Smackdown – May 22, 2020

Smackdown
Date: May 22, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

We’re on the road to Backlash and that means the Intercontinental Title tournament is still ongoing. We have two more first round matches tonight and that means we could be in for some interesting showdowns. Other than that, we need to build towards the pay per view and see what we have coming up. Let’s get to it.

We open with the Memorial Day video, which is starting early this year.

Opening sequence.

We open with the Dirt Sheet, where John Morrison’s abs are now certified social media influencers. Miz can’t believe that Otis is Mr. Money in the Bank and goes on a rant about how Braun Strowman teamed together. Miz: “It just makes no sense.” Morrison: “Like Becky Lynch choosing to have a child with Seth Rollins.” Morrison can’t believe that the Universal Champion is the one that Bray Wyatt replaced with puppet animals. Miz: “Bray Wyatt had the choice between Braun Strowman and stuffed animals. HE PICKED STUFFED ANIMALS!”

We have a special feature tonight: rejected Firefly Fun House puppets, all of whom don’t think much of Strowman. One of which is Mandyquin Rose, whose power is to whisper plans into Otis’ ears. Mandyquin: “Not everything about Braun is a monster.” Morrison: “TOO FAR!”

Cue Strowman to say the show isn’t half bad. Now ask him about Bray’s puppets at Money in the Bank. Miz can’t believe that Strowman thinks Bray is done with him. Miz fought Bray Wyatt and it spiraled into the lowest point of his life (and it only took him about a week to bounce back) but Morrison was there to help him. Morrison doesn’t think much of Strowman and manages to get him a match against Miz next.

Miz vs. Braun Strowman

Non-title. Miz slugs away to start and is knocked down with a single forearm to the chest. The running shoulder puts Miz down again and the dominance is on. A low bridge puts Strowman on the floor and Morrison adds a Flying Chuck. Strowman posts himself by mistake and Miz kicks him in the head. The short DDT is blocked though and Miz is driven into the corner. There’s the big toss and the running powerslam finishes Miz at 3:45.

Rating: C-. Miz got some stuff in here but he and Morrison, even combined, shouldn’t be any real threat to Strowman at this point. It’s not a very good match but that wasn’t the point of something like this. Odds are we get Morrison vs. Strowman next week and that’s the end of it as Bray comes back for the PPV title match.

Post match, Morrison challenges Strowman to a handicap match for the title at Backlash. Strowman says it’s on.

Intercontinental Title Tournament First Round: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Styles has officially been traded to Smackdown for wrestlers to be named later. AJ’s headlock is reversed into the same thing from Nakamura, followed by a shot to Styles’ throat. That just earns Nakamura the dropkick, setting up the forearm off. Nakamura kicks him down and we take a break.

Back with AJ hitting the Pele to give us a double knockdown, with AJ up first for the fireman’s carry backbreaker. The Calf Crusher sends Nakamura to the ropes so he can snap off a Landslide for two. The sliding knee gives Nakamura two and he grabs a triangle choke. That’s broken up in an awesome counter into a one armed Styles Clash for two. AJ is sent to the apron and cuts Nakamura off with a kick to the head, setting up the Phenomenal Forearm for the pin at 13:17.

Rating: B-. These two always work well together, though AJ’s sudden face turn was a little jarring. I can go with that though as the trading wrestlers is something that would be fine for a logical storyline explanation of various moves. It’s certainly better than the Brand To Brand thing and a four guest star punch card.

We recap Charlotte stirring the pot between Bayley and Sasha Banks last week.

Bayley doesn’t want Sasha in her corner tonight so she can prove what she can do on her own. Banks doesn’t seem thrilled.

Charlotte vs. Bayley

Non-title and the announcers talk about this like it belongs at Wrestlemania. They also make it clear that this is another part of the Brand To Brand Invitational for Charlotte so that’s two in a row. Bayley tries an early rollup with feet on the ropes but the referee isn’t having it. Charlotte tries the same but only gets one without getting caught. After dropping Charlotte onto the apron, Bayley misses a baseball slide so Charlotte can drop her with a clothesline. Charlotte tosses her over the barricade and calls Sasha out here so she can beat both of them up at once.

Back from a break with Bayley fighting out of a chinlock but being knocked down in a hurry. Charlotte misses the moonsault though and seems to tweak her knee so they go outside. Bayley rams her into the apron and barricade to put her in real trouble, meaning it’s time to hammer away back inside. The chinlock goes on as we hear about Charlotte defending the title against Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley at Takeover. This is noteworthy as it was first reported by TV Guide, who always has someone on the NXT beat.

Charlotte fights up with a fall away slam and sends Bayley face first into the middle buckle. The moonsault misses again (the knee seems fine) so Charlotte hits the big boot for two instead. Bayley kicks her into the corner but the top rope elbow hits knees. That doesn’t hurt Charlotte’s knee either so it’s off to a Liontamer.

That’s reversed into a rollup for two and Bayley sends her head first into the middle buckle for a receipt. The kickout makes Bayley shout at commentary before chopping away at a kneeling Charlotte. Bayley’s Figure Four attempt is blocked with a right hand and Charlotte chops her down in the corner. They fight over a rollup and Bayley grabs the ropes and trunks for the pin at 14:58.

Rating: C+. This worked well enough but it wasn’t exactly the epic that they were going for. Part of that comes from the fact that Bayley does not feel like she’s on Charlotte’s level, despite having practically held the title for a year straight. She’s a distant third to Charlotte and Becky Lynch and a single win over Charlotte, after commentary reminded you how great Charlotte was every chance they could, isn’t some game changer.

Post break Bayley and Sasha are all good.

Otis/Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville/Dolph Ziggler

Otis slams Ziggler down to start so it’s quickly off to the women. Sonya sends Mandy into the corner and shouts a lot as Ziggler whips Otis into the steps. Back from a break with Sonya chinlocking and then kicking Mandy as Otis is up on the apron to shout a lot. Mandy fights up and makes the hot tag to Otis to clean house, including the running splash in the corner. The Caterpillar is loaded up but Ziggler gets over for the tag to Sonya. Mandy’s running knee sends Sonya into the corner and a running dropkick gets two. Sonya knees her in the face though and a running knee finishes Mandy at 9:35.

Rating: D+. Mandy really isn’t very good in the ring and it doesn’t help that Sonya is outclassing her every step of the way. Sonya has been bringing it on the microphone and completely outshined her in the ring here. Sonya just feels way more complete and polished at this point and it is becoming more and more clear every week.

Post match Ziggler hits a superkick to Otis for a bonus.

Jeff Hardy is ready for one more run and it starts with the Intercontinental Title. What better way to kick things off than by beating up a bully like Sheamus?

In Memory of Shad Gaspard. Just a graphic, an hour and a half into the show.

The Forgotten Sons say their blood is on the fans’ hands. Therefore, the fans’ blood should be on their hands.

Long recap of Miz/Morrison vs. Strowman. It was barely an hour ago and we need a long recap? The match is officially set.

Miz isn’t thrilled with Morrison making the challenge but Morrison talks about Strowman’s record in handicap matches. They even quote Sun Tzu about how to get ready, sending them into a Renee Young assisted HEY HEY HO HO dance.

We recap Sheamus vs. Jeff Hardy.

Intercontinental Title Tournament First Round: Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus

Sheamus powers him into the corner to start so Hardy grabs a headlock to take things to the mat. Back up and Jeff hits a running forearm, only to get blasted with a running elbow to the face. The ten forearms to the chest are blocked and Jeff hits a dropkick through the ropes. The dive off the apron is blocked though and Sheamus drives him into the post. That’s not all though as Hardy gets bounced hard onto the announcers’ table. Sheamus shouts at Cole for spending four weeks putting Hardy over as we take a break.

Back with Sheamus dropping a knee and leaving it on Hardy’s face for a bonus. A hard clothesline lets Sheamus talk trash, only to have Jeff fight back with a dropkick. Whisper in the Wind drops Sheamus but Hardy’s delayed cover only gets one. Sheamus grabs the Irish Curse and hits it two more times for a bonus.

Hardy is so out of it that Sheamus can even dance a bit (Graves: “I GOT YOU SHAME-O!”) but Sheamus misses a charge into the post. The basement dropkick gives Hardy two and they head outside, with Hardy hitting the clothesline off the barricade. Back in and the Swanton hits knees to give Sheamus two more. The Brogue Kick misses and Hardy grabs a rollup for the pin at 14:09.

Rating: B. I don’t have anything major to complain about here as they told a good story of Hardy being physically outmatched but surviving long enough to win in the end. It’s a well told story both in the short and long term while also giving us a good match here. Sheamus doesn’t lose much by getting pinned by a legend and can complain about something that cost him the win. I liked this a good bit and it was well put together and executed.

Here are the updated brackets, with the semifinals next week:

Daniel Bryan

Jeff Hardy

AJ Styles

Elias

Overall Rating: B-. This was one of the better shows in a long time and the tournament has a lot to do with that. By having something to build the show around, it keeps things from going too nuts and you can see where a lot of the things are going. It’s not perfect as the Charlotte overkill is on full blast and Strowman vs. Miz/Morrison at the pay per view sounds horrible. I liked the show a lot more than I didn’t though and it was one of the better pandemic episodes.

Results

Braun Strowman b. The Miz – Running powerslam

AJ Styles b. Shinsuke Nakamura – Phenomenal Forearm

Bayley b. Charlotte – Rollup while grabbing the ropes

Sonya Deville/Dolph Ziggler b. Mandy Rose/Otis – Running knee to Rose

Jeff Hardy b. Sheamus – Rollup

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