The seminal 1200th episode of SmackDown was The Night of Sami Zayn. The former Intercontinental Champion has taken a big step in building trust with undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Zayn was also received like a hero in his hometown of Montreal.
The buildup of Clash at the Castle continued as Reigns and Drew McIntyre eventually went head-to-head. Zayn performed in the Usos’ absence, but that wasn’t enough to crush McIntyre’s spirit. Meanwhile, Karrion Kross continued to function in the shadows.
A new No. 1 contender for Gunther’s Intercontinental Champion was crowned in a Fatal Five-Way Match. Gunther meets the winner at the Clash at the Castle. Elsewhere on SmackDown, another tag team advanced in a tournament for the vacant Women’s Tag Team Titles.
CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from the Bell Center in Montreal, Quebec.
Sami Zayn flatters Roman Reigns
Zayn had repeatedly attempted to sit down with the champion but was denied by the Usos. The absence of the tag team champions this week opened the door for Zayn to sit down with The Bloodline’s boss. The couple had a productive meeting as Reigns and Zayn both agreed that Jey Uso had been hostile for the past few weeks. Reigns asked Zayn to let Kevin Owens know that the “Tribal Chief” doesn’t owe anyone anything. This was in response to Owens, who claimed Reigns owed him one for attacking McIntyre on Monday night’s Raw.
Starring in an apocalyptic promo, Kross and Scarlett described Reigns and McIntyre as two sides of the same coin. Both are “chosen ones” of the company, but Kross stated McIntyre failed where Reigns succeeded.
Sheamus def. Happy Corbin, Sami Zayn, Ricochet and Madcap Moss via pinfall after cracking Corbin with a brogue kick. Sheamus will now challenge Gunther for the intercontinental title at the Clash at the Castle. Zayn received a hero’s reception in his hometown of Montreal. His biggest excitement included a swan jump to the outside as well as a Michinoku Driver on Ricochet and a Blue Thunder Bomb on Moss for tight two-pointers. Medical staff tended to Zayn after he allegedly injured his shoulder after being crushed mid-rope by Sheamus’ white noise. A great counter sequence between Sheamus, Ricochet and Moss was well received by the audience. Zayn returned in the closing moments of the game. His recovery prompted another massive reaction from the live crowd. He nearly pinned Ricochet after landing a Helluva Kick, but Corbin yanked Zayn away from a pinfall on Ricochet. The finish came shortly after, when Sheamus stopped Corbin with a match-ending brogue kick.
McIntyre picked up his jacket before his encounter with Reigns and found Kross’ doomsday hourglass under the jacket.
In the closing segment of SmackDown, Reigns reminded everyone that despite his weekly inactivity, he carries the company on his back. McIntyre cut him off and insisted that Reigns didn’t deserve to be champion. A brawl broke out between the rivals. McIntyre started with a claymore kick on Reigns, but Zayn took the ball. Reigns tried to take advantage of the misdirection. The champion prepared to land a big Superman Punch but ultimately ate the Brogue Kick. SmackDown ended with McIntyre winning the Reigns championships.
SmackDown continues to benefit from three concepts: weekly storyline continuity, storyline development through multiple segments in an episode, and weaving different storylines together. Zayn’s association with Reigns was a significant development as Zayn continues to bring value to The Bloodline. The doomsday clock and Kevin Owen’s mention were nice, subtle reminders of what’s going on in the WWE Universe. The crowd’s reaction to Zayn’s match was the biggest highlight of the evening. The energy of the Montreal crowd was contagious. The Reigns-McIntyre promo and brawl had fire, but didn’t do much to further the feud. Grade B
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
Rouda Rousey urged Adam Pearce to lift her suspension. Police officers escorted her out after two security guards attacked her.
Toxic Attraction (Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne) def. Natalya and Sonya Deville via Pinfall courtesy of a roll-up. Bailey, Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky bought front row seats for the game.
Hit Row threw Maximum Male Models out of the ring before an impromptu concert.
The Viking Raiders held a Viking funeral for The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods).
Liv defeated Morgan. Shotzi via pinfall. Shayna Bazler attacked Morgan after the match, targeting the champion’s injured arm. Morgan and Shotzi dueled backstage before the game.