Raw's chaotic start to post-Superstar Shake-Up life meant an average show would suffice for SmackDown to take an early lead in WWE's new season of programming. Fortunately, this episode was more than "average": it was a belter, even by the blue brand's standards.
The evening was largely built around a turn everybody knew was coming, but few expected to hit with such power. Kevin Owens and The New Day were best buddies at the top of the show, and mortal enemies at the end, with the former 'Prizefighter' pulling his betrayal at just the right moment.
Elsewhere, we got a reunion for three Horsewomen in Bayley, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch, leading to the revelation that 'The Man' will defend both Women's Championships at Money In The Bank, and the coronation of a new number one contender. A former WWE Champion returned to SD one week after the Shake-Up, Finn Balor and Andrade renewed their budding rivalry, and Paige came face-to-face with a pair of old friends.
If last night is anything to go by, fans have no reason to be worried by Road Dogg's departure from the writing team. Whoever helms the group delivered two hours of tighter, sharper programming than we've come to expect, even from a brand that has consistently delivered over the past couple of years. SmackDown's future has rarely looked brighter.
WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A fan since 1992, still geeking out for everything from WeeLC to mid '80s Jim Crockett Promotions. Give him a follow @andyhmurray. You'll have a great time. Maybe.