While Monday Night Raw followed the awesome Evolution pay-per-view with three of the most meaningless hours of television it has presented all year, SmackDown responded with a home run.
This was a tremendous show. Almost everything on it clicked - from the obligatory in-ring revolving door opener, to the all-star main event - and it set the brand off to "the global pay-per-view event known as Crown Jewel" (h/t: Tom Phillips) in effective fashion, with every major programme enhanced on the controversial road to Riyadh.
PW Insider confirmed earlier in the day that Daniel Bryan wouldn't be travelling to Saudi Arabia, leaving WWE with a major problem to address. They handled it well, and while Crown Jewel is weakened by the former General Manager's removal, his substitute is guaranteed to bring the heat. Elsewhere, we got a rare Shinsuke Nakamura singles match, a host of World Cup previews (both major and minor), and a Becky Lynch victory lap following her stunning win over Charlotte Flair.
This episode was so strong that even the now-compulsory holiday-themed bout couldn't stink it up, though a certain authority figure's bluster left fans worried for a quartet of top stars...
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