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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 7, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The show opened with a recap of the swamp fight between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt, followed by The Fiend attacking Alexa Bliss on last week’s show.
-Following the recap, the title card for the Firefly Funhouse was displayed. Bray Wyatt said a bunch of “haters” are blaming him for what happened to Alexa Bliss last week. He said the finger should be pointed at Braun Strowman. “All you had to do is give him what he wants,” Bray said. Bray promised “he” would be here later, with someone very special. Bray told Braun that he’s waiting for him, and that Braun should consider giving him what he wants. “Otherwise,” Bray growled, “she’ll find out what he’s truly capable of…” Bray laughed and waved goodbye to the camera.
-Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the show over a close up of the Smackdown logo atop the stage at the Performance Center. He said SummerSlam is only two weeks away. Matt Riddle’s music hit. Cole said they were kicking things off with a sure-to-be hard hitting match-up. He tossed to a clip from last week’s show, detailing the King’s Random on Matt Riddle.
Corey Graves said Riddle is about to face one of the heaviest hitters on the Smackdown roster. Sheamus headed to the ring.
(1) MATT RIDDLE vs. SHEAMUS
Matt Riddle and Sheamus locked up in the center and Sheamus forced Riddle to the corner. He quickly broke the hold and the two returned to the middle. Riddle applied a quick waist lock and wrestled Sheamus to the ropes for a break. Sheamus grabbed a quick headlock and took Riddle down, then cranked the hold. Riddle managed to fight free back into a waist lock and fight to his feet.
Riddle threw a low kick and Sheamus grabbed another headlock. Riddle quickly backed him into the ropes for a break. Sheamus twisted Riddle’s arm and gave him a knee to a the gut. Riddle fell to the mat. Sheamus grabbed a hold but Riddle quickly punched his way out of it and tried to lock in an arm bar. Riddle manipulated Sheamus’ fingers and then rotated into a key lock and a cover for a two count.
Sheamus rose to his feet and deadlifted Riddle off the mat, turning him up and over into a big power bomb. Riddle pulled himself up by the ropes and Sheamus peppered him with punches. Sheamus set Riddle up and executed the Ten Beats of the Bodhran. He climbed to the top rope, but Riddle sprung forward with a burst of energy and pushed Sheamus to the floor. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Sheamus had Riddle grounded in a headlock when the show returned from break. Riddle fought to his feet, but Sheamus quickly caught him with a trio of Irish Curse backbreakers. Sheamus covered for a two count, then grabbed another headlock. Riddle fired off closed fist punches to the gut to break free, then caught Sheamus with a sweeping head kick. Both men struggled to stand.
Riddle threw more punches, rolled through a counter attempt by Sheamus and hit a dropdown toe kick. He followed it up with a big running-PK, followed by the Broton for a near fall. Riddle hit a second Broton, then headed to the top rope. Riddle set up for the Floating Bro, but Sheamus moved. Riddle read it and rolled through, but Sheamus caught him and hit White Noise for a near fall of his own.
Sheamus attempted a Brogue Kick, but Riddle ducked and hit a German suplex, briding for a two count. Sheamus caught Riddle with a roll up for a two count, then followed up with a spinning back breaker. Sheamus waited for Riddle to stand, then charged. Riddle moved, sending Sheamus crashing into the ring post and rolling outside. Riddle followed. Sheamus managed to recover and drive his knee into Riddle’s jaw, rolling in the ring to break the count. Riddle recovered, but was attacked from behind by Shorty G, causing the referee to ring the bell.
WINNER: Matt Riddle by disqualification in 12:00
Matt Riddle quickly overtook Shorty G, bouncing his head repeatedly off the announcers desk and then tossing him into the steps. Riddle kicked Gable hard in the chest as Sheamus looked on. Greg Hamilton announced Riddle as the winner. Sheamus looked on in disgust.
Sheamus retrieved Shorty G and gave him a Brogue Kick, then gave him a microphone. Sheamus chastised Gable for trying to procure Corbin’s bounty. “You took a win away from me, fella!” He gave G a second Brogue Kick.
(LeClair’s Analysis: When Matt Riddle debuted on Smackdown, I ranked a match with Sheamus as my most anticipated “dark horse.” While I would have liked to have seen them go longer, I really enjoyed what we got, and I don’t mind a DQ finish here. These two could have an excellent Pay-Per-View match down the road. Gable’s interference made sense, given what happened last week. What I liked most, though, was Sheamus losing his cool with Gable after the match. Sheamus came off like a badass, no nonsense heel. He wasn’t content with the match ending in a disqualification, he wanted to beat Matt Riddle. It’s not all that often that WWE heels show this kind of fire and conviction.)
-King Corbin was shown talking to a woman backstage. Sheamus approached. He told Corbin to keep his minions out of his business, and said he’d “kick his head off his arse” if he wasn’t careful. Corbin was appalled that Sheamus would talk to him like that. He said he’d take care of him now if he didn’t have to deal with Jeff Hardy. Corbin stormed off.
-The Miz and John Morrison were already in the ring for MizTV. They tossed to a clip of Sonya Deville’s attack on Mandy Rose last week. Back in the ring, Morrison and Miz had a number of microphone issues. Morrison blamed the new stable Retribution. “I thought they were on Raw,” Miz said.
Miz welcomed “Mandy’s Hair” live via satellite. A wig with eyes appeared on screen, voiced by Miz. It complimented John Morrison. Miz asked the hair if it was okay. Morrison took voice duties, saying its hurt and Mandy hasn’t reached out once. They talked about Otis running his “ham fingers” through it while talking about cheese with Tucker. This went on, back and forth between Miz and Morrison, for a couple minutes. Miz offered Mandy’s hair his Hollywood contacts. The hair informed Miz that it got a development deal with Netflix, then signed off.
Miz turned his focus to the “real victim” of the story. He and Morrison welcomed Sonya Deville. She headed to the ring and took a seat. Sonya said she could get behind Mandy’s hair. Miz asked Sonya what compelled her to cut off Mandy’s hair. Sonya said she told everyone she’d make Mandy’s outsides as ugly as her insides, and she did it. “I’m a woman of my word,” Deville added.
Sonya said she could see Mandy was terrified about the disruption to her image. “I don’t feel bad, at all,” Deville said. She said she broke her physically by beating her twice, and broke her emotionally by giving her a hair cut. Miz said no one has heard from Mandy Rose since the attack. Sonya joked about the fact that Mandy won a “Bumpy” award for making out with Otis, and that’s all she’s done, other than win some bikini contests.
Heavy Machinery’s music hit and they rushed to the ring, attacking Miz and Morrison. They quickly tossed Miz to the outside, flattened Morrison, and then Otis set up for the Caterpillar. Miz and Sonya managed to pull Morrison out of the ring. The show went to an abrupt commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Miz and Morrison’s schtick is becoming increasingly annoying, and not in the way they’re hoping. They’re overexposed, with their hands in too many angles trying to accomplish too many things. They’re an effective tag team, both in the ring and on the microphone, when tasked with a specific challenge, but their gimmick grows immensely tiresome when they’re acting more or less exclusively as the set piece to move along whatever mid-card feud is being focused on during any given week. On a positive note, Sonya Deville continues to find herself as a heel character.)
-After a Progressive Match Flo covering the Smackdown Tag Team title match at Extreme Rules, Cesaro headed to the ring with Shinsuke Nakamura at his side. Lince Dorado headed to the ring with Gran Metalik. Cole tossed to an inset promo of Lince Dorado, saying he’d teach Cesaro how to party.
(2) CESARO (w/ Shinsuke Nakamura) vs. LINCE DORADO (w/ Gran Metalik)
Cesaro quickly outpowered Lince Dorado and shot him to the corner. On the bounce back, Cesaro hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and then grabbed a leg. Dorado kicked Cesaro away and leapt to his feet, but Cesaro quickly shot him down with a clothesline. The lights flickered in the ring. Cesaro rolled to the outside. Lince Dorado dove onto him, then sent him into the LED board on the apron.
Back in the ring, Dorado caught Cesaro with a sunset roll up for a two count. He tried to dive onto Cesaro again, but Cesaro caught him in a side-slam position and tossed him into a backbreaker, covering him for a two count. Cesaro trapped Dorado’s arms and grabbed a chinlock. Before long, Cesaro broke the hold and dropped an elbow into Dorado’s chest, then slapped on an arm lock.
Dorado fought free and caught Cesaro with a jawbreaker, then a boot. He followed it up with a springboard stunner, then leapt to the bottom rope for a moonsault. Dorado hit a second moonsault off the middle rope, then climbed to the third. Shinsuke Nakamura provided a distraction long enough for Cesaro to chop Dorado down. Cesaro set up for a crucifix bomb, but Dorado rolled through it into a cover for a near fall. Cesaro recovered and hit the Neutralizer for a three count.
WINNER: Cesaro in 4:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Quick, but fun little match. It’s about time a tag team champion has a singles match and actually wins.)
-Tucker tried to calm Otis down backstage. Kayla Braxton stepped on screen to talk to them. Otis said everything is a joke to Miz and Morrison, and he likes jokes, but not at the expense of Mandy. Otis promised that when he gets his hands on Miz and Morrison, no one will be laughing.
-The Firefly Funhouse title card appeared again, but melted off screen to reveal a darkened Performance Center. The Fiend’s music played and he walked onstage, carrying Bray Wyatt’s severed head lantern. The show went to commercial as The Fiend grabbed his face in torment near the ring steps.
-The Performance Center was bathed in red when the show returned from break. The Fiend’s screeching sound filled the speakers, and he stood over a frightened Alexa Bliss, wearing the same outfit from last week. The Fiend retreated to the corner then crawled to Bliss slowly. He showed her his hand and brought it to her face again.
Bliss grabbed The Fiend’s hand and pushed it away, then stroked his face. The Fiend flinched and turned away. Braun Strowman appeared on the screen. He said he doesn’t give a damn about Alexa, only destroying Bray. Braun said he came from the swamp knowing that he spit in the face of the devil. He tried to destroy him, but he didn’t, so he emerged from the swamp “the most evil son of a bitch the world has every laid its eyes on.” Strowman called himself the thing nightmares are made of. “I am the monster,” Strowman growled.
Braun told The Fiend he can have whatever he wants at SummerSlam. “Face your fears, face the monster.” The show cut to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Oh boy. What a train wreck. I thought the inclusion of Alexa Bliss was meant to garner some sympathy for Braun Strowman and make him seem a bit more likable, but they just went the entirely opposite direction. Strowman has become a laughable parody. The deep, growling voice and empty monster talk is groan inducing. Strowman could have come out look like a hero by coming to Bliss’ rescue and re-establishing some of the great on-screen chemistry the two had. Instead, he said a whole lot of nothing in a lower register and made himself out to be a careless heel. Great.)
-Jeff Hardy headed to the ring after the break. Cole and Graves talked about Hardy feeling clear-headed after overcoming Sheamus in the bar fight. King Corbin headed to the ring.
(3) JEFF HARDY vs. KING CORBIN
Jeff Hardy got the PC fans clapping before hitting a quick atomic drop on King Corbin. Corbin shot off the ropes but Hardy caught him with a clothesline and then a double leg drop, covering for a quick two count. King Corbin quickly recovered and caught Hardy with a shot to the throat.
Hardy ducked a shot from Corbin and went for the Twist of Fate, but Corbin spun through it and flattened Hardy with a big clothesline. He grabbed Hardy by the hair, dragged him to his feet and tossed him to the outside. Corbin followed and stared down the crowd. He laid Hardy out over the announcers desk and fired off a series of punches, letting Hardy collapse to the floor. Corbin tossed Hardy back inside and covered him for a two count.
Corbin propped Hardy into a seated position and drove his elbow repeatedly into his shoulders. Corbin slapped on a chin lock. Hardy battled to his feet, but Corbin maintained the hold and powered Hardy back to the mat. Corbin launched Hardy into the corner and tried to run around the post, but Hardy caught him off guard with a drop-kick. The two battled outside briefly then returned to the ring, where Corbin caught Hardy with a Deep Six for a near fall.
King Corbin set up for the End of Days, but Hardy fought him off. Corbin maintained control with a knee to the head. Hardy fell to the outside. Sheamus ran down the ramp and gave Jeff Hardy a Brogue Kick. The referee called for the bell.
WINNER: Jeff Hardy in 5:00 by disqualification
Sheamus and King Corbin argued on the outside as the show quickly cut to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to see here. Sheamus interjecting himself to get back at Corbin seemed like a logical move, but it seemed like an unlucky coincidence to have him attack Jeff Hardy after swearing he was done with that, and the announcers making it a point to note both men were moving on. Now, as a babyface, Hardy would be weak to not want to get revenge on Sheamus. Meanwhile, I’m not sure what kind of legs a Sheamus vs. King Corbin match has. On a macro level, that’s the second non-finish on tonight’s show, in the same manner. That’s not great, no matter what angle it’s advancing.)
(4) SHEAMUS VS. KING CORBIN
The impromptu match was already in progress when the show returned from commercial. King Corbin caught Sheamus with a kick to the face, but Sheamus quickly rebounded with a hard knee to the midsection. Corbin rolled to the apron and Sheamus set up for Ten Beats of Bodhran. Corbin managed to slide away by dropping to the floor.
Sheamus followed. Corbin ran around the ring and caught Sheamus with a clothesline, then drove Sheamus into the barricade. Corbin fired off body blows at Sheamus, then slammed his head on the announcers table. Corbin tossed Sheamus inside, but Sheamus caught him with a big knee, sending Corbin back outside.
Sheamus retrieved him, slamming Corbin’s head off the table repeatedly. He tossed Corbin into the ring post and talked some trash. Corbin rolled back in the ring. Sheamus climbs the ropes and went for a double axe handle, but Corbin blocked it and hit a backbreaker for a two count. Corbin scooped up Sheamus and tossed him into the ring post. Corbin mounted the ropes and punched at the back of Sheamus’ head and neck.
Corbin grabbed a modified chin lock as Sheamus fell from the corner. Sheamus slowly worked to his feet and broke the hold, then scooped Corbin onto his shoulders. Corbin slid down the back and hit a big clothesline. Suddenly, Matt Riddle appeared on the apron. He leaped into the ring, clearing Corbin, then rolled out, just enough to provide a distraction. Sheamus hit Corbin with a Brogue Kick and covered him for a three count.
WINNER: Sheamus in 5:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: At least we got a finish here. In typical WWE fashion, though, this did little to help either guy. King Corbin got a heavy dose of offense and the announcers were quick to point out that they’d rarely seen Sheamus man-handled in such dominant fashion. That, in turn, meant Corbin lost due to interference from Matt Riddle. 50/50 booking, even when you provide a finish. In the end, no one is really helped, but Jeff Hardy winds up a little hurt in all of this.)
-Backstage, Sasha Banks approached Bayley and asked if she was okay. Bayley said she’d just wished Banks had asked her before volunteering her for a match against Asuka on Raw. Sasha said it’s not about Asuka, it’s about the two of them. “We have all the gold,” Sasha said. She called Bayley her role model. A production agent walked on screen and told Banks and Bayley that they’re needed in the ring for a video conference with Stephanie McMahon. Banks and Bayley tried to play it off, but both looked concerned.
-Out of the break, Kayla Braxton welcomed Big E for an interview. She asked about Big E’s plans, sans his New Day brethren. Big E ran down his list of strange accomplishments alongside Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, then said it’s time to answer the question of “what could have been.” Big E called on his past experiences to lift him up. He led Kayla in a “New Day Rocks” chant.
-Bayley and Sasha Banks were already in the ring as Stephanie McMahon appeared on the screen. Stephanie congratulated them on their goals of obtaining all the WWE women’s titles at once. Bayley and Sasha played ultra appreciative, thanking Stephanie and claiming the locker room is “ultra jealous and spreading negativity.”
McMahon recounted some of Banks and Bayley’s escapades in recent weeks. She said they’ve succeeded in getting everyone’s attention, including hers. Sasha said again how they’re huge fans of Stephanie, and her husband. They plugged the WWE Network. Stephanie told them to relax. She announced that Sasha Banks will defend the Raw Women’s title at SummerSlam, perhaps against Asuka. She also announced a triple brand battle royal on next week’s Smackdown, with the winner facing Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s title at SummerSlam. “That’s what’s best for business,” Stephanie said. Banks and Bayley put on a brave face.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m not sure why Stephanie McMahon has become the on-screen authority figure for the women’s division and only the women’s division. WWE seems to struggle greatly with getting from point A to point B in their angles without the regular presence of an authority figure. Why is Stephanie only concerned with Banks and Bayley? I realize the answer to this question is “because,” but that doesn’t make it any better. It’s just a lazy, shoddy booking. Banks and Bayley were great here, though, sucking up to Stephanie to a comedic degree and playing up their confidence all while allowing their facial expressions to reveal just how concerned they are with Steph’s announcements. They make virtually every segment they’re in.)
-Miz and Morrison were shown talking with Sonya Deville backstage. Kayla Braxton approached and asked if they regretted taking things too far, realizing now that it led to a match with Heavy Machinery. Miz called their comedy high brow. Morrison called Heavy Machinery “ham and eggers” who get angry and make mistake. Miz said facing Otis is like playing chess with pot belly big. Kayla told them she’d never seen Otis so upset.
“What’s he gonna do, eat us?” Miz laughed. Kayla told them that Otis said no one would be laughing after tonight. Miz said Heavy Machinery is tough. “…In catering,” Morrison added. Cole said they’d face off next.
-Miz and Morrison headed to the ring, accompanied by Sonya Deville. Michael Cole and Corey Graves recounted how this match came to be. Graves said Tucker and Otis spoiled MizTV. Heavy Machinery came to the ring.
(5) THE MIZ & JOHN MORRISON (w/ Sonya Deville) vs. HEAVY MACHINERY (Otis & Tucker)
Tucker began the match with John Morrison. Morrison threw a heavy elbow to the face of Tucker, knocking him off balance. He followed up with a swift kick to the leg. Tucker shook it off and grabbed a waist lock on Morrison, wrestling him to the mat. Michael Cole touted Tucker’s amateur wrestling background.
Morrison elbowed his way out of the waist lock. He fired shots at Tucker, but Tucker ducked them and dropped Morrison with a big clothesline. The ring lights flickered. Graves brought up Retribution again. Tucker tagged in Otis, who dropped Morrison. Morrison rolled over Otis’ back and made a quick tag into Miz.
Miz attacked Otis, but Otis shrugged it off, danced, and rubbed his belly in defiance. He quickly plowed through Miz and tagged in Tucker. The two circled the ring, then crushed Miz’s head between their two bellies. Miz retreated to the outside to regroup with Morrison. Tucker barrel rolled off the apron onto both of them. Cole sent the show to commercial.
The Miz had Tucker in a face lock when the show returned from break. Tucker fought out of it and threw a punch at Miz, then Morrison on the apron. Miz tagged in Morrison, who dropped Tucker and covered him for a two count. Morrison went for a PK on Tucker, but Tucker kicked Morrison’s shin. Morrison struggled to the corner and tagged Miz back in. The duo hit a double gutbuster. Miz covered Tucker for a two count.
Tucker tried to pull himself up by the ropes. Miz distracted the referee and Morrison gave Tucker a cheap shot. Miz tagged in Morrison and tried to slingshot him into Morrison’s waiting elbow, but Tucker knocked Morrison off the apron instead. Tucker reached his own corner and tagged in Otis.
Otis cleared house, body slamming Miz and tossing Morrison into the corner, then into an overhead capture suplex. After a body thrust in the corner, Otis set up for, and connected with the Caterpillar. He covered, but Miz broke up the count. Tucker pulled Miz and Morrison from the ring. He tried to check them into the barricade, but Miz and Morrison went in opposite directions, sending Tucker crashing himself.
Mandy Rose appeared out of nowhere and attacked Sonya Deville. They brawled into the ring. The referee called for the bell.
WINNERS: No contest in 9:00
Miz and Morrison returned and tried to retrieve Sonya Deville. Otis and Tucker grabbed Mandy. The two repeatedly broke free and charged at each other. Heavy Machinery finally got Mandy to the outside. The show went to commercial abruptly.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Three non-finishes on one show. The match itself was a paint-by-numbers WWE TV tag match, but that’s not the point. Three non-finishes in a single show is too many, and this one hardly had a reason to end. The referee could have, and should have removed Mandy and Sonya from the ring, restored order, and continued the match. This has been an abysmal week for WWE in terms of squirming their way out of finishes with senseless disqualifications and no contests.)
-Sonya and Mandy continued to argue backstage when the show returned from break. Miz and Morrison and Heavy Machinery continued to hold them back. Suddenly, the lights cut out.
The camera returned to the ringside area. Masked men and women emerged from the crowd area and chased Michael Cole and Corey Graves away. They bombarded the camera crew and forced them to put down their equipment and retreat. The show switched to stationary cameras only. Suddenly, the attackers left the ring and went into the crowd. They began attacking audience members and taunting them relentlessly.
The masked crew headed back to the ring, screaming bleeped obscenities and saying “this is ours now.” They flipped the Smackdown announce desk. One member retrieved cans of spray paint. They shook the cans and began painting the plexiglass with symbols. They crossed out the “Smackdown” banner with red paint and marked the steel steps. One member emerged with a chainsaw and began cutting the ring ropes. They hopped around the ring, chainsaw still blaring, celebrating their destruction as the show abruptly cut out.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Well. That was something. I’m sure plenty of sleuths have already identified these masked men and women, but none stood out to me in particular. The yelling and chaos was a little too token WWE to feel unscripted and natural, but I applaud them for going for this all-out chaotic vibe. In truth, I think this would have been better if they just hadn’t done the light teases all night. If nothing else, this was an eventful close to an otherwise uneventful show.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: After a bit of a rebound last week, tonight’s Smackdown felt like a step backward. The problems start at the top of the card, with Braun Strowman becoming an entirely laughable, over-the-top parody of a “tough guy.” It extends to a severe lack of depth in the main event, and in the mid-card, a total lack of development in the tag team division, and an over-dependancy on The Miz, John Morrison, and King Corbin. I enjoyed what we got of Matt Riddle vs. Sheamus and hope we can see them have a proper match down the road. The show closing angle, while not feeling quite as organic as I’m sure they would have hoped, was chaotic and different enough to garner some buzz and keep eyes on the program for another week.