Winners: Buddy Murphy, Elias, R-Truth and Carmella, The Bar, Braun Strowman, Natalya, Finn Balor, Rey Mysterio, Ronda Rousey, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, and Asuka.
Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander kicked us off in another of their fast-paced, energetic match; literally, this was just a real spurt of energy to get people pumped up and, in that, it largely succeeded. Cedric hit the Lumbar Check but Buddy made the ropes and managed to win with Murphy’s Law; while these two do work well together, it is probably time to get some fresh faces involved in the Cruiserweight Championship scene.
Elias and Bobby Lashley had the first car crash match of the night with a bit of a ladder match; Lashley was all about the power, obviously, but Elias surprisingly held his own with a Powerbomb onto a ladder. Elias ended up shoving Lio Rush off the ladder and grabbing the guitar in less than ten minutes; however, although he won, he definitely came off worse for wear as Lashley smashed him in with the guitar afterwards.
Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox took on R-Truth and Carmella in the finals of the mixed match challenge, because apparently there aren’t enough storylines going on on actual WWE television to make this card. All you really need to know is that R-Truth and Carmella won and therefore won the right to be the number thirty entrant in their respective Royal Rumble matches.
The Bar, the Usos, and the New Day all went at it the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championships; things started off hot and heavy and, to be fair, kind of stayed that we; everyone got frequent tags and some decent in-ring time, which I was honestly surprised about. After things broke down, Sheamus landed the Brogue Kick to retain the belts. Afterwards, Baron Corbin got in the ring and had the referee (Heath Slater) start to count out Braun Strowman; however, Strowman arrived in a sling and sent out Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, Finn Balor, and Kurt Angle to all take turns attacking Corbin. They all hit their finishers and then Strowman pinned Corbin with one foot, earning himself another shot at the Universal Championship and stripping Corbin of his power (though I half expect that to be reversed on Monday).
Natakya and Ruby Riott were up next; the Riott Squad had their Jim Neidhart-painted table, as promised, and Ruby continually teased/threatened to put Natalya through it throughout the match. Natalya managed to overcome the odds, though, and won after Powerbombing Ruby through a table, which is probably not the best look for this three-woman stable. Finn Balor and Dew McIntyre actually made it on to the card, which was surprising; McIntyre worked the power game he likes to bring and the WWE likes to book Finn into. Things had a bit of a twist this time, though, as Dolph Ziggler arrived and hit a Superkick onto Drew, which was enough to allow Balor to capitalise and get the win. Hopefully, Drew and Finn can be separated for a bit or, at least, take their issues higher up the card going forward; however, Ziggler randomly attacked Finn later in the night so I’m assuming they will ended up treading water together.
Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio then busted out the chairs; I’ve never really liked the idea of a “chairs match” because it’d a bit ridiculous. I assume you can get disqualified if you use anything other than a chair but that doesn’t happen in a ladder or tables match so maybe not? But, if not, why bother restricting it to the just chairs? Anyway, this started with a brawl and then descended into Orton trying to mutilate Mysterio with a chair. Rey managed to escape an RKO, which would have landed him face-first into a pile of chairs, and roll Orton up for the shock win.
Nia Jax got another shot at Ronda Rousey next; Tamina was at ringside, which did cause a distraction but was not as much of a factor as you would expect. Surprisingly, this was a pretty decent match; Rousey worked a hard-hitting style that countered a lot of Nia’s power, dodged the Becky-Buster, and got Jax to tap out to the Arm Bar. Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles followed, which saw Bryan leave the ring to taunt AJ; Bryan also worked over AJ’s ribs, which severely limited AJ’s air game. In a great spot, Bryan countered the Styles Clash into a Half Crab and then seamlessly transitioned to the Yes! Lock while laying in to AJ’s side with elbow shots. AJ managed to land the 450 Splash and even tied Bryan into the Calf Crusher but Daniel made the ropes and, eventually, countered a cradle into a Small Package to retain the belt.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were up next, talking trash and rolling around the ropes. This match was, as expected, all about Ambrose; Dean threw himself at Seth and laid into him without mercy throughout the match, grounding the action, throwing strikes, and crotching him on the top rope. Seth, forced to work defensively, kept trying to rally with his signature moves but Ambrose cut him off at every turn. In the end, Seth kicked Dean’s down his throat when he tried to beg off and hit the Barricade Powerbomb but it turned out Dean was playing smart and countered the Stomp into the Dirty Deeds to capture the Intercontinental Championship. This was so-so; it was the right call to get the belt off of Seth, especially as it’s rumoured he’s going to be fighting for the Universal Championship soon, but I think these guys could do more in the inevitable rematch.
In what will no doubt be touted as a historic move, the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship main evented the show. Great so, not only does the WWE Championship not main event, it’s even put before the Intercontinental Championship; I get that the WWE wants to make women’s wrestling more prominent but they also need to put some focus on their top belt. Anyway, this was quite a crazy match, with Charlotte Flair, Asuka, and Becky Lynch all going at each other and hitting their biggest moves. Becky ended up putting Charlotte through the announce table with a Leg Drop off a ladder but Charlotte came back with a kendo stick to take over for a bit, before taking Becky out with a Senton through a table. Charlotte and Asuka battled on the ladder; when Becky looked to take control, Ronda Rousey randomly arrived and toppled them over (I guess she was jealous of them getting the main event?) Anyway, with Becky and Charlotte both down, Asuka made the climb and finally won the belt.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon is back, bitches! Man, he has aged. I love how the crowd how erupts into thunderous applause for Vince when he shows up now; if only he could learn a lesson from that and use his family/authority figures sparingly. Anyway, Vince addressed the state of Raw and brought out Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Triple H for a bit of a grilling. They promise to listen to the fans from now and bring new, fresh content to both shows, which I’ll believe when I see it. Baron Corbin showed up to kiss up to them and ends up in a match against Kurt Angle to try and earn back his authority. As soon as Corbin looked to be in control, the McMahons made it a no disqualification handicap match and Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, and Apollo Crews all came out to beat up Corbin; Angle hit the Angle Slam and wins and, afterwards, they put Corbin through a table. This was all very well and good but they did exactly the same angle on TLC literally the night before and this really isn’t a good look for Corbin, who now just looks like a complete chump.
Finn Balor and Dolph Ziggler tried to settle the score next in a fresh, new match that was all Balor for the most part until Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag out of nowhere and almost won it. Drew McIntyre turned up to brawl with Ziggler so Finn took them both out, which led to a disqualification when Drew decked him. I guess these three will be continuing on for the foreseeable future then.
Dean Ambrose was out next, rocking a new jacket that was decidedly less Bane-like; he was still flanked by his SWAT team, which I don’t think I really understand but hey, whatever works…anyway, he mocked the fans and Seth Rollins and then issued an open challenge that was answered by Tyler Breeze. While it was nice to see Breeze back in action but this match didn’t do much for him; he put in a decent effort but there was no question that Dean was winning here. Afterwards, that dastardly Rollins attacked, having pretended to be one of Dean’s SWAT guys!
The Authors of Pain, the B-Team, the Revival, and the Lucha House Party all went at it to decide who will be the new number one contenders and, in a surprise move, the Revival actually won! I am so shocked! So, they can’t beat the Lucha House Party when it’s three-on-two but they can win when it’s a four-team match? Right. Also, like, as much as I like this, they are going to have to put some major effort in to making the Revival seem like a credible team and believable challengers.
Ronda Rousey was out next to brag about winning and being a dominant champion; when the rest of the women’s roster started bickering and yelling, Stephanie forced them into a gauntlet match to decide the new number on contender, which ended up being Natalya. I guess all that arm-chair booking I had for Ruby Rose can go on hold/out the window for now so they can do a feud between Natalya and Ronda that, while they appeared to be friendly here, I am sure will quickly descended into Nattie’s umpteenth heel turn.
The showed opened backstage, with Shane McMahon repeating the same speech made by his Dad on Monday, and randomly removing Paige as the SmackDown! Live General Manager…which is kind of weird as she was doing a pretty good job, especially compared to Baron Corbin, but maybe we’ll get lucky and this will mean less on-air authority figures from now on.
Afterwards, Becky Lynch came to the ring to demand a match against Ronda Rousey because of her random and unprovoked interference at TLC. Instead, she got Charlotte Flair and Asuka and a big argument kicked off until Vince McMahon arrived! Damn, when was the last time Vince showed up on the B-show? Anyway, he then booked Asuka to defend the title against Naomi…just because she volunteered herself…which resulted in the first match of the night, and a pretty decent one. I’m not a big fan of Naomi or her gimmick but she’s fun and energetic in the ring and she more than held her own her, showing that she was rising to the occasion; Asuka put her away with the Asuka Lock (terrible name, by the way) to retain.
Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe had a bit of a face-off next, which resulted in Jeff getting the upper hand, before the Miz and Mandy Rose teamed up against R-Truth and Carmella. Man, remember when the Miz was getting a steady push back to the top and featured in meaningful matches? It was only a few weeks ago but now he’s being Rusev’d, apparently; I kind of feel like the new, heel Daniel Bryan has stolen Miz’s spot as the SmackDown! Live’s resident “holier-than-thou” heel. He won this match, though, so there’s that…
For a second I thought I was imagining things but, no, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were back on television! Seriously, when was the last time they had a match or did anything relevant?! This week, they faced the Usos in a match that was just picked up steam when, of all people, SAnitY interfered and attacked both teams! Seriously, is the WWE actually listening to my ranting? If they are: push Cesaro towards the WWE Championship and Tye Dillinger towards the United States Championship, Vince!!
Mustafa Ali was back in action; he got the main event this week when he teamed up with AJ Styles to take on Daniel Bryan and Andrade “Cien” Almas. Kind of seems like they’re giving Mustafa the Evan Bourne treatment, if you remember him/that? He got the rub from John Cena and was hyped as a big deal but then they sort of lost interest? Either that or they’re thinking of splitting the cruiserweights between Raw and SmackDown! Live…anyway, Bryan immediately tagged out and made sure that he only tagged in the face Mustafa, which was quite the tease. Eventually, AJ got the tag and took it the Bryan but, after laying him out, tagged Mustafa back in so that he could get a big win by pinning the WWE Champion with the Imploding 450.