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 31, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with Bayley and Sasha Banks standing backstage. Bayley spoke about her title match. Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss checked in. Cross spoke about challenging Bayley. Big E spoke briefly, then The Miz and John Morrison were shown laughing about him embarking on a singles career. Lacey Evans and Naomi took turns talking about their match. Gran Metalik and AJ Styles took turns talking about their Intercontinental Title match…
The Firefly Funhouse opening aired. Bray Wyatt apologized for being late and claimed he was out looking for Braun Strowman. A clip of the Swamp Fight aired. Wyatt said he never wanted to hurt Strowman, he only wanted to help him. Wyatt said “he” wants what Strowman has, and no one is safe until he gets what he wants…
Michael Cole and Corey Graves checked in from the WWE Performance Center while the spectator wrestlers cheered and the AC/DC theme song played (yes, for the love of God, we’re ready)… Ring entrances for the Intercontinental Title match took place… [C]
1. AJ Styles vs. Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado) for the Intercontinental Title. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Metalik leapt from the apron and performed a huracanrana on Styles at ringside heading into a break before the five-minute mark. [C]
Styles took offensive control and targeted Metalik’s left knee with a variety of moves. Metalik caught Styles in a rollup for a two count. Metalik performed a DDT and got a near fall. Metalik performed a missile dropkick for a near fall. Metalik tried to hoist up Styles, but his knee gave out. Styles hit him with a series of strikes.
Styles set up for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Metalik avoided it and caught Styles with an enzuigiri. Metalik went to the second rope and leapt off, but Styles hit his knee in mid-air. Styles applied the Calf Crusher and got the submission win.
AJ Styles defeated Gran Metalik in 14:25 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
After the match, Styles attacked Dorado and put him down with the Styles Clash…
Powell’s POV: A really fun match. There was no reason to think that Metalik would win, but he had some entertaining near falls before Styles put him away. WWE is piping in some extra noise. While it’s noticeable, they haven’t gone ridiculously overboard with it yet. I guess Kevin Dunn has been watching MLB.
Backstage, King Corbin told Shorty G that he’s a former olympian who gets ignored while a barefoot newcomer gets all the attention. G assumed that Corbin wanted him to take out Matt Riddle. Corbin said the king’s ransom was available to anyone who could take out Riddle. Corbin told G to think about it…
The broadcast team set up a recap of last week’s Bar Fight between Jeff Hardy and Sheamus… Jeff Hardy was shown walking backstage where he was applauded and hugged by wrestlers, producers, and even a referee (social distancing be damned apparently)… [C]
Jeff Hardy made his entrance for a promo. Once in the ring, he said he hasn’t felt this good in a long time. He said feuding with Sheamus has been a constant reminder of how dangerous his demons can be. Hardy said sobriety is a battle he faces every day, but beating Sheamus in the bar fight was a reminder that he’s on the right path.
Hardy said he’s an alcoholic, a loving father, and a WWE superstar. He said he loves performing in the ring. He said he’s grateful that the love of his family and friends has gotten him to this point and it makes him never want to let the fans down again. He said the struggle is real and he wants to fight every day.
King Corbin made his entrance. Corbin stood on the stage and said his head would explode if he had to keep listening to Hardy talk about his sobriety. He accused Hardy of whining and crying about recovery. He aid he gets that Hardy’s life sucks, but he needs to deal with it.
Corbin vented and included a line about Drew Gulak, then said he feels like his kingdom on Smackdown his turning into an insane asylum. Hardy said he’s learned that if everyone around you is the problem, then maybe the real problem is you. Corbin said he would offer Hardy the king’s ransom to take out Riddle, but he doesn’t think Hardy would take it. He said Hardy sits in a circle and talks about his problems. Gulak ran out and hit Corbin from behind… [C]
2. King Corbin vs. Drew Gulak. The match was joined in progress. Gulak countered a Corbin hold into a LeBell Lock, but Corbin was able to reach the ropes. Gulak performed a pair of dropkicks on Corbin. Gulak went to the top rope and clotheslined Corbin before covering him for a two count. Corbin put Gulak down with a Deep Six.
Matt Riddle’s music played and he walked onto the stage. Gulak took advantage of the distraction by catching Corbin in an inside cradle for a two count. Corbin came right back with End of Days and scored the pin.
King Corbin defeated Drew Gulak in 5:05.
After the match, Riddle hit the ring and went after Corbin. Shorty G came out and performed a German suplex on Riddle. G made the money sign with his fingers while he and Corbin left the ring together…
Graves hyped Big E vs. The Miz as coming up after a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Hopefully Shorty uses Corbin’s money to buy himself a new gimmick. If nothing else, Riddle vs. Chad Gable has the potential to be a hell of a match.
Big E made his entrance and rolled sideways down the short entrance ramp. Big E threw his ring jacket at Graves, who taunted him for missing. Footage aired from last week of Kofi Kingston giving Big E a pep talk about flying solo and having his and Xavier Woods’s blessing.
[Hour Two] The Miz and John Morrison made their entrance…
3. Big E vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison). Big E overpowered Miz and then did a “New Day rocks” clap. Big E tossed Miz to ringside and then ran him into the ring post and the barricade. Morrison performed a nice kick off the ring steps that knocked Big E down while the referee was distracted. Miz caught Big E with a kick from the ring. Big E came back and went for a splash on the apron, but Miz moved and E crashed and burned. [C]
Big E performed a series of suplexes on Miz and followed up with a running splash. A short time later, Miz performed three running clotheslines, but Big E caught him the third time with a uranage slam that led to a two count. Morrison caught Big E with a kick while the referee was distracted. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall.
Miz applied a figure four leg lock. Big E reached the ropes to break the hold. Morrison was going to interfere again, but the referee caught him and ejected him. Big E rolled up a protesting Miz for a two count, then immediately applied a stretch muffler and got the submission win…
Big E defeated The Miz in 14:00.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match, but I was surprised that it lasted as long as it did. Miz has been booked to look very soft lately, and I thought Big E would get a quick and decisive win to launch his singles run.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro were drinking champagne backstage as part of a championship party. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado showed up and were told that it was a champions only party… Cole hyped the Smackdown Women’s Championship match for later in the show, and Graves said Naomi vs. Lacey Evans was up next… [C]
Sheamus stood backstage wearing the same clothes he wore to the bar fight. He said it was a mistake to fight Jeff Hardy in his natural environment. He said he basically gave Hardy home field advantage. Sheamus said Hardy was fueled by alcohol even though it never touched his lips. Sheamus said Hardy isn’t his problem anymore. Sheamus said that’s bad news for the Smackdown locker room because he’s now their problem…
4. Naomi vs. Lacey Evans. Before the match, Evans delivered a brief promo in which she mocked the Naomi Deserves Better hashtag. Evans ran Naomi into the ring post early in the match. Evans pulled the ring steps apart and then placed Naomi’s hair in between them in hopes of getting a count-out win, but Naomi returned to the ring.
Naomi performed a clunky sliding sunset bomb. The broadcast team acted like they didn’t know what the move was. Evans tried to tie Naomi’s hair to the ropes, but it didn’t work. Naomi avoided the Woman’s Right punch and then performed a backslide for the win…
Naomi beat Lacey Evans in 3:15.
Backstage, Mandy Rose told Otis that it’s been a while since they had a proper date. She informed him that she booked a reservation at his favorite BBQ restaurant. She teased him with dessert talk, then they agreed to get ready and meet up again. After they both walked away, Sonya Deville walked into the picture… [C]
Mandy Rose was applying lipstick when Sonya Deville showed up and attacked her. Deville smeared lipstick on Rose’s face, then kicked her in the head and yelled about making Rose ugly. Deville took a pair of scissors and snipped a clump of Rose’s hair off. Deville grabbed an electric razor, but Adam Pearce returned from his bout with COVID and had three referees with him to chase away Deville…
Powell’s POV: Deville did a nice job of acting unhinged without going too far over the top. With WWE doing all sorts of stunt booking, one has to wonder if this will lead to a hair vs. hair match between the two.
The broadcast team spoke briefly. Backstage, Kayla Braxton said Rose was conscious and noted that Otis and Tucker were among those tending to her. The Miz and John Morrison showed up and told a bunch of hair jokes. Tucker chased them off…
Cole set up a video package on the Bayley vs. Nikki Cross feud… Cross and Alexa Bliss made their entrance for the main event… [C] Bayley and Sasha Banks made their entrance…
5. Bayley (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Nikki Cross (w/Alexa Bliss) for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Cole noted that Bayley has been the champion for 294 days. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. A few minutes into the match, Cross ran Bayley into the post and then performed a cross body block off the apron. Cross celebrated on the broadcast table. [C]
Bayley was on the offensive coming out of the break. Cross came back with a tornado DDT from the middle rope and got a two count. A short time later, Banks tried to slip her “Boss” ring to Bayley, but Cross took it away and threw it at Banks. Cross worked over Bayley at ringside and then rolled her back inside the ring.
Banks climbed onto the apron, but Bliss pulled her down. Cross kicked Banks through the ropes. Cross went up top and performed a cross body block. Bayley rolled through for a two count, then Cross rolled her over for a two count of her own. Cross used a backslide for a two count. Bayley got up and slammed Cross’s face into the mat and then pinned her.
Bayley defeated Nikki Cross in 10:20 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
After the match, Banks and Bayley headed to the stage with all their title belts while Bliss consoled a disappointed Cross in the ring. The masked spectator wrestlers applauded Cross, who was frustrated and shoved Bliss to the mat before storming away.
The lights went out and when they turned on again, the lighting was red and The Fiend (Bray Wyatt) was standing behind Bliss in the ring. The Fiend circled around Bliss, then got down on his knees and went face to face with her. The Fiend held up his hand while Bliss showed fear. The Fiend applied the Mandible Claw on Bliss to close the show…
Powell’s POV: The main event was well worked. The finish was expected, while the post match scene with The Fiend applying the Mandible Claw on a woman was not. I guess the idea is that he’s going after Bliss to get to Braun Strowman.
Overall, this was a solid show. I thought we’d see more SummerSlam developments, but they filled the two hours nicely. I will have more to say about Smackdown in my weekly 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.