The Rock and Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch attacked King Corbin
No one electrifies an audience quite like The Rock. I shudder to think what WWE had planned for this opening segment before Rock was announced for the show earlier this week, but at least they were able to make it happen. Rock hasn't been seen on WWE TV in over three years, so this was a special moment. I'd argue no one, outside of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, gets the type of reactions he does to this day. They don't make stars quite like that anymore. At any rate, this was the fun segment we all expected with Corbin getting obliterated by Rock on the mic and Lynch getting the rub from helping Rock out. Of course, Rock won't be around every week, but it just wouldn't have been right to celebrate 20 years of the blue brand without him. I loved this.
Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair def. SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks
We saw this exact same match a month ago (with the exact same finish, mind you), but this was an excellent tag team affair, nonetheless. The crowd was into it, all four women played their roles well, and it managed to further two feuds at once. There was a loud pop when Banks and Lynch came to blows, so their upcoming Hell in a Cell matchup should be stellar. Flair beating Bayley sets her up for another shot at the SmackDown Women's Championship on Sunday.
Universal Champion Seth Rollins vs. Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura Ended in a No Contest (Non-Title)
As a big of a match as this was on paper (and as good as it had the potential to be), I'm not surprised it wasn't advertised in advance considering it ended up being a complete afterthought. They wrestled for all of two minutes before the lights went out and The Fiend struck, attacking Rollins on the stage. That was after a new episode of Firefly Fun House aired, so it's clear FOX executives are high on Bray Wyatt and likely want him on SmackDown coming out of next week's WWE Draft (I'd keep him on Raw, personally). Hilariously enough, this was the only build WWE had for Hell in a Cell on this entire episode.
Kevin Owens def. Shane McMahon in a Ladder Match
I saw complaints online that this was way too short (or should have been saved for the pay-per-view, which is true), but I honestly thought this was the perfect length. Shane is no threat to Owens in the ring and scored more offense than he probably should have here, so I'm not sure what people wanted/expected. They pulled up some awesome spots, kept the crowd entertained the entire time, and delivered a satisfying ending. Please, please, please let this mean that Shane is in fact done as an on-air character for the time being. I'm not holding my breath seeing as how WWE tends to go back stipulations such as this more often than not, but to say he has overstayed his welcome over the past year alone would be a massive understatement. Give the guy a rest.
Braun Strowman, The Miz and Heavy Machinery def. United States Champion AJ Styles, Randy Orton and Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
You had to know the match wasn't going to matter when none of the competitors (not even Orton or Styles!) received a televised entrance except for Strowman. In fact, the only reason this happened was so Strowman and professional boxer Tyson Fury could tease going at it. I was barely familiar with Fury going into this show, but it definitely could be something special if promoted properly. Does that mean Strowman is SmackDown bound?
Roman Reigns def. Erick Rowan in a Lumberjack Match
When was this changed to a Lumberjack match? I mean, it made sense given Luke Harper has been interfering in Rowan's matches since Clash of Champions, but it kind of came out of nowhere. It was the usual mess that Lumberjack matches wind up being, but Reigns and Rowan did well with the stipulation and produced a solid matchup. I understand the Lumberjacks can get physical with the combatants at ringside, but once they attack anyone in the ring, it normally leads to a disqualification. The referee did nothing about Harper hitting Reigns in the ring, which was weird. Daniel Bryan getting involved evened the odds and resulted in a win for Reigns. Bryan being so willing to team with Reigns makes me think he'll turn on him at Hell in a Cell.
Brock Lesnar def. Kofi Kingston to Win the WWE Championship; Cain Velasquez Debuted
Damn. I didn't get my hopes up for a competitive match or anything (especially when I realized there was 10 minutes left in the show), but a 10-second squash was a serious disappointment. He was hardly a threat to Lesnar, but Kingston should have been allowed to look a little better in defeat than he did. That said, I appreciate that he got a WWE title run at all. Props to WWE for booking him so strong over the past six months, but I fear it's back to the tag team or midcard divisions for him now. As if that wasn't a crazy enough ending, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez (who has history with Lesnar in UFC from almost a decade ago) showed up to confront his old rival and take him down in the ring. I may be in the minority, but I am very excited to see that rivalry play out in WWE. It'll bring legitimacy to SmackDown on FOX and make things very interesting on Friday nights, depending on how active both guys will be going forward.
SmackDown has officially arrived on FOX and I am very optimistic for the blue brand's future. Not every episode is going to be as big of a deal as this was, but the ratings are bound to be higher than they were previously, and because of that, I assume WWE will want to make SmackDown a top priority. Michael Cole and Corey Graves weren't as overbearing as they usually are on commentary and the new set looks gorgeous. Rock's return was a blast, Shane was finally fired (fingers crossed), and those last 10 minutes were wild. Lesnar's WWE Championship win and Velasquez's debut made this a newsworthy night. Unfortunately, WWE forgot it has a pay-per-view on Sunday with Hell in a Cell, and as of this writing, only three matches are advertised. That's pitiful. Welp, at least we have the Draft to look forward to next week!
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