By Steven Flora
Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton faced off in the main event to see who would challenge WWE Champion Jinder Mahal for the title at WWE Hell in a Cell. Also, Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens’ conflict got physical, putting Shane’s role as Team Blue’s Commissioner at risk with it being announced that Mr. McMahon would come to SmackDown Live next week to address the situation.
Shane & Owens go to blows
SmackDown Live was slated to begin with a contest between former friends Natalya and Carmella. However, Kevin Owens quickly interrupted James Ellsworth’s introduction of Ms. Money in the Bank, announcing his intentions to interject himself into the match as the special guest referee, just as he did during the Sami Zayn vs. Aiden English match last week, KO demanded the referee give him the striped shirt, which prompted the arrival of SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon, who has been at odds with the former United States Champion for months.
Shane-O-Mac made it clear Owens’ unruly behavior the last several weeks would no longer be tolerated, resulting in a heated argument that brought each man closer to his boiling point. Finally, Owens went deeply personal, suggesting the McMahon family would have been better off if Shane hadn’t survived his helicopter crash, causing the Commissioner to attack Owens.
Shane tackled Owens over the announce desk and continued to hammer away until SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan arrived with referees and security to pull Shane off Owens.
Owens, who was still irate in the backstage area after the brawl, announced his intention to pursue legal action, sue SmackDown Live, WWE at large and every member of the McMahon family, letting it be known he’s determined to bring WWE down completely.
Later in the show, after Shane McMahon instigated a brawl with Owens earlier in the night, KO threatened to file criminal charges against Shane-O-Mac. With so much in motion, Bryan called Shane down to the ring.
In a rough spot because of Shane’s actions, Bryan tried to convey to the Commissioner the mess SmackDown Live and WWE were in due to him attacking Owens. Clearly contrite and aware of his mistake, Shane indicated he would take the necessary steps to resolve the issue, but Bryan told him that it was too late for that.
The “Yes!” Man revealed he received a call from Mr. McMahon declaring that, effective immediately, Shane was indefinitely suspended as Team Blue’s Commissioner.
Side Note: Great segment, really bringing reality into storylines which makes for great TV and further brings feuds to life! Owens and Shane are definitely mirroring Styles and Shane at Wrestlemania 33, however, Owens seems to delve deeper into McMahon's "personal problems." Regardless of this, Bryan did say that Vince McMahon is coming next week to sort out this situation and you know for a fact an appearance by the boss is something that is going to be HUGE! Las Vegas surely is the place to be next week when Smackdown Live invade Sin City!
Nakamura vs Jinder Mahal at Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Randy Orton
In one of the biggest main events in SmackDown Live history, Shinsuke Nakamura faced off with Randy Orton with the winner getting the opportunity to face WWE Champion Jinder Mahal for the title at WWE Hell in a Cell.
With so much on the line, neither superstar hesitated to bust out the heavy artillery early and often in hopes of making their way to Hell in a Cell to challenge The Modern Day Maharaja. The two jockeyed back and forth with Orton back-body-dropping Nakamura onto the announce table, The King of Strong Style retorting with some vicious kicks, and The Viper coming right back with a scintillating superplex.
However, Nakamura found his second wind to overcome Orton’s best offense, countering the RKO not once, but twice, to connect with a head-ringing Kinshasa for the win, ensuring he would see Mahal again at Hell in a Cell. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura.
Side Note: Really solid match even though I wasn't expecting much. Nakamura winning was the safer bet seeing as though Orton has had a gazillion title shots in the last three months. Mahal, though, looking metaphorically strong sitting in his sky box would seem as the odd favorite heading into this match, But don't ever count out the King of Strong Style as the Hell in a Cell could become his playground.
Carmella leaves Ellsworth … or does she?
Non-Title Match: SmackDown Women's Champion Natalya def. Carmella
With the ring now cleared of the McMahon/ Owens chaos, Natalya and Carmella’s match could finally take place. Carmella, looking to gain the mental edge over the SmackDown Women’s Champion with her Money in the Bank contract still looming large, of course, had James Ellsworth in her corner.
The two superstars went toe-to-toe in this non-title contest, but when Carmella gained enough momentum for Ellsworth to believe she had the win in hand during a two-count, he hopped onto the apron with the contract and accidently dropped the briefcase in the ring. The official seemed to believe Carmella was perhaps attempting to cash in, a matter The Princess of Staten Island had to clear up in a hurry. The distraction cost Carmella to lose concentration and then lose the match when Natalya rolled her up for three while she was busy yelling at Ellsworth. Winner: Natalya.
After the contest, Ellsworth begged Carmella for forgiveness, but The Princess of Staten Island would have none of it. Carmella verbally degraded him, then told James they are through, bringing their unusual relationship to a bitter end.
After Carmella treated him so harshly in the ring earlier in the night, Ellsworth tracked down Ms. Money in the Bank to again plead for forgiveness. Ellsworth promised to do anything to keep her in his life. With none of his words appearing to change her mood, Carmella glared at a stunned Ellsworth and declared they would be doing things “her way” from now on. Carmella suddenly grabbed Ellsworth by the back of the head and kissed him with intensity. After the kiss, James flashed a slight smile, but was then cracked by a vicious slap from Princess Mella, leaving Ellsworth excited, yet confused.
Side Note: This was somewhat … weird. It would have been great if they did a slow build, like what they did with KO & Jericho, but then they'd have to get people invested in the storyline, which is unlikely to happening. I honestly can't explain this, or whatever this is but all I can say is Big Cass must be fuming from his hospital bed!!
Corbin eyes up the U.S. Championship
Baron Corbin def. Tye Dillinger
After brawling for the right to partake in AJ Styles’ United States Open Challenge last week, Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger squared off on SmackDown Live, each with a vendetta to unleash on the other superstar.
With United States Champion Styles watching closely on commentary, both Corbin and Dillinger looked to impress, knowing a victory here could get them right back in the thick of the U.S. Title hunt. The Perfect 10 brought his all against The Lone Wolf, but Corbin landed a questionable strike behind the official’s back and followed it up with a devastating End of Days for the win. Winner: Baron Corbin
After the hard-hitting bout, The Phenomenal One approached Dillinger in the backstage area and told him he was opening the U.S. Open Challenge exclusively to him next week in Las Vegas on Sin City SmackDown Live due to The Perfect 10’s amazing effort against Styles last week and Corbin tonight. Dillinger accepted, saying it sounded “phenomenal” and shaking Styles’ hand.
Side Note: Decent match but I still can't get invested in Corbin. He's become an absolute joke since his failed cash-in and I'm not even sure if a feud with Styles will redeem him. Styles is (in my opinion) the best wrestler in the world and is over regardless if he's a face or heel and Dillinger will get his chance to shine, much like Sami Zayn.
Other Notable Moments
Dolph Ziggler re-debuted on SmackDown Live … sort of: After promising an unbelievable spectacle for the past two weeks, Ziggler indeed put on quite the show in his return to Team Blue. The Showoff first mimicked John Cena’s iconic entrance, then brought out a woman assistant to adorn him in a robe while WWE Hall of Famer “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s theme blared throughout the arena. Next, the lights dimmed and Ziggler glowed in the dark, and The Showoff performed a dance, all of it looking very akin to Naomi’s popular entrance. After his display, the two-time World Heavyweight Champion addressed the WWE Universe, asking them if this is what they really wanted. Ziggler made the point that anyone can do what he just did, but no one can do what he does in the ring. Disgusted, Ziggler stormed off the stage, never actually competing.
Aiden English vs. Sami Zayn: After Owens’ controversial actions last week resulted in their match being ruled a no-contest, English and Zayn ran it back on SmackDown Live. English, determined to sing after being interrupted during his solo last week, was once again denied the opportunity to belt it out this week when Zayn hit the scene to get right into the action. However, Zayn was left singing the blues after English caught him with a surprise rollup, allowing him to get the major win. Winner: Aiden English. After the match, English again attempted to serenade the WWE Universe with song, but this time, Zayn chased him off.
Sin City STREET FIGHT for the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championships: New Day meets with Daniel Bryan. The Usos arrive, and the stipulation for the tag title match next week in a sin city street fight.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: C+
Things to look forward to next week
Will the Fashion Police become one step closer to finding the culprits?
How will Vince McMahon respond to Owens and his son Shane?
What's next for Naomi?
Where is Bobby Roode?
What can we expect from Gable and Shelton Benjamin in the near future?