By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon: First off, a fall count anywhere Hell in a Cell match? Let me guess, Shane has a big stunt in mind. The HIAC match became the new cage match when pro wrestling ruined the gimmick by booking so much outside interference and nonsense, and they are going down the same road with HIAC. Putting that aside, Owens and McMahon captured the intensity you want from two wrestlers heading into a HIAC encounter. Owens getting the better of the exchange and talking about what he intends to do to him was a nice touch. Shane continuing to stand up and fight only to be beaten down again was solid. Owens delivering the same headbutt to Shane that he gave his father and then hitting the Popup Powerbomb was a great final touch. The build to this match has been some of Smackdown’s best work in recent memory.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Jinder Mahal: Nakamura’s interview was about as basic as it gets with him using the ol’ “sticks and stones” comeback to Jinder’s recent taunts. The sneak attack by Mahal clicked and the Singh Brothers cutting off Nakamura’s attack before he could perform his finisher was nicely done. I like the call to have Mahal stand tall at the end and the early “Empire Strikes Back” feel of the show with the heels getting the advantage going into Hell in a Cell.
New Day and The Usos: A strong promo from the Usos followed by a solid rebuttal from New Day. The Usos come off as more cool than heelish on the mic, so New Day have been good opponents for them in that they always have the live crowds behind them. And even though New Day did their usual schtick, both teams did a nice job of conveying tension heading into the HIAC match.
Randy Orton vs. Aiden English: A dominant win for Orton with another cool “RKO out of nowhere” complete with great smirk from Orton afterward. Orton catching Rusev attempting to blindside him
Carmella and Natalya vs Becky and Charlotte: Another segment with the heels standing tall going into Sunday. It was surprising to see Charlotte tap out to the Sharpshooter, though it left me assuming that she will be getting the win at HIAC. It was also a nice move to tease some tension from Natalya directed at her partner due to the threat of the Money in the Bank contract. Speaking of which, I could see Charlotte taking the title on Sunday only to have Carmella cash in on her.
Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler: Sadly, it was was not a surprise to see Mike Kanellis lose to Roode. It will be interesting to see if he is repackaged now that Maria is pregnant or if this was a sign of things to come. Meanwhile, the verbal exchange between Roode and Ziggler scores a minor Hit for serving as solid final hype for their match, but Ziggler should be arrested if he’s ever spotted with an air horn again.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger: Oddball booking with Dillinger beating the man who is challenging for the U.S. Championship on Sunday. My guess is that they are telling the story of Corbin squandering opportunities because he’s actually going to win the title. The A.J. Styles promo that followed was preachy and none of this left me looking forward to their match more than I was going into the show.