The milestone 1200th episode of SmackDown was Sami Zayn's night. The former intercontinental champion took a big step in building trust with undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns. Zayn also received a hero's welcome in his hometown of Montreal.
The build to Clash at the Castle continued as Reigns and Drew McIntyre finally faced off. Zayn stepped up in The Usos' absence, but it was not enough to crush McIntyre's spirit. Meanwhile, Karrion Kross continued to function from the shadows.
A new No. 1 contender for Gunther's intercontinental champion was crowned in a Fatal Five-Way match. Gunther will face the winner at Clash at the Castle. Elsewhere on SmackDown, another tag team advanced in a tournament for the vacant women's tag team titles.
CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.
Sami Zayn curries favor with Roman Reigns
Zayn had repeatedly tried to sit down with the champion but was denied by The Usos. The tag team champions' absence this week opened the door for Zayn to sit down with The Bloodline's boss. The pair had a productive meeting as Reigns and Zayn agreed that Jey Uso had been hostile in recent weeks. Reigns asked Zayn to let Kevin Owens know that the "Tribal Chief" does not owe anyone anything. This was a response to Owens claiming that Reigns owed him one for assaulting McIntyre on Monday night Raw.
Kross and Scarlett starred in an apocalyptic promo, describing Reigns and McIntyre as two sides of the same coin. Both are "chosen ones" by the company, but Kross stated that McIntyre had failed where Reigns succeeded.
Sheamus def. Happy Corbin, Sami Zayn, Ricochet and Madcap Moss via pinfall after cracking Corbin with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus will now challenge Gunther for the intercontinental title at Clash at the Castle. Zayn received a hero's reception in his hometown of Montreal. His biggest flurry included a swan dive to the outside, plus a Michinoku Driver to Ricochet and Blue Thunder Bomb to Moss for close two-counts. The medical staff attended to Zayn after he supposedly injured his shoulder after being crushed by Sheamus' mid-rope White Noise. A great sequence of counters between Sheamus, Ricochet and Moss was well received by the audience. Zayn returned in the closing moments of the match. His recovery generated another massive reaction from the live crowd. He nearly pinned Ricochet after landing a Helluva Kick, but Corbin yanked Zayn away from a pinfall on Ricochet. The finish came shortly after when Sheamus clocked Corbin with a match-ending Brogue Kick.
McIntyre picked up his jacket prior to his face-off with Reigns and found Kross' doomsday hourglass underneath the coat.
In the closing segment of SmackDown, Reigns reminded everyone that he carries the company on his back despite his week-to-week inactivity. McIntyre interrupted, insisting that Reigns did not deserve to be champion. A brawl broke out between the rivals. McIntyre launched at Reigns with a Claymore Kick, but Zayn took the bullet. Reigns tried to take advantage of the misdirection. The champion prepared to land a big superman punch but ultimately ate the Brogue Kick. SmackDown closed with McIntyre hoisting Reigns' championships.
SmackDown continues to benefit from three concepts: weekly storyline continuity, storyline development through multiple segments in one episode and weaving different storylines together. Zayn's sit-down with Reigns was a significant development as Zayn continues to bring value to The Bloodline. The doomsday clock and Kevin Owens mention were nice, subtle reminders of what is going on in the WWE universe. The crowd's reaction to Zayn's match was the biggest highlight of the night. The Montreal crowd's energy was infectious. The Reigns-McIntyre promo and brawl had fire, but did not do much to push the feud forward. Grade: B
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- Rouda Rousey demanded that Adam Pearce lift her suspension. Police officers escorted her out after she attacked two security guards.
- Toxic Attraction (Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne) def. Natalya and Sonya Deville via pinfall courtesy of a roll-up. Bailey, Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky purchased front-row seats for the match.
- Hit Row tossed Maximum Male Models out of the ring before performing an impromptu concert.
- The Viking Raiders held a Viking funeral for The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods).
- Liv Morgan def. Shotzi via pinfall. Shayna Bazler attacked Morgan post-match and targeted the champion's injured arm. Morgan and Shotzi had dueling backstage promos pre-match.