WWE SmackDown's season premiere takes place tonight from the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. It's the final stop before Extreme Rules on Saturday.
Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Logan Paul will be on hand tonight for a face-to-face confrontation ahead of their title match at November's Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther defends against Sheamus tonight. This will be their first singles meeting since Gunther defeated Sheamus in one of WWE's best matches of the year at Clash at the Castle. With Butch and Ridge Holland stuck in Florida, Sheamus tried fighting Imperium alone last week but was outnumbered and beaten down. All six men will battle at Extreme Rules in a Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook match.
Tonight will also see Solo Sikoa go one-on-one with Ricochet. Sikoa attacked Ricochet and Madcap Moss two weeks ago after they made fun of Sami Zayn. That led to a tag team match last week where Sikoa & Zayn defeated Ricochet & Moss.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Triple H Segment
Triple H was standing in the ring and welcomed the fans to SmackDown on FOX. He noted that there will come a time when you think everything's finished, but that's the beginning. Most importantly, there was an obvious QR code on Triple H's mic.
Michael Cole introduced his new partner Wade Barrett. Barrett and Cole were good for their first time together on SmackDown.
Everything about this segment was great. Paul Heyman cut an awesome promo on Logan Paul, followed by a great Zayn promo. Logan Paul was good in his role, trying to cause problems in the Bloodline.
Jey and Reigns were good in their brief stare-down as well. The fans added to the atmosphere and were on fire the entire segment. The only downside is that the fans booed Paul and treated him like the heel.
A video package recapped the Roman Reigns-Logan Paul press conference.
Universal Champions Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, The Usos, Solo Sikoa, and Sami Zayn made their way to the ring to a huge pop. The fans broke into a faint "Sami" chant as The Bloodline posed. Reigns demanded the fans acknowledge him to a giant reaction.
Logan Paul's music interrupted to a lackluster response. He made his way to the ring but stood on the apron. The fans erupted in boos, and a booming "Logan sucks" chant. Zayn laughed in the background. Reigns pointed out that the fans used to boo him, but now, he's the greatest.
Heyman called Paul this generation's Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper. He said it hit him like Anderson Silvia would hit his brother Jake Paul. Heyman then compared Paul to the Kardashians. Heyman brought up other Internet personalities, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and Andrew Tate. None of them would have the guts to step up to Reigns. He promised that the tribal chief would smash Paul in Saudi Arabia.
Paul finally spoke up to loud boos. He asked Heyman if Reigns was the tribal chief or Jey Uso. Uso got in Paul's face yelling that he knew Paul was trying to cause problems. The fans cheered for Jey with chants of "Let him go" and "Uso." Reigns didn't like that comment and got in Jey's face. Zayn grabbed the mic, and the fans erupted in cheers.
Zayn defended Jey and kept the peace. He blamed Logan Paul. Zayn added that Reigns would smash Paul at Crown Jewel, and the fans popped. He said Paul's just a Youtube personality that wants to be a wrestler. Zayn said Paul's just a number 2 and a stain. He ended by saying they're the ones, and he's the two. Paul walked off, and the Bloodline laughed at him.
Sola Sikoa defeated Ricochet (8:16)
Ricochet and Sikoa had a good fast-paced match with lots of high-flying action and a cool finish. Even in losing, Ricochet looked strong.
Sikoa jumped Ricochet before the match. He had the early advantage, but Ricochet quickly recovered and hit a dive to the floor. A frustrated Sikoa grabbed a chair, but the referee took it away. Sikoa briefly took over, but Ricochet fought back. He went for a springboard, but Sikoa cut him off with a right hand. Ricochet landed hard on his neck.
Back from the break, Sikoa was firmly in control until Ricochet fought back. He caught Sikoa with a hurricanrana and a jumping knee. He followed up with a springboard drop kick and superkick. In a cool finish, Ricochet went for the 450 splash. Sikoa jumped to his feet, caught Ricochet mid-move, and hit the spinning solo for the win.
The Bloodline was watching the match in their locker room. Zayn bragged about mentoring Sikoa. Jey Uso lost his cool and started yelling at Zayn.
Zayn called him a hothead, and Jey freaked out. Reigns agreed that Jey is a hothead and has always been one. He's always been The Bloodline's problem, but now he's Zayn's problem. Zayn shook his head reluctantly as everyone looked around awkwardly.
In the back, Hit Row was on their way to the ring.
Back from the break, Sami Zayn and The Usos were walking down the hallway. Zayn tried apologizing for the previous segment. New Day approached and made fun of Jey Uso for Sami being his boss. Zayn challenged them to find a partner for a six-man tag match later.
Legado Del Fantasma with Zelina Vega Debuted
Legado Del Fantasma had a really strong debut. Most fans knew who they were before they took their masks off. They got a good reaction and came across as stars. Zelina Vega returned with a new look and got a strong reaction too. Plus, she's a good fit for Legado Del Fantasma.
Hit Row came to the ring and posed when three masked luchadors in suits jumped Hit Row. They tossed Ashante "Thee" Adonis out of the ring and focused their attack on Top Dolla. B. Fab tried to check on Top Dolla when a Zelina Vega with blonde hair showed up. She attacked B. Fab and took her out with a running knee.
They posed in the ring and took off their masks to reveal Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, and Cruz Del Toro). The fans popped for the reveal.
They aired a video of a white rabbit running to an "X." It dug a hole, and fire shot out. Then the words tomorrow night and feed your hero flashed on the screen. It strongly hinted at Bray Wyatt's return at Extreme Rules.
Raquel Rodriguez & Shotzi defeated Sonya Deville & Xia Li (2:16)
This was one of those short matches that didn't have time to develop. Rodriguez looked good again as she dominated the heels.
Shozi and Raquel Rodriguez made their entrance on Shotzi's tank.
The heels isolated Shotzi to gain control. Shotzi fought back, and Rodriguez got the hot tag. She ran wild on the heels hitting the Vader Bomb elbow on Deville. Shotzi took out Xia Li, and Rodriguez hit the Texana Bomb on Deville for the win.
Cole and Barrett briefly discussed Gunther vs. Sheamus. They showed comments from former Intercontinental Champions on Twitter. In the back, The Brawling Brutes prepared for Sheamus' match tonight.
A video package recapped Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey.
Karrion Kross-Drew McIntyre Segment
Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their way to the ring. As Kross posed, Drew McIntyre appeared behind him. He attacked Kross as he turned around. He beat down Kross and put the leather strap around his wrist.
Security ran out to stop McIntyre, but he fought them off like Superman. Kross recovered and viciously beat down McIntyre. He tied McIntyre to the ropes and brutally whipped him with the strap several times.
Next, a mysterious vignette aired. It seemed to imply The Viking Raiders or possibly Sarah Logan, but that wasn't clear. A person in Viking clothing with horns stood with their back to the camera in front of Viking shields. It featured the line "Valhalla awaits."
Braun Strowman & New Day defeated Sami Zayn & The Usos (10:30)
They pushed two main stories throughout the match. First, Zayn and Jey Uso's arguing led to the Bloodline losing. Secondly, Cole pushed that New Day wants to prevent The Usos from breaking their title record.
The Usos were mad at Sami Zayn when Strowman came out as the mystery partner.
Kingston and Zayn went back and forth, but the faces quickly took over. Jey was furious at Zayn and kept yelling at him. New Day took advantage and dumped The Usos to the floor. They followed up with a double suicide dive. Zayn tried to help The Usos, but Jey yelled at him again.
During the break, Zayn caused a distraction so Jey could interfere. The heels took over and isolated Kington on their side of the ring. The fans broke into a loud "We want Braun" chant. Zayn was firmly in control when Jey tagged himself. He slapped Zayn hard on the back for the tag, which offended Zayn.
Jimmy tagged Zayn back in the ring to a faint "Sami" chant. Zayn and Jey briefly worked together, but they started arguing again. Kingston took advantage, and Strowman got the hot tag. He cleared the ring and splashed Jimmy in the corner. Strowman followed with a choke slam.
Jey and Zayn started arguing at ringside. Strowman noticed, ran around ringside, and shoulder-tackled them into the announce desk. Jey flew into Cole and knocked him down. Woods and Kingston then hit the backbreaker/double foot stomp on Jimmy for the win.
In the back, Max Dupri attacked the Maximum Male Models with a chair. Maxine tried to stop him and called him Max. He cut her off and said that's not his name. He's LA Knight. The fans popped.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther defeated Sheamus (18:18) to retain the title
Gunther and Sheamus had an awesome hard-hitting match. They worked hard and just beat the hell out of each other again. Gunther had a bloody nose, and Sheamus's chest was beet red within the first five minutes. Their last match was slightly better because they got a bit more time and the atmosphere in Cardiff. Still, this was a great SmackDown main event with a hot crowd.
There was a controversial moment when Sheamus had Gunther in the cloverleaf. Gunther appeared to tap, but the referee thought he was just reaching for the ropes. That probably sets up a rematch.
The bell rang, and they wasted no time. They started trading hard chops and clotheslines. Sheamus threw Gunther out of the ring and tossed him around. He threw Gunther into the barricade repeatedly as they went to a commercial. They only went about a minute before the commercial, but it was a fast and furious minute.
Back from the break, Gunther was in control until Sheamus hit a slam. Sheamus went for the ten beats of the bodhran, but Gunther blocked the first shot. They fought on the apron. Gunther took over and drove Sheamus' hand into the exposed part of the turnbuckle.
Gunther and Sheamus traded shots in the ring again. Gunther locked on a sleeper. Sheamus got to his feet, so Gunther let it go. Sheamus and Gunther traded stiff shots in the middle of the ring again.
Back from the commercial, Gunther destroyed Sheamus with vicious chops. Sheamus challenged Gunther to hit him again to a big pop. Sheamus backed Gunther into the corner and beat him down.
Sheamus then hit the ten beats of bodhran on the top, middle, and bottom rope to a huge pop. Sheamus picked up Gunther for white noise, climbed up to the second turnbuckle, and hit white noise for a near fall. The fans broke into a loud "This is awesome" chant.
Sheamus went for the cloverleaf, but Gunther broke free. Gunther got back to his feet and powerbombed Sheamus for a close near fall. Gunther continued to attack and hit a diving splash for another close near fall. The fans broke into a loud "Sheamus" chant.
Gunther went for a clothesline, but Sheamus kicked the arm instead. Sheamus locked on the cloverleaf. Gunther appeared to tap out as he tried to reach for the ropes. The referee waived it off because Gunther was trying to grab the ropes to break the submission.
Sheamus and the fans were furious at the referee. They were certain Gunther tapped out, but she disagreed.
Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci ran down to encourage Gunther. Butch and Ridge Holland ran out for the save and attacked Imperium with a shillelagh.
As they brawled around ringside, Kaiser got ahold of the shillelagh and passed it to Gunther. Sheamus went for the brogue kick, but Gunther knocked him out with the shillelagh for the win.
Butch and Holland continued to brawl with Imperium around ringside. In the ring, Gunther posed with the title over a fallen Sheamus to end SmackDown.
Next Week: Sami Zayn goes one-one with Kofi Kingston. Plus, LA Knight takes on mån.sôör.