SmackDown on Fox Episode #5
SmackDown Episode # 1,054
Buffalo, NY – Keybank Arena
I have returned once again with another installment of the SmackDown Report after having to miss last week due to being in the hospital, thankfully I didn’t miss anything special during last week’s SmackDown that would’ve been worth writing about, unlike tonight. At least WWE (or more appropriately the plane that the guys over in Saudi Arabia were supposed to take) did throw me a bone and give me a really fun episode of SmackDown to review for my return to the SmackDown Report.
The big non-kayfabe story hanging over this episode of SmackDown was that the majority of superstars and crew were still stuck in Saudi Arabia due to their plane having to undergo maintenance, so for this show they had to rely on the few that decided not to go over to Saudi Arabia to collect their share of the blood money (as well as the women and the NXT crew). The difference in this show would become apparent immediately as we hear the voice of Tom Phillips welcoming us to the show as he will be on commentary alongside Renee Young and for the time being Aiden English.
The show opens with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman coming to the ring and despite Lesnar beating Cain Velasquez at Crown Jewel in quick fashion (we are shown the entire match from Crown Jewel) Lesnar is still pissed due to the fact that Rey Mysterio attacked him after the match with a steel chair. Heyman lets us know that he went to Vince McMahon to inform him that Lesnar wants to get his hands on Mysterio, however, McMahon told him there was nothing he could do since Lesnar was contracted to SmackDown and Mysterio was contracted to Raw and the wild card rule was no longer in effect. Heyman states that as of now Lesnar has quit SmackDown on Fox and that he will be on Raw this Monday and he will find Rey Mysterio. We then see Lesnar and Heyman leaving the arena and as the camera pans back it shows that Triple H and Shawn Michaels are in the building, which would be an omen of what was to come tonight.
This was a good promo as usual and more importantly, it gave a sensible explanation of how it will be possible for the USA Network to pick up Lesnar to be apart of the Raw roster as their world champion. I personally would have rather had Lesnar stay on SmackDown and Bray Wyatt go over to Raw as I feel there is less chance for the Fiend character to fail (more than it already has) if there is more creative input from someone like Paul Heyman who has a lot of pull over on Raw rather than Bruce Prichard who is the main guy in charge over on SmackDown. I also have to question Fox’s decision to allow WWE to put Lesnar back on Raw as I feel like they would want the guy with a more legit sports background and who has more of a chance to get mainstream attention as he is a far bigger star than Bray Wyatt is. I am bummed that Wyatt isn’t going over to Raw as it ruins my fantasy booking idea of having Liv Morgan as The Fiend’s version of Harley Quinn.
Match #1: Bayley © w/ Sasha Banks vs Nikki Cross (SmackDown Women’s Championship)
Bayley tries to take control early but Nikki rolls her up for a quick two count before Bayley slams her back down to the mat. Nikki hits a flying head scissors that takes Bayley out of the ring and then she follows up with a wrecking ball dropkick and a tornado DDT on the floor. Nikki rolls Bayley in the ring for a 2 count as we go to commercial.
We come back to Nikki fighting her way out of a chin lock and getting a quick 2 count off a roll-up. Nikki hits a series of forearms that send Bayley out of the ring and then tries for another wrecking ball dropkick, but Bayley catches her and sends Nikki into the steps. Bayley rolls Nikki back in for a 2 count and then delivers a series of shoulder thrusts into the corner before Nikki is able to move sending Bayley crashing into the corner. Nikki blocks some forearms and delivers some of her own before taking Bayley down with a running crossbody. Nikki hits an avalanche in the corner followed by a bulldog, Nikki is fired up as she goes up top and delivers another crossbody that gets her a two count. Nikki tries to go for the twisting neckbreaker off the ropes, but Sasha gets on the apron to provide a distraction only to get knocked off by Nikki. Bayley knees Nikki in the head and then goes up top to hit the elbow which only gets a 2 count.
Bayley sets Nikki up in the corner looking for a superplex but Nikki fights her off and tries for a tornado DDT, but Bayley blocks it and sends Nikki down to the mat. Nikki rolls outside and Bayley tries for a baseball slide, but Nikki wraps her up in the ring apron and hits her with more forearms and even hits one on Sasha for good measure. Nikki goes back up top but this time Sasha pushes her off which allows Bayley to hit some kind of move that sends Nikki to the mat face-first to pick up the win.
Winner: Bayley Match Rating: **¼
This match was fine but nothing to write home about as it was just an average TV match. I do like how Bayley is the main focus during this run while Sasha plays the role of the cheerleader as it has usually been the other way around. I didn’t care for whatever that move was that ended the match as it looked really weak and I hope it’s not Bayley’s new finisher. I wasn’t sure how well heel Bayley was going to play out as I always thought she would be someone who stays babyface her entire career like Ricky Steamboat, but so far I am enjoying it as it has really been refreshing and I thought last week she was really good on commentary in the heel role. I love how Sasha and Bayley are two heels that are teaming together, but yet they are completely different styles of heel as Bayley is the “woe is me” emo type of heel while Sasha is more flashy and all about money, fame, and luxuries, this is what it would’ve looked like if Raven and MVP had ever teamed together.
After the match as Bayley is celebrating her win, NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler comes out of nowhere and sends Sasha into the ring post and then delivers a step-up knee to the face on Bayley. Shayna sends Bayley shoulder first into the ring post and then delivers a gut-wrench slam on Bayley. Shayna goes to put her jacket back on but sees Bayley trying to get to her feet so Shayna hits her with another knee and then leaves through the crowd as the fans chant NXT.
This was a great way to properly start off the NXT invasion that would happen throughout the show and Shayna looked like a million bucks as she carried herself like a star and even if some people in the crowd didn’t know who she was they had to know that she was not someone you would want to mess with.
As we come back from commercial we see that Aiden English has been replaced on commentary by “Mr. Casual Friday” Pat McAfee who is in all his casual wear glory with a cut off t-shirt and shorts. McAfee would call the rest of the show alongside Tom and Renee, he would serve as the head NXT cheerleader for the rest of the evening.
Cathy Kelley is in the back interviewing Sami Zayn about everything that has happened tonight and he says that there seems to be a pattern happening and it looks like NXT has taken over, he then warns NXT to be careful with who they mess with. Keith Lee and Matt Riddle show up and Sami tries to talk his way out of what he just said and tries to plead with them even reminding them that he used to be called the heart and soul of NXT. Zayn then goes to reveal he has an NXT shirt on but turns out it’s just a plain black shirt, he says he left his NXT shirt in his car and he was going to go get it so Riddle and Lee follow him despite Zayn pleading for them to stay and he will be right back, eventually Zayn takes off running which leads Riddle and Lee to chase him throughout the arena and into the ring. Riddle hits Zayn with the Final Flash knee strike followed by the Bro Derrick and then Lee delivers a moonsault off the middle rope before both men pose over the prone body of Zayn.
This was a fun segment to introduce Riddle and Lee to the mainstream crowd that most likely don’t watch NXT. The only issue I had with the entire segment was the black t-shirt part as that just didn’t sit right after all the controversy earlier in the week with Jordan Myles putting WWE on blast for the shirt they had made for him, to me, it just felt like an unnecessary jab at Myles. I could be wrong and it’s just a harmless segment where those in charge gave no second thoughts on using a black t-shirt in the segment, I mean, after all, they didn’t give it a second, third, or fourth thought when they made the Myles shirt in the first place.
There was a recap of the absolute shit match that was Braun Strowman vs Tyson Fury that made me hope that Fury doesn’t step into a wrestling ring ever again because everything he did in that match looked like shit and the fact that he popped right up after getting hit with Strowman’s Powerslam was the cherry on top of that shit sundae.
It’s time for Miz TV and The Miz plans on interviewing himself since his original guest Bray Wyatt was still stuck in Saudi Arabia. We get a recap of The Fiend vs Seth Rollins match at Crown Jewel that saw The Fiend walk out as new Universal Champion. The Miz then turns his focus on what has happened so far on SmackDown with the NXT invasion and this leads to him being interrupted by Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa says that Miz is everything that is wrong with Raw and SmackDown and also says that while Miz plays the part he is the part. Miz talks about how good Ciampa is but says that if NXT wants to make a statement then they need to stop sitting back and make one, this leads to a match between Ciampa and The Miz.
Match #2: The Miz vs Tommaso Ciampa
They trade headlocks to start out with Miz getting the advantage briefly before Ciampa turns it around and throws Miz out onto the apron. Miz slides under the legs of Ciampa and then returns the favor by throwing him over the top to the floor. Ciampa moves out of the way of a wrecking ball dropkick and sends Miz into the barricade and the steps before giving himself a round of applause and a pat on the back. Ciampa rolls Miz back into the ring and locks in a chin lock that Miz tries to fight out of but Ciampa forces him back down to the mat. Miz finally makes a comeback and hits Ciampa with a kitchen sink, a knee lift, and then his backbreaker into a neckbreaker combo that gets a 2 count. Miz kicks Ciampa repeatedly in the corner and then hits him with a couple of flying knees in the corner, just as Miz has all the momentum behind him he is taken down with a discus clothesline out of nowhere followed by a running knee strike that gets a 2 count.
Ciampa goes for the Fairy Tale Ending but Miz counters and tries for the Figure Four only to be kicked off, both men are countering each other until The Miz connects with a chop block on the knee that Ciampa has had trouble with in the past, Miz looks to go to work on the leg, but Ciampa kicks him off and tries for a powerbomb, but can’t lift Miz due to the bad knee and this allows Miz to kick the leg and hit his snap DDT for a 2 count. Miz finally locks in the Figure Four but after struggling for a while Ciampa reverses the pressure which allows him to finally get to the ropes. Miz goes for the Figure Four again but Ciampa rolls him up only for Miz to kick out and try for a PK but Ciampa ducks and goes for another rollup but Miz kicks out so Ciampa transitions into a half crab. Miz then rolls up Ciampa but Ciampa kicks out this time. Miz and Ciampa exchange chops until Miz hits his clothesline in the corner and then goes up top, Miz comes off with an axe handle but Ciampa catches him with a knee and then hits the Fairy Tale Ending to pick up the win.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa via Pinfall Rating: **¾
Not too much to say about this match other than it was pretty good. I thought the Miz TV segment was also really good and showed that Ciampa can hang on the mic with one of the best talkers in WWE.
We go to the back where Bryan walks up to confront Triple H and Shawn Michaels about what has happened tonight and then challenges Triple H which leads to a staredown, but Triple H isn’t prepared to compete but he does have someone else Bryan can face which leads to Michaels teasing that it’s going to be him by taking off his jacket but then puts it right back on, Triple H says that he is talking about Adam Cole (Bay! Bay!). Bryan is fine with facing Cole, but he wants the NXT Title on the line, Cole and Triple H agree and we have a dream match set for tonight’s main event.
Fire & Desire come to the ring for the next match but their opponents never come out, we cut to the back and see that Bianca Belair has single-handedly laid out both Carmella and Dana Brooke, she presses Carmella above her head and throws her over a stack of equipment cases which looked quite impressive.
Although I have been watching Bianca for over two years now it still surprises me at times just how strong she is. I love Carmella to death but the way she sold the initial beating that was unaired was terrible, the way she was sitting looked less like someone who had just gotten the crap beaten out of them and more like someone who was just stressed out after having a bad day and even after Bianca lifts her up she doesn’t sell it at all.
Match #3: Fire & Desire vs Rhea Ripley & Tegan Nox
Rhea and Tegan attack Fire & Desire right as the bell rings. Tegan and Sonya are fighting on the outside until Sonya sends Tegan into the barricade. Mandy tries to make a comeback on Rhea but is cut off with a dropkick, meanwhile back on the outside Tegan sends Sonya over the announce desk and in the process Sonya’s foot hit Renee Young square in the face and gave her a bloody nose. Tegan in the ring and hits Mandy with the Shiniest Wizard and then Rhea gets the win for her team by making Mandy tap out to the inverted Cloverleaf lock.
Winners: Rhea Ripley & Tegan Nox via Submission Rating: *¾
This was a great squash by the NXT women and just like earlier, it showed the mainstream audience that the women down in NXT can definitely hang with the women on Raw or SmackDown and they are not to be taken lightly in this “war” against Raw and SmackDown. It was nice to see a new heelish side of Tegan as up until now she had only been the cute white meat babyface. It’s interesting that both tonight and in the upcoming WarGames match she will be teaming with Rhea who just happens to be the woman she was facing when she suffered her most recent knee injury during the second annual Mae Young Classic, in that match Rhea showed her no pity after she got injured, so if we look at this from a kayfabe standpoint why would Tegan even want to team with Rhea?
Triple H and Shawn Michaels come out to ringside for our main event match which is coming up next, but first Stephanie McMahon comes out and talks about Natalya and Lacey Evans making history by having the first-ever women’s match in Saudi Arabia before cutting to a video package that showed highlights of the match as well as Twitter reactions to the match.
Match #4: Adam Cole © vs Daniel Bryan (NXT Championship)
There is some nice chain wrestling early on neither man gaining an advantage. Bryan backs Cole into the corner and cleanly backs away from Cole before smacking him on the chest and then giving him an arrogant slap to the face, this fires Cole up as he comes out of the corner with some forearms only to be taken down again by Bryan. Bryan delivers a couple of chops in the corner before Cole makes a comeback and takes Bryan down with a headlock takeover. Bryan makes his way back to his feet and we get a drop-down and leapfrog spot that ends with Cole going down courtesy of a big kick to the chest by Bryan. Bryan yells to Triple H that Cole doesn’t belong in the ring with him. Bryan stomps on the back of Cole’s arm and then locks him in a Mexican Surfboard which he transitions into a Dragon Sleeper. Bryan is on a roll until Cole stops Bryan’s momentum with one big boot to the face that gets him a 2 count. Cole keeps trying for a suplex on Bryan but Bryan blocks it and then delivers one of his own which sends both men tumbling over the top rope and to the floor as we go to commercial.
As we come back from commercial both men are trying to get a backslide on the other until Cole hits a jumping neckbreaker on Bryan for 2. Cole hits some elbow and knee drops that get him a 2 count before locking in a head scissors on the mat which Bryan gets out of by easily rolling to the ropes. Cole and Bryan trade strikes which Bryan gets the best of and then Cole sends Bryan into the corner only for Bryan to backflip off the top and connect with a running clothesline. Bryan backdrops Cole to the floor and then dives off the apron with a flying knee. Bryan rolls Cole back in the ring and hits a missile dropkick off the top. Bryan hits a running dropkick in the corner and then looks to hit a top rope hurricanrana but Cole rolls through into a pin which gets a 2 count. Bryan delivers some uppercuts only to once again be taken down with a big boot. Both men are spent as the crowd is chanting for both men. Bryan and Cole trade waist locks before Bryan sends Cole out of the ring, Bryan hits Cole with a tope suicida and then tries for another one but this time he is caught with a kick to the head as both men are laid out at ringside as we go to commercial.
Back from commercial and Cole has Bryan up on the top looking for a superplex, but Bryan slips out the back and crotches Cole before delivering a spider suplex off the top. Triple H is looking on with a worried look on his face as Bryan goes for the diving headbutt, but Cole moves and Bryan hits nothing but canvas. Cole hits his signature brainbuster onto the knee which only gets him a 2 count. Cole pulls down the knee pad as he looks to hit the Last Shot but Bryan turns it into a half crab only to transition it into the heel hook before Cole is able to get to the ropes. Bryan delivers kicks to the back of Cole’s leg and then picks him up looking for some kind of slam but before he can pull it off Cole counters into a backstabber for 2. Bryan locks in the LeBelle lock, Cole looks like he is going to get out of the hold but when he does Bryan grabs Cole’s arms and repeatedly stomps and the head and face of Cole. Bryan locks in the LeBelle lock once again and this time when Cole tries to reach the ropes Bryan grabs his arm and bends it back but thankfully Cole is able to get his foot on the rope. Bryan hits the Yes Kicks but as he goes for the kick to the head Cole ducks and they then trade O’Connor Roll pinfall attempts until Bryan connects with the Buzzsaw Kick. Bryan goes for the flying knee, but gets caught with a superkick and Cole immediately follows that up with the Panama Sunrise and the Last Shot to pick up a clean win on Daniel Bryan.
Winner: Adam Cole via Pinfall Match Rating: ****
Adam Cole vs Daniel Bryan wasn’t a match that immediately came to mind when I think of dream matches that could be really great, but now that I have just watched this match I want to see more are these two put on a great match.
After the match members of the NXT roster came out and got in the ring along with Shawn Michaels and Triple H. Triple H stated that this was his army for Survivor Series and he considers them family, NXT has fired the first shot and look forward to what Raw and SmackDown have in store for them.
The addition of NXT to Survivor Series has definitely got me intrigued. According to Triple H at the end of the show he made it seem like it’s going to be Raw & SmackDown vs NXT instead of all three brands battling it out on their own and I think that would be the best way to go since it’s hard enough to make people care about the Raw vs SmackDown brand warfare, to begin with, so the fact that they have only been separate brands for only a month would make it near impossible to get the fans to care, having them team up to take on NXT would at least bring a different element into the show that we haven’t seen before.
It will be interesting to see how NXT balances the fact that they have NXT Takeover: WarGames the night before Survivor Series, how do they build the feuds between members of the NXT roster for Takeover, while at the same time building somewhat of a sense of unity for Survivor Series? I think the first thing they need to do is have Triple H come out and say that they better get all of their frustrations and anger with each other out on Saturday because if one of them turns on their fellow NXT brother or sister at Survivor Series they are looking at a suspension without pay and furthermore if NXT is successful at Survivor Series they can all expect a significant raise in pay. One last thing I want to mention about NXT at Survivor Series is the fact that it was announced that NXT UK talent will be featured on 205 Live next week which hopefully means that NXT UK roster members will also be involved on Team NXT, this would help even out the sides because NXT on their own would be severely outnumbered by Raw and SmackDown talent.
This episode of SmackDown was really good and a lot of fun and was a very quick two hours to watch. The show had two good matches and one great match and also did a good job of explaining how and why Brock Lesnar is jumping back over to Raw. I wish all weeks of SmackDown were as fun as this one was.