This week’s SmackDown featured a few big surprises, some great action, and an all-round entertaining show. We saw Jeff Hardy issue an open challenge for the Intercontinental Championship, the fallout from the return of Roman Reigns at SummerSlam, Bayley and Sasha Banks’ friendship hit a bump or two, and so much more. This was one of the most packed SmackDown episodes for some time, so let’s dive right in.

Quick Results

Jeff Hardy def. Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall

Matt Riddle def. Shorty G via pinfall

Braun Strowman def. Drew Gulak via pinfall

Cesaro def. Kalisto via pinfall

Heavy Machinery & Big E def. The Miz & John Morrison, & Sheamus via pinfall

Sign On The Dotted Line

The show started with Adam Pearce talking to security about protecting “the Chairman of the Board” Vince McMahon at all costs. He then entered his room, where McMahon told him he needed to get all the signatures of the participants of the Triple Threat for the Universal Championship match at Payback, and not to fail him.

In an episode of Firefly Fun House, Bray Wyatt said it sure was good to be back home with all his friends. He said he couldn’t help but think that something was missing. The Universal Championship then materialised in his hand and said it was good to see Roman Reigns again. The doorbell rang, and ‘Postman Pearce’ appeared. Pearce asked Wyatt for a signature for the Triple Threat match, but Wyatt asked, ” why would I sign it?” He signed it anyway, and said if he knew “him” like he thinks he does, then he just signed “a couple of death warrants.”

Adam Pearce knocked on Roman Reigns’ door, but he didn’t get an answer. Later on, Pearce asked Gulak if he’d seen Braun Strowman. Gulak said he wanted to find Strowman himself for what he’d done to him last week. Gulak picked up a chair and found Strowman, hitting him across the back. Strowman didn’t flinch, and Gulak threw the chair to Adam Pearce. Strowman turned around. Pearce said it wasn’t him that hit him, but seeing as though he was here, would he sign the contract? Strowman said he wanted Gulak in the ring, and if Pearce made that happen, he’d sign on the dotted line.

Drew Gulak vs Braun Strowman

This was less a match and more a savaging. Strowman beat the hell out of Gulak. He landed a standing senton then a chokeslam. he picked Gulak up by the beard and hit a running powerslam to pick up the victory. Adam Pearce walked out and managed to get Strowman to sign. All that was left was for Roman Reigns to sign on the dotted line. Easier said than done, it seemed.

Adam Pearce went back to Vince McMahon and said he had two of the three signatures. McMahon said it wasn’t good enough, and he needed to knock down Reigns’ door to get his signature. Pearce finally got hold of Roman Reigns. Reigns said he would wreck everyone and leave Payback as the Universal Champion. He said it wasn’t a prediction but a spoiler, and as the camera panned over to the right, Paul Heyman was sat next to him. Oh my God. Heyman said to “believe that.” Roman Reigns is now a Paul Heyman guy. What a massive surprise. It all but confirms Reigns has indeed turned heel, and with Heyman by his side, things have just got a million times more interesting.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Jeff Hardy came to the ring and said he was “tickled pink” to be standing in the ring after what AJ Styles did to his knee last week on SmackDown. AJ walked out and was annoyed, calling Hardy a liar and a cheat. He said Hardy knew exactly what he was doing when he got that illegal object on his knee, and that he was working the system, taking advantage of it. Hardy offered an open challenge for the Intercontinental Championship, but not to Styles. Hardy then hit him as SmackDown went into a break.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Jeff Hardy (C) vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Nakamura answered the call, and the two locked up as Styles joined commentary. Hardy’s arm was being worked by Nakamura, but he managed to reverse into an arm lock of his own. The match opened up, with Hardy hitting an atomic drop and a neck snap. Nakamura worked Hardy’s knee with a basement dropkick and continued to apply pressure to it in the turnbuckle. Cesaro popped up on camera and seemed a little annoyed that his partner had been so impulsive to accept the open challenge.

Hardy managed to get back into it, but he was clearly struggling. He clotheslined Nakamura over the ropes, then threw him into the announce table. Back in the ring, Hardy hit his signature double leg drop and went for a cover, but only managed a two-count. Nakamura hit a spinning heel kick, but Hardy flew through the air and hit a Whisper in the Wind. Nakamura hit a sliding German suplex and a jumping big knee from the turnbuckle. Nakamura got caught with a Twist of Fate, then a Swanton, allowing Hardy to pin him to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

After the bell, Hardy held it up in front of AJ Styles. Styles wasn’t happy at all. As Hardy walked to the back, AJ got in the ring and said he would take it from him. Sami Zayn’s music hit, and out he came holding an Intercontinental belt of his own. This was amazing. It was so good to see him back on SmackDown. He knocked Hardy out and called him a fraud. Styles walked up the ramp and said Hardy was in trouble.

Backstage, Zayn was singing when he was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. He said Hardy, like Styles, was a fraudulent champion, and that he never lost the championship. He was asked why he hadn’t been around and replied by saying there were many reasons for that. Later in the evening, Cesaro was backstage with Nakamura. Sami Zayn interrupted whilst singing “Reunited.” Cesaro said some things have changed for the better since Zayn was away. Zayn continued talking, but Cesaro said that he and Nakamura were in the middle of a conversation, and Zayn should go. Zayn said he had things to do anyway, and he went.

Playing With Meat

We were shown what happened on Talking Smack between The Miz and Big E. Before the show, Big E was using his phone to cut a promo on why he wouldn’t want to be on Miz TV when The Miz and John Morrison interrupted. Heavy Machinery then joined in, followed by Sheamus. It was announced there would be a huge six-man tag team match between all six Superstars. Bayley and Sasha Banks joined Big E and Heavy Machinery, later on, to mock Big E, saying some people will only ever be tag team champions. Bayley and Banks walked off, laughing at all three guys, saying they were too busy “playing with their meat,” after picking up some salami that was in Otis’ lunchbox.

Later on, The Miz and John Morrison were going through their gameplan for the match, when Sheamus walked in. Sheamus was annoyed by their plan to not let Big E or Heavy Machinery in the ring. Sheamus said they should just follow his lead.

Heavy Machinery & Big E vs John Morrison & The Miz, & Sheamus

Otis and Morrison started things off. Heavy Machinery grabbed Big E and launched him into Morrison in the turnbuckle. The Miz and John Morrison managed to double team Tucker after Sheamus hit him in the back with a knee whilst on the apron. Tucker knocked The Miz and Sheamus off the apron, but Morrison hit him outside. Tucker slid back in after taking out Sheamus and The Miz outside.

Tucker slid back in and clotheslined Morrison, but Sheamus rang the bell. After the break, the action continued. Morrison tagged in The Miz, much to the chagrin of Sheamus. The Miz and John Morrison continued to tag each other in and work on Tucker. Sheamus tagged himself in, but the referee didn’t see it. Tucker knocked Morrison into Sheamus who fell to the outside. The Miz tried to talk to Sheamus, but he walked off after being frustrated about his lack of involvement.

Big E tagged in and went off, hitting a big splash on The Miz. Big E planted the uranage, but Morrison broke up the pin. Otis landed the caterpillar on Morrison. The Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Otis, and Big E hit the Big Ending on The Miz to pick up the victory. Heavy Machinery and Otis celebrated after the match.

The Highs & Lows From The Rest Of The Show

Highs

Sasha Banks and Bayley came to the ring. Bayley said it was one of the toughest weeks in their career. Bayley screamed she was still Bayley Dos Straps, and Banks was simply, Sasha Banks. Banks was pretty annoyed, and Bayley continued to rub it in. She tried to have a laugh with Banks, but she was not happy. “On Sunday, we can not lose,” said Bayley. Banks said as long as Bayley has her back, they can get through anything. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler appeared on the big screen, with Baszler saying their bad week was going to get worse. Baszler said she despised Jax, and that she sucks, but she would take anything if it meant they could get some gold.

Banks said one bad week wouldn’t hold her back. She knows what she wants, and she and Bayley would walk out tag team champion after Payback. The cracks are definitely starting to show, and I wouldn’t be surprised if things blow up after Payback. This was a great segment, and Banks continues to improve on the mic. I expect them to lost the tag team championship at Payback, leading up to a showdown between Bayley and Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship in the near future.

The Lucha House Party were backstage. Kalisto said he will show Lince Dorado how it was done when he stepped in the ring with Cesaro. Dorado was pretty annoyed with Kalisto, and as he walked away, Cesaro and Nakamura attacked him and Gran Metalik from behind. The match between Cesaro and Kalisto was great. Cesaro went in hard straight away, but Kalisto got in some incredible flying moves including a springboard hurricanrana at ringside. Kalisto was amazing, using some innovation to get out of a powerbomb by jumping on Cesaro’s shoulders and landing a DDT. Lucha House Party came down to stop Nakamura from interfering, but Cesaro picked up the victory from out of nowhere. Kalisto and Dorado got in a heated argument in the ring, but they hugged and went to the back.

Tamina talked to Nikki Cross backstage and asked how Alexa Bliss was. Bliss walked in and hugged them both. Cross pointed out Bliss had changed her hair a bit, and that it reminded her of The Fiend. Bliss exploded and picked up the mug Cross was holding (the one Bliss had given her) and smashed it on the ground after saying she hoped Cross would be more supportive. WWE is still pursuing Alexa Bliss’ involvement with The Fiend, and I’m all for seeing this storyline develop.

Lows

Matt Riddle took to the ring with a mic and said it seems as though King Corbin was scared to face him. Riddle then said to prove him wrong and face him. The advert break came and went, and finally, King Corbin walked out. From behind, Shorty G attacked Riddle. Corbin said he accepted the match on behalf of Shorty G. Riddle hit a suplex, then Gable hit a Tiger Suplex for a two-count. Riddle hit a big knee then the Bro Derek for the win. Corbin ran in after the match to try and attack Riddle from behind. Corbin didn’t get anywhere and decided to leave the ring like a coward. Just have the match and end this feud, please. Corbin was backstage later on, where he said he would break every one of Riddle’s “disgusting little toes” at Payback this Sunday. I’m sorry, but King Corbin is the most boring Superstar between both brands, and this whole King’s Ransom thing is becoming far too dull to care about.

Final Thoughts

This was a fantastic episode of SmackDown. After a huge surprise return for Roman Reigns at SummerSlam, it seemed as though his appearance tonight would dilute the impact he made last Sunday. It took a while, but Paul Heyman appearing at the end was a superb decision by WWE to make Reigns heel, and also give him much more appeal going into Payback this Sunday.

Sami Zayn’s return was also great to see. I’m excited to see what happens with AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy, but now Zayn is in the mix, things are likely to become great as the weeks roll on. The main event wasn’t anything special, but it’s always fun to see Big E. He helped get his team a win and continue his unbeaten streak as a solo competitor, leaving Sheamus frustrated that he isn’t getting the same attention.

Kalisto continued to vent his frustrations, and I’d happily see him step out on his own as long as he isn’t misused. Sasha Banks delivered a great promo, and her friendship with Bayley is definitely on the rocks. Although King Corbin and Matt Riddle’s storyline is stale, it didn’t stop tonight’s SmackDown from being an absolute blast.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE