While The Fiend didn’t show up in the ring during tonight’s Friday Night SmackDown in England, the Universal Champion did choose a new victim backstage.
It appears that The Fiend’s newest victim will be a former rival of Bray Wyatt’s…Daniel Bryan.
Bryan was backstage talking with Sami Zayn as the former NXT Champion continued to try and persuade Bryan to join him and Shinsuke Nakamura when the lights went out and the Universal Champion appeared, attacking Bryan with the Mandible Claw.
History has told us to expect the unexpected. Whilst some people diligently plan for every eventuality or possibility, for every given scenario in the professional or personal lives, others will leave their future up to fate as the song says; ‘que sera, sera, whatever will be will be’. Some subscribe to the old adage of the Six P’s; Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance, whilst others live by the mantra of ‘try your best, there’s nothing more you can do than your best’. Whatever point of view you take or advice you adhere to, one thing is for certain; the future is unpredictable and unknown. Things happen that will be out of your control. True wisdom lies in knowing you cannot change the future, but knowing that you can adapt to the challenges that await you.
It was such a challenge that faced WWE immediately after the Crown Jewel event. As was widely reported at the time, a hefty proportion of WWE talent were effectively left stranded in Saudi Arabia, unable to board their flight back to the United States. For whatever the reason for this (and I’ve read many opinions and various reasons online) the fact remained that WWE were in quite the pickle. They had some of their roster en route to Friday Night Smackdown, but many were simply not going to make the show, no matter what flight they caught. A dilemma for WWE, especially considering the FOX deal on Friday nights is still in its infancy.
Step forward the COO of WWE, Triple H. In fairness to him and WWE, the options to them were limited; run Smackdown with a thin line-up that ignored the draft rules of the previous weeks by having some Raw talent on the show, or call in the cavalry from the yellow brand, NXT, to save the day. The calls were made and Triple H brought his army. The timing couldn’t have been better as we have Survivor Series on the horizon and with NXT now brought in to face Raw and Smackdown superstars, it gave the company an ideal opportunity to showcase some of their talent and introduce some ‘new’ names to a wider audience.
Smackdown was then advertised as ‘must-see’ for all fans as the NXT roster were going to make their presence known. Would it be for one night only and WWE would return to their regularly scheduled programming on Monday? Who knew? As it turns out, the reception for the NXT stars and the excellent show they all put on, meant they were creating a buzz and being noticed. So when all the talent arrived back from Saudi Arabia and were all raring to go, NXT stayed and made themselves at home.
I think this could be a pivotal moment in WWE and I’ll explain why. Some years ago, WWE tried the three factions idea when they had WWE go up against ECW and WCW – more commonly known as the WCW/ECW Invasion. The latter two would align with one another to create a simple story of two warring companies – with WWE eventually winning, of course. The premise was simple and it also allowed for something that hadn’t been done before. Yes, all the talent were technically WWE stars and on their payroll, but the situation was new. The locker room was divided, the crowd allegiance was split between companies, each fan having their own personal favorite wrestler and faction.
Today WWE can give each brand a stable base from which to operate and build. Each have their own show. Each have their own roster and each have enough pedigree and history to be more than a flash in the pan or in danger of being absorbed by the almighty WWE machine and fade into insignificance. Ask yourself, would this have worked if the 205 Live roster had ‘invaded’ Raw and Smackdown? The addition of NXT to the mix also allows WWE to play with the rules somewhat. The draft was rightly criticized by many fans for not being rigid enough and allowing WWE to break their own rules (Brock Lesner to Raw, anyone?), but NXT don’t adhere to the draft and do their own thing, similarly the rules of the draft only restrict Raw and Smackdown talent from crossing over to each other’s shows, however they can drop in on NXT whenever they want and it’ll still make sense.
Many wrestling fans, myself included, have expressed their concerns for the NXT talent in recent months. Their continued success in the company and the excellent shows they put on could have meant that they became entrenched in the brand and rather than move on to the larger audiences and arenas on Monday and Friday nights, they would find themselves held back in Florida in a company that they love, but perhaps restricting the next stage of their development. Victims of their own success, if you will. The recent interactions on the main roster could have put that argument to bed. WWE may rely on NXT to continue to provide an alternative to Raw and Smackdown, but I think the winds of change have already taken effect. The addition of NXT talent to the mix also offers up many fresh feuds and stories. It allows a true cross-brand opportunity that can deliver on so many levels and gives the men and women more opportunities to show the world what they can do.
Triple H will not be satisfied with HIS team playing second fiddle to the main roster and being used to fill in gaps when appropriate. This showing on national networks will only serve to boost NXT – they’re in a win-win situation. Though WWE have shaken things up with the main brands, the injection of NXT throws a curveball into the mix. They’re coming across as renegades, upstarts and an unsavory band that have been ignored for too long but now want to show the world what they’re capable of. Names like Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Rhea Ripley, Tomasso Ciampa and Adam Cole are trending on Twitter twice a week, and getting hundreds of thousands of views for online videos and clips. They’re becoming more and more recognizable to a wider WWE audience. They’re doing exactly what Triple H wants them to do; be impossible to ignore. When my young son (who has never seen NXT) watched Smackdown and Raw with me this week, he leapt from the sofa and shouted “Adam Cole Bay Bay!” it made me think that WWE and NXT must be doing something right. Adam Cole merchandise now occupies several spots on a young boy’s Christmas list to Santa.
With the competition for WWE very real and it making inroads and producing a solid product on a regular basis, WWE may have needed to be creative going forward and not rest on their laurels. They may have needed something unexpected and surprising to change the game. Perhaps the unfortunate delay of the talent on a Thursday night in Saudi Arabia could be the catalyst for something so huge and unexpected, it could change the face and future of the WWE for a long time to come. I certainly hope so.
This show was 24 hours removed from Crown Jewel and most of the talent is still stuck in Saudi Arabia due to mechanical issues with their charter flight. We start off with Tom Phillips, Aiden English, and Renee Young at the broadcast desk and here comes Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar to talk about the match with Velasquez. Since we’ve got time to kill (in more ways than one as we would later find out), the entire Lesnar/Velasquez match from Crown Jewel is shown. The post-match attack from Mysterio is shown and Heyman says Brock quits Smackdown to go join Raw to attack Mysterio. No word on if Brock forfeits the WWE Title for “quitting,” but I doubt Creative will remember come Monday. (Editor’s Note: Lesnar is taking the WWE Title with him to Raw.)
The first match up is the six-woman tag match turned into Smackdown Women’s Title match between Bayley and Nikki Cross. Really good match between the two with Bayley retaining after a little help from Sasha Banks, who was at ringside. Good showing from both and I expect the feud to continue. After the match, Shayna Baszler shows up and attacks Nikki Cross. Baszler takes out Sasha before wiping the mat with Bayley. Baszler leaves Bayley, Sasha, and Nikki down while standing tall in the ring.
Back from the break and for some random reason, Pat McAfee has replaced Aiden English on commentary. McAfee keeps selling the Friday, November 1st line. Sami Zayn is backstage when Matt Riddle and Keith Lee show up. A little banter back and forth leads to Sami running away to the ring to get beat up by the NXT guys. Running theme so far. Let’s hope they don’t botch it.
Up next is MizTV with Miz coming out in his ring gear. At least this week he can be a wrestler and not just a talk show host. Anyway, Miz talks about the visits so far from NXT leading to Tommaso Ciampa coming out for the interruption. Excellent dueling promo from the two leads us into our next match. There was also an amazing match between the two with Ciampa picking up the win. The match was a little short, but they definitely need more time next time.
Daniel Bryan is shown backstage walking up to Triple H to challenge him to a match tonight. Instead of those two squaring off, we get the far better option of Bryan vs. Adam Cole for the NXT title as our main event.
Fire and Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) are out waiting for Carmella and her tag partner, Dana Brooke, to come out for their scheduled tag match. Instead, the camera cuts backstage with Bianca Belair tossing the two of them around. Rhea Ripley and Tegan Knox come and offer to be their opponents instead. The match doesn’t last long with the NXT team picking up the dominant win.
Before the main event starts, Stephanie McMahon pops out to pat the WWE on the back for having the Natalya vs Lacey Evans match at Crown Jewel. Quick video package recap with comments from multiple people included.
Main event time and an amazing clinic was put on in this dream match. They were given sufficient time to do their thing and delivered in a big way. Hands down the best Smackdown match this year. If you missed it, go find the YouTube clip and watch it. In the end, Bryan falls to Cole to allow NXT the clean sweep on Smackdown tonight.
After the match, all of the NXT superstars that came to Buffalo filled the ring as Triple H gives a passionate speech to sell the Raw vs. Smackdown vs. NXT Survivor Series battle.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
The NXT Invasion was successfully pulled off tonight. It was done in a way to make the NXT brand feel important and introduce the characters to the audience. Let’s just hope they can keep this up.
The Heyman promo dragged on but we would later find out that it was simply stalling for time to get the NXT crew there.
Some final thoughts on the show. This was the best Smackdown this year. The whole creative felt different and something we’ve been wanting for years. I really hope the Raw vs. Smackdown vs. NXT theme for Survivor Series really helps up the game on all three shows including the PPV. This could finally be the shot in the arm WWE has been looking for. I just wonder if this was all meant for Raw but got bumped to Smackdown due to the travel problems?
A couple of other quick observations from the past week. I was happy to see Roman let Ali have the glory picking up the pinfall in the six man tag match. The Ricochet/McIntyre match was simply amazing and that’s how you make two people look like stars. The less said about The King’s Court, the better.
Welcome to another WWE Smackdown review on TJRWrestling as the blue brand continues the build to WWE Crown Jewel taking place next Thursday, October 31. This show was on Fox Sports 1 in the US for one week only because Fox had the World Series game 3 (I’m glad the Astros won). Next week and every week after, Smackdown is on the main Fox channel in the US. Let’s get to it.
Live from Kansas City, Missouri, this is Smackdown for episode #1053. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
The Smackdown intro video played to begin the show. That was followed by an impressive pyro display in the arena and the Kansas City crowd sounded like they were ready to go. Michael Cole welcomed us to the show while plugging Progressive as a sponsor.
Miz TV with Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Their Teams
The ring was full with The Miz along with Ric Flair and his team of “King” Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura with Sami Zayn. On the other side was Hulk Hogan and his team of Roman Reigns, Ali, Shorty G and Jimmy Hart was there because he travels with Hogan everywhere. The Miz introduced Flair and Hogan. Miz noted that guys from Raw like Ricochet and Rusev are not there with their team. Miz introduced the wrestlers on Hogan’s team. Miz also mentioned Raw’s Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre aren’t there, but there’s Nakamura and Corbin. After that introduction, the trash talk began.
Hogan said he put together the greatest Hulkamania team of all time. Hogan is a known liar, brother. Hogan asked Flair “what are you gonna do when Team Hogan destroys you?” Flair said there is no love lost between them. Flair said he’s a leader like when he led the Four Horsemen and on Monday night, he got Drew McIntyre to join their team. Flair said when they get there to Saudi Arabia it will be just like Hogan and Flair having one more go around. Flair said he was talking about looking at Reigns all the time.
Hogan reminded Flair he never beat him and you’re not going to beat Team Hogan. That led to Hogan putting over the heart of Shorty G, the athleticism of Ali and Ricochet, the strength of Rusev and the “Big Dog” Roman Reigns will take a bite out of them – Hogan gave a shoutout to Junkyard Dog.
Zayn interrupted and laughed at the name Shorty G while saying Shorty could stand on Ali’s shoulders and still be half the man that Nakamura is. Shorty said he accepts who he is, he’s proud and he’s going to silence all the doubters at Crown Jewel. Ali said you don’t even have to pay attention to Zayn because he doesn’t compete anymore, he’s just a mouthpiece, which is ironic considering how bad his breath stinks. The breath stinks joke? They gave Ali a terrible joke to say.
Corbin reminded them they are in the presence of a king and Crown Jewel was named in his honor. Corbin said he’s going to take his team to victory. Corbin said that Reigns is going to do what he always does and let everybody down, but this is Corbin’s kingdom now. Corbin claimed these people bow to him, Reigns bows to him and Corbin will rule with an iron fist.
Reigns told Corbin to shut up. Reigns said that he’s not a real king, it’s a stupid crown, cape and scepter, but they like it when he looks stupid because it’s entertaining to them. Reigns said that they don’t like it when Corbin says stupid stuff, but the only way to fix it is to punch him in the mouth. Shorty said he wants in on this. Hogan pointed out there are three of us and three of them, so why not give a preview at Crown Jewel right here tonight in Kansas City? Zayn said, “take it easy, brother.” Zayn said they appreciate the offer and they will take it under advisement, which led to the heels leaving.
Hogan said in the main event how about it’s Reigns, Shorty G and Ali against Corbin, Nakamura and Zayn? Hogan basically just repeated what he just said. Zayn asked the fans if they want the match and he said the match is on. Zayn said he tweaked his neck on the flight over here, so Ric touched his neck in support and Zayn said he’s not allowed to be touched. Zayn said he has somebody in the back that has been waiting for an opportunity and he’s going to bring that man out right now…it’s Cesaro.
Cesaro walked down to the ring, Reigns left the ring and went after him. They exchanged punches. Shorty hit a running dive onto Nakamura on the floor. Reigns threw Corbin into the barricade. Ali hit a suicide dive on Cesaro. Nakamura was taken down before that. Team Flair retreated like the heels they are while Team Hogan celebrated in the ring as Hogan’s song played.
Analysis: I think it was obvious to any regular WWE viewer that the Miz TV segment would lead to a match later in the night. It’s not a surprise because we see it all the time. I think doing a 6-man tag team match to set up a 10-man tag team match in six days feels a bit repetitive, but that’s how WWE books these things. I thought Zayn was the most interesting with his promos while Shorty continues to embrace the name, Reigns did well to shut up Corbin and Flair/Hogan each did a good job of getting the crowd fired up.
Still to come: Brock Lesnar is face to face with Cain Velasquez and Bray Wyatt is back in the Firefly Fun House.
Kofi Kingston and Big E were shown walking backstage. They had an iPad with them with Xavier Woods with them. Woods is injured.
A graphic was shown on screen letting us know that WWE’s Youtube channel has 50 million subscribers. That’s impressive. They also have about 1.5 million WWE Network subscribers, so that’s a lot of people not interested in paying about 33 cents per day (or $9.99 per month) for WWE content.
The New Day duo of Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance. It was announced by Michael Cole that New Day will get a Smackdown Tag Team Title match next week on Smackdown Xavier Woods tore his Achilles Tendon in Australia earlier this week and he’s going to be out of action for anywhere from 8-12 months after having surgery when he returned to the US. Big E and Kingston each had a black “XW” armband on his left arm for Woods.
Analysis: It’s a brutal injury to the foot. Woods will be missed. I believe he’s married with a young son at home, so family time isa good thing. He will keep busy on his UpUpDownDown video game channel on Youtube that has over 2 million subscribers. I’m not a video gamer anymore, but even I watch the channel sometimes. It will be interesting to see if WWE keeps Kingston/Big E as a team while Woods is out or if there’s a breakup or if each guy works in singles more.
Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler made their entrance. The Smackdown announce team is Michael Cole and Corey Graves as usual. Both of these teams are in the 9-Team Tag Team Turmoil match at Crown Jewel
The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
Kingston got the advantage on Ziggler with two boots to the face. When Kingston set up on the top rope, Roode knocked him down and Ziggler kicked Kingston to knock him off the turnbuckle to the floor. They went to break one minute into the match.
The match returned with Kingston breaking free, Big E got the tag with two belly to belly suplexes and a side belly to belly suplex for a two count. Big E decked Ziggler with a clothesline. Kingston tagged in, Big E launched him over the top onto Ziggler on the floor. Big E took out Roode to send them both to the floor. Ziggler went back in the ring and Ziggler got a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Kingston to pin him after six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
Analysis: *1/2 It was disappointing that they put a commercial in the middle of such a short match. If you’re going six minutes then show the WHOLE DAMN MATCH! It’s not that hard to time it out and show the whole match. Instead, we saw maybe three minutes of action. I was a bit surprised by the finish although it doesn’t mean anything because the idea behind this was to plug Crown Jewel. I’m not sure if Ziggler beating Kingston was done to tell the story that Kingston is on a losing streak after losing the WWE Title earlier this month, but that might be where they are going.
The Revival went down to the ring to beat up New Day. Heavy Machinery ran down for the save, they splashed Ziggler and Roode in the corner and New Day sent The Revival out of the ring. They showed Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel watching backstage earlier as well as Lucha House Party. The two face teams celebrated in the ring.
Analysis: The Crown Jewel show usually is about making the fans happy, so New Day or Heavy Machinery will probably win the Tag Team Turmoil match. Since New Day got beat here, I think they are the favorites in that match also because they get the SD Tag Team Title match next week. This meaningless post match angle that took up two minutes is why they timed the match poorly. I’d rather see more of the match.
There was a shot of Rey Mysterio, Cain Velasquez and Dominick standing backstage getting ready for their segment coming up later.
A video package aired hyping up Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury at Crown Jewel on Thursday. They did an angle at the Performance Center this week with Fury hurting his ankle after Strowman gave him a shoulder tackle.
Analysis: It was a great video package, but I’m not sure if I care about the match. I’m probably picking Fury to win.
Lacey Evans made her entrance in her ring gear with Camron Connors in the ring.
Evans said she has too much respect for herself as a woman and an athlete to entertain with the idea of competing with this nasty thing. Evans said she knew this woman was scared to death about how bad Evans is going to beat her up. Evans ripped on the fans saying they don’t deserve to watch her in action anyhow. Evans told the referee to start this match.
Lacey Evans vs. Camron Connors
The bell rang, Evans walked out of the ring and the referee counted her out as Evans waved at the fans. When the referee reached nine, Evans ran back in the ring and hit a Woman’s Right punch. Evans pinned Connors for the pinfall win after about 35 seconds.
Winner by pinfall: Lacey Evans
Analysis: There’s no point in rating that. It was just a squash match to put over Evans with just one move. Evans needs a rival on this show and they need to do more with her than just winning a short match.
Nikki Cross was shown backstage doing an interview with Michael Cole talking to her. Cross gets a future SD Women’s Title match against Bayley. Cross said she has to face Mandy Rose and she has to face Mandy, who is beautiful and gorgeous like so many, but this isn’t a beauty pageant, it’s Friday Night Smackdown.
Analysis: There wasn’t much to that promo. Do we really need people telling us what show we are watching? Give us more meaningful promos, please.
The Firefly Fun House is next.
A commercial aired hyping up Total Divas. When they returned, Cole said he liked Graves on that show. Graves just smiled and said nothing.
A replay aired of Seth Rollins beating up Bray Wyatt and burning down the Firefly Fun House on Raw two weeks ago.
Firefly Fun House with Bray Wyatt
There was a framed photo of Rambling Rabbit along with some tears. Bray Wyatt was there with Huskus, Abbey and Mercy the Buzzard. Wyatt was sad saying they lost Rambling Rabbit. The puppets all trashed Rambling Rabbit in their own way. Wyatt opened the “casket” and told the bloody carcass of Rambling Rabbit that he loved him and then he kissed him. There were some awkward noises, which led to Rambling Rabbit coming alive again. Rabbit said it was hot and there was a muscle man in a suit. Wyatt said all you had to do was believe and Mercy ate Rabbit. Wyatt smiled. Wyatt said that’s all we have for today, see you at Crown Jewel. That was it.
Analysis: It wasn’t that interesting. I would say congrats to Rambling Rabbit for not being dead, but congratulating puppets is weird. This did nothing to make me more excited about Wyatt vs. Rollins at Crown Jewel in six days.
There was another reminder that it’s going to be Seth Rollins vs. The Fiend Bray Wyatt at Crown Jewel for the Universal Title.
Lucha House Party entered for a match while Drew Gulak was already in the ring. A pre-match promo was shown from Lucha House Party talking about how excited they are to be on Smackdown.
Kalisto (w/Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado) vs. Drew Gulak
Gulak introduced us to who he is by saying he was a former Cruiserweight Champion. Gulak said he wanted to finish his Powerpoint Presentation from last week. Gulak said he had ways of how Strowman can beat Fury at Crown Jewel. When Gulak asked for slide number two, Kalisto hit a dropkick. Kalisto with a kick to the face and a headscissors. Kalisto charged, Gulak caught him and hit a spinebuster. Braun Strowman’s music hit. Strowman walked down to the ring and Kalisto hit the Salida del Sol on Gulak for the win. Let’s call it two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kalisto
Analysis: 1/2* That’s how you book a match where the result means nothing. They got a few minutes, but what they did in the match didn’t mean shit. I hate when they book matches like that since this was just about Gulak looking like a loser after Strowman entered.
Post match, Strowman grabbed Gulak while LHP left the ringside area. Strowman picked up Gulak and gave him the running Powerslam. The fans chanted “one more time” so Strowman picked up Gulak and gave him another Powerslam.
Strowman: “You see this? This is what happens when you disrespect me, but at least this man deserves to be in this ring unlike you, Tyson Fury. That’s why at WWE Crown Jewel, I’m going to send your ass where you belong when you get these hands.” Strowman left.
Analysis: This was about putting over Strowman in a big way while Gulak is once again the guy that gets a beating just like last week. A solid promo from Strowman that was what it needed to be as he’s confident heading into his Crown Jewel match against Tyson Fury.
Daniel Bryan was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
Daniel Bryan Interview
Daniel Bryan made his entrance after Michael Cole introduced him. The fans greeted the 5-time WWE World Champion Daniel Bryan with some “yes” chants, but not as loud as it used to be. Bryan was in his street clothes.
It was mentioned by Cole that Bryan was accused of indecent acts, his friend Erick Rowan turned on him and Rowan was drafted to Smackdown. Cole noted that last week, Bryan pinned Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and when that happened, the arena erupted in “yes” chants. The crowd chanted “yes” right on cue, but not as loud as last week’s crowd. Cole asked if the “yes movement” back? Before Bryan could say anything, Shinsuke Nakamura showed up with the IC Title and Sami Zayn was with him.
Nakamura and Zayn stood on the ramp. Zayn said on behalf of Nakamura, he holds no ill feelings towards the fact that Bryan pinned Nakamura in the middle of the ring. Zayn said before you answer Cole’s ridiculous question, Zayn has something to show Bryan from a couple of months ago.
There was a clip from last November where Bryan said that the old Daniel Bryan that these people loved is dead, the “Yes Movement” is dead and all that’s left is the new Daniel Bryan.
Zayn said that watching that footage breaks his heart because when Bryan ended the Yes Movement, they booed him. Zayn said he’s known him for a long time and said that the New Daniel Bryan was really the “real” Daniel Bryan. Zayn said that Bryan is a good man, an honorable man while the people are no good and they have no honor. Zayn said that Bryan genuinely cares about the environment while these people just consume because they don’t care about anybody but themselves. Zayn and Nakamura went in the ring. Zayn told Bryan he’s too good for these people. Zayn said that Bryan has a lot in common with Nakamura and Zayn because Zayn is a vegan just like Bryan. Zayn said that Nakamura cares about the planet too. Zayn talked about how what links them together is when it comes to what they do in the ring, they are true artists. Zayn reminded Bryan he is one of the greatest artists to ever do this. Zayn said that Bryan can either go backwards to revive the “Yes Movement” so these nitwits can chant “yes, yes, yes” again. The other option is Bryan can move on, he can move forward and join Nakamura with Zayn because he promises they can take Bryan’s career to new heights. Zayn said they could offer so much more than these people ever could. Zayn asked if you “want to move backwards with them or forward with us?” Zayn extended his hand for a shake while Bryan thought about it. The fans were mostly chanting “no” at Bryan as Daniel thought about it.
Bryan walked in between Nakamura and Zayn and left the ring without a saying a word. Bryan’s music played to end it as he looked back towards the ring.
Analysis: Bryan said no words during the interview as the mystery continues about whether the “Yes Movement” has returned. I thought Zayn was terrific in his promo as the heel that tried to convince Bryan to remain a heel by joining them. Bryan saying nothing means they will drag this out for another week and probably save the “Yes Movement” return for next week or perhaps further down the line. I’m all for a Bryan/Nakamura rivalry too. That will be awesome.
Team Hogan was getting ready backstage.
Nikki Cross was shown walking backstage for her match up next.
A video aired about a woman named Holly who works for WWE. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat cancer and she’s a survivor. Her message is you are braver than you think, stronger than you seem and loved more than you know. Congrats to her.
The end of Mandy Rose’s entrance was shown. Graves doesn’t get excited about Rose anymore since Total Divas shows that he is dating Carmella, so I guess he has to behave now. Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley and her friend Sasha Banks were on commentary. Nikki Cross made her entrance as she ran down to the ring.
Mandy Rose (w/Sonya Deville) vs. Nikki Cross
Rose decked Cross with a forearm followed by kicks against the turnbuckle. Rose grabbed Cross by the hair and tossed her across the ring. Those Mandy shorts are the highlight of the match. Cross got a headscissors, but Rose came back with another forearm for two. Bayley talked about how she’s the same woman and just because she changed her look doesn’t change anything about her. Rose hit a fallaway slam for a two count. Rose sent Cross out of the ring, Deville decked Cross with a punch and that got a two count for Rose. Bayley mentioned wanting to face other women while complaining about how many times she has faced Charlotte Flair and how she’s already beat Nikki Cross. Cross started her comeback with forearms to the face, a corner splash and a bulldog. Cross went up top and hit a cross body block for two. Rose tried a rollup, Cross rolled through for two, Cross kicked Deville off the apron and Cross got a rollup on Rose for two. Cross followed that with a swinging neckbreaker for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Nikki Cross
Analysis: *3/4 The match was decent with Rose in control for most of it until Cross made the predictable comeback to win. The result made sense since Cross is next in line for a SD Women’s Title shot. I’d like to see Rose get more of a sustained push, but it’s not happening now.
Ric Flair was shown talking to Corbin, Cesaro, Nakamura and Zayn in anticipation of the main event still to come.
Cain Velasquez and Rey Mysterio were shown walking backstage for their segment up next.
Analysis: Rey Mysterio was drafted to Raw. Based on WWE’s own rules for the WWE Draft recently, he shouldn’t be allowed on Smackdown. Nobody tries to explain it, of course.
A replay aired of Brock Lesnar beating Rey Mysterio and his son Dominick on Raw a month ago.
There was a clip of the Riyadh Season Grand Opening Parade last week that included an appearance for The Undertaker. This was shown on Raw as well.
Face to Face with Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar
Cain Velasquez made his entrance with Rey Mysterio, who still had his arm in a sling.
Mysterio talked about how his son Dominick was beaten down in this very ring by Lesnar. Mysterio said that Dominick showed that he is as tough as they come and his son is a Mysterio. Rey said that nobody can be strong enough to take the kind of whooping that Lesnar gave him and Rey called it the worst day of his life because he was not able to help his own blood. Mysterio said that Dominick is doing better, little by little and it’s because of all of our support, so Rey thanked the fans. Mysterio said that Dominick also wanted to confirm that no one, not even Brock Lesnar, will interfere with Dominick’s dream of entering this ring to become a WWE superstar. The fans cheered.
Mysterio said that Lesnar has done whatever he’s wanted, whenever he’s wanted. Mysterio said it’s time for Lesnar to pay for what he did to Rey’s son. Mysterio said next Thursday, his familia Cain Velasquez is going to drop Lesnar once again and put a scar on the other side of his face. Mysterio called Lesnar to come on out there to get this face to face.
There was no entrance for Lesnar. Instead, Lesnar was on the Titantron with Paul Heyman and shown on video backstage. Heyman wasn’t interested in having a face to face with Velasquez. Heyman reminded us again that Velasquez put a scar on Lesnar’s face. Heyman said that Lesnar had other things to do tonight than go face to face with Velasquez. The fans booed, Heyman said no booing (but that’s what they did) and Heyman asked if you can guess what Lesnar has been doing. Heyman asked them to guess where Lesnar has been. Mysterio called out Lesnar to come face to face. Heyman asked them to ask to whom did Lesnar do what he’s been doing. There were more boos from the crowd.
Lesnar picked up Dominick, who looked like he had been beaten up by Lesnar. Lesnar laughed while holding Dominick by the chin and he put Dominick down. Mysterio and Velasquez left the ring.
Analysis: It was a classic WWE swerve where they say it’s going to be a Face to Face and avoid doing it. This was obvious as soon Lesnar and Heyman were shown on the video screen. Mysterio’s promo was good. He’s been delivering quality promos consistently during this storyline. In this case, I think Velasquez talking about why he wants to beat Lesnar would have been good. We have barely heard Velasquez speak, so I think they should have had him do more than just stand there while Rey spoke for him. The cheap attack on Dominick is fine as a cheap heat angle. I just think they could have made people care more about Lesnar/Velasquez if they did something physical or even a staredown. I’m not sure if the fans were booing the heel actions of Lesnar and Heyman or booing because they knew the Face to Face wasn’t going to happen.
There was a scene with Mysterio and Velasquez checking on Dominick on a trainer’s table while a “trainer” and Producer Pat Buck were there. Lesnar showed up with a trash can, he hit Velasquez and Mysterio with the trash can. Lesnar picked up Mysterio and gave him an F5 onto another trainer’s table in the room. Lesnar put Velasquez onto his shoulders and gave him an F5 onto Dominick, who was laying down on a table. That led to Lesnar leaving the room while Mysterio, Velasquez and Dominick were all writhing in pain on the floor. Replays aired of what Lesnar did.
Analysis: At least we got to see that attack, so it was better than what happened before the break. This also got Lesnar some more cheap heat for the attack.
The announce team of Cole and Graves talked about Lesnar’s action by pointing out that Lesnar has waited nine years to get this revenge on Velasquez. They put over how aggressive Lesnar was.
The entrances took place for the main event. Ric Flair’s group of Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura with Sami Zayn were joined by Cesaro and “King” Baron Corbin.
Hulk Hogan’s team was next as Hogan entered along with Jimmy Hart, who had the megaphone with him. Shorty G was next wearing his new ring attire, which is like a basketball tank top that had “G” on it and basketball shorts. Ali was next followed by Roman Reigns as the last man for the team. The Reigns entrance looks cooler now thanks to the pyro that’s part of his entrance.
The bell rang to start the match with about 15 minutes left in the show.
Roman Reigns, Shorty G and Ali (w/Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin and Cesaro (w/Ric Flair and Sami Zayn)
The heels cleared the ring early on with Cesaro hitting Shorty with an uppercut. Corbin and Reigns went into the ring as the legal men, which led to Reigns sending Corbin to the turnbuckle. Reigns did the classic ten punches in the corner, then a boot to the face and a Samoan Drop. When Nakamura tagged in, Reigns greeted him with a punch, Drive By kick by Reigns to Corbin and another Reigns punch to Nakamura. Shorty worked on the left arm of Nakamura with Cole commenting on Shorty’s basketball uniform attire. Ali tagged in with a dropkick on Nakamura. A spin kick connected by Nakamura on Ali and Cesaro tagged in to prevent Ali from tagging out. Ali came back with a headscissors takedown, which drew cheers, but Cesaro came back with a gutwrench suplex on Ali. Cesaro sent Ali to the corner, Ali came back with a kick to the head and a sitout X-Factor got a two count. Nakamura with a distraction, so Cesaro dumped Ali over the top to the floor. Corbin got the tag, clothesline on Ali on the floor and that led to the break.
The heels were in control against Ali with Nakamura slapping on a chinlock and knocking Shorty off the apron. Cesaro tagged in, Ali went for a Tornado DDT, Cesaro blocked and then Ali managed to hit the DDT. The crowd was rooting on Ali while Hogan hit the mat repeatedly to encourage Ali to make the tag. Corbin went to the other side of the ring and pulled Reigns off the apron. Corbin sent Reigns into the barricade. Hogan yelled at Corbin, who just ran back to the other side. Ali hit Corbin with a step-up enziguri. Shorty got the tag with a cross body block off the top on Corbin and Shorty with an Exploder Suplex. Cole called him Gable, Shorty with a running kick on Corbin, then a swinging a neckbreaker and Shorty hit a moonsault off the top rope for a two count. The crowd thought that might be it. Shorty with a belly to belly overhead suplex on Cesaro to send him out of the ring. Shorty put an Ankle Lock on Corbin, so Nakamura made the save with a running kick or knee on Shorty. Nakamura tagged in as the heels teased a double suplex on Shorty, but Shorty fought back with a double missile dropkick. Reigns got the hot tag to a big pop. Reigns with a clothesline on Cesaro, then a rollup into a sitout Powerbomb by Reigns for a two count. Reigns set up for the Superman Punch, but Cesaro caught him and slapped on the Cesaro Swing leading to a Sharpshooter by Cesaro. Ali saved Reigns with a kick to Cesaro. Corbin with a Deep Six Slam on Ali, Shorty with a dropkick that sent Corbin over the top to the floor. Nakamura with a reverse Exploder Suplex on Shorty. Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Nakamura. That left Reigns alone with Cesaro again, which led to Cesaro with a kick to counter a Spear, then an uppercut punch and that got a two count. When Cesaro went for a springboard attack, Reigns hit a Superman Punch followed by a Spear. Reigns saw Ali on the apron, so he tagged him in and Ali went up top. Ali hit the 450 Splash on Cesaro for the pinfall win after 15 minutes. That final sequence drew a lot of cheers from the fans.
Winners by pinfall: Roman Reigns, Shorty G and Ali
Analysis: ***1/4 This was the usual formula for a WWE six-man tag team match where there’s a face in peril, build up to the hot tag, then do the sequence of big moves and go to the finish. If you’ve seen it once in WWE, you’ve seen it hundreds of times. I like how Shorty was booked in the match because he was impressive showing off his various offensive moves. Reigns letting Ali hit the finisher was a nice way of putting over Ali a bit. The heel side worked well together. It was no surprise that Cesaro took the pinfall since he’s not in the Team Hogan vs. Team Flair match at Crown Jewel because Cesaro is facing Mansoor. Anyway, the crowd cared about the match, so that’s another positive thing about it.
The team of Reigns, Ali and Shorty celebrated the win in the ring with Hogan and Jimmy Hart joining them. The show ended there.
Analysis: I expect Team Hogan to win over Team Flair at Crown Jewel too.
Next week on Smackdown as announced on WWE’s social media this evening:
* Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin
* The Revival defend the Smackdown Tag Team Titles vs. The New Day (even though New Day lost on this show)
* Bayley, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville vs. Nikki Cross, Carmella and Dana Brooke
* Miz TV with Bray Wyatt as the guest
Three Stars of the Show
Shorty G – I think I just feel bad for his name and his look, so he can be first since nobody really stood out.
4.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2019 Average: 6.66 – The devil! (Raw is 5.84)
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 6, 7, 6.5, 7
2019 High: 8.5 (February 26)
2019 Low: 4.5 (October 25)
I give this week’s Smackdown a 4.5 out of 10.
This was a bad show. I don’t want to be negative, but it’s hard to find a lot of things on this episode that I really liked. The main event was the standard six-man tag team match WWE does all the time with the faces making the big comeback to win. I really liked Sami Zayn’s promo trying to convince Daniel Bryan to join his side, but we got no answer from Bryan. That’s fine because it’s a long-term story.
I’m not sure what happened to the WWE Creative team in terms of trying to put on good matches on Smackdown. The match quality was way below average this week. The four matches other than the main event were disappointing. Smackdown used to have 3 or 4 matches over 10 minutes on every show. This week we got four matches under six minutes and the match that got six minutes was chopped in half by the commercial. I’m fine with less in-ring action if the storylines are good, but that wasn’t the case this week. The storylines are boring.
I hope things get better after Crown Jewel because this was a poor effort by WWE. I really hope it’s not Raw vs. Smackdown at Survivor Series because that’s not going to be interesting. The quality of WWE shows should be better than this.
The next WWE PPV is Crown Jewel on Thursday, October 31. Here’s the official lineup so far.
WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Cain Velasquez
Falls Count Anywhere Match for the Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt – This match “can’t be stopped for any reason.”
Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury
Five on Five Tag Team Match: Team Hulk Hogan (Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ricochet, Ali and Shorty G) vs. Team Ric Flair (Randy Orton, Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Shinsuke Nakamura and Drew McIntyre)
Tag Team Turmoil Match: The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods), Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder), The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar), Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, Heavy Machinery (Tucker and Otis), Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado), The OC (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson), and The B Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel)
United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Winner of Battle Royal
Cesaro vs. Mansoor
20-Man Battle Royal
WWE Crown Jewel emanates from the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, streaming live Thursday, Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. ET / 8 AST on WWE Network. The WWE Crown Jewel Kickoff begins at 12 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. AST on WWE Network, WWE.com, the WWE App, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Twitch.
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