Charlotte Flair Challenged SmackDown Women's Champion Naomi
It was cool to see the women of SmackDown showcased at the start of the show for a change, and they immediately positioned Charlotte as the biggest acquisition in the Superstar Shake-up. She and Naomi had a decent back-and-forth on the mic and Shane McMahon announced their match for later in the night. I'm glad they didn't give Charlotte a title her first night on SmackDown because Shane made a good point about her earning her shot at the strap.
Jinder Mahal def. Sami Zayn, Mojo Rawley, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler in a WWE Championship No. 1 Contender's Six-Pack Challenge Match
While most of the guys involved in this match have lost more than they've won recently, and I'm not sure what they did to deserve their spot in this No. 1 Contender's bout, the outcome was certainly unpredictable. For example, Rawley has been featured more prominently as of late and Rowan just faced off with Randy Orton last week, so I would not have been too shocked if either of them won. For a match featuring a bunch of jobbers, this exceeded all expectations in being very fun from start to finish with there not being a dull moment. Mahal winning does absolutely nothing for me, but the idea of a possible alliance with The Bollywood Boyz is slightly intriguing. They can't actually be doing Orton vs. Mahal at Backlash, right?
Charlotte Flair def. SmackDown Women's Champion Naomi (Non-title)
This is a match I've been anxiously anticipating for some time now because of how Charlotte and Naomi wrestle similar styles, and they did not disappoint in putting together a highly enjoyable match with plenty of psychology. Charlotte targeting Naomi's previously injured knee was brilliant, even though it didn't play into the finish (which was well done anyway with Charlotte blocking the Rear View and then hitting Natural Selection). It looks like they'll be facing off for the title next week, but I would hold off on that title rematch until Backlash next month.
The Colons def. American Alpha
According to their introduction and the way they were referred to by the commentators, The Shining Stars are apparently no more and they are simply The Colons now. That's great news. A name change won't make them look like threats overnight, but it's a step in the right direction. That timeshare gimmick wasn't going to get them anywhere fast. This match was fine for what it was, but The Colons scoring the victory will help them with their fledgling credibility.
United States Champion Kevin Owens def. Gary Gandy (Non-title)
Owens as United States Champion is overdue by about two years, but he can bring some real importance back to that belt. I'd love if this "Face of American Open Challenge" was a regular fixture on SmackDown going forward, similar to what John Cena used to do during his reign as champ in 2015. Obviously, this was a short-lived squash, but it could lead to some entertaining matches down the stretch once his feuds with Chris Jericho and AJ Styles are over.
AJ Styles def. Baron Corbin by Count-out
Styles is pretty much a full-fledged face at this point, so having him work with Corbin makes sense. Speaking of whom, I'm all on-board with him being pushed as a top-tier heel on SmackDown with Bray Wyatt and The Miz moving to Raw. They worked well together and had strong chemistry, so a future feud between the two would be welcomed. I also didn't mind the non-finish because Corbin should be protected and Styles is the one with the United States Championship match coming up.
SmackDown does a terrific job of giving enough time to each match and making them feel meaningful, which was the case with this show. This episode was made newsworthy by the crowning of a new No. 1 Contender to the WWE Championship, and no matter what your thoughts are on who won, the match itself was a blast, as well as the main event. Furthermore, the women put forth an excellent effort, so this was an another above-average edition of SmackDown Live that has me looking forward to the next few weeks.
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