AJ Styles U.S. Open Challenge
AJ Styles comes out to a gigantic pop and reinstates the US Open Challenge.
Kevin Owens shows up
Styles says he already beat Owens.
KO says a McMahon screwed a legendary Canadian once again.
Here Comes the Moneyyyyyy
Shane says he called the match down the middle.
Owens is an incredibly natural actor when listening to Shane, I hope he stays in the main event scene.
KO shows a slo-mo replay of Shane counting to three (with AJ’s leg on the ropes). Kevin reminds Shane that he lost to AJ even with his shoulder clearly up.
Owens gets a rematch tonight but demands to pick the referee.
Shane grants the request but says this is his last re-match.
An actual storyline with each member reacting like humans! This has been one of the best feuds going and it’s great to see two of the most talented wrestlers getting a worthy narrative.
Mahal and co talk to Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan accuses Mahal of only winning with the Singhs. Mahal says racist blah blah blah. Bryan makes a match between Shinsuke Nakamura and………….the Singhs.
The show has a great energy and sense of purpose. Nakamura getting revenge on the Singhs and looking strong after his shockingly lame defeat to the jobber Champion could be a good thing moving forward.
KO and Zayn backstage
Owens tells Zayn he’s the only one he can trust, asking him to referee tonight. Zayn says he’s forgotten what they’ve been fighting about. Owens says Zayn could use something to do since he hasn’t done anything since coming to Smackdown.
An Owens/Zayn alliance could be fantastic for both. Their natural chemistry turned positive would be a powerful force and KO is right about Zayn needing something to do. However, turning them into a comedy team could diminish their impact no matter how naturally funny they are.
Aidan English singing
English only gets a few lines in before he’s interrupted by……….
Bobby Roode makes his WWE debut, beating English in a few minutes and getting a post-match interview with Renee Young.
Bobby Roode wins via pinfall
With Roode losing the NXT Championship it was a foregone conclusion he would end up in the bigtime fairly soon. Hopefully the WWE has a plan for him and he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle like ol’ Zayny.
Chad Gable gets a new tag-partner
It’s friggin’ Shelton Benjamin!
I’ve never seen this guy wrestle but the internet and crowd are insanely excited for his return.
Owens and Zayn backstage
Zayn turns down Owens offer, tossing the ref shirt at him.
Disappointing, but hopefully Zayn saves Owens and continues the alliance angle.
Hype Bros vs The Usos
This show has a definite swagger and The Usos are prime examples of that. Even the Hype Bros were feeling their (day)glow, and the crowd not just being hot, but fully invested in the match.
For a short match, it was packed with stunning sequences, with an incredible ending of complex tag dynamics, distractions, and a loud superkick to the jaw.
The Usos get the win
The Usos are on fire after their show-stealing SummerSlam Kickoff performance. Smackdown’s show feels special and The Usos rode that wave to the next level.
Nakamura vs The Singh Bros
Nakamura easily handles the Singhys.
Mahal attacks him after the bell but Naka strikes back with a Kinshasha and stands tall.
Nakamura’s SS loss was surprisingly lackluster and makes one wonder what WWE has planned for one of the best in the world. At least he’s being booked to get a quick win and look strong over Mahal. I assume WWE needs the belt on Mahal to hand it over to a babyface champion, but who wil that be?
Natalya & Carmella vs Becky & Charlotte
After her surprising win, Natalya comes out to a fairly quiet reaction and delivers a stiff promo.
Carmella gets an even quieter reaction. These girls should be worried. Quiet crowds are not good for your roster spot.
Ellsworth gives away Carmella’s plan of not tagging in and cashing in after Natty has been beaten down.
Becky and Naomi enter
Naomi is so devastated from her SS loss she comes down with the exact same dancing entrance.
Carmella avoids coming into the ring as long as she can, leaving Natty to fend for herself. Natalya eventually tags a distracted Carmella but has to chase her around the ring after. This distraction leads to a Becky Exploder Suplex and Naomi’s split-legged moonsault for the win.
Naomi and Becky win via pin
This was another fun match. The Carmella storyline was enough to focus on and provide plenty of drama, leading to the logical loss of the distracted heel. Great stuff again.
Dolph Ziggler guest at this time
Apparently Ziggler was gone, because now he’s ‘back’. He cuts a promo on how he’s excited to be come back and sarcastically lists off the elements he should have to be successful: Singing, dancing, spotlight, a beautiful valet that glows in the dark etc. He says he’ll have it all……next week.
I forgot Ziggler was gone. He seems to resent wrestling and I don’t understand why WWE and him still work together when both don’t seem interested in his success, especially with so much other hungry talent that cares more about wrestling than stand-up comedy.
Lana and Tamina
Oh god enough of this! Lana’s accent slips and Tamina is a terrible actor. Lana promises a big match for Tamina next week.
I’m glad these girls have a story of their own but this is not playing to their strengths.
Owens vs Styles with refereee Baron Corbin
The crowd is either tired of cheering or tired of Baron Corbin, as they’re pretty quiet for his entrance.
Owens music hits and it’s not much louder so the crowd microphones could possibly be lower than usual.
Styles also gets a quiet reaction, so unless they’re much louder later on, I’ll blame it on the production and not the crowd that’s been so great all night so far.
Owens pushes Styles into Corbin, causing an argument. Owens goes for a few roll-ups and Corbin makes an almost-fast count but Styles escapes both times.
Shane comes down to complain about the reffing. Corbin misses a KO lowblow and goes to count but Shane pulls him out of the ring. Corbin throws the ref shirt to baby McMahon and Owens is incensed.
Styles gets the advantage and nails a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
Styles wins after Shane becomes guest ref
Consistent storytelling and a solid match. Styles and Owens don’t have amazing chemistry but their combined talent always results in something watchable. Where Owens goes from here will be the most important outcome as WWE should either push him on another singles journey or perhaps have him and Zayn enter the anemic tag divison.
This show felt special. Every one seemed into it and the writing had purpose. The first show for the brand after a big PPV will often have that effect, but WWE can still continue the same standard of booking/writing even without the super hot crowd.