TJR: WWE Smackdown 07/17/20 Review


Welcome to the WWE Smackdown review. It’s the last Smackdown episode before the ridiculously named “The Horror Show at Extreme Rules” pay-per-view that takes place this Sunday, July 19. Last week’s Smackdown was probably the worst episode of the year, so let’s hope they can deliver a better show this week. This episode was taped on Friday after nearly two weeks off, so everybody has had a chance to rest up before the next few days of shows.
From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1091. 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 intro video aired.
AJ Styles was shown backstage talking about the last time he faced Matt Riddle, it was just a fluke that Styles lost.
Matt Riddle said that his win was not a fluke.
Daniel Bryan was at home (wife Brie is very pregnant) and said he thought there would be a new IC Champion.
Alexa Bliss said that she had a mystery guest on her talk show, but she didn’t “bliss and tell.”
John Morrison and The Miz were backstage with Morrison acting like he wasn’t afraid to face Braun Strowman, but then Morrison admitted that he was terrified.
Braun Strowman laughed about getting to face Morrison while threatening Bray Wyatt as well.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were backstage talking about their match tonight with Cesaro saying that when he beats Big E, they get to pick the stipulation for their Extreme Rules match.
Big E and Kofi Kingston were right by the curtain saying that they won’t lose to Cesaro and Nakamura on Sunday. Big E did the New Day introduction because his match is up first.
Analysis: That gave me some Saturday Night’s Main Event flashbacks with the promos from the wrestlers. That was a cool promo medley to take up a few minutes to get people interested in what’s coming up during the show this week. I like that as a way to tell the audience what’s coming up. We also found out that New Day vs. Cesaro/Nakamura is set for Extreme Rules, which I assumed, but it wasn’t official going into this Smackdown.

The New Day’s Big E and Kofi Kingston entered for the first match of the show. They threw their jackets at Corey Graves on commentary as usual. Graves is there to call the action as usual with Michael Cole by his side. Cesaro and Nakamura entered for Cesaro’s match.
Big E (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Cesaro (w/Shinsuke Nakamura)
Big E sent Cesaro out of the ring followed by Big E sending Cesaro back first into the steel steps. Big E hit a running shoulder tackle on Cesaro against the steps. Back in the ring, Cesaro moved and Big E went shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Cesaro sent Big E into the ring post followed by a double axe in the ring. Cesaro grabbed a chinlock, Big E broke free and Cesaro hit a sitout powerslam for two. Cesaro went up top, Big E caught him and hit two belly to belly suplexes followed by the belly to belly slam. Big E hit a running splash, which led to some clapping by the crowd. Big E sent Cesaro to the apron and into the ring post. Big E hit a running splash on Cesaro on the apron as the show went to break.
(Commercial)

Cesaro was in control with running forearms against the turnbuckle. Cesaro charged, but Big E caught him with a uranage slam. Big E charged, Cesaro with a knee to block and Cesaro hit a springboard uppercut for a two count. Big E tripped up Cesaro and slapped on a Stretch Muffler submission that bent the knee across the shoulders. Cesaro got out of that, then he got a rollup for two and did the Swing into a Sharpshooter submission. Big E got close to the ropes, then Cesaro slapped on a Crossface submission and Nakamura knocked down Kofi on the floor. Big E powered out of the submission, they nearly knocked down the referee Jessika Carr, which allowed Nakamura getting in a cheap kick on Big E and Cesaro hit the Neutralizer for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Analysis: *** The positive momentum continued for Cesaro as he picked up the win thanks to the cheap shot from Nakamura. These guys work well together, I thought the finish was good with the spot involving the referee without doing a bump, but it cost the face Big E the loss. I would be all for a Big E singles push in the near future although I don't want New Day to break up. I just think it's time to give Big E a shot as a singles wrestler.
Post match, Cesaro and Nakamura went for a table under the ring, but Kofi was back with a somersault dive over the top onto both heels on the floor. Kingston set up the table on the floor and put Cesaro on it. Kingston went up top, Big E was about to slam his partner onto Cesaro, but Nakamura saved Cesaro as the heels ran away.

Analysis: It was fine not to do a table bump this week since they did it last week. Don’t give it away too often.
King Corbin was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton, who is back after missing the last couple of tapings. Corbin was asked about Matt Riddle with Corbin saying that Styles is one of the best to ever step in the ring and Riddle can barely put his shoes on. Corbin credited Riddle for being ambitious, but he thinks it’s like a movie where he thinks you can go after the biggest names. Corbin said when Styles beats Riddle everybody is going to realize that the Bro is just a little boy.
The Alexa Bliss talk show is up next.
(Commercial)
Cesaro and Nakamura were shown backstage. They said that finally they get the proper respect that they deserve and they earned. Nakamura said that Steel Cage is unforgiving and Cesaro said as much as he loves a steel cage, he can’t think of New Day gyrating against a steel cage. Cesaro said he enjoyed smashing them through a table last week, so this week at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules it is gonna be a Tables Match.
Analysis: That was the obvious choice after Cesaro and Nakamura put New Day through tables last week. They should have just announced it last week.

A Moment of Bliss Hosted by Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross were seated in the white chairs in the ring. They spoke about this week was the five year anniversary of the start of the Women’s Evolution. Alexa said that she is feeling clairvoyant and Nikki said she had an “Aunt Clair” too. Bliss said no, she can see the future. Bliss said she predicts that the LA Lakers are going to win the NBA Championship, that Matt Riddle will become the new Intercontinental Champion and her close friend Braun Strowman will walk out of the Wyatt Swamp Fight as the winner at Extreme Rules and Bliss said that her special guest is going to tear the roof off this Sunday and Nikki thought it was her. Cross said that she will become the next Smackdown Women’s Champion and Bliss told her to calm down a little bit while asking how many Nitro Brew’s she had today. Bliss said that Nikki is not the special mystery guest tonight.
Bayley and Sasha Banks made their entrance in their ring gear along with their Women’s Tag Team Titles. Bayley is also the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Bayley and Banks talked trash about Cross. Bayley said that before they go into the ring to beat them up, it is five years of the Women’s Evolution and Bayley wanted them to give credit where credit is due. Bayley bragged about all they have done for the Women’s Evolution and Banks said “you’re welcome.” Bayley and Banks went into the ring.
Bayley said that since Alexa likes to tell the future, this Sunday at Extreme Rules, she will beat Nikki Cross and Sasha Banks will defeat the Empress of Yesterday (it's actually "Empress of Tomorrow"), Asuka. Bayley said that they will hold all the titles with Banks winning the Raw Women’s Title, they are already Women’s Tag Team Champions and Bayley is the longest-reigning Smackdown Women’s Champion. Bliss said that they never let her finish saying who her special mystery guest is.

The mystery guest is…Raw Women’s Champion Asuka. Bayley and Banks went after Bliss and Cross, but then Asuka went into the ring to help Cross clear the ring as Bayley and Banks went to the floor. Bliss said they need to settle these issues, so Bliss called for a referee.
Analysis: There were rumors that this segment could lead to an announcement of an all-women PPV next month since it is Women's Evolution week, but instead they just used the “mystery guest” to bring the Raw Women’s Champion Asuka on the show she’s not a part of.  Asuka being on Smackdown shouldn’t be allowed, but it’s not like WWE cares about their own brand extension rules. I am not complaining about Asuka being there because she's great. I'm just pointing out logic holes.
(Commercial)

They showed Matt Riddle training backstage with Drew Gulak helping him.
Daniel Bryan was at home saying that he thinks AJ Styles can be a great fighting champion if he embraces the opportunity. Bryan seemed to think that Riddle could win thanks to getting some special coaching from Bryan’s buddy Gulak. That ended it.
Asuka and Nikki Cross (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. Bayley and Sasha Banks
This is not for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Cross went after Bayley aggressively, then there was a referee distraction by the heels to take over. Banks worked over Cross with a suplex. Bayley went back in with a double back elbow on Cross for two. When Bayley drew the official away, Banks drove Cross’ neck into the ropes. Banks and Bayley sent Cross back first into the turnbuckle followed by a knee from Banks. Cross with an inside cradle on Bayley. Asuka got the tag with kicks to the legs of Bayley, a spin kick to the chest and Banks got the tag, but Asuka ran over both heels with shoulder tackles. Asuka with a hip attack to knock Bayley off the apron and Banks with a headscissors that sent Asuka to the floor. Asuka caught Banks in the apron followed by forearms to the back. Cross worked over Banks with forearms while Banks was caught. Bayley tried an attack, but Cross punched Bayley against the apron. Asuka with a sliding knee on Bayley and Cross with a cross body off the apron onto Banks on the floor. Asuka and Cross did some dancing on the announce table as the show went to break.
(Commercial)

The match returned with the heels in control with Banks hitting a clothesline on Asuka. Banks with a forearm to the face followed by double knees to the ribs. Bayley tagged in with a weak looking punch, Asuka nearly broke free and Bayley broke free. Banks with a chinlock, Asuka tried to break free and Banks sent Asuka into the turnbuckle. Asuka with a roll through for a two count on Bayley followed by a knee to the face. Cross got the hot tag against Banks with Cross hitting a dropkick and monkey flip across the ring. Cross with a running splash followed by a bulldog for a two count. Cross went up top, she jumped off with a cross body block, Banks moved and hit a basement dropkick for two. Banks is shocked that a dropkick didn’t win a match. Bayley tagged in and blocked a neckbreaker. Bayley tossed Cross out of the ring, Cross with a forearm thrust to the throat and a sweet Tornado DDT on Bayley on the floor as Banks broke up the pin at two. Asuka missed a hip attack on Banks, so Banks kicked Asuka to the floor. Bayley wanted a tag, Banks went after Asuka and Asuka kicked her down. Bayley kicked down Asuka. Bayley tripped up Cross and pinned her with her feet on the ropes (the referee didn't see it), so it's a cheap win for Bayley after 15 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bayley and Sasha Banks
Analysis: *** It was a pretty good tag team match although it was not at the level as the Raw tag team match with Bayley and Banks beating Asuka and Kairi Sane. Speaking of that, it’s the second time Asuka lost a tag team match this week although in both cases, she did not get pinned for her team. Bayley and Banks continue to work so well together and they are entertaining to watch. It was also refreshing to see champions not lose a non-title match, which seems to be rare booking. I think that’s because Asuka and Cross are not a regular team anyway, so there’s no need for them to win. Bayley beating Cross could mean Cross is getting the title at Extreme Rules, but I’m likely picking Bayley to win there.

Post match, Graves put over the win by the champions while saying Bayley and Banks didn’t even expect to compete tonight. The same Bayley and Banks that wrestled the match in their full ring gear, complete with wrist tape for Bayley and tape on her shoulder. Heels lie, my friends. There was a recent Bayley match where she wrestled in street clothes, but not in this match.
John Morrison and The Miz were standing backstage with Miz saying Braun Strowman isn’t that scary while Morrison said that Strowman is 6’9” and 270 pounds and he’s called the “Monster Among Men” as we know. Miz said they are movie guys and everybody knows the hero, that’s Morrison, eventually slays the monster. Morrison said that the hero slays the monster and said that every hero has a best friend that will fight too. Miz said he’s not much of a horror guy, but he did say he had Morrison’s back.
This Monday on Raw: Randy Orton vs. Big Show in an Unsanctioned Match. Plus, we find out who survived The Horror Show at Extreme Rules.
(Commercial)

Firefly Fun House…in a swamp
It looked like it was going to be the Firefly Fun House, but then classic Wyatt graphics took over. Bray Wyatt was at the swamp with him saying it’s beautiful and peaceful. Wyatt said that Braun Strowman was a lost sheep looking for a home and he found it. Wyatt said that he gave Strowman the truth, a purpose and he created a monster. Wyatt said then Strowman left or so he thought (laughs). Wyatt said that this is a place where darkness comes to light, the devil comes to dance and all the horrors of the world feel right at home. Wyatt said it’s a special place and once you enter you can never truly leave because a part of you will live here forever. Wyatt said he knew the truth that the monster he created is scratching and waiting to come home. Wyatt said he can see that it still lives within Braun. Wyatt claimed that Braun can’t handle the gifts that Wyatt has bestowed upon him and didn’t embrace the monster that Braun was destined to be, so he will destroy the monster that Braun has become. Wyatt said that Braun knows where to find him, come home and…run. Wyatt blew out the lamp.
Analysis: It was a fine promo from Wyatt. He’s got a way with words and does a great job of being that character. The Wyatt and Strowman Swamp Fight was taped on Thursday night with Strowman noting he was out late last night and then going to Smackdown today.

John Morrison entered with The Miz. Braun Strowman, the Universal Champion, was next as they tried pushing the “Strowman Express” nickname while also having train noises and some smoke coming out for his entrance.
Strowman said that this Sunday he’s going to grow up, face his fears, walk through the gates of hell and slap the devil himself in his face. Strowman said that’s the only way he knows how to end it, so he can face his fears that is Bray Wyatt because the last thing he wants is for him to turn into The Fiend. Strowman ranted about how The Fiend is everything he doesn’t want to be and said that he has to end Wyatt before Wyatt ends Braun. Strowman marched down to the ring looking intense.

Braun Strowman vs. John Morrison (w/The Miz)
This is not for Strowman’s Universal Title. Strowman launched Morrison across the ring, then a corner splash and a massive clothesline. Strowman hit Morrison with three forearms to the chest. Strowman grabbed Morrison from the mat and gave him a huge Chokeslam. Morrison slapped on a submission around the head/arm of Morrison and then Morrison hit a running Powerslam for the pinfall win in under two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman
Analysis: 1/2* A dominant ass-kicking from Strowman. Yes, it’s good to see a champion winning non-title like that, but this is also the obvious outcome. It made Morrison look like a loser, though. Morrison and Miz have looked like major losers since Strowman has beaten them up repeatedly in the last two months.

Post match, Strowman did a promo: “Bray Wyatt, I hope you were watching. I’m coming home.” Strowman did a crazy laugh as he went to the back.
Analysis: I’m picking Wyatt in that Swamp Fight to set up Strowman vs. The Fiend at SummerSlam. If not, that’s fine with me, but I just get the feeling that the feud will continue.
The Miz went into the ring and called for medics to check on Morrison. They replayed some of the big moves that Strowman did in the match. Miz helped Morrison to his feet, so he didn’t go on a stretcher provided by the indy wrestlers playing the EMTs. Miz slowly helped Morrison up the ramp and then Lacey Evans made her entrance for a match.
(Commercial)

They showed highlights of the terrible women’s karaoke segment from last week. It was done to turn Lacey Evans heel, since she attacked Naomi after Naomi won. They could have turned Evans heel in a much better way.
Naomi made her “feel the glow” entrance with the wrestlers in the PC dancing along with her. It’s an upbeat entrance, that’s for sure.
Naomi vs. Lacey Evans
Evans hit an impressive elbow drop and sent Naomi into the turnbuckle. Evans went for a moonsault off the middle ropes, Naomi blocked and Naomi did the splits into a leg drop for a two count. Naomi with a running hurricanrana, then Evans to the apron and Naomi kicked her in the head. Evans got a hold of Naomi’s hair and tied some of the hair around the middle rope. It’s most likely hair extensions there, but the idea that Naomi was tied up in the ropes for a few moments. That allowed Evans to go back in the ring, then Naomi was free and Evans decked her with a Woman’s Right punch for the pinfall win at just over two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Lacey Evans

Analysis: * It was fine for a short match to put over Evans since she’s back in the heel role. Evans is a better performer as a heel. I think Smackdown needs babyface women with momentum instead of another heel, so I’d like to see Naomi used better than this. Naomi is really well-liked by the fans, yet the creative team never seems to have anything for her.
Jeff Hardy was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton, who brought up all the mean things that Sheamus has done to Jeff. Hardy said that fighting a bully like Sheamus is like fighting addiction because you can’t run away from it. Jeff said it’s risky to go into a Bar Fight with Sheamus, but it’s a risk he is willing to take. Jeff was asked about his pick for the Intercontinental Title match with Jeff noting that since Sheamus framed him for drunk driving, he couldn’t be in the IC Title tournament. That led to Sheamus hitting a boot to the face to knock Jeff down. Sheamus sat beside Jeff to say that Jeff can’t run, hide or wish that he goes away. Sheamus said that he will cleanse Jeff of his demons and said see you on Smackdown next week.
Analysis: That means the Hardy/Sheamus Bar Fight match will air on Smackdown next week instead of doing it at Extreme Rules. As I mentioned on Raw with Orton vs. Big Show this coming Monday, they want to do some bigger matches on TV since ratings have been down for both shows. I think it’s a smart strategy. Also, Jeff Hardy should win that match.
There’s a bonus episode of The Undertaker Last Ride documentary on WWE Network on Sunday. It’s going to feature Undertaker stories. That should be fun.
(Commercial)

The championship duo of Bayley and Sasha Banks were walking backstage talking about how they won their match. Kayla Braxton showed up for an interview asking if the momentum will continue on Sunday at Extreme Rules. Bayley said that she had more momentum than Nikki Cross and said Banks will decimate Asuka to win the Raw Women’s Title. Banks said it is their destiny to win all the gold. Bayley said she’ll hate hearing Nikki Cross whining about losing her first one on one championship match and told Cross to go back to being a chimney sweep.
Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss were shown watching on a TV backstage. Cross said that she should have won tonight. Bliss told Cross she’s not going to blow it. Cross said she loves Bliss, but it’s not like they get the same opportunities. Cross didn’t want to have her family watch her lose every week. Cross said that her confidence is just shaken. Bliss told Cross that she will defeat Bayley and Cross said that the only horror show will be if she doesn’t win. Bayley and Banks were standing nearby, so Cross went after Bayley with forearms to the back. Banks tried to save Cross, then Bliss showed up and pulled Cross away. Bayley said they should put a leash on Cross.
Analysis: With the way it has been presented, I think there’s a possibility that Cross might win the title. I’m not sure if that’s my official pick, but I think some of the things they have done suggest that it might happen.
Replays aired of the AJ Styles and Matt Riddle promos from earlier in the show.
Matt Riddle was shown walking backstage for the main event up next.
(Commercial)

There was a quick video showing that five years ago was the start of the Divas Revolution led by Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. It became the Women’s Evolution. A lot of people tweeted about it over the last week.
Matt Riddle made his entrance in his customary flip flops and when he got into the ring he kicked them into the crowd because he likes to wrestle barefoot. They showed highlights of Riddle beating Styles in a non-title match one month earlier. AJ Styles made his entrance as the Intercontinental Champion looking very confident as usual. The ring announcer Greg Hamilton did a great job of doing the championship introductions.
Intercontinental Championship: AJ Styles vs. Matt Riddle
Styles drove Riddle to the turnbuckle where he worked him over with elbows and a forearm. Riddle came back with two gutwrench suplexes. Riddle went to the middle rope where he jumped off with a knee to the face of Styles, who was on the apron. Styles was freaking out by the announce table, Riddle mocked him and Riddle kicked him in the head.
(Commercial)

The match continued with Riddle in control with a fisherman’s suplex for a two count. Styles came back by sending Riddle throat first into the top rope followed by a sitout face first slam. Riddle tried coming back with kicks, but Styles blocked and hit a dragon screw leg whip. Styles kicked the left leg of Riddle repeatedly. Styles with a knee drop on the left knee. Styles with a forearm leading into a chinlock. Riddle with a kick that sent Styles into the turnbuckle, then a forearm and an overhead suplex. Riddle with a senton followed by a running kick to the chest. Riddle with the Bro to Sleep, then a Powerbomb and a running knee for a two count.
(Commercial)
When the match returned, Styles hit a running clothesline out of the corner. Styles with a hard kick to the left leg, but then Riddle came back with a German Suplex that looked great. Riddle worked over Styles against the turnbuckle, but then Styles came back with a kick to the jaw. Styles with a jumping clothesline and Riddle with a ripcord knee that he calls the Final Flash. Riddle went for the Floating Bro off the turnbuckle, but Styles moved and Riddle hit the mat hard. Styles with a forearm while Riddle was on the apron, and Styles hit a brainbuster for a two count. Styles with a slam off the shoulders into the knee for a two count. Styles went up top, Riddle caught him, but Styles got out of that and Riddle with a senton splash that he calls a broton. Riddle with palm strikes, Styles with strikes of his own, Styles blocked a kick and Styles slapped on the Calf Crusher submission. That was a very cool sequence. Styles continued to apply the Calf Crusher, then Riddle got out of that and he went for the Bromission. Styles managed to counter, he was on top of Riddle and it was enough to get the pinfall win as Riddle kicked out after the referee counted to three. It was close as Styles won after around 18 minutes of action.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***3/4 A great match and a long match in the main event that helps fans care more about the Intercontinental Title. This is how you book a title in a way that makes it feel important. I didn’t love the finish, but it shows that Styles is a resilient champion while also putting over Riddle for being tough to beat. I get why they booked a finish like that because if Styles beat him more decisively then it may have hurt Riddle, but losing this way showed that Riddle was nearly at AJ’s level. I would have liked to see Styles work on the left knee even more, but what they did was good. Styles was tremendous as usual while Riddle sold everything very well and looked credible from the moment the match began. Styles retaining was the expected outcome in this match.

Post match, they had a bit of a staredown with Styles nodding his head at the Smackdown newcomer. Styles extended a hand for a handshake and Riddle shook the hand.
King Corbin showed up from behind Riddle with a forearm to the back. Styles left the ring rather than help Riddile since Styles is a heel. Corbin punched Riddle repeatedly. Corbin picked up Riddle and gave him the End of Days slam. Corbin left the ring while Riddle was down in the ring. The show ended with Corbin staring at Riddle from the ramp.
Analysis: It was obvious that Corbin was going to feud with Riddle, so it should lead to some matches between them soon. I guess we can pencil them in for SummerSlam at this point.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. AJ Styles
  2. Matt Riddle
  3. Cesaro/Big E

The Scoreboard
7 out of 10
Last week: 4.5
2020 Average: 6.28

Final Thoughts
This was a pretty good episode of Smackdown that was a lot better than last week in terms of match quality and storyline advancement. The Styles vs. Riddle main event was an awesome match that will make people care more about the IC Title when we see matches that are much fun to watch. There were also solid matches with Cesaro beating Big E and the women’s tag team match. I also liked the classic Saturday Night’s Main Event style promo opening. That was cool. I’d love to see that as a regular thing.
Did this show make me any more excited about the Extreme Rules PPV on Sunday? Not really. There’s just not a lot of excitement right now, especially for the average fan, and that’s an issue for WWE. They need to book some more exciting shows. With that said, I still enjoyed this week's Smackdown.


The next WWE pay-per-view is The Horror Show at Extreme Show, which is this Sunday, July 19. Here are the matches that have been announced so far.
Wyatt Swamp Fight (Non-Title): Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler – Ziggler gets to pick the stipulation.
Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Eye for an Eye Match: Seth Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (c) vs. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Nikki Cross
United States Championship: Apollo Crews (c) vs. Montel Vontavious Porter
We will have a preview up on TJRWrestling on Saturday.

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John Canton
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