You know, it's the damnedest thing.
Why is it that the heels are always right when they speak in WWE?
Kevin Owens opened the show with a legitimate gripe, that Shane McMahon counted three in favor of Owens at SummerSlam and only after that three did he see that AJ Styles' foot was on the rope, leading to an immediate restart. His argument is the same as the argument McMahon made previously to allow a Styles US title win to stand -- that the referee's decision is final.
His reasoning for reversing his decision here? He did it super fast!
That's pretty lame.
Then, because this really has been one great big clustermuck, McMahon decides, despite kinda screwing Owens over here, that he would give him one more shot with the added stipulation that he gets to choose the referee BUT if he loses he never gets another US title shot as long as Styles is champion.
Owens then cuts a deal with Baron Corbin -- who actually played this pretty well, considering how dumb he's been lately -- and STILL, McMahon ends up involved, makes himself referee once again after making sure Corbin can't count a win for Owens, and then counts a win for Styles.
Look, I realize I'm ignoring quite a bit here to side with KO -- he isn't innocent, not one bit -- but the booking here has been an absolute mess. I actually find myself wanting Owens to powerbumb the life out of Shane O'Mac and Styles to just, I don't know, move on to something that isn't a trash heap of incompetence.
Owens attempting to recruit a referee was fun, though, for the callback to issues with Sami Zayn (they will indeed fight forever), the Fashion Police showing up to remind us how great they are (they're really, really great), and then Corbin cutting a deal. So it wasn't all bad.
It just wasn't that good.
All the rest
Glorious: I'm probably alone in this but I thought there would be a chance that Bobby Roode would look downright small time on the main roster and his act wouldn't translate. He sure as hell looked like a major star, though, and putting him over Aiden English as a sort of test run was a great idea. He should be near the top relatively soon, and that's legitimately exciting.
Ain't no stopping them now: Shelton Benjamin is finally back and immediately thrown into a tag team with Chad Gable. On the one hand, hell yeah, these two are probably going to have awesome matches and be great fun. On the other, damn, is this the best they could come up with creatively? Then again, they are getting a test run next week. Let's let it play out first, right? Either way, good to see him back.
Ellsworth-less: I like the idea of WWE leaning in to James Ellsworth being a dipshit who is actually actively bad for Carmella's career and might actually sabotage her ability to cash-in the Money in the Bank contract. Wouldn't that be the ultimate payoff for how we got here to begin with? Wouldn't it be a better story to have Carmella use a man to help her advance through the women's division only to have it ultimately backfire because that man is lesser than pretty much every woman in said division? It would also be fresh as hell to have BOTH Money in the Bank contract holders fail on their cash-in. Might take away from the allure of next year's matches but it's worth it to tell that story.
Identity crisis: It's good to see Dolph Ziggler is back and still in the midst of an identity crisis. This time he's lashing out at everyone else for working a bunch of silly gimmicks and either getting over, not getting over, or just existing while he can't seem to get a foothold no matter what he does. He is a man gone mad with the realization that it doesn't matter what he does, he's destined for failure. This has real potential. I actually can't wait to see what he actually does when he shows up next week.
Bad guy Mahal: They did a great job on this show of illustrating exactly what it is that makes Jinder Mahal a bad guy. They had Daniel Bryan, a universally beloved good guy, explain it clearly, that he can't win without help from the Singh Brothers and therefore all his talk is bullshit. When Mahal fired back with "you're just being a xenophobe, I'm a hero" Bryan was ready with the response that heroes don't take shortcuts the way Mahal does. It put the focus very clearly on the fact that it's not that Jinder is different and therefore bad it's that he is a cheater and therefore bad.
Nakamura: They also did a nice job with how they followed up on Nakamura's first main roster loss. He beat both The Singh Brothers in a handicap match, then got the better of an attacking Mahal after to show that he's capable of handling all three of them. This doesn't excuse the weird booking at SummerSlam but it's a much better presentation of a guy they hope can be a big star for the brand.
The Usos def. Hype Bros: This didn't do much for me but it's always worth it to take some time out to put your champions over lesser teams to make them even stronger.
Crush: Lana is much better at being a manager than a wrestler. She might just mess around and make Tamina interesting.
An average show.