By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped earlier this week in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired June 19, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a recap of AJ Styles beating Daniel Bryan to win the vacant Intercontinental Championship on last week’s show… The Smackdown opening aired…
A mix of spectator wrestlers and “friends and family” were shown cheering behind the plexiglass barricade. Michael Cole and Corey Graves checked in on commentary and hyped the previously advertised segments…
Renee Young stood in the ring next to the Intercontinental Championship belt, which was resting on a podium. Young introduced AJ Styles as the new champion. There were a number of wrestlers standing around the ring for Styles’ championship presentation. Styles said he wanted them there so that they would know that they were as close as they would get to the Intercontinental Championship.
Styles indicated that it was time for Young to present him with the title, but then he stopped her. Styles said there was only one person qualified to present the title to him. Styles pointed out Daniel Bryan, who was one of the wrestlers standing at ringside and called for him to enter the ring and strap the title around his waist.
Styles goaded Bryan by saying he beat him fair and square and told him to show a little respect for the title that he said meant so much to him. Bryan entered the ring. Styles told him to put the title belt around his waist and then congratulate him. The spectators chanted “no” briefly. Styles turned his back to Bryan and told him that he was trusting him not to do anything stupid.
Bryan picked up the title belt. Styles turned and told him to be a man about it. “You are a man, right?” Styles asked. “Well, prove it.” Styles said that if Bryan is a coward then he doesn’t have to put the belt around his waist. Bryan put the title around the waist of Styles and congratulated him. Styles said no one heard it and told him to say it like a man.
Bryan got a mic and congratulated Styles on being the better man last week. He said they disagree about a lot of things, but he respects his ability in the ring. Bryan said he thinks Styles will be a great Intercontinental Champion, and even the greatest to date if he shows up every week and pushes himself by defending the title against the wrestlers standing around the ring.
Bryan told Styles to imagine defending the title against Shorty G, Gran Metalik, and Big E. Styles told him to shut up. He said Bryan’s vision is not his vision. Styles told Bryan that he’s now at the back of the list for a title shot. Bryan said he can handle that, but since Styles is all about people earning things, then he should have no problem defending the title against Drew Gulak, who earned it by beating him two weeks ago.
Styles said he’s not Bryan and does not give handouts. Styles said that if you want a title shot then you have to earn it by becoming the number one contender. Styles said the next person who runs their mouth will have to deal with the consequences.
Matt Riddle’s entrance music played and he headed to the ring while Graves said Riddle was late to his own debut. “What’s up, bro?” Riddle asked. Riddle started to introduce himself, but Styles said he knows who he is and took issue with him being barefoot in his ring. Styles said he wouldn’t give him a handout. Riddle said that Styles fancies himself as the face that runs the place, but he will be the Bro who runs the show.
Styles took a cheap shot at Riddle, who came right back with a kick that cleared Styles to ringside. Styles called for a referee so that he could have a match with Riddle… [C]
Powell’s POV: A very good segment with Styles playing the egomaniac while Bryan was the pure babyface who humored him while doing the right thing out of good sportsmanship. The Riddle debut is certainly overshadowed by the allegations made against him as part of the #speakingout movement (see the main page for details), but putting that aside for now it looks like they have/had major plans for him given that he’s facing Styles on night one.
1. Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles vs. Matt Riddle in a non-title match. Greg Hamilton was going to deliver in-ring introductions for the title match, but Styles cut him off and said the title would not be on the line. Riddle started the match with a German suplex and then continued to work over Styles. AJ caught Riddle with an elbow in the corner, but Riddle came right back with a high kick to the head.
Styles came back with a dropkick and clotheslined Riddle to the apron moments later. Riddle punched Styles, who kicked him into King Corbin, who was among the wrestlers still at ringside from the championship presentation segment. Corbin shoved Riddle to the ground. Riddle got up and jawed with Corbin heading into a break. [C]
Riddle performed a senton on Styles and covered him for a near fall. Riddle applied his BroMission finisher. Styles arched onto Riddle to put him in a pin position so that he had to break the hold. Styles applied a Calf Crusher. Riddle reached the bottom rope to break the hold right in front of Daniel Bryan, who shouted encouragement.
Styles rolled to ringside and shoved Bryan, who was held back by Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. Styles got in the face of Bryan and taunted him. Styles returned to the apron and went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Riddle caught him and performed a tombstone piledriver before covering Styles for the win. Several babyface wrestlers entered the ring to celebrate with Riddle…
Matt Riddle pinned AJ Styles in 12:55 in a non-title match.
Jeff Hardy was shown being mic’d up by a production assistant backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match and obviously a strong debut for Riddle. It’s yet another case of a secondary champion losing a televised non-title match, but at least this one felt bigger than usual. From a viewer standpoint, the wrestlers at ringside added to the match. But given the COVID concerns stemming from the developmental wrestler who tested positive, WWE sure picked a bad time to have all those wrestlers at ringside in addition to all the spectator types behind the plexiglass.
A lengthy video package recapped the Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus feud…
Renee Young conducted a backstage sit-down interview with Jeff Hardy. He said he’s 42 years-old and has been trying to turn his life around. He said it feels like he’s been trying to turn his life around for his entire adult life. Hardy said just when he felt like he was turning things around, he puts out one fire and then turns around and there’s another fire. “The struggle is real,” Hardy said.
Young asked how he’s handling with coming up short in his match with Sheamus. Hardy said he’s lost a lot of matches and he’ll lose many more, but Sheamus is a constant reminder of what he doesn’t like about himself. He said that he feels like if he can beat him up and shut him up then he’ll prove he is resilient and will turn things around. He said he also has doubts about whether he’s good enough or whether he’s a good husband and father.
Hardy said that if he’s learned one thing in his life it’s that he has to catch himself before that cycle of thinking spirals out of control. He said that Sheamus calling him a pathetic junkie doesn’t mean it’s true even if he believes it at times. Hardy said the truth is that he is a junkie and an alcoholic. He said Sheamus doesn’t have a problem with him, he actually has one with himself because he’s a bully. Hardy said he’s overcome obstacles in his life and Sheamus is just another that he needs to overcome on his road to redemption…
Shorty G was warming up when he was approached for an interview by Kayla Braxton, who pointed out the difference in size between him and Mojo Rawley. He said it’s on his mind, but it doesn’t matter how tall you are or how much you weigh or that you’re best friends with Gronk. Rawley showed up behind him and mocked the height difference. G said heavyweights are all the same and they don’t know what it’s like to have eyes in the back of your head. G turned and punched Rawley… [C]
Powell’s POV: Hardy did a nice job in the sit-down interview, though it definitely had a feeling of deja vu to it. Meanwhile, the Shorty G gimmick continues to be atrocious and it’s a shame that the powers that be won’t pull the plug and give Chad Gable his name back.
An ad hyped Undertaker’s “The Last Ride” documentary. The final chapter premieres Sunday on WWE Network and was listed as streaming at 7CT/8ET…
2. Mojo Rawley vs. Shorty G. Neither entrance was televised. Rawley went on the offensive the moment the bell rang. G came back and went for a top rope cross body block. Rawley caught G, who then countered into an inside cradle for the win. Cole played it up as an upset, while Graves said Rawley had a chance to shine and came up short again…
Shorty G beat Mojo Rawley in 2:50.
The Miz and John Morrison were shown talking backstage while looking at a sheet of paper. Cole hyped the Miz TV segment as coming up next… An ad for Raw hyped “Championship Monday” with Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship, Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. The IIconics, R-Truth vs. Akira Tozawa for the WWE 24/7 Championship, plus Rey Mysterio returns, and Ric Flair crowns Randy Orton as the greatest wrestler ever… [C]
Powell’s POV: God help us, the narrator said R-Truth would defend the title against Tozawa “and his ninjas.” The Shorty G gimmick and the ninjas are just a couple of examples of WWE just refusing to change course creatively when things aren’t working.
The Miz and John Morrison stood in the ring and delivered the introduction to Miz TV.
[Hour Two] Miz recalled pulling Morrison off of Braun Strowman in their handicap match at WWE Backlash. They both blamed WWE for changing the rules shortly before the match. Miz said they also had to worry about “that canned ham covered in body hair” Otis. Morrison asked if people have any idea of what it’s like to fight for a championship when you’re nearly outnumbered (funny).
Miz introduced Mandy Rose, who joined them in the ring. Miz brought up Rose’s past friendship with Sonya Deville. Rose noted that they were friends for five years. Rose took offense to Miz and Morrison’s taunts and threatened to leave. Miz stopped her and said they were just joking. He said they had a surprise for her. “Hit the music,” Miz said.
Sonya Deville made her entrance wearing a black suit with a black tie. Rose recalled that Deville went behind her back and tried to sabotage her career and personal life. Rose said she’s done with Deville. Sonya said she wishes she could be done with Rose, but week after week she has to see Rose get the spotlight. Deville said she’d be back in catering twiddling her thumbs if it wasn’t for Miz and Morrison.
Deville said she keeps asking herself what Rose has done with all of her opportunities. Deville said Rose didn’t win matches or say anything of value. Deville congratulated her on making out with Otis at poolside. Rose asked Deville what she wants from her. Rose said Deville can hurt her physically, but she was still standing there. Rose said Deville can try to hurt her emotionally, but she has people by her side.
Rose got fired up and said Otis has been there for her since day one. Rose asked Deville what she has aside from being a fighter. “You’re alone,” Rose told Deville. She questioned how long she would hold onto petty resentments. Deville said she’s not even mad at her, she’s just confused as she tries to figure out how to get the Rose treatment. She said the only difference she sees between them is Rose’s looks. Deville said she will rip Rose apart piece by piece until her outsides are just as hideous as what’s in her heart.
Rose and Deville fought while Miz and Morrison stood by and watched. Rose knocked Deville down. Miz stood in front of Deville, who hid behind him for a moment and then ducked out of the ring and went to the back. Rose slapped Miz across the face and headed to the back…
Powell’s POV: Deville’s complaints about Rose getting opportunities because of her looks is getting a bit repetitive, but they both did a nice job with the back and forth verbal exchange.
Graves hyped the Firefly Funhouse, and Cole hyped an appearance by Sasha Banks and Bayley… A video package focused on Banks and Bayley, and then the duo made their entrance and joined the broadcast team on commentary… [C]
Smackdown Tag Champions Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance while Cole congratulated Bayley on her 250th day as Smackdown Women’s Champion. Lucha House Party made their entrance…
3. Smackdown Tag Champions Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik in a non-title match. Dorado caught E with a kick from the apron, then Metalik hit E with a springboard dropkick. Metalik performed a springboard dive onto Kingston on one side of the ringside area, then Dorado performed a dive onto E on the other side. [C]
Late in the match, Kingston performed a standing double stomp on Dorado and then tagged in E. Kingston and E hit their finisher on Dorado, then E pinned him to win the match.
Big E and Kofi Kingston beat Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik in a non-title match in 9:40.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro attacked the New Day duo while Cole recalled that they beat them in a non-title match last week. The heels left Big E and Kingston lying, then Cesaro high-fived Bayley and Banks. Cesaro vented to the broadcast team about what they did to New Day the last two weeks. He said they are the last of a dying breed and are sick and tired of it…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match, but I’m convinced that the only reason the tag champions won this non-title match is because they lost to Cesaro and Nakamura last week.
Graves hyped the Firefly Funhouse segment as coming up…
Alexa Bliss, Tamina, Dana Brooke, Naomi, and Lacey Evans were shown standing in front of a ring in the Performance Center. They bickered about Sasha Banks and Bayley. Evans declared herself the new challenger for Bayley’s title. Tamina took offense. Evans called her a nasty. Brooke intervened and spoke about how they all deserve a chance to knock sense into Banks and Bayley. Bliss wondered where Nikki Cross went. Tamina questioned if she had even been there (she was not in the camera shot)… [C]
Sheamus was interviewed by Kayla Braxton on the backstage interview sit. Sheamus admitted that he’s a bully. He said he wishes he had crushed Hardy’s voice box so that we wouldn’t have to hear the garbage that comes out of his junkie mouth. Sheamus said that if Hardy isn’t able to lift himself up, then he’ll do it for him. Sheamus said he would toast Hardy on next week’s show…
Banks and Bayley were leaving the broadcast table when Nikki Cross attacked them. Alexa Bliss ran out and pulled Cross off of Banks. Cross called out Banks for a match. Bayley accepted the match for Banks… [C]
4. Nikki Cross (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. Sasha Banks (w/Bayley). The match was joined in progress. A few minutes in, Cross performed a tornado DDT for a near fall. Banks came back and went for a Bank Statement, but Cross avoided it and slammed Banks’s head into the mat. Cross hooked Banks into a crucifix pin for a near fall. A short time later, Banks hit a meteora and scored the pin…
Sasha Banks defeated Nikki Cross.
Powell’s POV: A decent match. Bayley’s schtick of volunteering Banks for matches is comical and is obviously part of the story that’s leading to their eventual split.
A video package aired on Titus O’Neil being named a finalist for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award… Cole hyped the Firefly Funhouse as coming up next. Braun Strowman was shown watching the teaser on a backstage monitor… [C]
Cole narrated highlights of the Styles vs. Riddle match. Cole announced Styles vs. Drew Gulak for the Intercontinental Title for next week, while Graves hyped Sheamus delivering a toast to Jeff Hardy…
Bray Wyatt hosted the Firefly Funhouse. He said it’s been way too long. He said he joined a book club and learned all the latest TikTok moves, mastered the art of resurrecting the dead, learned how to knit, and infiltrated a reptilian stronghold. Rabblin’ Rabbit brought up Braun Strowman. Footage aired of Strowman and Wyatt.
Wyatt started to speak again, but he was interrupted by Braun Strowman’s entrance. Wyatt gave the thumbs down sign while Strowman walked to the ring. Strowman faced the big screen and told Wyatt that he had his opportunity and he failed. He said there are no more games. “This story between me and you is over,” Strowman said.
Wyatt laughed maniacally. He said he wasn’t lying about resurrecting the dead. “Our story is just getting started,” Wyatt said. A montage of footage aired that included footage of the Wyatt Family. Wyatt was shown dressed in his old gear. He asked Strowman what was wrong and said he looked like he saw a ghost.
Wyatt said he created Strowman and therefore it’s his duty to destroy him. Wyatt said Strowman knows where to find him, he just needs to follow the buzzards. Wyatt held up a lantern and said “run” before blowing out the light, which ended the show…
Powell’s POV: A pretty basic exchange. The flashback footage was fine. I assume this is leading to Strowman defending the WWE Universal Championship against The Fiend. I suppose it’s possible that Wyatt uses his old persona at Extreme Rules, and they actually save The Fiend for SummerSlam. I can’t say any of it does a lot for me.
Overall, this was a good edition of Smackdown. It peaked with the Styles presentation and his match with Riddle, but the flow of the show was solid and I didn’t find myself checking the time, which actually happens a lot during this empty venue era. I will have more to say about the show and what’s been a very news filled day in my audio review coming up for Dot Net Members later tonight. Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade in our post show poll. Have a great weekend.