WWE debuted SmackDown on Fox on Friday night with a show that was, for the most part, little more than a very big episode of the weekly program but largely nothing groundbreaking. But the final moment of the premiere show is one that will stay in fans' minds for a long time to come as the debut of former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez running off Brock Lesnar following his expected WWE championship victory over Kofi Kingston ended the much-anticipated show on a high note.
Let's take a look now at everything that went down as SmackDown debuted on Fox from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Big fan of WWE? Subscribe to our podcast -- State of Combat with Brian Campbell -- where we go in depth on everything you need to know in WWE each week.
Brock Lesnar sees a ghost
In a heavily-hyped main event between WWE champion Kofi Kingston and Brock Lesnar, it took Lesnar seconds to hit an F5 and win the championship. While the initial moment of victory was deflating for the crowd, things kicked into another gear quickly. Rey Mysterio's music hit before the former world champ and lucha libre legend walked onto the stage with former UFC champion and longtime friend Cain Velasquez. Velasquez scored a takedown before drilling Lesnar with some ground-and-pound, forcing "The Beast" to turn tail and run. Lesnar teased reentering the ring a few times before leaving with Paul Heyman.
Velasquez won his first UFC heavyweight championship with a first-round knockout of Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 in October 2010. After a few impressive matches for Velasquez in Mexico's AAA promotion this year upon his pro wrestling debut, he became a hot name as a potential signing for AEW and WWE. It appears, though, the history with Lesnar is the fuel for his potential landing in WWE.
Look, Kofi Kingston deserved better. There was time to trim from that show to allow him to not end his very good title reign in less than 10 seconds. There was time to be cut from the show to make Kingston something other than a side note on the show. That said, Velasquez vs. Lesnar is fresh and interesting. God only knows what it will look like in action, but Velasquez has shown he can go in lucha libre and he shouldn't be intimidated by the big WWE atmosphere. The segment as a whole gets dinged a little for the actual match and there was some clear fan confusion over who Velasquez actually is, but I pop for big surprises ... and that was a big surprise. Grade: B
The Rock and The Man electrify
There was likely no more important moment on the show -- regardless of what it was -- than the opening segment. After a Vince McMahon intro, a new opening video package and the display of a gorgeous new set, Becky Lynch was the first superstar to set foot in a WWE ring on Fox. She was quickly interrupted by Baron Corbin who was, in turn, interrupted by The Rock.
Rock called Corbin a "broke ass Burger King on crack" and an "STD" (short for "Super Tough Dude") before things then broke down into a conversation between Lynch, Rock and Corbin over the size of King Corbin's testicles. Eventually, Corbin had enough, seeming ready to brawl with the future Hall of Famer before taking punches from Lynch and Rock, eating a People's Elbow and falling victim to a Rock Bottom to end the segment.
The segment did what it was designed to do. The already hot crowd was lifted even more by Rock's presence and interaction with Lynch. The two meshed well, and Lynch came across as on Rock's "level." Corbin, for his part, was the ideal foil and did his job playing the butt of the joke and bumping around. Rock's jokes don't come across particularly "progressive" or "mature," but they still connect with a crowd that desperately misses that kind of landscape-shifting superstar. If the segment's job was to start the Fox era off hot, it delivered. Grade: A-
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch def. Bayley & Sasha Banks via submission when Flair forced Bayley to tap to the Figure-Eight. This was a good opener that saw the women bust out all their trademark offense. Banks was bleeding from the mouth by the time the match ended, but the faces going over kept the crowd hot.
- New Day cut a backstage promo as a group, primarily speaking in support of Kingston's title match against Brock Lesnar later in the show.
- Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura ended in a no contest after Bray Wyatt interference. After Rollins entered the ring prior to the match, a new edition of "Firefly Funhouse" aired. Ramblin' Rabbit encouraged Rollins to not get inside Hell in a Cell with "The Fiend" only to die ... again. As Rollins and Nakamura were going at it in the match, the lights went out and "The Fiend" struck once again, putting Rollins in the Mandible Claw at the top of the stage.
- Kevin Owens def. Shane McMahon in a ladder match. Shane got a full entrance while Owens was in the ring when the show returned from commercial. McMahon hit his trademark elbow drop from the top rope through the announce table, but it wasn't enough as Owens would hit a powerbomb on a ladder before climbing up in the middle of the ring to retrieve the briefcase and win the match. After the match, Owens dropped a "You're fired!" before hitting McMahon with a stunner and leaving the ring.
- Braun Strowman, The Miz & Heavy Machinery def. Dolph Ziggler, AJ Styles, Robert Roode & Randy Orton via pinfall when Strowman hit Ziggler with the running powerslam. The biggest note coming out of the match is an angle WWE ran with lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury and Strowman. The two got in each other's faces at ringside before Strowman got the victory. After the match, Fury jumped the rail and was held back by security.
- Roman Reigns def. Erick Rowan via pinfall in a lumberjack match following a spear by Reigns. Things devolved toward the end with the lumberjacks brawling before Luke Harper made his way into the ring and attacked Reigns. Daniel Bryan hit the ring and landed a knee before getting caught in Rowan's Iron Claw. Reigns hit a spear before Rowan could hit the slam on Bryan for the win. Following the match, Reigns and Bryan shook hands.