Welcome to the Smackdown Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s show. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth review here.
Nice opening package to honor Memorial Day before the Smackdown opener plays.
The Dirt Sheet starts us off this week. Voice over from The Fink and we miss him. The usual complaints about Otis winning the Money in the Bank briefcase lead into rejected Firefly Funhouse puppets. This segment only got approved because of the farting puppet. Yes, Vince is five. Universal Champion Braun Strowman invites himself on the show. Trash talking leads to Miz getting volunteered to job to Strowman tonight. Challenge accepted and the match is next.
As for the match, Miz bumped like a pinball and does not look anything like a former WWE Champion. Strowman needs a tad longer run on the running powerslam to make it look more devastating. Morrison has a mic while he peels Miz up off the mat and challenges Strowman to a handicap Universal Title match at Backlash. Challenge accepted again. Granted, the last time Strowman defended a title in a handicap match, he lost but this is Miz and Morrison here. It’s just an excuse to get Strowman a title match with someone not named “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt.
The first Intercontinental Title Tournament match is AJ Styles taking on Shinsuke Nakamura. We get a great match from the two as we would have expected. Some obvious Michael Cole redub voice-overs tell us that AJ Styles was traded from Raw to Smackdown for people to be named later because they had to come up with some reason why AJ Styles was on Smackdown instead of Raw and not part of the superstar crossover, wildcard rule, whatever we call it this week. Styles came up with an awesome counter to a triangle choke by turning it into a Styles Clash. In the end, Styles put Nakamura down with the Phenomenal Forearm to advance in the tournament and face Elias in the next round.
Up next is the Champion vs Champion match as NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair takes on Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley. Before the match, Sasha Banks told Bayley she was going to stay in the back and not go to ringside for the match. Since Bayley is one of the Four Horsewomen, Charlotte actually cares about having a really good match. We get a competitive match for a change and Charlotte actually takes the pinfall loss here after Bayley rolls her up and uses the ropes to hold her down. Nice effort by Charlotte to help make Bayley look good. Bad Michael Cole redub tells us that Charlotte will defend the NXT Women’s Championship in a triple threat match against Rhea Ripley and Io Shiri.
Mixed tag action is next with Dolph Ziggler and Sonya Deville against Mr. Money in the Bank Otis and Mandy Rose. I know that Robert Roode is stuck in Canada right now but what happened to Tucker? Sonya has really improved lately and the ladies were in the ring for most of the match. This whole former best friends angle is really putting Sonya over more than Mandy. I wonder if that was the plan or it just happened that way. Sonya picked up a quality win for her team with a clean pin on Mandy.
The “In Memory of Shad Gaspard” graphic is shown after the tragic accident from earlier this week. He put his son’s life before his own and he died a hero. Props.
Main event time and it is the final first round Intercontinental Title tournament match between Jeff Hardy and Sheamus. When the original tournament details were released, I had this match as the finals and still in the minority as to why this got bumped to the first round. Yes, AJ Styles is now in the tournament (likely after it was originally taped) and Styles/Bryan or Styles/Hardy would be fantastic matches, but we all know that these two will be continuing their feud afterwards. Unless, of course, Sheamus is still feuding with Michael Cole for not putting him over enough. Sheamus has brought up many times that the Intercontinental Title is the only accolade he has not captured and it would make for a good story with them feuding over the IC title in the empty arena era. Anyway, we get a really good match from the two and Hardy squeaks out the win to advance to face Daniel Bryan in the next round.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
Solid in-ring action all night. Probably the best Smackdown empty arena episode. Since the match quality was strong, it was a fun show to watch.
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura was match of the night. Just great action from two guys who are very familiar with each other.
Miz was destroyed by Braun Strowman tonight. How did Miz become a former WWE Champion again?
The world is slowly trying to become more normal. Just remember to stay safe and stay home.
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.