By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped April 25, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired May 1, 2020 on Fox
The show began with some hype for Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler, as well as Mandy Rose vs. Carmella. We’ll also see a new episode of the Firefly Funhouse. Daniel Bryan made his entrance while the announce team covered the field for Money in the Bank. Bryan had a microphone and said it was no secret that he loves what he does. What he loves most is overcoming new challenges and trying new things, which is why he’s excited to compete in 9 days for the most unique WWE Money in the Bank match in history.
Bryan said it would be six men and women fighting all throughout WWE HQ and on the roof to obtain a contract for a championship match anytime and anyplace. Bryan said it was wild, and that he’s competed in wild matches before, but this is the first time he’s ever competed in an office building. He said he didn’t know the etiquette. Could he take the elevator to the top floor? Would there be catering? Does Vince McMahon really have Dinosaur bones in his office?
Bryan said he knows something about opportunity, because 9 years ago he couldn’t even get booked on Smackdown, but shortly after winning Money in the Bank he was pinning the Big Show for the World Championship. Bryan said Money in the Bank was the most pivotal moment in his career, because it is what created the Yes Movement and what propelled him to Main Event WrestleMania and made his dreams work for him.
He then said that he was also sad, because Baron Corbin and his cronies had ruined the Money in the Bank Opportunity for his friend and coach Drew Gulak, and he was there to settle the score. He then called out Baron Corbin, who made his entrance. Corbin told him to be careful what he wished for calling out his kind, because he makes his kind suffer. Corbin then aired footage of last week’s match between Corbin and Gulak.
Corbin told Bryan that he was dreaming if he thought he could beat him at Money in the Bank, because he would be the one on top of the ladder, and he would force his subjects to greet him as King Money in the Bank. Bryan then asked Corbin what he was going to do when he won? Would he blow his opportunity again? He said Corbin was one of four people to squander the briefcase, and asked what his excuse for losing was when he had the element of surprise?
Corbin said a lot had changed since he and Bryan had won Money in the Bank, and Bryan had gone from hungry to tired, and he would put him out of his misery right now…[c]
My Take: A decent promo from Bryan, but Corbin’s King character is incredibly dull, and the longer he went on, the more the segment suffered. Watching him talk is a bit like watching someone slowly let the air out of a balloon.
1. Daniel Bryan vs. Baron Corbin: They grapples a bit to start, and Corbin used his size advantage to push Bryan into the corner and land some heavy strikes. Bryan landed a leg kick and then picked one of Corbin’s leg to try and take Corbin to the ground. Corbin avoided the takedown and hit the ropes, but Bryan landed a low dropkick to take him down. Bryan then landed another kick and a dragon screw leg whip.
Bryan continued to focus on the leg with kicks and then applied a kneebar. Corbin reached the ropes and used the ropes to pull himself back to his feet. Bryan attempted to maintain distance and kick at Corbin’s legs. Bryan reversed out of a front facelock and grapevined Corbin’s legs. He then landed a few more kicks, but Corbin caught the last one and landed some big punches from a mounted position.
Corbin then landed a straight right hand and started trash talking Bryan about being washed up. He then landed some 12 to 6 elbows to Bryan’s collar bone. Bryan fired up and landed some kicks in the corner. The ref separated them, and Corbin used the space to land a punch to the ribs. Corbin placed Bryan on the top rope, and Bryan fired back with some forearm strikes. Corbin punched Bryan out to the floor, and then sent him into the ring post. Bryan sold his left shoulder…[c]
Corbin controlled the offense after the break until Bryan countered out of a powerbomb attempt with a roll up for a near fall. Bryan avoided a corner clothesline, but Corbin rebounded around the post and landed a Bossman clothesline. Corbin landed some knees before focusing on Bryan’s shoulder. Bryan sent Corbin into the corner, and landed a tope when he attempted another bossman clothesline.
Bryan continued on offense with a missile dropkick, and then took down Corbin with leg kicks before applying an Ankle Lock. Bryan released the hold to stomp on Corbin’s ankle, he then kicked him in the face. Corbin kicked out at two, and Bryan covered him two more times to force him to expend energy on kickouts.
Bryan setup Corbin in the corner and landed a running dropkick. He attempted another, but Corbin caught him in a deep six for a near fall. Corbin landed more mounted punches, but Bryan pulled him into a half crab. Corbin reached the ropes, and Bryan stomped on his as he crawled out onto the apron. Bryan landed a head kick on the floor, and Corbin threw a ladder at him to cause a DQ.
Daniel Bryan defeated Barin Corbin by DQ at 15:01
After the match, Corbin placed the ladder in the ring and went to send slam him through it with End of Days. Bryan reversed out of it and dragged Corbin down onto the ladder to apply the Yes Lock. Shinsuke attacked Bryan from behind, and then Cesaro tossed a ladder at him. Corbin then pulled Bryan to the stage and tossed Bryan into a group of ladders set up near the rampway. Backstage, Strowman and Alexa Bliss were shown talking backstage. Braun headed to the ring…[c]
My Take: The match was an enjoyable watch until the cheap finish, but I didn’t really expect to see one here so I guess I’m not too disappointed. Bryan and Corbin have some chemistry together, which makes it a shame Corbin’s heel character is so comically bad.
Braun Strowman made his entrance, and grabbed a microphone. He said last week was a trip down memory lane with the Wyatt Family, but the past is the past. He said Bray can give him as many gifts as he wants to remind him, but as Money in the Bank he’s going to…..and the Firefly Funhouse music played.
Wyatt said he had something special in store for everyone…it’s storytime! The story was called the Black Sheep, and it had Strowman’s old mask on it. Wyatt told the story about bringing Strowman into the Wyatt Family as a children’s story. He called Braun a Black Sheep who had abandoned him for greener pastures. Wyatt, the Shepherd, was very sad and asked why he would leave after all he had done for him. He said the other animals abandoned him as well, and he lost his entire farm.
He said reptilians took over, because that’s what they do, but that’s the end. He said they could write a new end to the story, where the farmer finds the black sheep and reminds him of his mistakes, and then takes him directly to the slaughterhouse. Strowman said there was no “and then”, and that if he had anything to say to him he should come to the ring and say it to his face.
Elsewhere backstage, Sheamus was shown working out with resistance bands. He’s up next…[c]
My Take: They are doing what they can with Wyatt and Strowman’s history, but the unfortunate part of it is that Strowman didn’t mean a whole lot to the company when he was in the Wyatt Family, and so there isn’t much to dive into other than the surface level betrayal of Strowman walking away from Bray at some point. The Firefly Funhouse is sort of a cracked mirror view of reality, but there’s really no depth to these stories. It’s just Bray doing his best impression of a horror movie villain, without the character development that really makes horror movies fun to watch.
Sheamus made his entrance and stared daggers through Michael Cole. Leon Ruff, an enhancement wrestler, was in the ring.
2. Sheamus vs. Leon Ruff: Leon surprised Sheamus with a dropkick, but he quickly took control with three irish curse backbreakers. He stared down Cole while delivering them, and tossed Ruff to ringside. He then landed clubbing blows to Ruff’s chest as he talked trash. He pulled Ruff into the corner and set up for a Brogue Kick, and then put him away.
Sheamus defeated Leon Ruff at 1:42
After the match, Sheamus walked up to Cole and talked some trash. Cole told him they were going to show them the comeback of Jeff Hardy. The video package took a look at his most recent knee surgery and some training at the performance center for his 2020 return. It showed some highlight packages, as well as pointed out that Jeff still has to overcome the darkness of his past substance abuse issues. Hardy returns to Smackdown next week. Sheamus stood next to Cole after the video package, and he said if Hardy will be there next week, so will he.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Otis and Mandy Rose about their qualifying matches. Otis said he defeated Dolph Ziggler at WrestleMania, and tonight he’d do it again. He also said his beautiful peach would get the win tonight as well. Mandy said Carmella might have won Money in the Bank match before, but she had another thing coming if she thought she was going to moonwalk all over her. She said Otis would claim his briefcase, but first thing’s first, and she gave Otis a peck on the cheek and headed off for her match.
In the arena, Carmella made her entrance…[c]
My Take: A Sheamus vs. Jeff Hardy feud has some promise. It has to be better than Sheamus crushing enhancement wrestlers and having staring contests with Michael Cole. Otis and Mandy are a goofy combo, and it could work, but why has Tucker disappeared from the face of the Earth?
Mandy Rose made her entrance, which is exceptionally weird for a babyface character.
3. Mandy Rose vs. Carmella: Both women tangled to start the match, and Carmella took control early with a kick to the face for a two count.
Carmella grabbed an arm twist, but Mandy fought herself out of it and landed a body slam. She then applied a rear chinlock. Sonya Deville then made her entrance with a microphone. She reminded everyone that she gave Mandy her Money in the Bank spot last year at this time, and told her she was doing great. Mandy tried to stay focused, but kept looking back at Sonya. Carmella got back into the match with a lariat.
Sonya said she was coming to the ring, and Mandy turned her direction, only to be caught with a superkick and pinned by Carmella.
Carmella defeated Mandy Rose at 4:03
After the match, Carmella celebrated briefly, and then Sonya ran in to attack Mandy. She landed some punches, and then tossed her to the floor. Many screamed at her about how she would never be better than her, and she would ruin her pretty face. She then tossed her into the ring post and in the steps. She then landed a running knee that sent Mandy into the steps a second time.
Trainers and refs separated them, and Sonya continued to scream that she would end Mandy and ruin her life. Otis vs. Ziggler was plugged for later. New Day vs. Forgotten Sons is next…[c]
My Take: Not much of a match, but a very good performance from Sonya Deville, who has really brought her best work to being an unhinged obsessive character. If Mandy was more effective at selling with her facial expressions, it might work a little bit better, but so far she seems pretty wooden in response to Sonya’s explosive anger.
Mandy was being checked on backstage, and Otis walked up. She said she’d be ok, the trainer asked for some more time. Otis walked out into the gym area, and Dolph Ziggler walked up and asked if Mandy was ok. Otis started huffing loudly, and Dolph walked off. In the arena, Big E and Kofi made their entrance, followed by the Forgotten Sons. A video package was shown of the tag team confrontation from last week’s Smackdown that ended with The Forgotten Sons beating down New Day. Miz and Morrison made their entrance to join on commentary.
4. New Day vs. The Forgotten Sons: Cutler started the match with Big E. They tied up briefly before Big E landed a back body drop. Kofi then tagged in and landed a kick to the chest. He covered Cutler for a two count. Cutler landed a punch to the gut and tagged in Blake. Kofi fired back on Blake with some kicks and a seated dropkick in the corner. Big E tagged in and landed a big punch and a belly to belly suplex on Blake.
He then dropped to the floor and landed some strikes to Blake’s chest. Cutler ran at Big E from around the ring, but he got caught with a back body drop. Big E then landed a splash on Blake while he was prone on the apron…[c]
Blake splashed Big E with a suicide dive and then landed some knee drops in the ring. Cutler tagged in and they landed a double team spinebuster, and then a cover was made for a near fall. Big E fired back with some punches, but Cutler shut him down quickly. Blake tagged in, and they landed another double team uranage into a backbreaker. Big E fought back to his feet and backed Blake into the turnbuckle. He then made a hot tag to Kingston, and Cutler also tagged back in.
Kofi landed a series of strikes on Cutler. A distraction from Ryker allowed Cutler to land a double underhook backbreaker. He then placed Kofi on the top rope to set up for a Superplex. Kofi was able to shove him away. Kofi landed his running double stomp for a near fall. Cutler managed to pull it together and tagged Blake. He then hit a backstabber, and held Kofi into position for a flying elbow from Blake. He covered for a near fall.
Big E offered an assist and Blake and Cutler were tossed to the floor. Big E then launched Kofi at both of them on the floor. Things broke down as Ryker tossed Big E into the ring post on the floor. Kofi was tied up with both Cutler and Blake, and ended up getting pinned after they landed their Lost and the Damned finisher for the win.
The Forgotten Sons defeated New Day at 12:41
The Forgotten Sons celebrated after the match.
My Take: That was a decent match, but I didn’t get that instant chemistry feeling that made me think there is another much better match between these teams around the corner. The Forgotten Sons just feel kind of lifeless as a team, much as they did in NXT. The whole concept is just a walking bummer, and I’m not sure that it’s a great basis for a wrestling act. How does becoming a Championship Wrestling Tag Team change anything about being a disaffected Military Veteran?
We got another Money in the Bank plug, and then saw some footage of Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans from last week. Backstage, Tamina was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. She was asked if Bayley and Sasha intimidated her. She said she wouldn’t be bullied around by two mean girls, and it took four women to beat her at WrestleMania. Sasha walked up and tried to play on her history to make up with Tamina, but she saw through it and anticipated a Bayley attack from behind. A brawl then broke out when Lacey Evans came on the scene and offered Tamina some help after she got jumped.
Backstage, Sonya Deville told Dolph that she wished she could have been there to see the look on Otis’s face when he saw Mandy. Mandy said she hurt her, and she would do it again. Dolph said he would hurt Otis, because people think Otis is the hero and this is some movie when he’s the villain. Dolph said fans think heart matters more than skill or talent, but later he would prove that it doesn’t when he wins tonight and then cashes in the Money in the Bank match to become Champion again. He then said when Sonya is done hurting Mandy, he would slide on up to her as the new Champion to make her feel better.
In the arena, Otis made his entrance…[c]
My Take: Dolph and Sonya came across really creepy there, particularly Dolph, who came across borderline rapey. The Tamina and Bayley program continues to be cold as ice, but Sasha Banks gave a nice performance for her con artist routine.
Next week, Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak will choose a mystery partner to take on Corbin, Nakamura, and Cesaro. Lacey Evans and Tamina will take on Bayley and Sasha, and Braun Strowman will confront Bray Wyatt face to face.
In the arena, Ziggler made his entrance for the main event.
5. Dolph Ziggler vs. Otis: Ziggler charged at Otis, and got leveled by a shoulder block. Otis then tossed him around a bit before landing a delayed vertical suplex for a two count. Otis blocked a turnbuckle smash, and then sent Ziggler into the corner. He then stood on Ziggler back and gave him a body slam for a two count. Dolph jumped at Otis for an STO, but he got caught and catapulted into the middle turnbuckle.
Otis picked up Ziggler and dropped him with a back suplex for a two count. He then backed up and charged at Ziggler in the corner, but instead ate the ring post with his shoulder. Ziggler then rolled to the floor and tossed Otis hard into the barricade…[c]
Ziggler dropped Otis with a big dropkick and then landed a second one that staggered him into the ropes. Ziggler applied a sleeper hold, but Otis backed him into the corner to break free. Otis then fired up and charged Ziggler in the corner, but ate a back elbow. Otis shook it off and drove Ziggler into the corner. He then went for a caterpillar, but Ziggler rolled out of the way and then hung Otis on the top rope.
Dolph went for a Fameasser, but Otis shoved him off. Ziggler then raked Otis’s eyes and landed a ZigZag for a close near fall. Otis managed to toss Ziggler with a big suplex after intercepting a Superkick, and then landed the Caterpillar elbow for the win.
Otis defeated Dolph Ziggler at 11:15
After the match, A graphic showed Otis qualifying for Money in the Bank. He stared at the briefcase to close the show.
My Take: A match that was good in spurts, but had long stretches where it appeared Otis was struggling to catch his wind. This just leaves the mystery man for the final spot in Money in the Bank, and that will be determined next week on Monday. Overall, this was a passable show, but Smackdown still lacks star power for what is supposed to be WWE’s flagship on Network Television. I have to wonder if Fox thinks they are getting their billion dollars worth when they watch these show.