WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: New champions crowned as Wild Card Rule emphasized


One night after WWE delivered a lackluster -- to put it lightly -- edition of Raw that drew the ire of many fans, SmackDown Live in Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday night continued to place heavy emphasis on the new Wild Card Rule instituted by Vince McMahon on Monday. While the concept still seems ill-advised, SmackDown on Tuesday was a much more enjoyable watch as the new rule did bring us a solid WWE championship match as well as a wildly-entertaining impromptu bout to crown new tag team champions. 

Let's now have a look at everything that went down on Tuesday's edition of SmackDown. 

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WWE SmackDown results, grades

Emphasizing the Wild Card Rule: Continuing the newfound Wild Card Rule, AJ Styles returned to SmackDown ... merely three weeks after being moved over to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup. Styles referenced the new rule and how you can crash a rival brand, so he sure as hell was going to be the first Raw superstar to appear on SmackDown because this is still the house that he built. Sami Zayn interrupted and said that he had to take advantage of the rule, as well, because he has to call Styles out on his toxic ego that has spiraled out of control. Next out were the remaining healthy members of New Day, WWE champion Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. Kingston mocked Styles' catchphrase of saying he built the SmackDown house, but he doesn't live there anymore, so he wanted to know what he's doing back. Kingston and Styles had some heated words. Zayn butted back in and proclaimed that if anyone deserves a WWE title shot tonight, it's him. As a fighting champion, Kingston was willing to put his championship on the line for a second night in a row opposite either Zayn or Styles, and it doesn't matter which one, because the result will be the same as Monday night. Naturally, it was learned shortly after that Shane McMahon had called for a triple threat match. 

WWE wanted to drive home the point right off the bat that this Wild Card Rule is the hottest new craze to try and garner interest, and they did indeed waste no time. Which ... doesn't really matter because it's still nowhere near close to a good answer in addressing the issues currently plaguing the company. If anything of positivity was accomplished in this opening segment, it was establishing Kingston as a fighting champion, which is absolutely the type of champion he should be booked as after the long journey to the mountaintop. Grade: C-

Kevin Owens promo: A pre-taped promo aired where Owens admitted that he was indeed advertised to open SmackDown on Tuesday night to address Kingston, but because it's his birthday, he's decided to head home instead. Not being in the building is good news for Kingston tonight, but Owens reminded that he'll be in the building at Money in the Bank to take his WWE championship. Grade: B-

Ali def. Andrade via disqualification: A very entertaining match was brought to an abrupt end when another member of the Money in the Bank match, Randy Orton, clipped Ali from behind after coming through the crowd. Orton stood tall staring up at the briefcase after delivering jaw-dropping RKOs to each high flyer. A bit unnecessary to cut such a good match short simply to place emphasis on Orton. Grade: D+

Determining new SmackDown tag team champions: As promised, McMahon was out to address a glaring issue on the blue brand as of last week: there are no tag team champions. After calling Miz's actions from Monday night deplorable, McMahon pondered who could be worthy of being SmackDown tag team champions. He introduced the team that he deemed worthy, which was none other than Daniel Bryan & Rowan. As they were being handled the titles, The Usos interrupted as the next stars to utilize the Wild Card Rule. Jimmy & Jey questioned how McMahon could just merely hand the championship to Bryan & Rowan, and asked for a match with the vacant titles on the line. McMahon obliged, and the impromptu tag team championship match was on. 

SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- Daniel Bryan & Rowan def. The Usos via pinfall to win the vacant titles: Just an awesome match here saw new champs properly crowned after Rowan put Jey down with the Iron Claw for the 1-2-3. Everything about this was masterfully done. Now that they're out of the WWE championship scene, you keep a lot of heat on Bryan and Rowan from the jump with the tease of Bryan'd former authority cohort simply handing them the tag team championship. As if that wasn't good enough, they were forced to earn the titles anyway by cleanly disposing of the best WWE tag team of the past decade. In a week where WWE will take a lot of flak for many questionable moves, this certainly won't be one of them. Grade: A

McMahon stands tall over Miz: Following the crowning of new tag team champions, with both the men's and women's briefcases in the ring, McMahon was set to make an announcement regarding the Money in the Bank ladder matches. Just as he was about to reveal that announcement, however, The Miz attacked from behind. As Miz was pummeling McMahon at the top of the ramp, The B-Team attacked their former boss. Miz eventually got the upper hand but McMahon reemerged to lay him out with a steel chair to stand tall. Grade: B-

Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville def. Ember Moon & Carmella via pinfall: After connecting with a suicide dive on the outside to Deville, Moon got caught by Rose with a knee. Back in the ring, Rose put Moon away with an implant buster. Following the match, Paige appeared with Kairi Sane & Asuka, and she informed her old team that they'll be facing her new squad next week on SmackDown. Grade: C+

Lars Sullivan attacks again: Hardy said it was heartbreaking to have to relinquish the tag team titles last week. R-Truth popped in and said that Sullivan is more dangerous than anyone he's ever faced. Sullivan appeared and attacked, first throwing Hardy into a bathroom and then powerbombing Truth through a table. Grade: D+

Aleister Black promo: Black cut another ominous promo where he discussed people having to deal with the sins of the mother or the sins of the father. He apologized to his future opponents for his overcompensatory need to prevail at their expense, and now he must as forgiveness for his sins -- sins that he will seek in the form of victory. Featuring the Black character in this manner weekly is intriguing, if nothing else. Grade: B-

WWE Championship -- Kofi Kingston (c) def. Sami Zayn (via pinfall) and AJ Styles to retain the title: Shocking, I know, but Owens did not leave the building as he stated earlier, emerging to attack Woods on the outside and distract Kingston in the process. With Styles indisposed on the outside, Zayn failed to capitalize on three Blue Thunder Bombs, and as he attempted to end Kingston with the Helluva Kick was caught with Trouble in Paradise as the champion retained. Tending to Woods on the outside, Kingston said Owens has hell to pay come Money in the Bank. 

Highly-entertaining WWE championship match, and the obvious appearance of Owens despite his insistence he was absent was given a boost by the fact that he nearly aided in his best friend Zayn capturing the WWE title. While the Wild Card Rule does have its obvious flaws, one has to wonder if Zayn may try and return to favor to his buddy Owens come Money in the Bank. Overall enjoyable way to put a cap on a much more pleasant watch than what we were delivered on Monday night. Grade: A-

Jack joined CBS Sports in 2018 as an editor and writer covering college football, combat sports and golf. He was raised to love the New York Yankees unconditionally since birth and firmly believes a four-team... Full Bio

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