May 23, 2017
City: Toledo, OH
Venue: Huntington Center
Commentary: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
Jinder Mahal became the new WWE Champ at Backlash.
** They showed a lot of internet headlines in the video, but I think it’s funny that all but one of the headlines simply says that Mahal is the new champ. Only one of the headlines stated that Mahal is facing a “Backlash.” None of the headlines said anything about shock or surprise which is the narrative WWE is trying to sell. I just think it’s telling and shows how the actual reaction isn’t the one WWE necessarily wanted. There were also a couple of India-related outlets shown as sources of the headlines which clearly indicates a big reason why WWE forged ahead with this direction. **
Outside the Venue
Jinder Mahal arrives in a limo with a police escort. The Singh Brothers roll out a carpet, and Mahal appears smug as he stands in the parking lot and laughs.
** In the background of the shot with a close-up of Mahal was a WWE truck with faces of legendary performers including Edge, Mick Foley, and Eddie Guerrero. I wonder if that was done intentionally to try to insinuate that Mahal is a future legend. All it really did for me was make me a little disappointed. **
Shane McMahon heads to the ring. Shane informs everyone that Orton will get his WWE Title rematch at Money in the Bank. Shane goes on to begin to introduce the five participants for the 2017 Money in the Bank ladder match. In succession, AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, and Kevein Owens comes out and head to the ring.
Shane stops Owens’ music and says that he’s not the fifth participant, The fifth man in the MitB match is Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura heads to the ring, passing by Owens on his way. Owens is upset. He beat Styles at Backlash, but Styles is in the match and not Owens? Owens accuses Shane of favoritism. He also says that Shane is jealous of Owens because he did something Shane couldn’t: he beat AJ Styles.
Shane tells Owens that he made some good points, so Shane adds Owens as the sixth participant in the match. Baron Corbin tells Owens to stop talking. he also says no one else in the ring has a chance. Styles says that Corbin blows. He says that SmackDown was built on Styles being phenomenal every night.
Zayn starts to talk, but Corbin cuts him off. Corbin says Zayn is the “Rudy” of SmackDown Live and his win at Backlash was a fluke. Zayn says he has no problem beating Corbin again. Owens tells Corbin and Zayn to shut up, but Ziggler tells Owens to shut up. Ziggler reminds everyone that he’s already won a MitB match. Naamura takes the mic from Ziggler and says everyone can just call him “Mr. Money in the Bank.” Shane decides to set up a couple of matches for tonight. First will be Zayn vs Corbin in a rematch, and in the main event will be a tag match with Owens and Ziggler versus Styles and Nakamura.
Natalya & Carmella w/ James Ellsworth, Tamina vs Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch w/ Naomi (SD Women’s Champ)
(referee: Dan Engler)
Result: Becky Lynch forces Carmella to submit to Disarm Her
Time: 4:16 (1 break)
Pretty good match. It was a straightforward tag match with no real surprises, but it seems like it was meant to just give the fans a little satisfaction after the loss Becky and her team suffered at Backlash.
Baron Corbin vs Sami Zayn
(referee: Ryan Tran)
Result: Sami Zayn wins with a schoolboy
This was kind of funny and satisfying, but it wasn’t much of a match.
After the match, Corbin takes out his frustration by attacking Zayn. Corbin uses a chair on Zayn’s back and beats him up throughout the crowd. Corbin ends his attack by hitting Zayn in the head with a series of forearm strikes while Zayn’s head is placed on the top of the ringside barricade.
Styles welcomes Nakamura to SmackDown. He tells Nakamura that he learned from Nakamura in Japan, but tonight Nakamura should follow Styles’ lead. Nakamura says they’re a team tonight, but Nakamura will win at MitB.
In another episode of “Fashion Files,” Breezango turn in their badges to Shane McMahon. They also turn in their guns and a bunch of other stuff. Tyler starts to turn in his pants when Shane stops them. He says Breeze and Fandango each have singles matches against The Usos. Back on the case, Breezango take their stuff and leave.
Jinder Mahal holds his “Punjabi Championship Celebration.” Mahal says that Orton is just like America, he’s on the decline. But Mahal is on the rise. Tonight Mahal celebrates for India. he speaks in Punjabi, fireworks go off, JBL goes nuts, and the segment ends.
** I can’t say I’m a fan of using cultural elements and celebrations when the intended reaction for the fans is to boo. It seems a little disrespectful. It also seems like it’s pandering. **
Lana is still dancing her way to SmackDown Live soon.
Jey Uso (SD Tag Champ) w/ Jimmy Uso (SD Tag Champ) vs Tyler Breeze w/ Fandango
(referee: Mike Chioda)
Result: Tyler Breeze wins via pinfall with a schoolboy
Just like the Zayn vs Corbin match (actually, pretty much exactly like it), this was fun, but it wasn’t really a match.
Jimmy Uso (SD Tag Champ) w/ Jey Uso (SD Tag Champ) vs Fandango w/ Tyler Breeze
(referee: Mike Chioda)
Result: Fandango wins via pinfall with a schoolboy
Same as the previous match. Almost exactly.
After the match, Breezango get on the mic and suggest a title rematch. The Usos want to do it right now, so Chioda gets on a headset and talks with Shane McMahon. Chioda informs Greg Hamilton that the title match has been approved.
SmackDown Tag Title Match
The Usos (SD Tag Champs) vs Breezango
(referee: Mike Chioda)
Result: Jey Uso pins Fandango after a Samoan Splash
The Usos really dominated this match. Tyler Breeze got beat up for the first half, then Fandango came in and did a little better but still got beat up. It was a fine match though, and I think the outcome was good.
Natalya asks Shane McMahon for a SD Women’s Title match. Carmella comes in and wants one instead. Becky Lynch and Tamina follow with the same idea. Charlotte comes in last and makes a case for herself. Shane settles things by saying there will be a fatal five way elimination number one contender match next week.
Brian Kendrick is tired of being disrespected by Akira Tozawa. Tonight on 205 Live Kendrick will teach Tozawa his final lesson. In a street fight.
AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura vs Dolph Ziggler & Kevin Owens (US Champ)
(referee: Jason Ayers)
Result: Shinsuke Nakamura pins Kevin Owens after Kinshasa
Time: 16:57 (2 breaks)
Good match. They gave them a lot of time and I think that really helped make the match feel important. It was interesting. Usually in matches like this there’s one hot tag, but the extended time allowed Styles and Nakamura to both get one. Everyone looked good here and there were some interesting character dynamics.
I liked this show. Mahal’s segment felt anti-climactic and I think Orton being absent was a mistake, but I liked pretty much everything else tonight.
I think it was a bit of a misstep to have three matches consist entirely of a schoolboy. It made sense for the Breezango/Usos matches, but to have Zayn do it as well felt like laziness. It’s not hard to figure out a unique way to have a guy win quickly. That said, I liked all of those segments.
Match of the Night
Styles & Nakamura vs Ziggler & Owens
I could make an argument that the three Breezango/Usos matches consisted of one big match (at least one bug match sequence), but the main event was probably still the better match overall.