Commentators: Michael Cole & Corey Graves
SmackDown kicks off its first-ever live show on Fox with both barrels loaded, as Kofi Kingston defends the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar and The Rock graces everyone with his presence. Boy WWE is lucky he still has a love for the business despite having a way more profitable career as an actor. Also on the show there’s a lumberjack match, a ladder match, a random 8-man tag team match, and a whole lot more. Crash TV, baby.
- WWE CHAMPION: Kofi Kingston
- WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION: Seth Rollins
- WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Shinsuke Nakamura
- WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPION: “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Bayley
- RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPION: “The Man” Becky Lynch
- SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
- RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
- Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley & Sasha Banks (**1/4)
- Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NR)
- LADDER MATCH: Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon (***1/4)
- Braun Strowman, The Miz, & Heavy Machinery vs. AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, & Robert Roode (*)
- LUMBERJACK MATCH: Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan (*)
- Kofi Kingston [c] vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP (NR)
-“No Chance in Hell” hits, bringing out Mr. McMahon and Stephanie McMahon. They welcome the crowd to Friday Night SmackDown and we segue right into the new intro video, set to the dulcet tones of AC/DC.
–“The Man” Becky Lynch makes her entrance following the pyro and ballyhoo. She wants to start off the first Fox episode by kicking someone’s ass, and out comes “King” Baron Corbin. His nonsense is quickly interrupted by THE ROCK, the Los Angeles crowd giving him a deafening pop. Juvenile jokes follow, giving Corbin the nickname of “S.T.D.” and whatnot, leading into Rock hitting a People’s Elbow and Rock Bottom on the King. No way to treat royalty, Dwayne. Honestly the jokes sucked and this segment was pretty bad, but The Rock being The Rock kept it afloat, plus I appreciate him giving some shine to Becky Lynch as she’s one of the only actual over stars on the WWE roster at the moment.
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch defeated Bayley & Sasha Banks
Bayley’s whole “dork trying to be tough and mean” heel turn is pretty great so far, or at the very least I find it entertaining. I liked her spouting off and then raising the Bayley Buddies in a very half-assed “fine, I guess” way. Not sure if that was a miscue or not but it ended up working.
These four have been fighting each other since MySpace was a thing and I had fewer wrinkles so you already know how this one goes. Flair busted out her moonsault for the big show and got the submission win with a Figure-8 on Bayley, likely giving her a title match on Hell in a Cell should WWE feel like announcing more matches for it in the next two days or so. I do like they started off this “new era” of SmackDown with the four aces of their women’s division though. Take your wins where you can get them. (**1/4)
-Fox Sports NFL correspondent Erin Andrews interview The New Day. Xavier Woods and Big E will be hanging back so Kofi Kingston can prove himself alone. Andrews is a bit out of her element but I appreciate how game she is for the cross promotion, even gyrating with The New Day at the end. Made me laugh.
-Boxing’s own Tyson Fury is in attendance. At first I thought this was a new signee’s gimmick debut and I felt weird for not knowing him because I don’t watch a lot of independent wrestling, but hey apparently he’s a real boxer. That’s cool.
–Seth Rollins makes his way out for the next match…which is interrupted by a new episode of FIREFLY FUN HOUSE. Bray Wyatt simulates what will happen to Seth on Sunday by having his buzzard puppet murder his rabbit puppet (cosplaying as Seth) in a tiny cell. Poor guy. I enjoy the Firefly Fun House stuff more than I should, but I think it has to do with Wyatt’s commitment to the character and his line delivery. How WWE Studios has never given him a starring role in something is baffling. You let f*cking Ted DiBiase Jr. star in a Marine sequel and yet someone with a personality can’t get a lead role in a horror flick? RIDICULOUS.
Seth Rollins & Shinsuke Nakamura [w/ Sami Zayn] fought to a…no contest I guess?
Zayn rocking out to Nakamura’s theme during their entrance was great and something I would likely do myself because I am a huge dork. Rollins and Nakamura had their working boots on but it didn’t matter because soon enough the lights went out and THE FIEND attacked Rollins with another mandible claw on the entrance stage, throwing him off and to the floor (a whole 12 inches or so). Camera didn’t even bother to cover the aftermath because they knew it wasn’t impressive. Nakamura is Intercontinental Champion, by the way. (NR)
-A “MATCH FLO” video highlights the feud between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon. Progressive as tonight’s sponsor is paying off in dividends.
Kevin Owens defeated Shane McMahon
No time to f*ck around with the usual filler of ladder matches (will he climb to the top? Will he climb to the top and spend five minutes fiddling with the briefcase while he waits to be pulled off?), and that made for a much better contest. This one was comprised almost entirely of big spots, from McMahon’s usual hits (elbow through a table, a Coast to Coast) to Owens putting Shane-O-Mac through a ladder with a frog splash and power bombing him on ANOTHER ladder to get the win. Owens keeps his job, Shane-O-Mac is now fired, and Owens sends him packing with a Stunner to celebrate. Match of the night. (***1/4)
-Snickers presents a 20 Years of SmackDown montage.
–Kayla Braxton is standing by with Paul Heyman. Video recap of Brock’s attack on Rey & Dominic Mysterio on RAW. Brock will win tonight, not a prediction but a SPOILER.
Braun Strowman, The Miz, & Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker) defeated “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, “The Viper” Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, & Robert Roode
Styles and Orton each have their own tag team of henchmen but instead are tagging with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT team, and honestly this bothered me more than it should have. It just didn’t make sense. Also Miz was here. Honestly this match didn’t matter anyway because it was only here to set up a future fight between Braun and Tyson Fury, who got a face full of Ziggler for his trouble courtesy of the big man. After Braun got the win for his team, Fury hopped the railing and had to be held back by security while Braun smiled at him. I would like to see these guys get one another’s hands. (*)
-Cole talks about some weird “Youth vs. Experience” Instagram thing they did to promote Gemini Man, pitting superstars against their younger selves. I love Daniel Bryan in 2019 but The American Dragon would wreck him in SECONDS.
-Apparently Marshmello, a DJ with a goofy mask, won the 24/7 Title accidentally at some point during the day. All the Fortnite fans popped, probably.
Roman Reigns defeated Erick Rowan
A whole host of midcarders and tag teams played lumberjacks for this one, including The OC and The Revival which makes me even MADDER about the 8-man tag earlier. As expected this one broke down, with the lumberjacks brawling, Daniel Bryan (who was on commentary) and Luke Harper getting involved, and a cool spot where Reigns delivered a splash to a host of bodies on the floor. Reigns hit Rowan with a spear while he was tied up with Bryan to get the win. DON’T CARE. Apparently Reigns and Bryan are teaming against Rowan and Harper at Hell in a Cell. Heavy Sting vibes. (*)
After the match Bryan offers Reigns a handshake and Reigns ACCEPTS. This dude needs to watch the award-winning WWE Network and do his damn homework.
Brock Lesnar [w/ Paul Heyman] defeated Kofi Kingston [c] to win the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP
Kofi rode a wave of popularity to an historic WWE Championship win at WrestleMania and since then has proven himself to be a successful fighting champion. Would he take Brock to the limit? Could he actually take down The Beast Incarnate and shock the world, proving to himself and everyone else that he wasn’t a fluke?
LOL NOPE Brock picked him up and beat him in SECONDS with an F-5 because of course he did. I’ll be the first to admit that Kofi’s reign as champion has been awful as he was given sh*tty opponents and wrestled dull title matches, but he deserved better than THAT to end his title reign. Yikes. Seth Rollins limped into SummerSlam after getting beaten up week after week and still managed to beat Brock. Yikes. Real yikes. I wonder where Kofi goes from here because judging from what happened next I can’t buy that he’ll remain in the title picture. (NR)
-Brock celebrates his win until Rey Mysterio makes his way out, arm in a sling and accompanied by CAIN MF’N VALASQUEZ, the man who ended Brock’s UFC Championship reign and more importantly a man who has been doing cool Lucha things in AAA over the past few months. Valasquez beats on Brock, forcing the terrified Beast to flee. Mysterio and Valasquez stand tall to end the show. We’ve got our first WWE Championship feud in the Fox era and it’s between two dudes with an MMA beef. FOX, BABY.
FINAL THOUGHTS: WWE wanted to make a good first impression on their new channel and jury’s out if they did just that, but overall I enjoyed Friday Night SmackDown. It moved at a break-neck pace, almost crash TV-like in how it went from one segment to another with barely a second to breathe and more importantly barely a second to allow WWE to really ruin anything. For that I’m grateful. I also like the new entrance set as well as the commentary being just TWO people instead of three, giving them more focus and preventing a third person making unnecessary quips that add nothing to the broadcast. Kofi being done dirty so Brock and Cain can fight over another championship was a pretty sh*tty way to end things all things considered, I’m not an MMA guy and never will be, but maybe their matches will end up kicking ass. I’ve seen some of Cain’s AAA work and he seems eager to lean into the actual pro wrestling stuff so maybe he’ll force Brock to actually add something to his moveset (or bring something back as Brock did actually do wrestling sh*t before he let his MMA success go to his head). I dunno, I’m intrigued to see how next week’s show is and how things continue. But also poor Kofi.