A new Intercontinental Champion will be crowned on tonight's episode of SmackDown.
Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles will face off in the finals of the Intercontinental title tournament. The tournament played out over the last several weeks on TV. Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in the first round and received a bye to the finals, while Bryan defeated Drew Gulak and Sheamus to advance to the finals.
Tonight's SmackDown is also the go-home show for Backlash. Jeff Hardy and Sheamus will meet face-to-face for the official contract signing for their match at the pay-per-view. Hardy and Elias were involved in a hit-and-run angle two weeks ago. Hardy revealed last week that he was framed, and a witness identified Sheamus as the real culprit. Sheamus denied any wrongdoing and beat Hardy down.
Universal Champion Braun Strowman & Heavy Machinery will take on The Miz, John Morrison & Dolph Ziggler in a six-man tag team match. Strowman defends against Miz & Morrison Sunday night at Backlash.
Our coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
They recapped the Jeff Hardy and Sheamus angle from last week.
Jeff Hardy And Sheamus Contract Signing
Renee Young was already in the ring for the contract signing. Young introduced Sheamus first, and he came out with a doctor, security, and a curtain.
On commentary, Michael Cole was surprised Sheamus didn't come out alone and noted this is supposed to be a simple contract signing.
Sheamus apologized to Young for what's about to happen. Hardy noted Sheamus tried to frame him, and not even Sheamus's security team can help him. Sheamus pointed out they're not here to protect him. They're here for Hardy.
Sheamus demanded Hardy to take a drug test right now, or he won't sign the contract. He won't get in the ring with a junkie.
Hardy admitted to being an alcoholic, and he goes to a meeting every week. Hardy wants to be a beacon of light for people like him. He agreed to take the drug test just to ensure he gets his match with Sheamus.
Sheamus brought in a doctor who is going to administer a rapid test. Usually, it takes 24-hours to get the results, but this doctor can do it faster.
Hardy went behind the curtain and did his business. He filled up the entire jar.
Sheamus did a PSA about not doing drugs. Sheamus mocked Hardy and assumed he's going to fail the drug test.
Hardy then grabbed the jar of urine and threw it on Sheamus. Hardy signed the contract and took off. Sheamus stumbled around the ring and then went nuts.
Back from commercial, Sheamus was in the bathroom, rinsing out his mouth. The doctor entered and told Sheamus that Hardy passed the drug test. Sheamus was furious. This was a fine opening segment, although toilet humor isn't for everyone.
Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura defeated SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day in a non-title match
In an awesome moment, The New Day entered and took a knee in the middle of the ring. Big E was wearing a black armband for Shukri Abdi and Kingston wore black armbands for Breonna Taylor and Tamla Horsford.
They had a good TV tag team match.
The New Day had the early advantage. Big E launched Kingston over the top rope onto the heels. Nakamura fought back and knocked Big E off the apron. Cesaro then followed up with an uppercut.
Back from the break, Cesaro was firmly in control with a chin lock. Big E fought back, and Kingston got the hot tag. He ran wild on Nakamura and hit the boom drop. Kingston set up for trouble in paradise, but Cesaro interfered.
Kingston then hit the SOS for a close near fall. Big E tackled Cesaro over the top rope, and they fell to the floor. Kingston and Nakamura fought on the top rope.
Kingston pushed off Nakamura and hit a flying crossbody. Nakamura got his knee up and rolled up Kingston for the win.
In the back, Otis and Tucker were getting ready for their match later tonight. Mandy Rose kissed Otis and handed him the Money in the Bank briefcase. Tucker noted Otis should cash in tonight on Braun Strowman if the opportunity presents itself.
Suddenly, Sheamus and Jeff Hardy started brawling backstage. Officials ran in to break them up.
They showed a good video package about the IC title and the tournament. They looked at the history of the title and highlighted several champions, including Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Pat Patterson, Ultimate Warrior, Triple H, Randy Orton, Steve Austin, and The Rock.
Intercontinental Championship tournament finals: AJ Styles defeated Daniel Bryan to win the Intercontinental Title
Bryan and Styles had an excellent match. It was one of the best SmackDown matches in a long time.
They had a hard-hitting match and told a good story. The match went 38 minutes with four commercial breaks.
Bryan had an early advantage with a wristlock, but Styles reversed. Bryan broke free and rocked Styles with a standing dropkick. Bryan then tossed Styles to the floor and followed up with a suicide dive.
Back from the break, Bryan was firmly in control and landed several knees to Styles back. Bryan worked over the left arm.
Styles broke free and shot Bryan off the ropes. Styles then rocked Bryan with a standing dropkick.
Styles took over and worked over Bryan's arm. Bryan fought back and caught Styles with a knee to the midsection. He tried to apply a surfboard, but his arm was still hurting.
Instead, Bryan worked on Styles knee and rolled up Styles for a near fall.
In an excellent series of moves, Bryan rocked Styles with kicks in the corner. Bryan attempted a running dropkick, but Styles charged and hit a sunset flip for a near fall. Styles and Bryan then traded a series of quick pinfall attempts. They both got back to their feet and collided in the middle of the ring.
Back from the break, Bryan was back in control and continued to work on Styles' arm. Bryan attempted the Yes Lock, but Styles fought out and sent him to the floor.
Styles leaped over the top rope to the floor, but Bryan caught him and sent him shoulder-first into the ring post. Bryan stomped Styles elbow and applied a hammerlock. Bryan pulled way back and then rolled up Styles for a near fall.
Bryan attempted the running dropkick in the corner, but Styles moved, and Bryan crashed in the corner. Styles recovered and nailed Bryan with kicks to the leg. Styles then slammed Bryan's leg on the apron.
Styles continued to work over Bryan's leg. Styles tied up Bryan's leg in the ropes and rocked Bryan with kicks. Bryan fought back and hit Styles with an enziguri.
Bryan placed Styles on the top turnbuckle and hit a hurricanrana. Bryan attempted the Yes kicks, but Styles ducked, and they traded hard strikes. They both went for a clothesline and collied in the middle of the ring again.
Back from the break, Bryan and Styles traded stiff shots in the middle of the ring. Bryan launched Styles over the top rope to the floor. He attempted a suicide dive, but Styles cut him off with a kick to the arm.
Styles attempted the Phenomenal forearm, but Bryan caught him and locked in an armbar. Styles reversed into the calf crusher, but Bryan countered back into the armbar and then into the triangle. Styles attempted the Styles Clash, but Bryan broke free. Bryan rocked Styles with a hard kick to the side of the head.
Bryan placed Styles on the top, but Styles hit Bryan with elbows and knocked him off. Bryan recovered and climbed back to the top. Styles knocked Bryan off again, but he got right back up. Bryan then hit the belly to back suplex off the top turnbuckle.
Back from the break, Bryan rocked Styles with uppercuts. Bryan ran up the turnbuckle, did a backflip, and landed on his bad leg. Styles then hit a reverse DDT.
Styles hit the Pele kick and followed up with a brainbuster for a very close near fall. Styles attempted the Styles Clash, but Bryan rolled him up for a near fall.
Styles attempted the Pele kick again, but Bryan caught the leg and hit a German Suplex. He held on, but Styles broke free and hit a German suplex for a near fall. Bryan recovered and hit a series of elbows.
Bryan applied the Yes Lock, but Styles made it to the ropes to break the hold. Bryan grabbed Styles's arms and hit kicks to the head. In an awesome spot, Bryan set up for the running knee, but Styles caught him and hit the Styles Clash. Styles then hit the Phenomenal forearm to win the Intercontinental title for the first time.
After the match, Renee Young interviewed the new champion AJ Styles.
They recapped The Miz & John Morrison torturing Braun Strowman last week and Strowman flipping over their van with them in it.
In the back, Universal Champion Braun Strowman noted there's a lot going on tonight between drug tests and a new champion. Strowman said he likes Otis, but he's not in the mood tonight for Otis to cash-in his MITB.
The ring crew was setting up the ring for a celebration involving the WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Bayley & Sasha Banks.
They recapped Bayley and Banks defeating Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross to win the titles.
SmackDown Woman's Champion & WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Bayley & Sasha Banks made their way to the ring. Bayley noted she's the most dominant champion, and it could be lonely on top. However, she's not alone because she's with her best friend, Sasha Banks.
Banks said they're role models and leaders. Banks noted the titles represent their friendship. Bayley was about to read a poem for Banks when Bliss and Cross interrupted. Bliss and Cross promised to win the titles back at Backlash.
Bayley was furious that they interrupted. The IIconics then appeared on the big screen with the Raw logo in the background. They promised to win the titles Sunday night. They noted they beat down Bayley and Banks on Raw, and if they don't want that to happen on SmackDown, they shouldn't turn their backs on Bliss and Cross.
Bliss and Cross then attacked Bayley and Banks.
The heels rolled out of the ring and took off. This was a fine segment but couldn't follow the previous match.
Kayla Braxton interviewed The Miz & John Morrison in the back. They tried playing a new music video, but Braun Strowman's music interrupted in the arena. Strowman made his way to the ring.
They showed another Matt Riddle video package.
Universal Champion Braun Strowman & Heavy Machinery defeated The Miz, John Morrison & Dolph Ziggler
This was a decent six-man tag team match, but it couldn't follow Bryan versus Styles. It made little sense that the six-man tag was the main event and not the finals of the IC title tournament.
The faces had the early advantage. Otis and Tucker gave Miz a double head butt. Tucker gave Morrison a backdrop, but he landed on his feet. Morrison leaped off the middle rope, but Tucker caught him in a power slam for a near fall.
Otis and Tucker launched Strowman into Ziggler in the corner. Tucker then gave Ziggler a standing vertical suplex.
Suddenly, King Corbin appeared in the back on the big screen. He approached Mandy Rose. She was just standing around. Corbin was mad that Otis and Rose stole his crown last week. Otis ran from the ring to the back.
Corbin noted Rose is fantasizing about being with a man like him. Otis then appeared and beat down Corbin.
Back from the break, the heels were firmly in control. Strowman and Tucker were on their own because Otis didn't come back.
Ziggler slowed the pace down with a front face lock. The heels isolated Tucker and cut him off from his side of the ring. Tucker broke free and attempted a tag, but Miz and Morrison pulled Strowman off the apron. They beat down Strowman at ringside.
Otis and Mandy Rose then made their way back to the ring.
Otis got the hot tag and ran wild on the heels. He launched Ziggler over the top to the floor. Strowman than ran around ringside, knocking everyone down with shoulder blocks. Otis then hit the caterpillar on Ziggler for the win.
After the match, Strowman, Otis, Rose, and Tucker celebrated their win.