Big E def. Sheamus in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
I really, really liked this as the first match of the night. The Round 1 draft picks were technically what started the show, but this was a hot way to open the evening wrestling-wise. These two have had a simple yet effective feud since before SummerSlam and this was the perfect blow-off. They made excellent use of the stipulation by taking their fight to the backstage area (which was refreshing to see) and beating the holy hell out of each other with whatever they could find. Big E winning was the right call, especially now that he's definitively on his own on SmackDown. That makes me think Sheamus is Raw bound come Monday night.
Universal Champion Roman Reigns Challenged Jey Uso to an "I Quit" Hell in a Cell Match at WWE Hell in a Cell
I find it interesting that Jey was drafted by SmackDown yet Naomi was moved to Raw, so either WWE doesn't care about couples staying together because all the shows are being held at the ThunderDome right now, or Jey will be branching off on his own even once Jimmy is cleared to compete assuming he goes to Raw with Naomi. At any rate, this was an effective segment with quality mic work from everybody involved. The "I Quit" stipulation is fitting given the story they've been telling lately, though I was hoping the stipulation would be that Uso would have to join Reigns if he lost. Maybe that will still happen, especially since Reigns mentioned something about there being "consequences" at the pay-per-view that he never elabaoted on.
Matt Riddle and Jeff Hardy def. The Miz and John Morrison
Riddle and Hardy were a random team, but for some strange reason, it worked. Riddle is clearly treading water at the moment, though I'm not sure if that's because WWE is waiting until after the Draft to do something more meaningful with him or because of the recent lawsuit brought against him. Either way, this was a nice little tag team match while it lasted. Miz and Morrison are headed to Raw, so this was a logical loss for them. Bigger than all of that was the post-match return of Lars Sullivan, who we haven't seen on WWE TV since June 2019. If you forgot he was still employed, I wouldn't blame you. A lot of personal stuff has come out about him since we last saw him, so it will interesting to see if that affects his push at all or if WWE will pick up where they left off with him as an unstoppable monster.
Sasha Banks def. SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley by Disqualification
There was zero reason to do this match on SmackDown. I feared that WWE booked it in order to get the belt on Banks (which would have been incredibly premature) so Bayley can be drafted to Raw on Monday, but thankfully, that didn't happen (or at least not the first part, the second part still could). The match was whatever until Bayley got herself intentionally disqualified. Banks challenged Bayley to a Hell in a Cell matchup later on, so that makes three Hell in a Cell matches at the event. That's overkill in my opinion, but if nothing else, here's hoping they go on last.
The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) def. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro to Win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Was it just me or did WWE not make the in-ring return of Woods (who hasn't wrestled in over a year) as big of a deal as they should have? Kingston returning was cool, too, but Woods has been out a lot longer. It was also never explained why they were simply gifted a title shot out of nowhere. It was a fun match as you'd only expect from these two teams, but New Day regaining the gold so quickly felt rushed. They're going to be buried with those titles, that's how often they hold them. We found out immediately afterward that Big E is staying on SmackDown while Kingston and Woods are now on Raw, despite being the current SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Who the hell knows how that's going to work, but personally, I'm in favor of the group going their separate ways. They're not necessarily breaking up but rather expanding to two different brands. They've done all they can as a trio and it's time for Big E to shine as a singles star.
"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt def. Kevin Owens
Listen, I'm a fan of The Fiend, but I'm not a fan of when he no-sells his opponent's offense. I haven't noticed him doing it a lot in recent months, but that might be because The Fiend hasn't had too many matches this year. It was especially evident here and therefore didn't make for the most exciting match. I don't hate it as much as most people, but it doesn't do his opponent any favors. Owens gave him everything he had and The Friend still brushed all of it like it was nothing. It's probably for the better that The Fiend doesn't wrestle on TV a ton. The result was what it needed to be, but I feel bad for Owens, who has felt like he's been floundering since WrestleMania 36. Could Owens and Wyatt be switching shows on Night 2 of the Draft?
Draft days are always pretty polarizing among fans. I'm glad WWE didn't do the dumb "war room" setups like they did last year because those were ridiculously cheesy, though I appreciated the attempt to make the gimmick more realistic. It makes way more sense to do the Draft this way over two nights than how they used to do it a decade ago. Round 1 for Night 1 was perfect I thought, but it seemed to fall apart after that. I didn't mind most of the moves and I'm in favor of a lot of them, but why would Raw select Kingston and Woods and not Big E? Why would SmackDown want Otis but not Tucker, too? Why would Dana Brooke get picked before Murphy? There's a lot of questions that likely won't be answered, but I was largely satisfied with the results. I'll discuss those more in depth in a separate post on Saturday. The rest of this SmackDown was solid with the returns of Woods and Sullivan, the tag titles changing hands, two matches being made official/changed for Hell in a Cell, Big E picking up a big win, and The Fiend wrestling on TV for the first time. All in all, it was a newsworthy night that left me looking forward to Night 2 of the Draft coming up on Monday.