Smackdown – July 3, 2020

Smackdown
Date: July 3, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Corey Graves, Michael Cole

Things should be a bit more back to normal this week as we won’t be having the big Undertaker tribute taking up half of the show. Instead, we’ll be seeing Sheamus toast Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles defending the Intercontinental Title against Drew Gulak, both of which were originally scheduled for last week. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Michael Cole is in the ring and brings out Matt Riddle for a chat. Cole asks Riddle about coming here and if he can explain what it means to beat AJ Styles. Riddle: “Uh, not really.” Riddle talks about how he could get used to facing people like AJ Styles and having success in NXT and here on Smackdown. As for the bare feet, it comes from when he was a kid and went on vacation to Wisconsin. He would play in the snow then get in the indoor pool. One day he did it a little too long and got frostbite on his feet.

It was so bad that he almost lost his toes and wearing shoes gives him that same weird feeling. So he doesn’t wear shoes no matter what he’s doing, whether it’s going to a wedding or hanging out with a bear. Cue King Corbin to say that story was a waste of time and to send Cole back to commentary. Riddle can’t carry his crown and no one wants him here. Riddle: “You do you bro.” Corbin: “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN???”. The challenge is on but Corbin says he has something else in mind.

Matt Riddle vs. John Morrison

Miz is at ringside, Corbin is on commentary and Riddle kicks his shoes at him to start. Morrison takes him down to start but Riddle grabs the leg, sending Morrison over to the leg. As Corbin makes Fast Times At Ridgemont High references, Morrison hits such a loud forearm that commentary stops to gasp at the noise. Riddle shrugs it off and rolls some gutwrench suplexes but Morrison grabs an Alabama slam.

An ankle lock has Riddle in trouble but Morrison slips out and hits another loud Flying Chuck. The chinlock doesn’t last long so Morrison goes with a springboard spinning crossbody for two. Morrison’s running knee gets the same and Riddle says hit him again, only to have Morrison thumb him in the eye. Riddle gets sent outside, where he throws a flip flop at Corbin as we take a break.

Back with the two of them slugging it out until Riddle hits a Broton into the Bro To Sleep for two. The Floating Bro hits knees though and Morrison gets frustrated at the kickout. Riddle grabs a rear naked choke (which may be the new Bromission) but Morrison gets up and makes it to the corner.

Riddle gets up top but gets caught in a super Spanish Fly, followed by a regular Spanish Fly for two more. Back up and Riddle wins the slugout but Morrison scores with a dropkick. That doesn’t have much effect though as Riddle hits a powerbomb into the Final Flash for two. With that not working, Riddle reverses a small package into one of his own for the pin at 15:04.

Rating: B-. It was a good back and forth match with Riddle pulling out a hard fought win, but how interesting can it be if we’re just getting ready for a Corbin vs. Riddle showdown? The Corbin involvement has an amazing ability to suck the life out of anything and that isn’t changing for Riddle. I can’t imagine Riddle has any serious problem beating him, but it feels like something we’re getting through instead of something that actually matters.

Post match it’s AJ Styles running in to beat on Riddle, with Drew Gulak making the save as Miz, Morrison and Corbin watch.

Post break, Miz and Morrison aren’t happy but Corbin has an idea on how to take care of Riddle.

Intercontinental Title: AJ Styles vs. Drew Gulak

Gulak is challenging and in the red white and blue trunks for the 4th of July. Or maybe an Apollo Creed/Rocky Balboa deal. Neither gets an entrance after the previous segment, which feels a little more realistic for a change. They start fast with AJ hammering away in the corner and on the mat as Daniel Bryan drops in via picture in picture to say Gulak is looking good. AJ’s chinlock doesn’t last long so he hammers away in the corner as Bryan talks about how few holes AJ has in his game.

Bryan says Gulak can hang in there though, as he showed when he was “205 Live Champion”. Gulak fires back with some forearms but AJ takes him down with the dragon screw legwhip. AJ starts in on the leg as you can see what looks like “Havoc” written on Gulak’s wrist tape. Hopefully in October. The Calf Crusher is countered into a kind of Crossface, sending AJ over to the rope. Frustration sets in and Gulak dropkicking him through the ropes makes it worse.

Back from a break with AJ getting two off a brainbuster and going after Gulak’s eyes. Gulak sends him hard into the corner but AJ snaps the throat across the top. As Bryan says he would never count Gulak out, we hit the chinlock to keep Gulak down. Graves: “What’s that river in Washington Cole? Denial?” Cole: “The Nile is actually in Egypt.”

As the air goes out of the room on that one, Gulak gets in Snake Eyes in the corner and some dropkicks to stagger AJ some more. The Falcon Arrow gets two but AJ slips out of the superplex attempt. AJ powerbombs him out of the corner into the Styles Clash for no cover. The Phenomenal Forearm retains at 17:02.

Rating: B-. Another good, back and forth match here though I’m not sure how much of a reason there was to believe Gulak had a chance. You can probably pencil in another Bryan vs. Styles match at Extreme Rules and then Riddle waiting on the winner at Summerslam, which sounds like a good use of the next seven or so weeks. Just let AJ and Bryan do something every other week on Smackdown and they’ll be fine for a long time.

Here are Sasha Banks and Bayley for a chat. They brag about how they’re on all three shows but no one has been showing them any respect. The only people who care about them is the Undertaker, or Taker as Bayley likes to call him. He called Bayley last week and said he was embarrassed by all of the tributes Smackdown gave him last week when Bayley Dos Straps is the greatest champion in WWE history. Undertaker wants Bayley and Banks to win all the titles at Extreme Rules and thinks they should get their own tribute this week.

We aren’t waiting any longer so here is said tribute, as made by Bayley and Banks and set to a song about doing it for the glory. Banks talks about Bayley’s Grand Slam and how the closest anyone is getting to that is going to Denny’s. Back in the arena, they chant thanks to each other but here are Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss to interrupt.

They have a presentation of their own, with various interesting facts about each other (Cross is 325th in line to the throne of England and Bliss drove across Antarctica in a go kart). They get in the ring and Cross says she can win the title. Bliss slaps Bayley down so Banks makes the Bliss vs. Bayley match for right now.

Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss

Non-title with Cross and Banks at ringside. Bayley, in street clothes, is taken down to start and Bliss pokes her in the nose. Back up and Bayley sends her into the corner but what looked like a Twist of Fate over the ropes is broken up. Back in and Bayley goes after the arm, including snapping it over her shoulder a few times.

The armbar goes on for a bit until Bayley misses a stomp to the arm. Bliss gets in a shot to the face but Bayley is right back with a corner splash and a bulldog for two. Cross freaks out so Banks gets in a cheap shot, only to have Cross run Banks over. Bayley doesn’t like that so Cross decks her for the DQ at 5:23.

Rating: C-. That felt a lot longer than five and a half minutes as the arm work kept going, but it was a fine way for Bayley to be able to look dominant and talk down to Cross at the same time. I’m not sure how much of an interest there is going to be in seeing Bayley vs. Cross at the pay per view, but they need something to stretch it out until someone can give Bayley a real threat. How many times does that need to be the case though?

We get a special look at Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt. Strowman met him in the swamp and became part of the Wyatt Family, and we hear some old school Wyatt “everything is evil” narration. Strowman liked being Bray’s horseman but has managed to lock that side of himself away. Bray wants to take a step back and destroy what he created, but Strowman wants to drown Bray in his own swamp. A lot of laughter ensues. Still not caring in the slightest and the amount of time this build is getting is starting to rival how long Strowman actually spent with Wyatt.

Kofi Kingston vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Big E. and Cesaro are here. Kofi dropkicks Nakamura into the corner to start and then knocks him to the apron. Another dropkick puts Nakamura on the floor but he moves before Kofi can dive. Back in and a Cesaro distraction lets Nakamura get in a kick to the head before choking on the ropes. Big E. goes after Cesaro on the floor and they’re both ejected as we take a break.

We come back with Nakamura hammering away before having to duck the Trouble in Paradise. A spinning kick to the head drops Kofi but he’s right back with the SOS for two. Kofi’s standing double stomp gets two but Trouble in Paradise is blocked. Nakamura can’t get a sleeper so it’s a running knee to the head to finish Kofi at 11:50.

Rating: C+. This is the kind of match that is going to work well every time given who was in there. You can all but guarantee a title match between the teams at Extreme Rules and I’ll certainly take that over the horror show that it would have been to see the Forgotten Sons try to be interesting. I would still prefer Nakamura or Cesaro getting a one off World Title shot than someone like Dolph Ziggler, but that’s not how WWE works.

Post match Cesaro is back to load up a table but Big E. runs out for the save.

The Tag Team Title match is set for next week.

Here’s Jeff Hardy for the big toast, meaning there is a big bar full of liquor in the ring and a bartender. Sheamus pops up on screen at his own bar though, saying he wanted to let Jeff blow off some steam. Last week, Jeff got to stand up for Undertaker but it was just another quick fix like Jeff always needs. Sheamus talks about all of the rehab costing Jeff money and respect, but the real problem is facing reality.

Hardy has felt sorry for himself since losing at Backlash and now Hardy has been trying to stick his nose in someone else’s business. This is going to be different though right? This time Jeff isn’t going to be a giant disappointment. The truth is that Jeff is lying to himself and the solution is in one of those bottles. Here’s to a proper toast: may your troubles be less and your blessing be more, as you drink yourself blind and pass out on the floor. Your wife and kids cry when you enter her thoughts because your life has been nothing but a series of DUI’s and mugshots.

Jeff calls Sheamus the sickest man he has ever met and he can’t believe Sheamus would do this. Sheamus knows Jeff wants to jump back into the gutter with both feet, so the bartender offers him a glass. Sheamus says follow your instincts so Jeff takes the glass and asks what’s the worst that could happen. He puts the glass to his mouth and then pours it on the bartender’s head. Jeff breaks a bottle over the bartender’s head and hits a Swanton to end the show. This was uh, quite a lot and probably not their best idea.

Overall Rating: C-. This show was a great example of the wrestling working and everything else falling apart. The first two matches were both rather good TV matches and a great use of about 45 minutes. Then there were things like Strowman and Wyatt’s segment, the toast segment and Corbin’s….well mere existence really. It certainly had its moments and the first half is good, but dang you can tell they’re putting on whatever they can think of in some spots.

Results

Matt Riddle b. John Morrison – Small package

AJ Styles b. Drew Gulak – Phenomenal Forearm

Bayley b. Alexa Bliss via DQ when Nikki Cross interfered

Shinsuke Nakamura b. Kofi Kingston – Running knee to the head

 

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