WWE SmackDown Live Full Results, Grades and Highlights for May 30, 2017

Is anyone surprised by the outcome of last night's main event on Smackdown Live? WWE have a nasty habit of it.

INTRO: Female superstars cut separate backstage promos claiming they were going to win the five-way elimination match tonight. Charlotte Flair peacocked (in multiple ways) while claiming that she is genetically superior to any female in the world. Carmella said she has so much class, “you might as well address me as the teacher.” She said she’d take her opponents to school tonight. Natalya said she’d prove that she is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. Becky Lynch said she would represent the fighting Irish tonight, but wouldn’t need their luck to win. Tamina said her opponents had already gotten their chances, “but it’s high time I got mine.” Effective and direct opening to the show that brought out the competitors’ personalities, and emphasized the importance of becoming the #1 contender to SmackDown women’s champion Naomi.

OPENING SEGMENT: U.S. Champion Kevin Owens stood in the ring for a Highlight Reel episode. Owens brought up Chris Jericho creating the Money in the Bank ladder match before being interrupted by an “AJ Styles” chant. He said he’d do what Jericho could never accomplish and win the Money in the Bank contract, making him the face of the entire WWE. He introduced “WWE’s resident rock star”, Shinsuke Nakamura. Owens asked Nakamura if he remembered what happened “to the last person that walked around here claiming to be a rock star.” He claimed he sent Jericho and his “stupid little scarf” to an early retirement, and told Nakamura that if he showed up to Money in the Bank, it will be “the day that the music dies.” Nakamura’s retort was interrupted by Baron Corbin. The Lone Wolf said the Highlight Reel should include some actual highlights “from a real superstar”, leading to footage of Corbin pulverizing Sami Zayn last week. Owens took exception to Corbin hijacking his show, especially since “I’ve been beating up Sami Zayn for 15 years. You’ve got nothing to brag about.” He booted Corbin from the show.

Corbin asked if Owens wanted him to respect his authority, then said, “OK, Cartman” with a wooden delivery. He said he would become Mr. Money in the Bank in three weeks. Nakamura taunted his opponents, then was besieged by both men. Zayn ran in to even the odds, and the faces cleared the ring. Corbin yelled at Zayn, asking if he wanted another ambulance ride. Zayn told Corbin that their fight was far from over, then told Owens that “the fight between you and me is never over.” He asked for a tag team match to start immediately. The announce team waited for a decision from commissioner Shane McMahon as we go to break.

Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin

Back from commercial, the bell rang to start this match. Good move to rely on McMahon to book a requested tag team match in consecutive weeks; recognizing the commissioner’s power adds to this show’s realism. Nakamura laced into Corbin with knees and kicks before stepping into Good Vibrations. He tagged Zayn, causing Corbin to retreat and tag Owens. Zayn hit a flying headscissors on Owens, who ran from Zayn on the outside of the ring, then ambushed him with stomps upon Zayn’s reentry.

Corbin tagged in to beat on Zayn, who Tom Phillips said suffered bruised ribs and contusions during Corbin’s attack the previous week. Byron Saxton credited Zayn for coming back to fight after being stretchered out of the arena seven days ago. Zayn turned the tables on Corbin, mounting the second rope to throw right and left hands. Corbin muscled Zayn toward the ropes, where Owens roundhouse-kicked him in the head. The heels took over on offense. Zayn’s attempt at a tornado DDT was countered into a big bodyslam from Corbin, and we go to commercial. WWE stayed with the action during break. Corbin hurled Zayn to the floor, where Owens applied some boots. Corbin rammed Zayn’s lower back into the barricade, then brought him back into the ring. Owens tagged in and landed a senton for two, then took us to Chinlock City. Zayn eventually fought his way up to land a blue thunder bomb. Corbin cut off the tag by blasting Nakamura. Zayn popped up to roll up Corbin for an extremely close two count, then got hit with a spinebuster for two.

Corbin blew up at the referee, leading JBL to call him “an absolute hothead” and run down his recent transgressions. Corbin bounded off the ropes toward Zayn, who met him with a stiff clothesline. Sami made the hot tag to Nakamura, who hit the newly tagged Owens with a flying kick and a running knee against the turnbuckles. Nakamura placed Owens across the top rope horizontally, back-somersaulted, then landed a running knee into the U.S. Champion’s gut for a two count. Owens countered a reverse suplex, then got hit with another kick, forcing Corbin to break up the pinfall. Zayn went after Corbin with wild shots, then sidestepped Owens’ charge, leading the Face of America to ram into his own partner in the corner. Corbin yelled at Owens, who shoved him, then ate a right hand from his combative partner. Zayn took advantage of the breakdown by clotheslining Corbin over the top rope. Nakamura lined up for a Kinshasa, hitting it to pin Owens for the second week in a row. Saxton said the “runaway train of momentum” continues for Nakamura. Sami and Shinsuke stared at the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging over the ring.

Result: Nakamura and Zayn beat Owens and Corbin when Nakamura pinned Owens after a Kinshasa.

Grade: B

After plugging upcoming events, Phillip said the Usos have a message for the entire tag team division next on SmackDown.

We return to find the Usos in the ring. Uce told the audience that they were looking mad, and asked if it was because the twins were still the Smackdown tag team champions. They said the fans believed that American Alpha and Breezango would beat the Usos – “just like they thought the Atlanta Falcons was gonna beat the Patriots.” That reference is going to hurt for a good long while. The Usos’ mockery was halted by Big E’s booming voice, as The New Day made their return to live television. The Usos vacated the ring as Big E made canvas angels on the mat and Xavier Woods played along on trombone.

Woods told the ATL that “your boys are back!” He said they couldn’t think of a better place to debut on SmackDown than in his hometown. The Usos asked if New Day got lost on their way down the yellow-brick road. They said they got the tag division “on lock”, and welcomed New Day to the Uso penitentiary. Big E said New Day knows what happens in a penitentiary. But, as far as the SmackDown tag team title, “We likes ’em … and we wants ’em.” The Usos said they run this show like track stars, and threatened to take the three unicorns out back “Old Yeller style.” Woods said they know the man who actually runs the show, Shane McMahon, and Kofi Kingston said that Shane told New Day they’d be taking on the Usos at Money in the Bank. The trio said the Usos better get ready for New Day to become the new SmackDown tag team champions. Big E led the crowd into a “New Day Rocks” chant as the Usos held up their championship belts. JBL called this bout a “dream match-up.”

Phillips said that Styles and Dolph Ziggler would face off in the show’s main event as both men were showed preparing backstage. JBL touted a look back at Jinder Mahal’s Punjabi Celebration as we went to break.

Phillips introduced a review of Mahal’s arrival and celebration at last week’s SmackDown. This footage was intercut with stills of Mahal beating Randy Orton for the title at Backlash. JBL followed up this segment by repeating his words on Mahal being the “pride of India” and the modern day Maharaja. Saxton said that Mahal could lay claim to being the blue brand’s crown jewel. Phillips segued from that discussion to a vignette on noted gumshoe Fandango.

A new Fashion Files intro aired for an episode titled “The Men Who Knew Too Little”. The camera showed a noir-ish black-and-white photo of what looked like 1940s Manhattan (except for the Blimpie’s sign on a street corner). Fandango’s voiceover informed us that, “Sometimes, beauty gets pretty ugly. That’s when they call me.” Fandango was shown walking aimlessly backstage, ruing the way he and Tyler Breeze let the fashion villain “Uggos” slip through their fingers. He came upon a door, cracked open, marked with a Fashion Police Department sign. Fandango entered to find the office ransacked, then looked up to spy a sexy female silhouette. He drew a water gun and yelled, “Freeze, dirtbag!” The intruder said, “No”, then removed “her” wig to aver, “Breeze, dirtbag.” Fandango and Breeze (wearing women’s clothing) stared at each other as they realized they could hear each others’ thoughts. They agreed to investigate the case of their busted-looking office as the Fashion File closed. This series has been amusing for the most part, but these vignettes could stand to lead somewhere in future installments.

 

Five-way Elimination Match
Charlotte Flair vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina

The top of the hour rang in with Ellsworth introducing Carmella on the stage. That’s an interesting choice of visual to rein in viewers. As Tamina made her entrance, Naomi appeared on split-screen to say that whoever wins tonight would feel the glow at Money in the Bank. The competitors divided along face-heel lines to face off before the bell rang. Carmella and Lynch brawled outside the ring as Tamina and Natalya double-teamed Charlotte. Natalya suplexed Charlotte multiple times before Tamina brought her down with a Samoan drop. Outside the ring, Becky threw Carmella into the timekeeper’s area, then jumped off the barricade to smash her. Tamina cleared the announce table with Charlotte in mind, but the queen responded by driving her into the ringpost. Charlotte climbed to the top turnbuckle, and moonsaulted onto Natalya and Tamina. Carmella resurfaced to land a cross-body-block onto Charlotte off the barricade. Lynch snuck up and snared Carmella with a Becksploder. The divas took turns hitting running shots on each other as multiple officials tried vainly to gain control of the match.

After running Natalya into the steel stairs, Charlotte powerbombed her foe through the announce table. All five competitors looked spent as JBL noted that the match had not yet started. Shane McMahon trotted out, slapping hands with fans on his way to entering the ring. Apparently, his message isn’t urgent enough to proclaim from the stage or merit a quicker jaunt towards a microphone. He entered the ring to shout out “Hotlanta”, then played to the crowd by calling the women’s division amazing and “on fire.” Shane said the competition is so crazy that he wanted to do something historic. On June 18, he said, all five women would compete in the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match.

Result: No finish.

Grade: Incomplete.

Breezango vs. The Colons

This match was booked after Breezango’s investigation pointed towards Primo and Epico as the culprits who trashed the fashion police department. Breeze started the match still wearing his undercover ladies’ gear, which Primo ripped off to mild boos. Breeze responded with a dropkick, then hit a double-team elbow with Fandango. Still clad in his trenchcoat, Dango countered a sunset flip attempt by pulling his water gun and squirting liquid in Primo’s eyes. Breeze held off Epico with his own sidearm, allowing Fandango to clothesline him out of the ring. He followed by backdropping Primo out of the ring; his cousin largely failed to catch him, leading to a painful looking fall on the floor.

We stayed with the action during commercial break, as Primo took a minute to recover from that nasty spill before reengaging. He got a belated assist from Epico, who tripped Fandango coming off the ropes, then slammed his back into the apron outside the ring. With Fandango back inside, the Colons hit a double-team suplex and tandem Russian leg sweep. Epico knocked Breeze off the apron, leaving Fandango with no one to tag after executing a back-body-drop. Epico hit Fandango with a backbreaker, but Primo ran into a clothesline as he attempted to press the advantage.

Epico face-planted Fandango for a two count, then mounted him on the top turnbuckle. Fandango battled back, then hit a sunset flip powerbomb on Epico. He looked towards his corner, where Breeze made his way back to the apron in full janitor gear. JBL compared him to an “anorexic Howard Finkel”. Both men made needed tags as Breeze hit Primo with running forearms. Janitor Breeze hit both opponents with enziguri kicks. As Primo tried to steal the janitor’s mop, Fandango clutched onto it, allowing Breeze to maneuver into the Unprettier for the win. Saxon confirmed that “Breezango lives” as Fandango did his signature dance with the janitor’s mop.

Result: Breezango beat The Colons when Tyler Breeze pinned Primo after an Unprettier.

Grade: B-

Renee Young interviewed Styles backstage. Styles said he’d use his singles match tonight to gain momentum heading into Money in the Bank. Ziggler interrupted him while apologizing for doing so. He said that, if this is the house AJ Styles built, then Dolph Ziggler laid the foundation. Ziggler reminded Styles that he’s the only man in their ladder match to actually win the contract and cash in on it. The two men teased a backstage confrontation before Ziggler strutted off.

Clad in street clothes, Randy Orton entered the ring. Saxton said that Orton may have invoked his rematch clause at a perfect time and perfect place in his hometown of St. Louis. Orton rattled off the litany of legends he’s beaten, and noted that his father was involved in the first WrestleMania’s main event. He said that if his grandfather was alive today, “he’d smack the hell out of me for losing the championship to a guy like Jinder Mahal.” Orton said that his grandfather was part of the Silent Generation, who did what they had to do without running their mouths. He said this was the American way. Therefore, Orton declared that he didn’t need to talk about how he was going to beat Mahal and reclaim his championship; he would just go out and do it. He said Mahal had earned the right to a “good old-fashioned American Orton family asskicking.” Unsure if this promo got jingoistic in response to Mahal running down the U.S. last week or due to Memorial Day being observed in America on Monday.

Orton paid tribute to his grandfather by cutting off his promo on a vow to win the world championship for a 14th time. If nothing else, the Silent Generation reference gives WWE a rationale for cutting Orton’s mic time on live television. Mahal’s music hit as the Maharaja appeared on the Titantron. He told Orton that he is just like every other ignorant American, telling stories of a bygone era. Mahal said Orton is clinging to the past, and told him to behold the present and future. Mahal brandished the title as the Singh Brothers applauded him. For an awkwardly long time. The Titantron screen went dead, then Orton walked to the turnbuckle to pose and await his music, marking a lackluster end to this segment. The camera focused on a guy dressed as an American flag while he enthusiastically threw up a “number one” for Orton. So that’s what we’re doing here. WWE got so much more out of Rusev’s “menacing foreigner” persona a few years ago than they’re receiving from Mahal. And this feud is for the WWE championship. Uninspired and lazy.

AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler

As Ziggler walked to the ring, WWE ran footage of the Showoff claiming the Money in the Bank contract in 2012, then beating Alberto Del Rio for the championship one day after WrestleMania XXIX. Good way to make a Ziggler victory seem feasible in a few weeks. Styles soaked in cheers as Phillips announced that “Gainesville’s greatest” was back in his home state of Georgia. Viewers were likely expecting a worthy amount of time for this match considering the talent involved, but the main event has been given 13 minutes before this program’s mandated ending. As the two men grappled into the ropes, Ziggler elbowed Styles in the face in lieu of a clean break. Styles fired back angrily with a big right hand and dropkick. Ziggler again broke the rules with a shot to the throat, then flung Styles ribs first into the ring post.

Back from commercial, Styles struggled to counter a chinlock, finally taking Ziggler down with a back suplex. Styles hit rapid-fire strikes and a leaping clothesline on Ziggler, then launched into a running firearm on a seated Ziggler. The crowd popped as AJ motioned for the Styles Clash, prompting Ziggler to take his legs out and place his boots on the top (!) rope for leverage. Admirably consistent cheating from Ziggler in this match, even if the referee saw his infraction and refused to count the fall. Styles took advantage of Ziggler’s protests toward the official, hitting his fireman’s carry neckbreaker for a near fall. He went for another Styles Clash, which Ziggler countered by grabbing the middle rope. Styles responded by suplexing Ziggler hard into the turnbuckles. He picked Ziggler up for an attempted Styles Clash off the second rope, but Ziggler escaped and landed a leaping DDT off the turnbuckle that (understandably) showed a ton of light.

Both men made it to their feet slowly. Ziggler attempted a fameasser, which Styles countered by dropping him during a fourth failed attempt at a Styles Clash. Ziggler fought back with a headbutt, but a prospective Zig Zag was turned into a side backbreaker. Styles charged at Ziggler, but was met with a big knee, sending both men to the mat once more. Dolph perched Styles atop the turnbuckle for a superplex, but Styles escaped and swept Ziggler’s leg, sending the Showoff face-first into the buckle. Styles missed a running forearm into the corner, then countered a Ziggler charge into the calf crusher. Ziggler screamed in pain, and seemed about to tap out before raking Styles’ face to break the hold. AJ pursued Ziggler, who used leverage to jolt him throat-first into the middle rope. Ziggler followed up with a Zig Zag for a near fall.

Ziggler sold a leg injury from the calf crusher as he regained his feet. As he went for a superkick, that left leg gave out on him and Ziggler fell to the mat. Styles sized him up for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Ziggler knocked him off balance, causing Styles to crotch himself on the top rope. Ziggler superkicked Styles in the side of the head for the victory. This match served as an appetizer for what these two superstars could do with more time and a focused feud. And a reminder that even Styles isn’t immune from WWE’s established practice of pinning a loss on superstars performing in their home territory.

Result: Ziggler pinned Styles after a superkick.

Grade: B+

 

HIGH SPOTS

Opening Promos
These promos made the female superstars seem important as they looked directly into the camera to tell the world who they are. This is a great way to catch viewers at the top of the hour, and potentially hook them with an interest in a specific superstar.

The New Day confronting the Usos
While their promo was only a minor hit, New Day taking nearly two months off television helped revive their act (somewhat). This feud should carry SmackDown’s tag team division through SummerSlam.

 

LOW BLOWS

No-show champions
Mahal and Naomi were both kept out of live, in-arena action. WWE already owns one brand with a champion who doesn’t show up to televised events, and it darn sure doesn’t need two.

A non-starter women’s elimination match
The five-way elimination match featured no winner, or, for that matter, no beginning. You can’t promote a big match for the #1 contender’s slot, fail to deliver, then expect fans and viewers to be happy when you book a follow-up match for the next pay-per-view.

The Comcast program guide
My cable television provider lists this episode of SmackDown as being presented with “Mauro Ranallo, JBL and David Ortega”. Sadly, Mauro (and whoever David Ortega is) did not appear.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

This week’s show featured a strong focus on championship contenders while the champions themselves were sidelined. SmackDown will have two episodes prior to Money in the Bank to build Mahal’s credibility as a champion (or merely a main-event level star). On the contenders’ side, Nakamura’s lack of English language skills may hold him back on the main roster. It was tough to distinguish his lines when he was squaring off verbally against Corbin and Owens, and it sapped the crowd’s energy during a segment when they were clearly on his side.

Finally, referee Dan Engler failed to gain control of the five-way women’s elimination match, letting it degenerate into a chaotic mess. As Mr. Engler referees soccer games with my cousin in southern Indiana, I’ll express hope that he exercises a higher level of control over the proceedings on the pitch than he does in a WWE arena. Shame, sir. Shame.

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