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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 14, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
NOTE: The show appears to have been changed to TV14. I do not recall noticing this last week, so this may be new.
-After a recap video showing Retribution’s destruction during last week’s show, Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the Performance Center. He and Corey Graves confirmed that WWE has taken “extra precautions” and hired additional security to ensure there are no additional problems tonight. Cole said the group is apparently emboldened by recent events. Corey Graves ran down the night’s major events.
-Big E headed to the ring for the opening match. He wrapped his jacket around Corey Graves’ head on the way to the ring. Cole tossed to an inset promo of Big E. He said people believe he is new to the singles game, but that’s a lie. Big E said he’s a former NXT and Intercontinental champion. “Let me remind you,” he laughed.
John Morrison headed to the ring. On his own inset promo, Morrison wondered if Big E’s singles run was by choice, or if it was just because he’s alone. He said New Day is injury prone, and made a bad joke about shoving his foot down Big E’s throat.
The lights flickered and masked men and women appeared at ringside and surrounded the ring. A masked woman provided the initial distraction, allowing the rest of the enter and attacked Morrison and Big E. Michael Cole and Corey Graves ran away quickly. Morrison and Big E tried to fend them off, but the masked invaders took them out with ease. They retreated back through the barriers. Miz ran down to check on Morrison as the show aburptly went to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Retribution is already becoming a bad novelty, especially with Michael Cole making it clear that they are a direct representation of protestors and looters. This needs to turn a corner quickly.)
-Big E and John Morrison were sitting backstage surrounded by other members of the Smackdown locker room when the show returned from break. Miz apologized for not being out there, saying he was on the phone with Maryse. He and Morrison blamed Big E for the attack and left. King Corbin wandered in and claimed Smackdown needs leadership. Big E told to him to shut up and said he has no intention of running away from Retribution. He promised to beat Morrison later tonight anyway.
Sheamus walked on screen, clapping for Big E. “I get it,” Sheamus said. He said with no Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, or pancakes, Big E is alone and tagged by Retribution. Sheamus said the group wouldn’t dare showing their faces in one of his matches, because he’s not afraid of them. Big E said if Sheamus had any sense, he’d realize he’s not alone. The Smackdown babyfaces (included Shorty G again) walked away.
-Back at ringside, Sasha Banks and Bayley were in the ring. Bayley said even Retribution wants to hear what the role models want to say, and they wouldn’t dare cutting their mics. “Everyone knows better than to interrupt us,” Sasha added. She talked about having to face Asuka at SummerSlam, she then mentioned having to defend the tag titles at Payback.
Bayley said Stephanie McMahon may have it out for them, but they’re brushing it off because everyone is out to get them. Bayley said they’re planning to add another thing to the list of things they’re great at – ring announcing. They kicked Greg Hamilton out of the ring and took over duties to introduce the #1 contender’s battle royal.
Sasha introduced The Iiconics. Bayley said it’d be an honor to beat either of them up. Bayley introduced Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart, saying it’s embarrassing how much both of them idolize she and Sasha. “Green is definitely not your color, sweetheart,” Sasha said. She introduced Lacey Evans. Bayley looked at the next card and grew weary. She said producers gave her the wrong card. Asuka’s music hit and she rushed the ring to attack Bayley and Sasha. The rest of the women ran to the ring unannounced. Cole sent the show to commercial.
(1) Tri-Brand Battle Royal to determine the #1 contender for the Smackdown Women’s Title
The bell rang as soon as the show returned from commercial. The Iiconics dumped Ruby Riott over the top rope, but she hung on. They did the same to Liv Morgan. She caught herself as well. Liv and Ruby remained on the apron. Royce and Kay threw boots, knocking Riott to the outside and eliminating her.
Liv Morgan tried to hook The Iiconics in a double suplex to the outside, but Tegan Nox dumped both Iiconics to the outside. Royce and Kay responded by pulling Liv Morgan off the apron. A brawl ensued between the two teams on the outside.
Dana Brooke shoved Nikki Cross to the outside, under the bottom rope. Nikki pulled Dana Brooke into the apron and attacked her. Neither woman was eliminated. In the opposite corner, Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox tossed Bianca Belair to the apron, but she hung on to remain in the match.
Nikki Cross attacked Tamina, who no-sold her offense. Tamina shoved her away, scooped her up and dropped her onto the apron. Tamina caught Cross with a big kick, sending Cross to the floor and eliminating her. Tamina took down Blackheart and Nox with a double close line, then went toe to toe with Bianca Belair. They traded shots. Tamina scooped Belair, but Bianca slid down her back and caught her with a big spear. She tossed Tamina to the outside with ease.
Naomi caught Lacey Evans with a pair of running jawbreakers. Evans swung Naomi to the outside then hit her with the Woman’s Right to drop her to the floor and eliminate her. She tossed her handkerchief onto Naomi. Shotzi Blackheart dumped Evans to the floor, taking her out.
Shayna Baszler grabbed a clutch on Shotzi taking her down. Shotzi wound up the apron trying to escape the hold. Lacey Evans pulled her down by her legs, eliminating her.
Bianca Belair and Tegan Nox traded quick advantages in the center of the ring. Nox sidestepped Bianca and pulled down the apron to sent her flying over the top rope and to the floor.
The match came down to Tegan Nox, Asuka, and Shayna Baszler. Nox hit Asuka with a sit out face buster. She turned her attention to Baszler, who grabbed her and nearly dropped her on her head. They fell together into the ropes. Dana Brooke appeared from the floor and dragged Nox to the outside. Apparently, Dana was never eliminated. She returned to the ring. Shayna immediately grabbed the clutch and tossed her to the apron. Asuka gave her a hip check, eliminating her.
Asuka and Shayna locked up in the center. Shayna she her to the corner, but Asuka leapt onto the top rope. Shayna caught her with a kick, sending her to the apron. Bayley tried to get involved, pulling on Asuka’s leg. Asuka kicked both she and Sasha, dropping them. Shayna knocked Asuka to the floor, but Asuka landed with both feet on the backs of Sasha and Bayley.
Shayna tried to apply the clutch on Asuka, but Asuka pulled her over her head and to the floor, eliminating Baszler and winning the match.
WINNER: Asuka in 9:00
Cole and Graves remarked that Asuka will face both Sasha and Bayley in individual title matches at SummerSlam.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Interesting decision. I suspect this leads to Asuka losing both matches, and I’m not sure that’s the right call. In any case, it’s a more interesting story to tell than virtually any other opponent Bayley could have winded up with. I love the idea of elevating Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair sooner rather than later, but both of them deserve better than a title match with no build on a week’s notice. This way, the story is already in place and the match already has some heat despite just being made on tonight’s show.)
-Sasha Banks and Bayley were beside themselves backstage, disgusted that Asuka was involved in the battle royal. Bayley made a comment about actually having something to fight for when she faces Asuka this time when she was blindsided by Asuka. Banks intervened, and Asuka tried to attack her as well, but officials pulled Asuka away.
-Michael Cole and Corey Graves threw to a Progressive Match Flo covering the developments in the Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville story.
-Mandy Rose spoke backstage about being referred to as “just a Barbie doll” or someone who has everything handed to her. Rose said she had three jobs and put herself through college while on her way to a bikini world championship. “You of all people should know how hard I worked,” Rose yelled. She thanked Deville for reminding her that she’s so much more than a pretty face. She challenged Deville to a hair vs. hair match at SummerSlam. “Put your money where your mouth is, honey,” Rose said. She said it will get ugly.
(LeClair’s Analysis: While I don’t expect this match to be particularly good, it does add a long-running, personal rivalry with an interesting stipulation to a card that is pretty weak as a whole, outside of the main event. Though Mandy and Sonya’s performances fluctuate heavily on a week to week basis, I think both have improved, in general, since beginning to work against each other.)
-Sheamus approached security backstage and told them to “grab a pint” and enjoy themselves, because Retribution won’t show up on his watch. Corey Graves said Sheamus would be in action next.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This kind of stunt all but guarantees that Retribution will, in fact, get involved in Sheamus’ business. Sometimes, WWE is far too “on the nose” for their own good.)
-Backstage, Nikki Cross paced, looking disappointed over losing the battle royal. Suddenly, she looked up and ran. The camera followed her as she grabbed Alexa Bliss for a big hug. Bliss promised Nikki that she’s fine. Bliss said she needs to hang around to get some answers from Braun Strowman.
-Sheamus headed to the ring. Cole tossed to a recap of Sheamus’ match with Matt Riddle last week, leading to a disqualification due to Shorty G’s interference. Graves said Sheamus is still furious. Shorty Gh headed to the ring. Cole said he’s had a change in attitude recently.
(2) SHEAMUS vs. SHORTY G
Shorty G grabbed a quick waist lock, but Sheamus easily backed him into the corner and forced a break. He tossed G to the apron and executed the Ten Beats of the Bodhran. Shorty G fell to the floor. Sheamus retrieved him quickly, then hit him with a big uppercut.
Shorty G caught Sheamus with a basement dropkick on an Irish Whip rebound, then went to work on Sheamus’ knee. He applied a quick body scissors and began to throw forearms to the back of Sheamus’ head and neck. Sheamus recovered quickly and clubbed G to the mat with an axe handle.
Sheamus scooped up Shorty G and hit an Irish Curse backbreaker, followed by a knee to the spine. He grabbed Gable by the chin and hit him with a big elbow. Shorty G fought to his feet, slapped Sheamus in the chest and then caught him with a big rolling kick. Shorty G climbed to the top rope and connected with a missile dropkick for a near fall.
Gable tried to continue his offense, but Sheamus countered into a set up for White Noise. G rolled through it and applied an ankle lock. Sheamus fought through it, grabbed the ropes and quickly returned to his feet, hitting White Noise. He set up, then connected with a Brogue Kick for a three count.
WINNER: Sheamus in 4:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Happy to be proved wrong here. Sheamus’ insistence that Retribution is afraid of him and therefore wouldn’t attack seemed to make it blatantly obvious that they would, but, to WWE’s credit, they got me. The match itself was fine. Gable is supremely talented, but he’s never going to get anywhere with a name like Shorty G and a character that seems to no longer fit anywhere. Gable seemed to become a heel by accepting Corbin’s ransom, but was easily dispatched of by Matt Riddle. Tonight, he appeared to be energized by Big E’s speech and he followed the babyfaces out of the scene backstage. Then, he was more or less fed to Sheamus and treated as a valiant underdog, despising commentary discussing his “new attitude.” I don’t think WWE really has any idea what they want out of him.)
-Backstage, A.J. Styles was shown berating someone in a suit backstage, working at a laptop. Corey Graves said Styles is tired of defending the Intercontinental title against unworthy challengers, so he’s about to debut a new statistical system.
-A.J. Styles headed to the ring. The man shown with Styles before the break followed him at a distance, clapping. Cole and Graves wondered who the man could be. There was a covered board set up on an easel in the ring.
Styles said no one cares about the hooligans tearing things up, they want to know who is next in line to face A.J. Styles for the Intercontinental title. Styles admonished Daniel Bryan for insisting that the Intercontinental champion should be a fighting champion. He ran down a list of those he’s beat already, then said he just wants to hang out at home and broadcast on Twitch.
A.J. gave out his Twitch address and said people on there keeping telling him he should defend his title against so-and-so for this reason or that reason, all relating back to statistics. He called this people nerds. He said he realized that, when he watches sports, he cares about statistics too – batting averages, 40-yard dash times, etc. He said he’s a handsome, stud-ly nerd himself.
Styles introduced his statistical system for determining challenges. He asked for a drumroll to reveal number one. It was himself. He pulled the cloth away to reveal the rest of the board, which was blank. “No one has earned the right to be in the ring with A.J. Styles!” Styles said if you work really, really, really hard, you might be able to make it onto the board. Jeff Hardy’s music cut him off.
Hardy stepped in the ring and said he has a ton of respect for Styles. “It truly has been phenomenal.” Hardy claimed because Sheamus set him up, he never got his rightful change to compete in the Intercontinental title tournament. He said it could’ve been him in the finals, but it wasn’t, and he’s not about to dwell on the past. Hardy said the Intercontinental title is the first he ever won on his own and it’s very important to him.
“A.J. Styles vs. Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental title just sounds mega cool,” Jeff added. He asked for a title shot. “Statistics aside, I respect you, Jeff,” Styles said. He said Hardy has always been good to him, and he admires him. Styles said there’s a lot of people who would love to see the two of them in the ring together. He said The Hardy Boys were among the greatest tag teams in history. “You deserve to be on that board,” Styles added.
“If you’re asking if I want to face Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental championship, the answer is hell no,” Styles laughed. “This ain’t no pity party,” he added. Hardy attacked him. A.J. fled the ring. Jeff grabbed a marker and signed his name to Styles’ board.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Styles was supremely arrogant and obnoxious in this segment. The board reveal was predictable, but still comical and effective. Jeff Hardy is a great, logical opponent for Styles coming out of his feud with Sheamus. This should be an excellent match and feud that could anchor these Smackdown shows for the next couple of months if they handle it correctly.)
-Backstage, Cesaro talked to Shinsuke Nakamura about facing Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado. Lucha House Party snuck up behind them and took the tag team titles off of scaffolding nearby. Nakamura and Cesaro caught them out of the corner of their eye and gave chase. The show went to commercial.
-Kayla Braxton approached an irate A.J. Styles backstage when the show returned from the break. She asked if he was reconsidering Hardy’s challenge. Styles said Hardy disrespected him and analytics. “When do you do that, you get erased.” Styles tried to wipe off Hardy’s signature on his board, still carried by the suited man. It didn’t come off. “Permanent marker?!” Styles yelled. The man apologized, dejectedly.
-Lucha House Party headed to the ring, carrying the Smackdown tag team titles. Shinsuke Nakamura followed with Cesaro at his side. Cole threw to a promo from earlier, where Nakamura said he and Cesaro squash pests like Lucha House Party.
(3) GRAN METALIK (w/ Lince Dorado) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/ Cesaro)
Shinsuke Nakamura kicked Gran Metalik quickly, sending him reeling to the corner. Nakamura grounded Metalik and stuck his book in his face. Lince Dorado approached the ropes, but Shinsuke kicked at him. He gave Gran Metalik a snapmare out of the corner and covered him for a quick two count.
Nakamura shot Metalik off the ropes, but Metalik caught him with a big kick to the gut to cut off his momentum. Metalik dropped Nakamura with a hurricanrana. Shinsuke rolled to the apron. Metalik charged, but Nakamura caught him with a leaping kick. Nakamura covered for a two count.
Cole and Graves played up this being the final Smackdown to emanate from the Performance Center as Nakamura sent Metalik to the corner. Metalik countered out with a running bulldog. He shot off the ropes and hit a springboard back elbow, covering Nakamura for another two count.
Nakamura attempted an exploder suplex, but Metalik flipped through it and shot to the top ropes. Cesaro leapt on the apron to provide a distraction. Metalik jumped anyway, but Nakamura kicked him in the gut. He covered for a two count, then immediately hit the exploder suplex. Nakamura set up for the Kinshasa. Lucha House Party’s music hit. Kalisto appeared on the stage. Cesaro went after him, but Kalisto and Lince Dorado took him out.
In the ring, Gran Metalik walked the ropes and hit a diving elbow on Nakamura to pin him for a three count.
WINNER: Gran Metalik in 4:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: There it is. Cesaro managed a clean victory last week, but it was only a matter of time before a member of the current tag champions lost a singles match to lead to a tag title match. It’s one of WWE’s most tired formulas, despite flying relatively low on the radar. Kalisto’s return is an interesting development, I’m just not sure how you handle Lucha House Party’s third man being involved in matches when the heel team doesn’t have a third man to balance it out. This situation would work a lot better if Sami Zayn were still in the mix.)
-Alexa Bliss was shown being mic’ed up for her interview regarding her interactions with The Fiend, and Braun Strowman’s reaction to her last week.
-Out of the break, Kayla Braxton welcomed Matt Riddle to the set backstage. She asked about his rivalry with King Corbin, and asked about his positive attitude despite the King’s Ransom. Riddle asked for permission to call Kayla “bro.” She obliged. Riddle said he came to Smackdown to “bro down and throw down.” He said he wants to compete, while guys like Corbin walked around claiming to be a king while being nothing more than a “royal pain.”
Shorty G walked on screen. He said he got too caught up in the King’s Ransom thing. He said he has a family, and the money would’ve gone a long way. He said he’s embarrassed about trying to injure another Superstar. He apologized and offered a fist bump. Riddle gave it to him. King Corbin attacked Riddle from behind. He thanked Gable for the help. Gable put his hands on his head in torment.
-Cole and Graves tossed to the Alexa Bliss interview with an unseen, unnamed producer. The interviewer asked about her relationship with Braun Strowman. Bliss said when you meet Braun, he can be very intimidating, but she got to know the man behind the monster. Bliss called Strowman a good man who is witty, funny and compassionate.
The producer asked Bliss if she thought their friendship would ever become more. “Maybe,” Bliss said. She said they cared about each other a lot. The interviewer wondered if perhaps that’s why The Fiend would target her. He asked what it’s like to be in The Fiend’s presence. “It’s terrifying, but also compelling.” Bliss said once you’ve interacted with him, you can feel his presence.
Alexa said she finally understands what “moth to a flame” means. The producer turned to Braun’s comments from last week, saying he didn’t care about Alexa. He asked how it made her feel. Bliss got choked up and looked away. The show cut to break.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Awkward ending, unless they intend to return to his after the break. In any case, I’m torn here. Bliss was incredibly effective. This was the most believable thing to have come out of this feud thus far, but it also reminds me of just how much more effective and likable a character Braun Strowman used to be. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that Strowman peaked during his pairing with Bliss on Mixed Match Challenge, and if that’s not the character you’re shooting for, I’m not sure reminding the audience that the champion was much better before he became champion. Strowman has struggled mightily, and callbacks to a brighter time in his career may not be the smartest idea of they don’t intend to make a legitimate effort to return him to that level of affability.)
-Out of the break, Cole confirmed that Jeff Hardy will challenge A.J. Styles for the Intercontinental title next week on Smackdown.
-Backstage, Sonya Deville said she was surprised by Mandy Rose’s challenge. She said she thinks Mandy will look great bald. Deville said people say the things they do about Mandy Rose because it’s all true. She accepted Rose’s challenge. “See you soon, baldy.”
-At ringside, Big E and John Morrison were already in the ring and The Miz was stationed on commentary.
(4) BIG E vs. JOHN MORRISON
Big E and John Morrison locked up. Morrison backed Big E in to the corner and tried to kick Big E’s injured knee, but Big E pulled away. Out of the corner, Big E slapped on a headlock and cranked it to the tune of “New Day Rocks.” He dropped Morrison with his shoulder.
Cole and Graves showed Retribution’s attack from earlier in the night, citing it as the reason that Big E’s knee is taped up. Miz talked about the Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville feud. In the ring, Morrison leapfrogged Big E but got caught with an elbow anyway. Morrison grabbed a waist lock, but Big E powered out of it, tossing Morrison over his back.
Morrison launched himself to the apron and leapt onto the top rope, but Big E shoved him to the outside. Morrison slowly returned to the ring and Big E dropped him with a clothesline. Big E dragged Morrison to the apron, slid to the outside and pounded his chest. He returned to the apron and hit his signature running apron splash. Morrison fell to the outside, clutching his lower back. E rolled in the ring to break the count, then back outside to give chase to Morrison.
After rounding the corner near the announcers desk, Miz tripped up Big E with his headset cord, causing Big E to turn away from Morrison. Morrison chop blocked the bad knee from behind and tossed him in the ring. Miz rejoined Cole and Graves. Meanwhile, Morrison took Big E down by the knee again and applied a headlock.
Otis wandered to the ring and begin jawing with Miz. The lights flickered. Michael Cole called for security. Morrison and Big E traded punches in the ring while everyone else looked around haphazardly and the show went to commercial.
John Morrison had Big E grounded in a leg lock when the show returned from break. The majority of Smackdown wrestlers were now surrounding the ring, “protecting” the set from Retribution.
The camera cut backstage, where Retribution was destroying property and beating up security and various personnel. They laid out a referee and shoved someone into a bathroom, then barricaded the door. One of them spray-painted a WWE logo on the wall, then covered it with a circle and a line through it.
Referees rushed the ringside area to tell wrestlers that Retribution was backstage. The locker room ran up the ramp and to the back. In the ring, Morrison kicked Big E. The camera cut backstage to show the locker room discovering the chaos backstage. Cole called it a “hit and run attack in the locker room area.”
In the ring, Morrison lifted Big E onto the top rope. Big E fought him off, shoving him to the mat. Big E caught Morrison with a Uranagi out of the corner, then covered him for a two count. Cole asked Miz why he didn’t help. “What do you want me to do?” Miz asked. Cole told him to think of someone other than himself.
In the ring, Big E lifted Morrison into a Stretch Muffler submission for a quick tap out.
WINNER: Big E in 12:00
Big E left the ring and was blind-sided by Sheamus, who dropped him with a Brogue Kick. Almost immediately after, Braun Strowman’s music hit and he walked onto the stage, now sporting a shaved head. He smirked. Sheamus walked away. Cole wondered if Strowman would confront The Fiend after the break.
(LeClair’s Analysis: It’s impossible to feel good, bad, or indifferent about this match. It was completely overshadowed by interference by Otis, but Miz on commentary, and eventually by several ridiculous cut-ins by Retribution, and finally, a commercial break. This kind of chaos isn’t fun to cover, and it’s not very fun to watch, either. There’s so much going on at once that it’s completely impossible to give the proper attention and focus to any one thing. As if Retribution wasn’t already feeling like poorly conceived, weak social commentary with no bite, Michael Cole seemed to forget about them and the threat they pose entirely as soon as he saw Braun Strowman. This is just bad television.)
-Strowman stared menacingly into the camera as the show returned from break. Graves said everyone undergoes a physical transformation after dealing with The Fiend. Strowman said The Fiend knows exactly what he’s going to get when he faces him at SummerSlam. He told Fiend to come out and “face his fears.” Braun said he’d rip The Fiend limb from limb, and consume his entrails as The Fiend looks up at him. Alexa Bliss’ music hit.
Bliss said they need to have a conversation. Braun asked about what. Bliss said this is not the Braun she knows, and that she doesn’t believe Strowman doesn’t care about her. Strowman refused to look at her. He recited words blankly. He said Bliss used him, leading him around by his beard and singing songs. “Get out of my ring, I want The Fiend.” Strowman continued to stare ahead. Bliss said if she can’t talk sense into him, she’ll have to slap it into him. She screamed for Braun to look at her. He finally did. She slapped him repeatedly.
“This isn’t you! Wake up!” Bliss screamed. Strowman scooped Bliss up over his head and teased throwing her out of the ring. The lights began to cut out one by one. Strowman tossed Bliss haphazardly at the ground. The lights cut out before she hit the mat. When they returned, The Fiend stood over Bliss. Strowman appeared on the screen, laughing maniacally. The Fiend laughed back. Bliss riled in pain on the mat. Strowman screamed. The Fiend stuck his tongue out. The show cut to black.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Like most segments involving Braun Strowman this days, this was abhorrently bad. Strowman’s teeth-gritting over-acting is comical at best. His new found supernatural powers to disappear on a whim are ridiculous. The fact that a babyface champion would press slam a babyface female character is ridiculous. There’s nothing about this that is appealing. It appears as though the idea here is to portray Braun Strowman as a changed man following his emergence from the Wyatt Swamp, no longer able to care about personal relationships and, instead, actively destroy them in order to play mind games with Bray Wyatt. If that’s the case, what makes Strowman a babyface at this point? Alexa Bliss is the only character in this feud that deserves any sympathy. This feud cannot end soon enough.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It feels like Smackdown is spiraling out of control. There are enjoyable segments from week to week, but as a whole, the chaotic direction is nauseating and tiring. Tonight, I’d point to the start of the A.J. Styles vs. Jeff Hardy feud (providing that extends beyond next week’s match) and the interesting twist of giving Asuka double title shots as the two bright spots in an otherwise rough collection of segments. Retribution feels like half-baked, poor social commentary getting in the way of good storytelling, and Braun Strowman’s descent into unintentional mid-card comedy continues to frustrate weekly. I hope that shaking up the show’s location (presumably beginning next week) will inject some urgency into Vince McMahon and the creative team, but I certainly have my doubts. This ia product that desperately needs wholesale, fundamental changes and a progressive philosophy. I don’t think that’s coming.