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.
The Smackdown intro plays before throwing us to center ice with Michael Cole in the ring to interview Matt Riddle. In case you didn’t know, Riddle says “Bro” a lot. We get a standard introductory promo from Riddle to add some background to his personality. Riddle also sounded higher than RVD throughout this. King Corbin unfortunately comes out to interrupt to cut a bad promo. Corbin claims to be able to make matches and out comes John Morrison with The Miz in tow to take on Riddle.
The match starts with Corbin on commentary. Byron Saxton he is not. Cole asked Corbin why could he make matches after running Raw into the ground when he was in charge as the Constable? Please don’t remind us about that, Cole. The match itself was excellent. Morrison and Riddle hit some amazing moves and sequences. Morrison’s Spanish Fly top rope counter into a standing Spanish Fly near fall was really cool. The ending came with Riddle reversing a rollup into an inside cradle for the three count. This was a unique finish you don’t see often. While Riddle celebrated on the ramp, AJ Styles attacked him from behind before Drew Gulak rushed down to attack Styles ahead of their IC title match next.
Our next match is the IC title match between AJ Styles and Drew Gulak. This is another excellent match. Gulak was able to match up quite well with Styles in the mat wrestling. I hope the Performance Center trainees acting as the crowd were taking notes. Gulak looked good in the match but Styles retained the title after a Styles Clash and Phenomenal Forearm. We get two excellent matches for the first hour of the show.
Up next is Promo Time with the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, Sasha Banks and Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley. We get some additional Undertaker retirement exploitation with Bayley doing a really bad Undertaker impression praising Bayley and Sasha’s accomplishments. That leads us to an over the top tribute video for Sasha and Bayley. We really need to get to a point where we can have actual live crowds so we can do the Sasha/Bayley split that should have happened three years ago. Anyway, out comes Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross for the interruption. We get some blah blah back and forth before Alexa slaps Bayley to set up the obvious match between the two that Sasha accepted.
Bayley is wrestling in street clothes while Alexa is in her ring gear. Interesting to note, Sasha was at ringside wearing the Women’s title and holding the Tag Titles on her shoulders. Bayley tried hard, but this is an Alexa Bliss match and she’s just not that good in the ring. Surprisingly, the match ends on a DQ when Bayley lures Nikki to hit her in front of the ref. Nikki attacks afterwards but Sasha pulls Bayley out to safety. The match was okay and we find out that these four will have another tag match next week on Smackdown. How many matches have these four had together recently?
We are shown a video recapping the history between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt before heading into their non-title Swamp Fight at Extreme Rules. This will likely be another cinematic match and they’ve all been fairly good, so let’s try to stay positive here.
The final match of the night is Kofi Kingston versus Shinsuke Nakamura. Big E rolls all the way down the ramp before whipping his ring jacket at Corey Graves. That was pretty awesome. Can we please get Big E a Universal Title run? Also, would it matter if Xavier Woods never came back? We get a very competitive match between two established veterans that could have gone either way multiple times. This match was really good, but not as good as the two opening matches. Nakamura picks up the win after a Kinshasa that Cole called a running knee. Seriously Cole? We find out after the break that The New Day will defend the Smackdown Tag Team Titles against Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura next week on Smackdown. This ending would give the challengers some momentum heading into the title match next week. I’m torn on the title match because I would like to see a title change, but we just had the IC Title tournament to crown a new champion. I’ll have to think it over some.
Main event time is Sheamus’s toast to Jeff Hardy. Hardy comes down to the ring, where a bar has been set up. I wonder if the bartender knows how to properly bump? Sheamus appears via satellite to cut a heel promo on Hardy’s addictions. The bartender, Jeeves, offers Hardy a drink as Sheamus toasts him. Hardy goes to take a drink a couple of times but dumps the drink on Jeeves’s head. Hardy smashes a bottle over Jeeves’s head and he falls into the perfect position to take a Swanton Bomb to thankfully end the segment. The whole segment just didn’t click at all. I’m guessing this is trying to position Hardy as the #2 face while Roman is away, but it was just not that good. Sheamus making fun of Hardy’s struggles that real people face every day doesn’t make for compelling TV. It did not deserve the main event spot here.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
The Matt Riddle/John Morrison match was simply fantastic. They pulled out a lot of cool spots and Morrison put Riddle over in a big way.
The IC Title match between AJ Styles and Drew Gulak was able to follow up the Riddle/Morrison match and keep up the match quality. If these were the only two matches you watched, you would have been satisfied.
The Bayley/Sasha tribute segment ran long and just wasn’t that interesting after the two excellent matches before it. I get that the over the topness is part of their gimmick but it doesn’t translate well for me on my TV screen.
The main event toast fell flat and not a good way to end the show. The Kofi/Shinsuke match would have been a better ending choice.
Please stay safe out there with the celebrations this week. Happy Belated Canada Day and US Independence Day.
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.