WWE Champion AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan Brawled
Paul Heyman interrupting Styles mid-promo was a pleasant surprise, as I assumed Brock Lesnar wouldn't show up on the SmackDown Live before Survivor Series but I didn't think about Heyman. Their verbal back-and-forth was solid, but the real shocker here was Bryan emerging from the back and brawling with Styles, setting up a WWE Championship between them for later in the night. That was the last thing I expected coming into this show, but it definitely kicked off the night on a high note and was a hell of a hook for later on.
Jeff Hardy def. Andrade "Cien" Almas
Since arriving on SmackDown earlier this year, Almas has been the king of taking notable names to their absolute limit before falling short of victory. That was once again the case here. He and Hardy worked well together and put together a very good (albeit brief) match, but I really wish Almas had emerged victorious because he could have used the boost a lot more than Hardy. That said, Hardy's win did lead him to being added to Team SmackDown at Survivor Series, replacing Bryan.
Rey Mysterio def. The Miz
After we found out Bryan had been promptly removed from Team SmackDown (despite not winning the WWE Championship yet) and he was being replaced by Hardy, Miz attempted to boot Mysterio from the squad. Thus, this was Mysterio's chance to maintain his spot, and with his win, he stays on Team SmackDown. The match itself was entertaining, which should have been expected since their last two encounters in the past month were equally enjoyable. I'm still open to a full-fledged feud between the two eventually, but it looks like it will be Mysterio vs. Randy Orton coming out of Survivor Series based off what happened post-match.
SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch Named Charlotte Flair as Her Replacement Against Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series
It was revealed at the start of the show that Lynch was out of Survivor Series following the legitimate injury she suffered at the hands of Nia Jax at the end of Monday's Raw, which is awful news. I think a lot of people (myself included) saw Lynch vs. Rousey as the true main event of that pay-per-view, and although Rousey vs. Charlotte is a fine consolation prize, it has zero buildup and feels rushed. I realize they didn't have many other options, but that's WrestleMania-worthy and is bigger than Survivor Series. That said, I'd hold off on Rousey vs. Lynch until WrestleMania 35 at this point.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar and Big Show def. The New Day
These trios have been at odds for the past month, so this felt like the blow-off to the program. The Bar will be facing AOP in a champions vs. champions at Survivor Series, so it was more important for them to win here compared to New Day, who will a part of the pointless tag team elimination match. At any rate, this was a fine outing on the whole, though there was nothing overly special about it.
Daniel Bryan def. AJ Styles to Win the WWE Championship
I knew from the get-go that this wasn't going to get as much time as their last championship clash from before Crown Jewel, but despite that, this was still a strong match between two of the best on the brand. There wasn't much drama surrounding the nearfalls in the first half, probably because this bout came out of nowhere, but the second half was excellent and the final few minutes were especially exciting. Bryan turning heel hasn't been telegraphed whatsoever, but perhaps it will be a positive in the long run since he has been a bit flat as a character in recent months. This surely reignites their rivalry post-Survivor Series, and better yet, we'll now see Bryan vs. Lesnar for the first time on Sunday. Talk about a turn of events.
Survivor Series is mere days away and the card for the event was shaken up considerably with this show. Styles' year-long WWE Championship came to an end, Bryan turned heel, Hardy was added to Team SmackDown, and Rousey vs. Charlotte was announced for the pay-per-view. If that's not a newsworthy episode, I don't know what is. Not everything was must-see, granted, but this edition of SmackDown was definitely worth the time, if only for the above-average main event and its memorable finish.