Here we are then at the last stop on the road to Survivor Series. We have seen a Smackdown invasion of RAW, the New Day cost the Shield their tag titles, a furious exchange of tweets between stars on opposite sides of the Blue-Red divide, and title changes to make the champion v. champion matches more appealing to show the determination of the top WWE names to represent their brand. With the Women’s and US belts up for grabs, will we see more title changes tonight? And how will RAW finally get their revenge on their blue brethren? Let’s find out:
Shane rallies the troops
We kick off with Shane addressing the Smackdown roster backstage. He goes over the usual ‘one night of the year…’ and ‘not the B show, the show’ lines before addressing Becky Lynch, Baron Corbin, and the New Day, who luckily happen to have microphones to hand. Shane reminds us of the additions of John Cena and Triple H to the main event and the segment closes with the New Day leading a chant of ‘Smackdown rocks!’
This was more of a recap of the card and events over the last few weeks than a rally. All in all, a predictable kick off to the show.
Daniel Bryan Returns
After an entire two weeks off TV (that had nothing to do with the Smackdown GM not travelling to the UK for last week’s show), Daniel Bryan hits the ring to a huge pop. He says he should have known better than to go to RAW to try and make peace, and states his loyalty to the blue brand. He then repeats a lot of what Shane just said before bringing out the new WWE champ, AJ Styles.
The crowd give their new champ a huge ovation, and Daniel Bryan mimics Paul Heyman’s usual introduction for Brock Lesnar. He then calls Brock a quitter for leaving WWE years ago and for tapping out in UFC. Bryan adds that Lesnar can’t win if the match goes over ten minutes as he won’t be able to match the mental strength and stamina of AJ Styles. The champ takes the mic, saying he can handle it unlike ‘puppet’ Lesnar. He is the underdog, but he will find a way to win, he tells us. Backstage, we see Jinder Mahal vow to regain his title after Brock Lesnar has torn AJ to pieces.
Bryan did a god job as the ‘advocate’ for AJ Styles. The segment was needed to build the match but verged on overstaying its welcome with a lot of unnecessary repetition after Shane’s speech.
US Title Match: Baron Corbin (c) v. Sin Cara
After three inconclusive finishes, we finally get a title match between these two. Sin Cara has the advantage early on before we go to commercials. As usual, the momentum has switched by the time we come back with Corbin in control. Sin Cara mounts a comeback with a springboard off the ropes and a dive to the outside. He keeps leaping off the ropes to net a couple of near falls before Corbin nails Deep 6 for a near fall of his own. Sin Cara looks to have it won after a moonsault on the outside but the Lone Wolf recovers and lands the End of Days for the win. Winner: Baron Corbin
The right call to give Corbin a much needed clean win ahead of his clash with the Miz. Corey Graves says Miz will be ‘quaking in his boots’ due to the dominant performance. We must have been watching different matches as I only saw Corbin hit two moves. That is what Miz should be afraid of – Corbin hits one of those moves and that’s it.
Women’s Title Match: Natalya (c) v. Charlotte
Back-to-back title matches at the top of the show – it seems the SD Live team has learned from last week and doesn’t want to risk running short on time. Charlotte gets a big pop from the Charlotte crowd, who chant her name at the start of the match. We get a repeat of the start of the US title match as the challenger is in control, we go to commercials, and come back with the champ on top. A sudden spear gets Charlotte a near fall and Natalya is on the backfoot. An ill-advised moonsault attempt from the barricade results in Natalya smashing Charlotte into the ring post. The challenger then escapes a Sharpshooter and ties Natalya up in the Figure 8 to get the win by submission. In a post-match interview, she dedicates her title win to Ric Flair, who then makes a surprise entrance and the crowd go wild. Winner: Charlotte
Charlotte finally gets her first Smackdown Women’s Title, and for once the ‘you deserve it!’ chants ring true. We now have a much more intriguing match for Survivor Series – Alexa Bliss v. Charlotte. But what now for the Smackdown women’s team? A spot is open – does Natalya take it? Lana? Or will we get a surprise entrant?
Jimmy Uso v. Chad Gable
A grudge match after Chad Gable’s chop block lost week caused Jey Uso to get counted out in the tag title match. The Usos cut a promo to hype their match with The Bar at Survivor Series, recalling that they were the final two teams in the tag elimination match last year. Gable goes for Jimmy’s knee with a series of moves. A missed moonsault (another one!) lets Jimmy back into it and he immediately kicks at Gable’s knee. He calls for an ‘Uso!’ chant before hitting a corner splash – I guess they are faces now after all. A clash between Jey Uso and Shelton Benjamin on the outside causes a distraction and Jimmy gets the win with a super kick. Winner: Jimmy Uso
Predictable momentum for the Survivor Series competitors. Nothing much more to say than that.
The New Day v. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens
In the locker room, we see Sami and KO lament their lack of involvement at Survivor Series (but I’m sure they will get themselves involved somehow). In the ring, The New Day cut a promo against The Shield. They predict their opponents’ reunion will not last, but the New Day will always be a true team. The New Day control the match early on, giving both Zayn and Owens the run around. KO swings the momentum in his side’s favour when he pulls Woods to the outside and hits a senton splash on the floor. The heels work Xavier Woods over until a hot tag lets Big E in. He unloads on Zayn and Owens until…
The Shield Invades Smackdown!
The Shield’s music hits and the crowd go nuts. The Hounds of Justice appear in the stands in half-Raw, half-Shield shirts and descend the steps. The New Day, Owens, and Zayn line up the ring as the Shield take up their positions. Owens and Zayn then simply walk off leaving the New Day at the Shield’s mercy. The Usos come in to help their Blue brand brothers but the Bar soon appear and join the fray.
Backstage, the RAW women’s team and Alexa Bliss storm the women’s locker room. They surround new champ Charlotte who eats a nasty forearm smash from Bliss.
Back to the ring, we see Samoa Joe and Finn Balor storm the ring as Shane and the Smackdown roster finally come to make the save. Complete bedlam takes over and it gets more chaotic as Kurt Angle and calls out Braun Strowman. He ploughs through every superstar who comes at him including Shinsuke Nakamura. Shane McMahon then tries to jump the Monster Among Men, but that ends about as well as you would expect for him.
With Team RAW now in control of the ring area, Shane is left at the mercy of the Shield. The hold him down as Kurt Angle enters the ring – I’m almost expecting him to say ‘Tywin Lannister sends his regards’ at this point. He gives the thumbs down and the Shield deliver the triple powerbomb, which is followed up by the Angle Slam and another triple powerbomb for good measure. The RAW roster stands tall on the stage to end the show as the Smackdown crew lie broken in and around the ring.
That was complete chaos and a great way to end the show (even though the usual issues of babyfaces acting like complete heels and all rivalries being temporarily forgotten hold true). Owen and Zayn bailing made complete sense but there were other noticeable no-shows. I may have missed it in all the brawling and fast paced action but where was AJ Styles? Why did John Cena not show up? What about Randy Orton? From the RAW side, we wouldn’t expect to see Brock but what about Triple H? The Miz? Their participation needs to be hyped just as much as everyone else’s.
That was a good go-home show ahead of the ‘one time a year RAW and Smackdown superstars face each other in head to head competition.’ We had three and a half decent matches, just the right number of promos and hype packages, and a chaotic invasion scene to round things off. We can overlook the strange sight of pure babyfaces like Bayley and Finn Balor jumping people from behind, The Bar and The Shield working together, and the absence of key players in favour of the things that were done right – The Shield leading the invasion, the waves of attack, Braun getting his own entrance, and Kurt Angle getting his revenge as Shane got his comeuppance. It’s hard not to be hyped for Survivor Series after that so a good job all around.