When at its best, SmackDown Live is able to remind us exactly how a two-hour wrestling show is supposed to feel. There tends to be one key overarching story, but with several other independent ones mixed in along the way. There’s no denying that the best part of SmackDown Live right now is Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, and the choice to have them both start and end the episode kept things together throughout. There were still some bumps along the way, and definitely some questionable decisions, but on the whole SmackDown put together a quality show this week.
Jinder Mahal challenges…Brock Lesnar?
When this rumor started to float around throughout the last week, it was hard to believe. It seems like about as pointless a contest as possible, but apparently it could be happening. Jinder laid down a clear challenge to The Beast Incarnate at SummerSlam because he wants to show the WWE Universe why he is so great. Jinder went on and on about how India recognizes his greatness, but he needs to defeat someone the WWE Universe sees as unbeatable in order to prove himself. Knowing that I’ll be at Survivor Series in the crowd, this match just makes my stomach churn. Of course, I wouldn’t mind seeing Jinder get suplexed all the way Mumbai.
It was quickly announced that Brock Lesnar will actually be appearing on Raw this coming Monday to respond to the challenge of The Modern Day Maharajah. In the midst of his challenge, Mahal also stated he’d “beaten every worthy challenger” on SmackDown Live and that this was part of why he had to challenge Lesnar. Of course, AJ Styles quickly answered and inserted himself right back into contention for the WWE Championship by stating Jinder had never beaten him. It quickly broke down, and AJ ended up sending Mahal and The Singh Brothers into retreat from his onslaught. Of course, WWE seems to have already forgotten this moment from a mere five months ago.
The little things matter, both good and bad
While there were solid moments throughout SmackDown Live, there were also some flaws. We were treated to a six-woman tag team match (with Carmella on commentary) that featured the entire division while progressing nothing and reaffirming that Natalya and Charlotte don’t like each other, as if that wasn’t clear enough already. Meanwhile, the newly crowned United States Champion refused to put his title on the line against his challenger, Sin Cara, but instead faced him in non-title action. Sin Cara, who has not been on television in over three months, defeated Corbin by countout in the blink of an eye. So much for the dominance of The Lone Wolf.
Despite these mediocre moments, small segments like another promo hyping The Bludgeon Brothers were able to help throughout the night. The Usos had an interview quickly interrupted by Gable and Benjamin, which ultimately added some tension to their eventual match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. We finally got to witness Pulp Fashion, which featured The Ascension trying once again to become Breezango’s friends. We even got to briefly see Aiden English waltz through the halls and berate people for not appreciating his singing. Of course, The New Day eventually popped up, along with Rusev. They were all small moments, but fit wonderfully in a mostly coherent episode that centered on the two greatest things about SmackDown Live, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Reunited and it feels like victory
When was the last time Sami Zayn actually won on SmackDown Live? It feels like it’s been an eternity, and that’s exactly what Sami was explaining to Daniel Bryan as the show got started. Bryan expressed his disappointment in Sami’s recent change, but was quickly met by the happy-go-lucky Canadian with a grin a mile wide. While some may have been weary of Sami working as a heel, anyone who knows his past understands what the man is capable of. Even after this short time, he feels like a perfect fit. Zayn’s snarky attitude and genuine nature, combined with an “it’s all about me, because the fans didn’t get me wins” attitude, plays off Kevin Owens perfectly.
Speaking of Owens, he eventually made his way to the ring and joined in as Sami was pelting Daniel Bryan with insults about having a “martyr complex” and no longer being able to compete. Bryan eventually got tired of it and walked away, vowing to find two people to punch Zayn and Owens in the face. This altercation later set up the night’s main event, and kept the show coherent throughout. The reunited friends were set to face off against the duo of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura. The match itself was a solid television main event, but it was the end that seemed to really drive home the way things have changed.
Zayn fought hard, but when the referee was distracted he took the opportunity to hit a blatant low blow on Orton. As the 13-time world champion staggered back to his feet in the corner, Zayn hit the Helluva Kick with force and pinned Orton for the win. Owens quickly wrapped his arms around his once again best friend, and the pure joy was as obnoxious as possible. They celebrated to the production area just behind the curtain, only to taunt Bryan more about what they’d have to deal with next week. It was then that Bryan made it clear that Shane McMahon will be returning next week, and he’d decide what they’d have to deal with.
Owens and Zayn tried to shake it off by walking back into the arena so Owens could yell about his victory and being back with his best friend, yet again illustrating the electric chemistry between the two. Even with a simple tag team win like this, and a few key segments, Owens have Zayn have become the most hateable tag team in WWE. While The Usos remain the champions, and Cesaro & Sheamus love to piss off the crowd, there’s just something undeniably annoying about two ecstatic trash-talking Canadians who won’t stop talking about being best friends. Even with flaws in other parts of the show, the combination of Zayn and Owens, along with the chance of seeing them get pulverized, make SmackDown Live must-see television.
- Charlotte Flair, Naomi, and Becky Lynch def. Natalya, Tamina, and Lana
- Sin Cara def. Baron Corbin via countout
- Dolph Ziggler def. Bobby Roode
- Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn def. Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton
What did you think of SmackDown Live? Let us know in the comments below!
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