WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from September 3
The quarterfinals of the 2019 King of the Ring concluded Tuesday night on USA Network as SmackDown Live saw Ali battle Elias and Andrade square off with Chad Gable for the right to advance to the next round of competition.
Who emerged victorious from those two matches, inching closer to his goal of wearing the crown in WWE?
In the wake of Roman Reigns' unapologetic spear a week ago, what retaliation would Daniel Bryan have in store for The Big Dog?
We found out the answers to those questions and more on the September 3 episode.
Bayley Explains All
Just 24 hours removed from attacking Becky Lynch to close out Raw, SmackDown women's champion Bayley kicked off the show to a surprisingly positive reaction.
She admitted the reactions to her actions from Monday confused her, saying everyone should have seen her alliance with Sasha Banks coming because they have been best friends. She claimed nothing has changed, that she's still trying to lead the women's division proudly and that she has always tried to make fans feel the same way she did as a kid.
She is trying everything she can to teach the fans' kids loyalty.
She shifted gears and vowed to beat the most selfish person in WWE, Charlotte Flair, at Clash of Champions. This, understandably, drew The Queen to the ring. Flair accepted Bayley's "selfish" label before The Boss appeared.
Flair attacked Bayley and took the fight to Banks, only to fall victim to a chair shot from the SmackDown women's champion. The best friends brutally beat down The Queen with the weapon to a mixed reaction and stood tall to close out the segment.
This was an interesting open. Bayley insisted she was still the same role model for the WWE Universe's kids but then brutally attacked Flair with a steel chair to add heat to their upcoming match, essentially instigating a double turn in the process.
The delusional, disingenuous heel may be a great direction for Bayley to take her character. A straight heel turn from out of nowhere, after months of portraying the underdog.
The united front Banks and Bayley presented is a threat to any woman in the division, and this confirmed it. Whether it forces Charlotte to reunite with friend-turned-hated rival Lynch is the question WWE Creative must answer next.
King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Ali vs. Elias
Ali and Elias kicked off the in-ring portion of the evening's broadcast with the first King of the Ring quarterfinal. Ali knocked off Buddy Murphy to reach Tuesday's match, while Elias defeated Kevin Owens in controversial fashion to earn his spot.
Ali started fast, keeping Elias off guard. Heading into the break, though, The Drifter sent the former 205 Live competitor into the timekeeper's position, turning the tide in his favor. He controlled the bout through the commercial timeout, grounding him and working him over with a side headlock.
A dropkick allowed the babyface to create separation and begin a comeback. A flurry of forearms and an X-Factor earned Ali a near-fall. A suicide dive to the outside sent Elias into the barricade, injuring his rib and left arm in the process.
Ali followed up with a 450 splash to the arm of his opponent and then countered a tilt-a-whirl into a cross-face. Elias muscled out and forced the break, though. Elias recovered with a powerbomb and applied a stretch muffler, but Ali was able to make the ropes.
In a late high spot, Elias came off the top rope with a double ax handle to the floor, but Ali caught him in midair with a superkick, further inflicting damage on his previously injured knee. Ali scaled the ropes for a 450 splash, but Elias rolled out of the way. He finished off his opponent with Drift Away to advance to the semifinals.
Elias defeated Ali
This was the weakest of the King of the Ring matches this week, but it was still a hell of a bout.
Ali was the resilient babyface who fought through the agony of his injured knee, only to fall victim to his own risk-taking. He loses nothing in defeat because of his strong performance but also because his push has been so inconsistent.
This was Elias' best in-ring performance in what felt like forever. Overbooking has marred so many of his other singles matches of late that it is easy to forget what he can do when he has time to flesh out a match with his opponent.
Elias' spot in the semifinals sets up an interesting contest with either Chad Gable or Andrade, depending on who emerges from the second quarterfinal later in the show.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose
Women's tag team champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross battled Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in non-title action. Rose and Deville worked over the unpredictable Cross early, but she fired off a big dive that wiped out the opposition and left her standing heading into the break.
Fire and Desire, the name assigned to the heel tandem, isolated Cross and worked her over until a hot tag to Bliss sparked the champions' comeback. The action broke down. Rose tried to plant Cross with her finisher but failed, and those two hit the arena floor.
Back inside the squared circle, The Goddess planted Deville with a DDT and climbed the ropes for Twisted Bliss. Deville got the knees up, and Rose finished Bliss for the upset win.
Deville and Rose defeated Cross and Bliss
The match itself was rather pedestrian, but this achieved what it set out to do: present Deville and Rose as credible contenders to the tag titles.
While the in-ring product may not have been much to talk about, it did prove that Bliss and Cross can be effective babyfaces if and when WWE officials opt to turn their team babyface.
It was nice to see Deville and Rose pick up a big win given how underutilized their tandem is, but it also raises a question: What about The Kabuki Warriors?
Randy Orton Addresses the WWE Universe
Randy Orton made his way to the squared circle for a promo segment and wasted little time claiming that, in two weeks, we would have a new WWE champion. He recapped his beatdown of Kofi Kingston from last week. Satisfied with himself as he re-watched it on video, he challenged Kingston to a championship clash tonight.
The New Day's music played, but before Kingston could answer, The Revival beat him through the curtain and down the ramp. The champion battled free from Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson, but Orton attacked from behind.
In the ring, he stomped away at his Clash of Champions opponent, yelling "stupid" after each one. Orton vowed to beat down Kingston on September 15, but his talking allowed Kingston one last burst of energy. The numbers proved too much, though, and the trio laid out the champion with a super RKO to end the segment.
For so long, The New Day benefited from a numbers game against any team or individual stepping up to it. No matter what happened, Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E knew they had each other's back. It is ironic that Kingston now finds himself on the other side of things.
Without Woods and E to support him, Kingston fell at the feet of Orton and finds his title reign in jeopardy.
His New Day comrades will be back in time for his title defense, but that leaves Kingston one more week to find an answer to the disadvantage in numbers or suffer a similar fate next Tuesday.
King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Chad Gable vs. Andrade
The second quarterfinal match of the King of the Ring saw early favorite Andrade battle tournament underdog Chad Gable. Before the match, Zelina Vega put Gable over as the next King of the Ring...if Andrade was not in the competition. She condescended to Gable, motivating him to keep fighting, "little guy."
Gable used the insulting tone of Vega to fuel him early, but as the fight spilled to the floor, Andrade seized control by tossing him back-first into the guardrail.
The 2012 Olympian fought back into the match, dropping El Idolo with a flipping kick and a German suplex that earned him a two-count. Andrade momentarily regained control, knocking Gable from the top rope. He followed up with the Three Amigos suplexes, interrupted momentarily by a suplex of his opponent's own.
A top-rope moonsault by Andrade missed, and the fans rallied behind Gable. A picture-perfect moonsault by the plucky babyface earned a quality near-fall. Andrade missed a running double knee, and Gable delivered a rolling German that would have earned him the win were it not for Vega's interference.
Andrade tried for the hammerlock DDT, but Gable countered and rolled him up for a shocking upset victory.
Gable defeated Andrade
This is a masterful example of how to effectively tell the story of an underdog.
Vega's promo was perfect, Gable's resiliency and tenacity were spot-on and Andrade was just charismatic enough to get over his role as the overconfident heel. Those three elements combined to win over a crowd that may not have had much of a reason to care about Gable heading into the bout, but by match's end, it was undeniably behind the hero.
Gable is the type of breakout star who makes tournaments like King of the Ring so special and eagerly anticipated by fans. Now, it is up to those in power to recognize the potential of the performer and capitalize on it rather than allowing him to slip back into obscurity.
Aleister Black vs. Shelton Benjamin
Aleister Black inexplicably disappeared from SmackDown in recent weeks but returned here as former intercontinental champion Shelton Benjamin answered his long-standing open challenge.
The veteran competitor sent Black crashing to the arena floor, where he seized control of the bout.
Benjamin spent a moment or two on the offensive before Black countered and blasted him with Black Mass for the quick victory.
Black defeated Benjamin
How is it possible that Black is as wasted as he has been on SmackDown?
This was an afterthought of a match that felt more like Black popping back up on TV because creative suddenly remembered he was part of the roster. There was no storyline development. There was no real indication that this was leading to something bigger for the former NXT champion.
It was a match that existed for the sake of existing, and that is inexcusable given the talent involved.
Shinsuke Nakamura in Action and 24/7 Championship Hijinx
Drake Maverick and wife Renee made their way through the boiler room of the arena when The Singh Brothers attacked, each trying to dethrone the Brit as 24/7 champion.
They were unsuccessful, as was Gran Metalik and Curtis Axel.
Then Bo Dallas appeared, rolled up Maverick and won the title.
Prior to Shinsuke Nakamura's scheduled match with the unknown Andrew Howard, Sami Zayn referred to the enhancement talent "The Miz" and said this match would be a preview of what The Hollywood A-Lister could expect when he challenged Nakamura for the intercontinental title at Clash of Champions.
Nakamura unleashed strikes on his outmatched opponent while Zayn did commentary at ringside.
The match was short-lived, as the IC champion delivered the Kinshasa and scored the one-sided victory.
After the match, the 24/7 Championship nonsense spilled into the ring, where Drake Maverick pinned Dallas to regain the title. On the entrance ramp, Maverick celebrated when R-Truth emerged from under the King of the Ring crown and pinned him to become a 14-time champion.
Nakamura defeated Howard
Nakamura picked up a convincing win, and Zayn's mouthpiece character had the chance to shine, so on that front, this was a success.
The 24/7 Championship stuff is fun when it breaks the mold and dares to be different, but this felt a lot like every other segment we have seen featuring these players. At some point, Maverick has to get his win because there are only so many times he can fail before the joke gets old.
Daniel Bryan Demands an Apology
Tom Phillips announced prior to Daniel Bryan's arrival that Roman Reigns will battle Erick Rowan at Clash of Champions.
Bryan reiterated that he had nothing to do with Reigns' misfortunes in recent weeks and claimed that no one can ever call him a liar. He said he had never lied to any of them. He demanded an apology from Reigns, not just for accusing him of something he didn't do but because he is calling him a liar.
This brought Reigns out to a big pop.
Rowan attacked Reigns from behind, sending him crashing into the ring steps. He overpowered and punished The Big Dog to the dismay of the fans. He applied an iron claw and dropped Reigns with a chokeslam before cutting a scathing promo on Bryan for betraying him, daring him to slap him.
He set Reigns up for a trip through the announce table but grabbed Bryan and planted him instead. "Nobody tells me what to do!" he exclaimed.
If the intention was to get Rowan over as a singles force, this worked. That he eventually took credit for the accidents, admitting he was proud of them, only added an unexpected wrinkle to the proceedings. More unexpected? His attack on Bryan, which would seemingly create an irreparable schism between the associates, feels like a red herring to distract from the fact that the former WWE champion is still behind all of this.
All things taken into consideration, this was a solid conclusion to the show.