Smackdown – August 21, 2020

Smackdown
Date: August 21, 2020
Location: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

It’s finally time for Thunderdome as WWE makes its first venture outside of the Performance Center since the Coronavirus began. I’m not sure what to expect here and in a way that’s a nice feeling. WWE knows how to do something like this, but they could also screw it up very, very badly. Let’s get to it.

We open in the arena with lightning on the ceiling and the pyro going off (a lot of it too). You know it’s the Thunderdome because it says so on their big signs.

And here’s Vince McMahon with the virtual fans around the ring. Vince promises that you’ll never see it coming this week….and here’s the Fiend. After a very long entrance, they do the staredown but here’s Braun Strowman to interrupt. The lights start to flicker and here’s Retribution to surround the apron. Fiend nods at Strowman and then waves. There go the lights again and Fiend is gone, leaving Strowman alone with probably twelve members of Retribution.

They all come in and jump him so here’s part of the locker room for a failed save attempt. More of them come out, including some women, and they finally clear Retribution out (including one mask being moved to the side but you can’t see the face). Retribution bails with Miz coming in after everyone is gone. Strowman is helped up…and throws down Drew Gulak and Jimmy Uso, who had helped save him.

That’s it for the opening segment and the best thing I can say is a lot of stuff happened. The problem is how little interest I had as soon as Strowman came out, because he is still one of the least interesting top stars the company has had in forever. Also, nothing really happened here other than Strowman being a jerk.

Sheamus vs. Big E.

The locker room is still around the ring. They power each other around to start until Big E. clotheslines him out to the floor. A shoulder puts Sheamus into the steps and the apron splash connects. Sheamus is fine enough to come back in with a top rope clothesline as Cole wonders why Retribution has not delivered a manifesto (yes a manifesto) to explain what they want. The Irish Curse connects and the lights start to flicker as we take a break.

Back with Big E. hitting a belly to belly into the Warrior Splash. Sheamus hits a jumping knee to the face for two but Big E. grabs a Rock Bottom out of the corner. Big E.’s charge hits the post and Sheamus grabs White Noise as Matt Riddle and King Corbin get in a fight on the floor. Sheamus gets distracted and Big E. grabs a rollup for the pin at 10:07.

Rating: C. They were having a nice power match here but Big E. needs a distraction to beat Sheamus? Big E. winning more matches is a good idea and hopefully they can continue as we keep going forward. WWE could have something there with his push, but a fluke rollup on Sheamus after a Corbin distraction causes the pin isn’t exactly a breakthrough win.

Jeff Hardy, scheduled to challenge for the Intercontinental Title tonight, has hurt his knee. Someone may have attacked him, though I’m more surprised by seeing Hardy’s leg, possibly for the first time ever.

Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura jump the Lucha House Party from behind on their way to the ring.

Tag Team Titles: Cesaro/Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Lucha House Party

Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado are challenging for the Party. Nakamura and Metalik start things off with the former hitting a knee to the ribs. Another running knee in the corner gets two as we get an inset interview with Miz and John Morrison, who make Spanish jokes. Cesaro comes in for some shots of his own but Metalik manages a top rope hurricanrana. The tag brings in Dorado to pick up the pace, including the triple moonsaults to Nakamura. Metalik hits a big springboard dive to the floor but it’s Cesaro countering Dorado’s hurricanrana into a sunset flip for the pin to retain at 5:40.

Rating: D+. Nothing to see here but was anyone really expecting the House Party to be a serious threat to the champs? It’s not like Cesaro and Nakamura are likely to be the next great champions but they’re better than the House Party. If nothing else, this makes me hope that we could see something more from Kalisto on his own. He’s the best thing about the team and I could go for more of him.

Post match Kalisto yells at Dorado and Metalik has to break them up.

We look back at the opening sequence and see AJ Styles kicking Jeff Hardy’s knee out.

AJ says he was just trying to show some fire against Retribution, unlike Hardy. That’s the story of Jeff’s career in a nutshell though. He heads to the ring but stops to clink belts with Bayley and Sasha Banks.

Mandy Rose talks about how it has been a rough week for everyone. She knows that things are very dark right now but she needs to talk to Sonya Deville directly. Mandy turns to the camera and talks about how the Sonya she has known for years is still in there. She doesn’t know how Sonya is feeling, but Mandy wants to put this all behind them and get back to the way they were. They’re in a weird place with this story as there is no way they can just ignore everything that happened this week but it threw quite the wrench into the plans.

Here are Sasha Banks and Bayley for a chat with Corey Graves. After the mentioning of their nicknames, Graves gets straight to the point by asking if they’re splitting up. Bayley and Banks: “No.” Bayley knows Asuka isn’t winning both titles in one night and Banks doesn’t want any pot stirring.

Graves talks about how they weren’t sure who was going to go first and tensions seem to flare a bit over the idea that one of them would need some help against Asuka. Banks says no one can beat them both in one night so here’s Naomi to interrupt. They can’t decide who fights her first so Graves suggests a Beat The Clock Challenge to decide who faces Asuka first. Naomi dropkicks them both and it’s time for the first match after the break.

Naomi vs. Sasha Banks

Non-title and the clock is ticking. Naomi takes her down and slowly punches away before a headscissors puts Banks on the floor. Back in and Banks catches her on the ropes for the double knees to the ribs for two. The chinlock doesn’t last long and Naomi kicks Banks in the head. Banks rolls through a springboard crossbody for two but Naomi muscles her up to drop Banks ribs first on the ropes. A springboard kick to the head gives Naomi two more but Banks has had enough of this and grabs the Bank Statement for the tap at 3:39.

Rating: C-. Naomi can do some athletic things in the ring but it feels like they’re going from move to move instead of having some kind of flow to the match. She would do a move, they would stop, then she would do another move and they would stop again. The athleticism was good, but it didn’t exactly look great.

Naomi vs. Bayley

Non-title again and the clock is set at 3:39. Naomi is still banged up so Bayley knocks her straight back down and starts stomping away. The sliding lariat gives Bayley two and a clothesline out of the corner gets the same. Naomi is back with the Rear View for the pin out of nowhere at 1:55. That would be three losses for Bayley in the last four TV shows.

Post match here’s Asuka to say she will be the empress of every title. Banks comes charging and gets kicked in the head. Asuka goes to the ring and kicks Bayley around too, with Bayley seeming to limp a bit. She does remember to go back and grab her belts while leaving Banks laying on the ramp.

Jeff Hardy is cleared if he can get through the pain. He’s good to go.

Dana Brooke tries to offer condolences to Sonya Deville over what she went through this week. Sonya slaps her in the face.

Here’s Sonya on the stage to respond to Mandy Rose. There’s nothing Mandy can say to get out of this because they’re going to fight at Summerslam. No matter what happens, they’re having a No DQ match and the loser leaves WWE.

We look back at Alexa Bliss and the Fiend.

Nikki Cross talks to Alexa earlier this week and something was off.

Intercontinental Title: AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy

Jeff is challenging and injured coming in. During AJ’s entrance, Daniel Bryan pops in to say he thinks AJ is acting like a coward for only facing Jeff when he is injured. AJ goes after him but Jeff uses the bad leg to kick out of instinct. Jeff gets some boots up in the corner but AJ knocks him off the ropes, leaving Jeff in a heap on the mat. AJ goes to whip him into the ropes and Jeff collapses again. Back up and Jeff manages to backdrop him to the floor and we take a break.

We come back with Jeff hitting his sitout gordbuster for two but he crashes while trying to go up. The Phenomenal Forearm is knocked out of the air though and they’re both down again. AJ grabs the Calf Crusher but Jeff gets straight to the rope. Back up and AJ tries the Styles Clash but Hardy gets in a shot to the head with his knee brace, setting up the Twist of Fate. The Swanton connects for the pin and the title at 11:15.

Rating: C+. This was a match built around the story and that went well enough. Hardy winning the title back is a pretty big moment and while I wasn’t wild on them hammering in the story with the addiction stuff, they paid it off in a nice way. A rematch at Summerslam wouldn’t surprise me either and that’s not a bad thing.

Post match Hardy gets a quick interview and says he hopes this helps others. He gets cut off by his own music though to kind of kill the moment.

Post break, AJ is ticked off and rants to Joseph Park and Kayla Braxton about the loss.

Talking Smack returns tomorrow with Kayla Braxton and The Miz as hosts.

It’s time for the Firefly Fun House with Bray Wyatt talking about how love can ruin all kinds of things. It can turn a field of sunflowers into a grotesque wasteland. He gets a phone call, which he takes on his hand, which tells him to talk about Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss for example. That brings us to Firefly Theater Presents, with Huskus the Pig as Braun (in a GET THESE HOOVES shirt) and Ramblin Rabbit (in a big wig) as Alexa. They know there is something between them…but Bray interrupts and asks what is going on around here. He gets rid of both of them and talks about how the Fiend can’t wait to get his hands on Braun. Cue Braun, who jumps Bray and drags him off, shouting that he isn’t finished with him.

Post break, Graves and Cole aren’t sure how Strowman got to the Fun House as no one has been able to get in there. Other than Seth Rollins last year of course.

We cut to the back where Braun and Bray are still fighting, with Braun knocking him around and then chokeslamming him off a ledge. Bray is seen laying on the concrete and a well placed ambulance pops in as Wyatt is out. Medics and referees load him into the ambulance and it pulls away, only to stop because the Fiend is inside. I wrote that before it happened but it was the only way that was going.

Overall Rating: C. So that’s the debut of Thunderdome and it was about what I was expecting: a somewhat more energetic than usual show but with a lot of the same stuff. Let’s see. We had the Braun Is Magic ending, a champ losing clean (again: third time in less than two weeks), a meaningless Tag Team Title match, Retribution doing their thing, and a Vince McMahon appearance that went nowhere. It was an energetic show, but not exactly something you need to see.

Now that being said, the Amway Center is a HUGE improvement over what we were seeing at the Performance Center. It felt big and important and those are some of the things the shows have been missing. They needed to freshen things up and that was accomplished tonight. I could go for more of this going forward and that’s going to be the case, which is a big improvement. The digital fans are a bit of a weird visual, but you forget that they’re there pretty quickly. Overall, not a great show, but a much better looking one.

Results

Big E. b. Sheamus – Rollup

Cesaro/Shinsuke Nakamura b. Lucha House Party – Sunset flip to Dorado

Sasha Banks b. Naomi – Bank Statement

Naomi b. Bayley – Rear View

Jeff Hardy b. AJ Styles – Swanton

 

 

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