Smackdown started with quite the matchup as the blue brand’s top overall pick Roman Reigns took on Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship.
But of course, Nakamura was not alone, as his “business associate” Sami Zayn joined the commentary team. Just as Reigns looked to gain control of the match, Zayn left the commentary table and pulled Nakamura out of harm’s way, which then allowed Shinsuke to gain the upper hand.
Nakamura controlled the match through the commercial break, but Reigns would break free of and decked Shinsuke with a couple of killer clotheslines and followed it up with ten strikes in the corner then knocked Nakamura down to the mat with a massive boot to the face.
Shinsuke had an incredible reversal from Superman punch, as he locked Roman in an armbar then transitioned it to a triangle chokehold. However, the Big Dog would overpower Nakamura and drop him down to the mat for a near fall. But thanks to another Zayn interference, Nakamura set up for his Kinshasa strike, but Reigns nailed him with a Superman punch for another near fall.
Reigns then went to the corner and was locked & loaded, but of course, King Corbin comes down to interfere and cause a DQ. Then the three heals began to beat down Reigns, but Daniel Bryan comes down for the save! All looked well until Sayn interfered and freed Nakamura from harm’s way.
This segment was a clear establishment of faces and heels, and the IC title match was a reasonably good TV match. With the true split of the brands (we’ll see how long that lasts), Smackdown needs another face to counter all the heels, and Daniel Bryan is a great babyface.
Below is a rundown of the rest of the night, followed by my Smackdown rating at the end.
Shorty Gable vs. Curtis Axel:
I will say this every time I see it, I HATE the name, Shorty Gable. Axel’s tag team partner Bo Dallas was also at ringside and even caused interference early on in the match.
But it was not long until Gable was able to get Axel to the mat and quickly tap him out with the ankle lock. Gable was rather impressive in the King of the Ring tournament and has all the makings to be a great babyface on the blue brand. Through the first few weeks on Smackdown he appears to be a focal point of the show, I hope that continues.
To make matters worse, Gabel had a postmatch interview focused on his shortness. He told the crowd that he is embracing who he is and is not running from the people who use short jokes. But I do like the name “Shorty G” better than Shorty Gable.
Hulk Hogan live interview:
Hulk was here to address losing Seth Rollins from Team Hogan at Crown Jewel. Hulk let us know that Shorty G and Ali will be joining his team, and the team captain would be announced at the end of the night. Solid strategy to try and keep the fans tuned in throughout the show.
Eight-man tag team match:
Earlier in the night, Otis and Tucker joined the New Day backstage to get prepared for their eight-man tag match. Of course, Heavy Machinery brought pancake mix, and protein powder, and of course, Otis drenched himself in that batter. I personally get a kick out of heavy machinery and thought this was a funny segment.
But as for the actual match, Heavy Machinery and the New Day started off strong as the four babyfaces wild until Roode and Ziggler would plant Xavier Woods on the outside to regain control heading into the commercial.
After the break, the Revival, along with Ziggler & Roode, was still in control. Woods would fend off Scott Dawson and had the chance to make a tag, but Ziggler and Roode pulled Heavy Machinery off the apron to the floor. Next, it was Ziggler’s turn to take it to Woods, but Woods connected with a missile dropkick, and he made the hot tag to Otis, who would run over everyone in the ring.
Otis and Tucker were set up to hit the compactor, but Ziggler would interfere, which allowed the Revival to double team Otis. However, the referee had his back turned and was late counting the pin. Otis would get back in control, passed Dawson off to Big E (literally), and the New Day hit the Midnight Hour for the win.
Overall this was a solid showcase for the mega tag-team match set to take place next week at Crown Jewel. I hope the tag division gets some attention on Smackdown because they have a few talented teams on the blue brand.
Miz TV welcomes the new-look Bayley:
Bayley made her way down to the ring for Miz TV with a brand new entrance (which I very much enjoy), and of course, her BFF Sahsa Banks was right by her side.
Miz, like the rest of us, was interested in Bayley’s actions last week when she destroyed her Bayley Buddies. Bayley told Miz she doesn’t owe anyone an explanation, and then just sat there without answering further. Miz then had a great line when he said, “A champion that doesn’t talk, who are you, Brock Lesnar?” Miz then motioned to Banks and said: “Is this your Paul Heyman?”
Miz would take the trash talk a step further when he said he did not need to cut his hair, change his look, and slash a few Bayley Buddies to become relevant. This brought a response from Bayley, who said those Bayley Buddles defined her, and the fans did not see who she was or what she was trying to do.
Bayley said no one was there for her at Hell in a Cell when she lost her title, and she did not want to put herself second anymore. Bayley then said the Women’s division lacks desire and passion, and she has outgrown them.
These disparaging remarks brought out some of the challengers from the six-pack women’s challenge to determine the No. 1 contender for Bayley’s title.
Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, and Carmella all were in the ring to determine who would be the No.1 contender to Bayley’s Smackdown Women’s Championship.
In a match this size, it was, of course, chaotic in the beginning, as the competitors would all try to gain the upper hand. After Mandy and Sonya double-teamed Cross in the ring, the action spilled out to ringside where Brooke, Carmella, and Evans all got in a nice shot.
After the break, Fire and Desire were going after Carmella, who then was nearly pinned by Cross, and then Cross would go up to the top rope, and a cross body took out Rose, Deville, and Brooke.
Later in the match, Brooke had an impressive-looking senton from the top rope that nearly won her the match. Carmella and Mandy then exchanged slaps (much to the excitement of Corey Graves), and then the women exchanged shots, but Cross was lying in wait, and she hit the swinging neck breaker for the win.
After the pre-match promos, it was evident that Cross would be involved in the outcome somehow, and with her being traded to the blue brand, it looks like a push is in store for Cross.
Strowman vs. Gulak:
Before the match, Gulak wanted to properly introduce himself to the Smackdown audience. He then told Strowman he can’t use his usual tactics if he wants to beat Tyson Fury. Gulak had a 345 slide powerpoint presentation to help Strowman defeat Fury, but he only got through a single slide before Braun unleashed. He whipped Gulak outside of the ring before sending back in the squared circle and dropping him with the running power slam.
Not the most entertaining segment, though I did enjoy Gulak bringing back the powerpoint slides, and Strowman looked strong as usual.
Bryan and Roman take on a pair of kings:
Stemming from the interference to open the show, Bryan and Roman teamed up to take on the King of the Ring and the King of Strong Style. Just like in the opening match, Roman would start off strong, but interference from Sayn would let Corbin & Nakamura take over.
Corbin got a two-count off his deep-six move, but Bryan able to fend off both he and Nakamura for a moment. Just as Bryan was going to tag in Roman, Corbin pulled Roman off the apron and threw him into the steps. Corbin teased about crushing Roman’s arm in the steps but threw them aside just before Bryan dropped him with a kick between the ropes.
In the ring, Bryan nearly got Nakamura to tap, but Corbin broke it up. Then on the outside, Roman destroyed Corbin with a spear through the barricade. Back in the ring, Bryan, and getting hit with a running knee, recovered to deliver a running knee of his own on Nakamura for the win.
Overall this was a solid episode of Smackdown, and I enjoyed the fact the show was filled with quite a bit of wrestling and only minimal promo work. None of the matches were stellar, but they all seem to be leading somewhere. Even the Miz TV segment with Bayley and Sasha was entertaining.
My rating: 3 out of 5.