By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped May 11, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired May 15, 2020 on Fox
Smackdown began with video footage of the Money in the Bank Matches from last Sunday. It focused on some of the comedy moments and the eventual winners Otis and Asuka. Michael Cole then welcomed the audience to the Performance Center. Charlotte’s appearance was highlighted, and then The Miz and Morrison were shown in the ring on the set of MizTV.
They did a brief introduction, but they were quickly interrupted by Otis, who came out with the Money in the Bank Briefcase. He celebrated and then held the briefcases in their face. Otis tried to sit in the directors chair, but it broke almost immediately. Miz asked him about his victory and called it the most important one of his career. Otis said his most important accomplishment was winning over the heart of his peach Mandy Rose. Morrison said he must be amazing in the sack, and packing some meat…in his briefcase.
Otis said he has some rolaids, gas-x, and a bratwurst in his briefcase for later. They put up one of his baby pictures, and Otis said he was the biggest thing to ever come out of his mother. The Miz and Morrison made some bad jokes about his mother. They threw up some more photos, and mocked him for being a chubby kid going up. Eventually Miz said he couldn’t believe that a clumsy, sweaty, Momma’s boy buffoon became Money in the Bank winner and got the girl.
Miz said he was one step away from Universal Champion and the face of Smackdown, and he can’t take it. He wanted Tucker to come out right now so they can have a tag match right now. Otis said Tucker had a case of dysentery from the Oregon Trail. Miz said he was a joke, and he couldn’t even make a tag match right. He told him he had until the end of the show to find a partner and answer the challenge.
Jeff Hardy, Sheamus, Drew Gulak, Daniel Bryan, Elias, King Corbin, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura were shown on the board for the Intercontinental Championship Tournament. Elias made his way out for the first match in the tournament. He will face Baron Corbin. Footage was shown of Elias being attacked by Corbin and thrown off the stage at the performance center two months ago…[c]
My Take: That opening segment was cold as ice. Not a lot of chemistry verbally between Otis and the team of Miz and Morrison, and the Otis came across a little lost at times when delivering his lines. He was looking everywhere but the camera, and seemed to lack a bit of confidence.
Baron Corbin made his ring entrance for the Intercontinental Tournament Quarterfinal.
1. Baron Corbin vs. Elias: It was a kick, slap, and punch contest early on. Corbin went for a half crab, but Elias popped out of it. Corbin replied with a back elbow for a two count. Corbin applied a submission, and Elias eventually broke free and clotheslined Corbin out to the floor. Elias climbed up top and dove at Cobin on the floor with a body block. Both men struggled to their feet, and Corbin tossed Elias into the ring barricade. He then grabbed and strummed Elias’ guitar.
Elias got upset and landed a baseball slide and sent Corbin into the announce table. He then threw Corbin into the steps and the post, before tossing him over the barricade onto the concrete floor beyond…[c]
Elias went up top for a rope walk, and Corbin dropped him along the top rope. Corbin then followed outside and pummeled Elias on top of the announce table. He then dragged him back into the ring for a cover and a near fall. Corbin remained in control with knee and elbow strikes. Elias fired back with right hands and kicks, but Corbin shut him down and landed a Bossman Lariat for a two count.
Corbin then picked up Elias for a short arm lariat, and then a second. He picked up Elias for a third, but Elias turned it into a spinning neckbreaker to catch his breath. Elias then fired up and landed a series of strikes along the ropes. The ref pulled him off, but did not call for a DQ. Elias landed a knee and went up top, but Corbin recovered and avoided it. He ran outside and attempted another Bossman clothesline, but Elias ducked. Corbin then hit a spinebuster instead and covered for another near fall.
Corbin placed Elias on the top rope for a superplex, but Elias slipped out and placed Corbin in an Electric Chair position. Corbin slipped out and powered up Corbin for a chokeslam for another near fall. He then got angry with Elias and threw a series of punches as a downed Elias. Corbin rolled to the outside and grabbed Elias’ guitar again and smashed it on the turnbuckle. Elias then pepped up with a jumping knee strike and rolled up Corbin for the victory.
Elias defeated Baron Corbin at 16:07
After the match, Corbin gave a look of shock and Elias celebrated up the ramp. The other first round Matchup to take place tonight will be Drew Gulak and Daniel Bryan. Charlotte’s appearance was also plugged again. Otis was shown backstage with his briefcase. He pitched Sheamus on the idea of being his partner, and he told him not a chance…[c]
My Take: A fairly plodding match that didn’t need 15 minutes. This one felt like it reached third gear and just kind of stayed there. The story they tried to tell with Elias getting superpowers whenever his guitar was threatened didn’t grab me personally, and Corbin taking out his frustrations on the guitar rather than Elias didn’t make a ton of sense for a vindictive heel.
Otis complained to no one in particular backstage that he couldn’t find a tag partner. Mandy walked up and assessed the situation, and told him to ask Braun Strowman. He said she was a genius and got a kiss before taking off. We then got a video package of the WWE hacker, who was shown monitoring a bunch of monitors. Elsewhere, Otis approached Braun Strowman and asked him to be his tag partner. Braun asked if he wanted a tag partner, or was setting up a situation to cash in the briefcase.
Otis promised he just needed a partner. Strowman said he knows how the game is played, but it was ballsy to approach him like he did, so he told Otis he would think about it. Otis looked pleased…[c]
My Take: Braun pointing out the cash in opportunity was good, because it would have been bizarre if it never came up. Otis continues to walk a tough line playing a goofy underdog character that has somehow stumbled into essentially achieving all of his dreams simultaneously. They are trying to add layers to his character while having him still hold onto the mannerisms and ticks that make him out to be a caricature of a human being.
Naomi made her entrance, followed by Dana Brooke.
2. Naomi vs. Dana Brooke: Noami went for a rollup attempt early, but got a two count. She then landed a clothesline and a splash in the corner. Dana returned with a rollup for two, and then a kick to the gut. She then landed a handspring elbow, but Naomi got her feet up when she attempted a second one. Naomi landed a splash from the top, and they rolled through a couple of times before Naomi got a two count.
Naomi then went for a sunset flip, but Dana sat down and trapped Naomi’s legs and got the victory.
Dana Brooke defeated Naomi at 1:40
Charlotte was advertised for next…[c]
My Take: Dana must be getting set up as Bayley’s next challenger of the month. I like that she defeated another challenger rather than jumping into a non-title victory over Bayley or something.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance and had a microphone. She called herself the hardest working woman in the industry. She asked how it was possible that she’s working for all three brands, and the numbers have been crunched, and the fans want more Charlotte Flair. She said Fox identified that she’s 5’ 10”, blonde, and her last name if Flair. Charlotte said she was surprised that there wasn’t a giant photo of her in the performance center to inspire other superstars to work harder.
Bayley’s music hit and she walked to the ring all fired up about Charlotte’s comments. Bayley said she would say it was nice to see her, but she’s a role model now and she doesn’t lie. She said the Fox execs must be in love with blondes, or the fact that she’s Ric Flair’s daughter. She and Sasha mocked her and started wooing.
Sasha recalled that the last two times Bayley saw Charlotte, she was beating her for the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Bayley said she was the first Grand Slam Champion in WWE, and told Charlotte to go back to NXT or Raw and beat Liv Morgan over and over again for all she cares. Bayley said she and Sasha are the Role Models on Smackdown, and she can get the hell of her ring right now.
Charlotte said some things never change. Sasha made her relevant when she battled with her over the NXT Women’s Championship, and now she’s the only thing keeping her Smackdown Women’s Champion. Charlotte recalled her and Sasha main eventing the first Raw and PPV’s together, and said she’s the Boss and the Blueprint. She questioned whether she was content being in Bayley’s corner for the rest of her career.
Charlotte asked if Bayley’s mic could get cut off so that Sasha could speak. Bayley cut off Sasha as she was going to speak, and said she wouldn’t understand their type of friendship, and the time for talking is over. Charlotte said she’d be happy to come back and fight, but she had a question for Sasha. She asked her if she was just going to sit there and be a lackey and an afterthought.
Backstage, Braun Strowman was working out with resistance bands. Kayla Braxton asked him if he was still thinking, and he said he needed more time to decide…[c]
My Take: This was a good use of Charlotte. The promo wasn’t off to a great start with Charlotte bloviating about her gimmick per usual, but things improved rapidly once Bayley and Sasha were involved. Using Charlotte as a cudgel to drive a wedge between Bayley and Sasha is smart business, and played upon their history well.
Backstage, The Forgotten Sons got a backstage promo. They said they chose to serve their country to fight for what they believed in. But when they got home, they were shunned and cast out, and told they were mentally ill. So now they will welcome everyone else with closed fists. Elsewhere, Renee Young spoke to Miz and Morrison. She asked them about Braun Strowman. Morrison said Strowman isn’t dumb enough to fall for Otis’ game to get him out to the ring for a cash in. Miz then said he knew he couldn’t hang with the two of them. They did their awkward Miz and Morrison song and danced out of frame.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: So, the Forgotten Sons gimmick is that they believed in the largely illegal and unnecessary wars we’ve been waging in the Middle East for two decades, and are mad they weren’t treated like Gods when they came home? Oh, and they might have PTSD? Alright then…
Drew Gulak made his entrance.
3. Drew Gulak vs. Daniel Bryan: Gulak grabbed an arm twist, and Bryan reversed out and flipped Gulak onto his back with a suplex. They were separated for a moment, and then tied up for more mat work. They worked some grappling until Bryan was able to briefly apply the Yes Lock. Gulak quickly spun around and reached the ropes with his legs. Bryan grabbed a waistlock, but Gulak reversed and applied the Gu-Lock. Bryan used a leverage escape and quickly reached the ropes himself.
Bryan grabbed an arm twist, and then hyperextended Gulak’s elbow over his shoulder. He then grabbed a butterfly hold, but Gulak flipped him over with a backdrop. Bryan maintained his hold, and landed a butterfly suplex into an armbar attempt. Bryan maneuvered into a pinfall attempt for a two count. They did a series of standing switch reversals until Bryan was dumped out to the floor by Gulak…[c]
Gulak landed a back suplex for a two count. Gulak applied a full nelson, and then transitioned into a side headlock. Bryan picked up Gulak for a couple of shinbreakers, and then landed two dragon screw leg whips. Bryan then applied an Ankle Lock, but Gulak quickly reached the ropes. Bryan then picked up Gulak for a bridging German Suplex for a near fall. Gulak rolled up Bryan after escaping a full nelson for a two count. Gulak then landed a modified Michinoku Driver from a body slam position for a near fall.
Gulak went back to a full nelson, but Bryan escaped and shoved Gulak into the ropes. He used Gulak’s Momentum to land a release German Suplex that sent him across the ring. Bryan set up for his running knee, but Gulak rolled him up for two. Gulak then hit a powerbomb, and then we saw a series of cover reversals for two counts. Gulak grabbed the Gu-Lock again, but Bryan reversed into the Yes Lock.
Gulak countered his way out, But Bryan twisted Gulak’s ankle up with another Dragon Screw and then locked in a heel hook and got the win.
Daniel Bryan defeated Drew Gulak by submission at 12:47
After the match, Bryan was interviewed by Renee Young. She asked what it would be like to win that prestigious title. Bryan said he was forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship when he had to retire. He said he’s always wanted to make that Championship THE champion of Smackdown, and defend it every week against all comers. He said he wants the Intercontinental Title to be the best wrestler in the world, and he thinks that’s him. He then shook Gulak’s hand, and we got a Make-A-Wish video package…[c]
My Take: This match was extremely enjoyable for me to watch, but I think you really have to be a fan of mat based wrestling to get the most out of it. I think Bryan and Gulak have great chemistry together and really enjoy the same facets of pro wrestling, so it’s a real treat when they get a chance to work together like this. I’d love to see them run this one back again if Bryan ends up capturing the Intercontinental Championship.
Bayley vs. Charlotte was announced for next week, as well as AJ Styles vs. Charlotte, and Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus. Mandy and Otis vs. Dolph and Sonya was also announced as a grudge match.
Backstage, Sonya and Dolph were in a hallway. She said she had lived up to everything she said she would do to her, and they would humiliate her and her boyfriend next week. She said the only thing Mandy is good at is being Blonde and Pretty, and when that’s over, she’ll be barefoot and pregnant in a trailer with Otis and a bunch of kids. Sony said if that’s the life she wants, she can have it, but she’s not done with her yet. She wants Mandy to go home and get her gear and show her why she belongs in the ring with her. Sonya said she’d see her next week….bitch.
Miz and Morrison made their entrance, followed by Otis. There was a bit of a pause, and then Braun Strowman walked out.
4. Braun Strowman and Otis vs. Miz and Morrison: Otis and Morrison started the match, as Strowman barked at Otis to shut them up. Morrison landed a kick, but Otis rubbed his gut and gyrated in response. He then landed a shoulder tackle and a pancake, followed by a body slam. He then knocked Miz off the apron and tagged in Strowman. They then did a double caterpillar elbow on Morrison, and he was forced to roll to the floor in retreat….[c]
My Take: More good stuff from Sonya on the microphone. She’s really killing it with her character work recently, and it’s nice to see her continue to get opportunities on a weekly basis. Dolph was also there.
Miz landed kicks to the chest of Otis in the corner, and then hit a series of running knees and a clothesline. He then went up top and landed an axe handle from the top, followed by a series of kicks for a near fall. Miz continued the pressure with a side headlock, and jumped on Otis’s back as he got to his feet. Morrison tagged in and they went for a suplex, but Otis reversed and made a tag to Strowman. Braun cleaned house and splashed Miz in the corner. He then threw him to the floor and smashed him with a running shoulder block.
Strowman did his obligatory shoulder into the post spot, and Morrison got a bit of offense in off of that. He attempted to hit the ropes, but Strowman caught him on the rebound for a Powerslam victory.
Otis and Braun Strowman defeated Miz and Morrison at 10:27
After the match, Mandy made her entrance to celebrate with Otis. He teased sneaking up on Strowman, and then begged off when he got caught. They posed as the show closed.
My Take: I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the Otis and Mandy situation has really spilled further up the card than it has earned at this point. It was a nice diversion in the middle of the card where expectations are pretty low, but it’s hard to grade on the same curve in the main event, and it feels out of place here. Mandy and Otis still feel very one dimensional, and they have some character work to do with them both before they feel fleshed out enough to occupy the same space as other major characters.
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