WWE SmackDown Live returned to our lives last night (Oct. 31) from Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. You can find all the results from the live blog here.
Preparing for Battle
Like last week, the undercurrent of this week’s show was SmackDown’s upcoming battle with Raw at Survivor Series.
The show opened with Commissioner Shane McMahon, who once again, was received very favorably by a pro SmackDown crowd. Like last week, it gives that feeling of home turf, one that isn’t as obvious during the Raw shows. Not only was Norfolk pro SmackDown, but there were some boos for Raw.
Shane offered more explanation for the attack on Raw, this time playing up the SmackDown inferiority complex. McMahon claimed that despite being just as good, the blue brand is always looked down on. But after the siege and what they plan to do at Survivor Series, no one will be able to look down on them again.
Shane also played spin doctor as he made the accusation that Kane’s attack on Daniel Bryan was a set up by Kurt Angle, when more likely, it’s an unpredictable Big Red Machine. But whatever it takes to get the troops in line.
He ended the segment by making himself the team captain. That means we’ll likely get a little Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon. I’m totally down with that. They’ll be able to make it a cool moment as part of a bigger match instead of trying to put together a full match.
Building their team was also the focus of the main event as Kevin Owens battled Shinsuke Nakamura for a prized spot on the Survivor Series team.
Sami Zayn made his way to ringside mid match and was able to lend a hand to his best friend, including pulling Owens out of the ring to avoid a Kinshasa. However, Randy Orton inserted himself to even up the numbers, dropping Sami on the announce table. This distraction allowed Nakamura to finally deliver a Kinshasa and get the win.
They’re slowly building a feud between Orton and Owens (and maybe Nakamura vs. Zayn??) and pacing it well given Survivor Series is around the corner. The interbrand rivalry has the potential to put big intrabrand feuds on hold. However, these issues feel organic and this feud is overall doing a good job advancing the issues between these men while also focusing on the more immediate pay-per-view.
Samir Singh had a match with AJ Styles and had the same success as his brother Sunil did last week. (He lost almost immediately.) However, this time Jinder Mahal was ringside so took the opportunity to attack AJ post match and deliver the Khallas to the Phenomenal One twice.
It’s standard heel tactics and nothing too inspired. However, they are likely trying to take things slower as they have Jinder vs. Brock Lesnar first. I like to think that this was Jinder’s plan last week but since he got ejected from ringside, he decided to sacrifice the other Singh Brother just so he could get the chance to sneak attack AJ Styles.
Fired up Sin Cara
Sin Cara and Baron Corbin had yet another match, stemming from their issues the last two weeks. Two weeks ago, Sin Cara won by count out and last week, in a rematch, Baron Corbin just unloaded on the masked man, getting himself disqualified.
The Lone Wolf continued his nasty ways, targeting the sacred mask of the luchador. But this fired up Sin Cara in a way we haven’t seen before, and he went ham on Corbin, assaulting him on the announce table until the referee had to throw the match out.
Despite running the same match three weeks in a row, this worked really well. It gave Sin Cara a chance to show some fire that he doesn’t get to show. Meanwhile, it still played Corbin up as a heartless bastard.
I’m actually looking forward to a Corbin vs. Sin Cara US title match, which is something I’d balk at when this all started. They’ve done a good job making this mini-feud feel meaningful.
2 out of 3
Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler settled their issues last night with their 2 out of 3 falls match.
Ziggler won the first fall with a super kick. The second fall happened during the commercial break. If you were paying attention to the picture-in-picture, you would have seen it. It’s still a bit lame that it was during the break, but it’s whatever.
Bobby Roode scored the third fall via pinfall with a Glorious DDT. Immediately before the finish, both men tried to roll the other up while grabbing a handful of tights, which is how their first two matches ended. This time, it didn’t work. Roode needed his finisher. Overall, it was a pretty good match.
This bout had a dual purpose as it also decided the fourth member of the SmackDown team.
Pro Wrestling Fun
Rusev and Big E had a match that was part of a fun, silly time.
The New Day were repping Halloween with some fantastic costumes. Kofi Kingston was Brother Love, Big E was Akeem, and Xavier Woods was Jimmy Hart. When Rusev and his bard Aiden English ran into them backstage, the Bulgarian Brute crushed their Halloween candy. This led to a match between E and Rusev.
I adore the Rusev/English tandem. I cannot get enough of Aiden’s songs and how happy they make Rusev. It was the Artiste’s pipes that aided the Bulgarian in his victory. When Big E was firing up, English stood on the announce table and sang a couple bars of the beautiful “Rusev Day.” Xavier responded with some trombone action in a silly moment that made perfect sense. In the end, this distraction for Aiden allowed Rusev to get the win.
It was some fun Halloween times.
Backstage: The women were (under)represented with just a backstage segment where Becky motivated her Survivor Series team. She also sprayed a bottle of water into James Ellsworth’s face when he started barking like a dog. (It’s good to be prepared.) Natalya rolled in and didn’t share the unity that the Women’s team did.
Strangerer: Fashion Files presented Strangerer Things this week, and once again, they got attacked with the lights off. Let’s hope this time it leads somewhere.
This was a solid show. Despite setting up some members of Team SmackDown, it didn’t feel like an eventful two hours. Nothing was bad about it and there were certainly entertaining moments, but this feels like an episode that’ll soon be forgotten.
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