This hype leading into this week's SmackDown Live was all about the first ever one-on-one meeting between Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton -- a number one contender's match for a shot at Jinder Mahal and the WWE Championship at next month's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view -- and rightfully so.
While the match was ultimately a good one, and a tremendous moment for Nakamura, the bulk of the show was focused on setting up next week's mega Sin City SmackDown from Las Vegas.
Not only will The Usos defend their SmackDown tag team titles against The New Day in a "Sin City Street Fight," in a rematch of what was one of the best matches at SummerSlam, but Naomi will get her chance at regaining the SmackDown women's championship against Natalya. There will also be a third title match, as AJ Styles handpicked Tye Dillinger as his next challenger for the United States championship.
But most importantly, the Shane McMahon-Kevin Owens saga reached a critical moment as Owens pushed McMahon over the edge by taking real life and pushing him way over the edge -- a moment that led to Vince McMahon appearing on next week's SmackDown, too.
- WWE (@WWE) September 6, 2017
"I'm gonna be real honest with you right now," Owens said. "Your entire family would've been better off if you hadn't survived that (helicopter) crash. Everyone. Your dad, your wife -- and especially your kids."
Shane McMahon unleashed a barrage of punches that only stopped when, consumed by a blind rage, nearly struck the physically (very) off-limits general manager Daniel Bryan.
After the attack, Owens threatened to sue WWE and every member of the McMahon family to make SmackDown Live his own literal Kevin Owens show, and even posited pressing criminal charges against Shane McMahon.
Bryan told Shane that he was indefinitely suspended following a phone call from Vince, who also promised to be in Las Vegas.
The Owens-McMahon feud is almost certainly building toward a match, but the timing is now far more pliable, as Shane could be off TV for a long stretch during his suspension, or he could be back next week to meet with the Chairman. Owens-McMahon in Hell in a Cell seems like a natural place to make that happen, especially considering Shane's history with the Cell, or it could stretch to one of the "big four" pay-per-views, like Survivor Series.
Despite the focus lying elsewhere for the bulk of Tuesday's edition of SmackDown, the main event between Nakamura and Orton played out like a PPV-quality match.
The story of this match was Nakamura's repeated ability to escape or counter Orton's signature moves. After slipping out of an early-match RKO and two hangman's DDTs (including one to the floor), Nakamura turned one RKO attempt into an armbar submission, and another into a move where he dropped the back of Orton's head/neck on his knee. That set up a Kinshasa for the win.
Nakamura now gets a second shot at Mahal's title at Hell in a Cell. That's an incredibly important event, as it'll be the only SmackDown-exclusive PPV in the long stretch between SummerSlam and Survivor Series. A title change at HIAC would mean Nakamura carrying the title into a critical part of the calendar, while Mahal retaining would reiterate that WWE has faith in him to carry the belt into a major PPV.
Although Nakamura has yet to win the WWE championship, he's already accomplished something remarkable in the ring over the last five weeks. He's earned two shots at the WWE championship; this time, it was Orton, a 13-time world champion. The first time around, Nakamura had to beat John Cena, a 16-time champion. Those are the two most-decorated wrestlers in WWE right now, and outside of Ric Flair or Triple H, he couldn't have beaten anyone with more world title reigns. You can probably count on one hand the number of WWE superstars who had defeated both of those men cleanly, especially in such a short window of time.
Next week will decide the immediate future of the United States, SmackDown Women's and Tag titles, but Tuesday night set in motion the long-term future of the WWE championship, into 2018 and beyond.
Hits and misses
-- Not that I don't love a good street fight, but could somebody spell out the differences between a street fight, a no-DQ match, a no-holds-barred match and anything else? Do the weapons have to be location specific? And doesn't that stipulation put The Usos at a significant disadvantage when they have two team members, and New Day has three.
- WWE (@WWE) September 6, 2017
-- The re-debut of Dolph Ziggler wasn't quite that. He came out to Cena's music, Randy Savage's music and Naomi's music (each with their own full entrance, for that matter) to prove a point. He doesn't have a gimmick, he doesn't have an eye-catching entrance, he's just a really good wrestler. He's not wrong about any of those things. But he'll actually have to get the crowd to respond to his "no-gimmick gimmick" and continue to turn heads with his in-ring work for this to catch on. It's a risk, but it's put Ziggler back on TV, at the very least.
-- One of these days, we'll get to hear how Aiden English's song ends. I hope he remembers it, in case he's ever not interrupted. This week he earned another shock victory over Sami Zayn -- and this time, it counted.
-- Before the days of high-definition TV, I don't think we could've fully appreciated Jinder Mahal's suit. It was fun, and certainly a bit old school, to show him looming over the main event from up in a luxury box.
-- It was only fitting that on Corey Graves' first SmackDown that we were treated to his call of the Nakamura's Kinshasa. Graves' new gig also means we get Nigel McGuinness on 205 Live. Advantage: us.
Quote of the night
"You're a charity case, and your mother should've given you away at birth."
-- Carmella, to James Ellsworth, prior to firing him, after he cost her in a match against Natalya by sliding the Money in the Bank briefcase into the ring. Although that ended a little bit differently than we all might have imagined.
"From now on, we're doing things MY way!" - @CarmellaWWE
- WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) September 6, 2017