• Jayden Becker

WWE Smackdown Review 7/17/20


The final episode of Smackdown before Extreme Rules sees Cesaro take on Big-E to determine who will choose a stipulation for their match this Sunday. A Moment of Bliss hosted by Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross sees a special guest. An appearance from Bray Wyatt and the Firefly funhouse doesn’t deter Universal Champion Braun Strowman from making his final warning shot.


The action doesn’t stop there as Lacey Evans battles Naomi after last week’s Karaoke incident. In the main event, AJ Styles puts his Intercontinental Championship on the line as he takes on Matt Riddle.


Extreme Rules is this Sunday. Let’s jump into it.


Cesaro w/ Shinsuke Nakamura vs Big-E w/ Kofi Kingston - Winner Picks the Stipulation for Extreme Rules


To start Friday Night Smackdown, the action is off to a quick start as Big-E representing the New Day takes on Cesaro. The winner of this match will decide what stipulation the match will be at Extreme Rules for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.


Big-E bullies Cesaro to the outside, driving him into the steel steps. Cesaro uses his quickness to gain control only to be thwarted by Big-E’s strength. A splash on the apron leaves Cesaro flattened.


A flying European uppercut from Cesaro gives him enough time to set up the neutralizer. Big-E reverses into submission but is soon countered into an impressive Cesaro swing. Nakamura attacks Kofi Kingston on the outside. The official ducking to avoid being hit misses Nakamura kicking Big-E in the head. Cesaro connects with the neutralizer, giving them the victory.


Cesaro and Nakamura get to pick the stipulation for Extreme Rules.


After the match, Cesaro and Nakamura bring out tables to add insult to injury. Kingston and Big-E however realize this and turn the tables on them. Nakamura and Cesaro escape announcing later in the show that the match at Extreme Rules will be a Tables Match.


Takeaways:


This is the first “normal” Extreme Rules stipulation on the card so far. This is almost a sigh of relief given that someone's eye will be ripped out at Extreme Rules. I am still up in the air for this match but you can’t go wrong either way. The safe choice at the moment is having the New Day retain and keep a semblance of normalcy in the WWE until fans return.


A Moment of Bliss with a Surprise Special Guest


Alexa Bliss hosting her segment feels as if she is clairvoyant. Bliss predicts the Lakers to win the NBA championship, Matt Riddle to win the Intercontinental Championship and for Braun Strowman to stand tall at Extreme Rules. The guest she announces will tear the roof of the place at Extreme Rules. Nikki Cross that the guest is herself and goes off on a long tangent about how she is ready for Bayley.


Sadly, the guest was not Nikki Cross as Bayley and Sasha Banks enter. The WWE Women’s Tag Champions predict their own singles victories at Extreme Rules and believe that Cross will fall back in Bliss’s shadow after the dust settles. Bliss announces that the guest is not Bayley or Banks but Raw Women’s Champion Asuka.


Bayley and Banks attack both Cross and Bliss destroying the set. Asuka sprints down the ramp to make the save. A match is made next between the competitors at Extreme Rules.


Takeaways:


Wasn’t my favorite segment and honestly would’ve performed better if Asuka was announced earlier. Bliss and Bayley talked a lot about Women's Evolution. Funny to think how much things have changed and how much things have not, the Karaoke segment for example. The Women’s division has grown much larger than any of us could’ve imagined. Not originally at the thought of Women not being able to perform, but at the thought of WWE management making that huge step. This step has taken the WWE Women’s division leaps and bounds farther than it has ever been.


Let’s just hope for no more Karaoke.


Bayley and Sasha Banks vs Nikki Cross and Asuka


Nikki Cross starts strong but fails to capitalize as the duo of Bayley and Sasha Banks cut the ring in half, dominating over Cross. Asuka entered on a hot tag early to make light work out of her opponents. Asuka even takes a page out of Cross’s book, trapping both in the ring skirt allowing for easy blows to the body.


Cross enters after being taunted and displays her offense over Banks. Outside the ring, Cross connects with a tornado DDT planting Banks on the outside. As the action starts to come to a close. Banks leaves Bayley to fend for herself in the ring and dives on Asuka on the outside. Bayley slips out of the tornado DDT into a pin. Bayley places her feet on the middle rope for leverage and steals the victory.


Bayley and Sasha Banks beat Nikki Cross and Asuka before Extreme Rules.


Takeaways:


The match did its job in its build for Extreme Rules. Bayley placing the feet on the ropes is described as showing doubt in herself but honestly makes her even more of a heel, something she does so well. There is no shot Nikki gets the belt but it is fun to have her involved. I’m also a big fan of the new ring gear from Nikki Cross. She looks more and more like she belongs. My question is if the shadow cast by Alexa Bliss is too large to escape.


Firefly Fun House


This week on the Firefly Fun House. Bray Wyatt leaves the comfort of the children's show set and returns to the swamp where he and Braun Strowman will battle at Extreme Rules. Wyatt describes the time when Strowman first wandered into the swamp as a lost sheep looking for a home. Wyatt says once you enter the swamp, you never truly leave. Wyatt must destroy the monster he created a long time ago.


Takeaways:


Words on a page can’t describe how well Wyatt just makes things work. He just gets it. I can go on and on about how much I love Bray Wyatt. I’ll leave it at this. The belt is a necessity for him. The goal for a professional wrestler should be to get over without having the belt be put on them. Think of the Undertaker. One of the greatest if not the greatest of all time. He never needed the belt, he was the Undertaker. Wyatt doesn’t need the belt, he’s Bray Wyatt.


John Morrison w/ The Miz vs Braun Strowman


Before the match begins, Braun Strowman cuts a raging promo saying that he is ready to walk through the gates of hell and slap the devil in the face. His fear is building as he doesn’t want Bray Wyatt to turn into the Fiend. John Morrison stands in the ring scared out of his mind as Strowman charges at him. The match is over quickly as Strowman plants Morrison with a running power slam.


Braun Strowman destroys John Morrison as he looks ahead to Bray Wyatt at Extreme Rules.


Takeaways:


If I had to give an award to the most improved in the WWE, I think Braun Strowman gets it here. He has been phenomenal on the microphone. I remember when I first started writing these reviews I couldn’t stand it when he cut a promo, now I look forward to them. This is also in part of Bray Wyatt lending a helping hand. Strowman is become ever more multifaceted and is deserving of the belt around his waist. I could be more proud of Strowman.


The promos he cut made him look weak but in a good way. Although he looks strong physically his mental state is breaking him down and could be what makes him lose at Extreme Rules. He isn’t the person he used to be because Wyatt is now in his head. Strowman wouldn't have been able to portray this a few months ago, now he does it with ease.


Lacey Evans vs Naomi


As Lacey Evans enters for her match, John Morrison is still being helped from the ring to the back. Evans is set to face Naomi after their altercation during the Karaoke segment last week. Evans cuts a short promo before the match saying that Naomi’s glow will be nothing more than a sparkle.


Naomi finds her way into the match after blocking a sunset flip from Evans. As the two battle towards the ropes, Evans ties Naomi’s hair to the second rope causing discomfort and enough time for Evans to gather herself. As soon as Naomi turns around, Evans connects with a Women’s Right.


Lacey Evans beats Naomi using heel tactics.


Takeaways:


So Lacey Evans is a heel now. You notice how no one else noticed she turned heel last week during the Karaoke segment. That’s because no one took that segment seriously enough to come out with that assumption. This had to be rehashed and redone to confirm that Evans is now a heel. I just don’t want to ever see some Karaoke ever again. That just turns my stomach and pulls the rug out from under the Women’s Revolution statements.


AJ Styles (c) vs Matt Riddle - Intercontinental Championship


After Matt Riddle beat AJ Styles in his main roster debut, Riddle has earned a title shot and gets one in the main event. Riddle does well early on causing Styles to throw a temper tantrum slamming on the announce table. Riddle catches the champion outside with a big boot… or foot.


Styles gains control working on the leg of Riddle to set up for the calf crusher. Riddle regains his bearings with a flurry of offense but Styles still kicks out. The floating bro is slipped by Styles but he can’t capitalize with the Styles clash. Instead, Riddle’s head is driven into the mat from the suplex position.


Strikes are traded until Riddle is caught in the calf crusher. Riddle reverses into the Bromission but Styles uses his technical prowess to pin Riddle, 1… 2… 3.


AJ Styles retains the Intercontinental Championship.


After the match, Riddle and Styles shake hands. Soon after, King Corbin sneaks in the ring and attacks Riddle from behind.


Takeaways:


How do you force someone to get over? Give them the stamp of approval from all your top stars. I can’t wait until The Rock returns to shake Matt Riddle’s hand. Riddle is a great performer and honestly gets over because of what he does from bell to bell. His talent is off the charts and could get spoiled by the force-feeding from WWE creative begging us to like someone we already like.


King Corbin getting involved at the end sets us up for a feud down the line. Would have this served Riddle better if he faced Corbin instead of Styles and the champion attacked. Either way, we’ll see where we go from here as Riddle is pushed to the moon.


Wrap-Up


Extreme Rules is finally here. Although Smackdown has struggled to put on a good go-home show in the past, I feel they delivered here. Braun Strowman is a big part of that and doesn’t get enough credit for how much he’s improved. I’m looking forward to this Sunday and what it has to offer. Keep a lookout for my predictions.


Pros:

  • Cesaro w/ Shinsuke Nakamura vs Big-E w/ Kofi Kingston - Winner picks stipulation for Extreme Rules

  • Bayley and Sasha Banks vs Nikki Cross and Asuka

  • Firefly Fun House

  • John Morrison w/ The Miz vs Braun Strowman

  • AJ Styles (c) vs Matt Riddle - Intercontinental Championship

Cons:

  • A Moment of Bliss with a Surprise Special Guest

  • Lacey Evans vs Naomi


Final Grade: B-


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