After teasing a "new faction" earlier this week prior to Raw, WWE delivered on the promise in a big way with Retribution tearing apart SmackDown to close the show. As the show was drawing to a close on Friday night, a group of men and women wearing black hoodies and masks stormed the arena holding baseball bats and pipes, chasing off production crew and taking out Performance Center talent who were attending the show as "fans."
By the end of the show, the set had been spray painted, bodies littered the floor and Retribution used a chainsaw to cut through the ring ropes. It was a much more meaningful debut for the group than the small tease on Monday where they were shown throwing molotov cocktails at a power generator at the Performance Center but nothing more.
Retribution could be a major force in the coming months of WWE programming, but the identities of those involved will determine the legs the storyline will have.
Read on for a complete recap, along with grades, for this week's edition of SmackDown.
WWE SmackDown recap, grades
Matt Riddle def. Sheamus via disqualification after interference from Shorty G: Riddle frustrated Sheamus early with some grappling, including briefly locking in a backpack rear-naked choke. Sheamus used raw physicality to take over the match, but Riddle was able to counter almost everything from the Irishman before Sheamus finally hit a big powerbomb to take over on offense. Riddle came back with a flurry of strikes, a big kick to Sheamus' face and a pair of running sentons. Riddle missed a top-rope moonsault and ran into White Noise from Sheamus for a near fall. After Sheamus posted himself, the two began to brawl around ringside when Shorty G ran in and attacked Riddle from behind to draw the disqualification. Riddle turned the tables on Shorty G, throwing him around ringside before throwing him into the ring steps and landing a big kick to the chest. A frustrated Sheamus delivered a Brogue Kick to Shorty G before yelling about having a win stolen from him by a guy trying to collect King Corbin's bounty and delivering a second Brogue Kick.
Later, Sheamus and Corbin argued backstage, with Sheamus frustrated that Corbin's issues with Riddle interfered with his chance at a big victory. I'm all-in on more Riddle vs. Sheamus matches in the future to see more of the hard-hitting, back-and-forth offense -- hopefully with a clean finish in the future. Grade: B
Cesaro def. Lince Dorado via pinfall: Two different types of incredible athletes in this match, with Cesaro's power against Dorado's speed. Cesaro's strength was too much in the early going, but Dorado hit a springboard stunner before hitting two of the three moonsaults for the trio before a bit of Nakamura distraction allowed Cesaro to avoid the third but almost get pinned with a rana counter to a Razor's Edge. Moments later, Cesaro hit the Gotch Neutralizer for the victory. This match needed five more minutes to get to anywhere near what it could have been. Instead, it was just another Lucha House Party loss in a short but competitive match. Grade: C+
Braun Strowman told The Fiend that he would face "The Monster" at SummerSlam: Bray Wyatt opened the show with a Firefly Fun House where he blamed Strowman for The Fiend attacking Alexa Bliss last week on SmackDown. He then promised The Fiend would be in the ring later in the night with "someone special."
Later in the show, The Fiend entered the ring with Alexa Bliss, teasing another mandible claw, only for her to stop him before Strowman interrupted on the Tron. Strowman said Wyatt made a mistake trying to play on his emotions because he doesn't care about Bliss. Strowman added that he emerged from the Wyatt Swamp Fight as the most evil man in the world, declaring himself "The Monster" and saying that Wyatt would have to face his fears at SummerSlam. Strowman's delivery here was bad, and I'm not sure what benefit there is to having your face champion declare that he doesn't care about the woman who was his longtime friend. But this was ultimately a step back from the progress made with The Fiend attacking Bliss last week. Grade: C-
Jeff Hardy def. King Corbin via disqualification: Hardy got off to a very fast start, but Corbin countered a Twist of Fate into a big clothesline. Corbin took Hardy to the outside of the ring and let loose with a series of punches as Hardy was half-draped over the announce table. Corbin then took over until he tried to slide out and back into the ring with a clothesline but was cut off by Hardy, who quickly found himself back on the mat after a Deep Six by Corbin for a near fall. Corbin then knocked Hardy from the ring and Sheamus ran in to hit Hardy with a Brogue Kick, getting revenge on Corbin for earlier by getting Corbin disqualified. This was a fine enough little match, but the ending was very predictable. It's also a little silly that WWE really only announces disqualifications in these situations when it will play directly into a story. Generally, there's a bell without any announcement after a run-in. Grade: C+
Sheamus def. King Corbin via pinfall: The dueling disqualifications led to an impromptu heel vs. heel battle -- though the "fans" were behind Sheamus. Corbin and Sheamus gave each other the business with the hard-hitting offense going both ways. Matt Riddle eventually ran in and leaped over Corbin, not touching him and leading Corbin to turn around into a Sheamus Brogue Kick for the finish. Grade: B-
Stephanie McMahon laid out SummerSlam plans for Bayley and Sasha Banks: Banks and Bayley were talking backstage when they were told they needed to go to the ring for a video conference with Stephanie McMahon. McMahon took issue with the duo taking advantage of her own chosen stipulation to allow Banks to win the Raw women's title from Asuka by countout, calling it a "loophole." McMahon announced that a triple-brand battle royal would take place next week, with the winner challenging Bayley for the SmackDown title at SummerSlam. She also added that Banks would defend the Raw title at SummerSlam, possibly against Asuka, should Asuka beat Bayley on Raw next week. It's a little silly that McMahon set up stipulations that only served to put Asuka at a disadvantage and then got upset with Banks and Bayley for exploiting the situation. But, that's classic wrestling logic at play. The real crime in the segment was not letting Bayley and Banks do more work on the mic. Grade: C+
The Miz & John Morrison vs. Heavy Machinery ended in a no contest: This match came about when Heavy Machinery attacked Miz and Morrison as they hosted a "Dirt Sheet" segment interviewing Sonya Deville. When the match started, a fired up Otis ran through the offense of Miz before tagging in Tucker for a bit of double teaming and a flipping dive off the ring apron. Tucker quickly lost control of the match, with Miz and Morrison cutting him off from Otis. Tucker was able to deliver a forearm and knock Morrison from the apron and sit on the chest of Miz to open the space needed for a hot tag to Otis, who tore through Miz and Morrison before hitting the Caterpillar for a near fall. Tucker smashed into the barricade trying to take out Miz and Morrison, but Mandy Rose ran in and attacked Sonya Deville, leading everything to break down. Grade: B-
Retribution attacked SmackDown: After the final commercial break, Miz, Morrison, Rose, Deville and Heavy Machinery were arguing backstage when the lights flickered and Retribution -- a collection of men and women dressed in black hoodies and masks -- stormed the ring holding bats and pipes, chasing off the announce team and members of the production crew before attacking the crowd. After clearing the area, the group began to use spray paint on the Plexiglas around the ring before using a chainsaw to cut the ring ropes before the show went off the air. This was executed better than expected, with the COVID-related restrictions allowing it to feel like a complete building takeover. It will be interesting to see where WWE goes with this, because it has the chance to be very interesting or spectacularly bad. Grade: B+