This week’s SmackDown had plenty of action, and almost every match was well worth a watch. AJ Styles defended his Intercontinental Championship against Drew Gulak, Bayley and Alexa Bliss went at it, with Matt Riddle vs John Morrison kicking off the show in style. Whilst much of the night was a fun watch, it was ruined with another questionable segment featuring Sheamus and Jeff Hardy.
Matt Riddle def. John Morrison via pinfall
AJ Styles def. Drew Gulak via pinfall
Bayley def. Alexa Bliss via disqualification
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Kofi Kingston via pinfall
You Do You, Bro
Michael Cole kicked off the show by welcoming Matt Riddle to the ring. Riddle was asked about how he felt being on SmackDown, saying it was the “love child of a lot of work and a lot of dreams, bro.” After talking about how he loved being on SmackDown, getting to be on the same brand as The New Day and Daniel Bryan, he was asked by Cole about why he doesn’t wear shoes.
Riddle talked about how when he was younger, he had frostbite, and when he put his shoes on, he felt a horrible burning sensation. To this day, he still feels the burn and that was the reason why he always goes barefoot. King Corbin interrupted things and came to the ring. He said that nobody wanted him on SmackDown, and he should “bow down to the king.” As it looked as though we were going to see these two go at it, Corbin said he wouldn’t be fighting him tonight. Instead, Riddle would be facing someone else, and that guy would be John Morrison.
Matt Riddle vs John Morrison W/ The Miz
There’re a lot of guys on the SmackDown roster that could have a great match with Riddle, but I never considered John Morrison. Not because he isn’t a great in-ring performer, but because I assumed WWE would have other plans for Riddle. This was an excellent start to the action, with Morrison executing some phenomenal transitional sequences right from the start. Corbin sat at ringside and loved it when Morrison landed a strike to Riddle that reverberated around the entire Performance Center.
Morrison glided around the ring, using the ropes just as much as the mat. He kicked Riddle whilst standing on the apron then launched himself off the top rope to deliver a corkscrew press, but Riddle kicked out. After a running knee from Morrison, Riddle kicked out again, and after encouraging Morrison to keep hitting him, he took a nasty poke in the eye. As Matt was standing on the apron, they both traded blows and knocked each other over, with Riddle falling to the outside. Whilst there, he grabbed his flip flop and threw it at Corbin.
Back in the ring, Riddle landed a Broton and a German suplex, but only managed a two-count. He went up high and attempted a Floating Bro, but Morrison got his knees up. After more impressive offence from Morrison, he hit an almighty Spanish Fly but just couldn’t put the Original Bro away. The Miz and King Corbin stood on the apron, so Riddle went after both of them. Morrison attempted a roll-up and was unsuccessful, then Riddle did the same and managed to pluck out the win right from underneath him.
This was the best match of the night, and it could have all been done without the boring Corbin getting involved. Shortly after the match backstage, Corbin, Miz, and Morrison were all furious about the loss. I pray to the wrestling gods, AKA Vince McMahon, that they don’t team up on Riddle and form some makeshift stable. Miz and Morrison are much better on their own, and with Corbin having as much charisma as a block of wood, it would do them more harm than good.
A Tribute To The Golden Role Models
Bayley and Sasha. Sasha and Bayley. Whatever your thoughts on their current run as pro heels in WWE, you can’t deny they’ve not done a great job. As much as their obnoxious attitude and shrillness on the microphone go right through me, they were great this week. Bayley and Sasha Banks were in the ring to show off a tribute video to their reign in WWE, but before doing so, Bayley filled the fans in on a phone call she took earlier on in the week.
She said The Undertaker phoned her up and said it was embarrassing that WWE had a whole show in tribute of him when Bayley and Sasha didn’t. Whilst mimicking Taker’s voice, she said he implored WWE to pay tribute to them. Bayley said that now The Last Ride was over and The Undertaker was gone, it was time for their tribute video.
The video package was part genuine, part mockery. Whilst it had the typical inspiring clips and music so many have, there were also some great comedy moments in it. After it was over, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross came to the ring to state some interesting facts about their own careers and lives, such as Cross being the Queen of Scotland and being the 325th person in line to the throne of England, and Bliss being the first woman to drive across the Antarctic in a go-kart. Cross then said that in her heart, she knew she could beat Bayley, and at Extreme Rules, she would. In a smart reversal of roles, Banks made a match between Bayley and Bliss after Cross slapped the champ in her face.
Alexa Bliss vs Bayley
It wasn’t a particularly long match, but it had a few decent moments. Bliss hit a knee drop followed by a standing moonsault, and Bayley tried to work the right arm of Bliss. It was never going to end cleanly, and as expected, the match was over after Nikki Cross ran in and attacked Bayley following on from Banks interfering in the match. I’m quite excited to see Nikki Cross take on Bayley at Extreme Rules, but I highly doubt she’s going to remove the belt from Bayley Three Brands’ waist.
An Unsuccessful Toast
At the end of the show, the toast to Jeff Hardy segment that should have happened last week took place, and it was just awful. Not only because of Hardy’s genuine struggles with alcohol and substance abuse but because it was boring. Sheamus laid on a spread in the ring which featured copious bottles of alcohol. Sheamus appeared on the big screen as Hardy stood in the ring with a bartender called Jeeves. After calling Hardy a junky for the millionth time and drawing attention to his problems, Jeeves offered Hardy a glass of champagne as Sheamus watched on from the big screen.
Hardy said, “what’s the worse that could happen?” He held the glass to his lips, but instead of taking a sip, he poured it over Jeeves’ head. Hardy then smashed a bottle over his head and hit a Swanton. Please stop this, WWE. It’s poking fun at the serious issue of alcoholism, and torturous for Hardy and many fans that have gone through the same thing. It was bad enough what happened with the car accident, yet it still continues. It was a hugely disappointing end to an otherwise entertaining show, and if it doesn’t stop I can see many more fans falling out with the company.
The Highs & Lows From The Rest Of The Show
AJ Styles and Drew Gulak had a good match, and whilst not as enjoyable as the opening, it was still pleasing on the eyes. Styles managed to control much of the action, especially after hurting Gulak’s knee following a Dragon Screw. There were a few moments where Gulak looked as though he was making a comeback, but the experience of AJ was too much. After Styles hit the Styles Clash, he could’ve pinned Gulak, but instead made a statement by hitting the Phenomenal Forearm followed by a pin.
There was a cool video package that highlighted the upcoming Swamp Match between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt at Extreme Rules, cutting together Strowman and Wyatt’s promo work with new footage of a filthy, crocodile-infested swamp.
Kofi Kingston and Shinsuke Nakamura had a solid match, and we got to see Nakamura win cleanly. He’s easily one of the best wrestler’s on SmackDown, and he 100% deserved the victory. Props to Big E, who had one of the most unique and funniest entrances of all time, literally rolling to the ring. A match was made for next week where The New Day will be defending their Tag Team Championship against Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. I adore The New Day, but my fingers will be crossed for the challengers.
Daniel Bryan’s blatantly obvious pre-recorded Zoom chats with Corey Graves and Michael Cole felt very unnatural during the Styles vs Gulak match. Why couldn’t he just join them at ringside?
I’ve said it above, but I’ll say it again, END THE SHEAMUS/HARDY ANGLE NOW!
‘A Toast to Jeff Hardy’ put a downer on an otherwise great show. John Morrison vs Matt Riddle was a classic, and AJ Styles and Drew Gulak also put on a good performance in their match. It’s such a shame that FOX seem to be OK with what WWE is doing with this horrible angle. All I can hope for is an end to this as soon as possible.
Bayley and Sasha Banks continued to cement themselves as amazing heels, with a brilliant segment that included a superb tribute video filled with plenty of laughs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross’ interruption meant we got to see Bayley in action, and the nice twist that Banks was the one who made the match came across well.
I’m so hyped for the Swamp Match at Extreme Rules. Strowman has made me care about him for the first time in his career, and I hope this is the same for many other WWE fans. If it follows a similar creative match to what Bray Wyatt and John Cena did at WrestleMania 36, then I’m sure it could still the show.
All images and video courtesy of WWE