The Best And Worst Of WWE Smackdown Live 5/23/17: Backlash Backlash

Hey Blue Team,

Overall I really enjoyed this week’s Smackdown Live. Breezango continues to entertain, the novelty of having Nakamura on the blue brand hasn’t worn off for me yet, and best of all, no Randy Orton. If you liked Backlash than boy was Smackdown the show for you. Every match on the show was some kind of Backlash rematch.

Is anybody else starting to get worried about Rusev? Two weeks ago he skyped into the show to let Shane McMahon know that he would be on the next episode but he hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Where is he? Is he okay? I hope he didn’t get caught up in anything bad. I know he has close ties with the Russians.

This was the first week of the USA network using picture in picture to show us at home what’s happening in the matches during the commercial breaks. They have done this in the past but according to reports this is the first of it now being a weekly thing. I do not care for it. I find it distracting and just too much. It feels like I’m being bombarded with content. It’s kind of nauseating. Not only is it a little hard to watch but it also kind of messes with the timing of the matches.

The women’s tag match felt a little too long to me because of sticking with it during the commercial breaks. I may have to keep fast forwarding through the commercial even if they keep the matches going.

Worst: The Bottom Rung Of The Ladder

This week’s Smackdown Live opens up with Shane McMahon introducing the participants in this year’s Money In The Bank ladder match. They manage to kill six minutes by having each of them come out one by one as their music played. AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, and Shinsuke Nakamura. That’s one hell of a ladder match. They do a fun bit where Shane calls out that Kevin Owens is not supposed to be out there. He isn’t in the MITB ladder match. He just walked out to ringside with everyone else like he should be there. Owens makes a case that he should be added to the match because he was victorious at Backlash when some of the guys Shane has put in the match lost. Shane caved and added Owens to the match. The rest of the segment is everyone taking turns talking to various degrees of success.

As twenty minute talking segments go this was not the worst. It moved along at a nice pace and with the exception of AJ referring to Kevin Owens as Eric Cartman, none of the dialogue was too cringe-worthy. But still, we have seen this type of segment so many times that I’m left with the feeling that they could have tried something different here.

The best thing about this was how quickly we got the six participants in the Money In The Bank ladder match confirmed. This week’s Smackdown Live was way better than a potential episode full of MITB qualifying matches. The Smackdown roster is so thin that once you remove Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton as possible participants, there aren’t six other male singles wrestlers on the roster for these six to face. Can you imagine an episode of Smackdown with qualifying matches like AJ Styles Vs. Aiden English, Kevin Owens Vs. Sin Cara, Shinsuke Nakamura Vs. Konnor from The Ascension? Wait … Now that I’ve typed that out it actually sounds pretty good. Those are fun matches. Why didn’t they do that. Damn you WWE for robbing me of fun random MITB qualifying matches.

Worst: Everyone Wins

Becky Lynch and Charlotte Vs. Natalya and Carmella was a good match. Better than the six person tag on the pay-per-view. but it’s yet another in a long run of women’s matches on Smackdown that don’t matter. Becky Lynch got the win for her team but it means nothing. To prove it, latter in the night in a backstage segment Shane books a number one contender’s between all five women to determine a number one contender for Naomi’s belt.

So now it’s anybody’s ballgame making the outcomes of all these matches the past few weeks matter even less. Carmella pins the champ but she isn’t given a title match. Natalya made the pin at Backlash but she isn’t rewarded for it. Instead they are both being thrown into a fatal five way with the rest of the women’s roster. At least this probably means we are finally going to get another one-on-one match for the title on a pay-per-view this year. Bringing the grand total to two. That is unless Becky and Charlotte both pin members of the Welcoming Committee at the same time and we end up with a three-way at Money In The Bank.

Best: Sami Zayn Can’t Lose

Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn ended in seconds with Zayn rolling up Corbin for the surprise pin. This was of course followed up by a pretty good beatdown on Sami from Baron all around the arena. It was a great way to follow up their Backlash match and keep this feud going.

I like that Sami got another win and at the same time made Corbin look strong with the beatdown. The booking made perfect since for each of their characters too. Sami may be the underdog because of his lack of size, but he is a skilled ring veteran who gets the job done. Baron is this big powerful biker wolf man who is still pretty new to the sport and can’t quite put the pieces together to be as good as he thinks he should be. When he loses he takes his frustrations out on Sami and it works. Sami sells the beating like Sami Zayn and now I want to see him beat Corbin a third time.

Best: Every Time They Say Punjabi I Think Of The Punjabi Prison Match And I Smile

I’m totally cool with Jinder Mahal being the WWE Champion. I would even go as far as to say I like it. Is it what I would have done if I was booking the show? No. But I like the idea of Jinder being champion at this point in time more than I do Randy. Orton’s character is so stale and boring that anybody would be a more entertaining champion to me right now than Randy. And it just so happens that Jinder Mahal is anybody. I don’t know if it’s burn out from the horrible Wyatt feud or just ten years of him doing the same old viper shtick, but I I’m just not interested in Orton right now. Jinder Mahal I’m interested in. I like his gimmick. I like his look. I like his sidekicks. Mahal is working for me when Randy isn’t at all.

I thought they did a really good job with Mahal’s Punjabi Championship Celebration on this week’s Smackdown. They upped the ante from the usual celebratory balloon drop with dancers and a guy playing a drum. It looked great. Beautifully lit and decorated. Jinder did a good job with his promo even if the writing is already starting to get very repetitive. The reaction from the crowd was hot. The whole thing was very well done.

Best: The Fashion Police Are Still On The Case

In early previews of this week’s show WWE promoted that we would finally get see the Smackdown Live debut of New Day. I’m so glad we didn’t. When Breezango failed to capture the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship Sunday at Backlash my concern was that Fandango and Breeze would disappear to wherever they are keeping American Alpha and The Ascension.

So you can imagine my relief when The Fashion Police popped up for a backstage episode of the Fashion Files with Shane McMahon. Who knew that Shane is the best straight man in the business? He did such a great job playing off of Breezango and not selling out the comedy. Shane books singles matches for Fandango and Breeze against an Uso each for later in the night.

The whole thing is a little convoluted. Both singles matches end quickly with Breeze and Fandango each victorious. It feels a little weird to see this on the same show as Sami Zayn’s quick win against Corbin but Breezango made it work. They ask the Uso’s for a tag title rematch to take place right now and they accepted.

I was on the edge of my seat this whole match. I wanted to see Breezango win the belts so bad. Every near-fall worked on me. In the end the Uso’s would retain but there is a lot of heat left in this feud. I’m very worried about what the impending return of New Day will mean for Breezango. I would like to think the WWE can see how well Breezango is working and how over they are with the audience but you never know. It would be crazy to not capitalize on their success but WWE has done crazier.

Best: Nakamura Really Is On Smackdown

Your main event this week is the first of what I’m sure will be many tag team matches over the next few weeks featuring a mix of participants in the Money In The Bank ladder match. This time around it’s AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens & Dolph Ziggler.

I liked Nakamura’s work with Owens a lot more than his work with Ziggler. In fact the low points in this match were when Ziggler and Nakamura were in the ring with each other. The match was long enough to take up three tv segments. If they had taken out the middle segment the match would have been much more exciting and faster paced. I think I would have liked it even more. But that’s pretty nitpicky. I liked the match just fine the way it was. It really made me happy to see Kevin Owens in the ring with Nakamura. I’m still not over it. Nakamura in WWE. It’s so weird and makes me so happy. He’s going to be in a Money in the Bank ladder match. That’s crazy.

Until next time. I’m Justin Donaldson and I’m the only person that wants to see Jinder Mahal Vs. Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison Match.