WWE SmackDown Live on May 2, 2017
Watch: USA Network, Hulu, WWE Network on a one-month delay
Save Mart Center – Fresno, California
Earlier in the day Jinder Mahal is getting his photo taken with the title when Shane McMahon walks up to tell him that titles are earned, he’ll face Sami Zayn later in the night and he takes the WWE World Championship away to return it to its rightful owner. Shane McMahon walks out to welcome the Chris Jericho to the SmackDown Live crowd. Chris and Shane are talking when AJ Styles’ music hits and he joins in the conversation, Styles reminds Jericho about their former friendship and tag team and he’ll love taking away his US Championship at Backlash if he’s still champion after tonight. Jericho then reminds Styles that at Payback he made Owens tap out and teases putting Styles on the list when Kevin Owens walks in and says that Jericho and Styles arguing about things that don’t matter is the saddest thing he has ever seen in his life. If Jericho thought the Festival of Friendship was bad. wait until tonight, and that Styles isn’t apart of this and should leave, Styles takes issue with that and rushes Owens on the ramp and the two have to be separated.
Jinder Mahal w/ the Singh Brothers vs. Sami Zayn
Mahal beats down on Sami in the beginning minutes of the match but Zayn is able to fight from underneath and outsmart Mahal. Returning from commercial break. the Singh Brothers distracted Zayn and were able to get Mahal back in control and he continues to drop knees onto Zayn, he places Zayn on the top rope for a superplex and gets knocked down but Mahal is able to roll away from Zayn’s splash attempt. Zayn tries to build up some momentum with some clotheslines and a back elbow and lands a crossbody for a two count, it finally looks like Zayn could gain control of the match but the Singh Brothers once again distract him. The Singh Brothers proved to be the thorns in Sami Zayn’s side as they help Mahal manage to win this match, without their help Zayn could’ve won this match.
Becky Lynch walks backstage and sees the rest of the division and they take issue with Becky calling them snakes on Talking Smack. Natalya doesn’t like how Becky isn’t upset that Charlotte has walked into SmackDown Live and already has gotten a title shot, it should be Becky getting title shots since she was the first woman drafted to SmackDown. Becky says that she’ll think about it and the other women leave her.
An extended video promo about Shinsuke Nakamura plays to help build hype for his main roster in-ring debut at Backlash. Dolph Ziggler and others are backstage watching this promo and Ziggler doesn’t like how Nakamura is getting the attention for Backlash and he hasn’t even wrestled yet, Shane overhears and tells Ziggler who he is and the crowd starts chanting, “Nakamura,” during the backstage segment.
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
Aiden English is in the ring and sings his entrance, as he introduces himself as the Drama King and gets interrupted by Tye Dillinger. English attacks Dillinger from behind and yells at him that no one interrupts the artiste. Dillinger quickly gains control of the match and makes this a squash match that helps show off Dillinger to the crowd and they show some good reaction to his moves and victory.
Chris Jericho is interviewed backstage and asked what he has to do to make sure he walks out still champion. A crying Aiden English walks by and Jericho tells him he has nothing to cry about, life is good on SmackDown Live then tells him what happens when people cry on Jericho’s show and puts English and Renee Young on the list.
Charlotte is interviewed backstage about her welcoming committee last week interrupting her match and she says they can’t stop the inevitable, winning the SmackDown Women’s Championship is her destiny. Her welcoming committee walks in and attack Charlotte, throwing her into hardware storage boxes right before their match.
Naomi & Charlotte vs. Natalya & Carmella w/ James Ellsworth & Tamina
The bell rings without Charlotte present and Naomi is fast to lay in hard kicks to Carmella and showboating to the audience to positive crowd reaction. Natalya tags in and Naomi shows off more moves before Natalya reverses her baseball slide and slams Naomi’s head into the steel steps. Now the heel team have the upper hand with Carmella putting Naomi in a headlock but the crowd claps, getting behind Naomi, and she tries to make a comeback but it’s cut short when Carmella pulls Naomi down to the mat by her hair. Natalya kicks Naomi down into the corner and both crash into each other with crossbodies, while both women are on the ground recovering Charlotte’s music hits and she limps down to the ring. Charlotte steals the spotlight once she officially tags in and starts beating on her enemies.
Note: Alex’s power went out at this point in the show so I, Corwo, will be stepping in to help out.
For the most part, the match was straightforward post-Charlotte’s entrance. Naomi made a brief comeback. and just as she was on the cusp of victory, a distraction from Ellsworth allowed Carmella to roll her up for the win. Post-match, Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella attacked Charlotte and Naomi, but Becky Lynch made the save before they could do any significant damage. Becky feigned an alliance with her adversaries before shoving Ellsworth into Tamina. The match was unspectacular, but I felt that the segment worked as a whole. The newly-aligned trio of Carmella, Natalya, and Tamina came off as a threat within the women’s division, and a victory over the SmackDown Women’s champion – albeit under controversial circumstances – puts Carmella on the fast track to title contention.
A vignette hyping The New Day’s SmackDown Live debut aired.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sin Cara
I’ve often been critical of squash matches in WWE. The majority teeter-totter between a concise 50-50 back and forth and a full-blown showcase. A lack of commitment to one style can make the action feel disjointed, and that was the case here. Sin Cara ended up getting much more offense in than anticipated, which made for several impressive displays of athleticism. After a series of meaningless momentum swings, Ziggler picked up the win with a Superkick.
Another vignette aired, indicating that Lana will be coming to SmackDown Live soon.
Noam Dar cut a brief backstage promo on Rich Swann, who he will face later tonight on 205 Live.
A Law & Order-esque parody titled “The Fashion Files” with Tyler Breeze and Fandango aired. They ran down The Usos’ crimes, which included “Jey-walking (and Jimmy-walking),” and indicated they intend to capture the SmackDown Tag Team Championships at Backlash. I like that Breezango is receiving more character development, and the segment was entertaining without veering too far into “campy” territory.
WWE United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Per the orders of SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon, AJ Styles is banned from ringside. Things are personal between Jericho and Owens at this point, so you knew this one wasn’t going to start with a collar-and-elbow tie up. Early on, Jericho does some nifty work on Owens’ left hand, which carried over from their Payback. In some ways, I was let down by the WrestleMania match because even though both competitors worked diligently, I never felt like the match hit another gear. But, that was not the case here. Jericho and Owens built a match around counters, playing up their history together at every corner. Jericho was unable to regroup after a DDT on the floor, and Owens cemented himself as the better man by reclaiming the United States title with a Pop-up Powerbomb. My only complaint is that the hot-potato title change at Payback seemed aimless in the grand scheme of things. A very good effort from both parties and an appropriate swan song for Jericho.
In typical Kevin Owens fashion, he placed the United States title on the ramp, returned to the ring to assault Jericho with a chair, then left. The show ended with a shot of Owens looking back on his fallen former best friend, making his way up the ramp to a chorus of boos.
WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE ON MAY 2, 2017
Average - 5.8/10
This week's edition of SmackDown Live was an average outing highlighted by a very good main event for the United States Championship. The storyline advancement in the early portions of the show was serviceable, but Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens and the post-match angle are appointment viewing.