WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from August 20
The August 20 episode of WWE SmackDown Live continued the brand's march to Clash of Champions while simultaneously kicking off its side of the King of the Ring brackets.
Kevin Owens battled Elias, and Apollo Crews squared off with Andrade in matches to determine which Superstars would advance to the next round of competition.
Kofi Kingston avenged best friend Xavier Woods' assault at the hands of Randy Orton, who figures to challenge for the WWE champion's title on September 15.
Find out who emerged victorious in the King of the Ring matches, which storylines took center stage and whether Buddy Murphy was able to upset Daniel Bryan with this recap of Tuesday's broadcast.
Randy Orton Kicks Off SmackDown
Randy Orton kicked off this week's show, brimming with joy over his attack on Big E and Xavier Woods on Raw.
The Viper reveled in the opportunity to relive the brutal assault that left Woods hospitalized, and he reasserted that Kofi Kingston ran from a fight in front of his own family at SummerSlam.
This brought out Kingston, who attacked Orton from behind, leveling him with Trouble in Paradise. From there, he teased Pilmanizing his top contender's ankle before The Revival's Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder made the save.
Kingston wiped them out with a chair, but Orton was able to scurry to the safety of the entrance ramp to close out the segment.
A vengeful Kingston is a fun, different Kingston and one this feud desperately needed.
The Viper has adversely altered his career, ridiculed his family and made him watch as The Revival nearly broke his friend. Kingston should be vengeful. He should be pissed. He should want to beat the hell out of Orton.
We got that Kingston here, and it was fantastic.
King of the Ring Match: Apollo Crews vs. Andrade
Apollo Crews impressed early in his King of the Ring match with Andrade, but a headscissors sent him into the steel steps and led to El Idolo seizing control of the bout heading into the break.
The former NXT champion dominated the action until Crews crotched him on the top rope and unloaded with a series of chops to the chest.
Andrade fought him off and soared from the top with a cross-body block, but Crews caught him in midair. He delivered a double knee to the midsection as he attempted a babyface comeback.
El Idolo halted his momentum and tried for the running double knees, but Crews rolled out of the way, evading what would have been the end of his King of the Ring chances. The Superstars traded kicks. Crews delivered a standing shooting star press, but Andrade kicked out at two.
Late in the bout, Zelina Vega provided a momentary distraction, and Andrade delivered the hammerlock DDT to score the win.
Andrade defeated Crews
Anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention over the last year knows how talented Andrade is. Management, though, has so underutilized Crews that impressive performances such as this continue to surprise.
His raw athleticism often appears to wow even the announce team, mostly because it has been exposed to them about as much as it has to the television audience. Here, he came within seconds of defeating Andrade and cashing his ticket to the next round of the tournament. Had it not been for Vega interfering, he would have.
With all of that said, Andrade was the right choice to advance and should be considered a legitimate favorite to emerge with the crown given the level of his performance and the enhanced role he has played of late.
'A Moment of Bliss' with Charlotte Flair
Women's tag team champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross welcomed Charlotte Flair to this week's "A Moment of Bliss."
Hostess Bliss insinuated that Flair's victory over Trish Stratus at SummerSlam was a passing-of-the-torch moment, to which The Queen claimed she took the torch.
The Goddess followed up by suggesting Bayley is the face of the SmackDown women's division, not Flair. The Queen denounced that idea, saying she's "the brand." She is the one the company sends to red carpets and media appearances.
Bayley appeared and told Flair she can keep her appearances and red carpets because she will continue being champion.
Flair issued a challenge, which Bayley accepted, and the titleholder dumped The Queen of All Eras from her chair, leaving her fuming to close out the segment.
This was a short, sweet promo segment that accomplished its purpose.
Flair's words didn't faze Bayley, who left the second-generation star to revert to other means if she wishes to dethrone the hug-life champion.
Bayley vs. Flair is a match that we have seen before, but quality, sensical promo work like this, with conviction from the performers, helps make it more interesting than it otherwise would have been.
Buddy Murphy vs. Daniel Bryan
Before the match between Buddy Murphy and Daniel Bryan, the latter vowed not only to expose the Australian as a liar but also to show he has been involved in the attempts on Roman Reigns' health from the beginning.
Murphy answered with a big knee to the face at the sound of the bell that nearly scored him an upset. Bryan settled things down, though, and unloaded with a series of kicks.
The former cruiserweight champion wiped out Bryan at ringside with a tope con hilo heading into the break.
Murphy continued his attack after the commercial, delivering a Meteora for a close two-count. He ate a big boot to the face on a charge into the corner, and Bryan applied the LeBell Lock. The Aussie fought, squirmed and tried to escape as Bryan clawed at his face.
The former WWE champion stretched Murphy, tweaking his limbs as he transitioned from submission to submission.
The resilient Murphy finally made it to the bottom rope, forcing the break.
A defiant, ruthless Bryan unloaded with more kicks, telling his opponent to stay down while the crowd chanted "let's go, Murphy!" The Planet's Champion dropped him with a side suplex from the top rope and followed up with a running dropkick in the corner.
Murphy fought back, delivered a running powerbomb out of the corner and earned a near-fall of his own.
The Superstars exchanged strikes and countered each other's attempts at knockout blows. Murphy blasted Bryan with a knee and dropped him with a brainbuster, and the crowd again came alive.
Late in the match, Murphy evaded interference from Rowan, blasted Bryan with a knee to the face and finished him off with Murphy's Law for the biggest victory of his career.
Murphy defeated Bryan
In consecutive weeks, Murphy has delivered performances against two of the biggest stars in the company and won over the audiences simply because they appreciate his efforts.
To the credit of Bryan and Roman Reigns, they sold like crazy and put over his offense to the extent that fans believed Murphy could actually win.
Now, a push that was never intended is paying off.
Murphy has long been one of the most talented performers on the roster, but his work has been hidden over on 205 Live, where only the most ardent of fans tune in on WWE Network to watch.
After a nonexistent start to his SmackDown Live career, he has found a spark of life in the form of a sustained push that sees him at the heart of one of the biggest stories in the company. Kudos to him, to his dance partners and to WWE Creative for not abandoning him when it would have been easy to do so.
Later in the evening, Bryan revealed the culprit behind the Roman Reigns attacks: Rowan's doppelganger of sorts. Reigns looked on in confusion as the show went off the air.
Heavy Machinery vs. The Revival
The Revival cut a promo on The New Day and their actions from Raw, but Heavy Machinery interrupted them.
Otis and Tucker wasted little time seizing control of the bout, using their strength advantage to wear down Dash Wilder, who sold the injuries sustained at the hands of Kofi Kingston earlier in the evening.
The big men controlled the bout heading into the break.
Wilder and Scott Dawson wrested control of the match away from the opposition, but a top-rope elbow drop by the latter missed, allowing a babyface comeback.
Otis exploded into the match, bulldozing his way through the competition.
Expert teamwork halted the babyfaces' momentum, though, and Wilder was able to roll up Tucker for the pinfall victory.
The Revival defeated Heavy Machinery
Too much of this was lost in the commercial break, but otherwise it was a fun little sprint of a match.
Heavy Machinery are deceptively good. The timing, chemistry and athleticism for guys of their size are off the charts. Unfortunately, the purpose behind this one had nothing to do with them. This was all about The Revival prepping for a SmackDown Tag Team Championship match against The New Day at Clash of Champions.
As such, it succeeded.
'Miz TV' with Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn joined The Miz for this week's "Miz TV."
Zayn told Miz the biggest success he has ever enjoyed came from helping others, from taking on causes bigger than himself. He added that even though he is one of the biggest stars in WWE, there are so many people on SmackDown who need his guidance.
The first? Shinsuke Nakamura, the intercontinental champion.
Zayn said from this point on, no one talks to Nakamura without going through him. Miz asked the champion if he is really going to allow The Critic of the Critics to talk for him. The Artist answered with a kick and some stomps in the corner.
Zayn pulled Nakamura away and then waved him on for one last Kinshasa to put The Hollywood A-Lister down.
What has Nakamura been missing? A mouthpiece.
What is Zayn an expert at when not performing between the ropes? Talking.
This is a match made in heaven: Nakamura can get over without having to cut enigmatic, one-word promos backstage, and Zayn now has something of significance to do. How WWE Creative hadn't already thought of something this simple yet effective is a bit surprising, but now that it has, look for enhanced returns from both NXT exports.
Inserting Miz into the picture as a contender to the IC title may not be new or particularly fresh, but it keeps him busy and gives fans a relatively fresh matchup to sink their teeth into.
King of the Ring Match: Kevin Owens vs. Elias
Shane McMahon lifted the $100,000 fine on Kevin Owens under the agreement that if KO ever touched another official, he would be immediately fired.
Moments later, The Prizefighter took to the squared circle for a King of the Ring match against Elias.
Owens weathered an early onslaught to seize control with a cannonball. As he started rolling, McMahon's music played and the former SmackDown commissioner made his presence felt.
Back from break, Elias was in firm control of the bout, benefiting exponentially from McMahon's earlier distraction. A sit-out powerbomb nearly ended Owens' quest for the crown, but the resilient antihero shot his shoulder off the mat at two.
KO fought back and tried for a senton, but Elias got his knees up. He was unable to capitalize, succumbing to a cannonball by Owens on the floor. McMahon interjected himself, forcing a break and revealing a referee shirt underneath his clothing. He essentially taunted Owens, daring him to hit him and risk his job.
Elias again capitalized on the distraction and attacked him from behind. Another momentary distraction from McMahon allowed Elias to score the roll-up win off a cheap fast count by Shane-O-Mac.
Elias defeated Owens
From a storytelling perspective, this worked.
McMahon again stacked the odds against Owens, just as it appeared he was being genuine, and ended up screwing him out of a King of the Ring victory.
Elias winning may not set up the series of matches fans had hoped for, but realistically speaking, Owens never needed a KOTR win to cement his status, so he will be better off for losing here and continuing his run at the top of SmackDown than for winning the match outright.
Of course, that also means the continuation of McMahon's overexposure on television, something no fan has asked for.