WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from August 29
The WWE Championship picture got more interesting Tuesday night as Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura made it abundantly clear to titleholder Jinder Mahal that they are coming for his prize.
Before they meet in a No. 1 Contender's match a week from tonight, though, they had to coexist as they did battle with The Maharaja and partner Rusev.
That match headlined a steadily built show that introduced fans to prospective rivalries and highlighted several new acts and Superstars.
What went down, who earned huge victories and how did each segment grade out?
Take a look for yourself.
The Singh Brothers Are Really, Really Sorry
WWE champion Jinder Mahal kicked off this week's show, drawing a chorus of boos as he made his way to the squared circle.
Still seething over the Kinshasa he endured at the hands of Shinsuke Nakamura a week ago, he wasted little time addressing The Artist at the top of the show.
The Singh Brothers, who failed to beat Nakamaura in a Handicap match last week, pleaded for The Maharaja's forgiveness. They even offered to kiss Mahal's feet and were moments from doing so when Nakamura's music played and the Japanese star made his presence felt.
Unfortunately, it ended in a three-on-one beatdown of the popular babyface.
Randy Orton attempted to make the save, but Rusev followed close behind and delivered a massive superkick that left The Viper lying. The heels stood tall to close out the segment.
The only takeaway here was the lengths to which the Singh Brothers are willing to go to please Mahal.
Other than that, this was a paint-by-numbers segment that set up an inevitable tag team match pitting Orton and Nakamura against Rusev and Mahal.
A disappointment of sorts based solely on the repetitive and monotonous nature of it.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin vs. The Ascension
The debut of the Chad Gable-Shelton Benjamin team did not go as smoothly as one would have hoped early, as the former found himself overwhelmed by the power of his opponents and isolated from his partner.
A late hot tag to Benjamin led to an eruption by the WWE Universe as the former Intercontinental champion unloaded on his opponents, including a top-rope clothesline to Viktor.
With Konnor disposed of at ringside, Gable shoved Viktor into Pay Dirt from Benjamin, who scored the pinfall victory.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin defeated The Ascension.
The match was rather formulaic, but Benjamin demonstrated great energy and seemed genuinely moved by the reaction given to him by the fans in Arkansas.
The win means little in the long run, but it was still a fun way to introduce the duo to the WWE Universe and a SmackDown brand in desperate need of depth in the tag team division.
United States Championship Open Challenge: AJ Styles vs. Tye Dillinger
Before the match between AJ Styles and Tye Dillinger for the United States Championship could kick off, Baron Corbin attacked The Perfect 10 and sent him into the ring apron.
Styles defeated the determined and gutsy Canadian, tapping him out to the Calf Crusher.
After the match, Corbin once again attacked Dillinger, pulling him out of the ring and throwing him into the guardrail. He attempted an attack on Styles, but the champion blasted him with a forearm, sending the Lone Wolf scurrying to ringside, where he threw a fit.
AJ Styles defeated Tye Dillinger.
What a disappointing return for the U.S. Championship Open Challenge.
Sure, the segment set up the impending Styles vs. Corbin feud, but it was a massive disappointment otherwise.
Dillinger did not benefit in any meaningful way, Styles looks awful for having beaten a guy who was hurt and Corbin looks foolish for failing so miserably at a sneak attack.
Bobby Roode vs. Mike Kanellis
Mike and Maria Kanellis brought the Power of Love to SmackDown Live for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately, their night would not end on a high note, as the former battled Bobby Roode in the NXT alumnus' second appearance on Tuesday nights.
It was all Roode, all the time.
The newcomer looked sharp and focused as he rolled over Kanellis, finishing him with the Glorious DDT.
Bobby Roode defeated Mike Kanellis.
Roode was spotlighted once again here, at the expense of Kanellis.
Again, he worked as a babyface.
Yes, Roode is over if for no other reason than his theme music, but he did his best work as a heel in NXT, where he was the insufferably arrogant bad guy.
A pandering good guy does not suit him. If anything, it exposes the lack of a dynamic skill set and energy that accompanies his in-ring performances. If WWE Creative is not careful, it sets up a potential scenario in which he fails in that role and struggles to regain his momentum.
Kevin Owens Interrupts Aiden English, Calls out Shane McMahon
A frustrated Kevin Owens interrupted Aiden English and addressed the events of last week's show, where Shane McMahon interjected himself in his United States Championship match and ultimately counted The Prizefighter's shoulders down for three.
Owens decried the actions of his commissioner and said things like that did not happen with Stephanie McMahon at the helm on Raw.
Shane-O-Mac interrupted and toed the professional line, reminding Owens he had the opportunity to choose a referee. He said Baron Corbin was incredibly partial, and as a result, he stepped in to ensure a fair and decisive conclusion.
He then ordered Owens to leave the ring so the next match could get underway.
This did what it intended to do in that it continued building tension between McMahon and Owens.
The latter is clearly becoming more frustrated, more unstable, with every passing week of what he considers unfair treatment at the hands of his authority figure. When he finally snaps and the rivalry becomes a physical one, SmackDown Live will receive the boost of energy it needs.
Until then, fans will have to settle for the steady build to what will ultimately be one of the marquee rivalries on the show.
Sami Zayn vs. Aiden English
In the middle of the match between Sami Zayn and Aiden English, a frustrated Kevin Owens hit the ring and took the referee's shirt off him and attempted to call the match himself.
Owens ultimately delivered a nasty Pop-Up Powerbomb and an alert English scored the pinfall victory on a prone Underdog from the Underground.
After the match, Owens tossed the referee's shirt back to him while Zayn struggled to recover.
Aiden English defeated Sami Zayn.
What is the point of having Owens become a malcontent with everyone around him and their job performance? He is pissed off at McMahon, and after his boss ordered him out of the ring, would it not have been more productive to have Owens interrupt the bout and lay both guys out rather than going through the ordeal of taking the shirt from the referee?
It felt way more convoluted than it had to and did little to help strengthen Owens' character, the feud with McMahon or any sort of excitement that may exist in regard to the program.
The New Day vs. The Usos
The recently injured Xavier Woods accompanied New Day teammates Kofi Kingston and Big E to the squared circle for a showdown with The Usos in what has become the tag team rivalry that never dies.
The winner of this, it was revealed earlier in the night, would be able to choose the stipulation for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship rematch. Jimmy and Jey were eager to earn that opportunity and maintain their grip on the titles.
They worked over Big E, isolating him from his partner and wearing him down.
Kingston exploded into the match, taking the fight to his opponent. He delivered a cross-body block but had his pin attempt broken up.
Late in the match, Jey made a blind tag that went undetected by Kingston and scored a roll-up pin on his opponent, holding the tights to secure the win.
The Usos defeated The New Day.
When two acts work together as frequently as these two have, it is imperative that they find new ways to keep fans invested. It is becoming more and more difficult for New Day and The Usos to do that.
Their work between the ropes has been fantastic, but the creativity has been lacking since the first month of their program.
Booking a gimmick match for the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view will help, but it serves only as a Band-Aid on a bullet hole than a long-term fix.
Tamina Snuka vs. Tina Stock
The unknown Tina Stock was overmatched from the get-go, and with Lana inspiring Tamina to crush her in short order, her suffering would be short-lived.
Tamina fended off an early onslaught by her overzealous opposition, delivered a series of headbutts and finished her off with a superkick to the face.
After the match, Tamina dispatched of her opponent and Lana ordered photogs into the ring, where they snapped several shots of the victorious second-generation Superstar.
Tamina defeated Tina Stock.
This was a fine introduction to Tamina's singles push and the role Lana will have in it.
She obliterated her opponent, Lana served as inspiration and the result was a well-oiled machine that should net Tamina increased screen time and, perhaps, a greater string of victories than she has ever had.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton vs. Rusev and Jinder Mahal
The heels isolated Nakamura early, cutting him off from Orton and grounding him.
A jawbreaker gave way to a hot tag to The Viper, who exploded into the match with a flurry of offense. A well-timed distraction from the Singh Brothers allowed Mahal and Rusev to take over.
They took turns working over Orton as Nakamura recovered on the ring apron.
The third-generation star fought his way back into the match made the tag to Nakamura. Then the match hit its crescendo.
Orton dropped Mahal with a draping DDT and Nakamura finished Rusev with the Kinshasa moments later, securing the win for the babyfaces.
After the match, Orton cut off the celebration with an RKO to Nakamura.
Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Jinder Mahal and Rusev.
The match itself was formulaic but satisfied the crowd in that it hit every note one expects from a tag team main event in today's WWE.
The real purpose behind this one was the RKO from Orton to Nakamura that built heat for next week's No. 1 Contender's match. It was a strong hook that will inspire viewership, as if the first-time-ever nature of the bout is not enough.
Overall, a suitable conclusion to a solid, if unspectacular, night of action.