By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped August 13, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired August 14, 2020 on Fox
Smackdown opened with a recap of the Retribution angle from last week… The AC/DC opening song played while masked spectator wrestlers were shown cheering. Are you ready?…
Powell’s POV: Oh, I’m f’n ready. I tried to watch this show three hours ago, but it was bumped for local weather coverage.
The broadcast team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves checked in and spoke briefly about Retribution, then hyped previously advertised matches and segments…
Big E made his entrance and put his ring jacket over the head of Graves. A pre-taped Big E promo aired. He reminded viewers that he’s a former Intercontinental Champion. “Y’all Must’ve Forgot,” E said while channeling the Roy Jones Jr. song of the same name. John Morrison and made his entrance and also had a pre-taped promo.
Just as the match was about to start, the lights flickered. A female Retribution member stood on the apron. A large group of Retribution members hit the ring and chased off the broadcast team. The cameras annoyingly shook while the Retribution members ran off the broadcast team and roughed up Big E and Morrison. The Miz came out to check on Morrison… [C]
Powell’s POV: This was better than last week’s rope cutting angle. I want a WWE Network special on what happens in the production truck just so we can hear a breathless Kevin Dunn calling out all the camera cuts.
A group of wrestlers were standing by Big E and John Morrison backstage. The Miz told Morrison he was talking to Maryse or he would have been there for him. He blamed Big E for the Retribution attack due to a tweet that Big E had written. Miz and Morrison stormed off.
King Corbin showed up and said they need leadership while they are under siege. Big E cut him off and spoke about how it’s their house. Big E said it’s not time to run and hide, it’s time to fight. He asked the other wrestlers if they were with him. They cheered.
Sheamus showed up and mockingly applauded Big E. He said he had never heard such a desperate cry for help sound so inspirational. Shamus said Big E is alone, vulnerable, and scared. Sheamus said Retribution wouldn’t dare to show up while he’s knocking the lumps off Shorty G, who was standing with the other wrestlers. Big E said that if Sheamus knew anything, he’d know that he wasn’t alone…
Sasha Banks and Bayley stood in the ring and delivered a promo. Sasha Banks noted that she had to defend the Raw Women’s Championship against Asuka at SummerSlam. She said they also found out that they have to defend their WWE Women’s Tag Titles at WWE Payback. Banks said this night was all about Bayley.
Bayley said Stephanie McMahon tried to rain on their parade, but they hold all the gold and not even a McMahon could hold them down. Bayley said they were about to find out who she will face at SummerSlam. Bayley insulted the broadcast team, who were back at their desk.
Bayley and Banks played guest ring announcers for the Triple Brand Battle Royal. They introduced Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Tegan Nox, Shotzi Blackheart (the helmet is back!), and Lacey Evans. Bayley said there was a mistake. Asuka ran out and fought Banks and Bayley, who quickly fled the ring. Additional entrants were Nikki Cross, Naomi, Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott, Bianca Belair, Tamina, and Shayna Baszler ran out… [C]
1. Triple Brand Battle Royal for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. Dana Brooke was also in the match. Riott was the first person eliminated. The IIconcis were eliminated by Morgan and Nox. The IIconics pulled Morgan to the floor to eliminate her, then Morgan and Blackheart roughed up the IIconics.
Cole noted that the WWE Payback pay-per-view would be held a week after SummerSlam. Cole also said they would be live next week at a different location “and the WWE Universe will be involved.”
Meanwhile, Tamina eliminated Cross. Tamina and Belair had a showdown. Belair eliminated Tamina. Evans eliminated Naomi, then Blackheart eliminated Evans, who then returned the favor. Belair charged at Nox, who puled the top rope down, causing Belair to tumble over and be eliminated.
The final four were Asuka, Baszler, Brooke, and Nox. There was a really rough spot with Baszler struggling to hold up Nox before they both tumbled into the ropes. Brooke eliminated Nox, and then Brooke was eliminated moments later.
The final two were Asuka and Baszler. Bayley tried to pul Asuka off the apron to eliminate her. Asuka knocked Bayley and Banks down to the ringside mat. Baszler knocked Asuka off the apron, but her feet landed on Banks and Bayley. Asuka returned to the apron and pulled Baszler over the ropes to eliminate her and win the match…
Asuka won the Triple Brand Battle Royal in 9:00 to earn a Smackdown Women’s Championship match at SummerSlam.
Graves hyped a Mandy Rose segment for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The finish was clever. I was actually hoping they would go with Baszler or Belair or someone fresh rather than give Asuka a chance to win both titles, but it beats my fear of Charlotte Flair returning to win this battle royal and being thrust right back into the title picture. Meanwhile, we got some official confirmations of WWE Payback, WWE going live next week, and running outside the WWE Performance Center. If you missed it, all signs point to them running at the Amway Center in Orlando for SummerSlam and upcoming television events. The big question now is what Cole meant by the WWE Universe being involved. Virtual fans? Socially distanced real fans?
Backstage, Bayley and Banks spoke about Asuka, who showed up and attacked them. Asuka had to be pulled off by Pat Buck and others…
A sponsored recap aired of last week’s brawl involving Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, who were pulled apart by Heavy Machinery, The Miz, and John Morrison…
Mandy Rose delivered a backstage promo. She asked Deville if she really thought she was the first person to say she’s just a pretty face. She said people have said that she’s had everything handed to her. Rose said she is a bikini champion, but she had three jobs while putting herself through college. Rose said Deville should know how hard she has worked. Rose thanked Deville for reminding her that she is so much more than a pretty face. Rose challenged Deville to a hair vs. hair match…
Powell’s POV: Hey, I actually called one right. Mark it down and don’t get used to it. Meanwhile, Rose delivered a solid promo.
Sheamus told two security guards to go enjoy a pint because Retribution wouldn’t show up during his match… [C]
Nikki Cross was looking dejected over losing the battle royal when she spotted Alexa Bliss. Cross ran over and hugged Bliss and then apologized for pushing her down. Bliss told her she was fine and said she had to get some answers from Braun Strowman…
2. Sheamus vs. Shorty G. Shorty got some offense until Sheamus cut him off with White Noise. Sheamus blasted G with a Brogue Kick and then pinned him…
Sheamus defeated Shorty G in 4:00.
Powell’s POV: I think everyone assumed that Retribution would attack Sheamus. Is the idea that we’re now supposed to view him as potentially being in cahoots with the rebel faction?
AJ Styles was shown talking with WWE producer Chris Park (a/k/a Abyss, Joseph Park) while they looked at a computer monitor. Cole said Styles was tired of facing unworthy challengers and had a new statistical system to determine his challengers… [C]
Styles made his entrance and was followed to the ring by Park. Styles delivered a promo in front of a board that was covered up. Styles said nobody really cares about who has been tearing up the ring because they had more pressing matters. Styles boasted about the men he’s beaten since becoming Intercontinental Champion.
Styles spoke about how he watches statistics when he watches sports. He said he’s a handsome stud of a nerd who cares about statistics. The spectator wrestlers chanted “nerd.” Styles told them to shut up.
Styles spoke of the Phenomenal Intercontinental Statistics System (PISS) and then said the name was a work in progress. Styles said it was time to find out who was number one based on the statistics. He removed part of the board covering and his own name was listed.
Styles removed the rest of the covering and no one else was listed. Styles said it was statistical and asked what people wanted him to do. He said one one had earned the right to be in the ring with him. Styles said that if you work hard then one day you can earn a spot on the board.
Jeff Hardy made his entrance and joined Styles and Park in the ring. Hardy said he had a ton of respect for Styles, but he never got the shot he deserved in the tournament finals because Sheamus robbed him. Hardy said the title is special to him because it’s the first one he won on his own.
Hardy said a match between him and Styles sounds mega cool. The spectator wrestlers chanted “mega cool” and one of them was shown lowering her medical mask while chanting it (mega bad).
Styles spoke highly of Hardy and said he deserves to be on the board. Styles said if you’re asking if he wants to face Hardy for the Intercontinental championship, he says, “Hell no.” Styles said Hardy hasn’t earned it. Styles said this isn’t a pity party. Hardy attacked Styles and put him down with a Twist of Fate. Hardy wrote his own name on the board…
Powell’s POV: It was fun to see Chris Park on WWE television. I could see Vince McMahon falling in love with his quirky facial expressions and comedy antics, but he didn’t get any mic time in this segment. The PISS bit was super corny, but Park could be a really fun addition to the Styles act.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were shown talking backstage when Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik snuck up behind them and took the Smackdown Tag Titles. Cesaro and Nakamura spotted the duo and ran after them… [C]
Styles was complaining backstage while Park followed him with the board. Kayla Braxton showed up for an interview. Styles said that if Hardy wants a piece of him then he’s going to get it. He said he would show everyone what happens when you mess with him. “You get erased,” he said. Styles tried and failed to wipe Hardy’s name off the board. “Permanent marker?” Styles asked. Park apologized… [C]
3. Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Cesaro). The Lucha House Party duo brought the tag title belts to the ring with them. A Cesaro and Nakamura pre-tape aired. Cesaro said LHP are Spanish flies because they fly around and are annoying. Cesaro asked what they do to pests. Nakamura said they squish them.
The broadcast team spoke about moving to a new location and going live next week. Graves said interactivity would be taken to a new level next week on Fox.
Late in the match, the LHP entrance theme played. Kalisto came out while the broadcast team noted that he’d been out with an injury. Kalisto and Dorado worked over Cesaro. In the ring, Metalik performed a flying elbow from the ropes on Nakamura and then pinned him…
Gran Metalik beat Shinsuke Nakamura in 4:00.
Powell’s POV: I guess this makes up for Cesaro beating Dorado last week? It’s nice to see a healthy Kalisto.
The broadcast team plugged SummerSlam. Cole stressed that subscribers get SummerSlam and Payback just a week apart. They shifted the focus to hyping a special interview with Alexa Bliss for after the break… [C]
Matt Riddle was interviewed by Kayla Braxton, who brought up the Retribution faction. She said she wanted to ask him about another person who has been wreaking havoc on him (really?), King Corbin (oh, that person), and how he’s kept such a positive attitude.
Riddle spoke about Corbin briefly, then Shorty G showed up and apologized. He said he has a family and got focused on the money, but he’s been sick about what he did ever since. Shorty offered a fist bump, which Riddle accepted. King Corbin hit Riddle from behind with his scepter. Corbin thanked Shorty for the help…
Alexa Bliss was featured in a sit-down interview. The male interviewer sat off-camera and asked her about her relationship with Braun Strowman. Footage aired while she spoke about him being a good man who is protective and compassionate. She said they can be fun with each other and they became best friends.
The interviewer asked if she thought it would ever become more than a friendship. She said maybe. She said Braun cared about her and she cared about him a lot. The interviewer wondered if that’s why The Fiend targeted her. She said she didn’t know. She was asked what it was like being in The Fiend’s presence.
Bliss said it was scary and terrifying, but also compelling. She said that once you’ve interacted with him, it’s almost like you can feel his presence. The interviewer recalled Strowman having some strong comments about her last week. Footage aired of Strowman saying he doesn’t care about Bliss, he only cares about destroying The Fiend. Bliss was asked how it made her feel. She looked away and didn’t reply…
An ad for Raw hyped Shawn Michaels appearing to address Randy Orton’s attack on Ric Flair. The narrator also questioned if Rey Mysterio would return to confront Seth Rollins… [C]
Cole announced Styles vs. Hardy for the Intercontinental Championship for next week’s Smackdown…
Backstage, Sonya Deville said she was surprised by Mandy Rose’s challenge. She asked if people have said the same thing about Rose all her life because it’s true. Deville accepted the challenge for a hair vs. hair match at SummerSlam. “See you soon, baldie,” Deville said…
4. Big E vs. John Morrison. The Miz sat in on commentary and said Deville follows through on what she says she will do. Miz called Deville a star. Big E knocked Morrison to the floor. Morrison returned to the ring and ate a clothesline. E pulled Morrison over the apron, then splashed him.
Miz stood up and shouted encouragement to Morrison. Big E glared at Miz, then Morrison took advantage of the distraction by clipping his let from behind. The Miz’s mic cut out. Cole handed him another headset and it worked. Otis walked to ringside with the Money in the Bank briefcase and walked toward Miz. The lights flickered. Cole called for security. [C]
Coming out of the break, several Smackdown wrestlers stood around the ring to serve as protection from Retribution. The lights flickered again. The cameras cut backstage where the masked Retribution knocked down a WWE logo and beat up a couple of referees and a security guard.
One of the Retribution members opened a bathroom door, saw someone sitting on the toilet, closed the door, and blocked it shut with a chair. They spray painted a WWE logo on a wall and crossed it out. The cameras cut back to the ring. A referee came out and called for help. The wrestlers at ringside ran to the back, leaving only Miz on commentary while the match continued in the ring.
The cameras cut backstage where the wrestlers found the referees and the security guard, and someone let the person on the pot out of the bathroom. A couple of the wrestlers stopped and looked at the crossed out WWE symbol on the wall.
Back in the ring, Big E performed a uranage on Morrison for a two count. Big E caught Morrision in the Stretch Muffler submission hold and got the win.
Big E defeated John Morrison in 12:00.
After the match, Sheamus came out and hit Big E with a Brogue Kick. Braun Strowman made his entrance heading into a break. [C]
Strowman debuted a bald look and delivered an in-ring promo about what he’ll do to The Fiend. Strowman called out Bray Wyatt, but Alexa Bliss came out instead. Bliss took issue with Strowman saying he didn’t care about her last week. Strowman, who wouldn’t look at Bliss, said she led him around by the beard.
Bliss demanded that Strowman look at him. Bliss slapped him. Strowman smiled. Bliss slapped him several more times. Strowman picked up Bliss and pressed her over his head and called out, “Where are you, Fiend?”
The Fiend lighting started to kick in. Strowman tossed Bliss into the air and the lights went out before viewers could see where she landed. When the lights turned on, The Fiend was in the ring along with Bliss, who was selling on the mat. Strowman appeared on the big screen and laughed in Fiend style. The Fiend joined him in laughing. Strowman continued to laugh and let out a primal scream…
Powell’s POV: Strowman’s darker turn isn’t clicking with me because he has very little range with his performances. He sounds cartoonish and the feud with Bray Wyatt feels flat. They can’t get the WWE Universal Championship away from those two quickly enough. Overall, Smackdown was a mixed bag. Retribution quite wasn’t as bush league as last week, but it’s still bad. Their attacks feel so tame and this week even featured a Vince McMahon “ha ha” moment someone being shown sitting on a toilet. Due to my viewing being delayed due to storm coverage in my local market, my audio review for Dot Net Members won’t be available until Saturday.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...