Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, & Byron Saxton
SmackDown Live takes place this week in the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden and WWE is bringing the big guns with The Undertaker making an appearance. Why is he here? Man I don’t know, stop asking questions. Also on the show Chad Gable will face a mystery opponent in the King of the Ring semi-finals. Who will replace the “injured” Elias in the match? AGAIN I DON’T KNOW, STOP ASKING ME. What you can do though and join along as I recap the show live.
- WWE CHAMPION: Kofi Kingston
- WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Shinsuke Nakamura
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Bayley
- SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods)
- The Miz vs. Andrade (**)
- Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose (*)
- Heavy Machinery vs. Johnny Silver & Alex Keaton (SQUASH)
- Ember Moon vs. Bayley (**1/4)
- KING OF THE RING – SEMI-FINAL: Chad Gable vs. Shane McMahon [w/ Kevin Owens as the Special Guest Referee]
-The gongs hit, the lights go purple, and it’s time for The Undertaker to open this week’s episode of SmackDown Live. WWE not burying the lede tonight. Undertaker says for the past thirty years he has considered the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden his home, and there is one thing he wants everyone to remember about this place: the TITANS who were born here, the legends who made their name here, and the heroes that were created. Taker is interrupted by Sami Zayn of all people and OH MY GOD YES. The disdain on his face reminds me of the look my Dad used to give me whenever I blasted a Reel Big Fish album in the car. Zayn says that as much as he respects Taker, Taker himself probably realizes he shouldn’t be opening the show at this point in time. Zayn tells Taker the future is here, now, and it’s Sami Zayn. Zayn says the NYC fans probably want him to take out The Undertaker but that’s not why he’s here (cue the “YOU SUCK” chants); he’s here to respectfully ask Taker to turn around and leave the ring right now. Zayn asks Taker to pass the torch to him, because WWE will be in good hands. Taker hands Zayn his mic and teases walking away, exciting Zayn, but changes his mind, shakes his head, and chokeslams the king of the third wave. Cue the gongs and the exit.
- I’ll be honest I didn’t expect SAMI ZAYN of all people to get face time with The Undertaker, but hey at least something interesting occurred. It has nothing to do with the rest of the show though, so it might as well have happened in some weird alternate dimension. WWE really hurting this bad they needed to bring The Undertaker out of the moth balls to do that? That’s so weird.
–Shane McMahon is joined in his office by Chad Gable. McMahon says Elias has broken his ankle and can no longer compete in the tournament; Gable thinks it means he gets a bye to the finals. McMahon says Gable will be competing tonight but doesn’t know who it will be yet. Could be from RAW, could be from SmackDown, could even be someone who has already been eliminated.
–The Miz makes his way out to the ring. He’s in action NEXT.
The Miz vs. Andrade [w/ Zelina Vega]
Miz’s Clash of Champions opponent, Shinsuke Nakamura, is on commentary for this one. Zayn would join them but…you know. Miz in control early with an armbar while Nakamura responds to all questions in Japanese because he don’t give a F*CK. Miz with a roll-up for a two-count followed by a face plant. Miz sends Andrade to the floor with a monkey flip and teases taking flight but Vega distracts him on the apron. Miz hits Andrade with an elbow, Andrade distracts the ref while Vega rakes the eyes of Miz, and connects with a corner dropkick followed by double knees for a two-count. Miz is in trouble as we go to the insert commercials. Andrade pops off two of the Amigos, Miz blocks the third and counters with a suplex of his own. Andrade reverses an Irish whip and blasts Miz with a back elbow for a two-count. Andrade tosses Miz to the floor and comes down with a double axhandle from the ring steps. Miz fights back with a series of chops, Andrade counters a whip and sends him crashing into the barricade. He deserved it, tbh. Andrade rolls Miz in and connects with a slingshot senton for the 1…2…Miz kicks out, a frustrated Andrade slaps on a reverse chinlock. Miz flips out of a suplex and connects with a DDT. Both men are down as we return to full screen action.
Miz launches into a babyface comeback, connecting with his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for the 1…2…Andrade kicks out and Miz can’t believe that the move that never wins him matches didn’t win him the match. Miz with rapid-fire chops and MIZ KICKS in the corner. Miz charges in with back to back knees, Andrade tries the same but Miz dodges and he crashes knee-first into the buckle and out to the floor. Miz throws Andrade into Nakamura like a jerk, Andrade with a spinning elbow for the 1…2…kickout. Andrade tries the double moonsault, Miz is able to counter it sort-of and hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the 1…2…3.
The Miz defeated Andrade via pinfall (9:49)
- Match was fine, though Andrade felt like he was holding back to wrestle Miz’s style. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it though. (**)
Nakamura attacks Miz after the match, hitting a Kinsasha and standing tall heading into this Sunday’s PPV.
-Shane McMahon finds Chad Gable in the locker room and announces Gable’s replacement: SHANE MCMAHON. McMahon condescendingly tussles Gable’s hair and excitedly runs off.
-After a commercial break Mandy Rose has a live mic in the ring, flanked by her Fire & Desire partner Sonya Deville. Rose says she would be embarrassed if she had to walk around looking like Nikki Cross; for she is beautiful and Nikki is ugly. OOOOOF THAT LINE DELIVERY. Point to the TitanTron, comparison shot between Rose and Cross. More ugly jokes until the music of Alexa Bliss interrupts. Her tag team partner and best friend Nikki Cross is out next and she goes RIGHT TO THE RING. Cross attacks Rose, ref separates the two, then calls for the bell.
- A truly wretched piece of business that was. One of the worst promos I’ve heard in a long time, weirdly timed, jokes straight out of the “Piggy James” era.
Nikki Cross [w/ Alexa Bliss] vs. Mandy Rose [w/ Sonya Deville]
Cross keeps attacking as Rose tries and fails to escape from the ring. Cross climbs Rose’s back, Rose squashes her in the corner to get a little separation. Cross ducks a clothesline, Rose catches her crossbody and connects with a fallaway slam. Cross tries to roll out, Rose pulls her back in and covers for a two-count. Rose with a straitjacket chinlock. Cross escapes and connects with a jawbreaker. Cross with a whole lot of buckle shots followed by a pair of forearms. Cross to the top, Deville climbs the apron and Bliss yanks her off. Rose dodges the splash, Cross dodges the knee strike and rolls her up for the 1…2…3.
Nikki Cross defeated Mandy Rose via pinfall (3:16)
- That godawful segment cast a shadow over all of this. I appreciated Rose’s chickensh*t mannerisms but…man. What a terrible lead-in. (*)
–Heavy Machinery are backstage at catering eating and being loud. They’re in action tonight. Do we have to?
–Bayley is interrupted by Ember Moon backstage. Moon asks Bayley what’s happening with her, and blames Sasha Banks’ influence. Bayley says it’s not just about Sasha, it’s about the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Moon says this about Bayley struggling to be relevant as champion, especially since Sasha came back. Bayley asks her what she knows about being a champion, Moon says she knows the champion got pinned by Charlotte Flair last night. Bayley beefs up, Moon tells her to save it for a match tonight.
Heavy Machinery (Tucker & Otis) vs. Johnny Silver & Alex Keaton
Heavy Machinery get their sh*t in and win with the Compactor.
- Otis would have KILLED IT in the Attitude Era. (SQUASH)
-Shane McMahon finishes giving a production assistant instructions and turns to meet Kevin Owens. McMahon says he’s willing to get rid of the 100,000 dollar fine. Owens asks what the catch is, McMahon says there isn’t one…there’s a job. McMahon drapes a ref shirt over Owens, who hammers home how important it is for him to be The Best in the World and the KING.
-STORYLINE RECAP: Rowan attacked Roman Reigns, lied to Daniel Bryan about it, Rowan ended last week’s show beating both men up.
–Erick Rowan makes his way out to open the second hour, complete with new (?) entrance music and his first name back. Good for him. Not so good is the near-silence he came out to. Rowan says everyone is afraid to look him in the eyes to see what makes him tick and what he’s capable of. Rowan says he’s a mastermind, a manipulator, and a schemer but all people see is a big brute. He’s quickly interrupted by Roman Reigns, who makes a b-line to the ring for a SUPERMAN PUNCH that sends him to the floor. Rowan counters a spear attempt with a kick and a throw to the barricade. Reigns fights back with a right, and they brawl into the crowd. More Superman Punches as security comes out to try and regain control. Rowan grabs a “fan” and throws him into the security guards. Officials and dudes in suits try to calm Rowan down, who is upset because he had something to say. Rowan runs around the ring and launches into Reigns and the security team. Fight moves to the entrance stage, Reigns with ANOTHER Superman Punch and they fight on the King of the Ring set. Brawl ends with Rowan winning, using a roving camera to bash Reigns in the face. That’s creative at least. Oh wait Reigns gets to his feet to ACTUALLY end the segment because f*ck heat.
- No one wanted to hear Rowan talk so I’m glad they got to the brawl early. Pretty good too, got me more into their match on Sunday for sure. I didn’t hate Rowan’s brief promo either, and I appreciate that he was all “I’M SMART Y’ALL, STOP TREATING ME LIKE A BRUTE” then immediately acted like a brute.
-After a replay of what just went down we go backstage where Erick Rowan is repeatedly mumbling “Roman” to himself. Yes that is his name. Good job you intelligent manipulator and mastermind.
-After a hard sell for Clash of Champions we pan the camera where Charlotte Flair has joined the commentary team.
Ember Moon vs. Bayley
Moon attacks early, forcing Bayley to bail to the floor. Moon catches her with a right and climbs the barricade, Bayley sweeps the legs and connects with a knee strike in full view of her Clash of Champions challenger as we go the insert commercials. Bayley keeps the pressure on, stomping a mudhole in Moon but her lateral press isn’t counted as Moon’s foot is in the ropes. Bayley gets overzealous mocking Flair and eats a middle rope codebreaker. Back to full screen as Moon continues her comeback, culminating a springboard crossbody for a two-count. Flair is adding NOTHING on commentary except unintentional humor at the robotic nature of it. Moon rolls through a sunset flip and deadlifts Bayley up, Bayley counters with a hurricanrana. Moon tries to dodge Bayley, Bayley sends her to the floor with another knee strike. Moon counters a tope suicida with a kick and heads to the top, Bayley dodges the Eclipse and hits the Bayley-to-Belly for the 1…2…3.
Bayley defeated Ember Moon via pinfall (4:28)
- Good television match from these two. Their SummerSlam match wasn’t great so it’s nice to see them rebound a bit with less time. (**1/4)
Flair enters the ring and signals that she will capture her record-setting 10th Women’s Championship come Sunday. Bayley decides to walk away while Flair poses, her theme music playing instead of the woman who just won the match.
-Kevin Owens thinks about life in his ref shirt…COMPLETE WITH CUT-OFF SLEEVES. Way to Mac that shirt, Kev.
-LAST WEEK: Randy Orton & The Revival beat up Kofi Kingston.
–Kofi Kingston and his pancake-stuffed WWE Championship make their way out to the ring for the next segment. Kingston cheap pops the Garden fans and says it was here in this building where his career changed forever (his feud with Randy Orton from a decade ago). Kingston said that one day he knew he’d back in Madison Square Garden as their WWE Champion and that day has come. Kingston reminds the people of this match by taking it to the Tron, where Kofi put Orton through a table with a Boom Drop. Randy Orton interrupts the promo with repeated “STUPID!”s. Orton can’t deal with hearing Kingston talk about the TWO things he’s done in the past decade while he’s been winning titles and Royal Rumbleses, and whatnot. Orton says he’s going to take the title back and makes fun of Kingston’s “power of positivity BULLSH*T”. Oooo he said a swear. Kingston climbs into the crowd to go attack Orton. Orton outsmarts Kingston again, hitting him with a concealed chair. Chairshot city. Kingston fights back and hits some chairshots of his own. He positions a table, Orton fights him off with chops and grabs a chair. Kingston kicks Orton so hard HE PUTS HIMSELF THROUGH THE TABLE. That’s hilarious. Kingston clears the way for the SECOND table. Kingston places Orton on the table, whacks him with a chair again, then climbs onto the upper row. BOOOOOOOM DROP 10 YEARS LATER, BAAAAYBEEEEEEE. Awesome.
- Great sh*ttalk from Orton, great recreation of the MSG Boom Drop, Kingston finally looks tough after getting tricked repeatedly over the past few weeks. Best segment of the show, without a goddamn doubt. This should have ended the show.
-BREAKING NEWS: Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan’s Clash of Champions match is now No-Disqualification! Smart move, hide the negatives.
–Chad Gable‘s entrance is cut short by the music of Shane McMahon, once again outshining the underdog.
KING OF THE RING: SEMI-FINALS (KEVIN OWENS AS SPECIAL GUEST REF)
Chad Gable vs. “The Best in the World” Shane McMahon
Gable with the roll-through German suplex out of nowhere for the 1…2…3! EYYYY.
Chad Gable defeated Shane McMahon via pinfall (0:31)
McMahon gets on the mic and announces the match is now 2 out of 3 Falls. I’m not going to keep track of the time now. McMahon attacks Gable from behind and rams his head repeatedly into the announce table as we go to commercial.
Back live Owens almost counts Gable out, but Gable makes it back in the ring just in time. McMahon stalls a bunch, jawing with Owens and playing to the crowd, before dismissively kicking at his opponent. Gable with a waistlock, McMahon elbows out and connects with a mule kick. Gable rolls Shane-o-Mac up with a crucifix but Owens takes his time checking the shoulders and slowly counting a 1 before McMahon kicks out, a look of disgust in his face. McMahon covers Gable, Owens tries to fast count the pin but Gable kicks out. Gable with a kick followed by senton leg lariat and a spinning neckbreaker. Gable with a moonsault off the top for the VERY SLOW 1……………..2…………….McMahon kicks out and Owens is real grossed out at himself about it. Gable pleads with Owens, Owens tries to explain, McMahon drops him throat-first on the top rope and clotheslines from behind. McMahon with an inverted F-5 for the quick 1,2,Gable still kicks out! McMahon introduces a chair, Owens says no because he’ll have to DQ him. Owens takes the chair, Gable counters a low-blow with an Ankle Lock, grapevining the leg. McMahon taps and the bell rings! GABLE WINS!
Chad Gable defeated Shane McMahon via submission to win the match 2 Falls to 1! (TIME NOT RECORDED)
- Props to Gable for getting the big win over Shane and main eventing SmackDown in Madison Square Garden. He is effortlessly great despite WWE trying to make all the short jokes a thing. (***)
Gable celebrates with the fans at ringside. McMahon attacks Owens from behind and FIRES him, barely able to talk because he is out of shape. K. Not as spotlight steal-y as I expected. Nothing says cool badass like Kevin Owens doing his job as a referee and then getting beaten up after.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The final two segments were great but the rest of the show was dullsville, complete with a pointless legend cameo and the MSG crowd going PIN DROP SILENT for Erick Rowan’s entrance. That was nuts. WWE is lucky they moved all the PPVs to the Network because there is no way this would have sold anyone on paying 60 bucks for Clash of Champions.