Powell’s WWE Smackdown Hit List: Vince McMahon replaces Kofi Kingston with Kevin Owens in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus and Cesaro, R-Truth’s open challenge

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Smackdown Hits

Vince McMahon replaces Kofi Kingston with Kevin Owens in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane: A fun and unexpected twist with the surprise return of KO. Are they pushing Kingston’s title match back to WrestleMania or will this lead to a Triple Threat at Fastlane? Kofi will obviously get his shot eventually, so my only concern with the segment lies with the Vince McMahon character once again blindsiding his children with a major ruling. Hopefully they are simply playing up Vince as a wildcard, but my fear is that we’re on the verge of a McMahon family feud. By the way, Vince is really good at playing the out of touch leader of WWE. It’s as if he’s had a lot of practice.

Kevin Owens and Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan: A compelling tag team main event. There was no telling what the Owens character was going to do. So even though he played it straight, the match more than held my attention. The only negative was seeing Bryan take yet another loss on television. The losses are explainable, though, in that they had to scramble to make Kingston once Mustafa Ali was injured, and now they are trying to establish Kevin Owens as a threat on short notice.

Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus and Cesaro: Broken Matt was deleted and replaced by a version of Matt that looked like he stepped out of a time machine. Matt returned in great shape and it was fun to see the Hardys together again, especially in their home state. The duo are a nice addition to the Smackdown tag division. That said, I hope the Hardys’ run on Smackdown is brief, as I would really like to see them moved to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup to chase The Revival for the tag titles. And if it’s not too much to ask, perhaps the Revival could actually win a television match before then?

R-Truth vs. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio for the U.S. Championship: It always feels a little too convenient that one person is right there waiting for the open title matches, so it was fun to see more than one person make a play to be Truth’s open challenger. The match was fine and the nice thing about Truth as the champion is the feeling that he could lose the title whenever he puts it on the line in a television match.

Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev: A well worked match with the NXT newcomers getting another win. These teams worked well together. I’m still not crazy about the idea of WWE skipping the build of Black as a brooding loner, but there’s no denying that he and Ricochet work well together.

Charlotte Flair: A minor Hit for a well delivered promo. It felt like a missed opportunity that the broadcast team didn’t go after her for being so self absorbed that she didn’t even mention the attack on her father. And while I like the rare attempt at synergy between the shows by having Charlotte hype her appearance on Raw, it also felt clunky that she said she would wait until Monday to have Vince McMahon crown her the new Raw Women’s Champion when he’d appeared on this show less than an hour earlier. Update: A reader let me know that Byron Saxton did take Charlotte to task for not addressing her father’s situation. My apologies for missing that.

WWE Smackdown Misses

None: A strong two-hour show. Nothing felt like filler, the Vince McMahon appearance was newsworthy, and the returns of Kevin Owens and Matt Hardy made for good television. The only real negative of the night was that we didn’t get the advertised Johnny Gargano vs. Cesaro match, which looked like a gem on paper.

Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and former WWE Smackdown lead writer Alex Greenfield discussing the NXT call-ups, Stephanie McMahon’s past contributions to WWE creative, the growth of MLW, and much more.

Readers Comments (8)

  1. I have to disagree about Vince swapping KO for Kofi being a “hit”. Even if last night’s swerve does eventually lead to something bigger for Kofi, the racial overtone of an old white man arbitrarily taking an opportunity away from a black man and unilaterally giving it to another white man instead, all while belittling the Kofi character in the process, made watching SmackDown very uncomfortable.

    If they wanted Kofi out of the match, there were a hundred other ways they could have done so that not only would have made more sense storyline-wise but would have all been less tone-deaf than the way they went.

    You can say I’m reading too much into this, but the problem is WWE/Vince has a long history of racial insensitivity, thus it’s hard to dismiss this as unrelated or inconsequential.

    All of this is to say nothing about how this is just more bad booking by WWE. Bringing Owens in cold and inserting him into the WWE Title picture felt flat. Positioning him against a heel champion implies he’s a face now, but he was introduced to the storyline in a very heel-ish way. And all of this nonsense takes away a ton of heat & steam from Daniel Bryan’s championship reign, which was the best thing going on SmackDown before last night.

    It’s just an all-around mess. If this is the Pritchard effect, he needs to go as fast as he came. If this is just Vince being Vince, it’s one more example of how and why a rival promotion like AEW has a golden opportunity to rise up and legitimately challenge WWE.

    • I think you’re reading way, way too much into it. It’s the same angle they’re running with Becky Lynch. Everything doesn’t have to be some type of social statement. Some times it’s just a tv show, meant to entertain.

      • Perhaps I’m reading too far into the possible intent of racism, but regardless of that, it was still a poorly executed angle for the other reasons I gave. From reading Twitter and other IWC sites my opinion is apparently in the minority, and that’s fine. It just my opinion.

    • Prichard* Put a T on your back, not in his name. Boxofgimmicks.com

  2. I respect your opinion, but I don’t see any way at all that that’s racial anymore than their treatment of Becky being because she’s Irish.

  3. My main problem with inserting Kevin Owens into the title picture by Vince McMahon is that it insults my intelligence. Why? Well for starters I don’t have a crappy memory which is what WWE bookers imply all fans have… Wasn’t Kevin Owens the one who viciously attacked Vince McMahon in a storyline with Shane? Yep! So Vince, you know, the guy who in storylines holds grudges, seemingly forgot he shouldn’t do a damn thing for KO. But he’s returning let’s put him in an unearned title match. And on top of that cools down a red hot Daniel Bryan Kofi Kingston feud that fans are enjoying. Idk…

  4. America does what America does… but it something falls Canada’s what, it’s racist. Like Kevin Owens

    Why would Vince reward Owens? Well, i’d wanna be on the good side of someone who could split me open… but ya know, thats just me.

    I really don’t give a shit… I just wanna see popup powerbombs all round..

  5. Vince would chip away at Kevin Owens give him the title then chip.. chip.. until we loved Roman again, I am glad he is doing well

    I wanted Kofi to win the WWE World title.. and wanted Steen v. Black, I mean.. Owens v. Rollins.. @JasonPowell, what would you rename the Universal title?

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