Fresh off an edition of WWE Raw coming out of the TLC pay-per-view that included a show-ending invasion staged by the SmackDown Live brand, SmackDown had an opportunity to really knock things out of the park with a fantastic follow-up show and captivating storyline.
Consider that opportunity lost. Though the topic of the invasion took up most of the show, there was absolute not fallout from it and very little explanation as to why or how commissioner Shane McMahon was able to rally his superstars — both faces and heels — together to take down a common opponent.
If you need a refresher,when Raw was “under siege.” Keep on reading to see how SmackDown unfolded on Tuesday night.
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Fallout from the Raw invasion
Commissioner Shane McMahon started the show in the ring, explaining that he learned well as a child to always throw the first punch when entering a fight. He said that once he allowed AJ Styles to fill in at TLC, he decided to allow him to stay another night and bring the SmackDown roster with him. Though McMahon did not say whether this determined the invasion, he indicated that Raw general manager Kurt Angle questioning the talent of the SmackDown roster sealed the red show’s fate. Sami Zayn’s music hit, and while McMahon shared his problems with Zayn, he accepted the superstar’s “selfless” offer to compete for SmackDown by giving him a shot to earn his way onto the team against Randy Orton later in the show. Kevin Owens appeared backstage over an hour later and told Zayn he had a similar opportunity against Shinsuke Nakamura.
In between those segments, SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan questioned McMahon as to why he did not involve Bryan in the decision making to invade Raw. McMahon said it is his job to be the ultimate decision maker and choose what is best for the brand, to which Bryan replied that he was not in favor of the move and did not like it. Michael Cole also cut to a backstage camera on a garage door multiple times throughout the show, indicating that SmackDown was anticipating some sort of retaliation from Raw.
Those invading Raw superstars never came. The main event proceeded with Owens attempting to distract Orton, only to instead distract the referee and allow Orton to hit a low blow and then RKO on Zayn to win and join Team SmackDown. After the match, Bryan told McMahon he was lucky no one from Raw showed up but that they would soon and it would be on his head.
This was a ho-hum follow-up to an entertaining yet nonsensical finish to Raw on Monday night. Granted, trying to book for a random brand vs. brand event is difficult when you start cold, but that’s WWE’s fault for not establishing storylines over the last month that could have been cashed in for the lead-up to Survivor Series. Instead, the entire reasoning for SmackDown going after Raw right out of the gate is a “strike first, worry later” mentality. It’s not exactly bad on the surface, but at the same time, it’s relatively lackluster when McMahon and Angle had a noted rivalry and past issues.
There’s still enough here to hold out hope that business will pick up in the coming weeks leading into Survivor Series, but there’s nothing to do right now but shrug, wait and see. The McMahon-Bryan dynamic is at least a bit interesting as it may lead to a fracturing of their relationship in some manner.
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin def. The New Day via pinfall: The Usos were on commentary watching the new No. 1 contenders fight the former champions. Gable & Benjamin were put over clean with a mix-up finish and will likely challenge The Usos at some point before Survivor Series.
- Fashion Dogs: A parody of “Reservoir Dogs” this week. The Ascension tied up James Ellsworth and drank gas before Carmella walked in to intervene. Fandango stole her briefcase to see what was inside and pulled out a pair of Ellsworth’s dirty underwear. The Ascension then tried to end the party by explaining “2B” is Bludgeon Brothers, to which Breezango ignored them and announced a Strangerer Things parody next week. These have gone from great to OK to awful in a very short period of time.
- Sin Cara def. Baron Corbin via disqualification: Corbin wanted revenge for Sin Cara beating him a week ago and wrecked him outside the ring until the referee called for the DQ and declared Sin Cara the victor.
- AJ Styles def. Sunil Singh via submission: After Jinder Mahal cut a decent promo against Paul Heyman and Brock Lensar, Styles tapped out Singh via the calf crusher in about a minute. Following the match, Mahal demanded from Bryan a match for Samir Singh against Styles next week.
- Becky Lynch def. Carmella (via submission), Charlotte Flair, Naomi and Tamina Snuka: Backstage earlier in the show, Bryan told entire women’s division — sans champion Natalya — that it would compete as Team SmackDown at Survivor Series. Lana was excited but noted there were six women, and Bryan joked that of course she was not on the team. He then booked this match with the winner becoming team captain. Carmella appeared on her way to winning, but Lynch locked her up in Dis-Arm-Her to pick up the tap out victory.
- There was a third Bludgeon Brothers vignette, and it was the same as the first two.
- Dolph Ziggler cut off Renee Young backstage and turned his attention from entrance themes to catchphrases, claiming that he proved last week by beating Bobby Roode that he was superior. Roode then approached, and Ziggler told him they’re not friends just because they invaded Raw together. Roode said he wanted a rubber match in their series then suggested a 2-out-of-3 falls match that Ziggler accepted.