Emanating from the WWE ThunderDome inside the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida – Tonight’s episode of WWE SmackDown features the first night of this year’s WWE Draft!
Names set to be drafted tonight include WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, Universal Champion Roman Reigns, RAW Women’s Champion Asuka and an additional 32 superstars from across the red and blue brands. Other matches and segments already announced for the show include:
- Otis defending his Money In The Bank contract in court
- Matt Riddle & Jeff Hardy Vs The Miz & John Morrison
- Kevin Owens Vs ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt
- Big E Vs Sheamus in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
- Bayley Vs Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Stephanie McMahon Announces The First Five Draft Picks
- Stephanie opens the show and kicks things off right away by announcing the first five draft picks.
- RAW pick WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, RAW Women’s Champion Asuka and the Hurt Business.
- SmackDown, meanwhile, pick Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
- Rollins is the very first Superstar to switch brands in this year’s draft!
Analysis: I think everyone expected Drew, Roman & Asuka to stay where they were and even the Hurt Business to a degree. Seth is by far the most interesting pick of the round though, it could be argued he’s been somewhat pigeonholed by the Rey feud on RAW so SmackDown will be a very nice change of pace for the now-Friday Night Messiah!
Seth Rollins: “The Greater Good is moving to Friday nights.”
— WWE (@WWE) October 10, 2020
- Rollins says he’s excited about moving to SmackDown.
- He’s sad that he won’t get to see the implosion of the Mysterio family in-person but he’s glad he never has to see their faces again.
Analysis: Nice little segment to bridge Rollins’ departure from RAW whilst he’s technically still in a story there. As much as this might be an abrupt end to his business with the Mysterios, I think this’ll be for the best. This is Rollins’ first time being drafted to SmackDown so hopefully we’ll see him in a bunch of fresh matches and stories!
Big E defeats Sheamus via Pinfall in 14:35
- Big E started off playing around, pulling Booty-O’s out from under the ring but Sheamus takes advantage by tying up Big E in the ropes and hitting him repeatedly with a kendo stick.
- E returns in kind by taking lessons from NJPW’s Toru Yano, tying Sheamus’ legs together with duct tape.
- The two move to the parking lot and both use cars to deadly effect, with Sheamus delivering a White Noise on top of one to get a nearfall.
- Big E picks up the win after dodging a Brogue Kick and delivering the Big Ending off a car and through a nearby table.
Analysis: This had no right being as fun and unpredictable on a show that already had so many other big things on it, but this was great! These two put their all into the match, with Sheamus’ back being lit up with multiple red kendo stick marks by the end. I thought it was going to just be general new comedy shenanigans, but when E got serious and this was as brutal a Falls Count Anywhere match as they come.
New Day Reunion
BE STILL OUR BEATING HEARTS!
NEW DAY BACK TOGETHER ❤️ pic.twitter.com/GpeZb0qkIQ
— WWE on BT Sport (@btsportwwe) October 10, 2020
- As Big E celebrates his win, Kofi Kingston appears in a security outfit and celebrates with E.
- Xavier Woods also returns, making his first appearance in over a year!
- New Day announce their intentions to go after the SmackDown Tag Team Championship!
Analysis: Nice to see Xavier back after so long and New Day together again. Though, I secretly hope they’re getting broken up in the draft later tonight – specifically E getting separated from Kofi. His singles stuff lately has been great and I think going back to the usual New Day stuff would be a bit of a reversion.
Roman Reigns Announces Second Universal Championship HIAC Match Stipulation
- Jey Uso comes to the ring and asks Roman to tell him what the second stipulation of their Hell In A Cell match will be.
- Reigns reiterates that he didn’t want to do this but needs to teach Jey a lesson for not recognising him out-loud as the tribal chief.
- Roman announces that their Hell In A Cell Universal Championship match will also be an I Quit match!
Analysis: This is a really nice change to the Hell In A Cell formulae. After years of the match just being another yearly pay-per-view stipulation, this I Quit additional will help spice up this match and fits really well with Roman and Jey’s story. Very excited to see their HIAC match now!
Second Round of Draft Picks Announced
— WWE (@WWE) October 10, 2020
- Before the draft picks, Stephanie announces that the New Day will challenge Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship later tonight!
- AJ Styles and Naomi switch to RAW, with Bianca Belair switching to SmackDown.
- Sasha Banks remains on SmackDown and Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler keep the Women’s Tag titles on RAW.
Analysis: Bianca Belair is the most excited pick of this round by far. If treated right, she could be on the level of reverence that the Four Horsewomen get. She never really got a fair shot on RAW unfortunately, so hopefully this move to the blue brand will do her wonders.
Matt Riddle & Jeff Hardy defeat The Miz & John Morrison via Pinfall in 5:30
- Riddle and Hardy dominated for the majority of the match, Riddle in particular keeping Miz isolated.
- Riddle caught Miz with Bro Derek for the win.
- After the match, Lars Sullivan returned with a whole new look and theme! This is his first appearance since June 2019, over 16 months ago.
Analysis: Nice to see Riddle pick up a win over some new faces after feuding with King Corbin for so long. I was never huge on Lars but I’m excited to see what they do with him after such a long absence. The new look and music is great – The best thing they can do with him is just start off fresh again, him running through Riddle & Hardy is a good start.
5 More Draft Picks Revealed In The Third Round
— WWE (@WWE) October 10, 2020
- Only two brand switches this time – Rey & Dominik Mysterio follow their long-time rival Seth Rollins to the blue brand whilst The Miz & John Morrison head to the red side.
- Ricochet, Jey Uso and Mandy Rose all remain on their current respective brands.
Analysis: Another round where the majority of the picks were to be expected. Rose had switched to RAW a fortnight ago and Jey has been too embroiled in his feud with Roman to switch. Rey & Dominik following Rollins is an interesting move, as I thought they’d cool down on this feud, but perhaps the change in environment and the lack of Murphy will give this rivalry a new edge.
Sasha Banks defeats Bayley via Disqualification, Bayley retains the SmackDown Women’s Championship in 2:30
- The two had an intense stare-down before Sasha slapped Bayley as the bell rang.
- The two had a very back-and-forth brawl, with Sasha locking in an early Bank Statement which Bayley only barely managed to escape.
- Bayley disqualified herself shortly after, hitting Banks with a Steel Chair in order to retain the championship.
Analysis: Some might be disappointed in the extremely quick disqualification, but this isn’t a feud that needs to be rushed. They can, and should, go incredibly slow with the build to the final confrontation between these two. This story has been building for well over a year now, it shouldn’t just end in a few weeks.
Alexa Bliss to Kevin Owens: “Let Him In.”
— WWE (@WWE) October 10, 2020
- As Kevin Owens was preparing for him watch against ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt, Alexa Bliss confronted the former Universal Champion.
- Alexa delivered a very simple message to Owens: Let The Fiend in.
Analysis: I think Alexa’s possession by ‘The Fiend’ is one of the most interesting things on SmackDown right now. Her acting as almost of a messenger of sorts for Wyatt makes those few, elusive times we actually see ‘The Fiend’ so much more memorable. Is this teasing the incoming character shift Owens might undergo after losing to the Fiend or something more, like Owens becoming possessed himself down the line. There are so many options, which is what makes this great.
The New Day defeat Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura, winning the SmackDown Tag Team Championship in 8:30
- Xavier and Kofi represented New Day and started out strong against the current champions, with Woods delivering an early suicide dive and Springboard Tornado DDT for a near-fall.
- Cesaro & Shinsuke attempted the Swinging Kinshasa on Kofi, but Xavier managed to grab Shinsuke’s leg and prevent him from completing the combination move.
- Kofi eventually managed to hit Trouble In Paradise, allowing Woods to hit a Coast-To-Coast Elbow drop on Nakamura to win their WWE tag team gold for the ninth time.
Analysis: As much as I’ve gotten a little tired of New Day as of late, I think they were the right choice to dethrone Cesaro & Shinsuke. The rest of the SmackDown tag division didn’t feel built up enough to believably take down the champions whilst New Day had their championship legacy to fall back on. It’s interesting that Kofi and Xavier, who’ve both just freshly returned, were the ones to win and not Big E. Could we see a break-up of New Day shortly?
The Final Round Of Draft Picks & A Devastating Break-Up
- Stephanie McMahon congratulates New Day on their seventh SmackDown Tag Team Championship win, before informing Kofi & Xavier that they have been drafted to RAW as the SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
- Big E, meanwhile, was drafted to SmackDown – The New Day are officially being separated.
- Elsewhere in this round of picks: Dana Brooke & Angel Garza remain on RAW whilst Otis keeps his place on SmackDown.
Analysis: Welp. Spoke too soon. As I mentioned earlier I think this is for the best though. Big E’s singles push has been great – as evidenced by his earlier match with Sheamus – whilst Xavier and Kofi have only just returned and can keep to the usual New Day formula without seeming like they’re repeating the same old shtick. It’ll be interesting on Monday to see how they handle the Street Profits now: Whether they’ll get drafted to SmackDown as the RAW champions or if they’ll lose the titles and remain on RAW.
Otis’ Court Trial Is Delayed
- Backstage, Otis noted that he had been drafted to SmackDown but Tucker hadn’t been. Tucker tells him not to worry about for now.
- A woman appeared and served some official looking documents to Otis, which stated that the Miz’s lawyer had asked for a continuance and as such the trial was delayed.
- Tucker said that the lawyer was just trying to “drain Otis dry”, with Otis responding that “No one drains my moisture”.
Analysis: Whilst I think the Sasha/Bayley match going to a non-finish is acceptable due to the longevity in their feud, I’m not sure the same applies here. I’m not exactly clamouring to see Otis’ courtroom defence of this Money In The Bank contract, but WWE did spend a decent amount of time building to the segment prior to the show and then barely referenced it during the show itself. Just feels a little disappointing to have something built up like this and then for it not to happen for no proper reason.
Sasha Banks Challenges Bayley To A Hell In A Cell Rematch
- Sasha calls Bayley a coward and says she should have known she would get herself disqualified.
- Banks challenges Bayley to a Hell In A Cell match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
- She ends the promo by saying she will break Bayley and take everything she holds dear from her, starting with the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Analysis: I’m glad it was Sasha that made the Hell In A Cell challenge and not Bayley. Sasha has the most HIAC experience out of any woman on the roster, competing in all three to feature women. I expect this to go beyond Hell In A Cell, of course, but I think this is a great first step in what could potentially be a feud for the ages, if done correctly.
Match Announcements For Next Weeks’ SmackDown Season Premiere
Next week on the season premiere of #SmackDown!
🔹 @WWERomanReigns defends the #UniversalTitle against @BraunStrowman
🔹 #TheNewDay battles @WWESheamus, @WWECesaro and @ShinsukeN in their farewell to #SmackDown@WWEBigE@AustinCreedWins@TrueKofipic.twitter.com/sKB47gmjjI
— WWE (@WWE) October 10, 2020
- Michael Cole announces that Braun Strowman will challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship on next week’s show.
- Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods will also wrestle their final match as a trio for now against Sheamus, Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura in a match signifying the New Day’s farewell to SmackDown.
Analysis: The matches themselves look exciting enough but I don’t really see the point in breaking the brand exclusivity rules of the Draft immediately after the Draft is over, particularly in the New Day’s case. I get it’s supposed to be a big farewell moment to them on their main brand, but for cohesion’s sake, I feel like it would be better if they did it on a show where cross-brand interaction is allowed to happen…Oh, like RAW on Monday. Minor issue, but it’s always slightly irritating that WWE break their own rules constantly.
‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt defeats Kevin Owens via Pinfall in 10:00
- The Fiend mostly dominated over Owens in usual fashion, getting up from the majority of Owens’ offence instantaneously.
- Owens did manage to create a few openings, stunning ‘The Fiend’ with a Superkick and multiple Cannonballs before Wyatt managed to roll-out of the ring.
- Owens’ hits a stunner whilst ‘The Fiend’ had the Mandible Claw locked in, but Wyatt shrugged it off – hitting a Uranage with the Mandible Claw locked in to knock Owens out for the win.
- After the match, the lights go out before we see ‘The Fiend’ and Alexa Bliss on the entrance ramp staring at each other. They then turn their heads to Owens before turning to each other again before the screen cuts to black.
Analysis: A fairly standard Fiend match which I don’t think is an entirely bad thing. Because of how rarely we see ‘The Fiend’, I always feel like his matches are a special attraction even if you aren’t a massive fan of the character. The post-match segment of Alexa & Wyatt looking at Owens quickly could indicate that this may be turning into a longer-term feud but I honestly hope not. I think Owens would be better off going straight into the character shift that ‘The Fiend’ usually causes within his opponents to freshen him up a bit whilst ‘The Fiend’ and Alexa develop their own story with someone else.
Overall, I thought SmackDown was a pretty solid show. There were definitely some low-points: Sasha/Bayley going 3 minutes, Otis’ court segment being delayed and the immediate breaking of the draft rules. But when this show kicked into gear, it really kicked it up a notch.
Big E Vs Sheamus was so much better than it had any right to be, Xavier & Kofi returning and winning the titles was a pleasant surprise and the way they broke up New Day was perfect. No dissension, not in-fighting – They were split up against their own terms and can build up themselves individually without being perpetually pigeon-holed into feuds with each other for months on end.
But this is only half of the puzzle – the 2020 WWE Draft continues this Monday, on the October 12th episode of RAW! Keep an eye out for the live results article for it, and all WWE TV & pay-per-views, right here at Inside The Ropes.