Welcome to The Smackdown Reaction, where I offer my take of the first night of the Draft. You can read John’s full in depth report here.
I missed last week’s Smackdown due to the feud between Fox and Dish Network, so this is the first time I’ve seen the new opener and stage. Smackdown most definitely won the stage design contest. It looks really awesome.
Our opening contest is between Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for the first draft pick. They put on a really good match together. The ending saw Seth counter Roman’s spear into a Pedigree, which was an awesome idea. The lights start going weird and here’s The Fiend to attack Seth from under the ring for the obvious DQ ending, giving Raw the first draft pick. Fiend pulls Rollins Kane style back under the ring for a few seconds before Seth can escape. The Fiend peers up from the ring before disappearing again. Interesting way to acknowledge the feud.
Stephanie McMahon is out to announce the first round of draft picks with Raw getting three to Smackdown’s two because of show length, whatever. Check your draft cards for Becky Lynch to Raw (obvious), Roman Reigns to Smackdown (obvious), The OC to Raw (ok), Bray Wyatt to Smackdown (surprising), and Drew McIntyre to Raw (sorta obvious). After the picks were announced, we cut quickly to the Draft Panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Beth Phoenix, and Samoa Joe, going to great lengths to hide the cast on his arm, reacting to the picks.
Our next match is the Hell in a Cell rematch between Gable and Corbin. Is the whole Shorty nonsense really necessary? Be A Star, Vince. Anyway, a decent match between the two with Gable looking good again, but Corbin needed his win back so that’s what he got.
Get your draft cards out, here comes Stephanie again to announce Round 2. Randy Orton to Raw (makes sense, needs new opponents), Sasha Banks to Smackdown (hmmm), Ricochet to Raw (ok), Braun Strowman to Smackdown (Tyson Fury feud was Fox’s idea so there ya go), Bobby Lashley to Raw (what about Lana?). Back to the panel for more reaction and cast hiding.
Brock Lesnar is out next with Paul Heyman to cut a promo about his Crown Jewel match with Velasquez. Heyman asks if we think Brock is really afraid of Velasquez. No, Paul, Brock really fears the Saudi check bouncing. Anyway, we get a nice review of the UFC match between the two and Velasquez comes out with Mysterio for a quick promo.
The New Day is out next to shill the Susan G. Komen work that WWE is doing before awarding pink WWE women’s titles to the winners of the Champions of Hope contest. Once that was done, New Day heads to the ring to face The OC in six-man tag action. We get a short match interrupted by a commercial break at the beginning. The match was fine with New Day winning.
Draft time with Alexa Bliss going to Raw (no Nikki Cross?), Lacey Evans to Smackdown (should have been NXT for more seasoning), Kevin Owens to Raw (at least ridding Smackdown of Shane McMahon was a nice parting gift), The Revival to Smackdown (they are the tag champs after all), and Natalya to Raw (ok).
Back from break and Stephanie is still out to announce the final round of draft picks. The Viking Raiders to Raw (likely winning the tag titles on Monday), Lucha House Party to Smackdown (why not), Nikki Cross to Raw (still tagging with Alexa?), Heavy Machinery to Smackdown (should be good), and the Street Profits to Raw (I thought they were staying in NXT). The draft panel talked some more and Renee said those left undrafted are free agents and can sign wherever they wish.
We get a video package for the Tyson Fury/Braun Strowman match at Crown Jewel. At least they didn’t show Fury in that ridiculous suit he had on at the press conference earlier in the day.
A quick video package from Hell in a Cell between Charlotte Flair and Bayley before cutting to the ring with Charlotte already in the ring from before the two video packages and a commercial break. Bayley comes out and she has some different type ring gear on. Her music stops after the inflatable guys inflate and Bayley reveals that she’s cut and dyed her hair. Bayley does a gimmick change and cuts up the inflatables as Charlotte looks on from the ring. We get a really good match out of the two. Not sure why Charlotte felt the need to do a backflip off the barricade during the match. Bayley surprised everyone by winning the title back after five days and her new music hit. After the match, Bayley cuts a heel promo on the fans, fully embracing the hate.
Draft Night One highs and lows.
Bayley’s got a new gimmick and it looks good so far. With Sasha Banks on Smackdown, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.
The Draft just didn’t have that good a feel to it. There were no real surprises in the picks and the “War Rooms” was corny. It just felt all jumbled up. Also, props to WWE to releasing the draft order ahead of time.
That’s all I’ve got for today. It was a rather uneventful show and hopefully Raw isn’t just as bland on Monday for Draft Night Two.