With the majority of talent still in Saudi Arabia after the Crown Jewel PPV, there was a lack of “star power” going into this week’s episode of SmackDown which led some to believe there may be a crisis on their hands. Yet, it was WWE’s developmental division NXT that was able to save the Blue brand in its time of need and give the FOX era of SmackDown its best show to date. Welcome to the most must-see VultureHound review in history; welcome to… the NXT Takeover: SmackDown Review.


– Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman quit SmackDown (yay?).

– Bayley defeated Nikki Cross to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship.

– Tommaso Ciampa defeated The Miz.

– Rhea Ripley and Tegan Nox defeated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.

– Adam Cole [BAY BAY] defeated Daniel Bryan to retain the NXT Championship.

For FOX Sake:

I’d usually start with the best bits of the show, but as nearly all of the 2 hours were fantastic, I may as well do this linearly for once as that is how the show progressed in terms of enjoyment.

Despite the lack of cards in their deck, one of the aces in the pack, Brock Lesnar, was available for SmackDown last night. The Beast opened the show with Paul Heyman, who was incensed over Rey Mysterio getting even with Brock by beating him with a chair at Crown Jewel. Most of this segment was padded out with a replay of the entire 2-minute match footage of Lesnar vs Velasquez and Mysterio repeatedly hitting the WWE Champion with a chair.

Heyman declared that he and his client quit the SmackDown brand so that they can go after Mysterio on RAW because Vince McMahon refused to send Mysterio to SmackDown. I know this is wrestling, but this was a dumb and lazy way to make sure a World Champion is on both brands now that Bray Wyatt, also a SmackDown superstar, has the Universal Championship.

Lesnar may not have wanted to work for his money last night, but the “developmental” stars of NXT sure as hell did…

Bradley’s Best Bits:

As was advertised throughout the week, Bayley would be putting her SmackDown Women’s Championship on the line against Nikki Cross, who has more than earned that No.1 contender spot in recent weeks.

Whilst Cross came across well as a defiant babyface, it was the Champion who was able to come away with the win after her best friend Sasha Banks was able to push Cross from the top rope whilst the referee’s back was turned. This allowed Bayley to land her new finisher which looked similar to the original Dirty Deeds Dean Ambrose first used in WWE.

However, it was what happened next which would go on to set the precedent for the rest of the night. NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler emerged through the crowd, tossed Banks into the ring post and smashed Bayley with a knee before leaving through the crowd. An impactful first SmackDown appearance which could set up an interesting Champion vs Champion match at Survivor Series.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmHrbGDPkgw]

With Sami Zayn being one of the only SmackDown regulars available, he was used to great effect in introducing the SmackDown audience to Matt Riddle and Keith Lee. In what started as a backstage segment, Zayn was interviewed about the events unfolding with NXT seemingly invading the blue brand. Just as he challenged NXT to step up to his level, the mouthpiece for Shinsuke Nakamura was interrupted by the Limitless Bros, Lee and Riddle.

The pair chased Zayn to the ring before they were able to hit two of their signature moves: Riddle with the BroDerek and Lee with an astonishing moonsault for a man of his stature. Whilst it was a shame we didn’t get to see Zayn wrestle, using his voice to help put others over is seemingly a role he is thriving in right now. You can also read more about this in our recent interview with him by the lovely Steph Franchomme.

Bray Wyatt was originally scheduled to be this week’s guest on Miz TV, which I’m sure would have been fascinating, however, his replacement ended up being none other than former NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa.

In an incredible exchanging of words, Ciampa declared that Miz’s false ‘Hollywood’ persona was everything that is wrong with WWE whereas the A-Lister defended himself by reminding the Blackheart that it was this persona that his given him so much success in the business.

This led to a match between the pair that I never knew I wanted before. Miz looked as good as ever, targeting the knee brace of Ciampa to get an advantage, but it would be Ciampa that would use his instincts to get the better of the Miz. Following a dive, the self-proclaimed “greatest sports-entertainer of all time” was able to smash the Awesome One with a knee and finish him off with The Fairly Tale Ending.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vbsduf_XXI]

The NXT invasion continued as Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville waited patiently in the ring for their opponents only to find out that Carmella and Dana Brooke were taken out by Bianca Belair backstage.

Rhea Ripley and Tegan Nox arrived as the surprise opponents for Fire & Desire in a match where The NXT stars were dominant throughout. Deville was taken out of the picture before Nox landed the Shiniest Wizard to set up an inverted cloverleaf from Ripley on Rose for the submission victory.

The best segment of the night saw Daniel Bryan confront the orchestrator of the invasion Triple H and Shawn Michaels backstage. The Game stated he came to SmackDown following the announcement that NXT would be included in the Survivor Series PPV. Bryan, looking for a fight, challenged HHH only for the EVP of Talent Relations to announce that Bryan would be facing Adam Cole for the NXT Championship in the main event.

As the 2 legends watched on from ringside, the 2 former ROH men gave us a match of pure brilliance that we have so far yet to see on the FOX era of SmackDown. Bryan wasn’t letting anything go and as the Planet’s Champion locked in the LeBell Lock on the NXT champion, Cole barely made it to the ropes. Cole eventually managed to hit Bryan with the Panama Sunrise before the Last Shot to successfully retain his championship.

Following the match, the selected members of the NXT roster invaded the ring with Triple H stood in front of them as he made his intentions clear. This is the beginning of a war for brand supremacy culminating at Survivor Series. “RAW and SmackDown, let’s see what you got. Remember one thing: WE ARE NXT”.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9OjrCRFDBA]

All pics and videos courtesy of WWE

By Bradley Tiernan

"Wrestling is better than the things you like" - John Oliver

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