WWE SmackDown results, review: Jinder Mahal now No. 1 contender -- yes, really
Perhaps it's time to start expecting the unexpected on WWE SmackDown?
There's no other way to preface this: Jinder Mahal became the No. 1 contender for the WWE championship on Tuesday night.
How did it happen? That we can tell you below. Why did it happen? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This week's edition of SmackDown Live was an uncommon show to say the least. Perhaps the most important takeaway is that the brand seems to be treading water right now as its top two titles are scheduled to be defended at a Raw pay-per-view against Raw superstars in two Sundays.
Rather than have us explain further, check out what wend down below and be sure to tune in to the "In This Corner" podcast with Brian Campbell on Thursday as he and I discuss an up-and-down week in WWE. (Click here to subscribe on iTunes.)
WWE SmackDown results
In the ring -- Charlotte Flair and Naomi: After a package aired recapping the superstar shakeup, Flair questioned why she had not been immediately granted a title shot and wondered how it had not happened already. Naomi came out and fought with Flair, but commissioner Shane McMahon interrupted and scheduled a non-title match later in the evening; if Flair wins, of course, she immediately becomes the No. 1 contender. The rest of the women's roster was less than thrilled with that decision backstage. Later in the evening, they formed a wall as if to prevent Flair from passing them, but she easily walked through and scoffed.
Solid heel heat for Flair coming out and demanding a title opportunity. That's exactly what she should do in her position.
WWE Championship No. 1 Contender's Match -- Jinder Mahal def. Sami Zayn (via pinfall), Dolph Ziggler, Mojo Rawley, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan: After two commercial breaks worth of so-so action, business picked up with signature moves and some rousing action from Zayn. Just as Zayn was preparing for his Helluva Kick, who men dressed in white appeared and held his legs in the corner, distracting him and giving Mahal the upper hand. Mahal hit his finisher and became the No. 1 contender to the shock of the crowd.
In the ring -- Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton: After the match, Tom Phillips referred to the two men as the Bollywood Boyz. Mahal then cut a promo and said the crowd was booing him because he was not a stereotypical All-American: His family is wealthy, he's highly educated, and he speaks two languages. "The fact is, you Americans don't accept diversity, but you will have no choice but to accept Jinder Mahal as your next WWE world champion."
Orton's music hit, and he promised that Mahal would have no chance at the WWE title but would instead be gifted an RKO. Then, with Mahal standing there, Orton said he had no idea what a "House of Horrors" match is and called out Bray Wyatt, who responded with another vignette.
I'm legitimately stunned. Providing rare opportunities is fine, but giving unjustified ones is mind-boggling. This guy can't win a low-card singles match and now he's No. 1 contender? After the commercial break, AJ Styles took part in a backstage interview and apparently had no qualms that the face of SmackDown was only in the U.S. title picture. Expect more discussion on this subject in Thursday's edition of the "In This Corner" podcast with Brian Campbell.
Promos -- The New Day and Shinsuke Nakamura: New Day is still "coming soon," while the package on Nakamura (which should have aired last week) finally showcased his style and gave previously uneducated fans a reason to be excited about his debut … which is still to be determined.
Charlotte Flair def. Naomi via pinfall in a non-title match: More-than-solid first match between the two, which sets Flair up as the rightful No. 1 contender to the SmackDown women's title. Flair dodged the Rear View and nailed Naomi with Natural Selection for the 1-2-3. After the commercial break, Flair walked by the other jealous women again backstage, simply exclaiming "Woooo!" as they frowned.
Primo & Epico Colon def. American Alpha via pinfall: The former Shining Stars lost their moniker and apparently their role as jobbers. Primo hit Jason Jordan with his shin while on the ring apron, and Epico rolled Jordan up for the surprise victory.
Considering the SmackDown pay-per-view is a ways off, my assumption is that this is a short-term deal to force Alpha to earn another title shot against The Usos. If not, I have no idea why WWE just put over a tag team with absolutely no juice whatsoever either creatively or from the crowd. At least Mahal garnered a reaction earlier.
Promo -- Lana: She's becoming some sort of cabaret dancer, I guess.
United States Championship -- Kevin Owens (c) def. Gary Gandy via pinfall: This was dubbed a "Face of America Open Challenge" with Owens entering to a ramp covered with a massive picture of his face. He continued to play up the fact that he's Canadian. Owens obviously beat Gandy in under a minute, and Gandy blew the Pop-Up Powerbomb spot by jumping too early.
AJ Styles def. Baron Corbin via countout: Earlier in the night, Corbin criticized Styles as an illegitimate No. 1 contender for the U.S. title because he did not defeat him head-to-head, setting up the match for the main event. Good back-and-forth action between the two included a powerful Deep Six by Corbin, but Styles was able to force the match outside the ring. Corbin reversed a Styles Clash by flipping Styles over his back into Owens, who was doing commentary at ringside. Styles regained his composure and flipped Corbin over the barrier, running into the ring just in time to avoid the double countout.
As with the tag team situation, it's obvious WWE is looking for a way to extend the storyline without a title match until the Backlash on May 21. These two worked well together, and I'm not going to hate another rematch likely coming next week.
Jinder Mahal stealing the WWE title from Randy Orton was one of few highlights on SmackDow...
Orton will not defend his title against Wyatt, making it even tougher for Wyatt to bounce...
How will the first WWE pay-per-view after WrestleMania 33 unfold?
Looking for reasons to watch Payback? WWE did not provide them Monday on a boring Raw
Grading an interesting week of WWE booking and a couple odd twists
Hart paid tribute to Taker's legacy as a locker room general with WWE