TJR: WWE Smackdown 07/31/20 Review

Welcome to the WWE Smackdown review. This show was taped two Tuesdays ago.
From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1093. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present.
The duo of Sasha Banks and Bayley were backstage talking about how Bayley was going to beat Nikki Cross again.
Nikki Cross was backstage with Alexa Bliss talking about how she can't wait to become the new Smackdown Women's Champion.
Big E said that Kofi and Woods aren't by his side, but he said Miz will feel the power.
The Miz and John Morrison laughed at the thought of Big E having a singles career. Miz said that Big E doesn't have what it takes like them.

Lacey Evans and Naomi did separate promos talking about their match.
Gran Metalik talked trash in Spanish...I guess. I don't speak Spanish.
AJ Styles said tonight he gets Gran Metalik, who can't compete with AJ because Smackdown is the house that AJ Styles built.
Analysis: I love the promos they do to start Smackdown that are a reminder of Saturday Night's Main Event shows.
It was Firefly Fun House time with Bray Wyatt showing up late and saying he was looking for Braun Strowman in the swamp, which was a nice joke. Bray said that he never meant to hurt Braun Strowman, but now "HE" is awake. (The "HE" is The Fiend, of course.) Bray said that "HE" wants something that Braun has (the Universal Title), so until he gets what he wants, none of you are safe. "Let me in." Bray said bye.
Analysis: It should lead to Braun vs. Bray as The Fiend at SummerSlam with Braun's Universal Title on the line.
There was a shot of the WWE Performance Center with WWE developmental wrestlers in the crowd. The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show.
AJ Styles was up first as the Intercontinental Title match for his advertised title match. Gran Metalik of the Lucha House Party entered as the opponent with Lince Dorado by his side. Metalik earned the title shot after winning a match last week. That match is next.

Analysis: Starting a show with a match instead of an in-ring promo is nice. The match will start ten minutes after the open, though, so it's not like they were quick to get to the match.
The wrestlers stood in the ring for the championship introductions from ring announcer Greg Hamilton, who always does a great job.
Intercontinental Championship: AJ Styles vs. Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado)
Styles sent Metalik into the turnbuckle followed by a backbreaker. Styles hit a delayed vertical suplex for two. Styles worked over Dorado with a kick to the leg followed by a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Styles with a thrust to the throat, then he ran the ropes and missed an elbow drop because Metalik moved out of the way. Metalik with a headscissors that sent Styles under the bottom rope to the floor. Styles kicked Metalik off the apron. Styles to the apron, but then Metalik tripped him up. Metalik with a running hurricanrana that sent Styles into the barricade. That looked great as it led to a break.

The match continued with Metalik on the top rope, but Styles blocked that attempt with a punch to the legs. Metalik knocked him down and hit a cross body block off the top for a two count. Metalik charged at Styles for a monkey flip, but Styles blocked it to take over again. Styles with kicks to the ribs, then knees to the legs and he wrenched the left leg against the bottom rope. Styles continued to work over the left leg of Metalik. There was a rollup from Metalik for a two count followed by a spinning DDT by Metalik for a two count. That drew a good reaction from the crowd. Metalik walked the ropes leading to a missile dropkick off the middle ropes for a two count. Metalik tried to lift up Styles, but the left knee was hurting, so Styles hit the punches, forearms and kicks followed by a hard clothesline. Styles up top, Metalik moved, Metalik with an enziguri kick to the head and Styles went down. Metalik to the ropes again, he jumped off and Styles drove his shoulder to the left knee of Metalik. That was such a great counter. Styles rolled through with the Calf Crusher submission in the ring with Metalik tapping out to give AJ the win after 14 minutes.
Winner by submission: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***1/2 This was very good with Styles controlling most of the match. I would have liked to see Metalik get more offense to show off his athleticism some more and make it seem like he might win. Most of the audience wasn't going to think Metalik could win, but I think they could have had a few spots more with Metalik looking more capable. Styles working over the left knee played a key part in setting up the finish, so that's why you do that during the match. It's things like that which are a nice reminder of why Styles is the best wrestler in WWE (along with Daniel Bryan). I'm glad Metalik got a chance to have a singles match like this. There are a lot of great wrestlers on Smackdown that could put on matches like this with Styles as well. More please!

Post match, Styles looked like he was going to leave, but then he attacked Dorado from behind. Styles hit Dorado with the Styles Clash, which led to boos. Styles posed with his IC Title.
Analysis: Styles is so great that the fans might cheer him just based on his performances. I think WWE knows they need people to keep booing him as a heel, so that's why he did the cheap attack.
Shorty G was watching backstage with King Corbin walking up to him saying that could be Shorty in a spot like that. Corbin said that everything he's done to him was to help him. Corbin made a few short jokes, then claimed that Shorty deserved opportunities. Corbin said that he had all the natural ability in the world and said that the king's ransom is out there for anybody to prove that Matt Riddle doesn't belong on Smackdown.
A video aired showing last week's Smackdown main event with Jeff Hardy beating Sheamus in a Bar Fight. It was a bit cheesy at the end with Jeff turning into his face painted persona to make the comeback for the win, but I don't mind it. I thought it was well done.
They showed Jeff Hardy backstage receiving applause and hugs from wrestlers like Otis and Tucker along with Producer D-Von Dudley, referee Charles Robinson and others.

Let’s Hear from Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy made his entrance with a lot of cheers from the crowd. Jeff said he hasn’t felt this good in a long time. Jeff said that Sheamus was a constant reminder of how tough his demons can be, somebody yelled “he sucks” and Jeff said that “yeah, he sucks.” Jeff said that sobriety is a fight he deals with everyday, but he knows he is on the right path. Jeff said he’s an alcoholic, but he’s a loving, father, husband and WWE Superstar that loves to perform in this ring and he loves that. Jeff said that he’s grateful that the love of his family and friends have gotten him to this point, so it makes him not want to let us down ever again. Jeff said he wants to make the most of his life, he’s so grateful and it feels great to be there on Smackdown.
King Corbin showed up for the interruption with some boos. Corbin said if he has to continue to listen to Jeff talk about his sobriety, his head will explode. Corbin said that Jeff is the “Charismatic Enigma” that is known for taking things to the extreme, but now he’s whining and crying about recovery. Corbin told Jeff to shut up and deal with his life. Corbin complained about that idiot Matt Riddle that can’t find his shoes and he’s got to face Drew Gulak. Corbin said it felt like Smackdown was like an insane asylum. Jeff said maybe the problem is Corbin.
Corbin said that he would have offered Jeff to take out Matt Riddle, but he didn’t think he would take it. Corbin told Jeff he’s more concerned with sitting in a circle, talking about the twelve steps and collecting coins. Drew Gulak showed up behind Corbin with a punch to the back and they have a match up next.
Analysis: It was a decent promo from Jeff. He’s moved on from the Sheamus rivalry even though nobody got arrested for the car accident angle, which will likely be ignored by WWE’s lazy creative team. We don’t know who Jeff’s feud is. Corbin is feuding with Riddle, so I think this was just a case of Corbin getting heat by being disrespectful towards Jeff, who is a popular face. I wonder if they go with Jeff Hardy going after AJ Styles for the IC Title since Jeff was taken out of the IC Title tournament a few months back.

King Corbin vs. Drew Gulak
Gulak slapped on an armbar followed by a punch to the arm along with an arm wringer takedown. There was definitely some fake crowd noise in play for this match. Corbin with a forearm to the gut followed by a punch to the face. Corbin slapped on a chinlock, Gulak fought back with punches, then a spinebuster and a half crab submission by Corbin, who does not do a lot of submission moves. Gulak took down by the arm leading to a crossface, Corbin got out of that and Gulak got an armbar. Gulak with two running dropkick to stagger Corbin followed by another dropkick to knock Corbin down. Gulak went up top with a clothesline for a two count. Gulak ran into the ropes leading to a Deep Six slam by Corbin on Gulak. That’s when Matt Riddle’s music hit as Riddle appeared on the stage. Gulak got a cradle for a two count. Corbin hit the End of Days slam on Gulak for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: King Corbin
Analysis: ** It was fine for a shorter match to put over Corbin over a guy who is not at the same level as him. Gulak is a great technical wrestler and got a decent amount of offense here, but it was obvious who was winning here.

Post match, Riddle went into the ring and attacked Corbin with punches. Riddle hit a rising knee to the face. That’s when Shorty G went into the ring with a rolling German Suplex on Riddle. Shorty looked over at Corbin, who smiled at him and it appeared as though Shorty wanted to cash in on the king’s ransom.
Analysis: That may be a heel turn for Shorty G, but it may not be. It could be just a way to set up a Riddle match with Shorty with Riddle going over and then Shorty goes back to being a face. If Shorty is a heel after this then that’s fine too. I just want Gable to get more screen time and he'll likely have a match with Riddle, which should be great.
It’s Big E vs. The Miz at the top of hour two up next.

Big E made his entrance without either of his New Day buddies and he did the same New Day introduction that he always does. Big E rolled down to the ring because he enjoys having a good time. Big E tossed his ring jacket at Graves. They showed a clip from last week with Kofi Kingston telling Big E it’s about him showing the world what Big E can do. Kofi said that “we” (him and Woods) want this for Big E because he deserves it. Kofi is out for at least six weeks with some storyline injury whether it’s knee or ribs.
Analysis: I like how this was set up. They (WWE) don’t seem to want to tell us that Big E is a former Intercontinental Champion, but in the past six years he has been teaming with New Day.
The Miz was joined by his tag team partner John Morrison with the announcers putting over The Miz for all of the success he has had in his career.
Big E vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison)
Big E used his power to drive Miz to the turnbuckle, then Miz tried a waistlock so Big E powered out of that. Miz with punches, Big E slapped on the abdominal stretch including the butt slapping and Miz ran the ropes right into a high elbow from Big E. Miz with a slap to the face, Big E was angry and he tossed Miz out of the ring. Big E sent Miz into the announce table, the ring post and the barricade/plexiglass as well. Big E sent Miz in the ring, referee Charles Robinson looked at Miz, so Morrison got a cheap shot attack where he jumped off the steel steps with a body attack on Big E on the floor. Miz kicked Big E down. Miz went up top with a double axhandle followed by a chinlock. Big E sent Miz to the apron leading to a clothesline. Big E went for a running splash on Miz on the apron, Miz moved, Big E hit the apron and went to the floor grabbing his ribs.

The match returned with Miz applying a chinlock to wear the bigger man down, but Big E drove Miz into the turnbuckle to break the hold. Miz with a boot to the face for a two count. Big E blocked punches, then punches of his own, Miz with a backbreaker, Big E came back with two belly to belly suplex and the side belly to belly slam. Big E hit a running splash. That is Big E’s offense after a hot tag in a tag team match. It works in singles too. Miz ran the ropes, Big E caught him, he lifted Miz up onto the shoulder, Miz with an eye rake and Miz hid a DDT for the two count. Miz with the kicks to the chest, but then Big E caught Miz going for a slam and Miz hit a dropkick to the knee. Miz with kicks to the left leg/hamstring of Big E against the ropes. Miz with a running knee in the corner two times, then a third time, but Big E hit a uranage slam for a two count. Big E went for a spear on the apron, Miz got a knee up, Miz distracted the referee, Morrison with a kick to the head and Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale for a weak pin attempt where he just sat on top, so Big E shoved him off. It’s still a good nearfall. Miz slapped on a Figure Four Leglock and Big E got to the bottom rope to break the hold. Morrison was about to do a cheap shot, but referee Charles Robinson saw it coming, so he ejected Morrison from ringside. Big E with a rollup. Big E slapped on the Stretch Muffler submission where he stretched Miz’s leg across the neck and Miz gave up. Big E won by submission after 14 minutes.
Winner by submission: Big E
Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good with Big E getting the win as he should have. Miz got plenty of offense, he did a nice job of working over the knee and Big E showed a lot of fire as the babyface making the comeback. The assist from Morrison almost led to the win, but finally a referee catches a cheating attempt and that’s what led to Big E’s win. The submission win is a bit of a surprise, but I think the Stretch Muffler submission works for Big E since she’s got such a big upper body. It looks legit when he does it. I also think the Big Ending is an awesome finisher for Big E to use as well. I'm all for the Big E singles run. I hope it leads to a lot of great things for him.

Post match, Big E said he’s coming, there’s no stopping him and it’s for Woods and Kofi. Big E was happy about the win.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were in the locker room with some champagne. Lucha House Party showed up with Cesaro wondering what they are doing in the Champion’s Lounge. Cesaro mocked Metalik for blowing his title shot earlier and they left.
Analysis: There are not a lot of tag teams on Smackdown right now (brutal time for The Usos with Jimmy Uso out of action with a torn ACL), so it makes sense that Lucha House Party would be contenders.
Still to come is Bayley defending the Smackdown Women’s Title against Nikki Cross and Naomi vs. Lacey Evans is next.

Sheamus was shown backstage wearing the same outfit he had on last week. Sheamus said maybe it was a mistake last week because a bar is Jeff’s home environment. Sheamus said he knew that fight was fueled by alcohol with Sheamus in a handicap match against Jeff Hardy and his lifelong partner, alcohol. Sheamus said he’s not there to make excuses. Sheamus said he didn’t have to worry about pushing Jeff Hardy towards the bottle anymore because it’s only a matter of time, so he’ll let nature take its course. Sheamus said that Jeff Hardy is not his problem anymore and that’s a problem for Smackdown’s locker room because now Sheamus is their problem.
Analysis: That’s another promo on this show that let us know that the Jeff Hardy feud with Sheamus really did end last week in the Bar Fight. I’m certainly fine with that.
Lacey Evans entered for a match, but first she had something to say. Evans said she beat Naomi last time, she beat her at karaoke and now people want to start a #NaomiDeservesBetter hashtag, so now she’ll make you feel sorry for her tonight. Naomi made her entrance doing her dance moves.

Lacey Evans vs. Naomi
Evans tried to tie the hair into the ropes, but Naomi fought that off and Evans blocked a headscissors with a Powerbomb. Evans with a front facelock into a takedown. Evans pulled on Naomi’s hair and feet against the ring post. Evans sent Naomi into the ring post. Evans put some of Naomi’s hair between the steel steps, but Naomi got out of that. Evans tossed Naomi across the ring. Naomi with a kick to the back to send Evans out of the ring and Naomi slid out of the ring with a sunset flip style slam on the floor. Evans countered a bulldog by shoving Naomi into the turnbuckle. Evans tied Naomi’s hair in the ropes, but Naomi got out of that and Naomi hit a backslide pin for the victory after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Naomi
Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to give Naomi a win after Evans beat her two weeks ago in another short match. You don’t see many people winning with a backslide pin in WWE, so at least that felt different. Hopefully when they do the third match they get more time. Are fans going to tweet #NaomiDeservesBetter because the match was only four minutes? It was pretty short.
Post match, Naomi celebrated the win while Evans was furious about the loss.

There was a shot of Otis and Mandy Rose walking around backstage. Mandy said that she booked them a reservation at his favorite barbecue spot. They talked about food, which excited Otis a lot leading to him doing his “oh yeah” grunting a lot. Mandy said they should finish getting ready and they’ll meet back there. Sonya Deville walked in the background after they left.
Analysis: Those three wrestlers have been off TV over the last month. I don’t know if any of them had Coronavirus, but fans are going to think that anybody that has missed the tapings in the last month might have had it. It’s good to see them back.
Mandy Rose was shown touching up her lipstick in a mirror when Sonya Deville showed up behind her. Sonya greeted her former best friend with a punch to the face. Sonya smeared some lipstick on Rose’s face and hit her with a knee to knock her down. Sonya talked trash asking what Mandy has left now and Sonya kicked Mandy to the cement floor. Sonya grabbed some scissors and cut some of Mandy’s hair. She didn’t cut a lot of hair, but she cut some of it. Sonya said that Mandy ruined her life, so she will ruin Mandy’s life. Sonya said something about wanting to make Mandy feel ugly. Sonya kicked her down. Sonya found some clippers that she was going to use to buzz some of the hair, but that’s when referees and Producer Adam Pearce (back from Coronavirus) showed up to stop her. Sonya left with some of Mandy’s hair while Rose was sad.
Analysis: I liked this a lot. A vicious attack by Sonya. That was good to see because this storyline was hot a few months ago, then it went away when both women were absent over the last month and now they picked it up back with that cheap attack from Deville. It plays into the story of Sonya being jealous of Mandy’s looks or at least saying that all Mandy has are looks while Sonya believes she’s the better of the two women. I can remember them doing something similar decades ago with Luna attacking Sable as well. That was over 20 years ago, but it's the same idea with the pretty blonde getting attacked with makeup to look ugly.
The announcers talked backstage, but then they showed Kayla Braxton standing by. Otis and Tucker checked on Mandy. The Miz and Morrison showed up saying that now Mandy looks like a soccer mom. They kept making hair jokes about Mandy, so Tucker said that wasn’t funny and told them to get out of there.
Analysis: That will probably set up Otis and Tucker vs. Miz and Morrison. I doubt they would just put it there without setting up a match.

A clip aired showing Nikki Cross losing the SD Women’s Title match against Bayley at Extreme Rules and then last week on Smackdown, Cross beat Alexa Bliss to earn another title shot.
Nikki Cross made her energetic entrance with her buddy Alexa Bliss joining her at ringside.
This Monday on Raw: Drew McIntyre responds to Randy Orton’s attack. They also said that Bayley did a “career-ending assault” to Kairi Sane (who is gone back to Japan after her WWE contract expired), so Asuka has to respond to that moment that led to Sasha Banks becoming Raw Women’s Champion. Find out on Raw. They tape on Monday.

The Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley entered along with the Raw Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. They are also the Women’s Tag Team Champions. They have all four titles together, which are all the women’s titles you can win on the Raw and Smackdown brands.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Nikki Cross (w/Alexa Bliss)
Cross was aggressive with punches followed by a dropkick that sent Bayley into the turnbuckle. Cross with a monkey flip across the ring, Bayley avoided the neckbreaker and Cross with a tackle. Cross sent Bayley under the ropes to the floor, so Bayley took a break. Cross on the apron, she kicked Bayley in the face, Bayley with a kick to the leg and Bayley hit a leg drop to the back of the head for two. Cross sent Bayley ribs first into the turnbuckle, Bayley to the floor and Cross hit a cross body block off the apron onto Bayley on the floor.

The match returned with Bayley in control with a headlock. Bayley with a high angle belly to back suplex for a two count. Bayley with a corner charge, Cross moved and Bayley hit the turnbuckle. Cross hit a running cross body block for a two count, a back elbow and then a DDT got another two count. They went to the apron with Cross hitting a reverse DDT on the apron. Bayley avoided an attack on the floor, then back in the ring, Cross hit a neckbreaker where she used her hands for an assist. Cross realized that Bayley had the “Boss” knucks on her hands, so Cross threw them at Banks. Those were used at the Extreme Rules match to help Bayley beat Cross. There was a belly to back suplex by Cross for a two count. Bayley with a neckbreaker using the ropes, then she did some taunting by the announce table and Cross knocked her down. Cross sent Bayley into the barricade followed by a running splash against the barricade. Banks on the apron, Bliss tripped her up and Cross hit a dropkick on Banks. Cross went up top, she jumped with a cross body block, Bayley rolled through and they each got two counts. Cross got another two count. Cross with a backslide pin attempt, but then Bayley got back up and slammed Cross face first into the mat for her unnamed finisher and that was enough for the clean pinfall win by Bayley after about 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bayley
Analysis: **3/4 This was okay. It was like the PPV match they had, but not as good as Cross vs. Bliss was last week. This match also had a clean finish for Bayley that should put an end to Cross as a title contender for the time being. I like that Cross was relentless in going for pin attempts while Bayley really only needed that one big move to finish her off. I’d like to see a name for that Bayley finisher. I thought there was a slight chance that Cross might win (because they were in the main event) although Bayley winning makes sense to continue her long title reign.

The champs celebrated and went to the back.
The usual graphics appeared at the end of the show as the camera focused on Cross and Bliss in the ring. Bliss wanted to help her up, Cross pushed her hand away and said she didn’t want help. Cross got up and shoved Bliss on her ass. Cross left in frustration.
Analysis: Is a heel turn coming or is it just a case of Cross being frustrated? I think a heel turn would be fine, but if it’s just Cross being mad then that’s okay.
The lights slowly went out in the WWE PC as Bliss was seated alone in the ring. The lights went out and when they came on, there was a red light with The Fiend standing behind Bliss. The Fiend circled Bliss and then kneeled down beside her while holding up his hand. Bliss had a terrified look on her face while breathing heavily. The Fiend put the Mandible Claw on Bliss to take her down on the mat, The Fiend did some yelling and the lights went out to end the show there.
Analysis: It’s rare to see man on woman violence in WWE, so to have the show end with The Fiend putting the Mandible Claw on Bliss is a shocking finish. That’s the kind of thing they need to do sometimes to get people talking because it was a big moment. The backstory here is that when Bray Wyatt faced Braun Strowman in the Swamp Fight, Braun was bitten by a snake and when he was hallucinating, he had visions of Bliss in a dark cloak that was messing with his mind because Braun has flirted with Bliss in the past. That’s why this makes sense with The Fiend attacking Bliss, who Braun cares about a lot, so it should lead to Braun coming back soon to save Bliss and also set up Braun vs. Fiend for the Universal Title. Good storytelling here.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. AJ Styles
  2. Big E
  3. The Miz/Gran Metalik

There were good performances by Bayley and Nikki Cross too.

The Scoreboard
7.75 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
2020 Average: 6.35

Final Thoughts
I thought this was a great (or at least very good) edition of Smackdown. The match quality was strong with Styles over Metalik in the IC Title match, Big E picking up a big singles win over The Miz and a solid Bayley match with Cross. Other stuff like Naomi over Evans was short, but at least they booked it the right way with a clean win for Naomi. The most interesting thing about King Corbin’s match with Drew Gulak was Shorty G possibly turning heel by attacking Matt Riddle, but maybe it’s just a way to fool Corbin. I like not knowing.
They advanced some storylines as well. There was a shocking ending with The Fiend giving the Mandible Claw to Alexa Bliss, which is an interesting way to end the show after Braun Strowman saw the vision of Bliss in the Swamp Fight match a few weeks ago. Now Braun has to come back to avenge Bliss getting attacked. It's the kind of shocking ending they need to do to get people talking. It was nice to see Sonya and Mandy back with Sonya’s cheap attack to pick up that storyline, which can hopefully lead to a big match between the former best friends.
I like where most of the stories are going on Smackdown right now. Perhaps they have turned a corner as we head towards SummerSlam.

The next WWE pay-per-view is SummerSlam on Sunday, August 23. Here’s what we know so far.

WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton
Raw Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits – Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford (c) vs. Andrade and Angel Garza

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John Canton
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