SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
JUNE 12, 2020
ORLANDO, FL. AT THE WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRS ON FOX NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Top 10 Moments from Last Week
Items Advertised by WWE
Tonight’s episode of Smackdown will feature the final hype for Backlash, which comes our way this Sunday. On Raw this past Monday we learned that newly crowned Women’s Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks & Bayley (also Smackdown Women’s Champion) will defend their titles against Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross as well as the IIconics (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay). Both Bliss & Cross and the IIconics are former champions. In addition to that match it was determined that Andrade will challenge Apollo Crews for the U.S. Championship. Andrade is also a former champion, recently losing the title to Crews. There’s a total of seven matches, and we’ll find out either tonight or over the weekend if there will be any additions. WWE will sometimes announce these things on their website, social media, or through a third party. Here’s what’s on tap for tonight:
Daniel Bryan and A.J. Styles battle for the Intercontinental Championship
Jeff Hardy and Sheamus to converge for contract signing ahead of Backlash (why?)
Heavy Machinery reunite alongside Braun Strowman to face Dolph Ziggler, the Miz & John Morrison
Intercontinental Championship Final: Daniel Bryan vs. A.J. Styles
Last week on Smackdown, Daniel Bryan and A.J. Styles participated in the contract signing’s cousin known as the face to face. They traded barbs highlighted by A.J. saying Bryan was stupid not to take a bye into the finals, and acknowledging he was all heart. Bryan said A.J. wouldn’t defend the title as much because he doesn’t think people are as worthy. He wants to defend the title every week, and test himself and learn. A.J. retorted saying he wanted to reach “across the aisle” and give people like Drew Gulak, Bryan’s recent advisor, an opportunity. They had a one-on-one match won by Gulak. Here’s Gulak in a WWE exclusive:
Tonight, Bryan and A.J. battle in the final match for the Intercontinental Championship. As I wrote recently, Bryan last held the title back in 2015 before he retired for two years. A.J. never held it, but is a two-time WWE Champion and three-time U.S. Champion. Bryan once took the WWE Championship from A.J. back in 2018 which led to his year-long heel run.
Frank’s Analysis: Bryan has certainly been spirited in his desire to win the title, which admittedly is my personal favorite title in WWE history. It’s too bad it’s been minimized through the years, but you’d have to think Bryan would be an attempt, at least, to bring prestige back to the championship. A.J. would be as well, so I’m fine which ever way they go. I could see them having an extended feud. Gulak is a part of this as well, but it’s hard to know how he’d figure in to the picture.
Contract Signing: Jeff Hardy and Sheamus Sign Contract for their Backlash Encounter
C’mon, did you really think you’d avoid a contract signing?
Last week, Jeff Hardy told all regarding what happened two weeks ago at the onset of Smackdown. He said when he got out of his car, it felt like something hit him “with an anvil.” Next thing he knew he was in police custody and smelled of alcohol. This brought him back to his days of struggling with alcohol abuse which made him question how many times he could ask his family for forgiveness. That said, he passed every sobriety test and said a witness showed up saying a person with a red beard and red hair got out of his car and flew the scene. He was obviously referring to Sheamus, who would come out and blame Jeff for blaming everyone else for his problems. Ultimately, he landed a Brogue Kick on Jeff and slammed him into the plexiglass several times.
It was announced later on that Jeff would go one-on-one with Sheamus at Backlash. Tonight, they sign the contract for their match.
Frank’s Analysis: I roll my eyes at contract signings these days because we’ve seen them a million times. I’ll admit, as a fan of Jeff and wanting to see him have a lengthy run of success, I’m into this feud whereas I wouldn’t have been before. That doesn’t mean I like exploiting his past alcohol issues, but a feud that might’ve resulted in the “hey I’m gonna take the garbage out” match has now become something I want to see. I also like Sheamus, to a degree, when used right. (Please bring back his old music.)
Six-Man Tag: Heavy Machinery (“Mr. Money in the Bank” Otis & Tucker) & Universal Champion Braun Strowman vs. Dolph Ziggler & Miz & John Morrison
Last week, Miz & John Morrison had a “warning” for Universal Champion Braun Strowman. This turned into a series of pranks. They put something in his plastic bottle that fizzed up and exploded. Later, they dumped green slime on Kayla Braxton while interviewing Braun. The slime was meant for Braun. Next, they smashed Braun’s car with a golf club. Finally, Braun went to the van in which Miz and Morrison were hanging out. He tipped it over while they were in the van. It was like 2017 all over again.
At Backlash, Braun defends his title against Miz & Morrison in a handicap match. Last week, Otis of Heavy Machinery and current holder of the Money in the Bank contract, defeated King Corbin via DQ. He recently feuded with Dolph Ziggler over winning the heart of Mandy Rose. Tonight, his partner Tucker returns and joins Braun to take on Ziggler and Miz & Morrison. Miz and Ziggler have many matches in their history but are close friends in real life. Morrison and Ziggler had matches 10 years ago over the Intercontinental Championship. Braun is most certainly looking over his shoulder with Otis holding MITB.
Frank’s Analysis: I think it’s stupid Miz & Morrison get to have a Universal Championship match, but I’m curious to see if it’s a bridge to bring the “Fiend” Bray Wyatt back. It was Braun who defeated “Firefly Funhouse” Bray back at Money in the Bank, but we saw clips of the Fiend while Bray was down. As far as the match tonight it’s just a way to renew Ziggler and Otis’ feud and bring Tucker back in the fold. I don’t think Tucker is turning on Otis, although the thought crossed my mind some time ago.
Other Match Results and News Items from Last Week:
Lacey Evans defeated Sonya Deville. Mandy Rose distracted Sonya via video.
Smackdown Tag Team Champions New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) and Shorty G defeated Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura & Mojo Rawley
Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley & Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross to win the Women’s Tag Team Championship for the second time. Here’s Bayley and Sasha in a WWE exclusive:
WWE announced yesterday that their Raw and Smackdown creative teams would be combined into one, led by Bruce Pritchard. Paul Heyman, who had been executive director of Raw, will be “focusing on his on-screen character.” I have the same feelings most have, but will wait to pass judgement until I hear PWTorch podcasts. My listening is a bit compromised this week as I’m tied up with recurrent training with my full-time job, but I’ll get to it over the weekend. I’m not saying anything people don’t know already, but we’ve all heard Bruce talk. You may as well superimpose Vince McMahon’s face over him in interviews and we wouldn’t know the difference. I don’t need to explain that, do I?
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!
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