Stone Cold Steve Austin. Mick Foley. Triple H. CM Punk. Those are four of the names in an elite group, one that has a very specific requirement: they were given the privilege of putting their hands on Vince McMahon.
Those who have been given that privilege get a moment, a mark, that solidifies them at the top of the card. That club added another name to the list Tuesday night, as Kevin Owens viciously assaulted Mr. McMahon at the end of the night.
Kevin Owens spent most of Tuesday night bragging about how he was going to own the company after being attacked by Shane McMahon last week. He went around making a list of what would change, and who would benefit from his rule.
Finally, he had his confrontation with Mr. McMahon. McMahon didn't hesitate, immediately browbeating Owens for getting beaten by Shane last week. He then added that Shane wasn't suspended for attacking Owens, but instead for not finishing the job. And then he made the announcement we were waiting for: Shane would face Owens at Hell in a Cell, in the structure.
Owens wasn't pleased with this turn of events, but he turned it around. He said that he would destroy Shane, and he wanted Vince's word that he wouldn't be fired for beating “a McMahon senseless.” McMahon agreed, which immediately led Owens to headbutt McMahon, drawing blood on the chairman of the board. He continued to assault Vince, even hitting a frog splash on him. After officials poured out of the back, including Stephanie McMahon (which raises all sorts of storyline problems if she can show up on SmackDown), Owens retreated, leaving a battered Vince lying in the ring.
Storyline-wise, this went more or less how we expected it to. Maybe some expected Owens to demand the match, but we knew Vince would ridicule him leading toward that match. However, the Vince beatdown is a major development, not just in storyline, but in the perception of Owens.
The only people who have ever touched Vince McMahon are future Hall of Famers, those who would go on to be viewed as critical pieces of the company. While Kevin Owens was great, a former champion, I think there was reasonable questions on how exactly Vince McMahon viewed him. This answered those questions.
Vince McMahon would not agree to this segment if he didn't view Kevin Owens as a cornerstone of the company going forward. It cannot be overstated how important a moment like this is. A match with Shane is fine, but many people who weren't the absolute top guys had matches with Shane. You don't touch Vince unless you're that important. And if this leads to something with Stephanie, and in turn Triple H, Owens is set.
We'll see how the rest of this feud goes. There's still about a month before Hell in a Cell. However, this moment will echo for the rest of Owens' career.
The rest of SmackDown Live:
» A packed Tuesday night had three title matches, and one title change. The New Day beat The Usos in a street fight to regain the SmackDown Tag Titles. To nobody's surprise, the two teams had another fantastic match. It seems clear at this point that now that the New Day has the longest reign in WWE history, WWE wants to add to their title reign total. It would not surprise me to see them continue to pass the titles back and forth until they pass The Dudleys' nine title reigns.
» AJ Styles retained his US title against Tye Dillinger in another good showing for the Perfect Ten. I hope they have a plan for him, as they've done a good job of establishing him as a credible wrestler. He just needs a storyline now. Styles of course is going to pivot towards Baron Corbin, who attacked both after the match.
» Natalya also successfully retained her title, as Naomi got her rematch. Despite the match being against Naomi, the real story of the match was Carmella at ringside, who was leading James Ellsworth around on a leash. Naomi flew out of the ring and ended up taking Carmella and Ellsworth out at one point. As Natalya locked on the Sharpshooter, she turned to face Carmella and glare right at her as Naomi was forced to tap out. You have to think that Charlotte and Becky will re-enter the title picture soon, with Carmella looming over the proceedings.
» Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable beat Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder. After the match, all of them went to shake, however, Ryder left the ring, refusing to shake hands.
» Dolph Ziggler once again came out to make fun of “cheap, shallow entrances,” this time targeting Bayley and the Ultimate Warrior.
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout