WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER 8/21: Final Summerslam Hype, Thunderdome, Styles-Hardy for IC Title, Braun’s Final Message, LHP challenge Cesaro & Nakamura


AUGUST 21, 2020

Announcers: Michael Cole and Corey Graves


Last week’s edition of Smackdown had several developments regarding SummerSlam and the fan viewing experience. Announcers Michael Cole and Corey Graves discussed fans being involved in the show going forward, which led to WWE’s announcement about the Thunderdome which makes its debut tonight at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL. The tapings for Raw, Smackdown, and PPVs will take place here for the foreseeable future with the fan interactive Thunderdome being a part of the show. Here’s a link to Wade Keller’s article featuring WWE EVP Kevin Dunn talking about the experience:

Kevin Dunn reveals more details on new WWE TV set debuting Friday, thanks fans for sticking around during below par production in recent months

This morning, WWE announced that Vince McMahon will kick off Smackdown and introduce the Thunderdome concept:

Top Three Developments from Last Week

  • Jeff Hardy challenged A.J. Styles to an Intercontinental Championship match. That match is advertised for tonight as a “championship clash” in the Thunderdome.
  • Alexa Bliss confronted her long-time friend Universal Champion Braun Strowman regarding recent developments.  WWE is advertising that Braun will deliver on final message before SummerSlam.
  • Asuka won a tri-branded Royal Rumble to earn the right to challenge Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.

Items Advertised by WWE

In addition to what I mentioned in the top three developments, here’s what else is advertised for the show:

  • Lucha House Party look to dethrone Cesaro & Shisuke Nakamura in Smackdown Tag Team Title match
  • Big E looks to pay back Sheamus in latest singles clash.

Intercontinental Championship: A.J. Styles (champ) vs. Jeff Hardy

Last week, Intercontinental Champion A.J. Styles along with a somewhat reluctant Joseph Park (formerly known as Abyss in Impact Wrestling), statistically revealed that there were no worthwhile challengers to him for his title. They revealed this on a whiteboard in the ring before Jeff Hardy made his way out to interrupt the proceedings.

Jeff talked about the Intercontinental title being the first singles’ title he won on his own and how much it meant to him. He discussed his respect for A.J. and how he wanted to face him for the title, citing how Sheamus took him out of his chance to wrestle for the title in the tournament which took place several months ago. A.J. acknowledged his respect for Jeff not just for his single’s work but the Hardy Boys. Regarding giving him a title shot though, he said hell no. Jeff attacked A.J., who then fled from the ring, and signed his name to the whiteboard.

Later, the announcers said the match was official for next week (tonight) as A.J. will defend the Intercontinental Championship against Jeff. They have history from their time in TNA Wrestling (now Impact). Here’s match between them from Slammiversary in 2004:

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Frank’s Analysis: I don’t have a ton to add as this is a feud that I’ll be happy to watch develop. Here’s hoping WWE doesn’t try to dress this up with ridiculous stipulation matches and goofy storylines.

Braun Strowman Final Massage Before SummerSlam

As we head towards SummerSlam, Braun Strowman will once again defend the Universal Championship against Bray Wyatt. This time around, he will face Bray in his “Fiend” character.

The latest chapter in their story unfolded last week as Alexa Bliss was interviewed about her recent interaction with the Fiend. Several weeks ago, the Fiend gave her a mandible claw to close out the show. She admitted being captivated by the Fiend and understanding what a “moth to a flame” means. She reaffirmed her friendship with Braun and said it could potentially be more. When asked about Braun’s comment saying he doesn’t care about Alexa, she couldn’t answer, and the interview ended.

Later, Alexa confronted Braun in the ring. Braun couldn’t look at her face to face, but said she used him and led him around by his beard. He wanted nothing to do with her and wanted the Fiend. Alexa demanded Braun look at her and slapped him repeatedly, saying this wasn’t him. He then pressed her over his head when the lights started dimming. When the lights came on, Alexa was on the mat in pain with the Fiend standing over her. Braun was on the big screen laughing maniacally, and Fiend laughed back.

Braun will have a final message ahead of their championship match tonight. He’s put up several cryptic tweets. Here’s a sample:

Frank’s Analysis: I have no idea what Braun’s message will be nor what’s going to happen in this feud and frankly, I don’t care. There’s way too much to think about in terms of the characters involved and none of it has to do with professional wrestling. It’s tiresome, bad, and annoying. If you’re captivated by this feud, more power to you. The one takeaway is I think Braun is turning heel, but if that doesn’t happen then so be it. I think I miss Roman Reigns.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura (champs) vs. Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado)

The Smackdown Tag Team Championship will be on the line tonight as Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura will defend their titles against Lucha House Party. Last week, Gran Metalik got a win against Nakamura following a week where Lince Dorado took a loss to Cesaro. Things might be in favor of Lucha House Party as Kalisto made his return to television last week. Their theme music hit as Nakamura was setting up the Kinshasa, causing the distraction and allowing Metalik to hit a diving elbow for the win.

Before the match, Lucha House Party snuck up on Cesaro & Nakamura and took the title belts before scurrying away. Tonight, they look to win the championship. Cesaro & Nakamura look to retain the titles they won from New Day at Extreme Rules: The Horror Show.

Frank’s Analysis: I’ve given up on teams earning title matches the right way. They 50/50 booked singles matches over the past two weeks, which doesn’t exactly cut it. That said, Lucha House Party is the top babyface team now, and I suppose a win over Nakamura is better than nothing. They are a talented team, and if you leave the nonsense out of their act, they are fun to watch. By the way does anyone remember when Nakamura won the 2018 Royal Rumble and challenged A.J. Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania? I’m being sarcastic but it is crazy how he went from that to essentially being a mid-card act.

Big E vs. Sheamus

Last week, Big E was set to take on John Morrison in the opening segment when Retribution made their presence known. The match was interrupted and when they came back from commercial, both me were in the back surrounded by other Smackdown talent. Eventually, Sheamus confronted Big E. He said Retribution wouldn’t dare interfere in one his matches. Later in the show, Sheamus defeated Shorty G and to his point, Retribution did not interfere.

Eventually they had the match with Big E and Morrison with Miz on commentary. The lights flickered at one point, and the cameras went backstage where they were fortunate to catch Retribution destroying things, locking someone in the bathroom, and spray-painting. Smackdown wrestlers surrounded the ring as a measure of security. Big E hit a Stretch Muffler submission for the win. After the match, Sheamus attacked Big E with a Brogue Kick.

Tonight, Big E continues his singles push as he takes on Sheamus. There is history with these men as they feuded over the Raw and Smackdown Tag Team Championships at different times with Big E as part of New Day and Sheamus pairing with Cesaro as The Bar. Here’s a little Twitter trash talk from Sheamus:

Frank’s Analysis: I have a headache recapping the events of last week as it’s just another example of the scheduled match between two wrestlers and the outcome being secondary to the “chaos” WWE likes to cause on TV. I’m not against storytelling of this nature, but it must be done in doses. Give me the matches and trust that I’ll enjoy the competition and decision of who goes over.

Other Match Results and Segments from Last Week

  • Mandy Rose challenged Sonya Deville to a Hair vs. Hair match at SummerSlam. Sonya accepted.
  • Shorty G attempted to apologize to Matt Riddle backstage before King Corbin attacked Riddle from behind.

Final Thoughts

The last two WWE shows have felt chaotic with the wrestling and the outcomes feeling secondary if not unimportant. Watching wrestling, I accept a level of storytelling and twists and turns. I don’t need to see it every two seconds. It makes me want to change the channel and not want to invest in the product. I don’t anticipate anything different soon. It’s anybody’s guess if things will change with the introduction of the Thunderdome.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!