Date: August 22, 2017
Location: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
The Big Takeaway --
Bobby Roode made his SmackDown debut, defeating Aiden English. He was over huge with the live crowd. Shelton Benjamin made his WWE return and also got a big reaction. Daniel Bryan signed Benjamin with an assist from Kurt Angle after Bryan let Jason Jordan go to Raw. Benjamin will team with Chad Gable next week.
AJ Styles once again defeated Kevin Owens to retain the US title. Baron Corbin was Owens’ hand-picked referee, but it didn’t work out so well as Shane McMahon got involved once again. This was also Owens’ final shot at the title as long as Styles is the champion.
The feud between Jinder Mahal and Shinsuke Nakamura is continuing, there was also no real acknowledgment of John Cena appearing on Raw yesterday, and Randy Orton and Rusev were not on the show.
Oh, and Dolph Ziggler is back.
Show Recap --
They recapped the events of the US Title match at SummerSlam and AJ Styles came out to start the show. He got a huge reaction and welcomed everyone to the house that AJ Styles built. Styles called himself the workhorse of WWE and reissued the US Title open challenge, which starts right now.
There were chants for Bobby Roode, but we got Kevin Owens instead. Before Owens could say anything, Styles said he was done with him. Owens said he didn’t lose--history repeated itself and a McMahon screwed a legendary Canadian. Shane wasted no time and came out next.
Shane told Owens he called the match down the middle and Styles won fair and square. Owens said Shane survived a helicopter “crash” and jumped off Hell in a Cell, but somehow couldn’t get up after being grazed by a 450 splash. Owens then showed a replay of himself getting the three count with Styles’ foot on the rope after a powerbomb.
Owens said the referee’s decision stood a few weeks ago when he was counted down even though his shoulders were up, and wondered why Shane got to change his mind at SummerSlam. They got into an argument and Owens called Styles a joke of a champion. Styles told him to shut up.
Owens asked if he didn’t like the truth, and Styles said what he didn’t like was a “whiny-ass little bitch like you.” They agreed to have another match tonight and Shane made it official. However, Owens wanted to pick the referee. Shane was about to turn him down, but Styles agreed to the stipulation. Shane granted Owens the shot with this stip but said this would be his last shot as long as Styles was the champion.
Daniel Bryan was on the phone backstage, as authority figures always seem to be immediately following a segment, when he was interrupted by the Singh Brothers. They introduced Jinder Mahal, who appeared to be twice as tall as Bryan. Mahal called himself an unstoppable champion. Bryan said Mahal looked like someone who can’t win without the Singhs. Mahal called him a xenophobe. Bryan thought Shinsuke Nakamura deserved retribution, so he put Nakamura in a match against the Singhs, who freaked out.
Kevin Owens approached Sami Zayn backstage. Owens tried to play nice and went over their history. He needed someone he could trust and asked Zayn to be referee tonight. Zayn said he watched Owens’ DVD recently and said he sometimes forgets why they’ve been fighting for so long. Owens agreed. Owens said he knew Zayn wasn’t busy tonight because he hasn’t done much since he moved to SmackDown, which the crowd laughed at. Owens said Zayn could do something tonight that matters and sincerely asked Zayn to think about it.
Bobby Roode interrupted Aiden English, who was singing in the ring. Roode got a huge reaction.
Bobby Roode defeated Aiden English (6:30)
Roode did his pose and the crowd loudly yelled, “Glorious!” Roode clotheslined English to the outside and they went to commercial. After the break, English had him down, but Roode came back with a forearm and blockbuster. JBL made a reference to “beer money.”
English hit his new finisher, the Director’s Cut, but Roode kicked out. English missed a move off the top and Roode nailed him with a spinebuster and Glorious DDT for the win.
Renee Young interviewed Roode in the ring. Roode congratulated Bryan and Shane for breaking the bank and cashing in by signing the hottest free agent in sports entertainment. Roode said everything he does is big box office and SmackDown has gone from being great to absolutely glorious.
Roode was very much positioned as the babyface during his match but this wasn’t exactly a babyface promo, so we’ll see where they go.
Chad Gable approached Bryan backstage, who is now texting. Gable was tired of hearing about Jason Jordan and Kurt Angle. Bryan said he didn’t just give Jordan away for nothing, he made a deal. Angle helped Bryan sign an old friend of his. The crowd cheered realizing who he meant, and they were right.
Shelton Benjamin showed up behind Gable and got a huge pop and “Yes” chants. Gable was super excited and said he followed Benjamin’s entire career, mentioning that they were both Minnesota guys. Benjamin said he followed Gable’s career too. Bryan said they would be teaming together next week and Gable was pumped. After Gable left, Bryan shook Benjamin’s hand, as Benjamin said, “We’ll see how this goes.”
Owens found Zayn again and gave him a referee shirt. Zayn said he thought about it real hard and remembered all the rotten things Owens did to him and turned him down. Owen was upset.
Non-title match: Tag Team Champions The Usos defeated The Hype Bros (3:10)
Jey Uso pinned Zack Ryder after a superkick. And now there’s a beach ball in the arena.
The Usos cut a quick promo after the match here on their birthday saying they had the tag division on lock. "It’s not paranoia, it’s the Usos."
2-on-1 Handicap Match: Shinsuke Nakamura defeated The Singh Brothers (w/Jinder Mahal) (2:47)
Sunil and Samir were in their usual dressy clothes. They were able to be in the ring at the same time instead of tagging in and out. They very briefly got some offense but this was basically a squash for Nakamura. He caught Samir in a triangle choke for the submission win. Mahal attacked Nakamura after the match, but Nakamura caught him with a Kinshasa.
Breezango accosted Owens backstage. They wanted to be his referees because they were smart, savvy and made for sexy zebras. Owens said no and yelled at them until they scampered off. Baron Corbin showed up and said he would do it, but only if Owens gave him the first title shot if he wins. Owens agreed. Corbin hoped Owens was a man of his word, which we know he isn’t.
Natalya said Sunday would be known as the day she unplugged the glow. She said she was what a champion looked like and would bring dignity back to the championship. Carmella congratulated Natalya and Ellsworth added, “Yeah, Nattie, you finally won something!” Carmella and Ellsworth warned Natalya that she was on borrowed time. Ellsworth wondered why Natalya would even trust Carmella tonight given that she could let Natalya get beat up and cash in. Carmella wasn’t happy he announced this.
Naomi & Becky Lynch defeated Women’s Champion Natalya & Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) (7:20)
The crowd did the wave during the match. The actual story of the match was that Carmella wanted nothing to do with it. Natalya actually did well for herself and valiantly fought out of Naomi’s submission. Carmella was distracted as she argued with Ellsworth, so Natalya forcefully tagged her in. Lynch gave Carmella an Exploder and Naomi followed with a split-legged moonsault for the win.
Dasha Fuentes interviewed a returning Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler appeared excited to reintroduce himself to the WWE universe, but then mentioned how lame it was that they had him return in a backstage interview. He said he’s been watching Raw and SmackDown and realized what it took to be a star in WWE--he’s going to start signing. Maybe play the guitar, get a big spotlight or even a fancy robe. Or perhaps even a woman to escort him to the ring, a woman who glows in the dark. He promised all of this… next week.
Elsewhere, Lana told Tamina her championship journey begins next week and gave her a pep talk. This was so lame.
AJ Styles walked backstage when he was stopped by Corbin. Corbin let Styles know about his deal with Owens. Styles didn’t care, and said Corbin was free to accept his open challenge after he beats Owens. For whatever reason, there was an echo when Corbin spoke, but not Styles.
U.S. Championship Match: AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens (Special referee Baron Corbin) (12:51)
During the heat, Owens hit a fallaway slam into the barricade. Styles fought out of a headlock and hit a facebuster. Styles followed with a forearm and fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two. Owens ducked a Phenomenal forearm but Styles applied the Calf Crusher. Owens almost got a rope break but Styles pulled him back into the middle of the ring.
Corbin broke up the hold, claiming Owens did get the rope (he didn’t). Styles argued with Corbin, then Owens pushed Styles into him. Corbin then pushed Styles, leading to a schoolboy by Owens. Corbin did a fast count but Styles kicked out. Owens tried it again, but Styles again kicked out of the fast count.
They did a double clothesline spot when Shane ran down to admonish Corbin. Owens low-blowed Styles and Corbin went to count the fall but Shane pulled him out of the ring. Corbin argued with Shane, then pulled off the ref shirt, gave it to Shane, and left. Owens freaked out as Shane put the ref shirt on. Styles then hit the Phenomenal forearm for the win.
This was another clunky, overbooked match between these two and the crowd was pretty quiet throughout, understandably so.
Final Thoughts --
Despite the redundant main event, I would call this show a positive. The debut of Bobby Roode should really help, and I was happy to see Shelton Benjamin get a good response.
Everything still feels so backwards with AJ Styles holding the US title and Jinder Mahal holding the WWE title. I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Mahal/Orton stuff felt like the least interesting thing on the show and I fear Nakamura being dragged down to that level as well.
Still, this was another easy-to-watch show despite no appearances from John Cena (who appears to be gone for a while), Randy Orton, Rusev, New Day, Luke Harper, and only backstage appearances from Sami Zayn and Breezango.