Welcome to the WWE Smackdown review here on TJRWrestling. Happy Fourth of July holiday on Saturday to those of you in the United States for America’s birthday. We celebrated Canada’s birthday here on Wednesday, so it’s a festive week. It’s also different from the norm due to the health crisis going on in the world. Please be safe, wash those hands, wear a mask where needed, and still try to have fun as best you can. Let’s get to some Smackdown for this episode that was taped on Thursday.
From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1089. 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.
The Smackdown introduction video aired to begin the show.
We were welcomed to the show by Michael Cole and Corey Graves as they did a rundown of what’s coming up this week.
Let’s Hear from Matt Riddle
Michael Cole was in the ring to conduct an interview with Matt Riddle, who made his entrance. They showed highlights from two weeks ago with Riddle beating AJ Styles in a non-title match.
Cole called it a major upset when Riddle beat Styles. The developmental wrestlers in the crowd cheered for Riddle and they had masks on. Riddle said it’s awesome to be on Smackdown now, to stand in this ring and he said it’s a love child of a lot of work as well as a lot of dreams. Riddle said it was like an out of body experience. Riddle said he respected Styles, but he knows he likes AJ more than AJ likes him. Riddle said that after his victory over Styles, celebrating with the Smackdown roster…he thought he could get used to this. Riddle said “bro” a lot and I’m not going to type that out every time. Cole asked Riddle why he competed in bare feet all the time. Riddle said that when he was a kid he went on a trip to Wisconsin where he would be in the pool and then got out in the snow. He had frostbite while he was there where they even thought about amputating his feet. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Riddle said whenever he puts shoes on, he gets that feeling in his feet. Riddle said he doesn’t wear shoes anywhere. Riddle said that even though he can’t feel anything in his feet, they make him feel that much more. It was an odd phrase. I think he was saying about how he knows how to use his feet as weapons.
King Corbin showed up for the interruption as Cole was about to ask what was next for Riddle. Corbin had his ridiculous robe, crown and scepter with him. Corbin got into the ring with Riddle.
Corbin said that Riddle could have saved everybody a bunch of time with Corbin calling Riddle an idiot when he was a little kid and he still is to this day. Corbin ripped on Cole for giving Riddle some airtime, so he told Cole to get out of his ring, which led to Cole leaving. Corbin mentioned Riddle diving on him after Corbin was ganged up on last week’s show. Corbin told Riddle to bow down to the king and told the crowd to bow down as well. Corbin said nobody is happy that Riddle is there and nobody wants him there. Corbin told Riddle for every second he’s out there, he pays for it. Riddle: “You do you, bro.” Corbin said that here on Smackdown, Riddle better be ready for a match at any moment. Corbin said somebody needed to slap around Riddle and put him in his place. Riddle said “let’s go bro” and Corbin said that you don’t just get an opportunity to face the king. Corbin said your opponent is this guy…it’s John Morrison with The Miz.
Analysis: It was good enough in terms of introducing Riddle to some of the fans at home that may not know much about him. Riddle told a story about why he’s always barefoot, which was pretty silly, but I guess for his personality. Don’t try to do a shot for every time Riddle says “bro” because it’s a lot. I did like the part where Riddle came off as being a humble guy that was happy to be there. That’s what you want to see in a face. The Corbin promo was his usual heel promo.
Riddle kicked off the flip flops he had on while Corbin was on commentary for this match.
Matt Riddle vs. John Morrison (w/The Miz)
Riddle with a waistlock on Morrison as Cole wondered why Corbin can make matches and Corbin claimed that as the king he can do anything. Riddle went for a leg lock with Morrison getting to the ropes. Morrison hit Riddle with a forearm to the face, Morrison countered an armbar and hit a slam. Riddle with two gutwrench suplexes and then Morrison hit a rolling senton type of slam. Morrison kicked Riddle away when Riddle went for an Ankle Lock, but Riddle was able to apply it briefly. Morrison landed on his feet after a German Suplex attempt and Morrison hit a springboard kick off the middle ropes. Morrison with a spinning neckbreaker on Riddle for a two count. Miz was doing his “hey hey ho ho” singing on the floor while Morrison worked over Riddle with a chinlock. Morrison avoided an apron attack, then Morrison with a roundhouse kick to the head and Morrison hit a corkscrew plancha on Riddle for a two count. Morrison with two running knees to the face for a two count. Corbin wondered why Riddle doesn’t quit. Morrison with a kick to the ribs, Riddle no sold it again, Morrison teased a forearm and did an eye poke that the referee didn’t see because the referee looked at the elbow pad that Morrison turned down. Riddle hit a Fisherman’s Suplex as both guys were down selling. Riddle charged, he went to the apron and each guy hit a forearm to knock each of them down. Riddle threw a flip flop in Corbin’s face. That led to a break.
The match continued with Riddle hitting a broton (senton) and a Bro to Sleep knee to the face and a German Suplex for a two count. Corbin was watching the match from ringside now. Riddle went up top with a Floating Bro attempt, but Morrison got the knees up to block. Morrison with a sweep kick, he picked up Riddle above his head and hit a spinning slam for a two count. Riddle slapped on the Bromission submission, but Morrison went to the ropes to break free. Morrison sent Riddle to the apron, Morrison was on the middle ropes and Morrison hit a Spanish Fly slam off the top. Morrison hit a standing Spanish Fly slam for a two count. This was a great sequence with Graves going crazy about all of the cool moves they were doing. Riddle came back with a rising kick to the face, then a ripcord knee and Morrison hit a dropkick. Riddle with a Powerbomb and a running knee to the face for a two count. Miz went on the apron, Riddle punched Miz, Corbin distraction and Morrison got a rollup for two. Riddle managed to get an inside cradle where he hooked onto the legs of Morrison for the pinfall win after about 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Matt Riddle
Analysis: ***3/4 This was an excellent match featuring two awesome athletes that can do a lot of cool things in the ring. I liked some of the creative spots they did with Morrison getting plenty of offense and nearly winning a few times although it was obvious that it would be a win for Riddle. It's a nice reminder of how great Morrison is when he's a singles wrestler. I loved that Spanish Fly spot off the top by Morrison where he was countering a Riddle move and then Morrison hit another Spanish Fly for a very believable nearfall. The finish was creative with Riddle getting a unique inside cradle where he grabbed onto the legs of Morrison, which led to the pinfall. Riddle getting the win was the right call because it’s important to build up newer stars like him.
Post match, Riddle was dancing on the ramp and on the stage. AJ Styles showed up for a cheap attack from behind. That’s when Drew Gulak went after Styles because they’re in an IC Title match. The fight was broken up by referees and producers. The show went to break there.
Analysis: Riddle was on the first 30 minutes of this show between the promo and the match. Clearly, WWE has high hopes for him. It’s easy to see why…bro.
The trio of The Miz, John Morrison and King Corbin were angry about things backstage. Sarah Schreiber showed up for an interview, they weren’t happy to see her and Corbin said he will pull some strings to get revenge on Riddle. The heels left.
There were entrances. They were already in the ring for the IC Title. No Daniel Bryan at ringside to support Gulak.
Analysis: I don't think Daniel Bryan has Coronavirus, but I have no idea there. What I know is that Brie's due date for their second baby is July 27 or something like that with Brie saying she felt it could be soon, so he's going to stay home. After the baby is born, he might be off for a few months too because he has mentioned that in previous interviews.
Intercontinental Championship: AJ Styles vs. Drew Gulak
Styles was wrestling in a tank top. Styles sent Gulak out of the ring and hit a baseball slide dropkick to the ribs. Gulak kicked Styles into the turnbuckle. They had Daniel Bryan on Zoom call and Gulak was able to get a forward roll into a two count. Styles got back up with a back elbow to the face. Styles with a suplex as Bryan rejoined via Zoom Call and talked about how Styles doesn’t have many weaknesses as Styles hit an elbow drop. Gulak with punches, a forearm and then Styles hit a dragon screw leg whip on the left knee with Gulak grabbing the left leg. Styles with a knee drive onto the left knee followed by Styles wrenching the left leg of Gulak into the mat. Gulak slapped on an armbar while pulling back on AJ’s face and Styles managed to get to the ropes to break free. Styles was frustrated outside of the ring. Gulak hit a baseball slide dropkick that knocked down Styles outside the ring.
The match returned with Styles grabbing Gulak and driving him left shoulder first into the middle turnbuckle. Styles with a brainbuster for a two count. Bryan commented via Zoom that he’s got a lot in common with Gulak and he thought that Drew was even more technically sound than he is. Bryan said he wanted to learn from him. Styles worked over Gulak with a trip into a backbreaker. Styles slowed things down as he stomped on Gulak. There were some punches and kicks by Gulak that sent Styles into the turnbuckle. Styles choked Gulak’s throat against the top rope. Bryan said that Gulak has a heart that just doesn’t quit while adding that Gulak has all sorts of cradles that he can do from out of nowhere. Styles grabbed a headlock, Gulak broke free and he drove Styles face first into the top turnbuckle. Gulak sent Styles into the ropes with four running dropkicks in a row. Gulak with a Michinoku Driver slam for a two count. Styles countered a superplex attempt by sending Drew face first into the turnbuckle. Styles missed a corner splash, Gulak charged, Styles hit a Powerbomb and then a Styles Clash in the middle of the ring. Styles didn’t go for a cover even though he had the match won right there. Styles placed Gulak up against the ropes, Styles to the apron and Styles jumped to the top rope with a Phenomenal Forearm for the pinfall win after 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***1/2 This was an awesome match with Styles as the obvious winner, but I thought Gulak was really convincing in terms of his selling and making the comebacks. I think maybe they could have had more moments with Gulak going for cradles or other moves that made it look like he might pull off the upset. I get why they booked it this way with Styles in control for most of the match until he finished off Gulak after hitting two finishing moves back to back. Styles could have won after the Styles Clash, but he wanted to hit another move just to show how he can beat people in multiple ways. It was an impressive win to put over Styles as a strong IC Champion.
Styles celebrated the win by holding up the IC Title over a fallen Gulak.
Bayley and Sasha Banks were shown walking out of a production truck because there’s a video tribute to them coming up next.
Let’s Hear from Sasha Banks and Bayley
Sasha Banks made her entrance as we neared the top of hour two with Michael Cole screaming that “It’s Boss Time.” Bayley, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, joined Banks and they are also the Women’s Tag Team Champions together. Cole noted it was Bayley’s 266th day as the Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Bayley said that they have rolled through everybody when they mentioned Banks beating Asuka on Raw. Bayley was about to say NXT (Banks lost to Io Shirai), but Banks told her not to mention that. Bayley said now they are on their home show Smackdown. Bayley wanted them to be called Sasha Three Shows and Bayley Three Brands. Bayley whined about how nobody shows them any respect. They spoke about how The Undertaker respected them. Bayley claimed that Undertaker called her after Smackdown last week and she did a poor Undertaker impression with Taker calling her the greatest champion in WWE history. Bayley kept on going saying Undertaker told them he can’t wait for them to hold all the gold in WWE. Bayley said that Undertaker wanted them to have a tribute for Bayley and Banks. Bayley laughed about how The Undertaker is “outta here” as some in the crowd booed. Banks said there was a tribute video to Sasha and Bayley.
There was a video package about Sasha Banks and Bayley that showed them picking up a lot of wins and having a lot of success in their WWE careers. They had comments from each woman talking about eachother with compliments. The video ran for about three minutes.
Bayley and Sasha tried starting “Thank You Bayley” and “Thank You Sasha” chants, but nobody was joining in on the chant. That’s when it was time for the interruption.
Analysis: It was very over the top and obnoxious in a way that fit their heel personalities. It was also very well done. I’m a big fan of Bayley and Banks as a heel act. They have done some great work in the last few months especially.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross interrupted. Bliss joked that it was very inspirational. Bliss and Cross had a list of their accomplishments as well. Bliss said that Nikki is the Queen of Scotland and is 325th in line to the throne in England. Cross said that Bliss is the epitome of a champion and said that Bliss was the first woman to drive across Antarctica in a Go Kart. They were being comical here, in case you can’t tell from the description. They also tossed the papers down.
Bliss went into the ring telling them they sound ridiculous while Banks said that nobody has been able to touch Bayley for the last year. Banks said that the “hyper little runt” Cross can’t do any different. Cross said that Bayley’s accomplishments have got her success with Cross saying she’s put her entire heart into this. Cross said she knows she can do it and become the next Smackdown Women’s Champion. Bayley and Banks laughed about it, so Bliss slapped Bayley in the face. Banks told Bliss that Bayley has no problem showing her what Cross can expect at Extreme Rules. Bliss accepted the match. Bayley didn’t seem happy about it.
Analysis: It was a typical WWE way of setting up a match. The difference here is that in the past we have seen Bayley setting up matches for Banks without Banks wanting to do it, but now it’s Banks doing it for Bayley. I also liked Cross’ promo full of energy. She has that thick Scottish accent that is tough to understand at times. However, when they let her dig into a promo she’s very good at it.
Bayley (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Alexa Bliss (w/Nikki Cross)
This was not for Bayley’s Smackdown Women’s Title.
Bayley was wrestling in a tank top, black pants and red sneakers. It was not Bayley’s regular gear. Bliss was in her regular gear as she stomped on Bayley’s back followed by Bliss hitting double knees to the ribs two times in a row. Bayley sent Bliss into the top turnbuckle. Bliss tripped up Bayley as they were by the apron. Bayley kicked Bliss in the hand while Bliss was trying to get back into the ring. Bayley stomped on the right arm of Bliss followed by Bayley wrenching on the right arm. Bayley slapped on an armbar on the right arm as Cross got the crowd to clap for her partner, but then Bayley sent Bliss into the mat. Bayley hit a clothesline, then a corner splash and Bayley stomped on Bliss. There was a big uppercut punch from Bliss. Bayley got the left arm of Bliss, which she wrenched against the edge of the ring apron. Bayley with a running corner splash and a running bulldog that were moves that Cross does in her usual routine. Bliss riled up Cross, so Bayley whipped Bliss into the knee of Banks. Cross knocked down Banks outside the ring. Bayley told Cross to stay out of her business, so Cross hit Bayley with a forearm. That led to a DQ. It went about six minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Bayley
Analysis: **1/4 It’s hard to love a DQ finish whenever it happens, but I understood it in this instance. It’s also better than seeing the champion losing a non-title match, which is WWE’s favorite booking move. I thought the work in the match was fine.
Post match, Cross tried to attack Bayley again, but Banks pulled Bayley out of the ring. They played Alexa’s music even though she lost the match. Standing tall is more important apparently.
There was a shot of a lot of alcohol on a table with Sheamus presenting a toast to Jeff Hardy later on Smackdown.
A look at the history between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt is next.
This Tuesday on FS1 it’s Royal Rumble 2017. Read my review of that show here if you want a reminder of what happened.
The announcers mentioned that Strowman and Wyatt will have a Wyatt Swamp Fight at Extreme Rules: The Horror Show.
History of Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt
A video aired with Strowman talking about how it was years ago in a swamp when he met a father of lies, the eater of worlds Bray Wyatt. That led to some clips of some of the past creepy Bray Wyatt videos that we would see all the time on WWE programming. Strowman said that he became the bringer of pain, the apocalypse and he loved every second of it. They showed clips of Strowman having success in the last few years, but then the old Bray Wyatt showed up in a video package. Strowman said that to destroy him, he must become him and drown the sermon. They ended it with some clips of Strowman laughing on Smackdown last week and then Wyatt also laughing as he has done many times in his career.
Analysis: It was okay for a video focusing on Strowman talking about how he needs to win. I’m not that interested in the match, but it is a cinematic match and some of them have been good, so I’ll try to be positive about it. They are taping the match a few weeks advance, so they can edit it before it airs on July 19.
The New Day’s Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance with Big E rolling on his side down to the ring. That was hilarious. Big E also whipped his jacket at Graves and Cole was laughing because that was hilarious too. Big E is great. Kingston vs. Nakamura after a break.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura entered for Nakamura’s match.
Kofi Kingston (w/Big E) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Cesaro)
Kingston with a dropkick, Nakamura with a knee to the ribs and Kingston went to the middle ropes with another dropkick. Kingston with yet another dropkick that knocked Nakamura off the apron to the floor. Kingston ran the ropes, Nakamura moved out of harm’s way and when Kofi left the ring, Nakamura kicked him in the ribs. Kingston whipped Nakamura into the plexiglass by the barricade while Big E did some laughing in Nakamura’s face. Kingston was on the top, Cesaro with a distraction and Nakamura hit a rising kick to the face. Cesaro got in a cheap shot punch on Kingston when the referee wasn’t looking. Big E chased after Cesaro, so referee Jessika Carr ejected both of them from ringside.
Nakamura was in control with a knee drop. Nakamura with a running knee against the turnbuckle followed by a sliding German Suplex. Kingston with punches, but Nakamura stopped the momentum again with a back elbow. Nakamura with a rising knee to the chest while Kingston was against the apron. Kingston with a running forearm to the face, then chops to the chest, a standing dropkick and Nakamura with a punch to the face. Kingston with a boot to the face, Kingston up top, he jumped off and Nakamura hit a knee to the ribs. They exchanged cradle pin attempts with each guy getting two counts. Nakamura hit a spin kick to the head. Kingston avoided a Kinshasa attempt, Kingston hit the SOS trip into a slam and that was a good nearfall. Kingston hit a jumping double foot stomp to the chest for a two count. Kingston charged, Nakamura grabbed him by the head with a sleeper, then some sort of eye gouge and Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike to the head for the pinfall win after about 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: *** It was a competitive match between two veterans who each came close to winning a few times. I liked the finish although it was a bit confusing in terms of what Nakamura did to Kingston’s face and if it was cheap. It would have been nice if the announcers bickered about that a bit. This was the kind of match that could have gone either way. They went with the finish where the champion (in this case tag team champion Kofi) lost to a challenger in order to give momentum to the challenger.
Post match, Cesaro went out to ringside to celebrate with his buddy Nakamura. Cesaro brought out a table from under the ring, but Big E ran out to make the save as the heels retreated. Big E checked on Kingston.
Analysis: Shortly after this, it was announced that there will be a tag team title match next week.
Next week on Smackdown:
* Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt from Money in the Bank. It was not a very good match.
* Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Again? It’s been done plenty of times.
* Smackdown Tag Team Championship match with The New Day defending against Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro.
Next week’s Smackdown was taped on Thursday.
The main event is Sheamus presenting a toast to Jeff Hardy.
This Monday on Raw: Asuka vs. Bayley. They taped two episodes of Raw on Friday.
Sheamus Presents a Toast to Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy made his entrance to the ring where there was a bartender in there with some alcoholic drinks in the ring.
Jeff called out Sheamus and said he wanted to know what this is all about. Sheamus was shown at home where he welcomed us to Sheamy’s bar. Sheamus said he wanted to give Jeff some space while saying that Jeff defending The Undertaker was great to see. Sheamus said that Jeff was looking for a quick fix. Sheamus said that Jeff had a problem with facing reality. Sheamus said ever since he beat Jeff at Backlash, Jeff sticks his nose in somebody else’s business to try to get a quick pick me up. Sheamus said that it breaks his heart because we’ve seen it all before. Sheamus said that Jeff is lying to himself and he can’t bear to see Jeff anymore. Sheamus said he had a solution to all of Jeff’s problems and the answer is in one of those bottles. Sheamus raised a glass for a toast while telling Jeff to drink himself blind and pass out on the floor. Sheamus ripped on Jeff for having too many DUIs and mugshots. Sheamus called him a “beautiful junkie” as well.
Jeff said that Sheamus has got to be the sickest person he’s ever met. Jeff wondered if it was funny to Sheamus to do stuff like this. Sheamus claimed he was there to help. Sheamus told Jeff he didn’t have to live a lie anymore and there’s nothing more that Jeff wants to do than jump back into it. Sheamus said he sent his friend Jeeves there to give Jeff some drinks. Sheamus told Jeff he didn’t have to pretend, he told him to be strong and follow his instincts.
Jeff grabbed a drink and he teased drinking it. Instead, Jeff poured the drink on Jeeves to ruin his tuxedo. Jeff grabbed a bottle that he used to hit Jeeves in the back of the head. Jeff went up top and hit a Swanton Bomb on Jeeves. Jeff celebrated while Sheamus looked on from home. That was the end of Smackdown for this week.
Analysis: This was boring. It didn't work for me. I like both guys a lot, but this wasn’t that interesting to me. Their match at Backlash was good. I’m fine with the story continuing. I just think they could have done some things differently to make us care more about Jeff getting revenge on Sheamus the bully. Yes, the alcohol taunting by Sheamus is mean and he comes across as a jerk, but it doesn’t mean it’s compelling television that the fans are going to be tuned into because of how exciting it is. It wouldn’t surprise me if some fans turned off the show before this segment because it really didn't feel like a big deal.
I have a question too: Is the WWE Creative team even going to try to explain the drunk driving angle from over a month ago? We think it might have been Sheamus that framed Jeff, but we don’t know and the longer they go without mentioning, the less faith I have in WWE trying to explain it.
Three Stars of the Show
- Matt Riddle
- AJ Styles
- John Morrison/Drew Gulak
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2020 Average: 6.33
The first hour was great. That was probably one of the best first hours of Smackdown this year with two awesome matches totaling over 30 minutes of in-ring time. They are clearly pushing Matt Riddle a lot since he did a promo to let the fans know more about him and had a great match with John Morrison. Then AJ Styles and Drew Gulak had a very competitive match for the IC Title. That’s what I like to see. It was a strong wrestling show in terms of matches with nothing that was too bad at all in the ring.
In the second hour, things dropped off quite a bit and it wasn’t as interesting. I did enjoy the antics of Bayley & Banks as usual. It would be nice if they did more to make us care about Strowman vs. Wyatt. Good match between Nakamura and Kingston as you would expect. I don’t think that Jeff Hardy/Sheamus segment was main event worthy or that interesting at all. I’m fine with another match between them. It’s just these non-wrestling segments between them have been a bit weak.
You can tell that there are some wrestlers missing for Coronavirus reasons. That doesn’t mean everybody absent from Smackdown has Coronavirus. For example, Daniel Bryan has a very pregnant wife at home, so it’s understandable that he is home. I think WWE is just being cautious in some cases.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Extreme Rules: The Horror Show on July 19. Here are the matches that have been announced so far.
Swamp Fight (Non-Title): Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Nikki Cross