SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks Attacked Charlotte Flair
I was slightly disappointed Bayley came out to her same old entrance theme and did her usual shtick to start the show, but it's clear that her character is delusional and she has no idea that what she did on Raw was wrong. Flair isn't a full-fledged face just yet if the delivery of her promo in this segment was any indication, but I could see that changing after Clash of Champions. Either way, Banks and Bayley scored genuine heat from the crowd for their beatdown of Flair.
Elias def. Ali in a King of the Ring Quarterfinal Match
Elias' matches don't normally do a ton for me, but I thought he had a hell of a performance here. It probably helped that he was up against Ali, who is just fantastic. This had a really fun pace and the crowd was invested in the action. I figured this would be an easy win for Ali, but apparently not. I have no desire to see Elias in the semifinals of the tournament, but here's hoping this means he's simply being set up to lose to Chad Gable (who also advanced on this episode).
Fire and Desire def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (Non-Title)
It seems Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville are officially going by the Fire and Desire name now. The last match they had with Bliss and Cross two weeks ago on Raw wasn't particularly good, but this was definitely better with all four women putting forth a commendable effort. You had to assume that Fire and Desire would win based off how Bliss and Cross currently don't have any scheduled opponents for Clash of Champions, so expect a rematch for the titles to be booked for the card.
Randy Orton and The Revival Attacked WWE Champion Kofi Kingston
Orton and The Revival continue to be a terrific trio. They have such strong chemistry together, but I'm hoping this doesn't eventually end with Orton turning on the two of them. Orton's promo was decent yet nothing we haven't heard from him before in this feud. The attack on Kingston was also well done. This was a solid segment that effectively hyped their upcoming encounter for the WWE Championship at Clash of Champions.
Chad Gable def. Andrade in a King of the Ring Quarterfinal Match
Similar to Cedric Alexander, Ali and Buddy Murphy, Gable has been given a real shot at super stardom in this King of the Ring tournament and has definitely made the most of it. Although his outing against Shelton Benjamin last week was criminally short (no pun intended), this was a lot longer and way more enjoyable. Better yet, Gable and Andrade had the crowd in the palm of their hands throughout the bout and had them hanging on every nearfall. The audience erupted for Gable's upset victory and I couldn't be more stoked that he advanced. Could we end up getting Gable vs. Baron Corbin in the finals?
Aleister Black def. Shelton Benjamin
Black finally stopped complaining about getting his door not getting knocked on and decided to do something about it. This would have been the perfect place to pull off some sort of cool surprise for Black's opponent, but no such luck. Rather, this was designed to be a total showcase for Black with him winning in quick and dominant fashion. Here's hoping he can maintain momentum this time around by actually appearing on TV consistently from week to week.
Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura def. Local Athlete (Non-Title)
I'm all in on the pairing of Nakamura and Zayn and believe both men can benefit from being with each other, but this bit where Zayn obnoxiously yells during Nakamura's matches has to stop. We've seen it before with Abraham Washington (remember him?) and Lio Rush and it has never worked. It doesn't make me hate the duo more, and if anything, it just makes me want to change the channel. Here's hoping the powers that be eventually come to the conclusion that this isn't a great gimmick to have.
Erick Rowan Attacked Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan
This ongoing saga with Reigns, Rowan and Bryan feels like it's been dragging on for weeks, but it was nice to finally get an interesting twist of it with Rowan admitting that he ambushed Reigns backstage and in the car and that Bryan had nothing to do with it. I didn't expect Bryan and Rowan to sever ties, but Rowan putting him through a table essentially spelled the end of their partnership. Despite what we saw here, I maintain that Bryan is behind this thing and will reveal that it's been a ruse the entire time. I could see them waiting until after Clash of Champions to go that route, though.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: King of the Ring has been the best part of WWE programming since it started last month. Both bouts on this edition of SmackDown Live were excellent and left me looking forward to the semifinals. Plus, the stuff with Reigns, Rowan and Bryan wasn't actually half bad this week. Throw in effective squash wins for Black and Nakamura, a fine women's match, and the successful progression of the Kingston/Orton and Bayley/Flair feuds and you have yourself a quality show.
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