WWE SmackDown Live Full Results, Grades and Highlights for September 12, 2017
Looks like Kevin Owens is off the McMahon Christmas card list.
INTRO: We see last week’s melee that featured a middle-aged man repeatedly punching a former heavyweight champion. A slow-motion close-up of Shane McMahon’s face right before he assaulted Kevin Owens made him look more indignant than furious. Tonight, “in a city of chance, there will be ‘No chance’”. Mr. Vincent Kennedy McMahon returns to SmackDown.
OPENING SEGMENT: Even the SmackDown Live graphic is lit up like it’s on the Las Vegas Strip. And here’s Owens. Tom Phillips reiterated that Owens had been dangling the possibility of a lawsuit over WWE, and it could change the landscape of SmackDown Live. Byron Saxton said that Owens had been poking the system, but the system could poke him back tonight. KO grabbed the microphone and welcomed everyone to the Kevin Owens show. He called Shane’s attack brutal and cowardly. Owens claimed he chose not to fight back because he respects authority, but he is now suing “everyone” in WWE. Every board member, every McMahon, everyone who’s anybody until SmackDown Live is no more.
From now on, during the SmackDown Live timeslot, we’d get the Kevin Owens Show starring Kevin Owens. Some people would get fired – and the first would be Sami Zayn. Thank goodness for that continuity in antagonism. Phillips and Saxton could stay, but they would have to wear the same gigantic suit together at the commentary table. Graves laughed at that sartorial alteration. Unfortunately, the Fashion Files would be canceled. That update received boos. KO said there was an individual he needed to speak to, and invited Mr. McMahon to the ring. Instead, Shane’s music played, and … Dolph Ziggler skipped out in a Shane-o-Mac baseball jersey. He stopped throwing punches to shout out Vegas. Ziggler said he was trying out a new entrance, then walked to the back as the crowd actually cheered. Owens was fine with this.
Owens started to again address his program changes when Daniel Bryan side-shuffled to the ring, leading “Yes” chants. Big chant for Bryan. He told KO that he doesn’t run the show tonight – Bryan does. He said the fun and games would end very soon. Owens retorted that he had big plans for Bryan, who would serve as the Kevin Owens Show’s janitor. Bryan said he wasn’t opposed to hard work and manual labor, telling Owens, “You should probably try it.” He assured Owens that Mr. McMahon would be here soon, and Owens wouldn’t like what he had to say. Owens said that Mr. McMahon wouldn’t like what KO had to say, then dropped the mic and left the ring.
Phillips said this is still Sin City SmackDown for now. He promoted the New Day vs. Usos match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, the Natalya vs. Naomi SmackDown Women’s Championship bout, and AJ Styles giving Tye Dillinger a chance at the U.S. Open Challenge.
Phillips discussed the damage caused by wildfires and the two hurricanes that recently made landfall in America. Graves said he had family members that were affected by Hurricane Irma. Saxton provided Red Cross information for viewers willing to make donations.
We see a replay of Dillinger combatting Baron Corbin prior to his match against Styles two weeks ago. The announce team stressed that Dillinger had always been an underdog (and sometimes an afterthought) in his career.
U.S. Champion AJ Styles vs. Tye Dillinger
Good counter-wrestling to start here. Dillinger took Styles down and then executed the somersault neck-snap a la Mr. Perfect. Dillinger brought Styles up, but ate a dropkick as he bounded off the ropes. Styles whipped Dillinger into the turnbuckle, then missed a charge. Styles tried to suplex Dillinger out of the ring. Both men battled on the ring apron, where Dillinger shoved Styles back-first into the ringpost, causing him to spill to the floor as we go to commercial.
We return to Dillinger battering Styles in the corner with the “Ten” punches. Styles grabbed him and planted Dillinger with a running powerbomb. Both men were slow to get to their feet. Styles tried to hit his flurry of strikes, but Dillinger responded with his own. He avoided a Pele kick, then ran off the ropes directly into a leaping clothesline from Styles. Frequent counters prevent either competitor from sustaining an advantage. Dillinger favored his lower back as he regained his footing, then backdropped Styles onto the ring apron. AJ dropped Dillinger with a hard forearm. He looked set to launch a Phenomenal Forearm, but Corbin ran down to the ring and got onto the apron. AJ transferred his target and bashed Corbin with a Phenomenal Forearm. Dillinger took advantage with a schoolboy that gained a two count. He lifted Styles for the Tyebreaker, but AJ slipped out and went for the Styles Clash. Dillinger backdropped Styles, who landed on his feet. Dillinger caught his comeback attack and hit the Tyebreaker for a near fall.
Dillinger looked to be in despair after coming so close; he wore frustration and anger on his face as he went back for the kill. But Styles took Dillinger to the mat and applied the Calf Crusher. Dillinger crawled left and right toward the ropes, but eventually gave out and tapped. Graves stated that, once again, Dillinger couldn’t finish the job. He stressed that Dillinger wasted a few precious moments trying to get his head right after failing to beat Styles with the Tyebreaker.
Result: AJ Styles beat Tye Dillinger via submission with the Calf Crusher.
Styles and Dillinger shook hands after the match. Shortly after, Corbin pulled Styles from the ring and flung him over the barricade into the first row. He stopped Dillinger from saving Styles with a clothesline on the concrete. Corbin smashed Styles on the arena floor with the End of Days. He grabbed a mic to tell Styles he should know something. Next week, the Lone Wolf would be his opponent for the U.S. Open Challenge. Corbin smirked as Graves praised him for making his own breaks.
Backstage, a robotic Dasha Fuentes said that Sin City SmackDown was living up to its name. She welcomed Rusev, who’s apparently still under contract, and asked what it was like to return to Bulgaria recently. Rusev said he suffered the biggest embarrassment of his career and life at SummerSlam when he lost to Randy Orton in 10 seconds. He said he needed time to go home, recharge, and be with people who loved him. Wow, that’s straightforward and unobjectionable. But those people didn’t greet Rusev with open arms. They looked at him with shame and embarrassment because he came home as a loser. Who else do they have that’s accomplishing anything internationally? Rusev got intense and said he is not a loser. He may have lost his killer instinct (didn’t he absolutely thrash Chad Gable right before SummerSlam?), but he knew what he had to do to get it back. Rusev said he must break a legend.
We see WWE Champion Jinder Mahal and the Singhs strolling backstage with smiles on their faces. They’ll be out next.
The Singhs stood at the top of the entrance ramp and introduced Mahal. Graves said that, whatever the Singhs get paid, it’s not enough. A true statement if they’re shuffle-hopping or getting obliterated by Orton. Mahal walked out in an elegant olive-green suit, and held up the title belt. We get a pretty sweet graphic for the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, at which Mahal would defend his championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. Mahal took the mic while standing on a swanky rug mid-ring. He said that Nakamura had an energy and charisma that WWE had never seen before. Mahal said his preparation for this match would be physical and mental, so he would get inside Nakamura’s head. He pointed to a photograph on the TitanTron of Shinsuke grimacing during a wrestling/dance move. He and the Singhs laughed at it. Not having this, the crowd chanted for Nakamura.
Mahal asked what people saw when they viewed this image. Was it inspiration, motivation, or was it constipation? The Singhs fell onto the rug laughing at that zinger. Mahal said it looked like Nakamura was about to “sculpt a masterpiece”, but forgot how to ask in English where he could find a bathroom. Sunil Singh helped Samir off the mat. Mahal showed another photo of Shinsuke with a pissed-off look on his face. He claimed this was Nakamura listening to Michael Jackson, wondering what he could rip off next. The Singhs ran to the ropes and showed off a dopey remix of Nakamura’s slow drop to the mat. Then we get another photo of Nakamura making a threatening duck face. Mahal said it was Nakamura’s reaction to someone yelling out, “Godzirra!” Seriously: what the hell are they doing!?
Mahal asked the crowd if they were laughing at what he was saying. They aren’t. He said this is the American way; everything that Mahal just said is what the fans already thought. Mahal told Nakamura that Shinsuke didn’t want to hold the WWE title because the fans would treat him the same way they treated Jinder. They’ll chant “USA” when he was trying to speak. The crowd then did that, proving Mahal’s point. They’ll mock his English language skills, and say that his eyes, skin, and hair are different. And they’ll tell Nakamura that he looks like Pikachu is having a seizure. The Singhs stumbled around doing Nakamura’s hand shakes. Mahal said that challenging him for the championship is not worth the suffering he’ll endure. Mahal spoke in Punjabi, then raised the title belt with a roar. Graves said that Mahal may have crossed a line there.
Owens gave instructions to some random employee on revising the SmackDown intro, and requested a private jet for his wife and kids to come to every show. He also wanted two limousines, one for him and one for his buddy Jimmy. Something caught KO’s eye, and he sauntered over to speak to Sami Zayn. He asked Zayn if he remembered driving through a blizzard 7-8 years ago after they wrestled in an Ohio armory in front of roughly 42 fans. He then asked if Sami remembered making a promise that they would do everything in their power to get to WWE so they’d never have to do anything like that again. Sami responded that he recalled their promise. Owens said he’s about to own WWE, and Zayn is about to be out of a job. So when things get tough and Zayn can’t make the rent, Owens is giving him permission to break their promise so Sami can go wrestle in armories again. With his arms crossed, Zayn said he’d rather go back to wrestling in armories than to ever work for Owens.
The New Day made their entrance for their no-disqualification/no countout title shot. This match is a Sin City Streetfight per the Usos’ stipulation. As New Day walked out, Graves told Saxton he knew he hadn’t been this excited since he visited Shenandoah. Believe he’s referring to Wayne Newton’s estate. We get a replay of the Usos beating New Day at Summerslam to win their third tag team championship in WWE.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos vs. The New Day
Both teams brawl immediately; Kofi Kingston and Big E are competing for New Day. They ejected the Usos from the ring. New Day looked under the ring and found a table. Saxton said this match would be fought under Texas tornado rules. The Usos stopped New Day from using the table, then backdropped Kingston on the concrete. Both Usos grabbed Big E and rammed him face-first into the ringpost.
Back from commercial, Kofi is out of view, Big E is slumped in the corner, and the Usos are wedging a steel chair between the turnbuckles over his head. We see a replay of the Usos running Big E into the steel stairs, and then a chair, over the break. The Usos tried to squash Big E in the corner, but he dodged Jimmy’s charge and went for the Big Ending on Jey. Jimmy tossed the chair to E, who caught it. Jey superkicked the chair into Big E’s face for a near fall.
Graves asked where Kingston had gone, and we immediately go to Kofi punching Jey Uso in the head right in front of the announce table. Jey slammed Kofi’s head into the apron. He searched under the ring, then tossed a newly found kendo stick to his brother. Jimmy bashed Big E across the back, dropping him to his knees. Jey took a turn with the kendo stick as the Usos barked that this was too easy. The twins tied up Big E in the ropes. Kofi finally reentered the ring to DDT Jey Uso and floor Jimmy with a high dropkick. Kingston grabbed the kendo stick and smashed the splintering kendo stick into both Usos. Jey finally got the stick away from him, but Kofi backdropped him over the top rope. Jey had one foot land on the ring apron before he fell to the floor, making his tumble look like a possible injury.
Jimmy followed up by missing an avalanche in the corner while holding the chair, sending the steel back into his face. Kofi grabbed the chair and went to the middle rope. He threw the chair to Jimmy Uso, then stomped down on it and him with both boots for a near fall. Jimmy rolled outside in pain, then Kofi whipped the chair into Jey Uso’s head at ringside. That move may be frowned upon backstage. Kingston went to the top turnbuckle and fell off with a trust fall, but he was caught by the Usos. Which is how a trust fall is supposed to end. The twins kept going with it, however, and drove Kingston into the barricade near the timekeeper’s area. They appeared to be going for something else there.
Meanwhile, a recovered Big E threw Jimmy Uso onto the arena floor with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, then tossed Jey over the announce table. Back in the ring, he slammed Jimmy down with a one-armed urinage. Big E planted Jey with a belly-to-belly suplex. He swiveled his hips over both Usos, then hit them both with a double splash. Big E dropped his straps. Unable to hit the Big Ending on Jey, he clothesline him over the top rope. Jimmy tried to score the win with a schoolboy, even placing his feet on the ropes for leverage, to no avail. He superkicked Big E, who stayed on his feet and finally executed the Big Ending. Jey dove back into the ring to break the pin. He superkicked Big E while the powerhouse was on his knees, then landed an enziguri.
The Usos tagged Big E with a double superkick, then called for the Double Uce top-rope splash. Kofi resurfaced to shove Jey off the top rope through a table on the floor. Jey went through that table back first. Jimmy jumped down to run over and check on his brother. He ran at Kofi, who spun and executed a roundhouse spin-kick that looked like a stationary Trouble in Paradise. Big E picked up a dazed Jimmy, and New Day hit the Midnight Hour for the championship victory. That Midnight Hour had some serious height on it. Graves claimed New Day beat the Usos at their own game.
Result: The New Day beat The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship when Big E pinned Jimmy Uso after the Midnight Hour.
We see red-carpet highlights from the Mae Young Classic final. Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler would compete in the tournament finals immediately after SmackDown. We go to ringside to see “Inanna Sarkis – YouTube Influencer” watching the show while wearing sunglasses, then an athlete named Ronda Rousey. The former UFC champion waved to the fans and looked like she was having a blast. We go to the ring, where Natalya and Naomi are already standing. If WWE is going to show a Naomi match, especially for the title, why would you leave out her fantastic entrance? Carmella is sitting at ringside, providing guest commentary and holding a leash attached to Ellsworth’s neck. I saw Depeche Mode play Washington, DC on Thursday, and this 80s tune comes to mind.
Carmella to Phillips: “Don’t worry about it, Tom. This is a leash. Mind your business.”
SmackDown Women’s Champion Natalya vs. Naomi
Natalya took over Naomi with a side-headlock, which the challenger countered into a headscissors. Natalya kipped up, then threw her arms out to mark the achievement. The women worked this exact sequence in reverse, with Naomi mockingly thrusting her arms out at the end. A lockup ended with a clean break, then Naomi lacing into Natalya with her rapid-fire kicks for a two count. Naomi slid into a recovering Natalya, slapping the champion. She yelled “Glow time, baby!”, then went for a v-lock. Natalya countered by turning around and dropping Naomi face-first into the turnbuckle for a two count as we go to break.
Upon return, we find Natalya applying a reverse-chinlock and Naomi struggling to escape. She created separation and ducked a clothesline, then both women collided as they went for cross-body-blocks. Naomi rose to score with some leg kicks, then ran the ropes to execute a quick hurricanrana. She nearly stood on her hands to bring her leg into Natalya’s face in an impressive move. Naomi perched Natalya on the second rope. She went to the apron to land a slingshot legdrop, garnering a near fall. Carmella sat unimpressed at ringside. When questioned again about the leash, Carmella simply said she was in charge.
Looking to score the victory, Naomi attempted and missed a split-legged moonsault. Natalya went for the Sharpshooter, but was leg-pressed out of the ring. Carmella got up to taunt Natalya with the Money in the Bank briefcase. This visual looked funny, as she was also dragging the leashed Ellsworth behind her. Natalya shoved Carmella, then got out of the way as Naomi dropped from the sky with a top-rope cross-body-block onto Carmella and Ellsworth. The champion seized Naomi and pushed her face-first into the ring post. Natalya pressed the advantage, rolling Naomi into the ring and applying the Sharpshooter. She stared down at Carmella as Naomi tapped out.
Result: Natalya beat Naomi via submission with the Sharpshooter.
Graves blamed the chaos outside the ring for Naomi losing focus. She sat dejectedly in the ring as Natalya help up the belt outside the ring. Ellsworth clutched his neck and Carmella stared grimly at ringside.
Aiden English warmed up with operatic vocals backstage. Owens walked up and enjoyed the performance. Unlike everyone else here, he said, Owens enjoyed English’s beautiful voice. He recruited him to sing the theme song for the Kevin Owens Show. English improv’ed an early rendition of this tune, and both KO and the audience seemed to dig it.
Phillips congratulated the Candido family, an Australian clan who got a seat upgrade in the Vegas arena. Then Ziggler walked out to recite a line that was apparently garbled out by Babelfish:
Dolph Ziggler: “Last week, I came out here to show you that these so-called elaborate entrances are nothing done by wannabe, supposed superstars who couldn’t lace my boots.”
Ziggler said he is the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history. While he shouldn’t need an elaborate entrance to earn their affection, the fans associated those with the greatest superstars. So … Ziggler came out to Bayley’s entrance, wearing fringe and a headband. And there go the wacky, wavy inflatable tubemen, which Ziggler heeled upon. Saxton took offense to this use of the tubemen. Ziggler asked if he was a star yet and/or if we were having fun yet. He said that wrestlers needed to eventually compete no matter how exciting their entrances are. People already know this.
Then Ziggler thought of a competitor whose ability couldn’t hold a candle to his own, but people idolized him nonetheless. The Ultimate Warrior’s music hit, and Ziggler ran to the ring in a face-paint mask and tassles, even shaking the ropes. He asked again, “So this is what it’s come to?” Ziggler told the crowd that these antics are what they think make a star. He said anyone could do the entrance he just mocked, but no one could do what he could in the ring. Everyone here couldn’t care less. And he couldn’t care less about them. This segment should’ve taken place before the tag team and women’s title matches.
Daniel Bryan was shown talking into a cell phone in preparation for Mr. McMahon’s arrival. I do hope he gets to the arena before his company’s live television show ends. We get a graphic bragging that WWE is the #2 YouTube channel in history, beating out such competitors as the NFL, NBA, and Taylor Swift.
The Hype Bros make their way to the ring. And they’re up against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, so maybe their heel turn goes down here.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin vs. The Hype Bros
Gable starts off with Mojo Rawley, pulling him towards his team’s corner and tagging Benjamin for a kick to the left arm. Benjamin sent Rawley shoulder-first into the top turnbuckle, then brought him down to the mat and hooked a top-wristlock. Graves said he didn’t know if there was a limit to Gable and Benjamin’s potential success. Mojo exchanged strikes with Benjamin, who hit him with a nice wheel kick after Rawley grabbed his boot. Benjamin called for Rawley to rise. He appeared to go for Paydirt, which Rawley shrugged off before landing his own football tackle.
Rawley brought Benjamin to his corner, allowing the Hype Bros to double-team Shelton with a clothesline and a flapjack. Gable made the save when Ryder went for the cover, then paid for it when Zack clotheslined him over the top rope. Graves made another reference to Rawley hanging out at Rehab Beach Club in Vegas. Ryder hit a middle-rope dropkick on Benjamin for a two-count. He went for a Rough Ryder, but Benjamin dropped him with a spinebuster. Benjamin lifted Ryder into a powerbomb position, where he stayed for quite a while. Eventually, Shelton walked backwards to his corner with Ryder still balanced on his shoulders. Gable made the lunging tag to Benjamin’s back, then leapt off the top rope to bring Ryder down in a bulldog/powerbomb move for the win.
Result: Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin beat The Hype Bros when Gable pinned Zack Ryder after a top-rope bulldog/powerbomb combination.
Phillips said New Day needed to worry about Benjamin and Gable. Rawley shook hands with his opponents, then nodded at Ryder to do likewise. A miffed Long Island Iced-Z refused and left the ring. Graves said the bro-ski had a little sadness in his heart.
We see Mr. McMahon speaking with Bryan backstage (no audio for us). McMahon strutted away with a satisfied look on his face as we go to our final break.
Owens walked up the stairs to the ring. He paced and glared at the entrance ramp, then held out his hands to await McMahon’s arrival. Vince’s music hit and he powerwalked to the ring. Phillips said this was McMahon’s first appearance on SmackDown in four years. The crowd enthusiastically (but not rapturously) greeted McMahon, who looked to be in his element. Owens welcomed McMahon, asking if it was alright to call him Vince. He said he could feel that McMahon was intimidated. Conversely, McMahon claimed he was nauseated. He said that Owens disparaged the McMahon name last week, making heinous comments about his family. McMahon said that Shane got in his face, and Owens later claimed that he didn’t fight back due to his respect for authority. Vince told Owens the real reason he didn’t fight back was because Shane was beating his ass. The crowd definitely liked that line.
McMahon brought up Owens’ dubious line about respect for authority, pondering how Owens could have any respect for himself when he looked in the mirror. Owens was supposed to be courageous, but, instead of fighting back, he just wanted to sue the McMahons, their company, and the entire WWE universe. McMahon asked Owens if he wanted that power, putting some growl into the last word. If Owens filed that lawsuit, McMahon warned him that he’d personally get on the phone to his lawyer. And he hoped that Owens would be listening in on that conversation, as he’d have the pleasure of uttering the words, “Kevin Owens: You’re fiiiiired!” That last action may violate workplace law in America. Nonetheless, Vince’s threat sparked a “Yes!” chant.
Owens calmly waited out the crowd. McMahon asked him if he had any idea how many courtroom battles he’d been in, bragging that he’d never lost one. For better or worse, McMahon said, the laws of this land are written for people like him. He bragged about being a billionaire. By the time Owen’s lawsuit got to court, there would be a “B” next to his name, too. Bankrupt. And now I’m rooting for Owens.
McMahon encouraged Owens to file his lawsuit. Owens responded that Shane put his hands on him. McMahon said he suspended his own son. But he didn’t do it for that offense. Vince said he suspended Shane for not finishing the job. Shane failed to shove his hand down Owens’ throat and pull out his liver. Shane didn’t kick Owens’ ass so hard that his bowels plopped all over the floor. Shane refrained from pummeling Owens so badly that no one could determine his backside from his front. Vince said that Owens made disparaging remarks about his family, so he got what he deserved.
Shane would be reinstated, Vince said, and he’ll have the chance to perform all the Mortal Kombat finishing moves he just described and more. Because there would not be a lawsuit; there would be a match. Shane would face Owens inside Hell in a Cell. Owens accepted that match on the condition that he would not get fired after he beat a McMahon senseless. He asked for Vince’s word that he could indeed do so; McMahon gave his word, and the two men shook hands as they talked trash extensively. Then Kevin Owens headbutted McMahon in the forehead, drawing blood.
Owens grabbed a microphone, pointed his finger down at Vince, and said, “You just gave your word that I can beat a McMahon senseless.” McMahon slowly got to his feet, and looked Owens in the eyes. He threw a right hand. Owens blocked it and knocked McMahon down with his own punch. A referee slid into the ring, ordering Owens out of it while asking, “Are you crazy?” Owens glanced side-to-side as if deciding he was in for a penny, in for a pound, then punted McMahon in the gut. Graves intoned that Owens had lost his mind. More referees entered the ring. Owens feigned leaving, then clocked McMahon with a superkick. KO threw a referee to the ground, then climbed the top rope and crashed down with a frog-splash. The crowd chanted “Holy shit” as Owens came to terms with what he’d done. Saxton called his actions detestable. Even Graves made it clear that Owens had gone too far.
Owens finally left the ring. He put his hands in front of his face, reflecting on what he’d done, as he backpedaled toward the locker room. Stephanie McMahon stormed out, and got in Owens’ face before attending to her father. Why is she there? Shane can’t even show up to SmackDown half the time, but his sister is backstage? Vince refused to be placed on a stretcher, instead soldiering up the entrance ramp with assistance. He collapsed to his knees on the ramp, muttering that his ribs were hurt. Stephanie attempted to help him as we go off the air.
Sin City Streetfight
This was a terrific tag team championship match that took full advantage of the stipulation. All four men brought their best, with the Usos demonstrating their cunning ruthlessness and Big E and Kofi showcasing their thunder-and-lightning combination. Both teams got prime use out of the weapons as well as double-team moves (one of which had won the teams’ last championship match). The streetfight served as a fitting conclusion to a feud that featured several strong bouts between two creative, talented teams.
No Chance in Hell
Vince appearing on SmackDown after several years is a big deal. And it was good to see him portray the ultra-confident boss standing up for his family and company, and putting a WWE employee in his place with a power play. He briskly transitioned into evil dictator mode, which made sense given the foul words spoken about his grandchildren (and his character’s direction over the past 20 years). Plus, the climax of this interaction was truly memorable.
Mahal mimics Fozzie Bear
This amateur stand-up set deserved a gong. It’s not a good idea to make fun of your “cool” face like this before his championship main event at a pay-per-view. Mahal taking shots at Nakamura’s contortions and facial expressions doesn’t help anyone, and may detract from the mystique of Shinsuke’s entrance and persona. And the less said about “Godzirra!”, the better.
The Ladies get shafted
There were three problems with the setup for the SmackDown women’s championship match. Neither competitor received her entrance on-camera, which is senseless given Naomi’s crowd-pleasing dancing and light exhibition. The match was booked to take place right after a tremendous tag team championship bout when there should’ve been time to cool things off and come back to it. And showing Ronda Rousey sitting ringside directly before this match made Natalya and Naomi feel smaller and less important.
Owens headbutting McMahon, and the stark shot of a 72-year-old man lying bleeding on the mat, made for a great closing visual. We haven’t seen McMahon take on any physicality since Undertaker grabbed him prior to WrestleMania 32 last year. KO’s actions were direct and vicious, and showed explicitly that he has definitely crossed the Rubicon in his fight against the people who run his world. This final segment was as close to a momentous Raw angle as we’ve seen on Tuesday nights. The New Day vs. Usos streetfight was highly impressive; hopefully, we’ll see them compete in a refreshed feud down the road. On the negative side, “Godzirra” doesn’t reach the lows of “Choppy choppy your pee pee” from the Attitude Era, but it was uncomfortable to watch regardless of how WWE tried to frame its use. Mahal went all-in to define WWE fans and how they respond to superstars in terms of nationalism/prejudice. Even though it reasons that Nakamura would reaffirm his bond to those fans next week, WWE would be wise to refocus this feud around pure competition as it builds to Hell in a Cell.