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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JUNE 19, 2020
TAPED EARLIER THIS WEEK IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcer: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-They opened with a video package recapping A.J. Styles beating Daniel Bryan in the Intercontinental Title tournament final last week.
-The Smackdown opening aired.
(Keller’s Analysis: People who just started watching Smackdown this year have to wonder why Kofi Kingston is featured prominent at the start of the opening theme as a solo wrestler. It’s so weird WWE hasn’t updated the opening to be more reflective of the current status of some of the top tier wrestlers.)
-Cole and Graves hyped the brand new Firefly Funhouse coming up later and Miz TV with Mandy Rose as the guest.
-Renee Young introduced Styles. The ring was surrounded by Smackdown wrestlers (Cesaro, Baron Corbin, Mojo Rawley, Bryan, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Chad Gable, Otis, Tucker, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Sheamus, Drew Gulak, Uso). The IC Title belt was on a pedestal mid-ring. He thanked Renee for talking about his impressive resume. Renee asked what the IC Title means to him, since he’s never won it before. Styles said the cream rises to the top. He said Renee wasn’t qualified to present the IC Title to him. He asked Bryan to present him with the belt.
Bryan entered the ring cautiously. Styles said all he has to do is wrap the belt around his waist. “It’s all about respect,” he said. “I beat you to get it, so come on. It’s the respectful thing to do.” He said he trusted Bryan not to do anything stupid as he turned his back. Bryan did it, but Styles said he didn’t congratulate him loud enough. Bryan grabbed the mic and said, “Congratulations A.J. Styles, last week you were the better man.” He said while they disagree about a lot of things, he has great respect for his in-ring skills. He said he thinks he has the chance to be the greatest Intercontinental Champion in WWE history. He listed some of the wrestlers at ringside who would be great opponents. Styles cut him off and said he’ll do things his way, and only the top contenders will get a shot. He said Bryan is at the end of the line. Bryan said he should defend the title against Drew Gulak since he earned it by beating him two weeks ago. Styles said he’s not giving handouts.
Styles said he won’t do things Bryan’s way. He said he will only defend the title against the no. 1 contender, and the next wrestler to stand up and run their mouth will have to deal with the consequences. “Bro!” played over the sound system. Matt Riddle made his way to the ring to his music. Tucker gave Otis a strange look at ringside as Otis danced to Riddle’s music. Riddle asked Styles, “What’s up, Bro.” Styles said he know exactly who he is. He said he’s the “talk of the town.” (Oops.) He said he sees someone without shoes standing in his ring. Riddle said he never wears shoes. Styles said he’s looking for a handout. Riddle said he hears Styles is the Face that Runs the Place. Riddle said he’s the Bro that’s Going to Run the Show. Styles distracted him with the belt, then punched him in the face. Riddle knocked Styles out of the ring with kicks. [c]
(Keller’s Analysis: Keep in mind this episode was taped earlier this week, before the allegation was made against Riddle. Why did Bryan agree to present Styles with the title? I get they want to portray Bryan as a good sport and chill and all that, but that felt demeaning and submissive in way that made Bryan look like a subservient sap in addition to being a good sport and chill and all that. If there was one edit called for, it was taking out Styles calling Riddle “the talk of the town.” Yikes. Bad timing.)
(1) A.J. STYLES vs. MATT RIDDLE – Non-title match
As the ring announcer introduced the match as being for the IC Title, Styles said it’s not. He said the sign reads, “No shirt, no shoes, no title shot.” Riddle landed an immediate German suplex and a gut-wrench suplex. The wrestlers stayed at ringside, by the way. Riddle landed a high roundkick to the head for a near fall followed by a Bro-ton. Styles made a comeback after not breaking clean out of the corner and then landed a dropkick to the head. Styles clotheslined Riddle over the top rope onto the ring apron. Styles kicked Riddle into Corbin. Corbin shoved him. They argued. They cut to a break. [c]
During the break, Styles dropkicked Riddle through the ropes. Cole noted the wrestlers at ringside stuck around after the match to see what all the hype is about regarding Riddle. Graves said it’s a good idea. Styles blocked a Riddle kick and took him down with a Dragon Screw leg whip. Styles ducked a high kick by Riddle and chop-blocked him. Riddle rallied a minute later and hit another Bro-ton for a near fall. Then he applied the Bro-mission. Styles leaned back and scored a two count, so Riddle released. Styles rolled into the Calf Crusher. Riddle reached the bottom rope to force the break as wrestlers cheered at ringside. Styles retreated to ringside and shoved Bryan. Cole asked what the purpose of that was. Styles yelled at Bryan. When he returned to the ring apron to set up a Phenomenal Forearm, Riddle instead caught him and delivered Bro-Derek powerslam for the win. The babyfaces ran into the ring to celebrate with Riddle. Cole said Riddle may indeed be “the Bro that’s going to run the show.” Graves said Styles didn’t come out prepared to wrestle tonight.
WINNER: Riddle in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. It felt like a big debut for Riddle. Too bad it’s yet another in a stretch of champions losing non-title matches on TV. They seemed to definitely rev up the Bryan-Styles feud to set up a match at Extreme Rules while also planting the seed for Riddle and Corbin to feud. I think people perceive Riddle as being taller-than-average, but he was barely Styles’ height. Not wearing boots will make him seem relatively shorter. He was way shorter than Corbin during their ringside argument. As for the wrestlers at ringside, I assume all of them there had the COVID-19 tests – the first WWE has administered in a large scale – right before the taping that came back negative. Otherwise, that’d seem reckless.)
-Cole said they haven’t heard from Bray Wyatt in a while, but the silence is broken tonight. Graves hyped Miz TV.
-They went backstage to Jeff Hardy who was staring off into space as he was getting mic’d up by a producer. Cole said Renee would provide questions for him next. [c]
-Cole threw to a recap of the Hardy-Sheamus rivalry including the hit-and-run angle that took out Elias.
-Renee asked Hardy how he is holding up. He said it’s been a roller coaster. He said he feels he’s been trying to turn his life around forever. He said bad times can haunt him if he lets them. He said he felt like he was turning things around. He said he extinguishes one fire, but then turns around and there’s another. “The struggle is real,” he said. Renee asked about Sheamus. She said he’s continued to target his struggle with past addictions. She asked how he’s been dealing with his loss at Backlash. Hardy said he’s lost a lot of matches, and he’ll lose a lot more, but Sheamus is a reminder of what he doesn’t like about himself. He said if he could just beat the holy hell out of him, it would give him confidence that he is resilient, his spirit is strong, and he’s turning things around. He said he will then begin to doubt himself again and wonder if he’s a bad performer, a bad husband, a bad father. He said if he’s learned one thing, it’s that he has to catch himself before that thinking spirals out of control. He said just because Sheamus says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. He said he has to step back and realize he has been an adrenaline junkie since he was nine years old. He said Sheamus’s problem isn’t with him, it’s with himself. He said he mistakes his honesty and vulnerability for weakness. He said Sheamus is another sickening obstacle, but he’s overcome bigger obstacles than him. He said he is not done yet.
(Keller’s Analysis: Hardy has always had an awkward cadence and inflection when he speaks, and that shouldn’t be mistaken for bad acting. I thought this was a good segment, explaining his mindset and struggles, and humanizing him while framing Sheamus as a bully who was picking maliciously at Hardy’s scabs.)
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Shorty G about facing Mojo Rawley next, who is eight inches taller than him. Gable said he’s wrestled heavyweights his whole life and he knows how to deal with them. Mojo came up behind him and mocked him. Gable said they don’t know what it’s like to have eyes in the back of your head. He turned and punched Mojo, then left. Mojo threw a fit. [c]
(2) SHORTY G vs. MOJO RAWLEY
Shorty leaped off the top rope, but Mojo caught him. Shorty rolled up Mojo and scored the three count. Cole called it an upset. Graves said he wouldn’t necessarily classify it as an upset.
WINNER: Shorty G in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Who has Mojo defeated where Shorty G beating him would be some kind of upset? Or is it just because someone short beating someone tall is an upset by definition in WWE? This whole thing felt random and pointless.)
-Backstage Miz and Morrison chatted over a sheet of paper they were looking at.
-A Raw commercial hyped Charlotte vs. Asuka, The Street Profits vs. The Viking Raiders, The IIconics vs. Sasha & Bayley, and R-Truth vs. Akira Tozawa & The Ninjas in four title matches in what is called “Raw Championship Monday.” Also, Rey Mysterio will be on Raw to confront Seth Rollins. Plus, Ric Flair will crowd Randy Orton as “the greatest wrestler ever.” (Did they clear this with Triple H? You can tell when Raw is pre-taped – because they know all kinds of stuff about it on Friday.) [c]
-Miz TV: Miz explained to Morrison that last week he lost focus when he pulled him off of Strowman. Morrison was very forgiving, complaining about how they changed the rules. Morrison said you shouldn’t change the rules before the big game. Miz said they also had to worry about “that canned ham covered in body hair.” Morrison said Otis could have come out to cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase anytime. Morrison said if not for Otis, one of them would be standing there as the WWE Universal Champion now. They pivoted to introducing Mandy Rose, making her Miz TV debut.
Mandy came out. Miz asked if she ever realized she was a terrible friend to Sonya Deville and always upstaging her. Mandy threatened to leave. Miz said they were just joking around. He said they have a surprise for her. Sonya walked out onto the stage. She walked out in a black suit. Mandy said, “We’re still on this?” She said she understands that she’s mad, but she’s the one who went behind her back and tried to sabotage her personal life. Mandy said she’s done with her. Sonya entered the ring and said she wishes she could be done, but she just can’t. She said Mandy keeps getting the spotlight and she wonders what she did to deserve it. She said if it wasn’t for Miz TV, she wouldn’t even be on the show. Sonya said the hype for Smackdown said she’d be on Miz TV, whereas she (Sonya) wasn’t mentioned. She said Mandy hasn’t won matches or said anything of value that means anything to anybody. She said she needed help. She said what she did was make out with Otis poolside so everyone could see. Mandy asked Sonya what she wants from her. Mandy said she can hurt her physically and try to hurt her mentally, but she has people who are by her side. She said Otis has been there for her, loyal since Day One. The audience applauded. She asked Sonya what she has besides being a fighter. “You’re alone,” she said. “So how much longer are you going to hang onto these petty resentments, Sonya?”
Sonya said she will break it down really simply for her. She said she’s not mad at her. She’s just confused. She wanted to know what she needed to do to get the Mandy Rose treatment. She said the only difference between them is their appearance. She said she is superior to Mandy in every other way. She said she is going to take away the one thing that matters to her and rip her apart piece by piece until her outsides are just as ugly as what’s inside. She attacked her. They fought as Miz and Morrison reacted excitedly. Sonya fled and then Miz blocked Mandy from chasing after her. Mandy slapped Miz, then her music played and she left the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: I trust that there’s some reason they’re going back to Mandy and Sonya that will payoff with some sort of satisfying conclusion and a pivot to something new for them next. I continue to wonder what the end game is for Otis. Could they still end up turning Mandy, but in a way where Otis breaks up with her before it’s clear to viewers why – and then the Hacker exposes Mandy for something? Or maybe Mandy breaks Otis’s heart when she sabotages his MITB cash-in? I don’t know. I just hope they have something good in mind for all the TV time invested in this. Peformance-wise, this was my least favorite Sonya segment in a while. She just seemed sort of “over it” when it comes to this storyline, perhaps aware this all feels like a rerun and stretching out this saga one chapter too long.)
-They hyped the Firefly Funhouse again. Graves said it’ll be unsettling.
-They recapped the Sasha Banks & Bayley, Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss, IIconics feud.
-Sasha and Bayley came out to their music and sat at ringside with the announcers.
(3) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Big E) vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado)
The New Day threw their jackets at Graves. Big E taunted him from the ring. Sasha and Bayley talked about having Bayley Appreciation Week. Sasha and Bayley gleefully cheered a Big E belly-to-belly, calling it the Bayley-to-Belly. LHP hit dives to the floor seconds later onto New Day before they cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
LHP dominated after the break. They scored a near fall on Kofi after a top rope splash, but Big E broke up the pin. Cole said Sasha and Bayley were so obnoxious, Graves was about to drive a pencil through his forehead. New Day made a comeback and landed their double-team finisher for the win.
WINNERS: New Day in 10:00.
-Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro attacked New Day after the match. Sasha and Bayley cheered and said it was entertaining and they loved it. Cesaro gave Big E his Neutralizer. Nakamura then gave Kofi the Cesaro Swing and Nakamura gave him a Kinsasha. Cesaro then leaned into the face of Graves and Cole and said they are an international heavy-hitting team, the last of a dying breed, and they’re sick and tired of being overlooked.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sasha and Bayley were delightfully pleased with themselves throughout. As for the match, the action was good, but how about some presupposition for it happening in the first place?)
-Graves plugged Firefly Funhouse again.
-Lacey Evans, Tamina, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, and Dana Brooke discussed wanting to make a statement. Dana said they’re not filler and they should prove it. Alexa wondered where Nikki went.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was strange. Is that planting the seed for the “second tier” women to do some sort of big angle or work together to push for a match against Bayley at Extreme Rules involving all of them?)
-Kayla interviewed Sheamus backstage. She asked for his reaction to the poignant and revealing interview with Jeff Hardy earlier. Sheamus pretended Hardy calling him a bully really made him think. He said people like Hardy really deserve to be bullied, and his only regret is he didn’t crush his voice box, too, so we wouldn’t have to hear his filthy garbage coming out of his junkie mouth. He said Hardy claimed to be resilient and strong and turned his life around, but he doesn’t really believe it. “That’s where I come in,” he said. “If Jeff Hardy can’t lift himself up, I’ll do it for him with a smile on my face the only way a proper Irishman can.” He said next week he’s going to toast the one-and-only Jeff Hardy.
-Sasha and Bayley were still at ringside. They were delighted by the news of Sheamus toasting Hardy next week. Nikki snuck up behind them and attacked them, tipping over Sasha and throwing Bayley into the announce desk. Soon they double-teamed Nikki, but Bliss ran out and evened the odds. Sasha and Bayley regrouped as Nikki called them into the ring and yelled, “I want some action. Let’s go!” Nikki called out Sasha. Bayley said if she wants a fight, “I accept, you’ve got your match.” Cole said Bayley volunteered Sasha for a match again. [c]
(4) SASHA BANKS (w/Bayley) vs. NIKKI CROSS (w/Alexa Bliss)
The match was joined in progress. Back and forth match ending with a Meteora by Sasha.
WINNER: Sasha in about 7:00.
-A video feature aired on Titus O’Neal’s community work. [c]
-A recap aired of the Styles-Riddle match.
-Firefly Funhouse: Bray waved to the fans and spoke briefly in French. He asked if they missed him. He said he can’t wait to tell them what he’s been up to. He said he joined a book club, learned the latest Tic Toc moves, learned how to knit, and invaded a reptilian stronghold. Ramblin’ Rabbit said he’s actually been sitting around muttering to himself about losing to Braun Strowman. “Thank you for reminding me, Rabbit,” said Bray after some clips aired of the loss. Bray said he realized he went about this all the wrong way. Sound effects played and Braun Strowman interrupted.
Braun said Bray had his opportunity and he failed. He said there are no more games. He said the story between them is over. Bray laughed uproariously. He said their chapter may be over, but then he broke into the Fiend voice and said their story is just getting started. Then the old cult figure Bray Wyatt showed up with an updated look. He said in order to move forward, they have to take a step back to where it all began. “I created you, Braun,” he said. “Therefore it is my duty to destroy you.” He said he can find him, he just has to follow the buzzards. “Run!” He blew out the lantern. The show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: So not The Fiend, yet, but the return of the cult leader Bray to battle Braun next. I suppose this is a sufficient mid-summer chapter in their feud so they can save The Fiend for some sort of cinematic match at Summerslam. I thought Ramblin’ Rabbit exposing Fiend’s story was well done and pretty funny.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Decent show with the above-stated caveats. Typical Smackdown. Styles-Riddle was the in-ring highlight, but all the matches were good TV matches. Nothing epic or great, but none overstayed its welcome or anything.