While this week’s edition of SmackDown featured a pair of title matches, it was a singular moment to close the show that will dominate the conversation. After Alexa Bliss was left alone in the ring by a frustrated Nikki Cross, Bliss became the target of The Fiend as he fired a brutal shot at universal champion Braun Strowman by attacking his former Mixed Match Challenge tag partner.

Bray Wyatt kicked off the show with an episode of the “Firefly Fun House,” sending a warning to Strowman that The Fiend was now awake and no one was safe until he gets what he wants. Bliss, who had been at ringside for Cross’ loss to Bayley in their match for the SmackDown women’s championship, would find out the truth of that statement the hard way. After Cross shoved Bliss to the ground and stormed out of the ring, the lights went out, only to come back and reveal Bliss was now trapped in the ring with The Fiend. Wyatt’s alter-ego slowly brought his hand toward the face of a terrified Bliss before locking in the mandible claw as the show went off the air.

Read on for the full recap of this week’s SmackDown, including grades for much of the night’s action.

WWE SmackDown recap, grades

Intercontinental Championship — AJ Styles (c) def. Gran Metalik via submission to retain the title: Styles opened up with his standard mean streak, taking it to Metalik with nasty strikes and cutting off comeback attempts with cheap shots. Metalik hit a big rana to the outside to punctuate his initial comeback heading into a commercial. After the break, Styles amped up his attack on the leg of Metalik, trying to ground the high flyer and strip him of his most effective weapons. Metalik did explode with some big lucha-style offense, but it eventually fell apart when his leg gave out on him, allowing Styles to explode with a flurry of strikes before setting up for the Phenomenal Forearm that Metalik was able to avoid before eating a mid-air chop block by Styles that set up the Calf Crusher for the victory. After the match, Styles blindsided Lince Dorado and hit a Styles Clash. When given time, Styles is still one of the best wrestlers on the planet, and it was certainly good to see Metalik afforded the time to put on a good, featured match. Grade: B+

King Corbin def. Drew Gulak via pinfall: The match started after Gulak attacked Corbin from behind after Corbin interrupted a promo being cut by Jeff Hardy. Corbin went hard at Gulak as the match started following a post-brawl commercial break. Gulak tried to use small mistakes from Corbin to utilize his better mat wrestling, catching Corbin in a deep crossface and landing some big strikes and a series of dropkicks to get on a roll. A flying clothesline from the top rope scored a two count for Gulak, but he ran into a Deep Six. Before Corbin could capitalize, Matt Riddle’s music hit and Gulak almost managed to use the distraction for a sneak pin, but Corbin kicked out and hit End of Days for the victory. Riddle immediately hit the ring and attacked Corbin, who had told Shorty G he put a “King’s Ransom” bounty on Riddle’s head earlier in the night. Shorty G then ran out and took out Riddle, walking off with Corbin after laying out The Original Bro. This was a twisting segment that started with a Hardy promo and ended with Shorty G turning heel and aligning with Corbin, but you can’t say it wasn’t interesting. Grade: B-

Big E def. The Miz via submission: Big E started strong and played into some of his New Day tendencies to maybe have a bit too much fun, but a disrespectful shot from Miz brought out the more violent side of the big man, who tossed Miz into the ringside barricade multiple times. John Morrison inserted himself and laid out Big E on the outside while the ref was distracted, allowing Miz to take over. Big E also had a brief comeback end when he missed a splash on the ring apron heading into a commercial break. Big E exploded back with a series of three German suplexes and a big splash. Miz countered a Big Ending into an attempt at the Skull-Crushing Finale, which was then countered back into a Big Ending attempt before Miz raked the eyes to escape. Later, Morrison again took advantage of a distracted referee to kick Big E in the head, allowing Miz to hit a Skull-Crushing Finale, but Big E kicked out at two and managed to use the ropes to escape from a follow-up figure-four attempt. A third attempt by Morrison to interfere was caught by the referee and he was ejected from ringside, leading to Big E locking Miz in the Stretch Muffler for the submission. This was a great intro to Big E’s singles run as he not only had to get it done by himself, but get it done while on the bad side of the numbers game. Grade: B+

Sheamus cut a backstage promo: Sheamus said that he effectively fought Jeff Hardy in a handicap match by facing him in a bar last week, knowing that Hardy was in his natural environment. He then effectively ended the feud, saying Hardy was no longer his problem and nature would eventually take its course. Now he could focus on the SmackDown locker room as a whole.

Naomi def. Lacey Evans via pinfall: Evans made fun of the #NaomiDeservesBetter hashtag before the match, with the Twitter movement now a part of Naomi’s story. An aggressive Evans took the fight to Naomi from the jump, eventually taking her outside and slamming her into the ring post before trapping Naomi’s hair in the ring steps in an effort to score a count out victory. Naomi eventually came back with an awkward-looking sliding destroyer on the outside, but again had things reversed before Evans tried to tie her hair to the top rope. Naomi escaped, ducked a Woman’s Right and scored a roll-up for the win. Naomi would have done well to have been given a bit more offense if they were trying to address the hashtag, but it was good to see her pick up a victory over Evans to get one back. Grade: C

Sonya Deville brutally attacked Mandy Rose: Rose and Otis were preparing for a date when Rose told Otis she was going to get ready. Deville was seen stalking them in the background. As Rose was putting on makeup, Deville attacked her, smearing the makeup across her face and cutting off chunks of her hair with scissors before grabbing clippers and trying to shave her head. Before she could make it happen, WWE officials intervened and Deville said she already had what she wanted, taking a chunk of Rose’s hair with her.

SmackDown Women’s Championship — Bayley (c) def. Nikki Cross via pinfall to retain the title: Cross was fired up from the jump, attacking Bayley in the corners before hitting a Thesz press to deliver a bit more punishment to the champion. Cross also scored with a big crossbody from the ring apron to the floor, keeping Bayley almost completely on the defensive. Bayley finally took things over by attacking the “cracked rib” of Cross, the injury suffered at Extreme Rules. In return, Cross began attacking the ribs of Bayley before hitting a tornado DDT. Banks again tried to hand off the Boss ring to Bayley for the cheap win, a callback to Extreme Rules as well. Cross hit another crossbody, setting up a series of pin reversals before Bayley managed to slam Cross down face-first to score the pin and retain her championship. This was a decent match, though Bayley and Cross don’t quite click on the same level as some of the bigger pairings in recent months and weeks. Still good action throughout. Grade: B

The Fiend attacked Alexa Bliss: Earlier in the night, Bray Wyatt hosted a “Firefly Fun House” to open the show. Wyatt warned Braun Strowman that The Fiend was now awake, and no one would be safe until he gets what he wants, which turned out to be a warning for how the show would end.

After Cross’ loss to Bayley, Alexa Bliss attempted to console her, but a frustrated Cross shoved her to the mat and stormed out of the ring. As Bliss sat in the ring, the lights went out, only to come back on with the familiar red lighting and The Fiend himself in the ring. A terrified Bliss sat still while The Fiend slowly brought his hand toward her face before locking in the mandible claw as the show went off the air. This was a really strong way to close the show, with Wyatt targeting Strowman’s old mixed tag partner as all limits are now off with The Fiend having returned. On top of that all, WWE did the subtle move of having the show ending logo come up only for The Fiend’s actions to happen after the usual signifier the show is over. A small move that shows that The Fiend exists outside the standard boundaries of how the shows work. Grade: A-

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.