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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 22, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcer: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-A “Memorial Day” video aired.
(Keller’s Analysis: These are nice. A more meaningful gesture than a great video tribute would be to not do business with Saudi Arabia and be part of their propaganda campaign by getting paid obscenely above typical market value for a live WWE event.)
-The Smackdown opening theme aired. Cole then introduced the show and hyped that the Intercontinental Title tournament would continue.
-John Morrison & The Miz sat mid-ring for a segment. They talked about their dismay that Otis is the Money in the Bank briefcase holder. They made jokes at his expense. They blamed his enablers like Braun Strowman. Miz said it’s stupid Braun agreed to team with Otis last week because Otis has the MITB contract that he could cash in against him. Morrison said it’s as dumb as Becky Lynch choosing to have a child with Seth Rollins. “I wouldn’t show my face around here again, either,” Morrison said. Morrison said Braun was replaced in the Wyatt Family with puppets, and he thinks Bray Wyatt made the right call. Miz said they want to show the puppets Bray rejected that Bray liked better than Braun. Shiloh the Lonely Laundry Lass, Dookie the Diaper Boy (cue the fart noises), and Mandyquin Rose (“Her superpower is she whispers plans into Otis’s ears that will trick Braun Strowman into losing the Universal Championship,” said Miz. Then the Mandy doll said, “Not everything about Braun is a monster.”) Braun’s music played.
Braun walked out, smiling. Graves said “The Dirt Sheet” is one of the most popular aspects of WWE. Braun entered the ring and said they’re kind of funny. He said their show isn’t half bad. He thanked them for booking him as their guest. Morrison said he wasn’t booked. Braun asked them to ask him a question. He asked them to ask him about Bray. Miz asked Braun if he seriously thinks Bray is done with him after he taunted him with that black sheep mask. Morrison ended up talking trash to Braun about what would happen if he faced Miz. Miz tried to stop Morrison, but it was “too late” and Braun said that sounded like a challenge and accepted the challenge. Cole excitedly said it looks like they’re going to have Miz vs. Braun up next.
(Keller’s Analysis: Braun’s acting was stiff and sounded like he was reciting memorized lines. Speaking of what’s dumb, it’s dumb to think that because Morrison said Miz could beat Braun up, that forces Miz to actually participate in a match he wants no part of.) [c]
(1) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. MIZ
As Braun brushed off Miz’s early attack, Cole said the problem with having a talk show like The Dirt Sheet where you badmouth people is sometimes you talk yourself into situations like this. Braun charged, but Miz ducked and Braun tumbled to the floor. Miz hit Braun with a high knee. Morrison launched off the barricade and kicked Braun in the head. Miz then went after Braun at ringside, but Braun pushed Miz away. When he charged, Miz avoided him and Braun went hard into the ringpost. Miz springboarded into the ring, but Braun caught him by the throat. Miz dropkicked Strowman’s knee, then roundkicked him and set up a DDT. Braun blocked it and lifted Miz and shoved him hard into the corner. The attack continued for another minute until Braun powerslammed Miz for the three count.
WINNER: Braun in 4:00.
-As Braun celebrated, Morrison challenged him to a two-on-one match at Backlash with the Universal Title on the line. “You want me, you got me!” Braun said. Cole asked Graves to imagine if that match gets approved. Graves said they could end up with co-Universal Champions.
(Keller’s Analysis: There aren’t a lot of top-level challenges for Braun on the Smackdown roster, so this is probably as good an option as any under current conditions. The assumption is Braun will win, but I wouldn’t rule out WWE going with a curve-ball of co-champions just to fill some TV time with something “different”)
-Cole and Graves talked about the Intercontinental Title tournament as a result of Sami Zayn being “unable” to compete.
-A.J. Styles made his ring entrance. [c]
(2) A.J. STYLES vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA – Intercontinental Title tournament round one match
Cole dropped into commentary casually that Styles has been officially traded to Smackdown for a wrestler to be named later. So scratch him off the list of potential Drew McIntyre heel challengers. Graves talked about how Styles and Nakamura have wrestled all over the globe “from Japan to the Grandest Stage of Them All, WrestleMania.” They cut to a break at 4:00 after Nakamura knocked Styles on the back of his head in the ring by sliding under him and to the floor. [c]
Cole restated the news of the Styles trade and called it “big news” and had a tone that felt like it was a bigger deal than when he mentioned it at the start of the match. At 9:00 Nakamura had Styles down on the mat, but Styles lifted him and turned it into a modified Styles Clash for a near fall. Styles set up a springboard Phenomenal Forearm, but Nakamura blocked it. Styles came back seconds later and nailed it for the win.
WINNER: Styles in 13:00 to advance to the second round.
(Keller’s Analysis: A lack of crowd, of course, didn’t help, but this still should have felt more special considering what it once meant. Nakamura, though, is a second tier wrestler in WWE now, so there was little doubt Styles – right after the trade – would win.)
-Cole threw to a clip of the Charl0tte segment with Bayley and Sasha Bank last week.
-Backstage, Bayley told Sasha she doesn’t want her at ringside. She said people are saying she can’t win with her at ringside. Sasha was disappointed and asked if it was because of what Charlotte said last week. Bayley said she doesn’t want to give the dumb sheep who listen to her any more reason to believe. Sasha smiled and wished her luck. Bayley said she’s got it and she knows Sasha has her back. Sasha said always. The camera stayed on Sasha for a few seconds and her expression changed to seeming less-than-cool with the situation.
-A Raw commercial hyped that MVP would welcome his biggest guest yet on the MVP Lounge, Drew McIntyre, “but is it a trap by Bobby Lashley.” Also, Charlotte vs. Natalya vs. Nia Jax, with the winner facing Asuka. [c]
-A gaudy over-the-top graphic touted Edge vs. Randy Orton as “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.” Wow.
(3) CHARLOTTE vs. BAYLEY
Charlotte made her ring entrance first. Very deliberate pace early. They showed Sasha was watching backstage on a monitor. Charlotte tried to score a pin with her feet on the middle rope, prompting Ric Flair references. Cole talked about the storied history between Charlotte and Bayley dating back to NXT. Charlotte threw Bayley over the barricade at ringside at 3:00, then yanked off Cole’s headset and asked Sasha to come to the ring so she can kick “both of your asses.” [c]
Charlotte had Bayley on the mat in a chinlock after the break. They showed Sasha watching on the monitor backstage. As Bayley took over, Cole said Charlotte will defend her title against Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai at NXT Takeover on June 7 on WWE Network. He said TV Guide broke the news. (Congrats, TV Guide, for that scoop! Good work.)
Charlotte came back with a fallaway slam. Charlotte rammed Bayley’s face into the middle turnbuckle. Charlotte blocked a Bayley top rope elbow. A minute later Bayley landed the elbow for a near fall. Bayley slapped Charlotte’s chest a few times as they each trash-talked each other. Bayley said Charlotte was sick, then mocked her “woo” and went for a figure-four. Charlotte gave her a forearm and fought back with a barrage of hard chops in the corner. The ref told Charlotte to respect his count and back away. Charlotte rolled up Bayley, but Bayley rolled through and held onto the middle rope to score a leverage three count. Charlotte sat up smiling and laughing. Cole said Charlotte knows she was outsmarted. Graves said it has to sting a little extra when you let a tactic like that, which she specializes in herself, beat her. Cole said Bayley did it without Sasha at ringside. Graves said Bayley silenced a lot of the doubters.
WINNER: Bayley in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: For heels to get any heat for cheating, announcers have to ask questions after a finish like that such as, “What did Bayley prove by cheating to win? That showed she could cheat, but it didn’t prove she’s better than Charlotte.” Instead, they tout that Bayley “silenced doubters.” It’s dumbfoundingly counter-productive. I just don’t get it. There’s no defense for this approach, and WWE has been doing it for years. It’s like Vince McMahon has some complex about wanting to justify that it’s okay to use whatever means necessary to get ahead, and he uses his TV shows to try to normalize it – consciously or not – through his framing of the stories he tells on TV.) [c]
-They went backstage to Sasha and Bayley who celebrated together. They agreed that Bayley could do it on her own.
(4) SONYA DEVILLE & DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. MANDY ROSE & OTIS
Cole said “thank goodness for that hacker” who was the one who exposed the secret plot by Sonya and Ziggler. Graves said it threw four lives upside down when Ziggler and Mandy could have been happy together otherwise. Cole talked about how things have fallen apart between Rose and Deville. Otis insisted on starting against Ziggler. Ziggler shoved Otis into the ringside steps a couple minutes in. Rose went to check on Otis. Cole asked if he should refer to Otis as her boyfriend. Graves said he hates to put a label on it because it weirds him out. [c]
Sonya beat up Mandy for several minutes until Mandy hot-tagged Otis. Otis went to work on Ziggler including a running corner splash. Ziggler went down. Deville tagged in. Rose then went at her with a flurry of offense. Deville gave Rose a running knee to the back of her neck for the win.
WINNERS: Deville & Ziggler in 9:00.
-Ziggler superkicked Otis in the face when Otis bent over to check on Rose’s condition. Cole called it a disgusting display. Graves said he can’t believe Mandy would date someone who loses.
-Backstage Jeff Hardy said he asked the WWE Universe to join him for one more good run. He said he didn’t know where that journey would lead him, but the positive vibrations he sent out have led him on a new path toward the Intercontinental Title. He said it would mean so much because it was the first title he won on his own, and he needs to beat the bully who tried to tear him down to get one step closer. [c]
-They showed a photo of Shad Gaspar and acknowledged his death last weekend.
-A vignette with The Forgotten Sons played. They talked about having had tough times adjusting to life back home. He said they went through dark times and aren’t afraid to admit it. He said if that makes them uncomfortable, it should. They said it’s blood on their hands.
-They went to Cole and Graves on camera at ringside. They threw to a sponsored recap of the Braun-Miz/Morrison angle earlier.
-Backstage, Miz told Morrison he can’t believe he did that. Morrison said the bright side is they have a chance to become Universal Champions together. Renee Young walked in and interviewed them. Miz said they’re a cohesive unit that knows how to win. Miz vowed to make Braun’s life a living hell. They did their “Hey hey, ho ho, Miz and Morrison” song.
-Back to Cole and Graves, Graves said Braun has bitten off more than he can chew. Cole threw to an extended video package on Hardy’s return and Sheamus taking issue with it.
-Hardy made his ring entrance as Cole talked about him wanting one more run that he can be proud of. [c]
(5) JEFF HARDY vs. SHEAMUS – Intercontinental Title tournament round one match
Hardy got in some early offense, but Sheamus took over. He threw Hardy onto the announce table at 3:00, then yelled in Cole’s face. Droplets spraying all over Cole’s face. “What about me!?” Sheamus yelled as they cut to a break. [c]
Sheamus dominated Hardy for a minutes after the break. Hardy came back and landed a Whisper in the Wind and took control, while still selling the extended beating Sheamus had given him. Sheamus came back with an Irish Curse backbreaker. Hardy avoided a Sheamus shoulder charge in the corner, then gave him a basement dropkick for a near fall. When he went for a Twist of Fate, Sheamus avoided it and dropped to ringside. Hardy shoved Sheamus into the ringpost, then ran on the edge of the barricade and launched at Sheamus with a clothesline. When Hardy went for a Swanton, Sheamus lifted his knees and scored a two count. Cole said Sheamus had a look of disbelief for the first time in the match. Sheamus kneed Hardy in the head and scored another near fall. A minute later, Hardy ducked a Brogue Kick and then rolled up Sheamus for the leverage three count.
WINNER: Hardy in 13:00 to advance to the semi-finals.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid work start to finish. No surprise this ended with a leverage pin. With Bryan waiting for the winner of this match, Hardy advancing is a bit of a surprise.)
-Sheamus threw a fit after the match, which could portend him costing Hardy in the semi-finals