Jericho, Styles, and Owens start the show: Jericho is introduced to the Smackdown audience to a great ovation. AJ Styles then comes out and says he would love to take the U.S. Title from Jericho at Backlash, assuming he can get past Owens in a rematch later tonight. Jericho is getting ready to put AJ on The List for doubting him when Owens comes out, angry about what happened last night. AJ runs down the ramp and attacks Owens, and officials have to break them up. For a show opening talking segment, this was good enough. Jericho is always entertaining in this role. The segment also remembered the history between AJ and Jericho which was a nice touch. This segment is more about building AJ and Owens, which doesn’t bode well for Jericho.
Owens regains the title and injures Chris Jericho: Owens won his second United States Championship after a Pop-Up Powerbomb. Jericho sold the move really well, so when medics jumped in the ring, it felt appropriate. The match itself wasn’t that strong, certainly not as good as their match two nights ago; in hindsight, these two don’t have great chemistry in the ring. After the match, Owens viciously attacked Jericho with a chair, injuring his neck. Jericho’s screams of pain felt real and added to the moment. This will explain Jericho’s absence from television as he goes on tour and establishes KO, once again, as a maniacal beast hellbent on hurting others.
Jinder Mahal beats Sami Zayn: Jinder, who earlier in the day had to give up the stolen WWE title to Shane McMahon, was forced to wrestle Zayn tonight. The ending of this match was predictable, but it still felt like a fresh and relevant match-up regardless. The Singh Brothers (formerly The Bollywood Boyz, which was a far superior name) interfered to help distract Sami and let Mahal hit his yet unnamed finisher, a move Tom Phillips weekly is calling “a slam.” Let’s just call it the Kali Death Drop. Mahal won after hitting the Kali Death Drop. Oddly, the WWE hasn’t done a bad job in turning lower card Mahal into a threat, mainly through his nefarious tactics. This should at least remain entertaining until Backlash.
Tye Dillinger beats Aiden English: Dillinger beats English in a squash match. English had a meltdown after the match, crying and gesticulating wildly. After the commercial break, Jericho is being interviewed when the crying English walks past him. Jericho gives him a bit of a pep talk before finally telling him that people who cry on his new show go on The List. The match was simply a routine squash match, but the aftermath with English was interesting and chuckle-worthy.
Charlotte and Naomi defeated by Carmella and Natalya/Becky Lynch makes a decision: After Charlotte was attacked backstage, Naomi was stuck in a handicap match. She shows fighting spirit early on, but is eventually overwhelmed by the numbers. Charlotte’s music finally hits, and she joins the match even though her ribs are still injured. Carmella attacks the hurt ribs, but Charlotte makes the hot tag to Naomi who clears house. However, James Ellsworth distracts her and Carmella rolls her up and pulls the tights for the win. Afterwards, the “Welcoming Committee” as they are being called, beats down Naomi. Becky’s music hits, and she comes out. She shakes the hands of Tamina and Carmella, hugs Nattie, and goes to hug Ellsworth, but then throws him into the other ladies and attacks Natalya. This segment was solid throughout. It made all three babyfaces look strong and brave in the segment, but still built up the stable as strong through numbers and dirty tactics. This helped some of the earlier cheesiness of the backstage segments and ended in a better place than it started.
Ziggler (barely) beats Sin Cara: Dolph Ziggler took on Sin Cara in a short, but well-wrestled match that allowed Sin Cara to show off his new outfit and his moveset for the first time in a while. Ziggler eventually won with a superkick. While this match was good, it is interesting to make Ziggler to look weak heading into his match with Nakamura at Backlash. It’s almost as if Nakamura is going to squash Ziggler.
The “Fashion Files” segment: A vignette with Breezango was shown with them at a police station with Breeze filling out paperwork and Fandango interrupting to discuss the Usos “stealing” the titles from American Alpha. The “bust” is going down in Chicago at Backlash. Breezango is a entertaining duo, but not when they are being given this garbage. WWE needs to let them play their characters and stop letting the writers pretend they are writing 12:50 sketches for SNL.
Backstage drama for women’s division: The crew of Carmella, Natalya, and Tamina are waiting for Becky and try to get her to join forces with them against Charlotte. Becky, after some reminders about Charlotte turning on her, says she’ll think about it. Later, the triumvirate attack Charlotte as she’s being interviewed backstage. They mock her after like a bad after-school special. While the RAW women’s division is getting better, this one is getting worse. This new little clique doesn’t seem dangerous at all; it’s simply funny in a bad way.
The Final Analysis: This was a solid episode from start to finish. There was little bad about it, and one must wonder if it’s a coincidence that Bray and Randy weren’t on the show. The show felt like a return to pre-Wrestlemania Smackdown with slow burn, yet interesting storytelling, each wrestler getting a good segment on each show. The show provides a lot of hope for anyone a little worried by the past couple weeks.