Eric Ames takes a look back at one of wrestling’s most historic nights: WWE Backlash 2017!
Kickoff Match: Aiden English vs. ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger
Loud “10” chants as the bell rings, Aiden takes a bow and gets booed heavily, Dillinger flashes a “10” in his face and they tie-up, English hooking in a side headlock. The Perfect 10 tries to send him off to the ropes, Aiden grabs a handful of hair to maintain it, counters to a side headlock of his own, The Drama King looks to push him off, but now Dillinger hangs onto the hair. He snapmares Aiden over, cartwheels and flashes another “10” in his face, The Drama King swings wildly with a right hand, Tye ducks it, goes for a waistlock, but gets rocked by a back elbow. English drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle, corners him and goes to the 2nd rope, has some words for the crowd and The Perfect 10 slips out under his legs.
He corners The Drama King and climbs to the 2nd rope, Aiden slips away, tries to escape to the outside, Dillinger gets him by the foot, the ref steps in to separate them and English yanks Tye throat-first into the ropes. He steps back in and plants The Perfect 10 with a swinging neckbreaker, covers for a 2 count, puts him in the corner and fires away with heavy shots, then charges in with a back splash as we go to break….We come back and The Drama King puts the boots to Tye in the corner, snapmares him over and slaps on a chinlock, The Perfect 10 working back to a vertical base. Aiden goes to the spine with knees to bring him back down, Tye battles back to his feet, breaks English’s grip, drops down into a roll-up and gets a count of 2.
Both guys back up quick, The Perfect 10 splits Aiden with an inverted atomic drop, scores with stinging chops, The Drama King shoves him to the ropes to stop the onslaught, ducks down for a back body drop, but eats a kick for his troubles. English tries to come back with a clothesline that’s off the mark, The Perfect 10 rebounds off the ropes with flying forearms, flattens Aiden with a short-arm clothesline, corners him and goes to the 2nd rope, raining down lefts. He exposes the knee for the Tye Breaker, The Drama King wisely rolls to the outside, Dillinger heads out to retrieve him, but English quickly escapes back out to the apron.
Tye slides in and reaches out to get him, Aiden surprises him with a hot shot, heads to the top rope, but gets launched off with a military press. Dillinger ascends the corner for a splash, nobody’s home, The Drama King plants him with The Director’s Cut, hooks the leg, but still can’t put it away. Aiden starts become visibly upset, drags Tye to his feet and has some words for him, scoops Dillinger for a body slam, then goes back up top for That’s A Wrap. The Perfect 10 rolls out of harm’s way, English rolls to his feet, charges in for a clothesline, Dillinger ducks it, follows with the Tye Breaker and gets the win.
Winner: ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger
- EA’s Take: Nothing overly special here, essentially the same match they have been having on SmackDown Live, except Aiden got in some more offense. This was really just a way to get Dillinger on the card, in my opinion. I’m more looking forward to seeing when he finally gets put into an actual storyline and who he’s matched up against. I could see him possibly being in the Money In The Bank Ladder Match, but honestly I only see him being a US Champion at-best in the long run.
Open: “We choose to show the world one face, but our true face, we only show ourselves. Is it the face of privilege or a predator? Is it the face of a fighter or a phenomenal one? Is it the face of a show off or an artist? Whatever face we choose to show, prepare for the backlash. It’s time to face who we are, it’s time to face the backlash.” This is WWE Backlash.
Match #1: Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Ziggler stays low and tries to go for a leg, switches to a waistlock, Shinsuke swaps out and they trade back again, Nakamura kicking Dolph to the mat, looks for a kick to the head, The Show Off ducks it and we have a stalemate. Collar & elbow tie-up, Ziggler grabs a handful of hair to back Shinsuke to the corner, doesn’t break clean and slaps him across the face, The King of Strong Style fires back with shots to the breadbasket, then slaps on a wristlock. The Show Off counters to a roll-up for an early 2, goes to a wristlock of his own and switches to an armbar, grinding Nakamura down to the canvas. The Artist finds a standing position, rolls through it and cartwheels over, arm-whips Dolph to the mat and The Show Off quickly gains the ropes for a break.
He gives Ziggler a receipt for the slap to the face and taunts him, Dolph rushes in and takes a knee to the abdomen, Nakamura snapmares him over, scores with a knee drop and The Show Off crawls to the corner. The King of Strong Style delivers Good Vibrations, Ziggler rolls to the floor for a breather, Shinsuke comes out in pursuit, tosses him back into the ring and climbs on the apron. He gets caught stepping inside with a kick, Ziggler plants him with a rope-assisted neckbreaker, clobbers The Artist with a headbutt, then rips away at his eyes before grabbing a rear chinlock. Nakamura works back to his feet, rolls Dolph away and charges in, The Show Off connects with a dropkick, hooks both legs and gets a count of 2. He leaps up for an elbow drop and goes into a lateral press for another 2, has some words for the crowd, drags The King of Strong Style up to talk some trash, then clocks him with a headbutt.
He looks to send Shinsuke to the ropes, The Artist reverses into a knee to the midsection, looks for a roundhouse kick that misses, but brings his other leg around for a spinning wheel kick. Both guys stagger back to their feet, The King of Strong Style unload with a flurry of strikes, rocks Ziggler with kicks to the chest, Dolph stumbles to the corner and Nakamura rushes in with a knee to the ribs. He planks The Show Off across the top, buries another knee into the breadbasket, makes a cover, but only gets a 2 count. He hauls Ziggler up for a reverse exploder, Dolph fights out of it with a back elbow, rolls him up for a quick near fall, The Artist locking on a triangle choke off the kick-out.
The Show Off quickly gains the ropes to force a break, Shinsuke sets him for a vertical suplex, Ziggler slides out of it, spikes him with a satellite DDT, but still can’t finish it off. Both guys drag themselves back to their feet, Dolph rushes in and gets caught by another knee to the gut, Nakamura measures for the Kinshasa, Ziggler ducks under, utilizes a schoolboy and nearly steals it. Both guys back up quick, The Show Off scores with a Famouser and still can’t put it away, pulls himself up in the corner and lines up for Superkick. The King of Strong Style avoids it, tries a big boot that misses, Ziggler jumps up and deliver a Zig Zag, covers and Nakamura barely kicks out at 2. He grabs Shinsuke and hooks him for a powerbomb, The Artist blocks it, fires off quick strikes, drops down an axe kick to the back of the head, then tosses him with a reverse exploder suplex, but Dolph flips to his feet.
He surprises The King of Strong Style with a Superkick to the back of the head, crawls into a cover and Shinsuke gets the shoulder up at 2, Ziggler batters him with elbow to the back of the head, then unleashes a series of kicks. Nakamura blocks on, The Show Off spits in his face, The Artist gets angered, clocks him with heavy strikes, Dolph tries to go low and pick the leg, but Shinsuke bludgeons him with knees to the midsection. Ziggler crawls to the ropes and the official steps in to create separation, The King of Strong Style steps out to the apron, drills him with a sliding knee, then goes to the top rope for a flying knee. The Show Off ducks under it, attempts a Superkick, Nakamura side-steps, throws him with a reverse exploder suplex, then delivers the Kinshasa for the 3 count.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura (Kinshasa)
- EA’s Take: Great way to begin the show tonight and smart to get Nakamura’s match on first, avoiding the chants for him all night long. I don’t think anyone ever expected Ziggler to go over here, but they did a really good job of making it competitive and trying to suspend the disbelief. I was hot when Shinsuke debuted during a segment with The Miz and then The A-Lister got moved to RAW, that was a feud I was really looking forward to. However, it’s hard to argue with Dolph being the first guy up against The King of Strong Style, especially since selling is his strong point and it really drives home to the audience that Nakamura hits hard.
Video: We go to last week’s edition of The Fashion Files, Fandango wondering where Breeze is to help with all the work they’ve got. A “janitor” walks in and reveals himself to be Tyler Breeze, The Lord of the Dance asking how his undercover work is going. Prince Pretty reveals Baron Corbin has three shirts all with wolves on them, Sami Zayn is continuing to take advantage of “nerds” with his merchandise, but The Usos have a shirt saying “Day One Ish”, which nobody knows what it means. Tyler admits The Usos are scary and they don’t stand a chance, Fandango tells him he’s in too deep, reminding him that he’s The King of Cuteville and at Backlash, they’ll be wearing the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.
Match #2 for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships: Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
Breeze is sporting his janitor outfit, complete with a mop and bucket from last week’s Fashion Files. Jimmy & Fandango will kickoff the action, they tie-up and The Lord of the Dance snaps in a side headlock, Jimmy sends him off to the corner and follows in, Fandango hops up-and-over, hits the ropes and scores with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Fandango tags out, Breeze continues to mop the canvas, Jimmy charges him and only finds the turnbuckles, trips over the mop, then tries to rush back at Tyler. Prince Pretty rubs the mop in his face and plays to the crowd, Jey tags in behind his back, drops Breeze with a right hand, then snaps the mop in half and goes to the high-rent district. Tyler rolls away across the ring, Jey looks to go the opposite top rope, The Sultan of Selfie rolls across again and they keep the spot going.
Jey finally gets angered and tries to pick him up, Breeze surprises Jey with an enzuigiri for a count of 2, makes a tag and Fandango comes off the top with a double axe to the shoulder. He hooks on a wristlock and Jey rocks him with a fist, knocks Prince pretty off the apron, drives The Lord of the Dance to his corner and Jimmy tags in, connecting with punches and stiff chops. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Fandango goes for a back body drop, Jimmy counters with a sunset flip, can’t bring him over and The Lord of the Dance grinds his hips again, then delivers a leg drop for 2. He grounds Jimmy with an armbar, Tyler comes back onto the apron dressed as an elderly woman with a cane, Jimmy slips away from the armbar and The Lord of the Dance tags out, Jimmy doing the same. Prince Pretty steps in and Jey kicks the cane away, Breeze catches him with a dropkick, Jey gets frustrated, Tyler lifts his dress to scare him, then sends him to the corner with another dropkick.
The King of Cuteville charges in with a bronco buster and celebrates, Jey makes him pay with a running dropkick, lines him up in the corner for a flying forearm, Jimmy re-enters the match, then squashes Breeze with a running hip attack. Jimmy rips the dress off and launches it to the outside, props Prince Pretty up in the corner for a splash, The Sultan of Selfie side-steps it and both guys crawl to tags. Fandango comes in with left hands for Jey, follows with a clothesline, knocks Jimmy off the apron, then sends Jey to the ropes for a back body drop. Jey drops down and clocks him with an uppercut to avoid it, hits the ropes and gets drilled by a spinning wheel kick, The Lord of the Dance hooks the leg, but only gains a near fall. He corners Jey and fires off stinging chops, irish whip across is reversed, Jey runs in for a splash that misses, Fandango follows with a tornado DDT, but still can’t put it away.
Tag to Prince Pretty, Breezango sets for a double back suplex, Jey flips to his feet, decks Fandango with a right hand, but Breeze unloads with fists of his own. Jimmy makes a blind tag, Jey reverses a whip to the ropes, cracks Tyler with a backbreaker and holds him up, Jimmy comes off the top with a forearm, covers, but only gets 2. He drags Tyler back up and props him on the top turnbuckle for a superplex, Breeze slips out under the legs, doesn’t see Jey make a tag, pins Jimmy’s head in between the turnbuckles, turns around and Jey goes for a superkick. Tyler avoids it and Jey hits his brother by mistake, The King of Cuteville plants Jey with the Unprettier, hooks both legs and nearly finishes it off.
Jey rolls to the floor and Jimmy comes to check on him, Fandango gets a tag, Breeze comes off the apron with a somersault senton to the champions, but gets caught in mid-air and then launched into the barricade. The Lord of the Dance hits the ropes, flies over the top with a somersault senton, tosses Jey back into the ring and climbs to the top turnbuckle. Jimmy hops on the apron and creates a distraction, Jey knocks Fandango to the canvas with a superkick, hooks the legs and the champions retain.
Winner and STILL SmackDown Tag Team Champions: The Usos (Jey/Superkick)
- EA’s Take: This match was way better than I anticipated and at first, I wasn’t overly pleased that Breeze was still “undercover”, but all of the comedy spots were masterfully done. As much as I’m a fan of Breezango, I’ve always believed they were just interim challengers for the titles. The New Day is coming right around the corner here and I’d be willing to bet money that SmackDown Live’s Tag Team Division will be built around them, so gaining more heat on The Usos is a necessity for when that clash happens.
Match #3: Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Collar & elbow lock-up starts us off, Corbin backs Sami to the corner, breaks clean and they start pushing and shoving, then tie-up again. The Underdog from the Underground grabs a wristlock, Baron backs him to the corner again, tries for a cheap shot that misses and Zayn goes back to the wristlock. The Lone Wolf backs him to the ropes this time, buries a knee to the breadbasket off the break, shoots Sami to the ropes, Zayn uses the bottom rope to spring up-and-over, scores with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and Corbin spills to the outside. The Underdog from the Underground feigns an outside dive, Baron steps back in, drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle multiple times, dumps him over the top, Zayn hangs onto the apron, delivers a shoulder to the abdomen and flips himself back inside.
He hits the ropes and Baron elevates him into the air, The Underdog from the Underground surprises him with a dropkick, The Lone Wolf gets knocked to the floor again, reaches into the ring and drags him out to the floor. Corbin looks to deposit him into the barricade, Zayn hops on top of it, comes off with a moonsault, Baron staggering back into the ring to the corner. Sami slides in and connects with kicks and fists, The Lone Wolf powers him up, drives him spine-first into the turnbuckles, then targets the lower back with stomps and cracks him with a backbreaker. He whips The Underdog from the Underground hard into the turnbuckles, clobbers him with stiff forearms, Sami starts to battle back, hits the ropes and gets caught in a bearhug.
Zayn with elbows to the head to fight out of it, hits the ropes and ducks multiple shots, The Lone Wolf again catching him with a bearhug to punish the lower back. The Underdog from the Underground battles his way out again, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Corbin ducks down for a back body drop, eats a kick instead, then charges Zayn near the ropes. Sami low-bridges the top rope to dump Baron to the floor, ascends the corner to the high-rent district, Corbin slides back inside and Zayn jumps over the top of him, then rolls to his feet. He rushes in and The Lone Wolf plants him with a spinebuster for a count of 2, the crowd starts the “Ole” chants, Corbin hits the ropes for a heavy right hand, then screams at The Underdog from the Underground to stay down. Sami tries to drag himself back up, Baron hits the ropes for another haymaker, Zayn attempts to pull himself up once again, The Lone Wolf goes back to the well one time too many and gets flattened by a clothesline.
The Underdog from the Underground follows with another clothesline, stumbles to the corner, catches Corbin running in with a boot to the jaw, goes to the 2nd rope, springs to the top and connects with a crossbody for a 2 count. Zayn pulls Baron up and gets rocked by a shot to the throat, The Lone Wolf lines him up, charges in, Sami side-steps, Corbin slides out-and-in and turns him inside-out with a clothesline of his own, hooking the leg for a near fall. Baron goes right back to the lower spine with stiff forearm shots, lifts him up for a back suplex, The Underdog from the Underground flips to his feet, hits the ropes and gets caught in a chokeslam backbreaker, Zayn barely kicking out at 2. The Lone Wolf props him on the top turnbuckle for a superplex, Sami blocks it, plants Corbin with a sunset flip powerbomb off the 2nd rope for a near fall, hauls Baron back up, but gets shoved into the corner.
He catches Corbin walking in with a back elbow, goes to the 2nd rope for a tornado DDT, The Lone Wolf blocks it, powers him over his shoulder, The Underdog from the Underground slides out to the corner, catches Baron for the corner exploder suplex, but can’t lift him up. The Lone Wolf batters him with elbows, goes for End Of Days, Zayn reverses it into a crucifix that almost steals the win, both guys back up quick and Corbin hits Deep Six, Sami getting his shoulder up at 2. Baron starts to lose his cool and lays in a barrage of boots, pummels The Underdog from the Underground with forearms, Sami pulls himself to his feet using the ropes and Corbin charges in, but gets tossed to the outside. He lands on his feet and slides right back in, Sami surprises him with a big boot, Corbin stumbles to the corner and Zayn connects with a Helluva Kick to get the pinfall.
Winner: Sami Zayn (Helluva Kick)
- EA’s Take: Well, I’m doing good on my picks so far even though this one I wasn’t too confident about. Something tells me these two aren’t done with each other and I’d be willing to bet both are in the Money In The Bank match, so the rivalry can bleed over into that, which wouldn’t have made much sense if Zayn continued to get battered by The Lone Wolf. I’d say Corbin has to be the favorite to win the briefcase, so my thinking was that he could afford to lose here if he’s going to ultimately get that big win, which I still think is going to happen.
Backstage: An SUV pulls into the arena followed by a limousine, The Singh Brothers hop out of the SUV, take a carpet out of the back and lay it down next to the limo. Jinder Mahal steps out and Dasha Fuentes walks up for comment, The Maharaja stating that Chicago is full of haters, people that hate him for who they think he is and the way he looks. Jinder says he will take all of that hatred and turn it into something good, spiritual and positive, Mahal claiming he’s a peaceful man that is an animal when he’s provoked. The Maharaja states he will turn an entire universe of haters into believers, saying that tonight he makes history before speaking in Punjabi.
Match #4: Carmella, Tamina & Natalya w/James Ellsworth vs. Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair & SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi
Tamina & Becky will get us started, they lock-up and Tamina powers The Lass Kicker away, Lynch ducks another tie-up, jumps on Tamina’s back for a sleeper hold, but gets driven backwards into the corner. She looks for a right hand and Becky ducks under it, tries to roll her up, Tamina blocks it using her strength, clocks her with a headbutt and tags out. Natalya comes in and looks for a suplex, The Lass Kicker counters to a small package for a quick 2 count, The Queen of Harts drags her back up by the hair, but gets caught with forearm shots. Tag to Charlotte, The Queen slaps on a wristlock, Nattie reverses to one of her own, Charlotte cartwheels through, but gets ripped down to the mat by the hair.
She has words with Becky & Naomi on the apron, The Queen surprises her with a schoolboy for 2, unleashes stinging chops, then hits the ropes for a knee drop and struts in front of Carmella & Tamina. She looks to send Natalya into the corner, The Queen of Harts reverses it, Charlotte flips herself to the apron, surprises Nattie with a boot through the ropes, then slams her down to the mat by the hair. Carmella creates a distraction, Natalya takes the opening and flattens The Queen with a clothesline, drags her back into the ring and makes a tag, Tamina coming in to put the boots to her. Carmella enters the match and stomps away, brings in Nattie for more of the same, quick tag back to Tamina for more boots, then tags back out to The Princess of Staten Island.
Carmella snapmares Charlotte over and grabs a chinlock, The Queen finds her footing, scoops her up for a body slam, The Princess of Staten Island slips out of it, then plants her with oscar for a count of 2. She drives The Queen face-first into her boot in the corner, goes to the well one time too many and Charlotte sends her face-first into the top turnbuckle, makes a tag and Naomi springboards in with a crossbody. She batters Carmella with a flurry of kicks, decks her with a roundhouse kick, The Princess of Staten Island crawls to the corner, the champion charges in with a basement dropkick, then sets for the Springboard Split-Legged Moonsault. Tamina distracts The Glow Queen from the apron, Carmella takes the champion out at the knees, stomps away to the breadbasket, then corners her for a bronco buster for a near fall.
Tamina re-enters the match and grounds the champion with a rear chinlock, Naomi fights to a vertical base and hits the ropes, gets floored by a clothesline and Tamina tags out. The Princess of Staten Island buries a kick to the ribs and brings in Natalya, they send The Glow Queen to the corner, Nattie looks to shoot Carmella in for another bronco buster, but nobody’s home. Natalya hauls Naomi up and tries to send her to the ropes, the champion reverses it, gets clobbered by a kick, The Queen of Harts knocks Charlotte off the apron with a cheap shot, then goes to shoot the champion to the corner. Naomi reverses the whip, Tamina tags herself in, grabs The Glow Queen by the foot to prevent a tag, gets kicked away, the champion jumps towards Becky, but Carmella rips her off the apron at the last second. Tamina muscles Naomi up for a Samoan Drop and covers, Charlotte slides in to break the count at 2, Nattie re-enters the match, gets surprised by a kick to the midsection, quickly plants the champion with a modified atomic drop, runs over the top of The Glow Queen and hits the ropes.
Naomi explodes up with a dropkick, reaches her corner and The Lass Kicker comes in with a clothesline to Nattie, knocks Carmella & Tamina off the apron, levels Natalya with another clothesline, then follows with a leg lariat. She buries a spinning back kick to the abdomen, tosses The Queen of Harts with a Bexploder, clobbers her with a Flying Firearm and hooks the leg, but only gets a 2 count. The Lass Kicker ascends the corner to the top, Tamina climbs back on the apron and sweeps the legs, Lynch lands on the canvas on her feet and drops Tamina back to the floor with a dropkick. Natalya catches her with a double leg takedown for the Sharpshooter, Becky sneaks out of it and hooks on the Dis-Arm-Her, Carmella slides into the ring to break it up, but Charlotte steps in and deposits her to the floor.
Tamina hits the ring and drops The Queen with a Superkick, catches Naomi coming in with a headbutt, the referee forces her back to the apron, Nattie grabs Becky from behind and pushes her to the ropes for a roll-up. Lynch reverses into one of her own and gets a near fall, Tamina comes back in again, The Lass Kicker knocks her to the outside with a forearm, turns around and The Queen of Harts with another double leg takedown, then locks on the Sharpshooter for the tap-out.
Winners: Carmella, Tamina & Natalya (Natalya/Sharpshooter)
- EA’s Take: I have to be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about this one. It’s not that it was a bad match by any means, I just found myself not overly invested in the build-up. So my picks are no longer perfect here, I expected the faces to pick-up a win since they’ve been losing to the heels for weeks now. Also, I half-expected Charlotte to turn on her partners at some point since it was reported WWE has been second-guessing making her a babyface. It didn’t happen tonight, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see it happening at all, especially since she keeps reiterating that she wants the title.
Match #5 for the WWE United States Championship: AJ Styles vs. WWE United States Champion Kevin Owens
The bell rings and we go into an aggressive lock-up, the champion quickly slips away and AJ has some words for him, they tie-up again, jockey for position and Styles backs KO to the corner. He breaks clean and Owens tries to go for the right leg, the challenger quickly squirms away, collar & elbow and The Phenomenal One hooks on a side headlock, then gets pushed off to the ropes. He surprises The Prize Fighter with a roll-up for 2, swiftly goes back to a side headlock, the champion goes for the right leg again to break free, but Styles regains the hold. The New Face of America fights out to one of his own, sends Owens off to the ropes, leapfrogs over, KO hangs onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick and rolls to the outside. AJ goes out in pursuit and the champion quickly rolls right back in, The Phenomenal One steps into the squared circle, KO catches him with a kick to the breadbasket, then fires away with rights and chops.
Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, the challenger leaps up for a dropkick, The Prize Fighter hangs onto the ropes again to avoid it, puts the boots to AJ and hits the ropes. Styles explodes up and finally connects with the dropkick, scores with stinging chops, corners irish whip to the corner is reversed, The Phenomenal One hops up-and-over KO, grabs a waistlock, but Owens picks the leg to take him down. The challenger pops up with a headscissors takedown, The New Face of America staggers to the corner, they exchange shots, irish whip across is reversed, AJ catches Owens following in with a back elbow, then hops to the 2nd rope. KO sweeps the leg and drops him face-first on the top turnbuckle, hits the ropes and levels Styles with a clothesline for 2, then bludgeons him with fists. He buries his knee into the spine and slaps on a rear chinlock, The Phenomenal One fights to a standing position, Owens goes to the gut with a kick, spikes him with a DDT and covers for a count of 2.
The Prize Fighter follows up with multiple sentons to squash the challenger, gains another near fall, then goes right back to a rear chinlock to ground him. Styles gains his footing, gets slammed back to the mat by the hair, KO scoops him up for a body slam, AJ slides out of it and rocks him with an enzuigiri. The New Face of America hauls him back up and they exchange blows, the challenger unloads with a Phenomenal Blitz, hits the ropes for a basement forearm that gets 2, then tosses him to the corner for a flying clothesline. He muscles KO up for the Ushigaroshi, The Prize Fighter slips out for a clothesline that misses the mark, AJ plants him with a back suplex facebuster, sits on top and the champion barely kicks out at 2. The Phenomenal One hooks him for a Styles Clash, Owens squirms away, rushes back in and gets cracked by the Ushigaroshi, AJ covering for a near fall.
The challenger sets for a Styles Clash again, The New Face of America powers out with a back body drop, charges him near the ropes and eats a back elbow, Styles springs off the 2nd rope for a moonsault, the champion side-steps it and connects with a superkick. He cracks The Phenomenal One with a pumphandle neckbreaker that almost finishes it off, sends him to the ropes for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, AJ hangs on, catches KO running in with a boot to the jaw and they begin to trade shots. The challenger ducks a clothesline, rushes in and gets elevated over the top, lands on his feet on the apron, but gets dropped to the floor after a hot shot from the champion. The Prize Fighter looks outside and heads upstairs, The Phenomenal One spots him, climbs to the apron and delivers a right hand, pulls him to the apron for a Styles Clash, but KO flips down to the floor and lands on his feet.
He whips Styles’ leg into the ring post, deposits him into the steel steps, rolls AJ into the ring in the corner, then measures for the Cannonball. He wraps the challenger’s leg in the ropes, delivers another Cannonball to the bad knee, hooks on a single-leg crab, drags him to the middle of the ring and switches to an ankle lock. The Phenomenal One claws his way to the bottom rope to force the break, crawls out to the apron, The Prize Fighter climbs to the 2nd rope, pulls AJ up with him and lifts him onto his shoulders. Styles slips over and plants KO with a sunset flip powerbomb, drags himself back to the apron and to his feet, lining up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but his leg gives out. The New Face of America quickly spikes him with a double underhook DDT, still can’t finish it off, uses the ropes to pull himself back to his feet, then puts the bad-mouth on AJ and slaps him across the face over-and-over.
The challenger explodes up with a Pele Kick, staggers to a standing position, hammers KO in the corner with right hands, then props him on the top turnbuckle for a superplex. The Prize Fighter surprises him with a fisherman’s buster off the 2nd rope, Styles just barely kicks out at 2, Owens positions him near the corner, then climbs to the top turnbuckle. The Phenomenal One wisely rolls to the apron and KO drops down after him, sets for a suplex, the challenger hooks the ropes to block it, then plants the champion on the apron with a snap suplex. Both guys fall to the floor, AJ rolls in-and-out to break the count, tries to pick The Prize Fighter back up, but gets launched over the barricade into the timekeeper’s area.
Owens stumbles back to his feet, the challenger leaps on top of the barricade, connects with a Phenomenal Forearm, tosses the champion onto the announce table, then climbs up for a Styles Clash. The New Face of America squirms away and sweeps the bad leg, AJ’s knee gets caught in an opening on the table, Owens slides back inside and the ref’s count reaches 10.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Kevin Owens (Count-Out)
- After The Bell: The official heads outside to check on Styles, Owens rolls out, clocks him with a superkick to the back of the head, then hugs his title as he takes his leave.
- EA’s Take: The finish of this match will probably leave a lot of people salty, but I’m totally fine with it. This was as good of a match as we all expected and I don’t mean to be negative, but I think there’s still more these two can show us should they square-off again. As for the finish, I’m good with it because it allows AJ to stay pretty protected while keeping the title on Owens. I still firmly believe Styles is on the road to facing the WWE Champion at SummerSlam…or at least on the road to facing Randy Orton, so having him take the US Title is not necessary. Plus, WWE is keeping KO’s issues with Chris Jericho alive as we saw on SmackDown Live last week and I think that means more when it happens if Y2J is coming back for the US Championship. Also, much like the Corbin/Zayn match, I see this bleeding over into Money In The Bank and I’d be shocked if one or either of these guys in not involved in the Ladder Match for the briefcase.
Match #6: Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
The bell rings and Rowan powers Harper into the corner, fires away with right hands and boots, then sends him to the ropes for a back elbow. He batters Luke with more fists and chops in the corner, hooks on a side headlock, Harper pushes him off to the corner, battles back with chops of his own and goes to shoot him to the opposite corner. Rowan reverses it and Harper hops to the apron, clobbers Rowan with a forearm shot, starts to go the top rope, but gets pushed to the floor, falling head-first off the steel steps. Rowan builds a head of steam and delivers a baseball slide, tosses Harper into the barricade, goes to town with heavy punches, then throws him into the ring.
He walks over Harper and hits the ropes for a splash, uses a lateral press for a 2 count, rips away at Luke’s face, then squeezes away with a vice. Harper starts to find his footing and gets shoved to the corner, Rowan with more big chops to the chest, tees off with stiff right hands, Harper battling back with shots of his own. He looks to whip Rowan to the corner and it’s reversed, Rowan rushes in with a splash, rolls Luke out and scores with a dropkick, but only gets a count of 2. He grinds Harper back down with a rear chinlock, Luke finds his footing, gets scooped up for multiple body slams, then cracks him with a pumphandle backbreaker. He drags Harper up for a short-arm clothesline, hooks the leg for another 2 count, ascends the corner to the high-rent district, but misses a splash. Harper pulls himself back to his feet, Rowan tries to crawl to his mask on the stairs, Luke holds him down using his foot, then kicks him to the outside.
Rowan staggers towards the barricade and Harper rolls out after him, charges in with a clothesline, rams him head-first off multiple announce tables, slides into the ring and hits the ropes for a suicide dive. He sends Rowan back into the squared circle and climbs to the apron, slingshots in with a somersault senton, hits the ropes for a big boot and gains a near fall. Luke lines up for a Discus Clothesline, Rowan avoids it for a right hand, hits the ropes, Harper surprises him with a sidewalk slam, but still can’t put it away. He drags Rowan up for a powerbomb, Rowan slips out to the corner, catches Harper walking in with a back elbow, follows with a spinning heel kick, plants him with a powerbomb, but Luke just kicks out at 2. Rowan gets frustrated and pummels him with big rights, hooks Luke for another powerbomb, Harper’s playing possum, uses a double leg takedown and bridges into a cover, but only gets 2.
Both guys back up to their feet and they exchange punches and chops, Rowan goes to the midsection, tries the powerbomb again, but it’s countered into a hurricanrana. Rowan looks to his mask, turns around into a superkick, turns back to the mask, Harper connects with another superkick, Rowan tries to come back with a clothesline, Luke ducks it, levels him with the Discus Clothesline and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: Luke Harper (Discus Clothesline)
- EA’s Take: Just as I suspected, this was merely time-filler and was used in between the two top title matches as a way to help the crowd come down a bit. Kudos to both big guys for working so hard, it’s just a shame that the crowd wasn’t that into it and was more concerned with stupid “CM Punk” chants (Don’t even get me started on how I feel about that). Harper gets his win back from SmackDown Live last week which is about the only meaningful thing to come of this, but I use that term loosely. The way Harper has been used has been really disappointing, he was so hot before WrestleMania and WWE did absolutely nothing to capitalize on it.
Match #7 for the WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal w/The Singh Brothers vs. WWE Champion Randy Orton
Orton ambushes Jinder during the introductions, shoots him hard into the corner and then unleashes a flurry of fists and kicks. He tosses Mahal to the outside, chases off The Singh Brothers, launches The Maharaja over the announce table, then batters him with fists. The Apex Predator throws the challenger back in, the official restores order and finally calls for the bell, this match now officially underway. The Viper rushes in at the bell and continues unloading with right hands, goes for an early RKO, Mahal escapes it and rolls to the outside. The champion comes out after him, levels Jinder with a clothesline, throws him into the squared circle and The Maharaja rolls right back out. Orton steps out in pursuit, the challenger drives him shoulder-first into the ring apron, sends him inside and tries to slow things down with a top wristlock.
The champion works back to a standing position, Mahal takes him out at the knee with a kick, hits the ropes for a basement dropkick, covers for a 1 count, then goes right back to the top wristlock. The Apex Predator finds his footing again, Jinder goes to the breadbasket with multiple knees, shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, Randy grabbing a handful of hair and slams him to the canvas to avoid it. The Viper tries to get the feeling back in his left arm, stomps away at every limb of the challenger, grinds his knee across The Maharaja’s face, then rocks him with numerous uppercuts. Jinder counters an uppercut for a backslide, Orton blocks it, Mahal switches to an armbreaker, then hits the ropes for a knee drop and covers for a 2 count. He grounds The Viper with an armbar, the champion fights to a vertical base, Mahal goes to the abdomen with another knee, tries to send Orton to the ropes, but it’s reversed.
Jinder hangs onto the ropes to avoid a clothesline, charges out and gets launched over the top to the floor, The Apex Predator steps outside, then plants him on the announce table with a back suplex. Randy rolls the challenger into the ring, gets caught coming in with stomps, The Maharaja springs off the bottom rope with multiple knee drops, chokes the champion, then drives a knee into the spine and goes back to an armbar. The Viper works his way back up, forces Mahal to the corner, doesn’t break clean and scores with a headbutt, then goes to whip him across. The challenger reverses and follows in for a shoulder to the breadbasket, Orton side-steps it, Jinder goes shoulder-first into the ring post and the champion starts to gather himself. He drives Mahal face-first into the top turnbuckle, climbs the corner and drags him up for a superplex, The Maharaja fights it off, knocks him back to the mat, but the champion sweeps the legs to crotch him on the top turnbuckle.
The Viper climbs back up and this time hits the superplex, crawls into a cover for a near fall, both guys stumble back to their feet, exchange blows, Orton starting to build momentum with multiple clotheslines. He ducks one from the challenger, plants him with a powerslam, Jinder staggers to the corner, catches the champion walking in with a back elbow, swings wildly for a right hand, but The Apex Predator avoids it, then tosses him with a t-bone suplex for a near fall. He drags The Maharaja back up and gets surprised by a shot to the throat, Jinder plants him with an arm-hook neckbreaker, covers and still can’t put it away. He goes to send the champion to the ropes, The Viper counters into a modified backbreaker, Mahal rolls out to the apron, Randy hooks him for the IEDDT and spikes him into the mat. Orton calls for the RKO, Jinder wisely rolls to the floor, the champion rolls out in pursuit, The Singh Brothers checking on the challenger.
They have words with Orton, The Viper takes them both out with fists, deposits them into the barricade, The Maharaja is back to his feet and he shoves Randy shoulder-first into the ring post multiple times. The challenger sends Orton back in, slides in and gets surprised by an RKO, tries to crawl to a cover, but The Singh Brothers reach in and drags Jinder outside. The Apex Predator goes back out, launches Sunil over the announce table, plants them both individually on it with back suplexes, then drags Sunil up onto the apron. Samir climbs up to help out, he spikes them both with an IEDDT, Jinder slides in from behind, plants Orton with the Khallas and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Jinder Mahal (Khallas)
- EA’s Take: Wow, what a shocker! I really, really wanted Jinder to win the title, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen. I’m a big proponent of doing new and fresh things and quite frankly, nobody has been hotter on either brand since the Superstar Shakeup than The Maharaja has been. Also, Orton really seemed to be resting on his laurels lately and it felt like he was going through the motions, so why not change things up? I don’t see this being a long run and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come to an end at Money In The Bank, but even if that’s the case I am all for this no matter what anyone thinks.
EA’s Finisher: Much, much better than Payback was so no surprise since SmackDown Live just continually is better than RAW, at least in my eyes. The main event was not the greatest match I’ve ever seen, but the shock value it was made it so vital. Styles/Owens did not disappoint and I still think it was the match of the night, although I think they can give us more if they meet up again. From top-to-bottom, the card was pretty entertaining, even Rowan/Harper despite the fact that the crowd wasn’t that into it. Sleeper of the night? The Tag Title Match, man was that ever entertaining and hopefully Breezango doesn’t fade into the background too much. Look for almost all of these rivalries to bleed over into Money In The Bank on June 18th.
Top Three To Watch
1 – AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens
2 – The Usos vs. Breezango
3 – Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler