WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Randy Orton, Nia Jax advance to King and Queen of the Ring finals

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Randy Orton and Nia Jax will represent SmackDown in the WWE King and Queen of the Ring finals, respectively. Both superstars secured their spots on Friday's go-home episode of SmackDown.

Gunther vs. Orton and Lyra Valkyria vs. Jax are set for King and Queen of the Ring in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The tournament winners will earn a world title shot against their brands' champions at SummerSlam on Aug. 3, WWE chief content officer Paul Levesque announced Thursday. The four remaining superstars in the tournaments faced off their opposition on SmackDown.

SmackDown also featured one last faceoff between undisputed WWE champion Cody Rhodes and United States champion Logan Paul ahead of their main event clash on Saturday. Rhodes will defend his undisputed title; however, Paul weaseled his way out of staking the U.S. belt during last week's contract signing.

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from the Jeddah Super Dome in Jeddah.

King and Queen of the Ring finals set

The two remaining semifinal matches in the King and Queen of the Ring tournaments happened on Friday. Raw superstars Gunther and Lyra Valkyria had already qualified for their respective tournaments. SmackDown's representatives would be the winners of Orton vs. Tama Tonga and Jax vs. Bianca Belair.ย 

Nia Jax def. Bianca Belair via pinfall to advance to the Queen of the Ring finals. Jax pulled the upset against SmackDown's No. 1 draft pick. It was a competitive match between two of WWE's most physically powerful women. The difference maker was Belair's compromised leg, something she sold in this match and last week's quarterfinal match against Tiffany Stratton. Belair's leg gave out in the closing moments, allowing Jax to hit a banzai drop for the pinfall. Post-match, Jax taunted Lyra Valkyrie sitting ringside.

Randy Orton def. Tama Tonga via pinfall to advance to the King of the Ring finals. Tonga struggled with Orton's size and experience early. However, The Bloodline's hitman found success targeting Orton's knee. Tonga was relentless in pursuing Orton's damaged base. A thumb to the eye and back suplex into the announcer's desk turned the tide for Orton. The 14-time world champ fended off interference by Solo Sikoa before putting Tonga away with an RKO. Kevin Owens saved Orton from a two-on-one Bloodline beatdown as Gunther watched from the crowd.

The final show before a pay-per-view can often be graded on a curve. After all, there isn't much plot development left to hammer by this stage. Booking the last semifinal of the King and Queen of the Ring tournaments gave fans an important reason to tune in. That's especially true after this week's announcement that a world title shot at SummerSlam awaited the tournament winners. Gunther vs. Orton is a particularly great match to reinvigorate King of the Ring's storied and forgotten history. Add a world title shot to the mix and you have a great reboot. Valkyria vs. Jax is an interesting David vs. Goliath match for Queen of the Ring even if it doesn't have the same prestige as the men's match. Also, props to WWE for making Tonga look like a solid upper midcard threat. Taping SmackDown in Jeddah as opposed to pre-taping it after last week's SmackDown was a great way to make the show feel alive. Grade: B

What else happened on WWE SmackDown?

  • LA Knight and Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) def. Carmelo Hayes and A-Town Down Under (Austin Theory and Grayson Waller) via pinfall after Ford hit a frog splash on Waller. A brawl on "The Grayson Waller Effect" preceded the match.
  • Stratton, Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell mocked Belair backstage until Jade Cargill intervened.
  • Paul was caught with brass knuckles by the referee during a final face-off between him and Rhodes.
  • Bayley def. Chelsea Green via pinfall after hitting Rose Plant. Piper Niven attacked Bayley post-match.
  • AJ Styles begged SmackDown general manager Nick Aldis for one more undisputed WWE title shot before desperation took over. Aldis said he couldn't sanction it.
  • Legado del Fantasma were seen seething backstage about their recent interactions with Andrade.
  • Paul Heyman tried to address his concerns about Tama Tonga with Solo Sikoa until Tonga interrupted. Heyman also revealed Tonga Lao couldn't get across the border.
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