SmackDown Live was pegged to be a tremendous show. With three championship matches slotted for the two-hour episode, the WWE Universe was aware the card would move quickly in a pay-per-view worthy environment. And, as expected, it did.
While not every match was a five-star classic, two of the three were excellent displays of in-ring mastery and surrounding them was the understanding that Vince McMahon would be making his triumphant return. In a way, that trumped everything, especially considering how the show went off the air.
In an episode of the blue brand that was a mix of awkward, fun, exciting and wonderfully-weaved stories, here are your 5 Winners and 5 Losers From SmackDown Live - September 12, 2017.
5. Loser - Naomi
While she was involved in one of the three championship matches, this particular bout didn't deliver much. Natalia won in a similar fashion to the way she defeated Naomi at SummerSlam, and Naomi now must go to the back of the line in terms of an opportunity to back in the title picture.
What this match accomplished was showcasing the fact that Ronda Rousey was in attendance for the Shayna Baszler match that was set to happen on the Mae Young Classic finals for after SmackDown Live. Rousey is going to take center stage. Naomi is just one of the women that will likely be used to eventually put Rousey over.
5. Winner - New Day
Say what you want about the titles in the WWE changing hands far too often, The Uso's and The New Day are two teams who have major chemistry. Most fans would agree they wouldn't get tired of watching these guys fight every week. The matches are that good and that unique.
Coming out on the winning end in this instance was the New Day as they won the SmackDown Live tag titles and will move on to face whoever is next in line. A new feud is a good idea for this team who the WWE clearly wants to make the winningest tag team in WWE history. Let's hope this leads to the debut of the Authors of Pain.
4. Loser - Jinder Mahal
What was with the promo delivered by Jinder Mahal this week? In a continued effort by the WWE to push the boundaries on these in-ring promos, the company and Mahal missed the mark big time.
Instead of trying to make Mahal relevant, he focused on berating an absent Nakamura by calling him constipated and unmotivated. He threw in some casually racist references to the way Nakamura looks and sounds to demonstrate that if "The King of Strong Style" became the champ, he'd be nothing more than another discriminated against title holder. It was a bad choice by the WWE and it made Mahal look desperate.
4. Winner - Baron Corbin
Even though he played a small role in the show, it appears Baron Corbin is right back in the thick of things with a shot at the U.S. Title next week. He interjected himself in the Dillinger/Styles matchup, but he didn't ruin the outcome.
This could be a sign that the WWE is past the idea of punishing Corbin for whatever it is he did to get in the hot box backstage. Hopefully, he's learned a lesson and doesn't worry about outside opinion and gets down to working hard. He's super talented and a threat to be the next heel big man for SmackDown Live.
3. Loser - Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura wasn't even on the show and he's getting classified as a loser. It's not his doing, but because he was used in a promo that was written to talk about his obvious differences, he's being used as the butt end of a bad idea and his race, language barrier, or uniqueness should have absolutely no bearing on his match at Hell In A Cell. Yet, the WWE went there.
People are going to suggest this is just another situation similar to many the WWE has used to push race, difference, and culture in their storylines to make a heel more a heel, but this match doesn't need that. Nakamura should be promoted for being one of the best wrestlers on the planet. That's what Mahal should be bashing. Why stray from that for cheap heat?
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3. Winner - Tye Dillinger
Even in defeat, Dillinger seized an opportunity to show he's got the in-ring ability and following from an audience to do more than staying a simple enhancement talent. There has to be fear that he's never going to be treated differently than a guy like Sami Zayn, but like Zayn, Dillinger delivered a top-notch match with AJ Styles.
If Dillinger keeps getting these kinds of opportunities, he has real potential to go somewhere in the WWE. His gimmick as "The Perfect 10" makes him extremely likable as well.
2. Loser - Dolph Ziggler
Oh my, how this gimmick isn't working. It's only been two weeks and the idea is shaping up to lead to nowhere. It was an odd time to interrupt a Kevin Owens who was supposed to be delivering an extremely serious message about suing the entire company and the WWE used an opening to go for a cheap laugh that never came.
This is like Mizdow or Curtis Axel playing Axelmania. There's nowhere for this to go that is beneficial for Ziggler and at some point, the new Ziggler has to arrive, doesn't he? By that time, will anyone care?
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2. Winner - Zack Ryder
Let's all give a round of applause to the WWE for finally doing something useful with Zack Ryder. It's been hinted at for weeks and it appears the company is finally going to move forward on splitting the Hype Bros. up. A bit surprisingly, the member looking like he's going to get the heel push is Zack Ryder.
It's hard to tell how Ryder will deliver if he's a bad guy since his personality screams likable Internet star, but it's an opportunity well deserved. If he jobs out to Mojo Rawley, this winner could turn into a loser quickly.
1. Loser - Vince McMahon
The only reason Vince McMahon is on the loser list this week is because of that headbutt he received from Kevin Owens. Like a champ, McMahon took a vicious noggin'-knocker that is extremely tough to fake, so they just went for it. The result was a busted open chairman and a headache that will likely last a day or two.
Really, Vince is a winner here from a storyline standpoint because that entire segment was extremely well done, but physically, it's going to leave a mark. Vince's return got right into the meat of why he was there. Normally, it's a lot of extra talk. This time it wasn't.
1. Winner - Kevin Owens
The sheer amount of times I've listed Kevin Owens as my winner in these lists is starting to make it appear as though we're huge marks for K.O. It's at the point now where we're going to have to admit that I am.
There may be no one better in the WWE right now and the fact that the WWE appears to finally be setting a show around his character is music to the ears of anyone who loves a good storyteller and tremendous in-ring performer. The way Owens got the better of McMahon and the trust Vinny-Mac must have to make his long-awaited return only to be laid out by Owens speaks volumes. On SmackDown Live, Kevin Owens is now officially "the guy".