Welcome to another WWE Smackdown review here on Rajah. The ongoing health crisis has led to WWE running shows from the Performance Center for over a month now. I think a lot of us have gotten used to it and I’m sure the wrestlers have to, but it’s still tough to enjoy everything as much as we did when there were fans there. Looking ahead, WWE has the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on May 10, so we’ll see how they continue to build that up.
From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1079. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
The show began with a brief video letting us know this week’s Smackdown is the Triple H 25th Anniversary Celebration. The Smackdown intro video aired after that.
The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the empty WWE Performance Center. They had a rundown of what is coming up this week.
Let’s Hear from The New Day
The New Day made their entrance as the 8-time champions after Big E won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles for the team. Big E was joined by Kofi Kingston and the two men were in street clothes rather than wrestling gear. They showed highlights of Big E beating The Miz to win the SD Tag Team Titles last week.
Kofi and Big E celebrated being 8-time Tag Team Champions and Kofi said put some respect on Big E’s name for winning the titles fro the team. Big E said there is nothing like having their girls (the titles) wrapped around their waist. Kofi said there’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you’ve accomplished. Kofi mentioned they have more tag team title reigns like the Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, New Age Outlaws, Edge & Christian and they are proud to have their names etched in history next to some of the greatest teams in history. Big E also mentioned that it is more reigns than future Hall of Famer Tom Brady (he has six) on Tampa since Big E is a Tampa guy and Kofi didn’t like that because he’s a New England Patriots fan. Winning a title in WWE is a lot easier than winning a Super Bowl title, but that's not the point of this.
Lucha House Party members Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik congratulated the champions for the titles and they wanted to challenge them for the titles.
The Miz and John Morrison walked right by Lucha House Party while they were in their ring gear. Miz and Morrison went into the ring. Miz mentioned that they lost the titles in a singles match, not a tag team match. Miz and Morrison complained about having to defend in an Elimination Chamber, then a singles ladder match and a singles (triple threat) match. Miz complained saying they wanted their titles back right here and right now.
Gran Metalik said something in Spanish. Morrison thought Metalik said that Miz was a great American since heels like Morrison lie. Dorado was going to translate it, but then there was another interruption when The Forgotten Sons trio showed up.
The Forgotten Sons group of Wesley Blake, Steve Cutler and Jackson Ryker got into the ring. Miz asked: “Who are these guys?” Cutler spoke up for the group saying they have served their country and since they have come home, they have been treated like trash. Cutler said that you will all know about them because they will reign over the tag team division. Miz told them to respect him since he’s been there for 15 years, he's a WWE Champion, headlined WrestleMania (one of the worst WM main events ever by the way) and so on. Ryker said Miz played a Marine in a movie, but he’s a real Marine. Blake said that they are cut from a different cloth and some people would call them savage. Blake said that they can strike anywhere at any time before you see it coming.
That led to a brawl between the four teams with Miz and Morrison bailing to the floor. Lucha House Party were out on the floor. Cutler named Kofi with a clothesline. Ryker beat up Big E with an elbow smash followed by punches. Cutler jumped off the ropes with a stomp to the chest into a reverse DDT by Blake. Ryker gave Kofi a Powerbomb onto Big E. The Forgotten Sons stood tall to end it.
Analysis: It was a solid segment that showed off the depth of the Smackdown tag team division. There were other teams not a part of this that definitely could have been, so it’s nice to see some newer teams like the Forgotten Sons and Lucha House Party in the spotlight a bit. I thought it was booked right with New Day celebrating the title win, Miz and Morrison had complaints that made sense, Lucha House Party wants to step up and Forgotten Sons were made to look like a competitive team.
It’s Corbin vs. Gulak after a break.
Triple H Moment: They showed Hunter’s early days as the Hunter Hearst Helmsley character. The WWE debut date was April 30, 1995 in case you’re wondering. Hunter wrestled in WCW for one year before that, turned down WCW's attempt to re-sign him, then he went to WWE and the rest history.
The Miz and John Morrison were walking backstage when Renee Young showed up to ask about what happened. When she brought up Forgotten Sons, they said no they want to face Lucha House Party tonight.
Drew Gulak and Daniel Bryan entered to Bryan’s song. They should have Gulak walk out to his own song. The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves were shown on camera talking about Money in the Bank. King Corbin entered as they showed highlights of his attack on Elias last week on Smackdown, which led to announcers making up some bullshit storyline injury for Elias. At least it's not anal bleeding! Google it, kids.
Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: King Corbin vs. Drew Gulak (w/Daniel Bryan)
Corbin was trash talking early as he worked over Gulak with punches and an elbow to the head. Gulak tried a leg takedown, then a dropkick to the leg and a strike sent Corbin out of the ring. Gulak with a dropkick that sent Corbin flying over the announce table.
The show returned with Corbin doing his slide out of the ring and slide back in for a clothesline spot. Corbin trash talked Bryan, who mentioned that he won Money in the Bank in 2011. Corbin also won Money in the Bank, but he did not successfully cash in with Cole mentioning that 82% of the time, the Money in the Bank winner does win a title after. Corbin with a knee to the ribs, then he picked up Gulak and slammed him down. Gulak worked over Corbin with punches, then a dropkick to the corner. Gulak got a sunset flip to counter a Chokeslam for a two count. Gulak with a running cross body block for two. They went to the floor with Gulak doing a dragon screw to send Corbin into the steel steps. Gulak went up top and hit a clothesline off the top on Corbin. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura showed up to attack Daniel Bryan, which distracted Gulak. The heels threw Bryan into a part of the set. Corbin shoved Gulak into the ring post and then Corbin hit the End of Days slam for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: King Corbin
Analysis: **1/2 It was a decent match with Corbin getting the win as you would expect when he’s against Gulak. I didn’t think there would be interference to help Corbin win, but at least they went to the finish right after it. Gulak looked credible on offense with Corbin selling for him, so that’s a good sign. I doubt Corbin wins the Money in the Bank match.
The win by Corbin means he joins Daniel Bryan, Aleister Black, Apollo Crews and Rey Mysterio in the Money in the Bank Contract Ladder (on the roof) Match. There will be one more name in that match. Later in the show they said it's Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler, so it's one of them joining the Money in the Bank match.
The announcers mentioned Rob Gronkowski signing with the Tampa Bay Bucs of the NFL and that he’s still the WWE 24/7 Champion. No word on when he’ll be back in WWE or if he will be back at all to drop the title. My interest in the WWE 24/7 Title is very low.
A Jeff Hardy video is after the break.
There was a Money in the Bank highlight showing 2014 when Seth Rollins took a back body drop bump onto a ladder. Rollins would go on to win the contract ladder match that year.
Sheamus made his entrance looking angry while staring at the announcers to continue his anger when they mention Jeff Hardy around him.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Vidot
It started with Vidot trying to attack, but Sheamus was able to take control easily. Sheamus worked over Vidot with repeated forearms to the chest. Sheamus said he will not be disrespected and he hit a Brogue Kick to the face for the pinfall win. It went about one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: 1/4* A squash win to put over Sheamus. Simple stuff here.
There was a Jeff Hardy video for the third week in a row called “The Redemption.” Jeff said that fatherhood has helped him get things right and he talked about his daughters Ruby and Nera. Jeff said they named Ruby after his mother. Jeff said that they knew they had to come back to WWE, so that’s where they started and where they (the Hardy Boyz) need to end. They showed highlights from WrestleMania 33 in 2017 when Jeff and brother Matt Hardy made their surprise return. The crowd response for the Hardys return was one of the loudest ovations I have ever heard. Jeff said he felt like he was supposed to be there. The Hardys ended up winning the Raw Tag Team Titles in a ladder match that night. Hardy was excited about the future.
Next week is Chapter Four in the Jeff Hardy story: The Comeback.
Analysis: Good video telling Jeff’s story. They showed Matt Hardy a bit, but not much since he's in AEW now. Jeff has been injured quite a bit the last two years with major shoulder and knee injuries. Prior to that, he was durable for most of his 20+ year career.
The Miz and John Morrison entered for their tag team match.
Triple H Moment: They showed a highlight of when Degeneration X invaded a WCW show in April 1998. Great moment.
The announcers were at the table talking about Jeff Hardy again with Sheamus standing behind Cole as Cole tried to mention everything Jeff has been through in his career. Sheamus ripped off Cole’s headset and then just stared at him in a scary way. Lucha House Party made their entrance. Sheamus left while Cole was fine to call the match.
The Miz and John Morrison vs. Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik)
Miz worked over Dorado with chops, then Morrison with a forearm and elbow drop. Morrison worked over Metalik with kicks to the ribs. Morrison tried a slam, Dorado with an arm drag, Metalik tag with a kick to the face and a splash for a two count. Dorado tagged back in, then Morrison with a running knee on Dorado and Miz tagged in with a double team attack on the ribs of Dorado. Miz with a kick on Dorado, Morrison tagged in with a running knee and a standing SSP for a two count. Morrison with a forearm, then a trip leading to punches and Dorado got back into it with a springboard Stunner. Metalik tagged in against Miz with a cross body block off the top. Miz avoided an attack, Miz with a boot to the face, but then Metalik with a bulldog out of the corner. Metalik with a moonsault off the top and Miz got his feet up to block. Miz wanted the Skull Crushing Finale, but Metalik countered into a forward roll into a pinfall for the victory after five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik)
Analysis: ** It was fine with Miz and Morrison getting cocky, which cost them the win since LHP found a way to get the win when Metalik countered Miz. I like that result because it builds up LHP a bit while Miz and Morrison won’t be hurt by losing in that manner where it’s just a rollup counter.
Post match, Lucha House Party celebrated the win while Miz and Morrison were stunned by the loss. The announcers both said it was a shocking victory.
Sasha Banks faces Lacey Evans up next.
Sasha Banks entered with Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley by her side. Lacey Evans was up next as the opponent.
Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Sasha Banks (w/Bayley) vs. Lacey Evans
The action spilled to the floor quickly and Banks got in a cheap shot by shoving Lacey’s right hand into the ring post. Banks worked over Evans in the ring, but the corner knee attack missed and Evans hit a clothesline as well as a kick. Evans with a running knee on Banks. Evans had a bloody mouth. Evans tried a corner attack, but Banks moved and Banks kicked the right hand of Evans. Banks jumped off the top with the double knee attack for a two count. Evans with a splash onto the back of Banks by the turnbuckle and then Evans sent Banks into the ring post repeatedly. Banks trapped Lacey’s hand against the middle turnbuckle and Banks kicked the hand. Banks hit a Powerbomb out of the corner for a two count. Banks slapped on the Bank Statement submission, Evans got out of it and Evans with a backslide for two. Banks kicked the hand of Evans again. Banks went off the ropes and Evans hit the Woman’s Right Punch with Bayley there to put Sasha’s foot on the bottom rope for a two count. It was obvious that was coming by the ring placement. Evans went after Bayley, the referee was distracted by that and Banks got the rollup with the referee not there to count the pin. Banks told Bayley to stay out of this. Evans hit the Woman’s Right punch on Banks for the pinfall win after seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Lacey Evans
Analysis: **1/2 It was an okay match with a screwy finish where Bayley accidentally cost Banks the win because of the way Bayley distracted the referee. It was not an intentional thing from Bayley, but I like how Banks yelled at Bayley to stay out of this because it will build tension between them. Evans did a good job of selling the right hand injury throughout the match, which then led to Evans using the Woman’s Right punch for the win. I thought Banks was great in everything she did here.
The win by Evans puts her in the Women's Money in the Bank contract ladder match with Asuka, Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax and Dana Brooke, plus one more woman.
Post match, Banks and Bayley were on the top of the ramp when Tamina’s music played. Tamina showed up and hit Bayley with a superkick. They played Lacey’s music again.
A look at Strowman and Wyatt history is up next.
There was a video package about Bray Wyatt’s history with Braun Strowman. When Strowman debuted in WWE, he was part of the Wyatt Family in 2015 with Wyatt calling Braun the “Black Sheep” of the Wyatt Family. In July 2016, Strowman became a singles wrestler on Raw, so they really didn’t have him break up from the group. It was just a separation. Anyway, fast forward to recently when they set up Strowman’s Universal Title match against Wyatt at Money in the Bank.
There was a quick video recap showing Sonya Deville’s great speech against Mandy Rose that furthered their separation as friends.
Next week in Money in the Bank qualifying matches: Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler for the men and Mandy Rose vs. Carmella for the women.
Analysis: I’ll go with Ziggler and Carmella winning. I think Rose will lose because Deville will show up to cost her the match.
Carmella was stretching backstage with Dana Brooke mentioning Carmella has Money in the Bank next week. Brooke said she should be focusing on this match because that’s what Carmella said last week to Dana. Everything was fine and they were ready for their match.
Triple H Moment: There was a clip of May 2001 when Triple tore his quad muscle in an amazing tag team match and finished the match. Eight months later in January 2002, Triple H returned at Madison Square Garden and got one of the loudest ovations of his career. Both of those things were memorable Raw moments.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross entered as the Women’s Tag Team Champions. Carmella was up first for her team with Dana Brooke up next. Brooke is already qualified for the women’s Money in the Bank contract ladder match.
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Dana Brooke vs. Carmella
The action went to the floor early with Carmella hitting a cross body block on Bliss from the apron to the floor. Cross whipped Carmella into the barricade. Brooke jumped off the barricade with a cross body block on Cross. That led to a break one minute into the match.
The match returned with Bliss and Carmella tagging in at the same time. Carmella with a clothesline, then a splash against the turnbuckle and a superkick for two as Cross broke up the pin. Brooke took out Cross with an elbow on the floor. Carmella got a rollup on Bliss and Bliss with a right hand punch. Bliss to the middle turnbuckle, Carmella with a headscissors, Cross got the blind tag and Cross with a rollup for two. Cross with a headbutt to the ribs of Carmella. Bliss tagged in and Cross lifted up Carmella into a DDT by Bliss for the pinfall win after about six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Analysis: *1/2 This felt rushed as if they were told to go faster to get their spots in. We only got to see three minutes of the match. I guess that’s by design because WWE doesn’t want them having a long match, but if you are only going to go six minutes, then the match timing could be better than that so that we can see the whole thing. Anyway, the challengers weren’t built up at all. No surprise that Bliss and Cross won.
Triple H is up next.
The announcers plugged what’s coming up next week with Daniel Bryan facing King Corbin. Also, Otis is facing Dolph Ziggler and Mandy Rose against Carmella in Money in the Bank Qualifying Matches.
Triple H 25 Year Anniversary Celebration
Triple H brought out some water to do his famous water spit, but a stagehand in a mask took the water bottle away. That was clever. Triple H was about to talk about 25 years in WWE, but then he couldn’t get going much because Shawn Michaels showed up for the interruption.
Shawn Michaels showed up with an NXT hat, which is fitting since he is Hunter’s best friend. Shawn called Hunter one of the greatest performers of all time. Shawn was about to give us two words like he did so many times, then Hunter put his arm around him and Shawn said, “social distancing.” Hunter asked: “Are social distancing the two words now?” Shawn said he loves him, but don’t touch him. That was funny.
Shawn said that he contacted everybody that cares about Triple H and said they are all here as they showed a crowd shot with nobody there. Hunter said at least Michael and Corey are there with Shawn saying they are required to be there. Shawn brought up his 25th Year Anniversary Celebration, then they joked that it was a great time and Shawn yelled that he didn’t have one. Shawn talked about the good time they had in the business together and said that they are amazing friends. Shawn joked that everything they touched turned to gold immediately. Hunter joked that it went smoothly.
They showed some of their bloopers over the years. Most of the clips were Hunter and Shawn laughing doing their pre-tape DX skits. They also showed a famous comedy bump by Triple H. There were other bloopers shown of some funny moments.
Shawn put over Hunter for 14 World Championships, numerous WrestleMania appearances and countless WrestleMania moments. Shawn said they call him Mr. WrestleMania but it pales in comparison to Triple H at WrestleMania.
A video aired showing some Triple H losses at WrestleMania while noting that Triple H had 13 losses at WrestleMania. There were highlights of Hunter getting beat up. That was funny. Shawn joked that “you weren’t that good.” Hunter asked about how many losses Shawn had at WrestleMania and Shawn said this isn’t about him. (I looked it up and Shawn was 6-11 at WrestleMania, but the match quality was great!)
Hunter said that he had so many incredible athletes to work with during all these years. Hunter mentioned all the legends he was in the ring with like Austin, Rock, Foley, Undertaker, Michaels, Orton and others. Shawn said that all of those great moments happened, but then Hunter met "that woman" and Shawn complained about Stephanie in a funny way.
Triple H’s phone was ringing so he did a Facetime call with Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie said she was enjoying it, watching it live and she could see Shawn mocking her. Stephanie told Hunter to tell that “no good, lazy-eyed” and Hunter hung up the phone. That was a funny bit too.
Shawn said let’s talk about Ric Flair and said that Evolution was a special moment in Hunter's career. That led to Ric Flair calling Hunter on Facetime. Flair said that they are so glad that Hunter is being honored. Flair said he loved Hunter, Stephanie and his girls at home. Flair said that Hunter shouldn’t let Shawn superkick Hunter at the end of the segment. Flair was crying, then he hung up. The phone rang again, Hunter answered and it sounded like crying Flair. They went to break with about ten minutes until the top of the hour.
Analysis: There was some good comedy there with Hunter and Shawn doing some of their famous DX style humor. It’s hard to recap it all because it goes so fast, but I laughed during a lot of it. That’s not a great time for a commercial, but they started this with about 20 minutes left in the show, so it was obvious that was coming at some point.
The show returned with Triple H talking to Road Dogg on Face Time. Road Dogg asked if they were live right now as if he didn't know, so good for him playing dumb. Dogg had a big beard. Hunter hung up on him.
Shawn said that it’s almost time to go. Hunter said that he called Eric Shanks at Fox and they can go as long as they want. Shawn said good because we haven’t gotten to the Katie Vick segment…oh no!
Vince McMahon showed up to celebrate his son-in-law Hunter. Vince stood on the stage. Shawn said he would back out to let them share this moment together. Vince congratulated Paul (busting out Triple H's real name) for 25 years and said under normal circumstances they’d do a bearhug along with the elbow thing to Shawn. Vince said that there are people standing around the world in appreciation of this. Vince said that their family would be there while some fans might chant “boring” at them. Vince brought up the Gobbledy Gooker as something he thought was going to be good from Survivor Series 1990 and said that The Undertaker debuted that night. Vince said when the egg hatched, there wasn’t a yay or boo - it was nothing. Vince mentioned Katie Vick, then said that Paul (his son-in-law) was naked and Paul was in this funeral home. Vince brought up “Bayley – This is Your Life” and said that was crickets, but it wasn’t Bayley’s fault. Vince to Hunter: “I love you.” Hunter said “I love you” to Vince. Shawn said he loved both of them, which was a funny impromptu interruption by Shawn.
Vince said that Hunter had a godawful performance and it sucked because he was being very sarcastic. Vince said it was “absolutely rotten” and he was ashamed of them. Vince said goodnight and “goodnight padre” to end it. Vince said “let’s wrap it up” with Hunter asking if Vince is throwing them out. The lights turned off, there were cricket noises and that was the end of it.
Analysis: I thought the Triple H celebration segment was pretty good overall. The idea was that Shawn Michaels threw the party, nobody showed up and then Vince shut it down. It’s hard to get all the jokes just based on what I wrote, so watching it might help you understand some of it more. There were some good jokes along the way too. I’m shocked that they mentioned the Katie Vick stuff that was probably the worst angle of Triple H’s career when he feuded with Kane in 2002, but they brought it up twice. I guess it’s easy to joke about it after all these years. Vince bringing up the Gobbledy Gooker and Bayley “This is Your Life” segment is a way to laugh at himself for terrible ideas over the years. It was a tough spot for a party in an empty building, but they made it work by doing the humorous thing instead of having people kiss Hunter’s ass. I think Hunter prefers it this way since he’s a guy that did a lot of funny stuff in his career. I enjoyed it for what it was intended to be, but I’m sure some fans will hate it too. That’s just the nature of the wrestling business.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Triple H and Shawn Michaels
2. Sasha Banks
3. Drew Gulak
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2020 Average: 6.13
This felt like a very average show with none of the matches standing out whereas last week’s show had better in-ring action. Some of the cheap finishes made it hard to really get into the matches. The Triple H 25 Year Celebration segment was 20 minutes of comedy co-starring Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon and I enjoyed it as the light-hearted segment that they were going for.
I thought the build to Money in the Bank matches was okay, but there really wasn’t anything that important on the show in terms of matches or angles.
The next WWE pay-per-event is Money in the Bank on May 10. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Universal Championship: Braun Strowman (c) vs. Bray Wyatt
Men’s Money in the Bank Contract Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Aleister Black vs. Apollo Crews vs. Rey Mysterio vs. King Corbin and one more wrestler.
Women’s Money in the Bank Contract Match: Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Nia Jax vs. Dana Brooke vs. Lacey Evans and one more wrestler.
Smackdown Women's Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Tamina