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The battle for brand supremacy has been raging for weeks now, but the November 22 edition of Friday Night SmackDown was the final stop on the road to Survivor Series.
WWE played coy in building this show. The only promises made ahead of the night involved the two key feuds raging right now on the blue brand.
Daniel Bryan summoned Bray Wyatt for a final face-to-face encounter in the ring ahead of their WWE Universal Championship clash.
Roman Reigns teamed with Team SmackDown members Shorty G and Mustafa Ali to fight King Corbin and his cohorts Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode.
Beyond this, the night was an open battleground. Monday Night Raw and NXT were expected in the same building with Survivor Series on the horizon. Anything could happen.
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After SmackDown decided to open their doors to Monday Night Raw thanks to the inspiring speech of Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks led Team SmackDown to the ring. She called out Team Raw, and they answered. Charlotte Flair challenged The Boss to a match.
Team NXT answered the call as well, and team captain Rhea Ripley added herself to that match. Banks looked dominant for a while until she got into an argument with her teammate Nikki Cross.
Ripley stayed in this battle until the perfect moment. The Queen caught Banks in the Figure-Eight. As The Boss looked ready to tap, the NXT team captain slipped in and pinned Charlotte for three. Afterward, SmackDown and Raw brawled as NXT headed up the ramp.
Ripley def. Charlotte and Banks by pinfall.
This was an entertaining way to open the show. NXT’s team was finally revealed with the quiet addition of Toni Storm, which likely should have been made into a bigger deal than it was. The team also got a big momentum boost by taking the surprise victory.
The triple threat was good and a solid indicator for how Survivor Series will go. The triple threat dynamic can be tough to pull off, but there’s plenty of talent in this match to make it work.
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Sami Zayn gave Shinsuke Nakamura a brand new updated Intercontinental Championship. The Critics of the Critics made clear The Artist was guaranteed victory over Roderick Strong. This brought out Undisputed Era, who made their own promise of victory on Sunday as Zayn and Nakamura walked away.
The New Day arrived to fight the men that attacked them last week and brought out Heavy Machinery to assist them in an eight-man tag team clash. A miscommunication caused Otis and Big E to argue, leaving Kofi Kingston alone in the ring for far too long in this contest.
Heavy Machinery finally gave Kofi a respite in this contest, working hot from the start, but Otis was not quite ready for the cohesion of Undisputed Era. The Messiah of the Backbreaker took the victory over Otis with a high knee.
Nakamura watched on the ramp with Zayn. Afterward, AJ Styles attacked from behind as Strong headed up the ramp, and The Critics of the Critics had to use a steel chair to make sure The Artist was the only man left standing.
The OC complained after the segment about their treatment, promising a receipt come Sunday.
Undisputed Era def. New Day and Heavy Machinery by pinfall.
This was a chaotic segment with multiple moving pieces, and the end result was a solid match. Kofi’s resilient display went unrewarded as he disappeared after his tag, and the babyfaces ultimately lost as expected.
While the match built toward the tag team triple threat at Survivor Series also featuring The Viking Raiders, this was a better moment for the singles championship triple threat. Styles vs. Nakamura vs. Strong could be fantastic though it’s still hard to say who will play the face.
Undisputed Era got a great moment here to stand tall. No group has benefited more from NXT’s invasions more than this stable. If they do head to Raw or SmackDown soon, it’s now harder to break them up.
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Daniel Bryan demanded Bray Wyatt come out and fight him. After the lights went out and back on without resolution, The Miz came out from last week’s confrontation and slapped The Planet’s Champion in the face.
A match was made official in which Bryan was all over The A-Lister. However, as he considered whether to start a “yes” chant, the lights went out. The Fiend appeared in Miz’s place, and he choked out his challenger with the mandible claw.
Miz vs. Bryan goes to a no contest.
This was a stronger overall segment than last week as Bryan and Miz got right to their best material, working off one another perfectly. The match was short due to the interference, but the two have chemistry to spare.
Given WWE’s repeated reluctance, it seems Wyatt may not be able to escape The Firefly Fun House, and that is for the best. He’s great as a character in a heightened reality while The Fiend can do his fighting for him.
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Bayley called out Shayna Baszler backstage in an interview, and The Queen of Spades headed to the ring to make her own call-out. The SmackDown women’s champion assaulted the NXT women’s champion from behind, and a brawl broke out.
With repeated escapes, The Hugger ducked the Kirifuda Clutch, throwing Baszler into the steel post and barricade. Bayley retreated up the ramp as an angry Queen of Spades glared at her.
This was a great segment to turn around Baszler’s role up to this point. She has been the aggressor to date, going after her opponents. The crowd wanted to get behind her as she outmaneuvered Bayley. This could translate to Survivor Series.
The only real problem was not having Becky Lynch appear at all. The crowd was ready for her, and WWE did not give any reason she wouldn’t get involved.
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Roman Reigns worked cohesively with Mustafa Ali and Shorty G, but they were not ready for the nefarious tactics of King Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode. The Big Dog was unable to save Ali as he ran into a Deep Six that gave The Lone Wolf the win.
Afterward, Seth Rollins led Team Raw and began a brawl with Reigns. Braun Strowman had to bring in an army of Team SmackDown allies to even the odds.
Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Road Dogg led a tank down the ramp into SmackDown’s back door, beginning an insane brawl between all three brands. Keith Lee and The Monster Among Men just began to fight as the show went off the air.
Corbin, Ziggler and Roode def. Reigns, Ali and G by pinfall.
After all the hype for this main event, it came off fairly flat. It was solid but unspectacular. It was over so quickly that WWE almost seemed to be wasting time in the final brawl.
The final conflict was as expected. The DX tank callback was corny, but it was fun to get glimpses of what is to come especially the potential of a monster brawl between Strowman and Lee.