WWE presented a special Tribute to The Troops edition of SmackDown. It went live from Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a star-studded show with appearances from CM Punk, Randy Orton, LA Knight, and many more superstars. The United States Championship Tournament began. Let’s talk about everything that went down on Friday Night SmackDown.
US Championship Tournament Match
Santos Escobar vs Dragon Lee
The show started with the first United States Championship tournament match. Dominik Mysterio arrived at ringside. Santos Escobar faced Dragon Lee. These two had beef other than the tournament. In the beginning, Escobar used heel tactics to avoid Lee’s moves. Dragon delivered a running flying senton towards the outside. He followed it with a superkick in the ring, but Escobar kicked out at two.
Santos got some momentum with a neckbreaker. Lee delivered a snap German Suplex. Escobar replied with a superkick. Escobar was kicked out of the sit-out powerbomb. We also saw a face-off between Lee and Dominik as the two will battle this Saturday at NXT Deadline for the North American Title. Escobar got the win with a Phantom Driver.
Winner: Santos Escobar
Analysis: It was a good opening match. However, many of us considered CM Punk to kick off SmackDown. Escobar got the much-needed win. His character work is excellent, and he uses heel tactics greatly to his advantage to get as much heat from the crowd as possible.
Backstage: Randy Orton approached Nick Aldis to pay a fine for delivering RKO to the SmackDown GM. Orton asked why he would be teaming up with LA Knight. Aldis said both of you have problems with The Bloodline. Orton said he didn’t need anyone and did not even know LA Knight before last week. Aldis asked why Randy was paying $100,000 while his fine was $50,000. Orton said this is for the next time it all happens.
Cody Rhodes’ Tribute to the Troops
Cody Rhodes came out to a huge pop. He said he was very proud of the Troops and thanked them on behalf of the WWE. He then introduced three soldiers on the entrance ramp. They salute the crowd.
US Championship Tournament Match
Bobby Lashley vs Karrion Kross
It was the second match in the United States Championship Tournament. Lashley went for the Hurt Lock early on, but Kross escaped. Bobby delivered some vicious clotheslines both inside and outside the ring. Kross hit a superkick and went for a cover, but Lashley kicked out.
Bobby slammed Kross onto the mat as the ” Bobby” chant picked up. We saw a swinging neckbreaker by Lashley followed by a suplex. Lashley secured the victory with a spear. The Street Profits came to celebrate after the match.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: It was a fine match, but you can’t say that both superstars gave their all. Bobby Lashley needed the win, and he got that. He is over with the crowd, even while portraying a heel persona. Karrion Kross is still in hot waters. After months of hiatus, he competed on a WWE show, but the result didn’t favour him. Let’s wait and watch what Triple H has in store for the former NXT Champion.
Backstage: We saw Damage CTRL with Bayley apologizing for her mistakes. We will see Charlotte vs Asuka later in the show. Bayley called it a WrestleMania rematch. Dakota told Bayley to stay backstage.
CM Punk’s Promo
CM Punk arrived to a thunderous roar from the crowd. He was wearing his new merch, which says, “Hell Froze Over”. Fans were chanting his name. Punk sarcastically mentioned his Raw segment, where his time was cut short. He said he was in the middle of the show, had much time, and allowed fans to chant his name. A loud “CM Punk” chant picked up again.
Punk said Adam Pearce wanted him to sign exclusively for Monday Night Raw. The fans boo. He asked the fans what they wanted. When he mentioned going to Raw, the crowd was booing, and when he talked about the possibility of coming to SmackDown, the fans cheered. He also opened up on a third scenario. He asked fans if they wanted him to throw 29 other superstars out of the ring and point to the WrestleMania sign. The crowd liked that.
Punk said some people don’t like the good guy CM Punk. They want that spicy Punk.
Punk then name-dropped Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns. The Best in the World mentioned Paul Heyman and his days back then being a Paul Heyman guy. He said he doesn’t know much about Solo Sikoa but knows Jimmy Uso well. Punk gave a shout-out to Jey Uso, too. He then explored possibilities of fighting with Jimmy or Kevin Owens and discussed getting along with Randy Orton.
Then CM Punk came to the main point. He said that there’s one bad apple that spoils the bunch. Punk roasted Rollins, saying he wasn’t even the man in his house. He said he would talk to Pearce, Aldis, and Shawn Michaels. Punk said he would finalize his decision till Raw, which will happen in the same arena where he walked off almost ten years ago. He said that many people want to finish their stories, but he will start his journey, a path to the main event of WrestleMania.
Analysis: It was an amazing promo by The Best in the World. He got full extended time to talk about everything surrounding him. Punk also addressed some of his future opponents (maybe), namely Cody Rhodes, Kevin Owens, and, most importantly, Roman Reigns. This was everything that fans expected from him.
Backstage: We saw Punk looking at The Bloodline’s locker room. There was a bit of interaction between him and Kevin Owens.
Charlotte Flair vs Asuka
Bianca Belair, Michin, Shotzi, and Zelina Vega took out Damage CTRL during the entrance and chased them to the back. So the match was fair now with no numbers game. Flair used her signature moves like the boot, chops and a moonsault to the outside.
As Flair went for Figure Eight, Bayley appeared and broke the submission. Asuka was unhappy seeing Bayley; they had told her to stay in the back. Charlotte accidentally attacked Bayley instead of Asuka. The Empress got the advantage and won the match via rollup pinfall.
Analysis: It was a decent match. The story keeps the excitementaround Damage CTRL. This time, Bayley was the reason for Asuka’s victory.
Backstage: Nick Aldis gave a contract to CM Punk. There was an interaction between Punk and Cody.
Tag Team Match
Randy Orton and LA Knight vs Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso
Before the match, CM Punk met Orton and Knight and wished them good luck. In the match, there was confusion early on between Orton and Knight. First, Knight tagged himself out of nowhere and then Randy returned the favour. We saw a slam and a suplex from Solo. Knight delivered a bulldog from the second rope on Sikoa.
Orton got the hot tag and delivered clotheslines and punches. Randy slammed Jimmy onto the commentary table and delivered his signature vintage Orton DDT. Knight and Orton secured the win with an RKO by Randy on Jimmy Uso.
Winners: Randy Orton and LA Knight
Analysis: It was a fun main-event match. Orton looks great after the return and is surely enjoying his time. The good thing is WWE now have Randy Orton in the plans to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania along with Cody Rhodes.
It was all from Friday Night SmackDown this week. CM Punk’s promo was the highlight of the show.