Hey, Blue Team!
There was a lot to love on this week’s show, especially in the last half hour. There’s a lot of wrestling and most of it’s good. I am worried about the way they are building to some of these Backlash matches, but the rest of the show is booked so well that they make up for it.
We’re getting into that time of year where WWE is really fun and interesting for a while, so why not take a moment to give The Best and Worst of Smackdown Live a share on your favorite social media platform. While you’re at it, follow With Spandex on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
And now without further ado, here is The Best and Worst of Smackdown Live for May 2nd, 2017.
Best: The Time For Talking Is Over
This week’s Smackdown Live starts with Jinder Mahal, and the WWE Championship he stole, backstage having a photo sesh until Shane McMahon shows up to take the belt back. Could all of the past WWE storylines where people stole belts have ended this easily? With an authority figure casually walking up and asking for the belt back?
Shane books Jinder in a match with Sami Zayn later in the night and then heads out to the ring where he brings out Smackdown’s newest signee, Chris Jericho. It’s not a very warm welcome. Before Y2J can fully drink in Smackdown Live, Shane immediately puts Jericho in a rematch with Kevin Owens for later in the show. Mahal Vs. Zayn and a Jericho/Owens segment … it’s like we’re back in the glory days of a mid-December 2016 RAW.
Shane’s announcement brings out the number one contender for the U.S. title AJ Styles, who oddly seems to remember everything that happened in the past between him and Jericho, down to the detail of them having a joint shirt. Perhaps he hasn’t been in WWE long enough to experience the cognitive memory loss of other WWE characters.
After AJ’s trip down memory lane, Jericho tries to put AJ on The List but Kevin Owens interrupts. Instead of making the walk down to the ring, Kevin just hangs out by the entrance way where he gets on the mic and rips on everything. Owens tells Styles to get out of his ring and AJ abides by getting out of the ring and going after him. I wonder how many other people would have wandered out and injected themselves in the US title scene if AJ hadn’t put a stop to it.
This was the best Smackdown Live opening segment in weeks. I know that should go without saying being that AJ, Owens, and Jericho were all involved, but even these guys can fall prey to WWE’s bad writing from time to time. I love AJ talking about his history with Jericho because I’m a big old nerd who gets off on continuity, but also because it’s just good storytelling and instantly adds more weight to their confrontation.
I’m also a big fan of AJ Styles just saying F it and running out to attack Owens. That felt a lot more real than the usual WWE opening segment where they all continue taking turns talking for another ten minutes.
Worst: Jinder Reassignment
The first match of the night was Sami Zayn Vs. Jinder Mahal, with Mahal of course coming out on top. Jinder didn’t look bad in the match but I would liked to have seen him win in more convincing fashion. Towards the end, the story of the match had Sami having Jinder beat until the Singh Brothers interfered over and over again. This didn’t do much to make Mahal look like any more of a World Title contender. I’m all for heels cheating to win matches, that’s what heels should be doing, but Jinder could really use some definitive victories leading into his WWE Championship Pay-Per-View Main Event to make him look like he belongs there. Especially when so many people feel like he doesn’t.
No offense to Sami Zayn, but if Mahal can’t beat him clean he has zero chance of defeating Randy Orton. Who better to put Jinder over clean than Sami? It’s one of the things he does best. Losing is one of Sami Zayn’s defining character traits, along with having a lot of heart and listening to ska. He will probably lose clean to Baron Corbin at the next PPV and then to Rusev sometime before his match with Orton at Money in the Bank. If they are trying to protect Sami for Corbin, then why not put Jinder against someone like Luke Harper this week or just have him squash a local talent.
Zayn and Mahal both picked up the slack for the booking in this match. Sami did a great job making Jinder look like a contender and Mahal himself is looking better all the time. Though if he doesn’t start pulling back on his elbows a bit he’s going to get accused of stealing Nakamura’s gimmick. This was probably Jinder’s best match since returning and I really enjoyed it, even if it didn’t feature a monster version of Mahal unleashing his new found aggression all over Zayn.
With only two more Smackdown Live episodes until Backlash, the WWE has firmly established that the only way Jinder Mahal can win matches is with the help of the Bollywood Boyz. I guess if that’s the story WWE wants to tell they are doing a good job at it but it doesn’t do much to build up Jinder and that in turn won’t do much for Randy Orton when he defeats him. Why not attempt to make Jinder look like a legitimate threat to Orton’s championship in the ring and have the Singh Brothers be an additional obstacle Orton has to overcome to retain the belt?
Best: It’s Alright To Cry
I’m happy to see Tye Dillinger back on Smackdown after a two episode absence. I was starting to think maybe he would only be wrestling on the show every ten weeks. Instead it appears Tye will be wrestling Aiden English ten times in a row.
After squashing Aiden three weeks ago, this week Tye squashes him again in another match between the two that did exactly what it was supposed to. Not only did the segment continue to make Tye look good, but they actually built upon Aiden English’s character and have given him some pretty fun stuff to play with. He’s now a cryer.
Aiden breaks down sobbing after his loss to Dillinger and he handled it beautifully. I think if most guys in WWE were handed a crying gimmick, at the very least they wouldn’t know what to do with it. A lot of them would probably be offended. But Aiden English nailed it. After the match Aiden was still crying in a great backstage segment with Chris Jericho where the crying even ended up landing him on The List.
Later on Talking Smack Aiden’s crying comes up again as Renee Young explains that it’s okay for him to cry because he is an actor and therefore more in touch with his emotions. That is all so great. Now I’m not crazy enough to think that a crying gimmick is going to take him any higher on the card but it is the type of thing that if he can get even a little over, the powers that be could take notice and eventually it could lead to something more.
Best: Turns And Turns To Come
The middle of this week’s show was a bunch of great work from the women of Smackdown Live. I really liked what they did with this. A tag team match had been scheduled, pitting Nattie and Carmella from their new group the Welcoming Committee vs. Naomi and Charlotte. But the Committee jumped Charlotte during a backstage interview before the match leaving Naomi to take on Carmella and Nattie alone. That is until about halfway through the match when miraculously Charlotte comes limping down to the ring, selling a few body parts and makes the hot tag into the match.
It’s a very fun way to help Charlotte move forward with being a face. That’s some great old-school tag team booking. It’s the kind of stuff they should be doing with American Alpha. Despite Charlotte’s efforts, The Welcoming Committee (yes we all know that’s a terrible name) keep the upperhand and end up winning the match. It all works very well.
Earlier in the night the Committee approached Becky Lynch about joining them and she didn’t turn them down. After the match the Committee beat down Charlotte and Naomi until Becky’s music hit. She comes down to the ring and again teases joining the Committee before attacking them by using James Ellsworth as a battering ram. The few moments where Becky teased turning started to get me excited about the idea of a Becky Lynch heel turn. I hope that happens sooner rather than later.
Worst: Sad Cara
Now that I’ve seen Dolph Ziggler vs. Sin Cara, I take back everything negative I said about the booking of the earlier Jinder Mahal/Sami Zayn match. Compared to how Ziggler looks in the hands of Sin Cara, Mahal looks like he’s ready to hold his own against Hogan in 1987.
This was Sin Cara’s Smackdown Live debut and also the Smackdown Live debut of his world famous botches. Oof this match was rough. Sin Cara is the saddest thing on the roster. He looks like he’s starting to get out of shape, appearing blown up shortly into the match. His new outfit looks horrible. He can’t even put much effort into doing the “lucha lucha” chant. And what does he have against pinfall attempts? If I wanted to get sad watching wrestling I would flip the channel over to Impact.
But enough about Sad Cara, the real problem here is yet another week where WWE saddles Dolph Ziggler with absolutely nothing good. Heel Ziggler should be the easiest thing in the world. Why is WWE having such a hard time finding anything decent for him to do?
Best: The Windy Apple
Once in a blue moon, WWE does something that is exactly what I would do if I was in charge of WWE. Like Kevin Owens beating Cena on his first night or the end of WrestleMania 30. This isn’t exactly one of those, but it’s pretty close.
Best: Smackdown Makes The List
Let’s get this out of the way: I have decided to completely ignore the fact that Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho are now both a part of the Smackdown roster after they made it seem like only the person who won the United States Championship at Payback would be coming to the blue brand. I don’t care that this makes no sense because I’m happy to have both of them here. At least I will be happy to have both of them once Chris returns from rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camp.
The main event for this week’s Smackdown Live was Chris Jericho Vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE United States Championship and everything about it and it’s aftermath is pretty perfect. The match was great on it’s own, but when you put it together with their matches from Payback and Wrestlemania a larger picture unfolds that is very impressive. The matches build upon each other. The story their Payback match told was a result of their Mania match and the third match on Smackdown is a continuation, and ultimately conclusion, of that. If watched together, the three matches play out like one epic best-two-out-of-three falls match.
The Smackdown match starts with Jericho almost immediately going after the still-injured finger of Kevin Owens, hoping to duplicate what helped lead him to victory on Sunday. But Owens knows what he’s up to this time and isn’t going to fall for it. Also, Owens is pissed. He’s angry. Scary angry. There is a great moment right before the match starts when Greg Hamilton is announcing Kevin Owens and Greg looks super scared when it gets to the part in the announcement about Owens being the challenger because Kevin is mad dogging him during his whole announcement.
What follows is a beautifully executed back and forth match that told a wonderful story about two men who know each other very well. The end of the match is fantastic. Jericho takes a DDT on the floor and sells it like a DDT on the floor should be sold. He sells it like it’s real. Jericho is not the same after the DDT. He gets back up but he’s damaged. Owens knows it and takes immediate advantage. Without messing around, Owens goes right for his finish. He hits a spot on Pop Up Powerbomb and pins Jericho.
Owens winning the match was extremely predictable, but they did such a good job with it that it was still kind of shocking. After the match Owens kept coming back down to the ring to beat on Jericho. It was almost like a very grounded version of the beatdown Strowman gave to Reigns. Owens wouldn’t stop. A second powerbomb after the match still wasn’t enough. Eventually Kevin puts a chair over Jericho’s head and crashes it into the ring post. Jericho is dead.
Both Owens and Jericho do some tremendous acting after the match. It all worked so well. It’s a pleasure watching these guys do business together. I don’t think we’ve even seen the best they can do together yet.
Best: Randy Orton Was Not On This Week’s Show
Until next time, I’m Justin Donaldson and I no longer have to follow the buzzards.