SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
MAY 22, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRS ON FOX NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Top 10 Moments from Last Week
Items Advertised by WWE
We’re now heading towards Backlash set to take place on June 14, most likely in the WWE Performance Center. One match is official from the Raw side and that’s Edge vs. Randy Orton. Wikipedia is showing Drew McIntyre vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. I don’t recall seeing anything indicating that would happen, but we are in the “brand-to-brand invitational” era so I suppose it’s possible. We’ll see. Here’s what’s on tap for tonight:
A.J. Styles rolls into Smackdown to face Shinsuke Nakamura
Jeff Hardy looks to accelerate comeback against Sheamus
Charlotte Flair and Bayley to meet in Champion vs. Champion Match
Otis & Mandy Rose bring personal battle with Sonya Deville & Dolph Ziggler to the ring
Intercontinental Championship Tournament First Round Matches
A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
You could say that ever since Money in the Bank in 2017, fans craved a dream match of A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura when they had a stare down and went at it during the match. Many knew of their history in New Japan Pro Wrestling and their match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom in January of 2016.
Nakamura won the 2018 Royal Rumble and went on to challenge Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34, only to come up short. While appearing to display sportsmanship, Nakamura turned on Styles which started a feud that would last for the better part of the year. Nakamura was never able to get his hands on the title. He did however have runs as U.S. Champion and Intercontinental Champion. Styles lost the WWE title later in 2018 to Daniel Bryan and had a run last year as U.S. Champion.
Styles takes advantage of the brand to brand invitational rule and comes over from Raw to take on Nakamura as they renew their feud tonight in a first round Intercontinental Championship tournament match. The winner takes on Elias who defeated King Corbin last week in first round action. Here’s Elias in a WWE exclusive:
Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus
Jeff Hardy returned to Smackdown two weeks ago in an in-ring interview and talked about the highs and lows in his career, how life has taught him to get back up when he’s down, and how he’s asking the fans to ride with him one more time even though he wasn’t sure what he had left to prove. Sheamus interrupted and called him an adrenaline junkie, back in the ring for one more “sip of the bottle.” He questioned who still cared about him and said the fans were tired of giving him second chances. He said his next failure is right around the corner. Sheamus made his way to the ring, only to get treated to a Whisper in the Wind and a Twist of Fate.
There is history between Hardy and Sheamus as they did battle on Raw back in 2017 during the time the Hardy Boys (Jeff and Matt) battled over the Raw Tag Team Championship with Sheamus and Cesaro when they were the Bar. This followed the Hardys return to WWE in 2017 at WrestleMania. Tonight, Sheamus and Hardy go at it one on one. The winner takes on Daniel Bryan, who defeated the now released Drew Gulak in round one action last week.
Frank’s Analysis: This tournament is overall a toss-up, although Nakamura would be on the lower end of choices to move forward. I’ll go with Styles in that match. Between Hardy and Sheamus it’s anyone’s guess. Hardy got the better of Sheamus two weeks ago, so that could indicate Sheamus wins tonight? Then again, they’ve made a big deal about Hardy’s comeback, so that could be an indication of him going to the finals and even winning. I’ll go Hardy for the purpose of taking a stand. A Hardy vs. Styles final would be cool to see.
Women’s Champion vs. Champion Match: NXT Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Smackdown Champion Bayley
Last week, NXT Champion Charlotte Flair paid Smackdown a visit. According to Charlotte, people wanted more of her and that’s why she was there. She was disappointed there wasn’t a giant picture of her in the Performance Center. (Yeah me too! No not really.)
Smackdown Champion Bayley came out with Sasha Banks and pretty much told Charlotte to get lost. They said she ought to go back to Raw (which is still her official show folks) and beat people like Liv Morgan because Smackdown was their show. Bayley reminded Charlotte that she beat her for the Smackdown title. After a back-and-forth, Charlotte asked Sasha if she was happy being Bayley’s lackey and being an afterthought. Charlotte challenged Bayley to a one-on-one match, which takes place tonight.
Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and the recently departed Becky Lynch were all members of the Four Horsewomen of NXT prior to their move up to Raw back in 2015. Bayley had something to say on Twitter, and Charlotte gave herself a new nickname so to speak:
FOX BETTER HAVE MY POST SUPER SHOWDOWN/WRESTLEMANIA BAYLEY-BRATION ON CUE THIS FRIDAY AFTER I WHOOP CHARLOTTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/6Ez1zUbkay
— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) May 19, 2020
Celebrating Charlotte 3 shows 🎉 👸🏼 pic.twitter.com/WR2rVP5rac
— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) May 17, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: They’re doing a better job building potential breakup between Sasha and Bayley than they did in 2018. It’s hard to tell how people feel about it without fans in the building. As far as the match tonight, it’s just to point everything in the direction of what’s going on between Sasha and Bayley. I’m ok bringing in Charlotte for a match if it’s not a regular thing. There’s history between the women.
Otis & Mandy Rose vs. Dolph Ziggler & Sonya Deville
The story of Otis & Mandy Rose and Dolph Ziggler & Sonya Deville continues tonight as they go at it in a mixed tag team match. Otis won the 2020 Money in the Bank contract, and defeated Dolph Ziggler to earn his way into the match. He won the heart of Mandy at WrestleMania by defeating Ziggler after finding out Sonya and Ziggler corroborated to keep them apart.
Several weeks ago, Sonya defeated Mandy. Last week in a backstage segment with Ziggler, Sonya said Mandy wouldn’t amount to anything but being blond and pretty. She would just end up barefoot and pregnant in a double-wide trailer cooking up high cholesterol meat while Otis screams. Here’s a little Twitter trash talk. There are several tweets back and forth between Mandy and Sonya and thus I’ve included just a few as a sampling:
Man … I carried her ass up that entire ladder LITERALLY. Her ass still couldn’t get the W. 🤯 https://t.co/RtwuNqxXkF
— Daddy Deville (@SonyaDevilleWWE) May 19, 2020
Must be good at something for you to be so envious of my life…? 🤔 https://t.co/dpKqPcYxXm
— Mandy (@WWE_MandyRose) May 19, 2020
My Beautiful 🙌🏻 Peach 🍑 is NOT A BITCH!
She’s The Most Beautiful Soul and Woman in Da World
Little Boyfriend…. I’M A FULL LOVE MACHINE MAN BABY
— OTIS (Dozer) (@otiswwe) May 19, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: They are certainly trying to get you to want to see this match. I just don’t recall anything that made me want to see this mixed tag after Sonya defeated Mandy and Otis defeating Ziggler a few times unless I’m forgetting things (and it’s easy for me to do that these days). That said, it’s a sensible step in this story.
Other Match Results and News Items from Last Week
Otis was a guest of the Miz on MizTV with John Morrison. Later in the show, Otis teamed with Universal Champion Braun Strowman to defeat Miz & Morrison.
Dana Brooke defeated Naomi, who looked distraught after the match. Here’s Dana in a WWE exclusive:
I’m looking forward to Smackdown because of the tournament, and I love me a good tournament albeit a short one. The match possibilities are interesting, even if Elias goes to the finals. He’s shown a desire to win matches which is a departure from the character he’s been through the years. Everything else is just there, but it’s not terrible. We didn’t see the Fiend last week, and so it’s possible he emerges tonight as we get ready for Backlash to set up another match with Braun Strowman.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!