The bizarre flight situation that occurred after Crown Jewel has certainly cast its shadow over this episode of the show, with numerous advertised matches and segments being cancelled. Instead, WWE promised a lot of surprises to fill in for the anticipated absences of the likes of Roman Reigns, and THE NEW UNIVERSAL CHAMPION (yes!!) Bray Wyatt. However, will these surprises make the show any better or will it drag the show ??. Certainly, the real metric will be the TV ratings. With that said let’s get to the review.
Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman
One of the issues post Crown Jewel (aside from the mechanical ones of course), was that both top champions were on the same brand. So, the question was how they will solve this. To be fair, the solution was creative. Paul Heyman opened the show, recapped what happened in that disaster of two minutes his client had with Cain Velasquez, then managed to spin things around nicely.
He dropped the bomb; Brock Lesnar is quitting Smackdown. Paul explained that Brock wants revenge on Mysterio, who attacked him after the conclusion of his Crown Jewel bout. However, the contractual obligations prevent him from that. Paul Heyman sounded pissed off, a reflection of his client’s emotions too. Credit where it is due, WWE found a quick way to solve one of the many problems they have now. The easy thing now is for Lesnar to move to Raw and kick-start the true feud in this against Rey Mysterio. But, where is that going to leave Cain Velasquez??, I guess we will see.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels are backstage (Oh Yeah!! there is something good happening)
Bayley vs Nikki Cross: Smackdown Women’s title match.
The match started in a very decent fashion with Bayley taking control for a bit, then Nikki Cross making a small comeback that gets thwarted by Bayley. All of that was assisted by the cheap shots of Sasha Banks, who was at ringside interfering on her friend’s behalf. The crowd came up for Nikki Cross by the end as she battled both women for a while, but the numbers proved to be too much for her as Sasha pushed her from the top rope allowing Bayley to pick the bones.
It turns out, this was a backdrop. As Bayley was celebrating and Sasha was clapping for her, Shayna Baszler, the NXT women’s champion came and laid waste to everyone and left. Obviously, this was awesome and pretty unexpected and the beatdown was cool too. In fact, crowd was chanting NXT which makes it even better. I forgot to mention that Aiden English was on commentary, alongside Tom Phillips and Renee Young, then was replaced by Pat McAfee mid-show.
Backstage interview with Sami Zayn gets interrupted by Keith Lee and Matt Riddle. Then they chase him to the ring and beat him up. I guess this is his yearly punishment for not going for Saudi shows.
Miz TV/ The Miz vs Tomasso Ciampa
This is an inclusive entry, as the Miz TV segment led to this. Miz came out in a ring gear, telegraphing that he is wrestling on the night. He starts cutting a promo about NXT, after recapping Bray Wyatt’s title win at Crwon Jewel. Soon, he gets interrupted by Tomasso Ciampa, who cuts a really good promo and challenges Miz to a match which happened next.
Nobody should misunderstand this, the match was really good. However, The Miz probably took more offense than he should against someone like Ciampa, the top heel of NXT. The action was really good, with both men knowing their roles in the ring very well. But, the match felt too competitive for my taste when it should have been a five-minute sprint that ends with Ciampa winning. Tomasso’s appearance was cool and the crowd reacted to him as well, but the match is slightly underwhelming considering he appeared on the main roster earlier this year and didn’t make much impact back then.
Backstage: Daniel Bryan confronts HHH and Shawn Michaels. teases fight for a second but Adam Cole comes in (WTF!!) and D-Bry challenges him for an NXT championship match. We have our main-event set
Rhea Rhipley/Tegan Nox vs Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville
Originally, this was set to be Carmella/Dana Brooke vs Fire and desire but an attack on both by Bianca Belair left them laying (particulary an impressive gorilla press throw on Carmella). This left an opening for Rhea Rhipley and Tegan Nox to take their spots and beat them quickly to stand tall.
While it was good that they won, this should have been the competitive match to showcase NXT’s women’s division which is awesome as well as Sonya Deville and Mandy who are coming to their own as wrestlers. I feel bad for Sonya Deville in particular, who is really underrated. However, the angle was effective in my opinion despite the minor reaction from the fans.
Daniel Bryan vs Adam Cole: NXT championship match
This main-event came outta nowhere (like an RKO), but it was so good to see. Prior to the match, HHH/Shawn Michaels came out and then Stephanie came out to talk about the first ever women’s wrestling match in Saudi Arabia. Once the match started though, you know instantly why this was a dream match.
Daniel Bryan was so intense, especially when looking at HHH, which made Adam Cole a proxy for him to vent his rage and intensity on. They traded about everything, from strikes, kicks, to ground based submission. The momentum was seesawing between the champion and his challenger, with Bryan working out Cole for a submission, while Cole was always looking for the last shot. The final few minutes of this match were pure euphoria, with incredible near falls and submission attempts from D-Bry. However, Adam Cole eventually found an opening to hit a super-kick, Panama sunrise, and a last shot for a clean win over Daniel Bryan.
This was an amazing main-event, easily on of the best TV matches all year, and the best so far in the FOX era. After that, Triple H gathered his “army” of NXT superstars to cut a promo drawing up the battle lines for Survivor Series. That was a great match and ending for the show.
This episode of NXT (sorry), I mean Smackdown felt different for sure because of the NXT “Invasion” which gave us some great moments overall. Ciampa/Riddle/Lee/Belair/Rhipley/Nox appearances felt a little bit underwhelming. However, Adam Cole vs Daniel Bryan was a scintillating main-event. Overall, the episode flew by very fast though this brand-loyalty storyline involving now NXT doesn’t really entice me.
Final rating: 8/10 (only because of how great the main-event was)
This is only one man’s opinion after all, tell us yours in the comments or reach out on twitter @OGouesmiHellRaiser. Till next week.