Hey folks! Now that nursing school is officially over and I’m officially a nurse, I will now have more freedom to write more articles, and I’m looking to get back on track. Some of these articles will include articles like these, recapping RAW and SmackDown for those who can’t be bothered to sit through the whole thing. I hope you guys will be able to tune in! So with that, here are my thoughts on the July 3rd edition of SmackDown. Everything that I liked will get a “Best” and everything I hated will get a “Worst”. Everything else in between gets a “best and worst”. Alrighty, here we go!
The first segment of the night featured the continuation of Matt Riddle’s main roster career on SmackDown. We got a little background as to why he’s always barefoot (which got a little weird if I do say so myself), and he’s interrupted by King Corbin, who is kayfabe upset that Riddle is feuding wit him this early, as he reportedly thought that Riddle should have gone through five enhancement talents before facing him. Is feuding with Corbin really worth that?
Anyways, Corbin comes out being upset that Riddle decided to join in on the SmackDown tradition of faces jumping a heel after a lumberjack match and taking a dive. Riddle’s ready for a fight, but not before Corbin summons John Morrison to take his place for the night. Folks, this was a PPV caliber match that Morrison and Riddle had. John Morrison had always been one of WWE’s unsung heroes, even in his heyday in WWE, as he can generally be counted on to put on a solid match with anyone he’s tasked to work with. Riddle and Morrison have contrasting styles that complimented each other tremendously, and it resulted in another clean and convincing win, which is just the way to build up Riddle.
I don’t know how Riddle’s real-life allegations will affect his push, and hopefully he didn’t do anything inappropriate, but WWE’s actually been on the ball with Matt so far, showing off his personality and his ring acumen against a respected veteran that can hold his own. Sign me up for 20 minutes of this on PPV.
Best: Styles vs. Gulak II
Are my eyes deceiving me? The first hour of WWE programming being mostly wrestling? 2020 has brought about a lot of surprises, and you can color me greatly surprised here. This match comes off the heels of Gulak defeating AJ Styles a week before he won the Intercontinental Championship. You know, I was so depressed when I had initially heard that WWE released Drew Gulak from his contract, but was even happier when they brought him back again.
Gulak has played quite the tremendous role as a teacher kind of character, even though Daniel Bryan isn’t somebody who needs to be taught much. Gulak defeated Styles at first because AJ took him for granted and his arrogance got the best of him. Now, he has to take him seriously if he wants to keep his title.
Thankfully, this time around he did, and he did in another quality outing. What I especially loved is how at the end, Styles didn’t think Gulak was good enough for just a Styles Clash. He put his unconscious body leaning against the ropes so he can finish him off with his other finisher so that there’d be no doubt in any one’s mind. If we are going to get the same AJ Styles who was on SmackDown in late 2016 while he was WWE Champion put on quality outings each week, we’ll be in for a treat.
Best: Sasha and Bayley Celebrate Each Other
One of the greatest gifts we’ve gotten on WWE television this year is the tag team pairing of Sasha and Bayley, and it’s clear that these two were meant to be heels. Yes, even Bayley with all of her inflatable tube men. They’re just so delightfully arrogant and it’s like they are begging us to hate them. That’s a sign of a true heel. Another sign of a true heel is looking to do anything to get heat, and these days, the easiest way to accomplish that is to simply take a shot at the Undertaker.
Sasha and Bayley just feed off each other so well, and as a tag team, their strengths are amplified and their weaknesses are better concealed. In addition, the strength of their relationship will make their inevitable break-up and feud even more intense. That’s how you make a personal rivalry even more personal. You be as bestest as friends as you can before you separate.
Nikki Cross is just another fork in the road for Bayley to cross before the clash with Sasha, so I expect more of the same in that regard, but more of Nikki showing personality, please.
Best/Worst: Tag Team Cliches
So Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro have already defeated The New Day and this week, SHinsuke Nakamura defeated Kofi Kingston in singles action. Next week, the two teams will face each other in a match with the titles on the line. Can you guess which team will win?
It seems these days the only way to build a tag team title match is to have singles matches between the two teams and to have the challengers defeat the champions before the titles are on the line. I trust the two tag teams will put together a tag team match, but I also wish that WWE would actually focus on having a reason for the two teams to face each outside of just having challengers pin the champions and having commentary wonder if that puts them in line for a match for the titles.
Worst: Sheamus Toasts Jeff
Finally, in our main event segment, we continue out tasteless feud between Sheamus and Jeff Hardy with Sheamus goading Jeff into trying to take a sip of alcohol before Jeff strikes an innocent bartender and lays him out with a Swanton Bomb. Folks, the reason why I Hate this feud is because I don’t believe it is good television to exploit someone ‘s real life personal problems for the sake of pushing a feud. Especially someone like Jeff Hardy, someone who’s towards the end of his career than towards the beginning.
Jeff’s issues with drugs and alcohol are well-documented and storied. We’ve seen the documentary. We all saw Victory Road 2011. We know that he has had issues and demons, and we’ve known he’s tried fighting them and fell back into habits. Why are we still using his history in plot devices, especially for the 2020 version of Jeff Hardy. Jeff should be at the stage of his career where he serves as a veteran presence and put over younger talent. Are we not past the whole “redemption” story arc? Hardy defeating Sheamus doesn’t give him redemption. It just gives him a victory over Sheamus.