WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 7/31: Gran Challenge for Phenomenal One, Nikki and Bayley Go Again, The Lady to Feel the Glow, Love Story Continues

BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
JULY 31, 2020
ORLANDO, FL. AT THE WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRS ON FOX NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Michael Cole and Corey Graves

WWE Earnings Call

WWE had their earnings call yesterday, which I encourage everyone to check out. Here’s link from WWE’s website showing the highlights of the call:

https://corporate.wwe.com/investors/news/press-releases/2020/07-30-2020-211034033

At first glance, what jumps out to me is their net income of $43.8 million, up from $10.4 million in the second quarter of 2019. It certainly doesn’t tell the whole story, but it makes you wonder if it was necessary to release and/or furlough the personnel they did several months ago. They paid $9.3 million in dividends to their shareholders. Most of the talent have found work, but that work could have been had in WWE given they put on practically the same matches or variations of them every week.

Top 10 Moments from Last Week

Overview and Items Advertised by WWE

Tonight’s edition of Smackdown puts us a week closer to SummerSlam, which comes to us on August 23. It’s hard to believe we’re more than halfway through the summer, but here we are, and we head towards what WWE has historically called the “biggest event of the summer.” Here’s what’s advertised thus far:

  • Gran Metalik faces A.J. Styles for the Intercontinental Championship
  • Nikki Cross once again challenges Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
  • Lacey Evans takes on Naomi
  • Otis and Mandy Rose’s love story continues

Intercontinental Championship: A.J. Styles (champ) vs. Gran Metalik of Lucha House Party

Intercontinental Champion A.J. Styles was on guest commentary last week for a fatal four-way match between Drew Gulak, Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado (both of Lucha House Party), and Shorty G to determine who would face him for the championship tonight. Gulak had previously challenged for it unsuccessfully while the others have never had a shot at the title. Lucha House Party last competed for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship while Gable (G) took part in a battle royal to enter the Intercontinental Championship tournament which had become fragmented because of Elias and Jeff Hardy being removed. That said, Metalik came out on top by pinning Gable (G) following an elbow drop off the top rope.

Tonight, in what can be called a “fresh” matchup, Metalik breaks away from the tag team ranks and challenges Styles for the Intercontinental Championship. Two weeks ago, Styles retained the title over Matt Riddle. Here’s Lucha House Party in a WWE exclusive:

Frank’s Analysis: I saw some negativity on Metalik getting a title shot, but I’m on board. We talk about fresh matchups quite often. This may not quite be what he had in might, but I like it. I know Lucha House Party has been treated mostly like a sideshow, but they are talented and Metalik is especially so. I don’t expect Metalik to win the title, but I look forward to seeing a good matchup. WWE needs to create new singles stars to deepen their roster.

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (champ) vs. Nikki Cross

Another chapter in the ongoing feud between Nikki Cross and Bayley unfolded last week as Bayley and Sasha Banks opened the show touting that they possessed all the gold. This was a harbinger of things to come as this past Monday, Sasha defeated Asuka with the help of the WWE production team to win the Raw Women’s Championship. Currently they are also the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, having beaten Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross several weeks ago. That said, Nikki wanted another chance at Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship because of Sasha’s interference in their match at Extreme Rules: The Horror Show. Bayley said Nikki had to earn another match and must face Alexa Bliss where the winner would meet her for the title next week (tonight).

Nikki went on to beat Alexa with Sasha and Bayley on guest commentary. Later in a backstage segment, Alexa told Nikki she was happy for her and it was time to focus on Bayley and win the title. If you watch The Bump on the WWE Network, you’ll see that Bayley and Sasha were named the tag team of the year. Bayley also did a bit of trash talking:

https://twitter.com/itsBayleyWWE/status/1288183718532640768?s=20

Frank’s Analysis: This is still a redundant match no matter which way you look at it, but they did get here in a different way. Seeing Nikki take on Alexa was different and could set the stage for a breakup between them if they choose to go down that route. While I’m glad Alexa finally has had an extended babyface run, she plays the heel role very well. There are many ways to go here but I for one hope Bayley and Sasha hold all the gold for a little while. They have done a great job as of late, even if they are on TV more than what you’d like to see.

Lacey Evans vs. Naomi

Listen up ya nasties as the feud between Lacey Evans and Naomi will continue tonight after several weeks of back and forth. It started three weeks ago when Naomi won a karaoke contest of which Lacey though she had in the bag singing “With My Baby Tonight” by Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie (who later became “The Road Dogg” Jessie James). Naomi sealed it with her rendition of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes’ theme “American Dream.” They followed that with a match that ended in a no-contest. The following week Lacey defeated Naomi by tying up her hair in the ropes and eventually hitting her Women’s Right. Last week, Naomi was a guest of Miz & John Morrison on Miz TV discussing the #NaomiDeservesBetter that went viral earlier in the week. Lacey was introduced as a surprise guest during the segment, and unsuccessfully swung her handbag at Naomi. She got makeup all over her face.

Tonight, Lacey and Naomi have their third match in this series of matches that started weeks ago. Here’s some Twitter trash talk between them:

https://twitter.com/NaomiWWE/status/1287442013504376833?s=20

Frank’s Analysis: There’s not much to this other than it being a TV feud that’s getting Naomi time and has repositioned Lacey back to being a heel. To me it’s fine that Lacey is a heel as it’s her more natural position, but frequent turns can become problematic as you start to think the character has no constitution.

Love Story: Otis and Mandy Rose

Last week, they showed a video rehashing the love story between Otis of Heavy Machinery and Mandy Rose. It started earlier in the year prior to the Royal Rumble, where Otis helped Mandy stave off elimination by allowing her to land on him as she was being thrown out of the ring. He asked her out for a date, which they planned for Valentine’s Day. Otis was late because of a text sent by Sonya Deville (remember her) saying Mandy was running late. Dolph Ziggler and Sonya were corroborating to keep Otis and Mandy apart. Eventually Otis won’s Mandy’s heart at WrestleMania after he defeated Dolph one-on-one. Since then, Otis won the 2020 Money in the Bank contract and has teamed periodically with Universal Champion Braun Strowman, sparking the notion of Otis cashing in on Braun. One week, they ran a video where Otis and Mandy spoofed the pool scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High where Judge Reinhold’s character (Brad Hamilton) was sexually fantasizing about Phoebe Cates’ character (Linda Barrett).

They will continue the love story on tonight’s show. If you’re into The Bump, they won a Bumpy Award for “social reaction of the year.”

Frank’s Analysis: I could care less about The Bump and Bumpy awards, but I know people like that sort of thing, so credit to WWE for feeding that audience. I’m still into, you know, wrestling and competition for who wants to be the best in each situation. There’s not much analysis for comedy like this. That’s not me saying I don’t like it. There’s just no point in forecasting what will happen. Overall, the story between these two is fine. Otis holding Money in the Bank is the intriguing part of this whole thing.

Other Match Results and News Items from Last Week

  • Matt Riddle defeated Tony Nese. He was confronted by King Corbin, who attacked him following a loss to A.J. Styles in an Intercontinental Championship match a week earlier.
  • Kofi Kingston told his New Day partner, Big E, that he would be out for six weeks. He gave Big E his blessing to go on a single run, citing he and their partner Xavier Woods talk about it all the time.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Sheamus in a Bar Fight. When Sheamus thought he had the match won, Jeff emerged with makeup on his face.

Final Thoughts

Smackdown was decent last week, nothing special, but enjoyable and I anticipate the same tonight. I like the idea of pushing new singles’ acts in Big E and Gran Metalik because lord knows, they need singles talent. They have made these championship matches feel important, even if Bayley and Nikki are redundant. I hope to see some different feuds moving forward, which I’d imagine is in order as we get closer to SummerSlam.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!

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