WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Bray Wyatt bears his soul in emotional televised return

WWE SmackDown was less about the return of Bray Wyatt and more an introduction to Windham Lawrence Rotunda, the man who portrays Wyatt. The angel and the devil inside of Wyatt’s psyche emerged in a terrific closing to the show on Friday night.

Wyatt made his first televised WWE appearance in 19 months following his release last year. Once known as The Fiend, Wyatt possessed the WWE universe once again in an all-time great return at Extreme Rules last week.

SmackDown also crowned a new No. 1 contender for Gunther’s intercontinental championship. Rey Mysterio, the blue brand’s newest acquisition, defeated three worthy challengers to place himself in line for a shot at the intercontinental champion.

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Wyatt peels back the curtain, Mysterio on a collision course with Gunther

Fireflies illuminated the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans as fans held up their phones in anticipation of their leader. Wyatt, equipped with his trademark lantern and a new theme song, emerged from an eerie-looking door and slowly marched to the ring. The voice and message of the speaker were stark contrasts from the iterations of Wyatt fans were familiar with.

Wyatt was rattled with nervousness as the man behind the characters spoke. Wyatt expressed that his confidence was shattered following his release, mourned the death of his friends and expressed his gratitude for the fan support that persisted throughout his time away.

“I just wanted to say thank you. You all saved my life,” Wyatt told the crowd. “Every time I tried to run away, you found me.”

The lights went black as a dark figure took over the broadcast, interrupting Wyatt’s cathartic release. A new version of Wyatt sporting the same mask as he did at Extreme Rules emerged. This version of Wyatt told Wyatt and the audience to forget the past. This sinister Wyatt compelled the crowd to follow him into the future. He warned that the WWE Universe would soon understand the terror at its doorstep.

Moments prior to Wyatt’s SmackDown return, a fatal four-way match headlined SmackDown to crown a new contender for the intercontinental championship.

No. 1 contender’s match for the intercontinental championship — Rey Mysterio def. Ricochet, Sheamus and Solo Sikoa via pinfall after hitting Ricochet with a 619 and frog splash combination. Every superstar got their licks in during the match. Mysterio and Ricochet showed off their aerial maneuvers, including dives to the outside, while Sheamus and Sikoa filled their roles as heavy-hitting bruisers. Sheamus appeared on the verge of submitting Sikoa with the Clover Leaf submission before Sami Zayn and Jey Uso interfered. Sami and Jey piled on the punches before Sheamus’ cohorts Butch and Ridge Holland evened out the numbers. The commotion between The Bloodline and Brawling Brutes allowed Ricochet and Mysterio to compete among themselves for the intercontinental title shot with Mysterio ultimately scoring the victory.

Mysterio was a substitute for Carrion Cross after Cross was assaulted by Drew McIntyre at the beginning of the show. Mysterio was on the verge of quitting WWE due to his friction with his son, Dominic Mysterio, before Triple H called Rey into his office. It appears Rey will compete exclusively on SmackDown moving forward to distance himself from his son.

Wow, what a close to SmackDown. The gravity of Wyatt’s heart-to-heart with the audience was emphasized by just how unexpected it was. Wyatt has never really peeled back the curtain on the creative mind behind his mystic persona. The introduction to his insidious new persona was wonderfully done. It subverted expectations and introduced two dueling versions of Wyatt to the WWE. The company’s attention to detail throughout the show should also be applauded. Mysterio’s move to SmackDown made sense. He was on the verge of quitting and an opportunity presented itself due to McIntyre’s assault on Cross. GUNTHER vs. Mysterio should produce a great David vs. Goliath match. Grade: A+

What else happened on WWE SmackDown?

  • McIntyre beat Cross unconscious after Kross and Scarlett were involved in an off-camera car crash.
  • Roman Reigns, over a phone call, ordered Jay to make sure Zayn won feel match. Zayn sounded quite chummy with Reigns over the phone.
  • Zayn def. Kofi Kingston via pinfall after Jey clocked Kingston with a super kick.
  • Damage CTRL challenged Shotzi Blackheart, Roxanne Perez and Raquel Rodriguez to a six-woman tag team match.
  • Braun Strowman def. Brian Thomas and James Maverick via pinfall in a handicap squash match. MVP and Omos taunted Strowman post-match.
  • Zayn refused to thank Jay for his assistance. Both Zayn and Solo Sikoa denied seeing Jay do anything to help Zayn defeat Kingston.
  • LA Knight def. mansoor via pinfall after landing the BFT. Knight shunned the New Orleans fans and put the WWE roster on notice in a post-match promo.
  • Damage CTRL def. Perez, Rodriguez and Blackheart via pinfall after Bayley reversed a series of pins into a schoolboy on Perez.
  • The Viking Raiders’ return was teased in a tense, spiritual vignette
  • Legado del Fantasma (Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde) def. Hit Row (Ashante “Thee” Adonis & Top Dolla) via pinfall after hitting Dolla with the Sacrificio.
  • Liv Morgan drove Sonya Deville through a table with a senton from a scaffold. Morgan had enough after Deville verbally ran her down for being whiny.

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