• Jayden Becker

WWE Smackdown Review 7/3/20


After the COVID-19 outbreak in WWE last week, this episode of Smackdown plays catch up for what they missed the week prior due to quarantining and isolation. Matt Riddle is interviewed by Michael Cole. Sheamus raises a glass to Jeff Hardy. AJ Styles defends his Intercontinental Championship against Drew Gulak.


Alexa Bliss faces off against Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley. Kofi Kingston of The New Day takes on Shinsuke Nakamura.


It’s July 4th Weekend, Let’s jump right into it.


Matt Riddle Interview


To start Friday Night Smackdown, Michael Cole interviews the recently debuting superstar Matt Riddle. Riddle describes the opportunity to be called up to the main roster as an awesome experience. When asked why he doesn’t wear shoes, Riddle explains that he got frostbite on his feet at a young age causing a burning sensation when he wears shoes. It taught him that you can lose everything in a moment.


King Corbin hears enough of the young rookie and makes his way to the ring. Corbin feels disrespected after the actions of Riddle the week prior when he was attacked after his match against Jeff Hardy. Riddle is threatened by Corbin as the King expresses that Riddle should be ready for a match anytime, anywhere.


Riddle takes this as a challenge and prepares himself to face Corbin. Instead, Corbin has John Morrison take on the young rookie.


Takeaways:


Although it is nice to see Riddle on television. It can be assumed by now that he is past the sexual assault allegations and is cleared by the WWE investigation to appear on programming. This is all speculation, however, as the WWE hasn’t come out with a secondary statement since the original #SpeakingOut movement allegations.


Riddle said something along the lines of losing everything you’ve worked for in a moment. I thought this was a little ironic given what he has gone through in the past few weeks.


Matt Riddle vs John Morrison w/ The Miz


With this match being made in the previous segment, King Corbin will stay for commentary. Chain grappling takes up a bulk of the match early on. Both competitors use their strengths to their advantage. John Morrison uses his speed and agility while Riddle uses his strength and power to gain an edge. Riddle gives Morrison a free shot to the chin. Instead of swinging with an elbow strike, Morrison resorts to a thumb to the eye of Riddle. Riddle fights back with a strong suplex.


As Riddle falls outside the ring he throws one of his flip flops at King Corbin on commentary. Miz and Corbin both interfere on the ring apron but both get knocked off quickly. Morrison is still able to roll up Riddle, however, but the rookie kicks out at two. Riddle rolls up Morrison himself, 1… 2… 3.


Matt Riddle beats John Morisson after an impressive showing from him in the ring. After the match as Riddle heads up the ramp, AJ Styles attacks from behind. Drew Gulak enters as well to save Riddle from the melee.


Styles and Gulak have a match for the Intercontinental Championship next.


Takeaways:


Riddle once again shows why he deserves to be on the main roster. His in-ring skill holds so many aspects of what an all-around performer should be. He has power, speed, skill, and charisma. Aspects that you would want from any in-ring talent. Riddle can work his way to the moon and seems to be on that track the way he is being pushed at the moment.


I would love to see how the fan reaction would be if these were live shows.


AJ Styles (c) vs Drew Gulak - Intercontinental Championship


After the dust settles from their encounter moments prior, their title match is made official. Drew Gulak is in red, white, and blue colored tights for this match in recognition of July 4th. Gulak also has the name “Havoc” on his wrist tape. This is in honor of Danny Havoc who passed away tragically due to heart failure at the age of 45. The two worked together previously at CZW.


AJ Styles is in control early on. Throughout the match, Michael Cole refers to Daniel Bryan who is on zoom giving his input on Gulak’s efforts. Styles continues with the assault staying very aggressive through the match. Gulak catches Styles in a submission. Although Styles breaks the hold, he is angry at himself for being foolish enough to get caught in the first place. While outside the ring, Gulak connects with a baseball slide to Styles.


As the action continues, Styles finds his way back into the match with strongholds. A Styles Clash downs Gulak. Although Styles could’ve ended the match there, a phenomenal forearm adds insult to injury.

AJ Styles retains the Intercontinental Championship.


Takeaways:


A great match between the two. AJ Styles, in my opinion, is the best the WWE has right now. His matches just can’t be stopped and pairing him with another great talent like Gulak, Riddle, or Nakamura only helps his cause. I’m not sure how long his run will be but I sure see him dropping the belt to Riddle. The question is when.


A Tribute to Sasha Banks and Bayley


One half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions, Sasha Banks, has had an up and down week. On Monday she beat Asuka and Drew McIntyre in a mixed tag team match alongside Dolph Ziggler. At NXT: The Great American Bash, she lost to Io Shira due to interference from Asuka spraying her with green mist. Now on Smackdown, she and Bayley say they get no respect from the locker room. This lack of respect, however, has been made right as the Undertaker has contacted them saying that they are currently the best in the business. The duo also made a tribute to themselves highlighting their best moments together.


After the tribute, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss make their entrance with a prepared list of their achievements. This list, however, is overblown and meant to show how ridiculous the champions sound. Cross goes through a passionate promo about her journey to where she is now. Bayley laughs in her face and soon after is slapped by Bliss. Banks puts Bayley up for a match against Bliss.


Takeaways:


Banks pulled a Bayley by putting up Bayley for a match. This brings everything full circle which makes me happy. Banks has been on top of her game for the past few weeks in the spotlight of the Women’s division. I think a lot of us forget how tall she stands in the eyes of the locker room and how far she is willing to go to make a match great. Banks is truly one of a kind and deserving of another babyface run. We will hopefully see this in front of real fans in attendance.


Alexa Bliss w/ Nikki Cross vs Bayley w/ Sasha Banks


Alexa Bliss finds herself in control early on. As action falls outside, Bayley sams the arm of Bliss into the electronic ring skirt. Bayley throughout the match taunts Nikki Cross on the outside. As Cross makes her way up to the ring apron, she does more bad than good causing the official to pay attention to her and not the illegal actions of Sasha Banks and Bayley.


Cross takes her anger out on Banks outside the ring. Cors would then go and interfere in the match, calling for the bell in a DQ loss for Alexa Bliss. Cross would continue to attack her Extreme Rules until pulled apart.


Takeaways:


Although the build for this match is great I still think there's absolutely no way the belt is put on Cross. She is great and if the women’s division had a mid-card belt she would own it. I just don’t think with the way this division is belt she can be legitimately recognized as a champion. I think what Nikki Cross does is great, but in my eyes, she isn’t championship material yet. I don’t think that will be until she breaks away from Alexa Bliss.


Kofi Kingston w/ Big E vs Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Cesaro


Over the past few weeks, The New Day has had continuous altercations with Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. Nakamura and Cesaro are tired of being overlooked and are pushing for a Smackdown Tag Team Title opportunity.


When action falls outside the ring, Kofi Kingston drives Nakamura into the plexiglass leaving behind a loud wobble. Cesaro distracts the official allowing Nakamura to gain the advantage. Big E chases Ceasro around and through the ring while the match is still going on. The two are ejected and sent to the back.


The two competitors trade blows and pins using their speed to no avail. Nakamura uses a heel tactic by raking the eyes of Kingston, dropping him to the mat. With Kingston down, Nakamura connects with a running knee and pins, 1… 2… 3.


Shinsuke Nakamura beats one half of the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. After the match, Cesaro returns from backstage and tries to set up a table in the ring. Before he can complete this, however, Big E saves his teammate from peril.


Takeaways:


The WWE might take a page out of AEWs book and put the tag title belts on Cesaro and Nakamura, two guys that are great singles competitors now morphed into a tag team. This could work well as this would build up the rest of the strong Smackdown Tag Team division. If they keep the belts on The New Day I wouldn’t be upset either, they are great television.


The tables were pulled out as well. You have to think about Extreme Rules stipulations going forward and what can occur based on what they have shown us. We could see a Table match, one of my personal favorites.


Sheamus Raises a Glass to Jeff Hardy


A segment originally planned for last week has been moved to the end of this week's episode of Smackdown. With a bar and bartender set up in the middle of the ring, Jeff Hardy makes his way down the entrance ramp reluctantly. Jeff Hardy calls out Sheamus only for him to appear on the Titan Tron. Sheamus, instead of insulting Hardy, congratulates him on his victory last week when he beat King Corbin to protect the honor of the Undertaker. Sheamus continues trying to help Hardy realize that he has a problem. This problem, however, isn’t a drinking problem but a problem with facing reality.


Sheamus encourages Hardy to face his fear, with the solution being in the bottles in front of him. With this, the bartender offers Jeff Hardy a glass. Hardy accepts, fakes a sip, and pours the beverage over the head of the bartender. Hardy then goes on to smash a bottle over the head of the bartender followed up with a Swanton bomb.


Takeaways:


Although I liked this segment, I get the sense that others in the WWE Universe didn’t. That's okay, everyone is entitled to their opinion but this is only being built up in a great way for Extreme Rules. In what possibly could be Jeff Hardy’s final Extreme Rules should show a version of Hardy we haven’t seen in a while due to health and personal issues. Whatever he could muster up for the big event, he should leave it all in the ring.


Wrap-Up


This episode of Smackdown was average. I enjoyed most of the segments but this episode felt missable. For that, I knock it a couple of points. The numbers have also been released, finding this episode of Smackdown as the lowest-rated show in WWE time with FOX. A scary moment coming off the back of a $1 billion deal.


Pros:

  • Matt Riddle Interview

  • Matt Riddle vs John Morrison w/ The Miz

  • AJ Styles (c) vs Drew Gulak - Intercontinental Championship

  • A Tribute to Sasha Banks and Bayley

  • Kofi Kingston w/ Big E vs Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Cesaro


Cons:

  • Alexa Bliss w/ Nikki Cross vs Bayley w/ Sasha Banks

  • Sheamus Raises a Glass to Jeff Hardy


Final Grade: C


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