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SmackDown Redux (May 16th, 2017): Signed, sealed, and delivered

Good day WWE fans and welcome to this week’s SmackDown Redux. It’s Josue here and I’ll be covering SmackDown for Abir this week. It’s the final show before Sunday’s Backlash PPV event and the women of the blue brand will take part in a contract signing? Hmm, this seems like an odd route to go for a six woman tag match. Let’s see how things plays out.

Before our big tag match for Payback becomes ‘official’, we are first treated to (what has become) our weekly reminder of Lana’s arrival to SmackDown. So have we hit the month period mark since these dance packages first started? Please don’t make us wait and endure 17 weeks of this like we did when it came to Emmalina WWE!

We move on to our featured segment of the evening and out to over look things is the SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon. He salutes the WWE Universe and credits the SmackDown Women’s division as a reason as to why they are the premiere brand. That being said, he brings out The Welcoming Committee (although I do prefer referring to the group as ‘Nattie and The Pussycats’ as some of you guys have said) and their opponents Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and the SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi.

With everyone in the ring, Nattie takes a moment to speak on behalf of her team and addresses their opponents, who she calls ‘pathetic’. She calls out Becky for turning down the chance to join them and promises to prove who truly is the best come Sunday at Backlash. One by one, the Welcoming Committee then sign the contract.

Becky grabs the mic next and fully stands by her decision of refusing to join the ‘little goon squad’ that is standing across from her. Becky goes on to say that come Sunday, the playing field will be evenly numbered and that she can’t wait to slap each one of them. Naomi chimes in after Becky signs the contract and adds that come Sunday ‘royal, glow and fire’ are going to snatch their opponents bald!

Once Naomi signs the contract, it’s Charlotte’s turn at the mic and she begins by saying that the ‘babysitter’s club’ have been after her since her arrival to SmackDown. She suggests that come Sunday, they bring everything they’ve got to table as all their problems will be solved at Backlash. She makes a quick glance to Naomi, mentioning that after Backlash, she is coming back for her crown.

With all the participants names now signed, things are now set in stone but that doesn’t mean the Welcome Committee’s cheerleader James Ellsworth can’t take a moment to give his two cents on Becky, Naomi and Charlotte. For some reason, he think all three of these women have their eyes set on him but he is here to shoot all three of them down. His loyalty remains with Carmella and he tells Naomi that eventually the Princess of Staten Island will be taking the SmackDown Women’s Championship from her and end her glow.

Naomi has had enough and begins to tussle with Ellsworth which prompts for Carmella to get involved. She slams the Women’s Champion head to the table and Shane decides to book a match between the two Superstars.

The match is underway when we return from a commercial break. Naomi is ready for battle but Carmella retreats to the ropes, avoiding any sort of physicality. The two Superstars collide and Naomi takes control by taking Carmella down Lou Thesz Press. She follows up with a bulldog to the second turnbuckle that earns Naomi a two count.

Naomi starts to work on Carmella left arm with an arm wrench but Carmella quickly makes it to the ropes to break the hold. Naomi scoops up Carmella but she escapes from behind and strikes Naomi’s leg and throws her face first to the mat. The champion gets back to her feet and takes back control of the match with a kick to the midsection. She whips Carmella to the ropes, setting up for the Rear View but James Ellsworth manages to pull Carmella out of harms way. Because of that little interference, the referee sends Ellsworth to the back and we head to another commercial break.

When we return, Naomi and Carmella commence a battle of the kicks that ends with Naomi landing a dropkick to Carmella. The Princess of Staten Island rolls under the bottom ropes and looks to dismiss herself from the match by heading over to the barricade. Naomi goes after her and eats a super kick! The move lays out Naomi on the outside but she is able to make her way back to the ring before the referee’s ten second count out.

Carmella maneuvers Naomi to the turnbuckle and lands a Bronco Buster for a two count. Carmella whips Naomi to the corner again but Naomi is ready this time. She blocks Carmella’s charging attack with an elbow and strikes her down with a swift kick from the top rope. Naomi follows up by unleashing her signature fast paced kicks on Carmella and takes her down again with a running jaw-breaker.

Naomi climbs the top rope of a corner after landing a roundhouse to Carmella but soon Tamina and Natalya try get involved. As with the last interference during this match, the referee makes the call to send them to the back. The heels begin to make their way to the back but then decide against it to brawl with Becky and Charlotte instead. During the chaos, Naomi kicks Tamina from behind but the small distraction is enough for Carmella to roll-up Naomi from behind for the three count.

Thoughts: So was this perhaps the first time a contract signing didn’t end with an all out brawl? Granted we did get a singles match from it, which is probably why said traditional brawl was cut.

The contract signing was pretty straight forward, everyone throwing insults to one another, but at the same time it felt uneventful. Right now it just seems as though SmackDown are spinning their wheels until they can find a clear direction where they want to take their Women’s title picture. As some have already said, this tag match for Sunday was a match that could’ve probably been booked for a regular episode of SmackDown.

For me, the formation of the Welcoming Committee has been all about finding a way to turn Charlotte as a full on babyface. We’ve haven’t seen that happen yet, which probably means the rumors that there is hesitation for Charlotte to go this route are probably true. As much fun as it is to watch Charlotte as a heel, I think she can certainly pull off a babyface run but she needs a strong heel to pull it off with. That’s what is lacking in the women’s division, a strong solo heel. Carmella has picked two wins over the Women’s Champion because of commotions happening outside the ring, Natalya seems to just be cutting promos for the groups and Tamina is just there filling a spot.

In the last two weeks, Becky has come across as the star of this storyline. Fans were left wondering if she would turn heel by joining the Welcoming Committee two weeks ago and last week Becky was the voice of reason in bringing her team together to bond for their Backlash match.

I’m still not sure which team will win Sunday but for the sake of making a prediction, I’m going to go with the babyfaces this time around. I think as the Women’s Champion, Naomi needs to rebuild some of her lost momentum and one way of doing so would be by getting the win for her team. Becky can still play a wildcard and Charlotte can still play to her arrogance throughout and after the match. I just hope we get something beyond these tag team match combinations after Backlash.

What did you think of this week’s episode of SmackDown? What do you think will happen at Backlash? When do you think Lana will make her way to SmackDown? Let us know in the comments below!

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