WWE SmackDown Live 04/18/17 features a “six-pack challenge” to determine the new number one contender for the WWE Championship. So, don’t even get me started on how weird the field is in this match. Orton is the “babyface” champion right now – set to face Wyatt at the Raw PPV Backlash in just under two weeks. Yeah, that makes no sense, but bear with me.
There is an almost zero chance that Wyatt wins and leaves SmackDown with no top title. Plus, it’s Orton. And Bray Wyatt. So, yeah. Orton wins, LOL. Meanwhile, WWE blew a chance to put SmackDown’s top guy (aka – AJ Styles) into the WWE Championship picture by having him become the number one contender to Kevin Owens’ United States Championship – after Payback. That’s right, another SmackDown title is getting defended at the “Raw exclusive” PPV because WWE sucks at planning. Likewise, Jericho is going on Summer vacation with his band soon there is an almost zero chance he wins the title back – especially with Brock Lesnar already putting the Universal Championship on a Summer break.
So, what is the field for this #1 Contender Six-Pack Challenge you ask? Well, Baron Corbin has to be in there, right? Nah. The only “heels” in the field are Ziggler (now in a feud with Nakamura), Erick Rowan (who essentially is Orton’s personal squash victim), and Jinder Mahal. Yeah. The faces are Luke Harper (used sparingly on TV since before WrestleMania), Sami Zayn (who took the pin the U.S. Title Number One Contender mach), and Mojo Rawley (oh God, please no).
See? Wow. Logic dictates that if they go with a heel, Mahal wins. And if they go with a face, Mojo wins. I shudder to think about which snap decision is made on tonight’s show. Anyway, let’s get to it.
WWE SmackDown Live 04/18/17 Recap
In Memory of Matthew “Rosey” Anoa’i (1970 – 2017). Another one gone way too young.
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open with a dramatic video package that highlights all of the new pickups for the blue brand including Tye Dillinger, Shinsuke Nakamura, Charlotte Flair, and Kevin Owens.
No SmackDown Live credits, no pyro, and we’re sent directly to the crowd (live in Louisville). Tom welcomes us to the show and Charlotte Flair’s music hits. She hits the ring and cuts a promo saying that she’s already been here seven days and has had no title shot. She’s losing her patience and surmises that Bryan and Shane McMahon are on an early summer vacation. Nah, maybe they’re mainlining the Fast and Furious films? Either way, Charlotte should have a title shot and WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?
She’s interrupted by Naomi. The champ puts over SmackDown and tells Charlotte that we don’t have “Kings” or “Queens” here. We do have champions and Charlotte is looking right at one. Naomi hates to see Charlotte out here begging so she’s going to give Charlotte what she wants right here, right now. Naomi blasts Charlotte with a fist, totally jumps her, and tosses Charlotte out of the ring. Charlotte tries to get back in, kicks at a ref while doing so, and is kicked back down off the apron by Naomi.
Shane’s music hits and he’s out. He gets that cheap Louisville pop and says that we’ll see Charlotte and Naomi fight later tonight. If Charlotte can best Naomi in a one on one match, she’ll become the Number One Contender, and face Naomi on next week’s show. After Shane leaves, Charlotte jumps Naomi and tosses her from the ring. Naomi gets back in the ring, brawls with Charlotte, and tosses her from the ring. That’s a lot of people getting tossed out of the ring for an opening segment that isn’t leading up to the Royal Rumble!
Up next? That bizarre Six-Pack Challenge (spoiler alert: it ends badly).
Back from break, Natalya is backstage and she is not happy. Shane appears and Nattie cuts a promo on him for not receiving the same opportunities that Charlotte has been given despite only being here for a week. Shane explains that Nattie had her title shot at WrestleMania, but Nattie isn’t having it. Carmellsworth appear and they say that they actually agree with Nattie – Charlotte shouldn’t be getting a Number One Contender shot already. This devolves into Ellsworth annoying Nattie until Tamina enters and she too takes issue with Shane. Natalya calms the situation and says she has a plan that is different from “management’s” plan and everyone should leave with her to go talk about it. Shane looks confused as they leave.
Time to see how far the once mighty SmackDown wants to fall… it’s Six-Pack Challenge time! Ziggler is out first, followed by Rowan (w/ rarely heard entrance theme), Jinder Mahal (w/ veins), Mojo Rawley (w/out Gronk), Luke Harper (w/ Swamp Gas), and lastly Sami Zayn.
Match #1: Dolph Ziggler vs. Erick Rowan vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Luke Harper vs. Sami Zayn (Six-Pack Challenge to Determine the Number One Contender to the WWE Championship)
Man, where to even begin with this disaster. First off, this match becomes “near fall: the wrestling match”, since it quickly devolves into a series of near falls as guys almost keep beating another guy – but nah – match continues. There is a hilarious spot where everyone is up on the corners setting up for superplexes and you can see the ref freaking out as two by two guys go crashing to the ground. Someone clearly watched Raw’s main event last night. But, other than that, this match was an absolute mess. I figured going in that Mahal would win and sure enough, that “pulled straight out of thin air” booking decision is what they went with. Zayn finally sets Mahal up for a Helluva Kick and the Bollywood Boyz appear and hold his legs back. That gives Mahal enough time to hit Zayn with some sort of half nelson slam and get the win. This makes absolutely zero sense.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – How’s your “A Show” now, SmackDown Live fans? I get “building new stars” but seriously, doing so by jet packing a guy to a top title shot when he lost a squash to Balor last week seems like the least effective way to do this. The lone bright side to this will be the heel Bollywood Boyz as Mahal’s henchmen, but man, what a let down this was.
Predictably, the crowd is having none of this and boos Mahal out of the building while Renee Young attempts to interview him after the match. Mahal cuts a promo on Americans and America… and imagine if he just won a shot at winning the United States title instead. This would sort of make sense, but here it seems tone-deaf and weird. The Bollywood Boyz are not included in this and throughout the night are only mentioned in passing, so I don’t even know if they’re sticking around.
Randy Orton’s music hits to a pop and he’s out. Orton claims that all Mahal has won is an RKO from the champ. Of course, because this is post-Mania 2017 WWE, Orton literally shifts gears and starts cutting a “House of Horrors” promo at Bray Wyatt, while looking at Jinder Mahal. That moment alone sums up the complete chaos we’re watching unfold right now.
Before long, Wyatt appears in his smoky room and we see a pre-taped vignette with the usual Wyatt-speak over images of Randy burning down Bray’s house that one time. This just sort of ends like most Wyatt pre-tapes do and we never see Orton or Mahal again.
Later tonight? Naomi vs. Charlotte.
Up next? We take a look at Shinsuke Nakamura – but just a look. He’s not actually going to wrestle tonight. They even refer to him as an “artist” or something like that which – man, they really have no idea how to book this guy, do they?
Back from break, a “New Day are coming soon” video package airs.
Next, we get a video package on Nakamura.
Meanwhile, AJ is backstage with Renee. AJ claims he’s got the home field advantage no matter who wins the U.S. Title at Payback because SmackDown is the “House that AJ Styles” built. Baron Corbin interrupts and acts like Renee wanted to talk him. She doesn’t and says she’s talking to AJ because he won the number one contender match last week. Corbin mentions that AJ didn’t pin him and he initially was the one who challenged Owens for the title in the first place. AJ says that he’d be happy to give Corbin an encore tonight. Corbin laughs and tells AJ that he “asked for this”.
Meanwhile, Charlotte is backstage… walking. She happens upon Nattie, Carmellsworth, and Tamina blocking her path. They’re all sarcastic to Charlotte and as she walks past them Nattie bumps into her shoulder.
Back from break, Charlotte is out first. Naomi is out last.
Match #2: Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi (If Charlotte Wins She Becomes the Number One Contender
The obvious thing here would be “new vaguely heel faction of disgruntled people” to interfere to cost Charlotte the spot. That doesn’t happen, so I totally expect Nattie, or Carmella, or Ellsworth, or Tamina to cost Charlotte the title on next week’s show. I mean, maybe. The other part of me feels that having Charlotte go over clean in this match tonight with Natural Selection over the champion means they’re fast-tracking the title onto Charlotte. That very well may be the case. It seems like they’re doing something similar with Bliss on Raw, so if they don’t put the title on Charlotte next week, I’ll be shocked if she’s not champion after Backlash.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – The match here is okay. Charlotte and Naomi haven’t worked together too much yet and that sort of showed here. It wasn’t clunky by any stretch, but I’ve seen both look better than this. I’m withholding judgment on Charlotte seemingly positioned to have yet another title run until it happens. The way WWE has been so unpredictable lately, to the point it’s detracting from the shows, makes me believe the obvious thing may not be what actually happens.
Later tonight? Corbin vs. Styles is our main event.
Meanwhile, American Alpha are backstage… walking!
Back from break, the hosts from Team Ninja Warrior are in the crowd and they’re clearly hyped up on 5 Hour Energy.
Meanwhile, Charlotte is backstage… walking. She encounters the “vaguely heelish faction of disgruntled people” and “woo”s at them.
Back in the ring, Primo and Epico “The Shining Stars never happened, ever” Colon are already in the ring. Yeah, that’s right, they’ve always been Primo and Epico Colon. Shining Stars? What’s that? Sounds like something from the Owl Brand. American Alpha are out next.
Match #3: American Alpha vs. Primo Colon & Epico Colon
I hate to say it, because the booking is still shock for the sake of shock, but this was possibly the best match on this show. Alpha does their normal thing with Gable going in peril until the Jordan hot tag. However, this time the Colons flip the script and use a Primo kick from the apron behind the ref’s back to allow Epico to get the roll up win on Jordan.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Not bad. I’m not so hot on the Colons winning out of nowhere like this, but I am digging this “scorched earth” policy that WWE seems to have with the Shining Stars gimmick because that really was the worst. Also, I liked the Shining Stars theme better than this new Colons theme. It seriously sounds like an unfinished production demo of the Shining Stars theme. Work on that, WWE.
Next, we see footage of Mahal winning the six-pack challenge earlier on the show. The Bollywood Boyz are mentioned again here so hopefully they did get called up to be Mahal’s minions.
Up next? It’s time for the Kevin Owens “Face of America Open Challenge”. This show is almost over so either this is going to be short, or the main event will be extra short. I’m assuming this Owens thing will be a joke even though my Twitter feed thinks the person Owens faces will be either Tye, Shinsuke, Shelton Benjamin, or Mike Bennett.
Meanwhile, “Dancing Lana” is a thing and is coming soon to SmackDown. Oh boy.
Back from break, Tye Dillinger is backstage with Dasha. Why have an interview segment when Tye can just send us to a pre-taped vignette about himself. Why? The production decisions on this show after the “Shake-Up” are just mind bending.
Owens is out next. We get a new Titantron for him that features a giant Kevin Owens face on the stage. It’s gaudy and hilarious and totally Kevin Owens. We see a “developmental talent” already in the ring, so yeah – I knew it. Hamilton starts the announcements, but Owens grabs his mic and tells him to get out of there. KO puts himself over and asks his opponent who he is. He’s apparently Gary Gandy from Louisville, Kentucky. I guess we’re really doing this.
Match #4: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Gary Gandy (WWE United States Championship Match)
Owens squashes Gandy in thirty seconds with a pop-up powerbomb.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – The only booking decision that made sense on this show and the match was an absolute waste of time.
Post-match, Owens cuts a promo on Americans and tells them to “put the hot dogs down” and listen to him. KO remains the “Face of America” and he will always be that face and there is nothing that Jericho or Styles can do about that. Owens joins commentary for the main event.
Corbin enters next as we go to break.
Back from break, we’re reminded that Naomi vs. Charlotte for the title happens next week.
Meanwhile, Aries tries to get us excited for 205 Live even though he’s not mic’d properly so the 205 Live bumper music is louder than he is. I make out him calling Perkins “Teddy Joysticks” and that’s about it.
Corbin is still in the ring. AJ enters next (w/ footage of him pinning Zayn last week to become number one contender for the brand’s mid-card title).
Match #5: Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles
This one is… okay. I was on board with most of it until the absolute cop-out of a finish. I’d maybe have even been fine with the finish if I just didn’t sit through almost two hours of “Booking Bad”. Corbin and Styles have a good back and forth until the action spills out of the ring. AJ sets Corbin up for a Styles Clash on the floor (!) while looking straight at Owens on commentary. Corbin is able to reverse this and sends AJ flying into Owens. Corbin attempts an End of Days on the floor, but AJ escapes. A forearm from AJ sends Corbin flying into the crowd. AJ beats the count and wins the main event by count out. Yep. That’s the end of this show.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Forgetting the fact that both these guys should be in line to challenge Orton right now, the finish to this completely ruined an otherwise okay match. I get that they’re “protecting” Corbin since they see him as a future world champ or whatever, but good God have the match thrown out as a No Contest or something. They even had the “guy at commentary” bump spot there to make it happen. But nah, Corbin can’t beat the count, AJ has to win by count out, and Owens does nothing in response. Nope.
Post-match, AJ poses in the ring as we go off the air.