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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 3, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcer: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The Smackdown opening theme aired.
-Cole stood ring and introduced Matt Riddle. He asked Riddle about what happened with A.J. Styles. He said “being called up to Smackdown” is a dream come true. (Triple H will be disappointed he said “called up,” as it frames NXT as a minor league.) He said he was honored to wrestle Styles, but he thinks he likes Styles more than Styles likes him. Cole asked him about wrestling in bare feet as if it was the most exotic thing he had ever seen. Riddle said when he was a kid, his family took him on vacation to Wisconsin. He said he had fun in the pool and then ran outside into the snow. Graves asked why anyone would go on vacation in Wisconsin. (Has he not heard of Wisconsin Dells?) Riddle said he got frostbite from running in the snow and doctors even considered amputating his feet as a result. He said when he wears shoes, it still burns. He said if he wears footwear, he can’t feel anything, but when he’s barefoot, he can.
He was interrupted by Baron Corbin. Corbin made fun of him for not wearing boots and said he could have saved everyone time by saying he and his family are stupid. He insulted him some more. Riddle just laughed it off and said, “You do you, bro.” As Corbin continued with insults, Riddle challenged him to a fight. Corbin said you don’t get a match against him so easily. Instead, he revealed Riddle’s opponent would be John Morrison.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know Riddle’s gimmick is he says “bro” a lot, but that was cartoonishly over-the-top, as if Vince McMahon told him to double or triple it to really drive it home. The fixation with the bare feet also seems a little much. Leave it to Vince McMahon to not let it just speak for itself and draw so much attention to it that it’s at risk of not being cool and feeling totally orchestrated as a marketing gimmick.) [c]
(1) MATT RIDDLE vs. JOHN MORRISON (w/Miz)
Riddle tossed his flip-flops toward Corbin. Corbin stood up and protested. Cole asked Corbin what his problem is with Riddle. Corbin said, “This isn’t ‘Fast Time At Ridgemont High’.” Graves said the 1980s want their movie back. He said Cole was in his 50s when that movie came out. Riddle took Morrison down at 2:00 with a couple of gut-wrench suplexes and then went for an anklelock. Morrison came back with a springboard roundkick and a neckbreaker for a two count. Riddle charged, but Morrison backdropped him to ringside. Corbin had a few words for him. Riddle then smacked him with his flip-flop. Riddle leaped back into the ring. Corbin leaped onto the ring apron. The referee got between them and they cut to a break. [c]
Morrison lifted his knees on a Riddle turning splash off the top rope. Morrison powered up Riddle and gave him a spinning Razor’s Edge for a two count. Riddle went for a sleeper, but Morrison climbed to the second rope and tossed Riddle over the top rope. Riddle held on. Morrison ended up getting the leverage to give Riddle a modified belly-to-belly off the top followed by a standing Spanish fly for a near fall. Miz was wide-eyed on the ring apron. A minute later Riddle powerbombed Morrison and then gave him a Final Flash knee for a two count. Riddle lifted Morrison. Miz stood on the ring apron. Riddle went after him. Corbin stood on the ring apron. Riddle went after him, but Corbin leaped down. Morrison rolled up Riddle, but Riddle powered out and then he rolled up Morrison for the win.
WINNER: Riddle in 15:00.
-As Riddle celebrated on the ramp, Styles attacked him. Drew Gulak made the save and attacked Styles. [c]
-Morrison was in a rage, yelling at Miz and Corbin backstage. He said Riddle “is fixin’ to wake up in Slam Town.” Sarah Schreiber walked up to get comments. Corbin said he’s going to pull some strings. He said Riddle’s feet might not have been cut off as a little kid, but he’ll be sure the legs get cut off his career.
(2) A.J. STYLES vs. DREW GULAK – Intercontinental Title match
They joined the match just as it began, sans formal ring introductions. That feels “wrong” for a title match. The announcers were joined by Danial Bryan via Zoom in the corner of the screen to get his thoughts on Gulak taking on Styles. Gulak went for a submission, but Styles reached the bottom rope to force a break. Styles took a breather at ringside and banged on the plexiglass. Gulak slidekicked Styles when he walked back toward the ring. They cut to a break. [c]
(Note: They advertised Asuka vs. Bayley in a champion vs. champion match on Monday.)
Styles was back in control after the break. Bryan joined the announces via Zoom again. He said he felt Gulak was more technically sound than even he was. He said he wanted to learn from him. He said nobody out-heel-hooked him until Drew Gulak. Gulak avoided a charging Styles, who went hard into the top turnbuckle. Styles, though, went right at Gulak with a Styles Clash. He didn’t go right for the cover, though. He stood up and circled Drew. Cole wondered what Styles had in mind. Styles lifted Gulak and put him over the top rope. Then he delivered a Phenomenal Forearm for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Styles in 17:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Another good match. The 17 minutes breezed by. Styles came off heelish in having Gulak beat and yet giving him another move. The addition of Bryan on Zoom was worth trying. Not sure how much it added, but if Bryan’s not on site, it’s a way to get him on the show to stay on people’s minds.)
-The announcers hyped Sheamus’s toast for Styles.
-They showed Sasha Banks and Bayley leaving the production truck. Cole said they’ve been in there all day working on what they call a modern masterpiece that will put the Undertaker video last week to shame. [c]
-Sasha and Bayley made their ring entrance. Bayley talked about the week they’ve had. She said they should be called Bayley Three Shows and Sasha Three Brands. She said they are everywhere, but no one shows them respect. Bayley said the one person who has respect for them is Undertaker. They laughed. “That’s right, your precious Phenom called me on my cell phone after the show” and told her he is embarrassed at all the fuss and tribute paid to him last week “when clearly you are the greatest champion in WWE history.” The audience booed.
Bayley said Undertaker told her he wants them to win their matches and hold all the gold in WWE. She said he implored WWE to give them a proper tribute. She said they don’t want to wait until after Horror Show. They’re going to air their tribute tonight. They pointed at the big screen. The two minute video showed highlights of their matches with “Glory” by Sharp Skills in the background. They touted each other. Bayley touted Sasha for a while, including saying she sold out Barclay’s Center. Sasha said Bayley is better than John Cena and Lita.
Back in the ring, they chanted thanks to each other. They were interrupted by Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Alexa said Nikki is the Queen of Scotland and is “325th in line to the throne in England.” Nikki said Bliss is the epitome of a champion and made history as the first woman to drive across Antarctica in a golf cart. “You’re the best for knowing that,” Alexa said. Nikki said, “No, you’re the best.” They were mocking Sasha and Bayley praising each other. Trish entered the ring and asked if they know how ridiculous they sound. Sasha said Nikki is a hyper little runt who can’t stop Bayley’s reign. Nikki said her journey has been all about her heart, and she knows she can do it if she puts her heart into it. The audience cheered. Sasha and Bayley laughed. Bliss slapped Bayley. Sasha said Bayley has no problem giving her a preview of Extreme Rules. Trish said, “Challenge accepted.” Bayley didn’t seem pleased. [c]
(3) BAYLEY (w/Sasha Banks) vs. ALEXA BLISS (w/Nikki Cross)
Bayley grounded Bliss and worked over her arm. She bashed her arm across the edge of the ring apron. Nikki banged on the announce desk wildly. Cole cowered. Bayley taunted Nikki. Nikki stood on the ring apron. The ref told Nikki to get down. Sasha then stood on the other side of the ring and Bayley threw her into her knee. Nikki ran over and knocked Sasha down. Bayley yelled at Nikki to stay out of her business. Nikki hit Bayley, so the ref DQ’d Bayley. Nikki got in a few shots at Bayley before Bayley escaped to the floor.
WINNER: Bayley in 6:00 via DQ.
(Keller’s Analysis: I thought Bayley and Sasha came across as big stars in that video. I’m glad they established that they created it themselves. Bayley and Sasha were delightfully obnoxious throughout the segment and match. Nikki still cracks me up pretty much always.)
-They hyped Sheamus toasting Jeff Hardy, but up next is a preview of the Swamp match. [c]
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside. Cole hyped Extreme Rules, taking place two weeks from Sunday. They threw to a history lesson on Braun Strowman’s relationship with Bray Wyatt. They showed images of a swamp, alligators, and old horror movie scenes. Then original footage of Braun fighting along with Bray with the original Wyatt Family with some snippets of Braun talking about those days.
-The New Day made their way to the ring. The augmented reality graphic has what appears to be new art of all three members. Big E rolled down the ramp to the ring. Cole wondered how he got some much momentum. [c]
(4) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Big E) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Cesaro)
Kofi dominated early. They fought to ringside where Kofi reversed Nakamura hard into the ringside barricade. Big E laughed in Nakamura’s face. Graves asked for a mute button for Big E. Kofi climbed to the top rope, but Cesaro distracted him and then Nakamura kicked Kofi in the head. As Nakamura distracted the ref, Cesaro punched Kofi. Big E went after Cesaro, who ran into the ring to escape Big E. The ref tossed Big E to the back. Cesaro applauded. The ref sent Cesaro to the back, too. Cesaro threw a fit as they cut to a break. [c]
Nakamura controlled Kofi for a few minutes after the break. Kofi landed a double stomp to Nakanura’s chest for a two count. Kofi countered Nakamura and rolled him up for a near fall. Kofi set up a kick, but Nakamura countered with a running knee for the win.
WINNER: Nakamura in 12:00.
-Cesaro came back out to congratulate Nakamura for the win. Then he pulled a table out from under the ring. He said he had an idea. Big E ran out for the save.
-Cole and Graves announced that next week they will “revisit” the first Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt match, plus Sasha & Bayley vs. Nikki & Alexa and New Day vs. Nakamura & Cesaro for the tag team titles. Cole had noted that Nakamura has won titles worldwide, but never a tag team title in WWE. [c]
-The ring was set up with tables and booze and a bartender. Sheamus showed up on the big screen and told Hardy he knows how hot-headed he can be, so he decided to give him personal space. He said it must feel good that he got so much applause from his peers. Sheamus gave Jeff a hard time, saying his conduct has been sad and pathetic. He said this time was supposed to be different, but he’ll be a giant disappointment yet again. “You’re lying to yourself,” he said. He said he can’t bare to see it anymore. He said he has found a solution to his problems, and his answer is in one of those buckets. The audience booed. Sheamus then toasted Hardy with lines about Hardy passing out on the floor, his family crying, and his life being nothing more than mug shots. He told him to never change and called him a “beautiful, beautiful junkie.”
Hardy called Sheamus the sickest man he’s ever met for rubbing his family’s noses in the pain he’s caused them. “Is it funny to you?” he asked. Sheamus said he’s not there to hurt him, he’s there to help him. He told him not to live a lie anymore. He encouraged him to “dive back into the gutter with both feet.” He said he hired a bartender to help him. The bartender poured him a drink and offered it to him. Sheamus said, “Bombs away!” He encouraged Hardy to drink it. He said he doesn’t have to pretend to be strong anymore. “Follow your instincts,” he said. Hardy took the drink and said Sheamus is right so what’s the worst that can happen. Hardy pretended he was about to take a sip, but the audience yelled for him not to. He poured the drink over the bartender’s head. Then he bashed the bartender across the back of his head with a bottle and it shattered. That seemed like a slight overreaction! Cole asked if you could blame him after that humiliation at the hands of Sheamus. He then gave the bartender a Swanton Bomb. Cole said it’s not over with Sheamus and Hardy. The show ended with Hardy applauding.