WWE SmackDown Live REVIEW: Full Results, Grades & Highlights for February 13/02/18

Heroic bad guys and a sleazy top face chase championship gold.

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SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon tweeted last Thursday that Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin would wrestle on this week’s episode. The winner will be added to the world championship match at WWE Fastlane. In December, Ziggler relinquished his U.S. title on live television and walked away from the company. Upon returning, his punishment is an opportunity to main-event the blue brand’s next pay-per-view event. Why would WWE devalue its own championships in this way? Ziggler’s booking calls to mind George Costanza quitting his job, regretting his decision, then just returning to the office and acting like nothing happened. Except this angle isn’t supposed to be funny, and championships are supposed to mean something.

Intro: Dolph Ziggler walks to the ring to hopefully explain this booking. No, he doesn’t receive any mic time. Baron Corbin’s music plays twice, but he doesn’t appear. What’s the point of cuing his song for a second time? Is the production crew just praying that he materializes?

– A backstage camera catches Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn beating the snot out of Corbin. They start to walk away when a prone Corbin asks, “That’s it?” I like the toughness shown by Corbin to challenge Owens and Zayn to finish their fight, then hold his own briefly in a two-on-one assault.

– The Canadians announce that it’s “one down, one to go”, meaning Ziggler is their next target. Ziggler uses this advance warning to grab a steel chair and prepare for a fight. No, he stands in the ring uselessly. Dolph eventually confronts Zayn in the crowd as Sami tries to outflank him, but gets beaten down by both Zayn and Owens.

– When did Zayn and Owens become buddies again? Hoping that gets addressed more fully than Ziggler’s return did. Given that AJ Styles beat up two competitors in a number-one contender match last week, then ended up having to defend his championship against both of them, they may have just turned their title shot into a Five-Way match.

 

Charlotte Flair vs. Sarah Logan

– The announcers planted the seeds for Naomi and Becky Lynch accompanying Charlotte, questioning last week why the Queen would face a Riott Squad member one-on-one with no backup. Plus, Naomi’s arrival makes the entrance ramp light up delightfully like the Rainbow Road course in Mario Kart 64.

– Sarah Logan looks legit in repeatedly tossing Charlotte to the mat. Her size and athleticism make her a believable adversary for anyone in the women’s division. Logan will get more valuable when she learns to better engage the crowd during her matches.

– That Natural Selection finisher looked great, with Flair spiking Logan on her dome. When performed that way, the move looks similar to Rob Van Dam taking the RKO like a DDT.

Result: Charlotte Flair pinned Sarah Logan with Natural Selection.

Grade: C+

 

– Shane McMahon complains to Daniel Bryan about giving Zayn and Owens another title shot. Even after they “did a double beatdown”. Maybe Bryan should ask Shane why he granted Ziggler the opportunity to join the WWE title main event at Fastlane after Dolph pissed on his brand’s secondary title and abandoned his job.

– And Shane books two singles matches for tonight: Owens will fight Corbin, and Zayn will fight Ziggler. If the two double-beaten-down guys win their respective matches, they’ll be added to the Triple Threat/Fatal Four-Way/Fatal Five-Way match at Fastlane. Has pummeling both wrestlers in a number-one contender match ever worked for a heel?

 

Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin (if Corbin wins, he joins the WWE championship match at Fastlane)

– Corbin looks heroic battling Owens through bruised ribs. Strange decision by WWE to give this slot to a heel when a babyface could benefit by fighting the good fight in vain.

– Corey Graves calls out a fast count from referee Mike Chioda as Owens gets a near-fall off a schoolboy rollup. That isn’t something that the boss would have advised him to say via headset, but as Graves stated in a recent interview on the Edge and Christian podcast, if he sees something in his ringside monitor, it’s fair game for comment.

– And now the crowd is chanting for Corbin as he bravely beats up the heel who sneak-attacked him earlier. Graves credits him for an incredible display of guts and will. This showing will go for naught if he’s back to acting like a loudmouth bully next week.

Result: Baron Corbin pinned Kevin Owens after the End of Days. Corbin is added to the WWE championship match at Fastlane.

Grade: B-

 

– The announcers talk up that stupid Top 10 List that debuted last week. None of the three current challengers for the WWE championship at Fastlane made the cut.

– Bobby Roode issued a U.S. Open Challenge for the worthless title that Ziggler discarded with impunity. The NXT Roode would never have credited John Cena for starting a tradition he wanted to follow. He can be a face as long as he still brags about his money and clothes, and stops constantly smiling whenever he cuts a promo.

– Randy Orton answers the call, and Roode greets his challenge after getting RKO’ed last week. Jinder Mahal prevents this match from starting in order to mock Orton for being #9 on the “SmackDown Live Top 10 Superstars List”. Mahal wasn’t included on that list. Which explains why he only gets one Singh this week.

Quotable: “I don’t give a damn about any Top 10 List.” – Randy Orton, the voice of the people.

– Roode reminds everyone that Jinder was excluded from the Top 10 List, and the crowd reacts with a collective gasp. How is that a revelation?

– A good moment as Roode tells Orton he’s “only #9” because the men’s roster is sick of being attacked outta nowhere. This framing makes Orton look like a cheat when juxtaposed against a supposed heel (Corbin) overcoming a sneak-attack to triumph over his assailant.

– Mahal hits the Khallas on both faces. Eh, one of them will pin him at Fastlane.

– Ronda Rousey signs her WWE contract at the Elimination Chamber. Does she throw a fit and refuse to do media if the crowd jeers her segment?

– The New Day stand behind a table stacked with pancakes. It’s Fat Tuesday, so it’s Pancake Tuesday. Big E is going to “break the record” of eating 113 pancakes in 8 minutes. Why would this nonsense be booked in the ring during a wrestling show? The crowd cheers for his competitive eating attempt, as it does not feature Jinder Mahal.

– Big E is sitting at 0 pancakes consumed after approximately 20 seconds when Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin interrupt the proceedings. Graves rightfully states that Big E should be embarrassed. His eating method was to cram as many pancakes as possible into his mouth simultaneously. None of them were fully consumed, and E’s choice to wear yellow-latex cleaning gloves during his chowdown was suspect.

Quotable: “When I was training, you know, for the Olympics, this is exactly what I envisioned myself being a part of.” – Chad Gable

– Kofi Kingston pretends to pick his nose as Xavier Woods stands up for his teammate being a serious competitor. Woods reminds his foes that New Day set the record for the longest WWE tag-team championship reign. Gable and Benjamin fire back by tossing individual pancakes to the mat and proclaiming the superiority of waffles. Big E threatens to transform into the Hulk when they toss a tray of pancakes to the floor. A referee separates the combatants, as this blood feud necessitates a sanctioned tag-team match.

 

The New Day vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable

– The announcers take sides in the pancake vs. waffle debate. I’m glad SmackDown is airing the day before Valentine’s Day, because watching this goofiness at home alone on February 14 would have provided far too much perspective on my life.

– Gable is impressive in the ring (especially on that rolling kick to Kingston’s face and the German suplex to Big E) and on the microphone. It’s remarkable that someone who has spent only one full year on the main roster is captaining his team’s promo segments over a wrestler who debuted on SmackDown in 2002.

Result: The New Day beat Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable when Kofi Kingston pinned Gable after the Midnight Hour.

Grade: B-

 

– Renee Young asks Dolph Ziggler why he still works here after abdicating the U.S. title. Actually, Dolph cuts off her question before she finishes it by saying he’s going to be more selective about picking his spots.

Quotable: “It‘s about doing what I was put on this planet to do: perform in that ring.” – Dolph Ziggler. Exchanging the term “perform” for “compete” would make this televised wrestling program seem more like real competition. And it wouldn’t anger wrestling promoter Vince McMahon by verbalizing the word “wrestle”.

– Ziggler vows that the cowards Zayn and Owens can’t stop him from achieving his goal of main-eventing WrestleMania. Does WWE know they’re turning Ziggler and Corbin face? Maybe WWE Champion AJ Styles will weigh in on this scenario sometime before the show ends. He and Shinsuke Nakamura have been no-shows all night.

– Aaaaand we have the first lame word graphic appear on screen after 90+ minutes. The Usos cut a gritty backstage promo that is undermined by their words popping up as they speak them. The Bludgeon Brothers bludgeon a backstage television that was showing the promo. Maybe they can hammer whatever production staffer is facilitating those dumb graphics.

– Owens tells Zayn not to lose and let him down. Zayn reminds him that he screwed both of them by losing to Corbin earlier tonight. He clarifies that their Fastlane title match will be every man for himself.

 

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn (if Ziggler wins, he joins the WWE championship match at Fastlane)

– Ziggler sells a neck injury from the show-opening attack, while Zayn wrestles like a man who regrets getting himself involved in this match.

– After begging off for the first several minutes of the bout, Sami does a terrific job of targeting Ziggler’s neck with malicious forearms. Dolph sustains his selling.

– These two wrestlers are creative enough to justify a best-of-seven series down the line. If the writing staff can determine which man should be cheered. The crowd eating up Ziggler’s comeback will make it tough to keep him heel as Fastlane approaches. Even Graves congratulates Ziggler on receiving the “adulation” of the fans.

– Styles’ fateful decision to punch Zayn and Owens while doing color commentary last week earned him three additional challengers at Fastlane. He must’ve been on sabbatical this week ruing that decision.

Result: Dolph Ziggler pinned Sami Zayn following a superkick.

Grade: A-

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