SmackDown Live was back on the air Tuesday night for what has now become the viewing of the Kevin Owens Show, featuring his best friend, Sami Zayn. With no Shane McMahon present, the two hours had the feeling of the inmates running the asylum — with Owens and Zayn as the main culprits.
No question, the groundwork was laid for a multi-man match come Survivor Series, whether it be Owens and Zayn tagging together, or needing to recruit a squad for a traditional Survivor Series elimination match.
With Michael Cole on the mic, the show took on a different feel in what was an overall admirable effort, but one that is still only just beginning to tap into the potential of an Owens/Zayn vs. Bryan/Shane-o-Mac feud.
Jinder lays down the gauntlet
If nothing else, Jinder Mahal saying he wants a piece of Brock Lesnar takes guts. His in-ring promo, which started to take a turn for the worst when chants of “You can’t wrestle” began to rain down, led to him announcing that he wanted a piece of Lesnar because the remainder of the SmackDown Live roster was unworthy.
Never mind that just before, Michael Cole mentioned Mahal defending his championship when the WWE returns to India in early December, which would all but rule out Mahal actually defending his title at Survivor Series — which barring a declined invitation from the Beast — he won’t be.
Having a champion vs. champion showdown at Survivor Series either leads to Mahal getting obliterated by Lesnar or an upset win that would further establish him on his push that seemingly won’t end.
Although creative threw the fans a bone and showed that there does seem to be a plan beyond Lesnar, as the man who interrupted his promo came looking for a fight:
A.J. Styles clears the ring:
It appears that Styles has gotten over that United States Championship loss to Baron Corbin really quick, because he came to the ring to let the modern-day Maharaja know that he wanted a shot at his shiny belt.
After Mahal called him a loser and attempted to intimidate him by doing the stand-really-close-over-somebody-shorter-and-flex-your-lats pose, things devolved into Styles dropping everyone in his path. He thwarted all the Singh Brothers and Mahal had to offer, even doing a kip-up on the upscale rug Mahal brought to the ring.
Ultimately, we’ll get Samil Singh vs. Styles next week after Mahal demanded action from Daniel Bryan. While it hardly sounds like it’ll be a match for the ages, it’s building the inevitable Mahal-Styles match somewhere down the road.
Sami Zayn pins Randy Orton:
Amazing how one slight heel tactic can take you from being left off the majority of weekly television programming to pinning Randy Orton in an instant.
Zayn used some famously heel tactics to come out on top, including a low blow with the referee’s back turned, but it all worked well in the rhythm of the match. They could have allowed Owens to pick up the pin, but giving Zayn all the boost he can get only further their partnership as a mutual one where either man can pick up the slack.
Where Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura go from here is anyone’s guess.
Daniel Bryan returns home to Washington:
Yes, Daniel Bryan is a native of Aberdeen, Wash., and no, it didn’t stop the WWE Universe in Seattle from chanting, “Welcome home.” Ultimately, Bryan has mega appeal in the Washington area, which was why he opened the show, before being confronted by Owens and Zayn.
With the overflow of emotion from the crowd and Bryan’s allowance to let them cheer as long as they desired, one couldn’t help but get notions of an in-ring return to team with Shane McMahon, even if it remains a pipe dream. The live reaction shows just how over Bryan still is, years after retiring from in-ring competition.
Sin Cara picks up a win over Baron Corbin:
Let’s see if you can follow this one: In the span of three days, Corbin won the United States Title, then pinned Styles clean in the center of the ring while defending said title. Fine, you say, it’s a bit of a bump back up the card after losing the Money in the Bank contract, I’m glad they’re pushing Corbin as a dominant big guy heel.
Explain then losing (via count out, albeit) to Sin Cara. Until he showed up in the ring, I didn’t even know Sin Cara was on the SmackDown Live roster. Without looking it up, nary a fan can likely remember the last time Sin Cara was even on television.
Then why, pray tell, would he be defeating Corbin in any capacity. It may help the narrative that Corbin is a cocky champion, but Sin Cara came out of it looking strong, which seems like an odd choice, to say the least.
Next week may give us some insight as to whether this is a Corbin thing or a Sin Cara thing.