McMahon wanted to fire them, while Bryan said, hold on a moment, I might have a better idea. KO and Sami, deceitful as they might be, are ultra-talented, and SmackDown needs them, even if they don't bleed blue or respect anyone else on the roster. Or the commissioner's office. Or the fans.
So be it, Bryan continued a week ago. Owens will receive his discipline in the form of Randy Orton. The general manager had a plan, even if it felt as if the random pairing with Orton was a step backward in where the Owens storyline was headed.
But Tuesday's show reminded us of something. While we spend a lot of time vetting narratives and performers, digging deep to unearth any inconsistencies or shortcomings in these storylines like we did last week, we often fail to recognize one of the most important aspect of these weekly dramas: the in-ring action itself.
At the end of the day, we're rooting for "this is awesome" moments, matches that move at a swift cadence with high-risk moves and stunning endings. Sure, the Owens-Orton battle won't be considered anything worthy of a match-of-the-year candidate, but it was as solid as you could have imagined without any semblance of proper build in a seemingly slow time in the wrestling business.
While there is a SmackDown pay-per-view event coming up in just over two weeks, at Clash of Champions, by and large, it doesn't look like there will be a lot of memorable moments until the momentum to the Royal Rumble picks up after the new year.
From the outset of the main event Tuesday, in which Orton punished Owens by tossing him into the announcer's table, then unleashing a series of vicious beatings with a kendo stick, this battle was high-end stuff. Never was there a dull moment. After a semi-suplex into the barricade, Owens finally found the upper hand. The heel landed a punch to his opponent's face, then a big-time leg-drop and a DDT on Orton, who was reeling.
A little while later, Orton avenged those series of moves with a sweet superplex that got the fans geeked up more than they were. Afraid things were getting too out of hand, KO began to bolt to the backstage area before Orton caught him. But wouldn't you know: Zayn, who was banned from ringside earlier in the night, appeared anyway and clobbered Orton with a steel chair -- once to the back of the knees and then to the back.
- WWE (@WWE) November 29, 2017
Ultimately, that was all Owens needed. He summoned the energy to throw Orton back into the ring before attacking his injured leg. All he needed from there was a top-rope frog splash for the win.
Predictable? More or less. But considering the all-around frenetic, disjointed chronicles surrounding Survivor Series, "predictable" allowed us all to exhale and breath without wondering what twists, turns and inter-brand invasions were coming next. But more so, it allowed the fans at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, and viewers at home to watch a solid clash between two superstars who would leave everyone feeling satisfied -- even if the bad guy won -- once the show ended.
After the victory, Owens walked back to the locker room with a Machiavellian smile that summed up the story of a person who hardly won fair and square, but someone who ultimately relished the manner in which things unfolded. While the match against Orton did little to advance Owens' insubordination angle, there's no doubt that narrative will linger on for weeks to come. Perhaps months.
But Tuesday night's show was just as much about giving us a good entertainment in a vacuum as it was trying to digest another slice of chaos that has overrun the WWE lately. We'll take that. For now anyway.
Hits and misses
Wow, the New Day absolutely dismantled Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston used an array of aerial assaults on their opponents to the extent you would have thought Gable and Benjamin were local Lexington, Kentucky, enhancement talent brought in for one day a la the jobber dudes who regularly showed up to build Braun Strowman for all those months. Interesting outcome given Tuesday's losers looked like the next viable challengers to The Usos. Perhaps, we're destined to see more Usos-New Day instead, which wouldn't be the worst thing -- to say the least.
Depending on how you look at the Riott Squad's win against Charlotte, Naomi and Natalya, there was a lot of good and bad. The positive: Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan were ruthless and brought a lot of energy in what essentially became a three-on-one match. First, Natalya bailed on her partners, then Naomi was immobilized by a series of attacks outside the ring -- including being on the receiving end of a nasty-looking slingshot with her head trapped under the steel stairs. But wouldn't it be nice if the WWE allowed the recent call-ups to establish their own identities and not get grouped into another faction that has beset the SmackDown women's roster since the Superstar Shakeup in April. It doesn't look like that will happen anytime too soon, and that's too bad.
It's about time the Hype Bros split up. After a 30-second pummeling to the Bludgeon Brothers, Mojo Rawley attacked (former) partner Zack Ryder during an in-ring interview. The tension between the two had been building on and off for months. Now it remains to be seen whether Rawley, in particular, can parlay this swerve into something worthy of a consistent mid-card guy. Seems like he has the backing, especially considering he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania.
Baron Corbin might be at his best when he says the least. In a backstage confrontation, Bobby Roode demanded a shot at Corbin's United States title with the Lone Wolf simply retorting "no" and walking away. It was amusing, yet just as effective as any protracted fighting words. Regardless, this feud will pick up steam in the next two weeks before their likely match at Clash of Champions on Dec. 17.
AJ Styles' win against Samir and Sunil Singh went as expected, as the champ overcame an initial ambush from Jinder Mahal before the bell rang and then an early beating from the cronies. But it wasn't as much the win as the way Styles won. With Samir on the second rope, the WWE champ converted a Styles clash that resulted in Samir landing on Sunil. That was no doubt the move of the night. Don't believe us, just check it out:
- WWE (@WWE) November 29, 2017