Date: April 25, 2017
Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton
Can we call this a go home show? I mean, Payback is a Raw show but it feels like half of the major matches are built around Smackdown talent, or at least a combination of the two shows. Tonight is a packed show as well with three announced matches plus a Beat the Clock Challenge. Let’s get to it.
Here’s Shinsuke Nakamura (now billed as an artist) to open things up. In your first sign of WWE stupidity/being annoying, he loads up the signature pose and as he pulls the arm back, let’s cut to a crowd shot for a reaction! Before he can say anything, here’s Dolph Ziggler to interrupt.
Ziggler won’t let him talk and says Nakamura is actually named Michael and he’s from Gary, Indiana. We hear a bunch of Jackson Family stories and apparently Nakamura is Michael Jackson’s alter ego. Nakramura takes the mic and insults Ziggler a bit, earning himself a kick to the ribs. That just means the exploder but Ziggler bails from Kinshasa.
Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles
Kevin Owens is on commentary. AJ’s headlock starts things off and stays on for a good while. Corbin gets bored waiting though and launches him out to the floor for a very early break. Back with Corbin holding a chinlock, followed by a chokebreaker (that’s a good move for him) for two.
AJ slips out of a superplex and scores with the Pele as Owens says Saxton makes him miss Michael Cole. Owens: “Do you know how hard that is?” Styles’ low running forearm gets two but the Calf Crusher is blocked. Instead he loads up the Phenomenal Forearm but has to kick Owens away. Corbin’s powerbomb is countered into a quick sunset flip to give Styles the pin at 10:51.
Rating: C+. I’m not wild on Corbin getting pinned but Styles needed to dispatch him before the title shot. At least it was closer to a fluke win after a fairly dominant performance, which certainly helps keep Corbin looking strong. I’m not sure what he’ll be doing at the pay per view but I hope it’s not a multi-man match.
The post match beatdown is on until Sami Zayn makes the save. That means a Helluva Kick for Corbin but Owens jumps Sami and powerbombs AJ.
Beat the Clock: American Alpha vs. Colons
There are four teams in the competition (another match later) and the winners get a future title shot. Alpha starts fast with the rollup attempts (makes sense) but Gable has to fight out of the wrong corner. The Colons send Gable into the corner though and the double teaming lets the cousins take over.
An armbar wastes some time before Primo grabs a chinlock at the three minute mark. Something like a reverse Koji Clutch keeps Gable in trouble before Primo drops Jordan off the apron. Back up and the powerbomb/Backstabber combination is broken up and a quick Grand Amplitude gives Alpha the pin, setting the time at 5:17.
Rating: C. JBL was right on during this match as he was yelling about the chinlocks and the wasting the time in a match built around winning as fast as possible. Alpha winning is good though I’m really hoping Breezango gets the title shot, if nothing else for the sake of not having to see the Usos vs. Alpha in another match. They’re good but I’ve seen it enough already.
Rusev says he hasn’t shown up yet because he doesn’t like the Smackdown bosses. If he doesn’t get a championship match at Money in the Bank, he’s going back to Bulgaria.
Becky Lynch doesn’t have much of an issue with what Charlotte did last week. The welcoming committee of Natalya/Carmella/Tamina/Ellsworth show up and say Becky is with them or against them.
Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan
Non-title and No DQ. They head outside to start with Rowan being bounced off the post. The belly to back onto the table keeps Rowan in trouble but he comes right back with a bad looking running dropkick. A few kendo stick shots get two on Orton and it’s already table time. Orton makes his comeback and a few swings of the stick put Rowan through the table.
Back from a break with Rowan in control because tables aren’t the big deal that they’re made out to be. The elevated DDT cuts Rowan off but the RKO is countered. Rowan hits him in the head with the steps but makes the mistake of wedging a chair in the corner. His head goes off of it all of fifteen seconds later and the RKO gives Orton the pin at 12:13.
Rating: B-. So here’s the thing: this was billed as a preview for the House of Horrors match but given that we have no idea what the House of Horrors is, how can we get a preview for it? For all we know, the House of Horrors is a turkey on a pole match. They really need to get this over with already and more on to anything else, which somehow includes Jinder Mahal.
Orton: “I don’t know what a House of Horrors match is but I have a feeling I’ll find out on Sunday.” Orton promises to destroy Wyatt like he’s done a million times but here’s Jinder Mahal to interrupt. He’s the real horror and has more wealth and class than Orton could ever hope to have. Mahal promises to win the title for his people and speaks some Punjabi before getting in a fight. Cue the Bollywood Boyz to slow Orton down, allowing Mahal to get in the cobra clutch slam. Mahal leaves with the title.
Post break Mahal and the Boyz leave in a Hummer limo.
Beat the Clock: Ascension vs. Breezango
The clock is set at 5:17 and Ascension doesn’t get an entrance. Viktor shows some intelligence by hitting a running elbow to Breeze’s jaw for two less than ten seconds in. Konnor comes in for some near falls of his own but Breeze escapes for the hot tag to Fandango. Everything breaks down and Fall of Man is broken up, allowing Breeze to superkick Viktor into the Falcon Arrow for the pin at 2:41. Good call here as Breezango is a popular enough team for a one off title shot.
Video on Wyatt vs. Orton.
Naomi doesn’t want to hear about Charlotte talking about being the best. It’s time to feel the Glow.
Women’s Title: Naomi vs. Charlotte
Charlotte is challenging after defeating Naomi last week. After the Big Match Intros, Charlotte is sent outside but pulls Naomi out for a crash. Back from a break with Naomi caught in a cravate, followed by some stomping in the corner. Naomi makes her comeback with a hurricanrana and a bulldog, followed by a Chick Kick for two.
The Rear View gives Naomi her real near fall before another hurricanrana is countered into a sitout powerbomb. Charlotte’s moonsault hits knees, which JBL calls a turning point. And never mind as here’s the Welcoming Committee (seems to be their official name) to pull Naomi to the floor for the DQ at 10:33.
Rating: C-. This match suffered from a common problem as we were just waiting on the ending. Making Charlotte a face (maybe) is interesting as you can only have her do the entitled heel character for so long. The Welcoming Committee is fine for a way to fill in time until someone new (Asuka) comes up to give Charlotte a real challenge. Not much to see here but it worked well enough.
Charlotte gets beaten down to end the show.
Overall Rating: D+. This is a show where the wrestling really doesn’t tell the whole story. So many of the stories feel like they’re setting up filler matches, which isn’t a good thing when the pay per view is almost a month away. Payback is really messing things up but at the same time we have to deal with Jinder Mahal as the #1 contender. The worst part is that he’s really not a horrible character (done before but not horrible). The problem is that it’s Jinder Mahal playing it and there’s no reason to believe he’s ready for this level. This week flew by but without anything interesting, it’s not much of a show.
AJ Styles b. Baron Corbin – Sunset flip
American Alpha b. Colons – Grand Amplitude to Epico
Randy Orton b. Erick Rowan – RKO
Breezango b. Ascension – Falcon Arrow to Viktor
Naomi b. Charlotte via DQ when the Welcoming Committee interfered
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