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Sunday is the WWE Survivor Series, which means that Friday’s SmackDown show is the last chance that management has to fill the teams for the blue brand.
Entering the show, the women’s team had two open seats and the men’s team. Who qualifies to join the SmackDown brand in the Survivor Series?
Drew McIntyre headed to SmackDown for the second week in a row. This time he was there to sign a contract for his match against Roman Reigns.
Daniel Brian returned to action to avenge Jay Uso after Jimmy Usso brought him out a few weeks ago with a brutal attack. Buddy Murphy grabbed Seth Rollins.
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SmackDown opened with The Street Profits in the new and improved Champions Lounge. They made jokes about The Undertaker and Big W appeared in a sombrero, giving the impression of Taker. Big E tells a bit of rubbish about how New Day will beat them and they say they will kill the Jamaican accent back in Kofi Kingston.
When we go live to the arena, Xavier Woods and Kingston head to the ring. They make the best impression of the Undertaker until Sammy Zayn comes out and says they shouldn’t make jokes. He said the only reason Taker was retiring was because he knew Zane owed him some return.
Corbyn came down and said they were not participating in his show, and ordered them to leave. Before they could answer, Dolph Ziegler and Robert Rudd left.
Woods and Kingston offer to defend their titles and say Zane and Corbyn should fight Rudd and Ziegler for the right to challenge them for the Raw tag titles. They all seem to have the idea, but Ziggler and Roode quickly turn around and attack the New Day. Angelo Dawkins and Montes Ford flee to save.
We came back from vacation to see the eight-man match that was already taking place. Michael Cole must have mentioned how Adam Pierce approved this match during the commercial. Exactly what you would expect from a match involving these eight players unfolded.
We saw several moves of double teams from the established duets and each Superstar had a chance to shine for a few moments. Unfortunately, this means that in fact no one stood out from the package. Kingston accidentally pulled out a cross-body Ford as Rudd veered off the road to create tension.
After a new break, Ford won the victory for his team with a giant frog burst.
The behind-the-scenes exchange between Big E and The Street Profits was fun and was included in the first segment of the ring with the rest of The New Day.
Ziggler and Zayn are great on the mic and added to what was already happening to make this a fun way to start the show. Even King Corbyn contributed, but Rudd barely said two words, if at all.
The performance in the match of eight people was good, but predictable. This type of match almost always follows the same pattern. This allows everyone to spend some time in the ring, but sometimes leads to a lot of confusion about who is legal.
This took a surprising amount of time, given how many other things SmackDown had to accomplish this week.
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Brian got into a brief confrontation with Zayn behind the scenes before giving an interview to Kayla Braxton. She repeated the video of Uso attacking Brian a few weeks ago. In another quick segment, Otis is listed as the last member of the men’s team SmackDown. Natalia approaches and yells at Pierce that she has to compete for a place on her team, and he reveals Bailey as the other member of the women’s team.
Rollins also did a short promotion behind the scenes before we entered the ring for Natalia against Tamina. Bianca Belair joined the comment table and Bayley came out right at the start of the match. She boasted that she was selected for the team, while Nati had to qualify.
Tamina immediately took control and received a double count after sending Natalia to the steel steps. The Queen of Hearts took off her disc dress before locking herself in the Sharpshooter to win.
Natalia hugged Bailey as they celebrated. Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott and Belair joined them in the ring to pose together as a team for the first time.
This match was really short and too much attention was paid to the two women in the commentary, instead of the two who were in the ring.
Tamina and Natalia are the two weakest women on the list and to see them, given what was essentially a squash match, was disappointing.
We can’t expect every segment to throw it out of the park, but it felt like minimal effort had been put into assembling it. They left two open seats until the last show before PPV and filled them in less than five minutes. That tells you everything you need to know.
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Pierce sat at the head of the table, but when Raines reached the ring, he made him get up so he could sit at the head of the table to play some conscious games with his opponent.
The tribal leader stared at McIntyre, and the WWE champion stared straight at him. Ranges said he knew McIntyre would regain the title because he had been in his place before.
He said the Scottish psychopath was in the right place at the wrong time. McIntyre said Reigns games would not work and he would not get under his skin.
They kept moving back and forth with verbal spines for a while. The segment ended without a single hit, which was the right call.
When Reigns and McIntyre had a feud with Raw last year, they never clicked for any reason. This segment has proven to have it in it, but you need to change the roles of the heel and the baby to work.
The tension was palpable when insults and false advice were traded. Reigns has found his calling as an arrogant champion, and McIntyre is the perfect foil for him.
Calling his opponent a secondary champion was a pleasant touch from The Tribal Chief. This segment sold this match, which had only one more segment before the show this week.
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Rollins attacked Murphy before the bell and knocked him off his apron. Ray, Dominic, and Aalyah Mysterio helped him to his feet, and he rushed back into the ring.
He and Rollins fought as the Messiah threw him into the barricade and the ring. Ray stopped him from using a kendo stick, but Rollins made him pay by banging his head on the announcement table. He also threw Dom into the barricade before The Juggernaut recovered and took him down.
Rollins pushed him from the top rope all the way to the barrier and he hit hard. We came back from vacation to see Murphy kick after a sling.
Rollins hits a superplex and an arrow falcon for another near fall. He shouted at Murphy before sending him into the corner with a buckle bomb. Murphy caught him with a pair of jumping knees before hitting Murphy’s Law. He made the cover and won the upset victory.
Class: B +
It was a good match with a surprisingly clean outcome. Murphy would have been better at PPV to beat Rollins outright, but seeing that was still great.
These are two of the best workers at SmackDown and they have made that reputation with a high-energy competition. The Mysterio family that was there made sense, but it would be nice if Murphy won this victory alone.
Rollins will probably take some time soon when his child is born, so this may be WWE’s way of writing him off from television in a few months.
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Sasha Banks and Asuka had a strange segment together in the ring before Carmela attacked the Boss from behind. Asuka just watched Mela beat her.
The main event of the night saw Brian face Uso in an attempt to get some return for the brutal attack he suffered a few weeks ago. As soon as the referee rang the bell, Brian sprinted to Uso and began pounding.
He locked Uso in a modified STF and struck him several times in the forearm before releasing him. Uce took him down and led him out of the ring so he could get him in the steps. He cleared the announcement table, but that allowed Brian to recover and bring him back for a missile strike.
While we were on vacation, Uso put Brian through the bulletin board. We came back to see that Uso still dominates the match. He mocked Brian before taking him for a regular helmet.
Brian resisted the Samoan drop and lined up for the running knee, but Uce blocked it and hit a few super hits. Brian blocked Uso Splash and spun him for the win.
Class: B +
Just like their first meeting, Brian and Uso did a great show. This time the aggression was much higher, which led to a lot of physical exchange of blows.
The change in attitudes that Uso went through was almost as significant as the one he experienced. He is convincing in his delivery and has set his style to work like a villain.
Brian is still one of the best outsiders in the business because he is also one of the most difficult. He may be smaller than many boys, but he always looks realistic when he treads on someone’s face in the mat.
It wasn’t related to the Survivor Series, but it was still a fun way to close the go-home show.