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SmackDown Live! Review: Who left as WWE Champion?

SmackDown Live has finally arrived! The WWE Draft took center stage, but did Dean Ambrose retain his WWE Championship?

The first ever live Smackdown kicked off with Ride of the Valkyries, which is a win at any time.

The two Commissioners and General Managers kicked the show with the first 5 draft picks. Unsurprisingly Seth Rollins was selected #1 by Stephanie McMahon and Raw while the WWE Champion Dean Ambrose went #2 to Smackdown. Charlotte will stay on Raw as she went #3, suggesting that the Women’s Division along with the new Cruiserweight Division will be on Raw. The phenomenal AJ Styles went #4 to Smackdown before we had our first NXT pick in the form of the promotion’s longest champion Finn Balor.

We were then interrupted by the man John Cena, who surprisingly enough was still on the draft board. He took on Luke Gallows and was seconded by Enzo and Cass to counter the ring-side presence of Karl Anderson and AJ Styles. A little interaction between the seconds lead to Cena getting an AA in on Gallows and the 1-2-3.

Wih that match done we get the next 5 picks. The currently suspended Roman Reigns is taken by Raw while John Cena, who hasn’t worked a Tuesday for a long time, goes 7th to Smackdown. Next up is The Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar for Raw. It is a surprise he lasted this long. Next up is his Summerslam opponent Randy Orton who will be going to Smackdown while Raw round out these picks with The New Day, opting to keep the tag team champions together – for now at least.

The next match in the ring was a quick and forgettable tag match Rusev & Miz vs Darren Young & Ryder – Young wins via Chicken Wing on Miz.

Bray Wyatt vs Xavier Woods is next, and not in a poorly filmed, dark garden.  Xavier continued to sell his fear and trepidation of Bray really well. He put across Bray’s etherial presence so well. Bray dominates the match, but just as Xavier rallies Bray stops him cold with a spider walk and then hits Sister Abigail for the win.

A Kane-Kevin Owens match is interrupted before it began by Sami Zayn. As his and Owens’ fight spills into the ring Kane gives both of them a chokeslam, then we are back into the picks!

Raw takes Sami Zayn at #11, which is sure to anger Kevin Owens. Bray Wyatt goes #12, so far without his “Family” – this could signal a big change for Bray. Raw followed up by taking The Boss Sasha Banks before Smackdown jumped in with their first female pick in Becky Lynch. Raw responded by picking the wonderful veteran Chris Jericho. With 15 picks down fan favourites such as Cesaro and Kevin Owens still on the board, and just one NXT superstar taken, there is a lot of talent left on the board.

So with the top of the womens roster set for Raw the Smackdown crowd got a little show with Sasha Banks taking on Charlotte and Dana Brooke by herself.

Despite a flurry and a few big moves from Sasha, the numbers advantage proved to be too much and after a blind tag Charlotte hit Natural Selection for the win.

More picks! The US Champion Rusev goes 16th to Raw and then Smackdown counter with the Intercontinental champion Miz. Both will keep their valets Lana and Maryse. Kevin Owens then goes #18 before Baron Corbin heads to Smackdown and Enzo & Big Cass go to Raw.

Next up Chris Jericho, sporting his fresh “Raw” t-shirt, comes to the ring to take on the currently undrafted Cesaro. It’s amazing that Cesaro is undrafted really since he is so wonderfully talented. The pair put on a nice but quick match, with Jericho catching the springboard uppercut into a Code Breaker to get the three count.

As we come back from break Becky Lynch jumps Natalya from behind and proves her “Lass Kicker” moniker by getting beautiful retribution on Natalya for her actions on Monday.

Pick time again. Raw takes Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, separating them from Club mate AJ Styles. The second NXT selection is made and the wonderful American Alpha are coming to Smackdown. Raw take the giant Big Show and then Dolph Ziggler goes to Smackdown, Stephanie McMahon then shocks the world by taking Nia Jax from NXT.

After a not so quick advert break and a trip backstage we ge the final 5 live picks of the night. Raw take the man gravity forgot, Neviile while Smackdown selects Natalya. Raw finally gives Cesaro a home before Smackdown takes Albero Del Rio and Raw wraps up the live coverage of the draft with the 30th pick, the Celtic Warrior Sheamus.

It’s time for the main event. WWE Champion Dean Ambrose defends against Seth Rollins once more ahead of the triple threat match on Sunday at Battleground. As usual, it was magic with these two. Seth jumped Dean before the bell rang and set up the heat well. They even teased a ref-bump/screwjob that they tried to do on Monday. Seth gave Dean a jab to the eye as the ref tried to break them up in the corner. The attempted Pedigree was reversed into a back body drop over the top rope to the floor – a spot that had my heart in my mouth for Seth’s recently reconstructed knee.

The end came as Rollins went to meet Ambrose at the top turnbuckle and went for his Superplex-Falcon Arrow combo, but Ambrose reverse the Falcon Arrow lift into Dirty Deeds and picked up a huge win over his archrival.

So there it is, the first Smackdown Live! It was busy, and focused away from the in-ring product but the main event certainly helped to pull the average performance up. Of course the key to this show was the draft, and it will take a few days of digestion to tell who got the best roster.

Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.


I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

SmackDown Live! Review: Who left as WWE Champion?

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