There were two Intercontinental Championship qualifiers on this week’s show, and each one was fantastic for completely different reasons. Charlotte Flair took on Bayley in a Champion vs Champion match, The Miz and John Morrison angered a giant, and the heated rivalry between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville continued. It was a great show once again, so let’s dive right into another episode of Friday Night SmackDown.

Quick Results

Braun Strowman def. The Miz via pinfall

AJ Styles def. Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall

Bayley def. Charlotte Flair via pinfall

Sonya Deville & Dolph Ziggler def. Mandy Rose & Otis via pinfall

Jeff Hardy def. Sheamus via pinfall

The Dirt Sheet Disaster

Kicking off the show was an episode of The Dirt Sheet. The Miz and John Morrison are currently two of the best entertainers on SmackDown, and they continued to kill it with their verbal assault on Mr. Money in the Bank, Otis. After taking shots at Otis, they turned their attention to Braun Strowman. It’s never a good idea to annoy the Monster Among Men, but they did it anyway, calling him an enabler to Otis. They followed this by bringing attention to Bray Wyatt, revealing some rejected puppets he almost used on The Firefly Funhouse.

Strowman interrupted, coming to the ring with a smile on his face. He said the Dirt Sheet wasn’t “half-bad,” seemingly in a good mood despite the words of Miz and Morrison. The Miz asked Strowman if he truly thought Wyatt was done with him, reminding everyone that he brought him to the lowest he’d ever been. Strowman isn’t a solid performer on the microphone, but he did alright, although he delivered the familiar “get these hands” with the same forced delivery. John Morrison decided to annoy Strowman, which led to him getting The Miz into a match with the Universal Champion, much to Miz’s annoyance.

The Miz vs Braun Strowman

This was a fairly decent match, although it didn’t last that long. The Miz knew he couldn’t defeat Strowman fairly, so attempted to use all the dirty tricks in the book to gain an advantage. John Morrison landed a kick to Strowman’s face after jumping off the barriers, and Strowman ran straight into the ring post when Miz moved out the way, however, it wasn’t enough. It all ended when The Miz hit the running powerbomb for the win.

As Braun Strowman walked to the back, Morrison challenged him for a two on one a handicap match at Backlash for the Universal Championship. Later in the night, the match was made official. Backstage, The Miz wasn’t happy with Morrison for suggesting it, but when Renee Young interviewed the two of them, they couldn’t help but brag about how they’d win, and started singing their chant that will probably never catch on.

Rivalries And Redemption

The two qualifying matches in the Intercontinental Championship tournament saw an old rivalry reignited, and the redemption of Jeff Hardy. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura have had some amazing matches over the years, and tonight was no different. The main event saw Jeff Hardy face Sheamus, and it was a stark reminder that Hardy isn’t the man he once was. Although he looked like a shell of his former self, it was much more than that.

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura

This was never going to outdo their match from Wrestle Kingdom 10, but it was still a fun watch. It was announced that Styles was now an official member of SmackDown after being traded for someone who would be going to RAW at a later date. Shinsuke’s unorthodox style was in full effect, setting the tone with a baseball slide into a suplex as he nailed Styles off the turnbuckle. Styles retaliated with a Pelé kick, followed by a calf crusher, but Nakamura managed to kick out at two.

This was a balanced match with both men delivering some signature moves. Nakamura dropped Styles with the Michinoku Driver and a Kinshasa, but it would be Styles that got the win. Nakamura locked in a triangle lock, but Styles countered with a Styles Clash for a two count. After a failed attempt at a Phenomenal Forearm, he successfully connected with one, pinning Nakamura to advance to the semi-finals where he’ll face Elias.

Jeff Hardy vs Seamus

We got a recap of the build-up of tonight’s match, which showed Jeff Hardy’s battle with his multiple arrests and personal demons, with Sheamus playing the heel superbly by calling them excuses. When the match started, Sheamus wasn’t messing around. He dominated for most of the match, constantly mocking Hardy. He dropped Hardy onto the announcer table, hit three Irish Curse backbreakers in a row, and pounded at Hardy’s chest with 10 brutal forearms.

Hardy had moments where he fought back but never was he in a position to overcome the Irishman’s strength. We’ve seen Jeff Hardy deliver sentons from among the clouds, performing to the highest of standards, but this version is a shell of his former self. As Hardy said himself, he wants one final run in WWE, but if the performances that follow imitate the one we saw against Sheamus, it might not last for very long.

Still, in the closing moments of the match, Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, but Hardy moved out the way, catching him off guard and rolling him up for the win. Understandably, Sheamus was frustrated, but the second semi-final match has now been set. Jeff Hardy will face Daniel Bryan, and I can see WWE push Hardy to the final. As we know with Drake Maverick on NXT, they love an underdog story. I just hope we see more of a fight from Jeff, because he should never have defeated Sheamus.

The Cracks Continue To Form

Last week, Charlotte Flair had some choice words for Sasha Banks, calling her an afterthought when it came to her support of Bayley. Ever since Banks returned, she’s been more of a glorified manager than a competitor, and Flair highlighted her new role in a negative light. You can see the doubt and contemplation on Banks’ face, but she’s still in full support of her best friend. Before the match, Bayley told Banks she shouldn’t accompany her to the ring. Bayley wanted to prove to everyone she didn’t need Banks in her corner to defeat Flair, and with that left her watching on the monitor backstage.

Charlotte Flair vs Bayley

Charlotte Flair is the best in the business, and I love her to bits. She’s every bit as good as her father both on the microphone and in the ring, but she was put to test against the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Although Flair built plenty of momentum throughout, Bayley fought and clawed her way to victory, eventually rolling up Flair for the win.

 

Nobody was ever going to win cleanly, and as much as I like Flair, having Bayley win was the right call. Flair had some solid offence throughout, with the highlight being a neckbreaker followed by a shove into the turnbuckle. Bayley headed into the final stretch delivering a succession of chops, with Flair laughing in her face. Flair returned the favour, but Bayley rolled her up and grabbed the ropes with the referee unaware. Backstage, Bayley joked with Banks, saying she thought Banks didn’t believe in her. They continued to celebrate, but Banks is clearly thinking about her position at the side of Bayley. When it’ll explode is anyone’s guess, but I’d love to see the two go at it at Backlash.

The Briefcase And The Peach

Following on from Sonya Deville’s blistering promo from last week, we were treated to a mixed tag team match between four Superstars who haven’t seen eye to eye for some time. Otis is now the proud owner of a championship contract, as well as having the love and support of his “peach” Mandy Rose, yet Deville and Ziggler continue to be a thorn in his side. I like how this feud has gone on for a while, but maybe it’s time for things to come ahead. I doubt this is the last we’ll see of it, but maybe a match at Backlash will put the final nails in the coffin.

Sonya Deville & Dolph Ziggler vs Mandy Rose & Otis

Otis spent much of the match nursing his shoulder after Ziggler drove him into the ring steps. This left Deville and Rose going at it in the ring. It looks as though Deville is getting a bit of a push, and I’m all for it. She showed just how good she is in the ring, and picking up the win tonight only helped her cause. As Ziggler held Otis outside the ring, Deville was able to hit a knee strike to the back of Rose’s head, getting the three count for the victory.

Highs And Lows From The Rest Of The Show

 

Highs

There was nothing outside the matches I’d consider a highlight because we didn’t see a single promo (other than The Forgotten Sons) or interview that hasn’t been covered above. Tonight was all about action, and each match provided plenty of entertainment.

Lows

The Forgotten Sons aren’t getting over in my opinion. They don’t bring anything new to the table, and their promo was bland and forgettable. They need in-ring action to prove why they deserve to be on SmackDown, and until that happens they’re never going to win over the fans.

 

Final Thoughts

 

This week’s SmackDown gave us five solid matches, each telling a different story. Whilst the AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura match wasn’t the best of their career, it was still a fun watch. I’m excited to see Style take on Elias, and as much as I want Elias to win, it seems a given Styles will advance to the final. Sheamus deserved to advance to the final, but Jeff Hardy’s story in professional wrestling isn’t over. It’s likely we’re getting AJ Styles vs Jeff Hardy going against each other for the title at Backlash, and my guess is Jeff Hardy winning it.

Charlotte Flair would’ve beaten Bayley if it wasn’t for her cheating, but it made sense for Bayley to get the win. Hopefully, we see Sasha Banks snap soon because it’s starting to get repetitive seeing Banks’ ‘think’ every time someone asks her if she’s happy with how her current career path has taken her.

As for Otis and Mandy Rose, their feud with Deville and Ziggler has been entertaining, but it’s time with them both to move on. Overall, this week’s Smackdown was another entertaining one, favouring solid matches over a series of promos. Backlash is shaping up nicely, and with the addition of The Miz and John Morrison facing Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship in a handicap match, it’s becoming more anticipated by the minute.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE