Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/10/10/wwe-smackdown-review-analysis-10-09-2018/.)
Following a stacked and memorable Raw, it was time for SmackDown to take centre stage in the aftermath of Super Showdown. SD had plenty to promote, not least the 1000th episode that airs next Tuesday night, as well as Evolution on October 28 and Crown Jewel five nights later. With a lot to cover, let’s get to it!
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Charlotte Flair
You know it’s a busy programme when the opening contest is a championship rematch between Becky and Charlotte, arguably SmackDown’s most intriguing feud right now. At Super Showdown, it was a disqualification victory for Charlotte after Becky had used her championship to break up the Figure-Eight. Therefore, this particular match had the stipulation that, if Lynch was DQ’d, Charlotte would capture the crown. But with the first all-women’s PPV event Evolution just weeks away, it seemed unlikely for Becky to lose her title here; however, if Charlotte lost, that would probably reduce interest in another Lynch-Flair battle.
Therefore, we had a draw on our hands. After a really good and fairly long match that crossed over several segments, a brawl at ringside saw both ladies counted out, ending in a no-contest. But they continued to fight, and it led to Charlotte Spearing Becky through the entrance way, in an homage to Rhyno Goring Chris Jericho through the original SD set. That moment would lead to the infamous “giant fist” aisleway being introduced, so maybe we’re getting another set change for the 1000th episode next Tuesday. Short-term, though, the spotlight was on the no-winner outcome and the post-match fracas (Charlotte’s head was cut open badly in what looked to be an unintentional by-product of the Spear). Backstage, Paige later announced that they would battle once more in the first Last Woman Standing match at Evolution.
WWE World Cup Qualifying Match
Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe
This marked Jeff Hardy’s first on-screen appearance since Hell In A Cell, but it was Samoa Joe in a weakened condition due to the knee injury suffered at Super Showdown. The bout was okay but nothing more, and ultimately it had the second controversial finish in as many matches, with the referee stopping proceedings due to Joe being unable to fight off of his dodgy knee. Hardy advances in the WWE World Cup, but I have a feeling that an increasingly-frustrated Joe will end up taking his anguish out on the popular Jeff, thus setting up a feud between the two.
Miz TV w/ AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan
If there’s one thing that the loud-mouthed Miz loves, it is having a reason to vent, and here it was as he lamented his quick loss to Daniel Bryan at Super Showdown, which earned Bryan a WWE Title shot against AJ Styles at Crown Jewel. Noting that he would remain professional while hosting this discussion between champion and challenger, the potshots by both directed towards Miz (including Bryan calling him the “two-minute man”) caused Miz to snap and un leashed a barrage of abuse at Bryan (who he accused of cheating by using a small package to claim victory in Australia, and mentioning that his shoulder was up on the winning cover anyway) and Styles (who he called “irrelevant”, saying he was the reason why the WWE Championship hasn’t main evented any PPVs in 2018). After claiming that he deserves the next title opportunity after Crown Jewel, Miz introduced AJ’s opponent on this particular night, Shelton Benjamin. Fun stuff here, and it’s clear that Miz will be the focal point of the WWE Championship picture, despite him currently not having a title shot lined up.
AJ Styles vs. Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin brought some momentum into this bout, after defeating Daniel Bryan with Miz’s help las week. The two worked an exciting match; it felt like the fans weren’t into it that much (possibly because the odds of Shelton pinning the WWE Champion were so low), but there were some great spots here, including AJ hoisting himself up to the ropes only to taste a high knee to the face, and a cool armdrag reversal into a slam by Benjamin early on. As guest commentators Miz and Bryan bickered on commentary (mostly over Miz’s wrestling skills or lack thereof), Styles fought back and claimed the win with a Phenomenal Forearm. I enjoyed this one, and it’d be cool to see friendly rivals Styles and Bryan team up against Miz and Shelton on SmackDown 1000 next week.
One Night In Milwaukee – The Director’s Cut
No room this week for The New Day, The Bar, The Usos, Naomi, Asuka or The IIconics – but we did have the follow-up to last week’s One Night In Milwaukee shenanigans! Aiden English planned to show us the director’s cut of the footage that would supposedly prove Lana to be unfaithful, but while we did see that Lana told Aiden “I want you” as a lead-in to thanking him for helping her and Rusev, the clips oddly paused again (wink, wink). Aiden then offered to show Rusev the whole tape if he binned Lana, but instead, Rusev and Lana revealed that they had hacked Aiden (no link to real-life goings-on, I’m sure), due to Aiden’s password being “I (heart emoji) Rusev” (can emjois be used in passwords?). Anyway, we saw that Aiden tried to make a move, only for an aghast Lana to move away, thus proving that English was a liar all along, and a creep too. Nevertheless, English gave Lana the chance to trade a Rusev Day for an Aiden Night, leading to the Bulgarian Brute attacking Aiden and chasing him away.
A promo video aired for Rey Mysterio’s big return next week on SmackDown 1000, where he will face Shinsuke Nakamura in another World Cup qualifier. SD 1000 will also see an appearance by The Undertaker, and an Evolution reunion (the group, not the PPV) that will include Batista’s first WWE segment since 2014. Will we see anyone else of a high status for next week’s big Tuesday night? We will soon find out.
WWE World Cup Qualifying Match
Big Show vs. Randy Orton
Rey Mysterio will return at SmackDown 1000, but Big Show returned from a long injury absence here on SmackDown 999. Why the previously-Raw giant is now on SD was not explained, but I get the feeling that this was a one-off to provide Orton with an – ahem! – big win. This clash was alright, but nothing particularly memorable. Fans chanted “You’ve still got it!” at Show (which makes a change from “Please retire!”), and Show thought he had the match won with a Chokeslam. But Orton kicked out, and after a thumb to the eye, Randy’s first RKO in months sealed the win. That several Americans are participating in a WORLD CUP on November 2 made me laugh, but Orton qualifying helps to build towards a star-studded eight-man field at Crown Jewel. No overly-vicious heel attack by Randall here.
This was an entertaining programme, but it felt like a stopgap between more important occasions, not least the 1000th episode of SD next week. Though it probably won’t be as memorable as Raw 1000 back in 2012, or even Raw 25 earlier this year, it will still be a major night on SmackDown, with Batista and Rey Mysterio returning alongside appearances by The Undertaker, Triple H and others, and who knows? We could be graced with an electrifying legend cameo; we’ll have to wait and see. Otherwise, though, things moved along nicely here, and whilst there have definitely been better SmackDowns over recent months, this show served its purpose amidst a sea of eventful and historic WWE broadcasts in October.