WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from November 29
The first episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown post-Survivor Series brought with it a taste of what the blue brand will have to offer fans as it prepares for the December 15 TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view.
Bray Wyatt introduced the latest member of The Firefly Funhouse, Roman Reigns and King Corbin continued their intensifying rivalry and The New Day issued an open challenge for the tag team titles.
Find out how those Superstars fared, what else went down on the broadcast and what it meant for the brand going forward with this recap of the November 29 episode.
Roman Reigns Kicks Off SmackDown
Roman Reigns kicked off the evening's broadcast with a rah-rah promo that segued into him calling out King Corbin for nearly costing SmackDown the win at Survivor Series. Rather than the proposed match between them, Corbin instead sent Robert Roode into battle with The Big Dog in the night's opening contest.
Reigns rolled early but a well-timed distraction from Corbin allowed Roode to bump his opponent off the ring apron and into the ring table. The former NXT champion controlled the match coming out of a commercial break, nearly putting Reigns away with the Glorious DDT.
Reigns fought out of the trademark move, though, and delivered a sit-out powerbomb for two. Reigns looked for the spear but Roode countered into a spinebuster for two. Corbin slid his scepter into Roode, who tried to capitalize on the King of the Ring's distraction by using it to his advantage.
Instead, The Big Dog blasted Corbin with a Superman Punch and speared Roode to win the match.
After the match, the numbers disadvantage proved too much as Roode blasted Reigns with a scepter. The babyface fired up, though, and sent Roode crashing into the guardrail. He buried The Glorious One under chairs and the entire announce table before standing tall to close out the segment.
Reigns defeated Roode
Reigns and Roode have solid in-ring chemistry and the match was a nice way to kick off the in-ring portion of the show. The outcome was never really in doubt, but it did not have to be. This was about presenting Reigns with renewed badassery.
Frustrated with the constant attempts to disprove him as the locker room leader of SmackDown, Reigns lashed out on Roode and Ziggler, sending a message to Corbin. Their issues will likely result in a high-profile PPV showdown at TLC, and rightfully so.
Then, hopefully, Reigns can move onto something more creatively fulfilling.
Bray Wyatt Introduces the Newest Face of Firefly Funhouse
Bray Wyatt welcomed fans back to Firefly Funhouse and asked if they wanted to see him play with Daniel Bryan again. The response was positive and he appeared to welcome such a thing.
The biggest revelation of the segment, though, was Wyatt unveiling The Fiend's own personal Universal Championship, adorned with the masked face of fear.
Wyatt seemed to suggest there was a way for the issues with Bryan to continue, hinting that he would get his top contender a 'toy' of his own.
The Fiend's championship may be blasphemous to old school belt fans but it is cool, fits the character and has the edge one would expect from that persona.
What was more interesting was the insinuation that Wyatt wants to get Bryan a toy of his own. Could Wyatt be hinting at a partnership between the two? With The New Day issuing an open challenge later in the show, the possibility is there.
Ali vs. Drew Gulak
Sheamus returned to WWE TV in a backstage promo in which he called SmackDown spineless and vowed to change the mood.
After the promo, Ali squared off with former cruiserweight champion Drew Gulak.
What could have been a show-stealer under any other circumstances was a sprint of a match that saw Ali pick up the win to continue his recent string of success.
Ali defeated Gulak
Sheamus' return completely overshadowed the match that proceeded it. The former WWE champion provided fans his motivations upon his return, making it very clear why he will do the things he does. That is easy for fans to buy into. The promo was not overthought, did not feature any glitz or glam. It was matter-of-fact and it worked.
Ali's win was no surprise and does nothing to better his position with the brand. It was a match for match's sake but at least it kept him in the spotlight.
Sasha Banks and Bayley Address the Women's Locker Room
Five days after a miserable performance by the SmackDown women's division at Survivor Series, champion Bayley and Sasha Banks took to the squared circle to address their peers.
They blamed the locker room on the loss, expressed their shame and embarrassment, and absorbed none of the blame themselves.
This brought out Lacey Evans, who said SmackDown needed a classy lady to be its face. The fans in Alabama embraced the promo, chanting Evans' name before she dropped Bayley with The Woman's Right.
Evans left, having sent a message loudly and clearly to the champion and her closest friend.
If this was the first stop on the road to an Evans babyface turn, there are far worse options to challenge Bayley for the women's title than The Sassy Southern Belle. She has credibility by way of her feuds with Becky Lynch and Natalya, and is a former top contender to the Raw women's title.
Given the work that would have to go in to re-heating Carmella or establishing the underutilized Dana Brooke in that role, Evans is as good a fit as any.
Whether fans will support her consistently enough against the respected Bayley and Banks remains to be seen, though.
Nikki Cross vs. Sonya Deville
Mandy Rose took aim at Nikki Cross' physical appearance, earning heel heat by poking fun at the unhinged alumni of Sanity. From there, the other half of Fire and Desire, Sonya Deville, squared off with Cross in singles competition.
Deville earned control of the match momentarily but Cross fought back and picked up a rather quick win over the former MMA fighter.
After the match, Deville and Rose double-teamed Cross until Alexa Bliss made her return, clearing the ring of the villains and embracing her tag team partner.
Cross defeated Deville
Bliss' return is a welcome one for a women's division that could use star power beyond Bayley and Sasha Banks. The multi-time Raw and SmackDown women's champion brings credibility to a feud that could help re-establish the tag team division on Friday nights, especially as The Kabuki Warriors focus on defending their titles primarily on Raw.
Rose and Deville are a talented act that has gotten significantly better over the last year and performs up to the moment when those opportunities present themselves. They have earned the right to face off against an established team and maybe even build their own credibility in the process.
The New Day Issues an Open Challenge
The New Day issued an open challenge to any team in the locker room who wanted to challenge for their SmackDown tag team titles. Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro, accompanied by the very vocal Sami Zayn, accepted.
The heels wore Kofi Kingston down during the commercial break, working over the former WWE champion and isolating him from his partner. A hot tag to Big E sparked a babyface comeback, though, and had the tag champions on their way to a victory.
As the heavyweight paired off with Nakamura on the arena floor, Kingston blasted The Swiss Cyborg with Trouble in Paradise for the win and successful title defense.
The New Day defeated Nakamura and Cesaro
Cesaro continues to be a legitimate contender for best wrestler in the world. Everything he does is so smooth and effective. There is no wasted movement. Everything he does means something within the context of the match and the result is a better product.
Here, he meshed perfectly with Nakamura and the heels' chemistry with New Day was off-the-charts. This was a stellar match that may not have long-reaching effects on Friday nights but could set up a rematch on pay-per-view at TLC.
As for Zayn, he has developed nicely into one of the most engaging personalities on WWE television. He has been great and deserves all of the exposure he is getting as Nakamura's hype man.
Will Bryan Play with The Fiend?
Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring to cap off the night's broadcast, his answer to Bray Wyatt's invitation to play with him one more time the subject of the show-closing promo.
The leader of the YES! Movement said he felt like he changed in the middle of the match with the universal champion at Survivor Series. Like the fans changed him. He pondered whether the fans brought the Yes Movement back to life.
He joined the fans for the 'yes' chants before Wyatt's Firefly Funhouse music interrupted.
Wyatt said The Miz had a good point earlier in the night: if Bryan matches up with The Fiend again, 'he' will take Bryan's mask off. Wyatt said he would make good on his promise to introduce the new face.
The lights dimmed and The Fiend attacked. Bryan tried to fend him off but ultimately succumbed to the mandible claw. Under the ring, the masked maniac pulled hair out of his prey's head and laughed to close out the show.
The Fiend changing Bryan's physical appearance before tearing him down emotionally and morally is a great little story that should make for some quality television over the next few weeks.
In doing so, he also erases the last vestiges of the Planet's Champion, a character that lost tremendous steam late in the fall.
The chemistry between Bryan and Wyatt is undeniable and their characters play well off each other. Throw in tables, ladders or chairs in time for December 15 and you have the potential for a show-stealing match to cap off the year.