The United States Championship was the main focus of this week’s edition of WWE Smackdown as Chris Jericho defended his title against the former champion Kevin Owens.
Shane McMahon, the Commissioner of Smackdown, started the show by welcoming Chris Jericho to Smackdown. If you’re wondering where general manager Daniel Bryan has been the past few weeks, he has been off the show because his wife Brie Bella is due to give birth to their daughter any day now. The due date passed as Bryan noted on Twitter, so it could be any time. I would imagine that Bryan is given a few weeks off of Smackdown because of it.
Jericho did his usual bit talking about Smackdown being the “Show of Jericho” and sucking up to the crowd. AJ Styles interrupted the promo to note that he had a history with Jericho as both partners and rivals. Remember those brief Y2AJ shirts? Anyway, he gets a shot at the US Champion at Backlash on May 21 because he won a match a few weeks ago.
That brought out Kevin Owens, who called them pathetic. Owens told Jericho he has no idea what’s going to happen to him (a stern warning that was good foreshadowing) and told Styles to get out of his ring. That led to Styles going up the ramp and brawling with Owens to end the opening segment.
It was announced later in the show that Styles would be banned from ringside for the Jericho vs. Owens match since he had that brawl with Owens. Story continuity is a good thing.
Jericho was featured in a backstage segment where he called Renee Young “Ronnie” and put a crying Aiden English on the List of Jericho because he said there’s no crying on Smackdown. More on English later. Jericho also put “Ronnie” on the list as well.
Kevin Owens defeated Chris Jericho to win back the United States Championship
The main event was Jericho defending the US Title against Owens. It was their third major US Title match with Owens winning the title at WrestleMania one month ago, Jericho won the title back at Payback on Sunday and this match was done because it was Owens’ rematch. It also ended up being the end of this rivalry.
It was a match similar to what they did at WrestleMania and Payback. They did a lot of counters to their signature moves, which shows that they were familiar opponents. I liked that Owens had his left hand taped up to sell the attack that Jericho did on it at Payback. When Jericho tried to attack the hand again, Owens fought him off.
The Walls of Jericho played a big factor in the match. At Payback, Jericho won with the Walls of Jericho and the crowd chanted “you tapped out” at Owens to get under his skin. Jericho applied the Walls to Owens on two separate occasions with Owens crawling over to the ropes both times to break the hold. They really did a good job of selling it as a big spot with the crowd buying into it as a potential ending to the match.
They brawled on the floor with Owens hitting a DDT on the bottom part of the ramp. It was a black surface with the idea that it was harder. Jericho sold it like it was a big deal. When they went back in the ring, Owens hit a superkick for two. Jericho did an inside cradle for two. Owens came back with a Popup Powerbomb leading to the pinfall win after 13 minutes to put the US Title on Owens again.
After the match, Owens hit Jericho with another Popup Powerbomb. When Owens went for it again, Jericho just collapsed to the mat. Paramedics and referees checked on Jericho. When Jericho was getting helped to the back, Owens ran back down to the ring and knocked him down with a punch. Owens grabbed a steel chair, wrapped it around the head of Jericho and sent Jericho into the ring post with the chair. It was a devastating move to put over the idea that Jericho was injured. That’s how the show ended.
The reason they did the injury angle after the match is because Jericho starts a tour with his rock band Fozzy this weekend and he’ll be off WWE TV for several months. We don’t know when he is going to return, so it was an angle to write him off while also putting over Owens as a devious heel who had an intent to injure his former best friend Jericho.
I thought it was a pretty good match, but not as good as Raw’s main event on Monday. This match felt similar to their two other matches in that they were all good, yet none of them were spectacular. The injury angle was well done because it put over Owens in a strong way.
The victory for Owens means he will defend the US Title against AJ Styles at Backlash. As for Jericho, as mentioned, he’s off TV for a few months at least. If you follow him on social media he’s pretty active there and maybe you can catch him with his band Fozzy on tour if they head to your area.
As for the US Title, I still don’t think they should have had the title change at Payback. I know they did it to set up this match and post-match angle, but it really wasn’t necessary. If Owens won all three of their matches, it would have put him over in a big way. With that said, I’m looking forward to Owens vs. Styles for the US Title since both guys held major titles for most of the second half of last year and into this year. They are two of the best wrestlers in WWE and should have an outstanding match at Backlash.
This Week’s Smackdown Live Matches
Jinder Mahal defeated Sami Zayn
Mahal, who stole the WWE Title from Randy Orton last week, gave it back to Commissioner Shane McMahon earlier in the day after McMahon interrupted a photo session of Mahal.
This was the first singles match victory for Mahal this year and he’s challenging for the WWE Title at Backlash. Weird stat, huh? The crowd didn’t know how to react to most of Mahal’s offense because we have barely seen him in a match that was longer than 10 minutes. Zayn didn’t come close to winning the match, but when he did get some offense, the Singh Brothers (Mahal’s buddies) played a part as one of them grabbed Zayn’s legs (ref never saw it) and Mahal hit a Cobra Clutch Slam to win. The match was fine, but nothing special. Mahal is pretty average in the ring.
As for Zayn, he is feuding with Baron Corbin, who was off television this week because he was suspended (in the storyline) for shoving a referee last week. Zayn will probably lose to Corbin in a match at Backlash because that’s what poor Zayn does all the time.
Tye Dillinger defeated Aiden English
English sang a bit before the match, but was cut off by Dillinger’s entrance. It was an easy win for Dillinger in about one minute. He needs an actual feud.
After the match, English was very upset about the loss and even crying a bit. I hope it’s not a regular thing because crying gimmicks don’t end well.
Carmella and Natalya defeated Naomi and Charlotte Flair
Charlotte was interviewed backstage before the match. As the interview was going on, the heel group of Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and James Ellsworth attacked her. They threw her into some storage containers backstage and Charlotte wasn’t able to start the match.
Naomi was out there for a few minutes until Charlotte hobbled her way down to the ring. When Charlotte got the hot tag, the crowd was behind her with “Woo” chants. The sympathy heat angle worked in terms of getting over Charlotte as a face already. People want to cheer her. Anyway, Naomi cleaned house, but the numbers game was against her. There were distractions by Tamina, Ellsworth and Natalya, which led to Carmella doing a rollup on Naomi to win for her team. Could that mean Carmella gets a Women’s Title shot against Naomi soon? Perhaps. I’d rather see Natalya in that spot.
After the match was over, Becky Lynch’s music hit. She shook hands with Carmella, Tamina and Natalya making it look like she sided with the heels and the crowd booed, but instead she shoved Ellsworth into the girls leading to cheers. No turns from Lynch, who is legit best friends with Charlotte. The heel women were able to overtake Becky and beat her down with a series of kicks. The heel trio of Carmella, Tamina and Natalya stood tall.
I thought it was well done. The crowd was into all of it. It sets up an obvious six-women tag between Naomi, Charlotte and Becky Lynch against Natalya, Carmella and Tamina, possibly at Backlash. Good booking to set it all up and the women executed it well.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Sin Cara
Easy win for Ziggler in about four minutes. They put on a very entertaining short match with a lot of cool spots. After both men were down, Ziggler hit a superkick for the win. The win made sense since Ziggler is likely facing Shinsuke Nakamura at Backlash.
Other Key Items From Smackdown
1. No Randy Orton or Shinsuke Nakamura
This show was lacking in star power. AJ Styles was only on for a few minutes while Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura weren’t on at all. I think Orton’s feud with Mahal needs more of a storyline than simply Mahal doing sneak attacks. Why wasn’t Orton there to get revenge on Mahal and the Singh Brothers? It would have led to a good reaction from the crowd if Orton popped up out of nowhere with a RKO.
As for Nakamura, they hype him up as a big deal and don’t use him again. He was on last week, but was off the week before that. The slow build with him is leading to a match at Backlash, likely against Ziggler, which isn’t official yet.
2. Breezango (aka The Fashion Police) debuted “The Fashion File”
I thought this was pretty funny. It started off looking like it was from the popular Law & Order television show as Tyler Breeze and Fandango were doing their “Fashion Police” gimmick. They had a few good lines while mentioning their Smackdown Tag Team Title match against The Usos at Backlash. Doing different things like this is refreshing because it presents superstars in a different light.
Looking Ahead to WWE Backlash
— WWE (@WWE) May 3, 2017
The next Smackdown pay-per-view is Backlash in Chicago on Sunday, May 21. Here’s the announced lineup so far.
WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal
United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles.
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)
That’s it for announced matches at this point. Other likely matches are Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler. The women’s match could be a 3-on-3 tag based on what happened on this week’s Smackdown as well.
It was an average edition of Smackdown this week. I think the show quality has been down a bit post-WrestleMania because they miss the promos of guys like The Miz (moved to Raw) and John Cena, who is on one of his WWE breaks due to movie commitments. When those two guys were delivering amazing promos week after week, it made the show feel more worthwhile. In this episode, there was a solid opening promo, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.
In terms of matches, I enjoyed the main event of Owens and Jericho, but as mentioned earlier, it felt very similar to their two other matches. It was effective in terms of putting Owens over as a badass, though. The other segment I really liked involved the women. It was booked well with Charlotte Flair getting over as a face while the heel women looked strong. Everything else was mostly forgettable.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back next week for more.