Reviews

TJR: WWE Smackdown 08/14/20 Review

Welcome to the WWE Smackdown review here on TJRWrestling. This show was taped this past one day earlier on Thursday. We are on the road to SummerSlam on Sunday, August 23. This is also the last Smackdown at the WWE Performance Center since WWE is moving to the much larger Amway Center starting next week.

From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1095. 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 show began with highlights of the “chaos” (if you want to call it that) that the group known as Retribution has caused on Raw and Smackdown over the last two weeks. Last week on Smackdown, Retribution beat people up and destroyed the ring.

The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show along with a shot of the developmental wrestlers behind the plexiglass in the crowd. The announcers said that WWE hired extra security to watch the entrances in case Retribution shows up. They showed some random security/indy guys standing by a door. They looked small like the people in the Retribution masks. The announcers ran down the card.

Big E did the classic New Day intro promo for his singles match. No roll down the ramp on the way to the ring? That’s a shame. He also put his jacket on Corey Graves’ head instead of throwing it at him. Big E did a pre-tape promo saying he’s a former NXT Champion, former Intercontinental Champion, he said people forgot and he laughed. John Morrison entered without his buddy The Miz by his side. Morrison claimed that New Day were injury prone while insulting Big E as well.

The lights were flickering on and off as the match was about to begin. There were a lot of people in masks that showed up including several women and the guys beat up Big E and Morrison. Cole and Graves ran away. There were so many camera cuts. One of the guys took out Big E with a running Spear while Morrison was knocked down on the floor. The developmental wrestlers were booing it as they did nothing. The Miz ran out to check on Morrison at ringside. There were probably 10-15 members of Retribution instead of just five last week.

Analysis: I know some fans have mixed feelings about the Retribution angle. I don’t mind it because I think mystery angles are a way to build interest in a story. It would be nice if other members of the Smackdown roster actually cared enough to try to help the guys getting beaten up, but that’s something that can come later in the story. The worst thing about it is the shaky cameras and all the camera cuts that are supposed to make us more excited to watch this even though it makes me angry because of how many camera cuts they do.

(Commercial)

There was a backstage scene with John Morrison sitting on a case talking to Miz, who said that he was on the phone with Maryse or else he would have been out there. Other wrestlers like King Corbin, Shinsuke Nakamura, Shorty G, Drew Gulak and Lucha House Party were there along with Miz sitting on a case. King Corbin showed up trying to say that they are under attack. Big E fired up saying he was beaten up, but he’s going to face John Morrison later. Big E said that now is the time to stand up and fight. Sheamus walked into the scene applauding Big E for his speech. Sheamus ripped on Big E for being alone and vulnerable, which is why Retribution attacked him. Sheamus talked trash to Shorty G while saying Retribution won’t show up for his match because they’re afraid of him. Big E told Sheamus if he had any sense at all he would realize Big E isn’t alone. The other wrestlers left.

Analysis: At least they are trying to have people act like they want to work together, but the heels and faces can’t seem to get along.

There were more security guys (indy wrestlers) standing around the ringside area while Graves mocked them for doing a poor job.

The Women’s Tag team Championship duo of Sasha Banks (who is the Raw Women’s Champion) and Bayley (Smackdown Women’s Champion) were in the ring for a promo. Bayley said that Retribution wants to hear what the role models have to say. The crowd booed them. Bayley said it’s time for the triple brand battle royal. Banks talked about how now she has to face Asuka at SummerSlam and then they have to defend the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Payback (that’s August 30). Banks said tonight is about Bayley, which drew boos. Bayley said that a “lucky idiot” gets to her face her at SummerSlam. Bayley said they do their job better than everybody else, especially the Smackdown announce team. Bayley said now they are going to do ring announcing, so Greg Hamilton left the ring.

Here’s the introduction of the wrestlers with Bayley and Banks doing their annoying heel act.

The introductions of Raw’s Billie Kay and Peyton Royce was up first. Bayley trashed them saying that her and Banks are a lot better. Bayley introduced Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart from NXT. Banks told Shotzi that green is not her color while adding that gold is the color of Banks and Bayley. Lacey Evans from Smackdown was next while Bayley said it’s another woman she has beaten. Bayley thought she was given the wrong card as Asuka ran out to the ring. Asuka kicked Banks and Bayley out of the ring. The other women ran into the ring as the show went to break.

Analysis: This was about killing time while getting over Bayley and Sasha’s personalities as annoying heels.

(Commercial)

Tri-Branded Battle Royal: Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Tegan Nox, Shotzi Blackheart, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Shayna Baszler, Asuka, Bianca Belair, Naomi, Tamina, Dana Brooke and Nikki Cross

The winner gets to challenge Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam.

The first woman eliminated was Ruby Riott after about one minute and then Kay and Royce were eliminated back to back. Royce and Kay pulled Morgan to the floor, so the IIconics and Riott/Morgan got into a brief fight. That continues their tag team issues. Cross was sent out of the ring under the top and then she trapped Brooke against the apron. Belair was nearly tossed out, but she managed to hang on. Cross was hitting Tamina with forearms to the chest, but she had no effect and Tamina put Cross on the apron followed by a kick to the floor. Tamina with a double clothesline on Nox and Blackheart. Belair faced off with Tamina as they exchanged punches and Belair hit a Spear on Tamina. Banks picked up Tamina above her head leading to Tamina bumping over the top to the floor. Naomi wit ha running elbow on Evans, then a jawbreaker, Naomi kicked Evans, Baszler showed up and Evans hit a Woman’s Right punch on Naomi to eliminate her. My pick was Naomi, so I’m wrong. Blackheart kicked Naomi off the apron to eliminate her. Baszler with a Kirifuda Clutch on Blackheart to the apron and Evans pulled Blackheart’s legs, so Blackheart is out. That’s two women eliminated by people that were already eliminated. Nox countered a Belair power move and sent her into the middle ropes. Belair charged, Nox ducked and Belair went over the top to the floor.

The four were Asuka, Baszler, Nox and Brooke. Nox was on fire with running cannonballs on both Asuka and Baszler. Baszler tried to power Nox out of the ring, nearly dropped her and then Brooke showed up to get rid of Nox. Brooke was hiding out on the floor. Baszler sent Brooke to the apron and Asuka hit a running hip attack on Brooke to eliminate her. They were both from Raw. Asuka was on the turnbuckle, Baszler sent her to apron. When Bayley and Banks tried to interfere, Asuka hit them with a sliding knee to their faces. Baszler knocked Asuka off the apron, but Asuka landed on top of Banks and Bayley, so Asuka was still in the match. Baszler put the Kirifuda Clutch on Asuka, who managed to lift Baszler to the apron and eliminate her. This went about 10 minutes.

Winner: Asuka

Analysis: ** It was okay as a battle royal. I thought there were too many eliminations by people that were already eliminated from the match and would just pull somebody off the apron. When you do it once that’s fine, but three times seems like too much to me. Asuka winning was not what I expected although it does lead to a good story since she gets two title matches at SummerSlam. I was hoping for a Naomi win.

The win means Asuka will challenge Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Title at SummerSlam. Asuka will also face Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Title at SummerSlam. That means Smackdown’s Sasha Banks is holding the Raw Women’s Title while Raw’s Asuka is also going after the SD Women’s Title. It’s not like the brands matter.

Post match, Asuka celebrated the win. Banks and Bayley looked concerned at ringside.

Up next on Smackdown is Mandy Rose talking about what Sonya Deville has done to her.

(Commercial)

Mandy Rose, with the short haircut, was standing backstage talking to Sonya while looking into the camera. Mandy said some of the things Sonya has said about her is true, but it’s not like she is the first person to do that. Mandy spoke about all the criticisms about her and she says it hurts. Mandy added that she is a bikini world champion like Sonya said, but she also had three jobs at the time while putting herself through college, so she yelled about how it wasn’t handed to her. Mandy said that Sonya of all people knows how hard Mandy has worked to make it in WWE. Mandy thanked Sonya for reminding her that she is so much more than a pretty face. Mandy said if you think cutting her hair will destroy her, how about a Hair vs. Hair Match at SummerSlam? Mandy said that if Sonya wants to sit on her high horse and pretend to not give a damn about the way you look, Mandy will prove her wrong. Mandy said “it will get ugly” to end it.

Analysis: I like it. It makes sense after Sonya cut some of Mandy’s hair. It’s usually a stipulation where the heel loses so bald Sonya while Mandy finally gets her big win. Sonya can probably do a good job rocking a bald look or at least a shorter haircut. I’m glad they’re getting a PPV match. They deserve it.

Sheamus was shown walking backstage up to the security guys and told them to go have a drink because Retribution won’t show up when he is around.

This Monday on Raw: Shawn Michaels returns to address Randy Orton’s merciless attack on Ric Flair. Plus, Rey Mysterio may return to confront Seth Rollins after what Rollins did to Rey’s son Dominik on Raw last week. That means they’re promoting two legends without mentioning any matches.

(Commercial)

Nikki Cross went up to Alexa Bliss backstage and hugged her. Cross apologized for pushing Bliss down two weeks ago. Bliss said she is fine. Cross said they need to get Bliss safe from The Fiend and Bliss said she needed to get some answers…from Braun. There’s a Bliss interview coming up.

Sheamus made his entrance as we got highlights of last week when Shorty G attacked during the match to give Riddle the win by DQ. That led to Sheamus destroying Shorty with two Brogue Kicks to the face. Shorty G was next to some boos from the crowd because he’s been acting heelish of late.

Sheamus vs. Shorty G

Sheamus was in control early with some elbows followed by the ten forearms to the chest while on the apron. Shorty ran the ropes leading to a dropkick to the knee along with knee drops to the side of the leg. When Shorty ran the ropes for another move, Sheamus hit a double axehandle followed by the backbreaker and knee drop. Sheamus with a forearm cross to the face. Shorty stunned Sheamus with a rolling kick to the head and Shorty went up top with a missile dropkick for a two count. Shorty went for an ankle lock, Sheamus got out of it and Shorty got a jackknife pin for two. Sheamus came back with the White Noise slam. That led to Sheamus setting up in the Brogue Kick and he hit the Brogue Kick for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Sheamus

Analysis: ** A dominant win for Sheamus as you would expect against Shorty, who he beat several times this year. Shorty is in great shape and he put up a fight, but I don’t think anybody watching thought he was going to win. The fact that Shorty was out there facing Sheamus again likely means Shorty is not a heel working with King Corbin, but it’s hard to tell on Smackdown these days. I’m not sure who Sheamus might feud with next although maybe the trash talk with Big E is a sign of that as a new rivalry.

AJ Styles was shown backstage talking to former TNA wrestler Abyss (or Joseph Park – real name is Chris Park), who works for WWE backstage as a Producer for about a year or so now. Anyway, Styles is up next.

There was a commercial for NXT Takeover XXX next Saturday, August 22.

(Commercial)

Let’s Hear from AJ Styles

The WWE Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles made his entrance with the IC Title around his waist while the big man in the suit walked behind Styles to the ring. The announcers acted like they had no idea who he was. There was a bulletin board covered up in the ring.

Styles said that nobody really cares about the hooligans in the ring trying to destroy it. Styles said that they had important things to talk about like who is going to face Styles for the IC Title. Styles called out Daniel Bryan, saying he beat Bryan’s coach Drew Gulak, Matt Riddle and Gran Metalik. Styles said he wanted to sit at home with the IC Title, he plugged his Twitch stream and he complained about nerds throwing out statistics. Styles whined about how people think they know statistics. Styles said when he’s watching baseball he’s looking at batting average, in football he’s looking at 40 yard speed times and then he realized he’s a handsome stud of a nerd himself that cares about statistics.

Styles said that he had hired a team to come up with the Phenomenal Intercontinental Statistic System – PISS. What an acronym. Styles said it’s a work in progress. Styles pointed at the big man in the ring without giving him a name. Styles said wrestlers would have to earn this on merit alone.

Styles had a chart in the ring and he called the big man Joseph Park, which was the name used in TNA when he was doing the suit-wearing gimmick, so that’s what we’ll go with. Styles pulled the cover on the board and there were no names on there. Styles said that nobody has earned the right to be in the ring with AJ Styles. I can already see a lot of fans having fun editing that photo with clever jokes.

Jeff Hardy showed up for the interruption with Cole noting that Jeff is a four-time former IC Champion while also being a World Champion in WWE along with other titles.

Hardy said that he respected what Styles has done in his career. Hardy said that he didn’t get a fair chance in that tournament to get that IC Title because Sheamus set him up and he didn’t get his opportunity. Hardy said he won’t dwell in the past, but it could have been them in the finals. Hardy spoke about how the IC Title was special to him because it was the first title he won on his own many moons ago. Jeff said he was standing on his own two feet back then like he is now after conquering his demons once more. Hardy said that a match like Styles vs. Hardy sounds mega cool. Hardy asked Styles for a shot at the IC Title.

Styles said that statistics aside, he respects Jeff and he always has. Styles noted that he has known him for a very long time, Jeff’s always been good to him and he admires everything he’s gone through. Styles said a lot of people want them to have a match. Styles noted Jeff is part of one of the best tag teams ever. Styles claimed that Hardy deserves to be on that board, but then he said “HELL NO” to the idea. Styles noted that Jeff hasn’t earned the right to be on this board and Styles said this ain’t no pity party.

Hardy punched Styles, Hardy even punched Park, who left the ring and Hardy hit the Twist of Fate on Styles. Hardy put his name on the board and signed it with his signature as well. The segment ended as Hardy’s music played.

Analysis: The match and the rivalry makes sense since Hardy beat Sheamus in their feud, so moving Hardy to the spot as IC Title challenger works for me. I liked AJ’s promo work as the heel champion that doesn’t feel anybody should get a shot against him. It’s fitting for Styles as a heel to feel that way. Hardy’s promo was good because it put over the importance of the IC Title as something that Hardy cares about it because he won it for the first time almost 20 years ago. I hope they use Joseph Park in the future because he’s great on camera even though he didn’t get a chance to talk here. The match was made official later in the show. Styles and Hardy have wrestled plenty of times when they were in TNA together.

Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were standing backstage with their titles. Cesaro said that Lucha House Party can’t do anything about them as the champions. Lucha House Party stole the titles and ran away.

(Commercial)

AJ Styles was shown walking backstage with Joseph Park holding the board. Kayla Braxton asked if Styles will consider Jeff Hardy’s challenge for the IC Title. Styles complained about Hardy not respecting analytics and sounded like he accepted the challenge. Styles tried to erase Jeff’s name off the board, but then it wouldn’t wipe off, so he complained about it being permanent marker.

Lucha House Party’s Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado entered with the Smackdown Tag Team Titles even though they’re not the champions. The actual champions Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura entered looking angry while getting a pre-tape promo with Cesaro and Nakamura said that they squish flies like Lucha House Party.

Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Cesaro) vs. Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado)

Nakamura with a knee drop. Metalik grabbed a side headlock while the announcers said that next week they’ll be live and there will be fan interaction. It’s at Amway Center, but WWE hasn’t announced it yet. Metalik with a headscissors and then Nakamura came back with a kick to the head for two. Metalik with a cross body off the top, then a boot to the face and a running bulldog. Metalik jumped off the ropes with a back elbow for two. He makes it look so easy. Nakamura tried an exploder suplex, Metalik got out of it, kick to the ribs and after a Cesaro distraction, Metalik jumped off the ropes right into a kick to the ribs by Nakamura for two. Nakamura hit a reverse Exploder Suplex where Metalik landed on his stomach. The LHP entrance hit again and this time Kalisto made his entrance for his return after missing most of the year with a separated shoulder. Dorado kicked Cesaro and Kalisto hit an incredible DDT on Cesaro. Metalik with a kick on Nakamura, then up top and he hit an elbow to the chest on a standing Nakamura for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Gran Metalik

Analysis: ** I can watch these guys wrestle all day. Everything is so smooth. It was just too short to really stand out. Good to see Kalisto back. That’s the common booking move by WWE to have a tag team champion getting pinned in a singles match to build up the challengers. We saw Nakamura/Cesaro do that against New Day as well. This should lead to a title shot at SummerSlam or maybe Payback one week later.

Alexa Bliss was backstage getting ready for an interview up next.

(Commercial)

Matt Riddle was interviewed by Kayla Braxton, who mentioned King Corbin targeting him. Riddle called her “bro” and she said it’s cool. Riddle said he’s a laid back guy, he said the king’s ransom is cool and he’s there to compete. Riddle said Corbin is just a royal pain. Riddle noted that he has called him out, he’s attacked and he’s not sure what to do. Shorty G showed up saying he had to explain himself saying he had a family. Shorty said that intentionally trying to injure another superstar is not him, so that’s why he’s there to apologize. Shorty extended his fist and Riddle touched his fist. Riddle said it’s all good. That led to King Corbin attacking Riddle from behind with a punch to the back. Corbin thanked Shorty for the help and called him Chad. Shorty didn’t act like it was intentional…unless it was.

Analysis: I like that we don’t know if Shorty G was genuine in apologizing to Riddle or if it was a setup. There will probably be a Corbin vs. Riddle match at SummerSlam or Payback later this month.

Interview with Alexa Bliss

Alexa Bliss was interviewed with somebody asking her questions off camera. They probably could have got Kayla or somebody else to do it, but it was just some producer we couldn’t see. Bliss said she has been better in the past for sure. Bliss talked about how when you first meet Braun Strowman, he can be intimidating and she got to know him as we saw clips of them as “Team Little Big” in the Mixed Match Challenge. Bliss said Braun is a good man that is funny, witty, protective, compassionate and they get along so well. Bliss said they became like best friends. Bliss said “maybe” to the idea of them being a romantic couple while noting that they got along. Bliss was asked if that’s why she was targeted by The Fiend and she said that was a question for The Fiend. Bliss said it was scary and terrifying being around The Fiend. Bliss noted that once you’ve interacted with him, you can feel his presence and understand when they say, “moth to a flame.”

They showed a clip of Braun Strowman last week saying he didn’t give a damn about Alexa Bliss – all he cared about was destroying The Fiend. When Bliss was asked about that, she looked shaken, didn’t say a word and looked away, so the interview ended there.

Analysis: This was okay. It did work in terms of showing the Bliss connection with Strowman for those that didn’t watch them on Mixed Match Challenge. I guess we are to assume that Bliss had a crush on Braun Strowman? I don’t know. If you follow Bliss on social media (millions of people do) then you know she mentions her boyfriend Ryan Cabrera all the time. Anyway, it did seem necessary to hear from Bliss to further this story.

(Commercial)

Next week on Smackdown: AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental Title. Styles hasn’t wrestled on the last few PPVs, but he has had IC Title matches on TV.

Sonya Deville did an interview saying she was a bit surprised about Mandy Rose’s challenge. Sonya laughed about how she thinks Mandy will look great bald. It looks like Sonya got a new tattoo on her left forearm. Sonya said that people say things about Mandy because it’s true. Sonya said she’ll destroy Mandy once and for all, so challenge accepted. Sonya said it’s on – Hair vs. Hair at SummerSlam. Sonya: “See ya soon, baldy.”

Analysis: Good stuff. As I said earlier, it should be a win for Mandy over Sonya because Hair vs. Hair usually ends in the face getting the win.

The match that was going to begin the show is up now with both guys already in the ring. The Miz was on commentary.

Big E vs. John Morrison

Big E had a brace on his left knee as he hit a running shoulder tackle. Morrison took down Big E by attacking the left knee. Big E hit a back elbow to the face of Morrison. Miz said you can’t deny Big E’s talent, but he needs momentum and he needs his boys with him. Morrison was on the top rope, Big E shoved him and Morrison bumped to the floor. Back in the ring, Big E hit a running clothesline. Miz claimed he made Mandy’s hair popular last week. Heels lie. Big E hit a running splash on Morrison on the apron. Morrison went over to where Miz was, so Miz distracted Big E and Morrison hit a chop block to the back of the left knee to take down Big E. Back in the ring, Morrison with a knee drop to the back of the left knee of Big E for a two count. Otis showed up at ringside with the Money in the Bank briefcase and he yelled at Miz. Otis is still on this show? I guess so. The lights were flickering on and off in the building as Cole called for security and they went to break.

(Commercial)

The ring was surrounded by most of the Smackdown roster including men and women wrestlers. The lights were flickering again as Morrison had Big E in a headlock. Since the wrestlers were at ringside, there was a backstage shot of Retribution chasing Kayla Braxton and also putting referees like Drake Wuertz through a table (he’s a former wrestler) and they slammed referee Dan Engler on a table. There was a random guy in a WWE shirt that was beat up too. There was also a chairshot to the back. The bathroom door was opened, somebody was in there, so the door was shut and a chair was put up against it. The WWE logo was sprayed on a wall. Kayla was backstage seated on the ground. It was back to the match in the ring with Morrison with a springboard kick on Big E. Referee Jessika Carr showed up to tell the wrestlers that Retribution was backstage, so the wrestlers ran to the back. Morrison sent Big E into the ropes. Morrison avoided a slam and hit a dropkick to the leg. The wrestlers went backstage where they saw the damage caused by Retribution. Mandy and Dana checked on Kayla while the referees were down. The WWE logo was spray painted on the wall with a circle and line around it. The match continued with Morrison setting up Big E on the turnbuckle, Big E shoved Morrison down and Big E hit a uranage slam for two. Morrison went for a kick, Big E tried a rollup pin, then Morrison got his shoulder up and Big E slapped on the Stretch Muffler submission for the tapout win after about 12 minutes.

Winner by submission: Big E

Analysis: *** The winning ways of Big E continued here in a pretty good match that was the longest match of the night. There was obviously a distraction with all of the Retribution chaos backstage, so that hurt the match a bit too. Morrison was there as the talented veteran wrestler that put over the guy they want to push. It worked for the story they were trying to tell.

Post match, Big E left the ring and Sheamus showed up with a Brogue Kick that knocked him down at ringside.

Analysis: There’s the continuation of the Sheamus and Big E story, so that should lead to a match at SummerSlam or Payback.

That led to Braun Strowman showing up with a new bald look, so Sheamus got out of there and Braun yelled. Braun is up next.

(Commercial)

It’s main event time on Smackdown with less than ten minutes left in the show. Braun Strowman was in the ring as the announcers talked about it was “new look Universal Champion” while noting that The Fiend changes people. Anyway, it’s Strowman vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt at SummerSlam.

Analysis: A rivalry with The Fiend now leads to haircuts? Sure. Good job by Braun shaving his head to go with the bald look. He had a receding hairline. It makes sense to shave it off as a guy in his mid-30s. It’s a part of life as a man for a lot of us. I’m a few years older than Braun and I haven’t shaved my head, but it certainly grows less than it used to.

Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt/The Fiend Confrontation

Strowman said that they say you’ll never see it coming at SummerSlam. Strowman stared into the camera saying that he told us when he got out of the swamp, he would be the most evil son of a bitch anybody has ever seen. Strowman called out The Fiend and said he would eviscerate him. Strowman talked about he would “consume your entrails.” Entrails are your internal organs in case you don’t know.

Alexa Bliss showed up to join Braun in the ring. Her pop music is pretty unique in this situation.

Bliss said she owes it to them as friends to have a conversation. Braun asked about what. Bliss said this is not the Braun she knows especially when he said he didn’t give a damn about Bliss. Alexa said they have been friends for years. Braun said that Bliss used her as a pawn, she thought she could change him and like he said, he didn’t give a damn about her. Braun said she thinks she can use him by dragging him by his beard or sing songs in the car (they were on Carpool Karaoke). Bliss wondered what he was talking about. Braun didn’t look at her spoke. Braun said that everybody that comes in contact with The Fiend changes…including her. Braun told her to get out of his ring and he wants The Fiend. Bliss told Braun to be careful what he wishes for. Bliss said that maybe she should slap some sense into him and she yelled at him to look at her, so Braun looked at her. Bliss slapped Braun in the face. It sounded like they edited in a slapping noise there. Bliss slapped Braun repeatedly and those slaps weren’t as loud. Braun picked up Bliss over his head in a press slam position, then the lights slowly started to go out in the building and Braun called out for The Fiend. Braun pressed Bliss over his head, then dropped her, so the idea was he slammed her to the mat. However, the lights went out, so we didn’t see the bump.

Analysis: That’s the benefit of taping a show like this. They can edit it to make it look like Braun slammed his friend into the ring. We did not see her take the bump. WWE could have put padding there or Bliss could have just taken a regular bump. It was like on Raw when we didn’t see Randy Orton actually punt Ric Flair in the head, but we think he did it. I think Strowman’s promo was great as a sign of a guy that has changed. It’s a character twist for him and I think it was needed.

When the lights came back on, Strowman was out of the ring while The Fiend was in the ring with Bliss, who was grabbing her ribs. The red light was in the ring. Strowman appeared on the video screen and he laughed like a madman. The Fiend also laughed at the sight of him. The maniacal laughing continued for about one minute until Strowman let out a yell. Strowman and Fiend stared at eachother as the show ended there.

Analysis: That segment might have been the heel turn of Strowman. I don’t really know. And you know what? That’s okay if we don’t know. We can decide for ourselves if he’s a heel or if he’s the same guy that he has been for a few years. It doesn’t necessarily mean that The Fiend is a babyface, but you could argue that since he was the guy in the ring that “saved” Bliss after Strowman dropped her in the ring. I like not knowing. I like having to try to think about it. I have mixed feelings about the Strowman/Fiend SummerSlam match because the match at Money in the Bank was boring. However, the story has progressed a lot in the last three months, so maybe it will be presented better at SummerSlam. I think Strowman should probably retain the title, but if The Fiend wins then that wouldn’t surprise me that much.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Big E
  2. AJ Styles
  3. Braun Strowman – I’m intrigued by the character change for the big man.

 

The Scoreboard

6 out of 10

Last week: 5.5

2020 Average: 6.31

 

Final Thoughts

This show was a bit of a mixed bag, so I’d call it an average Smackdown that was lacking in interesting matches. It was heavy in promos, backstage segments and talking. I’m not that interested in the Retribution storyline at this point, but I hope that things improve in the weeks ahead. I did like that Big E and other wrestlers spoke up about wanting to stand up against Retribution. That’s progress at least. As I’ve said in the past, mystery angles are good at building up interest. There’s a slow pace to this story, that’s for sure.

I actually liked most of the Strowman/Wyatt stuff, which is an improvement over the last few weeks with them. I think the face/heel lines are blurred a bit, which is fine because Braun (who is now bald) might be better as a heel anyway. In terms of matches, there wasn’t anything that really stood out although Big E beating Morrison is nice to see. Asuka’s win was booked well because it pisses off Banks/Bayley a lot. It was also fun to see Joseph Park in a WWE ring with AJ Styles because Park was one of my favorite gimmicks in his TNA run.

They have also done a nice job of setting up matches for SummerSlam. I’m looking forward to Smackdown next week for WWE’s first show in this “pandemic era” at the Amway Center as a nice change of pace from the WWE PC shows.

The next WWE pay-per-view is SummerSlam at the Amway Center in Orlando and it takes place on Sunday, August 23. Here’s the lineup so far.

WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton

Universal Championship: Braun Strowman (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Asuka

Street Fight: Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio

Hair vs. Hair Match: Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Asuka

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

It’s not known right now how many matches there will be. Eight seems like a full card, but it’s very possible WWE adds more matches to the card. There is also WWE Payback one week later on August 30, so some matches not on SummerSlam will be there.

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