By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Sioux Falls, South Dakota at Denny Sanford Premier Center
Video was shown of Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton winning their tag match last week, as well as Randy Orton hitting an RKO post match. This set up promotion for their #1 Contender’s Match later in the show. They cut to Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton, who they gave a fond farewell before introducing Corey Graves as their third in the announce booth. Randy Orton was shown backstage for a promo. He questioned whether Nakamura would rise or fall, and said he taught him a lesson last week by showing him he can’t let his guard down for even one second. He said Nakamura would not stop him in his quest to regain the WWE Championship from Jinder Mahal.
Elsewhere, Nakamura said he respects the legend of Randy Orton, but he was chasing his destiny of being the WWE Champion, and not even the venom of the viper would knock him off his path. In the ring, Ellsworth introduced Carmella before being interrupted by Kevin Owens. KO entered the ring and told Ellsworth that he was sure what he was saying was important, but he was there to introduce himself as the special guest referee for his better half Carmella’s match.
This prompted Shane McMahon, who told Kevin that he would not make himself a special referee. Shane said he has given Owens plenty of opportunity, but he has been defiant, and so he has to make something clear. He paused before telling Owens that he needs to stop blaming him for his lack of success, and take responsibility for his losses. Owens fired back that Shane has everything to do with his losses. He interfered at Summerslam, and he pulled Baron Corbin out of the ring the following week. He as everything to do with his losses,
Owens continued and asked if Shane does all this crazy stuff because his Dad didn’t give him enough attention? He questioned if he jumped off Hell in a Cell and had his kids do his goofy entrance with him to show his Dad how much he loves him. Shane got right in Owens face and told him not to mention his kids again. Owens continued and asked if Shane falls off of tall things and survives helicopter crashes to show his Dad that he’s a real man. Owens then insinuated that everyone in the McMahon family would be better off if Shane hadn’t survived, including his kids.
Shane lost it and attacked Owens, sending him out to the floor. He then tackled Owens over the announce table and continued the assault before trainers stepped in and separated them. Bryan was at ringside and asked Shane what he was doing indignantly. Shane looked embarrassed to close the segment…[c]
My Take: A huge heat seaking promo to open the show. Owens is one of the best trash talkers in the wrestling industry, and he was on fire with his delivery here. The comments about Shane’s kids will ruffle some feathers, but I think it was worth the risk. It really ratchets up the intensity of the feud and puts Shane in an uncomfortable position, which is where he should be as a GM getting physically involved with wrestlers.
Kevin Owens was met backstage by Daniel Bryan, who apologized for Shane and said he was way out of line. Kevin said he hoped Bryan would enjoy what was left of his job, because he was going to sue Shane, WWE, and the entire McMahon Family. He said he would own WWE by the time he was through. Bryan said there had to be another way to do this, and Kevin said he was right, he would just go and press criminal charges on Shane McMahon himself.
In the ring, Carmella was ready for her match, and Natalya made her entrance.
1. Natalya vs. Carmella: Carmella hit a big headscissors, and then a snap mare. Natalya popped up and slapped her, and Carmella returned fire. Natalya hit her again, and Carmella retreated out to the floor with Ellsworth…[c]
Carmella held onto a body scissors, but Nattie turned herself over and rained down blows trying to break free. Carmella grabbed a headlock and slipped into a guillotine position, but Nattie powered out by standing up and hitting an improvised slam. She then went for the Sharpshooter, but Carmella broke free and hit a superkick. Ellsworth slipped the briefcase into the ring to the referee, and Carmella yelled at him and called it off. This allowed Natalya an opening to roll her up for the distraction victory.
Carmella defeated Nattie at 5:44.
After the match, Carmella grabbed a microphone and dressed down Ellsworth as subhuman, and asked him if he really thought she needed a genetic defect like him. She said his mother should have given him away at birth, and that he had stuck whatever it is he calls a chin in his face for the last time. She told him they were through, and left him dazed and confused in the ring.
My Take: I can’t say that I’m thrilled with Ziggler’s act. I understand the desire to mock the fans for their lack of intelligence or fickle nature, but do you have to throw other acts under the bus to do it? I don’t know how much traction you’re going to gain in mocking people for their preferences. The questions he’s asking aren’t subversive enough to accomplish that.
Aiden English was in the ring singing, and Sami interrupted him.
2. Aiden English vs. Sami Zayn: English embarrassed with a roll up off a missed top rope cross body. The match ended abruptly after a brief period of back and forth action.
Aiden English defeated Sami Zayn at 1:48.
After the match, Aiden tried to finish singing, but Sami chased him off up the ramp. The announce team then threw to video packages of what happened between Owens and Shane earlier. Backstage, The New Day and The Usos approached Daniel Bryan backstage. The Usos announced their title rematch next week would be a Street Fight in Las Vegas. Daniel Bryan had to take a phone call after they left, and ensured the person on the other end that he would take care of it in the ring right now…[c]
My Take: I guess fluke victories are still victories, right? English still has a lot to prove, but it’s nice to see a heel provide adversity for a babyface without resorting to complete bullshit for once. It’s a bit of variety That isn’t always there from a storyline perspective.
Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring without music, and called Shane McMahon down to the ring. The lack of music or celebration was a nice touch. Shane eventually made his way down to the ring, and Bryan asked him what he was thinking. Bryan asked Shane if he remembered last year when Miz tormented him about never wrestling again, shortly after he retired? Bryan said he wanted to say screw this job, and screw this company, he was going to to headbutt him in the face and defend his honor. Bryan said he didn’t because Shane told him that he had to put the company, his family, and the roster of Smackdown first before his personal grievances.
Shane took responsibility for his actions, and said he knows he put Daniel in a tough spot. Bryan told him that not only is WWE and the McMahon Family in a tough legal position, but he put at risk all the livelihoods of all the Superstars and their families that depend on WWE to make their living. Shane continued with the mea culpa, claiming that he goes into a blind rage when someone pushes him about his family.
He asked Bryan to put the show on the other foot as a new father, to which Bryan responsed that he had no right to throw that in his face. Shane said he would talk to Kevin Owens and smooth things over. Bryan said it was too late for that, as he had just talked to Vince McMahon before the break, and he was indefinitely suspended. Bryan said he was sorry, and walked out. Shane was left reeling, but got a good level of support from the crowd…[c]
My Take: Bryan was the right guy for this, as he comes across as sincere, and WWE fans believe him to be looking out for their best interest. I think Shane comes across as a martyr here, doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but I’m still skeptical of how nuanced we can expect the follow up to be given how the show has been written in recent months. It’s certainly been a newsworthy show, regardless.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Jinder Mahal, who was asked who he preferred to face between Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton. He said neither of them were worthy of facing the Maharajah, and that it didn’t matter in the end. He said he’s already beaten Randy Orton, and he was a better representative of Asia than Shinsuke Nakamura ever could. He then spoke briefly in Punjabi.
AJ Styles joined on commentary. Baron Corbin made his way to the ring while highlights were shown of the US Championship segment last week features Styles, Corbin, and Tye Dillinger. Tye then made his way to the ring.
3. Tye Dillinger vs. Baron Corbin: Immediately after the bell rang, Corbin rolled outside to confront Styles. Dillinger flew through the ropes and knocked Corbin into the announce table. He then tossed him into the barricade. Corbin faked out Dillinger and got back in the ring, but couldn’t capitalize as Tye hit a clothesline and sent Corbin back out to the floor…[c]
The show returned with Dillinger in a headlock, with Corbin controlling the action during the break. Corbin shoved Dillinger into the corner. He then hit a big lariat and covered for a near fall. Corbin recovered and fired back with a clothesline of his own, followed by stomps in the corner. He then set up for a Tyebreaker, but Corbin slipped out and sent him to the floor. Corbin trashed talked Styles, and got surprised by a rollup for two.
Dillinger attacked Corbin in the corner, but the ref separated them, which allowed Corbin to hit a cheap shot to the throat. He then dropped Dillinger on the ring post, and hit End of Days for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger at 9:38.
Corbin celebrated and smiled at Styles after the match. Bobby Roode is up next…[c]
My Take: This was better than I expected, given what we had seen from Dillinger on the main roster, and Corbin’s usual pacing issues. I don’t know that the crowd really bought into Dillinger’s near falls, but I think he gave a good performance that could be built upon. They really have to figure out how to make something other than the Perfect 10 gimmick stick for him. I have no idea what his motivation is, and this character doesn’t really offer much in the room for exploration.
Backstage, AJ Styles offered a US Championship shot to Tye Dillinger next week, since he was victim to the cheap shot artist Baron Corbin. The announce team then threw to a Bobby Roode video package. Elsewhere backstage, Ellsworth begged forgiveness from Carmella, who told him that from now on, they do things her way. She then planted a kiss on him before slapping him. In the arena, Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance…[c]
My Take: They couldn’t even make it an entire show with Carmella and Ellsworth broken up. Shake my head…
Randy Orton made his entrance. Jinder Mahal was shown in a skybox…
4. Randy Orton vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: They traded reversals early on. Nakamura nearly hit a big kick, and Orton nearly hit an RKO in the first minute. Orton nearly grabbed Nakamura for a draping DDT, but he avoided it by slipping out to the floor to correct course…[c]
Orton grabbed a dreaded headlock, but Nakamura powered out. Orton attempted to drag him through the ropes and hit a draping DDT to the floor, but Nakamura slipped out and shoved Orton into the announce table. Orton recovered and suplexed Orton onto the announce table, and then tossed him into the ring for a cover and a near fall.
Nakamura got back into the match with a wheel kick, followed by a clothesline, The then fired up and hit several kicks to the chest and an Enziguri. He then placed Orton on the top rope, and hit knees to the chest. Nakamura climbed the ropes, but Orton gathered himself and hit a superplex. Nakamura shook it off quickly and hit several knees to the head and ribs of a kneeling Orton. He then called for Kinshasa, but ran into a powerslam for a near fall.
Orton then hit a draping DDT and called for an RKO. Orton went for it, but Nakamura nailed an innovative reversal and pulled the arm of Orton into an armbar and a triangle on the way down. Orton used his power into an improvised powerbomb and then called for another RKO, but Nakamura pulled him into a backstabber. He then hit Kinshasa for the win.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Randy Orton at 13:22.
The announce team plugged the Women’s Championship Match and the US Championship match for next week. Backstage, Daniel Bryan explained to Kevin Owens that Shane was suspended and it was over. Owens said they were just getting started, and next week Smackdown would be his playground and Daniel Bryan’s nightmare. Bryan responded that someone would be here next week to address the controversy. Owens asked if he made Shane’s wife mad, but Bryan informed him that Mr. McMahon would be there next week.
In the arena, Nakamura celebrated…
My Take: I liked the closing moments of that match. The RKO reversals felt fresh, and Nakamura going over was the right call for the brand. I don’t know if he’ll hold the championship after Hell in a Cell, but I have enjoyed watching Nakamura pick up reputation building victories in the process of challenging for the title. Overall, this show was above average, with some major events taking place, and setting the tone for a some title matches and major confrontations for next week’s show. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an entertaining two hours for the most part.