Before we start, I just want to give my sincere condolences to anyone affected by the horrific events in Manchester this week. As a proud Stopfordian, I know that we here in the North West are made of the sternest of stuff, and I know we’ll all get through this together.
And in a desperate quest to retain some normality, I’m going ahead with the review, because fuck terrorism. If we change because of it, then it wins. We need to embrace the things we enjoy during the fleeting moments we have on this Earth. If reading this takes your mind off things for a few minutes, then it’s worth it.
We’re in Chicago
Hosts are Tom Phillips, JBL and Byron Saxton
Dolph Ziggler Vs “The Artist Known As” Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura is crazy over, as you’d expect. Ziggler, the supposed heel, has decided to wear the American flag on his tights, because…well…I’m not sure really. It’s a bit stupid if you ask me, but hey-ho. I just hope they don’t try so hard to have a good match that they psyche themselves out. Both are good, so if they just work their natural style the results should be pleasing. Just do your thang lads.
It’s a pensive start, as they feel each other out. JBL mentions Japanese wrestlers like Kobashi, Misawa and Kawada in reference to Nakamura. As much as a hardened 90’s All Japan nut like me appreciates this, it would have really made more sense to reference Inoki, Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask, who are New Japan guys who also worked in the WWE, as Nakamura is now doing.
Ziggler decides to slap Nakamura, because he’s possibly a masochist looking to get a fix, but Nakamura manages to keep his cool and sticks with technical wrestling. Shinners gets the better of the chain wrestling, so a frustrated Ziggles rushes him, straight into a barrage of strikes.
Dolph bails outside, but Nakamura follows him and throws him back in. As he’s coming in though, Dolph is waiting and cuts him off with a neck breaker. Ziggler goes to a chin lock and actually gets some chants from Chi Town in the process. Dolph works over Nakamura whilst taunting the crowd in the process, but he gets over confident and takes a spin kick for his troubles.
Shinners fires off some kicks and follows with a knee strike in the corner for a two count. Dolph tries to come back with a school boy, but Naku counters to a triangle. Ziggler manages to make the ropes and hits Shinners with a big DDT for two.
Ziggler fires off a school boy and Fame-Asser in quick succession, both getting him a two. He preps for the Spirit Squad Chin Music but Nakamura dodges it, only to then take a Zig-Zag for two. Dolph actually goes for a piledriver but Nakamura fights out goes for the reverse exploder suplex. Dolph manages to land on his feet from that and nails a super kick for a near fall.
Dolph has taken the majority of this match, and it’s been pretty jarring when you consider that Nakamura has come in with such fanfare. A frustrated Ziggler pounds away on his opponent, but he makes the mistake of spitting in Nakamura’s face. Wait, hang on…
So yeah, don’t spit on a certified hench mofo, it ain’t going to end well bruh. Shinners annihilates Dolph with knee strikes, but misses one from the second rope. Dolph tries the super kick again, but Nakamura dodges and hits the reverse exploder followed by the KINSHASA for the win.
WINNER – SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
RATING – ***
I think that they had Nakamura selling way too much for Ziggler who, despite being talented, is very much a middle of the pack guy at this point. He looked good here, but Nakamura is the one they have plans for and he should have really won in stronger fashion.
AJ Styles is backstage looking pensive.
The Fashion Files
Officer Breeze comes into the office disguised as a janitor and tricks Fandango. He’s a master of disguise just like Sherlock Holmes, only prettier. Breeze freaks out about the match tonight, but Fandango assures him they’ll win.
Tag Team Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
Challengers – The Fashion Police Vs Champions – The Uso’s
Oh my word Breezango’s mash up theme is awful. Breeze actually comes out in his janitor outfit, complete with mop and bucket. He brings the mop into the ring with him and it actually gets a chant. Careful you don’t get over shone by an inanimate object there Tyler, Al Snow and Perry Saturn know about that all too well.
Breeze does comedy with the mop, tripping The Uso’s up and such, but they have no time for this foolishness and break the mop! That mop was one day away from retirement you monsters!! Jey Uso goes up for a splash on Tyler, but he roles to the other corner, meaning that Jey has to get back down and walk over to that one. As soon as he does however, Tyler starts rolling towards the other corner. I’ve seen him do this at a house show with Sin Cara actually, and it was pretty funny then to.
Humorous as that last spot was, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve turned on CHIKARA by accident here. And as I type that, whilst Fandango and Jimmy Uso got at it in the ring, Breeze goes through another costume change into an old woman. Breeze comes in and gives Jimmy a bronco buster, but he’s not amused and clobbers him to take over.
Jey misses a stinger splash and Fandango gets the tag. Tornado DDT gets two for the challengers. Jey lands on his feet from a double suplex attempt and cleans house. Demolition Decapitation on Breeze gets a count of two for the champs. Jey hits Jimmy by mistake and Breeze uses the opportunity to get The Unprettier for two.
Breeze tries a dive onto The Uso’s outside, but they catch him and throw him into the crowd. Fandango manages to catch them with a dive of his own though, and throws one of them back in. He goes up but the Uso outside the ring grabs his leg to stop him and the Uso inside the ring gets a super kick for the win.
WINNERS AND STILL SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS – THE USO’S
RATING – *1/2
This wasn’t much of an actual match, but the live crowd enjoyed it. I kind of wish they’d keep comedy like this away from the title scene though.
We get a recap of Sami Zayn getting beaten up by Baron Corbin on a prior episode of Smackdown.
“Jeremy” Baron Corbin Vs Sami Zayn
Sami uses his speed to keep Corbin on his toes to start, but he seems to tweak his back somehow during some flipping. Corbin targets the back to take over as some of the fans actually chant for him. Fans in Chicago cheering who they’re not supposed to? I’m shocked, SHOCKED I say!
Corbin goes to a bear hug but Zayn fights out and gets a low bridge to send Corbin outside. Sami heads up, most likely to do a dive to the outside, but his back slows him down. This gives Corbin time to get back into the ring and deliver a spine buster. So he’s tall, muscular, has a full head of hair and does a spine buster? No wonder WWE are pushing him.
Corbin pounds away but Zayn won’t stay down. Sami gets a desperation clothesline and follows with a top rope cross body for two. Corbin turns Sami inside out with a lariat for two. Choke slam to the knee gets another near fall as Corbin keeps up the pressure.
Corbin sets Sami up for a superplex but Sami fights him off and gets a sunset flip power bomb for two. Corbin is able to block a tornado DDT and an exploder suplex, but Sami is able to get a crucifix roll up for two.
Corbin crushes Zayn with the Deep Six but Sami is out at two. This frustrates Corbin, and he hammers away on the Underdog from the Underground. Sami manages to come back with a Helluva Kick out of nowhere to get the surprise three count.
WINNER – Sami Zayn
RATING – **3/4
If they can get Corbin into a program that people actually care about, then they might have something. I thought Corbin was sure to win here but it ended up being a good gutsy win for Sami. That being said, I expect Corbin to crush him if there’s any future rematches.
We get to see a video of the UpUpDownDown crew playing Rocket League. I’ve never actually played the game but it looks like it could be fun.
Meanwhile, a car pulls up and the Singh Brothers bumble around with a special carpet to welcome their boss Jinder Mahal, who is looking pretty suave in a nice suit. Jinder cuts a promo, straight at the camera which I always thought was a big no-no in WWE. Anyway, he sucks up to India by speaking Panjabi as Indians watching at home probably roll their eyes.
Six Woman Tag Team Match
Carmella w/ James Elsworth, Tamina and Natalya Vs Becky Lynch, That Charlotte Lass and Naomi
Becky’s gone for, I think, an homage to Bull Nakano with her hairdo and attire tonight. Either that or she secretly carries a torch for Dangerous Danny Spivey. Becky and Tamina start, with Tamina using her power to gain the upper hand.
Becky has better luck with Nattie, getting control and tagging in Charlotte who comes in with a school girl for two. Charlotte works over Nattie, but gets distracted by Carmella and clotheslined from behind.
Charlotte takes a little bit of heat but manages to get away from Carmella to tag in Naomi. Naomi beats on Carmella with her rubbish looking standing kicks, but Tamina puts an end to her period of control with a cheap shot.
Naomi now takes some heat, mostly kick and punch stuff. She tries to tag out but Charlotte and Becky get knocked off the apron, by Nattie and Carmella respectively, stopping that. Naomi eventually manages to tag in Becky, who comes in a Celtic chick ablaze.
Becky counters a Sharpshooter attempt from Nattie into the Dis-Arm-Her, but Carmella is there to break it up before getting thrown out of the ring by Charlotte. Tamina kicks Charlotte and then head butts Naomi to take them both out of proceedings.
Becky gets an O’Connor roll on Nattie for two, but stops to deal with Tamina and ends up in The Sharpshooter. After a brief struggle, Becky taps out to give the heels the win.
WINNERS – NATTIE, CARMS AND TAM
RATING – *1/2
Just a Smackdown TV match really, and if anything you see better than this on a weekly basis. I don’t get the point of jobbing Becky when you could have either had one of the heels pin Naomi to set them up for a title shot or have Charlotte win the match for her team to strengthen her case for another shot. Beating Becky was the most uninteresting option, because it advances nothing.
Singles Match for the WWE United States Championship
Challenger – AJ Styles Vs Champion – Kevin Owens
I’ve got to say that Kevin Owens as “The New Face of America” is a marvellously entertaining role for him, although I think he really needs to go fully clean shaven to really take it to the next level. AJ is, of course, brilliant but someone really needs to wise up the bloke singing the lyrics on his entrance music. It’s not “They don’t want none” it’s “They don’t want anything”. Correct grammar his highly important, you don’t wanna be not speaking proper like.
The show could really do with a home run match right about now. Hopefully these two fellers can deliver it. Both work the headlock to start, with Owens rolling in and out of the ring to frustrate AJ. Both men eventually decide they’ve had enough of this wrestling nonsense and start throwing right hands.
Owens gets a lariat for two and then sinks in his contractually mandated chin lock for the evening. Owens fires off three senton splashes for two before returning to his trusty chin lock. Owen’s wears AJ down but AJ is able to land on his feet from a slam and catch Owens with an enziguri for some respite.
AJ gets two from a seated running forearm and an atomic face buster slam gets him likewise. Fireman’s carry to the knee gets another two for AJ, but Owens is able to back body drop out of a Style’s Clash attempt. Owens dodges the springboard backflip to DDT set up and hits AJ with a fisherman’s buster to the knee.
Owens sends AJ outside and sets up for…something off the top but AJ stops him. AJ pulls Owens down to the apron and actually tries to give him a Styles Clash out there, but Owens manages to wriggle out and ram AJ’s leg into the ring post. Back inside, Owens delivers a cannonball to AJ’s leg in the corner before going to a Canadian Maple Leaf.
Owens transitions that to an ankle lock, but AJ refuses to submit and makes the ropes. Owens goes for a Samoan drop from the top rope, but AJ counters it into a power bomb. AJ tries the Phenomenal Forearm, but his leg gives out on him, allowing Owens to hit a double arm DDT for two.
Owens, not learning anything from the Ziggler match earlier, decides to slap AJ, and ends up taking a Pele kick to the face as consequence. AJ sets Owens up for a superplex from the top, but Owens counters into a fisherman’s buster from the top rope for two. Fans think the match is awesome. I wouldn’t say that just yet, but it’s building nicely.
Owens heads up top, but AJ rolls onto the apron. A disgruntled Owens follows him out there and ends up taking a big suplex onto the apron from AJ. That move was complete and utter FILTH! It did not look nor sound pleasant whatsoever. AJ goes to get Owens but Owens counters by throwing him over the barricade into the timekeeper’s area.
Not to be deterred, AJ comes back with a flying forearm off the barricade onto Owens. AJ drags Owens onto the commentary table, but Owens catches his foot in the holes for the monitor screens. AJ tries in vain to break loose, but he can’t and Owens scurries back into the ring to beat the referee’s ongoing count to win by count out.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION – KEVIN OWENS
RATING – ***1/2
I know people will whinge about that finish, but it suits Owens character perfectly and logically sets up a rematch down the line. I guess paying £9.99 for all the content on the WWE Network has mellowed me somewhat to finishes like this. Back in the day getting a non-finish on a pay per view would have annoyed me, but now I’m more willing to let it slide so long as it makes sense, and it made sense here. Owens, just to be a jerk, makes sure to get one more cheap shot in on AJ whilst he’s still trapped in the table before back peddling to the locker room, in an excellent little character bit.
Earlier in the pre-show, Tye Dillenger defeated Aiden English.
Erick Rowan Vs Luke Harper
THE WYATT FAMILY EXPLODES!!!
I pity these guys being sent out here in the cool down slot. Does anyone else feel, like I do, that these two are miscast? To me, Rowan as the George The Animal Steele style babyface and Harper as the Bruiser Brody style marauding heel both make more sense as directions for them.
Rowan dominates early, pounding away both in the ring and around ringside. Back inside, Rowan gets a splash and then goes to a noogie (Yes, a freaking NOOGIE) as this match is going nowhere fast. Rowan actually manages to get a dropkick before settling on a chin lock.
Harper has barely done anything here thus far, it’s been all Rowan. Rowan misses a top rope splash and Harper finally gets some offense in with a suicide dive. Rolling senton and a big boot gets two for Harper. Bossman Slam gets another two for Harper, but Rowan comes right back with a spin kick and a power bomb for a two of his own.
They’re working really hard here bless em, but the crowd isn’t invested. Harper gets a sloppy jack knife cradle for two and both men slug away with stiff shots. You always hit your mates harder than anyone else, because you know they’ll forgive you for it.
Harper counters another power bomb attempt with a rana and gets two super kicks. Rowan consults with his mask that he wore to the ring in the corner. Presumably it tells him that the fans aren’t buying it and it’s time to take it home, as he runs into a discus clothesline and eats the three count.
WINNER – LUKE HARPER
The crowd weren’t into this but it was an enjoyable big man battle.
Singles Match for the WWE Championship
Challenger – Jinder Mahal w/ The Singh’s Vs Champion – Randy Orton
Funnily enough, I remember playing a 2011 mod of TEW a few years back and I actually decided to give Jinder Mahal a bit of a push in that. He ended up winning a tournament and faced, of all people, Randy Orton for the Smackdown version of the World Title. If I recall correctly, he actually won the title and ended up dropping it to Daniel Bryan.
So WWE, SHE WAS MINE BEFORE SHE WAS YOURS! WOOOOOOOOO!!!
Jinder certainly looks the part, but let’s see if he’s got the chops to carry his end in a main event match like this. To be honest, I’m actually intrigued to see how this goes. Putting a fresh guy in the main event like this certainly made me interested to see the show if nothing else. By comparison, I don’t really care at all about the upcoming Five Way Match on Extreme Rules, despite the fact it will probably be a far more exciting match than this one.
Randy jumps Jinder before the bell and the fight is on right away. Finally things settle down and the referee officially starts the bout. Orton goes for an RKO early, but Jinder is able to push him off and bail outside. Randy follows him outside to continue the beating, but Jinder pulls him shoulder first into the LCD screen that surrounds the apron.
Back inside, Jinder works the shoulder with an arm lock and some of the crowd actually start to chant for him! Orton comes back with the Garvin Stomp but Jinder is straight back with the divorce court shoulder breaker before going back to the hold.
As Jinder works the hold the fans amuse themselves with some back and forth chanting. How hated must Randy Orton be in some circles if people are cheering Jinder Mahal over him for chuffs sake? The fight spills outside and Orton back suplexes Jinder onto the announce table, but Jinder is able to wrest control from him again back inside.
Jinder goes for a shoulder charge in the corner, but Orton moves and the cruel hand of irony interjects itself as Jinder goes shoulder first into the post. Randy sets Jinder up on the top rope and brings him down with a superplex for two.
Randy goes into his full comeback and gets something akin to a blockbuster slam for two. Jinder comes straight back with a Regal Cutter for two. Orton gets the O-Breaker and Jinder makes the mistake of rolling to the apron, thus allowing Randy to drop him with the draping DDT.
Randy preps for the RKO, but Jinder bails. Orton goes outside to get him, but The Singh’s block his path, so he brutally destroys them. Mahal uses the distraction to send Orton shoulder first into the post before throwing him back in. However, as Jinder is coming back in, Orton catches him with the RKO OUTTA NOWHERE!!!
Before Randy can get the pin, The Singh’s pull Jinder out of the ring in full view of the referee, which for some reason isn’t a disqualification. Way to make the ref look like a chump there lads. Orton comes outside and batters them again, including one of them taking a thoroughly botch-tastic bump onto the announce table almost head first. I’m sure Maffew is setting that botch to some Super Nintendo music as we speak!
Randy drags both of them into the ring and delivers a double draping DDT, but like an utter doughnut he’s allowed himself to be distracted and Jinder capitalises by getting him with the cobra clutch slam for the pin and the championship!
Jinder Wins! Jinder Wins!! Jinder Wins!!!
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION – JINDER MAHAL
RATING – ***
That was a heck of a finishing sequence and I’m a sucker for a good flock finish like that. Mahal goes into the crowd to celebrate his improbable win. If they follow through on this they could have made a new star.
This was a very middling show, with little on it being spectacular. Had Owens/Styles been a bit better then it would have boosted the rest of the show overall as a result, but as it is this is an average show with a very notable finish in the main event.
If you’re a big Jinder fan, then I guess it’s worth watching to see his first title win, but if you’re a Jinder Hinderer then this will only serve to anger up your blood.