When WWE presents Hell in a Cell on Sunday night, fans are going to get a mixed bag. While the card is solid and features many of the SmackDown brand’s top performers, it seems a bit uneven. And that’s exactly how the go-home SmackDown felt on Tuesday night.
While there was a hot close with Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens going head-to-head one last time before their Hell in a Cell match, a confusing albeit exciting stipulation was added. Zero progress was made in the WWE title or women’s championship picture despite two fan favorites in Shinsuke Nakamura and Charlotte Flair being involved in the respective matches.
Let’s take a look at what went down Tuesday night as we anticipate WWE’s next PPV offering coming up Sunday.
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Business picks up between Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens
Prior to making his way to the ring, McMahon was stopped by Sami Zayn, who cautioned the SmackDown commissioner about what Owens is capable of doing. Once McMahon reached the ring, he announced that their match would be contested under falls count anywhere rules. McMahon called Owens to the ring, but Owens instead appeared with a microphone in the crowd, daring McMahon to come get him. When the commissioner gave chase, Owens attacked him from behind, lured him to a merchandise stand and powerbombed him through a table. Owens then walked all the way back to the ring and grabbed a mic, cutting a promo on McMahon, who later followed by limping down the steps through the crowd.
Owens stopped McMahon in the crowd before he could reach the squared circle, threw him back over the railing and waited for him to reenter the ring. The two brawled until Owens delivered the same head-butt he used on Vince McMahon and followed with the Pop-Up Powerbomb to end the show.
So WWE has booked a falls count anywhere stipulation for a Hell in a Cell match, which was literally created as a way to keep its combatants inside the structure once it is lowered. What sense does that make? That absurdity aside, it was a solid go-home segment that certainly amped up anticipation for the main event of the PPV. Despite the fact that Shane McMahon’s matches are routinely exciting, it tells you something that this is going to be featured and not the WWE or even United States titles. SmackDown’s booking is all upside down, and the show really needs to straighten things out after Hell in a Cell.
The Usos and New Day lay it all out
It was not a long segment, but The Usos and the SmackDown tag team champions made it crystal clear why their match at Hell in a Cell will likely be the best one on the card. Their rivalry has been nothing short of spectacular to this point with every showdown — whether on the mic or in the ring — standing out as a top moment of the respective show on which it was presented. The New Day riled up the crowd by basically promising that the teams will tear the house down in Detroit on Sunday, and The Usos made it clear that this was still their division despite the fact that they did not hold the titles.
It’s quite obvious what the double main event of Hell in a Cell will be on Sunday, but if I was booking the show, this would be in the second main event spot instead of the WWE championship match. That simultaneously tells you how poor a job WWE is doing with its signature title and how great this rivalry has been over the last few months. There is no match I want to see more on the show, and SmackDown has done a great job keeping fans interested in a hot rivalry despite the fact that it’s been lengthened to such an extreme degree. The truth is that SmackDown only really has two worthy tag teams, unlike Raw which has five (when all parties are healthy). That leads me to believe something is going to go down to that end on Sunday and this rivalry will remain somewhat unresolved, which can lead to it being revisited perhaps before WrestleMania 34.
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Jinder Mahal attacked Shinsuke Nakamura from behind just moments after Nakamura completed a short interview with Renee Young in the middle of the ring. The Singh Brothers interrupted Nakamura to distract the challenger with their music as the WWE champion attacked Nakamura from behind. Nakamura quickly got the upper hand on Mahal, but the Singhs jumped on him and allowed Mahal the opportunity to hit The Khallas. Later in the show, he cut a promo about how Nakamura underestimated his intelligence.
- Natalya & Carmella def. Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch via submission: With the referee’s back turned, Carmella used her briefcase on Lynch. This distracted Flair, allowing Natalya to knock her down from behind and lock in the Sharpshooter to make the title challenger tap out.
- Dolph Ziggler confronted Bobby Roode | Roode def. Mike Kanellis via pinfall: Moments after Roode obliterated a returning Kanellis in about 90 seconds (so, Mike is a jobber now), Ziggler hit the ring to continue his rant about entrances not making wrestlers. Roode dismissed Ziggler’s outrage by doing the “Glorious” gesture with his music hitting as an exclamation point.
- Tye Dillinger def. Baron Corbin via pinfall: Corbin beat up on Dillinger for most of the match, but Dillinger got one over on the big man with a quick roll-up 1-2-3. After the match, AJ Styles taunted Corbin on the TitanTron for “squandering another opportunity … because you have the ability of a thoroughbred but the attitude of a jackass.”
- Randy Orton def. Aiden English via pinfall: Orton RKO’d English after about 90 seconds as well with Rusev watching on from ringside.
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