WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Kevin Owens steals the show ahead of Extreme Rules
The hybrid Owens character kickstarted a feud with Shane McMahon throughout the night
The final go-home show ahead of Sunday's Extreme Rules card turned out to be a good one -- and certainly better than Raw the previous night -- as SmackDown Live delivered on Tuesday, thanks to a bit of a boost given to Kevin Owens' character.
KO's beef with Shane McMahon and the way WWE has been run of late served as the perfect bookend to an entertaining two hours of sports entertainment. Was this a sign of how things are expected to change next week under the direction of the recently-hired Eric Bischoff? It's too early to tell. Yet things still felt fresh and new on this night as WWE continues to alter its formula ahead of the blue brand's move to Friday nights on Fox this coming October.
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Kevin Owens kickstarts a Shane McMahon feud
SmackDown began by Owens interrupting a Dolph Ziggler interview in the parking lot that sparked a brawl. McMahon eventually helped break the two up before kicking Owens out and cancelling his main event match with Ziggler. Shortly after, Owens emerged from the crowd to grab a microphone and cut a promo on the McMahon family for being liars. Saying he's "sick of being a good company guy," KO called out Shane for getting more TV time and power than anyone on the roster. McMahon came out and twice had Owens' microphone cut off. Just as McMahon called for security, Owens retreated through the crowd.
Roman Reigns def. Dolph Zigger via pinfall: The high-energy match saw Ziggler kick out of a Superman punch late before Reigns leaped over the top rope to splash the trio of Ziggler, Elias and Drew McIntyre. Just as McMahon entered the ring to distract Reigns, Ziggler laid out his opponent with a super kick. Owens then emerged from the crowd once more to take out McMahon with a stunner before Reigns broke free from a ZigZag attempt to hit a spear on Ziggler and seal an exciting win.
What's the cure for a never-ending feud between Reigns and McMahon/McIntyre? In previous weeks, WWE figured the addition of The Undertaker would do enough to brew up excitement. It didn't. How about turning Owens back into a hybrid between a babyface and heel, and booking him as a cross between Steve Austin and CM Punk? Oh hell yeah. The intensity shown by Owens as he opened the show with such a blistering promo on McMahon was off the charts. Because of that, the main event had an added jolt of legitimacy and expectation that KO would return. He did, and the match was a good one, which should seemingly allow for a transitional feud between Owens and McMahon that will free up Reigns for something that matters again. If booking KO like this is symbolic of SmackDown's product under Eric Bischoff, the future is in good hands. Grade: B+
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Shinsuke Nakamura def. Finn Balor via pinfall in a non-title match. Nakamura delivered a stiff beating throughout and went on to score a clean victory following a Kinshasa to likely secure a must-see title feud.
- Samoa Joe buried Kofi Kingston in backstage promo centered upon him exposing the WWE champion as a fraud and manipulator. Joe promised to tear away "ever last shred of the lie" on Sunday, along with the title. Kingston later responded with his own promo, saying Joe is far from in his head.
- Bayley and Nikki Cross signed contracts for Sunday's SmackDown women's title match despite the peculiar absence of Alexa Bliss. Cross' victory on Raw in the beat the clock challenge allowed her to choose the stipulation and insert herself into a 2-on-1 handicap match. Bayley worked hard to enlighten Cross on Bliss using her to do her dirty work. Cross countered that Bayley has no friends (further teasing Sasha Banks' return), and mentioned that her and Bliss would be co-champions.
- Nikki Cross def. Carmella via pinfall following a spinning neckbreaker. Cross gave an evil stare towards Bayley at ringside during and after the pin.
- Paige and the Kabuki Warriors threatened the IIconics that a match between them is coming during a backstage interaction. Peyton Royce & Billie Kay pretended as if they were sick to avoid having to defend their titles Tuesday night. Paige slapped Kay across the face and cut a promo on them for making excuses.
- The tag team summit saw The New Day, Heavy Machinery and the SmackDown champions, Daniel Bryan and Rowan, make their case for Sunday's triple threat match. Big E made a pair of hilarious off-color sexual jokes and Xavier Woods referenced Rowan's history of taking orders from his tag team partners, asking him, "Who your daddy is?" Bryan buried New Day as "nothing but a comedy act" that is stuck on the midcard.
- Otis def. Xavier Woods (via pinfall) and Daniel Bryan in a triple threat match. This teaser to Sunday's title match saw Otis showcase his strength with a double suplex and get the finish following a pop-up powerslam.
- Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville challenged Ember Moon to a match next week after exchanging words in the catering line and told her to pick a partner. Moon accepted and said she's willing to take them on herself if needed.
- Ali cut a gritty promo in a parking lot about the evil and corruption he witnessed on both sides of the line as a police officer on the midnight shift. The speech put over his integrity as a man as Ali offered his willingness to face down the devil and all kinds of evil for the sake of good. "Evil only wins when it won't show up to fight," he added.
- Aleister Black's mystery opponent was revealed during a satellite backstage interview when Cesaro sat down in the empty chair to explain why he knocked on the door to pick a fight. Black let out a creepy laugh and added, "So very good, Mr. Cesaro, because this Sunday, I am going to fight you."
- Shelton Benjamin took part in a cryptic interview for the second straight week that saw him no-sell a question about the main event by flashing a confused smile before walking off.
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