This week’s edition of WWE Smackdown, titled “Sin City Smackdown” because it was in Las Vegas, featured three title matches and an appearance from WWE’s Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon to address Kevin Owens. It was the first time in four years that Vince appeared on Smackdown, so it was promoted heavily all week with Vince making some sort of big announcement. Here’s a rundown of that story.

Kevin Owens had to wait for Vince McMahon all night long

The first 10 minutes were spent on a video package promoting Vince being on the show and then a promo by Kevin Owens focusing on Vince. Owens also talked about how he was going to sue WWE for what Shane McMahon did to him when Shane attacked him last week. Owens wanted to change the name of the show to “The Kevin Owens Show.” He also added that the first person he would fire is Sami Zayn, while making announcers Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton share a suit with two guys wearing one suit. Owens then called out Vince.

Daniel Bryan, Smackdown’s general manager, entered the ring to say that Vince will be there later. Over the next two hours, they kept talking about Mr. McMahon showing up.

All of this could have been accomplished in a two-minute backstage segment with Kevin asking where Vince was and Bryan telling him Vince will be there later. Classic WWE wasting time segment.

Owens was featured in two backstage skits, the first in which he ripped on Zayn, leading to Zayn saying he’d rather wrestle in armories again than work for Owens. That was followed by a funny skit with Owens and Aiden English with KO telling Aiden that he wanted him to come up with a song for The Kevin Owens Show, so English sang something there.

The main event of the broadcast was the confrontation between Vince and Kevin.

Kevin Owens attacked Vince McMahon after learning about Hell in a Cell

Vince got a nice ovation from the crowd since he doesn’t appear on television that often. During most of his run as the boss in the last 20 years, he was a heel but he could easily get a crowd behind him. Vince is one of the best heels ever and one of the best talkers as well. It was great to see him out there, even though he’s showing his age at 72 years old. He’s healthier than most of us will be at that age, that’s for sure.

Mr. McMahon said he was there to talk to Owens about this lawsuit he kept threatening to file. Vince told Owens that if he tried to do that, then he would fire his ass. Owens claimed that he didn’t want to fight back against Shane because he respected authority figures and Vince put him in his place by telling Owens that Shane kicked his ass. Vince claimed he suspended Shane for his own good, but he won’t be suspended for much longer.

Vince then announced that Shane will face Owens at Hell in a Cell on Oct. 8 in a Hell in a Cell match. The crowd was thrilled by it, while Owens was shocked at first, before demanding an assurance from Vince. Owens wanted Vince to make him a deal that he won’t get fired if he beats Shane senseless. He also wanted to be sure Vince would let him beat a McMahon senseless. They shook on it, and then Owens decked Vince with a headbutt! It was a shocking attack, though maybe not that shocking if you have seen Vince get his ass kicked before by dozens of other wrestlers. But it’s been so long that the crowd reacted to it in a big way.

Here’s the headbutt from Owens that started it all.

Vince was bleeding hardway from it, which means it was real rather than a blade job. Blade jobs are banned in WWE, so they do the hardway style rarely to try to put over the severity of an injury.

The attack continued as Vince tried to fight back, but Owens knocked him down with a punch. He then kicked Vince in the ribs and referees went into the ring. Owens shoved longtime referee Mike Chioda away, and went up top for a Frog Splash. Adam Pearce, who is a former ROH wrestler who is a backstage agent in WWE, went in the ring to try to protect Vince. Owens jumped off the top anyway and hit the Frog Splash while Pearce moved out of the way. A doctor went into the ring to check on Vince.

The attack from Owens stopped there as replays showed what happened. Owens left with a serious look on his face while Stephanie McMahon (the current absentee Raw commissioner and Vince’s daughter) told Owens to get out of there. Stephanie checked on her father along with others as the show ended with Vince struggling on his feet talking about pain in the ribs. Great selling by Vince.

Meanwhile, Raw GM Kurt Angle chimed in to take a shot at Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan for letting that happen on his show.

I thought it was silly that Bryan was nowhere to be seen at the end of the show. He is the general manager of the show who works under Vince and Shane, so he should have been there trying to stop Owens. It would have made sense at least.

The whole thing was outstanding. It was the kind of old school heat-generating segment you don’t often see in WWE anymore, yet here they were with Owens as the sadistic heel attacking a grandfather in his 70s. Meanwhile, Vince sold so well to make Owens look like a badass. I’m sure that it made some people uncomfortable to see Vince selling for Owens like that, but that’s what Vince loves to do. Vince has put over so many wrestlers in the last 20 years by taking a beating. It’s a long list, so congrats to Owens for joining it because anybody on that list was considered a big star that Vince loved working with.

Owens reminded us why he is the best heel on this show, not WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Owens is the guy who is willing to get heat by doing or saying anything and he’s got the mannerisms down. He played his role perfectly in this angle. It’s also likely that Owens was nervous about working with Vince like that because if you make a mistake it can be costly. But I’m sure the fan in Owens was marking out that he got to do a big angle with Vince.

This should add a lot of heat to the Shane/Owens match as well. It has been built up very well for the last month and I thought Hell in a Cell was likely for them, so I’m glad it’s official. Owens should win that match, although it wouldn’t surprise me if Shane were to win either.

This Week’s Smackdown Live Matches

Here’s a look at this week’s Smackdown matches, including three title bouts.

AJ Styles defeated Tye Dillinger to retain the United States Championship

Styles and Dillinger had a competitive match for about eight minutes with Baron Corbin showing up for a distraction. That appearance from Corbin led to Dillinger hitting his Tyebreaker finisher at one point for a great near-fall. Styles kicked out at the last possible moment, which led to a good reaction from the crowd. Dillinger was frustrated that he wasn’t able to win with his finisher, so Styles was able to recover and win by submission with the Calf Crusher. I like that the match took place and wish they got more time to tell a better story, but it was under 10 minutes.

Post-match, Baron Corbin attacked both guys and hit the End of Days slam on Styles on the floor. Corbin told Styles he is facing Styles for the US Title next week. Apparently, people can just make title matches and accept open challenges a week in advance. It’s a little odd.

The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Big E defeated The Usos in a “Sin City Street Fight” to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championships

Great match and the best of the show. It was one of the best TV matches of the year. The amazing thing is they got about 12 minutes, yet were able to make the most of it by brawling all around the ringside area and not slowing down. That’s what I like about matches like this where guys don’t have to fill time grabbing armbars or chinlocks in the ring for a few minutes to fill time. In a match like this, it was all about the action right off the bat.

There was a table set up on the floor early on by New Day. You knew that was going to come in play later in the match and it factored into the finish big-time. I liked the story of the match with the heel Usos trying to isolate one of the faces and there’s no hot tag in a Street Fight, so they managed to do it so that Kingston saved Big E from getting beat and vice versa. I love when wrestlers format a match so that they take advantage of the rules. It looked like Big E was going to lose to a double splash from The Usos, but Kingston recovered and shoved Jey Uso off the turnbuckle through the table on the floor. That led to New Day hitting the double team Midnight Hour move to win the titles.

I liked their match from the SummerSlam Kickoff Show a little bit more because it got more time and told a different story as a regular tag match. But this was awesome too.

As for the title change, I’m not a huge fan of these teams passing the titles between them every month. However, I predicted the title change on Twitter before the show because for whatever reason, WWE loves booking title changes this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if these teams have a tag team Hell in a Cell match that is advertised as their last match for a while.

Natalya defeated Naomi to retain the Smackdown Women’s Title

I thought it was odd that this match started with these two women in the ring without showing their entrances. It’s a title match and there was no time for their entrances? That’s pretty rare to see a title match booked like that.

They had a decent match that wasn’t as good as the SummerSlam match, although it had a similar outcome. Carmella was on commentary for the match, along with her buddy James Ellsworth. When Natalya was on the floor, Carmella yelled at her and Naomi took it upon herself to attack them on the floor, but Natalya avoided the diving attack. Natalya sent Naomi into the ring post. She then brought Naomi into the ring, slapped on the Sharpshooter and won by submission.

This likely ends the Natalya feud with Naomi. With Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch waiting in the wings, Natalya has two familiar opponents who she can feud with next. I think it will be Charlotte.

Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable defeated The Hype Bros

It was a quick match to put over Benjamin and Gable clean in about three minutes. They hit a double team move where Benjamin held Ryder up in the air and Gable jumped off the top with a clothesline, so it was like the Doomsday Device finisher that has been in wrestling for decades, except they did a Powerbomb instead of putting the opponent on the shoulders.

Post-match, good guy Rawley shook the hands of the victors. Zack Ryder chose not to do it and just walked away, so it was a heel turn tease. The heel turn tease was done a few months ago. Then it was dropped. I guess it has returned, so at least the Hype Bros have something to do if one of them turns or maybe both will. 

Other Key Items From Smackdown

1. Jinder Mahal did a boring promo mocking Shinsuke Nakamura

I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea, but I thought Jinder Mahal’s promo was terrible. It also featured the Singh Brothers doing over-the-top laughter towards Shinsuke Nakamura images. It really was one of the worst promos in a long time, especially for somebody holding the WWE Title. I understood the tone of it with Mahal laughing at how silly Nakamura looks with some of his facial expressions. That’s fine, but it never turned the corner to where Mahal could have said that when they have their WWE Title match, there will be no jokes because Mahal means business.

The worst part of the promo was that I kept waiting for Nakamura to come out to confront him. Nope. He didn’t. What kind of face is that? We want our heroes to confront the guys who act like jerks to them. When the segment ended my reaction was like “That’s it?” rather than thinking it was a good segment. Waste of time that should have been scrapped from the show.

On another Mahal note, WWE announced two shows in India in December. They are Raw events, but it’s expected Jinder will be on them with the Singh Brothers. With that in mind, I think it’s unlikely Mahal will lose the WWE Title before those events because WWE will want him to go to India as the WWE Champion and get as much attention as they can. One of the most boring title reigns in WWE history will continue.

2. Dolph Ziggler ripped on wrestling entrances

Ziggler’s gimmick in the last month has been to insult the fans for liking cheesy gimmicks and special introductions in wrestling. This week, he did the entrance routines of Bayley and The Ultimate Warrior. Then he ripped on the crowd for liking them. Ziggler also bragged about how great he was in the ring, even though he lost his last feud with Shinsuke Nakamura and hasn’t wrestled that much on TV this year.

I figured this would lead to Bobby Roode interrupting Ziggler because his “Glorious” entrance is one of the most popular in WWE, so most of Ziggler’s complaints are about a guy like Roode. There was no sign of him on the show for the second week in a row. I thought that was weird. Roode vs. Ziggler seems like a good feud to do at this point.

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.

WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Hell in a Cell Match: Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens

More matches will be announced over the next month.

In Closing

It felt like a slightly above average Smackdown with a lot of filler that didn’t go anywhere because heels who did boring promos like Jinder and Dolph didn’t have a face come out there to shut them up. The positives in the show were the excellent main event angle that saw Vince McMahon take a beating from Kevin Owens. Also, I loved the tag team title match because of how exciting it was. Awesome work by those teams.

There was a lack of star power on this week’s show, especially on the face side. No Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton or Bobby Roode. Some of the top face women like Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch were nowhere to be found either. It hurt the quality of the show because when you don’t have big name faces to root for the crowd tends to be more quiet because there’s less excitement going on.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.