Welcome to the WWE Smackdown review here on TJRWrestling. This is the first Smackdown since the WWE Backlash pay-per-view this past Sunday. Up next is Extreme Rules on July 19. This episode of Smackdown was taped this past Monday.
From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1087. 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 highlights of the Intercontinental Championship tournament finals last week on Smackdown that saw AJ Styles beat Daniel Bryan via pinfall in a 38-minute classic that saw Styles win the IC Title for the first time. I rated it ****3/4 out of five when I saw it live and I saw in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Dave Meltzer rated it the same as well. It’s one of the best WWE TV matches ever and one of the best matches in WWE this year.
The Smackdown introduction video aired to start the show.
The WWE Performance Center was the home of Smackdown again with WWE developmental wrestlers in the crowd making some noise. The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves plugged what is coming up on this week’s show.
Intercontinental Championship Celebration
The ring was surrounded by some of the male Smackdown roster for this celebration. Guys like Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt weren't there, for example. No Roman Reigns or Sami Zayn. It's the guys that have been around regularly. Renee Young introduced AJ Styles while the IC Title was in the ring on a table.
AJ Styles entered the ring to celebrate his title win. Styles thanked Renee for listing his accolades and he said he was like an accolade machine. Styles said that Smackdown is the house that AJ Styles built. Cesaro didn’t seem interested. Styles told the guys outside the ring that this is as close as they will get to the Intercontinental Championship. Renee asked what does this milestone mean for him? Styles said it means vindication because winners find a way to win and the cream rises to the top. Styles said success happens for people that reach out and take it rather than those that want a handout.
Styles said that Renee was not the right person to present him with the championship. Styles looked around and pointed at Daniel Bryan at ringside. Styles said he wanted Bryan to put the title around AJ’s waist. Bryan was reluctant to do it. Styles said that Bryan should have respect for a championship that he said means so much to him. Bryan went into the ring. Styles told him to put it around his waist and say “congratulations” because it’s all about respect. Styles said he trusted Bryan not to do anything stupid. Styles wonders if it undermines what Bryan thinks a champion should be and said that’s despicable if he thinks that. Styles told Bryan he didn’t have to do it while calling him a coward if he doesn’t do it. Bryan put the title around AJ’s waist, Bryan said congratulations and wanted to leave. Styles said that nobody heard that, so Bryan said more.
Bryan grabbed the microphone: “Congratulations, AJ Styles.” Bryan said that last week, Styles was the better man. Bryan said even though they disagree about a lot of things, he respects AJ’s ability in this ring. Bryan said that Styles would be a great Intercontinental Champion and perhaps the greatest IC Champion in WWE history. Bryan said that Styles can be the greatest if he defends the title against the amazing superstars standing around this ring. Bryan suggested Styles defending the title against Shorty G, Gran Metalik, Big E (do it, push Big E!) and Styles cut him off. Styles told Bryan he wanted him to shut up. Styles said that a select few will have a shot at him and he told Bryan he’s at the back of the list. Bryan said if you’re interested in people earning things then that means Styles is willing to defend the title against Drew Gulak considering Drew beat Styles two weeks ago. The crowd chanted “yes” for that suggestion. Styles said he’s not giving handouts. Styles said if you want an opportunity to fight him for the championship then you have to earn it and you have to be the number one contender. Styles said that the next person that wants to run their mouth has to deal with the consequences.
Bro…it’s Matt Riddle making his debut in his customary flip flops and then the crowd was chanting “Bro” for him. Riddle kicked his flip flops into the crowd. This is Riddle’s Smackdown debut.
Riddle introduced himself and Styles said he knows exactly who he is. Styles said all he sees is a dude with no shoes in his ring and Riddle says he never wears shoes. Styles said that he sees another human being looking forward to another handout. Riddle said he’s not asking anything. Riddle said that he heard that Styles is the “face that runs the place” and Riddle said that he’s the “bro that’s gonna run the show.”
Styles punched Riddle, but then Riddle came back with punches and a kick that sent Styles out of the ring. Styles was furious at ringside. Styles called out a referee to have a match. They went to commercial after 17 minutes.
Analysis: That was a long opening segment. I thought Styles did a great job as the arrogant heel champion. Bryan’s promo was very good as he put over his buddy Drew Gulak and wanted Drew to get a title shot due to Drew beating Styles two weeks ago. It will probably happen soon. Riddle’s promo was okay. He’s got a unique stoner style to him. Riddle was in the news for the wrong reasons the past few days due to allegations of sexual assault. It was before Riddle was in WWE and he has denied it through a statement by his lawyer. It’s not a good thing to have to deal with, obviously. I don’t know if he’s guilty or innocent. Time will tell on that. For now, Riddle is clearly being positioned in a big spot on Smackdown since he’s already facing AJ Styles.
It was about to be announced as an IC Title match, but then Styles said it would not be a title match. The wrestlers were still standing around the ring.
Matt Riddle vs. AJ Styles
Riddle was aggressive early with a German Suplex followed by two gutwrench suplexes for a two count. Styles with a back elbow, Styles walked away and Riddle hit a roundhouse kick to the head. Riddle hit a broton splash. Styles with shoulders, then chops and Riddle came back with strikes of his own. Styles hit a dropkick to take control along with a kick to the knee. Riddle with open hand palm strikes, kicks to the body and Styles with a thrust to the throat. Styles with a clothesline to send Riddle onto the apron. Riddle tried to pull Styles out of the ring, but then Styles kicked Riddle into King Corbin and that led to Riddle arguing with Corbin.
Analysis: That could be a sign that Riddle will be feuding with Corbin soon. That was a rumor, so it looks possible now.
Styles with a head slam as they showed Styles hitting a dropkick during the break. Styles with a backbreaker as he remained in control with a punch to the head and a snap suplex. Styles drove Riddle’s face against the ropes and then hit a knee drop. Styles hit a dragon screw leg whip followed by a kick to the back of the left leg. Riddle missed a punch when Styles ducked and Styles hit a chop block to the back of the left knee. Riddle came back with a knee to the face, but Styles with another kick to the knee. Riddle lifted up Styles into a suplex as the wrestlers around the ring slapped the mat to make some noise. Styles missed a corner charge, Riddle with two forearms and an overhead suplex. Riddle missed a knee and moonsault, but then Riddle hit a broton splash. Riddle slapped on the Bromission submission, but Styles got out of it. Styles countered a slam into a Calf Crusher submission, but they were near the ropes, so Riddle grabbed the bottom rope to break the hold. Daniel Bryan encouraged Riddle from ringside, which Styles didn’t look, so Styles shoved Bryan into some other wrestlers. Styles got in Bryan’s face again. Styles to the apron, he went up top, but Riddle caught him and hit the Bro Derek slam for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Matt Riddle
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a great match. It followed the familiar booking pattern with a champion losing non-title because they wanted to make Riddle look like a big star in his first match on Smackdown. I thought it was a strong way to debut Riddle by having him hit a lot of big moves. Styles kept going after the knee, Riddle sold it well and was able to capitalize on Styles being distracted by Bryan outside the ring, which led to Riddle hitting the Bro Derek slam to get the win. It was a great way to debut Riddle by making him look like a big deal right away. I just hate champions losing non-title so much like how the tag team champions lost in the same manner last week. I know I complain about it often. It's just tiresome.
After the match, the other babyface wrestlers went into the ring to celebrate with Riddle. The announcers put it over as a big deal while Styles was furious at ringside. Cole called it one of the greatest debuts in Smackdown history.
Analysis: It looks like Riddle will be featured heavily on Smackdown, but that may change after the sexual assault allegations made against him. I know that Riddle denied it through his lawyer. We just don’t know what’s true at this point. Riddle has the potential to be a top babyface on Smackdown, but the allegations against him do hurt for sure.
Jeff Hardy was shown seated backstage for an interview after the break.
There was a video package about Jeff Hardy’s car accident on Smackdown where he was set up by somebody with orange hair and an orange beard according to Jeff. That meant Jeff thought it was Sheamus. When they had a match at Backlash on Sunday, Sheamus beat Jeff clean.
Jeff Hardy Interview
Jeff Hardy was interviewed backstage by Renee Young, who asked how he is holding. Jeff said it’s been a rollercoaster physically and emotionally. Jeff said he’s 42 years old, he’s trying to turn his life around and his life is amazing, but the bad times can haunt him if he lets them. Jeff said he has to do what’s best for his family. Jeff said that the struggle is real. Renee said that some people might say his rivalry with Sheamus has been tough to watch and Jeff came up short at Backlash. Jeff said he’s lost a lot of matches, he’ll lose many more and Sheamus is a constant reminder of what he doesn’t like about himself. Jeff said it creates this negative thinking and if he beat up Sheamus and shut him up then that means he is turning things around. Jeff said that negative thinking comes back as he wondered if he’s good enough anymore, then he wonders if he’s a good father or husband. Jeff said if he’s learned one thing in this life it’s that he has to catch himself before that way of thinking spirals out of control. Jeff said that he needs to have the wherewithal to look at the situation for what it is. Jeff said he’s an adrenaline junkie, he’s an alcoholic and that’s okay because he knows who he is. Jeff called Sheamus an insecure bully that is another sickening obstacle that is on Jeff’s road to redemption. Jeff said he’s a human anomaly and he’s not done yet.
Analysis: The interview was fine with Jeff saying the usual stuff about how he’s got a lot to overcome and Sheamus is a bully, which is how you would expect him to describe things. It seems like the Hardy feud with Sheamus will continue. I thought Sheamus should have won in a more cheap manner at Backlash in order to set up a rematch at Extreme Rules. Instead, Sheamus won clean. I know Jeff beat Sheamus on Smackdown a few weeks before that, so you could say the series is 1-1 and they can have a third match at Extreme Rules. That makes sense to me anyway.
Shorty G was working out backstage and Kayla Braxton showed up for an interview. Shorty said that he doesn’t care about being shorter because he’s been wrestling heavyweights his whole life. Mojo was behind him and Shorty said that guys like Mojo don’t know what it’s like to have eyes in the back of your head. Shorty punched him and left for the match.
A commercial aired for The Last Ride documentary about The Undertaker with Chapter 5 on Sunday. It’s the final chapter. I will review it on TJRWrestling on Sunday.
Mojo Rawley vs. Shorty G
Mojo was in control with punches and he sent Shorty into the turnbuckle. Shorty avoided a slam and hit a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Mojo with a stun gun into the top rope followed by Mojo running off the ropes with the pounce for a two count. Mojo grabbed a chinlock, Shorty got out of it and jumped on Mojo’s back. Shorty sent Mojo out of the ring, but then Mojo came back with a running corner splash. Shorty avoided a corner charge, Mojo hit the turnbuckle and Shorty hit a German Suplex. Shorty went up top, he jumped right onto Mojo’s shoulders, but then Shorty countered a slam attempt into an inside cradle for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shorty G
Analysis: *3/4 This was fine for the time given. It’s hard to have a great match when it’s that short (hey Shorty). Mojo controlled most of it and Shorty did a nice job of making the comeback. I liked the counter move to win. I don't know if this will lead to anything or if it was just a chance to give two guys a chance on the show for five minutes.
The Miz and John Morrison were shown backstage getting ready for their talk show.
This week on Raw on Championship Monday: Asuka vs. Charlotte for the Raw Women’s Title, Street Profits vs. Viking Raiders for the Raw Tag Team Titles, Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. IIconics for the Women’s Tag Team Titles, R-Truth vs. Akira Tozawa for the 24/7 Title (yes, really), they mentioned Seth Rollins’ issues with Rey Mysterio and Ric Flair will crown Randy Orton the greatest wrestler ever. That’s what they advertised.
Miz TV hosted by Miz and Morrison
The Miz and John Morrison were in the ring welcoming us to the talk show. Miz and Morrison complained about how they change the rules before their match against Braun Strowman at Backlash. They thought that they would be co-Universal Champions instead of one of them winning, so that’s why Miz pulled Morrison off of a cover. They also claimed that if Otis wasn’t around then one of them would be the Universal Champion right now. The Miz introduced Mandy Rose saying she’s in “one of the most vicious rivalries we’ve ever seen” referencing her feud with Sonya Deville. I don’t know about that statement.
Mandy Rose made her entrance looking amazing as usual in black leather pants and a black top. Mandy sat in a chair in the ring with Miz and Morrison. Miz wanted to talk about Sonya and Mandy said that she was best friends with Sonya for five years. Miz and Morrison ripped on Mandy during the interview, then Mandy said she was going to leave and Miz apologized. Miz said that they had a surprise for Mandy – it was Sonya.
Sonya Deville walked out in a black suit saying she had to join the party. Mandy said that Sonya went behind her back to sabotage Mandy’s career and personal life, so whatever it is you think Mandy has done, Mandy said she is done with her. Sonya said that she wishes she was done with Mandy, but she can’t be done with her. Sonya complained about Mandy getting the spotlight. Sonya said if it wasn’t for Miz and Morrison, she wouldn’t be there. Sonya said that they promoted Mandy Rose on Miz TV and wondered where Sonya is. Sonya noted that Mandy hasn’t really won matches or said anything of any value that has meaning to anybody. Sonya said that all Mandy has done is make out with Otis poolside so everybody can see.
Mandy asked what Sonya wants from her. Mandy said that unlike Sonya, Mandy has people by her side and Otis has been there for her – loyal since day one. Mandy asked Sonya what does she have? Mandy noted that Sonya was alone. Mandy wondered how much longer Sonya is going to hang on to these petty resentments. Sonya broke it down saying she’s not mad at her anymore, but she’s trying to figure out how to get the Mandy Rose treatment. Sonya wondered about the difference between them and the only difference she sees is because of “this” (referencing Mandy’s looks). Sonya complained about it saying that she’s superior in every single way. Sonya said that Mandy thinks she is better than her, so she’s going to rip Mandy apart piece by piece until her outsides are just as hideous as what’s inside. The women got into a slugfest as they exchanged punches and knees. Sonya hid behind Miz and then bailed to the floor. Mandy got in Miz’s face and Mandy slapped Miz in the face. Mandy left looking angry.
Analysis: I thought this was very effective in terms of getting over the points of each woman. Sonya was angry that Mandy gets all the attention even though Sonya has beat her multiple times while Mandy is sick of Sonya continues to talk trash about her. I think it’s easy to understand both character’s points of view because we have seen these types of feuds before where former best friends have a feud like this. The rivalry should lead to a PPV match between them because I think this has been a long story that should lead to a match on a bigger stage.
Still to come: Bray Wyatt is back in the Firefly Fun House.
There was a video about Sasha Banks and Bayley winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles two weeks ago and they have been featured a lot on every show since then. They joined the commentary team for the next match.
The New Day entered for tag team action. They are Smackdown Tag Team Champions and they’re facing the Lucha House Party. Banks refused to tell Cole what she got Bayley for Bayley’s birthday.
The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E) vs. Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik)
This is not for the SD Tag Team Titles. Banks was mad at Cole for saying New Day were the best tag team ever. Kingston and Dorado spent about a minute doing moves and counters where neither guy got the advantage. Bayley said that there were no women on Smackdown that she should defend her title against. Metalik stood on Dorado’s shoulders and hit a splash. Big E got the tag with a belly to belly suplex and Kofi hit a splash. Big E hit another belly to belly suplex over the top to the floor. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were shown watching backstage since they beat the champs last week. Dorado with a kick on Big E and Metalik with a dropkick. Metalik hit a dive off the top on Kofi on one side of the ring and then Dorado hit a dive off the top onto Big E on the other side.
The match continued with Dorado jumping onto Big E, who caught him and Big E hit a back elbow leading to a running splash for two. Big E slapped on an abdominal stretch. Dorado bounced off the ropes with a cartwheel into the ropes leading to a Stunner. Kingston tagged in with a punch, dropkick and Metalik hit a kick to the head followed by a bulldog. Metalik jumped off the middle ropes leading to a dropkick from Kingston. Dorado tagged back in with a hurricanrana off the top on Big E, sitout slam by Metalik and Dorado went up top with a splash for a two count as Big E shoved Metalik onto Dorado to break up the pin. Double superkick by LHP on Kingston. Big E shoved Metalik off the top. Kingston avoided an attack from Dorado and Big E tagged in for the Midnight Hour double team move for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E)
Analysis: **3/4 Good work here by four solid pros doing their thing. I know fans expect Lucha House Party to lose and that’s what happened, but I can still appreciate the work they do in the ring because they always have fun matches. New Day won because they lost non-title last week to Cesaro and Nakamura, so no point in booking that kind of finish again. A nice finish to the match.
Post match, Nakamura and Cesaro went into the ring with Nakamura hitting a kick on Big E. Cesaro sent Kofi into the top rope. Cesaro hit the Neutralizer on Big E. Cesaro did the swing to Kofi and then Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee to the head of Kofi.
Cesaro went over to the announce table saying that they are sick and tired of being overlooked. Cesaro complained about how they beat the champs last week and not even mentioned this week. Cesaro said they are international stars that are last of a dying breed and they should be treated better.
Analysis: I agree with what Cesaro said. Am I supposed to be mad about it because he's a heel? I am not. Anyway, it should lead to a tag team title match soon. There have been reports that the Forgotten Sons were going to get this push, but they were taken off TV due to controversial comments by Jackson Ryker, so WWE put Cesaro and Nakamura in the spot. Believe me when I tell you that I won't be mad about seeing Cesaro and Nakamura in a more featured role. They are much better performers.
There was a shot of the Smackdown women’s division backstage on the edge of an extra ring with Lacey Evans, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Tamina and Dana Brooke standing there. All the women talked about how they can beat Bayley. Nikki Cross wasn’t there, so Bliss wondered where did Nikki go? I assume we will find out soon.
Sheamus was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Sheamus said that he realized that things have become serious with him and Jeff. Sheamus said that lines have been crossed, Jeff said he was a bully and Sheamus laughed saying: “I am a bully.” Sheamus said that Jeff deserves to be bullied and he regrets not crushing his voice box. Sheamus mocked Jeff for being resilient and strong for turning his life around. Sheamus said that if Jeff can’t lift himself up then Sheamus will do it for him. Sheamus said that next week he’s going to toast the one and only Jeff Hardy.
Analysis: It sounds like they set up a promo segment for next week.
Bayley and Sasha Banks were still at ringside and Nikki Cross showed up to attack them. Cross threw Banks onto the announce table. Bayley saved Banks and Alexa Bliss ran out to ringside to save her buddy Cross. Nikki called Banks to get in the ring right now because Nikki wants some action. Bayley said you get the match even though Banks didn’t seem interested in it.
Sasha Banks (w/Bayley) vs. Nikki Cross (w/Alexa Bliss)
Cross with a dropkick, Banks did the beg off that heels do and Banks sent Cross out of the ring. Cross trapped Banks between the apron of the ring and the edge of the ring. Cross worked over Banks with forearms to the chest. When Cross went up top, Banks bailed to the floor, so Cross jumped off the apron with a cross body block on Banks on the floor. Back in the ring, Banks hit a Backstabber for a two count. Banks pulled back on Nikki’s arms to ground her. Cross with an elbow to the head of Banks, then a kick to knock Banks down and Cross went up top. Banks met Cross with a forearm. Cross got a hold of Banks’ head and sent her into the top turnbuckle repeatedly. Nikki hit a Tornado DDT off the turnbuckle for two. Banks avoided the neckbreaker off the ropes, knee by Banks and Cross slammed Banks’ head into the mat. Cross got a rollup for two. Each woman got two counts, then Banks got the Meteora double knees into the pin and that was good enough to win the match by pinfall after about six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sasha Banks
Analysis: **1/2 It was a decent match with Banks continuing the winning ways. Banks rarely wins with the Meteora as a finishing move, but it was done in a way where she hit the move leading to a pinfall. Cross is the kind of wrestler that I’d like to see holding the Women’s Title at some point and I think she will, but it’s not the right time. I think the goal here was to continue Sasha’s winning ways to show that she’s great in singles or when she’s in a team.
A video aired about Titus O’Neil’s charity work since he’s a nominee for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award by ESPN. O’Neil is a great guy that does a lot of charitable work, but is barely featured on WWE TV as a wrestler.
Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Fun House is in the main event up next. They showed Universal Championship Braun Strowman watching on a TV backstage.
There was a replay of the opening match on the show with Styles losing to Riddle.
Next week on Smackdown: AJ Styles defends the Intercontinental Title against Drew Gulak. Gulak beat Styles on Smackdown two weeks ago, so it makes sense. Also, Sheamus “presents a toast” to Jeff Hardy.
Analysis: Lots of title matches next week. Raw has four of them (Raw Women's, Raw Tag Team, Women's Tag Team, 24/7), NXT has North American Title and Smackdown has the IC Title match Styles vs. Gulak.
Firefly Fun House
Bray Wyatt was shown in the Firefly Fun House wondering if we missed him. Bray was talking about all the things he did like join a book club and other things. In reality, he had a second baby with Jojo, so he was given some time off. Ramblin’ Rabbit reminded Bray that he lost to Braun Strowman at Money in the Bank and Bray thanked the rabbit for remind him. Bray was sarcastic about that.
Braun Strowman made his entrance with the Universal Title around his waist. Braun said that there are no more games because this story is over. Wyatt laughed about it. Wyatt said that “our” chapter may be over, but “our story is just getting started” and that led to some Wyatt Family clips. It also said that led to 2014 version of Bray Wyatt was on screen saying that it looked like Braun saw a guest. Bray said that they must take a step back to where it all began. Bray said that he created Braun, so it’s his duty to destroy him. Bray told Braun he knows where to find him, all he has to do is…follow the buzzards. Wyatt had a candle that he blew out and that was it for Smackdown.
Analysis: It’s a way to keep the feud going by having Bray say that he’s there to destroy Braun and now Braun will try to beat the 2014 version of Bray that we all knew when Bray first started on the main roster. Perhaps it will be something where Braun beat current Wyatt at Money in the Bank, then he’ll beat 2014 Bray at Extreme Rules in some sort of gimmick match where they do cinematic scenes. Maybe it continues at SummerSlam with Braun against The Fiend, but if Bray keeps losing then it’s hard for it to continue. I’m just saying what I think might happen with Bray doing a "Three Faces of Wyatt" thing like Mick Foley was doing over 20 years ago. I’m intrigued, at least.
Three Stars of the Show
- AJ Styles – He lost his match, but the match and promo were both great.
- Matt Riddle – A strong debut on Smackdown.
- Sonya Deville
7.25 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2020 Average: 6.24
I thought it was a pretty good show this week. I seem to say that a lot because Smackdown has reached a point where I give it a score around a 7 out of 10 nearly every week due to the quality in-ring action and some solid storyline progression. I thought the debut of Matt Riddle was excellent as he not only stood toe to toe with IC Champ AJ Styles, but Riddle beat him too. I know Riddle has legal problems due to accusations and this was taped before that came out in the news. If Riddle avoids trouble, he can be a big star…bro. Styles was the best performer on the show thanks to a great heel promo and awesome performance in the match.
The other matches were all solid while Sonya and Mandy did well in terms of their promo segment leading to a brawl. Sonya continues to stand out with her promos. The Jeff Hardy/Sheamus angle continuing is fine with me as well. I think Jeff will have to get the big win there.
It was a weak main event because it only a promo. I didn’t love the Firefly Fun House ending with Bray Wyatt turning back the clock to 2014 Bray. I guess it means Braun Strowman will have to beat that version of Bray and then Braun will deal with The Fiend after that. That’s just my guess on where it’s headed. I think Smackdown has been pretty consistent of late. More consistent than Raw has been. With that said, I don't think there's truly been a great episode of either show in a long time.