Kevin Owens is a pretty simple guy when it comes down to it.
Ever since his debut in NXT, one thing has motivated him: his family. It’s the reason why he betrayed Sami Zayn at TakeOver: REvolution. It’s the reason he answered John Cena’s United States Open Challenge and became the Prizefighter. It’s also the reason why he’s tried to make amends with Shane McMahon; he can’t afford that grudge when it’s costing his family real consequences.
And that’s what made this show so cool. For the first time in five years, someone challenged Owens’ primary motivation. Shane used Owens’ weakness for his own benefit, ordering Owens to referee his impromptu King of the Ring semifinals match with Chad Gable. In Shane’s mind, he’d insured victory; he was even talking with a producer backstage about how the crown would fit upon his head.
And you know what? Shane was right. Owens couldn’t go against his family. The babyface faltered...and Chad Gable still won.
The match was very quick, actually. Shane, all bravado and arrogance, threw a lazy punch that Gable dodged. Gable forced Shane into the corner, rolled through, and hit Shane with a bridging German Suplex. 1-2-3. Easy win.
However, Shane was quick to grab a microphone and restart the match as a 2 out of 3 falls match. He also took several cheap shots and grilled Owens for daring to count him out. And when threatened, Owens fell in line. He started slow-counting Gable’s pin attempts and speeding them up for Shane.
And he looked like he hated himself the entire time.
The funny thing about it is that Shane never got a pinfall on Gable. Gable fought out each and every time before he wizened up and slapped an Ankle Lock onto Shane. No one could deny a blatant tap out, and the bell rang on its own. Gable moved on to the finals.
After the match, Owens just shrugged at Shane. What was he to do in that situation? And instead of owning his failures, Shane assaulted Owens and fired him on the spot.
And you know what? It’s poetic, in a sense. Owens refused to stand up for what’s right, and he got punished for it. Shane has done this to other wrestlers before as well. At this point, Owens’s only path to redemption is by eliminating Shane from the show for good.
Hopefully, that happens sooner rather than later.
Rowan’s perception of himself doesn’t fit his actions
Am I the only one who was - puzzled, let’s say – by Erick Rowan’s promo?
He came out alone (in an admittedly awesome Týr shirt) and basically said that none of us understand him. We all assume someone’s pulling his strings, but that’s never been the case. We think of him as some big brute, but he’s so much more than that. In his head, he’s a mastermind. He’s a manipulator.
...Dude! How is trying to murder a guy by running him over in a car “manipulating”? Who has he manipulated? What’s his master plan?
Instead of getting any of those answers, Roman Reigns cut him off by bull rushing the ring. Rowan looked surprised – something a mastermind, of course, would clearly see coming.
With that said, Rowan got the better end of the brawl. He threw a guy from the crowd at Reigns and smacked him with a camera beam for good measure. But that doesn’t discount from the fact that the way Rowan is being portrayed – or rather, how he portrays himself – isn’t lining up with what he’s actually doing.
A manipulator, for example, would have been pulling the strings from the beginning. A manipulator would have found a way to keep Daniel Bryan on his side. Instead, Rowan lashed out because he’s so sensitive of how others perceive him.
I’m not really sure what to make of this, honestly. It’s merely a point of interest that I’ve noticed. I’m intrigued by this enough that I’m interested to see what WWE can do with this dissonant character.
Bayley def. Ember Moon – This is the best I can recall Ember Moon looking. Her backstage segment was brilliant. Here’s a full-on babyface directly confronting Bayley about her questionable decisions. And the best part was that Ember didn’t play it like a gullible, mediocre good guy. She had an edge.
“Attacking Becky is supposed to elevate the SmackDown Championship? How?” Damn right, Ember.
The unfortunate thing is that nothing really came of that segment in the ring. Bayley won cleanly, without having to delve further into the dark side to put away Moon.
Undertaker showed up – He talked about how Madison Square Garden is historic and has been a huge venue in WWE’s history. He also said he considers it a home and he’s not sure how many more times he’ll be stopping by to visit. There’s a new era on the horizon.
Before he could get any further, Sami Zayn showed up and asked Taker to pass the torch by leaving. Taker did...but not before hitting Zayn with a Chokeslam for the disrespect.
Kofi Kingston rolls back time – This feud’s not really doing anything to stand out in WWE, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad. I actually quite liked Randy Orton going after Kofi’s fake accent and his “power of positivity bullshit.” Actually, I wish they had done more of that rather than looking to the past, even if the Boom Drop callback was cool.
The Miz def. Andrade – Your usual “challenger needs to look good before a title shot” match. Miz threw Andrade into Shinsuke Nakamura at one point as well for that “sending a message to the champ” thing that babyfaces like to do.
...I really wasn’t feeling this build to Clash of Champions. Too cookie-cutter.
Nikki Cross def. Mandy Rose – This is similar to the “Chad Gable is short” stuff. I guess we can toss “Nikki Cross is ugly” onto the mix. That stuff is just not for me, but it’s gotten Gable a solid reaction so...who knows? Maybe it works and I’m the outlier here.
Heavy Machinery def. Local Talent – Otis wiggled.
The top of the card stuff was really engaging on this show. The lower card stuff I could take it or leave it.