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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 28, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY ARENA (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-A video package aired on The Fiend beating Braun Strowman at Summerslam and then Roman Reigns returning.
-Adam Pearce told security it’s going to be a combustible night with Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, and The Fiend in the arena. “If you see something, say something,” he said.
-Pearce walked into Vince McMahon’s office at Thunderdome. Vince told him he’s in charge of the contract signing for Reigns, Strowman, and Fiend. He told Pearce that he looked nervous around him, but that’s normal. He then gave him a covered suit on a hanger and said he was giving proper attire. Pearce was nervous that Fiend was in the building. Vince said he could start with Bray Wyatt in the Firefly Funhouse. Vince told Pearce to say hi to Huskus. He said he loves that guy. “Man, what a loud burp,” he said. “Don’t fail me.”
-They went to the Thunderdome with the rows of LED screens with fans cheering and giving thumbs up.
-Jeff Hardy made his ring entrance. The announcer recapped Hardy’s IC Title win last week over A.J. Styles. Hardy said he doesn’t want to rest after his win, although he’s just happy he’s able to stand after what Styles did to him last week. Styles walked out and said Hardy looks pretty proud of what he did. He said he’s not a conquering hero. He said he’s a liar and a cheat. He accused Hardy of seeking out a doctor to put an illegal weapon on his knee. He said now the same doctor won’t clear him to wrestle tonight. Hardy said that’s too bad because he was going to issue an open challenge for anyone in the back. Styles said he’s taking advantage of the system. Hardy heard enough and punched Styles after Styles shoved him and poked him in the chest. Cole wondered who would take Hardy’s challenge. [c]
(1) JEFF HARDY vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA – Intercontinental Title match
Styles joined Cole and Graves on commentary. Styles kept ranting about Hardy putting an illegal object on his knee. Graves said he was basically fighting The Terminator last week. Nakamura targeted Hardy’s knee. They cut to a soundbite with Cesaro where he was asked if Nakamura accepting this challenge indicates Nakamura is more ambitious than him. Cesaro said he just stepped away for a minute and he returned and Nakamura had accepted the challenge. He said he didn’t get any notice or even a text. He said all it proves is Nakamura is more impulsive than him. He wished his partner well in a snotty tone. Hardy made a comeback and clotheslined Nakamura over the top rope. He threw Nakamura into Styles at the announce desk. They cut to a break. [c]
After the break, Styles was ranting about Hardy throwing Nakamura at him. Hardy went for a Twist of Fate, but Nakamura countered it and applied a sleeper. Hardy escaped, kneed Nakamura in the head, then gave Nakamura a Twist of Fate. Styles complained they were going to allow this to keep happening. Hardy landed the Swanton for the win. “What a cheater!” Styles yelled at Hardy afterward.
WINNER: Hardy in 13:00 to retain the Intercontinental Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action, but it feels like Hardy vs. Nakamura ought to come across a bit more epic than a forgettable TV match. I’m interested in whether that Cesaro promo leads anywhere in terms of breaking them up.)
-After the match, as Styles yelled at Hardy that he cheated to win, Sami Zayn’s music played and he walked out onto the stage. Sami danced onto the stage. He obnoxiously circled Hardy and held up his belt. He said he is the one Intercontinental Champion. Hardy held up his belt. They turned to Styles who stood on the bottom of the ramp. Sami blindsided Hardy with a kick and yelled, “Fraud!” Sami left. Hardy struggled to stand.
(Keller’s Analysis: Styles was a riot just whining and complaining incessantly, with the satisfaction coming from the fact that the knee brace causing him so much strife is all due to his attacking Hardy from behind.)
-They showed Ramblin’ Rabbit shining up the Universal Title belt. [c]
-Kayla Braxton asked Sami why he attacked Hardy. He asked Kayla if she has been following his Twitter account. He said he’s been righting wrongs. He said Styles and now Hardy are fraudulent champions. He said he won his title on March 20 and defended it at WrestleMania. He said he never lost it. She asked why he hasn’t been able to defend it for five months. He said many valid reasons he doesn’t have to explain to anyone. He said he is a man of Montreal, Quebec and spoke in French.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s strange that they’re probably never going to give even a storyline reason for Sami for being gone for so long. He’s just going to stonewall and talk circles around it and say it’s no one’s business. He’s making it work. His obnoxious energy is welcome on Smackdown.)
-Firefly Funhouse: After the jingle, Bray walked into the Funhouse to cheers. He excitedly welcomed everyone and smiled and waved. He said it sure feels good to be back home with all of his friends. Mercy the Buzzard, Huskus, Ramblin’ Rabbit, and Abby were all shown. After Huskus spoke some nonsense, Bray said the Internet is rotting his brain. Bray said he can’t help but feel something is missing, but what could it be? He then suddenly appeared holding the Universal Title belt. He said it’s back and neither of those monsters with the big nasty teeth can take it away this time. He got more serious as he said it’s great to see Roman again. Adam Pearce arrived in a Postman outfit. “Look everyone, it’s Postman Pearce!” Bray said nothing can stop him from making his rounds, not even a dystopian hellscape. He presented him with a contract to sign. Bray asked, “Why would I sign it?” Pearce fearfully said sometimes there appears to be a connection between Bray and Fiend. Fiend appeared on the screen. Bray laughed and said he’d sign it. He said if he knows Him like he thinks he does, he just signed a couple of death warrants. He closed with, “Let me in.”
(Keller’s Analysis: The postman outfit was a fun touch given the “Mister Rogers” vibe to the Funhouse. I liked Pearce having to tip-toe around the fact that Bray and Fiend are one in the same. Bray played it well.)
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside. Cole touted Thunderdome, then said one signature is down, two to go. They threw to a video package on Matt Riddle’s issues with King Corbin.
-Matt Riddle made his ring entrance. He said if Corbin has something to prove, yet he doesn’t seem willing to face him, so prove him wrong right now. [c]
(2) MATT RIDDLE vs. CHAD GABLE (w/King Corbin)
Corbin came out. Gable jumped Riddle from behind and the bell rang. Corbin said he accepted the match “on behalf of Shorty G.” The screen noted #Smackdown was the no. 1 trend on Twitter in the United States. Riddle absorbed some suplexes, but then Riddle came back with a knee to the chin and the Bro Derek for the win. Corbin charged at Riddle after the match, but Riddle outmaneuvered him. Corbin bailed out right away to ringside.
WINNER: Riddle in under 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A Riddle-Gable match could be so good if Riddle wasn’t treat as a joke.)
-Cole hyped the return of Talking Smack. They threw to a clip of The Miz hosting alongside Braxton. Miz asked Big E about joking around too much. Big E said when the time comes, he will deliver, but unlike Miz, he wasn’t handed everything early. Big E said he’s on the path. Then they went to a clip from earlier in the day of Big E speaking at his phone and said he doesn’t want to be on Miz TV. Miz and Morrison walked up to him. Miz asked what he just said. In walked Sheamus. Otis and Tucker joined Big E. Cole said a huge six-man tag team match was booked for later as a result of that face-off backstage.
-They cut to Big E and Heavy Machinery playing with a sausage. Sasha Banks and Bayley walked up to them and said they were big goofs playing with their meat. They laughed. Bayley said some people can only handle a tag team championship. She meant it as a dig at Big E and Heavy Machinery, but Sasha took some offense. She tried to laugh it off, but she seemed bothered. [c]
-Backstage, Pearce was back in his suit. He knocked on the locker room door for Roman Reigns. No answer.
-Braxton approached Corbin, who said on Sunday he’s going to knock Riddle’s teeth down his throat and send him to NXT or UFC of wherever he wants to go next. He said he will prove Riddle doesn’t belong in his kingdom on Smackdown.
-Sasha and Bayley made their entrance. They replayed the Bayley retaining her title at Summerslam with Sasha “taking a bullet for Bayley,” but Sasha losing to Asuka later when Bayley opted to not help in the same way. Cole said Sasha was very upset. Cole shifted to hyping Sasha & Bayley defending against Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler from Raw. He wondered if those two could get along.
-Bayley said this is one of the most difficult weeks of their careers, having to defend their singles titles at Summerslam and now having to defend their tag team titles at Payback. She said they are the best tag team, though, and they look great together. Bayley called herself Bayley Two Belts and felt bad when she couldn’t add a similar superlative for Sasha. Sasha’s mood got gloomy. Bayley said it’s all her fault. She said she never should have let her challenge Asuka for the title. She said she could see how much Sasha wanted what she had, but as her best friend, she should have known her history of being unable to defend a singles title. Sasha looked off to the side and hung her head. Bayley said they’re going to move forward. She told Sasha she’s not alone, they’re in it together, and they’re stronger together. Bayley said Sasha always says those tag team titles represent their friendship, and Sunday they cannot lose. Sasha agreed they can’t lose. Sasha said a lot has happened in the past couple of days, but together they can get through anything. Sasha said she knows who she is and what she stands for. She said she is still her best friend.
Nia Jax and Baszler interrupted on the big screen. Baszler said Sasha’s week is going to get worse. Jax said the only person she can’t stand more than Shayna is Sasha & Bayley. Baszler said she despises Jax “and she sucks,” but she wants those tag team titles. Trash talk seemed to bring Sasha and Bayley together. Graves said he has a feeling there will be new tag champions on Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s tough to tell if the Sasha-Bayley breakup is revving up or this is just another part of the ebb and flow of Sasha seeming to be ready to break things off with Bayley only to forgive her and move forward. Certainly if things unravel on Sunday and they lose the tag titles, this could be the beginning of the end. Bayley stumbling into insulting Sasha a couple of times but denying she meant it as it sounded was played really effectively, with there being just enough room for Sasha to think it was malicious on Bayley’s part.)
-Backstage Drew Gulak asked Pearce if he’s seen Strowman because he wanted to get back at him after what he did to him last week. Gulak walked up to Strowman and bashed him in the back with a chair. Strowman no-sold it. Gulak threw Pearce the chair and ran away. Strowman turned around and said the only way he’s going to sign that contract is if he can get Gulak in the ring right now. Pearce said, “Sounds like a plan.” [c]
-Cesaro told Nakamura he needs to know they’re a team. Sami walked in and sang “Reunited and it feels s good!” He hugged Nakamura. They didn’t seem that excited to see him, though. Nakamura said, “Four months and not even a phone call.” Cesaro said he vanished and some things changed for the better. He pointed at the Smackdown Tag Team belts. Sami said that was part of his plan. He put his IC belt next to theirs on the table and said it’s the Championship Lounge. Cesaro asked for some privacy to finish the conversation he was having with Nakamura. Sami was surprised and disappointed they wanted him to go. Sami claimed he had to go anyway because he had so much to do.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seeing Sami try to talk his way back into the good graces of Nakamura and Cesaro was a blast. It’s tough to tell if Nakamura and Cesaro are through with Sami or not, but it was strange to have that going on during a show where Cesaro also seemed upset with Nakamura for going after a singles title without checking with him first. I wouldn’t mind a Cesaro singles babyface run including a feud with Nakamura at the onset.)
(3) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. DREW GULAK
Cole asked what Gulak was thinking. Strowman dominated and won with a powerslam.
WINNER: Strowman in 2:00.
-Afterward, Pearce met Strowman on the stage and presented him with the contract. Braun signed it. Cole said they’re still awaiting Reigns’s signature.
-Backstage Lucha House Party were talking through their differences. Kalisto said he’ll show them how its done in his match next. Cesaro and Nakamura attacked Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado. [c]
(4) CESARO (w/Shinsuke Nakamura) vs. KALISTO
Cole and Graves talked about Sami’s return and the less-than-warm reception he received from Nakamura and Cesaro. Cole said they know Reigns is there. Kalisto leaped onto Cesaro’s shoulders and turned it into a leaping DDT for a near fall. Nice spot. When Nakamura stood on the ring apron to interfere, Dorado and Metalik ran out to stop him. Cesaro then rolled up Kalisto from behind. Cole said Kalisto was distracted by Dorado and Metalik running out there.
WINNER: Cesaro in 5:00.
-Afterward, Kalisto argued with Dorado and Metalik.
-Backstage Pearce updated McMahon that he had signatures from Wyatt and Strowman. McMahon advised Pearce to go knock the door down to Reigns’s locker room. He told him to ram the door with his shoulder. [c]
-They hyped Talking Smack would feature Sami, Riddle, and Big E as guests.
-Backstage Tamina walked up to Nikki Cross and asked how Alexa Bliss is doing. She also asked about the mug she was holding. Nikki said it was a gift last year Alexa gave her. In walked Bliss who was all smiles and asked, “How’s my best friend?” She was super perky. Nikki said she’s glad to see her so happy. Bliss noted she hasn’t worn her head in pony tails in a long time and it’s so cute. She noticed a strange strand that was reminiscent of The Fiend’s dreadlock style. She said she didn’t think it was a good look that fit Bliss. Bliss freaked out and said she thought they were friends, then bashed the coffee mug Nikki had, which was a gift from Bliss to Nikki last year.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nikki went on a roller coaster of emotions here, from being elated she was back and seemed to be in such a good mood to her alarm that Bliss had a dreadlock and dismay at her cherished mug being shattered. Bliss is really good playing her character, and her journey toward becoming some sort of Fiend disciple or partner is going to be fun to watch. I expect some major developments on Sunday.)
-Sheamus came up to Miz and Morrison who discussed strategy for their six-man tag match. Morrison they can’t let Big E in the match. He said they have to keep Tucker on the ring apron. He also said they can’t let Otis tag in because he’s a wildcard. Sheamus was frustrated said, “Just follow my lead.” Cole said Morrison isn’t the brightest bulb.
-Big E and Heavy Machinery made their ring entrance. Big E made a “snow angel” in the ring. [c]
-Pearce entered Reigns’s locker room. He presented Reigns with the contract. Reigns examined it. They cut back to the ring.
-A commercial hyped Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins for Raw on Monday.
(5) MIZ & MORRISON & SHEAMUS vs. BIG E & HEAVY MACHINERY (Otis & Tucker)
As Miz and Morrison made their ring entrance, Graves said Miz cancelled Miz TV to focus on this match. Cole said that’s not true, Big E refused to be on it. Graves said he talked with Miz so he knows the truth. Sheamus came out next. Otis took control early against Morrison, then tagged in Tucker. Tucker tagged Big E right away, which created a ten second window to triple-team Morrison. Clever. Tucker scored a two count, but Sheamus broke up the pin. Cole said Sheamus has taken offense that Big E has tried to become the locker room leader in the face of Retribution. Graves said a locker room leader is chosen by consensus, not someone appointing themselves. Cole told Graves that’s what happened so he should check his sources. Morrison came back by dropkicking Morrison out of the ring. Tucker dropkicked Sheamus at ringside. He returned to the ring and took Morrison down with a clothesline. When he went for the cover, Sheamus rang the bell. The ref was confused and Tucker stood up and didn’t get the three count. Cole exclaimed, “Sheamus, what are you doing?” They cut to a break. [c]
Cole said Pearce is still trying to get Reigns to sign the contract. Sheamus reached for a tag, but Miz chose to tag Morrison instead. As the match continued, Cole plugged the main event of Payback pending the contract signing. Otis and Big E broke up Morrison’s cover on Tucker after a double-team by Morrison and Miz. Sheamus tagged the back of Morrison rather stiffly, but the ref didn’t see it. Sheamus argued with ref Charles Robinson. Morrison went back after Miz. Morrison charged into the ropes and knocked Sheamus to the floor. Sheamus threw a fit and yanked off the top of the announce desk. He pounded the ring apron and yelled at Miz, then turend to leave. Miz went after Sheamus to calm him, but Sheamus turned around threateningly. Miz backed away. Sheamus walked to the back and didn’t return.
Tucker tagged in Big E just as Miz tagged in. The crowd noise was more prominent here during Big E’s rally than the rest of the match, so WWE is getting more adept at creating a more natural crowd noise environment. Big E landed a running splash, then clapped. Miz rolled to the floor, then snapped Big E’s neck over the top rope. Cole called Miz “shrewd.” When he charged, Big E caught him with uranage. Morrison jumped in. Otis tagged in and knocked him down and tried to give the Caterpillar to Miz. Miz moved but Otis landed on Morrison instead. In a rapid sequence, Miz gave Otis a Skull Crushing Finale, then Big E entered and gave Miz a Big Ending for the three count.
WINNERS: Big E & Heavy Machinery in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The lack of crowd pop for a babyface winning still feels odd. They either ought to add some real people (trainees or wrestlers) to react or just add some crowd noise that matches a crowd pop.)
-A ticked off sounding Reigns was sitting in his locker room as Pearce loomed over him. He told Pearce he will be at Payback and he will wreck everyone and leave. “That is a guarantee,” he said. He vowed he will walk out with the Universal Title he never lost in the first place on Sunday. He looked to his left and smiled. Then he said: “That is not just a prediction, that is a spoiler.” The camera panned to the right and there was a smiling Paul Heyman sitting next to him. Heyman said, “Believe… that.” He leaned into Reigns and smiled. Reigns smirked at Heyma and nodded, then looked away.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cue the “Holy Shit” chant. It was tough to tell exactly how Reigns felt about aligning with Heyman. He might have seemed slightly torn and conflicted, or he might have seemed smug and self-satisfied knowing a lot of people would be buzzing. I’m completely intrigued here. I love it. I’ve long thought Reigns could be a generational-mega-star if he was slotted in a role that he was more suited for and this could be it. Teaming him with Heyman has so many ramifications. What does it mean for Brock Lesnar? Is Reigns a full-fledged heel or more of a tweener? Does Heyman do 99 percent of the talking now, or will Reigns really blossom as a heel on the mic and end up sharing the word-count nearly equally with Heyman? I’m really excited to see this play out more on Sunday and in coming weeks and months. Does this lead to a heel Reigns against a babyface Goldberg at some point? Perhaps against The Rock at WrestleMania next year in Hollywood? Who lines up against Reigns in the mean time? I like Matt Riddle against Reigns as a match-up. Also, perhaps, Big E.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: You could probably fit everything about this newsworthy show that’s really worth watching into around ten minutes, but the rest of the show wasn’t bad or boring; it just wasn’t must see. With the Bliss-Nikki interaction, the return of Sami, the Sheamus walk-out on Miz & Morrison, the Sasha-Bayley interaction, Styles reacting to the loss of the IC Title, the Pearce-McMahon interaction, and the Firefly Funhouse with Postman Pearce, there were a lot of key moments and developments or just noteworthy interactions on the show.