WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from June 25
On the heels of another successful defense of his Universal Championship, Roman Reigns enjoyed a grand championship celebration Friday night on SmackDown.
In an industry in which little ever goes according to plan, was The Tribal Chief able to totally enjoy the spotlight shining on him? Or did a new challenger emerge from the shadows, ready to dethrone him of a title he has grasped since his return to action last August?
Find out now with this recap of a June 25 episode that also featured the blue brand's first Money in the Bank qualifier and a huge mixed tag team match.
Announced for the Show
Bianca Belair Kicks Off the Show
Backstage, Jimmy Uso broke the news to Roman Reigns that his brother, Jey, is not coming back to SmackDown. Jimmy said he can do what his brother does, to which The Tribal Chief told him to prove it tonight.
In the ThunderDome, SmackDown women's champion Bianca Belair cut a celebratory promo following her victory over Bayley at Hell in a Cell. Seth Rollins interrupted and touted his own victory. Bayley joined the fray from there and reiterated Rollins' assertions that Belair's win at the event was a fluke.
After an attack by Bayley to The EST, Cesaro made the save and joined Belair in clearing the heels from the ring.
Sometimes, these opening promo segments on WWE television feel way too much like filler designed specifically to burn some television time. This was one of them.
Nothing was accomplished. The show is neither better nor worse off for the segment having happened. It was merely there to introduce a match that was already announced by WWE earlier in the day. So...why bother?
The cringe-worthy dialogue didn't help matters.
At least the Reigns-Uso segment created intrigue and set the stage for later in the evening.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Cesaro and Bianca Belair vs. Seth Rollins and Bayley
Back from the commercial break, the Mixed Tag Team Match pitting Belair and Cesaro against Rollins and Bayley was underway.
The heels dominated the action early as Bayley sent the women's champion shoulder-first into the ring post. A tag to Cesaro sparked a comeback as The Swiss Superman took the fight to The Architect.
Belair and Bayley tagged back in and, after Rollins bumped into the champion and prevented the Kiss of Death, the top contender to the blue brand's title delivered the Rose Plant and pinned Belair for the win.
Bayley and Rollins defeated Belair and Cesaro
This was perfectly acceptable wrestling from four of the best on the roster. The timing and execution was a little wonky because of the mixed tag stipulation, but all four looked good and both feuds had the opportunity to shine.
If there was a negative, it is that the feuds involved did not need to, nor should they, have continued past Hell in a Cell. Yet here we are, ready to beat both into the ground as only WWE and its repetitive booking can.
That's unfortunate because all performers involved are deserving of better than treadmill storytelling.
A Royal Coronation and New Contender
Rick Boogs introduced Shinsuke Nakamura and crowned him the new king of SmackDown.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton approached Baron Corbin, who questioned what the point of any of it was without the crown. He sulked off as the celebration in the ring continued.
Elsewhere, Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce rocked out to Boogs playing Nakamura's theme until Seth Rollins interrupted and said he should be the next Superstar to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. A suddenly serious Rollins said no one is more deserving of the opportunity than him, to which Deville and Pearce said they would take his request under advisement.
The coronation segment was meaningless. We get it, Nakamura is the new king of SmackDown. That was established a week ago. Corbin is distraught, something also established last week. This did nothing to further things or make the show, the feud or the Superstars involved any more or less interesting.
What was intriguing, though, was Rollins' sudden shift in demeanor as he staked his claim to the Universal Championship. It was refreshing to see him back to a somewhat less delusional persona and focusing on winning a title again.
His chase for the goal bears watching.
Money in the Bank Qualifier: Big E vs. Apollo Crews
Big E battled familiar foe Apollo Crews in a Money in the Bank qualifying match.
Crews dominated early, grounding his opponent and negating his strength advantage. Big E fought back, though, scoring a big splash and flattening the Intercontinental champion with a uranage on the arena floor. Commander Azeez attempted to interfere in the proceedings and was booted from the ThunderDome by the official, leaving Crews to go it alone.
The champion walked into a Big Ending, and Big E scored the hard-fought victory.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton informed Sami Zayn that he will battle Kevin Owens next week in a Money in the Bank qualifier. An apoplectic Zayn claimed WWE officials were playing with karma.
After a brief break, Adam Pearce informed Zayn that his match with Owens will be a Last Man Standing Match.
Big E defeated Crews
This was one of Big E and Crews' best matches to date, even if the WWE Universe has no real reason to ever want to see them wrestle again given how many matches they have been involved in together in recent months.
The booking of Crews left something to be desired, especially late, as it suggested the champion is unable to win a match without Azeez interfering on his behalf. Yes, the big man is a heater. Yes, his job is to make fans hate Crews and the fact that he cheats to win, but would it have hurt WWE Creative to book Crews like a competent challenger to Big E before dropping the match?
Elsewhere, Zayn continued to be one of the most entertaining stars in any company with his introduction of karama and the cosmos to his conspiracy-riddled rantings. Again, though, the Zayn-Owens match on next week's show loses appeal based on the number of times fans have witnessed that particular combination in recent weeks.
Liv Morgan vs. Carmella
WWE official Sonya Deville made her way to the ring and revealed that the first entrant into the women’s Money in the Bank match was none other than former briefcase holder, Carmella. This drew the ire of Liv Morgan, who defeated Carmella a week ago. She challenged her to a match that wasted little time getting underway.
Carmella controlled the action for the most part but Morgan, timing things perfectly, delivered a jackknife rollup and scored the pinfall victory.
Morgan defeated Carmella
It actually made sense that Morgan would take exception to Carmella being handed a spot in the Money in the Bank match having just beaten her a week ago. The win hammers home the point that the New Jersey native should at least be considered for a spot in the same match given her recent string of wins against the former SmackDown women’s champion.
There wasn’t much to speak of from a match quality standpoint but it accomplished what it set out to and for that, it deserves a slightly above-average grade.
Jimmy Uso vs. Dolph Ziggler
Hellbent on proving to Roman Reigns that he can be “Main Event” Jimmy Uso, the former tag team champion battled Dolph Ziggler, accompanied to the ring by Robert Roode. The explosive competitor delivered a tope suicida that wiped Roode out but opened him up to a Zig-Zag into the steel steps.
Former world champion Ziggler controlled the match but the resilient, determined Uso fought back and rocked him with a superkick to score the victory.
Backstage, Reigns greeted Uso with no reaction. Paul Heyman informed the victor that Reigns expects that before the duo made its way to the ring for the championship celebration.
Uso defeated Ziggler
We know Uso and Ziggler could absolutely tear the house down if they had the opportunity. This was not quite that, but still a solid match that accomplished what it set out to: make good on Uso’s promise to do what brother Jey can do. He won the match, did so from underneath, and set himself up for praise from Reigns.
Except, it didn’t come.
Reigns left Uso hanging, refusing to acknowledge him. Ironic, considering how often the universal champ demands to be acknowledged.
Given WWE’s booking methods, do not be surprised whatsoever to see Uso booked against Roode on next week’s show.
A Rated R Championship Celebration
Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns stood in the center of the ring following the commercial break, the former willing and eager to remind the fans of his client's dominance over the last year. With no other option after humbling the roster, he turned the mic over to Reigns for something that has "never been done on network television."
Instead, "You Think You Know Me" played over the PA system and Edge exploded through the curtain, his first appearance since WrestleMania 37. Edge pummeled Reigns, slamming him into the announce table. He delivered a spear and set up for a con-chair-to but Jimmy Uso made the save.
Edge fended him off and delivered a spear, driving Uso through the barricade. He stood tall as Reigns and Heyman retreated to close out the show.
Well, it was certainly buzzworthy and an unexpected close to the show.
Edge returned and sent a message to Reigns and Heyman that he's "right here," as he exclaimed, to end the show. The question is why anyone would be interested in seeing The Rated R Superstar challenge Reigns when The Tribal Chief already beat him and Daniel Bryan in a Triple Threat Match?
Luckily, WWE has its best storyteller in Reigns, a respected and beloved babyface in Edge and a few weeks before Money in the Bank to tell whatever story it is figuring to tell.
Where does this leave Rollins, though, who expressed his desire for a title match? Time will tell.