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So when I get mad, I make a fist. I grab my pen, and I write out a list. Of all the wrestling stuff that hit and missed. Let’s see who’s made our WWE Smackdown Hitlist for the June 19, 2020 episode on Fox.
•Golden Role Models: There’s no denying who the top gals were on Friday Night Smackdown. The program was all about WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Bayley & Sasha Banks. They took over the announce desk, they ran over Michael Cole & Corey Graves, Bayley makes a Nikki Cross vs. Sasha Banks match as the show’s main event, and Sasha gets the pinfall victory. The end.
Don’t get me wrong. Nikki Cross was great, giving us a one-on-two sneak attack against the champs. But Nikki was there to be the foil. The money is in the eventual Bayley vs. Sasha match where the Lady Megapowers explode. WWE is clearly in no rush to give that match away, and that’s the right call.
•Brogue Bully: After sitting through another one of those painfully earnest babyface promos someone made Jeff Hardy read, it sure was nice for Sheamus to be an unrepentant asshole while responding to Kayla Braxton’s questions. Good heel work.
Some of you are probably wondering whether it’s realistic to have someone behave like Sheamus did when answering Jeff Hardy. If so, you clearly haven’t been on Twitter lately.
•Hair Up, Square Up: Our favorite mixed martial assassin saved the Miz TV segment with her unique brand of cocky and crazy. Sonya Deville got a decent brawl out of Mandy Rose. Any episode of Smackdown which features Sonya and doesn’t feature Baron Corbin deserves some extra points.
•Star Power: Let us talk about one thing WWE is doing well on Smackdown over the past several weeks. The roster isn’t as deep, but the company has drawn a firm line between the top wrestlers and the less important talent. Braun Strowman? Big star. Bayley & Sasha? Big stars. AJ Styles? Big star. Sheamus is also being treated like a big deal, which is probably to set up his eventual feud with Strowman. Otis and Braun Strowman are also being protected, as are The New Day. Everyone else? Not so much.
•Riddle Me This: Matt Riddle was one of the big names called out during the Speaking Out tweet storm. The Original Bro has a supportive wife and a good legal team. Fortunately for him, Vince McMahon doesn’t like to change storylines after he’s already shot the footage. (That, or he believes in the phrase “innocent until proven guilty”.)
Matt Riddle’s main roster debut was quite a story. Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard probably enjoyed playing with the television audience, teasing first Daniel Bryan, then Drew Gulak as potential opponents for WWE Intercontinental Champion. Riddle was the third choice, and he had a really good match with the Phenomenal One. But Bro Matt’s first win was slightly tainted by a distraction from Daniel Bryan. The net effect was to have Styles lose two of his last three matches, make Bryan seem ineffective, and have Riddle seem a little less of a killer. WWE can do better.
•G, This Gimmick Is Awful: Nobody believes Chad Gable wants to be known as Shorty G. And if you’re one of the people who actually watched Gable on NXT a few years ago, you’re even LESS likely to believe Chad has gone all the way for that unflattering moniker. If Gable was riding a winning streak, Gable would have an excuse for liking the name, but he hasn’t beaten anyone he wouldn’t have beaten in his star-spangled singlet.
•Main Events: Here’s a pet peeve about WWE. There were four matches on the show this week, right? Two of those matches happened on the spot because one wrestler challenged another. I know we’re suspending disbelief, but what was Acting General Manager Adam Pearce’s plan if those challenges hadn’t come off? His format sheet consisted of Renee Young interviewing AJ Styles, Miz TV, Firefly Funhouse, Gable vs. Mojo and New Day against The Lucha House Party. That’s pretty thin.
Keep in mind that back in 1989, for NWA Clash of Champions VI, Jim Ross & Michael Hayes actually talked about the matches that had to be cut from the show because Ricky Steamboat & Ric Flair had a 55 minute match. We’re not expecting WWE to pay as much attention to detail as George Scott did. But a little attention would be nice.∫
•Resurrection: We had a twist ending on Firefly Firehouse this week, as Bray Wyatt brought back Original Recipe Bray Wyatt to confront Braun Strowman. That didn’t feel like a great moment. It felt like an acknowledgement of WWE doing serious damage to The Fiend gimmick earlier this year. I like Cult Leader Bray, but the ship has sailed.
You can find Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina on Twitter at @realpatmcneill. Listen to his weekly “Wayback Playback” watchalong podcast with Jim Valley HERE or sign up for their Patreon HERE.