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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 7, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcer: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
READ THE SMACKDOWN PRIMER HERE: WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 8/7: Fiend’s Reign of Terror, Bro vs. Fella, Royal Challenge for Hardy, Sonya Checks in to Dirt Sheet
-After the “WWE Forever” intro, they cut to clips of the Bray Wyatt vs. Braun Strowman “Swamp Fight” and last week’s angle with Alexa Bliss.
-Firefly Funhouse: Bray was adjusting a photo of Braun on his wall. He said hello to cheering Fireflies. He said haters were sliding into his DM’s blaming him for what happened to Alexa Bliss. He asked how Braun could let something so horrific happen to someone he cares so much about. He said he should’ve just let Him have what he wants. An image flashed of Braun holding up the Universal Title belt. Bray said He will be by later with someone very special. He laughed and leaned in and then said in a more sinister voice, “He’s waiting for you, Braun. Just give him what he wants or she will find out what He is truly capable of.” He then got cheerful again and waved bye.
(Keller’s Analysis: I still don’t understand as a viewer why The Fiend covets the Universal Title. He says he wants it, but why? I think it’s a mistake to be “wasting” the Universal Title with a character in The Fiend/Bray Wyatt who doesn’t need it to be who he is or satisfy what seems to motivate his character. But if you’re going to have him in a Universal Title program, then it seems some thought should be put into what The Fiend would want with it. For instance, establish that he wants it because he doesn’t want Braun to have it, and thus it’s more about taking something from Braun than wanting it himself. If you have siblings, you’ve probably experienced that growing up. Or maybe The Fiend wants it for himself because he has a thirst to be the center of attention. Just give us something.)
-They cut to the Performance Center with the trainees and wrestlers cheering and dancing to the opening theme.
(1) MATT RIDDLE vs. SHEAMUS
Riddle danced to the ring. Cole threw to a clip of Baron Corbin and Chad Gable last week. Cole said Riddle arrived with a lot of fanfare, but he has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Graves said two of WWE’s hardest hitters are about to go one-on-one. Sheamus came out second. Cole said Sheamus has an issue with Riddle because he came in with so much hype while others had to work a decade to receive similar chances. Riddle leaped onto Sheamus’s back early and went for a sleeper. Sheamus reached the ropes, then shot Riddle a serious look. He applied a side headlock and took Riddle down. Cole talked about Riddle rubbing people wrong on social media, including calling out some of pro wrestling’s biggest names. Graves said he is a genuine article and a tough human being, but his demeanor can sometimes catch people off guard. Riddle spread Sheamus’s fingers apart. Sheamus slipped free and then powerbombed Riddle. Graves wondered if Riddle regrets wanting to test himself against Sheamus. Sheamus landed ten hard forearms against Riddle’s chest while bending him over the top rope. Then he climbed to the top rope, but Riddle knocked him off the top rope to the ground. [c]
During the break, Sheamus gave Riddle a backbreaker and then settled into a chinlock. Cole said it’s one thing to have a ton of potential, but these are the types of matches you need to win to make your mark and fulfill people’s expectations. The commentary here really has a sports-like vibe and plays well into the reps of both guys and what this match means. Riddle rallied and landed a roundkick and a Bro-ton for a two count. He landed another Bro-ton and then climbed to the top rope. Sheamus moved out of the way as Riddle went for a twisting senton. Sheamus then landed a White Noise for a two count. Riddle came back with a back suplex into a bridge. Sheamus charged with a shoulder, but Riddle moved and Sheamus hit the ringpost. Riddle threw some kicks at ringside, but Sheamus countered with a knee to the jaw. Chad Gable (“Shorty G”) charged out and tackled Riddle from behind. The ref called for the DQ.
WINNER: Riddle in 12:00 via DQ.
-Riddle fought back quickly and hit a flying forearm off the ringside steps. Then he rammed Gable’s head over and over into the table. Riddle was announced as the winner, then danced to his music. He blew kisses to the audience. Sheamus was infuriated and threw Gable into the ring and gave him a Brogue Kick. Sheamus asked Gable what he thought he was doing taking a win away from him to try to impress King Corbin. He told him to get up again. Gable stood and then Sheamus delivered another Brogue Kick. The audience booed.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was a lot of fun. I’d definitely look forward to a longer feud between them including showcase PPV matches. I was eager to see these two matched up as soon as Riddle landed the roster with Sheamus. I’m glad Sheamus showed such fire after Gable cost him the match. Gable was fighting someone else’s battle, and Sheamus should have been angry. He made it seem like winning and losing really mattered to him.) [c]
-Sheamus walked up to Corbin and complained that his ransom wrecked his match. He said if he tries to pull that again, he’ll stick his crown up his royal arse. Corbin laughed at his threat. Corbin said if he didn’t have a match with Jeff Hardy, he’d put a dent in his skull right now.
(Keller’s Analysis: After Sheamus tried to get Hardy to drink again and was part of framing him, it’s so difficult to imagine WWE’s trying to get us to like him suddenly, but I imagine almost everyone watching would side with Sheamus over Corbin in almost any circumstances.)
-The Dirt Sheet: John Morrison and Miz sat in the ring and dealt with some mic issues. Miz said, “Honestly, really?” Morrison said Retribution aren’t scheduled tonight. Miz said, “I thought they were on Raw.” Miz said it’s brave of their guest to be there, even if it’s only by satellite. They introduced Mandy’s Hair who appeared on the big screen. It was a wig with googly eyes. Miz and Morrison did voices for Mandy Hair’s who complained about how hard it was to be stuck on Mandy’s head for so long. They asked the audience to give them a “Hair Yeah!” Morrison voiced Mandy’s Hair saying she’s going to take time to deal with some her issues, like split ends. They made a joke about Mandy’s Hair having more flakes than Kelloggs.
Then they introduced Sonya Deville. She said she did what she said and she enjoyed doing it. She said Mandy’s entire image has been about being God’s greatest creation, “and it’s pathetic and sad.” She said she’d apologize, but she doesn’t feel bad at all. “Literally, I don’t have any respect for her anymore.” She had no sympathy for her spirit being broken because she cut her hair. Deville said if everyone is waiting for her to come out and jump her, they’re wrong, Mandy’s not showing up. Miz said they haven’t heard from her since the attack. Morrison said everyone knows how much she loves social media, and she hasn’t been on social media all week. Deville said Mandy’s won an award for making out with Otis. Otis and Tucker ran out and attacked Miz and Morrison. Morrison scurried away as Otis signaled for his caterpillar.
(Keller’s Analysis: Okay, so this eye-rollingly bad. It’s almost so bad, though, that I kind of appreciate Miz and Morrison’s total commitment to it. The look on Morrison’s face when he said “Hair yeah” made me chuckle. He seemed so pleased with himself. I remember joking with my friends in this way in second grade. I do think the audience for this type of humor is very narrow – maybe ages 7-8 only – and therefore is a really bad idea to put this much time into on TV.) [c]
(2) CESARO (w/Shinsuke Nakamura) vs. LINCE DORADO (w/Gran Metalik)
They aired a soundbite before the match of Lince, alongside Gran Metalik, saying he’s going to show each him how he likes to party. (Lince’s delivery was good here, but the material was so WWE Scripted Tripe with an excess of puns and plays on words rather than just talking like a regular person getting ready for a fight would.) Lince got in some nice athletic spots, but Cesaro won with the Neutralizer clean. Graves said close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
WINNER: Cesaro in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Something really went wrong here! Tag team challengers are supposed to beat tag team champions in singles non-title matches in WWE!)
-Backstage Kayla Braxton interviewed Otis as Tucker tried to calm him. She asked how he feels about facing Miz & Morrison tonight, and would he be able to channel his anger. Otis said he’s a funny guy, but they crossed a line. Tucker said what Sonya did to Mandy was awful, and Miz & Morrison can’t let it go. Otis said they learn when he’s angry, no one in his path will be laughing. He knocked over a rolling crate.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m a fan of wrestler who typically act like goofs rise to an occasion and show a more serious side. Otis was believable here and showed he has another side of his personality that could serve him well if they ever do aspire to move him up the card.) [c]
-Back to the Firefly Funhouse jingle, they went to the wide shot of the ring and the lights went out. They came back on and there were red spotlights. Out walked The Fiend to the Bray Wyatt theme. He had a lantern. They cut to a break. [c]
-Back in the ring, Fiend was standing over Alexa Bliss. He circled her and teased violence. Then he sat back in the corner and she looked petrified and paralyzed. He crawled over to her and waved his hand around her in an attempt to instill fear of what was coming next. She put up her arm and pushed his hand down firmly but gently. Then she caressed his face. Fiend stood quickly and turned away.
Braun appeared on the big screen and said, “Hey, Fiend, you sadistic bastard.” He asked if he really thought playing with his emotions would work. He said he doesn’t care about Alexa, he only cares about destroying him. He said he was pushed to his breaking point at the Swamp Match and he let out what was scratching and clawing inside him for the longest time. He said he is more than a man, he is what nightmares are made of. “I am the Monster!” he said. He told Fiend he can have whatever he wants at Summerslam. “Face your fears, face the monster!” he said. Fiend stared intently, then they cut to a commercial.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like the idea that Braun has a new edge after what he went through in the Swamp Match. Fiend was good here. And it’s intriguing what happened there with Alexa slowly pushing Fiend’s hand away from her mouth and then caressing his face. They did a suitable job making The Fiend ring entrance work in the P.C. setting with the red spotlights and noises and music. I mean, there’s only so much you can do, but it stood out sufficiently as Fiend-like. The big question, though, is what is up with Braun saying he doesn’t care about Alexa?!? Is it a ploy to get Bray to be less apt to threaten violence against Alexa if Braun can convince him he doesn’t care? (Hopefully he let Alexa in on his plan, if that’s the case.) Or does he truly not care, and that will cause Alexa to join Fiend because she’ll believe Braun isn’t there for her so he has to submit to The Fiend? How would that make Braun look, though? He couldn’t be seen as a heroic babyface anymore if he single-minded went after the Fiend with a complete disregard for his longtime pal Alexa Bliss’s well-being. It’s early in this phase of the story they’re telling, but I hope they know what they are doing and this will all make sense in retrospect.) [c]
(3) JEFF HARDY vs. BARON CORBIN
The announcers talked about Corbin having major issues with Riddle arriving with such fanfare. Corbin took control a minute in and grounded Hardy with a headlock. Corbin hit a Deep Six for a near fall. Hardy blocked an End of Days. Corbin kneed Hardy. Hardy fell to the floor. Sheamus charged out and gave Hardy a Brogue Kick. Corbin threw a fit and yelled at Sheamus. Sheamus just laughed at getting even with him. They cut to a break.
WINNER: Hardy via DQ in 5:00. [c]
(4) SHEAMUS vs. BARON CORBIN
This impromptu match was picked up in progress. Hard-hitting and intense from the start. They fought to ringside. Sheamus rammed Corbin into the announce desk and then into the ringpost. He stepped on his neck, then threw him back into the ring. Sheamus leaped off the top rope, but Corbin moved. Corbin then gave Sheamus a side slam for a two count. He mounted Sheamus and threw some punches. A minute later Corbin clotheslined Sheamus, and both were down. Riddle ran to the ring and springboard leaped into the ring over Corbin. Then Sheamus caught a distracted Corbin with a Brogue Kick for the win.
WINNER: Sheamus in 5:00.
-They cut to a distressed-looking Bayley backstage. Sasha Banks asked if she’s okay and if it’s about her match against Asuka on Raw. Bayley said that’s not it, but she wishes she would have asked her first before booking her in the match. Sasha asked Bayley to do it for her. Bayley said Asuka just wants to get back at her for what she did to Kairi. Sasha said this isn’t about Asuka, it’s about them. “We have all the gold,” she said. She then made Bayley smile by saying she’s her role model. A producer told them they need them in the ring for a video conference with Stephanie McMahon. They acted weirded out and nervous.
(Keller’s Analysis: The nerve of Bayley to actually take issue with Sasha volunteering her for a match without checking with her first. I liked that Sasha didn’t sell Bayley’s hypocrisy. It makes me think she’s already on a passive-aggressive course to get even with Bayley, or at least has established in her mind that’s fair game given how Bayley has treated her even if it’s not being done to “get even.” I was waiting for that moment.) [c]
-Kayla interviewed Big E backstage. Kayla asked about venturing out on his own. Big E said for the past five years, he log rolled to the ring and poured cereal on people’s heads and has a popcorn gif that’s one of his proudest accoplishment. He said he’s been an entertainer, a tag partner, and a friend. He said now he gets to answer the question of what could have been if they passed him the ball and “let him run it alone.” Moving to singles matches could be perceived as a weight or pressure, but they are not an anchor or a burden; rather, they lift him up. Big E said he will give this nothing less than all of him. He then got Kayla’s face and laughed really intensely.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m glad he’s declaring a singles run is a big deal to him. He’s still showing a ton of personality, and it’d be a lot to ask for him to go completely serious. This is a reasonable compromise where he’s not just goofing off and seeing how uncomfortable he can make people. I’m still hoping, though, he can reign it in a bit as the stakes get higher when he has title matches. It does seem they could make this work while acknowledging he did hold singles titles early in his career. Instead of ignoring it, just embrace it that he was once on a successful course as a singles wrestler, and now he’ll pick up where he left off and try to achieve great things without Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods for now.)
-Back in the ring, Stephanie appeared on the big screen and congratulated Bayley and Sasha for achieving their goals. Bayley and Sasha thanked her for her positive feedback. Bayley said they’re trying to be role models for little girls everywhere, including her daughters. Stephanie said they’ve traveled to all three brands and accomplished everything they set their minds to. She then accused them of making a mockery of a stipulation she made by brutally attacking Kairi Sane and having Asuka getting counted out and losing her title. “I’m not sure about being role models, but you sure have gotten everyone’s attention, including mine.” A distressed Sasha and Bayley began kissing up to her. They said they look up to her and then plugged WWE Network. Stephanie said she’s not going to lecture or punish them, but she will challenge them. Stephanie said Sasha will defend her title at Summerslam, perhaps against Asuka. She told Bayley there will be a triple brand battle royal, with the winner facing her for the Smackdown Title at Summerslam. “Now that’s what’s best for business,” she said.
(Keller’s Analysis: Stephanie sometimes seems self-aware, other times not. Her line, “I don’t hold grudges, I’m a McMahon,” was worthy of a spit-take. I wish we never again had to hear her say “Now that’s what best for business.” As for the battle royal stipulation, I’m not a big fan of battle royal’s deciding no. 1 contenders for major PPV title matches other than the Royal Rumble. It can create a buzz and a lot of speculation. It think it’ll probably be Nikki, as a way to explain why she gets a rematch after coming up short. I hope it’s Nikki. But it could also perhaps be Tessa Blanchard making a big debut. Or the return of Charlotte. It’s hard to imagine, despite the triple-brand make-up of the competitors, that an NXT wrestler would be moved into a Summerslam match against Bayley on this short notice.)
-Miz and Morrison were chatting backstage with Sonya. Kayla walked in and interviewed Miz & Morrison. She asked if they regret taking things too far now that they have a match with Heavy Machinery. Miz apologized that their high-brow comedy went over her head, but sometimes good comedy offends. Morrison said Otis & Tucker get confused, get mad, and make mistakes. Miz said it’s called gamesmanship. He said they are physical marvels and mental giants, and it won’t take much to outwit Otis. “It’s like playing chess against a pot-bellied pig.” Kayla said she’s never seen Otis so upset. Miz asked, “What’s he doing to do, eat us?” Miz said Heavy Machinery are big and ferocious. Morrison added, “In catering,” They excused themselves. [c]
(5) HEAVY MACHINERY (Otis & Tucker) vs. MIZ & MORRISON (w/Sonya Deville)
Graves blamed Otis for all of this because he should have valued Mandy enough to always be watching her back. Morrison opened against Tucker and grounded him. The lights flickered a bit. Graves acknowledged it and wondered “if it’s this Retribution group again.” When Otis tagged in against Miz, Otis rubbed his belly and danced to no-sell a Miz punch. He sold a Miz chop with some pelvic thrusts. Tucker tagged in and he and Otis marched around and then crushed Miz between them. Regarding Mandy’s haircut, Graves said he prefers his blonds with long hair. Tucker leaped off the ring apron with a cannonball onto Miz and Morrison as they cut to a break. [c]
Miz and Morrison had control against Tucker after the break. Miz mocked Otis by rubbing his belly and looking over at him waiting on the ring apron in his corner. Tucker made a comeback and hot-tagged Otis. He rallied as Cole told us “how fun he is watch in the ring.” They showed Sonya looking distressed at ringside. Otis landed the Caterpillar on Morrison a few minutes after the break. Miz broke up the cover. Otis charged at Miz at ringside, but Miz side-stepped him and threw him into the ringside steps. Mandy Rose came out with her new haircut and attacked Sonya. The ref called for the bell.
WINNERS: No contest in 12:00.
Mandy and Sonya brawled in the ring and shoved the referee away. Miz and Morrison pulled her off, but she broke free and tackled Sonya. Graves called Mandy “God’s greatest soccer mom.” They were eventually pried apart by the male wrestlers involved in the match.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was what you’d expect, I suppose, with these two teams. It was fine. The brawl with Mandy and Sonya was intense. With ten minutes left in the show when they broke away, but nothing more advertised, you knew something was up.) [c]
-In a commercial for Raw, the narrator asked: “Who is brave enough to join the daredevil host Shane McMahon in his new adrenaline-pumping Raw Underground.”
-Backstage Adam Peace tried keep Sonya and Mandy apart as they were yelling at each other and being held apart by the respective teams in the prior match. The lights flickered and went dark. Everyone froze and looked around nervously. Suddenly the masked faction showed up and created chaos at ringside. Cole and Graves fled from their announce desk. They had baseball bats and metal pipes. One swung at Graves and he ducked and ran to the back. One of them yelled, “This is our house now, you might want to go home.” They chased away WWE production guys. There are five of them, and at least one is a woman. They crossed into the audience arena and attacked the audience members. They surrounded a woman and then the female Retribution member kicked her. Some of the audience members came back and yelled as Retribution re-took control of the ring. Then then destroyed an announce desk, tipping it over and yelling. They spray painted the plexiglass and the ring canvas, ring apron, and ringside steps. One of them pulled out a chainsaw and cut through the ring ropes. The show went off the air.
(Keller’s Analysis: This had a George Floyd/Black Lives Matter “uprising” vibe to it, and I just don’t trust WWE led by Vince McMahon to not step in it when trying to play off of it and tap into the emotions people feel after the last couple months of protests in the streets. They looked pretty small. One guy sounded like Eric Young, which would be really strange. Are they wrestlers who were released coming back to protest being cut? Are they Cruiserweights from 205 Live who have felt disrespected and disregarded? Things like this create speculation and buzz. The key, of course, is for a payoff to lead somewhere that viewers care about past the initial frenzy. I do have to say, I’ve never seen what happens when a chainsaw cuts through a ring rope. That was a first.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Smackdown felt sufficiently newsworthy with follow-up on the Fiend-Bliss-Braun situation, a tag team title match in the main event, and the Retribution run-in at the end which will certainly be what this show is remembered for. All the wrestling matches were pretty good to good, especially the early sample of Sheamus and Riddle going at it. If WWE didn’t overdo bad finishes so often, the finishes on this show wouldn’t necessarily seem so ridiculously bad, but four out of five matches ended with DQs or no contests due to run-ins. Three of them were all related and cascaded from the storyline of Gable trying to collect Corbin’s bounty, but then to have Mandy also run-in on the tag title match just put it over the top as indefensible. Viewers aren’t going to invest in matches or near falls within matches if WWE continues to book this type of show with so many non-finishes.