Tuesday night marked the beginning of the SmackDown Live brand’s journey towards SummerSlam next month, and while Tuesday nights tend to consistently deliver, this week’s edition of SmackDown turned out to be a bit underwhelming. WWE fans may be waiting patiently for the Eric Bischoff era to begin on SmackDown Live, but after Tuesday’s episode, it appears the wait will need to continue.
The blue brand largely went through the motions over the course of two hours despite a promising start to a show that was bookended by Kevin Owens’ continued rage against the machine of WWE management — specifically Shane McMahon. But not only was the much-publicized tease of a Daniel Bryan career-altering announcement held back seemingly for storyline reasons, the remainder of the show felt like anything but new.
Let’s now take a closer look at what went down on Tuesday on SmackDown.
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Kevin Owens continues Shane McMahon feud
After opening the show by barring Kevin Owens from entering the building and giving him the night off, Shane McMahon announced the first SmackDown Live Town Hall so any further grievances could be aired. McMahon stood alone in the ring as the locker room assembled on the stage. Each superstar stayed in character as the babyfaces — including Roman Reigns, Apollo Crews and Kofi Kingston — echoed the comments made by Owens last week about a lack of opportunity. The heels, meanwhile, supported McMahon’s stance. Shortly after McMahon cut Kingston’s microphone before lying about doing so, Owens snuck up from behind to land a stunner before exiting through the crowd.
Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler via disqualification following interference from Shane McMahon. Two nights after Ziggler lost via squash to KO at Extreme Rules, he begged McMahon for a main event match and personally tracked down Owens to bring him back after McMahon had sent him home. Late in the match, McMahon brought a dozen wrestlers with him to surround the ring. After Owens slipped a superkick and hit Ziggler with a stunner, McMahon pulled him outside the ring to break the pin and signal the DQ. KO hit McMahon with a second stunner before running away as the group of wrestlers gave chase.
For as much as the new tweener persona given to Owens seems to fit perfectly on him, from his stunner finisher to the hybrid CM Punk/Steve Austin feel of his persona, Tuesday’s episode turned out to be chaos for the sake of it. With a disjointed storyline that saw Owens initially barred from the arena only to predictably return (and later be added to the main event), the psychology was seemingly off base. For WWE to truly capitalize on the fresh feel of Owens’ new attitude, leaning on the crutch of recycled segments just isn’t going to work. The airing of grievances to open the show felt fresh, but the ending was anything but. In the end, this isn’t 1998 and KO simply isn’t Austin. A little more thought and effort could go a long way. Grade: C
What else happened on SmackDown Live?
- Aleister Black def. Cesaro via pinfall following a stiff Black Mass kick that sent the mouthpiece flying out of Cesaro’s mouth. The rematch of Sunday’s exciting (and physical) Extreme Rules meeting came together at the close of the Town Hall when Cesaro made a plea to Shane McMahon to pick another fight.
- Charlotte Flair def. Liv Morgan via submission in a match that was booked after the two traded insults during the Town Hall. Morgan interrupted Flair to call her a phony and question whether anything on her body was real. Flair countered by calling out Morgan’s painted tongue and dyed pink hair. Their match saw Morgan’s early success foiled by the Figure-Eight leg lock, which produced a quick tap. Afterwards, a frustrated and emotional Morgan pulled the headset off of Corey Graves on commentary and said, “Charlotte was right, and when I come back, I’m going to be real.”
- Ember Moon & Bayley def. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville via pinfall. After weeks of tormenting from Fire and Desire, Moon revealed Bayley as her mystery opponent and the duo made quick work as an Eclipse on Rose produced the 1-2-3. During a post-match interview, Bayley announced her intentions to grant a SmackDown women’s title shot to Moon at SummerSlam, though the match has yet to be officially announced.
- Daniel Bryan failed to deliver upon his much-hyped career-altering announcement. The New Day jumped the gun on Bryan’s scheduled appearance by entering the ring to gloat about their title success and announce their preference to accept a title rematch against Bryan and Rowan later tonight. Looking as if he was about to cry while squinting heavily, Bryan came out three separate times but never could quite deliver his announcement. He finally dropped the mic and angrily walked off before Samoa Joe, Elias and Randy Orton came out in succession to challenge Kingston for his WWE championship.
- Samoa Joe, Elias & Randy Orton def. The New Day via pinfall in a six-man tag team match. Orton initially turned down The New Day’s offer for the match and walked off until Kingston goaded him back in by pondering whether the Viper has gone limp. The match ended with Kingston succumbing to an RKO in what could be a tease toward a SummerSlam feud between the two.
- WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship — The Kabuki Warriors def. The IIconics (c) via contout. After being knocked out of the ring early in the match, Peyton Royce & Billie Kay chose to willingly lose the match via 10 count and celebrated after doing so in order to retain their titles. An angry Asuka and Kairi Sane attacked them after the match, with Sane landing an Insane Elbow on Royce.
- Apollo Crews def. Andrade via pinfall in a match that came about after the two traded words during the Town Hall earlier in the show. Andrade attacked before the opening bell and largely dominated the match until a weary Crews reversed him into a rollup to steal the pin.