It’s Friday and that means another episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown. It’s the go-home show to SummerSlam and the debut of the WWE Thunderdome! I feel like every mention of the term ‘WWE Thunderdome’ should be capped with a ‘brother’. I’ll be here to give you the live recaps and results from the show as they come. Let’s see what awaits us in the WWE Thunderdome, brother!
Appropriately, the rumbling of thunder welcomes us, a huge pyro display goes off. It does look quite pretty in this big ‘ol empty building. I guess the WWE Thunderdome brother is the name of the venue now. Vince McMahon introduces the concept but before he can say much, the lights go off, the hilarious video screens going away almost immediately as the Fiend makes his way out! The ceiling has become a large mouth.
Fiend is face to face with Vince and there does appear to be cheering. He sticks his tongue out at Vince but before he can do anything, Braun Strowman makes his way out as well. The two star each other down, until the hoodie boys swarm the ring. Yep we finally have a live audience for Retribution. Fiend and Strowman smile at each other, Fiend waves and blinks out of existence, leaving Strowman alone with Retribution. They swarm in on him and there’s just a stupid amount of them here. The locker room empties as heels and faces alike make their way out to fend them off. It takes seemingly everybody to drive them out of the ring. Hilariously Miz and Morrison come out at the very end to pretend they helped.
Some faces help Strowman up. But then he clotheslines Drew Gulak and tosses Jey Uso over the top rope. He makes his leave in a huff. This is uh, something of a mess to start with. It appears the Thunderdome, brother, is mostly just a lot more titantrons. As everyone clears from the ring, Big E and Sheamus are confronting each other. The two of them are squaring off later tonight, presumably they’ll just go ahead and do it here. Yep.
Sheamus vs. Big E
They lock-up. E gets the advantage and clotheslines him to the floor, pursues him and rams him into the steps. On the way back in the ring though, Sheamus gets him with a hot shot. Goes up top, flying clothesline nailed. Sheamus with ten beats of bowery. I swear that’s just a bunch of still images of fans in the background here. Sheamus has so many bruises already, Irish Curse Backbreaker. LIGHTS FLICKER OH NO! CURSE YOU RETRIBUTION! Commercial break.
When we come back, E has fought back, couple of Belly-To-Bellies. Looks for the Big Ending, Sheamus escapes, wants the Brogue, E blocks it but eats a pump knee for a nearfall! E retakes the advantage, nails a Uranage for a nearfall! Sheamus slips to the apron, E wants the spear but Sheamus blocks it with a kick, wants the Beats again, E blocks this and pulls him into the ring but gets thrown into the ringpost. On the outside, Corbin attacks Riddle. Brawl breaks out as Sheamus is looking for a Brogue. Crowd pulls apart the fight and distracts Sheamus, Big E rolls him up for a win.
Winner: Big E
Of course when I expect the face to be screwed, the heel gets screwed instead. Eh, whatever, pretty good match. Jeff Hardy is in the doctor’s room selling his leg, says somebody fell on him from behind. Demands a leg brace, can’t miss tonight’s match. Elsewhere Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro attack Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. Their tag title match is up next.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships: Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro (c) vs. Lucha House Party
Cesaro and Metalik start. Metalik with a rana, goes up top and leaps but Cesaro catches him and plants him with a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count! There’s a window with Miz and Morrison making dumb gags about the match. Shinsuke tags in, snapmare, kneedrop to the face. Cesaro tags back in, body slam and legdrop. Morrison calls Shinsuke silent but deadly and Miz refers to him as “the fartest”. Would you believe some people don’t think WWE is cool?
Lince makes the hot tag, big roundhouse kick, Bottom Rope Moonsault, Middle Rope Moonsault, aaaand there’s the full Super Crazy!! But Cesaro breaks up the pin! Metalik takes him out of the ring, and just goes flying out of the ring, he tried for a rana but he really just fell right on his back, that was a nasty spill. Shinsuke goes for the Kinshasa, Dorado avoids it, Handspring Stunner! But Cesaro blind tags in, sunset flip,rolled through, Cesaro with a pop-up, Lince tries to turn it into a rana but Cesaro folds him up for the pin and there’s the win.
Winners: Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro
Cool finish. Doing terrible with predictions on this one though. Afterwards Kalisto gets into the ring and confronts Lince, Metalik doesn’t like it, the three get in a shouting match. My word, Lucha House Party explodes.
We see a replay of the commotion earlier and it’s clear that AJ Styles was the one who attacked Jeff Hardy’s leg, quite deliberately taking advantage of the commotion. Backstage AJ is interviewed about it. Says that leg about sums up his career, wasteful. Styles then sees Sasha and Bayley backstage and they all clink titles.
Backstage Mandy Rose is being interviewed. She says it’s been a rough week. She doesn’t know what’s going through Sonya’s head, wants to think there’s still good in her. Speaks into the camera and says she’s been through a lot and so much of it good and beautiful. They’re best friends. She chooses to believe the Sonya she’s known is still out there. She doesn’t know how she’s feeling heading into SummerSlam but she feels they should put this all behind us and get back to where we were.
Bayley and Sasha Banks make their way to the ring to be interviewed by Corey Graves. He asks if they’re splitting up. They say, in unison, no. Graves mentions they’re both defending against the same opponent. Asuka has the chance to win both titles in one night. Bayley says there’s no way. Corey mentions Asuka has defeated Bayley in the past and it took both of them for Sasha to take the Raw title from Asuka. Sasha blows this off and says at SummerSlam they’ll destroy her. Corey mentions logic and Bayley says everything they do is for a reason and it’s why they have all the gold.
Graves claims that Bayley going up against Asuka first isn’t logical since she seems to have her number. Bayley says it was just a suggestion. Banks asks if she’s trying to volunteer her again. As they try to set this straight, Naomi interrupts. She says she can fix the situation, wants to face the both of them tonight. They agree to that and Naomi asks who wants to go first. Corey says they could always do something like a beat the clock challenge. Naomi is okay with that for some reason, dropkicks both of them out of the ring.
Beat The Clock Challenge: Sasha Banks vs. Naomi
Naomi with a headlock, springboard into a sunset flip for 2. Full Nelson Slam into a body scissor spun into a cover for 2. Rolls her around the ring for another quick 2. Naomi ducks Sasha’s clothesline, headscissor takes her to the floor. Tope! She gets in Bayley’s face for a moment, throws Sasha into the ring. Sasha grabs Naomi by the hair and positions her in the middle rope, double knee drop to the midsection for a nearfall!
Chinlock cinched in. Naomi escapes with a spinning jawbreaker, goes up top, crossbody but Sasha rolls through, wants a crossface but Naomi fights her way to her feet, Stun Gun hangs her on the top rope for a springboard head kick! Nearfall. She positions her and tries for a Split-Legged Moonsault but Sasha rolls her up for 2. Naomi rebounds her off the ropes for an O’Connor Roll but Sasha counters it into a Bank Statement for the tap.
Winner: Sasha Banks (3:39)
Beat The Clock Challenge: Bayley vs. Naomi
Bayley immediately attacks her before the bell and has the immediate advantage. Power whip to the corner. Snapmare, cover for 2. Sliding Clothesline for a nearfall. Naomi fights back though, surprises her with a Rear View and gets the pin!
Sasha is delighted that Bayley lost as now she must face Asuka first. Asuka comes out to the stage and proclaims that she will be the Empress of every title. Sasha rushes down the ramp but Asuka ducks a clothesline and takes her down with a Spinning Backfist. She hits the ring and attacks Bayley with a running kick, Bayley bails from the ring, grabs her titles and seems like she’s gonna leave without Sasha but she does come back to help her up.
Jeff Hardy is fit with a brace and helped off the medic’s table, says AJ tried to make this a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest but he’s gonna be kicking his ass. Backstage, Sonya Deville is being interviewed but has nothing to say. Dana Brooke appears and apologizes for everything Sonya went through this week. Sonya says it’s nothing she can’t handle and slaps the hell out of her for being disrespectful.
Sonya Deville makes her way to the stage and demands the music be cut. Says she heard what Mandy had to say and she’s second guessing her own challenge, which is exactly what she said she was going to do. She doesn’t understand what Mandy wants. She’ll end up facing her one way or another, can’t get around that. But since clearly she’s unbothered by the fact that she cut her hair and Sonya knows everyone doesn’t care whether she’s bald or not, why not up the ante and raise the stakes? It’s gonna be No DQ and the loser leaves WWE! She’s realized that hair or no hair, she’s sick of looking at her face.
Vignette of the Bray/Braun/Bliss angle. Nikki Cross is cutting a promo talking about how she and Alexa have been friends for a long while but when they last spoke, she seemed a little off. She talks and acts like Alexa but the Alexa she knows is warm and caring and funny and the person she spoke to the other day is not Alexa Bliss and it scares her. She just has a feeling that something terrible is about to happen.
Now main event time, I suppose.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Jeff Hardy
AJ immediately tries to pick the bum leg but Jeff elbows out of it, throws him to the ropes, back body drop! AJ drives him into the corner though. Jeff with double boots up on a charge, tries to go up to the middle rope but AJ clips him and he falls to the mat! He rips at the pants to expose the kneebrace and stomps on it. Some real flimsy jeans. Jeff trying to fight back but AJ easily overtakes him, until a Jawbreaker gives him some space. Jeff fights to his feet, back body drop takes Styles to the floor!
Hardy wants a baseball slide of all things for some stupid-ass reason and Styles blocks it, slams his leg into the apron before the commercial break. As we come back, AJ grabs for the leg but Jeff turns it into an inverted enziguri. Legal Lowblow into a Basement Dropkick for a nearfall. Hardy with a Gordbuster for a nearfall! Wants a Twist of Fate but AJ counters with a Pele Kick! Hardy fights back, goes up top for a Whisper In The Wind but his leg gives out and he collapses to the mat. Now Styles wants the Phenomenal Forearm… Jeff clips him in the gut though!
Hardy wants another top rope move but AJ blocks it and rolls him into the Calf Crusher! But Jeff manages to crawl over and grab the bottom rope. AJ with a kick to the bad leg, looking for the Styles Clash but Hardy swings his legs and the knee brace hits Styles in the face! Twist of Fate nailed! Hardy rips off the shirt! Goes up top! Swanton Bomb! Aaaand that is that, Jeff Hardy is the new IC champion.
Winner: Jeff Hardy
Man, I did always have a harder time with predicting WWE shows because of how eratic their booking is but I came back and went winless with this one. Oh well, really good match. Jeff is being interviewed and says he wouldn’t have believed you if you told him about this a year ago but he believes this represents hope. Hilariously his theme plays him off before he can finish.
Backstage AJ Styles is yelling at Joseph Parks. When an interviewer comes up, he hollers at how the knee brace beat him and claims there’s a spot on his face where he was hit with the knee brace. This is why the Payback rematch is happening instead I guess.
Finally the Firefly Funhouse segment begins. He mentions the Thunderdome, brother. Tells us he loves us. Don’t be fooled, love can actually be a really terrible thing. It’s a way to trick you into an emotional, physical and financial burden. Love can make the most glorious angel come crashing down and make a beautiful flower bed into a wasteland. He takes a call from his hand. Says take Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss for example.
Introduces Firefly Theater. Huskus cosplaying Braun and Ramblin’ Rabbit cosplaying Alexa appear. ‘Braun’ says she never cared about him and now he’s the most evil son of a pig on the planet. But ‘Alexa’ says she still cares about him and knows there’s something special between them. Bray interrupts them and says that’s not how it went down, demands they get lost. Bray says the best thing you can do is be like ‘him’, to be a creature built on rage and anger. He starts smelling the air, smiles and asks “What took you so long?” just before Braun attacks him. He yells “I’m not finished with you” and drags him off-screen.
Cole and Corey inform us that they’re trying to mobilize cameras onto the brawl backstage between Braun and Bray. Corey describes the Firefly Funhouse as a parallel universe they could never find but Braun found it and pulled him out of there. Cut to the back where Braun is ounding him, he takes Bray over to a ‘tunnel’ and tosses him through it for a stunt fall. We don’t see Bray land of course but we later see he’s fallen to the concrete. Wyatt’s motionless as an ambulance comes in and they slowly load him up.
The agents are howling for the ambulance to hurry up and go but it only goes a little of the way before stopping. There seems to be an odd light emitting from the windows. The ambulance very slowly backs up. The lights turn red, that cracked me up. It opens up and there’s the Fiend standing on the bumper. He sticks his tongue out at the camera and laughs. End of show.