Smackdown – July 31, 2020

Smackdown
Date: July 31, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Corey Graves, Michael Cole

Summerslam is getting closer and closer but at the same time we have a lot to do on the way there. That includes a pair of title matches this week as AJ Styles defends the Intercontinental Title against Gran Metalik and Nikki Cross gets another shot at Bayley’s Smackdown Women’s Title. Let’s get to it.

Bayley is ready to beat Nikki Cross again and Sasha Banks laughs a lot.

Nikki says her confidence was in the gutter after Extreme Rules but last week she beat Alexa Bliss, who is better than Bayley and Banks.

Big E. says Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston are in his heart and mind. Tonight, Miz feels the power.

Miz isn’t worried about Big E. having a singles career. John Morrison thinks it sounds like a bad spinoff.

Lacey Evans is ready for the nasty Naomi.

Naomi promises to make Lacey feel the glow.

Gran Metalik wants the Intercontinental Title (in Spanish).

AJ Styles is ready to teach Metalik a lesson.

We go to the Firefly Fun House where Bray Wyatt has a snorkel because he was looking for Braun Strowman. Though maybe the alligators have already eaten Braun. All Bray ever wanted to do was save Braun but now HE is awake and HE wants something Braun has. Until HE gets it, none of you are safe. Let him in.

Intercontinental Title: AJ Styles vs. Gran Metalik

Metalik is challenging and has Lince Dorado with him. AJ drives him into the corner to start and we’re at an early standoff. Some kicks to the ribs take Metalik down and Styles sends him face first into the buckle. There’s a suplex for two and AJ whips him hard into the corner but misses an elbow.

Metalik sends him outside and cuts AJ off at the legs. A running hurricanrana off the apron takes AJ down and we take a break. Back with Metalik hitting a high crossbody but a monkey flip is blocked. AJ starts in on the leg by cranking away on the mat, including a half crab to send Metalik to the rope.

Metalik slips out of the fireman’s carry neckbreaker and snaps off a tornado DDT for a hotter than expected near fall. There’s the rope walk dropkick for two more but AJ is right back with the Phenomenal Blitz. The Phenomenal Forearm misses though and Metalik hits an enziguri for the double breather. Metalik walks the ropes again but AJ knocks him out of the air. The Calf Crusher makes Metalik tap at 14:24.

Rating: B-. This is the kind of thing I can go for: have AJ Styles working with some random wrestler and getting a good match out of him. Metalik can do some good stuff on his own, but Styles is the kind of guy who can do whatever he wants with anyone and make it look easy. Nice stuff here and a perfectly fine match to open the show.

Post match Dorado checks on Metalik and gets taken out with the Styles Clash.

King Corbin comes up to Shorty G. and talks about how overlooked Gable has been. All of the short jokes were there to motivate him, and he can do that against Matt Riddle tonight. Gable seems to think about things. As usual, it’s amazing how much all of the energy that opener put together goes away as soon as Corbin shows up.

We look back at the bar fight last week.

Here’s Hardy for a chat. Jeff has not felt this good in a long time and knows that, as a fan shouts, Sheamus sucks. Last week was a reminder that he is on the right path. It’s true that he is an alcoholic but he is also a loving husband and a WWE star. That is what makes him never want to let anyone down again and he is fighting the struggle every day. Cue King Corbin to say enough about the sobriety stuff.

What is going on around here? Hardy is standing in the ring talking about how tough things is so suck it up and deal with it. Corbin has to deal with that idiotic Matt Riddle who can’t keep his shows and tonight he has to face Drew Gulak. Hardy says maybe Corbin is the real problem but Corbin thinks Hardy is more concerned about sitting in a circle, talking about the twelve steps and collecting coins. Gulak jumps him from behind and we’re off. Well after a break that is. So yeah, Corbin is now in two stories at once, assuming we’re not counting Gulak as a third.

Drew Gulak vs. King Corbin

Joined in progress with Gulak working on the arm and throwing Corbin down. A stomp to the arm sets up the hammerlock as Corbin is sent into the corner. Corbin right hands him out of the corner though and Gulak is rocked in a hurry. It’s off to a half crab on Gulak, with Corbin turning it into the middle of the ring.

That’s reverses into a YES Lock but Corbin gets out and reaches the rope. Some running dropkicks have Corbin in trouble and Gulak adds a top rope clothesline for two. Corbin is back with Deep Six but here’s Matt Riddle for a distraction, setting up a small package for two. Not that it matters as the End of Days finishes Gulak at 5:12.

Rating: C. And yes of course we keep Corbin going because he must be on the show no matter what happens. Corbin continues to do his thing and if we have to see him, I would rather have him in the ring than on the microphone, though it is the lesser of two evils at best. Gulak continues to be a great hand in the ring and that isn’t a bad spot to have.

Post match Riddle runs in and goes after Corbin but Shorty G. runs in with a suplex to Riddle and a smile to Corbin.

Big E. vs. The Miz

John Morrison is here with Miz while Big E. is alone, as commentary makes very clear. Miz gets driven into the corner so Big E. can hit the hip swiveling. Then it’s a fireman’s carry into more swiveling, setting up the spanking abdominal stretch. Miz gets out and slaps him in the face for some reason, which doesn’t go well. They head outside with Miz being sent into various things but Morrison hits a flipping kick off the steps.

Miz gets in a kick to the face and it’s a top rope ax handle back inside. Big E. powers out of a chinlock and sends him to the apron for a clothesline. The apron splash misses though and we take a break. Back with Big E. fighting out of another chinlock but getting kick in the face for two. Big E. is back up again with some belly to belly suplexes into the Warrior Splash. The Big Ending and Skull Crushing Finale are blocked so Miz hits the DDT for two more. There are the YES Kicks but Big E reverses one into a failed powerbomb attempt.

Miz kicks the knee out and kicks away at it in the corner. Some running knees are countered into a not great Rock Bottom out of the corner but the spear through the ropes is countered with another knee. Morrison gets on the apron for a kick to the head though and the Skull Crushing Final gets two. Miz grabs the Figure Four but Big E. gets over to the rope. Morrison teases another kick but gets caught this time for an ejection. Miz panics for a good while and gets rolled up for two, followed by a Stretch Muffler of all things to make Miz tap at 14:00.

Rating: C-. They needed to cut some of the time out of this as Big E. didn’t quite look like a breakout star. The idea of him being out there on his own makes sense, assuming you ignore his Intercontinental Title, NXT Title, and long successful run as part of the New Day. They’re treating him like some rookie who has never done this before and that doesn’t exactly fit anything about him. I liked the ending, but this needed to be about five minutes shorter.

Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura are celebrating when Lucha House Party comes in. They seem interested in a title shot but Cesaro makes fun of Metalik for choking.

Sheamus talks about making the mistake of fighting Jeff Hardy in a bar. No matter how many bottles Sheamus broke over his head, he knew Hardy was fueled by alcohol. Hardy is no longer his problem and that’s bad news for Smackdown. Now, he is the locker room’s problem.

Lacey Evans vs. Naomi

Before the match, Lacey promises to make everyone feel sorry for Naomi when she beats her again. Lacey takes her into the corner to start and goes to tie Naomi’s hair around the rope. That’s broken up as Naomi tries a hurricanrana, earning herself a powerbomb. Naomi’s back is bent around the post with Lacey pulling on the hair, followed by a hard posting.

Lacey traps the hair in the steps but Naomi beats the count and knocks her outside again. Naomi tries a sliding….I want to say sunset bomb or Canadian Destroyer but she loses Lacey on the flip and sends her flying instead, with Cole even asking what the heck that was. Back in and Lacey ties the hair into the ropes again but this time Naomi comes out with a backslide for the pin at 3:18.

Rating: D. I’d love to know who the producer was for this because they probably need to be demoted. It felt like they had about five ideas but none of them were developed and it turned into a mess. Lacey trying to tie the hair up over and over was as close as they got to a point, but the big spot was so horribly botched and I’m still not sure why I should care about Lacey being mad over a karaoke contest. Naomi and Lacey could both be developed into something, though it isn’t happening like this.

Otis and Mandy Rose are here and have plans for a date, with Mandy making some suggestive statements involving food. They’ll be ready in a few minutes but Sonya Deville looks on.

Post break Sonya jumps Mandy and covers her face with makeup. She cuts off a bunch of Mandy’s hair too while screaming about wanting to ruin Mandy’s life. Sonya grabs some electric clippers but referees come in for the save.

After a quick chat from commentary on what we just saw, Heavy Machinery comes in to check on Mandy. Miz and Morrison come int o ask where the adults are because Mandy now looks like a soccer mom. Miz: “Rest asheered, we will take care of this.” Morrison: “Don’t cut it short.” Otis glares them off.

We recap Bayley vs. Nikki Cross, which included Bayley beating her at Extreme Rules and injuring her ribs.

Smackdown Women’s Title: Bayley vs. Nikki Cross

Bayley is defending and Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss are the seconds. Cross starts fast by knocking Bayley around and hitting a monkey flip. The Purge is broken up so Nikki slams her head first into the mat over and over. Bayley is back with a shot in the ropes but Nikki sends her outside in a crash as we take a break. We come back with Bayley running Nikki over and sending her into the buckle. A belly to back suplex drops Nikki on her head for two but a shot to the throat gets her out of trouble.

There’s a tornado DDT for two on Bayley and a reverse DDT onto the apron has her in more trouble. Back in and Nikki gets two off a Regal Cutter but Bayley snaps her throat first across the rope. Bayley goes over to the announcers’ table to mock Nikki’s dance for reasons of general cockiness, allowing Nikki to take her down by the leg. A dropkick through the ropes takes Sasha down and they fight over some rollups for two each. Bayley pops back up and hits the bulldog driver to retain at 10:30.

Rating: C+. They were just starting to cook and then Bayley finished her in a hurry to retain. It didn’t last long but they had me believing they might pull the surprise for a bit. That’s hard to do given how dominant Bayley has been but they need to have someone give her a real challenge because you can only do these same things over and over so many times.

Post match Bayley and Banks leave and the copyright comes up but we stay with Bliss trying to help Nikki up. Nikki says no and shoves her down before leaving on her own. Cue the Fiend of all people to kneel next to Bliss and hold out his hand, which she looks at while shaking her head. Fiend Mandible Claws Bliss to end the show. If we have to do this one more time, that’s a different enough way to go to make it more interesting.

Overall Rating: C. This was a show where they were trying hard and coming close to making it work but then something cut it off. Whether it was Corbin or the Naomi vs. Evans match or reminding us that Hardy is an alcoholic every few segments, this show had a lot of speed bumps and couldn’t overcome all of them. The good stuff was good though, with some solid matches and the potential of Big E. getting his singles push (just don’t have him beat Morrison next week and burn off more of his solo time) being highlights. I liked the show, but I could have liked it a lot more without the issues.

Results

AJ Styles b. Gran Metalik – Calf Crusher

King Corbin b. Drew Gulak – End of Days

Big E. b. The Miz – Stretch Muffler

Naomi b. Lacey Evans – Backslide

Bayley b. Nikki Cross – Bulldog driver

 

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