The biggest question looming over Smackdown was; How in the world can they top the almighty craziness that was NXT on Wednesday??. This episode had to deliver in spades, not just because NXT had a killer show before it, but also because of its current status as the “A-show”. So, did it deliver or was it another installment of the “Blue & Bland” show?.
Let’s get to it…
Sasha Banks Promo Time
After a cold open featuring all the Smackdown roster standing together (for the brand loyalty bulls*it) and Roman Reigns inviting everyone, Sasha took her women’s team to the ring and cut a promo. It was nothing special, but was fiery enough to summon team RAW led by Charlotte Flair (by the way they were walking to the rings like 5 ducks in a row) to challenge Sasha into a 1 on 1 match. However, NXT came around led by Rhea Rhipley and she challenged both of them to a captain vs captain vs captain match. Following that, a brawl breaks out and we go to commercial. I wasn’t keen on this until NXT arrived, as i really like Rhea’s charismatic figure and also, Toni Storm is there on the team which took me by (very good actually!) surprise.
Sasha Banks vs Rhea Rhipley vs Charlotte Flair
If WWE has taught us any thing in the last couple of years, it is that they can not in any way have Charlotte Flair lose clean. The match itself didn’t get past the first gear and it was hampered by a couple of things: First, the match felt like it is Sasha vs Charlotte with Rhipley being added in for numbers’ sake. Second, why would the Smackdown women’s team almost implode mid-match, with Cross and Banks coming to blows, only for everything to settle right post-commercial. Finally, what is a win in that fashion for Rhea Rhipley going to achieve for her? absolutely nothing. The only thing good about that win actually, is the pin (which was really innovative in my opinion).
Post-match, RAW and Smackdown women’s teams brawl while NXT’s are watching from up the stage. Overall, this was a middling match, which is not to say that was bad, but also lower than my personal (and i guess lots of fans) expectations for it particularly for Rhea Rhipley. By the way, the commentary still played it up like we can’t figure out that the NXT ladies who appeared on the show will be the team on Sunday. I guess Michael Cole thinks we are stupid.
Backstage: Baron Corbin is planning for the main-event of him, Ziggler & Roode vs Reigns/Ali/CHAD GABLE, gets confronted by Sami Zayn who calls him out to the ring.
Bayley is interviewed by Kayla Braxton and puts out the challenge for Becky Lynch and Shayna Bazsler
Sami Zayn Promo Time/Undisputed Era Promo Time/New Day Promo Time
Sorry that the title was so long, but there is a lot to unpack here. First, Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura came out to the ring, with Zayn cutting a hilarious promo as usual before unveiling a new Intercontinental Championship belt and gave it to Nakamura (by the way the belt looked cool). Then, Undisputed Era came out and Adam Cole cut a promo (which he should have been always doing whenever they appear), before the New Day came out to cut a promo themselves and set up a 4 on 4 match next alongside Heavy Machinery against the Undisputed Era.
This segment worked really well because it wrapped up a couple of thing nicely. It introduced a new championship belt without lots of unnecessary teases and announcements, set up a match for the night, and shed the spotlight on the Undisputed Era. As Adam Cole would say “BOOM!”.
Undisputed Era vs Heavy Machinery/New Day
This was a lot of fun indeed. It started off pretty hot from Big E, then settled into a nice rythme after Kofi Kingston got the tag. From that point, UE worked over Kofi for a long period, but because they are so good, it worked perfectly. Once Otis got the “HOT” tag, the match went wild, with UE taking out Kofi and Big E on the outside it became a 2 on 4 basically. After some really good sequences between Heavy Machinery and UE, Roderick Strong picked up the win for his faction, pinning Tucker. This was effective as Heavy Machinery won’t be part of the show on Sunday, and also a well-booked match baring in mind that UE are going to wrestle 3 nights in a row, counting Smackdown. Thumbs up!.
But the fun didn’t stop, as Strong went to face Nakamura (who was watching all along) but got jumped by AJ Styles. Then, Sami Zayn blasted both he and Strong with chairshots (The AJ one looked nasty) to FLEE tall i guess as they ran away to end the segment. This was so much fun.
AJ Styles and The O.C cut a promo from underneath the stage. They trashed Chicago and got CM Punk chants. It was fine.
Daniel Bryan summons Bray Wyatt/Daniel Bryan vs The Miz
Originally, D-Bry was supposed to call out Bray Wyatt, but he got The Miz instead. After they trash-talked each other for a while, including a slap from Miz to Bryan, we had a match after the break. The match was nothing to write home about, but one really nice wrinkle to it is that the commentary kept mentioning Daniel Bryan’s past with Bray, and how he infiltrated his family years ago.
What you need to know is that The Fiend eventually showed up, crucially as Daniel Bryan was leaning into the YES! chant. He laid him out and left standing tall. This segment wasn’t exactly the electric go-home segment you would expect for these two, but such was the rushed build for this match which could have benefited from a couple of weeks more to give it more depth. Still i’m excited to see it on Sunday.
Shayna Baszler Promo Time
Shayna Baszler came out to the ring, and cut a promo on Bayley. She was intense in laying the challenge to the Smackdown Women’s champion, who (befittingly) attacked her from behind. However, Shayna managed to turn it around only for Bayley to capitalize and escape her clutch. This segment as a whole felt underwhelming, as fans clearly were waiting for Becky to come out and be part of the brawl, which was heatless in of itself. Hopefully though, the match will deliver IN SPADES ( because Shayna is the Queen of spades, see!) between the ropes considering how good the three ladies are in the ring.
Roman Reigns/Mustafa Ali/CHAD GABLE vs Baron Corbin/Dolph Ziggler/Robert Roode
This was a fun 6-man tag as WWE would usually book those. However, it was damaged (not hampered) as an entire angle by a couple of factors. First, Ali losing in his hometown (do you ever learn WWE?), which is complete waste if it doesn’t play into anything. Second, after the match was over, RAW came out led By Seth Rollins to start a big brawl with the Smackdown guys, while the crowd chanted NXT (brand loyalty my a**).
NXT eventually showed up, all fired up and led by … DX??!!!. I mean, it was a cool throwback visual to 1998 when the original DX “invaded” WCW monday nitro, but it lacks convenience. If Triple H is so keen on having that visual, let Undisputed Era be the leaders not Shawn Michaels and Road Dogg. Those two won’t be anywhere near a match on Sunday so why have them even appear, HHH alone even would have been too much. The short story, NXT/RAW/Smackdown got into one messy brawl. The last visual to close the show was Keith Lee showdown with Braun Strowman, which actually grabbed my interest to see them collide on Sunday. Overall this was a crazy go-home angle, yet unconvincing and when scrutinized, underwhelming.
This episode can not top NXT’s great mix of in-ring action and wildness, and while NXT was more successful in building two PPVs not one, Smackdown fell a bit short in just building Survivor Series. Surely, Sunday will be a treat when it comes to in-ring work, but as far as investment goes, Brock Lesnar vs Rey Mysterio and Bray Wyatt vs Daniel Bryan are the matches that i’m interested in, which proves that brand loyalty is utter bullocks (to quote Becky Lynch who she was heavily missed on the show). Overall, a roller-coaster of an episode with average wrestling and too much brand loyalty BS to bear leading into Survivor Series.
Final rating: 6.5/10 (just because NXT won the matches they were involved in)