In the wake of his monumental victory last week, AJ Styles kicked off the show with the presentation of his Intercontinental Championship. Matt Riddle finally debuted, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville’s rivalry proved far from over, and Bryan Wyatt returned in an episode of the Firefly Funhouse. Jeff Hardy sat down with Renee Young, Nikki Cross wasn’t done with the new Women’s Tag Team Champions, and The New Day received a rude awakening from two bitter Superstars. It was a busy night, so let’s start unpacking everything that went down.
Matt Riddle def. AJ Styles via pinfall
Shorty G def. Mojo Rawley via pinfall
The New Day def. Lucha House Party via pinfall
Sasha Banks def. Nikki Cross via pinfall
All Systems Bro
AJ Styles joined Renee Young to kick of this week’s SmackDown. The Intercontinental Championship was on a podium in the ring as AJ Styles began to be his usual arrogant self. There were a fair few Superstars surrounding the ring, and Styles made it clear he called them out so they knew this was the closest they were going to get to the belt. Young was supposed to be presenting him with the Intercontinental Championship, but he felt there was only one person up to the task, and that was Daniel Bryan.
Bryan jumped in the ring, and Styles said he should congratulate him and put the title around his waist. The Phenomenal One took great pleasure in rubbing Bryan’s nose in it, reminding him how he beat him fair and square last week. When Bryan did congratulate him, Styles said he didn’t hear him. Bryan grabbed a mic and congratulated him, so he could hear him.
Bryan continued to say he respected AJ Styles and that he was the better man last week. He said AJ would be a great Intercontinental Champion – maybe the best ever – if he defended it every week. AJ Styles wasn’t feeling what Bryan was saying. He told Bryan he wasn’t like him, and that that he was right at the back of the line for a title shot. Bryan respected his decision, but said if Styles thought people needed to earn their opportunity, then maybe Drew Gulak should be first up, seeing as though he defeated him two weeks ago.
Styles wasn’t keen on the idea. He said he doesn’t give handouts, and the next person that decides to run their mouth, there will be serious consequences. “BROOOOOOO!” Matt Riddle came to the ring in his first appearance as a member of the SmackDown roster. He introduced himself to AJ Styles, but was shut down, being told that Styles knew who he was and that he didn’t like him being barefoot in the ring. Style blindsided Riddle, but he retaliated with a kick and knocked him outside the ring. Styles called for a referee so the two could have a match.
AJ Styles vs Matt Riddle
If Matt Riddle was going to have a debut match on SmackDown, AJ Styles was always going to be my number one pick. Whilst it was nowhere near the calibre of Bryan vs Styles from last week, it was still an entertaining showdown. Riddle was on fire throughout. He hit a German suplex and two Gutwrench suplexes in a row, but only managed a two-count. After a superkick and a Broton, Riddle got caught in the face with a dropkick, but it didn’t deter the Original Bro.
AJ Styles ended up kicking Riddle into King Corbin (who was one of the wrestlers at ringside), and it looked as though they were going to come to blows. Back in the ring, Riddle continued to take control. He delivered a fisherman suplex, another Broton, and followed it up with the Bromission, but AJ Styles managed to break out. Styles locked in the Calf Crusher, but Riddle got out of it. As Riddle was recovering, Bryan was outside giving him encouragement. Styles wasn’t happy with it at all and pushed Byran. Byran didn’t strike AJ, and after a little more goading, he returned to the ring. Big mistake!
Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Riddle managed to reverse it into the BRO Derek and get the victory. It was a thoroughly enjoyable match, made even better by the crazy celebrations afterwards. Riddle was dancing with everyone, including a brilliant moment with Otis. Matt Riddle is here, people, and by the looks of things, WWE has big plans for him.
Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
The Miz and John Morrison presented another Miz TV, and this week’s guest was Mandy Rose. Before they called her out, they addressed their match with Braun Strowman at Backlash. Neither one of them was happy that WWE changed the rules before the match, stipulating that whoever pinned Strowman would become sole owner of the Universal Championship. They also said they couldn’t concentrate because of the “canned ham covered in body hair” Otis might have been ready to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
Once they were done moaning, they introduced Mandy Rose to the ring. They were less than kind to her, mocking and insulting her relationship with Otis. Rose said she didn’t come here to be insulted, and began to leave. The Miz apologised, then said he had a surprise for her. Sonya Deville!
Coming to the ring in a black suit, Deville went right after Rose with a cutting promo about how she doesn’t know what else she can do. She came to the conclusion that it must be Rose’s looks that got her where she was, because all she’s done in recent weeks is lose matches and make out with Otis beside a swimming pool. Mandy retaliated, saying she has people beside her, and that Deville is all alone.
Sonya Deville said she wasn’t even mad anymore, just confused. She said that she would rip her apart piece by piece, so that her outsides were just as hideous as what’s inside. The two came to blows, with The Miz and John Morrison cheering them on. Deville managed to break away and head backstage. Before leaving, Mandy Rose slapped The Miz hard across the face, leaving him with a bruised cheek and a bruised ego.
This was a great segment, and both Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville breathed life into their feud. I thought I was done with it, but I’ll gladly see one more match between both of them. What would make it even cooler is Paige returning as the special referee in a match at Extreme Rules. Time will tell, but these two women are far from overcoming their mutual hatred of one another.
Bray Wyatt’s Frankenstein
The long-awaited return of FireFly Funhouse saw Wyatt talk about what he’d been up to since he lost to Braun Strowman. He’d joined a book club, learned some TikTok dances, mastered the art of resurrecting the dead, taken up knitting, and infiltrated a reptilian stronghold. Rabbit popped up to remind him about his loss to Braun Strowman, but before he could continue, Strowman interrupted and walked to the ring.
Strowman said that he and Wyatt were over, and that he had his chance. Wyatt laughed at him, then old footage of the Wyatt Family aired. Strowman looked on as the old Wyatt from his time in the Wyatt Family appeared on the big screen. He said Strowman looked like he’d seen a ghost. He went on to say he created Strowman, and that he would be the one to destroy him. The show ended with Wyatt telling Strowman that he knew where to find him, and that he should follow the buzzards. He held up his lantern, uttered the word “run,” and blew it out.
If Bray Wyatt does use his old gimmick to face Braun Strowman I’d be happy, but at the same time he can’t lose again. It would weaken Bray Wyatt’s stock in WWE, and would no doubt not get another shot for a while. I’m intrigued by where this is going. Wyatt brings the best out in Strowman, and that is always a good thing, given the fact he’s a rather two-dimensional Superstar.
The Highs And Lows From The Rest Of The Show
The New Day and Lucha House Party had a great match tonight, and what made it even better was Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura attacking them in the aftermath. Cesaro was the mouthpiece for them, telling Michael Cole they were the last of a dying breed, and were sick and tired of not being given the opportunities. He’s completely right. These two deserve so much more, and maybe there was an element of a shoot here. Both of these guys should be in the Universal title picture, but any gold at this point is good. Plus, I’d love to see them face The New Day again.
After Sheamus defeated Jeff Hardy at Backlash, I’d have thought that could be the end of things between them. Maybe Hardy could go after the Intercontinental Championship. Hell, why not the Universal Championship. If this is his last run, then make it count. Alas, his alcoholic past is brought up yet again. His interview was great, and the things he said could really resonate with others that may have drug and alcohol issues. That wasn’t the problem. Sheamus told Kayla Braxton that next week he’ll be holding “A toast to Jeff Hardy,” likely a segment where he soaks Hardy in alcohol and it becomes uncomfortable to watch. Please, let both Superstars move on, as this whole junkie-bashing isn’t smart OR funny.
Mojo Rawley vs Shorty G is one of those feuds WWE does even if that will never amount to anything. Neither are particularly strong on the microphone, and whilst they did an OK job in their match, it felt like pointless filler between the other big moments of the show. There was a time not so long ago when Rawley was doing those mysterious promos, but since then he’s been underutilised like many other Superstars. Shorty G deserves better, and I wish his height wasn’t a constant talking point. Bring back Chad Gable!
SmackDown has a better roster of women, and tonight we saw some of them backstage. Naomi, Tamina, Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, and Dana Brooke were all talking about Sasha Banks and Bayley, until Bliss commented on where Nikki Cross was. Back at ringside, Bayley and Banks were still sat next to Corey Graves and Michael Cole. Cross came out of nowhere and attacked both of them. She ran in the ring and challenged Sasha Banks to a match. As always, Bayley accepted the match on Banks’ behalf. Although Cross managed to get in some good offence, however, Banks ended up winning. It feels as though Bayley really needs to drop the title, and Sasha Banks is the only person who should be challenging her. WWE continue to drag out the inevitable, and in the meantime, their time on SmackDown is becoming boring. Sasha deserves a shot, and would make a great champion. It’s just becoming all too repetitive now.
Tonight’s SmackDown started off strongly, especially with a superb debut by Matt Riddle. Now AJ Styles’ first title defence will be against Drew Gulak next week, I wonder where we’ll see Matt Riddle’s path leads to next. Probably King Corbin, as many others do, but I just hope he doesn’t get stuck in a succession of matches with him. Riddle vs Bryan would be another incredible match, but that might not happen for quite some time.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville’s feud has new life, and it looks as though a match between the both of them is on the cards. I wonder where The Miz and John Morrison will end up next. I get the feeling Otis will be involved somewhere, maybe a match against Heavy Machinery soon. They’ve been nothing but horrible to Otis, so a bit of revenge might be looking good to him.
Bayley and Sasha Banks are still friends, but it needs to come to an end soon. Everyone on the roster has had a shot at Bayley and failed, so it needs to be the Boss who challenges her next. The New Day vs the team of Cesaro and Nakamura is likely going to happen soon, and I really hope they pick up the win. They deserve gold around their waist.
Finally, it was good to see Bray Wyatt back, even though it involves Braun Strowman. Like I said earlier, Wyatt has made Strowman look good in these promos, and they’ll no doubt be facing each other at Extreme Rules. I just hope Wyatt can take the title from him, because Strowman isn’t a convincing champion.
All images and video courtesy of WWE