WWE SmackDown on Fox Results: Reviewing Top Highlights and Low Points
WWE treated the Fox premiere of Friday Night SmackDown like a major pay-per-view—even at the expense of Hell in a Cell—with the hopes it would kick off this new era with a bang.
The card was loaded with potential, featuring appearances from big names like The Rock, Brock Lesnar vs. Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship, the Four Hoursewomen in action, Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon in a ladder match with their careers on the line and more.
Now that the dust has settled, how did it turn out? What were the standout moments of the night, for better or worse?
Presented in order of appearance, let's take a look back at SmackDown and break down the highlights and low points of Friday's show.
Full Match Results
- Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair defeated Bayley and Sasha Banks by submission.
- Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was a no-contest after Bray Wyatt attacked Rollins.
- Ladder match: Kevin Owens defeated Shane McMahon.
- Braun Strowman, The Miz and Heavy Machinery defeated AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler Randy Orton and Robert Roode by pinfall.
- Lumberjack match: Roman Reigns defeated Erick Rowan by pinfall.
- Brock Lesnar defeated Kofi Kingston by pinfall to win the WWE Championship.
Highlight: The Overall Presentation
In order to feel as though this version of SmackDown will be different, WWE needed to change the visual presentation of the program. Thankfully, all parties delivered on that front and then some.
The opening video package is crisp and energetic. The graphics have a distinct Fox Sports feel that differentiates it from Monday Night Raw and is more easily digestible to those who may be less on the professional wrestling fandom side of things and coming in more from other sports.
The intro song, AC/DC's "Are You Ready?", is a perfect fit to start the show with the right vibe of impending action and fun.
Even the new set is amazing, with a balance of being not overly complicated and busy but not too bland. The tunnel motif and the pyro should make entrances extra special going forward.
SmackDown has upgraded, and this new coat of paint looks wonderful.
Highlight: Opening Promo with Becky Lynch, Baron Corbin and The Rock
WWE programming almost always starts with a 15-minute long-winded promo that is largely skippable, but this was a rare exception.
Becky Lynch's quick promo was interrupted by King Baron Corbin, who sought to steal the spotlight, only to be usurped by The Rock.
The Great One is unparalleled on the mic and in terms of star power, so he was a must for this show, and his presence immediately made SmackDown feel special before he spoke a word.
And naturally, once he did, it was electrifying. The mood was light and fun as The Rock took verbal shots at Corbin, such as dubbing him a "super tough dude" so crowds will chant "STD" at him from now on.
Once everything came to blows and The People's Champion and The Man teamed up to send Corbin packing, the crowd was warmed up and ready for the first match to begin.
Highlight: Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley and Sasha Banks
While the tag team match featuring The Four Horsewomen was quick enough that it won't be remembered as an all-time great or anything of that magnitude, it served its purpose rather well.
This was a fun-enough contest to get some action in the ring, showcase four of the most prominent members of the women's division and further the feud between the two sides.
In particular, it was a good call to have Charlotte Flair make Bayley tap out. That made it clear she is worthy of another shot at the SmackDown Women's Championship, which should come at Hell in a Cell on Sunday despite the lack of formal announcement.
All this segment had to do was get that point across and make sure it wasn't too long before a match started, and since the fight was short but entertaining, it did its job.
Low Point: Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This show was pushed for time, and some of it was wasted on the Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match.
Leading up to it was another Firefly Fun House segment, which was fine but nothing more than we have already seen. The match then barely started getting rolling before Bray Wyatt interrupted to attack Rollins.
This meant the bout was thrown out, and all that was accomplished was seeing The Fiend put down the universal champion the same way he's done multiple times already, including on Monday night.
WWE has put such little effort into promoting Hell in a Cell, only announcing three matches. And the more time dedicated to advertising those makes it seem like nothing else will be worth watching on that card.
This section of the show would have been better spent by adding more time to another match or informing the WWE Universe what any of the other matches at Hell in a Cell could be. At the very least, Rollins and Wyatt could have done something new.
Highlight: Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
Ladder matches are some of the most fun fights in WWE. No matter what the feud is, watching people slam ladders into each other will always be entertaining.
Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon have had plenty of battles in the past, so this wasn't anything fans haven't already seen if they have followed the past few years of this story. Newer viewers, though, were treated to moments like Owens splashing McMahon through a ladder outside the ring.
That will make an impression to newcomers with no idea they could see this type of action on any show, even if it's not a pay-per-view.
If this had more room to breathe, it would have been even better. Even so, watching Owens get some revenge on McMahon was a moment to cheer.
Highlight: Tyson Fury vs. Braun Strowman Is Teased
WWE has always sought out celebrity appearances to bring more buzz to the product. Far too often, these segments are awful, and fans roll their eyes rather than get excited for more.
Thankfully, Tyson Fury's involvement in the eight-man tag team match was one of the rare instances when it could lead to something great down the line.
By having the undefeated heavyweight boxer tease a fight with Braun Strowman, WWE has whet everyone's appetites to see that go down, even if it has to wait until something like WrestleMania.
The media will undoubtedly bite and promote SmackDown even more because of this segment alone, and that will create more notoriety for the blue brand going forward.
Highlight: Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan Lumberjack Match
Much like the rest of the night, the Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan match was rushed and unable to maximize its potential, but it was still a great ride.
Sometimes, the total chaos of a bunch of behemoths battling full force doesn't need to be more than what this was: a non-stop barrage.
It was a great decision to make this a lumberjack match because the wrestlers at ringside helped to sell the calamity of The Bludgeon Brothers wreaking havoc and The Big Dog fending them off.
With Daniel Bryan coming in to help Reigns score the victory, that team appears to be seeing eye-to-eye ahead of Hell in a Cell, even though they will clearly have a war coming their way.
Low Point: WWE Championship Match
It's frustrating when WWE is this transparent in showing how little someone means in comparison to someone else.
Kofi Kingston's title victory earlier this year was one of the biggest feel-good moments the company had in years. However, no matter what he did over the past few months, he clearly still doesn't matter anywhere near as much as someone like Brock Lesnar.
Everyone saw the writing on the wall. It was obvious The Beast Incarnate would win the championship. But for this to be a one-move match that ended in less than 10 seconds only confirms some things will never change in WWE.
There are hundreds of ways this could have gone down that would have made sure Kingston didn't look like such a chump.
For instance, had Kingston kicked out of one F-5, it would have only taken a few more seconds for Lesnar to pick him up and do another for the win. At least in that scenario, Kingston looks like he was game for a fight and not embarrassingly outclassed.
Lesnar is one of most protected performers WWE has ever had. He never needs anything like this to put him over and to illustrate him as a juggernaut at the expense of more and more Superstars.
Kingston will undoubtedly fall back into the midcard with his tail tucked between his legs like someone who had no business being in the ring against such an obviously better wrestler, while the title will go back on someone who may well continue to spend more time away from WWE than on screen.
Highlight: Cain Velasquez Takes Down Brock Lesnar
In the grand scheme of things, WWE did not book the main event as the end of Kingston's reign, but the setup of Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez.
There's no way Kingston's downside of this equation is valued as much as the potential upside to ending the show with a dominant champion Lesnar squaring off with the man who beat him for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
Rather than thinking of it as giving the fans something to complain about, WWE seems focused on the positives of the finale, of which there are many, even if they have to unnecessarily come with the bad.
Like the Fury vs. Strowman tease, this is about the bigger picture and convincing mainstream media to view SmackDown as newsworthy. With this, WWE achieved that goal and will reap more benefits in promotion than anything Kingston could have done as an alternative.
Whether at WrestleMania or beforehand, Lesnar vs. Velasquez seems to be in the works, and WWE will be milking that for everything it's worth.
As far as the investors will see this situation, it's one of the best things to happen in WWE this year and will get people talking again the same way everyone was buzzing about Ronda Rousey upon her debut in 2018.
This is a great attempt from WWE to bring MMA fans into the SmackDown landscape. If it has that crossover appeal, it will be a great business decision for the months to come.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.