As Roman Reigns prepares to defend his universal championship against Jey Uso at Clash of Champions, it may have been expected for Reigns to execute the standard heel-style attack on his cousin. Instead, Friday night's SmackDown saw the two men team up to take on Sheamus and King Corbin -- though Reigns was absent for the majority of the match.
Reigns, who promised earlier in the night to hand Uso the kind of beating he'd dolled out when the two were kids, abandoned Uso for much of the tag team main event before making a very opportunistic appearance to score the pinfall. Uso still seemed willing to embrace Reigns out of loyalty to their family, but there's a clear tension between the two ahead of the Sept. 27 pay-per-view, mostly a product of Reigns caring more about his current position than the man who has long stood by his side.
Read on for recaps and highlights of all the night's action.
Roman Reigns and Jey Uso team up
Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman entered the ring for a show-opening promo, with Heyman immediately addressing the fact that Jey Uso, Reigns' cousin, won the No. 1 contender spot last week on SmackDown before welcoming Uso to the ring. After Uso came to the ring, Heyman confirmed that it was Reigns' idea to replace the injured Big E with Uso last week in the fatal four-way to determine Reigns' challenger at Clash of Champions. Reigns promised Uso that, just like when they were little kids, he would "whoop his ass," which Uso laughed off before King Corbin interrupted. Corbin claimed the entire situation was a set-up to get a hand-picked opponent who just happened to be the champion's cousin. Next out to interrupt was Sheamus, who backed up Corbin's theory. Uso ultimately threw down a challenge for a tag match, teaming with Reigns against Sheamus and Corbin later in the night.
Jey Uso & Roman Reigns def. Sheamus & King Corbin via pinfall after Reigns hit a spear on Sheamus. Reigns left Uso hanging at the start, not coming out for the match as Uso was stuck battling two big bruisers in a two-on-one situation. As Sheamus was about to hit a Brogue Kick, Reigns' music hit and led to a distraction that allowed Uso to get the advantage on both men before going for an Uso Splash on Sheamus. Reigns hit a blind tag, however, and hit Sheamus with a spear to steal the glory with the pin.
Roman Reigns' heel run is off to a nice start with his opportunistic methods. He won the universal championship at Payback without doing any heavy lifting in the match and technically got the win in this match the same way. Uso may have had the match won by himself, but Reigns is a heel now, and as such, a glory hog. The tensions between Reigns and Uso are interesting and different than the standard WWE dynamic, so it's hard to complain about that, even if the overall angle for the night wasn't thrilling. Grade: B-
Bayley explains attack on Sasha Banks, gets new title challenger
Bayley cut an in-ring promo carrying the chair she used to attack Sasha Banks last week, saying she knows everyone wants answers to why she attacked Banks, but said instead of answers, she had questions. She asked if Banks thought she was an idiot who didn't know what her partner was thinking all along. Bayley knew, she said, that Banks was just waiting for her moment to strike after keeping her close for years, but said that after last week, she realized Bayley is now completely useless to her.
Nikki Cross def. Tamina, Lacey Evans & Alexa Bliss via pinfall after pinning Tamina with a sunset flip. Cross made her entrance as Bayley was leaving the ring, only to suffer a brief attack from the SmackDown champ. The question of what effect The Fiend's time with Bliss had on her was a question through the match before Bliss hit Cross with Sister Abigail outside the ring. Bliss then walked to the back, leaving the match. Evans eventually took out Tamina with a Women's Right before being taken out by Cross. Cross then hit a sunset flip on Tamina to score the pinfall and earn a title shot at Clash of Champions.
Bayley's promo was what anyone should expect. She attacked Banks before Banks could attack her and no longer saw any value in their friendship since it was no longer benefiting her. And the Bliss moment was a solid move in a storyline that has been developing over the past month. But we just saw Cross challenge Bayley for the SmackDown title twice in July, including at Extreme Rules. The WWE pattern of running matches into the ground has gotten exhausting at this point and Cross serves as little more than a Challenger Of The Month. Also, the match itself was entirely forgettable. Grade: C+
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
Intercontinental Championship -- AJ Styles def. Jeff Hardy (c) via disqualification. Before the match, Sami Zayn interrupted to again claim to be the true intercontinental champion, trying to put it "on the record" that the match was not a title match, but was escorted off by Adam Pearce and WWE security. After some solid back-and-forth action, Zayn pulled Styles down from the ring apron for a disqualification before running in to hit a Helluva Kick on Hardy. Hardy stumbled and fell after the match due to what was later said to be "dehydration," before Styles was interviewed backstage and said he could beat both men, seemingly moving closer to a Clash of Champions three-way.
Lucha House Party def. Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall when Kalisto pinned Cesaro with a roll-up. Cesaro and Nakamura argued with The Street Profits backstage before the match and then were distracted when the Raw tag champs were shown on the Tron having a small party in the "champion's lounge." The distraction allowed Kalisto to steal the pin.
Otis def. John Morrison via pinfall after hitting the caterpillar. During the match, Miz stole Otis' Money in the Bank lunchbox, seemingly accomplishing what Morrison didn't last week when he stole the briefcase, only to find out Otis kept the title match contract in the lunchbox. Later, Otis revealed that Miz stole a lunchbox, but not the lunchbox, revealing the contract was still in his briefcase.
Bray Wyatt introduced a new friend into the Firefly Fun House. Surprisingly, the friend was not Alexa Bliss, but Pasquale the Persevering Parrot. Pasquale did not pop out of the box from which Wyatt tried to reveal him and after "technical difficulties," Wyatt said he should have cut some holes in the box and the parrot was dead. The Vince McMahon puppet then appeared to say Wyatt couldn't handle the responsibilities of the Fun House and revealed the new "special advisor" to the Funhouse, Wobbly Walrus, a puppet play on Paul Heyman.