WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Shane McMahon fires Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston repeats MSG history

For the second consecutive night, WWE aired a live television show from Madison Square Garden in New York as the company made its return home. While the previous night’s edition of Raw felt as if it was lifted by the presence of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, SmackDown once again felt largely directionless. In the promotion’s go-home show ahead of Sunday’s Clash of Champions pay-per-view, fans were treated to a much less intriguing Undertaker appearance, the second King of the Ring finalist and a McMahon firing a rival.

Let’s take a look at how WWE wrapped things up heading into Clash of Champions on Sunday.

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Gable advances to KOTR finals, McMahon fires KO

After news broke about Elias’ injury forcing him out of his King of the Ring semifinal match with Chad Gable, Shane McMahon informed Gable he’d not receive a bye but would instead have to compete to make the finals. McMahon said it could be anyone from any brand — even someone who had already been eliminated from the tournament. McMahon tracked down Gable later in the show to inform him his opponent would be … Shane McMahon. McMahon also enlisted Kevin Owens as referee for the match, implying his recent $100,000 fine for attacking Elias could be entirely erased if he “did his job correctly” during the match.

King of the Ring semifinals — Chad Gable def. Shane McMahon via submission with and ankle lock. The “job” done by Owens began with making the three count after Gable scored an almost immediate Chaos Theory German suplex for the win. McMahon then immediately made the match 2-out-of-3 falls and attacked Gable. A dejected Owens, seemingly having been reminded of McMahon’s power to do as he pleases, then began slow counting Gable pins while fast counting for McMahon. In response, Gable took the match out of Owens’ hands, locking in an ankle lock to force the submission and advance to the finals against Baron Corbin. The show went off the air as McMahon, bleeding from the mouth, fired Kevin Owens while attacking him.

I’m a bit lost on this whole thing. McMahon and Owens have their issues and that’s all good — or bad, depending on your view — but Gable was a bit player in his own big moment. McMahon vs. Owens is also just not a program that feels like it has any more legs. That all said, Chad Gable is in the King of the Ring finals … so it’s not all bad. Grade: C

Kofi has a callback MSG moment

WWE champion Kofi Kingston cut an in-ring promo explaining the moment in 2009 when he put Randy Orton through a table during a Raw held at Madison Square Garden. Back in the same venue a decade later, Kingston said it was only a taste of what would happen when the two meet at Clash of Champions. He was, of course, cut off by Orton who listed his own, more impressive, list of accomplishments over the last decade. Orton brought up Kingston’s “phony” history in WWE, including his Jamaican accent earlier in his career. 

Kingston charged into the crowd to fight Orton only to be met with a steel chair. Orton attempted to hit a hanging DDT off a table but Kingston turned the tide and landed several chair shots of his own before giving fans the callback moment of putting Orton through a table in MSG once again with the Boom Drop from near the seats.

There’s been a confrontation between these two weekly with both men occasionally getting the better of things. Tonight’s brawl felt a little more heated, however, and Kingston was really laying in the chair shots. It’s a weekly statement at this point, but it feels impossible things are settled in this feud before at least a Hell in a Cell match on Oct. 6. For what it was, though, this felt like the anger has built in appropriately for Kingston as he’s been attacked, taunted and seen his friends injured by “The Viper.” Grade: B

What else happened on SmackDown?

  • The Undertaker kicked off the show talking about the heroes and legends born in Madison Square Garden. Sami Zayn interrupted “The Phenom” to demand Undertaker “eave the ring and pass the torch to him. Unsurprisingly, this led to Zayn eating a chokeslam to the cheers of the MSG crowd.
  • The Miz def. Andrade via pinfall after a Skull-Crushing Finale. Shinsuke Nakamura was on commentary for the match but refusing to speak English. Nakamura attacked Miz after the win to continue building their Clash of Champions match for Nakamura’s intercontinental championship. The match itself was good, mostly because Andrade is red hot in-ring right now, not to take anything away from Miz.
  • Nikki Cross def. Mandy Rose via pinfall following a roll-up. Rose cut a promo before the match explaining that she is — and will always be — more attractive than Nikki Cross. The win for Cross evened things up between Fire & Desire and Cross & Alexa Bliss after Sunday’s challengers picked up a win in a non-title match last week to earn a shot at the women’s tag titles at Clash of Champions.
  • Bayley def. Ember Moon via pinfall after a Bayley-to-Belly. Ember Moon confronted Bayley backstage earlier in the show, questioning her recent actions in attacking Natalya, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Bayley continued to defend her actions as best for the division as a whole before Moon told her to “save it for our match.” Bayley won a fairly short match with Flair at ringside. Flair entered the ring after the match, gesturing to the belt and her waist before Bayley walked off.
  • Heavy Machinery def. John Silver & Alex Keaton via pinfall following a Trash Compactor. Standard squash match stuff for Heavy Machinery. Oh, they also drank a weird smoothie before the match.
  • Erick Rowan cut an in-ring promo explaining his actions in attacking both Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan last week. Reigns interrupted and the men brawled around ringside and through the crowd. Rowan powerbombed a fan onto Reigns and security, and eventually hit him with a camera rig before saying Reigns would “get more” on Sunday at Clash of Champions.