WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from October 23
While Sunday's WWE Evolution was just days away, most of the October 23 edition of SmackDown Live was focused on Crown Jewel, which airs Nov. 2. In particular, there was a heavy focus on the feud between AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan, with the two pairing up to fight The Usos again.
Previews for the episode also included Rey Mysterio appearing on Miz TV to address his return to WWE and qualifying match for the World Cup, as well as Rusev finally getting his hands on Aiden English in a one-on-one clash.
However, SmackDown could not avoid the best story going on its brand, as the show highlighted the aftermath of a brutal brawl in the WWE Performance Center last Sunday. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair continued to get in each other's way, with Evolution's Last Woman Standing match starting earlier than expected.
This was set to be a major edition of SmackDown, with exciting matches and fallout that would lead directly into the two major events coming up in the next two weeks.
Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston
The New Day opened the show, calling out The Bar and Big Show for cheating them out of the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.
After both Sheamus and Cesaro teased fighting Kofi Kingston, Big Show came into the ring to start off this match officially.
The World's Largest Athlete hit a trio of chokeslams and then went for another, which set off Big E and Xavier Woods.
The four other tag team partners began brawling and caused the referee to throw out the match. Afterward, Big Show hit a chokeslam on Big E and then a KO punch and chokeslam on Woods.
Show vs. Kofi goes to a no-contest
This was a fine segment, even if the actual match did not go anywhere. The World's Largest Athlete looked stiff and rusty, which is likely why this was kept short and simple.
The segment was important, though, to establish the new dynamic between these teams. Big Show has given The Bar an advantage over The New Day that few have had. It will be interesting to hear why the future Hall of Famer sided with Sheamus and Cesaro.
AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan vs. The Usos
Styles and Bryan looked great as a team early in this rematch, hitting side-by-side slingshot planchas on Jimmy and Jey Uso. The veteran tag team, though, isolated The "Yes!" Man, forcing him to push his way to a hot tag.
The WWE champion nearly took the victory with the Calf Crusher, but all four men got in the ring at the same time to cause chaos. Styles barely held up on a Phenomenal Forearm when it nearly hit his partner only to then hit him with an accidental Pele kick.
This allowed The Usos to hit a superkick and diving splash on the champ for the victory. Backstage, the world championship rivals were interviewed about the incident, with Bryan accusing Styles of intentionally kicking him.
Usos def. Styles and Bryan by pinfall
While the match did not get the time to be a true standout, it was a fun TV bout with four top-notch wrestlers in the mix. The teams meshed well and put together a few good sequences. Ultimately, though, this was about furthering the world championship story.
Bryan and Styles continued to get in each other's way while the more cohesive alliance capitalized. Jimmy and Jey should always win this type of match, but it was still a big moment that should lead to future title opportunities.
It was good to see genuine heat building between the top stars on SmackDown, as this could be a good match with no story but a great one with genuine buildup.
Becky Lynch Ruins Charlotte Flair's Speech to the New Performance Center Class
Charlotte was taped on Sunday speaking to the latest women signed by WWE at the Performance Center.
As she tried to put over the hard work they would have to do to succeed, Lynch interrupted and got into a fight with The Queen once again.
Afterward, a pretaped promo was shown in which Charlotte lamented how far her former best friend had fallen, disrespecting the road they took to get to Evolution.
This was a brilliant way to vary up a feud that has devolved mostly into the two women brawling every time they see each other. There's a realistic element to Charlotte trying to talk to the new women in WWE only for the arrogant Lynch to ruin the moment.
This rivalry has been great and should be over after whatever happens at Evolution. Hopefully, these two women steal the show and create the moment they are capable of to cement the legacy of the new pay-per-view.
Rusev vs. Aiden English
Aiden English again taunted Rusev before their match, and it continued during the action.
The Artiste got sidetracked blaming Lana at ringside for this conflict only to take a shoe to the head from The Ravishing Russian, followed by a Machka Kick and Accolade from Rusev to seal a quick victory.
Rusev def. English by submission
Is it too much to ask that this story gets a little more time to shine? This match worked as The Super Athlete took out his frustrations on his former friend, but it also established The Drama King as lesser. It was a complete squash.
It is possible there's still more left in this story, but this may be the end. If it is, English may not be seen again on SmackDown for several months.
The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio
Miz TV featured special guest Rey Mysterio, who was quick to question why he was even on the program.
After repeated jabs at him from his host, the luchador challenged The A-Lister to a match. Miz took a cheap shot at his guest before barely escaping outside to avoid a 619.
General manager Paige made the match official during the break.
After an early flurry from the 43-year-old veteran, the conniving heel took over and even ducked a comeback 619 to set up an impact DDT. However, Mysterio refused to stay down, finally hitting the 619 and springboard splash for the win.
Mysterio def. Miz by pinfall
This was certainly the best match of the night. Mysterio and Miz showed off their chemistry built from the last time both were in WWE. The action moved smoothly with an impressive sequence of reversals that could only come from two experienced hands.
Miz TV did a great job of establishing the dynamic between the two men, with a feud possible down the line. They did more to build the potential of the World Cup than anyone else has so far.
Asuka and Naomi vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
As Asuka and Naomi prepared to fight Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, The IIconics interrupted to explain why they would win the Battle Royal at Evolution.
Lana and Carmella quickly followed to stake their claim before Zelina Vega threw The Princess of Staten Island into the ring to begin a brawl.
All the women fought until Vega was alone in the ring with The Empress of Tomorrow. Asuka quickly knocked her down and out with a roundhouse kick and stood tall.
Asuka and Naomi vs. Rose and Deville never started
This whole Battle Royal feels like a waste of talent, and it has led to a series of lackluster segments on both brands. This was no different: a generic brawl that helped no one.
Asuka stood tall, but that likely only means she will not win on Sunday.
Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
Shane McMahon arrived to hype up Evolution and the World Cup before introducing the main event. Randy Orton worked this match just as he had the last time he fought Jeff Hardy, using an unrelenting viciousness. The Viper went after The Daredevil's ear multiple times.
However, Hardy fought back with the same aggression, hitting his best shots repeatedly, including Whisper in the Wind and Twist of Fate. However, The Apex Predator rolled away from a Swanton Bomb and then let Hardy land hard outside on a Swanton Bomb off the apron.
Orton managed to escape a Twist of Fate attempt, turning it right into an RKO for the win.
Orton def. Hardy by pinfall
After their Hell in a Cell match seemed to end this rivalry, it was odd for the company to return to it so quickly. Moreover, there was no reason this match should have been the main event on the last big show before Evolution.
The match itself was solid. These two looked great together throughout, rarely slowing down in a contest that felt like it would have fit better in the early stages of their rivalry. It was a good match that made no sense to happen now, even with Crown Jewel looming.