Monday, June 19, 2017
Mojo Rawley has basically become Smackdown’s go-to guy on Kickoff Shows. It’s a great spot for him because he tends to get the crowd going. The big news here was the return of Zack Ryder, as the Hype Bros teamed for the first time in about six months. They looked about as good as ever, having a solid match here. The Colons are good workers, who bumped for Mojo and Zack. Mojo had a few fun spots, highlighted by no selling a bunch of chops. The Hype Bros won at 8:24 with the Hype Ryder. Fine, basic tag stuff.
There were rumors of a surprise sixth entrant, but it never happened. I also must commend the awesome work the WWE production team did with the video package for this one. Coming into this, I felt it could go two ways. It would be great or a complete disaster, with no middle ground. I was wrong. They did a lot of good in this match. There were fun spots, with nothing being too dangerous. The crowd was more invested than I expected. Nattie and Becky had a spot where they fought over a ladder, that went too long. I thought the crowd would hate it but they chanted for Becky. Charlotte got to hit her big dive spot, Tamina looked better than usual (though that’s not saying much) and everyone contributed something. In the end, James Ellsworth knocked Becky off the ladder, before pulling down the briefcase and throwing it to Carmella to win at 13:16. Most people hated that finish, but I liked it. I would’ve rather Ellsworth just tip the ladder over on Becky and then Carmella retrieve it herself, but this was fine. Carmella’s not great in the ring and I get that. However, she, like Alexa Bliss, makes up for it in spades by delivering on promos and bringing a lot of personality to the table. The match was on the verge of being great until the finish hurt it somewhat. Still, a strong performance for the ladies.
I enjoyed their match at the Royal Rumble last year, but the roles have reversed. Now the Usos are heel champions. As heels, they’ve been rejuvenated and we saw more of that here. They kind of follow the Revival’s idea to work an old school style at times. Tag team wrestling is simple, folks. The heels cut off the faces until the depravation reaches the max. They did just that with Kofi Kingston, picking him apart. Kofi took bumps like a madman. Some of the them were nuttier than what we saw in the ladder matches. He hit a great trust fall dive outside, while Big E brought out his spear through the ropes. The teams gave us one of the best near falls of the year after the New Day hit their finish. Kofi busted out a dragon sleeper that I thought would end it. However, once the Usos realized they may have met their match, they took the countout loss at 12:17. Like the opener, this was on the verge of greatness until the finish. In this case though, I understood it more. Great work up until that point with some strong tag wrestling and false finishes.
My goodness, Lana was about a 10/10 in terms of looks here. In the ring? Not so much. I can’t be too harsh, because it was her first televised singles match. She wrestled about as well as expected. A few nice moves and some rest holds to kill time. I liked her going after Naomi’s leg, since Naomi has some kicks in her offense. Things got interesting when Carmella’s theme hit and she came out to tease a cash in. This was right after Lana got a near fall with her finisher. The distraction kind of allowed Naomi to win via submission at 7:26. The pressure was on, and while Lana didn’t light the world on fire, she performed fine. Certainly not worse than a lot of the current women in their first TV matches.
Carmella again teased a cash in, but didn’t do it.
Mike and Maria Kanellis came out to some cheesy, but awesome 80’s style music. He’s honestly going by Mike Kanellis, which made me laugh harder than it should’ve. They said they’re bringing the power of love to Smackdown and Maria called herself the First Lady of Wrestling. What is this, Impact?
Before the match, legends were introduced at ringside including Sgt. Slaughter, Bob Orton and Ric Flair. I’m not sold on the Jinder experiment and I’ve been vocal about it. Unmotivated Orton hasn’t helped. However, Orton brought effort tonight. Maybe it was being in his hometown or maybe it was his dad in the front row. Either way, he sold Jinder’s leg work and tried his best to get the champion over. Mahal using the figure four in front of Flair was a nice touch. The Singh Brothers antagonized the legends, sending Orton into a rage. He nearly killed them with announce table spots again, like at Backlash. Once back inside, Jinder connected on his finisher to retain at 20:55. I’ve heard some people loved this and some didn’t like it at all. I thought it was good, much better than their Backlash match. The addition of the legends at ringside and how they were used was good. I didn’t like how the finish was a repeat of Backlash. Not a great match, but still easily the best of Jinder’s career.
The Ascension were revealed as the team who destroyed the Fashion Police’s office. By the way, the Fashion Police had a Miami Vice themed Fashion Files earlier in the night that was awesome. This match was nothing but a way to fill time on the PPV. Fandango won with a small package at 3:48.
During Nakamura’s entrance, Corbin jumped him and attacked him with a camera, sending him to the back. The rest of the guys were game to bring out the big bumps. There were too many spots to mention, but some of the highlights saw a Zayn sunset flip bomb and AJ hanging from the briefcase and taking a scary fall to the mat. Kevin Owens would get the MVP vote from me for this one. He took some sick bumps. From a DVD onto a ladder to Zayn tossing him from the top onto a ladder to an insane spot where Styles hit USHIGOROSHI onto a ladder bridge, he was part of everything. Nakamura returned around the twenty minute mark and proceeded to look the best he has since the Zayn match at TakeOver: Dallas. Like a bad motherfucker, he wrecked everyone in sight and finally looked to live up to the hype. It all led to a fantastic encounter between he and Styles. The fans badly wanted one of them to win. Corbin found a way to sneak in and tip over the ladder, before pulling down the briefcase himself at 29:50. It didn’t completely click with me at first, but got really good down the stretch. Crazy spots, cool moments and a show stealing exchange from Styles and Nakamura. I wasn’t a fan of the finish because it’s kind of overdone in these kinds of matches. Corbin winning was the best choice though, as the briefcase works with a heel like him. Awesome main event, though not quite on the level of the best MITB matches (2005, SD 2013, 2014 and 2016).
Overall: I feel like I give this score out often, but that’s where a lot of shows fall in my eyes these days. They’re good. We get a lot of good shows from promotions, with few bad or great ones. Like a lot of Smackdown shows, this featured consistently good stuff, capped by a great main event. There was some stuff to skip (Fashion Police and Women’s Title), but everything else was either good or great. The action mostly delivered, though the booking had issues at several points.