Smackdown 6/3/2018 Review: the A(J) show

The Fastlane go-home edition of Smackdown Live begins this week with Dasha Fuentes (Renee Young is at home ill by the way), as she welcomes out both the Smackdown Women’s champion Charlotte Flair and her challenger this Sunday Ruby Riott (accompanied by her Riott Squad teammates Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan). Ruby begins saying it ‘began on the 14th November 2017 when Charlotte Flair won the Smackdown Women’s Championship, her life has been success all along etc. as “I watched as the myth began” ‘and that’s why 2 weeks after I formed the Riott Squad, with 1 sole purpose; destroy the myth’. Decent stuff from Ruby to be fair, convinced me definitely. Charlotte came back by saying that the only myth is that she had been handed anything, that if she fails it is magnified because of who she is and her surname, Riott says that Charlotte is on a pedestal and that at Fastlane she’s coming to take her crown. Morgan and Logan enter the ring to confront the Queen before… NO, NOT Becky Lynch and Naomi but BOBBY ROODE makes his entrance as the lights go out and the Glorious song plays. Charlotte looks on delighted to see her Mixed Match Challenge partner (Roode is apparently on commentary for the next match; Jinder Mahal vs his fellow US Title contender Randy Orton). And that was how the Women’s CHAMPIONSHIP segment ended…. THAT WAS IT?! REALLY!? FUCK ME!? If anyone doubted Ruby Riott’s chances at Fastlane then it’s 200% confirmed now… Becky and Naomi didn’t make the save or anything, the segment just ended… *sigh*.

Anyway Randy Orton comes out next for his match against Jinder Mahal. With US Champion Roode looking on the focus is made on the fact that The Viper needs just the Glorious one’s title to complete his own grand slam. Samir Singh then welcomes out The Modern Day Maharaja and then my attention quivered. I had to endure 3 months of Jinder Mahal vs Randy Orton in spring-summer of 2017 for the WWE Championship, I don’t think me or anyone else wants to see or hear anything more about these two men against one another. So I’ll just say the finish came from Orton launching Mahal into Roode at the commentary table, Roode got on the apron to vent his anger at Randy before Jinder pushed Orton to knock Roode down and Mahal took advantage of the distraction and hit the Khallas to get the win… I absolutely love Bobby Roode, everything about his is magnificent. Randy Orton is a legend and Jinder is… Jinder… but I’m not caring too much at all about this thing at all right now… I trust in Bobby Roode to make it great… because… well, we know what he is…

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are backstage in the locker room; Owens reminds Zayn of him saying that he would ‘lay down’ for Owens if it came to it at Fastlane, Zayn says he meant it, Owens tells Zayn how much of an amazing guy he is etc. (Sami Zayn is SOOOOOOO turning on Owens at some point soon). AJ Styles vs Dolph Ziggler later tonight too; if anyone can make me care about Ziggler it is AJ so I’ll give it a chance. They then show a video montage recapping The Usos vs The New Day rivalry ahead of their Smackdown Tag Team title match on Sunday, great great great. Shinsuke Nakamura is interviewed backstage next; he was asked if he was worried going into Fastlane if his dream match at Wrestlemania against AJ Styles was in jeopardy, Nakamura said he was worried but hoped AJ wins so he can beat him at Wrestlemania… He was then interrupted by Rusev and Aiden English! English goes to sing but he can’t, ‘apparently’ due to Nakamura’s beating of him in their match last week. Rusev then says to Shinsuke it is like he has “broken the hands of Billy Joel”, to which Nakamura tells English he is not Billy Joel, Rusev says “face me at Fastlane and I’ll break you like you broke my Aiden”. Nakamura responds accepts and says when he does it’ll be ‘NAKAMURA DAY’ (in which he sings). This was HILAROIUS! The crowd during this match at Fastlane will be so loud I cannot wait!

Becky Lynch vs Carmella next. This came from a wwe.com shown confrontation between the two last week, and their ongoing twitter war this week has been highly entertaining. The more Carmella and the more Becky Lynch on Smackdown the better for me. Carmella was on top with an aggressive, trash-talk filled start to the match. Becky tried to get the Dis-Arm-Her in but Carmella was able to wriggle out of it, Carmella had Becky locked in a leg scissors using the ropes for support to put further strain onto Lynch, Naomi is shown backstage watching on, Carmela got a nearfall after a great looking running knee to the Irish Lasskicker. She then got another nearfall after a backdrop on the outside. Carmella then got another nearfall after a sidekick, much to Ms. Money in the Bank’s disbelief. Lynch responds with a Bexploder suplex and then rolls Carmella into her finishing submission move that forces the Princess of Staten Island to tap out. This was fine, 2 decent in ring performers putting on an ok tv match. After the match Naomi and Natalya had a discussion backstage about the match they had just seen, it ended with the match being made for Fastlane of Naomi and Becky lynch vs Natalya and Carmella.

Next up AJ Styles is shown walking to the ring backstage. He’ll be joining us next then (just the best wrestler isn’t he). There’s a recap of John Cena’s promo from Raw where he proclaimed he’d win the WWE Championship for a 17th time on Sunday. AJ then cuts a promo saying ‘not so long ago I only cared about 1 person, but after winning the WWE Championship for the 2nd time I see the world differently now, I’m the WWE Champion, it was grind to get here when I was ‘elsewhere’ trying to get here (I know AJ, it must have been horrid… THERE…)’. He goes on to talk about the 6 pack challenge at Fastlane and how he doesn’t have to get pinned to lose his title, that the odds are against him but he’s gonna fight, how Smackdown Live is the house that ‘AJ STYLES BUILT’ (it is, it really is), He explains how last week John Cena pinned him clean but that although he is world class Cena is also never lost for words, before again a recap is shown of Cena’s Raw promo. AJ comes back after this really fired up, saying to the crowd that ‘you don’t want this either (Cena winning the title on Sunday), I want my Wrestlemania moment… against the best… Shinsuke Nakamura… Who would’ve dreamed of this in WWE (I KNOW RIGHT, AJ really speaking to me today)… so I’m fighting for us (PLEASE do AJ, I want Styles vs Nakamura at Mania so so bad)’.

Dolph Ziggler then comes out and cuts a promo on Styles; he tells him that ‘you’ve changed’ and that ‘you’re not phenomenal anymore, you’re just desperate’. AJ responds by asking Dolph how he can call him desperate when ‘you in WWE have failed to live up to your potential for 13 years in WWE’ (PREACH AJ PREACH). Ziggler goes heel on the crowd… so he’s heel now? I thought he just turned back face again? This fucking guy turns more than pages in a book! It’s a real killer to any character he’s trying to create, his credibility on TV is zero. Anyway AJ then made his match against Dolph to happen immediately. AJ Styles vs Dolph Ziggler then, as a wrestling match this was pretty good. Both are great athletes and great in the ring (particularly AJ), but with Ziggler’s character the way it is in 2018 it’s going to take an awful lot to make me fully emotionally invested in anything he does these days. I didn’t even care too much even here when he was against the best wrestler on the planet. Both superstars displayed their impressive set of moves, Dolph Ziggler was on the aggressive top throughout, AJ made his comeback, Ziggler raked Styles’ eyes, hit a Famouser for a 2 count, Ziggler then launches Styles into the ringpost on the outside, before Dolph hit a Zigzag on Styles but could only garner a 2 count pinfall.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn then came to the ring and beatdown on Ziggler and the WWE Champion, leading Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon to come out and make the match of Owens vs Zayn vs Styles vs Ziggler vs the man he introduces Baron Corbin. Hmmm… so Cena is having the night off then? He’s on the SMACKDOWN ppv competing for the SMACKDOWN world championship and yet this week he only appears on RAW?! WHY?! So we had a fatal 5 way to end the show and unsurprisingly it was all a bit chaotic. All the participants are involved in separate brawls on the outside of the ring, when the action goes back into the ring it is Corbin who is on top as he strikes everyone else in the match down. Owens and Zayn then beat up Corbin then Ziggler then Styles separately, later in the match then we have AJ & Dolph on the top rope joined by Sami Zayn as Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens slam all of them down to the ring floor and all 5 superstars are down. There was then huge series of different moves from the participants with the main features being how AJ would break up almost every pinfall attempt in the match and how (in my opinion) but Baron Corbin has really improved in between the ropes. The conclusion to the match was really something good; AJ took out Corbin, Ziggler and Zayn (this was really impressive stuff from him), but as Owens and Zayn took all out of the match Owens was in the corner of the ring Sami Zayn hit his ‘FRIEND’ with a huge Helluva Kick (crowd popped hard for this) and SAMI ZAYN WINS! After the match as the other 4 participants looked on in shock Dasha interviewed the victorious Zayn on the rampway and asked him to explain his actions? Zayn replied by saying because he was the “best WWE has”! I really liked this finish, builds up tension amongst Owens and Zayn tremendously going into Fastlane. I’ll be interested to see how they tell this story on Sunday… and onto Wrestlemania…

And THAT was another episode of Smackdown. A fun episode and as a go home for a ppv it built up to Fastlane well I thought.

Key Points to take Home

. Ruby needs to go solo and split up her squad

. The US title scene STILL needs a rocket up its backside

. Nakamura vs Rusev Day… YES PLEASE!

. Carmella still has that briefcase… just saying…

. Smackdown needs AJ Styles… forever

Conclusion

So on Sunday its Fastlane then, and what have we got as a line up? Well, in my opinion some pretty entertaining match ups. Charlotte defending her title against Ruby Riott; which although the result is pretty obvious going into it the shadows of the Women’s Royal Rumble winner and Ms Money in the Bank loom large over the Smackdown Women’s championship right now which will add that extra element of excitement of this one. United States Champion Bobby Roode defending against Randy Orton. Will Orton get the grand slam? I can’t see why he would or why at this stage he needs to. I’m pretty sure that eventually Jinder will take the title from Roode, allowing the Glorious one to ascend to the WWE title scene (PLEASE) and maybe even turn heel too (SUPER PLEASE). Shinsuke Nakamura vs Rusev with Aiden English; good stuff all round and should be a real fun match to watch, crowd will love it for sure. Usos vs New Day renewing their rivalry over the Smackdown tag titles. Again this will be a great watch but again a rather large shadow hangs over this match (a Bludgeon Brothers sized shadow to be specific). Naomi and Becky Lynch vs Carmella and Natalya too, I’d like to see Carmella get beat here personally as I think it’d further throw everyone off the scent for when she eventually takes her opportunity and becomes Women’s Champion. AND FINALLY of course we have the WWE Championship 6 pack challenge; AJ Styles defending his championship against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (I think they’re heading to a Mania showdown as well), Dolph Ziggler (who cares), Baron Corbin (I care slightly more but still not a great amount) and of course big match John Cena… John Cena… wait… did you hear that?…

*DONG*

Josh.

Smackdown 27/2/18 Review: Super Cena saves the show

So Smackdown this week emanates from the famous Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California. And as such of course John Cena is appearing on the show tonight, as he contuse his search for his road to Wrestlemania (aka The Undertaker is busy for a couple of weeks…) and so has chosen to go through Smackdown live to find it. With Smackdown’s pre-Mania ppv Fastlane a week from Sunday this should be an eventful episode.

And indeed to begin the show John Cena makes his way to the ring. He says: ‘I like everyone else is trying to find my road to Wrestlemania’, and that he wants in on the Fatal 5 way for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. He explains though that he is not here for a hand out and his here to earn his opportunity. And he awaits what he must do to get his place in the match… Shane McMahon makes his way to the ring next, he puts Cena over for his past accomplishments, and reminds us all that if Cena is in the Fastlane match and he wins he will not just go to the main event of Wrestlemania but he will go there as a 17 time world champion! Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan comes out next and tells Cena if he wants in on the WWE title match at Fastlane he must win tonight’s main event… against the WWE CHAMPION AJ STYLES! WOW some announcement that, a renewal of one of the best rivalries of recent years, fabulous!

Sami Zayn makes his way to the ring for the next segment of the show, his ‘friend’ Kevin Owens on commentary for this one by the way, for his match with Baron Corbin (last week it was Corbin who laid out Zayn, Owens and Styles as is recapped here, so this will be continuation of that as we head to the big match at Fastlane). Decent match this, back and forth between the two, Zayn acts really well as a heel, Corbin gets in some really hard hitting offence, Corbin launches Zayn into the table right near Owens at commentary. And as Owens is talking he is superkicked by Dolph Ziggler who comes out, and a distracted Zayn is hit with the End Of Days from Corbin and he gets the win. Before Corbin can celebrate he is hit with a Zigzag by Ziggler. Corbin’s last week and now Dolph gets his week to look strong, so makes sense I guess. Throughout the match by the way Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are shown watching the match backstage, with Shane taking little interest. Bryan also asks McMahon if he can in fact go home as Shane ‘seems to have everything under control’. After the next ad break Owens & Zayn are backstage very angry, and are wound up further by Shane.

The Riott Squad make their way to the ring as we are set for Ruby Riott vs Naomi, ahead of Ruby’s challenge to Charlotte for the SD Women’s title at Fastlane. Becky Lynch and Charlotte make their way to the ring to flank Naomi and even the odds for this match. The match starts evenly as Riott rolls to the outside as the two ‘squads’ face off on the outside of the ring. After the ads Riott has Naomi in a resthold, Naomi makes her comeback, she hits a springboard inziguiri for a 2 count, Naomi goes for her Rear View move but Ruby gets out of it, and Riott hits her Riott kick for the win. Makes a lot of sense as Charlotte has beaten both Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan and now her challenger has pinned her 2 friends, Becky Lynch and now Naomi. Ok enough match mind you this one, did its job.

Next is The Fashion Police backstage. They are with a star of the ‘Unsolved’ TV show that they’ve been advertising for the TV network. They did a real fun little segment that was rather funny, the actor explains to Tyler Breeze and Fandango that their Fashion Files ‘cases’ are not actual ‘cases’. Fandango is baffled by this and says that they have solved one of his own cases (the TV show being plugged here attempts to solve the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G aka Biggie Smalls), Fandango says they have in fact found Biggie and says here is Biggie… and out comes BIG E (GET IT???) and the rest of The New Day, this was actually really funny to me. Big E did a rap, the actor told Breeze and Fandango that he was ‘not a real cop’, something which Fandango was very disappointed at, “I looked up to you” he said. This was funny, pointless but funny.

The New Day then made their way to the ring, they spoke about how the road to Wrestlemania (which included a very exaggerated and long look at the Wrestlemania sign, which made me laugh a great deal). They went on to speak about how they will be renewing their feud with their greatest ever rivals The Usos at Fastlane (which will be tremendous), Usos come out and run down their challengers, they say they used to be like those 3 with their facepaint etc. but that didn’t take them to the next level. They then go on about how for their 9 years they have spent in WWE they are still yet to be on the main card of a Wrestlemania (this part of their promo was particularly effective). The Usos say now is “our time”, that they can adapt and that The New Day have been stuck in the past for the last 5 years whilst “we have evolved”.

Big E responds very passionately; saying they have not been in the past, they hosted Wrestlemania last year whilst ‘you two were stuck in catering’, that they didn’t sit on the sidelines and instead “took what was ours”, he reminds The Usos that The New Day are 5 times tag team champions, it was pretty good stuff from Big E to be fair to him. All 5 men in the ring drop their mics before the lights go out and The Bludgeon Brothers make their way to the ring. The Usos and New Day make their exit as Harper & Rowan stand in the ring looking as monstrous as ever. So… Bludgeon Brothers are beating Usos at Mania then? …

We were then shown an ‘earlier tonight’ segment with Shane McMahon backstage with Aiden English and Rusev. English calls out Shane for Rusev Day not being on tv for the past 2 weeks (AIDEN ENLGISH IS LISTENING TO MY SMACKDOWN REVIEW BLOGS… CLEARLY…), so Shane puts Aiden English (not Rusev) in a match later tonight with… Shinsuke Nakamura (SHANE READS MY SMACKDOWN BLOGS TOO).

Next Bobby Roode had an interview with Renee Young, it was usual stuff before Randy Orton interrupted, and it seemed the two had mutual respect but Orton seemed to have a new found wariness of Roode (maybe Jinder’s suggestions are working…). This is a US title feud between Roode (who could be WWE Champion imo in the next year) and Randy Orton (one of the all-time greats)… and I just do not care about it all that much… very sad.

Rusev and Aiden English are in the ring next. English sings a song on LA and Nakamura, complete with sing-a-long words on screen. Rusev was just acting so funny in the background throughout, overall it was great! So much love for both these guys. These two are so obviously supposed to be heels but absolutely nobody boos them and everyone loves them. For God sake WWE just turn them face and have them win the tag titles! Anyway Nakamura comes out and the two have a real fun enjoyable match, filled with “NA-KA-MU-RA and Rusev Day” chants throughout. I didn’t take too many notes to be honest because I just enjoy watching Nakamura so much, and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the pleasure to do so. English is really good too I should add and shows it here. Nakamura won a fairly short match (obviously). As Nakamura makes his exit he is met head on the rampway by John Cena. Cena mentioned about earlier how Nakamura was the only guy who was guaranteed his spot at Wrestlemania after winning the Royal Rumble (fills me with so much joy to be able to say that; Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble). They have a staredown as both acknowledge the Mania sign. This is followed by the entrance of the current WWE Champion; AJ Styles.

Right here we go then, SO…. John Cena VS AJ Styles. A renewal of an awesome series of matches the two had in 2016 and finishing at the 2017 Royal Rumble with an absolute classic. In this one of course if Cena wins he’s in the title match at Fastlane. Match begins with a collar and elbow tie up as both had finished taking in the crowds reactions (Owens and Zayn are shown watching the match from the backstage area). Cena continues to be well on top early on here, does a series of rest holds, hard attacks and gets a couple of nearfalls. AJ responds with some hard chops to Cena, he throws Cena into a corner, although John responds with some kicks and delivers a great tornado DDT for a 2 count from the resulting pinfall. Good start here, could be another masterclass…

Cena comes back from the ad break with a 5 Knuckle shuffle, but Styles powers out of the following AA attempt and hits a neckbreaker for a nearfall. AJ then tries a Styles Clash but Cena counters by slingshotting Styles into the corner and follows up with a TKO for another nearfall as Baron Corbin is shown watching on from backstage on a monitor. Cena then takes charge again, Ziggler and then ‘Kami’ are shown backstage watching on, Cena tells AJ to get up, big clothesline for a nearfall, Cena charges into AJ but misses, both men are down, both men hit their finishers DURING THE AD BREAK (WTF) for a nearfall a piece, AJ misses a moonsault, Cena locks in the STF but Styles rolls him over for a roll up nearfall, Cena hits his ribs in the corner and AJ takes advantage and hits the Phenomenal Forearm for a 2 count, AJ puts Cena in position for a 450 splash which he then misses allowing Cena to hit an AA. Instead of going for the cover Cena rolls through and attempts a 2nd AA (which is how Cena won their previous encounter at the Rumble last year), only for Styles to escape to the outside. Cena charges Styles but he moves and Cena goes flying into the steel steps.

As they’re on the outside Cena regains control and delivers a huge AA on AJ Styles through the announce table! Styles only gets back in the ring at a count of 9, John Cena attempts to finish the match with another AA only for Styles to counter it into a Cab Crusher submission! The leader of the Cenation though is able to counter this into a final Attitude Adjustment and John Cena pins the WWE Champion 1,2,3! And the title match at Fastlane becomes a 6 way! … what a fantastic match that was! Doubt you’ll see a better one on a regular Smackdown for some time. After the match Owens, Zayn, Corbin and Ziggler all come to the ring and a mass brawl ensues as the show goes off the air. A preview of the chaos that the title match could descend into…

And that was Smackdown… and that was MUCH BETTER than in recent weeks!

Key points to take home:

– John Cena is the top man for a reason

– The Usos and The New Day should do promo battles every week

– Someone liven up the US Title scene PLEASE

– Nakamura is really good

– Is anybody else in the Smackdown Women’s division on Charlotte’s level?

Conclusion

Well done Smackdown Live. That was a good fun show. I’ve been a little harsh on SD in recent weeks, simply because I haven’t found a show that contains some of my absolute favourites to be very entertaining. I bemoaned the fact that there were 5 men in the WWE Championship match for Fastlane, now there’s 1 more added to that! BUT… BUT… that man is SUPER John Cena, and despite what you may think that man has carried WWE in the past, and apart from some guy from Chicago and a goat-looking fella he was the only thing semi-interesting on WWE tv for a number of years. And before and now after that period he’s STILL the man. Anything he puts his hand to he improves and makes more entertaining and intriguing to see unfold.

Next thing I’ve recently moaned about was the lack of usage of people who the fans actually care about and are entertaining, but this week: we had Nakamura in a match, we had Aiden English singing and Rusev being hilarious, The Usos and The New Day doing great back and forth promos, even Breezango made an appearance with their stuff. AND another of my gripes from recent Smackdown review blogs has also been answered, via an online video that’s been posted following the show, as next week Carmella will be in action against Becky Lynch. And Ms Money in the Bank can show off her briefcase again, just to remind everyone that she can throw a spanner in the works at anytime… Good stuff all round. Smackdown isn’t perfect yet, the US title scene still needs work but Bobby Roode and Randy Orton are so good I trust them to figure it out (just one of you two turn heel, that’d solve it…). But Smackdown Live has in 1 week become a lot closer to the show it should be, and you may not like it but you can put a large part of that down to WWE’s very own Superman. And you can cheer him on or tell him he sucks all you want, fact remains John Cena is still the man. LET’S GO CENA…

*GONG*

Josh.

Smackdown 6/2/18 Review: As expected (so far) on the long road.

So my first review of Smackdown live. My Raw review was over 2000 words, but that’s a 3 hour show and this is only 2 so I’m sure you’ll be glad to know this SHOULD be shorter… but lets get into it…

The show begins with OH GOOD… ANOTHER authority promo, yay! … Zzzzzzz… Shane says more of what he has been saying recently before introducing Bryan. Shane accuses Bryan of favoritism towards “Kami”? as AJ Styles has christened them, going on to say ‘the Yes movement changed WWE forever, but the Yep movement is just a cheap immatation’. Shane continues that he knows Daniel would rather be competing against them rather than talking about this match (OK… HERE WE GO…?) and that he is living vicariously through them now. Decent line from Shane that.

AJ Styles comes out next, he puts himself over and says he’s tired of SD live’s management and their obsession with both Zayn and Owens. He tells Shane to stay out of the way of the match tonight and that he doesn’t care who he faces at Fastlane.

This was a decent show opener. Couple of points where it could’ve exploded but there is still a LONG way til this concludes at (presumably) Wrestlemania. Something will happen; who and what, how and where, is anyone’s guess.

As AJ leaves we cut backstage to The New Day with Kofi using fingerpuppets of a horse to ride on pancakes (obviously) as Big E asks Woods and Kingston (via a twitter # they are running through the show) “Do you think Corey Graves has a better jab or left hook?”. I LOVED this! I laughed a lot. If you don’t know what this meant I’d advise you Google “Corey Graves Booker T” …

After a short ad break Styles is shown backstage, he stops, turns and then on comes Shinsuke Nakamura. He smiles and in his broken English simply says “I’m gonna beat you, at Wrestlemania”. Then he walked off. Simple. Effective. It comes as no coincidence to me that Asuka and Nakamura come off as both hugely genuine and engaging in their promos when neither speak English as their first language. Therefore neither can be handed a script for a promo from a writer. Figures.

Up next is THE QUEEN (Mine, yours, the world’s) vs Carmel… sorry Liv Morgan… of the Riott squad. It starts with a heavy beatdown from Charlotte, as her receipt to Morgan for the attack last week. Both Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan seem reluctant to get involved but Riott does manage to distract Flair enough to get Morgan a nearfall. Some decent moves are then exchanged, Morgan repeats her move from last week where she stomps on Charlotte from the middle rope but only gets a 2 count.

More offence exchanged, Flair hits a spear for anoher nearfall, Sarah Logan gets on the apron and eats another spear as Riott drags Morgan out of harms way. This was the last straw for the ref who sends The bootleg Paige and Sonya Deville (and I’m a huge NXT and Women’s wrestling fan as well as the indivuals involved, particularly Ruby, saying this) to the back. Flair then finishes off bootleg Mandy Rose with a big boot/figure 8 combo for the win.

This was a decent enough opening contest, with one ppv before Mania and with Charlotte telling the commentary table that it’s “1 down, 2 to go” of the Riott squad you’d think it’ll be Ruby Riott vs Flair for the title at Fastlane. What the rest of Smackdown’s womens division does I don’t know. There’s still a nice, shiny briefcase floating around as well don’t forget…

Renee Young next with Kevin Owens backstage. Owens says him and Sami will still be friends after tonight providing Sami can handle losing to him. Simple and effective enough stuff.

Next on the way to the ring is The Bludgeon Brothers… oh boy… their opponents will be 2 jobbers I presume, such is the case. I don’t feel a long description is needed here, if I tell you its 2 monster booked heels with a combined near 600 pound weight you know the rest… I want to be entertained by Harper and Rowan in this form but I just don’t care, and I’m a huge fan of particularly Harper as well.

Anyway as they both are walking to the back The Usos music hits. Instead of a brawl we get The Usos walking past them as the two monsters then pick up their war-hammers (good god…) and walk to the back. When they eventually take the belts from The Usos I’ll be lot more sad for The Usos (who are the best tag team in WWE and have been ever since Jimmy and Jey wiped off their final bit of facepaint) than I will be pleased for The Bludgeon Brothers. The champs then cut a decent, typical Uso self promo full of Prison references and street slang. It was typical of them but good stuff for their characters.

Next is Daniel Bryan presenting the “Smackdown Live Top 10 list”. This was announced last week as a list voted for by the superstars of Smackdown on who they thought was the best on the roster/most deserving of opportunities etc. (I’m not buying for 1 second this is real voting. Tye Dillinger was number 10 for christ sake! Nobody has stated what this actually means but they had all the entrants tweeting about their placing so they’re pushing it for some reason). Anyway for note the list was as follows: 10. Tye Dillinger , 9. Randy Orton , 8. Becky Lynch, 7. The Usos, 6. New Day, 5. Bobby Roode, 4. Naomi, 3. Nakamura, 2. Charlotte, 1. AJ.

Another backstage New Day segment; Big E saying “6? (Their top 10 spot) that’s the chances I’ll give Corey Graves in a street fight!”. Love it.

Another iphone promo. English with Rusev. The content was good. The concept SUCKS!

On a happier note it is now “RUSEV DAYYYY” as Aiden English proclaims with his operatic singing to welcome his charge. Rusev is a little bit popular isn’t he? This next match SHOULD be absolutely… GLORIOUS! Hopefully it lives up. I don’t mind who wins, I love both guys, but I do know the crowd will go absolutely ape shit if Rusev wins the US title here. I’m hoping for a double turn too, Rusev is practically a face now and Roode currently ok as a smiley, happy good guy but the heel, self-righteous Bobby Roode from NXT was fabulous.

The match itself then; ‘Rusev Day’ chants at the beginning, not much action in the early stages before Rusev goes on the power-charge. Typcially great selling from Roode, the crowd begin to chant for both superstars now as Bobby begins the comeback, Roode goes on the top, knocks Rusev down, English distracts Roode causing him to walk into a superkick that garners a 2 count only. Rusev has another dominant period but can’t put Roode away. An exchange of signature moves follows, English gets on the apron again which leads to a small package from Rusev for another 2 count. A machka kick follows, Rusev goes for the Accolade, can’t lock it in, they exchange roll up near falls, and the quick exchange concludes with Roode hitting the glorious DDT for the win. Roode retains.

Good match. Roode celebrates but as the spotlight comes on him and he does his glorious pose… suddenly… “outta knowhere” Randy Orton gives the US champion an RKO. An on looking Aiden English eats an RKO and then so does Rusev. Orton stands tall. So are we about to see a multi-time world champion finally attempt to complete the grand slam? A fall from grace from this time last year but at this point… well… he’s Randy Orton for christ sake. That’s all that needs saying really. And if he’s going in to any type of feud that involves Rusev, English and/or Roode and the US title then that’s good for them, good for the belt and good for him too.

Benjamin and Gable iphone promo next. They set up a match with The Ascension. Great…

The match itself… lets be honest; I don’t care about this, you don’t care about this either really do you? Benjamin and Gable won. Let’s move on asap.

Another New Day backstage segment putting eachother over. I love these guys, individually great and together fantastic.

Sami Zayn is in Gorilla next being interviewed by Mrs Ambrose. He says he’s finally ready to step out of Owens’ shadow. Again like with Owens earlier this was simple but did what it needed to do well.

Oh next week it’s Dolph Ziggler (making his 100th attempt at a return to make people care about him again) vs Baron Corbin. I already can’t wait to write all about that match…

With AJ Styles on guest commentary it is time for the main event. Beginning of the match and neither looked pleased with the situation, a series of basic offences with a small tease of real animosity thrown in. It then picks up a gear as Sami lands a takedown on Kevin followed by a series of punches. Owens repeatedly telling his OPPONENT to “calm down” was amusing indeed.

Watching this match it is so clear just how well they know eachother. The chemistry in the ring is off the scale, it all just looks so effortless. Owens goes on the attack setting Sami up in the corner for a Cannonball, only for Zayn to turn it into an exploder suplex and would follow up with a top rope DDT for a nearfall.

KO later goes for a frog splash but Zayn gets his knees up and later as both men are on the outside Zayn goes flying through the middle rope near a turnbuckle and delivers a beautiful looking tornado DDT to Owens on the outside. Back in the ring after Sami sets Kevin up for a Helluva kick but runs into a superkick which is followed up by a frog splash. 2 count only. Another good exchange ends with Zayn delivering a blue thunder bomb but only a 2 count. So both guys have hit their secondary moves now, one would assume the finish isn’t far away.

Owens rolls to the outside, allowing Zayn time to talk smack to WWE Champion Styles whose ringside doing commentary don’t forget. He really gets in AJ’s face, Styles retaliates pushing Zayn into Owens before AJ hits out at them both. Match is waved off, no proper finish (who saw that coming…).

AJ continues his attack on “Kami” before Daniel Bryan comes out to presumably announce what the Fastlane match will be. And indeed as expected a triple threat is made, AJ VS Owens VS Zayn. What I saw happening a mile off but it’s the right way to keep this story going before we go full steam towards (presumably) Styles vs Nakamura. Expect one of Zayn/Owens to cost the other one way or another the match and the title.

And that was Smackdown. Some really good, exciting bits mixed in with some I couldn’t care less about. But with a WWE show in 2018 it’s to be expected.

Key points to take home:

– The THREE women in the Riott squad are not a real threat to Charlotte are they really, let’s be honest

– Please WWE, just let Daniel Bryan wrestle for you

– The Smackdown tag team division is in a rut again

– Roode needs to go over Orton

Conclusion:

We are slowly creeping towards Wrestlemania on Smackdown. Still 1 ppv and A LOT of tv between now and then so we may have to endure some weeks that not much of any substance or consequence happens in. But we’re moving along for sure. Other than AJ vs Nakamura, where are we heading to match up wise? Your guess is as good as mine.

Josh.