The SmackDown brand has been on the Fox network for two weeks, but neither week could really be considered a "normal" edition of the weekly WWE TV product. Week 1 was the flashy debut while Week 2 was focused on the draft. Tonight's edition of the show was the first true look into what SmackDown looks like on its new home, and it was ultimately your standard WWE weekly program.
Let's take a look at what went down on SmackDown on Tuesday night from Indianapolis.
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Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns team again
A bit of Twitter trash talk set up Roman Reigns' shot at Shinsuke Nakamura's intercontinental championship after the events of the WWE Draft. In the background of it all, King Corbin was throwing his own written barbs at Reigns and his status as SmackDown's first draft pick. The match between Nakamura and Reigns for the IC title kicked off the show.
Intercontinental championship -- Roman Reigns def. Shinsuke Nakamura (c) via disqualification following interference from Corbin. Reigns brought out one of the better matches from Nakamura over the past year, with the two engaging in a good back-and-forth contest with Sami Zayn on commentary. When things appeared to be getting out of hand for Nakamura, Corbin ran in and hit Reigns with his King of the Ring scepter. A match was soon made featuring Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Baron Corbin in the night's main event.
Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns def. Baron Corbin & Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall when Bryan hit Nakamura with a running knee. The tag match was solid enough but didn't seem to serve a larger purpose as Bryan & Reigns won clean and shook hands after their victory.
As the main event of the first standard edition of SmackDown on Fox, this was fine. Ultimately, it felt like a single-episode contained story. Reigns took on Nakamura and had issues with Corbin because of his position in the draft, and Bryan helped him out because they'd teamed together at Hell in a Cell. The faces won, the world keeps turning and SmackDown still feels like it needs a "top program" to really pick up any speed as a premier weekly TV destination. Grade: C+
Bayley explains her actions, gets new No. 1 contender
Bayley and Sasha Banks appeared on an edition of "Miz TV" with Bayley explaining her actions from last week. Bayley explained she destroyed the Bayley Buddies because they'd defined her for her entire career. All she'd done throughout her career was give to the fans through hugs and headbands and high fives, she said, but what was given to her in return? No one was there for her when she lost her title at Hell in a Cell and was heartbroken, and she didn't need anyone to be there for her when she regained the title from Charlotte Flair last week. After offering life advice to the fans in the arena ("Life sucks and then you die"), Nikki Cross came out to start the festivities that were the No. 1 contender six-pack challenge.
Nikki Cross def. Dana Brooke (via pinfall), Carmella, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, & Lacey Evans to become No. 1 contender to the SmackDown women's championship after nailing Brooke with a fisherman's neckbreaker. Cross got the main promo to interrupt Bayley, so it felt like she was the favorite to take the win. The action was solid throughout the match before the quick finish to put Cross in position to challenge for the belt.
Bayley's initial heel turn was good, but going further down this rabbit hole is great for her character. Changing the music, changing her look, losing the Bayley Buddies and pulling a Raven-lite version of "What about me? What about Bayley?" is working for her. I was a little worried Banks being in the ring with her meant she'd lean on her partner as a mouthpiece, but it was Bayley doing the heavy lifting in the segment. The No. 1 contender match was fine, and Cross vs. Bayley is a fresh matchup, which is always appreciated. Bayley is the most interesting thing going on SmackDoan. Grade: B
What else happened on SmackDown?
- New Day & Heavy Machinery def. The Revival & Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode via pinfall after New Day hit the Midnight Hour on Scott Dawson. New Day and Heavy Machinery were backstage with Otis mixing up a "special" pancake batter with a heaping helping of protein powder. When New Day refused to "take a sip," Otis tipped back the batter for a healthy chug. The highlight of the match was some brief tandem offense from Otis and Big E. The match largely served as a way to warm up for the Tag Team Turmoil match at Crown Jewel.
- Shorty Gable def. Curtis Axel via submission with an ankle lock. A video package aired before the match explaining Chad Gable becoming Shorty Gable. Following the match, Gable was interviewed in the ring. He explained that he is embracing who he is in spite of his insecurities. "Up to this point in my life, I always thought I was being held back because of my height," Gable said. "But the reality is my height makes me who I am. In this life, it's OK to be exactly who you are. You're going to run into people along the way who want to make fun of you ... but tonight, to those people, I say thank you." Gable then shortened his name to Shorty G, and was also placed on Team Hogan at Crown Jewel.
- Hulk Hogan appeared via Skype to discuss Seth Rollins being removed as his team captain against Ric Flair's team at Crown Jewel. He mentioned being impressed by Gable and Ali and promised an announcement of his new captain before the end of the show, and the payoff turned out to be none other than Roman Reigns.
- Braun Strowman def. Drew Gulak via pinfall after a running powerslam. Gulak attempted to show Strowman a powerpoint slide with advice for beating Tyson Fury at Crown Jewel. Basic squash match stuff in the match with Gulak getting no offense and Strowman running through him.