By David Dodgson @DodgeeWriter
All chores for the day done, phone switched off, distractions out of the way, and popcorn ready – time for what is set to be a huge episode of ‘Sin City’ Smackdown Live. The build for this has been like a mini pay-per view with three title matches scheduled and, of course, the continuing fallout from the Kevin Owens-Shane McMahon situation. All eyes are on KO and the return of the boss himself, Mr McMahon.
Kevin Owens Promo
After a recap of last week’s confrontation, KO starts the show. He points out he didn’t fight back last week because he chose not to. He talks about suing the WWE and declares Smackdown is now the Kevin Owens show. He threatens to fire Sami Zayn, much to the derision of the crowd, before bizarrely saying Tom Philips and Byron Saxton must share a suit (they sound the same after all). He also wants to cancel the Fashion Files.
Owens then calls out Mr McMahon but Shane’s music hits and…. it’s Dolph Ziggler continuing his mimic gimmick (that has a nice ring to it). Despite my harsh comments on Ziggler’s promo last week, I have to admit that was pretty funny. Daniel Bryan (for real, not Dolph) then comes out to huge pop. He reminds KO that doesn’t actually run the show and warns him that he might not like what Mr McMahon has to say. Owens ends the segment by saying that Mr McMahon will not like what he has to say.
US Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) v. Tye Dillinger
The in-ring actions kicks off with a title on the line as Dillinger gets the shot he was promised by AJ Styles last week. Dillinger, sporting a Bret Hart colour scheme (black trunks with pink trim), starts strongly blasting Styles back first into the ring post as we go into commercials. Back from the break, the champ is trapped into the corner but manages to power his way out. Styles then gets in the position for the Phenomenal Foreman but Baron Corbin runs in. Dillinger takes advantage of the distraction to roll the champ up for a near fall. They then counter each other’s finisher attempts before the Perfect Ten nails the Tye Breaker but Styles kicks out on two. Dillinger then wastes too much time in a state of disbelief and gets caught in the calf crusher. He taps out but at least he held out longer than two weeks ago. Post-match Corbin lays out AJ Styles with End of Days on the floor and then announces he will answer the open challenge next week. Winner – AJ Styles (retains)
In a backstage interview, Rusev talks about a recent trip home to Bulgaria and how he was shunned after his embarrassing loss at Summerslam. He vows to win back the respect of his family by breaking a legend. Randy Orton watch out!
Jinder Mahal Promo
Jinder makes his way to the ring flanked as usual by the Singh Brothers. He puts pictures of Nakamura on the screen and makes juvenile jokes about him looking constipated, ripping off Michael Jackson, and Godzilla. The only sounds heard are those of the Singh Brothers over-doing the laughter. This promo is getting painful already… Jinder says Shinsuke should think twice about being champion as crowds in America will only disrespect him and then finished this waste of TV time in Punjabi.
KO talks to Sami Zayn about when they were on the indie scene and used to dream of getting to WWE. He says when he takes over Smackdown, Zayn will have to go back to wrestling in front of crowds of 40. Zayn says that would be better than working for Owens. He later approaches Aiden English about singing the theme for his new Kevin Owens show and the operatic superstar duly obliges.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) v. The New Day in a ‘Sin City’ Street Fight
The second match of the night is the second title defence of the night in a street fight. Interesting that this stipulation was chosen by The Usos as only a couple of months ago, they were taking count-losses when the going got tough. That won’t be an option tonight! Big E and Kofi are The New Day pairing and they go straight for the tables. They get jumped by the Usos before they can do any damage though. The champs are in control using the steps and a chair on Big E. Keeping Kofi on the outside, they take a kendo stick to Big E’s back. Kingston then counters a clothesline attempt beautifully into a DDT and then breaks the kendo stick over Jimmy Uso’s back. He then delivers double stomp onto Jimmy with added impact from a chair for a near fall. The “this is awesome” chants ring out. His period of dominance ends when The Usos catch him on a trust fall and (somewhat sloppily) throw him into the barricade. Big E now gets back into the action, laying out both Usos and hitting them both simultaneously with a huge splash. The Big Ending nearly gets the win but the pin is broken up. The Usos go for dual dives from the top turnbuckle but Kingston gets up and drops Jey through the table set up at the start of the match. That gives The New Day the opening to hit the Midnight Hour and recapture the belts. That was a great match but the title changes have been coming too frequently. Someone needs an extended run with the title now. Winners: The New Day (new champs)
Women’s Championship Match: Natalya (c) v. Naomi
Before the match, a short hype package runs for the final of the Mae Young Classic. Ronda Rousey is shown in the crowd drawing a huge pop. Carmella is sat on commentary for this Summerslam rematch (refreshing to see a rematch clause invoked a few weeks after a PPV rather than 2 days). She has James Ellsworth on a leash… literally on a leash! Naomi unleashes her usual high-flying offence until Natalya falls to the outside. Carmella and Ellsworth get up from commentary but end up on the receiving end of a top rope splash from Naomi, who also lands a few cheap punches on the chinless one. Natalya takes advantage blasting Naomi into the ringpost before slapping on the sharpshooter. Naomi taps out very quickly. A short match that needed more time to be something more memorable. Winner: Natalya (retains)
Dolph Ziggler Promo
Dolph comes out and criticises the importance placed on entrances before going back to his mimic gimmick. He comes out as Bayley complete with the inflatable ‘Bayley Buddies’ and the Ultimate Warrior. He says once again that anyone can do an entrance but no-one can do what he does in the ring. Fine, Dolph but we haven’t seen you do anything in the ring for ages!
The Hype Bros v. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
Not much to this match. Gable and Benjamin are in control most of the match. The Hype Bros get in some offence until Mojo Rawley misses the mark with a dive and hits the ringpost. The leaves Zack Ryder alone. Benjamin gets him up on his shoulders and ends up holding him there for ages as he is out of position for the tag. Gable finally stretches far enough to tag in and hit Ryder from the top rope for the win. After the match, Rawley shakes his opponents’ hands but Zack Ryder refuses to join in and storms out of the ring. Winners: Gable & Benjamin
Kevin Owens & Mr McMahon Segment
KO waits in the ring as Mr McMahon comes out to big ovation. Owens speaks first to ‘Vince’ as he informally calls him. He claims the boss feels intimidated. McMahon says he feels more nauseated. He challenges the idea that KO chose not to fight back saying he was getting his ass kicked so he couldn’t fight back. He says Owens is just after power and threatens to fire him if he goes ahead with legal action (with the classic “You’re fired!” bringing a huge pop from the crowd). He says he will use his resources as a billionaire to bankrupt Owens before the case ever gets to court. He then claims he suspended Shane not for attacking Owens but instead for not finishing the job properly. He then announces that Shane’s suspension is revoked and he and Owens will face each other in a Hell in a Cell match. Owens accepts on the condition that he will not get fired for beating a McMahon senseless. He then proceeds to beat the McMahon in the ring with him senseless, turning his own words on him. McMahon has blood on his forehead from a headbutt. Officials come down to break it up to no avail as he hits a superkick and a top rope splash. KO makes his way to the back and we see Stephanie McMahon appear on WWE TV for the first time since Wrestlemania as she helps her father make his way out of the ring.
Well, not sure the show overall lived up to the hype. The tag team match was great to watch but they need to stop swapping the title around so much. Tye Dillinger had a better showing than in recent weeks but the women’s match felt rushed and the rest of the airtime was all forgettable promos and backstage segments. Still, all everyone will be talking about is that last segment. It was a powerful moment that added significant heat to a match that many saw coming long before Summerslam. When WWE book things well, even a predictable angle can have dramatic moments. They generated sympathy for Mr McMahon very well and this rivalry is now one of the hottest on the blue brand. Expect more fallout and more matches to be added to the Hell in a Cell card in the next couple of weeks.