- Smackdown Live Episode #924 is coming to us from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA. Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and noticeably less-of-a-douche John "Bradshaw" Layfield are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Advertised for tonight is a rematch between Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens for the United States Championship. Yes, Jericho (surprisingly) won on Sunday, and per the stipulations of the match, is transferred to the Smackdown Live roster. Something deep down inside me thinks Jericho won't have a very long reign. - Earlier today, Jinder Mahal is doing a photo shoot with the WWE Championship, but unfortunately for him, Shane McMahon shows up to take the championship away on behalf of the real Champion, and lets him know he'll be in action tonight against Sami Zayn.
- Shane McMahon comes out to kick off tonight's show properly. I'm sure we won't see Daniel Bryan again until after Brie gives birth. Shane wastes little time introducing us to the NEW United States Champion. Saxton calls this acquisition a game changer. Shut up, Byron. Jericho says he's going to give everyone what they want, because this is "the New Show of Jericho, "Smack it Down, man." #1 contender A.J. Styles interrupts and welcomes his old friend and nemesis to Smackdown. Styles lets Jericho know he's standing in the House That A.J. Styles Built™, and he's still a little butt-hurt over the Y2AJ shirts that were produced and unsold. Styles has no problem taking the belt from Jericho at Backlash, if he's still Champion by that point. Jericho doesn't take kindly to Styles not believing in his chances to retain, but before he can put him on the list, it's Kevin Owen's turn to interrupt. He's salty over losing the title at Payback. If Jericho thinks the Festival of Friendship was bad, he has no idea what's coming to him tonight. Owens dismisses Styles' presence, so Styles quickly meets him in the aisle for a pull-apart brawl.
We come back from commercial with Mahal in control with a chin-lock. During the break, the Singh Brothers created a distraction that allowed the momentum swing. Zayn with blows to the midsection. Whip is reversed and Mahal catches him off the ropes with a power-slam for two. Mahal with knees across the chest and neck. Whip and an elbow for two. Mahal with a short-arm clothesline and back to the chin-lock. Zayn fights off a Super-Plex attempt, knocking Mahal to the canvas, but runs into a high knee for a near fall. Mahal gets cocky and runs into a short-clothesline. Zayn with a boot to the face and flying body press for two. Sunil hops on the apron to distract Zayn again, allowing Mahal to cradle him for two. Mahal blocks the Blue Thunder Bomb, but gets taken down with a Tornado DDT. Sunil pulls Mahal out of the way of a Helluva Kick and Samir trips Zayn up behind the back of the referee. Mahal from behind with the Cobra Clutch Slam for three at 7:06 (shown). **1/2 Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. Mahal doesn't have a flashy offense, coming across as a throwback heel, but maybe that's a good thing. Like Corbin, he's not having a 5-star classic, but his work is fine and he's not in there to product instant classics.
Becky Lynch bumps into her four favorite ladies, the "Welcoming Committee" (yes, that includes James Ellsworth). Natalya speaks on behalf of all of them to pollute her mind about Charlotte stealing the spotlight, and butters her up about being the first Women's Champion on Smackdown and now she's just an afterthought. Becky needs time to think about it.
- Dolph Ziggler is backstage with a bunch of random people (why is the girl not wearing shoes!?), complaining about Shinsuke Nakamura. Of course, Shane McMahon is the boogeyman who just magically appears behind the heels. Ziggler says he's going to impress Shane by what he does to Sin Cara. I forgot they switched Sin Cara for Kalisto, honestly.
- Renee Young is backstage with Chris Jericho. Aiden English walks by, sobbing, so Jericho puts him on THE LIST for crying on Smackdown. He also puts Renee on the list, possibly for looking like she's aged 10 years overnight. With so little time to spend on Smackdown Live, you have to add as many people to the List of Jericho as you can.
- Recap of last week when "Naomi challenged Naomi" for the Women's Championship. I'm positive Tom Phillips meant to say CHARLOTTE challenged Naomi. The match was OK until the Welcoming Committee interrupted and laid both women out. Dasha Fuentes is backstage with Charlotte Flair, who isn't too keen on teaming with Naomi, but she's quickly confronted by the Three Stooges and gets beat up a little.
We come back from commercial, with Carmella in control with a body scissors. Lots of hair pulling in this match, mostly from Carmella. Charlotte avoids the Bronco Buster and hot tag to Naomi. She hits Carmella with a springboard body press and a roundhouse kick. Naomi comes off the ropes with a split-legged jaw breaker and the Rear View, but Natalya distracts the referee. Naomi nails her with an enzuigiri, then it's Ellsworth's turn to distract her, allowing Carmella to school boy and hook the tights for three at 8:23 (shown). Post-match, The Triangle of Terror beat down Charlotte and Naomi until Becky makes her way to ringside. She teases joining their Unholy Alliance, but she's fighting for good, dammit! She throws Ellsworth into Tamina and fights off Natalya and Carmella until the numbers game catch up and she's left laying as well. ** Decent match that also doubled as a good angle developing segment.
- The New Day are (eventually) coming to Smackdown Live. Again, don't be surprised if they're the top baby-face team in lieu of American Alpha.
- Lana is still dancing with a chair and will be coming soon to Smackdown Live.
- "The Fashion Files" from the Fashion Police vignette, designed to look like Law & Order. Remember, they're the #1 contenders to the Tag Team Titles, having won a Beat the Clock Challenge last week. Tyler Breeze is trying to type away at a typewriter until Deputy Dango interrupts. They've closed the case on the Ascension, but they have bigger fish to fry. "The Uggos!" Read the case file! They Stole the Smackdown Titles (Grand Theft), used to do an ugly dance as part of their entrance (Disorderly Conduct), they're twins (identity theft), nobody wants them around (unlawful assembly), they walk around backstage like they own the place (that's J-walking... and Jimmy walking), and they're outfits hurt their eyes (assault that results in bodily harm). The big bust goes down on May 21st, in Chicago (the Windy Apple) at Backlash. Did I mention the framed photos of Freddie Blassie and the Big Boss Man, as well as other warrants tacked on the wall, like the Epico and Primo "Real Estate Fraud"? This was dumb, but entertaining dumb.
We come back from commercial, Jericho unloads with chops. Owens catches him coming off the top with a fist to the midsection. Jericho avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb, but meets knees going for the Lion-sault. Owens misses his second Cannonball attempt and Jericho hits his second attempt at the Lion-sault for a near fall. Jericho sweeps the legs for the Walls of Jericho, but Owens fights it off. Jericho goes for it again and this time turns Owens over with the hold, but Owens makes it to the ropes to force the break. Owens counters a springboard dropkick and connects with a super-Kick for two. Jericho counters a Pop-Up Powerbomb with a hurricanrana, then turns Owens over again with the Walls of Jericho, only for Owens to reach the ropes. Owens avoids a baseball slide, hits Jericho with a Super-Kick, and plants him on the concrete with a DDT. Back inside, Jericho's not looking well. Owens hits him with another Super-Kick, but it only gets two. Jericho with a surprise small package for two. Owens with a boot to the back of the head and the Pop-Up Powerbomb finishes at 9:37 (shown). Post-match, the medical staff checks on Jericho, who's selling a neck injury. Owens hits him with another Pop-Up Powerbomb. He tries doing it again, but Jericho collapses in a heap, so he leaves him dead on the floor by wrapping the chair around his neck and ramming him into the ring post. ***1/4 Good TV Main Event to wrap up their storyline and write Jericho out of storylines with his hiatus coming up. Who knows if (and when) he does return, but now the clear path is Owens vs. Styles, and that should be great.
Final Thoughts: Payback is in the rear-view mirror and Backlash is now only two weeks away, so everything is taking shape and the focus is back on building towards next week. I'm still not in love with Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal, but as a short-term option, they're at least trying to create a heel people want to boo. The storyline involving the entire Women's Division is still being played out, so don't be surprised if Naomi's reign is stretched out without defending it at the next PPV. The Usos vs. Fashion Police screams filler, but damn if it's hard not to enjoy the campy nature of Breeze and Fandango's performances. Even without a live appearance from Orton and Nakamura, this was an alright show made better with the conclusion (for now?) of the Owens/Jericho saga.