Live from Atlanta, Georgia, this is Smackdown Live for episode #1002. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
The show began with a live shot of the crowd with announcer Tom Phillips plugging Crown Jewel on Friday. This week on Smackdown it’s Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton and The Miz in tag team action.
Let’s Hear from AJ Styles
AJ Styles, the WWE Champion in his home state of Georgia, made his entrance to a big ovation. Styles had a special shirt for the city with Phillips noting that Styles lives about 60 miles away from Atalanta. A clip aired of last week when Styles and Daniel Bryan lost to The Usos in a tag team match for the second week in a row due to Styles with an accidental Pele Kick on Bryan, which led to their downfall.
There were loud chants of “AJ Styles” before Styles said a word. It’s a louder than usual reception for the popular WWE Champion. Styles said that before they get started, he’s got something to get off his chest and he said he wanted to say it to his opponent’s face, so he called out Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance to a loud ovation from the crowd full of “yes” chants. Both guys had their wrestling gear on even though there was not an announced match at this point in the show. Bryan faced Styles in the ring with both men holding microphones. The fans chanted the names of both men.
Styles said that after what happened last week, he needs to apologize and he said: “I’m sorry.” Bryan said there’s no need to apologize because they are fighting for the same prize. Bryan said that he has an intimate amount of respect for Styles as a man and an in-ring competitor. Bryan said that when he looks at Styles right now he doesn’t see a friend or a respected colleague because all he sees is the WWE Champion. Bryan said that title has a lot of meaning to him. Bryan said that the thing that kept him fighting was that WWE Championship and the only thing standing in his way is Styles. Bryan said it’s nothing personal, but he is going to take that title from Styles and he’s going to do it this Friday at Crown Jewel.
Styles said that was good to know, but Bryan didn’t let him finish. Styles said that he’s sorry because he lied to Bryan last week. Styles admitted that Pele Kick that he said was an accident was meant for Bryan and said that it was nothing personal. Styles said that he looked forward to doing it again this Friday.
Bryan joked that it was a shocker that it was on purpose. Bryan said that they had identical twins in the ring, yet Styles hit him. Bryan said that he doesn’t lie, he’s 100% honest and he said that he feels like hitting Styles on purpose. Styles wondered what was stopping him. Styles said that they don’t have to wait until Crown Jewel because he’ll defend the WWE Title right here, right now in the ATL. Both guys were ready for a match with the crowd cheering.
Shane McMahon, the Smackdown Commissioner, showed up on the stage. Shane said that we’ve seen this many times before where two competitors say they want to have a match right here, right now but it doesn’t seem to happen. Shane said that they are going to have the Crown Jewel WWE Championship right here on Smackdown Live and it’s going to happen now. Shane called for a referee to come out and it’s going to start after the break.
Analysis: That was a clever way to start the show with an intense promo from Styles and Bryan leading to Shane making the announcement of the match taking place right now. The reasoning behind it, which WWE won’t admit on television, is that Bryan doesn’t want to participate in Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia on Friday, so this is WWE’s way of delivering the match that was advertised. It’s a huge match on free TV and normally this kind of thing would be promoted heavily, but due to the circumstances surrounding Crown Jewel, this is likely what they felt was the best solution. The crowd was certainly hot for it and is a big fan of the decision, as am I. Let’s see how the match goes.
The bell rang to start the match with ring announcer Greg Hamilton in the ring announcing both participants in this WWE Championship match.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan
The first few minutes were full of some creative mat wrestling with neither guy getting the advantage. Phillips noted that the last WWE Championship match on Smackdown was last November when Styles won the WWE Title from Jinder Mahal. Bryan drove Styles’ left arm into the turnbuckle. Styles worked over Bryan with chops, Bryan ran the ropes and Styles did an impressive leap frog followed by a dropkick that sent Bryan out of the ring. Styles went for a slingshot attack over the top rope to the floor, but Bryan moved. Bryan hit a suicide dive on Styles on the floor with Bryan grabbing at his knee to sell an injury.
The match returned with Bryan working over Styles with the Yes Kicks to the chest. Styles caught the left leg of Bryan and did a leg whip takedown. Styles worked over the leg of Bryan with kicks followed by Styles wrenching on the knee. Styles kicked the left leg of Bryan. Styles picked up Bryan by the knee into a kneebreaker onto the thigh of Styles. Bryan came back with a forearm, Styles with another kick to the knee and Styles drove Bryan’s left knee into the top rope again. Bryan kicked Styles’ back to break free followed by two uppercuts. Styles went for a reverse DDT, but Bryan blocked it, hit a couple of knees and Bryan hit a neckbreaker variation to put Styles down. Bryan with kicks to the chest followed by a roundhouse kick to the head by Bryan. Bryan charged in, but Styles stopped him with a perfect dropkick that put Bryan down again. Styles went for a springboard attack, Bryan shoved Styles down and Styles went stomach first into the top rope because of it. They stood on the top rope with Bryan going for a belly to back suplex off the top rope, but Styles turned in the air to land on top of Bryan. Both guys were down selling with Bryan selling a neck injury while Styles was down as well. That led to another break around 13 minutes into the match.
The match returned with Styles punching Bryan and Bryan managed to counter him with a Yes Lock submission leading to Styles getting to the ropes to break the hold. They replayed the belly to back suplex spot from before the break. They battled on the apron with Styles hitting a suplex that sent Bryan from inside the ring to the floor. Bryan was favoring his left knee again. That was a rough landing. Styles picked up Bryan and drove him left knee first into the announce table. Bryan came back by whipping Styles into the steel steps at ringside. They were back in the ring with some fans booing Bryan since they wanted Styles to win in his home state. Bryan hit a running dropkick on Styles against the turnbuckle. Bryan limped across the ring and charged in with another running dropkick on Styles. Bryan went up top for a hurricanrana attempt, but Styles blocked it momentarily until Bryan managed to eventually hit the hurricanrana off the top. Bryan with a hard kick to the face of Styles and he pulled on the left arm of Styles against the top rope. Bryan with several kicks to the chest, but Styles caught the left leg of Bryan and yanked it against the middle rope. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, Bryan avoided it and slapped on an armbar. Bryan managed to sink in the Yes Lock submission on the left arm of Styles, but Styles turned it into a pin. Styles got to his feet and hit the Styles Clash. Styles applied the Calf Crusher submission and Bryan tapped out in the center of the ring to give Styles the submission win after 22 minutes. The crowd popped big for the Styles win.
Winner by submission: AJ Styles
Analysis: ****1/4 That was an outstanding match as you would expect from these two. Bryan did a tremendous job of selling the left knee injury the whole match while Styles was selling the left arm. It was notable that there weren’t a lot of believable nearfall spots in the match like you might see in a championship match. It was more about beating down the other guy to wear them out. Bryan sold that left knee injury so well, which is a strength of his and what makes him one of the best faces ever. Styles was relentless in the various moves he did to work over the knee, which helped tell the story of the match. The result was what I expected because I didn’t think Bryan was going to win the title if he had the match at Crown Jewel anyway. Styles retaining the WWE Title is the right call and he’s one week away from holding the title for one year since it was November 7 last year when he won the title on Smackdown. Awesome match, boys. Let’s hope we see it again one day down the road.
Post match, Styles held up the WWE Title. Bryan pulled himself back to his feet, he extended his hand for a shake and Styles shook his hand. They embraced in a hug out of respect. Styles raised Bryan’s hand, but then Samoa Joe showed up for a cheap attack from behind. Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch on Styles, who nearly passed out from the hold as Bryan tried to make the save for Styles. Joe jumped onto the leg of Bryan, Joe kicked at Bryan’s leg and Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch on Bryan to take him out. Referees showed up to break it up. Joe held up the WWE Title as the fans booed him.
Analysis: I am not surprised by that attack at all since it sets up Joe for a WWE Title match against Styles.
Joe’s follow up on Twitter was pretty good too. True heel.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves were shown on camera with Graves wondering what this will lead to. I think it was obvious what that would be with Styles vs. Joe at Crown Jewel.
The brackets were shown for the WWE World Cup: Rollins vs. Lashley (Raw), Angle vs. Ziggler (Raw), Miz vs. Jeff Hardy (Smackdown) and Orton vs. Mysterio (Smackdown).
There was a backstage pre-taped promo from Jeff Hardy talking about how every battle adds a new color to the palette of his life. Hardy said that at the World Cup tournament, he illustrates the masterpiece of his life proving he’s the best in the world.
The Miz did a pre-taped promo talking about how every day he’s told by his wife and daughter he’s the best husband, father and reality star in the world. Miz also said that he’s the best WWE superstar in the world and at Crown Jewel, he’ll have a trophy to prove it.
The tag team match is coming up later: Mysterio and Hardy vs. Orton and Miz.
There were ring crew members around ringside setting up pumpkins and other Halloween decorations for some New Day vs. The Bar match.
There were images shown from Sunday’s WWE Evolution show (read my review here!) that highlighted the Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair match that was great. There was also this pic of referee Mike Chioda holding Becky’s gear while she delivered the final Powerbomb on Charlotte. That was nice of him. He also kicked a chair closer to her and held a ladder for Lynch when Lynch put Flair through the announce table. Refs are there to help a match and that’s what he did.
The Smackdown GM Paige was in her office when Charlotte Flair showed up to see her. Paige said that her match with Becky was incredible and it could have gone either way. Charlotte said that she appreciates that. Paige asked Charlotte if she’ll be the captain of the Smackdown Live women’s team at Survivor Series. Flair said she didn’t think she was the right woman for the job. Paige said that Charlotte once said don’t let success get to your head and don’t let failure get to your heart. Paige told her to think about it, so Charlotte left.
Analysis: It was a surprising move for Charlotte to turn it down, but I assume it was just a case of telling the story that she is sad after losing to Lynch on Sunday at Evolution. It’s likely that Charlotte will be the captain of the Smackdown team.
A video aired promoting Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker and Kane for Crown Jewel on Friday.
The ringside area was full of all kinds of Halloween gimmicks including pumpkins, skeletons and other stuff.
The New Day made their entrance to The Brood’s theme song because they were dressed as The Brood trio of Gangrel, Edge and Christian. That’s cool. There was no rise up from under the stage entrance, though. There were some dudes holding fake candles instead. They also had pancakes with them. Big E drank the red liquid and spit it out like Gangrel. They challenge The Bar for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles at Crown Jewel.
Analysis: I like the costumes. Give them points for creativity. Plus, it is Edge’s birthday, so it’s a good idea too.
The Bar duo of Sheamus and Cesaro, who are five-time Smackdown Tag Team Champions as a team, made their entrance. They were joined by Big Show for this match.
The match began during the break.
Trick or Street Fight: Cesaro (w/Sheamus and Big Show) vs. Big E (w/Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston)
Cesaro was in control with a candy corn kendo stick, but Big E came back with a belly to belly suplex followed by a kendo stick shot to the chest of Cesaro three times. Sheamus went into the ring with a kick to the chest of Big E, so that led to a brawl with Woods and Kingston going into the ring. Show sent Woods and Kingston over the top to the floor while tossing Big E out to the floor. Sheamus slammed a tray of pancakes into Kingston’s face and hit a rolling senton on the floor. Show sent Woods face first into a bobbing for apples bowl. Cesaro picked up Big E on his shoulders leading to a slam onto the jack-o-lanterns. Cesaro wanted a suplex through a table in the ring, but Big E countered with a suplex into the jack-o-lanterns. Sheamus went into the ring and tried to slam Big E, but Big E whipped Sheamus into the table that was against the turnbuckle. Woods with a running dropkick on Show. Kingston tried an attack, but Woods and Kingston spit the red liquid in Show’s face. Cesaro wanted a Neutralizer, Big E countered with a back body drop, Big E with a red liquid spray and Big E hit a Big Ending on Cesaro to win. The match went about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Big E
Analysis: **3/4 Fun match with some silliness involved as well. New Day managed to outsmart The Bar due to the red liquid spray to the face that would have made Gangrel proud. Big E and Cesaro have good chemistry together. If that was ever a singles feud it would be pretty interesting. Maybe one day down the road. For now, it was just a win to give New Day momentum going into Crown Jewel. I doubt they win the tag team titles back, though.
Shane McMahon was shown in his office standing beside The Miz, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. Mysterio said that he knows how vicious Orton can be and how intimidating he can be, but Mysterio is there to keep hope alive. Orton said damn right he’s vicious and he’ll show Mysterio how vicious he can be. Orton said he’ll prove to the entire world that Mysterio should have never come back. Hardy told Miz he’ll prove that he’ll be the best. Miz said that their first down match will be a crash and burn. Miz mocked Mysterio for being a Power Ranger, Jeff is a long lost member of the Insane Clown Posse and Randy is…cool. He was scared. Miz said he’s the best in the world. Shane said one of the worst things that can happen to him personally is that his sister can call a Raw superstar the “best in the world.” Shane said that whichever one of them makes it to the finals, if that person is beaten by a Raw superstar, he will no longer have a home on Smackdown Live. The four guys were stood there in silence as the segment ended.
Analysis: That’s a weird stipulation to announce because the guy that makes the finals will win two matches to get there, so even if you win two matches, if you lose in the finals you will get fired from Smackdown. I assume that is being done to move one of these guys to Raw. I’m not sure who that would be right now, but I’ll try to offer a prediction in our preview of Crown Jewel that will be posted by Thursday morning.
Shinsuke Nakamura, the US Champion, made his entrance for a match up next.
There were images shown from Evolution on Sunday.
A replay was shown from earlier in the night when Samoa Joe attacked AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan after their excellent WWE Championship match.
Paige was shown in her office with AJ Styles showing up to talk to her. Styles said he wants to face Samoa Joe. Styles said that he wants to fight Joe at Crown Jewel. Paige asked if he wants him to reward what Joe did. Styles said that’s what he wants and to give him the match. She said to consider it done, he said she won’t regret it, but Samoa Joe will.
Analysis: There’s the new WWE Title match for Crown Jewel on Friday, which was expected after Joe’s attack earlier in the show. That’s also why WWE didn’t do Styles vs. Bryan in the main event.
R-Truth made his entrance with Carmella joining him. A fan in the crowd had a “Fabulous Dance Break” sign in the crowd. The fans like this duo. I do too.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. R-Truth (w/Carmella)
This is not for Nakamura’s US Title.
Nakamura with a boot to the face followed by some mocking of Truth’s dancing. Truth with punches and Truth hit a flying headscissors takedown. Truth did a dance followed by a hip toss. Truth hit a clothesline that sent Nakamura out of the ring. Carmella went into the ring to join Truth for a dance break, so they started dancing while the music played and the show went to break.
The match returned with Nakamura in control as he hit a knee drop to the chest. Truth came back with a hiptoss. Truth with a boot to the face, two clotheslines and a jumping side kick. Truth with a running forearm for a two count. Nakamura hit a spin kick to the face. The announcers mentioned that Nakamura as US Champion will face IC Champion Seth Rollins at Survivor Series, so that should be great. Truth missed a corner charge, Nakamura hit a running knee lift to the ribs against the ropes and that got a two count as Truth got his hand on the ropes. Nakamura with a back elbow to the head followed by a knee to the back of the head. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike for the pinfall win after about seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match with Nakamura getting a win, which was needed for him since he is barely on this show even though he is a champion. Truth got in some offense, but it wasn’t a match where anybody thought that he was going to win. It was obvious that Nakamura would win. I’m enjoying the antics of R-Truth these days. He’s in incredible shape for a guy that’s 46 years old.
Becky Lynch was shown backstage with her Smackdown Women’s Title and she is up next.
There were tweets shown from superstars like The Rock, Shane McMahon, Edge and others tweeting about how great Evolution was.
Let’s Hear from Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch made her entrance with the Smackdown Women’s Title along with a new t-shirt that says “I Am The Man” as a nice tribute to Ric Flair’s famous “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man” catchphrase even though she’s a lovely woman. I think it’s clever and she’s been using it all over social media too. At Survivor Series, Lynch faces Ronda Rousey.
Lynch started the promo saying, “I won.” Lynch said that she was folded up like an accordion on a stack of chairs, put through a table and she got up again. The fans chanted for her as she said she was the Last Woman Standing. Lynch said that when Evolution was over, there was only one woman who everyone knew was the rightful main event and that was her. Lynch said that she proved that “I Am The Man.” Lynch said that goes for the Smackdown locker room and Raw locker room as well.
Lynch talked about what is next for her and she mentioned the infamous Ronda Rousey. Lynch said that every woman that Ronda has stepped in the ring with was already beaten before the opening bell. Lynch said that’s not how she is built because she has traveled the world to smash people like her. Lynch said that she didn’t go there to cosplay (Alexa Bliss reference) or talk about a reality show (Nikki Bella reference), she’s here to rip Ronda’s arm off. Lynch dropped the microphone, held up her title and left.
Analysis: Great promo from the champ. I love her confidence. She didn’t try to heel it up at all by ripping on the crowd, so I think WWE is starting to embrace the idea that the fans love her and might book her like more of a face. As long as she keeps the current attitude she has, she’ll be fine. Lynch is crushing it right now. I’m so happy for her.
Here’s Lynch ripping Alexa Bliss on Twitter after Bliss responded to the cosplay comment.
It’s official for Crown Jewel with AJ Styles defending the WWE Champion against Samoa Joe. The announcers went over the rest of the card.
A video aired promoting Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the vacant Universal Championship at Crown Jewel.
The Miz made his entrance for the main event.
A Triple H tweet was shown congratulating the Boston Red Sox on their World Series Championship. I didn’t even call them heels like I usually do. They deserved it. Best team all year with an impressive playoff run.
Samoa Joe did a promo from the locker room trash talking AJ Styles. Joe said that when those words left Shane McMahon’s mouth that Styles had to defend the WWE Title against Daniel Bryan, Joe said he knew he had to act on it so they can have their final chapter. Joe said when he holds the WWE Title above his head it will be the end.
Analysis: I doubt Joe ends the WWE Title reign of Styles at Crown Jewel. I wouldn’t mind it at all, but it seems unlikely at this point.
Randy Orton made his entrance for the tag team match with Miz showing him respect when Orton got into the ring.
Jeff Hardy made his entrance for his team. Good reaction for him, but it wasn’t that loud. The crowd was a lot hotter earlier in the night for Styles and Bryan. Rey Mysterio got a nice pop as well.
Randy Orton and The Miz vs. Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio
Hardy and Orton started the match with Hardy hitting a jawbreaker to take control. Hardy sent Orton into the turnbuckle, Miz into the ring and Hardy took him out with the double leg drop. Hardy knocked Orton down again, the ref was busy with Orton, Hardy up top and Miz tripped up Hardy to send him into the turnbuckle to give the heels control. Miz with a running kick to Hardy for a two count. Phillips noted these four guys had 20 World Championships between them (mostly thanks to 13 from Orton). When Hardy got up, Miz pulled him down by the hair. Orton got in a cheap attack on Hardy that the referee didn’t see. Orton tagged back in leading to a catapult that sent Hardy’s throat into the bottom rope. When Hardy tried to fight back, Orton hit a dropkick to knock Hardy down again. Orton slapped on a chinlock on Hardy, who got back up, hit two boots to the face and a Whisper in the Wind top rope attack by Hardy took down Orton. Mysterio got the hot tag against Miz with Mysterio hitting a seated senton, a kick to the face and Mysterio hit a DDT on Miz for a two count. Miz hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, regular backbreaker and a neckbreaker for two. Miz with a boot to the face, Mysterio fought back with an arm drag and Hardy got the tag back in with Mysterio sending Miz into the turnbuckle and Hardy hit the Poetry in Motion with a dropkick. Mysterio sent Miz to the ropes, Mysterio connected with the 619 and Hardy hit a Swanton Bomb on Miz for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio
Analysis: *** It was a pretty good tag team match that followed the usual formula with Hardy as the face in peril building to the hot tag to Mysterio, who was on fire when he tagged in. The last couple of minutes after a slow first half of the match. I thought it was well booked with Hardy and Mysterio working well together as an exciting babyface team.
As soon as the match was over, Orton slithered back in the ring and dropped Hardy with a RKO. Mysterio went for a top rope attack, but Orton dropped him with a RKO as well. Miz gave Orton a pat on the back, so Orton dropped Miz with a RKO as well. Orton’s music played since he was the last man standing after dropping everybody else with RKOs. Replays aired of Orton’s RKO fest.
Randy Orton posed in the ring to end the show while there was a final plug for Crown Jewel on Friday on WWE Network.
Analysis: That was a fine way to end the show with Orton showing he didn’t care about a stupid tag team match and all that mattered to him was sending a final message to his competitors. I don’t know what Smackdown guy is going to make the finals, but I’m leaning towards picking The Miz or Orton because I think Raw needs a heel. I’ll try to explain more in our preview that will be up by Thursday morning.
Three Stars of the Show
- AJ Styles
- Daniel Bryan
- Becky Lynch
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 5
2018 Average: 6.56
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 7.5, 7.5, 5, 7
2018 High: 8.5 (July 31)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2, January 9)
I give this week’s Smackdown a 7.5 out of 10.
It’s rare to see a great WWE Championship match on Smackdown especially since the last one was nearly one year ago. The fact that we got to see that, and it was an outstanding match from Styles and Bryan means that Smackdown gets a pretty good score from me.
Most of the second half of the show was just average stuff including the main event, but the first hour was strong enough to carry it.
There wasn’t anything that bad on the show to really hurt it, so overall, I’d say it was a pretty effective edition of Smackdown that was carried by an excellent WWE Title match.
Here’s the lineup for WWE Crown Jewel airing this Friday on WWE Network. We will have a preview up by Thursday morning and I’ll write a live review on TJRWrestling on Friday afternoon.
Universal Championship Match for the Vacant Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman
Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker and Kane
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
WWE World Cup to crown the “Best in the World”
Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley (Raw)
Kurt Angle vs. Dolph Ziggler (Raw)
Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz (Smackdown)
Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio (Smackdown)
The winners face off in the semifinals and then the winners of that face off in the finals, so it’s a Raw vs. Smackdown match in the finals.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (c) vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods)
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