WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Team Hell No baits 'The Fiend,' Roman Reigns makes a choice
The reunited duo of Daniel Bryan and Kane were able to get one-up on the universal champ on Friday
With just a little over one week until the Road to WrestleMania officially opens up at the Royal Rumble event in Houston, SmackDown this week emanated from the longtime pro wrestling hotbed of the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. One of the hooks heading into this week's episode of SmackDown on Fox was that we'd be treated to the return of Kane, leading you to believe that he would somehow find his way into the middle of the drama surrounding "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt and his Team Hell No running mate Daniel Bryan. That, of course, happened, though Wyatt ended up on the opposite end of the mind game for a rare change as Bryan proceeded to make their upcoming universal title match all the more interesting.
In addition to Bryan and Kane standing tall to open the show, in the closing moments of SmackDown this week, "The Big Dog" earned the opportunity to choose a Royal Rumble stipulation of his own for his matchup in Houston against King Corbin.
Let's have a look now at everything that went down on Friday night's episode of SmackDown in Greensboro.
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Team Hell No reunites to lure 'The Fiend'
Kane -- not mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, Glen Jacobs, rather the "Big Red Machine" himself -- was out to open up SmackDown this week to a massive return pop from the Greensboro faithful. The man who holds the record for total eliminations in Royal Rumble matches said that he knows just how important the annual 30-man match is. Kane was eventually interrupted by Bray Wyatt from inside the Firefly Funhouse. Wyatt assured everyone that Ramblin' Rabbit is OK before saying that the winner of the Royal Rumble is not so fortunate if they have to challenge for "The Fiend's" universal title. He then said that he'll never forget Kane while images of their 2013 feud upon Wyatt's main roster debut flashed on the screen, and "The Fiend" won't forget him, either.
The lights began to slowly shut down, signaling the arrival of "The Fiend," but when the arena was illuminated by the trademark red lighting as the universal champion emerged through the ring, Kane was standing outside of the squared circle. Kane turned to "The Fiend" and asked what took him so long -- the first indication that his appearance was a trap all along. "The Fiend" turned around where he was met with a running knee from Daniel Bryan, who pummeled his nemesis until he was able to escape back through the ring. A reunited Team Hell No participated with the crowd in a raucous "YES!" chant. Backstage, Bryan said that "The Fiend" is only the best at disappearing. He pondered how you beat someone who's only good at disappearing -- which gave him an idea. He challenged "The Fiend" to a strap match at the Royal Rumble, and he vowed to change "The Fiend" after winning the universal championship.
Despite it being quite unlikely that Bryan will capture the universal title at the Royal Rumble in a little over a week, all parties involved have done a commendable job of keeping this angle intriguing on a week-to-week basis. The addition of Kane -- at least for one week -- and subsequent reunion of Team Hell No was really well done, especially since it involved the former tag team champions getting one over on the diabolical Wyatt. But, the real twist of the night wasn't Bryan and Kane making "The Fiend" look foolish, rather it was Bryan's reveal of the strap match. The logic was there in Bryan explaining that "The Fiend" never seems to stick around once trouble is present, plus it's a specialty bout that we haven't seen in a while on one of the biggest stages of the year for the top prize on the brand. Grade: B+
What else happened on SmackDown?
- John Morrison def. Big E via pinfall after Starship Pain in his return match.
- The Usos def. The Revival via pinfall after Jimmy Uso connected with the top-rope splash onto Dash Wilder.
- Lacey Evans def. Bayley via pinfall in a non-title match after a Woman's Right. Evans was shown brawling with the SmackDown women's champion backstage earlier in the night as Sasha Banks, Evans' advertised opponent, was nursing an injured ankle on the ground. In the trainer's room, Banks was icing the ankle as Bayley was explaining how she would take care of Evans if she runs into her in the backstage area. WWE official (and former longtime independent wrestling star) Adam Pearce entered to tell Bayley she would be replacing Banks in the match. Later in the night, it was revealed that Evans will challenge Bayley for the title at the Royal Rumble.
- Shorty G was cutting a promo backstage on teaching Sheamus a lesson when the "Celtic Warrior" showed up. Sheamus cracked height jokes on Shorty G before he was tackled to the ground by the former Olympic competitor. Officials held Sheamus back from retaliating as Shorty G walked off. Shortly after, it was announced a one-on-one match will take place at the Royal Rumble.
- Braun Strowman was next up in the backstage promo department, calling for an intercontinental championship match at any time and any place after earning a victory over Shinsuke Nakamura last week. Sami Zayn, Nakamura and Cesaro then interrupted an Elias concert where Zayn turned Strowman's request down. The trio began beating down Elias in the ring before Strowman was out to make the save.
- Alexa Bliss def. Sonya Deville via pinfall with a rollup. Deville asked Mandy Rose to persuade Otis to be ringside for this match seeing as he was instrumental in helping Rose pick up a win last week. Otis did appear, but the plan backfired. Rose was knocked off the apron and into the arms of Otis, which distracted Deville long enough for Bliss to get the victory.
- Roman Reigns def. Robert Roode in a tables match after spearing Roode through a table. With the win, Reigns was allowed to choose the stipulation for his match with King Corbin at the Royal Rumble. Reigns told Corbin he was going to beat his ass all over the Minute Maid Park baseball stadium in a falls count anywhere contest.
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