By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Live from Worcester, Massachusetts at DCU Arena
[Q1] Daniel Bryan’s music opened the show with Bryan and Shane McMahon leading a yes chant. Mick Foley and Stephanie stood at their podium behind them. The announce crew went over the basic rules of the draft. Stephanie piped up and said enough was enough with the frivolity. She said nobody panders better than Mick Foley, and he piped in and said that no crowd likes to be pandered to, and especially this crowd in Worcester, Mass. Mick went to make the first pick in the draft, and Stephanie bogarted him and made a pick for Seth Rollins.
Raw selected Seth Rollins for their #1 pick
Shane McMahon said Raw has Crossfit Jesus in their stable, which is cool. Daniel Bryan asked for a drum roll, and selected Dean Ambrose for their first pick.
Smackdown selected Dean Ambrose for their #1 pick.
Stephanie apologized to Mick for interrupting him earlier, and allowed him to make their second pick. He selected Charlotte.
Raw selected Charlotte for their #2 pick.
Shane and Daniel Bryan wasted no time in selecting AJ Styles.
Smackdown selected AJ Styles for their #2 pick.
Mick and Steph said they took an eye towards the future, and their next pick was from NXT. Mick then selected Finn Balor.
Raw selected Finn Balor with their #3 pick.
John Cena’s music hit and he headed towards the ring for the first match of the show. The Club then made their entrance, followed by Enzo and Cass. The crowd chanted for Enzo and Cass as they did their entrance shtick. Cass called The Club Sawft, as you would expect. John Cena would wrestle Luke Gallows in a singles match.
1. John Cena vs. Luke Gallows: The match aired in a tiny postage size corner of the screen while commercials played. Gallows got the best of the early going by working power offense. He threw Cena hard into the turnbuckles and taunted the crowd. He then hit a facebuster, followed by a running elbow drop. He stopped to taunt Enzo and Cass before he hit another elbow. Gallows missed a third elbow attempt, but quickly recovered and hit a side slam for a two count.
[Q2] Both men went down after colliding, and everybody on the outside jumped up on the apron. Enzo and Cass flipped AJ and Anderson to the outside, and Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment on Luke Gallows for the victory.
John Cena defeated Luke Gallows
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins was plugged for the main event later in the show. A Champions vs. Challengers 8-man tag is set for next…[c]
My Take: Logical picks to start. I was particularly happy to see Charlotte taken so high, because it shows WWE is at least committed to the Women’s Championship being taken just as seriously as the Men’s. The match between Cena and Gallows was just kind of there. A bit of maintenance to get them to Sunday.
Stephanie McMahon said once again Raw gets the first pick. Mick said that Shane accused him of being Steph’s puppet, but he took a moment to disagree on their next pick. He then welcomed Roman Reigns to Raw.
Raw selected Roman Reigns for their #4 pick.
Shane McMahon wasted no time, and selected John Cena for their next pick.
Smackdown selected John Cena for their #3 pick.
Mick and Stephanie said they agreed on their next pick, and selected Brock Lesnar for their next pick.
Raw selected Brock Lesnar for their #5 pick.
Daniel Bryan picked for Smackdown this time, taking Randy Orton.
Smackdown selected Randy Orton for their #4 pick.
Mick gave Stephanie a corny drum roll, and selected New Day for Raw.
Raw selected New Day for their #6 pick.
Zack Ryder, Darren Young, Rusev, and The Miz were already in the ring.
2. Rusev and The Miz vs. Zack Ryder and Darren Young: Darren Young began with Rusev, but Zack Ryder quickly made his way into the match. The heels quickly took over, making quick tags in and out. Ryder broke the offensive streak with a neckbreaker on Rusev, reversing out of a vertical suplex attempt. Darren Young tagged into the match and hit a belly to belly on The Miz, and followed up with a Gut Check. Rusev broke up the pin, and Ryder came in to clear him from the ring.
Ryder hit a missile dropkick to Rusev on teh outside, and Young applied a Crossface Chickenwing in the ring for the tapout victory on Miz.
Darren Young and Zack Ryder defeated Rusev and The Miz
The announce team plugged Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke and Charlotte in a handicap match. Xavier Woods vs. Zack Ryder is up next…[c]
My Take: It’s an interesting new era when John Cena and Randy Orton are both on the former B Show. I like the move personally because it sets up Raw to be more youth dominated, and it gives Smackdown some veteran support, especially when we don’t know how often Cena or Orton will be on television. I am a bit concerned that New Day and Charlotte are both on Raw now, though, because it leaves Smackdown with shortage of Championships unless we’re set for title changes on Sunday.
[Q3] Bray Wyatt was finishing up his entrance as the show came back. Xavier Woods was already in the ring.
3. Xavier Woods vs Bray Wyatt: Bray Wyatt played mind games with Woods, who approached him somewhat hypnotized. Wyatt got to his feet and he and Woods were face to face. Wyatt placed an arm on his shoulder, and Woods snapped out of hit and swung at Bray, but it had no effect and Wyatt swatted him away. Bray hit a clothesline and applied a chin lock. He followed up with a shoulder block. Bray stared down the other members of New Day and hit a hard Uranage that looked to drop Woods right on the shoulder and neck.
Wyatt hit the ropes and landed a running senton, and then talked some more trash to Big E and Kofi. Woods staggered Bray Wyatt with a high knee. He looked to capitalize, but Bray popped up in his spider pose and freaked him out. Bray then caught him with Sister Abigail and then pinned him.
Bray Wyatt defeated Xavier Woods
The Wyatt Family celebrated in the ring as New Day regrouped on the outside…[c]
My Take: They were trying to tell the story of Woods being off his game here, and it worked to a degree, but it didn’t make for a particularly smooth match. I think these two could do a lot better with some more time to plan something out.
Kane was in the ring for a match. Kevin Owens made his entrance and jawed with both management teams, presumably about not being drafted already. Sami Zayn followed him, and they both began to brawl. They both ended up in the ring, and both ended up getting chokeslammed by Kane. He then popped his corner pyro and left.
Stephanie McMahon piped up from the ramp, and chose Sami Zayn.
Raw selected Sami Zayn for their #7 pick.
Shane and Daniel fired back and selected Bray Wyatt.
Smackdown selected Bray Wyatt for their #5 pick.
Stephanie began to speak, and Mick interrupted her. He said that he wanted to remind the Smackdown management team that women are avai;able. Starting next Monday, Raw is Boss.
Raw selected Sasha Banks for their #8 pick.
Daniel Bryan fired back and said they had missed the best women’s wrestler, and selected Becky Lynch.
Smackdown selected Becky Lynch for their #6 pick.
Mick told Stephanie that he felt bad about tipping their hand, but he felt he could redeem himself with their next pick. He then chose Chris Jericho.
Raw selected Chris Jericho with their #9 pick.
Dean Ambrose was interviewed backstage, and said he looks good in blue. He said Smackdown is the new hot show, and where he goes so goes the WWE Championship.
My Take: I’m surprised to see them split up the women somewhat, but it could work out if the Champions are allowed to travel. We haven’t gotten clarification as to how the Championships are going to work.
A draft board was shown on screen that highlighted some of the remaining talent. Charlotte made her entrance with Dana Brooke. She was followed by Sasha Banks. Footage was shown of Natalya costing Sasha and Becky their match on Raw.
4. Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke and Charlotte: Sasha threw Dana into Charlotte knocked her off the apron. She continued to get the best of Dana, and foiled Charlotte’s interference attempt by jumping off the apron onto her at ringside. Brooke cleaned her clock with a clothesline as a result, and the heel team took control. Brooke applied a chinlock, but Sasha broke free quickly. Sasha got a blind tag that Sasha didn’t see, so she continued to attack Dana Brooke. Sasha applied the Bank Statement, but Charlotte broke it up and hit Natural Selection for the win.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke defeated Charlotte
The announce team threw back to the ramp, where we’re getting more draft picks. Mick Foley selected Rusev with Lana.
Raw selected Rusev and Lana for their #10 pick.
Bryan said he hated to do it, but Smackdown needed the Intercontinental Championship, so they selected The Miz and Maryse.
Smackdown selected The Miz for their #7 pick.
Stephanie quickly jumped in and selected Kevin Owens.
Raw selected Kevin Owens for their #11 pick.
Daniel Bryan and Shane selected Baron Corbin, for what I have no idea.
Smackdown selected Baron Corbin for their #8 pick.
Mick Foley made a bunch of bad jokes, and then selected Enzo and Cass.
Raw selected Enzo and Cass with their #12 pick…[c]
My Take: This is a drubbing for Raw so far. Hopefully things improve because the balance has heavily favored Raw thus far in terms of acts that are hot right now.
Chris Jericho finished up his entrance for the next match. Cesaro was already in the ring.
5. Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro: Things spilled outside quickly, where Cesaro hit a huge European Uppercut. Jericho slowed things down back in the ring with a chinlock, but it didn’t last, as both men got into seesaw pinning situations. Cesaro hit a big boot to Jericho and attempted to climb to the top rope, but Jericho crotched him. They fought in the corner until Jericho hit a Frankensteiner out of the corner for a near fall.
Jericho went for a Codebreaker, but Cesaro caught him and knocked him back with several uppercuts. Cesaro went for a springboard uppercut off the second rope, but Jericho caught him with a Codebreaker and got the victory.
Chris Jericho defeated Cesaro
The main event was plugged for later…[c]
My Take: This match never quite got out of 2nd gear for me. There were a few really good moments, but it didn’t flow particularly well, and there was a sense of awkwardness throughout that detracted from it as a whole.
Becky Lynch attacked Natalya at ringside as the show returned. They had to be separated by referees. Becky walked up the ramp and they transitioned to more draft picks. Stephanie then took over and split up The Club, drafting Gallows and Anderson.
Raw selected Gallows and Anderson for their #13 pick.
Daniel Bryan got really excited, and said that Smackdown would be the land of opportunity, so they would choose the best tag team on NXT. He then said they are ready, willing and Gable, and chose American Alpha.
Smackdown selected American Alpha for their #9 pick.
Mick Foley made a veteran pick, and chose Big Show.
Raw selected Big Show for their #14 pick.
Shane McMahon said Smackdown would also be a place for new starts, and then selected Dolph Ziggler.
Smackdown selected Dolph Ziggler for their #10 pick.
Stephanie then made a surprise pick, and chose Nia Jax from NXT.
Raw selected Nia Jax for their #15 pick.
The show went backstage for an interview with Seth Rollins. He gloated over being the #1 pick, and said he would return to Raw next week to have a big celebration next week with Stephanie and Mick as the WWE Champion…[c]
My Take: I like the American Alpha pick a lot. They seem like poster boys for the new Smackdown. Nia Jax is surprising, because she has looked very green even in her recent matches. I hope to be surprised.
Stephanie McMahon said gravity has forgotten their next pick, but Raw certainly hasn’t and selected Neville for their next pick.
Raw selected Neville for their #16 pick.
Daniel Bryan said they are selected the first woman to graduate from the Hart Family Dungeon, and selected Natalya.
Smackdown selected Natalya with their #11 pick.
Mick Foley said they were selecting someone who he felt was undervalued, and chose Cesaro.
Raw selected Cesaro for their #17 pick.
Shane McMahon said their next choice was going to bring some fire to Smackdown, and chose Alberto Del Rio.
Smackdown selected Alberto Del RIo with their #12 pick.
Mick said when he returned at WrestleMania he hit this guy in the head about 20 times, and his forearm still hurts. He then selected Sheamus.
Raw selected Sheamus for the final televised pick and their #18.
Seth Rollins made his entrance for the Main Event, followed by Dean Ambrose.
6. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship: Rollins jumped Ambrose before the bell ran during official introductions. Ambrose escaped to the outside, but Rollins followed and laid in strikes and tossed him into the ring post…[c]
My Take: Raw got the better of Smackdown in terms of major blue chip picks tonight. We’ll see what happens in the supplemental draft on the Network, but thus far it seems like Smackdown is going to depend on a few key acts to carry shows. Perhaps we’ll see some trades and roster shuffling before this is all over.
[Q8] The bell officially rang, and Rollins hit a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. He then crossfaced Ambrose as he was draped on the second rope, and delivered a boot to the face. Rollins tossed Ambrose hard into the turnbuckle, and hit a backbreaker for another two count. Ambrose held a chinlock for a bit and then tossed Ambrose out ot the floor. Rollins then tossed Ambrose into the barricdde. Seth charged in, and got back body dropped into the announce keeper’s area.
Ambrose tried to jump on Ambrose, but landed on the barricade again instead. Rollins tossed him back into the ring and hit a springboard flying knee, followed by a savate kick for a near fall…[c] Rollins continued to toy with Ambrose, but ran right into a clothesline that turned him inside out. Ambrose fired back up with strikes and clotheslines. He then rolled up Rollins for a two count, and sold his left arm. He climbed to the top rope, but jumped into Rollins, who picked him up and hit a buckle bomb. Rollins attempted at follow up Frog Splash, but missed. Ambrose rolled him up with a La Magistral Cradle, but only got a near fall.
Ambrose went for Dirty Deeds, but Seth back him into the corner. Rollins used an out of position ref to hit an eye poke. He then went for a pedigree, but Rollins back body dropped him over the top rope. Ambrose then hit a suicide dive, and then hit an elbow drop off the apron onto Rollins, and tossed him back into the ring. He went back up top, but Rollins met him up there with a superplex. Rollins tried to transition into a Falcon Arrow, but Rollins reversed into Dirty Deeds and got the win.
Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins
Bryan, Shane McMahon, and Ambrose celebrated. Ambrose put on a Smackdown shirt and Bryan led the crowd in a yes chant. The announce team then went over the Battleground Card for Sunday. 30 more draft picks will be announced over the next hour on the WWE Network.
My Take: Overall, this wasn’t a spectacular show. The draft was just about as good as it seems WWE is capable of producing in these situations, but nothing that anyone should go out of their way to see. The main event was stale just because we saw a better version of it on Raw, but at least they got the finish right this time. I don’t know what to expect on Sunday, as I’m not sure what the approach to Championships is going to be post Battleground. There are tag teams and Women on both shows, yet Daniel Bryan talked about the Intercontinental Championship being drafted to Smackdown? They have a lot of draft left, and hopefully a lot more information forthcoming.