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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 1, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The show opened cold with Michael Cole and Corey Graves running down the card, including Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler, and Mandy Rose vs. Carmella, as well as a new episode of Firefly Funhouse.
-Daniel Bryan headed to the ring for the opening match against King Corbin.
Bryan took a microphone and said it’s no secret that he loves what he does. He said one of his favorite things to do at this stage of his career is to tackle new challenges and try new things. He said he was excited to compete in the “most unique” Money in the Bank ladder match in history. He said six men and six women will risk it all from the ground floor to the roof for a chance to grab the briefcase. “That’s wild,” Bryan said.
Bryan recounted a list of strange places he’s competed in before. He said he doesn’t know the rules, could he take the elevator to the roof? Will he be fined if he breaks something expensive? He wondered aloud whether or not Vince has actual dinosaur bones in his office.
“Nobody knows how big of an opportunity Money in the Bank is like I do.” Bryan talked about not even being booked on Smackdown until he won the briefcase, and, eventually, the title. He said people thought him becoming WWE Champion was impossible. Bryan said the situation also makes him sad, because he’d hoped Drew Gulak would have a chance to compete alongside him. He said that isn’t possible because of King Corbin and his cronies. He called Corbin out. Corbin headed to the ring.
Corbin told Bryan to be careful when calling out a king. “My kind makes your kind suffer.” Corbin asked for a clip from last week’s match against Drew Gulak. Corbin laughed. He told Bryan to stop dreaming about winning Money in the Bank. He reminded Bryan that he’d also won Money in the Bank.
Bryan reminded Corbin that he’s one of only four to blow his Money in the Bank opportunity. He wondered how that even happened. “That doesn’t make you a king, that makes you loser,” Bryan said. Corbin told Bryan to watch it. He called Bryan tired and desperate. He said he was strong when he won Money in the Bank the first time, but now he’s stronger and smarter. Corbin stepped in the ring. Cole sent the show to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Great, fired up babyface promo from Daniel Bryan. He’s a master at this kind of thing, especially in this setting. Bryan, to me, has been one of the most consistent performers in this Performance Center era, and he knocked it out of the park tonight. Corbin added what he needed to in order to provide the proper context to the upcoming match, and Bryan’s retort was perfect.)
(1) DANIEL BRYAN vs. KING CORBIN
Daniel Bryan and King Corbin circled the ring, then locked up. Corbin backed Bryan into the ropes and talked some trash. They locked up again, and Corbin cornered Bryan, then broke at a three count. Both men returned to the center of the ring and engaged in a test of strength. Bryan gave Corbin a quick kick in the thigh.
Corbin used his size to back Bryan in the corner, then gave him a hard elbow smash. Bryan retaliated with a swift kick. Corbin shot off the ropes and dropped Bryan with a shoulder tackle. Bryan returned to his feet and gave Corbin a rolling dropkick to the knee. Bryan began kicking at Corbin’s hamstrings.
Bryan took Corbin down with a dragon screw, then worked Corbin’s legs over from the mat. Corbin fought back to his feet. He and Bryan continued to exchange quick holds, with Bryan gaining the upper hand. Bryan applied a toe hold, then stomped on the back of Corbin’s knee.
Corbin out-powered Bryan into a mount and fired off shots. Corbin elbowed Bryan’s chest and collar bone while talking trash. Bryan fought back to his feet and kicked Corbin to the corner. Corbin fought back with an shot to the ribs, then scooped Bryan onto the top rope. Corbin delivered a hard right that toppled Bryan to the floor. Corbin tossed Bryan into the ring post. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Out of the break, Corbin had Bryan on the mat, locked in a hold. He lifted Bryan to his feet and continued pounding at his back and stomach. Corbin set Bryan up for a crucifix bomb, but Bryan rolled into a cover for a two count. Corbin rebounded with a big clothesline for a two count.
Corbin tried to work over Bryan’s arm, but Bryan fought free, sending Corbin to the outside and hitting him with a quick suicide dive. Back in the ring, Bryan began delivering hard kicks to the leg. He picked the leg and rolled Corbin into an ankle lock. Bryan broke the hold, but stomped on Corbin’s ankle then kicked him in the face. Bryan covered for a two count.
Bryan shot Corbin to the corner and began the running dropkicks. On the second, Corbin caught him and hit him with the Deep Six for a near fall. Corbin mounted Bryan and delivered punches. Bryan caught the punch, rolled through and tried to apply a single leg crab. Corbin reached the ropes before Bryan could sink into it.
Corbin rolled to the outside. Bryan tried to dive at him, but Corbin caught him out of the air by the throat. Bryan kicked him to break free. Corbin grabbed a ladder and tossed it at Bryan, causing the referee to ring the bell.
WINNER: Daniel Bryan by disqualification in 15:00
Corbin expressed his frustration to the referee, then tossed Bryan back in the ring. He went for End of Days onto the ladder, but Bryan rolled through it and applied the Yes Lock on top of the ladder. Shinsuke Nakamura slid in the ring and kicked Bryan in the back of the head. Cesaro appeared, grabbed the ladder, and rammed Bryan to the outside. Corbin retrieved Bryan on the ramp, then tossed him into the collection of ladders set up on the side of the stage. Corey Graves wondered whether Corbin could throw someone off the roof of WWE Headquarters.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent match once it got going, but I immediately knock off some proverbial points for the non-finish. I’m not sure why WWE feels like Corbin always needs to have lackeys, but I don’t particularly care for it. I realize there’s some feud crossover going on here, but Cole and Graves have clearly been instructed to talk as though Cesaro and Nakamura are working with Corbin out of more than just a common enemy. Additionally, I really dislike the way they’re teasing tossing someone off the roof of corporate headquarters. Everyone knows that can’t happen, but talking about it so much makes me think they’re considering a pre-recorded crash pad spot that makes it seem as though it happened. Please, no.)
-Braun Strowman was shown chatting with Alexa Bliss backstage. He handed her a t-shirt. She dropped it as he walked away and the show headed to commercial.
-Braun Strowman headed to the ring after the break. Cole and Graves talked up his match with Bray Wyatt at Money in the Bank. Strowman talked about last week’s segment showing the history between he and Bray Wyatt. He was quickly interrupted by the Firefly Funhouse title card.
-Inside the Funhouse, Bray said he had a special treat – story time. He said it’s a true story called “The Black Sheep.” Bray said the black sheep was stronger than everyone else on the farm. He said the Shepard found the black sheep and raised him as his own. “One day, the selfish black sheep left in search of greener pastures.”
Bray said the black sheep didn’t even leave a note. He made the Shepard cry. Bray said all the other animals abandoned the Shepard too, leaving him all alone. He said the government placed a lien on the Shepard’s farm, then the Reptilians came and took everything over. “The end.”
“Lets come up with a happier ending.” Bray said in this story, the Shepard takes the black sheep to the slaughterhouse. Strowman interrupted. He said there is now “and then.” He told Bray to come say what he wants to Braun’s face. Bray waved and said he’d see Braun soon.
(LeClair’s Analysis: There were some fun little call backs in Bray’s story. I haven’t felt particular invested in this feud, and we’re once again in a situation where it feels like both guys need a win. Given the lack of involvement of The Fiend, I do wonder if we are, in fact, going to get a straight one on one match with Bray Wyatt that will allow Strowman to win, and then later face The Fiend in a more competitive match.)
-Sheamus was shown stretching backstage as the show went to commercial.
-Out of the break, Sheamus headed to the ring. Cole and Graves talked about his attitude as of late, particularly as it pertains to Michael Cole.
(2) SHEAMUS vs. LEON RUFF
Leon Ruff circled the ring. He tried a pair of dropkicks, but Sheamus easily swatted both of them away. Ruff tried to deliver back elbows, but Sheamus caught him and hit the Irish Curse backbreaker with ease. He held on, hitting a second one, then a third. He tossed Ruff out of the ring in front of Cole and Graves.
Sheamus pulled Ruff back on the apron and hit the Ten Beats of the Bodhran. Ruff returned to the ring and crumpled in the corner. Sheamus sized him up, then hit the Brogue Kick for a three count.
WINNER: Sheamus in 2:00
Sheamus approached Michael Cole at the announcers desk again, asking about Jeff Hardy. Cole threw to the final video package in Jeff’s comeback series. Cole announced that Jeff Hardy would return on next week’s show.
Sheamus remained at ringside. He got in Cole’s face. Sheamus said it’s good that Jeff will be on the show next week. “So will I,” Sheamus said before walking off, a smile plastered on his face.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Nothing much to see here. Sheamus continues to be extra aggressive, and his offense looks great. This is fine and all, but I’d like to see them move into this program with Jeff Hardy. I’ll be curious to see how they approach the feud.
Hardy’s video packages continue to be a great career retrospective. As I said last week, they must be pretty confident that he’s on the straight and narrow given the attention they called to his past troubles. Good for him. I find it curious that Sheamus is the first feud they’ve got lined up for him, but, as I mentioned above, I’m intrigued to see how they go about making people care about it.)
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton welcomed Otis and Mandy Rose. She asked about their respective Money in the Bank qualifying matches. Otis said he beat Dolph Ziggler at WrestleMania, and he’ll beat him again tonight, for his “beautiful peach.” Kayla asked if what Sonya did is weighing on Mandy Rose. Mandy said her focus is on Carmella, a former Money in the Bank winner.
Mandy said she and Otis are going to win their respective Money in the Bank contracts. She gave Otis a kiss on the cheek before heading to the ring. “Oh yeah!” Otis exclaimed.
-Back at ringside, Carmella headed to the ring. Cole sent the show to commercial.
After the break, Mandy Rose headed to the ring to kick off the second hour of the show
(3) CARMELLA vs. MANDY ROSE – Money in the Bank qualifier
Mandy Rose and Carmella locked up. Mandy took Carmella to the mat with a side headlock. Carmella transitioned into a leg lock, but Mandy quickly fought out. Carmella hit a quick snapmare, then moonwalked out of Mandy’s reach. Carmella and Mandy traded quick counters. Carmella eventually caught Mandy with a super kick for a two count.
Mandy battled back to her feet with elbows to the side of the head. She applied a chin lock. Sonya Deville’s music hit. She stayed at the top of the ramp, talking to Mandy on the mic. Mandy hit a spinning side slam for a two count as Sonya talked trash to Mandy.
Rose got caught with a running clothesline from Carmella as Deville continued to gab. Carmella hit Rose with a trio of elbows, then a hurricanrana. Rose shot to her feet and elbowed Carmella in the face. Sonya headed to the ring. Carmella hit Rose with a super kick for a three count.
WINNER: Carmella in 4:00
Deville rushed to the ring after the match and begin beating down Mandy Rose. She tossed Rose to the outside and threw her into the ring post, then the steel steps. Deville gave Mandy a running kick to the back of the neck, driving Mandy’s head into the steps for a second time.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This felt overly choreographed, even with its short run-time. I suppose Deville’s interference and subsequent win for Carmella makes sense, given that both Rose and Deville weren’t going to qualify. This gives them the chance to have the one on one match that their feud stipulates. The post match attack looked good. These two will likely be really motivated to put forward their best work, given their history with each other.)
-After the break, Mandy was shown being checked on in the trainer’s room. She had a welt on her thigh. Otis stood by her side, but was asked by the trainer to leave. He wandered into the hallway, fuming. He ran into Dolph Ziggler, who asked if Mandy was okay. Otis stared at him angrily.
-Back at ringside, Big E’s voice filled the speakers and New Day headed to the ring. The Forgotten Sons followed. Before the bell rang, The Miz and John Morrison headed to ringside to join Cole and Graves on commentary.
(4) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Big E) vs. THE FORGOTTEN SONS (Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake)
Big E and Steve Cutler began the match with a lockup. Big E backed Cutler into the corner. Cutler fought into position, but Big E tossed him over his back then tagged in Kofi Kingston. Kofi drove his elbow into Cutler’s face and covered for a quick two count.
Cutler recovered quickly and tagged in Wesley Blake. Blake cornered Kofi, but Kofi quickly turned it around and gave Blake a running basement dropkick. Kofi covered for a one count. Blake dropped Kofi by his dreads then tagged in Cutler. Blake and Cutler traded quick tags. Kofi outsmarted them and tagged Big E back in.
Big E hit Wesley Blake with a pair of overhead belly to belly suplexes, then a side belly to belly. He rolled to the outside and gave a running Steve Cutler a backdrop onto the mat. He followed up with an apron splash on Wesley Blake. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Out of the break, Kofi hit a running senton on Steve Cutler. Big E covered him for a two count. Cutler escaped to the outside, then made a tag into Blake. Blake dove from the ring onto Big E on the outside. He followed up with a big jumping knee for a two count. Blake hung up Big E in the ropes, then tagged in Cutler. Blake and Cutler hit a double team slam for a two count. The Forgotten Sons traded tags again and hit a double backbreaker for a near fall.
Blake drove his knee into Big E’s back and climbed onto him. Big E dumped him in the corner. Big E tried to make a tag, but Blake cut him off. Blake charged at Big E, but Big E hit a Uranagi out of the corner. Blake reached Cutler. Big E tagged in Kofi, who hit a springboard clothesline off the top rope, followed by a jumping clothesline and a Boom Drop. Kofi set up for Trouble in Paradise, but had to knock Blake off the apron, allowing Cutler to recover. Cutler set Kofi up on the top rope. Kofi knocked him off. Cutler rolled through Kofi’s offense, but got caught with a leaping stomp anyway. Kofi scored a two count.
Cutler tagged in Blake. He hit a backstabber, held Kofi, and Blake hit a top rope elbow for a near fall. Blake tagged Cutler back in. Blake set up for a power bomb. Kofi rolled through it and launched both Blake and Cutler to the floor. Kofi tagged in Big E. Big E launched Kofi over the top onto both Blake and Cutler.
In the ring, Big E set up for the Big Ending, but it got broken up. Big E got tossed to the outside. Ryker tossed Big E into the ring post. In the ring, Blake and Cutler hit a reverse DDT/stomp combo for a three count.
WINNERS: The Forgotten Sons in 13:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not a bad match. The Forgotten Sons have already proved more useful in their brief stint on the main roster than they ever were in NXT. Cutler and Blake work well together, and Big E and Kofi made them look good throughout. In general, I find every team in the Smackdown tag division trades wins back and forth far too often, especially the champions, so I’m not terribly keen on having New Day lose so quickly after just winning the belts, but the Forgotten Sons are a new team that need to be kept strong if they’re to be credible challengers any time soon.)