Kevin Owens Secures Spot in United States Title Tournament Finals on WWE SmackDown

The tournament for the United States Championship continued on tonight’s WWE SmackDown, and two fan favorites stepped into the ring for their shot at the Title. Kevin Owens would push aside his injured hand to take on NXT phenom Carmelo Hayes in tonight’s matchup, and that match was every bit the fire starter that one would expect. Owens’ injury would figure into the match a bit, but Owens was able to mitigate it for the most part. Despite a strong effort from Hayes, it was ultimately Owens who walked away with the win, and he will now face the winner of Santos Escobar vs Bobby Lashley for the shot at Logan Paul’s WWE United States Championship.

The two started with lock-ups and Hayes locked in a hold but Owens broke it by reaching the bottom rope. Then the two traded moves but couldn’t hit any thanks to timely evasions, battling to a standstill. Owens unleashed a number of kicks and heavy chops on Hayes, and then hit a back elbow and a senton on the A Champion.

Hayes hit a springboard slam and then tried for another move but Owens moved out of the way and threw Hayes into the steel steps. Back from break, Hayes hit Owens with a bodyslam and then stayed on Owens in the corner, hitting an ax kick into a cover, but Owens kicked out. Owens lifted Hayes but Hayes landed on his feet, and after a few strikes Owens grabbed his hand.

Hayes then capitalized and brought down Owens onto the mat, and Owens responded with a DDT from the top rope and went for that cover, but Hayes kicked out. Hayes went for the springboard again but Owens dodged it and went for the pop-up powerbomb, but Hayes countered and went up top. Hayes dove but Owens moved and Owens then hit the pop-up powerbomb this time, but Hayes kicked out of the cover.

Owens went up top and hit the Swanton bomb on Hayes. Owens hit the Stunner and went for the pin, and that was it for Hayes. Owens will move on to the finals, where he will meet Santos Escobar or Bobby Lashley. As long as Owens didn’t do more damage to his arm and hand, he should be good to go against either opponent, and both pose their own problems.

Then there’s Paul, who is going to pull out all the stops to continue his United States Championship reign and all the viral moments that have come along with it. Paul has already had a war of words with Owens, so that does seem like the most likely outcome, but Lashley and Escobar would also make intriguing opponents for him.

What did you think of the match and who do you want to face Paul for the Title? Let us know in the comments and as always you can talk all things wrestling with me on Threads @mattaguilarcb!