WWE SmackDown Live 05/23/17 is set to feature the fallout from Sunday’s strange Backlash PPV. Specifically, WWE has announced tonight will be Jinder Mahal’s “Punjabi Celebration” after his huge WWE Championship win at the PPV. Also, WWE alleges that Shane McMahon will have a major announcement about June’s Money in the Bank PPV. Will he be revealing a “series of matches” to determine who gets to vie for the briefcase? Or will this be to announce the rumored Women’s Money in the Bank match? Let’s find out!
WWE SmackDown Live 05/23/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open with a dramatic video package highlighting Mahal’s win, the upset fan reaction, and the media coverage. No opening credits, no pyro, and we’re live from Toledo. The announcers attempt to set the stage for tonight and they’re interrupted by sirens. What’s Big Poppa Pump doing in the SmackZone? Nope, thankfully, it’s just Jinder Mahal arriving to the building by way of police escort. The Singhs lay out the customary rug and Jinder exits the limo to boos. Nice open!
Shane McMahon is out next and hits the ring to put over Jinder’s win (to boos) and mention that Orton wants a rematch “in his hometown” at Money in the Bank. So Jinder retains, right?!?!? Also, Shane is here to reveal competitors in the Money in the Bank match (to cheers). The field is: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler… and Kevin Owens? KO is out but Shane cuts him off and announces Shinsuke Nakamura as the true fifth entrant.
Nakamura enters and KO immediately complains that Sami and Nakamura both won at Backlash, so he expected them in the match, but AJ lost so he shouldn’t have gotten a spot. Owens claims that SmackDown is only the “land of opportunity” for those who Shane chooses to give opportunities to. Owens goes so far to say he’s receiving unfair treatment because he did what Shane failed to do at Mania – beat AJ Styles. Somehow this sways Shane and he adds KO to the match. What follows is a series of “No, you shut up” between the remaining guys where they all plead their individual cases as to why they’re going to win the contract. Shane eventually chimes back in and makes Zayn vs. Corbin and a tag match between Owens & Ziggler and Nakamura & Styles for later on tonight.
Meanwhile, Becky and Charlotte are backstage… walking. They meet up with Naomi… and continue… walking. A Backlash rematch is implied… next!
Back from break, the Welcoming Committee are already out. Oh, wait, it’s not a rematch after all. Everyone is out, but Tamina and Naomi aren’t working this match. Charlotte enters alone, Becky enters with Naomi.
Match #1: Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch (w/ Naomi) vs. Natalya & Carmella (w/ James Ellsworth & Tamina)
The only way this could be more a textbook example of 50/50 booking would be for Natalya to tap out to Becky. They go wild though and have Carmella tap out to Becky instead. Surely, with the way things appear to be headed for Money in the Bank, it’s not going to matter who pinned or tapped out who over the past few weeks – effectively making almost everything since Mania not matter in the least. This match is no better or no worse than the six-woman at the PPV. I’ll be happy when we finally stop with the stupid faction warfare and go back to several individual programs.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – This did nothing for me at all and was completely predictable 50/50 booking. Meh. Even with the goofy Sasha / Fox program, Raw continues to have the better booked women’s division post-“Shake Up”.
Later tonight? Punjabi Celebration!
Up next? Zayn vs. Corbin.
Back from break, Corbin is already out and Sami Zayn is finishing up his entrance. Allegedly, WWE started showing us content in “Picture in Picture” fashion during the ad breaks this week. For whatever reason, Comcast elected to continue showing full screen ads. Once again, trying to watch WWE through legit, legal means has screwed me over.
Match #2: Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn
Zayn almost immediately rolls up Corbin and wins.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – At first I was confused, then I watched the post-match.
Post-match, Corbin proceeds to beat Zayn around the building, ramming him on the barricades, and dropping him on the tech area. Zayn ends up getting stretchered out. So, this either sets up Zayn to make a huge underdog comeback at Money in the Bank, or gives them the option to replace Zayn with someone (Harper? Rusev?) closer to the PPV.
Later tonight? Much like on Raw, we’ve got a tag team main event featuring guys from the multi-man match at the next PPV.
Up next? Fashion Files… The Final File? They better not…
Back from break, we’re shown the Corbin beat down again. During the break, Zayn was stretchered out of the building.
Meanwhile, Nakamura is backstage in the locker room getting ready. AJ enters and says they go way back to their time in Japan and earned each other’s respect. Tonight, they’re a team and even though AJ has learned from Shinsuke in the past, he wants Nakamura to follow his lead tonight. AJ mentions that SmackDown is the house that AJ Styles built. Nakamura say tonight they’re a team, but at MITB, he’s getting the contract and will turn AJ’s house into Nakamura’s playground. Just stay out of Roman’s yard, Nakamura!
Now it’s time for Fashion Files – The Final File.
Tonight’s video features Breezango’s post board and desk set up in “Shane McMahon’s office”. Shane looks super confused at all of the stuff set up in there. I popped at the Mean Street Posse on the board being wanted for “gang related activity”. Breezango come in and tell Shane they’re there to turn in their badges… and guns… after failing at Backlash. Shane seems confused, said he didn’t need to see them, and is surprised they have guns. They present squirt guns and Dango takes the time to warn Shane that his is “loaded”. I am so happy they did the “turn in their badges and guns” thing. This remains the best thing on WWE TV right now. Shane talks Breezango down, right as Breeze starts stripping out of his uniform, and says they belong here. Shane puts both guys in singles matches with the Usos. Breezango is back on the case! Dango grabs a donut before leaving. After they’re gone, Shane shoots the “loaded” squirt gun.
Meanwhile, the ring crew is getting the ring set up for the Punjabi Celebration.
Back from break, it’s dark and we hear drumming. After that, a full on dance routine breaks out with dancers and drummers. The Singh Brothers are out and eventually Mahal is announced and he comes out. The production value of this was incredible and this legit felt like a WrestleMania entrance. Extremely well done!
Mahal cuts his typical “Americans hate me and are fools” and “I did this for the 1.3 billion people in India” promo that gets a “USA” chant from the crowd. Jinder eventually cuts a promo in Punjabi, and ascends into the ring corner as pyro hits. An effective segment, and I’m glad they didn’t ruin this by having Orton crash the party.
Later tonight? TAG TEAM MATCH.
Back from break, LaNa iS cOmInG SoOn… or not… or whatever.
Next, the Usos are out for the singles matches. Breezango follow.
Match #3: Tyler Breeze (w/ Fandango) vs. Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso)
Fandango distracts Jey by squirting him in the face with the squirt gun. Breeze immediately rolls up Jey for the win.
Match #4: Fandango (w/ Tyler Breeze) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/ Jey Uso)
Almost immediately, the next singles match begins. Breeze puts on the old woman wig and starts antagonizing Jey with some handcuffs outside the ring. A chase ensues, Jimmy snatches the wig off of Breeze’s head, and Dango rolls up him to get the win.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – The hilarity from the Backlash match continues. I loved it.
Post-match, Fandango cuts a promo on the Usos and Breeze adds that they want a rematch for the belts. The Usos accept the challenge and want to go right now. The ref gets on a headset and it’s confirmed. The match starts during the break, which I didn’t get to see but everyone pirating this show did (thanks again, Comcast).
Match #5: The Usos (c) vs. Breezango (WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Championship Match)
I hoped that tonight would be the night – but alas, it was not meant to be. With the New Day debuting soon, it seems likely they’ll feud with Usos over the titles next. I just hope that Breezango don’t disappear since Fashion Files is too good to let fade away. The finish sequence was awesome. It looks like Dango is going to pull it out when he hits a Last Dance on Jimmy Uso, but Jey blind tagged himself in, and hits a splash right after the Last Dance to get the win.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Hard to be mad upset after that incredible finish sequence. Still, I hope this doesn’t mean the end of the Fashion Files.
Up next? Main event time already.
Back from break, Shane is in his office and Nattie comes in. She takes Shane up on his claim that if she wants something, she just needs to ask and demands a women’s title shot. Ellsworth and Carmella enter and protest this. Becky is in next to protest. Followed by Tamina. Somehow through this ends up with Ellsworth telling Tamina she’s in the “friend zone”, Charlotte demanding a title shot (while taking credit for the Welcoming Committee even existing), and Shane making a Fatal Five Way elimination match next week with the winner facing Naomi at the PPV.
Next, Brian Kendrick cuts a hype promo for 205 Live and his street fight with Akira Tozawa.
Meanwhile, Styles and Nakamura are already in the ring and Ziggler is finishing his entrance. Only KO gets a televised entrance for the main event.
Match #6: Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens & Dolph Ziggler
Easily the best match on the show, but that’s not saying a whole lot as far as match quality goes. SmackDown this week was way heavier on the “entertainment” stuff than the in ring work – and that’s okay every once in a while. This match was your standard tag match for the most part. AJ and Nakamura both go in peril and both get hot tags as this gets a nice chunk of TV time. No one looks particularly bad in the match, but it’s still average. Maybe I’m just jaded because we saw this exact same scenario on Raw last night with different players involved. One surprise was Kevin Owens taking the Kinshasa from Nakamura (and the loss for his team). With this field, I expected Ziggler to be doing the honors for AJ. Either way, this match was a B or B+ on an otherwise entertaining show.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Main event tier tag matches two nights in a row made it hard for me to really care much about this match.
Post-match, AJ and Nakamura celebrate the win. We go off the air with both men looking up at the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above the ring.