COMMENTATORS: Michael Cole & Corey Graves
This week’s Friday Night SmackDown features the beginning of the 2020 WWE Draft. Who will go where? What will go why? We find out SOME of that. Also on the show The Fiend makes his first in-ring appearance on the show against Kevin Owens, Big E battles Sheamus in a Falls Count Anywhere match, and Sasha Banks challenges for Bayley’s Women’s Championship.
- WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION: Roman Reigns
- WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Sami Zayn
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Bayley
- SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
- FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE: Big E vs. Sheamus (***1/4)
- Jeff Hardy & Matt Riddle vs. The Miz & John Morrison (*1/2)
- Bayley [c] vs. Sasha Banks for the SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP (**)
- Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura [c] vs. The New Day for the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (**3/4)
- Kevin Owens vs. The Fiend (***)
-Cole and Graves welcome the home audience (which is everyone, but I like using that phrase still so I’m going with it), and highlights some of the big names in tonight’s 20-person draft pool.
2020 WWE DRAFT: ROUND 1
Stephanie McMahon makes her way to a podium on the stage to kick off the draft and announces the first picks:
-To RAW: WWE Champion Drew McIntyre
-To SMACKDOWN: WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns
-To RAW: RAW Women’s Champion Asuka
-To SMACKDOWN: “The Monday Night Messiah” Seth Rollins
-To RAW: The Hurt Business (U.S. Champ Bobby Lashley, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, & Cedric Alexander)
- The brands drafting their top champions first makes sense if you want to play along that this is a legitimate thing people are doing. Not sure why The Hurt Business gets to stay together, it’s not like they’re champions or anything. I hear good things about them though (I haven’t watched RAW in forever). Rollins to SmackDown could be interesting.
–Kayla Braxton interviews Seth Rollins about the change. Rollins says his “Monday Night Messiah” moniker doesn’t matter, it’s the message that matters. He is a little sad to leave RAW but is happy he’ll never have to see the Mysterio Family ever again. Hold that thought boo boo.
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE
Big E vs. Sheamus
Sheamus comes out in his regular gear; apparently his tough guy pub look isn’t meant for actual tough guy matches. Clip plays of Sheamus hitting Big E with White Noise on top of a car from an episode last month, very subtle foreshadowing.
Action starts quick, Big E hitting a charging Sheamus with a urinage followed by a spear through the ropes and off the apron. That move will never not scare me. Big E finds some Booty Os under the ring but opts for a kendo stick instead but Sheamus blasts him before he can use it. Sheamus tees off first, hitting Big E repeatedly while tied up in the ropes, but Big E eventually gets to use the the kendo stick himself and absolutely lays waste to his pale opponent, causing all manner of welts and bleeding. After a commercial they fight to the backstage area, Sheamus covering Big E in flour and eggs that were sitting around BECAUSE REASONS, Big E kicks Sheamus through a pair of doors into the parking lot area. Sheamus hits Big E with a tire iron, puts him through a windshield with White Noise but it isn’t enough. He tries to crush Big E’s hand with a trunk door but Big E uses his BIG MEATY LEGS to block it and fights out. Big E puts Sheamus through the windshield of another car with a powerbomb then hits a Big Ending off said car into a pair of tables to get the 1…2…3.
Big E defeated Sheamus via pinfall (11:22 shown)
- Brutal by WWE standards which I’ll take; the absolute STATE of Sheamus at the end there was something to behold. Big E absolutely wrecked him, and vice versa as Big E was bleeding himself. Fun brawl, lots of intensity, and have it conclude in the parking lot was a poetic way to cap things off. No complaints here, Big E f*cking rules. (***1/4)
-Jey Uso heads to the ring, clip of Roman Reigns hitting him with a Superman Punch from two weeks ago.
-Before we get back to that we go to Kayla Braxton with Big E but he’s quickly interrupted by not only the returning Kofi Kingston but the returning Xavier Woods. As expected they’re crazy excited, Big E trying to join in but in obvious pain, and they want their Tag Team Titles back.
-Back to Jey Uso, who wants to know the stipulation for his upcoming match against Roman Reigns. Reigns doesn’t show but Paul Heyman does via TitanTron. After a clip of Reigns decimating Uso at Clash of Champions we cut back to Heyman who’s now standing at the side of the seated Reigns, looking like a mobster. Reigns says he tried to help Jey; all he had to do was declare him the Tribal Chief. Reigns announces the stip for Hell in a Cell: an I Quit Match. Reigns again says he just wants to help Jey and loves him but after he makes him quit, there will be consequences. THIS ROMAN REIGNS IS THE SH*T, WHY DID WWE TAKE LIKE FIVE YEARS TO GET HERE?
2020 WWE DRAFT ROUND 2
Stephanie McMahon announces that The New Day (Xavier & Kofi) will challenge Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship later in the show. Onto the draft picks.
-To RAW: “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles
-To SMACKDOWN: “The Boss” Sasha Banks
-To RAW: Naomi
-To SMACKDOWN: Bianca Belair
-To RAW: WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
- Not much in the way of blockbuster picks, and to be honest I didn’t know Jax & Baszler were Women’s Tag Team Champions. Bianca Belair rules though and hopefully a move to SmackDown gives her some actual airtime for once.
–AJ Styles cuts a promo from his home, disappointed at not being the number one pick for SmackDown given how much he’s done to make that brand. Styles isn’t sweating it though in the end as he’s relieved to (theoretically) get away from Sami Zayn & Jeff Hardy and promises “Phenomenal” things to come.
Jeff Hardy & Matt Riddle vs. The Miz & John Morrison
Riddle tweeted about wanting to team with Hardy before the Draft could prevent it, Hardy was on board, Miz & Morrison made fun of them and now we have this match.
Hardy & Riddle hit a little BROetry in Motion heading into the commercial break. Back live Hardy gets worked over by Miz & Morrison, Riddle gets the hot tag and takes the duo to T-Bone City. German to Miz, Morrison breaks up the count and eats a Twist of Fate. Hardy gets tossed out by Miz, Riddle hits Miz with a knee and the Bro Derek (ha, I get it) for the 1…2…3.
Jeff Hardy & Matt Riddle defeated The Miz & John Morrison via pinfall (2:31 shown)
- Entertaining enough while it lasted, I guess. Twitter-born feuds are lame though. At least it wasn’t a Facebook or message board thread. (*1/2)
No time to celebrate as the returning LARS SULLIVAN comes out and lays waste to Hardy, Riddle, and even The Miz. All of the Snitsky vibes. Every single one of them.
2020 WWE DRAFT: ROUND 3
Stephanie McMahon with more picks:
-To RAW: Ricochet
-To SMACKDOWN: Jey Uso
-To RAW: Mandy Rose (poor Corey Graves)
-To SMACKDOWN: Rey & Dominik Mysterio (POOR SETH ROLLINS)
-To RAW: The Miz & John Morrison (POOR RAW FANS)
–Rey & Dominik Mysterio vow to continue making Seth Rollins’ life a living hell on Friday nights. Saw some Twitter groans about this but I’m just now plugging back in so it’s all fresh to me kinda!
Bayley [c] vs. “The Boss” Sasha Banks for the SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Bayley has been champion for 361 days since defeating Charlotte Flair at last year’s Draft special…which I think was the last time I watched a full episode of Friday Night SmackDown actually. Time flies. Bayley & Banks were super best friends until Bayley wrecked her with a steel chair and Pillmanized her neck. Bayley brings the same chair with her during her entrance.
Banks doesn’t waste time, slapping Bayley while she’s being introduced and laying into her. Bayley tries to leave, Banks forces her back into the ring and they trade nearfalls. Bayley goes on offense briefly after a clothesline, Banks goes for the Banks Statement but the champ forces a rope break and rolls to the floor again. Bayley hits Banks in the neck then with the chair to cause a DQ.
Sasha Banks defeated Bayley [c] via Disqualification; Bayley retains the SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP (2:29)
- Seemed strange to waste a match with this much build on a SmackDown so them going the route of building the bigger match for PPV made sense. I dug the intensity from Banks and the little action we got was great. I really underestimated Bayley’s ability to be a heel. (**)
Banks gets some revenge with the chair but is stopped from Pillmanizing her, and Bayley hides behind refs and officials to avoid further punishment.
-MATCH FLO CLIP: Kevin Owens has Alexa Bliss on The KO Show. Bliss says The Fiend has cleansed her and to let him in. Fiend shows up, lays Owens out with a Mandible Claw.
–Kevin Owens is shown taping his wrists up backstage. Alexa Bliss walks into the shot and implores Owens once more to “LET HIM IN”.
Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura [c] vs. The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) for the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Cesaro and Nakamura defeated Kingston & Big E three months ago at Extreme Rules to win the titles, putting Kingston through two tables and putting him on the shelf. This is Kofi’s first match back since that injury and Woods’ first match in I don’t even know how long. I think Sega was launching the Dreamcast or something.
Woods and Cesaro trade blows to start, Kingston tags in and they hit the Daybreak but Nakamura makes the save. Lots of kicks from Nak heading into the commercial. Back live Cesaro works over Kingston, but Woods gets the hot tag soon after. Honor Roll and dropkick through the ropes to Cesaro, springboard DDT on Nakamura for a two-count. Nakamura dodges a corner splash, champs hit a gutwrench/kick combo for a two-count. Kingston tags in, Cesaro catches him mid-air with a European uppercut. Cesaro Swing, Woods prevents Nakamura from hitting the Kinshasa. Kingston hits the Trouble in Paradise on both Cesaro and Nakamura, Woods tags in and connects with a flying elbow for the 1…2…3! New Day are now seven-time Tag Team Champions.
The New Day defeated Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura [c] via pinfall to win the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (5:16 shown)
- To the shock of no one this was a really fun match given the short time they had to work with, and an impactful return for Woods and Kingston after being away for so long. I wonder what tag team Cesaro will spin into gold next. (**3/4)
2020 WWE DRAFT NIGHT 1: FINAL ROUND
Big E comes out to celebrate with The New Day but they’re interrupted by Stephanie McMahon who makes two blockbuster announcements: RAW has drafted Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston while SMACKDOWN has drafted Big E. The New Day as a trio is officially SEPARATED. Naturally they’re shocked, but McMahon continues with the remaining picks:
-To RAW: Dana Brooke
-To SMACKDOWN: 2020 Money in the Bank Briefcase holder Otis
-To RAW: Angel Garza
The New Day continue selling their shock, Big E especially looking stone-faced.
- Well this was f*cking stupid. The Hurt Business, a foursome with no titles, gets to stay together in the Draft but The New Day, who defend titles using the Freebird Rule, got split up? The f*ck is that sh*t? I guess they’re trying to “legitimize” Big E more as a singles guy but why break up one of the only GOOD things in WWE? And why do it in a contrived fashion in a Draft that seemingly makes its own rules up as it goes along? Absolutely dumb bullsh*t. Wet blanket personified.
–Otis and Tucker are in the locker room sort-of wearing suits for their court thing with Miz & Morrison. Otis mentions he got drafted but Tucker didn’t, Tucker wants to ignore it so they can focus on the legal stuff at hand. Otis repeats some big words out of a book, a lady serves him papers from The Miz who has asked for a continuance on the legal battle. Is this a way to put a pin in the story now that Miz is on RAW or are we getting more of this stuff? Actually who cares THEY SEPARATED THE GODDAMN NEW DAY.
–Sasha Banks cuts an impassioned promo backstage, challenging Bayley to a Hell in a Cell match at Hell in a Cell. Seems like the right place to do it if you ask me.
–The Fiend makes his entrance. This is his first match on an episode of Friday Night SmackDown; I commend WWE on their restraint.
-Hype for next week’s “season premiere” which will feature The New Day’s “Farewell to SmackDown” match (UGHHHH) and Roman Reigns defending the Universal Championship against Braun Strowman (UGHHHHHHHHHH).
Kevin Owens vs. The Fiend
Owens immediately belts Fiend with a corner clothesline and cannonball, but Fiend stands right up and goes on the offensive. Action spills to the floor, Fiend turns Owens inside out with a clothesline. Back in the ring Owens manages a lariat but Fiend pops right back up. Back to the floor Fiend hits a urinage and Sister Abigail on top of the announce table as the show goes to commercial. Back live Owens escapes a Sister Abigail and hits three superkicks followed by two cannonballs in the corner, then DDTs him on the floor, but Fiend gets back up. Owens tries laying him out again with a frog splash from the apron but Fiend beats the count again. Fiend pulls Owens out to the floor, Owens sends him through the announce table with an awkward pop-up powerbomb (after the first one didn’t land either), yet Fiend STILL gets back up. Fiend locks in the Mandible Claw, holding on even as Owens tries to break it with the Stunner, then slams him to the mat for the 1…2…3.
The Fiend defeated Kevin Owens via pinfall (6:38 shown)
- Some real awkward jank in a few spots but overall I liked it. Owens got the goods out of The Fiend, who I will admit I like a lot more than I should. His constant popping up after big moves gives him a real slasher villain vibe and I appreciate it. (***)
Lights out, lights turn to red as Fiend and Alexa Bliss stare at each other, eerie music playing. Jump cut, “LET ME IN” and that’s the conclusion of the…NO WAIT COLE AND GRAVES HYPE THE SEASON PREMIERE FOR NEXT WEEK AND THEN IT ENDS. WOOOOOOOW.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Good action and storyline stuff on SmackDown this week but the fact they are separating Big E from The New Day, and they did it in such a STUPID way, left a bad taste in my mouth. If you’re gonna have a Draft at least be consistent with how it works, even if you’re going to ignore in a few weeks time when you get bored.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Big E vs. Sheamus
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Not really a moment but Roman Reigns’ promo f*cking owned. His “I don’t want to do this but I have to” thing with Jey Uso is great and his line delivery was on point. Chilling and also cool as hell.