By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Las Vegas, Nevada at the Thomas & Mack Center
Video covered the Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens scenario from last week. After the video, Owens made his ring entrance, and immediately talked trash. He welcomed everyone to the Kevin Owens Show, and said he was going to take over Smackdown and make some changes and improvements. He would immediately fire Sami Zayn, he cancelled the Fashion Files forever, and both Byron Saxton and Tom Phillips would be crammed into the same suit. Owens then said there was one person he had to talk to, and he wanted to get it out of the way right away, and then called out Mr. McMahon.
Shane’s music hit, and Owens screamed NOOOOO. It was actually Dolph Ziggler dressed like Shane, and he danced and made a general ass out of himself. He made a cheap pop plea to Las Vegas, and then Owens had a laugh. He said Dolph had talent and actually worked there, so it couldn’t be Shane McMahon. Dolph walked to the back and Kevin said we’d see him later. Daniel Bryan then made his way out, and told Owens that he didn’t run the show. Bryan said Owens didn’t run the show, and that he hoped he was having fun, because it would all be over soon. Owens said he could stop worrying, because under his regime he’d still have a job as a janitor.
Bryan said he wasn’t afraid of a little hard work and manual labor, and maybe Kevin should give it a try sometime. Bryan said Mr. McMahon would be there soon, and Kevin wouldn’t like what he had to say. Owens told Bryan that he couldn’t wait for Mr. McMahon, and he definitely wouldn’t like what he had to say. The Usos vs. New Day is later. Tye Dillinger vs. AJ Styles is next…[c]
My Take: I liked Owens opening promo. He definitely hits his stride when he can be vindictive and take petty shots at people. The Dolph Ziggler prank was a good use of his new mimic character, but he still has yet to make a very big impression on me with it. The Owens confrontation with Vince could be one of the more interesting segments in recent times. We’ll see how much Mr. McMahon chews on the scenery while mixing it up verbally with Owens.
Video covered the events between Styles, Corbin, and Dillinger over the past 2 weeks. AJ Styles made his entrance first, followed by Tye Dillinger.
1. AJ Styles vs. Tye Dillinger: Dillinger opened the offense with a neck snap. AJ fired back with a drop kick. Styles then took Dillinger down to the mat and applied a chin lock…[c]
Dillinger turned the tables during the break and applied an eternal chin lock of his own. Dillinger hit a boot to the face. Styles tried to reply with a pele kick, but missed. Dillinger sent Styles into the ropes, but Styles clobbered him with a Lariat. Styles hit another elbow and lined up for the Styles Clash, but Baron Corbin ran down and jumped on the apron. Styles hit Corbin with a forearm, and Dillinger rolled him up from behind for a two count. Dillinger then hit a Tye Breaker, and covered for another close call. Styles avoided further damage and rolled up Dillinger in the calf crusher for the win.
AJ Styles defeated Tye Dillinger at 8:39.
After the match, AJ shook Dillinger’s hand and left the ring. Corbin jumped him on the outside and hit End of Days. He also clobbered Dillinger for his trouble. He told Styles that he was going to be his opponent next week.
Backstage, Rusev said he lost his killer instinct when Randy Orton defeated him in 10 seconds at Summerslam. He has never been more embarrassed in his life. He went home to be with people he loved, but they told him he was an embarrassment. Rusev said he knew what he had to do in order to get his killer instinct back, and that was break a legend. New Day and The Usos was set for later…[c]
My Take: Maybe the Smackdown crew doesn’t have the same understanding as I do about what an open challenge is? Why are they announcing all these opponents in advance? Dillinger wasn’t any better in this attempt. His character still comes across as bush league, and his ring work isn’t enough to overcome it. Corbin continues to come across as clunky in the mic, despite all the time he’s had to smooth out the edges.
Jinder Mahal made his entrance and addressed Shinsuke Namakura. He said he has a wealth of experience, and he has an energy and charisma never before seen in WWE. He said he needed to get inside of his head, and put an unflattering picture of Nakamura on the tron in order to laugh at it. Jinder said he doesn’t see motivation, he sees constipation. He said he forgot to learn the most important phrase in the English language, “Where is the bathroom?”
He threw up another unflattering photo. Jinder said he must be thinking about what he can rip off from Michael Jackson next. Onto another bad photo, and this time made a bad joke about Godzilla. Jinder then turned it around and said that everything he just said, the crowd already thought. He told Nakamura that he doesn’t really want to be WWE Champion, because crowds will just chant USA at him, and will refuse to treat him like a true hero and interrupt him while he speaks. He said that he’ll continue to hold onto the Championship, and continue to be the real representative of Asia in WWE.
Backstage, Kevin Owens was giving his ridiculous demands to run the show to someone backstage, when he noticed Sami Zayn. He recalled a promise they made to each other after leaving an Armory after wrestling in front of 42 people, saying they needed to make it to WWE so they’d never have to do that again. Owens said he was going to own the largest sports entertainment company in the world, and Zayn was going to be out of a job. He gave him permission to break the promise when he can’t come up with the rent anymore. Zayn said he’s rather wrestle in armories than work for him.
My Take: A dud of a segment for Mahal. I get what they were going for, but the crowd didn’t care and Mahal wasn’t clever enough to succeed in flipping the premise on it’s head after the damage was already done. Owens and Zayn were very good in their brief promo.
The New Day made their entrance, with Woods walking to the back after posing. The Usos followed.
2. New Day vs. The Usos in a Street Fight: Things went outside quickly, with New Day seting up a table. The Usos followed and sent Kofi into the barricade and Big E into the ring post.
The Usos threw Big E into a chair in the corner. They then hit a superkick into a chair placed in Big E’s face. Kofi finally got woke up at ringside, but was quickly beat down again. The Usos then took turns working over Big E with a kendo stick, and then tied him up in the ropes. Kofi got back in the action and Big E quickly broke free. He grabbed a Kendo stick and worked over both Usos. Kofi sent Jimmy out to the floor over the ring post, and then stomped on on Jey Uso on a chair. He covered for a near fall.
Kofi tried to jump on the Usos from the top rope, but they caught him out on the floor and sent him awkwardly into the barricade. I think they meant to put him in the timekeeper’s area. Big E then fired up and hit a Belly to Belly out on the floor. He then hit belly to bellys on both Usos in the ring and splashed them both. He set up for the Big Ending, but couldn’t hit it. He then got rolled up by Jimmy, who used the ropes, but still couldn’t get the win.
Big E hit the Big Ending on Jimmy, but Jey broke up the pin. They then hit a double superkick on him, and tried for a double splash, but Kofi sent Jey through a ringside table. Kofi then hit Trouble in Paradise on Jimmy. He and Big E hit midnight hour for the win.
New Day defeated The Usos at 12:33
The New Day celebrated and the crowd ate it up. Backstage, Danie Bryan was shown talking to the same person that was taking Owens demands earlier. Natalya vs. Naomi is set for later…[c]
My Take: A fun tag match, but the tag division needs to get some other teams ready to go so this feud can end. It just doesn’t seems like anybody else could slide in and provide anywhere near the excitement of these two teams. These two teams will probably meet again, but at this point it seems like they are just trading wins because the division has nowhere to go.
Inanna Sarkis (who?) and Ronda Rousey were shown in near ringside. Naomi and Natalya were already in the ring, and got ring introductions. Carmella was on commentary.
3. Naomi vs. Natalya: They traded reversals early on, before Naomi hit an enziguri. Natalya fired back by slamming Naomi into the turnbuckle from the wheelbarrow position…[c]
Naomi and Natalya both went for cross body and collided mid ring. Naomi recovered first and hit a couple of kicks that rocked Naomi, She then set Nattie on the second rope, and hit a springboard leg drop. She tried for a split legged moonsault, but nobody was home. Natalya went for a sharpshooter, but Naomi sent her to the floor. Naomi tried to hit a splash on Natalya, but hit Carmella and Ellsworth instead. Nattie threw her into the ringpost, and then back in the ring. She then applied the sharpshooter for the win.
Natalya defeated Naomi at 7:42
Backstage, Kevin Owens walked up to Aiden English, and told him he enjoyed his singing. He said he needed someone to sing the lyrics for the new Kevin Owen’s show. English sang a brief rendition, and Owens smiled at him.
My Take: The Naomi and Natalya match never really grabbed me. It wasn’t bad, but you kind of saw the whole thing coming with Ellsworth and Carmella at ringside. The sooner they can get away from this whole triangle the better. It feels like the whole division is on hold while they try to develop these characters, and they’ve had limited success.
Dolph Ziggler walked out and complained that fans only think people are stars if they have elaborate entrances, when they aren’t fit to lace up his boots. He then decided to mock Bayley’s entrance, and asked the crowd if he was a start yet, and if they are having fun. He said that at some point, the bell has to ring and that superstar has to perform in the ring. He then said somebody else had come to mind who couldn’t hold a candle to his athleticism, but people idolize him. He then spoofed the Ultimate Warrior’s entrance, and ran around for a bit.
He said anyone can do what he just did, but no one can do what he does in the ring. He soaked in a smattering of boos, and told the crowd they couldn’t care less, and he couldn’t care less about them.
My Take: So this is obviously a setup for Bobby Roode, right? I mean, what else could it be? It’s dying a 1000 deaths, and they normally wouldn’t give Ziggler this much promo time to get no reaction otherwise.
The Hype Bros were already in the ring, and Gable and Benjamin made their entrance.
4. Hype Bros vs. Gable and Benjamin: The Hype Bros got the early jump on Benjamin. The isolated him in their corner and hit a big lariat. Ryder got a cover for a two count. Gable broke up the pin and sent Mojo to the floor. Benjamin picked up Ryder in a powerbomb position and backed up to the ropes for a tag. Gable climbed to the top rope and they did a clothesline/powerbomb combo. Gable covered for the win.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin defeated The Hype Bros at 3:32.
After the match, Gable and Benjamin offered handshakes by Ryder walked off.
My Take: Not much to that match. The finishing spot was a little awkward as Shelton was out of position and had to stumble backwards into the tag. The tag division really needs a boost from some new blood, and Gable and Benjamin will be a part of that when they gel up a bit. It’s still not enough, though.
Kevin Owens was in the ring. Mr McMahon made the crowd wait a hot second, but eventually made his entrance. Owens said it was a first for him, to stand in the ring with the chairman and CEO, and he gets to feel what all other WWE Superstars felt before him, and that’s the fact that Vince is intimidating. Vince said he didn’t feel so much intimidating as nauseous. Vince said Owens disparaged the McMahon name, said inflammatory comments, and got Shane to jump him. He said he didn’t fight back because he has respect for authority, he did it because Shane McMahon was beating his ass.
He dared Owens to file the lawsuit. He said the moment he does, he’ll be on the phone with his lawyer, and hopefully Owens would be there on speakerphone so he could tell him he’s fired. Vince then said that people associate the world billionaire with him, but the only B they’ll associate with Owens when the lawsuit was over was bankrupt. Vince told him to go ahead and file the lawsuit, because he had been a part of many lawsuits, and he had never lost one of them. Owens said Shane had put his hands on him, and Vince said he suspended him for it. Vince replied that he suspended him not so much because he assaulted Owens, but because he didn’t finish the job.
He said Shane should have beat him so bad you couldn’t tell the front from the back. He should have kicked him so hard his bowels spilled all over the ring, and he should have reached down his throat and pulled out his liver and showed it to him. That’s what he deserved for disparaging the McMahon name. He then said there wouldn’t be any lawsuit because there would be a match. Shane would face Kevin Owens in Hell in a Cell. Owens agreed, on the condition that Vince give him his word that he could beat a McMahon senseless if he is provoked. Vince shook his hand, and then they had words. Vince got angrier as it went on.
Owens headbutted Vince and drew blood. He then punched him and hit a superkick. Adam Pearce jumped in the ring and looked at Vince as Owens climbed the ropes. Pearce told Owens to get down, but he hit Vince with a frog splash. Referees, doctors, and agents tended to Vince as Owens walked to the back. Stephanie passed him on the stage and had words with him as he headed to the back. Vince was walked to the back with help after refusing a stretcher…[c]
My Take: Another hot segment to close the show for Owens. Vince gave a great performance here, even if he did lie about never losing a lawsuit. The beating wasn’t brutal in a real sense. The headbutt looked gross, but Owens protected Vince pretty well the rest of the way. Despite some early reservations, this program is working out extremely well for Owens. He is in his element when talking trash, and they are really letting him stretch his legs as both a manipulative and vindictive heel. I wish all heels were treated this well, and all babyfaces were lined up for success like the McMahons seem to do for themselves.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...