By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Glendale, California at Gila River Arena
The show began with video from last week that recounted both Shane McMahon and Kevin Owen’s promos, and set the stage for the response from them tonight.
Kevin Owens made his entrance in the arena. He said all he’s heard for weeks is that Shane McMahon was going to take action, and Shane this or that, but where is he? He said he was called a coward for what he did to Vince, and for not being at Smackdown last, but he’s in the middle of the land of opportunity right now, and where is Shane? He then called Shane McMahon is the coward. He backtracked and said he knew better, because he knows Shane is a very smart man.
Owens said he respects and likes Vince McMahon, and Shane saw what he did to him. So Shane can only imagine what he’d do to somebody he doesn’t. Sami Zayn then made his entrance, and had a microphone as he got into the ring. Zayn asked Kevin what was wrong with him. He told him he wasn’t there to fight, he just needed to tell him that he had lost control. He reminded him that he headbutted Vince McMahon. He knows him better than anyone, and anytime he’s snapped in the past, it doesn’t end well for anyone.
Zayn said he is on a course for a confrontation with Shane McMahon, and he’s about to cross a line that he’s never crossed before. He told him that the line he’s crossing isn’t just about his career, it’s about his life and his family, and he has to get it together before it’s too late to come back. Owens told Sami he’s cool, he hasn’t snapped, but he knows he’s not out there about Vince McMahon. He’s jealous that he’s been outdoing him for 15 years. He signed to WWE two and half years before Sami, and he’s been an Intercontinental Champion twice, Universal Champion, and he won the US Championship at WrestleMania while Sami watched from the back.
He asked Sami what he had done is his life that had as much impact as his skull did on Vince McMahon. Sami admitted that Kevin had accomplished more in WWE, but it was because he had taken every shortcut and cheapshot he could. He had won championships and accolades, but when Sami looked in the mirror, he didn’t have to see a giant piece of trash looking back at him. When his day comes, he’ll be able to say that he did it his way, and he’ll have done it the right way.
They both dropped their microphones and had a staredown. Daniel Bryan interrupted and booked a match between them for the main event. Sami stared Owens to the back. The Pride of Bulgaria ceremony for Rusev was announced, as well as Dillinger vs. Baron Corbin for next…[c]
My Take: I enjoyed that exchange. There were some clear lines drawn in the sand, and it was the best babyface promo we’ve seen Sami cut since his move to Smackdown. Hopefully the story stays consistent in the main event and Kevin takes shortcuts that prompt Shane McMahon to intervene. It will set up Sami as an underdog that is actually due some retribution.
Baron Corbin made his ring entrance. Footage was shown of last week, where Dillinger helped AJ Styles escape a pre-match attack from Baron Corbin. Tye Dillinger then made his own ring entrance. AJ Styles also entered and joined on commentary. Before the match could begin, Corbin jawed with Styles and Dillinger dumped him out to the floor…[c]
1. Tye Dillinger vs. AJ Styles: The match joined as Dillinger rolled Corbin up for a two count. Corbin responsed with a chokeslam into a backbreaker. Dillinger avoided a clothesline from Corbin and hit a kick, followed by a jawbreaker. The match spilled outside, and Dillinger avoided a spear from Corbin, who flew into the ring steps. Dillinger tried to pull him into the ring and hit his finisher, but Corbin escaped back out to the floor. Corbin threw a drink into Styles’ face, and then tossed Dillinger into Styles over the announce table. Dillinger was unable to answer the ten count, and the ref called for the bell.
Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger via countout at 7:44.
After the match, Corbin challenged Styles to a title match at Hell in a Cell. The Pride of Bulgaria celebration was plugged again. Jinder Mahal is next.
My Take: This feud has been a little clumsy, and feels like a poor use of AJ Styles. I know they have to work to elevate people like Corbin and Dillinger in order to improve Smackdown as a whole, but it feels like they are missing an opportunity to have a guy who could be carrying the show with weekly open challenges wrapped up this rather boring feud.
Jinder Mahal was in the ring with the Singh Brothers. If Shinsuke doesn’t come down and buzzsaw through all three of them, they will have missed a big chance to create a hero.
Mahal admitted that he may have gone a little too far in making fun of Shinsuke Nakamura last week, and called him a very worthy opponent. The crowd chanted for Shinsuke, and Mahal said he was very offended after hearing his remarks. They then did the same stupid photo slide show as last week, representing Shinsuke’s face when he realized Mahal was teh superior talent, and after Shinsuke loses at Hell in a Cell, etc. The last face he showed wasn’t a still photo. Nakamura chants started as he spoke. He said he was looking at him, and he would see him soon on Smackdown Live.
The lights went black in the arena, as Nakamura made his entrance. The Singh Brothers left the ring and attacked Nakamura. Mahal followed up and the numbers overwhelmed Shinsuke. They spilled in the ring, and Nakamura eventually got the better of the three of them and hit Kinshasa on Mahal. He bowled out of the ring, and Shinsuke celebrated. Zayn vs. Owens is plugged for later tonight. Hype Bros vs. The Usos is up next. New Day made their entrance in the arena with a bunch of food…[c]
My Take: Well, the Mahal and Nakamura program sucks. This promo was even worse than the last one in terms of crowd silence, Nakamura’s lazy entrance didn’t show nearly enough anger in the context of the story, and the brawl that ensued wasn’t nearly violent enough to be satisfying. There is just nothing redeemable about this. If you’re going to court controversy with racially insensitive comments, the person on the receiving end shouldn’t be dancing his way to the ring, even if it was previously a part of his character. It makes everything came came before it feel like it has no emotional weight, and that’s been the primary problem with the Nakamura character and his story since making it’s debut on the main roster.
Hype Bros were already in the ring. The Usos then made their entrance. New Day was at ringside behind the announce team eating popcorn and hot dogs, and tossing out cereal.
2. Hype Bros vs. The Usos: Mojo and Jey Uso started. An early distraction opened up an opporunity for Jey to hit a chop block. Jimmy then tagged in and they stomped on him, and he then applied a rear chinlock. Ryder tagged in and got fired up. He hit a neckbreaker and set up for their Rocket Launcher finisher, but Mojo botched it and Zack got dumped to the floor. The Usos hit a superkick and a splash on Mojo for the win.
The Usos defeated New Day at 5:32.
The Usos grabbed mics after the match and talked trash to New Day. They said they belong in the crowd with the rest of the chumps, and that at Hell in a Cell they would become the five time WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Kofi had a microphone and told the Usos they talked a lot of trash for just losing their championships. Woods said they had been thinking a lot, and rather than just defending their championships at Hell in a Cell, they want to defend them inside Hell in a Cell. The crowd bought in, and the Usos smiled and shook their heads as they walked away.
My Take: So much for doing something drastic. I’m guessing Ryder is going to turn heel on Mojo for being an incompetent boob. I like the idea of Tag Team Hell in a Cell. These teams have earned a big opportunity, but what exactly do you do with the division afterwards?
Aiden English was in the ring, and said he was the Master of Ceremonies for the Pride of Bulgaria ceremony. He then introduced the Mayor of Plovdiv, Bulgaria (not really), and asked for silence as Rusev made his entrance to his National Anthem. English then sang the words to the Bulgarian Anthem as Rusev made his entrance. Rusev entered the ring and stood on a pedestal. The Mayor read in Bulgarian from a scroll, before handing Rusev a cheesy looking key and declaring 9/26 Rusev Day.
Rusev grabbed a microphone and spoke to the Mayor actor. He then said he wanted to relive the glory of last week, and threw to some footage of him beating Randy Orton last week. Rusev smiled and said what we had witnessed was the law of the jungle. Rusev said Orton had established himself the Apex Predator, and even earned the name Legend Killer. Rusev then called himself a younger, more dangerous predator, the Lion of Bulgaria, and said he had killed the legend of the legend killer and pulled out his fangs.
English grabbed the mic and said he had prepared a song in honor of Rusev Day. It was actually pretty funny. Orton appeared out of nowhere and hit an RKO on English. Rusev got the mayor guy out of the ring, and turned around into an RKO for himself. Orton celebrated at the end of the segment.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan told Sami Zayn that Shane was on his way to the arena and he was after Owens. Sami told Bryan to call Shane back and tell him to stay away from.him match. He knows their issue is personal, but Shane has his opportunity at Hell in a Cell, and he has tonight. He asked Bryan to give him tonight. Bryan agreed to talk to Shane. Charlotte vs. Carmella is next…[c]
My Take: That segment actually got a laugh out of me. English and Rusev are the right kind of silly, and they both delivered well here. I also like Sami wanting a piece of Owens for himself. Creating a rift between Sami and Smackdown Management because Shane can’t control himself might be a good thing for him.
Randy Orton flagged down Renee Young and told her to tell Rusev that if he wants to enter his jungle, he can do it at Hell in a Cell. He also told her Happy Rusev Day. Charlotte made her entrance in the ring, followed by Carmella. Footage was shown of Charlotte winning the #1 Contender’s match last week. Carmella chained Ellsworth to the ring post like a dog.
3. Carmella vs. Charlotte: After some shoving, Charlotte hit a boot to Carmella’s chest. Carmella caused a ref distraction as Charlotte climbed to the second rope. Ellsworth then grabbed Charlotte’s leg, which allowed Carmella to hit a handstand headscissors out of the corner…[c]
Carmella had a chinlock and hit some 12-6 elbows on Charlotte’s neck. She then made a cover and got a two count, and then grabbed the chin lock again. Charlotte fought to her feet and tried a bodyslam, but Carmella slipped out and hit pulled her down by her hair. Carmella hit a flying crossbody for a two count. She then shoved Charlotte into the second rope, followed by a reverse DDT for a near fall. Carmella started to show frustration at being unable to put Charlotte away.
Carmella got reversed into an O’Connor Roll, but kicked out. She then stood up and walked into a big boot from Charlotte, who covered for the 3 count.
Charlotte defeated Carmella at 6:59.
After the bell, Natalya came out and said she was glad Ric was recovering, so that he can watch his overrated daughter fail at Hell in a Cell.
My Take: I wasn’t blown away by that match, but it accomplished what it set out to do. I was surprised to see Carmella dominate the televised offense, but I think they want to keep the impression alive that she’s a real threat at Hell in a Cell. They also seem to be transitioning Charlotte to using a Big Boot as a finish. Or maybe they want to save the Figure Eight for bigger moments? Remains to be seen. They didn’t do a whole lot here to make us more excited for the program with Natalya. I don’t think they can rely on the Hart vs. Flair dynastic elements carrying it either. They’ve already done that.
The Undertaker’s music hit for another Dolph Ziggler spoof. Tom Phillips tried to sell it like it was Taker initially, but it was pretty obvious from the start. Dolph got to the ring and people booed. He told the crowd it looked like they saw a ghost. They chanted that he sucked. He laughed at the crowd and asked if they actually thought they’d see The Undertaker twice in one year? He then said anybody can put on the Halloween Contest, shamble down to the ring, and act like a Zombie. He told the crowd that they still don’t get that no one can do what he does in the ring.
Bobby Roode interrupted Ziggler at that point and made his glorious entrance. Roode gave Ziggler credit for being an amazing in ring competitor and talent. He told Ziggler that for a guy who doesn’t care about what the crowd thinks, he sure loves to come out and tell him every week. He called Ziggler a hypocrite, and said that if he wanted to back up his claim, he could meet him at Hell in a Cell. Ziggler checked of some imaginary boxes about Roode having an elaborate robe and entrance, but said he was not on par with him in the ring. Ziggler said he was on for Hell in a Cell, and attempted to use the “Rest in Peace”, but Roode stopped him and used his own. Zayn vs. Owens in next…[c]
My Take: It was definitely time for Roode to interrupt Ziggler, and the setup was perfect, but Roode wasn’t exactly magnetic on the microphone. His Glorious Gimmick and catchphrase are hugely over, but I think it still overshadows his mic and ring work. He doesn’t lack confidence, but I don’t really sense the fire necessary to make a babyface take off being present here. Zayn’s promo that started the show was infinitely better. Ziggler seemed to get some boos, but there were still large portions of the crowd that were very visible sitting on their hands.
Sami Zayn made his entrance, followed by Kevin Owens.
4. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: The match started off with a hockey brawl. They went fast and furious early, with Owens hitting a big back elbow and some kicks to the spine. Owens then hit a short arm clothesline and a cannonball in the corner. The match spilled outside, and Owens tossed Zayn into the barricade and stomped him. He then fishhooked him and tossed him back into the ring. Back in the ring, Zayn surprised Owens with a clothesline, but was quickly tossed back out of the ring. Owens tried to take a run around the ring and hit a clothesline, but Zayn hit one of his own. Backstage, Shane McMahon was shown entering the building…[c]
Zayn went up top, but Owens got out of the way. Zayn then turned around into a superkick, which got a near fall. Owens went for a package lift, but Zayn reversed and hit a Tornado DDT. Zayn fired up for the Heluva Kick, but Owens hit another superkick. Owens went for a pop up powerbomb, but Sami avoided it and hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Owens retreated to the floor, but Sami hit a dive to the floor.
Sami lined up for a tornado DDT through the ropes, but Owens hit a superkick and then a powerbomb on the apron. The ref called for the bell, and called for some help.
Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn via Ref Stoppage at 10:44.
Some security and trainers assisted Sami to his feet, while Owens sat on the announce table looking like a psycho. Owens then jumped them from behind, knocking down Owens and the security staff. He then grabbed a chair and was going to toss Sami into the ring post with it wrapped around his head. Shane McMahon’s music hit, and he charged the ring. Owens tossed Sami in front of Shane, and it looked like part of the chair caught Shane McMahon in the mouth. He was touching his face and had some swelling on the side of his face as he demanded Owens come back to the ring to close the show. Owens stared at Shane from the crowd.
My Take: That was an effective close to the show, barring the unfortunate happenstance of Shane running face first into the chair at a pretty good clip. I like that they managed to create some sympathy for Zayn and gave Shane a hot moment to close the show. The crowd wants to see Shane get his hands on Owens at this point, but will they like what they get when it happens? I’m hopeful Hell in a Cell doesn’t require one of the two to maim themselves to make their match memorable.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...