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 report here.
We open the show with a recap of the “chaos” that the Retribution group has been causing the past couple of weeks. For some reason, they prefer Smackdown over Raw. Maybe that’s a hint? Anyway, we get a shot of the extra security that has been hired before Cole runs down tonight’s card.
Our opening match has Big E taking on John Morrison. Before the match can start, Retribution shows up and attacks both competitors. Our crack new security team is nowhere to be found while the camera guys go spastic to make this totally unwatchable. I know Dunn’s trademark is having his cameramen go into full seizure mode when things go down but it really hurts the presentation. You’re not going to win any Emmys with that kind of camera work, Bub. The group leaves as Miz finally comes down, only to check on Morrison.
When we get back from break, Big E and Morrison were licking their wounds from the attack with some of the locker room. Miz had some lame excuse why he didn’t come down to help and Big E gave a speech to fire everyone up. The Big E/Morrison match will happen later.
Back to the ring and The Awful Duo of Sasha Banks and Bayley were going to make the ring introductions for the tri-branded battle royal to determine who will face Bayley for the Smackdown Woman’s Title at SummerSlam. The annoying heel duo act is done far better by the IIconics than these two. Speaking of, they are out first. The next competitors are Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart from NXT. Smackdown’s first representative is out in Lacey Evans. Bayley goes to announce the next person and said there has to be a mistake. Asuka’s music hits and she charges to the ring to beat up Sasha and Bayley to lead to the commercial break. Bell rings once we return from break and those who didn’t get introduced are Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Naomi, Tamina, Dana Brooke, and Nikki Cross. Belair had a great moment press slamming Tamina over the top rope to the floor to eliminate her. Final four were Asuka, Shayna Baszler, Dana Brooke, and Tegan Nox. Tegan gets a brief moment to shine before Dana shows up to eliminate her. Thanks Dana, but Tegan has far more potential than you do. Shayna makes Dana pay for that and Asuka eliminates Dana. We get a brief look into the Shayna/Asuka feud before Sasha and Bayley try to interfere before Asuka, who had gone over the top rope to the floor, wipes them both out with sliding knees to the face. Shayna knocks Asuka off the apron for the Kofi Kingston elimination spot, with Asuka landing on the fallen Sasha and Bayley. Quite cleaver there. Asuka manages to eliminate Shayna to win the battle royal. If you didn’t see Asuka winning this, you haven’t been watching the product lately. I would have preferred to have given Tegan and Bianca a little bit more visibility in this but the battle royal was a bit too short to try to put anyone over that’s not involved in the Woman’s title story. With the rumors of a crowd at SummerSlam and Payback, I’m leaning towards Asuka Two Belts and new Woman’s Tag Champs (Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackhart?) at Payback to finally start the break up angle two and a half years too late.
Mandy Rose cuts a promo backstage and challenge Sonya Deville to a hair vs hair match at SummerSlam. We would find out later that the challenge was accepted. This should be a good match and get the final payoff for that feud.
More backstage With Nikki Cross catching up with Alexa Bliss after what The Fiend did to her last week and Sheamus sending the security guys away before his match.
Our next match is Sheamus taking on Shorty G. Sheamus wins the quick match as expected. Shorty G looked good for a quick minute though. Can we please get something of value for Shorty G to do and please change his name back to Chad Gable while we are at it? Why couldn’t the hacker have been him since Ali got shipped off to Raw?
Up next is the TNA reunion between AJ Styles and Joseph Park/Abyss. AJ rambled on about statistics and Park was his statistician. AJ reveals that the statistics show nobody is qualified for an Intercontinental Title match at SummerSlam. This brings out Jeff Hardy. Jeff challenges AJ for a title match. AJ puts Jeff over in a big way before shooting down the match challenge. Jeff and AJ come to blows, even Park got punched. Jeff wrote his name in marker on the whiteboard that was in the ring. We find out the marker was a permanent marker and the match is made for next week. I can’t wait for that match. It should be awesome.
Prior to our next match, Lucha House Party is shown backstage swiping the Smackdown Tag Titles from Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. Lucha House Party enters with the tag titles for Gran Metalik’s match with Nakamura. Instead of getting a great match between these two, we get a far too short match that Metalik wins after Kalisto makes his return to help take out Cesaro. What we saw was great but let’s give them some time people.
Matt Riddle was backstage talking to Kayla Braxton about King Corbin’s king’s ransom that Shorty G tried to cash in on. Shorty G appeared and tried to explain himself and apologize. Riddle accepted the apology and Corbin attacked Riddle from behind. Corbin acted as if that was their plan all along but we weren’t really sure about it. Gable and Riddle deserve better than to be saddled with Corbin. I’d like a Riddle/Gable match. It should be really good but we will likely get Riddle/Corbin next.
Up next is the sit down interview with Alexa Bliss. It filled in the gaps in the Strowman/Fiend story for those who didn’t watch Mixed Match Challenge on why Alexa is being figured into it. I’m not really sure what they are trying to have as the end game here, so let’s see where it goes. The bit was ok but nothing really special.
Sonya Deville cuts a promo to accept the hair vs hair match at SummerSlam. Another good promo from Sonya and it’s a shame she’s going to lose her hair. Sonya has been doing far better in the feud than Mandy has, but we all know what the boss likes.
Our main event match is the conclusion to our opening contest between Big E and John Morrison. Miz was on commentary this time. We get some back and forth between the two before Miz tried to interfere. That brought Otis out and Creative remembered that he was still Mr. Money in the Bank. We’ll have to take note of this day. The lights start flickering and we go to break. Back from break and we now have a lumberjack match as the Smackdown roster has surrounded the ring ready to fight Retribution. Instead, Retribution is backstage chasing Kayla around and beating up a couple of referees. Since that wasn’t shown on the video wall, the “lumberjacks” had no clue what was going on despite Michael Cole yelling at them. Jessika Carr finally appears to round everyone up to head backstage. They get backstage and Retribution is gone. Anyway, the Big E/Morrison match was still going on with Miz yammering on at commentary. Big E makes Morrison tap to his new submission move. The match was good and Morrison was just there to put Big E over, doing a really good job of it. After the match, Sheamus Brogue Kicks Big E to continue their story from earlier.
Braun Strowman is out for our main event promo with a new bald look and the big beard. Strowman wants The Fiend and gets Alexa Bliss instead. Alexa tries talking sense into Braun and he just dismisses her. The lights start flickering so Braun channels his inner Ultimate Warrior and press slams Alexa Bliss in a cleaver way with the lights going out so all we hear is the thud. Lights come back on and Alexa is holding her ribs at the feet of The Fiend and Braun is on the video wall doing a maniacal laugh off with The Fiend to close the show out. I’m not sure where this is going but everyone who has faced The Fiend has “changed” in some way. Braun has and perhaps Alexa, too. We’ll see what SummerSlam and Payback holds for us on that front.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
The Big E singles push is working so far. How long they run with it is another story. I’d like to see him get a world title run, a la Kofi, but I don’t know how long this run will be. With crowds returning soon, it’ll be interesting to see if that influences any of the decisions.
I’m excited for the AJ Styles/Jeff Hardy IC title match next week. It’s going to be really good. I remember a couple of their TNA matches and they were pretty good. We’ll see what they can do next week.
The matches tonight were rather short and most of the Big E/John Morrison match was to sell the Retribution group. The flow felt like it could have been a little bit better.
Please remember to stay safe out there.
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.