Friday night WWE Smackdown took over the XL Centre in Hartford, Connecticut, not far from the company’s base of operations in Stanford. This wasn’t the go-home Smackdown for the next Premium Live Event, that’s next week, but seeing as the next PLE is Survivor Series, aka one of the Big Four, this show was all about setting up for it.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Sami’s back! I mean sure, Honorary Uce Sami Zayn was advertised as competing in a match, but after a week without him cracking up the Bloodline that feels like an eternity, it was nice that we got him almost right out of the gate.
  • Quit trying to make “Brut-ey” happen. Yes, I know this is the first ever time that term was used and there was a reaction from the crowd, but still.
  • Okay, Drew McIntyre, Seamus and the Brawling Brutes did a great promo setting up their end of their War Games match against The Bloodline at Survivor Series, but we all know the fifth man on their team is Kevin Owens, right?
  • Mustafa Ali versus Ricochet in a Round One Smackdown World Cup Tournament match featured solid work from both and told a good story by carrying over Ali’s injury from RAW and it was the right length. No complaints.
  • More backstage Bloodline and more Jey Uso trying hard not to break character. Love it:
  • Karrion Kross versus Madcap Moss seems like a replacement feud while Drew is busy battling The Bloodline. This, like their first match, was decent and the potential of mixed tag matches or Scarlett versus Emma is interesting.
  • While I wasn’t sure where Bray Wyatt’s return was going to lead, I had some ideas…and a feud with LA Knight most definitely wasn’t one of them. I’m pretty sure LA Knight also didn’t think his year would end with a feud with Bray frickin’ Wyatt, either. That said, I love how the main feud is still Bray versus Uncle Handy (aka himself) and Knight is just a casualty of that war. The way they’re playing it – in ring and backstage – really works.
  • Shotzi versus Shayna Baszler was an okay match with a lot of distractions from Ronda Rousey at first and then from Raquel Rodriguez to help Shotzi get the win. Basically an attempt to justify Shotzi as a threat to Rousey’s title for their match at Survivor Series. No disrespect to Shotzi, but I’m not buying it. One more reason to have a Universal Women’s Champion and give Ronda some plausible opponents.
  • The Usos trying to figure out who the fifth man is (it’s Kevin Owens, we all know that) works in the storyline, but in kayfabe, why would they think Karion Kross would all of a sudden team with Drew McIntyre? The guy who tried to run him over with a car a few weeks ago. The segment was good but really?
  • And then we found out that Braun Strowman is going to win the Smackdown World Cup tournament and face Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship. Well, not officially, but it sure looks that way. Imperium versus The New Day and Braun Strowman wasn’t about The New Day or the rest of Imperium, it was setting up Gunther versus Strowman for the IC title and establishing that Gunther may actually be a bit scared of Strowman, so much so that he backed off saving Kaiser from being pinned.
  • So now that we know who’s going to win the tournament, the Smackdown main event, Sami Zayn versus Butch, didn’t really matter in terms of the IC Title picture, but in foreshadowing the Survivor Series War Games main event. It was a great match and while I would have liked a win for Sami, it didn’t really matter.
  • I love how Roman Reigns started his entrance with Paul Heyman like he was going to have the time to saunter down to the ring before acknowledging (pun intended) that he had to deal with stuff physically right away.
  • While there wasn’t really any shock in the reveal of the mystery partner (despite the rumor that Owens was injured, nice try WWE), it was still a great moment and had all the passion that was needed and this was a great end to Smackdown.

Ed’s Note: This is our site’s first foray into covering WWE/Wrestling, expect more in the future. The author was into the business during the Hulkamania Era as a kid, the Attitude Era in his 20s and only recently started watching the modern product thanks to nostalgic wrestling podcasts and accidentally subscribing to a service (in Canada – he’s Montreal-based) that had most of the new content and not much of the classic stuff.

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