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WWE Smackdown LIVE!- April 11, 2017

by Scrooge McSuck

Shinsuke Nakamura

- Smackdown Live Episode #921 is live from the TD Garden in Boston, MA, with Tom Phillips, John "Bullies People with Mental Illness" Layfield, and BYRON SAXTON (YES! NO MORE DAVID OTUNGA) calling the action, unless otherwise noted. This is Night #2 of the Superstar-Shakeup™. Last night on Monday Night Raw, Smackdown lost the following Superstars to the "red brand", in order of what I'd say is their level of success and importance since the brand split took place back in July: The Miz (and Maryse), Dean Ambrose (with the Intercontinental Title), Alexa Bliss, Bray Wyatt, Heath Slater & Rhyno, Mickie James, Curt Hawkins, Kalisto, and Apollo Crews. Ambrose, Wyatt, and Miz is a huge hit to the upper-card, and, hopefully, they give back enough star power to compensate.

- Reigning U.S. Champion, Kevin Owens, makes his first appearance as a member of the Smackdown Live Roster, to my own excitement. He's even wearing a blue tie! Owens welcomes us to the BRAND-NEW Kevin Owens Show. Owens gets cheap heat for being from Montreal, Quebec and says Canada is much better than the United States. Canadians make better athletes than Americans. If you need proof, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins all the time. He speaks in French and mocks the fans for only speaking one language. He can beat the hell out of anyone in the arena, and anyone in the locker room. He's going to be the new Face of America.

Baron Corbin comes out as the unlikely interrupter. He takes exception to Owens saying he could beat up everyone in the locker room, specifically himself. Last week, Corbin beat the Intercontinental Champion so bad, he went to hide on Raw, and that same man beat Owens so bad, he tucked his tail between his legs and came to Smackdown. If he beat Ambrose, and Ambrose beat him, then KO is no problem for Corbin, and he's owed a Championship Match. Owens calls him delusional, and says he doesn't deserve an opportunity... and that brings out Sami Zayn! Owens is frustrated that his former friend and rival keeps following him around. Corbin says nobody cares about Sami being on Smackdown. Now A.J. Styles interrupts and apparently is still the most over face on the roster. This isn't the Kevin Owens Show, it's not about the Underdog from the Underground or the Lone Wolf, it's about the house that A.J. Styles Built™. Daniel Bryan interrupts (we've got a lot of rude people on Smackdown Live, don't we?). Owens is due to defend the title against Chris Jericho at Payback, and the winner of that match will officially be a member of Smackdown Live, which means the title won't be defended until after Payback. One of the three men in the ring will face the winner of that match, determined by a Triple Threat Match, TONIGHT.

Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan:

Orton is the reigning WWE Champion, but this is Non-Title. How useless is Rowan without being a geek to protect Bray Wyatt? Lockup into the corner, Orton avoids a strike and unloads with mounted punches. Orton comes off the ropes, only to get laid out with an elbow. Rowan sets him up across the top turnbuckle. Orton slugs away and knocks Rowan down with headbutts. Orton with a Snap Power-Slam and the Garvin Stomp. Rowan rolls to the floor and gets sent into the ring steps for being a geek. Back inside, Orton with the draping DDT. Wyatt's magic camera interrupts an RKO Not Quite Out of Nowhere. Orton rolls to the floor to go after Rowan, but gets nailed with the steps for a cheap DQ at 3:41. Back inside, Rowan plants him with a Full-Nelson Slam. Just an Orton squash until the nonsensical finish.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
The Usos © vs. American Alpha:

(Jimmy & Jey Uso vs. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan)
American Alpha are cashing in their rematch clause after dropping the belts to the Usos three weeks ago on Smackdown Live. We get the pre-match introductions as if this is a big deal, but the crowd is pretty meh for both teams. Jordan and Jey Uso start. Jordan goes for the leg and takes him down for a one count. Double bridging suplex to Jey gets two. Jimmy goes for the arm, but Jordan with the blind tag and they hit him with a double dropkick before tossing him over the top rope. We return from commercial, with Jey in control of a chin-lock. Jordan fights to his feet, but gets nailed with a spinning enzuigiri. Both Usos miss dives into the corner, with Jey eating the post. Jordan kicks off Jimmy and makes the slow crawl to tag in Gable. He unloads on both Usos and throws Jimmy with the Rolling Germans. T-Bone Suplex to Jey, T-Bone Suplex to Jimmy. Gable to the top rope and he connects with a picture perfect moonsault for a near fall! Jey misses another dive and gets caught in a hanging arm breaker. Jimmy interrupts with a Super-Kick from the floor. The Superfly Splash meets knees and Gable cradles him for two! Jordan tags in and ducks the enzuigiri. They set up for the Alpha-Dog, but Jey interrupts the count at two! The Usos clear the ring and go for synchronized dives, but the Alphas catch and throw them with belly-to-belly suplexes. Back inside, Jordan with a running shoulder tackle. Tag to Gable, but Jey nails Jordan with a Super-Kick before they hit Grand Amplitude. The Usos take advantage of the 2-on-1, and a quick sequence ends with the Superfly Splash to retain at 5:16 (shown). **1/2 Good for the limited amount of time they were given.

- Post-match, the Shining Stars, Primo and Epico, pick the bones of Gable and Jordan. I guess Smackdown wanted to add a new bottom feeder team to replace the Vaudevillains. I know Slater and Rhyno were doing nothing, but come on... give us The Club or something significant.

Mojo Rawley vs. Jinder Mahal:

There's our next reveal of the Superstar Shake-Up. I'm not top upset, since this is just a replacement for Curt Hawkins as the heel enhancement talent. This needs to be quick, or I might throw up from the prospect of how bad it could be. Remember, Rawley last eliminated Mahal to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and I see Gronk is at ringside. Hopefully WWE clued in the security people in the event he does a run-in. Mahal starts with rights and forearms. Watch out, Disco Inferno might get pissed off again. Mojo quickly turns the tables as the crowd chants for Gronkowski. Mahal with a high knee for two. He comes off the ropes with a knee drop for another two count. Mojo nearly runs over Charles Robinson doing his comeback. He meets a boot in the corner and gets dropped across the turnbuckle. Mahal goes up to Gronk, again, not having learned his lesson, apparently. Gronk throws a drink in his face. Back inside, Mojo with the running forearm smash, and Mahal is dead at 2:44. Post-match, Mojo celebrates in the crowd with his best buddy.

- Shane McMahon comes out to address the Women's Division and reveal some new arrivals. With the loss of Alexa Bliss and Mickie James, that opens up new opportunities. Opportunity is only as good if you seize it. McMahon invites the entire (remaining) Smackdown Live Women's Division, which includes Women's Champion Naomi, Natalya, Carmella (still associated with James Ellsworth), and Becky Lynch. Shane puts over Naomi's victory at WrestleMania. Ellsworth interrupts to call Naomi a horrible Champion and that Carmella is the only reason people watch Smackdown Live. Without delay, Shane says this woman is a 2nd Generation Superstar, and the daughter of one of the greatest of all-time. He's a WWE Hall of Famer and she's an amazing athlete. The newest addition to Smackdown Live... TAMINA. Well, that's a disappointing reveal with obvious results (cricket chirping). Oh, and there's another name to be revealed: CHARLOTTE.

- The Superstar Shake-Up includes Sin Cara and HANDSOME RUSEV (when he returns from injury).

- Aiden English is in the ring to give us a taste of his NXT character of a Broadway/Stage Singer. He's interrupted soon after by some guy who counts numbers or something.

Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English:

Smackdown Live is looking a lot like NXT lately, and I mean the awesome era of NXT. Dillinger won his main roster debut, last week, against Curt Hawkins. Crowd gets behind Dillinger with 10 chants, and he wastes little time doing his signature cartwheel. Lockup into the ropes and English snaps the arm across the top rope. English with rights and boots in the corner. Whip across the ring and English charges in with a leg lariat. He wastes times showing off his vocals again. Dillinger avoids a jumping knee drop and unloads with chops. Whip is reversed and Dillinger with a diving forearm. He stomps away at the midsection, pulls down the knee pad, and the Tye Breaker finishes at 2:21. Another victory for Tye Dillinger? I can dig it!

- Hype video for A.J. Styles. Please WWE, keep him on Smackdown Live.

- Vignette of Lana showing off her dance skills. That sure got some blood flowing for people, I'm sure.

- Dolph Ziggler is in the ring to talk about his favorite subject, himself. Spoiler Alert: He's staying on Smackdown Live. He says no Raw Superstars are going to show up and ride his coat-tails. Smackdown will get a bunch of shiny new toys, but next week it will be less exciting until it's back to normal and we find out Dolph is still the show stealer. His promo is interrupted by the greatest entrance music in WWE today, and that means our second appearance of Shinsuke Nakamura on Smackdown Live! Dolph doesn't know who he thinks he is for interrupting him, so the crowd chants his name again. Shinsuke finally gets the microphone... "You want to know who I am? I am Shinsuke Nakamura." Ziggler goes for a cheap shot, but Nakamura blocks it and throws him on his ass. Ziggler teases going for it again, but bails. Cue the music!

- Hype video for Baron Corbin in anticipation for tonight's Triple Threat Main Event.

- New arrivals coming to Smackdown Live... THE NEW DAY! With Kofi Kingston injured, this only makes sense not to just have Xavier Woods and Big E showing up.

- Hype video for Sami Zayn to round out the trio for tonight's finale.

A.J. Styles vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin:

Winner gets to be the #1 Contender to the U.S. Championship once we settle whether it will be Kevin Owens or Chris Jericho becoming the full-time member of the roster after Payback (Spoiler: KO is winning). Anyone else suspect a non-finish with Corbin getting double tapped out like when he was in a Triple Threat with Zayn and Joe in NXT? Zayn and Styles double-up on Corbin shortly after the bell. He blocks a double suplex and instead, takes them both over. Styles hangs on to the ropes after getting tossed, but Corbin knocks him back over with a clothesline. Zayn with rights, but Corbin slows him with a knee to the midsection. Zayn springs off the ropes to leap frog Corbin and takes him over with a spinning head scissors. Styles back in and a double clothesline puts Corbin on the floor. Zayn and Styles have at it with the crowd split between them. Whip to the ropes and Zayn with a springboard dropkick, sending Styles to the floor again. Zayn hits the ropes, only to get pulled out by Corbin and thrown onto the steel ramp. Styles follows and takes a forearm. Did nobody learn from Finn Balor being concussed by Mahal last night? Zayn with the Asai Moonsault on both men as we take a break.

We come back from commercial, with Corbin in control of the action. Corbin sends Zayn into the corner for an over-dramatic bump. Styles with rights and chops, but Corbin brutalizes him with knees. Corbin with the side-slam to Zayn for a two count. Corbin with the in-and-out and lays Styles out with a big boot for two. Styles with a low kick and a Phenomenal Blitz, and Zayn drops him with a clothesline. Zayn deposits Styles over the top rope and throws Corbin into the corner with an Exploder (and dropped him on his ass). Zayn lines up for the Helluva Kick, but Styles counters with the Ushigoroshi. Corbin recovers and turns Styles inside out with a lunging clothesline. Corbin tosses Zayn into the corner, but his in-and-out is met with a knee from Styles on the apron. Zayn with the Blue Thunder Bomb on Styles for two. Zayn positions Styles across the top turnbuckle, but Corbin wakes up and carries Zayn off in an electric chair. Styles misses a dive from the top and Zayn cradles Corbin for a near fall. Corbin meets a boot in the corner, but catches Zayn with Deep Six for Near Three. Corbin meets the post on a charge. Styles lays him out with a jumping roundhouse and hits the springboard 450 splash, broken up at two. Zayn and Styles trade forearms until Styles hits his Blitz. He dives into the corners on Corbin and Zayn. Corbin ducks a second hits a bunch of clotheslines. Zayn meets the boot of Styles, hits Corbin with the Helluva Kick, and Styles hits Zayn with the Pele Kick! Zayn dumps Styles over the top to counter the Styles Clash. Another Helluva Kick knocks Corbin to the floor. Styles with the Phenomenal Forearm to Zayn for three at 13:43 (shown). ***3/4 Heck of a TV Main Event, with Corbin showing more improvement every week, and allowed to look strong most of the way. They made a smooth transition into a wild finish with non-stop action from all three men until we got the clean finish.

Final Thoughts: I have high hopes for Smackdown Live, now that all of the pieces have fallen into place. This was still all about the Superstar Shake-Up, but we advanced a few storylines. We've established A.J. Styles as the 1st challenger to the inevitable U.S. Champion after Payback, Shinsuke Nakamura looks to be programmed for an introductory feud with Dolph Ziggler, the man who hates the New Generation of WWE Superstars (we'll ignore they're likely the same age). We've introduced Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (and eventually Rusev) as key additions to the singles ranks, The New Day and The Shining Stars to the Tag Team Division, and Charlotte and a returning Tamina to the Women's Division. Sin Cara and Jinder Mahal are just enhancement talent to freshen up the squash matches. I'm sure we'll have more developments next week, now that the nerve-wracking shake-up has been completed.

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