By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Randy Orton vs. Sami Zayn with Kevin Owens handcuffed to the ropes: A good match with a fun stipulation even if it did make Shane McMahon look foolish for not just banning Owens from the building. Of course, they wanted to set the stage for Shinsuke Nakamura making the save and revealing himself as Orton’s tag partner at Clash of Champions, which finally gave the pay-per-view a compelling match. The announcement by Shane at the end of the show that Owens and Zayn will be fired by WWE if they lose at Clash of Champions seems to tipoff the outcome of the match, but it will be interesting to see how they get to the heels winning and if it involves Daniels Bryan. I did have to laugh at the broadcast team for pondering what it will be like to see Orton and Nakamura as a tag team when they’ve seen them work together before and even against Owens and Zayn no less.
Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Shane McMahon, and Randy Orton opening: A fun opening segment with Zayn describing the difference between the ringside area and everywhere else. It’s silly that Shane McMahon let’s them get by on a technicality when he could simply fire them as he’s talked about doing in the past. It would be nice if he would deliver the obvious line about making their lives hell rather than letting them off easy by firing them. Nevertheless, Owens and Zayn were highly entertaining and the RKO out of nowhere on Owens came off well.
New Day vs. Rusev and Aiden English: So New Day beat Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable to earn a spot in the tag title match at Clash of Champions. Rusev and English beat New Day to earn a spot in the match. Maybe next week Primo and Epico can beat Rusev and English, then The Ascension (are they still alive?) can beat The Colons, and then Breezango can beat The Ascension, and we can have every tag team in the tag title match. Still, a Hit for a fun match.
Mojo Rawley promo: A solid first heel promo with Rawley using heel logic to justify his attack on Ryder. Mojo said Rob Gronkowski got on him for what he did to Ryder. I guess Gronk has some extra time on his hands this week. Did Mojo return the favor by taking issue with what Gronk did to Tre’Davious White on Sunday?
The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Peter Avalon and Fidel Bravo: Another Road Warriors style squash match win. They won’t be able to work this style against the main roster teams, but it’s fun to watch them establish themselves as badasses in the meantime.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Daniel Bryan and the Smackdown women: There has to be a better way of getting women on the show without these awful backstage segments where they all bitch until the authority figure has enough. And it felt way too soon to put Riott Squad in one of these awful segments as it took away from the sense of danger the trio has had by having them coexist temporarily with other women without getting physical.
Charlotte vs. Tamina: A simple non-title win for Charlotte, so this is more about the title picture than the forgettable match. WWE is attempting to prop up the Charlotte vs. Natalya match at Clash of Champions by making it a lumberjack match and reminding viewers that the Money in the Bank contract is still in play. It’s not enough. The feud has run its course.
Baron Corbin, Bobby Roode, and Dolph Ziggler: It’s nice that they are acknowledging the criticism of Ziggler getting a title shot when his character hasn’t done anything to earn it. However, his logic that it’s because of all the titles he won in the past doesn’t really make sense. It’s the equivalent of the NFL putting the 3-9 Denver Broncos in the playoffs this year simply because they won the Super Bowl in 2016. Ziggler’s involvement in the non-title match established that it’s every man for himself and the match could be solid, but the storytelling build still leaves a lot to be desired.