WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction, Highlights from September 24
Just before WWE Extreme Rules 2021, Friday Night SmackDown emanated from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. It was set to be a big night for an even bigger show to come.
King Nakamura was set for a rematch against the former WWE intercontinental champion Apollo Crews. Given how physical and intense this rivalry has grown, this was certain to be their most must-see match to date with gold on the line.
Liv Morgan has always been a fighter, and she gladly accepted a match just before her important pay-per-view clash with Carmella. She would fight Zelina Vega, a wily and unpredictable veteran in desperate need of a win.
Happy Corbin has been on a high like no other since he won big in Las Vegas. To celebrate, he set September 24 as the date of the world premiere of his new talk show "Happy Talk." He had no guest announced, but Kevin Owens was certain to be watching closely after Corbin recently laid him out.
With Roman Reigns vs. "The Demon" Finn Balor and Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair on the docket for Sunday, it was certain that all four Superstars would appear in some form on WWE SmackDown.
This show had some promise from the outset, as well as plenty that was expected with Extreme Rules around the corner. This show needed to deliver.
Bianca Belair Lays Out Becky Lynch Ahead of Extreme Rules
Becky Lynch opened the show, and a video package was shown of what she did to Bianca Belair last week. The Man told everyone that The EST had pushed herself into a match where she will be embarrassed and humiliated.
Belair arrived to promise she would win on Sunday. She had no fear that Extreme Rules would be a repeat of SummerSlam. The EST extended a hand, but The Man slapped her in the face. A fight broke out that ended in the KOD on Lynch.
The Man cut a promo backstage later where she promised to break The EST.
This promo did not add anything more to the feud, but it did solidify how ready Lynch and Belair are for Sunday. Their chemistry on the mic will hopefully translate easily to the ring.
While The EST is unlikely to reclaim the SmackDown Women's Championship just yet, she has delivered on the mic every week since losing the gold. She feels all the more like a star in spite of her treatment at SummerSlam.
It is important that she keeps that momentum with or without the win on Sunday. Belair is an absolute star for SmackDown or Raw in the coming year and far beyond.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: King Nakamura (c) vs. Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews cut a pre-taped promo before this match, promising to win. He looked good early, especially after dumping Nakamura to the outside. However, the action evened out once Rick Boogs played The Artist's theme to rally him.
Crews hit an impressive Samoan drop for a near-fall. Nakamura answered back and went for the Kinshasa, but the former champion ducked outside. Boogs planted Commander Azeez outside with a suplex, setting the stage for The Artist to catch Crews with an arm-trap pin combination for three.
Nakamura def. Crews by pinfall to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
If you've seen one Nakamura vs. Crews match, you've more or less seen them all, but this was their best to date. They told a solid story that never took anything away from either man. The champion only retained by outmaneuvering his younger and cockier opponent.
Boogs stood out near the end as he has in recent weeks. His ability to effortlessly lay out Azeez was impressive. He has truly benefited from his alliance with The Artist. He allows Nakamura's actions to speak for him and gets to stand above top stars in the process.
It is time to move beyond this rivalry. Nakamura needs fresh challengers who will hopefully come with the WWE Draft. Crews could also use a fresh start. He is a good mid-level heel who needs someone who can tell a more compelling story with him.
Liv Morgan vs. Zelina Vega
Seth Rollins cut a promo backstage on Edge, mocking him for being so seriously hurt that he could not answer his challenge. He still demanded The Rated-R Superstar come out next and tell the world that his career was over at the hands of The Savior.
Liv Morgan happily watched the replay of her work against Carmella last week, which brought out The Most Beautiful Woman in the World to join commentary while sitting atop the announce table. Morgan sent Zelina Vega hard into the turnbuckle.
Carmella left the announce table to check on Vega and distracted Morgan. This allowed Vega to hit a Code Red for the win.
Vega def. Morgan by pinfall.
While the action was fine, this was too focused on Carmella posing on the announce table to tell what was happening in the ring. It was also far too short, as has been typical of Morgan and Vega matches for a long time.
In the end, it was all about the result. While Vega needs more wins, this was the worst time to give her one. Morgan has been building momentum for a breakout performance. She did not need to lose just to put more doubt on her match at Extreme Rules against Carmella.
At the least, hopefully she will be allowed to win big in her second singles match on pay-per-view.
'Happy Talk' Ends with a Kevin Owens Beatdown Thanks to Riddick Moss
Happy Corbin showed off his new custom suits before his new talk show. Happy Talk's first guest was Corbin himself. He talked about his great life before laughing at Kevin Owens.
This brought out KO, looking for revenge. However, he never made it to the ring. Riddick Moss attacked him from behind, and the two laid out Owens on the steel stairs.
The return of Moss was the only surprise here, but it makes sense for Corbin to want some back-up. For as long as he has been on Raw or SmackDown, he has sought out help to solidify him as an underhanded heel.
Many likely forgot about Moss considering how long he was out. Hopefully, he will get a chance to make a legitimate mark in this new role. He has potential given his size and strength. Corbin should benefit initially from the support.
Long term, this feud feels beneath KO, who is a former WWE universal champion and was not that long ago pushing Roman Reigns to his limit. It was far more interesting when it seemed like Owens could potentially turn Corbin face for the first time in his career.
Nikki A.S.H. (w/ Rhea Ripley) vs. Natalya (w/ Tamina)
After some action at ringside between Rhea Ripley and Tamina, Natalya fell right into a small package from Nikki A.S.H. for a shockingly quick loss.
Shotzi and Nox arrived afterward to shoot their tank at the champions, clearly requesting their own shot at the gold soon.
A.S.H. def. Natalya by pinfall.
The first quick women's match was a poorly booked segment. The second was poorly conceived and the continuation of a trend. It was bad booking like this that supposedly prompted the Women's Revolution in the first place. How long before crowds start turning against WWE again for the company's poor treatment of women?
Sonya Deville Has Naomi Escorted Out of the Arena for Demanding a Match
Rey Mysterio tried to coach Dominik Mysterio, but Dominik did not want to hear it. He told his father to let him breathe. After Rey left, Sami Zayn tried to convince Dominik to trust his instincts over his dad.
Naomi arrived to demand a match. She set up an open challenge. Instead, Sonya Deville cut The Glow's mic and had her escorted to the back.
While the matches have been short, the segments for the women have been the best SmackDown has to offer. Naomi clearly had the crowd behind her throughout.
Whether she wrestles Deville in her in-ring return or finds a way to force her way into a title match, the second she returns to the ring should be a big moment. This could be the chance for Naomi to hit the next level as a star.
As a side note, Zayn attempting to turn Dominik is an intriguing angle. It is one of WWE's better angles at the moment where the result is completely unpredictable.
Roman Reigns (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Montez Ford
Montez Ford insulted The Usos, which set off Roman Reigns. He demanded Paul Heyman book The Head of the Table versus The Street Profit. Heyman convinced Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville to book it. Ford welcomed the opportunity to deliver against The Head of the Table.
On The Bloodline's way to the stage, The Usos met The Alpha Academy and distracted them from joining Reigns for the main event. Ford gladly took advantage of the even odds early by dropkicking The Head of the Table out of the ring.
As Ford continued to strike back, The Head of the Table always had an answer. The Street Profit nearly hit the frog splash, but Reigns ducked and hit a high Rock Bottom. He called for the Superman Punch, but Ford reversed it into an impact DDT.
The two fought to the outside, and Ford sent The Head of the Table into the steel steps. Back in the ring, he went for the From the Heavens but fell into the knees of Reigns to set up the guillotine and a tap out.
Heyman told Reigns to continue to deal damage. The Usos arrived to help put Ford through a table. The lights went out, and The Demon arrived. Finn Balor took out The Bloodline with a kendo stick then blasted the WWE universal champion with a steel chair to stand tall.
Reigns def. Ford by submission.
This was a fun look at the future. Ford pushed Reigns in a way he has not faced before. He has been overwhelmed before, but he has never fought someone this young and fast. The Head of the Table put over Ford, even without making him into a main event star (yet).
The end result was obvious, but the road there was worth the experience. With more build and emotion, one day, Reigns vs. Ford could be absolutely special.
The ending helped showcase The Demon and potential of Balor dethroning Reigns. While The Head of the Table will almost certainly find a way to overcome him, this moment was needed to sell fans that the limited Extreme Rules card is worth buying to possibly see The Head of the Table dethroned.