WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Roman Reigns survives gutsy effort from Finn Balor

It isn’t too often that WWE fans are treated to a world championship defense on weekly television. That happened Friday night, however, with Finn Balor challenging Roman Reigns for the universal championship.

Balor suffered a pre-match attack at the hands of The Usos that left him weakened heading into the bout. Still, Balor gave a tremendous effort at toppling “The Tribal Chief” before coming up short after even more shortcuts from the champion. While Reigns likely isn’t done with Balor yet, his attention now turns to next week’s SmackDown, where Brock Lesnar will make an appearance that will certainly involve a message for the champ.

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.

Roman Reigns overcomes Finn Balor’s valiant challenge
Paul Heyman appeared to receive a phone call from Brock Lesnar during a backstage interview. Heyman’s phone rang with Lesnar’s entrance theme as the ringtone. After ignoring the call twice, he finally picked up and explained that he didn’t have any privacy. Later, Heyman confirmed to Reigns that the call came from Lesnar and that Lesnar will be at Madison Square Garden next week. Reigns then expressed concern that Lesnar could already be in the building.

Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) def. Finn Balor via pinfall to retain the title. The Usos attacked Balor as he made his entrance. After hitting Balor with the ring steps, The Usos were then chased off by the Street Profits, but the damage had already been done. Balor chose to take his shot anyway and did manage several near falls, including one after hitting the Coup De Grace, which Reigns broke with a low blow. Reigns followed that up with a series of punches before putting Balor to sleep with a guillotine choke. The lights briefly flashed red after the match, hinting at the possible return of “The Demon” Finn Balor.

The main event was very good. That’s important because this was otherwise an awful episode of the usually consistent SmackDown, featuring terrible finishes and pointless matches while seeming to be far more focused on building next week’s show. Balor came out of everything looking good and the pre-match attack protects him and keeps him from feeling like a challenger who has already been given his shot. This was the only good thing on the show, but it was very good. Grade: B+

What happened on WWE SmackDown?
The Street Profits def. The Usos via disqualification when The Usos refused to obey the referee’s commands. The Usos wouldn’t stop attacking Montez Ford in the corner, forcing the disqualification and a brawl post-match that ended with Ford hitting a dive to both Usos outside the ring.
Becky Lynch refused to wrestle Bianca Belair. Lynch was in the ring claiming Belair had complained and made excuses about losing at SummerSlam when Belair came to the ring. After exchanging words, Belair asked Lynch to step up and defend her title like Reigns was doing later in the night but received a simple “no” in response as Lynch left the ring.
Rick Boogs def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall after a pumphandle slam.
Cesaro def. Seth Rollins via disqualification after Rollins used a steel chair. After the match, Rollins continued to use the chair until breaking off a piece of the leg and using it to lock in a crossface, stealing the move from Edge. Rollins then hit Cesaro with a stomp. Edge finally ran in for the save as Rollins was about to hit Cesaro with a con-chair-to. Edge challenged Rollins to a match next week at MSG.
Baron Corbin and Logan Paul appeared on Kevin Owens’ “KO Show.” Owens ran down both men before a shoving match with Paul but Corbin attacked Owens and laid him out with a chokeslam.
Sami Zayn def. Dominik Mysterio via pinfall after a Helluva Kick.
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