayn won this match. I thought he was going to be fed to Corbin, and then Corbin would be further groomed for the main event scene. However, Sami getting the win here is big, and it makes him a big favourite for Money in the Bank, which he seemed to look forward to in his interview on Talking Smack.
These two have great chemistry in the ring, and they play to their strengths incredibly well. Corbin is the big school yard bully, and Sami is the underdog. All match, Corbin was focusing on the lower back of Sami, and Sami was selling it perfectly all match. It was methodical, and well executed. However, Sami got on a roll, hit Corbin with a Helluva Kick, and that was all she wrote for Baron Corbin.
Shock ending, the crowd loved it, and Sami got a big win that he definitely needed at this point. He hadn’t won a televised match since squashing Jinder Mahal after the shake-up, and to pick up a win against a high-profile opponent was important. Maybe things are looking up for Sami Zayn.
Natalya & Carmella & Tamina Vs. Naomi & Charlotte & Becky Lynch
The Welcoming Committee beat Charlotte, the number one women in the company, Becky Lynch, the best female babyface in the company, and Naomi, the Smackdown Women’s Champion. I just don’t get it. When is this going to end? Now that the “Welcoming Committee” have won their match, why is this feud going to continue? Besides Natalya, neither of the other members should be anywhere near the title picture, so what was the point of a win? If the win was booked in order to prolong a blow-off match at Money in the Bank, then that is fine, but the top three women on Smackdown are having their time wasted being in this feud. Becky needs to get back in the title picture, and Naomi needs to start defending again. Had this been a great match, Id have a different opinion, but the match was pedestrian, and the wrong team still won. The Welcoming Committee proved themselves right, so what is next?
Kevin Owens Vs. AJ Styles: United States Championship Match
Even with the shoddy finish, this was the match of the night. These 2 seemed to want to follow the formula of Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne from the Takeover show, and they sure did. They had an indie match on a WWE PPV: Big move, false finish, big move, false finish, etc. It worked perfectly up until the end.
The finish makes perfect sense, KO slipped AJ’s foot into the announce table when AJ tried giving KO a Styles Clash causing a count-out, and a KO victory. KO still looks strong as a main-event heel champion, and when Styles finally wins the belt, the chase is gonna look that much better. Obviously it is frustrating to see such a good match end indecisively, but the long-term booking is going to make this feud much better.
Luke Harper Vs. Erick Rowan
There isn’t much to be said about this match, it was in the “death spot” on the card, and the match wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a classic Rowan and Harper match that we’ve seen quite a few times before. Rowan dominated early, but Harper quickly turned the tables. Harper hit a suicide dive, which sent Rowan flying in between the announce tables, and then hit his discus clothesline in the ring for the 3 count.
Not too long ago on a podcast, Harper said how he loved being out of the Wyatt Family stable, as well as out of Bray Wyatt’s shadow. However, Harper’s look and gimmick is still as if he is in the Wyatt Family, and there isn’t much for him to do outside of what he is doing now. He may be a great in-ring worker, but his look and his promo’s are the reason he’ll never be anything more than he is now. He said he is allowed to be more creative now that he isn’t in the family, I don’t see that being the case. He should’ve ridden the coat-tails of Bray Wyatt as far as they could go, because it was the perfect situation for him.
Jinder Mahal Vs. Randy Orton: WWE Championship Match
This is an absolute travesty. Jinder Mahal is now the WWE Champion, all because WWE wants to make more money in India. Jinder is just a pawn in the scheme of what WWE want to do, and it really is a shame. Mahal’s name is now cemented in with some of the greatest wrestlers to ever live who have held that title. Mahal is now holding the most prestigious belt in the world, and it is an absolute joke. Not to mention the WWE ratings panic, do they think this is really going to help? Do they think Network subscribers are suddenly going to rise? India doesn’t even have WWE Network.
Everybody wants to talk about creating stars, and people will argue that this has created a star in Jinder Mahal, but guess what? It hasn’t. Up until he won a match on Smackdown Live, he hadn’t won a match since August of last year, he was in 3MB playing air-guitar, he was jobbing to everyone, he concussed Finn Balor with a careless forearm, he even jobbed to Rob Gronkowski in a battle royal that was not even on the main card. After all of that, Jinder Mahal beat Randy Orton in the main event of a PPV to cement his place in history. The match was terrible, the pre-match promo that Jinder cut was terrible, and he is a terrible wrestler. He did 5 moves for the entire match: headlock, hammerlock, kick, punch, Khallas. Not to mention, the match didn’t even end clean. Randy had to go on his rampage, beat up the Singh brothers, and then Mahal caught him off guard. Jinder better prove us all wrong, or this will long be remembered as the most absurd booking decision in recent memory.
This will long be remembered as the first nail in the coffin of Smackdown Live, just like in 1999 when Hogan gave Nash that infamous finger poke. It was the first nail in the coffin of WCW, just as this is the first nail in the coffin of Smackdown Live. RAW has returned to the A show after Backlash, and it is evident by who is competing for their top prize. Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, and Brock Lesnar are all in Raw’s title picture. What does Smackdown have? Jinder F**kin Mahal. “The Land of Opportunity” monicker has gone entirely too far after this one.
The top prize on Smackdown, which used to be the top prize in wrestling, is now on a bonafide jobber. It is a sad day in the wrestling world, and guys like Randy Savage are turning in their graves.
This will be the worst PPV of the year, there is no way WWE can put something on worse than this. Underwhelming matches, lack of good wrestling, and a stain on the prestigious lineage of the WWE Championship.
Smackdown used to be must-see TV, the wrestling was the focus of the programming, now that is all all becoming a distant memory. Something drastic better happen, and it better happen fast before ratings seriously take a nose-dive, and subscribers start unsubscribing.
Match of the Night: Kevin Owens Vs. AJ Styles
Show Grade: D-
How did you feel about the show? How could they have done it better? How would you have done it? Leave a comment below, and watch out for The Wrestling Fanatics next review.