By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped earlier this week in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired July 3, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] The AC/DC opening aired (we all breathe it)… Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary. Graves hyped a Swamp Fight preview, the Intercontinental Title match, and the Sheamus toast…
Michael Cole stood in the ring and introduced Matt Riddle. Footage aired of Riddle beating AJ Styles in a non-title match two weeks earlier. Cole spoke of Riddle’s debut match resulting in a major upset. Cole asked Riddle if he could put into words what that moment meant to him.
“Not really,” Riddle said. He spoke of being “called up from NXT” and how it’s the results of a lot of work and a lot of dreams. Riddle said he respects Styles, but he thinks he likes Styles more than Styles likes him. Riddle spoke about celebrating his win with a number of wrestlers and said he could get used to that.
Cole questioned why Riddle competes with bare feet. Riddle warned that it was a long story. He said his family took him on vacation to Wisconsin (why?) and he went back and forth from an indoor pool to playing outside in the snow.
Riddle said he ended up with frostbite, which led to doctors considering the idea of amputating his feet. Riddle said that when he puts shoes on, it still gives him a burning sensation so he doesn’t wear them anywhere. Riddle said he can’t feel anything with his feet, but his feet allow him to feel everything.
King Corbin made his entrance while Graves asked the obvious question of who goes to Wisconsin on vacation. Corbin entered the ring and said Riddle could have saved everyone time by simply saying that he doesn’t wear shoes because he was an idiot when he was a kid and he still is.
Corbin scolded Cole for giving Riddle air time. Corbin ordered Cole to leave his ring. Cole complied. Corbin said Riddle diving on him was a sign of disrespect. He said everyone should bow down to the king. Corbin said he doesn’t like Riddle and added that no one is happy he is there and nobody wants him there. Corbin said he would make Riddle pay for every second he’s out there.
Corbin said someone needed to slap Riddle around and put him in his place. “Let’s go, bro,” Riddle responded. Corbin laughed at him and said you don’t get an automatic match with the King. Corbin introduced Riddle’s opponent. John Morrison and The Miz made their entrance (only Morrison was dressed in ring gear)… [C]
Powell’s POV: Lambeau Field is totally worth visiting and that’s coming from a Vikings fan. Oh, and I guess Wisconsin Dells is perfect if you really enjoy piss filled pools at the bottom of water slides.
1. Matt Riddle vs. John Morrison (w/The Miz). King Corbin sat in on commentary for the match. Morrison caught Riddle with a springboard kick. Morrison also performed a springboard corkscrew cross body block onto Riddle that led to a two count. Morrison caught Riddle with a running knee and got another two count, then showed frustration while Corbin questioned why Riddle wouldn’t quit.
Riddle got up and called for Morrison to fire away. Morrison threw a kick. Riddle no-sold it, hit Morrison, and called for another. Morrison teased another kick and ended up poking Riddle in the eyes instead. Riddle responded with a suplex. Riddle ended up on the apron and then he and Morrison threw simultaneous punches. Riddle ended up in front of the broadcast table where he grabbed one of his flip flops and threw it at Corbin’s face. [C]
Riddle took offensive control and went for the Floating Bro, but Morrison put his knees up. Morrison performed a nice spinning slam on Riddle and covered him for another two count. Morrison argued with the referee about his count, then Riddle put him in the Bromission. Morrison got his feet and went to the ropes.
Riddle followed and ended up on the apron. Riddle climbed back onto the ropes and took a Spanish Fly from Morrison, who followed up with a standing Spanish Fly that resulted in another near fall. Corbin climbed onto the apron and bickered about the ref’s count. Riddle caught Morrison with a kick and a knee to the head. Riddle powerbombed Morrison and drilled him with a knee to the head for a near fall.
Miz climbed onto the apron and was knocked off by Riddle. Corbin climbed onto the apron and was chased off by Riddle. Morrison took advantage of the distraction and rolled up Riddle for a two count. Riddle countered into a pin and got the win.
Matt Riddle defeated John Morrison in 15:05.
After the match, Riddle went to the stage to celebrate and was attacked from behind by AJ Styles… [C]
Powell’s POV: A very good match. It’s too bad the win doesn’t feel bigger, as Morrison and The Miz just lost a handicap match to Braun Strowman at WWE Backlash. That said, it is a sign that WWE intends to move forward with the Riddle push despite the #SpeakingOut allegations that were levied against him.
Corbin, Morrison, and Miz were talking about Riddle when Sarah Schreiber showed up. Corbin said he’d make sure the legs were cut out from under Riddle’s career…
2. AJ Styles vs. Drew Gulak for the Intercontinental Championship. Gulak had “Havoc” written on his wrist tape in honor of the late Danny Havoc. Styles worked the match in a t-shirt. Daniel Bryan checked in via Zoom and spoke with the broadcast team about how Gulak was performing.
Styles was dominating and Bryan oddly spoke about how well Gulak was doing. Bryan checked in again and spoke about the pre-match strategy that he and Gulak formulated. Gulak finally rallied. Styles rolled to the floor and showed frustration. Gulak dropkicked Styles under the bottom rope. [C] An ad for Raw hyped Asuka vs. Bayley in a champion vs. champion match.
Bryan checked in again and spoke about choosing Gulak as his coach because he can learn from him. Styles controlled the offense coming out of the break. As the match continued, Bryan spoke about how good Gulak is with cradles and said he never counts him out.
Gulak made his comeback and threw several dropkicks. Styles rallied and hit a Styles Clash. Cole noted that Styles could have put Gulak away. Styles picked up Gulak and leaned him against the ropes. Styles performed a Phenomenal Forearm and then scored the pin…
AJ Styles defeated Drew Gulak in roughly 17:00 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
Graves hyped Sheamus toasting Jeff Hardy. Sasha Banks and Bayley were shown exiting a production truck. Cole said they spent all day working on a tribute to themselves… [C] An ad hyped the 2017 Royal Rumble as airing Tuesday on FS1…
Powell’s POV: I’m all for using technology to include wrestlers who are home during the pandemic, but Bryan’s Zoom appearance felt more distracting than anything. I assume he couldn’t see the match because he didn’t react to anything and his comments never seemed geared toward what was happening in the ring.
Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance and delivered an in-ring promo. Bayley boasted about the week that they had. Banks cut her off from talking about her loss on NXT. Bayley claimed that Undertaker called her after last week’s Smackdown and said he was embarrassed by all the tributes that were paid to him. Bayley claimed that Taker told her that she is the greatest champion in WWE history.
[Hour Two] Bayley said Taker said she and Banks are redefining what being a champion means, and he can’t wait until Extreme Rules when they win all the titles. Bayley also said Taker wanted WWE to pay tribute to her and Banks. Banks set up the tribute video for her and Bayley.
The video spotlighted both women. During the video, Banks said Bayley is better than Trish Stratus, John Cena, and Lita. Back in the ring, Sasha and Bayley took turns delivering “thank you” chants to one another while the spectator wrestlers booed.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross made their entrance. Bliss claimed Cross is the queen of Scotland, and 325th in line to the throne in England. Cross read from a sheet of paper and said something about Bliss driving across Antartica. Bliss and Cross entered the ring. Bliss asked Banks and Bayley if they knew how ridiculous they sounded.
Banks said no one has been able to touch her best friend in over a year and she’d be damned if Cross could do it. Cross said that if she puts her heart into it, she can become the next Smackdown Women’s Champion. Bayley and Banks laughed in an over the top manner. Bliss slapped Bayley across the face. Banks volunteered Bayley for a match against Bliss, who accepted… [C]
3. Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Alexa Bliss (w/Nikki Cross) in a non-title match. Bayley worked the match in the clothes she wore to the ring while Cole explained that it was an impromptu match. Cole noted that Bayley has held her title for 266 days. Bayley took offensive control and taunted Cross while working over Bliss a few minutes into the match.
Bliss came back with a punch, but Bayley took her down and wrenched her arm over the ring apron. Bayley returned to the ring and covered Bliss for a two count. Cross pounded on the broadcast table to fire up Bliss while Cole made an exasperated facial expression. Bayley continued to work the arm and taunted Cross’s clap, then tried to kick her through the ropes.
Cross took the bait and climbed onto the apron. While the ref was focused on Cross, Banks took a cheap shot from the other side of the ring. Cross ran around the ring and knocked Banks down. Bayley jawed at Cross, who hit her with a forearm to the face for the DQ.
Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss by DQ in 5:35 in a non-title match.
Cross attacked Bayley after the match while Bliss sold her arm. Cross set up for a bulldog, but Banks grabbed the leg of Bayley and pulled her to ringside… The broadcast team hyped previously advertised segments… [C]
Powell’s POV: I go back and forth on Bayley. There are weeks when her character entertains me, but then there are weeks like this when it feels like she has channel changing heat.
Cole and Graves set up a video package that recapped the history between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt. The video showed a swamp and included audio clips from past promos delivered by both wrestlers… Cole hyped the Swamp Fight for the Extreme Rules – The Horror Show pay-per-view…
Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance. Cole hyped Kingston as being in singles against against Shinsuke Nakamura. Big E threw his ring jacket at Graves, which led to laughter from Cole… [C] A sponsored video recapped New Day beating Lucha House Party only to be attacked by Nakamura and Cesaro… Cesaro made his entrance followed by Nakamura…
4. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Cesaro). Kingston dropkicked Nakamura to start the match. Both men fought to ringside where Kingston ran Nakamura into the plexiglass in front of the spectator wrestlers. Big E performed an over the top laugh at Nakamura. Back in the ring, Kingston went to the ropes and was hit with a kick from Nakamura, who then went on the offensive.
Cesaro hit Kingston with a cheap shot from the floor while the referee was distracted. Big E ran over and hit Cesaro. The referee ejected Big E. Cesaro stood on the apron and applauded, then the referee ejected him from ringside. Cesaro threw a fit heading into a break. [C]
Big E and Cesaro were no longer at ringside coming out of the break. Kingston hit an SOS for a good near fall. Nakamura came back and caught Kingston with a running knee and scored the pin.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Kofi Kingston in 11:50.
After the match, Cesaro returned and raised the arm of his tag partner. Cesaro went to ringside and pulled a table out from underneath the ring. Cesaro slid the table into the ring. Big E ran out and hit Cesaro, then entered the ring and ran off Nakamura before he could use the table…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match. This would have felt like a big time match on paper a few years ago, but times have changed. They are obviously working toward a tag title match at the pay-per-view. Er, scratch that. It will actually be on next week’s show (read below).
Cole and Graves hyped the Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt match from Money in the Bank as airing for the first time on Fox on next week’s Smackdown. They also hyped Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (no mention of it being a title match, and Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro for the Smackdown Tag Titles for next week’s show…
A bartender stood in the ring with two tables full of booze. Cole said it was pathetic. Graves said they might need more booze for a Hardy toast, but he said it was great otherwise… [C]
Jeff Hardy made his entrance and joined the bartender in the ring. Sheamus appeared on the big screen from what appeared to be a home bar. Sheamus said Hardy had a problem with facing reality. He said Hardy has been moping around ever since he beat him while looking for a quick pick me up.
Sheamus said Hardy is lying to himself and he can’t bear to see it anymore. Sheamus said he has the solution to all of Hardy’s problems. He said the answer was in one of the bottles of booze. Sheamus picked up his own glass and delivered a “proper toast” to hardy. He took a jab at him for passing out while his wife and kids cry. Sheamus said that with a drink in his hand, Hardy would never walk alone, then called him a beautiful junkie.
Hardy said Sheamus has to be the sickest person he’s ever met. He asked him if it’s funny to mock the struggles that he and others deal with on a day to day basis. “Is this funny to you?” Hardy asked. Sheamus said he was there to help Hardy, not hurt him. Sheamus said he knew that Hardy deep down wanted this.
The bartender poured Hardy a drink and held it out for him. Sheamus said Hardy doesn’t have to pretend to be strong for the people. He told him to do what he’s always done by following his instincts. Hardy took the glass from the bartender and asked what’s the worst that could happen.
Hardy teased taking a drink, then poured the glass of booze onto the bartender’s head. Hardy grabbed a bottle and slammed it over the back of the bartender’s head. Hardy went to the top rope and performed a Swanton Bomb onto the bartender (and the sugar glass). Hardy went to the ropes and pointed at Sheamus, who took a drink from his own glass on the big screen…
Powell’s POV: As if the pandemic hasn’t been tough enough on bartenders. Anyway, this was more of the same with Sheamus heeling on Hardy about his past issues with alcohol. This didn’t feel main event segment worthy, especially since Sheamus wasn’t present, which is obviously interesting (along with Daniel Bryan). Overall, WWE filled the two hours on a holiday weekend. I will have more to say about the show in my same night audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of Smackdown by assigning it a letter grade in our weekly post show poll available on the main page. Have a great and safe holiday weekend.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Mike McMahon of PWTorch.com discussing his background and podcast work, plus a long chat regarding Impact Wrestling coming out of Slammiversary, including a breakdown of the notable additions to the roster, and more...