As a change of pace, instead of reviewing three hours of Raw, it’s two hours of SmackDown tonight.

FWIW, Rhea Ripley is now in SD!’s opening video.

The University of Nebraska looks pretty well sold out as Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn come out to play. They don’t to talk for long before The Bloodline comes out. They yammer and approach the ring,  but Riddle enters the party to even the odds. Riddle takes over on Solo in the ring and eventually the Bloodline scampers off. I hope this is the end of this rivalry and we get Riddle turning. Back from the break, we learn that Riddle and Solo will square off in the main event.

Xavier Woods vs. LA Knight

Knight continues to show how over he is. If he wasn’t on Raw he’d be in the US Title hunt, and possibly have the gold now.

Knight controls much of the action early until Woods changes a Tilt-a-Wheel into a Russian Leg Sweep. Soon after he hits a Tope Con Hilo. Knight turns things around heading to break.

Back from break, leaping neckbreaker gets two for Knight. Even Steven action starts to take the focus. Woods, by the way, is wearing his KOTR tights.

Back-and-forth continues as both men show off their sudden impact talent (pun intended). Draping Suplex leads to Woods hitting a Missile Dropkick and a Hardy Leg Drop, but Knight gets the ropes before the three count. Knight soon after hits his version of the People’s Elbow but it doesn’t get the duke. O’Connor Role (with the tights) gets the win for Woods though.

Winner: Xavier Woods

Draft is announced for two weeks from now before we head to the back to see Imperium huddling. Woods interrupts with his trombone. End result is a challenge against Gunther. This could be a great match.

Elsewhere, Zayn and Riddle huddle. Owens pops into the scene and talks up the match. Riddle shows really good intensity, a welcome change from his goofy 4:20 persona.

And elsewhere still, Kayla Braxton catches up with Judgement Day (without Finn Balor). The heels don’t say much before heading to the ring to talk more. That was a worthwhile backstage segment…

Priest talks up how he attacked Bad Bunny until Zelina Vega comes out, which leads to an lWo blindside attack on the men.

Damian Priest vs. Santos Escobar

Solid action between the two to start, both inside and outside the ring. Escobar really has the opportunity to be the next big Latino star if WWE gives him the space he deserves. Imagine the matches he’ll have with Andrade “Cien” Almas in a few months…

Escobar does a few of the crowd pleasers until Priest hits the thigh slap kick. The two continue their heated action outside the ring.

Back from a break, the back-and-forth continues. Priest hits… something… for two. Rowboat rest looks terrible, particularly since Escobar doesn’t need a resthold. Later, the two are on the ropes and Escobar hits a beautiful top rope Huricanrana, which gets two. Huge run by Escobar turns up the crowd. Moonsault Press gets two.

Heels get up on the apron and Dom gets a beating for his troubles. Action fully spills out to the outside. Ripley tugs at Escobar’s leg once he’s back in the ring, which draws. Vega, who hits a sweet Rana of her own. Back in the ring, the distraction proves to have paid off with South of Heaven for the W. Great match, but the rivalry means nothing if lWo lose every match.

Winner: Damian Priest

Post match, the attack on Escobar continues. Priest clears off the announce table and wangs Ripley with a flying monitor. Before Escobar can go through the table, Rey Mysterio’s music goes off and he attacks Priest then goes after Dom. 619 is interrupted by Priest as the heels retreat.

I’ll say this – I’m loving Vega as the plucky underdog face against Ripley. She’s a perfect combination of Alexa Bliss and Lita.

Backstage, Sikoa is hyped up by The Bloodline.

Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez are out next to celebrate their title victory. Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green interrupt the party and calls into question what happened to Lita. The promo by the heels is weak. Faces attack and drive them out of the ring. That couldn’t have gone worse for Green and Deville, who absolutely do not gel.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Madcap Moss

Great return with the preserved music and entrance for Nakamura. Glad to see that WWE kept this one from the CFO$ eruption. Crowd sings along, just as they had been doing before Judas.

Somewhere in this, Moss turned heel with Emma by his side.

Moss starts fast with some good offence until he drops Nakamura backward in a bad botch. Nakamura takes over soon after. Impressive work leads to the Kinshasa. Major pops throughout for Shinsuke.

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura

Post match, Madcap tries to attack but Nakamura rolls into a Cross Armbreaker, apparently adding a submission to his arsenal.

Build him properly and Nakamura could not only be the challenger but take the title(s) off Reigns.

Backstage, Scarlett does tarot with a Nakamura card which Karrion Kross smashes.

After a break, Braun Strowman and Ricochet are chatting backstage when they’re assaulted by the Viking Raiders with pieces of the set amid the assault. Admittedly impressive attack.

Matt Riddle vs. Solo Sikoa

Paul Heyman gets on the mic prior to the bell ringing to announce that The Usos will get a rematch against the Quebec Connection in two weeks.

Basic stuff to start until Sikoa takes control. Usos get involved and the QC’s react. QC’s are tossed, and The Usos are soon after as well, leaving a one-on-one match.

Back from break, Sikoa and Riddle hit the boo-yeah punch sequence. Back-and-forth continues soon after. The two are gelling quite well in the ring, but need a bit more heat up to really get a strong presence.

Floating Bro by Riddle gets two before the Usos come out through the crowd, which leads to the Quebec Connection coming out down. Everyone brawls inside while Riddle takes out Sikoa. He pauses to take out the Usos on the outside. Big mistake as he gets back inside and eats a Samoan Spike and a loss in his return. Oh well.

Winner: Solo Sikoa

Sikoa inflicts more damage afterward, putting Riddle down with a Uranage onto the announce table, then tips the table onto Riddle for good measure. Riddle looks injured.

Give Sikoa credit – he’s being built huge and is showing he belongs in the main event picture.

That’s it for Friday night. Stay Classy.