This week’s edition of Smackdown followed Sunday’s SummerSlam event with a focus on the United States Title picture.
Before I get started with Smackdown, just a quick note to say that the update on Big Cass’ knee injury from Raw is that he has a torn ACL and possibly a torn meniscus with surgery taking place this week. The WWE.com update noted that he would be out for up to nine months, so that means he’s probably going to come back in around May or June. Awful news for him. Good luck to him in his recovery.
Kevin Owens Wanted Another US Title Match
AJ Styles did a promo talking about how he beat Kevin Owens to retain the US Title at SummerSlam. Styles said he was ready to move on, so he said it was time to bring back the US Open Challenge that John Cena used to do. Styles waited on an opponent when Kevin Owens interrupted.
Owens complained about how just like 20 years ago, history repeated itself because a McMahon screwed a talented Canadian performer. That’s a reference to Vince McMahon screwing Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997, which was a real-life situation that ended badly for Bret as he departed WWE without knowing that finish was coming. Owens then griped about Shane McMahon screwing him out of the title, and McMahon entered the ring to stop Owens’ whining.
Owens showed a clip where Shane did a three-count while Styles’ foot was on the rope at SummerSlam. Owens said the three-count should be final, so Shane told him that he saw Styles’ foot on the rope after it happened. That led to Styles making the comeback to win.
From there, Owens said he wanted one more shot at the US Title and he wanted to pick the referee. Styles said it was fine because he wanted to prove he can beat Owens again. Shane granted the request.
It’s a typical WWE opening segment where they use that 15-minute promo time to set up something for later in the show. There’s nothing wrong with it. That’s just a repetitive formula for their creative team.
Owens had a few backstage segments during the show as he tried to get Sami Zayn to be the ref, but Zayn said he didn’t want to help Owens. Baron Corbin volunteered as the ref as long as Owens gives him a title shot, so KO said yes and the match was set up.
AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens to retain the United States Title
Baron Corbin was the referee, as mentioned. It was the usual match between Styles and Owens where Owens controlled most of it, using plenty of chinlocks to slow the pace down. There was a moment where Styles slapped on the Calf Crusher submission. Owens reached for the ropes, didn’t touch it and Corbin said that he did, so he forced Styles to break the hold. Styles argued with Corbin about it. Owens got a couple of roll-ups after that and then they did a double clothesline to knock both guys down.
Shane McMahon ran down to the ring to yell at Corbin about being unfair towards Styles. While that was going on, Owens hit a low-blow punch to Styles’ groin. Corbin went to count the pin, but Shane saw the low blow by Owens and pulled Corbin out of the ring to stop the count. That led to Corbin yelling at Shane about it and Corbin threw the ref shirt at Shane. Corbin left, so Shane became the referee. Owens was freaking out about it. When Owens went back in the ring, Styles stunned him using the top rope and hit the Phenomenal Forearm with Shane counting the pin. The show went off the air with Styles celebrating while Owens was furious.
All of this was done to continue the Owens story with Shane. That has been building for the last month. I think it’s going to lead to a Hell in a Cell match between Owens and Shane at Hell in a Cell on Oct. 8. Styles could end up facing Baron Corbin for the US Title or maybe WWE will try to get Rusev into that spot as a title contender.
The angle was fine with the promo and match. It wasn’t anything special or worth going out of your way to see if you missed it. I like Styles and Owens a lot, but I’m glad that their feud is finally over.
This Week’s Smackdown Live Matches
Here’s a look at the other matches from Tuesday night’s show.
Bobby Roode defeated Aiden English
Bobby Roode was rumored to start on the main roster for a while, so this was his official debut. The crowd reacted to Roode in a big way when he interrupted Aiden English’s singing. The “Glorious” song that Roode uses is arguably the best entrance song in the company. Roode really doesn’t have much of a gimmick, although they try to push that he’s a rich guy. He just says “glorious” a lot and the crowd loves it.
The two then had a match with English getting some offense, including his Director’s Cut slam for a two-count. Roode ended up coming back with an impressive spinebuster followed by the Glorious DDT (a lifting DDT) for the win. Post-match, Roode did a promo saying Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon spent a lot of money to sign him and that Smackdown just became glorious.
It’s interesting that Roode was booked in a babyface role rather than as a heel, like he was in NXT. I think they went that route because he gets cheered so much due to the song anyway, so might as well make him a face. In addition to that, John Cena moving to Raw means that they needed a quality face on Smackdown, so Roode can fill that role. If you don’t know much about Roode, he’s 40 years old with about 20 years of experience and he’s from the Toronto area. I’m glad he’s finally on the main roster after spending over a decade working for TNA Wrestling and getting to NXT last year.
The Usos defeated Hype Bros
It was a quick tag match to put over The Usos as Smackdown’s new Tag Team Champions although this was a non-title match. It only got about four minutes with Rawley starting the match and the heels worked over him for a bit. Ryder got the hot tag and he wasn’t able to do much. A superkick stopped Rawley on the floor and then Jimmy hit a superkick on Ryder in the ring for the win. Nice to see champs win non-title like that.
Post-match, The Usos did one of their usual promos about the “Usos penitentiary” and bragged about how great they were. No sign of The New Day on the show.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Samir & Sunil Singh
The Singh Brothers didn’t have to tag in during this match, which might make you think they would have the advantage. Nope. Nakamura kicked their asses pretty easily and finished off one of the brothers with a triangle choke submission.
Post-match, Jinder Mahal went into the ring and hit Nakamura with a kick to the face. Mahal did the classic heel trick of celebrating too much, so Nakamura came back with a kick to the gut and hit a Kinshasa to knock him down.
Mahal won in cheap fashion at SummerSlam, thanks to the distraction from the Singh Brothers, so it looks like Nakamura will remain the top contender to Mahal’s WWE Title. I think we can pencil in Mahal vs. Nakamura at Hell in a Cell in October and that may be when Nakamura wins the gold.
Becky Lynch and Naomi defeated Natalya and Carmella
There was an interesting story surrounding this match because Carmella did a promo warning new Smackdown Women’s Champion Natalya that she still has the Money in the Bank briefcase. James Ellsworth did his dumbass routine by revealing Carmella’s plans, noting that Carmella wouldn’t tag into the match because she wanted Natalya to get beat up, so Carmella could cash in the briefcase.
Natalya worked most of the match for her team. She fared well until she wanted to tag out. Carmella was bickering with Ellsworth, so Natalya tagged Carmella in. That led to Natalya chasing Carmella into the ring right into a Bexploder Suplex from Lynch and then Naomi finished off Carmella with a split legged moonsault.
It was a good angle built around the match. I’m glad new champion Natalya wasn’t pinned. I’m also not surprised that Naomi got the win after she just lost the title on Sunday.
Other Key Items From Smackdown
1. Shelton Benjamin made his return to WWE Smackdown
There was a backstage segment with Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan talking to Chad Gable about dealing with losing his tag team partner, Jason Jordan, to Raw. Bryan said that he didn’t just give away Jordan to Kurt Angle on Raw, he asked for Angle to help him sign a friend. That led to Bryan introducing Shelton Benjamin (a WWE wrestler in the 2000s until his 2010 release) and telling Gable that Shelton will be his partner. Gable was really excited to see him while noting he grew up watching Shelton and that he was a fan of his. Shelton said he followed Gable as well, then Bryan announced they’ll team up next week. Gable was the happy young wrestler while Benjamin was calm.
Benjamin was originally going to come back to WWE last summer, but they found out he needed shoulder surgery. That surgery kept him out until around March when he returned to the indies. Now that Benjamin is healthy, I’m glad that WWE signed him. At 42 years of age, Benjamin is an older guy in WWE, but he’s still very skilled in the ring.
It was also good to hear the crowd cheer loudly at the sight of Benjamin. He’s been gone for seven years, so when somebody is gone that long, you wonder if they will be remembered that well. The response to him was loud. It’s nice to see that.
2. Dolph Ziggler was interviewed about his big plans
Dolph Ziggler did a backstage promo where he talked about his return to WWE TV (he was off for a couple of months), while mocking some of the others in the company who sing before matches (Elias or Aiden English) and try to glow in the dark (Naomi). He was very sarcastic in talking about things he might do to get noticed. Ziggler was also upset that he just got a backstage segment rather than something else. I don’t know what his role will be going forward, but he’s still a heel and hopefully there’s something worthwhile for him.
3. Lana continued to motivate Tamina
There was another backstage segment between Lana and Tamina where Lana used her motivational tactics to encourage her buddy. Lana told her to close her eyes and visualize the women who looked past her or laughed at her for being different. Lana said that with her help, Tamina will become a Women’s Champion that crushes the competition. It’s something of an oddball pairing because they are different kinds of performers, but it could work out for them.
Looking Ahead to WWE Hell in a Cell
The next WWE Smackdown pay-per-view is Hell in a Cell this on Sunday, Oct. 8 in Detroit. There are no matches announced yet.
The show was about the US Title and ending the story between Styles and Owens. It also continued Owens’ issues with Shane, which should be a big storyline over the next month. In addition to that, Bobby Roode joining the Smackdown crew is a positive thing, so I’m looking forward to what he might do.
That puts a wrap on WWE SummerSlam week. Until next week, thanks for reading.