By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped May 26, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired May 29, 2020 on Fox
The show opened with Elias on the ground on the street outside the Performance Center. A silver Toyota had crashed into him. It was leaning on a stop sign with the hood popped. Renee Young was on the scene, and the police on the scene identified that the rental car as belonging to Jeff Hardy.
Braun Strowman was a witness, and he said he saw someone run the car into Elias and run off as he pulled into work. Jeff Hardy was found nearby in the bushes, and the police noticed he smelled like alcohol. He swore that he hadn’t been drinking, but said his head was spinning. Police noticed he smelled like the bottles in the car, and placed him under arrest. Renee Young said he appeared to be inebriated and the rental car was in his name. Hardy didn’t know what was happening, and was upset as Elias was loaded into an ambulance.
Hardy was loaded into a police car, and taken to the station. Renee said he was taken to the police station for further questioning, and Elias was taken to the hospital. Renee said they would provide updates throughout the evening…[c]
My Take: Elias is injured and Hardy is out, so this will have ramifications for the Intercontinental Title Tournament. Hardy vs. Daniel Bryan was advertised for this show, which is now presumably off. Sheamus seems like the culprit for a framing here, and I assume that’s where this goes. Though, it’s pretty odd that Braun Strowman wouldn’t have noticed that Sheamus was the driver, given that he stands out in a crowd. I guess he could have been dressed like a ninja, but even then…
Backstage, Adam Pearce explained to the roster that Elias was hit by a car, and that he’s unable to compete. Someone with a headset on approached and told Pearce that Hardy was arrested. Sheamus made sure to call him a pathetic junkie. AJ Styles wanted Daniel Bryan in the finals. Bryan offered to compete against someone else, and Styles called him an idiot. Bryan called him a coward in response.
Sheamus argued he deserved another shot, because Jeff Hardy stole one from him last week. Bryan said he’d take on anybody. Corbin wanted another shot again, and Styles said he was taking his bye to the finals. Sheamus offered Corbin vs. Bryan vs. Himself in a Triple Threat match, and the winner faces styles. Shorty G, Jey Uso, and Dolph Zigger all objected to the losers getting additional shots.
Pearce told everybody to quiet down, and announced a Battle Royal with everyone present, with the winner facing Daniel Bryan. Whoever wins that match takes on AJ Styles. After everybody cleared out, Styles told Bryan he really was an idiot.
My Take: AJ Styles is 100% correct. Bryan comes across like a doofus for wanting to compete in a match he didn’t get a chance to prepare for. The idea is that he’s a good sportsman and wants somebody else to get an opportunity, but I disagree with the idea that babyface characters should act against their own interests.
1. Battle Royal for a Chance to Face Daniel Bryan: The match was joined in progress. Shinsuke Nakamura, Drew Gulak, Cesaro, Sheamus, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Lince Dorado, Jey Uso, and Gran Metalik were in the ring. The action was all over the place. We had several near eliminations, but everybody hung on and returned to the ring. Sheamus trash talked Cole, and nearly got eliminated by Shorty G in the process. Cesaro nearly eliminated Gulak, but gently set him down on the apron instead.
Corbin landed the first elimination of Lince Dorado with a forearm shot. Gulak tried to dump out Corbin, but he avoided it and tossed out Corbin instead. Nakamura and Shorty G tangled up, and Cesaro attempted to dump out Jey Uso without much luck. Corbin eliminated Gran Metalik after Ziggler hit him with a kick to the gut. Ziggler then tried to eliminate Corbin, and then tried to play it off like he was messing around. Corbin tossed him out as well. He talked trash at Ziggler, but Jey Uso superkicked him out of the ring after he distracted himself…[c]
We saw a series of superkicks from Jey Uso, but Cesaro took over the match with an uppercut. Shorty G surprised Cesaro by dragging him over the top rope. Nakamura, Sheamus, Shorty G, and Jey Uso were the final four. Shorty G avoided some kicks from Nakamura and dumped him over the top rope. Nakamura got fired up and distracted the referees, which allowed Cesaro to enter again and toss Shorty G out of the ring.
Jey Uso and Sheamus remained. Jey landed a few strikes, but Sheamus dumped him to the apron. Jey hung Sheamus on the rope, and climbed to the top rope. He jumped at Sheamus, but he got out of the way. Jey landed a big clothesline that sent Sheamus to the apron. Jey was dragged to the apron, but was able to avoid elimination. Jey attempted a superkick, but was shoved into the ring post. Sheamus then landed a Brogue Kick and eliminated Jey Uso.
Sheamus won the Battle Royal at 10:52
New Day will be guests on A Moment of Bliss for a Tag Team Summit. We then saw Sonya Deville backstage, where she told Lacey Evans the same fate awaited her that she delivered to Mandy Rose. Lacey crept up behind her, and shoved her down to the ground. She called her a nasty and told her she’d see her in the ring…[c]
My Take: WWE is subtle about nothing, so Sheamus immediately gave away he framed Hardy by loudly criticizing him, and arguing for a second shot in the tournament. He’s now in the Main Event against Jeff Hardy. So what are the odds Hardy is back later with revenge in mind? Given the speed this whole story is moving, it’s probably like 90%.
Backstage, Cesaro and Shorty G talked trash to one another. Cesaro said he wasn’t fit to be Intercontinental Champion, and offered him a chance to walk away and avoid another beating. Gable refused to back down and gave Cesaro a forearm to the face. He told Cesaro his challenge was accepted and walked away.
In the arena, Lacey Evans made her entrance, and the announcers read some tweets that set up this match. Sonya Deville then made her own entrance.
2. Lacey Evans vs. Sonya Deville: Lacey stuffed a couple of double leg attempts, and Lacey talked trash about being a state wrestling champion. Lacey struck an Amateur Wrestling position and dared Sonya to take the top position. They traded reversals until Lacey landed a double leg takedown. They traded strikes until Sonya landed a hard right hand, and then tossed Lacey into the corner. She landed another punch in the corner, and then stepped on Lacey’s hair.
Lacey fought back into the match with a facebuster, and then gator rolled Deville to the arpon, and then stuffed her into the ring apron. Deville came out hot with a double leg and landed some strikes. Lacey returned fire, but Sonya slammed her into the announce table. Lacey then reversed a whip attempt and sent Sonya into the table ribs first. They were counted out by the referee.
The match ended with a double countout at 6:32
Lacey got back in the ring and demanded they settle it. Sonya said she would settle it on her terms, and left. We then got a promo from the Forgotten Sons. Ryker and Cutler announced themselves as former soldiers, and Blake said he was a proud patriot that supported them. He said he’s a changed man since he joined the group and started to support his forgotten brothers. He said everyone else’s blood will now be on their hands.
Elsewhere, New Day snuck up on and surprised Bliss and Cross….[c]
My Take: Lacey vs. Sonya was way above my expectations. They both showed some fire and intensity in the ring, and they kept the action simple and hard hitting. I’m looking forward to future installments. The Forgotten Sons continue to say a lot of words, but it’s not winning me over. The gimmick needs to go back in the oven to get fully baked.
Bliss and Cross made their way to the ring for the Tag Team Champions summit. Nikki said she was very excited for their guests. She reached for her Coffee manically, but Alexa calmed her a bit and said they’d have their coffee momentarily. She then brought out New Day, and Bliss and Cross danced in the ring to welcome them. Cross really hammed it up.
Nikki gave New Day a box full of Scottish Pancakes, and they returned the favor by having Big E pulling coffee beans out of his trunks, and stirring them up with some water. They wanted Alexa to take a sit, and she quickly changed the subject. She wanted to know about the New Day’s tag team competition, and they first talked about The Forgotten Sons. Kofi said they made a name for themselves in the fatal four way match.
They asked who Alexa and Nikki were feuding with the Iconics on Raw, but who were they facing on Smackdown. Queue Bayley and Sasha Banks, who made their entrance. Bayley called them the best team on Smackdown. They entered the ring, and Sasha threw her warm up jacket at Alexa and poses. Nikki held her back, and was cordial by congratulating Bayley on her win against Charlotte last week.
Alexa pointed out that everyone in the ring was wearing a Championship in the ring except for Sasha. Bayley stood up for her, and called her the leader of the Women’s Division. Sasha said they could win back their titles anytime anywhere, and that they put those titles on the map. Bayley was an exaggerated hype woman for everything Sasha said. Alexa and Nikki said they would defend them right now, but Bayley said that Sasha would prove how good of a team they are by facing Bliss one on one.
Sasha was clearly upset by this, and said she didn’t even have her gear on and wasn’t ready. Bayley said she’d go back and grab her shoes. Bliss threw Sasha’s jacket back at her and gave her a dropkick…[c]
My Take: Bayley overacted everything there, but for the most part the segment worked. You could really tell that New Day were really excited to talk about the Forgotten Sons, which they said about 4 words about. Nikki Cross continues to be one of the most charming babyface characters in the company.
3. Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks: We got a bunch of roll up counters to start the match. Bliss and Bayley were on commentary, with both being cheerleaders for their friends. Sasha took over the match with some strikes in the corner. She then landed a meteora to a seated Bliss for near fall. Cross fired up the rest of the performers in the crowd for Bliss, and was starting to get under Bayley’s skin.
Cross jumped up and down on the table, and Bayley was disgusted with her. Sasha demanded everyone shut up so she could slap Bliss, but it backfired. Bliss landed a facebuster as Nikki fired up the crowd again. Banks sent Bliss hard into the second turnbuckle, and then landed another meteora. She followed up quickly with double knees in the corner for a near fall.
Banks went for the Bank Statement, but Bliss rolled her up in a reversal for a two count. Bliss landed a hard right hand and went up top for Twisted Bliss. Bayley interfered, leading to Nikki crashing into Alexa in the corner. Sasha landed a running knee strike and rolled up Bliss for the win.
Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss at 6:52
An update on Hardy and Elias is next…[c]
My Take: Not much of a match there, it was mostly about the obnoxious cheerleading at the announce table. The interference finish sets up an eventual Tag Team Match, which should be one to look forward to.
We got a recap of the opening scene of the show. After the update, it was said that Elias was in stable condition at the hospital. Bryan vs. Sheamus was plugged for later. Cesaro made his ring entrance for the next match. Shorty G followed.
4. Shorty G vs. Cesaro: Shorty G started out hot with a running kick and a rollup for a two count. He then went after Cesaro’s left leg, but was cut off by a huge lariat. He then followed up with a strong european uppercut and a gutwrench suplex for a two count. Cesaro applied a rear chin lock, but Gable escaped and landed a dropkick to his left leg. Cesaro quickly regrouped and landed an elevated powerbomb for another near fall.
Cesaro placed Gable on the top rope and went for a German Suplex, but Gable flipped out and applied an Ankle Lock. Cesaro powered out and landed a hard euro uppercut for a near fall. He then went for a Gotch Piledriver, but Cesaro backdropped out of it for a two count. Gable hit the ropes and reversed another powerbomb attempt into a sunset flip for the win.
Shorty G defeated Cesaro at 4:27
After the match, Gable walked up the ramp and continued to talk trash. We got a plug for Otis and Mandy spending a day at the pool up next…[c]
My Take: They crammed a lot into a short match, and it was a good one. Can we drop the stupid Shorty G gimmick now? Why can’t Chad Gabe be a badass amateur wrestler who uses technique to overcome his size disadvantage? Does that story not work anymore in 2020?
As promised, Mandy and Otis were shown drinking champagne and eating fruit by a pool. They toasted to having some alone time, and Mandy said she was going to take a nap. Otis got in the pool, and Mandy dreamed about Otis getting into the pool. She hammed it up as the camera panned over him and he got out of the water. In her dream, Otis dropped his vocal intonation and talked normally. He tore off his shirt and they kissed. Back in reality, he did a cannonball and splashed water all over her. He asked if he woke her up, and she said it was ok. She got in the pool and they shared a kiss “for real”.
Kurt Angle made an appearance and spoke about his past, and looked forward to Edge vs. Randy Orton. He then switched focus to the future, and said he was excited to announce the next star coming to the brand to be the face of Smackdown. We then got a Matt Riddle video package. It was very Bro, as expected. Kayla Braxton said they were all looking forward to Matt Riddle’s arrival on Smackdown.
Sheamus appeared and said she was doing it again. She talked about Jeff Hardy for weeks, and he was a disappointment. Now she’s talking about Riddle while he’s getting results. He said he would Brogue Kick Daniel Bryan’s face off one more time, and he would go on to be WWE’s Ultimate Grand Slam Champion. She said this was no place for the weak. Daniel Bryan walked up, and Sheamus told him to say what he had to say. He started poking Bryan in the chest, who then stomped on his foot. Bryan smiled and walked away as Sheamus screamed at him…[c]
My Take: The Otis and Mandy video was over the top, but the premise of Mandy fantasizing about Otis was a funny one. Their romance continues to produce uneven segments and performances, but this one was ridiculous in a better way than most of them.
The announce team threw to a video package recapping the Miz and Morrison vs. Braun Strowman feud. Bayley and Sasha vs. Bliss and Cross was announced for next week. In the arena, Daniel Bryan made his ring entrance, followed by Sheamus.
5. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan: Sheamus took control early on and abused Bryan with strikes and holds. Sheamus trash talked Bryan, and said he wasn’t the only one on Smackdown that could wrestle. Bryan broke free and sent Sheamus to the outside, and then landed a dive that sent him into the barricade. Bryan told Sheamus to bring it on…[c]
Sheamus landed hard elbows to Bryan in the corner, and then again when he fell on the mat. Sheamus then jawed at the crowd and wanted to set up for the Brogue Kick. The action spilled outside, and Bryan was thrown into the barricade. Sheamus told Cole to start a Yes Chant, and the crowd chanted No instead. Bryan rolled back into the ring, and Sheamus took him down with a flying clothesline from the top for a two count.
Sheamus jawed at Bryan that he created the yes movement with his 18 second victory at WrestleMania. Bryan fired up momentarily, but got caught by the Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus applied a Texas Cloverleaf, but Bryan crawled to the ropes for the break. Bryan fired back with some right hands, and then hung Sheamus up on the top rope. Bryan climbed to the top, but Sheamus climbed up and set up for a Superplex.
Bryan punched and headbutted himself free before landing a missile dropkick. Bryan landed a series of kicks. Sheamus avoided the last one and hoisted up Bryan for White Noise. Bryan kicked out at two. Bryan landed a drop toe hold into the second turnbuckle, but Sheamus quickly recovered and hit a double axe handle that turned Bryan inside out. He then lined up for a Brogue Kick, but Jeff Hardy walked down the ramp. Sheamus was distracted, allowing Bryan to landed a running knee and pickup the win.
Daniel Bryan defeated Sheamus at 11:59
After the match, Hardy attacked Sheamus, who had to scramble out of the ring. Hardy fired up the crowd to close the show.
My Take: The match finish was obvious two hours ago, but Bryan and Sheamus still delivered a hard hitting match that was entertaining to watch. This was a better edition of Smackdown than what he had seen in previous weeks, and the crowd in the audience certainly helped. We saw quite a few matches that delivered intensity and physicality tonight, and we saw more clean finishes than we had in recent weeks.