Smackdown – April 17, 2020

Smackdown
Date: April 17, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

It’s time to move forwards towards Money in the Bank and this time around we are finding out who else is going to be involved in the women’s match, plus the first man involved. I’m not sure how much steam these empty arena shows have left but they’re all we’re getting at the moment. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Cole runs down the card.

It’s time for A Moment Of Bliss to start things off. After bragging about being two time Women’s Tag Team Champions (I completely forgot their first reign, which isn’t a good sign for titles that are fourteen months old), Nikki Cross brings out Braun Strowman. They congratulate Braun on being the new Universal Champion but bring up the fact that he is officially defending against Bray Wyatt (not the Fiend) at Money in the Bank.

Strowman knows Bray and the games he plays so Bray is going to get these hands. There’s a present on the mat though and it seems to be for Braun. Inside is….the old mask he wore as part of the Wyatt Family. Braun looks upset and we hear Bray’s laughter as a picture of Braun in the mask comes on the screen.

Post break, Cole and Graves explain what we just saw.

Sasha Banks vs. Tamina

If Tamina wins, she gets a Women’s Title match at Money in the Bank and Bayley is on commentary. Sasha throws her a shirt to start but Tamina says it’s not the right size. The shirt is thrown at Bayley and Banks’ rollup completely fails. A headbutt sends Banks to the floor and we take a break.

Back with Sasha hammering away and bending the back of Tamina’s neck around the rope. The chinlock goes on but Tamina fights up with something like a Rock Bottom to send Sasha outside. Bayley offers a distraction so Sasha can get in a posting, a 619 on the apron and a ram into the steps. Bayley loads up a cheap shot but here’s Lacey Evans to cut her off. Tamina hits a superkick and hits a second inside for the pin and the title shot at 8:34.

Rating: D+. So yeah we have the next Jinder Mahal here, as Tamina has never done anything of note (until she won a triple threat match a few weeks ago, she hadn’t won a match in over a year) but now she wins a match or two and we’re supposed to forget about how unimportant and nothing she has been for years. It’s bad storytelling, it’s illogical, it’s annoying to the fans who watch every week and WWE is going to keep doing it over and over because they don’t know how long term storytelling and character building works anymore.

Jey Usos is ready for the triple threat and shouts a lot.

Post break Lacey says wherever Sasha goes, she goes. She’s a Marine, and isn’t stopping until the mission is accomplished. That would be no more Sasha, which is written on the back of her hand.

Sheamus vs. Denzel DeJournette

Sheamus shrugs off a takedown attempt and elbows/knees away at the head. The Brogue kick finishes at 1:03.

Post match Cole starts introducing a video on Jeff Hardy but Sheamus interrupts and asks what is Cole’s malfunction. That’s too much disrespect to Sheamus, fella.

We get the second part of the Jeff Hardy video, which features a bunch of dives that banged Hardy up. It resulted in his addiction issues and caused his career to start spiraling down. Then he left in 2009 (the World Title reigns aren’t mentioned) and we see some videos of him high and drunk, which are still hard to watch. This led to a lot of his legal problems and Jeff knows that he has a lot to make up for. Part three next week.

Carmella comes up to Dana Brooke and isn’t happy that Dana isn’t focused on their Tag Team Title match next week. Dana explains the Money in the Bank idea and says she can do both. Carmella isn’t convinced, just like I’m not convinced that any WWE writer has ever had a conversation with a human if this is supposed to sound authentic.

Commentary talks about the Money in the Bank ladder matches….which will take place at WWE Corporate headquarters with the briefcases ON THE ROOF OF TITAN TOWERS! Well that’s a new one!

Money In The Bank Qualifying Match: Naomi vs. Dana Brooke

Naomi’s helmet is back and at least it covers up that ridiculous looking hair. Naomi kicks her down for two to start but gets thrown outside. Back in and Dana grabs a bodyscissors, allowing her to talk a lot of extra audible trash. That’s broken up so Naomi kicks her in the head a few times, followed by a springboard kick to the face for two. A powerbomb gives Dana the same but the Rear View connects for two more. Naomi is SHOCKED that it didn’t work, making me roll my eyes a good bit. The split legged moonsault misses though and Brooke gets a rollup pin at 4:10.

Rating: D+. I still like Brooke more than most but it’s in the same vein as Tamina: she has barely won anything and yet we’re supposed to take her as a threat. Even if there’s a huge upset and she wins the ladder match and title, it’s still way too much to buy her as a top star. Wins and losses matter if you watch regularly and while this isn’t as bad as Tamina getting a title shot, I’m still not buying it.

During the post match replays, Corey says Dana is the first person to kick out of the Rear View. Normally I’d have to look it up but I’m just refusing to believe that’s true.

Long recap of Otis/Mandy Rose and the Sonya Deville/Dolph Ziggler plan to stop them.

Here’s a very upset Sonya Deville to beg Mandy’s forgiveness. They’ve been friends forever and for the first time in forever, Mandy isn’t here. Sonya has wanted to tell her something but here’s Mandy in person to cut her off. Fighting back tears, Sonya says….that Mandy is the most selfish human being she has ever met. As soon as Mandy became interested in Otis, she was ready to kick Sonya to the curb.

Mandy doesn’t get it but Sonya says that Fire & Desire was always about Mandy instead of them. They came out to her music and talked about Mandy’s magazine covers. If Mandy could have focused on the team, everything would be fine. Dolph actually cares about Mandy but she ignored him too. Sonya accepted Dolph’s help because he helped the team but then Mandy had to ruin everything.

Now all Sonya wants to do is see Mandy hurt. Mandy might be pretty but she’s a dime a dozen blonde who was built in a lab. Sonya worked forever to be second to a talentless piece of eye candy. Now Sonya is going to ruin her life because she isn’t going to deal with some centerfold Barbie b****. Cue Ziggler to say he’s made a mistake but they had a great Valentines Day. Mandy slaps his hand away and Sonya jumps her, freaking Dolph out. Otis runs in for the save and house is cleaned, likely setting up a mixed tag. Well done on throwing in a bit of a surprise instead of Sonya declaring her love for Mandy.

We get the tribute video to Howard Finkel. That voice is never going to be topped and it’s very rare to see someone who clearly loved wrestling like he did. We get a lot NEEEEWWWW’s and a look at his comedy stuff, which really did work for him.

Miz thinks it is an injustice that he has to defend the Tag Team Titles in another three person triple threat match after John Morrison already did it at Wrestlemania. I’d call it more of a bad idea than an injustice.

Video on the Forgotten Sons.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Cesaro vs. Daniel Bryan

Shinsuke Nakamura and Drew Gulak are the seconds. Cesaro shows off a bit by jumping up to touch the briefcase above the ring. Bryan wastes no time in knocking Cesaro to the floor for a suicide dive….and here’s the masked guy on the screen to show us more hidden video. He says some keep their friends close and others keep their enemies closer. There is no video shown though and we take a break.

Back with Bryan working on an armbar and then grabbing a cross armbreaker. Cesaro muscles him up with a powerbomb to escape and a slam gets two on Bryan. He heads to the apron but manages to snap Cesaro’s arm across the top rope. A dive off the top is countered into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker though and Cesaro grabs the Sharpshooter. Bryan gets to the rope and goes outside, setting up the running uppercut against the barricade.

Back from another break with Bryan hitting the YES Kicks for two but Cesaro hits a gorilla press knee to the face. The Crossface goes on, only to be reversed into most of the YES Lock. Cesaro clotheslines the heck out of him and unloads with uppercuts in the corner. Bryan’s moonsault out of the corner is caught but Bryan pulls him down into the YES Lock. Nakamura’s interference is cut off by Gulak and Cesaro taps at 14:24.

Rating: B. This is a lot closer to the match that you would have wanted to see from these two as they were given time and allowed to work to their strengths. It helps when you spend a good chunk of your careers wrestling in front of very few people. They know how to do something else and that makes for a better performance like this. Well that and the two of them being Cesaro and Bryan.

Big E. is ready to win the Tag Team Titles on his own. This morning, he slid out of the triple bunk bed and told Kofi and Woods to eat popcorn in the La-Z-Boys because it’s time to become eight time champions.

King Corbin jumps Elias in the back and crushes his hand between two anvil cases. Corbin drags him away. Post break, Corbin steps on Elias’ hand and tells him to sing before hitting him in the throat with a baton. That looks to be it but Corbin breaks the guitar over his back for a bonus. Now this is more like it for Corbin, FAR away from the main event scene and beating up midcarders. I can go for this far more.

Tag Team Titles: Big E. vs. Jey Uso vs. The Miz

Miz is defending the titles on his own. The challengers waste no time in sending Miz outside before Big E. runs Jey over. Big E. talks about having a plan but the other two are back up to suplex him through the announcers’ table. We take a break and come back with Jey hitting back to back suicide dives.

The running Umaga Attacks in the corner make it worse but Big E. catches Jey with the Rock Bottom out of the corner. Miz even goes aerial with a springboard ax handle, allowing him to start the HEY HEY HO HO. Miz can’t Figure Four Jey, who kicks him into Big E. for two instead. The Skull Crushing Final gets two on Jey and now the Figure Four goes on. Big E. breaks that up with the Big Ending to Miz for the pin and the titles at 9:45.

Rating: C-. Kind of a surprising ending as we continue to have New Day as placeholder champions, though they’ve been placeholder champions for what feels like years now. Normally I would say that I hope this doesn’t lead to the Forgotten Sons winning the titles because that would almost guarantee that it does, so yeah I’ve just screwed it up all over again.

We cut to Kofi at his house for an AND NEEEEEEWWWWW for a nice smile inducing moments.

Xavier Woods throws in a bunch of plugs.

Big E. rolls around on the floor shouting EIGHT TIMES to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. This was ok enough as they’ve managed to make these shows feel like any regular Smackdown. That sounds good in theory, but then you remember that a regular Smackdown isn’t much of a show, much like this one wasn’t. It was a decent enough watch with angle advancement and some good wrestling, but it’s nothing overly memorable. I actually liked that mixed tag angle in the middle as much as anything else, as it was well delivered and the motivations make sense. The match will probably be junk, but points for the setup. Not a great show by any means, but watchable enough for Smackdown.

Results

Tamina b. Sasha Banks – Superkick

Sheamus b. Denzel DeJournette – Brogue Kick

Dana Brooke b. Naomi – Sunset flip

Daniel Bryan b. Cesaro – YES Lock

Big E. b. Jey Uso and Miz – Big Ending to Miz

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