Welcome to the first SmackDown live! Your highly caffeinated recapper is more than excited for the draft, so can we just jump straight in?
We open on Daniel Bryan’s music, and a yes chant so large that I’m already even more excited than I already was. There’s a brief recap of the rules; RAW goes first, six picks off the NXT roster, and RAW gets 3 picks for every 2 of SmackDowns.
We’re jumping straight into the picks as soon as Daniel can stop himself riling up the crowd, which is taking some time. She tries to get the crowd interested in Mick Foley, but it only sort of half works.
Seth Rollins in the first draft pick for RAW, and even though Stephanie tells Mick he can make the announcement, she pipes up over the top of him to make the announcement. Shane makes a disparaging comment about “Crossfit Jesus”, and Daniel Bryan announces that the first pick for SmackDown is the current champ, DEAN AMBROSE. Because, you know, of course they have to pick the champ early.
Mick Foley takes the mic next to announce that RAW needs a strong women’s division, so his second pick is Charlotte, the current women’s champion. I can’t argue with that, it’s amazing.
Shane picks the phenomenal AJ Styles as his second pick, which is definitely not what I predicted!
Next up, Mick says they’re looking to the future and making a pick from NXT — I’m here just going come on, come on, Bayley — but no, it’s Finn Balor. Before I can have too many feelings about this, however, John Cena’s music hits.
He wanders on out, and shakes hands with Mick Foley very nicely, and he runs out to the ring because – apparently we’re having a match now? Okay, sounds good. I assumed that Cena was going to come out to protest not having been drafted yet.
AJ Styles follows him out, flanked by Gallows and Anderson, and he’s wearing a SmackDown shirt that he obviously found very quickly backstage because there’s no way that any of this was predetermined, right? Some more music hits quickly, though – it’s Enzo and Big Cass, coming to support their ally John Cena even after he grievously insulted them on Monday by failing to understand the whole “how you doin’” business. Shame, Cena.
In other news, yes, I still do Enzo’s speech along with him. Every time. Don’t judge me.
Enzo gets a big of a bad rap because he never does all that much in the ring, and I’m starting to wonder if maybe if he didn’t run around like a chicken all the time before the match, he might have a little more energy for actions in the ring other than the hot tag to Big Cass.
MATCH: Luke Gallows (with Karl Anderson & AJ Styles) vs. John Cena (with Enzo & Big Cass)
- We’re into it before I’m really prepared for this, still thinking about Enzo and Big Cass, and Gallows immediately floors John Cena with a shoulder tackle. They announce that we’re going to commercial but I’m confused because it takes a full several seconds before they cut away, Gallows laying in punches on Cena.
- When we come back, Gallows has Cena on his shoulder and slams him to the ground for a two-count.
- Elbows to the shoulder, then Gallows holding on tight to Cena’s shoulder. Cena powers out and catches Gallows’ kick, taking him down with a shoulder tackle, then flooring him with a slam.
- Five Knuckle Shuffle from Cean, then he goes for the Attitude Adjustment, but Gallows reverses.
- With both men on the ground, Enzo and Cass enter the ring, followed by Anderson and Styles. AJ and Anderson rush at Enzo and Cass, but get thrown over the ropes.
- John Cena takes his opportunity to hit the Attitude Adjustment on Gallows, for a successful pin.
Cena poses in the ring successfully while Enzo and Cass pose on the turnbuckles, and the Club looks livid on the ramp.
Dean is going to be defending his title again against Seth tonight, marking the last time, save pay-per-views, that they’ll be in the ring together, having now been drafted to separate shows. I have some sad feelings about the Shield being split up, but I just have to tell myself, Jess, it’s been over two years, it’s time to let the Shield go. I don’t… I don’t want to. But I have to.
It’s time for the next set of picks!
Stephanie and Mick get the first pick again, and Foley explains that he and Stephanie have agreed to disagree on the next pick, proving that he is not her puppet: it’s Roman Reigns.
SmackDown drafts the face that place next up, John Cena. There’s not much to be said about that. We knew he was going to be somewhere near the top of the card.
Stephanie makes the next announcement, and claims that on this one, they do agree. Brock Lesnar! That’s kind of a bold play, given what’s been going on with Lesnar since UFC 200, and all the more so because Reigns’ suspension for a wellness policy violation is still not yet over. Is this really the message you want to be sending about RAW?
Daniel Bryan takes the mic next, to announce that he’s taking Randy Orton to SmackDown. Should have seen that coming since RAW got Lesnar, but, not sure how I feel about this.
Stephanie requests a drumroll for her next pick, and totally flubs the quote when trying to announce The New Day. We hear it every week, Stephanie. Come on.
MATCH: Rusev & The Miz (with Lana & Maryse) vs. Zack Ryder & Darren Young (with Bob Backlund)
Another match beginning before I really have time to prepare! No one is getting an entrance tonight, really. It’s all draft and then straight into action.
- Rusev starts things off by knocking Ryder off the apron, then gets Young in the corner and Miz tags in to continue the assault with kicks.
- Young hits a pair of slams on Miz, then Ryder tags in. Whips Miz across the ring, reversal, then Rusev gets in with a distraction and Miz floors Ryder. More kicks to the midsection, then one to the head – sidepress from Miz, Ryder kicks out at two.
- Miz attempting to put Ryder in a submission, when Rusev climbs in to yell at him, some. Ryder looks for a moment like he might get the tag, but Miz intercepts and gets in more assault.
- Rusev tags back in, suplexes Ryder. Grabs him by the head and shouts at him about how he’s daring to try for his title. Goes for another suplex, but Ryder reverses into a hangman’s neckbreaker.
- Young and Miz both tag back in, and there’s some back and forth until Young hits a belly-to-belly suplex and then a gutcheck, but Rusev disrupts the tag and hits a gutwrench suplex .
- Ryder in the ring to get rid of Rusev, hitting a missile dropkick off the apron after finally getting Rusev to the floor with help from Young.
- Miz taps to the crossface chickenwing, the finisher that Young learned from Bob Backlund.
MATCH: Bray Wyatt (with Braun Strowman & Erick Rowan) vs. Xavier Woods (with Kofi Kingston & Big E Langston)
When we come back from commercial, the New Day are waiting in the ring during the Wyatts’ entrance. Bray embraces his family members before slowly making his way into the ring. Xavier looks genuinely really unsettled by this, and there’s no jokes; just action.
- Bray makes a move towards Woods as the bell rings, and Xavier is looking at his brothers apprehensively. Bray in the corner talking to his fellows, then drops backwards, and Woods looks like he might actually just climb out of the ring and leg it.
- Bray drops to his knees in the middle of the ring, almost daring Woods to approach him, and Woods apprehensively approaches, and as Bray opens his arms wide Woods seems to be confused, and not knowing what to do.
- Bray slowly gets to his feet and whispers to Woods with his hand on his shoulder. Woods seems to snap out of it and tries to strike Bray, but Bray gets the upper hand quickly, a series of strikes and then getting Woods into the corner for kicks.
- Bray drags Woods into the middle of the ring, planting his knee in Xavier’s spine and then locking in a chinlock.
- Woods gets to his feet, striking Bray in the stomach, and when Bray tries to rush him against the ropes, blocks with his shoulder.
- Bray takes him back to the mat anyway, but turns to taunt the other members of the New Day before hitting an uranagi, then a senton.
- Bray on his knees again, looking to Kofi and Big E, but Woods is beginning to stir, crawling away from Bray.
- Bray crawls after him, but Woods gets to his feet and hits a set of right hands to Bray’s midsection then head.
- Bray takes a knee to the jaw, which puts him off balance and to the mat, and Woods goes to capitalize when Bray bridges and just looks at Woods, putting him off-balance again.
- Bray takes Woods down with the Sister Abigail, for a successful pin.
Woods looks completely out of it at ringside as Bray kneels in the ring now flanked by the other Wyatts, and scream to the arena to Follow the Buzzards.
Kane is in the ring when we come back from commercial. Kevin Owens makes his way out, confronting both the RAW and SmackDown crew presumably about the fact that he hasn’t been drafted yet. Before anything can happen, Sami’s music hits and he rushes out and attacks Kevin. Kevin makes it into the ring, and floors Sami as he follows him in, hitting several strikes then throwing Sami at Kane for a chokeslam. Kane ends up chokeslamming both of them, because of course he doesn’t just do what Kevin wants, then makes his way out of the ring.
More draft picks! Stephanie brags some more about getting the first pick, and announces that her next pick is the underdog from the underground – Sami Zayn!
Shane follows up, and I immediately assume he’s going to pick Kevin, but no! He drafts the face of fear, Bray Wyatt. Stephanie concedes that Bray is a little too scary for her; no shame in that.
Mick Foley gently reminds the SmackDown crew that there are women on the show as well, as their next draft pick is set to be one of the new faces of RAW – Sasha Banks! Thank you for reminding us that there are women, too. Stephanie is a little bit embarrassing, mimicking the Boss, but I can get behind the idea, if not the execution.
Daniel Bryan counters that Foley’s fascination with the women is “weird” – I actually kind of shout at him a little for that, because I completely fail to see why it is that drafting Charlotte and Sasha, two top competitors, is “weird”, but he follows up by drafting Becky Lynch.
Foley counters by picking Chris Jericho, because he’s afraid he might have tipped his hand too much by making a bit of a deal about SmackDown not having drafted any women. He pulled out a trashbag to make a note to Stephanie, it’s all a little weird.
We cut to Dean talking about being champion and being drafted to SmackDown, saying that he approves of the choice because blue matches his eyes. I like it. He claims he’s going to pin Seth tonight, because of course he is. That’s how it works. C’mon Dean. I might have some Dean-related feelings, don’t judge me.
MATCH: Dana Brooke & Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks – 2 on 1 handicap match
This just makes me wonder, where is Dana getting drafted? But that’s not important right now because there’s a match about to begin. After this extended recap of what happened on Monday, of course. Charlotte’s bedazzled eyes don’t match her shirt, which is a bit of a shame.
- Sasha and Dana start in the ring together. The two circle each other and Charlotte tries to make a grab for Sasha when she gets too close, but Sasha takes Dana with a kick, then throws her into Charlotte, knocking her off the apron.
- Sasha dominates Dana in the ring, but gets thrown over the ropes to the outside of the apron. Charlotte grabs her leg, and Sasha flies at her with knees, but takes a lariat from Dana.
- Back in the ring, Dana has Sasha with a knee in the back, but Sasha powers out and knocks Dana into the turnbuckle then floors her with clotheslines.
- Sasha catches Dana’s kick, then knocks Charlotte of the apron again. Dana picks Sasha up by her hair then picks her up in the fireman’s carry.
- Sasha drops out and tries to hit a backstabber. Dana hits the turnbuckle going after Sasha.
- On her second attempt, she is successful, and locks in the Bank Statement, but Charlotte disrupts.
- Charlotte hits Natural Selection, taking Sasha out.
The match was only about two minutes in length, but I suppose the idea is that it’s a handicap match so that’s okay? I’m still really not thrilled about the whole business. They deserve better.
Mick Foley takes us back into the draft with Rusev and Lana, because obviously they want the US Title on RAW.
Daniel Bryan isn’t at all thrilled about the decision he has to make, but he has to take the Intercontinental champion Miz – and his wife Maryse, of course.
Next up, Stephanie announces that RAW is drafting Kevin Owens. This means that Sami and Kevin are on the same show, which I have highly mixed feelings about. I want them to fight forever, but I don’t want it to get tired, so I guess… I don’t want them to fight forever after all? I’m not sure how to feel!
SmackDown selects Baron Corbin, and then RAW rounds out this set of picks with Enzo and Big Cass. Mick Foley calls himself a “certified GM”, and that kind of makes me giggle to myself. Shane throws some scattered paper to the ground, implying, I assume, that he was planning to pick up Enzo and Cass in the next round.
So far we’ve got two tagteams having been drafted to RAW, and two women, with no tagteams and only one woman on SmackDown. And only one NXT member has been drafted, so I’m very interested to see how this goes from here. Not to mention, the most important question: where are Tyler Breeze and Fandango? They can’t split our boys, can they?
MATCH: Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro
On the subject, I’m amazed that Cesaro hasn’t been picked yet! And yet, Baron Corbin has. What is this draft?
- Jericho rubs it in Cesaro’s face a little, but Cesaro hits him with uppercuts and then over the rope with a clothesline, and a cannonball off the apron to really rub it in.
- An uppercut from Cesaro sends Jericho into the barricade, then Jericho back in the ring and Cesaro takes him down with a crossbody from the top rope for a two-count.
- Cesaro goes for the swing but Jericho turns it into a roll-up, then tries to hit the Walls of Jericho.
- Cesaro counters, but Jericho hits an enzuigiri for another nearfall.
- Jericho slapping Cesaro about the head, then a knee to the face, snapmare, and a rear headlock.
- Jericho whips Cesaro across the ring, but sunset flip into a pin – four reversals in total before a proper kickout.
- Cesaro on the turnbuckle taking strikes from Jericho before sending him back to the mat with a headbutt. Jericho back up onto the top rope and takes Cesaro to the mat with a frankensteiner for a two-count.
- Jericho goes for the codebreaker, but is blocked. Cesaro has Jericho in the corner for a series of uppercuts, then a proper uppercut train starts to commence, but Jericho blocks with his knees.
- Jericho goes for the lionsault, but Cesaro counters with a russian leg sweep, then picks up Jericho for the swing.
- Tries to lock in the sharpshooter, but Jericho blocks; Cesaro hits a double-stomp instead, then goes for the neutralizer instead, which is blocked.
- Cesaro goes for the springboard corkscrew European uppercut, but Jericho counters into the Codebreaker for a successful pin.
When we come back from commercial, Becky is beating on Natalya. Apparently Natalya was supposed to have a match against someone, and I’m idly assuming it was Summer Rae because she just can’t catch a break, but Becky got there first and started attacking Natalya. Referees try to separate Becky and Natalya but they keep aggressively going after each other.
Stephanie idly ignores the events going on ahead of her to draft two thirds of the Club, taking Gallows and Anderson. I pop a little bit just from the realization that this means that Gallows, Anderson and Finn Balor will be on the one show, and separate from AJ Styles, which is super interesting!
SmackDown picks up American Alpha from NXT, so they finally have a tagteam. RAW takes the Big Show, because… I guess he’s on the roster. I actually care very little about this, and I apologize for that.
Shane starts talking about how he’s about to draft a superstar who puts in his all and a phenomenal performance every time he’s in the ring, and Shane, you already picked AJ S — oh, it’s Dolph Ziggler. Okay, I can’t be unhappy about that. I love Ziggler, and I love tracking whose shirt he’s wearing. That’s not weird, is it?
Stephanie makes another NXT call-up with the amazing Nia Jax. No commentary on that; that’s just awesome.
Seth is backstage talking about being drafted to RAW, trash-talking Roman Reigns a little and promising that he’s going to take the championship off Dean tonight, and retain it at Battleground. He reminds us that in the Shield he was “always the man”, and just please stop toying with my outdated Shield feelings, Seth. Please.
It’s time for the final five draft picks! During the ad break I was frantically trying to predict who was going to be going to picked, and then I’m shocked to see the first pick in this set from RAW being Neville! Gravity forgot him, but RAW did not. Couldn’t be happier! I assume this is setting up for the Cruiserweights, and that’s a sweet choice.
SmackDown follows it up by picking Natalya, which I definitely saw coming, and then RAW picks up Cesaro, which is also a good choice. I can’t really give good commentary on this, I’m just really pleasantly thrilled.
Alberto del Rio and Sheamus round out the picks for SmackDown and RAW respectively, and I still can’t give good commentary because I’m… bored by these choices.
Just a recap, that was 5 women drafted in total; three to RAW and two to SmackDown. That’s sort of a disappointment. C’mon, guys.
MATCH: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
It’s the top two picks in the draft facing off – RAW’s Seth Rollins vs. SmackDown’s champion, Dean Ambrose. Dean hoists his title as his name is announced and Seth starts to attack him before the bell even rings, with strikes and kicks and eventually both men go the ground outside the ring. Seth is well in control, ripping Dean’s shirt off and beating him until he climbs back in the ring and grabs the title smugly, Dean still laying on the ground outside the ring. When we’re back from commercial, both men are in the ring, but Dean looks like he’s struggling.
- Seth straight into it when the bell rings, hitting Dean in the corner then hitting Dean with a falcon arrow.
- Dean draped over the ropes with Seth crossfacing him, then striking him in the head until the ref creates separation. Seth around the other side of the ropes to kick Dean in the had, then a knee drop and a kick to the back. Dean barely looks like he knows what’s going on.
- Seth kicks at Dean some more, then put him in the corner for strikes and kicks to the stomach, then fires him back first into the opposite corner.
- Seth kneels to taunt at him; Dean still getting in no offense at all.
- Seth drags Dean to his feet by his hair, then whips him into the turnbuckle, then hits a backbreaker. Dean kicks out.
- Seth locks in a headlock on Dean, Dean struggling but unable to make his escape. As Dean struggles Seth shifts the hold so he can’t break loose, now kneeling behind a seated Dean.
- Dean powers to his feet and breaks the hold with strikes to the midsection. Seth throws Dean out of the ring but takes a kick before he whips Dean into the barricade.
- Dean back body drops Seth over the barricade then climbs onto the announce table to leap at Seth, but misses, hitting the barricade.
- Seth throws Dean into the ring, then a flying knee to the face. Seth goes for a cover, Dean kicks out.
- We cut to commercial; when we’re back, Dean is on his knees with Seth standing over him. Dean crawls away and Seth follows him
- Whip into the corner, and Seth goes for a corner forearm, then another. On the third, Dean meets him halfway, taking him to the mat with a clothesline.
- Strikes from Dean but then a kick from Seth; tries to whip Dean but Dean reverses. Another whip, into a clothesline, and Dean still looks exhaudted but is getting the upper hand.
- Dean goes for a double axe handle from the top rope, but jumps into a kick, into a turnbuckle powerbomb.
- Seth goes for a frog splash, but Dean has rolled out of the way, and Dean takes the opportunity for a cover; Seth kicks out.
- Dean goes for Dirty Deeds, but Seth backs him into the corner and several strikes, then a poke in the eye.
- Seth looks for the Pedigree, but Dean reverses into a back body drop out of the ring. Dean suicide dives after him, sending both of them into the barricade, then climbs back up to the top rope for a flying elbow drop on Seth, still outside the ring.
- Dean throws Seth back into the ring and climbs back into the turnbuckle for presumably another elbow drop. Seth climbs up for a superplex, but Dean hits Dirty Deeds before he can get the pin for a clean victory for Dean.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon make their way into the ring to celebrate with their champ, who is still doubled over in pain and can’t quite get himself too excited.
Dean manages at least to put on a clean SmackDown shirt and hoist his title, Seth looking livid as Daniel leads the crowd in a yes chant.
The draft continues on the Network; there’s still another thirty or so picks to go, so that’s all very excited. Remember, also, that Battleground is coming up this weekend, and it may be the last time we see several of these people in the same ring together – Dean and Seth are on different shows, as are AJ Styles and his fellow Club members.
We’ll see you Sunday for Battleground, folks! I’m ducking over to the Network to watch the rest of the draft, and that’s not even a plug. I actually am that excited.