WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from August 13
Just eight days before its blockbuster SummerSlam pay-per-view in Las Vegas, WWE hit the Fox airwaves Friday with an episode of SmackDown that saw John Cena return for a face-to-face showdown with universal champion Roman Reigns.
The tete-a-tete between franchise stars headlined a show that saw Sasha Banks and SmackDown women's champion Bianca Belair sign the contract for their match at The Biggest Party of the Summer and Apollo Crews defend his Intercontinental Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura.
Was the titleholder able to resist the challenge of WWE's resident king? What went down between Cena and Reigns and Belair and Banks?
Find out with this recap of Friday's episode.
John Cena and Roman Reigns Go Face-to-Face Ahead of SummerSlam
The Summer of Cena continued at the top of Friday's show as Peacemaker himself hit the ring as the hype for his Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns at SummerSlam went into overdrive. The beloved babyface and franchise player issued a grade of "D" to Reigns, labeling him as a disappointment. He also acknowledged The Head of the Table will beat the hell out of him at SummerSlam—but will still lose.
Reigns interrupted, and following a commercial break, he finally joined Cena in the squared circle for their advertised face-off.
Cena claimed Reigns has been pushed by WWE through failure after failure. He said WWE asked him to come back and offer the champion some humble pie.
Reigns said he thought there would be something fresh to Cena's act. Reigns mockingly hyped Cena's resume, bringing up the breakup with Nikki Bella. Cena returned fire, mentioning the protection Reigns has enjoyed from the WWE system and suggested he ruined Seth Rollins and ran off Dean Ambrose.
Cena ended the segment by suggesting he might take the Universal Championship and leave, thus embarrassing The Tribal Chief in a way he never has been.
This was nearly a half-hour, and every single minute of it was compelling television thanks to Cena's unparalleled mic skills and a more confident Reigns than the last time they sparred verbally.
For a SummerSlam match that had stars but lackluster booking behind it, this was everything it needed to be to make fans that much more invested.
The idea that Cena may take off with the universal title, heading back to Hollywood and leaving WWE without a champion, is an interesting idea that the company should explore before the pay-per-view.
Reigns suggesting Cena could win the WWE title from Bobby Lashley but not the Universal Championship from him was a nice jab at Raw and a tip of the hat to the on-screen rivalry that exists between the two brands.
Just straight fire from two greats.
Intercontinental Championship Match: King Nakamura vs. Apollo Crews
Intercontinental champion Apollo Crews, accompanied by Commander Azeez, defended his title against Shinsuke Nakamura, accompanied by Rick Boogs. Early interference from the seconds led to their banishment from ringside ahead of the commercial break.
Back from the timeout, Crews went for a 450 splash but missed. He recovered and dodged a Kinshasa, but moments later the undisputed king delivered his finisher and scored his second IC title reign.
After the match, the new champ, Boogs and commentator Pat McAfee celebrated.
Nakamura defeated Crews to win the title.
And so Crews' title reign ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
The former champion once had momentum on his side as one of the breakout heels on the SmackDown roster, but he had seen his profile on the show diminish in recent months while Nakamura gained more screen time and renewed popularity thanks to the partnership with Boogs.
It is disappointing to see Crews' time with the gold come to an end in a relatively nondescript rivalry, especially considering the work he put into his persona. One can only hope he does not fade into obscurity because he has been one of the unsung workhorses of WWE dating back to his United States Championship run last year.
As for Nakamura, the win at least gives him something significant to do after spending far too long wandering aimlessly prior to the Corbin feud.
The Street Profits vs. Alpha Academy
The Street Profits and Alpha Academy wrote the latest chapter in their rivalry Friday, as Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins battled Otis and Chad Gable in a match that could well have determined the next team in line for a shot at the SmackDown tag titles.
Otis showcased his power and Gable highlighted his mat game, but it was not enough to earn the victory. Ford flew through the air late, wiping out Otis on the floor. Back inside, Dawkins downed Gable and scored the pinfall victory for his team.
The Street Profits defeated Alpha Academy.
For a match with two months of build, this was fairly brief and did nothing to make either team look that much better than when they entered.
The commentary team can hype the implications of a win to the victors' tag team title aspirations, but when such little time is devoted to it, it becomes clear to the audience just how much of a priority the teams are.
No, they don't have SummerSlam matches, and time is being devoted to the stories that will culminate at that show. So why bother? Book an angle that continues the feud and then blow it off after the pay-per-view.
Seth Rollins Talks Edge and Their SummerSlam Match
Seth Rollins made his way to the squared circle next, announcing to the fans in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that The Rated R Superstar was not there. In his place, Rollins aired a video package that counteracted the Hall of Famer's statements and exclaimed that The Architect is better than his SummerSlam opponent.
Rollins said Edge put himself between him and the Universal Championship and that it is affecting his family.
He vowed to make up for 2014, when he hesitated to end Edge, at SummerSlam.
This Rollins-Edge promo has been fantastic, thanks in large part to the heel's work.
Rollins walks the fine line between comically over-the-top and deadly serious so well that you never know exactly what to expect from him. Here, he was great, shaking off the smiles and laughs to address Edge directly, adding gravity to the feud with the comment about Edge's interference in his pursuit of the universal title having an effect on his family life.
This was a money promo that informed the audience of the root of the feud, what is at stake and what it means to the competitors. Kudos to Rollins for carrying it. Hopefully Edge returns on the go-home show to put an exclamation point on the build.
The Mysterios vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
Former tag team champions did battle Friday as The Mysterios squared off with Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode just eight days before challenging The Usos for the titles at SummerSlam.
Rey and Dominik rolled late thanks to an energetic comeback from the rookie competitor until Jimmy and Jey Uso appeared on the screen. They distracted the young star, but an alert Rey led his team to victory.
The Mysterios defeated Ziggler and Roode.
The match itself wasn't much different than what we have seen out of these teams before. What helped elevate the grade was the subtle teases at dissension between father and son, as well as the Usos' attempted interference, which served as hype for the pay-per-view title match.
Rey and Dominik are headed to a nasty breakup that will turn the young star heel and set up a heated grudge match, and these little hints of the father growing frustrated with his son's stubbornness are a great way to plant the seeds.
Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin made his way to the ring to continue his campaign for financial donations. He asked for a minimum of $1,000 from everyone and even revealed he has a credit card swiper set up on his phone. Kevin Owens interrupted and challenged Corbin to a match, agreeing to give his rival the money if he lost. But if he won, Corbin had to promise to never beg anyone again.
The competitive match continued through the commercial break, returning with both men fighting on the ropes. Owens shoved Corbin to the mat and delivered a senton for two. Corbin answered with Deep Six but could not put away his opponent.
Corbin tried for a rollup with his feet on the ropes but could not secure the win. Moments later, Owens delivered a rollup to score the win. After the bout, he added a stunner for good measure.
After the commercial break, Corbin stole the Money in the Bank briefcase from Big E and ran out of the building with it.
Owens defeated Corbin.
This was a strong, competitive match between two of the workhorses of WWE.
Corbin has long been an underrated in-ring performer, but the character he has perfected to this point only helps elevate his performance. Owens is consistently great regardless of the attention WWE Creative is paying him at any given time. He and Corbin worked well together here, even if there is no intention for the feud to continue.
Corbin stealing the Money in the Bank briefcase was a nice touch. While there is no argument or reason for Big E to lose his title opportunity, a feud with Corbin would give him something to do considering he has been hanging around backstage with no real direction since his momentous victory.
Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair Sign the Contract for SummerSlam
Sonya Deville presided over the contract signing between Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks ahead of their SummerSlam showdown for the SmackDown Women's Championship.
After a tense back and forth, Banks introduced Carmella and Zelina Vega as her insurance policies of sorts. After both the champion and No. 1 contender signed on the dotted line, Belair attempted to get the jump on the heels, only to find herself beaten down.
Banks, looking to humiliate her foe, repeatedly smashed her into the table and then applied a Bank Statement, assisted by Belair's own ponytail, to close the show.
Banks, Carmella and Vega just casually setting aside their differences leaves a lot to be desired from a creative perspective, especially after the latter and The Boss sparred verbally the previous week, but this was another strong promo segment on a show full of them.
The intensity and delivery was all on point and hammered home the idea that these two women do not like each other. After being humiliated and beaten down Friday, it will be interesting to see whether Belair will react emotionally. And if she does, can Banks capitalize and use said emotions against her?