SmackDown on Fox Episode #1
SmackDown Episode # 1,050
Los Angeles, CA – Staples Center
It has been over a year since the announcement was made and now we have finally made it to the night when SmackDown returns to network television on Friday nights as it makes it’s long awaited premiere on the Fox network. Not only will SmackDown be celebrating the move to Fox but it will also be celebrating its 20th Anniversary. This won’t just be any season premiere as WWE announced that this will be a star studded event with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, and the man whom’s catchphrase the show was built around Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson featured on the show. In addition there is a stacked card for the show including a WWE Championship match that features Brock Lesnar wrestling on TV for the first time in 15 years.
Prior to SmackDown there was a half hour pre show from outside of the Staples Center that showed the superstars arriving at the arena and walking the blue carpet. There were also several interviews with various superstars who gave their thoughts on SmackDown moving to Fox. Renee Young and Booker T interviewed New Day which led to the big reveal of the brand new SmackDown set which is huge and looks better than the new Raw set that was revealed earlier this week. WWE did a great job of using both their own announcers as well as announcers from Fox to conduct these interviews, I hope this continues as it makes WWE feel major league to have real sports announcers like Erin Andrews involved in the product. I will give the Fox announcers credit as on this night it felt like they were treating this show as an equal to any other sport they cover and didn’t come off as if the show were below them which was a relief after the Rey Mysterio and Nacho Libre comparisons that were made last week.
SmackDown opens with Vince and Stephanie McMahon coming out onto the stage to welcome us to the show and then it cuts to the new SmackDown intro video which looked really good and the theme “Are You Ready” by AC/DC was a really good choice of song for the show.
We are shown the announcers and much to my surprise there is no Renee Young. I was under the impression that she would still be at the announce table but would have a different role, but that wasn’t to be so to say that I was disappointed to only see Michael Cole and Cory Graves sitting there would be an understatement. The fact that SmackDown is now a two man booth has to mean that Jerry Lawler eventually gets the boot from the Raw announce team pretty soon and that will be a great improvement as I do believe that Vic Joseph and Dio Maddin can handle things on the red brand all by themselves.
“The Man” Becky Lynch comes out to start the show and talks about how much she loves SmackDown and how SmackDown is where she broke through the glass ceiling and became who she is today and the fans helped her the entire time and she wants to repay the favor by kicking some ass tonight. Becky is interrupted by King Corbin, but before he can even enter the ring he is interrupted by “The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment” The Rock.
The Rock and Becky make jokes at Corbin’s expense which include Rock calling him a “broke-ass Burger King on crack”. Corbin tries to retort but it’s no use as Rock and Becky tear him a new one at every chance. Rock tells Corbin not to take the whole king gimmick so seriously, after all you don’t see Becky walking around carrying a giant pair of testicles to which Becky replies that if she did, they would be way bigger than the set that Corbin has. The Rock actually let Becky hit his “It Doesn’t Matter What You Think” line which got a nice pop from the crowd. Rocky runs down Corbin’s accomplishments and Becky suggests that Rock is trying to say that Corbin is a Super Tough Dude and Rock agrees with that, in fact, he says that from now on when Corbin enters any arena the fans will be chanting STD at him and Becky replies that that will indeed stick to Corbin for life. Corbin starts taking off his robe and crown and then goes to attack Rock but Becky grabs him and both Becky and The Rock beat up on Corbin with Becky hitting her rotating leg drop and The Rock hitting both a People’s Elbow and a Rock Bottom before closing the segment with “If Ya Smell What The Rock Is Cooking” and celebrating with Becky.
This was a really fun way to open the show and a great use of The Rock to put Becky over even more than she already is as she went out there and was seen as equal to one of the biggest stars in WWE history and currently one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. This segment added more fuel to the rocket that is pushing Becky to the moon. According to rumors this segment was originally supposed to be just Rock and Corbin, but The Rock requested to work with Becky, if this is true that is huge for Becky as this would be the third WWE legend to endorse her on tv as both John Cena and Steve Austin have done so previously with Austin even allowing Becky to give him the Stunner on his own “Straight Up Steve Austin” show.
We come back from a commercial and we cut to the crowd for the first of many celebrity sightings of the evening as we see the beautiful Trish Stratus, Lita, & Maria Menounos who is now rocking pink hair.
Match #1: Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks & Bayley
Bayley takes a cheap shot at Becky, who is in the corner, but Charlotte makes her pay for that as she delivers some chops and kicks to Bayley in the corner. Charlotte tries for her version of the snap suplex, but Bayley counters and slams Charlotte to the mat by her hair before dragging her into the corner and tagging in Sasha. Sasha and Bayley send Charlotte hard into the corner and then Sasha follows up with a snapmare and a running meteora to a seated Charlotte which got a 2 count. Charlotte comes back with a series of chops until she loses focus for a second which allows Sasha to get out of the ring and onto the apron where she tries for a shoulder block but Charlotte moves and lands a couple of kicks that send Sasha to the floor. Charlotte goes up to the top but Bayley tries to cut her off only to be knocked to the floor by a forearm from Becky, however Bayley quickly recovers and shoves Charlotte off the top and to the floor as we go to commercial with Sasha and Bayley celebrating what they had just done to Charlotte.
As we come back from commercial Charlotte is in the ring with Bayley and it seems like Charlotte must have been worked over during the break as we quickly get a hot tag to Becky. Becky hits a clothesline on Bayley and then goes after Sasha but she drops down off the apron Becky delivers some strikes in the corner on Becky and then takes her down with a running shoulder block. Becky catches Bayley and hits her with a Bexplex before attempting to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her but Sasha comes in to distract Becky and this allows Bayley to take control for a second before Becky is right back in control with a kick to the head and a leg drop off the middle rope on Bayley for a 2 count. Becky turns her attention to Sasha which allows Bayley to attempt to get a surprise win with a school girl rollup but Becky kicks out and hits a basement dropkick on Bayley. Beky runs at Bayley but Bayley is ready for her as she flapjacks her down onto the top rope, thankfully for Becky this happened near her team’s corner so Charlotte makes a blind tag into the match. Charlotte hits a charging Bayley with a backbreaker and then hits Natural Selection which could have gotten the win, however Sasha breaks up the pin. Becky gets back to her feet and we have a staredown between Becky and Sasha before they start trading punches which is broken up by Bayley momentarily until Charlotte comes over and now all four women are fighting it out. Charlotte hits the snap suplex she was looking for earlier on Bayley while Becky takes down Sasha and then comes off the top with a dropkick that sends Sasha rolling out of the ring for a breather. That breather wouldn’t last long as Charlotte climbs up top once again and takes out both of her opponents with a diving moonsault. Charlotte rolls Bayley back into the ring and locks Bayley into the Figure Eight and it isn’t long before Bayley is tapping out giving the babyfaces the win. Becky and Charlotte celebrate their win while Bayley and Sasha lick their wounds on the outside.
Winners: Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch Match Rating: **3/4
When these four women are in the ring together you are never going to have a bad match, however compared to other matches they have had, this match was just ok as it wasn’t anything really special or groundbreaking but it served its purpose of showing the new Fox audience that the women in WWE are just as good as the men and that they are to be seen as on the same level as the guys. This match also did a good job of hyping the Raw Women’s Championship match between Sasha and Becky this Sunday at Hell in a Cell, it also gave a reason as to why Bayley and Charlotte will be facing each other Sunday (the match between Bayley and Charlotte was announced later that night) for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
We cut to the back to Erin Andrews who is interviewing The New Day about Kofi’s big WWE Championship match later on in the night. Erin asks Kofi his thoughts about people considering him the underdog in the match against Lesnar, Kofi explains that he has been considered the underdog in every match he has had since winning the WWE title but he just looks at every opponent as a mountain to climb and Brock Lesnar just happens to be that next mountain to climb and overcome. Erin asks if Xavier and Big E will be out there with Kofi and Xavier explains that Kofi wants to do this on his own, the interview finishes with the usual New Day hip swivel with Erin dancing along with them.
As we come back from break they show Tyson Fury in the crowd and then some highlights of the blue carpet event earlier in the evening. They then show Hall of Famers Mick Foley and Kurt Angle watching the show from ringside.
The WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins makes his way to the ring, but out of nowhere we are treated to an edition of the Firefly Funhouse. Bray introduces the Fox audience to all of his friends in the Funhouse including Ramblin Rabbit who is alive once again after being killed on Raw. Ramblin Rabbit is dressed up like Seth Rollins and says he is Seth’s biggest fan and warns him not to step inside Hell in a Cell with The Fiend. Bray decides to use Ramblin Rabbit to show Seth what will happen at Hell in a Cell, Ramblin Rabbit it placed inside a cage with Mercy the Buzzard who will be playing the part of The Fiend. Mercy rips Ramblin Rabbit into pieces before Bray picks up Ramblin Rabbit’s body and decapitated head and warns that history has a way of repeating itself and that it’s time for Rollins to hurt because everyone in the Funhouse has been hurting for too long.
Shinsuke Nakamura along with Sami Zayn make their entrance as we go to commercial break.
As the show comes back we see Hogan making his way to his seat beside Ric Flair.
Match #2: Seth Rollins vs Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Sami Zayn
As soon as the bell rings Nakamura locks in a flying armbar, but Rollins quickly powers up and gets to his feet before sending Nakamura into the corner. Nakamura rolls to the outside of the ring looking to regroup but Rollins takes him down with a series of suicide dives. Rollins rolls Nakamura back into the ring before Sami Zayn momentarily distracts Rollins allowing Nakamura to figure out a game plan. Rollins goes to pick up Nakamura but is met with a flurry of strikes, Rollins avoids being hit with a sliding knee and then hits Nakamura with a Slingblade. Nakamura is in the corner and sends a charging Rollins outside to the apron and tries for a kick but Rollins blocks it and hits one of his own that dazes Nakamura enough for Rollins to be able to hit a springboard knee and then a superkick that just glances off the side of Nakamura’s head. Rollins is looking for the Curb Stomp but before Nakamura can even get in position the lights start going out as The Fiend is fixing to make an appearance.
Winner: No Contest Match Rating: **1/4
The lights start flashing and both Seth Rollins (who has made his way up the ramp to the stage) and Nakamura who is still in the ring start looking around trying to find The Fiend before he finds them. The Fiend shows up behind Rollins and locks in the Mandible Claw before tossing Rollins off the stage.
I thought this whole segment from the Firefly Funhouse to the point where The Fiend locks in the Mandible Claw was really well done. The only complaint I have is that Rollins being thrown off the stage didn’t really connect as well as they wanted as it was kind of hard to tell what was going on due to the darkness and flashing lights. One thing about the Firefly Funhouse that I am interested in (other than wanting to see if they ever turn the puppets into actual characters) is what the deal is with Ramblin Rabbit as he is the only one who repeatedly goes against what Bray wants to hear and keeps pissing him off to the point where Bray is now killing the poor Rabbit on a constant basis and also we need a backstory as to why Rabbit has so many lives. As far as the actual match between Rollins and Nakamura I thought it was really good for the very short time they were given and would like to see more matches between these two.
Match #3: Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon (Ladder Match – Loser is Fired)
Kevin Owens doesn’t even get an entrance as he is already in the ring when we comes back from commercial. Shane makes his way to the ring but KO meets him in the aisle with punches before sending him into the steel steps. KO bridges a ladder between the ring and the barricade and slams Shane’s head into it multiple times. KO sets a ladder up in the ring and goes to climb it, but Shane quickly pulls him down and hits him with a Russian leg sweep. Shane then goes to climb the ladder but is pulled down quickly as well as KO hits him with a headbutt and then looks to throw a ladder at him but Shane ducks and the ladder goes flying to the outside. KO goes for a Stunner but Shane pushes him away so KO levels him with a clothesline instead. KO goes out and grabs the ladder he threw and then of nowhere Shane hits a baseball slide sending the ladder into KO. Shane hits KO with the ladder before cleaning off the announce table and laying KO on it, Shane beats KO down and hits him with the top piece of the announce table before going up top and delivering his signature elbow sending KO and himself through the table. We then go to commercial.
As we come back from commercial KO has miraculously recovered and has Shane laid out on the ladder he set up earlier between the ring and barricade, KO hits a big frog splash from the top rope through the ladder. KO sets up a new ladder in the ring and goes to climb it but somehow Shane is able to stop him by hitting him in the back of the leg with a chair. Shane hits KO with a couple of chair shots before setting him up in the corner with a ladder propped up against him and then Shane goes up and hits the Coast to Coast sending the ladder into the face of KO. Shane climbs the ladder once again and somehow KO musters the energy to get back to his feet and powerbomb Shane onto a ladder that was set up horizontally in the corner. KO climbs up and grabs the briefcase which saves his job and sends Shane O’ Mac to the unemployment line. After the match KO grabs Shane and tells him he’s fired before delivering a stunner.
Winner: Kevin Owens Match Rating: **3/4
If you are looking for a ladder match full of psychology and limb selling this is definitely not the match for you, but if you are looking for a crazy spot fest with hardly any transition moves in between those spots then this is for you as these two played their greatest hits and put on a wild match with crazy bumps. I look forward to seeing where KO goes from here and whether or not he will keep up the Stone Cold lite gimmick now that he won’t be feuding with a McMahon. We also have to wonder just how long it will be before Shane shows back up on tv, I’m giving it until next week as he will most likely be the Raw representative picking talent for the draft.
Kayla Braxton interviews Paul Heyman who talks about what happened on Raw when Brock Lesnar destroyed both Rey Mysterio and his son Dominick and says that both of them were in Brock’s way just like tonight Kofi is in Brock’s way and tonight Brock will get rid of Kofi Kingston.
Match #4: Braun Strowman, The Miz, & Heavy Machinery vs AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, & Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler and The Miz start things out and immediately Ziggler is able to hit a Zig Zag. Ziggler taunts Miz and looks to hit a Superkick, but Miz catches the leg and hits Ziggler with a DDT. Miz makes a hot tag to Braun who comes in and makes easy work of Ziggler as he squashes him in the corner, Braun goes for a cover that gets broken up and that is when everything breaks loose as we get everyone trading moves with the bigger stars getting to hit their finisher. Everyone is out of the ring except Braun and Ziggler. Braun runs around the ring hitting all his opponents with shoulder blocks. Braun then goes face to face with World Champion boxer Tyson Fury and Braun puts his fists up looking for a fight until Ziggler comes off the apron with an axe handle to the back of Braun which only stuns him momentarily as he quickly grabs Ziggler and sends him into the ring post and then into the barricade right in front of Tyson Fury and causes Fury to fall back into his chair. At this point Fury is getting pissed as Braun just laughs at him but this distraction allows Ziggler to hit one superkick, but as he goes for a second one Braun snatches him up and hits the powerslam for the win.
Winners: Braun Strowman, The MIz, & Heavy Machinery via Pinfall Match Rating: *1/4
As Braun is celebrating with his team Fury jumps the barricade and immediately security steps in to hold him back as Braun laughs in the ring.
I’m not sure if this match was really needed as there had to be some other way to set up Strowman vs Fury as it made guys like AJ Styles, Randy Orton, & The Miz feel so insignificant to be in a match where they were barely even in the ring, why couldn’t they have just used lower card guys instead of making some of their bigger stars look like extras in a movie. I thought at first that this will be a fun WrestleMania match for Braun that they just set up, but the fact that they are giving Fury a live mic on Raw must mean that they are going to do this match sooner than WrestleMania and that can only mean that we will be getting Strowman vs Fury at Crown Jewel in Saudia Arabia on Halloween Night and that is quite disappointing as this is a match that could’ve been a big draw for WrestleMania, but instead it will be wasted on a show that nobody cares to watch.
As we come back from commercial we see antics from earlier in the night where EDM DJ Marshmello is accidentally pushed into Carmella and ends up winning the 24/7 title.
Daniel Bryan will be on commentary for the next match.
Match #5: Roman Reigns vs Erick Rowan (Lumberjack Match)
Roman and Rowan lock up and Rowan is in control early as he hits Roman with a boot that sends him to the outside with the lumberjacks who beat up on Roman before rolling him back into the ring. Roman escapes a powerslam attempt and then ducks a clothesline only to deliver one of his own that sends Rowan to the outside where the lumberjacks were waiting to roll him back into the ring, but Rowan starts fighting with the lumberjacks. Roman runs around the ring looking for the Drive By but Rowan catches him and sends Roman into the barricade. The heel lumberjacks start attacking Roman until the babyfaces comes over and make them roll Roman back in. Roman gets to his feet and is met with a spinning kick by Rowan for a 2 count as we go to commercial.
As we come back from commercial Rowan has Roman in the two fisted vice which Roman is able to fight his way out of with some gut punches and a couple of uppercuts. Rowan sends Roman into the corner where he misses an avalanche and this allows Roman to hit his series of corner clotheslines followed by a leaping clothesline and a Samoan drop which gets him a 2 count. Roman looks to go for the Superman Punch but Rowan catches him momentarily before Roman elbows out of his grasp and then charges at Rowan who is able to get a boot up, but Roman just bounces back off the rope and hits the Superman Punch. Harper comes down to the ring and attacks the lumberjacks until Bryan runs over to attack Harper only to get thrown into the barricade. It’s time for the trope of all the lumberjacks fighting until Roman dives over the top taking out everyone. Rowan grabs Ali and uses him as a projectile as he sends him into Roman. Rowan rolls Roman back into the ring and hits a running crossbody for 2.
Roman is able to get out of the Iron Claw slam and hit another Superman Punch on Rowan but as he turns around he is leveled with a Discus Clothesline by Harper only for Bryan to take Harper down with a running knee. Rowan grabs Daniel and looks to hit the Iron Claw slam on him but he leaves himself open to get speared by Roman and this was enough for Roman to pick up the win.
Winner: Roman Reigns via Pinfall Rating: ***
After the match Roman and Bryan shake hands and are ready to take on Rowan and Harper this Sunday at Hell in a Cell.
Match #6 Kofi Kingston © vs Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman (WWE Championship)
As soon as the bell rings Kofi runs at Brock and tries for some kind of jumping clothesline, but Brock catches him and hits the F-5 and wins the match in less than five seconds.
Winner: Brock Lesnar via Pinfall Match Rating: DUD
As Lesnar is celebrating his big title win Rey Mysterio’s music hits but this time it isn’t Dominick who he comes to the ring with but rather it’s former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. Cain gets in the ring and takes Brock down before delivering a series of mounted punches on the new WWE Champion. Brock escapes up the aisle and keeps teasing that he wants to go back in, but thinks better as the first SmackDown on Fox closes with Rey Mysterio and Cain Velasquez in the ring as Brock is on the ramp with fear in his eyes.
I really don’t understand why Lesnar needed the title if his next feud is going to be against Cain Velasquez as that feud doesn’t need a title surrounding it as there is plenty of story to tell without it. I thought when Cain came out that Dominick had cut his hair and got some tattoos because I had no clue who Cain was as I don’t watch any UFC or MMA unless it is involving Paige Van Zant. I do hate that Kofi had to lose the title as he was doing a fantastic job as champion and there was still so much more he could’ve done in that role, but we all knew that once SmackDown went to Fox it wouldn’t be long before the strap was around Lesnar’s waist as they want the champion to be someone the mainstream Fox audience is familiar with. I am interested to see where Kofi goes from here, hopefully he is able to stay at the top of the card and not slide back down. I could see him and the rest of New Day possibly going over to Raw in the draft and them being the top babyfaces on that brand as it is expected that a lot of the current top guys over there such as Rollins and Styles could be going over to SmackDown. I think New Day could do some really interesting things with Bray Wyatt over on Raw.
This first episode of SmackDown on Fox was a miss for me as I had much higher expectations than what they gave us, first off they pretty much bait and switched everyone as other than The Rock none of the legends did anything after being advertised to be on the show for weeks and weeks. If Fox wants SmackDown to be more in ring action and less story driven they definitely failed on that aspect tonight as all of the matches were really short and other than Rowan vs Roman none of the talent got to really show what they are capable of. Ten years from now this episode of SmackDown will be remembered more for the “real” sports stars getting involved in angles rather than anything the WWE stars did on this night and for the first night on a new network I’m not sure that is the impression that you should’ve left the fans with at the end of the night. Next week will be somewhat of a big show as well and also probably minimal in ring action as it’s time to shake things up with the draft and who knows what WWE will look like when that is over.