We opened the first WWE SmackDown as its own brand with newly announced General Manager Dusty Rhodes making his way down to the ring to a tumultuous reception.
After a brief thanks, Rhodes began to detail what SmackDown had in store for fans. To begin with, an 8 Tag Team Tournament was announced to crown the inaugural Tag Team Champions, with the tournament final taking place at the Class of Champions PPV. Before going to the back, Rhodes then announced that two Triple Threat matches would main event tonight and the following week, with the winners meeting in the main event of week 4 in Tampa to become the WWE United States Champion.
Match #1 - Breezango [Tyler Breeze O & Fandango] def. The Usos [Jimmy Uso X & Jey Uso]
[WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter-Final Match]
The WWE SmackDown Tag Team tournament opened with the crowd favourites Breezango taking on The Usos in the opening quarter-final bout. As perhaps many people expected, The Usos started the stronger, gaining control once Jimmy pushed Fandango from the top rope when attempting a Last Dance. Despite this however, Breeze especially showed fantastic determination to weather the storm, with Fandango breaking up the pinfall after he was hit with an Uso Splash. The longer the match went, the more frustrated The Usos clearly became, and this would ultimately cost them. Jey attempted to distract the referee but in doing so distracted Jimmy, who then ate an Unprettier from Breeze, leaving Breezango as the team progressing to the Semi-Finals.
Breeze celebrated madly in the ring post-match, but Fandango refused to join in, walking sullenly to the back despite the victory, to the clear confusion of his abandoned tag team partner.
Match #2 - Bayley, Sasha Banks O & Becky Lynch def. The Riott Squad [Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan X]
[6-Woman Tag Team Match]
Gainesville was next treated to an insight into the depth of the Women's roster on Main Event with an exhibition 6-Woman Tag Team Match pitting 3 of the 4 Horsewomen of NXT against the Riott Squad.
A great back and forth ensued with Ruby Riott in particular looking strong, taking every opportunity to work Bayley's arm and back, attempting to negate both the Mach Man Elbow and the Bayley to Belly, while isolating her from her team mates. Bayley rallied with an Exploder Suplex into the corner on Riott, seemingly turning the tables for the face side, however, even this wouldn't stop the Riott Squad; Lynch just managing to kick out of a Split-Legged Moonsault and Running Knee Strike from Logan soon after, much to The Squad's disbelief.
This kick out seemed to stun The Riott Squad, with the face team once again rallying. Morgan kicked out of a Bayley to Belly at the last second but couldn't find the same resilience soon after when locked in the Bank Statement, tapping out to give the Horsewomen a hard-fought victory in front of a very receptive Gainesville crowd.
Match #3 - Drew McIntyre O def. No Way Jose X
We cut backstage next to where Kayla Braxton was with Drew McIntyre. Though the status of the WWE Championship had not yet been confirmed by General Manager Dusty Rhodes, McIntyre assured the entire WWE Universe that he had come to Main Event in order to rule it with an iron fist, and that reign of terror started by destroying No Way Jose in their match tonight.
True to his word, The Scottish Psychopath brutalised No Way Jose, tearing into him with a series of brutal Lariats before putting him out of his misery with a solid Headbutt and a savage Claymore Kick that sent No Way Jose sprawling across the ring. Statement made.
Match #4 - Cedric Alexander O def. Mustafa Ali & Kassius Ohno X
[WWE United States Championship Qualifying Triple Threat]
The first of the previously announced Triple Threats to find the competitors to face off for the United States Championship saw a frenetic affair between Kassius Ohno, Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali.
The pace was quick, especially between Ali and Alexander, but Ohno played a very clever part, waiting for an opening before striking. The first opening came as Alexander went to Lionsault off of the middle rope onto a prone Ali only for Ohno, who had camped on the outside, to European Uppercut him in mid-jump. It was Ohno who had the first near fall following this, hitting a Spinning Big Boot to Alexander before Big Booting Ali out of the ring and covering Alexander, only for him to kick out at the last second.
Invigorated by his narrow escape, Alexander tore into Ohno, who at this point had no response to the pace at which Cedric was working, topping it off by lifting Ohno spectacularly into the Lumbar Check for the victory, meaning Cedric Alexander was the first competitor into the WWE United States Championship Match in Tampa, Florida.