WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 7/3: Turnabout Is Fair Play, Threesome, and Toasted, Cesaro puts his heart into standing at ringside (time for Xavier takeover?)

By Pat McNeill, PWTorch Contributor

Cesaro (art credit Grant Gould © PWTorch)

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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 July 3rd, 2020 episode on Fox.

HITS

•Phenomenal (Do Do Da-Doo Do): Due to some positive Covid tests, several of WWE’s Smackdown stars were absent from Friday night’s FOX program. But it turned out okay, because one of the men who showed up was our current Intercontinental Champion, one Allen Jones Styles. Not only did AJ get the drop on Matt “Brocephus” Riddle, but he also delivered in the ring again, with an excellent match in his title defense against Drew Gulak.

The Powerpoint Powerhouse got to look like a top guy by lasting seventeen minutes with Styles, but the champ won clean in the middle of the ring. This is what, three weeks in a row where AJ has held together The House That Styles Built? Nicely done.

•Threesome: Matt Riddle has had a heck of a welcome to the main roster over the past couple of weeks. He did a good promo and took advantage of the opportunity to explain what sets him apart from the other wrestlers (in case you missed seeing him on NXT.) But you get the feeling the Ultimate Bro has his work cut out for him. This week we teased a feud between Riddle and King Baron Corbin, but then Matt was attacked from behind by AJ Styles.

WWE isn’t known for subtlety or nuance, so will we get a three-way feud among AJ Styles, Matt Riddle and Baron Corbin? Despite his nasty heel character, the Phenomenal One has a strong following, and you know Riddle should be a definite favorite. Will Baron Corbin get thrown into the mix to give the audience a guy to root against. It would dilute the appeal of a Riddle-Styles rematch, but Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard may not care about that right now.

•The Collective: One of the pleasant surprises this summer has been watching Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura develop as a tag team. Nakamura looked good in his singles outing with Kofi Kingston, and Cesaro puts this heart into everything he does, even if he’s there to stand at ringside.

None of this would have happened if Jaxson Gunner hadn’t tried to help out his mates with an unscheduled political tweet. It’s bad news for Ryker, but you have to feel for Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler. Maybe they can be repackaged as a less controversial gimmick, like the tag team of Toxic Masculinity.

•Turnabout Is Fair Play: After all these weeks, we finally got to see Sasha Banks accept an impromptu match on Bayley’s behalf. I know the bit started during A time Bayley was injured, but it was nice to see Sasha get on the board. WWE needs to start building to the eventual Bayley vs. Sasha match that should headline WrestleMania 37.

MISSES

•Toasted: I understand WWE didn’t have a lot of choices for its “main event” segment this week on Smackdown. It happens. But the company could have closed out with the Matt Riddle match or the women’s match instead of delivering another underwhelming sketch and promo for the end of the show. Sheamus couldn’t be there, which hurt, but the idea of Sheamus “toasting” a reformed alcoholic isn’t shocking after twenty-three years using the same programming tropes.

•Drain The Swamp: This might have been a good week for Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt to be absent from the Performance Center. I get that. What I don’t get is why we couldn’t have a more interesting hype piece for their eventual match at Extreme Rules. We could have used a fresh promo from Wyatt, even it was pre-taped at another site. That, or show the history of Bray Wyatt and the Boyd Crowder type character he was several years ago. Save the cute video package to fill time before the pay-per-view.

•Self-Inflicted: Fox TV committed to spend a billion dollars on WWE until their deal ends in late 2024. So how do you think the fourth-most-watched network in America feels when their prime time Friday television show consists of four singles matches and a bad skit inside of a television studio? Ole Anderson would be proud of filling two hours with such limited material, but I can’t imagine any of this is going to end up on WWE’s sizzle reel.

My original idea of having Xavier Woods and his buddies book Raw and Smackdown and play out the shows on WWE ’19 is looking better all the time.


You can find Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina on Twitter at @realpatmcneill.  Listen to his weekly “Wayback Playback” watchalong podcast with Jim Valley over at HERE or sign up for their Patreon HERE.

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