– Tonight’s live WWE SmackDown on FOX opens up with a graphic in memory of WWE Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, who passed away at the age of 80 on Thursday.
– We go to a video package looking back at the WWE SummerSlam main event on Sunday, which saw Roman Reigns return after “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt won the WWE Universal Title from Braun Strowman.
– WWE Producer Adam Pearce is backstage with several security guards. He tells them to be extra alert tonight, if you see something say something. Pearce points to the office door behind him, showing that WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon is in the house tonight. Pearce sends security on their way. Pearce knocks and walks into Vince’s office. Pearce tries to fist bump Vince but he’s not interested. Vince says he seems a bit nervous, which is normal for people who come around him. Vince has a mission for Pearce tonight. He hypes the No Holds Barred Triple Threat at Payback and hands Pearce the contract for the match. He tells Pearce he needs their signatures on the paper before the night is over. He wants Pearce to start with The Fiend, and if he can’t find him, try Bray Wyatt, possibly in the Firefly Fun House. Vince pulls one of his suits in a cover off a door, handing it to Pearce to get the job done. Pearce asks if he’s serious. Vince tells Pearce to say hello to Huskus The Pig for him as Vince is apparently a big fan. Pearce leaves to head out on his mission.
– We’re live from the WWE ThunderDome at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida as Michael Cole welcomes us. He’s joined by Corey Graves. Virtual fans look on from their seats.
– We go right to the ring as new WWE Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy comes out. We see how he won the title from AJ Styles last Friday night.
Hardy says it’s good to be standing in the ThunderDome. After what AJ did to his knee last week, he’s lucky to be standing anywhere. Jeff goes on and says he’s ready to defend tonight… the music interrupts and out comes Styles to the stage, dressed in street clothes. AJ asks if this is real. AJ says Hardy is a liar and a cheat. He walks to the ring and says he’s had knee injuries before and never went to a doctor to get an illegal object on his knee, but Jeff did. AJ is referring to Hardy using the knee brace to beat him last week as he went for the Styles Clash. AJ says Jeff had a plan all along and knew exactly what he was doing. Jeff knows how to play the system, he says.
AJ says the same doctor Jeff whined and complained to now won’t clear AJ to compete tonight, and it’s all Jeff’s fault. Jeff says that sucks for AJ because he was about to issue an Open Challenge to anyone in the back, except for AJ. AJ yells at Hardy for taking advantage of the system. The referee tries to calm him but AJ yells back that he won’t shut up. Hardy ends up dropping AJ with a right hand. We go to commercial with Hardy standing over AJ.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy
Back from the break and SmackDown Tag Team Champion Shinsuke Nakamura is in the ring with WWE Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy to answer the Open Challenge. AJ Styles is on commentary.
The bell rings and Hardy takes it to the corner. He backs off as the referee counts. Nakamura ends up taking control and working on Hardy’s arm. Nakamura’s partner Cesaro is not at ringside. Hardy turns it around and works on Nakamura, focusing on his arm now. Cole says Hardy is wearing the knee brace again this week. Nakamura backs Hardy into the ropes and knees him. Nakamura with a headlock now. Nakamura drops Hardy with a shoulder. He runs the ropes but Hardy launches him. Hardy with more offense and a neckbreaker on the mat. Hardy drops an elbow for a 2 count in the middle of the ring.
Nakamura turns it around and takes out Hardy’s knee. Nakamura keeps Hardy down now, focusing on the hurt knee. Cole says they asked Cesaro if Nakamura taking the Open Challenge means he’s the more ambitious of the two. We see backstage video of Cesaro now. He says he stepped away for one second to get some champagne, and came back to Nakamura gone. He says no, Nakamura is not more ambitious than him, maybe more impulsive. Cesaro goes on and wishes a sarcastic good luck to his partner. Nakamura keeps Hardy down by working on his leg.
Nakamura with big kicks while Hardy is on his knees now. Hardy catches a kick and drops Nakamura with a kick of his own to the gut. Hardy stomps and takes Nakamura to the corner. Hardy runs into a knee to the gut. Nakamura places Hardy over the top turnbuckle but misses the high knee. Hardy tries to suplex Nakamura from the apron to the floor. Nakamura counters and brings Hardy back into the ring but his knee goes out. Jeff clotheslines Nakamura to the floor, then kicks him back into the announce table. Hardy follows and ends up tossing Nakamura over the table into AJ. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and Nakamura has Hardy down in a submission, focusing on the leg still. AJ is upset and we see how Nakamura was launched into him before the break. Hardy rocks Nakamura after getting back to his feet in the ring now. Hardy charges and drops Nakamura with a forearm. Hardy rallies and hits some of his signature moves, including the basement dropkick. Hardy with a splash on the mat for a close 2 count. They tangle and Nakamura drops Hardy, sending him into the corner. Nakamura takes Hardy to the top for a back superplex. Nakamura climbs up but Hardy knocks him to the mat. Hardy nails a Whisper In the Wind and Nakamura goes down.
Hardy clutches his knee after the move from the top. Nakamura charges but runs into boots, blocking it. Nakamura slides under the bottom rope and hits the sliding German suplex. Nakamura goes to the top and hits the flying knee for a 2 count. Nakamura waits in the corner and goes for the Kinshasa but Hardy side-steps. Nakamura blocks a Twist of Fate. Hardy blocks a Sleeper. They tangle some more and Hardy hits the Twist of Fate. Graves and AJ accuse Hardy of using the knee brace again. Hardy goes back to the top and hits the Swanton Bomb for the pin to retain.
Winner: Jeff Hardy
– After the match, the music hits as Hardy takes the title and celebrates. Hardy goes to ringside and taunts AJ at the announce table. Hardy returns to the ring and poses in the corner, raising the title in the air as we go to replays. Hardy limps up the ramp as AJ yells at him from the ring now, threatening to take the title back. Hardy turns and raises the title in the air. The music hits and out comes Sami Zayn making his return. Sami holds up the Intercontinental Title belt that he had. He dances around Jeff and taunts it with him, telling him that this is the truth. Sami says he’s the real Intercontinental Champion. They both raise their titles at each other as AJ comes walking up the ramp. Sami takes advantage of Hardy being distracted, and levels him with a Helluva Kick. Sami yells at Hardy, calling him a fraud, as the crowd boos. AJ comes walking up to the stage as Hardy limps to his feet. Sami has left to the back. AJ tells Hardy that he will own him soon. Hardy taunts AJ and raises the title again as his music hits.
– Still to come, the Firefly Fun House. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and a happy Sami Zayn is walking through the backstage area when Kayla Braxton stops him. She asks him where he’s been. Sami says he’s all about righting wrongs and what’s wrong is Jeff Hardy walking around claiming to be the WWE Intercontinental Title, as AJ Styles did before. Sami brags on winning the title in March and retaining it over Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 36. She asks him why he hasn’t been here to defend the title in the last 5 months. Sami says he has many reasons, many valid reasons why, and he doesn’t need to explain. He goes on about being from Montreal, being a man of the world, and being a true Intercontinental Champion in every sense of the word. He speaks some in French and walks off.
– We go to the Firefly Fun House with WWE Universal Champion Bray Wyatt. He says he feels like something is missing… and it’s the Universal Title. He says the title is back and none of those monsters with big nasty teeth can take it back this time. He changes his tone and gets serious, telling Roman Reigns that it’s good to see him back. He changes his tune again as the doorbell rings. It’s Adam Pearce, dressed like a postman. Wyatt welcomes Postman Pearce, who has the Payback contract in his hand. Pearce asks Wyatt to sign the contract for Sunday. He laughs and asks why would he sign it. Pearce says sometimes there feels like a connection between Wyatt and… him. We see flashes of The Fiend across the screen. Wyatt agrees to sign and says he hopes Reigns and Braun Strowman know what they’re getting into. Wyatt signs and says if he knows “him” like he thinks he does, he just signed a couple of death warrants. Pearce leaves as Wyatt laughs. Wyatt says remember to let him in. He waves goodbye to end the segment.
– The announcers hype the rest of Pearce’s mission for tonight. We also get a look at the Matt Riddle vs. King Baron Corbin feud.
– We go back to the ring and out comes Matt Riddle. Riddle cuts a promo on King Baron Corbin and says he’s afraid. He talks about the King’s Ransom and ends up calling Corbin out for a fight. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and Riddle is still in the ring, calling Corbin out. The music hits and out he comes. Corbin talks some trash and says he accepts… Shorty G drops Riddle with a sneak attack. Corbin finishes and says he accepts, on behalf of G.
Matt Riddle vs. Shorty G
The bell rings and Shorty G unloads on Matt Riddle, beating him down and mounting him from behind with more strikes. Riddle comes back with a big suplex from the mat. G blocks another suplex attempt and hits a Tiger suplex of his own for a close 2 count.
King Baron Corbin yells from ringside as Riddle fights back. More back and forth between the two. Riddle ends up getting the easy pin with the Bro Derek in the middle of the ring.
Winner: Matt Riddle
– After the match, Riddle stands tall as his music hits. Corbin hits the ring and they tangle for a minute but Corbin retreats after ducking a kick. Riddle’s music starts back up as he taunts Corbin from the ring. We go to replays. Corbin and Riddle continue the trash talking.
– Cole shows us how The Miz and Big E had a heated exchange during last Saturday’s return of “Talking Smack” on the WWE Network. We see video from earlier today with Big E saying he wasn’t going to waste his time on MizTV tonight, arguing with The Miz and John Morrison. Sheamus joined Miz and Morrison to stand with them, while Heavy Machinery joined Big E to even the odds. The six Superstars faced off and Cole announces that they will meet in the ring later tonight.
– We see Big E and Heavy Machinery backstage now. The WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions appear, Sasha Banks and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley, and crack jokes at them before walking off. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Adam Pearce is knocking on Roman Reigns’ door but no one answers. We see Kayla Braxton stopping King Baron Corbin and asking if he will now accept Matt Riddle’s challenge. Corbin rants on about how he’s going to destroy Riddle at WWE Payback on Sunday and prove that he doesn’t belong in this kingdom. A furious Corbin walks off.
– We go back to the ring and out come the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions – Sasha Banks and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley. Greg Hamilton does the introductions.
Bayley takes the mic about how this has been a hard week for them. They both had to defend their singles titles at SummerSlam last Sunday and now have to defend their tag titles against Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax at Payback this Sunday. She gets hyped up and says but lucky for them they are the best tag team. She goes on bragging as they pose with the titles. Bayley knows Banks is devastated about losing the RAW Women’s Title, she tries to talk her up and then takes blame for the loss, saying it’s all her fault. Bayley says she should’ve never let Asuka challenge Banks, but she saw Banks watching her with both of her titles, and knew she wanted the same. Banks isn’t impressed. Bayley says but all that is in the past now and they will move forward, with a win on Sunday. She goes on about how they’re stronger together, the titles represent more than their friendship. Bayley says on Sunday they cannot lose. Banks agrees.
Banks doesn’t want Bayley to worry and says as long as Bayley has her back, they can get through anything together. Banks may not be 2 Belts Banks anymore, but she knows who she is and what she stands for, and they are still best friends. Baszler and Jax interrupt from the big screen. They go on about how they both dislike each other, but they hate Banks and Bayley more, and will team with just about anyone to take their titles. The two sides continue talking trash and Banks cuts a defiant promo about how she will leave Payback with her title and there’s not a damn thing Baszler and Jax can do about it. Banks and Bayley stand tall as their music hits.
– Adam Pearce is backstage looking for Braun Strowman, but so is Drew Gulak because he wants payback. Gulak walks over to a table and smacks Strowman over the back with a steel chair. He just takes it and Gulak walks off. Strowman turns around to see Pearce standing there with the Payback contract. They have words and Strowman says the only way he’s signing the contract is if Pearce gets Gulak in the ring for him, right now. Pearce says that sounds like a plan. Strowman walks off and we go to commercial.
– Back from the break and we see SmackDown Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura talking. Cesaro has a match with Kalisto tonight but needs to know they’re a team. Sami Zayn walks in and is all smiles and happy about the trio reuniting. Cesaro and Nakamura aren’t so sure. Nakamura says Zayn has been gone for months and didn’t even give them a phone call. Sami admits he should’ve been more communicative, but he’s sorry. Cesaro says some things around here actually changed for the better while Sami was gone. He says that was his plan, for them to come together and the proof is in their title win. Sami places his Intercontinental Title belt next to their titles and says he’s going to hang out in this Championship Lounge, but Cesaro says they were having a conversation, as a tag team, when Sami waltzed in, and they would like to finish that conversation. Sami asks if they want him to go and Cesaro asks please. Sami says that’s OK because he actually has to go, he’s got so much to do.
Drew Gulak vs. Braun Strowman
We go back to the ring and Drew Gulak waits as Braun Strowman makes his way out.
Strowman marches to the ring in new ring attire, staring Gulak down. We see how Strowman dropped the Universal Title to The Fiend at SummerSlam. The announcers hype The Fiend vs. Strowman vs. Roman Reigns at Payback this coming Sunday.
The bell rings and Strowman charges into the corner, then launches Gulak across the ring. Strowman continues to dominate with big splashes in the corners. Strowman pulls Gulak into a big right hand to level him again. Strowman with a rare senton. Strowman wails away with big forearms while Gulak is down. Strowman puts Gulak back down with a big chokeslam.
Strowman picks Gulak back up by his neck and yells at him. Strowman scoops Gulak and finally puts him back down with a running powerslam for the pin to win.
Winner: Braun Strowman
– After the match, the music hits as Strowman makes his exit and marches up the ramp. Adam Pearce stops him on the stage and Strowman signs the contract for Payback. Strowman shoves the contract back at Pearce in his chest, and walks off as we go to replays.
– We see Lucha House Party backstage. Kalisto says he learned from Lince Dorado’s mistakes with Cesaro last week. He asks Dorado to stay backstage tonight and watch how it’s done. Kalisto walks off and Dorado isn’t happy, neither is Gran Metalik. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura suddenly attack Dorado and Metalik from behind, laying them out. The SmackDown Tag Team Champions walk off and we go to commercial.
Kalisto vs. Cesaro
Back from the break and Kalisto is in the ring. We see how he recently returned but had tension with his Lucha House Party partners last week. Out next comes the SmackDown Tag Team Champions – Cesaro with Shinsuke Nakamura.
The bell rings and Cesaro dominates to start. Kalisto ends up sending him to the floor with a head scissors. Kalisto flies out and launches Cesaro with a hurricanrana. Kalisto brings it back in the ring and kicks Cesaro in the head from the apron. Kalisto flies with a crossbody but Cesaro catches it and turns it into a backbreaker. Cesaro takes his time with the pin attempt and Kalisto kicks out at 1.
More back and forth between the two. Kalisto mounts some offense but Cesaro drops him and stomps. Kalisto makes another comeback and dropkicks the knee out. They tangle again and Cesaro goes for a powerbomb. Kalisto counters and turns it into a big DDT for a close 2 count. Kalisto plants Cesaro face-first with a scissors. Cesaro kicks out at 2. Kalisto yells at Cesaro to bring it. He starts the “lucha!” chant now as Nakamura looks on.
Cesaro blocks the Salida del Sol but Kalisto comes back and sends him into the second turnbuckle. Nakamura gets on the apron but Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik run down. Kalisto is distracted by Lince and Metalik beating on Nakamura, which allows Cesaro to roll Kalisto up for the pin.
– After the match, the music hits as Cesaro hits the ramp with Nakamura. Lucha House Party argues in the ring before leaving.
– Vince McMahon is backstage in his office when Adam Pearce walks in with the Payback main event contract. He says he has the signatures from The Fiend and Braun Strowman but he keeps knocking on Roman Reigns’ door but has had no luck. Vince goes on and advises Pearce to go knock Reigns’ door down. Vince talks more about Pearce knocking the door down to get an answer, and tells him to go find out. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Big E, Matt Riddle and Sami Zayn are announced for Talking Smack on Saturday. Kayla Braxton will host while The Miz will guest co-host.
– We go backstage and Tamina Snuka approaches Nikki Cross, who has a coffee mug in her hand. Snuka asks how Alexa Bliss is doing. Bliss shows up and hugs them both. Nikki is glad to see Bliss happy now. They note that Cross’ coffee mug is one Bliss gave her recently. Cross points out how she hasn’t seen Bliss wear her hair in pink pigtails in a while. She sees how some of the hair is twirled up and says it’s not a good idea. Bliss says she was thinking of doing half and half. Cross says it would look good any way but she doesn’t think it’s a good idea because it reminds her of The Fiend. Bliss stares off for a second when hearing The Fiend’s name but snaps out of it and tells Cross to be serious. Bliss goes on about thinking Cross was a good friend, but ends up smashing the coffee cup and says so much for that. Bliss storms off.
– John Morrison is backstage bragging to The Miz about how hard he can kick. Sheamus walks up and they talk strategy for tonight’s six-man match. Their plan is to not let the others in the ring, but Sheamus doesn’t like it and tells them to just follow his lead. Sheamus walks off and Miz asks Morrison what kind of plan was he thinking of.
Heavy Machinery and Big E vs. The Miz, John Morrison and Sheamus
We go back to the ring and out first comes Heavy Machinery – Tucker and Otis, who is carrying his Money In the Bank briefcase. Big E is out next. They dance on the stage together before heading to the ring. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and Pearce finally finds Roman Reigns in the back. Reigns grabs the contract for the Payback main event and says he needs to read it first. Pearce agrees and we go back to the ring as The Miz and John Morrison head down the ramp. Out next comes Sheamus.
Morrison starts off with Otis and they go at it. Otis tries to launch Morrison but he lands on his feet. Morrison flies but runs into Otis and goes down. Otis with a splash in the corner. Big E and Tucker tag in for a triple team sequence to Morrison. Tucker covers for a 2 count as Sheamus breaks it up. Morrison catches a crossbody from Tucker but Tucker holds it for a 2 count. Morrison turns it around and delivers kicks to Tucker against the ropes. Miz tags in and they hit a double team Gutbuster. Miz works Tucker over while he’s down now. Big E taunts Miz and tries to come through the ropes. Miz focuses on Tucker and tags Morrison back in, holding him while Morrison kicks him in the gut.
Morrison keeps control and knocks Tucker back for a pin attempt. Morrison grounds Tucker in the middle of the ring now. Morrison fights Tucker back into the corner. Tucker fights out and drops Sheamus off the apron. Miz also goes down. Tucker fights Morrison off but Morrison blocks and dropkicks Tucker out of the ring. Sheamus charges but Tucker dropkicks him. Miz charges next but Tucker boots him into the barrier. Tucker comes back in the ring and Morrison goes to attack but Tucker clotheslines him.
Sheamus goes to the timekeeper’s area and starts ringing the bell. Cole asks him what he’s doing as the match is still going on. Tucker gets back up in control as we return to commercial.
Back from the break and Morrison drops Tucker with a kick for a 2 count. Miz tags in for more double teaming in the corner. Miz hits the corner clothesline and Morrison follows up with a superkick. Miz covers for a 2 count. Cole says Pearce is still in Reigns’ locker room trying to get him to sign the Payback contract.
Miz grounds Tucker now as Sheamus yells to be tagged in. Tucker looks to make a tag after countering now. Miz tags Morrison instead of Sheamus once again. Morrison decks Tucker and counters with a leg sweep. Morrison mounts Tucker with strikes now. Sheamus yells at Morrison for a tag. Morrison keeps control and tags Miz in for another double team as Sheamus looks on. Miz tags Morrison right back in for a double team as Morrison springboards with a kick. Big E and Otis break the pin up. Big E cheers Tucker on as Sheamus tags himself in on Morrison’s back. The referee was distracted with Big E and Otis, and didn’t see the tag. Sheamus argues with the referee.
Morrison comes back in as Sheamus yells at Cole. Morrison gets whipped into the ropes, which knocks Sheamus to the floor. Tucker with a hip toss to Morrison. Sheamus throws a bit of a fit at ringside now, having words with Miz after taking the top off the announce table. Miz asks Sheamus what’s wrong with him. Sheamus storms off, up the ramp and to the back, angry over not getting tagged in. Big E and Miz finally tag in at the same time. Big E with two big belly-to-belly suplexes in the middle of the ring, and then a third.
Big E runs the ropes and hits the splash in the middle of the ring. Big E rallies the crowd now as we see virtual fans clapping along at home. Miz counters Big E and hangs him up over the top rope. Miz comes back in and charges for the corner clothesline but Big E turns it into a Uranage. Morrison with a double stomp to the back to make the save. Otis comes in and slams Morrison. Otis takes his shirt off and hits the Caterpillar, dropping the elbow on Morrison as Miz moves out of the way.
Miz gets right up and drops Otis with a Skull Crushing Finale. Big E comes back and immediately hits the Big Ending on Miz for the pin to win.
Winners: Big E and Heavy Machinery
– After the match, Big E and Heavy Machinery celebrate as The New Day’s music hits. We go to replays. The celebration continues as the winners dance in the ring.
– Adam Pearce is backstage with Roman Reigns, who has the Payback main event contract. Reigns says he is not signing as he wants some changes to the contract. He guarantees to be in the match on Sunday and to break everyone, then leave. He also guarantees to win back the Universal Title, which he says he never lost in the first place. Reigns says that is not just a prediction, that is a spoiler. The camera then shows Paul Heyman sitting down next to Reigns as Reigns looks up at Pearce. Heyman leans over Reigns and says, “Believe that.” It looks like Reigns has hired Heyman for his services. Reigns looks down at the Payback contract as the Payback go-home edition of SmackDown goes off the air.