WWE certainly built up expectations for the SmackDown season premiere’s main event as Roman Reigns defended the Universal Championship against Braun Strowman.
The two heavyweights had a big fight feel going into their title match, with the Tribal Chief taking on an old foe before the Monster Among Men makes his move to Raw.
The result was never in any doubt, but both men deserve all the credit in the world for putting together a brilliant free TV clash worthy of the high stakes.
Roman’s low blow kick out is fast becoming a hilarious and genuinely brilliant signature move, and seeing him add a submission to winning arsenal was a nice touch.
His big win brought out his cousin Jey Uso – who he’ll be facing for the gold at Hell In A Cell – and Reigns seemed determined to send a message.
He utterly destroyed Strowman, hitting a spear and then railing on him with chair shot after chair shot, insisting he’ll do even worse to Uso next Sunday.
Eventually, the challenger stepped in the ring and stood face to face with his family member, only to be verbally run down, as Roman was on fire again, insisting he still loves his cousin but that he shouldn’t be trying to take his place.
He booted the chair across the ring, encouraging Jey to take a shot – but he refused, instead cracking Roman with a right and a quick superkick.
He picked up the chair and started battering Reigns before the refs and officials held him back, only for the champ to regain the upper hand with a Superman Punch.
Best of the rest
After Triple H and Stephanie McMahon opened the show with a cheesy but rather fun promo introducing fans to the SmackDown season premiere by going through the main players, a mass brawl broke out.
It led straight into a spirited but predictable clash between Jeff Hardy and Lars Sullivan as a way of making the latter look strong as he kicked out of the Twist of Fate on his way to a dominating win.
The action continued with The New Day dancing to the ring for their farewell match after Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston were traded to Raw last week.
The trio delivered a genuinely heartfelt speech recapping their influence as a faction, before facing off against Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro and Sheamus in six man tag team action with a nice Bar reunion thrown in for good measure.
This was a fantastic way for The New Day to say goodbye, as they went out on a high – and a victory – and showed how genuinely sad they are to be going their separate ways.
Daniel Bryan made his long awaited return tonight after months away, with Brie Bella and their daughter Birdie watching from the ThunderDome.
After a cracking promo showing fans what we’ve been missing, he was interrupted by Seth Rollins as the new SmackDown Saviour appealed to the leader of the Yes Movement.
Bryan was having none of it, describing his schtick as deluded and dumb, leading to a cheap shot and beat down from Rollins, but the returning son regained the upper hand and sent his foe running.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio came out before Seth could escape, leaving him trapped as the father-son duo looked to get their comeuppance as Murphy charged down, seemingly realigning with the former Monday Night Messiah.
It was a ruse though, as he took down Seth with a knee and sent him up the ramp before the ex-Disciple held out his hand to the Mysterios, but they weren’t interested in the olive branch.
In tag team action, Street Profits defended their new blue brand titles in a fun clash against Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler, who got disqualified and ended up second best after the bell.
The contract signing between Bayley and Sasha Banks – featuring Metro favourite Adam Pearce – was cracking television, with both women continuing to deliver some of the best promo work in all of WWE.
The SmackDown Women’s Champion didn’t sign on the dotted line for Hell In A Cell, leaving the match still in the balance, but everyone involved did a great job of continuing the strong build.
- Lars Sullivan pinned Jeff Hardy (C+)
- The New Day defeated Sheamus, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura (A)
- SmackDown Tag Team Titles: The Street Profits (c) beat Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode by DQ (C+)
- Universal Title: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Braun Strowman by submission (A)
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