Date: May 9, 2017
Location: 02 Arena, London, England
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield
We’re taped tonight from London as we have less than two weeks before Backlash. That means it’s Jinder Mahal time tonight and we get to see more of his rapid fire build towards being a main eventer. Other than that we might get more of the Welcoming Committee, which is turning into one of the worst heel stables I can remember in years. Let’s get to it.
We open with a clip of last month’s Six Pack Challenge where Mahal became #1 contender. Has Mojo Rawley had a match since then? Mahal then cost Randy Orton the House of Horrors match and stole the title belt.
Here’s Orton to get things going and he has the title back, thanks to Shane McMahon taking it from Jinder last week. Orton says he lost because of Mahal, not because of Wyatt or that refrigerator. Before Orton can get too far, here’s Mahal to show off his promotional pictures with the title. Mahal promises to begin a new age at Backlash before speaking I believe Punjab.
Cue Kevin Owens to say no one cares about anything but him. Owens brags about ending Chris Jericho’s career and, after he gets rid of AJ Styles, he wants the World Title. Now it’s AJ coming out to quite the reaction to say he’s the face that runs the place. Cue Baron Corbin but Sami Zayn jumps him from behind and the fights are on with the good guys cleaning house.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
Before the match, we get some generic “British people have bad teeth” jokes from James Ellsworth and Carmella. Naomi and Charlotte are here as Becky’s seconds. The Welcoming Committee offers an early distraction so Natalya can send Becky to the floor and take over. We hit the abdominal stretch for a bit before the STRAIGHT FIRE forearm has Natalya reeling. The Bexploder looks to set up something on the top but the other women get in a fight, allowing Natalya to pull Becky off the top for the pin at 3:02. That’s almost the same ending as Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James from last night.
Rating: D+. The time and the familiar ending hut this one but real problem was taking fifteen minutes to introduce everyone and start the match. I’m sure this sets up a six woman tag for the pay per view, which should be a good place for either someone to turn heel or at least for the Welcoming Committee to get a win. Therefore, look for Charlotte to pin Carmella.
Lana is coming soon.
Charlotte blames Naomi for Becky’s loss but Lynch comes in to cool them down. A six woman tag is set for the pay per view.
It’s Fashion Files time! They’re at the 02 Arena this week and Fandango is dressed as Sherlock Holmes while Breeze is a standard British cop. Fandango: “Cheerio.” Breeze: “No thanks. I’ve already had my breakfast.” They find some spilled lead paint that would only be worn by Uggos. That must be a ruse so Breezango can’t tell them apart but it doesn’t really matter. The paint leads to a room where roaring is heard. They think something nefarious is going on in there but it’s just the Ascension warming themselves up. Breeze: “I’m getting too old for this shite.” More funny stuff here as Breezango continues to look good.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
Rowan throws him to the floor to start as the announcers talk about how these two are running amuck with no one to guide them. Back in and Rowan scores with a spinning kick to the face and a splash for two. Harper suplexes his way out of the head vice but the discus lariat is blocked. Instead Erick gets two off a Side Effect and grabs the mask. The distraction (as the referee tries to figure out what the mask is supposed to look like) allows Rowan to poke Harper in the eye and grab a reverse spinning powerslam for the pin at 4:23.
Rating: D. Just a power match here but they really need to either stop pushing Harper for a few weeks and then having him lose over and over again. I mean, do they really think there’s value in Erick Rowan winning with a lame powerslam? This didn’t work and the booking makes my head hurt so we’ll move on.
Here’s Dolph Ziggler to call out Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s been here for eight years (How has it only been that long?) but the fans treat him like a disease. Who do the people cheer for now? That starts a Nakamura chant as this is starting to sound like Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles last year.
Now people are calling Nakamura an artist but Ziggler is the strongest man in WWE because he never needed the people. This brings out Nakamura to tell Ziggler to shut up. Nakamura is ready to show him so here’s a referee but Ziggler says nope. Dolph says we do this on his time and wants the match at Backlash. The sneak attack earns Dolph a beating.
Sami is fired up to team with Orton and Styles. Zayn tries to run a strategy session but seems to just annoy his partners. By the time he announces their team as the winners, they’ve both left.
New Day is coming and we get a video game themed promo with every other team being listed on a character select screen.
Breezango vs. Ascension
Fandango chops at Konnor to start but it’s off to Viktor who runs him over. A chinlock doesn’t last long and it’s off to Breeze for some house cleaning. Fandango makes a blind tag and it’s an atomic drop into the Last Dance for the in at 2:39.
Post match the Usos come out to say twelve days over and over while listing off various things that Breezango can do to each others’ backs (with Jimmy clearly trying not to crack up).
Mojo Rawley is giving some kids a tour of the backstage area but stops to tell them a story about Andre the Giant. Andre did a lot of things but Mojo switches to a story about a boy who was different growing up. He was bullied as a kid but then he used it as motivation to become a legend. Mojo pulls out the trophy and the kids are amazed. I’ve started to like Mojo more and more lately and I’d love to see him get some more TV time.
Rusev hasn’t heard about his demand for a World Title shot but he’ll be here next week to get an answer.
Randy Orton/Sami Zayn/AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal/Baron Corbin/Kevin Owens
Sami and Corbin get things started but a quick tag brings in Owens. There’s no contact though as it’s off to Mahal for some kicks to the chest. Sami grabs a headscissors and brings in Orton so Mahal tags out to Owens. The threat of an RKO sends Owens out to the floor and we take a break.
Back with Corbin working over Sami and handing it off to Owens as the eternal feud continues. Sami is tossed outside for a stomping from Mahal, drawing AJ over to stare him down. Corbin’s chinlock keeps things slow so Jinder comes in for one of his own. The stomping keeps going and we take a break.
Back with AJ getting the hot tag to come in and clean house as everything breaks down. The running forearm drops a seated Corbin and Sami hits a big flip dive onto all three villains. Owens breaks up the Phenomenal Forearm though and Styles and Corbin are down. It’s Mahal breaking up the tag though and dropping a knee for two on Styles.
Owens comes back in for some very aggressive stomping and a chinlock of his own. That’s quite the popular move tonight and in no way a method to stretch out a long main event. The backsplash hits knees though and the hot tag brings in Orton. Everything breaks down and Owens eats the RKO, only to have Jinder’s cobra clutch slam put Orton away at 22:14.
Rating: C+. The match was more long than good and the ending extended the Mahal vs. Orton feud but this felt like a way to fill in TV time instead of a match that needed to go this long. I’m not sure how much people are going to buy Mahal’s cobra clutch slam as a threat to beat Orton but at least they’re setting it up as a possibility.
Overall Rating: D+. This was a rough one as it felt like a shortened version of Raw. The problem is I don’t watch Smackdown for a shortened version of Raw but rather something far more interesting and exciting. To be fair though, I think we can blame that on the UK tour as those shows are almost always lifeless. Some stuff was set up for the pay per view though and that’s important with just a show left beforehand.
Natalya b. Becky Lynch – Natalya pulled her off the top rope
Erick Rowan b. Luke Harper – Spinning reverse powerslam
Breezango b. Ascension – Last Dance to Viktor
Jinder Mahal/Kevin Owens/Baron Corbin b. Sami Zayn/Randy Orton/AJ Styles – Cobra clutch slam to Orton
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