A big night in store with two matches booked for spots on Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. Who will join Randy Orton at the penultimate PPV of the year? Bobby Roode or Dolph Ziggler? Kevin Owens or Shinsuke Nakamura? What other twists can we expect? Will there be any fallout from Daniel Bryan’s fumble in the dark with Kane on RAW the night before? And, on Halloween, how will Smackdown react to RAW’s Trick or Street Fight Match of the Year contender?
Shane McMahon Promo
Tom Philips, back on commentary, announces “What a way to kick off the show!” as Shane’s music hits. I think he forgot the word ‘predictable.’ Shane talks about how Smackdown has always been seen as an inferior brand by the people in charge at RAW and how he decided to make a stand and show Smackdown’s dominance (I guess that concussion last year means he has forgotten that Team Smackdown won the most recent Survivor Series main event). He gets the crowd in on the act as they chant ‘under siege!’ This all leads to the big announcement that the captain of Team Smackdown will be… Shane himself. Again. Great.
Bobby Roode v. Dolph Ziggler (2 out of 3 falls)
After two underwhelming matches, these two face off one last time with a spot on the Survivor Series team at stake. I have just realised that with a series of matches and a dodgy loss against Ziggler, Bobby Roode is playing a real-life version of WWE 2K18 My Career mode! Anyway, this match is a lot better than their previous encounters. The action is fast-paced with plenty of near falls adding to the drama. Roode dominates early on but loses the first fall after a superkick. He levels things up by rolling up Ziggler after a slingshot into the corner. After some more dramatic near falls, Roode hits the Glorious DDT and gets the win. Winner: Bobby Roode
We see the New Day dressed up as Jimmy Hart, Akeem The African Dream, and Brother Love trick or treating until they are confronted by Rusev and Aiden English. Rusev calls them out for fooling around when RAW could attack at any moment (even though they are on their way to Europe for a tour). Rusev gets huge heel heat by calling Halloween a dumb holiday and stamping on the New Day’s candy. This leads to a challenge from Big E for a match later in the night.
Baron Corbin v. Sin Cara
A rematch of the rematch after last week’s DQ finish – why is the title not on the line yet? The match is a sluggish affair with Corbin constantly trying to pull off Sin Cara’s mask. Eventually Sin Cara loses it as the action turns into a brawl outside. As they fight around the announce table, the referee calls the match off. Sin Cara then goes Braun Strowman and tosses a chair at Corbin who escapes through the crowd. Not a great look for the US Champ. Where is this one going? No contest
AJ Styles v. Samir Singh
Jinder Mahal kicks things off with a promo to hype his match with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series – still hard to get excited about these champ v. champ match ups. The only one I am looking forward to is Ambrose & Rollins v. The Usos. Anyway, the match is short with AJ hitting the Styles Clash in less than a minute. Jinder immediately jumps his future opponent and beats him down with the help of Sunil. Jinder stands tall after smashing AJ into the ring post and hitting the Khalas twice. Winner: AJ Styles
Rusev v. Big E
Aiden English starts off with an anti-Halloween rendition of ‘Rusev Day’ and gets a big reaction from the crowd (so criticising Halloween is a major heat magnet – who knew?) The New Day cut his song short and come out still in costume. Big E has the upper hand early on until Rusev blasts him into the post. These two move quickly for their size so a good match ensues with a combination of power and athleticism on display. The match ends when English and Woods get into a musical confrontation outside. English runs into the ring but gets hit with the Big Ending. Rusev takes advantage with a superkick and gets the pinfall. Backstage, Rusev demands a spot on Team Smackdown. Shane responds by booking one more qualifying match for next week: Rusev v. AJ Styles. Winner: Rusev
Before the main event, here is a quick round up of the night’s other backstage segments:
- Becky Lynch gave the Smackdown women’s team a pep talk that Natalya interrupted.
- Gable and Benjamin informed the Usos their match for the tag titles will take place next week.
- Sin Cara gave Renee Young a muffled interview about his mask – they are very important to luchadores in case you didn’t know…
- The Bludgeon Brothers delivered another vignette and were also quite literally highlighted in Breezango’s ‘Starngerer Things’ segment. Breezango and The Ascension were their usual silly selves, but it was Tye Dillinger who stole the segment.
Shinsuke Nakamura v. Kevin Owens
Tough match to call here – both guys would be strong additions to Team Smackdown and deserve a PPV spotlight (which makes Shane McMahon’s decision to insert himself into the match even more baffling). Nakamura is on top through the first half of the match with his usual offence of stiff strikes. Sami Zayn appears at ringside midway through the match, which gives KO a temporary advantage. In the move of the night, KO reverses a top rope suplex and nearly gets the fall. Shinsuke counters the pop-up powerbomb and then goes for Kinshasa but Zayn pulls his buddy out of the ring. Owens then hits a huge frog splash from the top turnbuckle, but Nakamura somehow kicks out. He orders Sami to clear the announce table but then Randy Orton’s music hits. He comes through the crowd and dumps Zayn onto the table in a rare non-RKO surprise attack. The distraction allows Shinsuke to KO KO with Kinshasa. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Is Team Smackdown shaping up to be a babyface team? Orton, Roode, Nakamura, and Shane McMahon are already in and AJ Styles on paper has to be the favourite for the final spot. Of course, there could be a twist with Jinder Mahal costing AJ his place and it will be worth tuning in next week to see. This week was a good show, starting and ending with strong matches, adding heat to the Mahal-Styles rivalry, and adding just the right amount of Halloween fun without the need to waste ring time on silly gimmick matches (RAW creative, take note). The only weak spots in the show were the throwaway women’s segment and the on-going inconclusive booking for Corbin and Sin Cara. I am prepared to give that some time to see how it plays out though. Smackdown has been getting steadily better since Hell in a Cell and with one last Survivor Series Qualifier and a tag title match next week, the trend looks set to continue.