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WWE SmackDown Recap & Reaction (7/18)

WWE SmackDown Live

Orton sends Mahal a message while on top of the Punjabi Prison

The Singh Brothers and Jinder Mahal kicked off this week’s episode of SmackDown. The Punjabi Prison structure lowered around them in the ring as ominous music played. The ring was lit yellow and the crowd chanted “USA!”. Jinder Mahal demanded silence because he was the WWE Champion. The Singh Brothers then explained the Punjabi Prison structure and rules for the match. Referees were in the prison and opened the doors as the Singh Brothers instructed them to. The doors will only remain for 60 seconds and a Superstar only has that time to get out of the first structure. The only way to win the match is to climb the second structure in the Punjabi Prison.

The crowd began to chant “Randy Orton” and Mahal once again scolded them. Mahal vowed to take Orton to the top of the Punjabi Prison and Khallas him all the way down to the ground. Mahal stated that two Superstars will enter the Punjabi Prison, but he will be the one that emerges still WWE Champion. Mahal then spoke in Punjabi as the crowd once again chanted “USA!”.

Randy Orton interrupted and came down to the entrance ramp. Orton said that Mahal was either brave or dumb. Orton stated that Mahal is making a conscious decision to be caged up like an animal with Orton in the Punjabi Prison. Orton claimed that Mahal only won the WWE Championship because of the Singh Brothers. Orton approached the prison and removed his sweatshirt. Orton leaned up against the prison and told Mahal that there will be no escape for him this Sunday.

Orton began slowly climbing the cage while still cutting a promo. Orton said that he has nothing to lose this Sunday and said that Mahal embarrassed his family. Orton told Mahal that he was the 50th WWE Champion ever and that he has everything to lose. Randy said that Mahal has the weight of India on his shoulders and climbed towards the top of the prison. Orton asked what he was going to do when India considers Mahal a disgrace. A leather-lunged fan in the crowd then shouted “he is a disgrace!” as Orton reached the top of the prison. Orton said that this was going to be his view on Sunday when he takes back his WWE Championship. Orton then posed on top of the Punjabi Prison and the segment ended.

Reaction: This feud has been lackluster up until now. I thought this promo was really good and both Orton and Mahal did a solid job with their promos. Having said that, I haven’t enjoyed either of Orton and Mahal’s previous two WWE Championship matches before the one taking place at WWE Battleground. I hope that the feud wraps up on Sunday and hopefully it ends on a high note with an entertaining Punjabi Prison match.

Kofi Kingston vs Jimmy Uso

Jimmy drove Kofi into the corner to start off the match. Kofi escaped and stomped on Jimmy several times while he was trapped in the corner. Kofi capped off the beatdown with a Dropkick for a one count. Kofi then proceeded to twerk in Jimmy’s face. Jimmy charged at Kofi but Kingston ducked and Jimmy went flying out of the ring. Kofi flipped onto Jimmy outside as SmackDown went to a commercial break.

During the commercial break, Kofi brought Jimmy back into the ring and booted him in the face. Kofi locked in an Arm Bar but Jimmy powered his way to his feet. Jimmy then rolled out of the ring and Woods and Big E got in his face. Jimmy then got back into the ring but was immediately Clotheslined back to the outside by Kofi. Kingston got up on the ring apron but Jimmy tripped him up and Kofi fell face-first to the ring apron. Jimmy brought Kofi back into the ring and stomped on his chest a couple of times. Jimmy then went for a cover but Kofi kicked out at two. Jimmy locked in a Chin Lock and then shoved Kofi to the mat.

When SmackDown returned from the break, Jimmy applied another Chin Lock. Kofi broke the hold with a Jaawbreaker but Jimmy responded by connecting with a spinning kick for a two count. Jimmy charged at Kofi in the corner but Kofi leaped and connected with both his knees to Jimmy’s chest as both Superstars fell to the mat. Kofi was first to his feet and planted Jimmy with a Dropkick. Kofi pumped up the crowd and went for Trouble in Paradise but Jimmy caught him and slammed Kofi’s head into the turnbuckle. Jimmy went for the pinfall but Kofi kicked out at two.

Jimmy charged at Kofi in the corner but Kingston connected with a kick that knocked Jimmy to the mat. Kofi climbed up the turnbuckle but Jimmy joined him up there and went for a Superplex but Kofi blocked it. Kofi headbutted Jimmy off the turnbuckle and Jey Uso leaped onto the ring apron and distracted Kingston for a moment. Kofi then hit a Crossbody onto Jimmy but Jimmy was able to roll through and pin Kofi for the victory.

Winner: Jimmy Uso

Reaction: I was disappointed with the match between New Day and The Usos at Money in the Bank. I think these two teams are capable of having a great match and I hope we get to see that on Sunday. As for the match between Kofi and Jimmy Uso tonight, it was pretty entertaining. I wouldn’t really be disappointed if either The Usos or New Day win on Sunday. I’m more concerned with the SmackDown tag team division in general. I’m beginning to think that it would be better if the RAW and SmackDown tag divisions combined. I don’t like how there are only a few viable teams in each division and the number of teams keeps going down because WWE seems to be breaking them all up. American Alpha is done, Enzo and Cass is done and SmackDown has been hinting that the Hype Bros are going to break up soon. I’ve always been a fan of tag team wrestling and I find it disappointing how sparse both the divisions are. I wouldn’t have an issue if the tag team division was solely on RAW or SmackDown or if the division floated between both shows.

Charlotte pisses off Becky Lynch and tea time is over

Shane McMahon was backstage with the five Superstars competing for to determine the #1 contender for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Battleground. Everyone wanted to fight Lana, but Tamina shouted that nobody would be fighting Lana tonight. Natalya suggested that Charlotte face Becky Lynch tonight. Charlotte said that she wanted a competitive match and Becky Lynch got pissed off. Charlotte stated that she has defeated Becky Lynch numerous times and the two began trading words. Shane McMahon said Natalya’s idea was great and made the match official. Charlotte will face Becky Lynch later tonight.

Chad Gable was interviewed backstage about his tag partner Jason Jordan being revealed to be Kurt Angle’s son. Gable said that he had no idea Jordan was Angle’s son but knew something was wrong recently. Gable stated that American Alpha accomplished a lot together but it was time to move on. Gable said he has some ideas for the future but didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Gable said that this was now a great chance for the WWE Universe to see Chad Gable on his own.

Mike Kanellis vs Sami Zayn

Maria Kanellis accompanied Mike down to the ring. Mike’s ring tights reminded me of old school Shawn Michaels or even Billy Gunn back in the day. Sami started out the match in control and connected with a couple of chops in the corner. Sami then climbed up the turnbuckle and connected with a flurry of punches to Kanellis’ head. Mike then rolled out of the ring and Zayn followed him out there and leveled him with a Clothesline. Sami took a break to high-five a fan and then brought Kanellis back into the ring. Sami planted Kanellis with another Clothesline and then hit him with another Clothesline that sent him tumbling out of the ring. Sami once again joined Mike outside the ring and launched him into the barricade as Maria got frustrated ringside.

Back in the ring, Kanellis connected with a right hand but was knocked right back on his ass with another Clothesline courtesy of Sami Zayn. Sami then planted Kanellis with an Exploder Suplex into the corner. Sami was gearing up for the Helluva Kick but Maria got into the ring and stood in front of Mike. Sami started flipping out and demanded that the referee get her out of the ring. The referee finally did but Sami was distracted and Mike connected with a big time right hand. Kanellis then planted Sami with a Samoan Driver (not sure of the finisher name yet) for the victory.

Winner: Mike Kanellis

Reaction: This was a solid match. I would have rather have seen Kanells’ in-ring debut at Battleground this Sunday just to make it feel like a bigger deal. I don’t hate the gimmick, but like a lot of things in WWE, it doesn’t seem to be generating any reaction from the fans. Every single time I see Sami Zayn I always remember that I thought his move to SmackDown would be a great thing for his career. I thought SmackDown was perfect for him and WWE would book him as a bigger star on Tuesday nights. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that because his move from RAW to SmackDown has done absolutely nothing for him.

Rusev gains momentum heading into WWE Battleground on Sunday

John Cena came down to the ring to cut a promo about his Flag Match with Rusev this Sunday at WWE Battleground. Cena stated that out of all the matches going down this Sunday, the match everyone will remember is the Flag Match. Cena pointed to the Bulgarian flag in the corner and the crowd booed. Cena then pointed to the American flag and the crowd cheered. Cena stated that he knows that there are people that don’t like him out there in the crowd, but said that they could all agree that they love the United States of America. Cena said that he was ready for the match on Sunday at WWE Battleground.

Cena then said that the United States is a nation of fighters and they are never afraid to stand up for what they believe. John Cena then spoke about previous wars that took place in America’s history and stated that in the end the American flag flew high. Cena then brought up 9/11 and said that in the end the flag flew high. Cena said that the colors on the flag do not run, they kick ass. Cena grabbed the flag and started waving it around the ring. Rusev then attacked Cena from behind and locked in the Accolade. Cena tried to power out but was unable to. Cena then passed out and Rusev climbed up the turnbuckle and grabbing the Bulgarian flag. Rusev stood tall with the flag and then exited up the entrance ramp while holding the Bulgarian flag high. Rusev then waved the flag around at the top of the entrance ramp. Rusev then put the flag in the stand on top of the entrance ramp and Rusev’s music hit.

Reaction: I may be in the minority here, but I didn’t enjoy this promo at all. I’m all for weaving real life into storylines. I thought what CM Punk and The Undertaker did with the death of Paul Bearer was brilliant. I just want to get that out of the way because I’m not coming at this with a political correctness angle or any of that nonsense.  I just don’t really need Cena referencing 9/11 and wars to promote a throwaway Flag Match with Rusev. It didn’t sit well with me and it wreaked of desperation. I understand that Cena is proud of his country and all, but holy smokes I thought this was a bit much. I’ve never been overwhelmed with American pride while watching a John Cena match and I’m not going to shed a tear when he most likely wins on Sunday.

AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura had a conversation backstage. Nakamura pointed to Styles’ United States Championship and said that he is going to take that from him someday. Nakamura and Styles will be teaming up later tonight.

Becky Lynch vs Charlotte

Natalya joined commentary for this match. The match started out back and forth. Becky took control and connected with a Dropkick. Becky charged at Charlotte but Charlotte avoided it and backflipped twice across the ring. Becky tried to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her but Charlotte rolled out of the ring as SmackDown went to a commercial.

During the break, Charlotte took control of the match and applied a Chin Lock in the middle of the ring. Charlotte kneed Becky in the back a couple of times while she was on the mat. Becky battled back and connected with a Dropkick that sent Charlotte out of the ring. Becky then leaped off the ring apron and hit her with a Clothesline outside the ring.

SmackDown returned with Becky and Charlotte returning to the ring. The two Superstars traded punches for a bit, but Charlotte got the upper-hand and connected with a series of chops. Charlotte then kneed Becky in the face and strutted across the ring. Natalya accused Charlotte of exploiting her father as Charlotte went for a pinfall but Becky kicked out at two. SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi was shown watching the match backstage.

Becky fought back and planted Charlotte with an Exploder Suplex. Lynch connected with a forearm for a two count. Becky once again went for the Dis-Arm-Her but Charlotte blocked it. Charlotte went for the Natural Selection but Becky caught her and locked in the Dis-Arm-Her. Charlotte broke the hold and connected with a big boot for a two count. Charlotte climbed up to the top rope and went for a Moonsault but Becky rolled out of the way. Becky then locked in the Dis-Arm-Her. Charlotte desperately tried to get out of the hold but Becky brought her to the middle of the ring and Charlotte had no choice but to submit.

After the match, Charlotte and Becky shook hands. Lana and Tamina then came down to the ring and Natalya attacked Charlotte and Becky from behind. Tamina and Lana then attacked Becky Lynch and threw her out of the ring. Natalya went for the Sharpshooter on Tamina but Lana dragged her down from her hair. Natalya then got in Lana’s face but Tamina got back up and booted Natalya in the face.

Winner: Becky Lynch

Reaction: Tamina continues to have Lana’s back for some reason. I’ll admit that I’m interested to find out why that is. I’m actually interested to learn anything about Tamina’s character at this point. I thought Charlotte and Becky had a pretty decent match. I have zero clue who is going to win the Fatal 5-Way to determine the #1 contender for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Battleground and that is a good thing. I think Becky Lynch would make sense and then have her go into a feud with Carmella after she cashes in. I wouldn’t mind seeing Charlotte, Natalya, Becky or even Tamina win that match. I have zero interest in Lana getting another shot at the title right now. It may be too soon for Tamina as well but it would at least be something different.

Naomi was interviewed backstage by Renee Young. Naomi said that she will be the first person to congratulate the #1 contender on Sunday at Battleground. Carmella then showed up with the MITB briefcase and reminded Naomi that she will be watching her every move. Carmella told Naomi that she will see her at Battleground and walked away.

Another episode of the Fashion Files was shown and this time it was a parody of the X-Files. Breeze was dressed as Agent Scully and was supporting a red wig. Breezango thought they heard a ghost but it turned out to be Aiden English singing. A bright light then appeared and Breezango once again thought it was an alien. A delivery man showed up with a box marked fragile. The delivery man said that he turned the light on and Tyler Breeze signed for the package. Breeze opened it and it was the head of their fake horse (Se7en parody). There was a note in the box that read “Battleground” and Fandango stated that this ends Sunday.

AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin

Corbin tried to attack Nakamura from behind during his entrance. Shinsuke was ready and the two started brawling. Styles and Owens then joined the fight on the entrance ramp. Eventually, the Superstars made their way towards the ring and SmackDown went to a commercial break.

When SmackDown returned, Owens and Corbin were in control of the match. Owens beatdown AJ Styles and shouted “that is why I am the best!”. Styles got back to his feet and connected with a Dropkick to Owens. Nakamura was tagged in and he beatdown Owens in the corner. Owens missed with a Clothesline and Nakamura hit Owens with a kick to the side of the head.

Owens threw Nakamura out of the ring and Corbin rolled him right back in and Owens connected with a Senton for a two count. Corbin was then tagged in as Nakamura was isolated in the corner. Corbin stomped on Shinsuke’s chest against the turnbuckle. Referee Charles Robinson got in Corbin’s face and Corbin told him to shut up and that he knew how to count.

Owens got back into the match and continued to beatdown Nakamura a bit. Owens then taunted Styles and tagged Corbin back in. Corbin locked in a Bear Hug on Nakamura in the middle of the ring. Nakamura fought out of the hold and connected with a kick to Corbin and both Superstars fell to the mat. Corbin blasted Styles off the ring apron and prevented Nakamura from tagging out.

Shinsuke hit Corbin with a series of kicks to the chest. Nakamura then perched Corbin across the top rope but Nakamura was distracted by Owens. Corbin planted Nakamura with Deep Six and went for the cover but Styles broke up the pinfall. Corbin got on top of Nakamura and punched him in the face a couple of times.

Nakamura connected with a spin kick and finally tagged in Styles. Owens was tagged in at the same time. Styles connected with a flurry of right hands and knocked Owens to the mat with a Clothesline. Styles then hit a forearm for a two count. Styles went for a Splash but missed. Styles slammed Owens face-first into the mat for a two count. Owens absolutely leveled Styles with a massive Clothesline and both Superstars fell to the mat.

Corbin was then tagged in and Styles kicked him in the shin. Styles went for the Calf Crusher but Corbin launched him across the ring. Styles was then able to lock in the Calf Crusher in the middle of the ring but Corbin dragged himself to the bottom rope to break the hold. Styles geared up for the Phenemenal Forearm but Owens tripped him up on the ring apron. Nakamura and Owens battled outside the ring. Corbin launched Nakamura over the barricade from behind. Back in the ring, Styles hit the Pele Kick and went for the Styles Clash on Corbin. Styles was unaware that Owens had tagged himself in and Owens planted Styles with the Pop-Up Powerbomb for the victory.

Winners: Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin

Reaction: The main-event was decent and overall this was one of the better SmackDowns in recent memory in my opinion. Unfortunately, that is not saying much because this show was simply mediocre. It sucks, but I’ve grown used to being underwhelmed heading into a PPV. Great Balls of Fire at least had some buzz because of the Lesnar and Samoa Joe match. There is really not all that much to get hyped up about for this Sunday’s WWE Battleground PPV. There is always a chance that any WWE PPV will be great and I hope that happens on Sunday. The crowd barely made any noise during tonight’s show and their is just a general lifelessness surrounding the WWE product right now. I doubt that will change after Sunday’s PPV, but I hope that things pick up heading into SummerSlam next month.

What did you think of this week’s episode of SmackDown? Let us know in the comments below.