Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn debut: The show kicks off with a clean-cut Kevin Owens coming up to announce he’s now on Smackdown. He says that this is his show now; he also riles up the Boston crowd by saying Canadian athletes are always better than American athletes. He claims he can beat up all the fans and the stars in the back. Baron Corbin comes out and says that he think he should have a shot at Owens’s United States Title since he beat Dean Ambrose last week and Ambrose beat Owens last night. Next, Sami Zayn’s music hits. Owens freaks out; he can’t believe Sami is on Smackdown with him right now. Sami says it’s true, and he feels he deserves a shot as well. Next, AJ Styles comes out to a big babyface pop. He says this is “the house AJ built” and he’s still here. He also wants a shot at the U.S. Title. Finally, Daniel Bryan came out. He says that Jericho is owed a shot at Owens at Payback and whoever wins that match will be on Smackdown. However, the winner of that match will now face the winner of a triple threat main event tonight between Corbin, Zayn, and Styles. These multi-man segments are tiresome generally and tend to have too much going. It makes the debuts of Owens and Zayn less meaningful. Nevertheless, for one of those segments, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it. Owens was getting legit heel heat, and AJ sounded as if he is a legit babyface right now.
AJ Styles becomes the #1 contender to the United States Title: These three men had a fantastic match tonight. It was non-stop throughout and the final seven minutes were superbly intense. Everyone came out looking strong from this match, and AJ is now back on top only he’s now seemingly the top face on the brand. AJ and Owens is an exciting prospect for the future of this show.
The Usos retain the tag titles over American Alpha/The Shining Stars debut: The Usos and Alpha had another good match this week that saw The Usos retain the titles after a splash. After the match, The Shining Stars attacked American Alpha. The match was good, but The Shining Stars being a new addition to the tag team division doesn’t help it much. The crowd didn’t react much, and given their history, it’s an appropriate reaction. This disappointment shouldn’t overshadow the strength of the matches these two teams are having though.
Mojo Rawley beats Jinder Mahal/Tye Dillinger beats Aiden English: Rob Gronkowski was in the audience again this week. While Mojo and Jinder were outside the ring, Gronk ended up throwing a drink in Mahal’s face, a callback to what he had done to him at ‘Mania. Mojo won with a running forearm and celebrated with Gronk in the audience afterwards. At least they are trying to do something with Mojo, but it seems futile that Mojo will get himself over in any meaningful way. Later in the night, Aiden English re-debuts using his old NXT singing gimmick. It didn’t help him much though as Dillinger picked up the win in short order. Last night on RAW, there were noticeably more matches on the card. This was done again tonight. Instead of using filler, there were actual wrestling matches on a wrestling show. They might be filler to some degree, but this is what could help get these young stars over is seeing them in a wrestling ring, so even if they are filler, they are worthwhile filler.
Dolph Ziggler is run off by Shinsuke Nakamura: Dolph Ziggler comes out and wants to let everyone know he’s staying on Smackdown, which he deludedly says that he carried on his back and made popular. Shinsuke Nakamura’s music hits to a huge pop. He comes to the ring, and Ziggler says he doesn’t even know how Nakamura is. The crowd lets him know with deafening “Na-ka-mur-a” chants and singing his theme song. Shinsuke keeps it short: “You wanna know who I am? I am Shinsuke Nakamura.” Ziggler goes to superkick him, but Nakamura catches him and tosses him backwards. Nakamura gives him the “c’mon” hand motion, but Dolph leaves the ring. It is unbelievable how over Nakamura is with the crowd already. It has been a mystery how the main roster audience would react to him, but with these reactions the last two weeks, it’s obvious that they are into him and, tonight, they didn’t mind his limited mic time. This is a good sign for Nakamura’s future so far.
Randy Orton beats Erick Rowan by DQ: Randy Orton wrestled Erick Rowan in a stale match. Bray Wyatt came on the Titantron and says he’s everywhere and that he’s not done with Orton yet as they still have the House of Horrors match at Payback. After Bray disappears from the screen, Rowan hits Orton with the ring steps then executes a full nelson slam on him, presumably weakening him up for Bray. This feud cannot end soon enough, which is obvious from the crowd reaction. The worst part is WWE know it, and is merely filling time with a segment like this. Unfortunately, this is probably what every segment in this Orton/Wyatt feud will be like until Payback ends it.
Women’s segment: Shane McMahon comes out to introduce the current Smackdown women’s roster, which feels like an excuse to have Naomi’s entrance. He then introduces Becky Lynch and Carmella. Then he introduces a new acquisition, Tamina. Sigh. The crowd chants for Sasha. He then announces the biggest acquisition, Charlotte, which isn’t much of a surprise at this point. Tamina is someone most people forgot existed, and the crowd was noticeably disappointed. Basically, the show gained Charlotte, who will certainly add some more legitimacy to the division. But still, Tamina?
The Final Analysis: Overall, this was a solid show. It was less of a mess than RAW was last night from a narrative standpoint. There were entertaining and competitive matches throughout, and the crowd was hot. Owens, Zayn, New Day, Charlotte, Nakamura are all great additions to the roster and should keep this show a must-watch along with remaining AJ Styles.