WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Brock Lesnar returns after Roman Reigns defeats Riddle in title match


Friday night’s edition of WWE SmackDown certainly brought unusual levels of attention. As Vince McMahon stepped aside as CEO and chairman of WWE amid allegations of misconduct involving a sexual relationship with a female employee, WWE announced McMahon would appear live on the show. Add a match between Roman Reigns and Riddle for Reigns’ undisputed universal championship and you had the recipe for a night that would have higher than normal amounts of viewers tuning in.

While McMahon’s appearance was nothing of any significance aside from some ego padding, Reigns and Riddle delivered a wonderful match before Reigns pulled off the win. Then, Brock Lesnar made his return, making it clear he still had his sights set on Reigns after “The Tribal Chief” beat Lesnar to unify the WWE and universal championships at WrestleMania.

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from Target Center in Minneapolis.

Reigns survives Riddle’s gutsy challenge before Lesnar’s return

Undisputed Universal Championship – Roman Reigns (c) def. Riddle via pinfall after a spear. After McMahon’s show-opening segment (see below), Riddle came to the ring to show a video recapping his issues with Roman Reigns and The Bloodline. The match went down as the night’s main event, with plenty of drama throughout with both men hitting signature moves. That included Riddle kicking out of a Superman punch and Reigns kicking out of an RKO that was delivered as a counter to Reigns’ spear. Riddle went for another RKO that was countered before Reigns delivered the spear to retain his undisputed championship.

After the match, Reigns announced there was no one left to challenge his place at the top of WWE’s mountain. Before he could leave the ring, Brock Lesnar’s music hit and “The Beast” arrived. Lesnar offered to shake Reigns’ hand before delivering an F-5 to the champion and then hitting the same move on both Usos as the show went off the air.

Unlike the McMahon segment, Reigns vs. Riddle was everything you could want. Riddle truly showed he can go move-for-move with the champion and the match had the live crowd biting on every pin attempt. Professional wrestling isn’t complicated when you have two men putting on a performance at this level. Lesnar’s return, however, feels like more of the same as WWE struggles to really find footing for Reigns’ title reign, somewhat dulling the moment. Grade: B+

Vince McMahon makes an appearance amid allegations

McMahon walked to the ring to his “No Chance in Hell” theme song to kick off the show, drawing a mostly positive reaction before using some cheap heat by praising Minneapolis to pop the crowd. McMahon then reiterated the WWE motto of “then, now, forever” before saying that the most important word is “together.” After drawing cheers for the brief promo repeatedly, McMahon threw the microphone and left the ring, high fiving fans on his way back up the entrance ramp.

It’s hard to have anything positive to say here. Every bit of this completely unnecessary opening segment felt like an excuse to have McMahon appear live and bask in cheers from the fans as he faces allegations of misconduct for giving a raise to an employee with whom he had an affair and then paying her millions of dollars to sign a non-disclosure agreement and go away. McMahon temporarily stepped down as CEO and chairman earlier in the day, but this felt like a chance to go out and send a message that he wasn’t going anywhere and was still in control despite the news from earlier in the day. Grade: F

What else happened on WWE SmackDown?

  • Madcap Moss def. Happy Corbin via pinfall in a “last laugh match.” After the match, Corbin interrupted the announce desk and confronted Pat McAfee for making jokes about him. Corbin said if he didn’t stop, he’d throw McAfee in the ring and make him wish he was dead. McAfee then had the crowd “laugh Corbin out of the arena.”
  • Natalya cut a promo on Ronda Rousey vowing to be the first woman to make Rousey tap out when she challenges Rousey for the SmackDown women’s championship at Money in the Bank.
  • The New Day def. Jinder Mahal & Shanky via pinfall when Kofi Kingston hits Mahal with Trouble in Paradise. Shanky was in control before Xavier Woods played the trombone, forcing Shanky to dance and setting up the finish.
  • Adam Pearce announced that both Drew McIntyre and Sheamus would be in the Money in the Bank ladder match. McIntyre attacked Sheamus when Pearce announced he was in the match before finding out he would also be included in the match.
  • Money in the Bank Qualifying Match – Raquel Rodriguez def. Shayna Baszler via pinfall with a scoop powerbomb.
  • Max Dupri did not announce the first client of Maximum Male Models after claiming the arena lighting was not good enough.


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