Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: SummerSlam happened, and we’ve got new Smackdown Women’s and Tag Team Champions. Jinder Mahal is still WWE Champion, though, because even the King of Strong Style can’t defeat the mighty finisher known as “two guys helping me.”
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for August 22, 2017.
Worst: We’re Still Doing This?
AJ Styles and Kevin Owens, two of the best in-ring performers in the world and easily two of the best characters on Smackdown, are locked in a belt-swapping blood feud about which one of them can win the most underwhelming matches, and which one of them likes Vince McMahon’s hot-dog son the least.
One of the worst things modern WWE does is run the same match over and over and over and over and over, so of course Smackdown opens with Styles trying to bring back the U.S. Open Challenge again, and of course Kevin Owens answers. And of course Shane McMahon interrupts them, and of course tonight’s main event is AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens for the United States Championship. Guys, you can have a rivalry without only doing the rivalry. The Yankees and Red Sox can hate each other without playing 162 times in a row.
The only difference in those matches and this one is that Shane McMahon agrees to let Owens choose his own special guest referee.
Best: Finding A Ref
On the positive side, Owens’ search for a referee is really entertaining. His first option is Sami Zayn, which I love, because it exposes the bleeding heart inside Kevin Owens he refuses to let anyone but Sami see. It’s why they were such good friends in the first place. How heartbreaking is it that the only person Owens believes he can trust is the guy that hates him the most? Because at least that guy understands him. Zayn considers it, but ultimately turns him down because he knows he’s gonna fucking turn on him. On one hand, I’m disappointed in Sami for not accepting what appeared to be a genuine olive branch. At least as genuine as Kevin Owens can give. On the other, congratulations on not being Sting Stupid and getting turned on by the worst person in the world, guy who should know better.
Option two is Fandango and Tyler Breeze, who have the week off from elaborately staged parody sleuthing and Domino’s Pizza reconnaissance and are spending it wearing MATCHING PINEAPPLE JUMPERS.
I need more interactions with these guys. Kevin Owens hates friendship, and Breezango are the best friends in the company. Is there anyone on the roster Owens should hate more than Tyler Breeze and Fandango? And vice versa, if we’re being honest. Basketball shorts and a muscle tee? What is he, a blogger? Sycho Sid spent 30 years wearing one pair of black underwear and even he thinks that’s a bad look.
The final referee candidate is Baron Corbin, who has spent the past week being WWE’s most pathetic human being. He agrees to be the ref in exchange for a future United States Championship shot, because there’s nothing Baron Corbin handles better than guaranteed title shots! Don’t worry, Corbin completely shits the bed on this one, too, but we’ll get to that a little later.
Best: It Pays To Be Bobby
This week’s most obvious but exciting and welcome news is the arrival of former NXT Champion Bobby “Robert” Roode to Smackdown Live. Roode lost the title to Brian Kendrick in Titan Form at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, so aside from some awkward flirting with Roderick Strong, he’s finished with his developmental duties.
Roode interrupts an Aiden English song, presumably answering Aiden’s United States Open Mic Challenge, and defeats him with a Glorious DDT. The interesting thing here is that Roode, easily one of the most enjoyable shitbag heels in wrestling, wrestles the entire match AND delivers a post-match promo as a white-meat-ass babyface. I’m guessing that’s because they knew his appearance and entrance theme would get a great reaction in Brooklyn, and that Bobby Polite won’t last very long.
Worst: JBL Trying To Make Beer Money References
Motherfucker, you have never seen a Beer Money match in your life. Don’t lie. Byron Saxton wrote that shit on a piece of paper and circled it for you, or you found out about the team on Tuesday afternoon when you met Bobby Roode for the first time and asked him for stuff to say.
Tamina still has the on-screen presence of capsule endoscopy — and Lana suddenly thinks “Russian accent” means rolling your Rs as hard as you can for as long as possible — but I like where they’re going with the story. Tamina came to Lana looking for an easy opportunity, and Lana’s actually taking time and putting thought into making Tamina a monster.
It’s actual character development, you know? And it’s cementing a bond between the two by showing instead of telling, which is something almost no other female interaction on Smackdown has done.
Worst: Speaking Of No Character Development, Dolph Ziggler Is Back!
Amidst rumors that he’d been kept off television to be repackaged, former … [checks Wikipedia] well it says “former World Champion” here, but that can’t be right, Dolph Ziggler is back on Smackdown. And by cutting a promo about how he’s great and everybody else in the world sucks and nobody appreciates him, he’s assured us that no repackaging has occurred and he’s exactly the same. Wait, sorry, his hair is a little longer and slightly straightened!
Quick question: what’s Dolph’s teeth situation? Brother’s starting to look like Kurt Hummel.
Anyway, I hope his big re-debut next week is just him sitting in a chair in a room, telling us that the Golden Age is back.
Best: Usos Forever
Fresh off winning the Smackdown Tag Team Championship in the best match at SummerSlam that wasn’t actually on SummerSlam, the Usos get a strong win over the Hype Bros. They won by exploiting the Hype Bros’ biggest weakness, which is Zack Ryder being as physically dominant and threatening as Chilly Willy the penguin.
The Usos are so much better to me than everyone else right now I can’t even explain it. They’re seriously helping my Revival withdrawals.
Best: Nakamura Gets Revenge
Shinsuke Nakamura saves a little face this week by winning a handicap match against the Singh Brothers. It’s believable, because look at it, and it serves to give Nak “revenge” against Jinder Mahal without him having to just straight-up beat Mahal in a non-title match like everybody else.
Nakamura wins the match by making one of the Singh Brothers S his D until he dies.
He’s gotta be doing that on purpose. Otherwise, that’s the least believable submission hold I’ve ever seen. Cena’s STF side-eyes that triangle.
I could’ve lived without the post-match bit of Jinder Mahal attacking Nakamura from behind and getting his ass kicked, especially after watching Jinder lose non-title matches on the previous two Smackdowns. So I guess we’re doing Nakamura vs. Mahal again. I hope they do another Punjabi Prison match, just for the absurdity of Shinsuke Nakamura fighting The Great Khali in a playset cage. Don’t you kinda wanna see that?
Note: if you’re having trouble telling the Singh Brothers apart, remember that Sunil is the one who managed to have a center-part and a side-part at the same time.
Worst: Heat On Everyone Except The One That Needs It
First of all, congratulations to Natalya for getting through that promo after smoking three packs of cigarettes.
Second of all, the tag team match that happens here highlights a very real problem in the Smackdown women’s division: there’s heat on everybody in the match except the champion. The crowd likes Becky Lynch. The crowd likes Naomi. James Ellsworth and Carmella are doing the Money in the Bank thing, tricking Natalya into getting beaten up for an entire match so they can cash in on her. And then there’s Stupid Idiot heat for Ellsworth spoiling the plan. Natalya’s just there wearing Bret Hart drum major shoulder pads. She could be anybody. She could be a mannequin with the championship draped over its shoulder.
So is she a face now, or what? She does her pre-match promo about the “glow being unplugged,” but then by the end she’s chasing Carmella around. She kinda needs to be face for the heel Money in the Bank holder to matter, right?
Best: The World’s Greatest Tag Man
Here’s a fun bit of logical continuity: Daniel Bryan lets Chad Gable in on the fact that he didn’t just let Jason Jordan go to Raw, he allowed him to go in exchange for Kurt Angle helping Smackdown sign one of Angle’s friends. That friend is Shelton Benjamin, former United States Champion, 2-time Tag Team Champion and 3-time Intercontinental Champion. Plus, in WWE’s current tiny baby Superstar environment, 6-foot-2 Shelton Benjamin’s on here looking like Andre the Giant. I’m guessing Charlie Haas really enjoyed watching this on the tube TV in the break room at the closed down Circuit City where he works.
I’d make a joke about Shelton’s Momma, but tag team partner parents are probably the last thing Chad Gable wants to think about right now.
Worst: Enough With The Shane Already
So, Kevin Owens wanted another shot at AJ Styles. Styles agreed. Owens demanded the right to choose his own special guest referee, because he believed Shane had screwed him out of the match at SummerSlam. Both Shane and Styles agreed. So Owens spends the entire show looking for a referee — something that, again, everyone involved in the match agreed he could do — and chooses Baron Corbin. Corbin favors Owens during the match, which was the entire point. That brings out Shane McMahon, the guy who said (1) this match was okay and (2) that he didn’t screw Kevin Owens to (1) decide the match is not okay, and (2) screw Kevin Owens.
Shane actually physically pulls Corbin out of the match mid-three-count, despite that whole “the referee’s decision stands” thing. In maybe the most pathetic thing he’s done all week — which is saying something — Shane tells Corbin to leave, and Corbin does. Dude’s like, “YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, I DO WHAT I WANT,” and then immediately does what he’s told. What a chump. That sucks.
Shane McMahon is a total jerk, Kevin Owens broke character to show uncharacteristic humanity trying to deal with how he felt he’d been treated, and AJ Styles is once again the least important person in his own championship defense. I dunno. If this ends with Owens powerbombing Shane off a cage at Hell in a Cell and leaving lovable Pacific Northwest Text Dad Daniel Bryan in charge of everything, it’ll at least accomplish something positive.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
“What are you doing? You’re not crowding them. You’re not shadowboxing. You’re doing everything wrong.” – Shane
On a positive note this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to eat anything on a Domino’s commercial.
Dolph Ziggler’s new gimmick is guy who hates it when the fans are entertained? I thought he was being repackaged.
Yes Way Jose
Hey it’s Bret Hart’s cat’s daughter!
“Go back to Ring of Honor! …and take me with you”
With the hastiness Corbin is regressing, I wouldn’t be surprised by seeing him as a security guard next week.
Big Show lost.
Mojo wasn’t on the card.
It’s almost like the Andre the Giant Battle Royale does NOTHING for your career.
The Singh Brothers Mom is gonna be so angry if they tear their good shirts
Beach balls have had more matches than Dolph Ziggler this year.
That’s it for this week’s show. Not a lot of great wrestling this week, but hey, that’s what 205 Live is for, right?
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