On 12th September 2017, WWE aired the 943rd episode of SmackDown, live on the USA Network, from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show featured an in-ring confrontation between Mr. McMahon and Kevin Owens and a Sin City Street Fight where The Usos put their Tag Team Championships on the line against The New Day members Big E & Kofi Kingston as well as appearances from United States Champion AJ Styles, General Manager Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin & WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. But was it any good? Let's take a look.
- MV - Shane McMahon was indefinitely suspended after Kevin Owens goaded him into an attack on SmackDown #942
Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan
With Mr. McMahon's visit the main draw for this week's episode, starting off with the man he wanted to speak to in the ring was a good idea, as it set up the main story for the episode and gave viewers a reason to stick around to see how things would play out when the two eventually came face to face at the end of the episode. Even with very little actually happening here, Owens managed to be incredibly entertaining as he talked about his plans to sue WWE and replace SmackDown with "Kevin Owens presents, the Kevin Owens Show, staring Kevin Owens". I couldn't help but be reminded of some of CM Punk's mic work in 2011 in Owens' delivery as he looked like he was having a load of fun as he named a number of changes that he would administer once he was in charge. Stuff like making Byron Saxton and Tom Phillip wear the same suit because they sound like one person and cancelling the Fashion Files because he doesn't get it (which actually got the most heat of the entire promo). A cameo from Dolph Ziggler dressed as Shane McMahon was a quirky touch, developing his new gimmick and producing an air of unpredictability around the character that could pay dividends later on in this run. The segment would conclude with General Manager Daniel Bryan telling Owens that Mr. McMahon would be here later in the night and he "won't like what he's going to say", with KO getting the exclamation point as he replied with the same phrase in regards to McMahon.
- Commentary - Corey Graves, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton - Similar to RAW on Monday, the commentary team spent a minute discussing Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, providing a link for viewers to donate to the relief fund - www.ghcf.org/hurricane-relief
Singles Match for United States Championship
AJ Styles (C) def. Tye Dillinger
I was really into this bout as Styles and Dillinger took the short four minutes of TV time for their bout and seemed to decide to work as quick as possible and fit as much into the match as they, resulting in an exciting back and forth bout that showcased Dillinger perhaps better than anything in his SmackDown run to date. Baron Corbin's involvement produced a couple of distraction false finishes for The Perfect Ten, off a roll-up, before the two worked a lighthing quick series of finisher reversals and after the Tye Breaker didn't put Styles away, the Phenomenal One was able to retain after locking in the Calf Crusher for the submission. After the match concluded, Corbin took out both men, including nailing an End of Days on the floor to Styles, before revealing that he had a shot at the United States title next week.
- Backstage - Kayla Braxton, Rusev - A pretty strong promo from Rusev, who discussed returning home to Bulgaria and being viewed as a loser...he closed things off by saying he must "break a legend" in order to get back his killer instinct.
The Singh Brothers, WWE Champion Jinder Mahal
Well, what to say about this...Jinder Mahal's promo made me feel uncomfortable. If I was supposed to feel uncomfortable it did it's job, but it certainly didn't make me want to see Mahal against Shinsuke Nakamura again anymore than I did after watching their dire match at SummerSlam. After awkwardly opening with "Ah! My opponent" and asking answering a question no one had asked or alluded to, "How do I know what the artist will be thinking? I get inside his head", Mahal's promo consisted of showing pictures of Nakamura pulling faces during his match, claiming he was "constipated" and/or afraid of "Godzirra". Yeah, he actually said Godzirra. Things were helped by Mahal bumbling through a series of awkward phrases either. There seemed to be a thing where he tried to turning it round on the fans at the end, saying that he was saying what the crowd was thinking and told Nakamura being the champion wasn't worth it. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what all of this meant. Why make Nakamura look like an idiot and make a joke out of something that makes him enjoyable to watch? Especially if you haven't got Nakamura in the building to reply or beat the shit out of Mahal. To be honest, the whole promo felt like had come directly from Vince McMahon, with the toilet humour and jabs at other cultures seemingly right up the chairman's alley. The Jinder Mahal experiment has bombed like anyone with any knowledge of the Indian market and common booking sense could have told you, but I'm more worried that WWE seems intent on taking Nakamura down in the grease fire.
- Backstage - Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn - As Owens listed off demands to some bloke with a clipboard, before bumping into Zayn, which leads to the Underdog telling Owens that he'd "rather go back to working in armouries than to ever work for you!"
Sin City Street Fight for the Tag Team Championship
The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) def. The Usos (C)
An exciting Street Fight, with lots of weapon spots, a few nice near falls and another Tag Team title switch. This wasn't quite up there with the classic that the two put on at SummerSlam, but for a television clash there was more than enough to satisfy, with these two teams having chemistry by the bucket load in whatever combination we see them. Whilst the match was fought under Tornado rules, the teams worked in "hot tags" of sorts, with Big E initially being dominated with Kingston down on the outside, before Kingston came in and cleaned house with a flippy DDT thing and then a wicked diving double stomp after throwing a chair at Jimmy. Big E would then make a comeback on the outside, nailing an overhead belly to belly on the floor, before lobbing whichever Uso that was over the announce table. I have to say though, that while the match had a breakneck tempo, some of the spots came off as a little messy, with Jey taking a nasty bump to the floor and Kingston getting bundled into barricade after the Usos struggled to send him into the time keepers area. Similar to their match at Money in the Bank, the teams should be commended for their creativity, but there was definitely cases of moments not coming off because they were rushed through. The last few minutes were packed with near falls and momentum shifts, with both teams looking like they could have been walking out with the belts. The finish included the biggest spot of the match with Kingston pushing Jey off the top rope and through a table on the floor, before Jimmy ran into a Trouble in Paradise on the apron and New Day picked up the win with the Midnight Hour to begin their second run as SmackDown Tag Team Champions. This was the sixth match between the two teams since mid-June and we're guaranteed one more when the Usos get their rematch, here's hoping WWE has big plan to blow off this feud, because as good as some of the matches have been it's time to shuffle the SD tag team division up a bit...could we see the teams meet inside Hell in a Cell on 8th October?
- Singles Match for Women's Championship - Natalya (C) def. Naomi (4:10) - A decent match, but I perhaps expected more, with the two working a shortened, less interesting match to what they did at SummerSlam. Carmella on commentary with James Ellsworth on a leash is a thing now and played into the finish after Naomi hit a diving crossbody onto the pair on the floor, which gave Natty the advantage.
- Backstage - Aiden English, Kevin Owens - Owens asked English to create a theme song for the Kevin Owens Show, as he continued to put together plans for his WWE takeover and it was actually pretty sweet.
- In Ring - Dolph Ziggler - "Anyone could do what I just did" was the theme of Dolph Ziggler's segment again this week as he imitated the entrances of Bayley and The Ultimate Warrior (yeah) and claimed that nobody could do what he does in the ring. I'm interested to see where this is heading, but the Ultimate Warrior entrance seemed like a really cheap way to get heat, hopefully it was okayed with Dana Warrior before hand.
- Tag Team Match - Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable def. The Hype Bros (3:32) - Swift victory for the new team, with a Powerbomb combination, after a nothing match. Zack Ryder would refuse to shake hands with Benjamin & Gable post-match, signalling that a heel turn is imminent.
Kevin Owens, Mr. McMahon
By God, Kevin Owens murdered Mr. McMahon. This was again some uncomfortable television, as watching a 72 year old man get busted open, superkicked and frog splash by a man over half his age is never going to a barrel of laughs. It certainly made Owens look like a bastard, but a conniving one as he outsmarted Vince by asking "I need you word, that if provoked I can beat a McMahon senseless" with Vince believing he was referring to Shane during the upcoming Hell in a Cell match and agreeing. The earlier part of the promo didn't really work for me and seemed a little confused at what it's aims were. As McMahon mocked Owens look, called him nauseating and when Owens threatened to sew the company McMahon told him it would be impossible because Vince is a billionaire and the legal system is designed for people like him. By the end of the promo was I kinda pulling for Owens to batter McMahon because he'd been verbally dressed down by his boss, who had flaunted being a billionaire and wanting to make his employee bankrupt. It was backwards. He also claimed that he suspended Shane, not because he attacked Owens but because he "didn't finish the job", which makes sense to someone, somewhere, but not to me. The attack was uncomfortable in a good way when it came and was played well by everyone involved (including agent Adam Pearce and Stephanie McMahon) but the promo from McMahon hit the wrong beats, especially considering how he's been portrayed over the last twenty years.
ATPW Scale Rating - 4/10
A proper mixed bag this week on SmackDown, as I detested the Jinder Mahal promo and couldn't wait for to be over, but we also got a very good television match, in the form of the New Day and The Usos's Sin City Street Fight. The Kevin Owens Show provided some entertaining moments, with Owens' opening monologue perhaps being the highlight and his attack on Mr. McMahon being a powerful piece of television. There was however some awkwardly positioned phrases and the McMahon promo in particular didn't seem to have any plan and ended up making me sympathise with the heel Owens. The other two title matches could've done with more time, but at least Styles and Dillinger worked hard to make the most of their time. It's also worth noting that there were no appearances from big names like Shinsuke Nakamura, Becky Lynch, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and quite a few others this week.
Article by James Marston