With only two editions of SmackDown to go before the WWE SummerSlam pay-per-view, Friday night's show saw competing focuses of ongoing attacks by Retribution and the continuing issues between universal champion Braun Strowman and "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt. The result was an unbalanced and unfocused show that ended on a shocking note with Strowman attacking longtime friend and former mixed tag partner Alexa Bliss.
In the show's final segment, Strowman came to the ring to demand The Fiend come to the ring to face him, only to be confronted by Bliss, who had been attacked and taken by The Fiend two weeks ago. Bliss demanded Strowman snap out of whatever was wrong with him -- and whatever caused him to claim last week to "not give a damn" about her -- before slapping him. Strowman lifted Bliss above his head as The Fiend teased showing up when lights began to go out throughout the building. At the moments the lights came back, Strowman launched Bliss into the air, leaving her down in the ring when The Fiend's red lights came on, only for Strowman to have disappeared from the ring. Strowman then showed up on the video screen, laughing maniacally before The Fiend joined in on the laughter.
There's one week left to build on the story, but it has produced a rare situation where a pay-per-view title match is now a heel vs. heel affair, with The Fiend twisting Strowman to the point where both men have now executed brutal attacks on Bliss.
We were with you all night long, bringing you highlights, recaps and grades for the action. Read on for complete results and a recap of everything that happened on the show.
WWE SmackDown results, grades
Retribution kicked off the show by attacking Big E and John Morrison: Before the match between Big E and Morrison could begin, members of retribution swarmed the ring and attacked. After leaving both men down and out, the group ran from the ring before The Miz ran down to help out Morrison. After a commercial break, King Corbin told the locker room that they are under attack and suggested everyone follow him as leader. Big E told Corbin to shut up and said he'll be damned if "the Foot Soldiers from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" would hold him back and called on the locker room to stand and fight. Sheamus interrupted and said Big E was now vulnerable and scared without the rest of New Day, and that's why Retribution attacked, but that they wouldn't dare interfere with his match later in the night with Shorty G. Big E ended the segment by saying if Sheamus had any sense, he'd realize that he is not alone.
Asuka won a battle royal to win a shot at Bayley's SmackDown women's championship: Asuka -- who already has a title shot at Sasha Banks set for SummerSlam -- was a surprise entrant, shocking Bayley and Sasha Banks, who were operating as ring announcers. Asuka sprinted to the ring and attacked Bayley before the rest of the entrants also ran and got into the ring. Ruby Riott was almost immediately eliminated, effectively "taking the bullet" for Liv Morgan. The IIconics were eliminated moments later and pulled Morgan off the canvas for an elimination before the teams brawled off. There were other minor storylines running through the match, including Lacey Evans and Naomi renewing their issues, ending when Evans was able to eliminate Naomi. Bianca Belair had an impressive moment, single-handedly eliminating Tamina. Dana Brooke pulled the old sneak play of trying to wait outside the ring after not being eliminated, but that didn't do well for her before being eliminated and leaving the final two of Asuka and Shayna Baszler. Bayley tried to help eliminate Asuka when Baszler landed a knee while Asuka was on the apron. Asuka landed on Bayley and Banks rather than the floor, however, and then reversed a Kirifuda Clutch by pulling Baszler over the top rope to score the elimination and get a shot at Bayley's gold at SummerSlam. There was a bit too much of the "eliminated competitor eliminates someone else" gimmick through the match, but deciding to run with two Asuka matches at SummerSlam is a gutsy call and should make for a pair of very good matches -- unless WWE decides to make a triple threat match. Grade: B
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville agreed to a SummerSlam hair vs. hair match: Rose thanked Deville for reminding her that she is much more than a pretty face when she attacked her two weeks ago on SmackDown and cut her hair. After a short promo, Rose threw down the challenge for the two to meet at SummerSlam in a hair vs. hair match. Later in the show, Deville said she was surprised by Rose's earlier challenge. She then said after she thought about the idea, she realized Rose would look great bald before promising to destroy Rose once and for all. Deville finished by officially accepting the match.
Sheamus def. Shorty G via pinfall: Prior to the match, Sheamus told security they could leave, playing up his earlier statements to Big E that Retribution would not dare run in on his match. Sheamus dominated the early part of the match before Shorty G was able to make a comeback and lock up an ankle lock and then almost score a roll-up for the win. Instead, Sheamus hit White Noise and hit a Brogue Kick to score the win in a mostly one-sided match. As Sheamus predicted, We've seen better matches from these two in the past, so it's hard to not feel a bit disappointed. Grade: C+
AJ Styles introduced a new ranking system, received a challenger: Styles said there are more pressing matters than Retribution, including who he will face for the intercontinental championship. He said he just wants to enjoy being champion, preferring to sit at home and enjoy the moment while streaming on Twitch. Christopher Parks (formerly Abyss in Impact Wrestling) was with Styles in the ring and Styles said he created a statistical system to determine who should challenge for his title. Unveiling a whiteboard that showed only his own name and saying no one had earned the right to face him for the title. Jeff Hardy then interrupted the promo and pointed out that Sheamus robbed his chance in the intercontinental championship tournament, but that was the past and he would let it go. But Hardy also said the title means a lot to him, since it was the first singles title he ever won. Hardy told Styles that having a match with him sounded "super cool" and asked, man-to-man, for a shot at the belt. Styles said he respects Hardy, but gave the runaround before saying "hell no" to the match. After Styles said that this isn't a "pity party," Hardy attacked, leaving Styles down and out before signing his own name on Styles' whiteboard. Styles seemed to agree to the challenge later in the show, though the bout was not confirmed. The segment took a hit with some trademark bad WWE humor, with Styles' statistical system having the acronym P.I.S.S. (Phenomenal Intercontinental Statistic System). Grade: C
Gran Metalik def. Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall: Before the match, Cesaro and Nakamura cut a backstage promo, saying that they would squash the "tiny" Lucha House Party like bugs in a tag title match. Nakamura was firmly in control of the match when the Lucha House Party music hit and Kalisto made his surprise return, taking out Cesaro and creating a distraction that allowed Metalik to hit the diving elbow on Nakamura to score the three count. Another too-short match that didn't develop any story in the ring and was just a stepping stone to the eventual tag title shot. Grade: C+
Matt Riddle was attacked by King Corbin: Riddle said no one likes a bounty on their head, and as a laid back guy, it's annoying to keep his head on a swivel. Riddle said he has tried everything to get Corbin in the ring. Shorty G then interrupted and apologized for attacking Riddle, saying he only did it because he has a family at home and the money to take him out would have been life changing. After Shorty G apologized and said he felt sick about it, Riddle forgave him and said to let him know if he ever wanted a match, because he's always down for a fight. Corbin then attacked Riddle from behind, leaving him down and out and thanking "Chad" for the help, though it was unclear whether Shorty G was actually a part of the plan.
Alexa Bliss addressed her involvement in the issues between Braun Strowman and The Fiend: Nikki Cross ran into Bliss backstage and apologized for shoving her two weeks ago and asked what happened with The Fiend. Bliss didn't want to talk about it, but told Cross that she wasn't leaving because she wanted answers from Braun Strowman. Later, in an interview segment, Bliss talked about her relationship with Strowman and their past as Team Little Big. She was asked if there was ever anything romantic between the two, to which she said, "maybe." Bliss then talked about how terrifying being around The Fiend was, but also said he was "compelling" and for the first time in her life, she understands the idea of "moth to a flame." Bliss was asked how she felt about Strowman's comments to The Fiend that he "doesn't give a damn" about her. Rather than answer, Bliss stared off camera as the show went to commercial.
Big E def. John Morrison via submission as Retribution attacked again: Morrison focused on the knee of Big E, injured in the earlier attack from Retribution, early. Big E quickly took over, tossing Morrison from the ring and also hitting a splash as Morrison was laid out on the ring apron. Miz, who was on commentary, provided a distraction, allowing Morrison to hit a chop block on Big E's bad knee. Otis then made his way to ringside, Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. The lights then began to flicker in the building and the show cut to commercial. After the commercial, much of the locker room surrounded the ring and the match continued. The lights then flickered again and Retribution was shown backstage attacking crew members and destroying property -- and, inexplicably, trapping a man in a bathroom. The roster members eventually realized what was going on and ran backstage but Retribution was already gone. The match continued for another few moments before Big E locked Morrison in a stretch muffler to secure the submission. Sheamus ran in and laid out Big E after the match but left as Braun Strowman made his way to the ring. The retribution nonsense continues to miss the mark, and the whole situation was made to feel silly as Michael Cole and Corey Graves sat feet away from the wrestlers who had surrounded the ring discussing that someone needed to let them know about the backstage attack. Big E and Morrison was yet another match on the card that had potential to deliver in a big way, but all the nonsense reduced the actual match to background noise. Grade: C-
Braun Strowman called out The Fiend, attacked Alexa Bliss: Strowman said The Fiend knows exactly what he's going to get when they face off at SummerSlam. Strowman again said he was now the "most evil son of a bitch anyone ever laid eyes on." After saying he would kill The Fiend and "consume" his entrails, Alexa Bliss' music hit. Bliss said they needed to have a conversation and that Strowman is not acting like the man she knows, especially when he said he doesn't give a damn about her. Strowman accused Bliss of using him as a pawn and said everyone who comes into contact with The Fiend changes, including her. Bliss slapped Strowman several times, screaming, "wake up, this isn't you" before he lifted her over his head, ready to throw her from the ring, but the lights began to go out, with Strowman throwing Bliss into the air as everything went black. The red lights came on and The Fiend was in the ring and Strowman showed up on the big screen, laughing. The Fiend joined in the laughter as the show went off the air. This was the official moment Strowman was fully changed by his interaction with The Fiend -- the very thing he accused Bliss of undergoing. It's an interesting enough angle, and one where Bliss has done a fine job with what she has been given. But Strowman continues to struggle delivering compelling promos and doing character work. The tone of the SummerSlam match has also shifted to something of a heel vs. heel pairing, especially after Strowman viciously attacked Bliss. Grade: B-