WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Riddle earns world title match against Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns vs. Riddle, a rare world title match on weekly television, is set for WWE SmackDown next week. Riddle defeated Sami Zayn in a back-and-forth match on Friday night to earn his shot at the Tribal Chief’s throne.

Riddle continues to elevate to new heights with the WWE universe firmly behind him. Riddle channeled a seemingly legitimate injury to his tag team partner Orton and used it as fuel to become a legitimate main event player. Riddle and Zayn both had something at stake on Friday night and fought tooth and nail for their individual rewards.

Elsewhere on SmackDown, a new champion was crowned as the imposing Gunther thrashed intercontinental champion Ricochet. The now-former champion fought valiantly against his larger foe but was unable to overcome the power and ruthlessness.

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from Raising Cane’s River Center Arena in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Riddle outlasts Sami Zayn, sets his aim on Roman Reigns

WWE announced a match between Riddle and Sami Zayn for the main event. If Riddle won, he would face Roman Reigns for the undisputed world championship at a later date. Should Zayn win, however, Riddle will be banned from SmackDown. Riddle, in a pre-match interview, felt extremely confident about his chances and the prospects of being the world champion. 

Zayn has campaigned to partner with The Bloodline for weeks. The Usos recently proclaimed Zayn as an honorary member of the tribe. Last week, he helped The Usos defeat Riddle and Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the undisputed tag team titles. Paul Heyman, who serves as special counsel to Reigns, spoke to Zayn just before the match. Heyman promised he would advocate for Zayn to become a permanent member of The Bloodline should he defeat Riddle. Heyman warned that failure to defeat Riddle carried serious consequences.

Riddle vs. Sami Zayn via pinfall after countering a Helluva Kick into an RKO. The story of this match was Zayn’s desperation and Riddle’s perseverance. Zayn was visibly shaken by the risk and reward presented by Heyman. Zayn repeatedly searched for a countdown win as Heyman watched from the commentary table. He nearly pinned Riddle by countering the RKO — the signature move of Riddle’s injured partner Randy Orton — into a Blue Thunder Bomb. Riddle rallied, intercepting Zayn’s Helluva Kick with a match-ending RKO for the pinfall. Riddle will face Roman Reigns for the WWE undisputed world championship on next week’s episode of SmackDown.

Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso jumped Riddle post-match. Riddle retaliated by grabbing a kendo stick and beating The Usos into retreat. Riddle screamed into the camera post-match, sending a stern message to Reigns.

Riddle can do no wrong these days and Zayn continues to excel in his role as a secondary villain in the larger Bloodline story. Riddle’s fire blazed brightly in a strong back-and-forth match. Next week’s one-on-one world title match against Reigns is mouthwatering. It is a rare televised match for Reigns and an even rarer world title match on weekly WWE programming. Riddle has carried SmackDown on his shoulders for weeks now and is the most believable threat to Reigns’ title not named Cody Rhodes. A great match between Riddle and Zayn elevated by the flicker of hope that Riddle can actually dethrone Reigns next week. A hair shy of last week’s magical tag team title match but another great step forward in this story. Grade: A-

What else happened on WWE SmackDown?

  • Money in the Bank men’s qualifier: Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus ends in a double disqualification after they attacked each other with steel chairs.
  • Money in the Bank women’s qualifier: Lacey Evans def. Xia Lia via pinfall sticking her with the Woman’s Rights finishing move. Evans and Xi had dueling interviews prior to the match.
  • A video package promotes The Viking Raiders, Erik and Ivar, coming soon.
  • An angry McIntyre demanded that authority figure Adam Pearce includes him in the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
  • Sheamus and Butch, equally as irate as McIntyre, demand that Pearce grant Sheamus a spot in the ladder match as well.
  • Ronda Rousey def. Shotzi via submission after applying her trademark armbar. Shotzi interrupted Rousey’s promo targeting title challenger Natalya. Shotzi challenged Rousey and the champion offered her a title shot should she win. 
  • Natalya attacked Rousey post-match and locked in the Sharpshooter submission move. Rousey suffered a storyline injury and her SmackDown women’s title match at Money in the Bank was put in jeopardy.
  • Intercontinental championship – Gunther def. Ricochet (c) via pinfall after planting him with his powerbomb finisher to win the title.
  • WWE announced “Last Laugh Match” between Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin next week.
  • Max Durpi will reveal his new Maximum Male Models next week.
  • WWE shared a video package of John Cena traveling to Amsterdam to meet Misha Rohozhyn and his mother. Misha, who has down syndrome, and his mother fled from Ukraine to the Netherlands with dreams of meeting Cena.