WWE SmackDown results, recap: Sami Zayn explains himself, Baron Corbin looks strong
Here's what went down on SmackDown two nights after the brand's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view
There were plenty of hooks to get WWE fans to watch Tuesday night's edition of SmackDown Live coming out of Hell in a Cell. What will Sami Zayn's explanation be for seemingly turning heel and helping his former best friend Kevin Owens? Who will challenge for the WWE and SmackDown tag team championships now that feuds have ended? Is Baron Corbin going to job back the United States title to AJ Styles after just 48 hours?
WWE answered some -- but not all -- of those questions on Tuesday, though the show itself left a lot to be desired. That's to be expected coming out of a Hell in Cell pay-per-view where so much was settled, and SmackDown has a long way to go before the Survivor Series PPV in November.
Big fan of WWE? Be sure to subscribe to our podcast In This Corner with Brian Campbell where I break down everything you need to know each week.
Sami Zayn explains himself
After the show's opening segment, a locker room backstage with shown the names of both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn adorning the door. At the midway point of SmackDown, Owens hit the ring to brag about his victory, claiming that he saw a bright light and was at the pearly gates only to be pulled back to Earth because he knew the fans and WWE needed him. Owens then said he planned to make SmackDown The Kevin Owens show before introducing "my best friend and guardian angel." Before Zayn could speak, Owens made it clear that he had no idea Zayn would be there on Sunday night. "Before you do that, I need to tell you from the bottom of my heart, Sami, thank you," said Owens.
Zayn said that Owens powerbombing him on the ring apron a couple weeks ago completely opened his eyes that he was wasting his time being a good guy and doing everything the right way only to be mediocre. It only clarified his lot in life a week ago when Shane McMahon brushed him off backstage, proving he never cared about him even after trading for Zayn at the Superstar Shakeup. Zayn said he even wanted McMahon to beat Owens on Sunday ... until McMahon climbed to the top of Hell in a Cell after he already had Owens beat by throwing him off the side of the cell. Though Zayn said he and Owens have been best friends and bitter rivals they have always been brothers, and saving him was the right thing to do. "I thought I despised you, now I realize I just despised the fact that you were right," Zayn said to Owens before the brothers hugged three times.
Though Zayn did not display a complete heel persona, it's clear WWE is focusing on him being bitter and annoyed with the direction of his career. He did not necessarily show on Tuesday that he can pull off playing that role, though it is still extremely early in the character change. Most importantly, there is no clear direction for either Owens or Zayn at this time considering every male title on the show is held by a heel whether singles competitor or team. Had New Day retained the titles at Hell in a Cell, that feud could have begun immediately with Owens and Zayn taking the titles off the reigning champions. Perhaps a program with Shinsuke Nakamura is in Owens' future.
New champion put over strong
Baron Corbin and AJ Styles each cut promos backstage earlier in the show leading into Styles' rematch for the United States Championship. Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm and Ushigoroshi on Corbin but was unable to get the decision, allowing Corbin to counter with the Deep Six. Corbin blocked a Calf Crusher attempt with his strength, leading Styles to throw him through the turnbuckles and lock in the submission. Outside the ring, Corbin caught a running Styles and simply threw him to the ground extremely hard. He then rolled Styles back in the ring and hit End of Days to retain his title clean. After the match, Corbin cut a quick promo about his title retention, claiming he will happily boat down a river of fans' tears.
For as badly as Corbin was buried after losing the Money in the Bank briefcase and jobbing to John Cena, he is now a made man. Kudos to Styles for putting him over clean, though it would have been more effective had they simply done this at Sunday's pay-per-view. He has not yet flashed main event potential, but Corbin is well positioned as a mid-card titleholder at this time. Corbin will need to improve on the microphone, and as with Owens and Zayn above, it remains to be seen who he will feud with going forward. Styles appears destined to be WWE champion Jinder Mahal's next challenger and hopefully the one who takes the title off him.
Respect and a refreshed tag team division
SmackDown opened the way Hell in a Cell did with the two best tag teams in the company squaring off in the middle of the ring. The Usos invited the former champions down and ran through the match, making it clear that every team other in WWE "sucks" compared to the two groups and even comparing their rivalry to Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier. Just as the teams agreed there was a mutual respect between them and were about to shake hands, The Hype Bros, Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin, Breezango and The Ascension hit the ramp one by one to make their claims as No. 1 contenders. This led general manager Daniel Bryan out immediately set a Fatal 4-Way match to determine The Usos' next challenger. Gable & Benjamin won with relative ease.
Moving on from the Usos-New Day feud was a near impossible task considering what they said in the opening segment was true -- neither team has a rival for supremacy not just on SmackDown but in WWE. Their feud is among the top two the company has put on since WrestleMania, and SD is now put in a tough spot where it needs to find a No. 3 team -- at least -- to breathe some life into the division. Gable & Benjamin work for now but have not been built up enough to appear as legitimate contenders to the throne. I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Authors of Pain are headed for SD sooner than later, and perhaps that is what New Day's next program can be.
What else happened on SmackDown?
- The debut of the Bludgeon Brothers: Wearing long, torn-up cloaks and holding massive rubber mallets, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan traded short meaningless phrases before announcing their new tag team name. This. Was. Awful. These guys badly needed a new gimmick, and while this is technically new, it's simply a bad variation of their old characters.
- Dolph Ziggler ranted on Bobby Roode again, calling the "Glorious" one out for cheating to win their match at Hell in a Cell. The two argued with Roode challenging Ziggler to an immediate rematch, which Ziggler appeared ready to take only to turn his back and walk away.
- Natalya celebrated her title retention backstage and rallied the other heels into agreeing that any of them deserved to be champion over Charlotte Flair. When Natalya asked Flair why she was down and whether she had "broken your pathetic father's heart again," Flair attacked her and the two had to be separated by other women and referees.
- Becky Lynch def. Carmella via submission: Lynch controlled most of match, hit a Beck-sploder Suplex and locked in Dis-Arm-Her to pick up the win.
- Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton def. Rusev & Aiden English via pinfall: Orton hit Rusev with an RKO and Nakamura dropped Kinshasa on English for the 1-2-3.
Going head-to-head with predictions for Sunday's Elimination Chamber, WWE's final Raw pay-...
Everything you need to know ahead of WWE Elimination Chamber on Raw's Road to WrestleMania...
Rousey is getting set for her in-ring career ahead of her Elimination Chamber appearance on...
Does WWE have one more swerve remaining entering Sunday's men's Elimination Chamber match?
Punk had everyone who wants to see him back in wrestling riled up with his Twitter activit...
Monday was a big night for WWE as a former world champion got some much-needed shine back