BRM Reviews the 7/24/2020 Smackdown (the one with the bad bar fight)

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Big Red Machine
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BRM Reviews the 7/24/2020 Smackdown (the one with the bad bar fight)

Post by Big Red Machine » Jul 26th, '20, 15:42

PROMOS TO HYPE THE BAR FIGHT- Jeff Hardy was very good, Sheamus was meh. JBL’s appearance was random. Also, they showed “Sheamus’ personal bartender” in the bar. Hopefully Jeff is watching this and is able to call someone to back him up, because you that guy is going to get involved (especially after Jeff attacked him for no reason a few weeks ago).

WOMEN’S TITLE SEGMENT- meh
Sasha and Bayley came out to brag. Sasha still has the women’s title, even though Steph made it clear on Monday that she is not the rightful champion. I guess Steph just didn’t care enough to make her give the belt back. Good work ethic, there, Steph.
Alexa Bliss! & Nikki Cross came out and Nikki cut a very aggressive promo condemning them for their various heelish actions at the PPV. Bayley said she would give Nikki a title shot if Nikki could win a #1 contendership match against… Alexa Bliss!. I guess she just has booking power now?
Nikki insisted that “we have to do this!” several times, then shoved Alexa for no reason and marched down to the ring, while Cole somehow new that this match was both official and that it would take place right after this commercial break.

#1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH: Alexa Bliss! vs. Nikki Cross- 6.25/10
Sasha and Bayley were on commentary for what feels like the 900th straight week. This week they were very annoying, to the point where I muted the commentary about half way through. Even worse, they kept cutting away from the match to show us these two sitting at ringside, as if we couldn’t tell who was on commentary based on their voices (and I assume the deaf or hard of hearing would have been informed of this by the captions).
Alexa worked over Nikki’s ribs, which are taped up after Bayley punched her in them with Sasha’s gimmick on Sunday. The finish saw Alexa want to follow up on a move but the referee was checking on Bayley so he ordered Alexa back, and when he finally allowed Alexa to come in again, Nikki had recovered to the point where she was able to counter Alexa’s move with a an inside cradle and get the win.

They keep pushing this Sasha vs. Asuka match for the title on Monday has having the “unique stipulations” that if someone interferes on your behalf, you lose the match. Isn’t that ALWAYS the rule? I assume the distinction will be that they’re going to have someone watching the match from backstage, too, but that just begs the question of why they don’t do this for every match. They’re putting no thought into the words they say, the mechanisms of their universe, or the implications of any of it.

ALEXA & NIKKI BY THE SPARE RING AT THE PERFORMANCE CENTER- okay
Alexa says she’s happy for Nikki and that Nikki has “earned her opportunity” this week. They hugged. I don’t think this is leading to Alexa turning on Nikki, but if such a thing were going to happen out of this, everything they’ve done so far tonight is exactly how WWE would start it.

FIREFLY FUNHOUSE- snore
Bray’s lantern head is talking to Bray. It’s hard to understand. It wants to be “let out again” but Bray says it had its chance. Now it’s “his” turn. Obviously, the lantern head either represents the original Bray Wyatt or maybe is actually a vessel where that spirit/personality/whatever is trapped, and “he” is The Fiend (they beat you over the head with that one. So basically, this told us nothing new, because we know The Fiend is now the one who is going to be feuding with Braun because it was the one that appeared and defeated Braun at the end of the Swamp Fight.
Okay, fine. IF you are inclined to believe that any of the things Bray says will actually matter in any way or be kept consistent, then we seem to have learned that Firefly Funhouse Bray is the one making the calls, with Cape Fear Bray and The Fiend being spirits he calls on or something like that. But as I’ve made clear by this point, WWE has long past extended any credit with me that there is any sort of though being put into this stuff beyond “what will people think is cool?”

MATT RIDDLE vs TONY NESE- 2/10
Michael Cole called Riddle “the bodacious, barefoot bro.” There goes any hope of Riddle feeling cool. They’ve just got to say their dumb sh*t. This was mostly a squash, but Riddle was nice enough to let Nese get a highspot in.

MATT RIDDLE CALLS OUT BARON CORBIN- fine idea, poor execution
Corbin came out and cut a promo that would have been good if he hadn’t been wearing the goofy f*cking king’s regalia. Corbin said Riddle doesn’t dress or act professionally, told Riddle that he would be putting a “king’s ransom” (because of course they have to call it that) on anyone who could “prove that you don’t belong here.”
Okay… but what does that mean, exactly? That he just wants someone to take Riddle out? Is beating him in one match sufficient (which it really shouldn’t be because it’s wrestling people lose all the time and no one says they don’t belong), or do you have to cause Riddle enough losses that he gets demoted to NXT? Is Corbin calling for someone to expose some sort of misconduct by Riddle related to his attitude and manner of dress that should show management that he’s not mature or professional enough to be on the main roster?
Answering this question is important because it lets us the fans know what we should be looking out for when we see Riddle on our TV. It’s also necessary so that potential bounty hunters know what they’re requirements are. That was the idea with Nese trying to attack Riddle from behind here (Riddle dispatched of him instantly), but how does he even know that injuring Riddle would be sufficient to fulfill the requirements to claim the bounty?

JOHN MORRISON & THE MIZ BACKSTAGE- Morrison is trying to get himself trending on Twitter via a catchphrase. This is what the world has come to.

JBL HYPES UP THE BAR FIGHT- snore
JBL wasted a bunch of time telling Jeff and Sheamus how a bar fight is different because you have to be prepared to get hit with a lot of things that hurt. Do Jeff Hardy and Sheamus really need to be told this?
JBL predicted victory for Jeff Hardy.

MIZ TV WITH SPECIAL GUEST NOAMI- terrible
I must have missed something. What’s the deal with this “Naomi deserves better” thing? She’s fine, but she’s not great. In terms of female workers who have been underutilized by WWE’s main roster in the past few years, I’d put her well below Ember Moon, Ruby Riott, Kairi Sane, Mickie James, and even Nattie (who has probably gotten at least as much attention, but is worlds better than Naomi is), and that’s not even counting the recent call-up of Bianca Belair that went nowhere.
Anyway, Miz and Morrison point out that Naomi hasn’t been winning much lately, so how can she say she deserves better? Since her return from injury at the Royal Rumble, she is 3-9-1, and one of those wins came via DQ. She hasn’t won a match since the end of February. Naomi had no good comeback for their point.
Naomi says they should be asking why fans have stuck with her through thick and thin, and why fans have gotten so upset when she was attacked by Lacey Evans over a karaoke contest. The answer to the former is that she’s a fine wrestler who comes off as a likable person. The answer to the latter, however, is because it was a f*cking stupid segment. Sure, I have some kayfabe sympathy for her because this jerk attacked her from behind over something petty, but that’s not where the outrage is from. I realize that they’re trying to give a kayfabe explanation for a thing not based in kayfabe and I appreciate that, but at the same time…
I guess I just don’t understand why we’re supposed to act this way in support of Naomi when she doesn’t even crack the top fifteen of wrestlers in WWE who I feel sorry before because they’ve been underutilized and/or sabotaged with dumb sh*t despite showing an ability to get over. I’d argue that Kairi Sane, Akira Tozawa, Ember Moon, Cesaro, Ricochet, Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, Chad Gable, Buddy Murphy, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, the Viking Raiders, and Lucha House Party have all gotten it worse… and that’s not even counting recently released wrestlers like Gallows, Anderson, Rusev, and EC III, or people like Titus O’Neil who weren’t great in the ring but clearly knew how to get themselves over and who WWE could have done something with a managerial role but were too inflexible to really try it, or guys like Apollo Crews, who have only finally started to get a push commiserate with their ability in recent months, or recent call-ups like Bianca Belair and Shayna Baszler, who haven’t had too much time on the main roster yet, but their lack of use makes things not look promising.
Naomi says that the answer is because she shows up every day and does her absolute best, which I’m sure is true. But I’m equally sure it’s true with all of the other people I just listed, and with pretty much everyone who is getting a push they deserve, too.
Miz brings out Lacey Evans, who cuts a promo on Naomi while also putting on her lipstick. We’re supposed to focus on the fact that Naomi shoved Lacey, causing her to mess up her lipstick, but all I can think about right now is the fact that Lacey is right. This really is a pity-party hashtag for Naomi. In kayfabe, she hasn’t won a match in months, so in kayfabe she doesn’t really deserve better. Sure, she (and everyone else) deserve to be booked in wrestling matches and not karaoke contests, but where is the pity-party for the other women who were stuck in that G-d-awful segment?
Naomi swings her purse at Naomi, and they wind up having a short brawl, which Naomi wins.

KOFI KINGSTON EMERGERS FROM THE TRAINER’S ROOM- FANTASTIC!
After taking that big bump through the tables and selling it like death, it turns out that Kofi has an injury and is expected to be out for about six weeks. Kofi encourages Big E. to take this opportunity and show what he can do on a singles run. This felt like a real moment between two friends (and one who was there in spirit, as Kofi was also speaking for Xavier).

WINNER GETS A WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH NEXT WEEK: Drew Gulak vs. Gran Metalik vs. Lincé Dorado vs. Chad Gable- 8/10
The only one of these guys who I can even remember winning a match in the last few months is Gulak, who beat AJ in a non-title match, which resulted in a title shot where AJ won clean. Oh, and I think Gable beat Cesaro by roll-up at some point in May. Anyway, the point is that when you throw four guys who don’t feel like they’ve done anything to earn a #1 contendership match into the ring for a #1 contendership match where you don’t even show their entrances, it makes the title match you’re trying to set up feel completely unimportant.
IC Champion AJ Styles (who did get his entrance shown, before the commercial break) was on commentary, and immediately points out that these guys haven’t done a damn thing to warrant being in a #1 contendership match. Cole told us that Daniel Bryan is “the one who has come up with this idea of having a fighting champion as the Intercontinental Champion.”
First of all, I’m pretty sure the idea of a fighting champion is a lot older than Daniel Bryan. Even if I’m taking Cole’s statement a little too literally, if this is such a great thing, then why is Bryan coming up with it and not the company? One could even read Cole’s comment to AJ that Bryan is “the one who has sort of forced you into” this situation as saying that Bryan was the guy who booked this match (or at the very least lobbied for some sort of #1 contendership match be booked), which once again raises the question of why Bryan is the one taking the initiative here and not the company if this is such a great thing.
And now that I think about it, what to the people who are supposed to be booking this company even do all day? The Smackdown women seem to book their own stuff half of the time (or at least whoever is involved with Bayley and Sasha), Drew and Dolph have been booking their own matches, Bryan is pressing them to book matches that set up title defenses for AJ, Jeff and Sheamus have mostly booked their own stuff (including a bunch of things that aren’t wrestling matches, like a toast and a public urine test), the Viking Raiders and Street Profits spent weeks repeatedly booking themselves in things that weren’t wrestling matches, Miz and Morrison and booking their own guests on their talk show, hell, even Strowman and Wyatt booked their own PPV match. I’m not saying you can’t occasionally have one wrestler challenge another to a match (or something similar), but when it seems to be happening all up and down the card, it makes you wonder why kayfabe management doesn’t give a sh*t (and in the isolated incident where they do, like with Steph showing up on Raw to address the women’s title situation, it just makes you ask why they aren’t doing anything else).
Also, I can’t help but realize that next week’s WWE TV now has FOUR title matches scheduled for it (WWE World Heavyweight Title on Raw, IC Title on Smackdown, and a women’s title match on each show). This seems very desperate.

Anyway, the match itself was great, because all four of these guys are great. The finishing sequence was pretty f*cking nuts. There was a spot where Lincé seemed to have things won but Gran Metalik broke it up leading to an argument, but they were fine with each other after the match.

POST-MATCH SEGMENT- very good
AJ got into the ring and was a jerk, responding to Gran Metalik’s offer of a handshake by slapping him in the face. Metalik got back up and gave AJ what he deserved, and we ended the segment with the babyface challenger posing with the belt he hopes to win while the heel watched on in shame.

OTIS & MANDY VIDEO PACKAGE- pointless
We were then told that “the love story continues next week.” Well… how about you continue it this week? Cole said that Otis and Mandy would be here next week, which just makes me ask why they’re not here now.
Yes, people don’t get booked on shows all the time, but as I said above, it doesn’t really seem like ANYTHING is booked for these shows, and the only people who get on TV and the people who take the initiative to make their own challenges, so by not being here, it makes Otis and Mandy seem really lazy, and like they don’t care about wrestling. Especially Otis, who has the f*cking Money in the Bank briefcase and should be waiting for any moment of weakness from Braun Strowman to seize on.
And now that I mention Braun, where is he? He did get out of that swamp alive? It’s been five days. He should be here by now. Is he injured? Is he trapped in some magical Bray Wyatt dimension? Please give us some sort of update on the presence and condition of the f*cking Universal Champion!

KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & CESARO- fine

BAR FIGHT: Sheamus vs. Jeff Hardy- DUD!
In addition to the bartender, there is a referee here, so I guess you win via pinfall, submission or knockout? Or is it only by knockout because in a real bar fight situation, pinning someone’s shoulders to the ground won’t eliminate them? Or is it like a boiler room match where you win by escaping the eponymous room, and the referee is just in here rexlaing for now and he’ll go stand by the door once the match is ready to start? I shouldn’t have to ask these questions. It’s not a hard concept to grasp that if you’re doing a stipulation match, you need to explain the rules to the audience.
Hell, the more I think about it, the more f*cking ridiculous it is that WWE doesn’t seem to understand this concept, because they actually do follow it sometimes. Every time they’re hyping up a ladder match or a tables match or a Last Man Standing match, you can bet that every third sentence out of Michael Cole’s mouth will be something along the lines of “in order to win the match, you need to climb the ladder and unhook the briefcase.” And the reason they do this is because just in case there is a new viewer who has no idea what a ladder match is, they want that person to understand. And that’s good. That’s what they should do (the problem is in their execution, with the continuous use of the same phrasing over and over again by the announcers and the wrestlers). So if they know they need to do it for a match where only a small minority of viewers will need an explanation of the rules, how the f*ck does it not occur to them that they need to do the same thing for a match where they know for a fact that every single viewer has no idea what the rules are because they’ve never done one before?!
(Yes, I’m aware of the APA Bar Room Invitational from Vengeance 2003. I didn’t have the money to order PPVs back then, so I didn’t see it, so I don’t what the rules are, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. And even if I had seen the match, that was SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO! I’m sure most people who did see it have completely forgotten that it happened! And even if they didn’t, WWE changes the rules for gimmick matches on a case by case basis. Some cage matches are escape only, some have pinfalls and submission, we’ve even had at least one TLC match where there were pinfalls. So I don’t think it’s illogical to assume that the rules might have changed since we had one seventeen years ago).

Sheamus shows up and asks the bartender if Jeff is here yet. The bartender says he hasn’t seen him, so Sheamus asks for a shot. Jeff then shows up, apparently not having entered through the main door. I’ve seen enough of these damn “cinematic matches” at this point where it felt like the only reason they did this was to have an excuse to play their dumb music and zoom in on Sheamus’ whiskey, just for the sake of zooming out again when Jeff announces his presence.
Jeff sits down at the bar and Sheamus tries to get him to drink. Jeff says no. The referee asks them if they’re ready to start. Jeff says not yet. More importantly, Jeff tells the referee “you know you’re only here to count the three, right?” RULES! Actual rules. This match ends via pinfall. It’d be nice if it were clarified if the match can end via submission, but hey! At least I know that they should be trying to pin either other. That’s more than I can say for the either the swamp fight or the boneyard match.
Jeff starts to give this big speech about how he will “reclaim” his career with this win. Sheamus responds, and while their words were pointed, it was more than a little awkward to hear them jabbering away like this instead of starting their f*cking match!
Oh my G-d it’s getting worse! Jeff tells Sheamus “I’m connected to everything now. I’m that window over there. I’m that light over there. I’m that TV over there. I AM this bar, man!” Are we sure he’s still sober? Now they’re arguing over which one of them is “the bar.” Sheamus calls Jeff a junkie, so Sheamus takes his hat off and says he’s ready to fight. Jeff responds to his by throwing a drink in Sheamus’ face. Yes, Sheamus did declare himself ready, but this still felt like a sneak-attack to me.
Jeff starts to beat Sheamus up but Sheamus fights back. The camera is shaking and cutting the whole time and I’m getting nauseous. They threw each other into things and hit each other with things. Sheamus shoved Jeff’s head into a urinal and flushed it. Getting the clean urinal water in his mouth is apparently causing Jeff a lot of distress, like it went down the wrong pipe.
Now Sheamus is dragging Jeff over to the mirror and yelling at him to look at himself. Jeff fires up and throws Sheamus into a stall, then crawls away. Sheamus eventually gets up to give chase, and starts yelling to Jeff about how he can’t “run away” from things anymore. They’re trying WAY too hard with this whole “Jeff, you’re a pathetic junkie!” thing. Sheamus is coming (and really has most of the time) like a villain in a play who is being far too artsy in his attempt to cause the hero fall off the wagon. It feels fake.
Jeff was hiding in a storage closet. He comes out with a ladder and hits Sheamus in the stomach with it several times before throwing it at him. Sheamus cuts Jeff with by catching an attempted crossbody off the bar and ramming him into the walls. Various pieces of furniture and décor are being swung at each other.
After Jeff got whipped into a drumkit, we went to a commercial, and picked up right where we were when we left off, which was extremely jarring to see during a wrestling show for something that even though it’s clearly taped and edited, they have been hyping up all night no differently than any other match. This is supposed to be happening “right now.” Camera tricks and editing music in is one thing (and I don’t like that either), but there is still always a sense of “real time” to these things. Ciampa vs. Gargano didn’t freeze time for a commercial break, and when we cut from one fight to another during the Stadium Stampede or MITB, when we cut back to the first set of participants, they were not in the same exact places as they had been when we cut away. But here, that didn’t happen. The kayfabe world of the WWE Universe is no longer in sync with real time!
Yes, that will theoretically be corrected when we are welcomed to Monday Night Raw at the usual time both in universe and out, so the issue is essentially moot, but that doesn’t mean that as a viewer, I didn’t find his one commercial break working differently from every single commercial break in the history of WWE- and pretty much every other company ever other than Lucha Underground- to be very jarring.
Anyway, Jeff set the ladder up and began to climb it… but, of course, the bartender attacked him. Speaking of other people who were in the bar, that referee who was supposed to count the pinfalls has been missing in action pretty much the whole time.
Jeff powerbombed the bartender through a table, but then Sheamus shattered a wooden bar stool on his back. Sheamus then grabbed his hand from behind the bar and put it over Jeff’s eyes. Then he said “sweet dreams, fella” and went to go get a drink from behind the bar. Um… shouldn’t you be trying to pin him?
Sheamus drinks a nice, refreshing beer from the tap while a low, vibrational music plays. Sheamus goes back over to Jeff and says “referee, get ready.” Ready for what? To count the pin? Either he’s been in position to do that the whole time and just off camera, and thus he’s ready to count the pin and all you need to do is make the cover, or else this referee go send here with one job to do and has been completely derelict of that duty, in which case his ass should be fired and we should never see him again.
Instead of going for a pin, Sheamus reaches down and picks his hat up from over Jeff’s face… and Jeff now magically has facepaint on and weird contact lenses. F*CK OFF.
Jeff jumps up and knocks Sheamus down with a bottle to the head, then scales the ladder. He does his f*cking pose even though no one is around, and then jumps off… and as he lands on Sheamus, we see the referee steadying the ladder for Jeff. How is that not tantamount to interfering in a match?
Jeff hits the Swanton and gets he pinfall. Jeff’s music plays, because G-d forbid we not play someone’s music in a setting where all of the music is mood music. If you’re going to do this, why didn’t you play the music when each guy entered, too?
Jeff puts the magical hat of power on Sheamus’ face, which seems like a bad idea, as when Sheamus did that to Jeff, it wound up allowing Jeff to magically hulk up. We get a close-up of Jeff’s eyes going back to normal. The facepaint is still there of course, so now I understand what happened even less, which is saying something. If the weird eye thing is what gave Jeff his magical reinvigoration and the facepaint is irrelevant, why did facepaint appear at all (and you can extend that same question to the non-kayfabe choice to have the facepaint, too)?

This was bad. The dumb magical sh*t killed it for me, but even before then, I probably only would have given it a 1.5 at the absolute highest, because it was mostly just a bunch of overdramatic punch-kick stuff with camerawork that made me feel like I was going to puke (I was a three on the dumb “how sick are you?” Seth Rollins puking scale that Miz and Morrison are now using).
With the magic, it became unbearable. You all know by now that I hate magical bullsh*t in my wrestling. I’ve allowed it in special universes like Lucha Underground and CHIKARA that present themselves as magical universe, and I grudgingly accept it from Sting and The Undertaker to do a combination of a grandfather clause and the fact that Sting’s character in particular when he started using the magic was presented in a way where the magic was a necessary part of the presentation because he was only communicating non-verbally, and thus is was necessary to reduce the amount of movement we saw from him (it’s a lot less dramatic if he has to walk to the ring to offer someone a bat rather than if he can just magically appear), and from Kane, due solely to his connection to Undertaker, so I wasn’t going to like this no matter they did.
That being said, even if I was okay with magic in my wrestling, I still would have hated this because it was so f*cking contrived! Sheamus is in the perfect situation to pin his opponent, but instead of pinning him, he puts his hat over his opponent’s eyes?! WHY?! Even if he was going to be a cocky idiot and go get a drink before pinning his opponent, there is still no reason for him to put his hat over Jeff’s eyes. It was done solely so that there could be this big reveal of the facepaint when Sheamus took the hat off of Jeff’s face… which is an action also suffers from this same logical flaw, because if there was some benefit to putting his hat over Jeff’s eyes, why would he voluntarily give up that benefit before making the cover?!
Hell, I don’t think we’ve even seen Jeff have magical powers before. With the Broken Hardys crap, the power came from other things (mostly the Lake of Reincarnation, but also probably Matt) acting upon Jeff, rather than the other way around. Compare this to Broken Matt, who we have actually seen teleport himself around, both in WWE and AEW (and probably in TNA at some point as well). I was not being snarky when I suggested that the powers came from the positioning of Sheamus’ hat on Jeff’s face, because the hat over someone’s eyes is the thing we haven’t seen before.

Okay. I’m going to stop now before I get too angry to watch New Japan (though I’m sure their referees will just make me angry all over again). This was a very bad episode of Smackdown, saved from a bottom of the barrel by the awesome four-way match and the fantastic backstage segment with Big E. and Kofi. Make sure you watch those, and you can watch Alexa vs. Nikki if you really want to, but save yourself the time and frustration and stay away from everything else.
Hold #712: ARM BAR!

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