This week’s episode of SmackDown Live #964, was live from the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, California, on February 13, 2018. It featured the latest build to the upcoming Fastlane PPV, and a match between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin, with the winner earning a spot in the WWE Championship match early next month.
Okay, so, let’s have a goosey gander at what went down on SmackDown Live #964 on February 13, 2018.
Check out my coverage of last week’s wrestling:
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I missed the first couple of minutes because I couldn’t find a stream, but what I gathered was that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens had decided to jump Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler to increase their chances of a shot at the WWE Championship.
They got Corbin backstage; they got Ziggler in the ring. Do Creative just take great pleasure in torturing Ziggler? This is his return to TV? Christ, how depressing.
Singles Match: Sarah Logan (w/ The Riott Squad) vs. Charlotte Flair
Charlotte sneakily brought Becky Lynch and Naomi with her to offset the Riott Squad numbers advantage. Woo!
Sarah Logan has this unorthodox, smashmouth style that would probably look better against someone other than Charlotte, who’s way bigger. There wasn’t much to the match, really. Charlotte took some licks, presumably to help build Sarah Logan as a singles wrestler, but Charlotte won pretty quickly with the Natural Selection.
Result: Charlotte via pinfall.
Rating: [usr 2]
Singles Match: Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin
Shane O’Mac set up this match essentially to punish Owens and Zayn; if either interferes in the other’s match, there’ll be terrifying consequences. Which of course means we got frequent cutaways to Sami Zayn watching backstage, all tense.
Corbin was selling the earlier beating. I think he’s an underrated worker, but he can’t sustain Owens’s pace, so that’s probably a good thing. He got some decent offence in early, but Owens started to take over. By the way, Owens talking **** during rest holds remains a thing of beauty.
And then Corbin wins clean, folks. End of Days. Fancy that.
Result: Baron Corbin wins via pinfall.
Rating: [usr 2.5]
With that outcomes it was pretty obvious that the plan here is to keep Owens and Zayn away from the Fastlane main event, presumably so they can busy themselves with something else.
Bobby Roode’s Open Challenge
Randy Orton hit Bobby Roode with an RKO outta nowhere last week, so the open challenge led to a face-off between the two. Then Jinder Mahal turned up with his stooges and his pulsing steroidal veins to taunt Randy Orton about the Top 10 list that we learned about last week and that I’d already forgotten existed. It led to a bit of a debate and then a (very) brief brawl, during which the “Modern Day Maharajah” hit both Orton and Roode with a Khallas, which is a terrible-looking move and shouldn’t be used.
The New Day Eat Pancakes
Well, I suppose it is Pancake Day.
A match would be nice, SmackDown Live. Whenever you’re ready.
Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable mercifully interrupted. Gable’s a surprisingly good talker. He plays the smug heel pretty well. This whole segmented basically devolved into an argument over the merits of pancakes vs. waffles. It was embarrassing.
Still, at least it set up a ******* match.
Tag Team Match: The New Day vs. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable
It was a quick match and there wasn’t much to it. The story, such as there was one, was the teamwork of New Day, and their underhanded shenanigans, winning out over Benjamin and Gable’s more traditional athletic style.
Gable’s roll-through German suplex on Big E was ******* ridiculous, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
Result: The New Day win via pinfall.
Rating: [usr 2]
Singles Match: Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler
It might be too little too late in a meandering episode like this one, but this was an excellent match. It almost physically pains me that Ziggler is so perennially overlooked and underused; he’s one of the best workers in the company, and when he’s given a decent amount of time to work against a similarly-talented opponent, he’s a main event worker. Book this man better.
Anyway, this was an exciting, back-and-forth match with some great spots (a top rope Exploder!) and some believable near-falls. It was ever so slightly hurt by the outcome being a bit predictable, given what happened with Owens and Corbin, but nonetheless this is what we want. Well, it’s what I want. And I’m always right.
Result: Dolph Ziggler wins via pinfall.
Rating: [usr 4]
The Bludgeon Brothers do exactly what everyone should do when the Usos start ranting about their street mentality:
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan still can’t figure out how to run the brand, or why Bryan has that godawful haircut:
Dolph Ziggler kind of breaks the fourth wall:
It was a decidedly average episode that contained an awful lot of absolute bullshit. The minimal amount of in-ring action was average at best, other than the main event, and aside from the changes to the Fastlane headliner, I couldn’t really tell you what was gained from these two hours beyond considerable fatigue on my part.
See you next week, folks.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.