SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair Ended in a Double Count-out
I was stoked to see this kick off the show with no nonsense and be given so much time. They surely made the most of it and had an excellent match, as only they could. I didn't even mind the shenanigans with the teases of a disqualification and a count-out because it makes sense within the story they're trying to tell, and the same can be said for the non-finish. Their Last Woman Standing matchup at WWE Evolution should be stellar.
Jeff Hardy def. Samoa Joe by Referee Stoppage to Qualify for the WWE World Cup
Hardy hasn't been seen since Randy Orton completely dismantled him in their Hell in a Cell match about a month ago, so I thought it was weird that Hardy was brought back randomly without making a grand return. I guess one month was enough for him to heal his injuries? At any rate, this was a solid match with a nice pace. Joe losing by referee stoppage was interesting, but at least he didn't get pinned. Hopefully he'll have direction going forward despite suffering several losses to AJ Styles recently.
The Miz Hosted Miz TV with WWE Champion AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan
This was a strong segment all around with terrific mic work from all three men. Not only did they successfully hype up Styles vs. Bryan for the WWE Championship at WWE Crown Jewel, Miz made his intentions clear of wanting to be in the title picture sometime soon. A Triple Threat for Survivor Series seems likely, but either way, Miz wasn't wrong about the WWE title not headlining any pay-per-views lately and that's a shame.
WWE Champion AJ Styles def. Shelton Benjamin (Non-Title)
I'm all for Benjamin getting more chances to shine on SmackDown. He and Bryan ripped it up last week and now Benjamin was allowed to go toe-to-toe with the WWE Champion. Granted, he lost on both occasions, but he looked credible in defeat and that was all that mattered. Plus, it was an enjoyable encounter and I hope it was enough to convince officials that we need more of Benjamin on this show.
Rusev Interrupted Aiden English
In case you couldn't figure it out last week, English's footage of himself and Lana and her saying she "wanted" him was doctored. Surprise, surprise! On the bright side, WWE didn't insult our intelligence by attempting to "swerve" us with something stupid or by dragging it out longer than necessary. Rusev was intense as he went after English, but I'm still not optimistic that their eventual match against each other will be any good.
Randy Orton def. Big Show to Qualify for the WWE World Cup
Orton vs. Show was the main event of one of my least favorite WWE pay-per-views of all-time: Survivor Series 2013. Good lord, that show/match was abysmal. Thankfully, this was an improvement over that, yet still a downgrade from everything else on this show. It's cool to see Show back after so long (wasn't he a part of the Raw roster originally? What changed?), even if it came out of nowhere, but this matchup had no business being in the main event slot. If nothing else, Orton won clean as he should have.
Similar to Raw, SmackDown Live did an effective job of offering fallout from WWE Super Show-Down as well as begin building toward Crown Jewel next month by holding two World Cup qualifying matches and laying the groundwork for Styles vs. Bryan at the event. Plus, there was hype for next week's highly anticipated SmackDown 1000 show, which will feature Evolution reuniting, The Undertaker and Rey Mysterio returning, and much more. Here's hoping it doesn't disappoint.