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WWE SmackDown Live recap and reactions (Oct. 17, 2017): It Doesn’t Take Much

WWE SmackDown Live waltzed back into our lives last night (Oct. 17) emanating from KeyArena in Seattle, Washington.

Breaking Bad

Sami Zayn has been a heel for two weeks and he’s already great at it.

Funny enough, he didn’t have to do much to get there. Slightly annoying Sami Zayn was a lovable babyface. But he notched it up just a bit and now he’s an obnoxious jerk you just want to punch in the face. He came down to the ring with the same music (that’s going to have to change eventually) and his dance was just slightly exaggerated. However that slight exaggeration was the difference between fun loving and phony jackass.

Daniel Bryan wanted an explanation for his drastic change and Sami obliged. This time, his reasoning was more focused on the fans... and on Daniel Bryan. Sami discussed that he tried to be like Daniel Bryan. He worked his ass off and waited for the fans to get behind him so the brass couldn’t ignore him, just like they did during the Yes Movement. But the fans didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. This slight wrinkle was a great addition because some people thought Sami could be the next Daniel Bryan but it didn’t happen. It adds that truth to the heel turn. It helps it make sense.

This segment was perfectly set up to get fans to hate the now Unlikeable One. Sami played the antagonist to the beloved Daniel Bryan, in Daniel’s home state, in the arena that he retired in. So when Sami made sure to remind Bryan that he couldn’t wrestle and then blamed Daniel for that, it was extra cruel.

Kevin would join them and really rub salt into the wound that Sami opened. KO stated that not only is Daniel a failed martyr, ending his career to appease the fans. He’s become what he used to hate: The Authority. To cap it off, Sami and Kevin share a hug.

Daniel Bryan tried to find a team to face the reunited friends and he decided on the team of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura. It wasn’t a bad choice. Both men are top athletes and already had success as a team in their match last week.

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get it done against Sami and Kevin.

Sami Zayn proved that abandoning his morals really is what he needed to find success. When the ref was focused elsewhere, Sami escaped from a VINTAGE Orton hangman’s DDT and delivered a low blow. That was enough to win the tag match.

Let me repeat that for emphasis. Sami Zayn won with a low blow.

The sight of Sami delivering a low blow was something strange to see. The man has been a babyface his entire time in WWE, including NXT. You almost couldn’t believe your eyes. Right now, it proves Sami’s point. He was holding himself back trying to be the next Daniel Bryan. Letting that go got the job done.

After the match, Kevin and Sami shared another hug while rubbing in their victory in front of the babyfaces. This hug was much more epic as Kevin still held the microphone and shouted “Hold me tight!” during it.

The breaking bad of Sami Zayn is off to a fantastic start. He didn’t have to do much. He just slightly amped up how obnoxious he could be, blamed fans for his failings, acted like an a-hole to Daniel Bryan, and then cheated to win a match. Paired with the over the top Owens, they were wildly entertaining. If the WWE title isn’t in KO’s future soon, I wouldn’t mind seeing these two in the tag title picture (but still a major focus).

Next week, Shane McMahon returns so things will continue to heat up.

Prove Himself

Jinder Mahal returned to SmackDown last night after missing last week, likely due to his trip to India for promotion.

The Maharaja spoke about how in his home country, he was respected but here, he is not. Because of that, he needed to do something to finally prove himself as the champion he is to everyone.

He challenged Brock Lesnar.

We had heard this was coming so it wasn’t a surprise, but it works. It plays into the fact that many fans don’t respect him, or even take him seriously, as a champion. What would turn that around? Defeating the Beast.

But it looks like there’s another person looking to challenge Jinder and that’s the Phenomenal AJ Styles. Styles took exception to Mahal saying that he had defeated everyone of note on SmackDown. This led to a confrontation which ended with Styles holding the ring.

I’m intrigued in this next direction for Jinder. While his promo talked about how he’s loved in India but not here, it wasn’t dripping with its usual foreign heel tropes to the point it had been. This was more about Mahal trying to prove himself to the legions who think he’s a paper champ. Facing Brock Lesnar is certainly one way to go about it.

All the Rest:

6 Woman Tag: The team of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Naomi defeated Natalya, Lana, and Tamina as Carmella (with James Ellsworth) watched ringside. This was set up from the brief backstage brawl last week. After the match, Nattie tried to attack Charlotte with a chair like she did at Hell in a Cell but Charlotte chased her off.

The entirety of the Women’s division was represented here and the match was fine enough. However a six woman tag, even one that has a bit of set up, feels uninspired and overall it feels like they’re continuing to tread water in this division.

Deja Vu: Baron Corbin is back to his losing ways. He lost a non-title match to Sin Cara via count out. He teased turning the match into a US open challenge, but then denied the fans. That’s a fun heel move as people love the Open Challenge.

It looks like the Lone Wolf can’t win unless the title is on the line. That doesn’t build up a strong champion, but this could have been just to set up a stop gap US title feud against Sin Cara.

50/50: Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode rematched their Hell in a Cell bout, but this time, the outcome was reversed, with Dolph winning with a handful of tights. That’s right! The good ol’ 50/50 booking! Our exclusive sources tell us that since both men have won a match by grabbing the tights, neither man will be wearing pants for the rubber match.

Pulp Fashion: Fashion Files returned to do their take on the Uma Thurman/John Travolta Pulp Fiction scene. The Ascension were the highlights this week in their quest to be best friends with Breezango. The Fashion Files always supply some laughs, but for me it was one of their weaker installments. Still fun though.

Much like last week, many of the stories this week felt like they were just killing time. However, the Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens story was the focus and that was fantastic. Jinder Mahal facing off against Brock Lesnar is an intriguing direction to go and has me curious.

It was a pretty fun show.

Grade: B

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