- Smackdown Live Episode #928 is coming from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA. Tom Phillips, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and Byron Saxton are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Advertised ahead of time for tonight is a Five-Women Elimination Match to determine the #1 Contender to Naomi's Women's Championship. We even get quick promos from all the participants before the opening plays.
- U.S. Champion Kevin Owens is in the ring for the Kevin Owens Highlight Reel. He must be scheduled to compete, because he's not dressed in a suit this week. Chris Jericho invented the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, or so he claims, but he never won one, and in three weeks, he's going to do what Jericho couldn't, and win. He brings out his "guest", WWE's resident Rockstar, The Artist Known as Shinsuke Nakamura™. Owens gives Shinsuke the stink eye during his entrance. This isn't Americas Got Talent, it's Kevin Owens' Highlight Reel, so enough of the entrance and stupid dancing. Owens wants to know if Shinsuke knows what happened to the last guy who walked around like a Rockstar. If Shinsuke shows up on Sunday, that will be the day the music dies. Baron Corbin interrupts and says they should show highlights of a real superstar in the form of his beatdown of Sami Zayn last week. Owens isn't impressed, he's been beating up Sami for 15-years, and tells Corbin to step off. Corbin refuses and calls KO "Cartman." Is South Park still topical? Nakamura reminds the world he pinned Owens last week, and as for Baron Corbin, he lost to Sami Zayn twice in a row. It's a 2-on-1 attack until the save is made by Sami Zayn, and I guess Theodore Long's spirit lives on, because we've got a TAG TEAM MATCH PLAYA', HOLLA HOLLA. Is Teddy Long references topical, too?
We return from commercial, with Owens in control of a chin-lock. Zayn escapes and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb (out of nowhere). Corbin with a spine-buster for a near fall. Zayn catches him coming off the ropes with a short clothesline and makes the hot tag. Shinsuke comes off the ropes with a boot to the face of Owens, followed by a pair of knee strikes. He sets Owens up on the top rope and hits a running knee for a two count. Shinsuke with a spinning roundhouse kick for another two count. Owens and Corbin get rammed together, and that's enough for them to bicker among each other. Corbin nails Owens with a right, and Shinsuke finishes him with the Kinshasa at 11:11. **1/2 By the numbers action, with a weak middle thanks to the commercial break being little more than rest-holds (I know, I'm surprised, too).
- Smackdown Live's Tag Team Champions, The Usos, are in the ring, gloating about still being the Champions and breaking the hearts of the fans about beating American Alpha and Breezango... and just like they thought the Atlanta Falcons were going to beat the New England Patriots. Their gloating is interrupted by the familiar sound of Big E's proclamation and out comes the New Day for their long-awaited Smackdown Live Debut. I feel like we time warped back to the mid 90's with that bright color scheme for their tights. The Usos ask if they got lost, skipping their way down the yellow brick road. Kofi says it's more like a "skip-clap" and prances around. Jimmy "welcomes" them to the Uso Penitentiary. Big E wants the Tag Titles, and Xavier chimes in they can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Jey says they run the show (like track stars), and threatens to take them out back, Old Yeller style. The New Day have already met with Shane McMahon, and the Usos will have to defend the Tag Team Titles against them at Money in the Bank. Let the celebration begin!
- Highlights of last week's Jinder Mahal Punjabi Celebration.
- The Fashion Files: The Men Who Knew Too Little. We've got the old school, film noir style, narrated by Fandango. He feels like last season's old suede sandals, and they let the Uggos slip right through their fingers. "Sweet Richard Simmons, what is this?", as Fandango comes across his office in shambles. There's a sexy silhouette, but it turns out to be Tyler Breeze in disguise. They narrate out loud, and seem confused they can hear each other. Something stinks on Smackdown, but there's a clue: a bottle of cologne. Who could the culprits be?!
- The Five-Women Elimination Match between Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina never takes place, with all five women brawling in and around the ring before it could officially start, with the big spot being Charlotte putting Natalya through the ringside table with a Powerbomb. Shane McMahon comes out, knowing he environment is safe, and makes the announcement that we'll get a first at Money in the Bank: The first-ever WOMEN'S Money in the Bank Ladder Match, with all five women participating, assuming they can keep their cool long enough for the entrances and introductions to be completed.
We come back from commercial, with Epico in control of a chin-lock. Fandango creates separation, but Breeze has been taken out of his corner. Where did he go!? Fandango catches Primo off the ropes with a clothesline, but still nobody to tag. Epico sets him up for a Super-Plex, but Fandango fights free and connects with a sunset-Powerbomb. Tyler Breeze has finally emerged from his hiding spot, dressed as a Janitor. "It looks like an anorexic Howard Finkel." Classy line. He wipes the floor with Primo and connects with an enzuigiri. Fandango stops Primo from using his mop, and Breeze finishes with the Unprettier at 8:03. *3/4 This was... something. I don't even know how to rate these Breezango matches lately.
- Renee Young is backstage with A.J. Styles. He's scheduled to face Dolph Ziggler later tonight. Styles says he's building momentum for Money in the Bank. Dolph interrupts and mocks the "House That A.J. Styles Built" line. He reminds us, again, that he's won the briefcase before, and successfully cashed it in to become the World Champion.
- Randy Orton comes out for his first appearance since doing the job for Jinder Mahal at Backlash. I can't believe I just typed that without any sarcasm. At least he has a chance to regain the Championship at Money in the Bank. Orton says he's beaten the best the industry has ever seen, name dropping Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and the Undertaker, and his father was in the Main Event of WrestleMania (but he was just an outside man), so "this" is in his blood. He doesn't need to stand here and tell everyone how he's doing to beat Mahal for his WWE Title, because he's going to just go out there at Money in the Bank and do it. It's called respect, but Mahal is too arrogant to believe that, and the only thing he's earned is a good old fashion, Orton Family Ass-Kicking™. Money in the Bank is in his hometown, and he can't show his face if he can't win back the Championship. Mahal interrupts via pre-recorded promo, and it's the same shtick, different week. I'm really looking forward to "Former Champion" Mahal, so maybe WWE is on to something.
- Next Week: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens. Non-Title Match, of course.
We return from commercial, with Styles fighting out of a chin-lock with a back suplex. Styles with the Phenomenal Blitz and short clothesline. He dives into the corner with another clothesline and follows with a sliding forearm. Styles with a face-plant slam for two. Ziggler counters a Styles Clash with a roll-up for two. Styles with the Ushigoroshi for two. Ziggler blocks the Styles Clash again and ends up on the apron. Styles muscles him back in over the ropes and takes him into the corner with a suplex. Ziggler avoids a Super-Styles Clash and takes Styles off the top rope with a DDT. Ziggler nails Styles with a headbutt, but the Zig-Zag is countered with a back breaker. Ziggler recovers and hits a running knee to the jaw. He sets Styles up across the top turnbuckle for a Super-Plex, but Styles slips between the legs. He misses a dive, Dolph misses a dive, and Styles takes him down with the Calf-Crusher. Ziggler goes to the eyes to force the break as I anticipated him just wrapping his arm around his neck and slamming down to the canvas. Zig-Zag for two. Styles avoids the Super-Kick and sets up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Ziggler trips him up. Super-Kick to the side of the head, and Ziggler has pinned Styles in his hometown (of course) at 9:18 (shown). I didn't see that result coming. *** Good match, but not enough TV time and the finish seemed to come out of nowhere.
Final Thoughts: Mixed bag show, as the case has been for the recent weeks of Smackdown Live episodes. Some decent in-ring work, but only three matches means a LOT of talking, and there's only so much you can do to promote the Money in the Bank Ladder Match when it's based on necessity rather than rivalries. Most of the card, at least for important matches, has taken shape, with the Ladder Match for the Men, Ladder Match for the Women (meaning Naomi's reign is extended further despite being a Paper Champion), Mahal vs. Orton for the WWE Title, and Usos vs. New Day for the Tag Team Titles... is it SummerSlam yet?