By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped July 21, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired July 24, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with Jeff Hardy looking into the camera, introducing himself, and stating that he is an alcoholic. He said he would slay his demons once more. He said he would beat the holy hell out of Sheamus.
In another part of the backstage area, Sheamus delivered a promo in which he stated that Jeff would find himself in a very familiar place by the end of the night. Sheamus said he’ll give him a Brogue Kick hangover, and the only thing that will make Hardy feel better is drowning his sorrows. JBL checked in from home and said he knows about bar fights. He said he would save his prediction for later…
A bartender was shown cleaning a glass while standing behind a bar. The broadcast team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves checked in and Graves labeled the man as Sheamus’s personal bartender…
Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance in the Performance Center while Cole and Graves recapped their Extreme Rules matches. Banks, who still had the Raw Women’s Championship belt, listed the dictionary definition of greatness. Bayley said that’s the old definition of greatness. She set up a graphic that listed the definition of greatness with an image of the holding all the title belts next to it.
Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss walked onto the stage. Cross complained about how they stole their championships. Cross called for an immediate rematch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Bayley said she won their match fair and square at Extreme Rules. Bayley said she’s a role model and Smackdown is the land of opportunity, so she said she would give her the title match if she could beat her own tag partner Bliss. Bayley said she would face the winner of Cross vs. Bliss next week.
Cross told Bliss that they had to do it. Cross got fired up and shoved Bliss to the ground while repeating that they had to do it. Cole questioned if Bliss would face Cross after the commercial break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The usual gloating from Banks and Bayley, but I like the way Bayley used her title to attempt to drive a wedge between the babyfaces.
1. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Banks and Bayley sat in on commentary. Cole apologized to Banks and Bayley for questioning their friendship, but then pointed out that Banks isn’t the Raw Women’s Champion. He noted that Bayley can’t interfere in her Raw match against Asuka or she will lose the title match due to the stipulations.
Cross had her ribs wrapped. Cross and Bliss took turns avoiding the other’s DDT attempt. Bliss slapped Cross, who hit her with a forearm shiver that knocked Bliss down. Cross bulldogged Bliss and covered her for a two count. Cross caught Bliss in the ring apron skirting, but Bliss hit her with a couple of shots. Banks and Bayley cheered obnoxiously, which led to Cross and Bliss hitting them with forearms that knocked them to the ground. [C]
Late in the match, Cross went for a cross body block that Bliss avoided. Cross sold rib pain. The referee checked on Cross while Bliss waited. Cross called for the match to continue. When Bliss approached her, Cross caught her in an inside cradle and scored the pin…
Nikki Cross defeated Alexa Bliss in 14:45 to earn a Smackdown Women’s Championship match.
Powell’s POV: An enjoyable match that could lead to some interesting things. For instance, how will this loss sit with Bliss?
Graves hyped a new Firefly Funhouse for after the break… [C]
Cross stood in front of another ring at the Performance Center and was excited about her win. Bliss approached Cross and handed her a bottle of water while saying, “You got one over on me.” After an awkward moment, Bliss congratulated Cross and then hugged her. She said it’s time to focus on beating Bayley and winning the championship…
The Firefly Funhouse opening aired and was quickly distorted. Footage aired from the Swamp Fight. After the conclusion of the Swamp Fight was shown, they cut to the Funhouse set where Bray’s head lantern was on a table. Wyatt put his head next to the lantern and said “that sure was fun.” Wyatt said family reunions warm his soul, and Braun Strowman came back home. Wyatt said it’s okay if Strowman is trapped at the swamp forever because it’s 100 percent certified organic.
Wyatt spoke to the lantern and said he couldn’t let “you” out again. Wyatt said “you” had your chance and it’s “his” turn now. “He has been unleashed,” Wyatt said. Footage of The Fiend was shown. Back in the Funhouse, Wyatt wrapped it up with his enthusiastic goodbye…
The broadcast team spoke in a somber tone about The Fiend returning, then recapped footage of AJ Styles defeating Matt Riddle to retain the Intercontinental Championship from last week. They also showed the post match scene with King Corbin attacking Riddle… Matt Riddle made his entrance heading into a break… [C]
2. Matt Riddle vs. Tony Nese. Nese’s entrance was not fully televised. Cole said you may know Nese from 205 Live or NXT. Riddle dominated the match and hit the Bro Derek for the win.
Matt Riddle beat Tony Nese in 2:05.
Riddle stood in the ring and delivered a post match promo. He said he didn’t know how things worked, but he was giving it a shot. Riddle called out King Corbin, who made his entrance. Corbin stood on the stage and said Riddle doesn’t know how things work, because you have to put in a formal request to get an audience with the king. Corbin said Riddle has a little talent and a new car smell, but that smell fades and then you’re left with a frat boy without shoes who looked like he just rolled out of bed.
Corbin said Riddle needs to go back to NXT for more seasoning, or perhaps he could be a top guy on 205 Live. Corbin said he was issuing a king’s ransom to show the world that Riddle doesn’t belong on Smackdown. Riddle said Corbin would be the next guest on the Bro Show. Nese tried to hit Riddle from behind, but Riddle dropped Nese with a kick…
Powell’s POV: The match was a quick bounce back win for Riddle. The post match featured all the usual cliche king lines that make Corbin feel insufferable. The king gimmick is so tired, but WWE just won’t pull the plug on it.
The Miz and John Morrison stood backstage and tried to come up with hashtags for Morrison. Miz got flustered by the bad ideas and said they had a show to do… Graves hyped Naomi as the guest on Miz TV… A SummerSlam ad aired… [C]
Shots aired the Irish Shannon’s pub that would play host to the bar fight… JBL checked in from home and spoke about the bar fight…
The Miz and John Morrison stood in the ring and hosted the Miz TV segment. Morrison showed off #moremorrison. Miz questioned what would happen if it didn’t trend. Miz asked how sick. This led to the gag of multiple images of Seth Rollins throwing up. Naomi was introduced as the guest. Miz and Morrison danced to her music.
Miz recalled that Naomi lost last week, yet she ended up trending with #NaomiDeservesBetter rather than Lacey Evans, who beat her. Naomi said the fans have her back and she has theirs. Miz said it’s not the first time she went viral. Morrison said she trended when she returned at the Royal Rumble. He noted that she didn’t win that match either. Miz said Naomi keeps trending for losing.
[Hour Two] Naomi said it’s not about trending. She said the conversation should be about why the fans are so supportive of her. She said she gives her all every time she gets in the ring and that’s why the fans are behind her. Miz and Morrison said they had a surprise guest.
Lacey Evans made her entrance. Evans asked Miz and Morrison if they’ve ever had their asses kicked so bad that it became a pity hashtag. Evans started applying her makeup while saying Naomi has been around for a decade and didn’t have much to show for it. Naomi shoved Evans, who smeared lipstick on her teeth and cheek. Evans tried to hit Naomi with her purse, but Naomi blocked it and threw several punches at Evans, who left the ring. Evans looked in a mirror and threw a fit…
Powell’s POV: #NaomiDeservesBetter legitimately trended last week after her loss to Evans. I like that WWE brought it up, but only time will tell whether they will actually get behind the Naomi character.
Cole and Graves set up a sponsored recap of Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro defeating Big E and Kofi Kingston in a tables match to win the Smackdown Tag Titles…
Big E stood outside the trainer’s room. Kofi Kingston limped out of the room and said he would be sidelined for six weeks or more. Kingston said he gets to spend time with his family, so it was all good. Big E spoke about getting the tag titles back. Kingston said the universe was speaking to him.
Kingston noted that he and Xavier Woods are sidelined, so it’s Big E’s time. Kingston recalled being WWE Champion and said Big E was always positive and selfless. Big E was apprehensive, but Kingston said he had his and Woods’s blessing. Kingston and Big E hugged…
AJ Styles made his entrance and joined the broadcast team. Cole said we’d find out who will challenge Styles after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I am really looking forward to seeing what the company does with Big E as a singles wrestler. This could be fun.
An ad aired for the free version of WWE Network…
3. Drew Gulak vs. Lince Dorado vs. Gran Metalik vs. Shorty G in a four-way for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. Styles was on commentary. The Lucha House Party duo worked together to clear the ring, then faced off for a moment until Gulak tripped up Dorado from the floor. Metalik performed a huracanrana that sent Gulak to ringside. Metalik hit a springboard dropkick on G and got a two count. A short time later, G performed a moonsault onto all three opponents at ringside. [C]
Gulak and G worked together to double up on Metalik for a stretch. Metalik knocked them both down with handspring elbows. “Let’s get this over with,” Styles said at one point. Dorado performed a Stunner on Gulak and had him beat, but Metalik broke it up. Gable shoved Metalik into Dorado, then worked them both over. G suplexed Gulak, then performed a wicked suplex on Metalik. G had Metalik pinned, but Gulak broke it up.
Styles said G is talented and he doesn’t want to face him. Moments later, Gulak caught G in a submission hold. G ran up the ropes and flipped over to break the hold, then put him in an ankle lock. Dorado splashed onto G to break the hold, then covered him for a near fall. Dorado performed moonsaults from the first and second ropes on G.
Dorado set up for a third, but Gulak returned to cut him off. G set up Metalik for a move on the ropes, but G dumped Gulak to the floor. G suplexed Dorado from the ropes. Metalik walked the ropes and dropped and elbow on G and then pinned him.
Gran Metalik defeated Shorty G, Lince Dorado, and Drew Gulak in 11:45 a four-way to earn an Intercontinental Championship match next week.
After the match, a cocky Styles entered the ring where Dorado was pumping up Metalik about his title match. STyles offered Metalik a handshake, then slapped him and told him not to trust anyone. Dorado jawed with Styles. Metalik slapped Styles, then performed a springboard DDT that cleared him from the ring…
An Otis and Mandy Rose video package aired. A graphic listed that the love story continues next week… Graves hyped the bar fight while shots of the bar were shown… [C]
Powell’s POV: A well worked four-way. There wasn’t really a bad option in terms of setting up a quality match for Styles, but none of the four would be viewed by the masses as a serious threat to beat Styles. With Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt feuding over the WWE Universal Championship, perhaps Big E will end up challenging Styles for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. Oh, and for the love of all that is good and holy, put an end to the madness that is the awful Shorty G gimmick.
Kayla Braxton stood backstage and introduced Smackdown Tag Champions Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. Nakamura said he wasn’t sure if it was more satisfying to put Kofi Kingston through the first or second table at Extreme Rules. “Anyway, he went splat,” Nakamura said. Cesaro said his only regret is not putting Big E through a table. Nakaura said he would make a big splat. Cesaro said it’s not Big E’s time. Nakamura and Cesaro said it’s their time. Nakamura said they will make all the teams on Smackdown go splat…
A video package recapped the Jeff Hardy and Sheamus feud… Cole hyped the Bar Fight as coming up after the break… [C] The broadcast team hyped AJ Styles vs. Gran Metalik for the Intercontinental Championship, Naomi vs. Lace Evans, and Bayley vs. Nikki Cross for the Smackdown Women’s Championship for next week…
4. Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus in a Bar Fight. Sheamus arrived at the bar and asked if Hardy arrived. The bartender poured Sheamus a shot and said he hadn’t seen him. Hardy arrived and sat down next to Hardy at the bar while a referee stood by. Sheamus said it was good to see Hardy and offered him a shot to take the edge off. Hardy declined and poured a beer.
Hardy said he’s made enough mistakes to last a lifetime and his brother had to delete his WWE career. Hardy said that sobriety has changed him. Sheamus told Hardy that he’s weak and pathetic, and added that nobody cares about him anymore. Hardy said he’s connected to everything, including a window, a light, and a TV in the bar. Hardy said he is the bar. Sheamus said he is the bar and Hardy is just a pathetic drunk.
Sheamus removed his hat. Hardy threw his drink in the face of Sheamus and the brawl was on. Sheamus took offensive control and then made a request to the bartender, but Hardy ran on top of the bar and dove onto him. The fight spilled into a hallway where Sheamus jabbed Hardy with an empty keg.
Sheamus took the fight into the men’s room. He placed Hardy’s head in a urinal and flushed it. Hardy gagged repeatedly. Sheamus walked Hardy over to the mirror and made him look at himself. Hardy came back and sent Sheamus crashing into a toilet. Hardy left the bathroom and continued gagging. Sheamus yelled that Hardy can’t run from it.
Hardy attacked Sheamus with a ladder. Hardy ran on top of a table and dove at Sheamus, who caught him and slammed him back first into a wall. Sheamus knocked bottles off a table, then grabbed an electric guitar and swung it at Hardy, who moved. The guitar hit the wall and Sheamus sold hand pain. Sheamus whipped Hardy into a drum set that was on a small stage heading into a break. [C]
They appeared to pick up right where they left off coming out of the break, as Hardy was lying by the drums while Sheamus yelled at him. Sheamus tried to kick Hardy, who blocked it with one of the drums. Hardy hit Sheamus with a Twist of Fate. Hardy set up the ladder next to a bunch of decorative keg barrels. Hardy climbed the ladder, but the bartender attacked him from behind. Hardy powerbombed the bartender through a table.
Sheamus hit Hardy with a chair from behind. Sheamus put his hat over the face of Hardy, then poured himself a drink and toasted Hardy. After finishing the drink, Sheamus limped over to Hardy and called for the referee. When Sheamus pulled the hat off, Hardy was wearing face paint and eye contacts. Hardy sprang to life and slammed a glass over the head of Sheamus. Hardy climbed up the ladder and performed a Swanton Bomb on Sheamus, then covered him for the pin.
Jeff Hardy defeated Sheamus in a Bar Fight.
Hardy limped out the back exit of the bar while Sheamus was out cold with his own hat over his face to close the show…
Powell’s POV: WWE took the cinematic approach, but it was pretty straight forward in terms of just being a big brawl inside a bar. They didn’t get too cute with it. There was nothing particularly memorable about the bar fight, but I’ll take that over some of the over the top cinematic matches that we’ve seen during the pandemic. Overall, this was a better than average pandemic edition of Smackdown and I like the way they set up matches for next week’s show. I will have more to say in my same night audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade in our post show poll available on the main page. Have a great weekend.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...