WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Shane McMahon overexposure continues, Kofi Kingston overcomes again
The fans voiced their displeasure on Tuesday night with McMahon becoming a staple on both brands
If there was a moment in Tuesday's episode of SmackDown Live which best illustrates the state of WWE's booking in recent months, it was the go-home heat created by Shane McMahon. A fixture of late on both the red and blue brands, the Portland, Oregon, crowd berated McMahon with a spontaneous chant of "No more Shane" during his predictable interference in a match between The Miz and Elias. Even with McMahon's character firmly entrenched as a heel, this felt like nothing short of what's called among hard-core wrestling fans as "X-Pac heat."
In this case, it's not so much that McMahon is specifically the problem. Yet his gratuitous presence of late has become synonymous with the paint-by-numbers creative decisions on WWE's main roster and the constant crutch of annoying tropes that successfully remove any hope of a spontaneous reveal breaking out when you least expect it. In fact, outside of Bray Wyatt's "Firefly Funhouse" characters making cryptic backstage cameos for the second straight night in a rare WWE Easter egg which rewards viewers for their commitment, Tuesday's show featured much of the groan-inducing staples that fans loathe.
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From a pair of best 2-of-3 falls matches to an impromptu eight-man tag team match and two more occasions in which champions were defeated clean in non-title bouts, this was WWE going through the motions following a second PPV show in a two-week span and an overall lack of direction.
Kofi Kingston continues underdog run as WWE champion
The New Day opened the show with an in-ring promo which recapped what went on at Stomping Grounds and Raw. After Kingston reacted to Samoa Joe's vicious attack from the night before, out came Dolph Ziggler to accuse Kingston of taking the coward's way out in the manner in which he won Sunday's cage match. Ziggler also revealed that WWE management booked a best 2-of-3 falls against Kingston tonight with the stipulation that Ziggler would be added to the already-announced Kingston-Samoa Joe title match to create a triple threat scenario at Extreme Rules with a victory.
Kofi Kingston def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall (2-1): As expected, the first two falls came rather quickly. Ziggler's pin attempt was halted by the referee due to his hand on the rope which allowed Kingston to reverse for the 1-2-3. After a beatdown outside by Ziggler and a ZigZag on the floor, Kingston succumbed to the second fall on a superkick. From there, the main event turned into an exchange of reversals and dramatic kickouts. Finally, Kingston countered into his Trouble in Paradise finisher for the 1-2-3.
On a night that was littered with lazy booking and gratuitous tropes, the final fall between these two very much carried a pay-per-view intensity as the show's high point. In all, Kingston's reign as champion has not only gone on much longer than expected, the quality of matches he has produced have only been bested by the grittiness shown in the character he plays. The problem is that it has been hard to appreciate this during WWE's horrific booking slump and subtle dissolution of the brand split. Kingston, like most of his fellow WWE champions, has lost his special feel due to overexposure on both shows and far too many televised matches in between PPV cards.
In this case, the best that can be said is WWE got the booking right by providing closure against Ziggler while creating a clean slate for what should be an exciting Kingston-Samoa Joe feud. The reality, however, is that Ziggler never should've been given another shot after two clean title losses. With WWE announcers reminding fans ad nauseum about the Wild Card Rule, where in the heck was Samoa Joe after what happened on Monday? Grade: C+
What else happened on SmackDown Live?
- The New Day def. Daniel Bryan & Rowan via pinfall after Big E and Xavier Woods combined on a Midnight Hour to finish off Bryan. Just two nights after The New Day lost to Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn at Stomping Grounds, this non-title victory was yet another example of the 50/50 booking that waters down the product. Owens and Zayn ran in to attack the winners from behind which triggered a cameo from Heavy Machinery to help run the heels out.
- The New Day & Heavy Machinery def. Daniel Bryan & Rowan and Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn via pinfall in an eight-man tag match which was booked during the commercial break. Talk about a gratuitous and unnecessary match. A frustrated Owens walked away as Otis was set to hit Zayn with the Caterpillar. Otis and Tucker followed up with the Compacter on Zayn for the 1-2-3.
- Elias def. The Miz in best 2-of-3 falls match which denied Miz a shot against Shane McMahon later in the night. Still angry at The Undertaker for saving Roman Reigns the night before, McMahon opened the show by cutting a backstage promo and later took his anger out on Miz. After Elias secured the first fall via Drift Away, McMahon forced the DQ for Miz to even things out by running in to prevent a pin. With the crowd chanting "No more Shane," McMahon joined Elias in stomping him before he mocked Reigns by hitting a spear. Elias landed an elbow from the top rope to secure the final fall before another beating as McMahon hit Miz with a Coast to Coast.
- Finn Balor fielded a new challenge for his intercontinental championship during a backstage interview when Shinsuke Nakamura walked in to stare at the title over Balor's shoulder with a creepy look before walking away.
- Nikki Cross def. Bayley via pinfall to secure Alexa Bliss another shot at Bayley's SmackDown women's title at Extreme Rules per the stipulation announced on Monday. The non-title win represented the third time in two nights that a WWE champion lost cleanly without the title at stake as Cross countered a roll-up with one of her own before celebrating wildly.
- R-Truth refused to honor Drake Maverick's backstage request for a 24/7 title shot. One night after Truth defeated him handily, Maverick complained pathetically about how losing the title at his wedding ruined his life. Truth hugged Maverick, mistakenly called him Hornswoggle and feigned as if he was ready to give him another shot before saying, "Psyche! I love this championship more than you love your wife." Maverick was then run over by a group of mid-card talent who gave chase after Truth.
- Sonya Deville def. Ember Moon via pinfall in a continuation of their backstage feud over the past two weeks. Moon succumbed to a distraction on the ring apron from Mandy Rose outside which led to Deville pushing her face-first into the ring post for the pin.
- Aleister Black appeared to finally get some competition following a knock on the door during a backstage promo. Black began by sounding delirious in complaining that no one was "man enough" to pick a fight with him before the lights went out and the knock took place, forcing an evil grin on Black's face.
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