WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Randy Orton chooses SmackDown over Raw as a free agent

Randy Orton returned to in-ring action after more than 18 months on the sidelines due to injury when he helped his team win WarGames at Survivor Series this past Saturday. On Friday night's SmackDown, Orton was faced with the question of whether he would be a Raw or SmackDown superstar now that he's back in the fold.

Orton was tempted with offers from both Raw and SmackDown, but it was ultimately the chance to get revenge on The Bloodline that led to his decision. Going forward, Orton will be a staple of Friday nights.

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Randy Orton chooses SmackDown over Raw

Early in the show, Paul Heyman confronted SmackDown general manager Nick Aldis about Aldis' plans to offer Orton a SmackDown contract. Aldis told Heyman that he was going to sign Orton, even if he had to offer up the entire Bloodline to get the deal done. Later, Aldis was confronted by Raw general manager Adam Pearce, who said he was going to be making his own pitch to Orton to get Orton to sign with Raw.

Orton came out to close the show while Aldis and Pearce waited with contracts in hand. Pearce offered an immediate shot at the world heavyweight championship, facing the winner of the upcoming match between Seth Rollins and Jey Uso. Aldis offered up The Bloodline, saying Orton could get revenge on the men who sidelined him for 18 months. Before Orton could make a decision, Heyman came out from backstage to tell Orton that The Bloodline would make his decision for him. Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa made their way to the ring before brawling with Orton and eventually getting the upper hand. LA Knight made the save, allowing Orton to hit Jimmy Uso with an RKO. Orton grabbed both contracts before throwing the Raw contract out of the ring and signing a deal with SmackDown.

It is nice to have a fresh -- if recycled from more than 18 months ago -- player gunning for Reigns and The Bloodline. Orton needed a spot where he could be the featured player he has always been and he simply doesn't fit into the Raw picture while having plenty of story to build on in SmackDown. It also helps to show Raw and SmackDown as shows with competing interests, even if that's one of the most inconsistent things in modern WWE. Grade: B

What else happened on WWE SmackDown?

  • Bobby Lashley def. Butch via pinfall with a spear. 
  • Santos Escobar def. Joaquin Wilde via pinfall with a Phantom Driver. Escobar continued to attack after the match, bringing out Dragon Lee to make the save. After leaving the ring, Escobar tried to execute a sneak attack on Lee but was easily fought off by Lee.
  • Kevin Owens came face-to-face with Logan Paul after Paul announced an eight-man tournament to crown a No. 1 contender to his United States championship. Owens told Paul that the ring is his world and he would win the tournament and end the nightmare of Paul as a champion. Grayson Waller and Austin Theory came out, taking shots at Owens before he knocked Theory from the ring with a punch.
  • Kevin Owens def. Grayson Waller via pinfall with a roll-up. Theory interfered throughout the match while Paul, who had been on commentary, was upset by Owens' win.
  • Bianca Belair def. Kairi Sane via pinfall with a KOD. Bianca Belair opened the show with a promo, talking up her team's win at Survivor Series inside WarGames. Belair then delivered a message to Iyo Sky, saying she's coming to get her title back. This brought out Damage CTRL -- without Bayley -- with Dakota Kai saying that Belair would have to go through all of Damage CTRL to get a title shot.
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