By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown on Fox
Aired live on August 21, 2020 from Orlando, Florida at the Amway Center
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a shot of the ThunderDome structure. The AC/DC theme played and pyro shot off inside the venue. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary…
Vince McMahon stood in the ring and welcomed viewers to Smackdown and ThunderDome. The screens around the ringside area turned on and showed a bunch of clips of fans watching from their homes.
The Fiend lighting took over while McMahon was still in the ring. Bray Wyatt walked to the ring in The Fiend persona while his full light show took place while the ThunderDome spectator portion was off. McMahon remained in the ring with a spotlight on him.
The Fiend entered the ring and walked toward McMahon. Braun Strowman’s entrance music played and he made his entrance. Strowman and The Fiend stood in the ring and looked at one another, and McMahon was gone. The spectator screens showed the fans again.
A large number of Retribution members climbed onto the ring apron and yelled a lot. The Fiend waved. The lights turned out and turned back on, and The Fiend was gone. The hooded Retribution members attacked Strowman and beat him down.
A group of Smackdown regulars ran out to help Strowman. A second group of Smackdown wrestlers ran out and joined the fight. The Retribution members left the ring. Once the Retribution members were at ringside, The Miz ran out and joined the other Smackdown wrestlers in the ring.
Strowman got to his feet and punched out Drew Gulak, then tossed Jey Uso over the top rope. Strowman left the ring and tore off his t-shirt as he headed up the ramp… [C]
Powell’s POV: The tease of The Fiend going after McMahon only to have McMahon disappear once Strowman showed up was weak. Retribution seems to have grown in numbers, but they can’t get to the payoff to this angle soon enough. I avoided the sneak peek videos and got my first glimpse of ThunderDome once the show started. While it’s nice to have WWE back in a full sized venue that makes the entrances and the show look bigger, the video wall of fans is, well, a video wall of fans. I don’t think they’ve figured out the right audio mix yet because the spectator wrestlers actually made more noise than the virtual fans did during this segment.
After the break, several of the wrestlers were still in or around the ring. Big E and Sheamus jawed at one another, and then the ref cleared the ring and called for the bell to start their match…
1. Big E vs. Sheamus. A group of Smackdown regulars remained at ringside to stand guard for Retribution. A few minutes into the match, the lights flickered. Cole wondered if it was Retribution again. [C]
Powell’s POV: Sheamus and Big E went to ringside at one point and it provided a better look at the virtual fan set up. The hard camera shot makes it look like the virtual fans are all on one big screen, but there are actually hundreds of individual screens set up stadium seating style. ThunderDome actually looks more impressive from every angle other than the hard camera shot. There’s probably not much that can be done to alter that. The virtual fans still aren’t making a lot of noise and most of the fans are just watching while a few smile when they know they are on camera.
As Sheamus was getting the better of Big E in the ring, King Corbin hit Matt Riddle from behind at ringside. Riddle got up and they had a pull apart. Sheamus was setting up in the corner for his finisher when he became distracted by what was happening at ringside. Big E rolled up and pinned Sheamus…
Big E beat Sheamus in 10:10.
Powell’s POV: Maybe they can have Jeremy Borash come out during a commercial break and harken back to his TNA days by announcing that the loudest virtual fan will have his or her screen taken backstage to virtual meet the wrestlers after the show. I’m kidding, but they really need to do something to improve the sound because the audio atmosphere is almost as bad as it was before they started allowing spectator wrestlers at ringside during their run at the WWE Performance Center. ThunderDome definitely distracted me from the match, but that’s to be expected early on.
Cole hyped the Intercontinental Championship match between AJ Styes and Jeff Hardy, then said there was a developing story backstage. They cut backstage where a trainer was tending to Hardy’s right leg…
Cole and Graves hyped the Smackdown Tag Title match. The Lucha House Party trio was shown walking backstage when Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro showed up and hit their challengers Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik from behind. Kalisto checked on his partners while Cole said the Smackdown Tag Title match was up next… [C]
A sponsored recap focused on the feud between the tag teams…
2. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro vs. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik (w/Kalisto) for the Smackdown Tag Titles. The Miz and John Morrison delivered a backstage promo early in the match. Cole spoke over them to call two pinfall attempts. There was a botched spot when Metalik leapt over the top rope and then crashed and burned when he tried and failed to perform a huracanrana on Cesaro. Ouch. Metalik stayed down. Moments later, Cesaro pinned Dorado…
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro defeated Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik in 5:35 to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
After the match, Metalik got back to his feet. Kalisto and Dorado bickered and had to be held apart by Metalik…
Powell’s POV: The hard camera continues to be the worst view, in part because you get the straight up shot of virtual fans just staring blankly at their screens while the matches are taking place. The post match scene was the most interesting part of this. Kalisto appears to be the heel in this Lucha House Party breakup.
Hardy was shown being tended to by a trainer backstage. Cole and Graves narrated highlights of the Retribution attack from earlier and spotlighted AJ Styles kicking the leg of Hardy from behind…
Backstage, Kayla Braxton brought up the footage to Styles, who said it showed that he was showing urgency. Styles spoke about how Hardy has wasted his career. After Styles wrapped up his promo, he crossed paths with Sasha Banks and Bayley, and they all toasted their title belts together. Graves said he would interview Banks and Bayley after the break… [C]
Mandy Rose was shown talking with an unidentified woman backstage when Braxton showed up and asked how she was doing. Rose said she didn’t know. She said it had been a rough week. She said SummerSlam was in two days and she didn’t know what was going through Sonya Deville’s head. She said she needed to believe that there was still good in this world.
Rose looked into the camera and spoke to Deville. She said she is choosing to believe that the Deville she knows and has been inseparable with is still out there. Rose said she didn’t know how Deville felt heading into the vicious hair vs. hair match, but she wanted to put it all behind them and get back to where they were. “I choose to see the good in you,” Rose said…
Powell’s POV: I guess creative feels like they need to do something due to the stalker story making headlines. It wasn’t actually mentioned here, but I don’t think they would have had Rose cut that promo had there not been an incident. They could have them put their differences aside, but my guess is that this is being done to put heat on Deville heading into Sunday.
Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance. The virtual fans were replaced by the lighting of their entrances briefly. Graves stood in the ring and conducted the interview. He asked if they were breaking up. Both women said no simultaneously.
Graves turned the focus to Asuka challenging both women for their respective singles titles at SummerSlam. Bayley said that when she volunteered to face Asuka first on Sunday, it was just a suggestion. Banks wasn’t pleased. Graves asked if there was a disagreement. Bayley said no, then started talking about how no one could beat them.
Naomi made her entrance and said she would help them with their situation. She offered to face them both. Banks and Bayley accepted. Naomi asked which one of them would go first. Graves suggested a Beat The Clock Challenge. Naomi agreed and asked which one of them wanted to go first. As Banks and Bayley spoke, Naomi dropkicked them. Cole said the SummerSlam positioning would be on the line… [C]
Powell’s POV: It sounds like they might be doing a little sound sweetening now. They need to start if they are not or do more. It was oddly quiet when Naomi dropkicked Banks and Bayley.
3. Sasha Banks (w/Bayley) vs. Naomi in a Beat The Clock Challenge. Cole said the person who could beat Naomi the quickest would earn the second match against Asuka at SummerSlam.
[Hour Two] Banks caught Naomi in the Bank Statement and got the submission win.
Sasha Banks beat Naomi in 3:39 in a Beat The Clock Challenge.
4. Bayley (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Naomi in a Beat The Clock Challenge. Bayley attacked Naomi after the previous match, but the referee gave Naomi a chance to recover before calling for the bell. Naomi hit Bayley with the Rearview and pinned her to win the match, meaning Banks will get the second match with Asuka on Sunday.
Naomi defeated Bayley in a Beat The Clock Challenge.
Banks tried to comfort Bayley, who was upset after the match. Asuka’s music played and she walked onto the stage and laughed. Asuka yelled in Japanese, then switched to English and said she would become the empress of every title because no one is ready for her. Banks ran after Asuka, who knocked her down with a kick. Asuka ran to the ring and worked over Bayley with kicks until Bayley fled the ring. Bayley grabbed her title belts and ran past Banks on the ramp and stood on the stage while Asuka danced in the ring…
Powell’s POV: Did they even bother to explain what would have happened if Naomi had won both matches? I missed it if they did. I sure hope the teases for the Banks and Bayley split are paid off soon. It’s time. Banks and Bayley are overexposed, and Asuka is starting to feel the same way by association.
Backstage, Hardy tested his leg. The trainer said that he would clear Hardy if he could tolerate the pain…
Powell’s POV: Has the trainer considered a Z-Pak?
Cole hyped the Firefly Funhouse segment for later in the show…
Braxton approached Sonya Deville backstage. Deville said she had no comment and would have her comments for the entire world. Dana Brooke showed up and said she was sorry for everything Deville went through this week. Deville said it was nothing that she couldn’t handle, then slapped Brooke across the face…
Powell’s POV: I had it all wrong. Slapping Brooke clearly makes Deville a babyface. No? Well, it should.
Sonya Deville walked onto the stage with a mic. She said she heard what Rose had to say. She said she doesn’t understand what Rose wants. Deville said Rose will end up facing her one way or another. Deville said everyone knows she doesn’t give a damn if she’s bald or not, so she offered to raise the stakes for their match at SummerSlam. Deville said called for a No DQ match and the loser leaves WWE. Deville said that hair or no hair, she’s sick of looking at Rose’s face…
Powell’s POV: Another well delivered promo from Deville. I was really looking forward to the hair vs. hair match and I have no desire to see either woman leave, so this is actually a disappointing development. I guess we’ll see where it goes.
The broadcast team set up a video package on the Braun Strowman, Fiend, and Alexa Bliss drama…
Nikki Cross delivered a backstage promo while sitting in a chair. Cross was wearing an Alexa Bliss t-shirt. She said Bliss is off. The Bliss she met last week walks and talks like Bliss, but the person she saw was not Bliss. Cross said she had a feeling that something terrible was going to happen…
Powell’s POV: I continue to believe that Cross will actually be the one who joins forces with The Fiend. She played a great deranged character in Sanity, and she also shoved Bliss to the mat out of frustration recently.
AJ Styles made his entrance for the Intercontinental Championship match. Daniel Bryan appeared on the screen and delivered a selfie promo from home. He said Styles is willing to face the best, but only when they are at their worst. He said he hopes that Jeff Hardy can give Smackdown the Intercontinental Champion that it deserves… [C]
Cole spoke about ThunderDome while wrestler tweets were shown about it… Jeff Hardy made his entrance…
5. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental Championship. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole noted that Hardy was wearing a brace over his injured knee. Styles targeted the bad knee early on and was dominant heading into a break. [C]
Hardy started to rally, but Styles cut him off with a Pele Kick. Hardy recovered and went to the ropes, but he sold the knee injury falling down. Styles applied a Calf Crusher until Hardy reached the ropes to break it. Styles set up for a Styles Clash, but Hardy swung his bad leg and hit Styles with his knee brace. Hardy performed a Twist of Fate. Hardy went to the top rope and performed a Swanton Bomb and scored the pin.
Jeff Hardy defeated AJ Styles in 11:10 to win the Intercontinental Championship.
After the match, Braxton interviewed Hardy in the ring. Hardy said he would have said she was crazy if she told him a year ago that he’d be Intercontinental Champion. He said he hoped that things would get better for everyone who struggled like he struggled. His entrance music played and he quickly said he couldn’t have done it without the WWE Universe…
Puppets Huskus and Ramblin’ Rabbit were shown. Huskus wore a “Get These Hooves” t-shirt, and the rabbit puppet wore a blonde wig and an Alexa Bliss shirt… [C]
Powell’s POV: The title change legitimately surprised me. It wan’t just that the injury angle gave Hardy an expected out for losing, it’s that we had another Daniel Bryan promo about Styles, which left me assuming that Styles would hold the title long enough to feud with Bryan.
Styles threw a tantrum backstage. He vented to Joseph Park/Chris Park and then to interviewer Braxton…
The broadcast team hyped Sasha Banks, Bayley, Big E, and Jeff Hardy for the return of Talking Smack, which will be available on the free version of WWE Network on Saturday…
Powell’s POV: For those who missed it, the new Talking Smack will be hosted by Kayla Braxton and Xavier Woods.
Bray Wyatt hosted the Firefly Funhouse. He called for the camera to come closer, then said, “I love you.” He said love is a terrible thing that can make the most glorious angle come crashing down with broken wings. Wyatt acted like he took a call through his glove. He set up Firefly Theater Presents…Braun and Alexa.
The skit featured Huskus and Ramblin’ Rabbit as Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss. They reenacted last week’s segment with Strowman and Bliss, and gave it a happy ending. Wyatt got between them and yelled cut. He asked them what was going on, he said that wasn’t how it went down. The rabbit said he’s a method actor. Wyatt sent them on their way.
Wyatt said love can only lead to pain and suffering. Wyatt said to be more like “him” and said “he” can’t wait to get his hands on Strowman. “In fact,” Wyatt said while looking up. “What took you so long?”
Braun Strowman attacked Wyatt on the Firefly Funhouse set. Strowman punched him repeatedly, then dragged him away while saying, “I’m not finished with you”… [C]
The broadcast team said there was a major brawl going on backstage with Strowman and Wyatt. They cut backstage where the two men were fighting. Strowman grabbed Wyatt by the throat while standing on a loading dock. Strowman yelled that Wyatt was wrong if he thought he could get inside his head and manipulate him. Strowman prepared to toss Wyatt. A bunch of referees showed up to talk him down, but Strowman tossed Wyatt off the loading dock.
An ambulance arrived in record time. Wyatt was placed on a stretcher and loaded into the ambulance. The ambulance started to leave, then stopped and slowly backed up while producers yelled that they needed to go the other way. There was smoke inside the ambulance and then the light turned red. They showed the shocked producers and referees. When they cut back to the ambulance, The Fiend was standing there. The Fiend laughed maniacally to close the show…
Powell’s POV: I assumed that the idea is would be that while Wyatt was injured, The Fiend would be fine. But I admit that I was a little worried that the “you’ll never see it coming” slogan for SummerSlam might have played into this angle being done to take Wyatt out of the match and set up the surprise of Roman Reigns as his replacement. It’s a good thing they didn’t go there or there could be some virtual middle fingers held up on ThunderDome on Sunday. The Strowman and Fiend feud isn’t doing much for me aside from waiting to see where Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross end up.
Going into Smackdown, it felt like this episode would be more about ThunderDome than the SummerSlam. They found a nice balance by spotlighting the SummerSlam matches throughout the night. Let me know what you thought of this episode by assigning it a letter grade in our post show poll. I will be back later with my same night audio review of Smackdown for Dot Net Members.
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