Hello, and welcome to the next episode of Smackdown Live! In this episode, Mike Kanellis makes his debut against Sami Zayn in a singles match, the Punjabi Prison gets reintroduced and the fate of Tully gets decided in this week’s Fashion Files! The main event looks stacked so let’s get stuck in!
Jinder Mahal Reintroduces the Punjabi Prison
Jinder Mahal is introduced to the crowd by The Singh Brothers to rapturous boos, as expected. They make their way down to the already constructed Punjabi Prison (or at least the inner section), once they get inside the outer section is put in place. Jinder introduces it and dictates to the crowd that The Singh Brothers are going to run through the rules (which they do, with a lot of aggressive yelling to the poor referees!).
Jinder then goes on his weekly onslaught towards Randy Orton and America. He included a promise to “Khallas (Jinder’s finishing move) Orton from the top of the Punjabi Prison”, and then states “I will now address MY people in MY language of Punjabi.” Orton interrupts Jinder’s address halfway through. I don’t know if it’s just me, but you can definitely tell that Orton has been using the promo lessons he undoubtedly learnt from Bray Wyatt when he was a part of The Wyatt Family as he is as vague and ambiguously threatening as ever. This is shaping up to be a decent matchup.
I’m excited for this match! I didn’t watch wrestling that much when the first Punjabi Prison was around, as I took a roughly 10 year break from it (with only WrestleManias, Royal Rumbles and the games!) so I’m interested to see their tactics for the match. It remains to be seen whether The Singh Brothers will be involved, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were hidden under the ring the whole time.
Match One: Jimmy Uso (with Jey Uso) vs Kofi Kingston (with Big E and Xavier Woods)
Alright, as much as I loved the Rap Battle between The Usos and The New Day, they’re just recycling clips from last week now with similar commentary. The match starts off with Kofi on the offensive, and he comedically does a “one-man Unicorn Stampede”, as he stomps, gets out of the ring, goes around the ringpost, enters then stomps again! He finishes off the move with a running dropkick and pins Jimmy for the one count.
Kingston then twerks in the face of Jimmy and lunges forward in anger before getting dumped over the top rope. Now for something impressive: Kofi fakes a suicide dive but stays suspended over the ropes, dry-humping the ropes before rolling forward onto Jimmy much to the crowd’s applause, a very impressive move.
Now for something annoying! WWE minimised the match and several adverts took over most of the screen. I know it’s meant to allow us to watch the match whilst there are adverts, but it’s just irritating, I find, and I can’t really focus on the match whilst 70% of the screen is filled with some ghastly car advert! After a bit more back and forth, Jey Uso climbs up on the ring to distract Kofi but gets scared off by Big E and Woods. Kofi hits Jimmy with a diving crossbody as Jimmy rolls him through, to hold on for the win.
Winners: Jimmy Uso (with Jey Uso).
A decent match! Albeit you couldn’t see half of it properly for the adverts (grumble grumble) but now the wins are at one apiece. Heading into Battleground, the spoils are shared evenly! The Usos have been incredible since their heel turn and The New Day taking a couple of months out of ringtime has done them wonders. I don’t think I was alone is thinking that seeing them on our screens every week for a couple of years was getting a bit stale.
Next, we have the a classic recent Smackdown Live trope, Becky and Charlotte on one side of Shane, with Natalya, Tamina and now Lana on the other side. Natalya recommends Charlotte and Becky to face off, after both requesting that they face Lana. Tamina maintains the weird daddy-little relationship she has with Lana by defending her.
Angle and Jason Jordan Aftermath: Chad Gable Interview
Hoooooo wee! What a surprise that was. I’m sure everybody was thinking Chad Gable but NOPE. Jason Jordan was announced as the biological son of WWE Great and current RAW GM, Kurt Angle!
Renee Young is interviewing Chad Gable and Gable sums it up with “Yeah… Uh what?” Our thoughts exactly Gable. Gable plays the role of the broken family member, saying that a heads-up would’ve been nice before the bombshell and his subsequent move to RAW, adding that he was quite upset as he knew something was wrong but didn’t tell him until after the news. Renee asks what’s next for Gable, and he just says, “I have some ideas”. Lovely. Here’s hoping he steps out into the spotlight now!
Match Two: Mike Kanellis vs Sami Zayn
The ooey-gooey couple of Maria and Mike Kanellis make their semi-in-ring debut (Maria has yet to make her debut in her second stint with the company) against Sami Zayn. This is after a few weeks of goofiness from Zayn, apparently, upsetting Maria and Mike.
Sami starts off very strong, maintaining an offensive mindset with the 10 counted punches in the corner after another ten in a quick flurry and a quick clothesline after Kanellis exited the ring. I like how aggro Zayn is being! Maria Kanellis gets into the ring to protect her husband just as Zayn is lining up his Helluva Kick and distracts him enough for Mike to hit a wicked right punch and follow that up with a lovely Samoan Driver, nicely executed. Mike pins Zayn for the win and a debut win against a superstar like Sami Zayn is as impressive a debut as any.
I’ve been a fan of Sami Zayn for as long as I’ve seen him wrestle, but he was always lacking that extra edge. I can’t see him turning heel for obvious reasons but the early aggression he showed was a welcome change. Unfortunately, he lost the match but I certainly hope we see more of that attitude! I wouldn’t necessarily say Mike Kanellis’ debut was impressive, but his finisher was impressive and he picked up the win, so what do I know?
John Cena and the Flag Match
John Cena enters the ring and starts off his promo by bigging up the whole Battleground PPV, including Shinsuke, the Punjabi Prison, the Women’s Revolution continuing and, of course, his Flag Match.
“In one corner, the flag of Bulgaria” (booooooooooooo), “In the other, the flag of the United States of America” (yayyyyyyyyyyyyy, USA USA USA!). Christ, this couldn’t be anymore America even if Captain America was drinking Bud Light whilst having a front-garden BBQ with Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth and the Twinkies Mascot in attendance.
Not much to say other than this was the most American 7 minutes I can remember in recent WWE memory and seems to end with Big Match John waving the flag of America before Based RuRu enters with a superkick and locks in the accolade to the booing Anti-Anything-UnAmerican crowd. BMJ manages to stand up (“the pride to fight for his country!”) but Rusev muscles him back down. Cena tries once again to stand up, but the Accolade is locked in too deep. Rusev takes the flag of Bulgaria and plants it on the finish line as Cena lies motionless in the ring.
As previously mentioned, it was BMJ’s classic Mega American speeches and motivation that are interrupted by the big bad foreign baddy! Rusev is looking incredible and I can’t wait for him to make his Smackdown Live! debut at Battleground!
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura
The segment opens with AJ asking Shinsuke if they want to talk tactics for their tag-team match later tonight, but Shinsuke makes his desires to hold the US Championship clear, in classical Nakamura fashion “One day, you call, I answer”. What a match that would be. Their match at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo on January 4th 2016 was nothing short of, ahem, phenomenal. Now on the biggest stage of Sports Entertainment, I sincerely hope they’ll be able to pull off another blinder.
Match Three: Charlotte vs Becky Lynch
Natalya is down at ringside as guest commentator for the match she suggested to Shane McMahon.
Charlotte is showcasing some very impressive athleticism, such as 3 backflips after he counters a Lynch charge into the corner, and a pin attempt with a spider-bridge á la Wyatt. Cue another several adverts with muted wrestling. I would honestly rather just normal adverts because watching the match on a small screen with muted commentary and terrible adverts is beyond infuriating. The match gets taken to the outside as Becky mounts an offense (grunts and all). After showing the Women’s Champion, Naomi, watching on keenly, a Becksploder Suplex gets a 2 count. Lynch seamlessly counters a Natural Selection into the Dis-Arm-Her which Charlotte breaks out off and manages to get into a moonsault position. Lynch dodges this and locks in her Dis-Arm-Her once again for the win.
Charlotte begrundgingly congratulates her as Tamina comes out. Both Lynch and Charlotte are ready to defend themselves as Natalya comes from behind and attacks Lynch. Natalya then turns on Tamina and Lana before getting a swift superkick from Tamina.
Considering Charlotte gloated that she “always comes out on top” against Lynch, it seemed destined she would lose. I couldn’t make out a winner for any angle leading up the Battleground, but the match was decent and it was good to see Lynch come out on top for once against the, arguably, superior Charlotte. Tom Phillips highlights that there will be betrayals galore in the Battleground match up. I can’t wait for Lana to win and to have enough salt for my fish and chips for the next 2 years!
Naomi Interview ft. Lana
Naomi states that she is ready for whoever wins the Fatal Five Way Elimination match, and will be the first to “personally congratulate” the new #1 contender in anticipation of their match at SummerSlam. Carmella meanders in with her Money In The Bank briefcase, issuing a warning that “wherever you go, my MITB contract and I go, so I guess we’ll be seeing you at Battleground”. Is Carmella going to cash it in? I doubt it, but it’s good they’re not forgetting about it.
The Fashion “X” Files: The Truth Is Not H
Time for my favourite segment of Smackdown Live! What will happen in this episode? Will they find Tully? Will they find out who trashed their HQ? What amazing outfits will they wear this time?
“Don’t sully my search for Tully, Agent Skully”, Fandango quips, his heart aching for his glorious steed. Breeze states that they don’t need to bother themselves with aliens or ghosts, much as Zak Ryder said last week. Fandango retorts that it could be a “sophisticated web of deceit”, namedropping the infamous Illuminati, as well as ghosts and aliens. “Woooo, woooooooo, wooooooooooo!”, they investigate behind a curtain to see that it’s only Aiden English warming up his pipes, before a bright light shines from above “Dango, you were right! They’re here! I wanna meet ET, and Elf, and Max Moon, and Chewbacca… I’m ready for my close encounter!”. A Delivery Guy comes in and Fandango maintains the act, adamant he’s an alien. “You’re so life-like, do you breathe air?”. Breeze signs the package and opens it up. He recoils. Fandango opens it up to see his once-noble steed torn up, with a note that simply says “Battleground.”.
I honestly cannot wait. My thoughts on who it could be include The Hype Bros in a heel turn, but I can see it being The Colóns… I hope to god it isn’t.
Main Event: AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin
The main event is a tag-match bringing together two separate rivalries in AJ Styles and Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin, so this should be a great match!
AJ Styles makes his entrance, and as Nakamura is making his entrance, Corbin comes running down, aiming a swing of his briefcase at Nakamura’s head which he evades. Kevin Owens joins in and AJ Styles runs down to help his tag-mate (totally not upset I didn’t hear Owens or Corbin’s theme tune).
AJ Styles goes to hit a plancha-style forearm but connects with a brutal right hook from the 3-time Golden Glove Champion. He tags in KO and they hit at the same time, KO shouting “Oh simultaneous, did you see that!?”. AJ manages to tag Nakamura in after an offensive by Owens and starts off strong, before Corbin, holding down the ropes, makes Nakamura tip to the outside changes the match around.
Corbin and Owens are working together surprisingly well, with frequent tags and hard hits. After a brief fightback, Shinsuke gets planted with a picture perfect Deep Six, it looked like that could’ve been the winner had it not been for Styles breaking up the pincount. Both superstars tag in their partners that start brawling instantly. Styles goes to hit his Ushigorshi but couldn’t muster the strength to lift up KO, who counters with a thunderous clothesline. The match ends with AJ looking to hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Corbin but has his legs swept by KO, who then dumps Nakamura over the announcement area with Corbin. Corbin throws Styles back into the ring, looking for his End of Days but isn’t able to hit it. Owens comes into the ring and plants Styles with a Pop-Up Powerbomb for the pin.
It’s always a great idea to bring together 2 rivalries featuring 4 of the best superstars on the current roster, and this match didn’t disappoint! Kevin Owen is sporting a trimmer physique and I was surprised at how well KO and Corbin worked together! I think a reason I love KO so much is his humour in the ring. Everybody’s seen the clip of his choking Roman Reigns and baiting the crowd, with Reigns trying his hardest not to laugh before hiding a smile, he just brings an extra edge into the ring. You just know he’s going to say something that’ll give you a laugh! Kevin Owens pinning Styles prior to their match at Battleground teases an exciting match up, and Corbin personally made sure he put Nakamura through some pain this match.
Alongside the 2 shock wins (Mike Kanellis and Becky Lynch) and poor Tully getting sent back to Fandango, desecrated in a postal box, this was an above average episode. The Main Event was the best match for me! The Punjabi Prison promo and the Flag Match promo were both too similar to what’s happened in recent weeks, apart from that they showcased key elements of both match ups this week instead. Zayn and Kanellis seem destined for a dead-end feud (I wonder which Women’s Superstar will join forces with Zayn for their inevitable mixed tag match?) and there’s still no further explanation to why Tamina is aligning herself with Lana, even though she left her in the ring in this episode.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode and review! Let me know in the comments down below what your favourite part was!