WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Surprise WWE title match leads to new Crown Jewel plans

With the heavily-criticized Crown Jewel event set to take place in Saudi Arabia in just three days, Tuesday night’s SmackDown Live in Atlanta served as the main roster go-home show. Scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia was a WWE championship match featuring AJ Styles defending against Daniel Bryan. Recent reports, however, of Bryan refusing to make the trip to Saudi Arabia amid the political tensions had many wondering about the fate of the WWE title match, and we all knew headed in that the answer would come on this week’s SmackDown. We didn’t have to wait long to receive the answers we were searching for. 

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Crown Jewel WWE title plans rearranged

The WWE champion Styles made his way down to the ring to kick off the Crown Jewel go-home edition of SmackDown to a rousing ovation in his home state of Georgia. The champ said there was something he needed to get off his chest, but he wants to say it to his opponent’s face. He then called Bryan out to the ring. Styles offered up an apology for the miscommunication that took place last week in their tag team bout loss, but Bryan said there was no need. However, while he respects Styles both in and out of the ring, all Bryan sees when he looks at Styles right now is the WWE championship. Bryan said that it’s nothing personal, but this Friday at Crown Jewel, he’s taking the title. Styles then made a revelation — that the Pele Kick last week to Bryan was by no means an accident, and he looks forward to doing it again. Bryan — looking none too surprised — countered that by telling Styles he feels like punching him in the face right then and there, and the champ said that he has no issue with defending the title against Bryan right here tonight. 

Shane McMahon made his way out, and the SmackDown commissioner said that oftentimes when two men want to go at it in the heat of the moment, nothing ever really comes of it. Well, that’s changing. McMahon announced that the “WWE Crown Jewel WWE championship match” would be taking place to open SmackDown this week. 

WWE Championship — AJ Styles (c) def. Daniel Bryan via submission: In what was an incredible match, as if you’d expect anything remotely less from these two, Styles made Bryan tap to the Calf Crusher after working an injured knee all match, this following a reversal of a triangle choke into a Styles Clash. Afterwards, the two longtime friends and rivals hugged each other in the middle of the ring, but the drama didn’t end there. 

Out of nowhere, Samoa Joe — who has been absent recently with an undisclosed injury — blindsided Styles and wrapped him in the Coquina Clutch. Bryan attempted to save Styles, but Joe locked him in the Coquina Clutch as well. Joe stood tall with the WWE championship as Styles and Bryan were laid out on the mat thanks to him. Later in the night, Styles approached general manager Paige backstage and demanded Joe at Crown Jewel, and while he was met with slight hesitation, Paige eventually obliged. 

WWE was placed in quite the bind with Bryan taking the stand that he is in refusing to make the Saudi Arabia trip, and all things considered, this was handled about as well as could be here given the unfortunate circumstances. Tuesday night, we got the incredible Styles-Bryan match we were promised and had been waiting for since Bryan returned from injury earlier this year, and with the surprise return of Joe, we get a replacement match for Crown Jewel between Styles and Joe that we know will deliver. It was an easy fix in the end, but looking back to the match we were treated to on Tuesday night, hopefully Styles vs. Bryan for the WWE title is a program that can be revisited sooner rather than later. Grade: A-

Becky Lynch fires the first shot

The SmackDown women’s champion made her way down to the ring and opened by simply stating, “I won,” referring to her victory over Charlotte Flair at Evolution in the classic Last Woman Standing match. Beating Flair proved that she is the man, and that sent a message to both the SmackDown locker room as well as the Raw locker room. Lynch told Survivor Series opponent Ronda Rousey that everyone woman she’s stepped into the ring with was beaten before the bell rang, but that’s not how she’s built. Lynch says that she has traveled the world to smash people like Rousey; she’s not here to cosplay or become a reality star, and come Survivor Series, she’s going to take Rousey’s arm. 

This was a perfect promo from the hottest performer in the company right now to kickstart her brief feud with arguably the biggest mainstream star WWE has to offer. You could tell everyone’s excitement about this Survivor Series showdown from the moment the match was announced Monday night on Raw, and Lynch’s short yet striking promo on Tuesday was a tremendous start to this program. Grade: A

What else happened on SmackDown?

  • Paige makes Charlotte Flair an offer: In a backstage segment, Flair met with the SmackDown general manager. Paige praised Flair’s Last Woman Standing match with Lynch at Evolution, and then offered up the opportunity to be the captain of the SmackDown women’s team at Survivor Series. Flair would decline the offer, however, still looking dejected from the loss to Lynch on Sunday. Paige asked her to reconsider, reminding Charlotte that she once said, “Don’t let success get to your head, and don’t let failure get to your heart.” 
  • Big E def. Cesaro via pinfall (Trick or Street Fight): Big E got the pinfall amid a ring full of pumpkins after the Big Ending. In a hilarious twist, New Day’s entrance involved the trio emerging as The Brood, amazing theme music and all. And because we’re keeping tabs — still no explanation from Big Show as to why he’s aligned with The Bar; check back next week. 
  • World Cup twist: McMahon met backstage with the SmackDown World Cup participants, and he revealed quite the twist to the tournament for the blue brand this Friday. After Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy, The Miz and Randy Orton were done jawing with each other, McMahon revealed that should one of them end up losing in the final World Cup bout on Friday, then that competitor will lose their job on SmackDown. 
  • United States Championship — Shinsuke Nakamura (c) def. R-Truth via pinfall: This bout was scheduled to be Nakamura defending against Tye Dillinger, but just before SmackDown aired, it was announced that Dillinger was out with a hand injury. Truth took his place, and ultimately fell to the Kinshasa. 
  • Rey Mysterio & Jeff Hardy def. Randy Orton & The Miz via pinfall: The finish came via a 619 to Miz from Mysterio followed by a Swanton from Hardy. Afterwards, Orton laid everyone out — including his partner Miz — with an RKO to stand tall and end the show. 

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