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KELLER’S WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 15, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcer: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-Cole introduced the show and threw to a video package on the Money in the Bank ladder match at WWE Headquarters.
-Graves said Charlotte will be out later as part of the new “Brand-to-Brand Invitational.”
-Miz TV began with Miz and John Morrison. As they were introducing themselves, Otis came out with his Money in the Bank briefcase. When Cole said it might be the most surprising MITB win, Graves said there is no “perhaps” about it. Otis made a very enthusiastic show of his briefcase, including yelling at the announcers and leaning over the table to yell at them as Cole and Graves retreated quickly a foot backward.
Otis asked where he should sit. Miz said on the one empty stool, where else? Otis sat, but it broke, so he kicked it over and said he’d stand. Miz, with a patronizing smile, said Otis should be proud since this is the greatest achievement of his life. Otis said his proudest achievement is “winning over the heart of my beautiful peach, Mandy Rose.” Morrison asked if she felt bad for him. He said he must be packing some serious beef and be good in the sack. Morrison asked what he has in the briefcase. Otis yelled, “I got the contracts! And some Rolaids and some Gas-X and a bratwurst just in case I get hungry later.” Miz said he still can’t wrap his head around Otis winning since last week he couldn’t even climb a ladder. Otis yelled into the mic again and it sounded like they lowered the volume on his mic mid-yell.
Morrison and Miz showed a picture of Otis as a baby. Otis said he was the biggest baby to ever come out of his mother at over 12 pounds. Morrison asked if Otis is pregnant. Miz said he’s a man. Morrison said it’s 2020 and anything is possible. Miz then showed a photo of a young Otis with his mom. Otis said he grew up with a learning disability so school didn’t make sense to him, but his mom helped him with his grades so he could play sports, including wrestling, “because that made sense to me.” They showed him posing in white undies as an adolescent.
Miz yelled that he can’t believe Otis is Mr. MITB and “got the girl” too. Miz said he didn’t climb the ladder, but rather it just fell into his hands. Miz said he is one step away from becoming Universal Champion. “This is one step away from being the face of Smackdown,” Miz said, pointing at Otis’s face. Miz challenged Otis to a tag match with Tucker. Otis said Tucker couldn’t make it. Miz told Otis to tag with anyone who would team with him. A worker entered the ring and switched to a new, unbroken stool. Miz complained how long that took. Miz told Otis he has until the end of the show to find someone.
(Keller’s Analysis: Otis was enthusiastic about the briefcase, but also sweet since he said winning over Mandy’s heart made him more proud. Nobody could watch Miz and Morrison here and not want to see them get slapped around by Otis later. And a mystery partner angle is usually good to hold viewers.)
-Cole wondered who Otis would find or choose to be his partner. Cole said Sami Zayn is unable to compete, so his title is “held in abeyance.” They showed the tournament bracket: Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gulak and Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus in the left bracket; Elias vs. King Corbin and A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in the right bracket. Cole said the big news is that Styles has entered the tournament in an attempt to win the one title that has eluded him in WWE.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like Styles coming over to Smackdown for this. It makes the IC Title seem important, and just over a week ago on the Wade Keller Hotline, I pitched one or two wrestlers per week visit the other brand to freshen up match-ups available each week – a happy medium between rehashing too many matches or abandoning the brand split entirely. Styles caring about the IC Title makes the tournament feel more important.)
-Elias strummed his guitar. He has some new entrance music. They showed a clip from two months ago of Elias strumming his guitar and saying Corbin is a turd. It showed Corbin sitting on a toilet. Then Corbin attacked Elias and knocked him off the high platform.
(1) ELIAS vs. KING CORBIN – Intercontinental Title Tournament First Round match
Cole noted that neither of these two have held the IC Title. After an early flurry, Corbin grounded Elias with a cobra clutch. Cole wondered if Corbin is looking past Elias and toward Drew McIntyre on Raw on Monday. Elias fought free and clotheslined Corbin over the top rope to ringside. Next, Elias leaped off the top rope and knocked Corbin down. The ref began to count. Elias stood quickly and threw Corbin back into the ring. Corbin rolled to ringside. Elias went after him, but Corbin hit Elias and threw him into the barricade. Corbin threw Elias into the ring, then grabbed Elias’s guitar. He stood at the announce desk and played the guitar poorly. Elias wrecking ball kicked Corbin, who dropped the guitar. Cole said Corbin grabbing Elias’s guitar enraged him. Elias threw Corbin over the ringside barricade. They cut to a break. [c]
Elias had Corbin in an armbar after the break. Elias walked the top rope, and Corbin swept his foot off the top rope. Corbin then rammed Elias into the announce desk. Cole and Graves backed away as Corbin punched away at him. Back in the ring Corbin scored a two count. Corbin beat up Elias mid-ring methodically and intensely including a short-arm clothesline. Corbin yapped at the announcers, and then trash-talked Elias before going for another short-arm clothesline, but Elias countered with a quick neckbreaker. The trash-talking by Corbin backfired, giving Elias just enough time to recover. Elias yanked off his t-shirt in a rage and got aggressive to the point the ref had to pull him off of Corbin. Elias dropped a knee, then climbed to the top rope. Corbin ducked Elias and set up a chokeslam. Elias fought free. Corbin fired back with a spinebuster for a two count. Corbin yelled at the ref again for the pace of his count. Corbin caught Elias with a chokeslam a minute later for a near fall. Corbin punched away at Elias, then smashed the guitar against the ringpost to break it. When Corbin returned to the ring, Elias rolled him up with a surprise small package for the win.
WINNER: Elias in 16:00 to advance to the second round.
(Keller’s Analysis: That wasn’t bad. I mean, you know, compared to expectations. They worked hard throughout and most of it was solidly executed. On the higher end of what you’d expect with these two, which is saying something since they oddly chose to go 15+ minutes. Elias seemed to be especially wanting to show intensity and fire at the key points in the match. The issue with these two is that they always seem to be wrestling like they’re executing practiced sequences rather than fighting, and that puts a certain ceiling on the match quality.)
-Cole hyped Bryan vs. Gulak. Graves hyped Charlotte.
-Otis walked up to Sheamus and asked him to be his partner. Sheamus laughed and said, “Not a chance, fella.” Otis looked sad. [c]
-Mandy Rose walked up to Otis, who was talking to himself. Otis said he can’t find anyone to team with him and “Tucky” is gone, so it’s not so good. She suggested he ask Braun Strowman. He loved the idea and kissed her cheek.
-The hacker guy showed up in shadow form at the control desk. He said people want to know who he is. He said he is everywhere, sees everyone, and is the truth and no one is safe. He pushed a button on the control panel and showed a dozen or so monitors with images of wrestlers on it. “The truth will be revealed,” the screen said.
-Otis caught up with Braun and congratulated him for his win. Braun congratulated Otis for his MITB win. Otis asked him to team with him. Braun asked if he wants to be his partner or is he just looking to cash in his MITB. Braun said he has respect for Otis asking him face to face like that, so he’ll think about it. Otis was encouraged. [c]
(2) NAOMI vs. DANA BROOKE
Naomi caught Dana with a boot as she went for a handspring elbow a minute in. Brooke sat down on Naomi’s shoulders as she went for a head scissors for the three count. The announcers were in shock. They said Naomi is distraught. Naomi eyed Dana. Cole said Dana is starting to believe in herself, so who knows what’s next for her.
WINNER: Brooke in under 2:00.
-Graves hyped Charlotte.
-A commercial hyped that Edge would answer Orton’s challenge on Raw. [c]
-A sponsored video aired on Becky’s announcement on Raw with clips of her big wins and fans cheering and chanting for her.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like the decision to highlight Becky’s career and celebrate her accomplishments and popularity. Sometimes with WWE, out of sight out of mind, and they move on so quickly that it’s like their careers never happened. You know, like Roman Reigns.)
-They showed headlines of various news stories on Becky and then a splash of Tweets congratulating her.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. Graves said he loves the Brand-to-Brand Invitations going on now. Charlotte smiled with her NXT Title belt over her shoulder. “So here I am on Friday Night Smackdown.” She said she’s the hardest working wrestler in WWE. “The numbers were crunched, the conclusion was clear, people want more Charlotte Flair.” She said she’s 5-10, blond, a superior athlete, and her last name is Flair. She said she’s actually surprised there’s not a giant picture of her in the Performance Center to inspire everyone.
Bayley and Sasha Banks then walked out. Cole noted Bayley is the longest-reigning women’s champion in WWE. Bayley said Fox executives have a thing for blondes and the rest of the sheep out there go crazy because she’s Ric Flair’s daughter. Sasha and Bayley “wooo’d.” Charlotte asked if they’re done. Bayley said not yet, because she listened to her blab on about her resume. Bayley asked Sasha if she remembers the last time she saw Charlotte. Sasha said the last time Bayley saw her, she beat her.
Charlotte made fun of Bayley’s new haircut. She said Charlotte can go back to Raw and beat Liv Morgan over again, because this is their show now. She said she’s the most dominant champion in Smackdown history because she’s beaten everyone, “and that includes you!” Bayley said she’ll tell Fox it was a great time, but Charlotte should get out of their ring right now.
Charlotte said Sasha made Bayley relevant when she was NXT Champion, and now she’s the only reason she’s the Smackdown Champion. Charlotte said to Sasha, “My oh my, we main evented the first Raw together.” She asked Sasha if she’s content standing in Bayley’s corner. Bayley said an egomaniac would never understand a friendship like theirs. Charlotte asked someone in the truck to cut Bayley’s mic so Sasha can talk. Bayley challenged Charlotte to a champion vs. champion match. Charlotte said Smackdown would love to her on their show again. Bayley said she’s taken up too much time already. Charlotte said the question isn’t for her, so move out of the way. Charlotte then asked Sasha to think long and hard about whether she’s her own woman or is she just going to be Bayley’s lackey and happy being an afterthought. “Wooo!” she said. Charlotte smiled and left. Bayley tried to assure Sasha they were good as a team off-mic.
(Keller’s Analysis: Charlotte’s music inexplicably started before Sasha had a chance to answer. Isn’t the schtich that Bayley won’t let Sasha talk, but the music started so immediately after Charlotte finished, it took away the idea that Bayley is at fault and made everything seem scripted and preordained.) [c]
-The Forgotten Sons stood and spoke about how fans failed to welcome them home with open arms after they served their country, so they’re going to welcome everyone with closed fists.
-Renee Young interviewed Miz & Morrison. She asked about Otis trying to recruit Braun. Morrison said they call him Braun, not Brain for a reason. Miz said the Monster Among Men knows he can’t hang with them. They did their “Hey hey, ho ho, Miz and Morrison” chant. Renee looked at them like the rest of the world, like they were idiots. [c]
-They went to Cole and Graves on camera. They talked about the tournament bracket. Cole pushed fans to check out WWE digital platforms during the week for details on what A.J. Styles being in the tourney means.
-Bryan made his ring entrance. [c]
(3) DANIEL BRYAN vs. DREW GULAK – Intercontinental Title Tournament First Round match
Gulak made his ring entrance. The announcers talked about their relationship between Gulak and Bryan, and how they’re friends now. They shook hands and began wrestling. Graves said the IC Title has always been a sentimental favorite of the wrestlers, known as the workhorse title. Cole talked about more than a dozen WWE Superstars holding that title including The Rock, Steve Austin, and Triple H. Graves brought up Ultimate Warrior. “It truly is a gateway to greater things,” he said. They shifted back to Bryan and Gulak, touting the grappling and ground game on display. They cut to a break at 6:00. [c]
A few minutes later, with Drew largely in control and scoring near fall, Bryan came back with a dragon screw ankle whip followed by a heel hook mid-ring. Drew tapped out.
WINNER: Bryan in 13:00 to advance to the second round of the IC Title Tournament.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match and precisely what you’d expect from these two. Style-wise, not the most dazzling and highspot filled action, but a really impressive display of what they’re both excellent at.)
-Renee interviewed Bryan, who said he was forced to retire nearly five years ago to the day and he had to relinquish the IC Title. He said he wants to win it and make it the premiere title on Smackdown and defend it every week. “I want it to represent the absolute greatest wrestler in WWE, and I think that’s me.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Is that so hard? A spirited, enthusiastic babyface promo, aspiring to not only win a title, but emphasizing how much the title means to him, drawing from history for an additional incentive, and drawing a picture of what kind of fighting champion he’ll be. Good stuff.)
-A Make-a-Wish video with WWE wrestlers aired. [c]
-A commercial aired for FS1’s “Ruthless Aggression” special next Tuesday.
-Cole plugged part two of the Undertaker special and showed headlines with early reviews of part two.
-Cole hyped Styles vs. Nakamura, Hardy vs. Sheamus, Charlotte vs. Bayley next week, and Otis & Mandy Rose vs. Dolph Ziggler & Sonya Deville.
-They went backstage to Sonya and Dolph. Sonya said everything she said she’d do, she has done to her. She said she and Dolph will humiliate her. She wondered what Mandy is good at, because it’s not winning, it’s not fighting, it’s not being a good tag partner, and it’s certainly not being a good friend. She said she’s only good at being blond and pretty, and when that’s all over, where does that leave her? She said it’ll leave her barefoot and pregnant in some double-wide trailer with kids screaming cooking up some high cholesterol meat on the grill as Otis screams. “If that’s the life you want to live, then by all means, but you’re never going to be a winner like me. You’re never going to have the skill, talent, charisma, and mind that I have,” she said. She said she is just getting started ruining her life. She told her to put on her big-girl panties next week and show that she belongs in the same ring with her. “Bitch,” she said, then she winked. Ziggler just stared and admired her words.
(Keller’s Analysis: Where was this Sonya all these years?) [c]
(4) MIZ & MORRISON vs. BRAUN STROWMAN & OTIS
Miz and Morrison made their ring entrance first. When Otis came out alone, Miz and Morrison laughed that he couldn’t find a partner. Braun then came out. Miz and Morrison looked nervous. The announcers talked about the intriguing dynamic with Universal Champion Braun being out there with the man who has the briefcase that can end his reign. Braun and Otis did a double Caterpillar before they cut to a break. Braun’s was awful. [c]
Miz and Morrison were in control after the break. Braun hot-tagged in and rammed into Morrison at ringside, then went after Miz in the ring. Morrison blind-tagged in and saved Miz from a corner splash, then went on the attack including a barrage of kicks. Braun surprised Morrison with a tilt-a-whirl into a powerslam for the win.
WINNERS: Braun & Otis in 10:00.
-After the match, Otis held up his briefcase and Braun held up his Universal Title. Mandy’s music played and she came out, smiling and applauding that Otis won. Otis then set the briefcase down and seemed ready to strike against Braun, who was distracted by Mandy. Then Braun turned around and saw Otis winding up and didn’t look happy. Otis said he was just kidding and did it just for a laugh. Braun accepted that answer and fist-bumped Otis. Mandy entered the ring and Otis hugged her. Braun’s music then played as the celebration continued.