It was a very good wrestling show on Smackdown this week. If you read my Raw reviews regularly, then you know that sometimes I struggle to try to make sense of whatever the hell they’re trying to do some weeks.
Raw will have one or two great segments, but then there’s like an hour of filler. Since Smackdown is two hours compared to Raw’s three, they usually do a better job of making the most of their time. That’s exactly what happened this week.
Shane McMahon named himself the captain of Smackdown’s Survivor Series team
The opening of Smackdown featured Commissioner Shane McMahon talking about how Raw has been around longer and seen as the more important show, so that’s why Smackdown chose to do the #UnderSiege attack two weeks ago. Shane said they have tried to show people that Smackdown is the better show. He thanked the fans for all of their support.
Shane noted that Raw will have “hell to pay” for Kane’s attack in a darkened room on Smackdown’s general manager Daniel Bryan. He added that his sister Stephanie and Kurt Angle showed no concern for Bryan as they put him on a stretcher and wheeled him out of there.
In response to Kurt Angle being named the captain of Raw’s five-man team at Survivor Series, Shane announced he’ll be the captain of Team Smackdown as well. The promo ended there with Shane saying let’s get the show started.
It was so weird seeing an opening show promo without an interruption, but that’s what he got. Shane hit on all the key points. The big news was that he’s going to be a part of Smackdown’s team at Survivor Series. What does that mean? I think Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are going to cost Smackdown the match, which will further their issues with Shane in the weeks and months ahead.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) November 1, 2017
Speaking of Owens and Zayn, they had a backstage segment during the show with Zayn complaining about how Randy Orton used a low blow to beat him last week. Zayn also pointed out that on a show that talks about the “land of opportunities,” it seems like opportunities keep going to Shane McMahon. Owens reassured him by saying that after he beats Nakamura and leads Team Smackdown to a victory at Survivor Series, they are going to run things there and Zayn seemed happy about it.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Kevin Owens to earn a spot on Team Smackdown at Survivor Series
Nakamura and Owens had a very good match in the main event. There were a lot of believable near-falls in the match for Owens, like when he hit a cradle suplex off the top rope leading to a two-count. Then there was the Frog Splash by Owens which the crowd bought as a believable finish as well. When you can set up spots like that where the crowd buys into the idea that the match may end at any time, it really builds up the excitement leading to what should be a hot finish.
Sami Zayn made his way to ringside during the match, so Owens told him to clear off the announce table so they could put Nakamura through it. The problem was that Randy Orton’s music played. I don’t like seeing somebody else’s music and entrance play during a match, but it’s a distraction technique that WWE likes to do sometimes. Orton showed up at ringside, hit Zayn with a back suplex on the announce table (not strong enough to break it) and then Nakamura capitalized with a kick to the distracted Owens. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike to Owens to win the match, leading to Nakamura joining Team Smackdown at Survivor Series.
It was a fun match that the crowd loved with Nakamura picking up the victory. I like the Orton/Nakamura vs. Owens/Zayn rivalry that has been building. Any combination of those guys should lead to exciting matches. They are the kind of heel opponents who would be good for Orton, especially after the rough year he’s had in terms of bad feuds with Bray Wyatt and Jinder Mahal.
The loss for Owens means that he and Zayn are not on Smackdown’s team at Survivor Series. That should lead to the two of them doing something to cost their team the victory in the match. Since Smackdown won last year, it makes sense for Raw to win this year. I’ll save my specific prediction for the end of this column.
This Week’s Smackdown Live Matches
Here’s a look at the other matches on this week’s Smackdown.
Bobby Roode defeated Dolph Ziggler to earn a spot on Team Smackdown at Survivor Series
This was a 2 out of 3 falls match that felt like the end of this rivalry. Ziggler got the first fall with a sweet looking superkick early on. Roode got the second fall after sending Ziggler into the steel post with a slingshot leading to the pin. That wasn’t a great spot for a pin, but it worked okay.
The third fall led to some cool moments including Ziggler hitting his sometimes finishing move, the Zig Zag, for a believable near-fall as Roode managed to get his shoulder up. Each man went for a rollup with the tights because that’s how their previous two televised matches ended. Roode ended up hitting his Glorious DDT for the win. It was their best television match so far. Getting 12 minutes helped them, but also just building up to the finish well and not having a cheap rollup ending helped too.
Roode did a promo post-match about being on Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. He said that at Survivor Series it will be Smackdown up and Raw down. Surprisingly, he didn’t say “glorious” to end the promo.
Baron Corbin vs. Sin Cara ended in a no contest
Third straight week for this match. It was not for Corbin’s US Title, even though Cara beat him by countout and disqualification.
The story of the match was about Corbin trying to rip off Sin Cara’s mask, but Sin Cara kept preventing it. After a couple of minutes, Sin Cara had enough of it and kept on punching Corbin when they were outside the ring. The ref wasn’t really counting them out, but he lost control of the match and called for the bell. Call it a “No Contest” finish, I guess. Sin Cara threw a chair at Corbin, but Corbin ran away through the crowd.
Later in the show, Sin Cara was interviewed and talked about how hard he worked to get that mask. He talked about the pride involved with a luchador wearing a mask. It was a good way of him putting over how important it is to him and how disrespectful it was for Corbin to try to take it off.
In case you forgot or didn’t know, Sin Cara is the guy who used to wrestle as Hunico without a mask in WWE. He took over the mask after the original Sin Cara (former Mistico) was let go because it wasn’t working out.
AJ Styles defeated Samir Singh and was attacked by Jinder Mahal
Prior to the match, Jinder Mahal said he would be the “Beast Master” after he beats Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. Please don’t let him use that nickname. It’s almost as bad as “King Slayer” and some of the others. Wrestlers from 20 and 30 years ago had way better nicknames than the guys of today.
Styles beat Samir in about one minute with the Styles Clash, similar to beating Sunil easily last week.
Post-match, Jinder Mahal attacked Styles before he could defend himself. It was an attack full of stomps and punches to keep Styles down. Mahal hit Styles with The Khallas finishing move (full nelson slam). Styles sold it so well with a hard bump. When Styles was about to get up, Mahal hit The Khallas again and that kept Styles down. This was well done because it made Mahal look dominant as a cheap heel who attacked a guy before he could defend himself. Styles sells everything so well that he can even make Jinder look good!
The next Smackdown PPV is called Clash of Champions on Dec. 17. That should be where they do Mahal vs. Styles for the WWE Title. I hope there’s a title change there too, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.
Rusev defeated Big E, who was dressed as Akeem
This match was set up after The New Day trio were backstage celebrating Halloween when Aiden English and Rusev told them it was Rusev Day. That led to Rusev destroying the Halloween candy, which upset Big E and led to a match.
The New Day trio dressed as Brother Love, Akeem and Jimmy Hart for Halloween. It was amazing. Check out the image that Kofi Kingston posted on Twitter about it. It’s amazing!
Another fun match on this show as Rusev controlled the early portion of it, Big E made the comeback with his belly-to-belly suplexes as well as the big splash and English caused a distraction by singing about Rusev Day at ringside. Xavier Woods played the trombone, English went after him and Kingston was on the apron distracting the ref. English went in the ring, Big E hit the Big Ending and that allowed Rusev to capitalize with a superkick to the back of Big E’s head to win.
Cheap win for the heel Rusev, but it’s fine because he’s a singles wrestler who should win a match like that. I also like his pairing with English since they are obnoxious heels that know how to get heat.
Happy Rusev Day… again. I think it’s every day.
Other Key Items From Smackdown
1. The women of Smackdown argued about things
There was no time for a women’s match this week, so the women of Smackdown (along with dog barking James Ellsworth) were in a backstage segment. Team captain Becky Lynch gave her team of Naomi, Charlotte Flair, Carmella and Tamina (with Lana) a pep talk about Survivor Series. Some of them were in their ring gear even though they had no match, which is always weird to me.
Natalya appeared with the Women’s Title on her shoulder noting she’ll represent Smackdown against Alexa Bliss. Natalya said that every team has a weak link, so she wondered if it would be Naomi or Charlotte. Natalya told Charlotte that if they lose, then it’s going to be Charlotte’s fault.
I think Smackdown’s women will win with Charlotte getting the victory for her team. She has been in the background for most of her run on Smackdown, so I think it’s time to ramp up her push.
2. An episode of “Strangerer Things” aired with a mystery attack
The Breezango duo and The Ascension were in this skit along with Tye Dillinger briefly. I don’t watch Stranger Things, so I don’t get any of the references they made. Konnor of The Ascension was dressed like Kane, so the others did a mock attack on him thinking it was a Raw invasion, but then Konnor revealed that it was him.
The lights went out in the room and then there was a picture of The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) on the wall with the light shining on that. There was some briefcase in the room that had some sheep mask thing (like Rowan wears) that said “let the games begin.”
Bring on a feud between The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Breezango. I almost forget Breezango are wrestlers since they are rarely featured in matches.
3. A Smackdown Tag Team Title match was announced for next week
The Usos did an interview backstage talking about facing Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose at Survivor Series. They were interrupted by Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, who earned a Tag Title match a few weeks ago. Chad and Shelton informed them that the title match is next week. Chad and Shelton pointed out that Smackdown’s champions will face Seth and Dean so if they win the titles next week, then it’s their match. It should be an awesome tag match next week.
Looking Ahead to WWE Survivor Series
The next WWE pay-per-view is Survivor Series on Nov. 19 in Houston featuring Raw and Smackdown. Here are the announced matches so far.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion Jinder Mahal
Raw’s 5 men (Kurt Angle is the captain of the team with Braun Strowman and three more) vs. Smackdown’s 5 men (Shane McMahon is the captain with Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura and one more)
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. United States Champion Baron Corbin
Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos
Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Natalya
Raw’s 5 women (Alicia Fox is the captain with Nia Jax) vs. Smackdown’s 5 women (Becky Lynch is the captain with Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Tamina and Carmella)
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Enzo Amore vs. Kalisto – It was announced on 205 Live this week.
I’m not sure if there will be more matches added or if they plan on doing just six matches in a four-hour show.
Good show from top to bottom. I thought the Owens/Nakamura and Roode/Ziggler matches were both above average. Rusev vs. Big E was very entertaining for a match that only went about seven minutes. Shane’s promo to start the show had a big announcement with him on the Survivor Series team. The Mahal attack on Styles was effective as well. This was one of the better Smackdowns in the last few months.
I mentioned it in the Raw review, but here are the expected teams for Survivor Series: Team Raw has Kurt Angle, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe vs. Team Smackdown with Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles. If I had to make a prediction right now, I think Raw wins with Reigns and Strowman as the survivors. Perhaps Kane will take out Strowman, but I think it’s smarter to put over Strowman.
Next week’s Smackdown has Styles vs. Rusev with the winner joining Team Smackdown at Survivor Series and The Usos defending the Smackdown Tag Team Titles against Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable. Both of those matches should be very good.