Shows like this are inherently unfair when it comes to my ability to grade them. You’re telling me that I’m not supposed to rate a show that’s interesting and unpredictable higher than the usual programming that I see each week?
So that’s part of it. And the other part? Matches like Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Miz and DANIEL BRYAN VS. ADAM COLE ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
Not bad for November 1st, 2019, the greatest SmackDown of all time. (I love Pat McAfee.)
The show opened with Brock Lesnar doing Brock Lesnar things, which is par for the course for an episode of SmackDown. I’ll get to his contributions in a bit. But the moment this show turned into something unique was when Lesnar and Heyman stormed off and the camera panned to show Triple H and Shawn Michaels – the latter of whom was decked out in NXT gear. They had the house to themselves to do with it what they wished; what else is a DX to do other than cause some havoc?
Our first NXT insurgent of the night was Shayna Baszler, entering through the crowd after the Bayley vs. Nikki Cross match to lay waste to Bayley, Cross, and Sasha Banks. Matt Riddle and Keith Lee were next to shut Sami Zayn up. It went on and on – Bianca Belair, Tommaso Ciampa, Tegan Nox and Rhea Ripley – all leading to the NXT Championship himself, Adam Cole.
And yeah, we got a banger of an NXT Championship match that got tons of time and ended with a clean victory for Adam Cole. Cole fought out of multiple submission attempts from Bryan, countered a Busaiku Knee with a superkick, and followed up with a killer Panama Sunrise and Last Shot to retain his title. Folks, that’s as clean as it gets.
Triple H always has a Plan B, right? He just turned a truly unfortunate situation with the travel from Saudi Arabia into a killer build for Survivor Series that legitimized NXT as a brand. As much as WWE wants to say that NXT isn’t the “minor leagues” of WWE anymore, they have never been portrayed as on par with Raw and SmackDown, nor have their storylines carried over in a meaningful way. That changed, here, and it was a really fun time.
Was anyone else highly amused that WWE showed the entire Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez match from Crown Jewel? I knew they were going to be hurting for burning time – and I’m totally sympathetic to that fact – but it was literally the first thing out of the gate.
But with that said, the story here is interesting. Velasquez lost, but Rey Mysterio was quick to jump in with a chair to protect his family and continue his pursuit of justice for his son Dominick. And Lesnar is not happy about that one bit. So much so, according to Heyman, that he demanded Vince McMahon to bring Mysterio be delivered to him on a silver platter. And when Vince cited the “exclusive” contracts that made that impossible, Lesnar quit SmackDown on the spot.
Despite the logistics that would make this...unrealistic, at the very least, in real life, it’s an interesting way to approach this feud and presumably build to a Survivor Series match. I’d imagine that Lesnar gets forced back to SmackDown somehow, but it’ll be intriguing to see how they do it.
As for Mysterio, let’s be honest: This story was always about him and his son. Velasquez was just a pawn to be played before the real battle. I’d like to see Dominick get involved somehow, but this was good for now.
Bayley def. Nikki Cross to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship – The crowd was really lively for this one. Good on you, Buffalo!
The story here was how often Banks would cheat on behalf of Bayley. She stopped Cross from hitting her finisher at one point, took a punch for Bayley, and then tripped Cross up which allowed Bayley to secure the win with a new finisher.
But of course, the story here is Shayna Baszler. She was awesome and looked like a killer with her offense. She just looks so different from the folks on SmackDown: Bigger, stronger, and just plain meaner.
Sami Zayn gets Bro-Lee’d – You shoulda known better than to run your mouth, Sami. He bragged that the NXT guys need to be careful who they pick a fight with and immediately ate some hubris when he turned around into Matt Riddle and Keith Lee.
Man, Keith Lee was a star to me during this. His demeanor and stature just seem perfect on a Raw or SmackDown. Riddle, however, was the more-recognized figure and got the chants you’d hope he would get. That flip-flop-kickoff was stellar, as was Zayn desperately offering Riddle his shoe back as an olive branch.
Sorry, bro. No can do.
Tommaso Ciampa def. The Miz - Perfect pairing here. They’re total opposites in demeanor and personality, it makes perfect sense that they’d beef.
The best part? Tommaso out-toughed Miz, just like he claimed he would initially. Ciampa claimed that Miz was precisely the problem with Raw and SmackDown. That’s the distinction here that I think all of the NXT folks are going to be using, by the way. That Raw and SmackDown are flawed.
Ciampa said that Miz spent too much time playing actor and talk show host while he’s actually out breaking his damn neck to be the best. And while Miz did enough to prove that he’s not just an actor or talk show host, Ciampa also proved that he’s willing to go futher for a win. The Miz had targeted his knee, but Ciampa fought through, got off the mat, and got the job done.
Rhea Ripley and Tegan Nox def. Fire and Desire – Good lord, Rhea Ripley is terrifying.
Fire and Desire were meant to fight Carmella and Dana Brooke on the show, but Bianca Belair took them out single-handed. Hell, she military-press threw Carmella over a bunch of storage equipment. Luckily, NXT was here to save the show with another tag team that absolutely decimated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.
This was never a traditional tag match. Nox went straight after Deville and brawled with her for much of this. Renee Young even caught a boot to the nose as Deville was thrown over the commentary table. Ripley locked in an inverted Cloverleaf to get the tapout.
Stephanie McMahon recapped the women’s match in Saudi Arabia – I didn’t watch the Saudi show, but I recall hearing that the crowd was into the Natalya vs. Lacey Evans match. That’s really cool.
Also, Steph waved at Triple H and seemed to say “hi, baby” to him, and Pat McAfee waved back. He’s literally the best commentator WWE has and I will book no arguments slandering his good name, thank you.
C’mon. C’mon. This show was fun as hell.