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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 31, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcer: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
READ THE SMACKDOWN PRIMER HERE: WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 7/31: Gran Challenge for Phenomenal One, Nikki and Bayley Go Again, The Lady to Feel the Glow, Love Story Continues
-They opened with a video montage previewing key matches including Sasha Banks & Bayley, Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss, Big E (talking about going at it without Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods), John Morrison & Miz (laughing at the prospects of facing Big E as a singles wrestler), Lacey Evans (vowing to give Naomi #WhatSheDeserves), Naomi (who said what she deserves is to beat her senseless and make her feel the glow), Gran Metalik (speaking in Spanish about his title match), and A.J. Styles (talking up Metalik’s impressive flying, but “impressive” isn’t “phenomenal”).
-In the Firefly Funhouse, Bray Wyatt showed up and apologized for being late, but he was searching for Braun Strowman. He said he must be wandering in the nasty swamp somewhere unless the gators got to him first. He said his soul will be trapped out there forever. He said he never wanted to hurt Braun, he wanted to help him. He said in a sinister voice that The Fiend now is awakened, The Fiend wants something Braun has, and until he gets what he wants, “none of you are safe.” Then he smiled and waved goodbye.
-They went to the Performance Center with the audience applauding as Cole talked about “frightening words from Bray Wyatt.”
-Graves said Styles will only defend his title against people he thinks have earned it. Cole said Metalik won a match last week to earn this match. As Metalik came out, Cole said it’d be an amazing upset for Metalik to win. Graves agreed it’d be a major surprise. [c]
(1) A.J. STYLES vs. GRAN METALIK (w/Lince Dorado) – Intercontinental Title match
They did formal ring introductions after the break. Styles attacked Metalik during a mid-ring lock-up. Cole called it a “veteran move” without decrying the lack of sportsmanship. Metalik avoided an elbowdrop a minute later and then head scissored Styles out of the ring to the floor. Metalik leaped at Styles, but Styles ducked and kicked his legs off the ring apron. Styles leaped at Metalik, but Metalik avoided him and swept his letg. Then Metalik leaped off the ring apron and head scissored Styles off the apron to the floor. [c]
Back from the break, Styles knocked Metalik off the top rope. Metalik landed a top rope body press anyway for a two count. Good back and forth action for a few minutes. Metalik landed an enzuigiri to stop Styles’s momentum. Metalik walked the ropes and dove at Styles, but Styles knocked him out of mid-air. Both were slow to get up. Styles applied a Calf Crusher. Metalik tapped out.
WINNER: Styles in 15:00 to retain the Intercontinental Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good TV match. Well executed with just enough selling by Styles to make the match dramatic without seeming like he was overdoing it in terms of making Metalik seem at his level.)
-Styles attacked Metalik after the match. The audience booed (along with sound-enhancement in post-production). Cole said there is a reason Smackdown has been dubbed “The House that A.J. Styles Built.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a little disingenuous as Styles dubbed it that, not some objective third-party. How about the announcer help the heel get some heat by acting bothered by the post-match attack? What’s the point of a post-match attack if it’s treated as just standard practice, no big deal?)
-They cut to Shorty G standing by the ring alone watching the prior match. King Corbin walked up to him and said it must hurt to watch someone else get that title shot. Corbin called him “Chad” and said he is a former Olympian and a national treasure, who has been “overlooked.” He apologized for the poor choice of words. Corbin encouraged him to go after Matt Riddle. Shorty said he wants him to do his dirty work. Corbin said the King’s Ransom is out there for anybody who doesn’t think Riddle belongs on Smackdown. He told him to think about it.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who discussed Corbin and Gable, and then they pivoted to a three minute video package on last week’s bar fight.
-They showed a smiling Jeff Hardy being hugged and cheered on by wrestlers including Otis, Tucker, D-Von Dudley, ref Charles Robinson, and a couple others. (Why is a referee celebrating with Hardy? Shouldn’t he present himself as objective? I will never look at him the same way again! Sheamus should refuse to allow him to ever referee a match of his again.) [c]
-Hardy walked to the ring and said he hasn’t felt this good in a long time. He said Sheamus is a reminder of how dangerous his demons can be. He said he has to remind himself how bad it can be. He said he’ll have to battle sobriety every day, but beating Sheamus is a reminder he’s on the right path. He said he’s an alcoholic, but so much more – a loving father, husband, and WWE Superstar. He said he loves to perform for them inside the ring. He said he doesn’t want to let them down again, and the struggle is real. He said he is so happy to be alive and well on Smackdown. Out came Corbin who said, “Enough, enough, enough.”
Corbin said his head would explode if he had to sit back there and listen to him talk about his sobriety some more. (I’m kind of Corbin here.) Corbin said Hardy’s whining and crying about recovery is getting old. He said he knows his life sucks, but shut up and deal with it. He said it’s bad enough he has to deal with him, but now he has a match with “the idiotic Drew Gulak.” He said he feels his kingdom is turning into an insane asylum. Hardy said he’s learned over the years that if it seems everyone around him is the problem, maybe the real problem is him. Corbin said he’s surprised Hardy hasn’t tried staying in his good graces. He said he would have offered him the King’s Ransom, but Hardy’s more concerned about talking about the 12 steps and collecting coins. Gulak jumped Corbin from behind. [c]
(2) KING CORBIN vs. DREW GULAK
The match was joined in progress. Cole talked about Gulak having helped Riddle “transition from MMA to sports entertainment.” (Gag.) A few minutes in, Gulak rallied and climbed to the top rope. He hit Corbin with a flying clothesline off the top rope for a two count. Corbin came back with a Deep Six. Riddle’s music played and he walked onto the stage. Corbin was distracted. Gulak rolled up Corbin for a two count. Corbin quickly hit his End of Days for the win.
WINNER: Corbin in 5:00.
-Riddle attacked Corbin afterward. Graves said it was out of line. Cole said Corbin put a bounty on Riddle, so it’s justified. Shorty G ran into the ring and attacked Riddle. He gave him a German suplex, then smiled at Corbin. Cole said Shorty has been overlooked his entire tenure on Smackdown. Shorty indicated he wanted his payoff.
(Keller’s Analysis: So a mere German suplex is enough to collect the ransom?)
-Graves plugged that for the first time in New Day’s entire time together, two are out injured, so Big E faces Miz next. [c]
(3) BIG E vs. MIZ (w/John Morrison)
Big E rolled down the ramp to the ring, so if you were looking for a Big E makeover in presentation to be taken more seriously, nope. He threw his ring jacket at Graces at ringside. Big E took it to Miz at ringside early. Morrison flip-kicked Big E at ringside. The ref didn’t see it. Miz gave Big E a wrecking ball kick. Miz leaped off the top rope with a double axe handle, scored a two count, then settled into a chinlock. Morrison cheered on Miz and danced at ringside. Big E backdropped a charging Miz, then clotheslined him. Big E pounded Miz’s chest, then went for a splash on the ring apron. Miz moved. Big E crashed onto to the floor and writhed in pain as they cut to a break. [c]
Back and forth action continued after the break with several near falls. Big E ate running knees from Miz. Cole said Big E looked spent, but then he suddenly hit a urinage for a two count. Morrison kicked Big E in the face as Miz distracted the ref. Then he hit a Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall. Next Miz applied a figure-four. Big E reached the bottom rope to force a break. Morrison was going to interfere again, so ref Charles Robinson sent him back to the locker room. Graves said Robinson is just jealous of Morrison’s abs. Morrison threw a fit as he left, claiming he didn’t do anything. Miz pleaded with the referee. Big E schoolboyed Miz for a two count, then applied a stretch muffler and lifted Miz. Miz tapped out. Cole said he was impressed Big E won with a submission hold.
WINNER: Big E in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: One of Miz’s better matches in a while. Solid all around.)
-Backstage Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were all dressed up and having drinks together. Lucha House Party entered. Cesaro said it’s a “champions-only party.” Cesaro then told Metalik he missed his opportunity earlier in the show and should run along.
-Cole hyped Nikki Cross vs. Bayley as the main event and Lacey Evans vs. Naomi up next. [c]
-Sheamus spoke about fighting Hardy “in his natural environment.” He said he practically gave Hardy “home field advantage.” He said he knew Hardy was in trouble when he smashed him over and over with beer bottles. Sheamus said not a drop of booze touched his lips, but he knew he was fueled by alcohol. He said it felt like a handicapped match, facing Hardy and his long life partner, alcohol. “I was surrounded,” he said. He said it was a testament to his bravery and courage that he lasted as long as he did. He said what is done is done. He said it’s only a matter of time before Hardy stumbles. He’ll let nature take it’s course. He said it’s bad news for the rest of the Smackdown locker room, because now he’s their problem, not his.
(4) LACEY EVANS vs. NAOMI
Lacey mocked the #NaomiDesevesBetter hashtag and bragged about beating her at karaoke. She said she’s going to make the nasties feel really sorry for her tonight. Naomi made her ring entrance. Lacey turned a flying headscissors by Naomi into a powerbomb. Lacey shoved Naomi into the ringpost a minute later. Lacey put Naomi’s hair between the two layers of steel steps. Lacey got in the ring and prepared to win by countout. Naomi returned to the ring and kicked Lacey to the floor. She then gave her a sliding something under the bottom rope that drove Lacey onto the floor. Graves said he wasn’t sure what to call it. It resembled a sunset bomb, I suppose. Back in the ring, Lacey avoided a charging Naomi and tried to tie her hair to the top rope. Naomi quickly countered with a backslide for the win.
WINNER: Naomi in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Does that count as a win for Naomi if Lacey wasn’t distracted by anyone before the pinfall?)
-Backstage Mandy Rose told Otis it feels like a while since they’ve had a proper date. She said she booked them a reservation at their favorite BBQ spot. Mandy said she booked a back table so no one can see what they’re “all-you-can-eating.” She said she wanted to surprise him with a peach sundae covered in whipped cream with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a cherry on top. Otis was very stimulated. Sonya Deville showed up from around a corner and had a sinister look as Mandy and Otis walked away to get ready. [c]
-As Mandy got ready for their date at the BBQ by applying lip stick, Sonya walked up behind her. When Mandy stood, Sonya punched her and then wiped lipstick all over her face. Sonya took out scissors and cut off about six inches of Mandy’s hair. Sonya said she’s going to look so pretty, she can’t wait to show everybody. “You ruined my life!” she shouted. “I told you I was going to ruin yours!” She kicked her down and threw down the scissors and hyperventilated. She looked around for something else to do to Mandy. She grabbed a razor and turned it on. Three referees and Adam Pearce showed up and told her that’s enough. Sonya grabbed the wad of Mandy’s hair and said she got what she wanted. Pearce checked on Mandy.
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside who reacted. Cole threw to Kayla Braxton backstage again who said Mandy was being tended to. Otis and Tucker showed up. Miz and Morrison walked up to her. Miz said it’s an outrage, he can’t believe this would happen in WWE. Miz said Mandy’s hair is her best trait and now she looks like a soccer mom. “Minivan Mandy,” he said. They made puns involving “shaving the day,” “combing through the wreckage,” “wigging out,” and “the internet buzzing about it.”
-Cole threw to a video preview of the main event. [c]
(5) BAYLEY (w/Sasha Banks) vs. NIKKI CROSS (w/Alexa Bliss) – Smackdown Women’s Title match
Nikki went aggressively at Bayley in the opening minute. She monkey-flipped Bayley across the ring. A few minutes in, Bayley took over and charged at Nikki in the corner. Nikki raised her boot, then threw Bayley ribs-first into the ringpost. She followed with a leaping body press off the ring apron. [c]
Bayley controlled for several minutes after the break. Nikki came back with a body press. Bayley rolled through for a two count, Nikki countered for a two count. Bayley escaped a backslide, then face planted Nikki for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Bayley in 11:00 retain the Smackdown Women’s Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: The surprise “came out of nowhere,” but it was good to see WWE finally not get “cute” with a finish and just straight-up have a heel win. Now, that said, I was in favor of Nikki getting a win here or at least not being defined down, so I’m a little torn.)
-They put the sign-off logo on the screen, but stayed with Bliss trying to console Nikki. Nikki told her to leave her alone. She shoved her and then rolled out of the ring. Cole said it’s clear how disappointed Nikki is. Suddenly The Fiend’s noises played and the lights went out. Red lights came back on and the camera was focused on Bliss. She looked up, petrified. Fiend walked a circle around her, then kneeled and got in her face. Fiend held up his hand and moved it around slowly, then moved it toward Bliss’s face and applied the Mandible Claw as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: Braun is going to want revenge for that.)