WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Shocking NXT invasion, Brock Lesnar quits and moves to Raw
NXT dominated the SmackDown crew, firing the first shot in the Survivor Series brand war
When much of the SmackDown roster was unable to return from the Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia following airplane mechanical issues, WWE was backed into a corner in how to approach the Fox-televised show this week. What followed was a masterstroke of creativity with the NXT roster invading -- and dominating -- SmackDown.
While WWE champion Brock Lesnar quitting SmackDown to pursue Rey Mysterio on Raw was the early headline, it was NXT dominating the SmackDown roster in every possible way that will stand as the lasting memory of a wild and unpredictable edition of SmackDown. So without further ado, let's take a look at what went down at SmackDown from Keybank Center in Buffalo, New York.
Brock Lesnar quits to find Rey Mysterio at Raw
The WWE champion kicked off the show, entering the ring with Paul Heyman, who described Lesnar's mood by saying, "Brock Lesnar is really, really pissed off tonight." The entirety of Lesnar's Crown Jewel win over Cain Velasquez was aired at the direction of Heyman, who called the win "spiritually orgasmic." Heyman also claimed they demanded Vince McMahon deliver Mysterio to him following Mysterio's post-match steel chair beatdown of Lesnar, but McMahon said the match could not happen due to the contracts inherent in the brand split.
"If Rey Mysterio can't come to SmackDown for Brock Lesnar, than come this Monday," Heyman said. "Brock Lesnar will come to Raw looking for Rey Mysterio." Heyman then said Lesnar has quit SmackDown and will be at Raw on Monday, daring anyone in the company to try and stop him. As Heyman and Lesnar exited the arena, Triple H was shown briefly reacting before the camera showed Shawn Michaels standing by his side, foreshadowing the rest of the show's happenings.
This all made perfect sense given "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt winning the universal championship at Crown Jewel on Thursday. Shifting Lesnar and the WWE championship to Raw puts one title on each brand, as is needed. And Lesnar vs. Mysterio is an intriguing match with good build and heat, so no complaints here. Heyman was, as usual, delivering the goods on the mic while a brooding Lesnar stood through the move. Lesnar's "bigger than all of this" character works very well in storyline, even if it can often be a miss for fans in reality. And airing a full PPV match -- even if short -- was a good way to help fill time given the issues facing SmackDown tonight. Grade: B+
NXT invades and dominates SmackDown
With so much of the SmackDown roster unavailable due to travel issues, WWE creative had to get ... well, creative. To accomplish this, NXT invaded SmackDown, taking out SmackDown stars in basically every segment of the show, culminating in a main event showdown between Daniel Bryan and Adam Cole for the NXT championship.
WWE SmackDown Women's Championship -- Bayley (c) def. Nikki cross via pinfall after interference from Sasha Banks. Banks got involved late at ringside, distracting Cross to set up a Bayley elbow drop, but Cross was able to kick out. Cross wasn't able to survive the second interference from Banks, being pinned moments after being shoved off the top rope by "The Boss." After the match ended, NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler jumped the guardrail, throwing Banks into the ring post, laying out Cross and then putting a beating on Bayley to set the tone for the rest of the show.
In the next segment, Sami Zayn was cutting a backstage promo, discussing Baszler and Pat McAfee appearing on the show. He said that, while NXT was clearly in the arena, there could be issues if anyone from the roster stepped to him. He was then interrupted by Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, who chased him off from the interview area to the ring. Riddle hit Zayn with Bro Derek and Lee hit a second rope moonsault.
Tommaso Ciampa def. Miz via pinfall after hitting the Fairy Tale Ending. Miz TV was originally to feature Miz interviewing Wyatt, but the new champion was among those who were unable to make it to the show due to the flight issues. Miz still aired a video package covering Wyatt's title win over Seth Rollins at Crown Jewel before addressing the night's NXT invasion. He was then interrupted by former NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa. After trading barbs, Miz told Ciampa if he was at SmackDown to make a statement, "then make a damn statement" before throwing down a challenge for a match. Ciampa got the win, looking impressive in the process.
Daniel Bryan ran into Triple H and Shawn Michaels backstage, asking what the former D-Generation X members were doing at the show. Triple H pointed to the Survivor Series ads that ran during Crown Jewel, establishing a Raw vs. SmackDown vs. NXT theme to the upcoming event. Bryan said he was looking for a fight and challenged Triple H to a match; there was a brief tease of Michaels vs. Bryan before Triple H said NXT champion Adam Cole was also looking for a fight, leading to a main event match between Cole and Bryan for the NXT championship.
Rhea Ripley & Tegan Nox def. Fire & Desire via submission when Mandy Rose tapped to Ripley's modified cloverleaf. Bianca Belair took out Carmella and Dana Brooke, Fire & Desire's original opponents. Ripley and Nox then took the spot and dominated a brief match before chalking up yet another win for NXT.
NXT Championship -- Adam Cole (c) def. Daniel Bryan via pinfall following the Last Shot. Triple H and Michaels were ringside for the match. As expected, this match featured fantastic action from two of the best professional wrestlers on the planet. What was unexpected -- at least for some -- was Cole going over completely clean to retain his championship. Cole's win completed a clean sweep for NXT, who did not have a single moment go against them the entire show.
Following Cole's win, the NXT roster entered the ring where Triple H said his brand had fired the first shot in a war started when Raw and SmackDown picked a fight for Survivor Series. Triple H said, to build an army, "you turn to your blood and you turn to your family."
With WWE backed into a corner by forces outside its control, fans were treated to a show that did an amazing job of not only building to NXT's inclusion at Survivor Series but also establishing WWE's third brand as entirely capable of competing with -- and dominating -- the established "premier" brand superstar. Cole vs. Bryan is the easy in-ring highlight, but every segment in the show delivered something valuable. That's not something that can be said for many WWE TV outings. You can't do something like this every week, but for one week, this was something special. Grade: A+
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