Welcome to the WWE Smackdown review here on TJRWrestling. This show was taped this past Tuesday as we head towards SummerSlam in just over two weeks on August 23.
From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1094. 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.
A video package aired showing Bray Wyatt beating Braun Strowman in a Swamp Fight at Extreme Rules a few weeks ago. There was an appearance of Alexa Bliss in Braun’s dreams during the match. Wyatt would end up winning when he became The Fiend. Last week on Smackdown, The Fiend gave Alexa Bliss the Mandible Claw to end the show.
The Firefly Fun House with Bray Wyatt started the show. Bray had framed photos of Braun Strowman on the wall. Bray said that “haters were sliding into his DMs” for what happened to Alexa Bliss last week and said if you want to blame somebody, blame Braun Strowman. Bray said Braun has to give “him” what he wants meaning The Fiend. Wyatt said that “he” will be here later with somebody very special and said that he’s waiting for Braun. Bray said Braun should give “him” what he wants or she’ll find out what “he” is truly capable of. Bray said bye.
Analysis: It’s an interesting twist to the story to have Bliss involved in things and Braun has to be the hero that saves it unless there's another twist to it.
They were at the WWE Performance Center as usual with developmental wrestlers in the crowd, behind the plexiglass. The announce team of Michael Freakin’ Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show. Matt Riddle entered for a match…bro. Last week, Shorty G saved King Corbin from Riddle because Shorty wants to collect the king’s ransom for taking out Riddle. Sheamus entered as the opponent.
Matt Riddle vs. Sheamus
Sheamus with a headlock takedown, then they got back up and Riddle with a trip to take Sheamus down. Sheamus with a knee to the ribs knocked Riddle down and slapped on an armbar. Riddle turned it into a submission of his own while stretching the fingers as well. That makes me miss Pete Dunne matches. Sheamus came back with a Powerbomb to take control. Riddle sent Sheamus to the apron, then Sheamus wrenched Riddle’s neck against the top rope and the ten forearms to the chest. Sheamus to the top, he took too long and Riddle hit him with a forearm to knock Sheamus to the floor.
Sheamus was in control with three backbreakers in a row for a two count. Riddle countered a slam attempt by landing on his feet as Riddle connected with a kick to the head. Riddle with a jumping kick to the head, then a running forearm and an exploder suplex. Riddle with a running kick followed by a broton (senton) splash for a two count. Riddle with another broton splash, then up top and he missed a moonsault because Sheamus moved, which led to Sheamus hitting the White Noise slam for two. Sheamus did his yell, Riddle avoided it and hit a bridging German Suplex for a two count. Sheamus rolled up Riddle for two again, Sheamus with another backbreaker and then Sheamus charged, Riddle moved and Sheamus went shoulder first into the ring post. They battled on the floor with Sheamus hitting a knee to the jaw. Riddle was on the floor while Sheamus was in the ring and Shorty G attacked Riddle from behind for the DQ! It went about 12 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Matt Riddle
Analysis: *** This was pretty good with some hard shots from both guys. I like matches that look like a fight instead of the stuff that is too choreographed. Slow pace early with the heel Sheamus in control, but then Riddle did a nice job of the comeback. I don’t think either man had a problem with the stiff strikes because it fits their style and you could tell they had some chemistry in their first match together. The cheap attack from Shorty continues the story, but it’s a disappointing finish as a DQ. I get it, though, because WWE doesn’t want Sheamus or Riddle taking a loss in this spot. I'm not saying I like the decision that much. I'm just saying I understand it.
Shorty G punched Riddle repeatedly while Sheamus looked pissed off in the ring. Riddle with strikes, then he sent Shorty into the barricade, then into the announce table repeatedly and Riddle sent Shorty into the steel steps. Riddle with a kick to the chest of Shorty against the steps. Riddle was announced as the DQ winner and Sheamus was upset about it while Riddle danced away to the back.
Sheamus sent Shorty into the ring and Sheamus hit him with a Brogue Kick to put Shorty G down. Sheamus told Shorty he took a win away from him all for Corbin’s opportunity and Sheamus wasn’t happy about it. When Shorty got up again, Sheamus hit him with another Brogue Kick to knock him down.
Analysis: It was not a good night for Shorty G after a cheap attack that led to Shorty getting beat up by Riddle and Sheamus. I guess it’s better to be tall, pal. If Shorty goes heel fully then I hope they can give him back the Chad Gable name.
There was a commercial for SummerSlam that was hyping Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Title against Randy Orton. I really liked Drew’s promo on Raw.
King Corbin was backstage talking to a woman named Sarah when Sheamus showed up to complain about Corbin’s buddy Shorty G ruining his match. Sheamus threatened to kick his ass. Corbin said Sheamus is lucky that Corbin has a match with Jeff Hardy, otherwise he would put a dent in his skull right now. Corbin left.
The Dirt Sheet Hosted by The Miz and John Morrison
This was The Dirt Sheet show rather than Miz TV, but it’s a similar idea with Miz and Morrison sitting on chairs in the ring. They showed a clip of Sonya Deville cutting some of Mandy Rose’s hair last week during a cheap attack backstage. John Morrison said that sometimes life hits you with what is really important and The Miz said they’re using considerable influence. They were having microphone problems while noting that the “Retribution” group is on Raw, not Smackdown.
The Miz and Morrison continued an interview with “Mandy’s Hair” as a puppet that looked like hair spoke to them. The Miz and Morrison did the voices for Mandy’s Hair. It was bad comedy as they said Mandy hasn’t reached out to Mandy’s Hair. The bit continued as they said “hair ya” instead of “hell yeah” for it. The crowd was booing or it was edited into the show. I thought that was justified. The Miz said that the real victim hasn’t been heard yet, so they introduced Sonya Deville.
Sonya Deville entered the ring in all black in a suit. Deville said that she told Mandy what she was going to do with her by saying she was going to make the outside ugly like Mandy’s inside. Sonya said that she enjoyed what she did to Mandy. Sonya said that Mandy was concerned about her image while noting it was pathetic and sad. Sonya said she didn’t feel bad about it at all because she has no respect for Mandy at all. Sonya talked about how she beat Mandy twice and then beat her up. Miz said that they have not heard from Mandy since the attack. Sonya said that Mandy got to WWE by winning bikini challenges and Sonya noted that Mandy won a “Bumpy Award.” Sonya said that Mandy won the award for making out with Otis. Sonya noted that the only bright side of this is that Otis and Mandy actually look like a couple now.
Otis and Tucker ran out to beat up Miz and Morrison. Otis is the Money in the Bank briefcase holder. They tossed Miz out of the ring, Otis wanted to do the Caterpillar and Miz pulled Morrison out of the ring to save him.
Analysis: The bad comedy routine with the hair interview (can’t believe I typed that) wasn’t that interesting, but I liked Sonya's comments and the save by Heavey Machinery. It was another strong interview by Sonya, who keeps getting chances to talk while proving that she belongs because she’s very good at it. I have liked her progression as a character in the last few months. It’s good to see Otis and Tucker back in action after being off for most of the last two months since WWE has expanded their testing policies.
A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown of Extreme Rules three weeks ago when Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura beat New Day in a Tables Match to become the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
Cesaro (w/Shinsuke Nakamura) vs. Lince Dorado (w/Gran Metalik)
Cesaro with a backbreaker followed by an uppercut and then a clothesline. Dorado with a headscissors takedown that sent Cesaro out of the ring. The lights were having problems as the announcers mentioned the Retribution group. Dorado with a headscissors while on the floor. Dorado with a sunset flip for two, then a springboard cross body block and Cesaro caught him with a backbreaker for two. Cesaro with an elbow drop leading to an armbar. Dorado used his athleticism to comeback including a springboard Stunner. Dorado with a bottom rope moonsault, a middle rope moonsault, Nakamura with a distraction and then Cesaro with a forearm to the back. Cesaro had Dorado in the air and Dorado countered a Powerbomb with a hurricanrana for two. That was slick. Cesaro with a forearm to the chest and a Neutralizer for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Analysis: ** A quick match with two very good workers that made the most of their time. It’s good to see a tag team champion winning a match like that since the champs usually lose in singles to build up the other team. Dorado is so fast with some cool counter moves, but it was Cesaro’s power that got the win. The tag team division isn’t strong right now although I like the champions.
Later on Smackdown: Heavy Machinery vs. The Miz and John Morrison.
Otis and Tucker were backstage with Tucker trying to calm Otis down. Kayla Braxton showed up for an interview with Otis saying everything’s a big joke to Miz/Morrison, but they are crossing the line. Tucker said what Sonya did last week was awful and Miz/Morrison won’t let it go. Otis said he can handle jokes about him, but he won’t stand for people disrespecting Mandy. Otis said that Miz/Morrison will find out when you get Otis angry, nobody will be laughing then.
The Firefly Fun House music played in the arena and then The Fiend’s entrance took place.
The Fiend made his entrance with the red lights in the Performance Center and he had the lantern with Bray Wyatt’s head on it. That’s up next, so I guess The Fiend is nice enough to stand around for three minutes during a commercial. What a sweetheart.
The Fiend was standing in the ring and Alexa Bliss was also seated in front of him wearing the same outfit she had on last week’s Smackdown. The red light was there. The Fiend put his hand in front of Bliss just like last week and was about to put the Mandible Claw on her, but Bliss blocked it. Bliss touched The Fiend’s face and Fiend back away.
Braun Strowman’s voice was heard as he called Bray a sadistic bastard. Braun was on the video screen. Braun said he didn’t give a damn about Alexa, all he cares about is destroying Bray. Strowman said that after the Swamp Fight, it means that The Fiend is looking at the most evil son of a bitch that this Earth has ever seen. Strowman said that he was pushed to his breaking point. Strowman said he let out was inside him for so long, he is fulfilling his destiny and he is a thing that nightmares are made of. Strowman: “I am the monster!” Strowman told The Fiend that he can have whatever he wants and said that at SummerSlam, he can face his fears and face The Monster. End.
Analysis: It was nice to hear from Strowman after several weeks away. I know it was selling from the Swamp Fight attack, but I figured he would do the promo here instead of talking to a camera. Strowman as a “monster” could lead to a more aggressive side of him and perhaps even a heel persona after he’s done feuding with The Fiend, so I wonder if there’s a twist involved there. What Braun said about Bliss might mean she is out of the storyline, but I don’t know. At least she didn’t get attacked again.
This Monday on Raw: Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens and Asuka vs. Bayley. Plus, more of Raw Underground with “daredevil host” Shane McMahon. They said that, not me.
Jeff Hardy entered for a match against King Corbin, who was in his ridiculous robe and crown. They have done this match a few times before.
Jeff Hardy vs. King Corbin
Hardy ducked a Corbin punch, Hardy with an inverted atomic drop, dropkick and splash combo that he likes to do. Corbin was able to come back with a clothesline that was good for a two count. They left the ring with Corbin in control with punches. The referees in this company actually count when wrestlers are on the floor unlike other wrestling shows I review. Corbin worked over Hardy with elbows to the shoulder followed by a chinlock. Hardy with a running dropkick that sent Corbin into the barricade and sent him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Hardy ran right into a Deep Six slam by Hardy for a two count. Corbin with a knee that sent Hardy out of the ring, so Sheamus showed up and hit Hardy with a Brogue Kick. That led to the DQ finish after about five minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Jeff Hardy
Analysis: ** It was decent with the cheap finish. I liked the pacing with Corbin in control, Hardy showing a lot of energy with the comeback and then it all stopped with the DQ finish. That was payback for what happened earlier on Smackdown rather than Sheamus restarting the feud with Hardy. At least that’s what I think it is.
Post match, Sheamus called out Corbin to fight him, but then the smaller referee separated them as the show went to break.
That led to an impromptu match between the two heels.
Sheamus vs. King Corbin
Sheamus was aggressive with punches followed by a knee to the ribs. Corbin left the ring, Sheamus went out to the floor as well and Corbin hit Sheamus with a clothesline. Corbin sent Sheamus into the announce table, then back in with a Sheamus knee and a clothesline to the floor. Sheamus whipped Corbin into the barricade, then he sent Corbin into the announce table and a Sheamus whip that sent Corbin into the ring post. Sheamus went up top, Corbin moved and Corbin hit a sidewalk slam. Corbin slapped on a chinlock/armbar to ground Sheamus, the crowd banged on the glass for Sheamus (who is a heel that does mean things) and when Sheamus got up, Corbin hit him with another clothesline. That’s when Matt Riddle showed up, he jumped off the top rope, Corbin was distracted and Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Corbin for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: **1/4 This was okay, but it’s tough to get into a match between two heels that the fans hate. If there was a crowd, they likely would have been dead quiet for it. Riddle didn’t touch Corbin, so it’s not a DQ situation and Riddle got his payback. Sheamus winning made sense since he lost the feud to Hardy and Riddle got payback on Corbin for what happened earlier. Corbin will probably beat a lower card face next week to make up for this loss.
Sasha Banks and Bayley were talking backstage with all of her titles. Banks told Bayley she needs to beat Asuka on Raw for Banks. They talked about how they have all the gold, Banks told Bayley that she is her role model and somebody with a headset was there to tell them they are needed for a video conference with Stephanie McMahon.
Big E was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Big E said that for the past five years, he’s been an entertainer, tag partner and a friend (while mentioning his famous popcorn GIF). Big E was fired up saying he has no idea where this singles run is going to take him, but he assured us that he will give us all of him. That led to Kayla saying “New Day Rocks” and Big E was fired up with some laughing.
Sasha Banks and Bayley were in the ring for a video conference with WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon. It led to Stephanie praising them for their success. Banks and Bayley thanked her while sucking up. Stephanie noted that they worked all three brands on Raw, Smackdown and NXT while doing whatever it takes. Stephanie said she isn’t sure about being role models, but they got everybody’s attention. Banks and Bayley sucked up to Stephanie more while plugging WWE Network as well. Stephanie said that they may have found a loophole in a stipulation she created. Stephanie won’t punish them, but she wants to challenge them. Stephanie said that at SummerSlam, Banks will defend the Raw Women’s Title perhaps against Asuka if she can beat Bayley on Raw. Stephanie said that next week there will be a triple brand battle royal with the winner facing Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. Stephanie ended it saying now that’s what is best for business.
Analysis: The battle royal means that next week it could be any woman in WWE to go after Bayley at SummerSlam. It’s not like they really care about the brand extension. Trying to guess a winner is hard. I would say Banks vs. Asuka at SummerSlam is likely and hopefully Asuka wins the title back. Bayley and Banks not defending the Tag Team Titles more often is disappointing, but that’s what happens when you put multiple titles on the same people. Other titles get ignored.
The Miz, John Morrison and Sonya Deville were standing in a line as Kayla Braxton asked them questions about what happened earlier. The Miz said that they are physical marvels that are also smart. Morrison made a fat joke about Otis. Braxton said that she has never seen Otis this upset before. Miz: “What’s he gonna do? Eat us.” They laughed. Miz said that Heavy Machinery are big, tough and ferocious with Morrison saying “in catering” and then they left.
John Morrison and The Miz made their entrance with Sonya Deville joining them at ringside for this match. The Heavy Machinery team of Otis and Tucker entered for their first match as a team in several months. Otis is Mr. Money in the Bank, which his strange, but it actually happened three months ago.
John Morrison and The Miz (w/Sonya Deville) vs. Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker)
Morrison with kicks, Tucker with a takedown and Tucker picked up Morrison with a side slam. Tucker with a clothesline as the lights were flickering in the WWE PC as the announcers mentioned the Retribution group. Otis tagged in with a running shoulder tackle on Morrison. Miz kicked Otis in the gut, then Otis no sold that and ran over Miz for a knock down. Tucker and Otis did a running collision on Miz. Tucker hit a cannonball off the apron onto both heels on the floor. Nice move for a big guy.
The match returned with Miz grabbing Tucker with a front headlock. Miz held Tucker while Morrison jumped off the top with a double foot stomp on the ribs. Morrison charged, Tucker with a kick to the knee, Morrison with a punch to the ribs and a running knee. Miz and Morrison with a double team stomach buster followed by Miz hitting a DDT for two. Miz and Morrison were doing their cheesy song with Graves putting it over. Tucker hit Morrison with a forearm to knock him off the apron and sat on Miz. Otis got the tag with his usual grunting leading to clotheslines, a facebuster, a body slam and Otis hit an exploder suplex on Morrison across the ring. Otis with a running splash on Morrison. Otis did the Caterpillar leading to the elbow drop for a two count. That has won Otis matches so Miz broke it up. Tucker missed a charge against both heels and hit the barricade. Miz whipped Otis shoulder first into the steel steps. Mandy Rose showed up with shorter hair, a white top and jeans. That led to a brawl between Sonya and Mandy in the ring as the bell rang to end the match. This match went about nine minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: **1/4 It was a third match on this show with a non-finish, so that was frustrating. They can probably do the match again in the future. The appearance of Mandy was expected, but I figured it might be after the match. Anyway, the work in the match was fine with Tucker as the face in peril as usual for his team, which led to hot tag Otis time and he nearly won until Miz saved his partner. It was structured fine, but it’s hard to get that excited about it with that kind of finish.
Mandy and Sonya were fighting in the ring with the referee trying to break it up along with the four wrestlers. The women were split up, Rose broke free and tackled her. Sonya broke free and she tackled Mandy. That led to the women being separated as the show went to break.
Analysis: There hasn’t been a Mandy vs. Sonya match on pay-per-view yet, so it makes sense to do it at SummerSlam if there’s room on the crowd for it. There is also the Payback pay-per-view one week later on August 30, so that’s where we might see it.
There were a few minutes left in the show with nothing advertised, so it was obvious an angle was coming.
There was a shot of Mandy and Sonya in the backstage area as they were arguing. Heavy Machinery and Miz/Morrison were there along with WWE Producer Adam Pearce to try to break it up. The lights went out backstage.
It was back to the arena with men and women in masks and hoods showing up to scare everybody. It was the Retribution group. Michael Cole and Corey Graves ran to the back because they were scared. One of the masked guys went up to camera guys at ringside and said you may want to go home, so the camera guys dropped the cameras. That led to the camera guys running to the back. The developmental wrestlers in the crowd were yelling, so Retribution went after them and beat them up. There were clearly men and women in the group. A woman in the crowd tried to get away, but then one of the Retribution women kicked her while another woman hit her with a forearm.
Retribution flipped over the announce table. They also got out some spray paint and they the plexiglass as well as the ring. One of them put the WWE logo with a line through it. The Retribution members were in the ring. There were five of them. One of the guys had a chainsaw and he was cutting the ring ropes to destroy the ring. They held up their weapons in the ring. That was the end of Smackdown.
Analysis: The masked individuals that attacked on Smackdown are likely developmental wrestlers that we don’t know or perhaps indy wrestlers. They all look short. When it's revealed, it could be NXT people that have been doing nothing like Ciampa, Dijakovic (none were tall like him last night) or others that will be part of it, but I don't know. It's a mystery. The people in masks now don't have to be the same as the reveal, so WWE has time to figure out who is in the group. I could guess and you could guess, but I doubt most of us know who it is.
I think mystery angles build interest in the show. There’s not a lot of interesting things going on in WWE right now, so when you have a mystery storyline out there, it might build the audience back up. I’m willing to see how it plays out. What really annoyed me is all of the camera cuts they did, but I’m also used to it as a WWE fan. I just think it’s too much.
Three Stars of the Show
- Matt Riddle
- Jeff hardy
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 7.75
2020 Average: 6.32
This was a weaker show compared to last week and a big part of that was the match quality. There just wasn’t as much good in-ring content. I think the storyline of the Retribution is interesting because mystery angles can work if you let it play out and there’s a worthwhile reveal in the end. I just think fans need to be patient with it because it’s early and you won’t get the answers right away. If you look at the match results, there were five matches with two disqualification finishes and no result in the main event. It’s hard to love a show like that. I did like the way they continued the Sonya/Mandy feud. The stuff with Sheamus and Corbin wasn’t that interesting mostly because they’re heels. I didn’t mind the Strowman interaction with Wyatt/Fiend because at least we saw Braun again after a few weeks off.
I think it’s clear that the Retribution story will be a focal point of WWE programming going forward. I don’t mind the mystery group angle. If the reveal ends up being good then that’s really all that matters. I also think some fans have no patience for long term storytelling, but then again maybe they have lost faith in WWE booking long term angles, which is certainly understandable. In terms of trying to get fans interested in the show, a mystery angle is a good idea. Please cut back on the camera cuts, though. It's too much!
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
Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio
Raw Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits – Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford (c) vs. Andrade and Angel Garza
United States Championship: Apollo Crews (c) vs. Montel Vontavious Porter
Braun Strowman vs. The Fiend is likely, but not official yet.