The teams are set for WWE Survivor Series WarGames. Kevin Owens made an immediate splash in his return to television, laying out Roman Reigns and giving his team a leg up over The Bloodline.
SmackDown opened with Sheamus and Drew McIntyre teasing the person who would complete their five-man squad, which also includes Butch and Ridge Holland. Sami Zayn brushed off the threats but later realized just how complicated his life had become. The blue brand’s penultimate presentation ahead of Survivor Series was an important one.
This week’s edition of SmackDown also featured the final two matches in the opening round of the SmackDown World Cup and furthered the intriguing feud between Bray Wyatt and LA Knight.
CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Owens is the ultimate equalizer
Sheamus, accompanied by Butch and Holland, told McIntyre that a 20-year rivalry forms an unbreakable bond. Sheamus said there was no one he would rather go to war with than McIntyre, who served as the best man at his wedding. McIntyre accepted the offer, referring to Sheamus as his “brother.” McIntyre was about to reveal their group’s final member before Zayn interrupted him.
Zayn said The Bloodline was not concerned with who McIntyre and the Brawling Brutes enlisted. He promised to run through Butch in the opening round of the SmackDown World Cup as a taste of what was to come at Survivor Series. Sheamus teased that Zayn would be stunned when their surprise fifth member revealed themselves.
Jay and Zayn bickered backstage about whether or not Zayn was overcompensating in his verbal encounter with their Survivor Series opponents. Jimmy commanded the group in Reigns’ absence, insisting they had to chill out and snuff out the mystery opponent.
SmackDown World Cup (Round 1) — Butch def. Sami Zayn via pinfall after landing the Bitter End. Butch exerted his superior technical wrestling over Zayn early in the match, torquing his limbs and shooting for quick pinfalls. Zayn turned the tide with a reverse sit-out powerbomb. Following an extended beatdown, Butch halted Zayn’s momentum by catching him mid-air with a hard elbow. A brawl broke out outside between the rival teams. Zayn got the upper hand on Butch and set him up for a fight-ending Helluva Kick. Jey entered the ring in an effort to escape Sheamus and accidentally intercepted Zayn. Butch took advantage of the distraction and laid out Zayn with a Bitter End for the victory.
The brawl continued post-match, leading to Reigns’ arrival. The undisputed WWE universal champion laid out Butch and Holland with spears before locking eyes with McIntyre. A distraction by Sikoa allowed Reigns to clock McIntyre. Reigns and Sheamus stared each other down before trading blows. Zayn’s interference opened the door for Reigns to lay out Sheamus with a Superman punch. The Bloodline stood victorious until a familiar theme song ricocheted through the arena. Kevin Owens made his triumphant return following a rumored injury. Owens successfully slugged it out with Reigns before coming face-to-face with his best friend, Zayn. Reigns tried to ambush Owens with a Superman punch, but Owens countered with a stunner that laid out the champion. The Bloodline retreated as Brawling Brutes, McIntyre and Owens stared daggers through their WarGames opponents.
WWE packed so much into that closing segment. Both Zayn and Jay bear responsibility for losing the match, adding to their dueling efforts to win favor with The Bloodline. Reigns’ late arrival and dominant takeover had weight to it, fitting his status as top dog. The staredown between Reigns and Sheamus teased a future world title match that should be a barnburner. Most importantly, WWE delivered on expectations to deposit Owens into the WarGames match. His friendship with Zayn adds intrigue to the otherwise straightforward, bad-blood rivalry. Owens told Reigns months ago that the champion owed Owens for helping him out. Owens collected on that debt. Grade: A
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- SmackDown World Cup (Round 1) — Ricochet def. Mustafa Ali via pinfall after crushing Ali with a Shooting Star Press. Ricochet advances to the World Cup semifinals.
- Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods expressed their disappointment in losing their record as the longest-reigning tag team champions in WWE history to The Usos.
- Killer Cross def. Madcap Moss via submission after locking in the Cross Jacket. Emma comforted Moss pre-match and checked on him post-match.
- LA Knight confronted Bray Wyatt in the ring, slapping him as revenge for last week’s headbutt. Wyatt accepted they were even and offered Knight a handshake. Knight slapped Wyatt again. Knight was later found unconscious, trapped under a pile of rubble backstage.
- Shotzi def. Shayna Basler via pinfall after catching her with a schoolboy pin.
- New Day (Woods and Kingston) and Braun Strowman def. Imperium (GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci) via pinfall after New Day finished off Kaiser with the Midnight Hour. Strowman was a mystery partner selected by New Day after Woods and Kingston had a verbal altercation with Imperium backstage.
- Ricochet confronted Strowman backstage ahead of their semifinal match.