• Jayden Becker

WWE Smackdown Review 5/15/20



The first Friday Night Smackdown after Money in the Bank sees the start of the Intercontinental Championship tournament. NXT Champion Charlotte Flair stands face to face with Smackdown’s Women’s Champion Bayley. The action doesn’t stop there as Otis finds an unlikely tag team partner for the main event.


Let’s jump right into it.


Miz TV


The show opens with Miz and Morisson hosting an edition of Miz TV. As the Miz introduces the new Men’s Money in the Bank winner, Otis’ music hits as he enters with his briefcase. As Otis tries to sit in the director's chair the cloth breaks below him.


Otis says that winning Money in the Bank is the biggest win of his wrestling career. The biggest win of his life, however, is winning over the heart of “his peach”, Mandy Rose. Miz and Morrison take Otis through a small tour of his own life, showing Otis baby picture of himself with his mother.


The Miz starts to get frustrated with Otis because of the lack of class from Mr. Money in the Bank. The Miz tells Otis how the Money in the Bank briefcase launched him into stardom and that the briefcase is not supposed to be used as a lunchbox.


Miz and Morrison challenge Otis and Tucker to a match later that night. Otis is left to find a new partner, however, as Tucker has dysentery from the Oregon Trail.


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An angry Miz is a great Miz. The veins popping out of his head and looking truly upset at the situation at hand. This type of Miz differs from the cocky Miz. Both are great, I just love the raw emotion.


Otis’ shtick with him breaking things because of his weight is okay for now. I fear that it becomes overplayed in the long run. This is classic childish Vince McMahon humor that gets over well behind the curtain but not always towards the audience.



King Corbin vs Elias - First Round of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament


Due to Sami Zayn being unable to compete, the Intercontinental Championship has been declared vacant. The vacant title will be put up in a Tournament to claim the gold. Here is the bracket:

The first match held is King Corbin facing long time rival Elias. This rivalry dates back to before Wrestlemania when King Corbin knocked Elias off a high perch with his scepter.


A back and forth battle early on leads to action outside the ring. King Corbin grabs Elias' guitar while he is down in the ring and starts to play guitar in front of the announce table. Elias becomes enraged and starts to dominate Corbin.


Corbin won’t be out of it for long, however, as he chokeslams Elias down to the mat for a 2 count. Elias’ guitar doesn’t share the same fate, as Corbin smashes the guitar on the ring post. An elated King Corbin enters and is caught off guard with a flying knee to the face.


A small-package by Elias pins the King for the 3 counts. Elias moves on to the semifinals of the Intercontinental Championship tournament.


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Before I get into the match itself I need to get into the reason why these tournament matches are happening. To my knowledge, Sami Zayn can compete but chooses not to because of worries surrounding COVID-19, which is a very valid reason. WWE has also come out publicly and said that any talent that does not want to work shows wouldn’t receive a punishment. I don't know about you but this looks like a punishment to me. What would’ve made more sense would’ve been creating an Interim Intercontinental Championship to fight for until Sami Zayn returns.


Hopefully, the winner of this tournament has a package with Zayn when he returns, but even that is not certain, given the treatment of the former Intercontinental Champion.


Although the tournament is flawed at the origin, the matches set for the first round are stacked. As we saw another solid match between Corbin and Elias. Two technical wrestlers, faces and best friends in Drew Gulak and Daniel Bryan go at it. Two heels with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura duke it out in the first round who have history on the international scene. Rounding things off is the blow-off match between Jeff Hardy and Sheamus, with something more than just pride on the line.


Looking at the match it was a solid bout between the two. I love the move Corbin does where he slides out of the ring before running into the turnbuckle and runs back into the ring to catch his opponent by surprise. You’d expect a guy half his size pulling that off but Corbin is agile enough to get it done.


The guitar situation confuses me slightly because of how the guitar has been treated in the past. It seems to me Elias has no problem smashing his guitar on to someone else, but when Corbin does it it's a whole new issue. Just seems kind of odd.



Naomi vs Dana Brooke


These two competitors faced off against each other to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match with Brooke going over as the winner.


Naomi is in control for most of the match. An attempt at a wheelbarrow bulldog finds Naomi on her back pinned by Dana Brooke. The 3 count ends a quick match with an unexpected finish.


This lands Naomi two losses in a row to Dana Brooke.


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This must suck for Naomi. Losing two matches to Dana Brooke, the same Dana Brooke who didn’t make it to the roof in the Money in the Bank ladder match. The same Dana Brooke that took a poster to the head. The same Dana Brooke that thought the Money in the Bank briefcase was in the conference room. Come on now, that's kind of sad.


Chirps from the twitter-verse are calling for a Naomi heel turn, and they might not be wrong given the recent turn of events.



Charlotte Flair and Bayley Face to Face


Due to the Brand to Brand invitation, Charlotte Flair can now appear on Smackdown even though she is NXT Champion and her assigned brand is Monday Night Raw. Flair’s promo is similar to many others by her which mentions her last name, her resume and looks. Flair also says she has all the right attributes in the company.


Smackdown’s Women's Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks can’t stand this, however, as they head to the ring. Bayley’s promo, much like Flair's, is similar to many in the past. Bayley promotes her title, her history against Charlotte and her role model status.


These remarks don’t concern Flair as she turns her attention away from Bayley and on to Sasha Banks. Flair asks Banks about her successful past and the history between them starting the rise of the Women’s Revolution in WWE. Flair also takes note of where Banks stands now, in the shadow of the Champion.


Bayley doesn’t allow her best friend to speak and challenges Flair to a Champion vs “Champion” match-up next week on Smackdown.


The challenge is accepted but the face of Banks still looks contemplative.


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Notice how I put air quotes around the word “Champion” the second time. That was to best represent the way Bayley made Flair’s title reign sound, I‘m not sure how well that came across. Bayley completely buries the whole NXT women’s roster with that one phrase. That kills me on the inside because that NXT women’s roster has top-notch talent.


The gears continue to turn not only in the mind of Banks but also in the mind of Bayley as she continues to silence her lackey. This promo continues the story beautifully with some well-needed star power in Flair to back it up.


Could this reach its breaking point at Backlash, possibly? I did say a similar thing for Money in the Bank but WWE has been doing a great job with this story leaving the fans begging to see the turn, which in this case is a good thing.


Also, I have been mentally booking feuds up to Extreme Rules without realizing Backlash is the next Pay-Per-View on the list. My sincere apologies, I think it is time for a new calendar in the Becker household.



The Forgotten Sons Promo


The promo interrupts programming with static and a disclaimer saying the WWE doesn’t reflect or represent the opinions of The Forgotten Sons.


The Forgotten Sons promo is summed up with Jaxson Ryker, the assumed mouth-piece, making the point of the military is not all that it is cracked up to be. The Forgotten Sons claim to not be welcomed back with open arms and will return the favor with closed fists.


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Although this promo was short I did realize something from it and felt I had to add it in.


Political storylines in the WWF back in the early days usually saw a foreign invader, usually representing European or Middle Eastern origins. Starting with Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger to now, WWE has not been afraid to push the boundary when it comes to pointing the finger at Americans.


We will always, sadly, see the foreign invader gimmick. It's great, however, to make sure the issue has pushed both ways and not with a constant American bias. The foreign invader stuff worked back then when the WWF was a north-eastern US territory. Being publicly traded puts a big red flag on that.



Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak - First Round of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament


The two technically savvy wrestlers and close friends Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak face off to move on in the Intercontinental Championship tournament.


The match starts with a handshake between the two. The handshake will be the only formalities between the bells as the match between these two starts to heat up.


For almost all of the first segment of this match, Bryan and Gulak seem to mirror each other move for move and counter for counter. The great technical wrestling comes to halt as Bryan is dumped to the outside by Gulak. A look of fear strikes the face of Gulak as Bryan’s neck area hits the apron on the way down to the outside.


As action returns to the ring Gulak continues to work the neck with a modified Michinoku Driver. Bryan won’t be down for long, however, as Bryan starts to work the leg of Gulak. Bryan slams Gulak's ankle down to the mat at such an angle where it looks as if the leg may rip straight out the off hip.


A heel hook in the center of the ring by Bryan causes Gulak to tap out. Daniel Bryan wins and moves on to the semi-finals of the Intercontinental Championship tournament.


The friends shake hands and hug after the match.


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I think this story would be perfect if the role of Bryan and Gulak was flipped. I love Bryan as much as the next guy but what makes wrestlers great is the ability to get other people over. I know Bryan was able to do that with Kofi Kingston but that storyline had both the emphatic backing of the crowd and heel a character in Bryan. If Gulak was able to beat Bryan here and it led to the Intercontinental Championship, it would’ve added a big checkmark onto Bryan’s resume.


Maybe Bryan isn’t ready to pass on the torch. Maybe I'm looking too deep into it.


This match is as close as you can get too technical perfection. Not all matches can be like this, this why I struggle to watch a lot of high flyers because a lot of their matches end up being the same. We should consider ourselves lucky to see these two go at it, even if it’s once in a blue moon.


This was also a face vs face match up that we’ve haven't seen in a while on Smackdown so that was a nice treat as well.



Miz and Morisson vs Otis and Mystery Partner


After being challenged at the start of the show, Otis was tasked with finding a partner to join him in the ring later that night. Otis’ attempt to bring in Sheamus failed miserably after being shouted at. A conversation with Mandy Rose sparks the idea to ask the current Universal Champion Braun Strowman.


Although Strowman said he would chew on the idea, the new entrance video hit the screen of the Universal Champion, and Miz and Morrison are left to face two of the largest superstars on the active WWE roster.


Otis and Strowman take little time asserting themselves as the dominant force in this matchup, so much so that Otis and Strowman had enough time to hit a double caterpillar onto John Morrison.


Late into the match up with Otis in trouble, Strowman enters on a hot tag, taking down both Miz and Morrison. Morrison, the legal man, puts up a short fight until he is caught by Strowman. A running powerbomb seals the deal with a 3 count.


Otis and Braun Strowman take victory over Miz and Morrison.


After the match as hands are raised, Mandy Rose makes her entrance. As Strowman is distracted, Otis drops the briefcase and prepares to attack. Strowman catches him as he's about to strike. Otis plays it off as a joke as programming fades to black.


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Rule of thumb, a tag team should always beat two singles competitors. This saves the tag team division from being buried. With Otis and Strowman winning here this breaks that rule. Was it obvious that they were going to win? Yes. This could’ve been saved if Strowman wasn’t involved. It didn’t seem necessary to have them together and face a tag team. Especially when Otis is already in a tag team. The match could’ve gone over the same way with Tucker involved and wouldn’t have buried Miz and Morrison.


If anything comes out of it I doubt it’s a feud between Otis and Strowman. I think we could see a feud between Miz and Morrison given their losing streak, but that could also be far away.



Takeaways


A good show from Smackdown this week that only seemed to move the Sasha Banks and Bayley turmoil along. The Intercontinental Championship tournament is going to be a great touch for weeks to come that should ignite some feuds down the line. I would’ve liked to see fewer fluff matches.


Pros:


  • Miz TV

  • King Corbin vs Elias - First Round of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament

  • Charlotte Flair and Bayley Face to Face

  • The Forgotten Sons Promo

  • Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak - First Round of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament


Cons:


  • Naomi vs Dana Brooke

  • Miz and Morisson vs Otis and Mystery Partner


Final Grade: B-

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