If there was any doubt that the story between universal champion Braun Strowman and his former leader, Bray Wyatt, was not over, it was erased on SmackDown this week when Wyatt made his intentions to continue stalking the champ clear. Interestingly, it was not Wyatt's "Fiend" personality that initiated the next stage in the rivalry, rather it was a blast from the past.
Wyatt hosted the first edition of the "Firefly Fun House" since losing to Strowman at Money in the Bank in May. When Strowman interrupted the segment and declared the story between the two to be over, Wyatt said he'd learned to resurrect the dead before the camera cut to Wyatt dressed in his old Wyatt Family gear. Wyatt then told a clearly-disturbed Strowman, "You know where to find me. Just follow the buzzards," adding another wrinkle to the story and possibly hinting at the direction things will go if the two meet at July's Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
What else went down on SmackDown? Check out the results, recap and grades coming out of a surprisingly strong edition of SmackDown below.
WWE SmackDown recap, grades
Matt Riddle def. AJ Styles via pinfall: The match was initiated when Riddle, making his official SmackDown debut, interrupted Styles' championship celebration in which he ran down Daniel Bryan and the entire SmackDown roster. Before the match, Styles cut off the announcement that the match was for the intercontinental championship, confirming the title would not be on the line. Riddle took the fight right to Styles with a series of suplexes. The two men engaged in a hard-hitting bit of wrestling before Riddle was eventually dumped from the ring and bumped into King Corbin. Corbin shoved Riddle and the two began to jaw at each other as the show went to commercial. This very good match ended when Riddle caught Styles coming off the top rope and hit BroDerek for debut victory.
This was an excellent match to open the show. Riddle and Styles are two of the best wrestlers on the roster and they gelled nearly perfectly in-ring here. Grade: B+
Jeff Hardy spoke about his loss to Sheamus at Backlash: Hardy said he's been trying to turn his life around, but he's felt like that for a long time despite how great his life has been. Hardy said that he has lost plenty of matches, but Sheamus is a constant reminder of the things he doesn't like about himself. This has created a lot of negative thinking, leading him to wonder if he doesn't have it any more or if he's a bad husband and father, but he knows to catch himself before that thinking spirals out of control. He ended by saying he's not done yet. Later in the show, Sheamus admitted that things have gotten serious and lines have been crossed. Then he said that Hardy saying he is a bully made him realize that, yes, he is a bully. And people like Hardy deserve to be bullied, adding that next week everyone will need to grab a drink because he will toast to Jeff Hardy.
Shorty G def. Mojo Rawley via pinfall: Shorty G was interviewed before the match, with it being pointed out how much bigger Rawley is. Rawley appeared behind him, making short jokes before Shorty turned and punched him. The match was fairly quick with the power vs. technique dynamic as the focus. Shorty G managed to score a small package for the pinfall and the win. Grade: C
Sonya Deville interrupted Mandy Rose's spot on "Miz TV:" John Morrison claimed that they only lost their universal championship match to Braun Strowman -- when Miz broke a Morrison pin on Strowman -- because WWE changed the rules at the last minute, making it so only one of them could win the universal title rather than become co-champions. The duo cited that no other sport changes the rules at the last minute, and they also had to worry about Otis cashing in the Money in the Bank contract at any point. Moments after Rose was in the chair for her interview, Miz and Morrison invited Sonya Deville to the ring. Deville said she was sick of watching Rose get on TV night after night while she has to sit in the back in catering. Deville said Rose does nothing with her opportunities -- not winning matches and just making out with Otis by a pool. Rose said that Deville is just mad because she's all alone, which prompted Deville to say the only difference between them is Rose's looks which lead to her receiving unfair opportunities. Deville said she was going to rip Rose apart until her outside is as ugly as she is inside. The two then broke down into a brawl before Deville pulled Miz in front of her and ran. Miz smiled at her and Rose slapped him before leaving. Deville has developed into one of the most consistent promos on the entire roster and was great here again. Grade: B
New Day def. Lucha House Party via pinfall: Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were shown backstage watching the match on the monitors while Bayley and Sasha Banks were on commentary. This was an excellent tag match with Lucha House Party getting in a lot of offense and New Day having to make dramatic comebacks until they were finally able to get the upper hand and hit Midnight Hour for the win. The second the match was over, Nakamura and Cesaro hit the ring and put a beating on the SmackDown tag champions, culminating in a Cesaro swing into a Kinshasa. Cesaro yelled at the commentary team, saying they beat New Day and then weren't featured at all on the show. Excellent wrestling match followed by a solid angle as a very good in-ring episode of SmackDown continued. Grade: B+
Sasha Banks def. Nikki Cross via pinfall: Earlier in the night, the SmackDown women's locker room was arguing over who was Bayley's next challenger when Alexa Bliss realized Cross had disappeared. With Bayley and Banks on commentary, Cross flew into the picture and attacked both. After Bliss broke things up, Cross challenged Banks and Bayley accepted the match for her friend. After some back and forth action in another solid match, Banks hit a Meteora into a pin on Cross to score the win, once again pulling out the victory after Bayley put her in an awkward situation. Grade: B-
Braun Strowman was confronted by an old friend: Bray Wyatt began by saying that he joined a book club, learned all the latest TikTok moves, mastered the art of resurrecting the dead and learned to knit and infiltrated a reptilian stronghold in the recent weeks since we've seen him. Ramblin' Rabbit then interrupted and said Wyatt had just been sitting in a corner muttering about losing to Braun Strowman at Money in the Bank. Strowman's music hit at that point, interrupting the segment. Strowman said the story between the two is over, but Wyatt said that their chapter may be over, but he wasn't lying about resurrecting the dead and their story was just getting started. The camera then cut to Wyatt in his old Wyatt Family gear, saying that they needed to take a step back to where it all began. "You know where to find me," Wyatt said. "All you have to do, is follow the buzzards."
Bringing back "old school" Wyatt was a welcome twist instead of jumping directly to bringing out The Fiend for the next chapter in the rivalry. It will be interesting to see if the two battle at Extreme Rules with Wyatt in his old gimmick before The Fiend shows up for SummerSlam. Grade: B