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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 10, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The show opened cold on a wide shot of the WWE Performance Center. Michael Cole welcomed the audience and Corey Graves talked up the Smackdown Tag Team title match between New Day and Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro. Michael Cole mentioned a karaoke competition between four Smackdown women.
-In the ring, Miz and Morrison awaited their cue to begin MizTV. Miz welcomed everyone to the show and talked about their guess, Jeff Hardy.John Morrison said Hardy has better face paint than 1993 Doink the Clown. Miz talked about Jeff’s accolades while Morrison cracked drug and alcohol jokes at Jeff’s expense. Miz and Morrison mocked Jeff’s entrance as his music played and he headed to the ring.
Miz welcomed Jeff to the show and apologized for Morrison’s comments. Morrison said Miz is just mistaking his enthusiasm. They argued about who came prepared with a clip, then eventually rolled a video package talking about Hardy’s addiction struggles, his match with Sheamus at Backlash, and the toast that closed last week’s show.
Following the package, Miz called Hardy a rule breaker. Hardy said he’s “about to break something” if Miz and Morrison keep up the charade. Miz told Hardy that he’s his daughter’s favorite Superstar. “I don’t think she knows what’s going on though, just just likes the bright colors.”
Miz said he doesn’t want his daughter to put her faith in someone who is bound to self-destruct again and let her down. Hardy asked if they had a question. “Are you okay?” both Miz and Morrison asked. Hardy says he’s been to hell and back, but it’ll take a lot more than taunts from Sheamus to drive him back to where he was. Hardy said he’s an emotional dude, and Sheamus does get under his skin. He promised to do everything in his power to destroy Sheamus and put his past behind him.
Hardy pledged to help people who struggle with addiction through their hard times. Morrison said he had goosebumps. Miz agreed. He said Hardy needs to face Sheamus again, in a place he feels most secure. “You need to fight Sheamus in a bar fight!” Miz exclaimed. Morrison said Hardy can face his physical and mental enemy at the same time. Hardy said Sheamus thinks he’s destined to crumble, but he’s never going back to where he was.
Jeff said he’ll never let the fans down again. He accepted the match that Miz and Morrison proposed. He challenged Miz or Morrison to a match tonight. Hardy asked if they thought they could invite him out to insult him to his face without getting punched in their’s. “Honestly, I did,” Miz chuckled. Hardy punched him and cleared the ring. The show cut to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I liked Jeff’s fire in this promo. Miz and Morrison continue to serve as a bit of jack-of-all-trades, just filling into whatever role they’re needed on a weekly basis without any real direction or program. Last week, Morrison was asked to be a serious competitor in a great back and forth match with Matt Riddle, and this week, he’s presented as a comedy character and sidekick to Miz. It’s a testament to the two character’s versatility, but it’s also an indictment of Smackdown creative as a whole. I also strongly dislike the trend of talk show hosts and random wrestlers being able to make matches and decide stipulations on a whim. The lack of an overbearing authority figure on these shows is great, but this total lack of leadership for matchmaking doesn’t work either.)
(1) JEFF HARDY vs. THE MIZ (w/ John Morrison)
The bell rang as soon as the show returned from commercial. Michael Cole confirmed that The Miz accepted the challenge. Miz immediately left the ring but quickly returned to trade holds with Jeff Hardy. Jeff wrestled Miz to the mat and applied a side headlock. Miz pulled the hair to get out of it.
Miz caught Hardy with a pair of knees, then slid through us legs to the outside and swept Hardy’s feet out from underneath him. Miz stalked Hardy as he recovered then kicked him in the ribs repeatedly. Jeff fought back with a kick off an Irish whip, but wound up being dropped with a knee from Miz and big boot from the seated position. Miz covered Hardy for a two count.
Miz continued to work Hardy over, but eventually got caught in a roll up for a two count. Miz headed to the apron and tried to hit a springboard double axe handle, but Hardy kicked him and hit a Twist of Fate. Hardy climbed the ropes to set up for the Swanton Bomb, but Morrison grabbed his leg, allowing Miz to escape. Hardy dove onto both Miz and Morrison on the outside. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Jeff Hardy slammed The Miz into the turnbuckle when the show returned from the break. Hardy wound up on the apron and was ripped to the ground by Morrison behind the referee’s back. Miz followed Hardy to the outside and tossed him into the plexiglass barrier before throwing him back in the ring. Miz gave Hardy a slingshot guillotine into the middle rope, then stomped away at Hardy’s mid-section.
Hardy slumped in the corner. Miz hit a series of “it” kicks and his signature running clothesline. He went for the diving double axe handle again, but Hardy blocked it and tried for the Twist of Fate again. Miz spun through it and hit Hardy with a DDT. Miz delivered “it” kicks to the tune of he and Morrison’s song, then covered for a near fall.
Miz and Hardy traded right hands. Hardy caught Miz with a jawbreaker, leaving both men on the mat. Hardy punched Miz into the ropes then hit him with a running clothesline and an inverted atomic drop, followed by a split-legged leg drop and a basement dropkick for a two count. Jeff went for another Twist of Fate, but Miz countered into an attempted Skull Crushing Finale. Hardy fought through it, sent Miz to the corner and delivered a leaping dropkick before nocking Morrison off the apron.
Hardy leapt to the top rope for a Swanton Bomb. Sheamus appeared on the screen, drinking a beer. Hardy was distracted long enough for Miz to roll him up. Hardy used his momentum to roll through it and catch Miz in a roll of his own for a three count.
WINNER: Jeff Hardy in 14:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent TV match. Jeff Hardy is certainly motivated and you can typically count on The Miz to bring this type of performance on a week to week basis. As previously mentioned, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of direction for Miz and Morrison. They just act as the losing foil for a babyface who needs a stopgap match en route to furthering another program or story. Sheamus appearing via screen again served its purpose. I don’t know that there’s much to gain by having these two in the ring with each other again prior to their actual match at Extreme Rules, though that won’t be in a ring either, I guess.)
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber welcomed Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. She asked if they anticipate another “upset” in their tag title match tonight. Cesaro took offense, saying it won’t be an upset. He said he’s sick of New Day and their antics, and seeing them represent the tag division. “Don’t worry, tonight, that’s gonna change.” Nakamura said we’d see new champions tonight.
-Sasha Banks and Bayley headed to the ring. Nikki Cross jumped Bayley at the top of the ramp. Sasha Banks tried to rip Nikki away, but Alexa Bliss stepped in. The women began to brawl. Cole said they’re supposed to be in a match after the break.
-Back from the break, Dana Brooke was shown “warming up” backstage, dancing with headphones in, preparing for the karaoke competition later in the night.
(2) SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY vs. ALEXA BLISS & NIKKI CROSS
Sasha Banks and Nikki Cross began the match. Banks took down Cross, talked trash, then dragged her to the corner and made a tag into Bayley. Bayley worked over Cross’ head and neck, cornered her, and tagged Banks. Sasha taunted Alexa Bliss before continuing her assault of Cross. She tagged in Bayley again. The duo stomped at Nikki in the corner before the referee admonished Banks for ignoring his count.
Nikki Cross recovered, dropped Bayley and got her caught up in the apron before pounding at her back. She tossed Bayley back inside and covered her for a two count before tagging in Alexa Bliss. Bayley covered up her face to protect from Bliss’ patented slap, so Alexa slapped her in the stomach instead, then caught her in the face. Bliss tagged in Nikki Cross.
Bayley made it to Sasha Banks, who got taken down with a dropkick from Nikki Cross. Cross tagged Bliss back in. Banks and Bayley left the ring in retreat. In the mean time, Nikki Cross stole Bayley’s women’s title and began to mock Bayley with it. Bayley became incensed, but Cross wound up tossing both she and Banks into the announcers desk. Cole sent the show to commercial as Cross and Bliss laughed.
Banks and Bliss traded punches when the show returned from break. Banks quickly tagged in Bayley, unbeknownst to Alexa. Bayley capitalized, attacking Bliss while she was still working on Sasha. Bayley set up Bliss for a suplex, but Bliss blocked it and rolled Bayley into a small package for a two count.
Bayley recovered and tagged in Sasha Banks, who dropped Bliss with an elbow and covered her for a two count. Banks rolled up Bliss again for a near fall, then immediately applied a grounded headlock. Bliss fought to her feet, but got sent tot he corner for another tag and double team by Banks and Bayley.
Bayley caught Bliss with a running elbow then jawed at the referee. She tagged in Banks again. Sasha cut Bliss off from her corner and gave Nikki Cross a kick to keep her at bay. Cross tried to enter the ring, garnering the attention of the referee. Bayley attacked Alexa Bliss behind the referee’s back. With order restored, Banks tagged in Bayley, who hit Bliss with a snap suplex.
Bliss finally managed to drop Bayley, hit double rolling knees and tag in Nikki Cross. Cross took out both Bayley and Sasha when Bayley made a quick tag to Sasha. Cross hit Banks with a running bulldog and slammed her head off the turnbuckle. Cross followed up with a tornado DDT from the top rope, unaware that Bayley had tagged herself in.
Bayley jackknife covered Bayley for a near fall. Cross caught Bayley with a neckbreaker, but Banks broke up the pin attempt. Bliss pulled Banks to the outside and the two traded blows. Banks eventually got the better of her. In the ring, Bayley rolled up Nikki Cross and put her feet on the ropes to get a three count.
WINNERS: Sasha Banks & Bayley in 13:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Most of this match consisted of Banks and Bayley working over Bliss, leading to the major hot tag into Nikki Cross. Very prototypical WWE TV tag team match. Cross is impressive, especially in her hot tag offense. I wish she’d have been built as a stronger contender going into Extreme Rules, but alas, she seems like a placeholder opponent as the angle between Banks and Bayley continues to develop. Sasha and Bayley continue to thrive in their roles and find ways to be obnoxiously entertaining, and rather loud, even during their wrestling segments. They’re being trusted to really do it all right now.)
-After a commercial, Michael Cole threw to a sneak peak of the WWE Battlegrounds video game, scheduled to be released on September 18th.
-Michael Cole and Corey Graves talked up Extreme Rules from the announcers desk, specifically the Wyatt Swamp match between Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman. They tossed to a replay of their match at Money in the Bank, shown in its entirety.
-After the match, Sarah Schreiber welcomed New Day to the interview set backstage. She followed up on Nakamura and Cesaro’s comments from earlier. Kofi said people always ask them if they “underestimated their opponents” after a loss. He ran down Shinsuke and Cesaro’s accomplishments and said they definitely didn’t overlook them. Big E gave an impassioned speech about stomping his feet and making sure they remain WWE Tag Team Champions. He gyrated an uncomfortable amount while screaming “New Day rocks.”
-Backstage, Lacey Evans warmed up her voice and Naomi stepped onto screen. Cole said the karaoke showdown would “really be something.” The show went to commercial.
-Jey Uso was in the ring when the show returned from commercial. He introduced himself as the host of the Smackdown Karaoke Showdown, featuring Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, Tamina, and Naomi. He explained the rules – each contestant gets 45 seconds to sing their favorite WWE theme song, then the audience decides the winner.
Uso introduced Lacey Evans up first. She performed “With My Baby Tonight.” Cole said “this is gonna be REAL good.” It wasn’t. Dana Brooke was up next, singing “Honkey Tonk.” Jey Uso cut her off, telling her, “you are bad.” Jey turned to Tamina, who sang Triple H’s theme. She barely made it past the introduction before Jey cut her off. He called up Naomi, who sang “American Dream.”
Jey screamed “I’ve got my vote” after hearing Naomi. He led a round of applause for each contestant. Naomi won by a landslide. Lacey Evans attacked Noami from behind. Jey Uso got in between them. The two women tossed their shoes at each other. The show faded to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: There have been a lot of bad segments in the last several months. There have been even more awkward segments. This was the worst, and most awkward of them all. This is the absolute worst type of thing WWE does. It’s embarrassing to watch, it’s embarrassing for the talent, and it’s embarrassing that the announcers have to sell it as fun, hip, or worth anyone’s time. This was straight up change the channel drivel. The premise, which is horrible under any circumstance, was made even worse by inclusion of crowd participation. It’s an in-house crowd doing WWE’s bidding. There’s no illusion of an actual contest. Every single woman involved in this segment came out worse than they were before, and none of the four were exactly on a great run to begin with. It appears as though its only purpose was to turn Lacey Evans heel, which could have been accomplished in literally any other imaginable way. This is why this company consistently struggles to get anyone over.)
(3) LACEY EVANS vs. NAOMI
Lacey Evans slammed Naomi into the turnbuckle as the match began. Cole and Graves said the match was made during the break due to the brawl during the karaoke contest. Evans wrapped her dress around Naomi’s face, but was quickly thwarted by a kick.
Naomi continued to kick at Lacey’s back. Evans rolled to the outside. Dana Brooke approached her on the outside. Evans shoved her, then shoved Tamina. Lacey returned to the ring but was immediately attacked by Dana Brooke. Tamina joined the fray. The referee threw the match out.
WINNER: No contest in 2:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Nothing match to cap off an absolutely horrendous segment. I feel bad for all of these women. Lacey Evans is a heel now, it appears. It’s a shame they had to do it in one of the worst segments of the year.)
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber welcomed A.J. Styles to the set. She congratulated him on his successful Intercontinental title defense on last week’s show. Styles said he absolutely embarrassed Gulak. He said no one is at his level, then tried to leave. Sarah informed him he’ll defend his title again on next week’s show, this time against Matt Riddle. Styles threw a fit, “who has he ever beat?!” Schreiber reminded him that Riddle beat him. Styles said it was a rhetorical question and promised to beat Riddle next week.
-New Day headed to the ring for their tag team title match. Kofi and Big E balled up their jackets and tossed them both at Corey Graves as the show headed to commercial.
Out of the break, Cole and Graves teased next week’s Intercontinental title match between A.J. Styles and Matt Riddle. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro headed to the ring. Greg Hamilton provided the standard Championship match introductions.
(4) THE NEW DAY (c, Kofi Kingston & Big E) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & CESARO – WWE Smackdown Tag Team title match
Kofi Kingston began the match by charging at Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura blocked his attempt and wrestled him to his knees before quickly tagging in Cesaro. Cesaro cornered Kofi Kingston, then scooped him over his head and dumped him across the top turnbuckle. Cesaro tagged in Nakamura, who hit a running kick to the gut.
Nakamura worked over Kingston’s arm, then tagged Cesaro back in. Cesaro dropped an elbow on Kofi and covered him for a two count. Cesaro and Nakamura continued to trade tags, cutting off the ring and working over Kingston’s upper body. After an attempted double big boot, Kofi slid under his opponents and dumped Nakamura over the top rope with Big E’s help. Kingston sent Cesaro into the corner and tagged in Big E.
Big E and Kofi traded quick tags and administered the unicorn stomps. Kofi eventually broke the back and forth with a running drop kick. Cesaro retreated to the outside and regrouped with Nakamura. Big E launched Kofi over the top rope onto the duo on the floor. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Nakamura had Kofi Kingston downed in the corner when the show returned. Kofi tried to battle to his corner for a tag, but Nakamura cut him off with a deep headlock. Shinsuke chopped at Kofi’s back and set up for a reverse exploder suplex. Kofi fought out and caught Nakamura with the S.O.S.
Both men crawled to their respective corners. Both made tags. Big E caught Cesaro and hit a big overhead belly to belly. Cesaro rebounded quickly, but got hit with two more. Big E went for a running splash, but Cesaro rolled out f the way. Big E quickly shot up and knocked Nakamura off the apron to prevent a tag. Cesaro caught Big E with a huge uppercut, sending Big E reeling to the corner.
Cesaro continued to plaster Big E with uppercuts. He mounted Big E in the corner and fired off punches. Kofi Kingston tagged himself in from the apron and caught Cesaro with a kick. Big E hoisted Cesaro into a power bomb and Kofi hit a meteora off the top rope. He covered, but Nakamura broke up the attempt.
Cesaro tried to reach Nakamura for a tag, but Kofi rolled him up for a near fall. Cesaro distracted the referee long enough for Nakamura to catch Kofi with a kick. Cesaro followed it up with a clothesline and a tag to Shinsuke. Nakamura connected with a reverse exploder into a cover. Big E broke it up.
Nakamura and Cesaro tossed Big E to the outside. Kingston fought back valiantly, but Cesaro tagged himself in and the duo overwhelmed him. Big E returned and a fight broke out. The referee called for the bell.
WINNERS: No contest in 11:00
Cesaro retrieved a table from underneath the ring after he and Nakamura gained the upper hand over New Day. They rammed Big E into the steel steps. Kingston dove onto Cesaro, but was quickly overwhelmed again by Nakamura. He and Cesaro tossed him into the apron, then set up the table in the ring.
Cesaro retrieved Big E while Nakamura continued to beat down Kingston. Nakamura gave Big E a kick to make him collapse onto the table. Nakamura duplexed Kofi into Cesaro’s waiting arms on the top rope. Cesaro powerbombed Kofi off the top rope through Big E and the table. Nakamura and Cesaro held up New Day’s tag team titles as the show went off the air.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Disappointing match. I had high hopes for this one, given who was involved, even though I doubted their commitment to giving a finish tonight. In the end, this went exactly as predicted on last week’s Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post Show – a no contest to set up a tables match at Extreme Rules. I like that Nakamura and Cesaro are being built into credible, legitimate threats to New Day’s tag team titles, but I still doubt WWE’s commitment to storytelling in the tag team division as a whole. Hopefully these teams get some time at the Pay-Per-View.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Smackdown has had some pretty bad shows during the Performance Center era, but this may have been the worst. Anchored by a disappointing main event with a non-finish, this show featured an abysmal, damaging karaoke competition with a flat heel turn, and a number of vanilla matches with by-the-numbers Pay-Per-View build. In addition to showcasing the replay of a match that received minimal praise in the first place, they continued to limit Strowman and Wyatt’s actual TV time and used the other major names on their roster sparingly. Smackdown’s roster woes are a complaint of mine on a week to week basis, but they really stuck out like a sore thumb tonight. One would think, having months to grow accustomed to this fan-less formula, WWE would have a better grasp on how best to showcase their talent and make the most of a bad situation. It’s hard to condone their insistence on continuing to produce product after the outbreak mishap a couple of weeks ago, but it’s even harder to defend when they’re putting a product this lifeless.