By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown on Fox
Aired live on April 24, 2020 from Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
We got a Triple H video package to open the show to announce tonight’s episode as his 25th Anniversary celebration. We then saw the normal Smackdown introductory video package. Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans was announced as a qualifier for Money in the Bank. Dana Brooke and Carmella will take on Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships.
In the Performance Center, New Day made their entrance with some CGI. Big E and Kofi walked out to the announce table and gyrated before entering the ring. Footage was shown of Big E capturing the Tag Team Championships last week. They gyrated in the ring and announced their 8th WWE Tag Title name. Kofi gave Big E respect for defeating the odds last week, and demanded people clap. Big E reminded him that there wasn’t a soul in the building, and he said nothing felt better than having their girls wrapped around their….and Kofi stopped him.
Kofi said they had more title reigns than the Hart Foundation, Edge and Christian, The New Age Outlaws, etc. He said it wasn’t to brag, he just wanted to etch their names among the best in history. Big E took a moment to celebrate Tom Brady starting a New Day in Tampa Bay, and Kofi started to leave because he’s a Patriot Fan. Big E consoled him, and then they were interrupted by Lucha House Party. Lince Dorado said they wanted to be the first team to challenge them, but was cut off by Miz and Morrison.
Miz walked out and complained he was beaten in a singles Triple Threat match for the Tag Team Championships. They mentioned their title defenses, and called the New Day’s win cheap. Miz said they elevate the division, and the New Day make them look like jokes. Miz laid out a challenge, and Gran Metalik cut a promo in spanish. Miz wanted to know what he said, but Morrison lied and said he was flattering and respected him. Big E said that’s not what he said. Everyone was then interrupted by the Forgotten Sons. Cutler introduced Ryker and Blake, and they complained about serving their country, but getting treated like trash when they got home.
He said they would take over the Tag Team Division on Smackdown, and it would be forgotten no more. Miz started talking trash, but Ryker cut him off for being a Marine poseur while he was standing in front of a real one. Blake said they can strike anywhere, at any time, and you won’t see it coming. They then predictably attacked New Day. Kofi was powerbombed into Big E by Ryker.
Drew Gulak vs. King Corbin in a Money in the Bank qualifier is next…[c]
My Take: I’m sure the MAGA team beating up New Day will go over big on Social Media. This was a very boilerplate promo segment. Forgotten Sons and Lucha House Party don’t feel like they earned their way into the title picture over a team like Heavy Machinery or the Usos. I guess we’ll see if they can develop a story here that holds anyone’s interest.
We got a throwback video package to Triple H as the Blueblood Character in 1995.
Backstage, Miz and Morrison were interviewed by Renee Young. They blamed Lucha House party for instigating everything, and said they would demand a match with them for later tonight. Drew Gulak made his entrance with Daniel Bryan, followed by Baron Corbin. Footage was shown of Corbin beating down Elias last week.
1. Drew Gulak vs. Baron Corbin in a Money in the Bank qualifier: The action was back and forth early on. Gulak sent Corbin to ringside, and then drop kicked him over the announce table on the floor…[c]
Corbin landed a Bossman Clothesline as the show returned, as Daniel Bryan offered encouraging words. Corbin landed a deadlift slam. He went for a powerbomb, but Gulak reversed out into a pinning situation for a two count. The action spilled outside, where Gulak used a dragon screw to send Corbin into the steel stairs. Corbin hobbled into the ring, and Gulak climbed to the top for a diving lariat and a near fall.
Nakamura and Cesaro grabbed Bryan and tossed him into a support beam where the audience would have been. Gulak tried to intervene, but Corbin caught him with End of Day instead for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Drew Gulak at 9:54 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
After the match, Gulak and Cesaro held Gulak, and Corbin hit him with his Scepter. Corbin qualifies for Money in the Bank. A video of the history between Strowman and Wyatt was shown. Cole and Graves then spoke about Rob Gronkowski, and said he vowed to hold onto his WWE 24/7 Championship even while in the NFL. A Jeff Hardy video is up next.
My Take: Gulak and Corbin had an average match. They both showed strong effort, but there wasn’t enough chemistry there to make the match really stand out. Gulak not making it into the Money in the Bank Match, and Bryan getting in should further the slow burn towards their eventual feud.
Video was shown of the 2014 Money in the Bank match, and then Sheamus made his entrance in the Performance Center.
2. Sheamus vs. Daniel Vidot: Sheamus destroyed the guy clubbing blows and strikes, and then landed a Brogue Kick for the win.
Sheamus defeated Daniel Vidot at 0:59
After the match, a Jeff Hardy video package aired that spoke about his personal demons around substance abuse in 2011. It showed his return at WrestleMania 33 with Matt, and the giant reaction they got for their entrance. Jeff spoke about how that was a highlight of his life and that he’d never forget it. Chapter four of his story will be next week. Back in the PC, Miz and Morrison made their entrance…[c]
My Take: Daniel Video was quite physically impressive for an enhancement guy. Cole said he was a former pro Rugby player. He looks the part, if nothing else. The Hardy video package alludes to the darkness in his personal life, but it’s clear they are soft pedaling it as much as possible.
A video was shown of Triple H invading WCW as a part of DX in 1998. Sheamus appeared behind Michael Cole and ripped his headset off before staring him down. Lucha House Part then made their entrance. Graves said Sheamus eventually left. I guess Cole got a new headset because he didn’t miss a beat.
3. The Miz and John Morrison vs. “Lucha House Party” Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik: Lince Dorado started the match with The Miz. He attempted a springboard move, but Mix just booted him away. Morrison tagged in and landed a springboard elbow on the way in. He then put the boots to Lince before taunting him. Morrison scooped up Dorado, but got pulled into an arm drag. Metalik tagged in and stood on Lince’s shoulders before splashing Morrison.
Dorado tagged in, but Morrison quickly dropped him with a running knee strike. Miz and Morrison then performed a double gutbuster as Miz tagged into the match. They made frequent tags and Morrison got a near fall on a standing shooting star press. Dorado started a comeback with a springboard Stunner, and then tagged out to Metalik. He did a lot of acrobatics, but Miz kicked him in the face. He managed to comeback with a head scissors, but missed the follow up moonsault when Miz got the knees up.
Miz looked to be in control, but Metalik surprised him with a roll up and got the win.
“Lucha House Party” Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik defeated The Miz and John Morrison at 4:56
Lacey Evans vs. Sasha Banks is up next…[c]
My Take: There were a few bright spots in there, but this match was all over the place. Metalik and Dorado worked from underneath for most of it, but they didn’t sell enough to really make you feel shocked when the desperation finish came. The post match euphoria was also tampered by the fact that nobody could react to it. If nothing else, Lucha House Party gain a modicum of credibility by defeating the former champions.
Sasha Banks made her entrance with Bayley. She held a cutout of Lacey Evans’ daughter. Lacey then made her entrance. This match is a Money in the Bank qualifier.
4. Lacey Evans vs. Sasha Banks in a Money in the Bank qualifier: Bayley caused a distraction from the apron immediately, allowing Banks to get the upper hand. The action spilled outside, where Lacey tossed Banks into the barricade. Bayley got involved again, and Banks shoved Lacey’s right arm into the ring post. Banks then focused on the arm, wrapping it around the ropes in the corner. Banks then went for her double knees in the corner, but Lacey avoided it by sliding out of range. Lacey was unable to perform her corner handstand bronco buster because she couldn’t support her weight with her right arm. Banks then climbed up top and landed a meteora.
She went for an armbar, but Evans shoved her into the corner. She then performed her handstand bronco buster, and then slipped to the floor to slam her head into the ring post. Evans placed Sasha up top for a superplex, but Sasha broke free and kicked Lacey’s hand. She then applied the Bank Statement, but Evans escaped and landed a woman’s right. Bayley pulled Sasha’s foot on the rope. Evans grabbed Bayley, but Sasha rolled her up from behind.
The referee was still dealing with Bayley, and couldn’t make the count. Evans landed another Woman’s Right and got the win.
Lacey Evans defeated Sasha Banks at 6:02 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
After the match, Sasha and Bayley argued, and headed up the ramp. Tamina then walked out and Superkicked Bayley. Sasha checked on Bayley to close the segment. The History of Strowman and Bray Wyatt is up next…[c]
My Take: This was the most intense match of the night so far. These women have worked together a lot over the past few months, and it’s paying off. The slow Sasha and Bayley implosion continues, though the supporting cast continues to consist of weak characters. Lacey Evans still has a weird incongruity between her Mom image and her presentation, and Tamina hasn’t meant a whole lot in a long time.
The announce team cut to the Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt video package, which recounted their history in the Wyatt Family. It also recounted Strowman’s title win, and his insistence that he owes him nothing. It showed Wyatt gifting Strowman a black sheep mask, and how he was affected by it.
We then saw a video package that recapped Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville’s confrontation last week. Next week, Otis will face Dolph Ziggler, and Mandy will face Carmella in Money in the Bank qualifier matches. Backstage, Dana Brooke and Carmella were shown discussing Money in the Bank and winning the Women’s Tag Team Championships later…[c]
After the commercial break, Triple H’s quad injury from 2001 was shown, and his return in 2002. Back at the PC, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross made their entrance. They were followed by Carmella and Dana Brooke. Cole managed to sneak in a dig about Corey Graves and Pandas.
5. Carmella and Dana Brooke vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Brooke landed a dropkick on Cross, and the action spilled out to the floor. Carmella splashed Bliss on the floor, but Cross threw her into the barricade. Brooke then jumped off the barricade to splash Cross…[c]
Carmella and Bliss tagged into the match. Carmella tossed Bliss into the corner and landed a Bronco Buster. She then landed a superkick and covered, but Bliss broke up the fall. Dana Brooke took out Cross on the floor with a weak looking handspring back elbow. Carmella placed Bliss on the top rope and pulled her down with a headscissor. Cross made a blind tag while it was in progress, and Carmella made a cover that went nowhere. A moment later, Cross and Bliss caught Carmella with a double team vaulted DDT similar to a 3D for the win.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defeated Dana Brooke and Carmella at 6:11
After the match, we got another Triple H video package in preparation for his appearance next…[c]
My Take: This was a weaker match than Evans vs. Banks earlier. Much of the offense lacked impact, and the positioning of the commercial break meant we didn’t get to see much of the action.
Daniel Bryan vs. King Corbin was announced for next week, along with Otis vs. Ziggler and Carmella vs. Mandy Rose. Triple H then made his entrance for his big speech. He said it was hard to believe it had already been 25 years. He was nearly immediately interrupted by Shawn Michaels, who entered in jeans, a suit coat, and loafers like a high school teacher coasting to retirement. He said if you weren’t down with Triple H’s 25th anniversary, he had two words for you….social distancing. He said he sent an invitation to all of Triple H’s friends and relatives, and this is who showed up.
Triple H remarked that Cole and Graves were there, but Michaels said they were required to be there for the show. Michaels recalled his 25th anniversary on Smackdown (which didn’t happen), and asked Triple H to recount his favorite moments from that event. Michaels was bitter about it, and explained that he never got that moment. Triple H said heads would roll at the office when he finds out why it didn’t happen.
Michaels recalled both of them being in DX and how everything they touched turned to gold, and how they were one take wonders. He then threw to a video package of DX Bloopers from their various skits. Back at the PC, Michaels spoke of Triple H’s championship reigns and WrestleMania Moments. He then showed a video package of Triple H’s many WrestleMania losses.
Michaels said when you see it like that…you weren’t that good. Triple H said if he could be serious for a moment, he wanted to thank many people. He mentioned Austin, Rock, Foley, Undertaker, Michaels, and others for helping him along. Michaels said all of those people were responsible for making him a success, but there was that little blip when he met that woman….Stephanie No Fun.
Suddenly Triple H got a Facetime Call from Stephanie, who got fired up and called Michaels a no good lazy eyed..before Triple H cut her off. They then started talking about Ric Flair, who then also dialed in through Facetime and congratulated him. He told him not to let Shawn Superkick you at the end of the segment. They hung up, the phone rang again, and it sounded like Flair crying but I’m not sure…[c]
My Take: This is an absolute train wreck.
Road Dogg was on Facetime, and apparently had no idea he was live. Michaels said they had to wrap things up….and Michaels said that was good because he hadn’t got to Katie Vick yet. Vince McMahon then walked out and said the night couldn’t end without a few remarks from him. Michaels said he would back out and let them share 25 years together. Vince trashed their performance tonight, and compared it to the most boring segments in the company’s history. He called out the Gobbedly gooker as a comparison.
He then mocked him for the Katie Vick segment, and then randomly compared the boredom to Bayley’s “This is your life” segment. He did say that it wasn’t Bayley’s fault. Vince finally got serious and said he loved him. He then said he loved them both when Shawn looked dejected.
Vince then said their performance tonight was rotten, and told him to wrap it up before walking in his ridiculous way off stage. The lights then went out, and we heard cricket sounds as Triple H asked if he was kicking them out.
My Take: An absolutely surreal segment that was filled with equal parts Dad humor and inside jokes that nobody watching could have hoped to understand. This was definitely not what I had in mind when I imagined Triple H celebrating 25 years with the company. It felt more like a roast than anything, and not a good one.