With The Horror Show at Extreme Rules in the books and widely panned by fans and critics, and ratings continuing to fall, WWE rests its hopes on a bar fight between Jeff Hardy and Sheamus to redeem Smackdown. Will the risk of Jeff Hardy losing his sobriety be enough to draw viewers to the show? That remains to be seen.
WWE Smackdown 7/24/2020 Part 1
Smackdown opens with a promo about tonight's main event, the bar fight between Jeff Hardy and Sheamus. "Hello. My name is Jeff Hardy, and I'm an alcoholic." Hardy says that tonight he faces Sheamus in a match that represents all his demons. But he's going to slay his demons tonight. Sheamus disagrees: tonight, Hardy will find himself in a familiar place: laying on the floor of the bar, struggling to stand up. This defeat will crush him, and the only that will make him feel better is relapsing. Classy. JBL chimes in to say he knows all about bar fights and hypes up the match with Attitude Era nostalgia for the APA. We get a glimpse of the bar, with Sheamus's personal bartender.
Now, Sasha Banks heads to the ring with Bayley to the sound of what we now know, thanks to a recent Stephanie McMahon interview, are "sweetened" boos. That means they're pumping in crowd noise on top of the performance center trainees being paid to stand in the audience. How embarrassing. The Boss deserves better. We see a recap of Sasha's "victory" at Extreme Rules. Sasha starts off her promo like all great middle school term papers: with the definition of "greatness" from the dictionary. Bayley says that's the old definition of greatness, but the new definition of greatness is… Sasha and Bayley, according to a picture shown on the Titantron. Sasha brags about Bayley and her getting all the gold in WWE. A poor trainee tries to start a "you suck" chant and Bayley yells at her. Sasha declares the Women's Evolution era over. Bayley says not it's a new era, an era of greatness, the era of Sasha Banks and Bayley. Sasha lets all the kids watching at home (in the 50+ demo) that they can look at Sasha and Bayley as role models, though Bayley says they can never be as great as them.
Nikki Cross comes out mad as hell with Alexa Bliss and yells at Sasha and Bayley for cheating at Extreme Rules. She declares the era of Sasha and Bayley as over already. Sasha accuses Nikki of having rabies. Even Alexa thinks she should calm down. She's being too loud. Nikki doesn't care. She wants revenge, and it's gonna start with Bayley. She wants another shot at the Smackdown Women's Championship.
Bayley says she won fair and square at Extreme Rules (ehhhh), but she likes to lead by example and Smackdown is the land of opportunity. So Nikki can have her rematch if she can win a match against a worthy adversary, a former Smackdown champ and future Hall-of-Famer. The tease is that you think it's Sasha, but it's actually Nikki's own partner and friend, Alexa Bliss. Nikki is down. Alexa is skeptical. Nikki shoves Alexa, then heads to the ring. Smackdown goes to commercials.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross
Back from break, Sasha and Bayley are on commentary as Nikki and Alexa face off in the ring. Nikki's ribs are taped up from Extreme Rules. Michael Cole apologizes to Sasha and Bayley for saying for months that one of them was gonna turn on the other. He admits they were right and they've stuck together. So that's a guarantee they'll be breaking up, probably tonight, right? He also claims Sasha isn't the "real" Raw Women's Champion and asks how they'll handle the stipulation that if Bayley interferes in any way, Sasha will lose the belt on Monday. Sasha takes it gracefully and explains she doesn't need to cheat. She just likes Bayley's support at ringside.
Oh yeah, there's a match going on. Nikki and Alexa are still fighting fair at this point, but things turn sour when Alexa tries to slap Nikki. "You tried to slap me?!" Nikki yells, immediately becoming better at play-by-play than the announce team. Now things get nastier. Well, as nasty as will allow for Alexa and Nikki, neither of whom really packs a lot of "oomph" in their offense. Nikki hits a bulldog on Alexa and gets a two-count. Alexa dropkicks Nikki out of the ring. Alexa follows and tries to trap Alexa in the apron, but Alexa kicks Nikki in the face. Bayley and Sasha go nuts at that one and start chanting for Alexa. Alexa tosses Nikki into Sasha and Bayley and Smackdown goes to commercials.
After break, Nikki is on the apron, trying to enter the ring, but Alexa won't allow it. She slaps her off the apron and then hits a baseball slide. Nikki finally gets in the ring and Alexa delivers some kicks in the corner. She hits a snapmare and transitions to a rest hold that stretches the ribs. Then she kicks Nikki in the ribs. This friendship is dissolving before our eyes! They brawl outside briefly. Alexa continues to work the ribs with her jumping knee drops and more kicks. Then back to that submission again. We're approaching another commercial break, so Nikki starts a comeback. She tries a tornado DDT but her ribs are just too hurt and Alexa blocks. Alexa tries a sunset flip and gets a two-count. She goes up to the top, but Nikki blocks her. Both women are on the top rope. Nikki tries a superplex, but those ribs! Alexa knocks her down, but Nikki dodges a dropkick. Nikki… sort of runs while holding Alexa's hand and they both fall down. That gets a two-count. Nikki hits a reverse DDT for two. Nikki wins with an inside cradle rollup.
Winner: Nikki Cross
The storytelling and psychology in this match were good. The execution of moves was, as to be expected from these two, a little weak. Smackdown goes to commercials, teasing a Firefly Funhouse after the break.
Nikki Cross and Alexa are backstage. Alexa hands Nikki a water bottle. Alexa congratulates Nikki on getting the better of her. Alexa tells Nikki that she earned her rematch. Now she has to focus on beating Bayley. Alexa is being very supportive… but how does she really feel?!
The Firefly Funhouse starts with a recap of the Swamp Fight at Extreme Rules, narrated by Bray Wyatt. Afterward, Bray (Funhouse version) is in the Funhouse with the Bray Wyatt lantern head on the table. He says the Swamp Fight warmed his soul because Braun Strowman came back home. He knows fans are probably afraid that Braun is still trapped in the swamp, but Bray says the swamp is certified organic. The lantern head asks to be let out, but Bray says he can't do that. It's The Fiend's turn now. The Fiend has been unleashed. Michael Cole and Corey Graves are very solemn about the fate of Braun Strowman, getting all quiet and serious like someone was just paralyzed in the ring or something. Then they transition to a recap of last week's Intercontinental Championship match between Matt Riddle and AJ Styles. Baron Corbin attacked Riddle after Styles won the match. Matt Riddle comes to the ring. Smackdown goes to commercials, and this report continues in part two.