Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon dominated Smackdown Live this week with their issues escalating to a whole new level. Dolph Ziggler showed us his grand ne ‘gimmick’ and Shinsuke Nakamura battled Randy Orton in a first time ever match to determine the Number One Contender for Jinder Mahal’s WWE Championship.
Kevin Owens & Shane McMahon Promo. Grade: A+. Owens interrupted Carmella & James Ellsworth announcing he would be the referee for the next match. McMahon put an end to this and things quickly got personal. Owens verbally attacked Shane’s father, wife and especially their children saying they all would be better off if he hadn’t survived his helicopter accident. McMahon had his own good lines saying Triple H handed Owens the Universal Title. Things got physical as McMahon assaulted Owens at the mention of his kids. Backstage Owens threatened to sue WWE for Shane’s actions. This quickly escalated this feud to boiling point and the tension between the two is now incredibly hot. A fiery and incredible start to the show; this feud just became the biggest thing on the show.
Natalya defeated Carmella. Grade: C+. An okay match between the two but with both women being heels the crowd struggled to engage. After the match Carmella verbally assaulted James Ellsworth because he dropped her Briefcase into the ring distracting her and costing her the match, Carmella broke things up with him seemingly for good. Carmella was brutal and vicious on the microphone here and came across as more of a heel because of it. However there seemed to be no reasons to break the two up at this point, which was amended later in the show when Carmella kissed and made up with Ellsworth but on the condition that things are done on her terms now, before slapping the taste out of Ellsworth.
Dolph Ziggler Re-Packaged Re-Debut. Grade: C+. Dolph came out parodying John Cena, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Naomi’s gimmicks. His motivation was to show that despite the fact he is one of the best wrestlers in the ring itself, all fans care about is stupid gimmicks. His play on Cena’s entrance got a great response with the crowd singing “Dolph Ziggler Sucks!” but was it necessary to make fun of Naomi’s gimmick like this, especially given she has a women’s title match next week?
Aiden English defeated Sami Zayn. Grade: F. This was awful. Zayn once again interrupted English’s singing, only to be rolled up quickly and lose. English is great but he is low on the list of people Smackdown should be pushing, Zayn on the other hand is being criminally underused and is at risk of becoming redundant and almost beyond saving, similar to what has happened to Bray Wyatt.
Daniel Bryan is forced to Suspend Shane McMahon. Grade: A. Daniel Bryan came to the ring and called Shane out to speak with him. Bryan explained that despite his interactions with the Miz he always restrained himself, unlike Shane. Bryan said that Vince McMahon himself ordered I’m to indefinitely suspend Shane McMahon for his actions. This was quick and incredibly effective; it showed the seriousness of the situation and fans seem behind Shane more than ever serenading him with chants of “Thank You Shane”. Backstage Bryan told Owens that The Chairman of the Board himself would be on Smackdown next week to address the situation.
Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger. Grade: C. While this was quite a good match between the two, this whole thing just feels flat. Dillinger is incredible and had the crowd so heavily behind him even after being almost non-existent since his call up to the main roster; this shows he can do so much more than he currently is. Baron Corbin brings no interest to the situation, seeing arguably the best wrestler in the world AJ Styles waste his talents against someone as boring and bland as Corbin when there are so many others on the roster is a disappointment. Maybe I’m not giving this a fair chance, but I have no interest in this at all.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Randy Orton in a Number One Contenders Match for the WWE Championship. Grade: A- In a first time ever match, Orton & Nakamura put on a wonderful main event match. While it was clear that Nakamura was going to win given how much we have seen of Mahal & Orton recently, the two men put on a great match together. Nakamura provided one of the bets counters to the RKO ever countering it into a cross armbreaker. Odd that the first ever Orton vs Nakamura match, just like the first ever Cena vs Nakamura match was just on a normal episode of Smackdown and not main eventing a big PPV. Here’s hoping Nakamura can finally knock off Mahal and become the top guy on Smackdown Live, right where he belongs.