By Dave Dodgson @DodgeeWriter
Last week finished with unbelievable scenes as Kevin Owens laid the literal smack down on the boss himself Vince McMahon. That shocking moment came at the end of a show that was good but could have been better. Would Smackdown pick up the pace this week? What fallout would come from the KO-McMahon incident? And what further build would we see towards Hell in a Cell? Let’s find out:
Shane McMahon Promo
After a re-cap of last week’s gripping final moments, Shane McMahon makes his return from his short-lived suspension. He talks about watching Vince take a beating on TV and the entire McMahon family’s desire for vengeance. Shane ‘condemns’ KO to great suffering at his own hands at Hell in a Cell. A short and to the point opening promo – the way it should be.
Randy Orton v. Aiden English
Aiden English, sporting sunglasses and a scarf, serenades the crowd – interesting how musical performances on both RAW and Smackdown draw such heat from the crowd these days. He is soon, as has become expected, interrupted by his opponent The Viper Randy Orton. This must be the third match-up between these two in the last couple of months. Orton soon takes control of the match but ends up on the receiving end of one of his own signature moves as English drops him back-first onto the announce table. Underhand tactics keep the operatic superstar in control until a dive from the top rope is countered with an RKO from-out-of-nowhere. Classic Orton. Winner: Randy Orton
Rusev v. Randy Orton
Post-match Rusev appears on the ramp, talks about how he has become a national disgrace in Bulgaria after his 10-second loss at Summerslam. He challenges Orton to a match there and then, which the Viper accepts. Randy goes straight for the RKO but Rusev blocks it. English hops up the apron to distract Orton who then eats a superkick. Rusev immediately gets the pin and a measure of revenge. Backstage, the Bulgarian Brute gloats about his win shouting “Rusev Number 1” and even getting the crowd in attendance joining in temporarily. Winner: Rusev
Jinder Mahal Promo
The announcement of this segment would have me reaching for the remote normally, especially after last week’s awful promo from the champ, but as I am obliged to review it, I’ll just have to grin and bear it. Mahal immediately starts flogging the same dead horse with photos of Nakamura’s facial expressions drawing over-the-top laughter from the Singhs. He manages to accuse the crowd of being xenophobic while making anti-Japanese comments in the same breath. At least this draws chants of “that’s too far!” from the crowd and they are right – even Corey Graves agrees on commentary. Mahal quickly switches to a short promo in Punjabi and this is thankfully over. Last week was a damp squib so why have Mahal come out and do more of the same – and worse – this week?
US Title Match: AJ Styles (c) v. Baron Corbin
This match keeps getting referred to as the ‘open challenge’ despite having been announced in the last show and being promoted all week. AJ Styles cuts a quick promo commenting on the Kevin Owens-McMahon situation saying KO may not make it out of Hell in a Cell. He then turns to Corbin, accusing him of taking short-cuts, calling out his recent failures to cash in Money on the Bank and beat Cena. He then says the Lone Wolf can huff and puff but he’ll never blow down the house that AJ Styles built. Corbin attacks Styles from behind during the match announcement, living up to the Shortcut King tag just given to him (better than the ‘Dumpster Fire’ from a few weeks ago). Tye Dillinger runs down to make the save, clipping Baron Corbin’s knee as he does so. AJ Styles recovers and slaps on the Calf Crusher. The match never starts but a significant amount of heat has been added to this feud and Dillinger has seemingly inserted himself as a permanent part of it. Funny to see Corbin’s attempts to get involved in title matches consistently end in failure. The crowd let him know about it too with chants of “you screwed up!” Backstage, a furious Corbin claims he sprained his ankle and vows to get even on both his rivals. No contest
After several weeks off TV, Charlotte comes out to thank the fans for their support during Ric Flair’s recent health scare. She then says she has a new perspective and will make the most of life’s moments from here on. Natalya interrupts to announce the first ever “WWE Celebration of Women.” She talks up achievement of women from Florence Nightingale to the Mae Young Classic, and declares she wants to focus on one woman in particular who is a shining example to all. She then, of course, unveils a picture of herself. Charlotte immediately announces her intention to challenge Natalya for the title. Becky Lynch then joins the fray calling Natalya “the craziest there was, the craziest there is, and the craziest there ever will be.” She announces her title intentions. It is great to see Charlotte and Becky back on TV and edging into the title picture. But wait – here comes Naomi, then Tamina and Lana, and we have moved from a promising segment to yet another ‘throw the entire women’s division together’ moment. Natalya tries to make her exit but Daniel Bryan’s music hits and he announces a fatal four-way main event to establish Natalya’s opponent for Hell in a Cell.
The New Day v. The Hype Bros
Well into the second hour and we get only our second match of the night (third if you count Orton’s appearance as two matches). The Usos are on commentary and announce they will (groan) invoke their rematch clause at Hell in a Cell. These two teams produce great matches but they have been over exposed in recent weeks. It’s time to move on. The Hype Bros surprisingly get close to win here as Zack Ryder survives an onslaught from Big E to hit the Broski Boot. Kofi Kingston breaks up the pin and then takes out Mojo Rawley with a spectacular leap over the top rope. The New Day then hot Ryder with the Midnight Hour and get the win. Backstage, we see Rawley expressing his frustration at their current losing streak and promising to do something drastic to turn it around. Winners: The New Day
Kevin Owens Live via Satellite
KO, in a shirt and tie, appears on the screen and gets booed by the crowd. He apologises for his actions last week before pinning all the blame on Shane McMahon. He finishes by apologising to all those who will watch Hell in a Cell and witness the beating he gives to Shane. Owens finishes by saying people like him don’t go to hell, they go to heaven. Huh?
Dolph Ziggler Promo
This again? This time he does HHH, Shawn Michaels, DX (the crowd call for CM Punk but I don’t think that one is likely!) This is all accompanied by the usual tirade against flashy entrances, under-appreciation of Dolph’s in-ring talents, blah, blah… What is the point of him mocking past superstars and female wrestlers every week? Can we drop this angle or at least move it on now please?
Smackdown Women’s Championship Number 1 Contender’s Fatal Four Way Match: Charlotte v. Naomi v. Becky Lynch v. Tamina
By the time all the wrestlers have made their entrances, we have less than 10 minutes of broadcast time left so I guess this will be short (couldn’t we have dropped the Mahal and Ziggler promos to give this match more time?) Tamina gains the upper hand early on but her opponents soon gang up on her before turning on each other. Naomi then smoothly turns a sunset flip pin attempt into her submission hold. Becky breaks it up and slaps on the Disarmer only to be hot from behind by Tamina. Given the short time allowed for the match, they do a great job of keeping everyone involved. At one point Charlotte hits a moonsault onto both Naomi and Tamina and tries to pin them both at the same time. The crowd light up with “this is awesome!” chants. A frantic finish sees Tamina hit a frog splash on Becky, Naomi go for a pin only for Lana to break it up, a superkick from Tamina to Naomi, and a big boot from Charlotte to Tamina to get the win. Charlotte will now face Natalya at Hell in a Cell. Winner: Charlotte
Not sure how to rate this week’s episode. There was not a lot in the way of in-ring action with only three (four if you count Rusev-Orton) quick matches and one other bout that never got started. However, at the same time, those matches saw heat added to the Rusev-Orton rivalry, layers added to the Styles-Corbin-Dillinger programme, and a new number one contender for the women’s title. Beyond that, it was a promo heavy show and most of those segments dragged the action down. Shane McMahon was direct and probably gave the most effective promo of the night. KO on satellite link didn’t achieve much but it made sense to not have him in the arena and delay the next physical clash between him and the McMahons. Jinder Mahal’s promo was shocking – both shockingly poor and shockingly crass (you could even say racist) and Dolph Ziggler needs to stop repeating himself week after week. We get it Dolph. Move on. As I said above, that promo time could have been given to the main event to allow more of a spotlight on the women’s division. Once again, it was a decent episode but could and should have been better.