SmackDown tonight kicks off a new era of WWE. Time to enter the ThunderDome, a horrific nightmare of lasers, LED boards, and disembodied heads. It's gonna be… interesting, to say the least.
WWE SmackDown Report for August 21, 2020 Part 1
Smackdown opens with pyro. Lots of pyros. Then Michael Cole welcomes us to the Thunderdome and shills for Progressive Insurance. Vince McMahon is in the ring. He welcomes us to Smackdown and Thunderdome. There are a thousand faces on the LED screens. It's terrifying. Vince gets to talk a little about SummerSlam and The Fiend's music plays.
The Fiend walks very slowly to the ring. Vince looks unimpressed. The virtual fans are turned off during the entrance, but we can still hear the crowd noise, which may or may not be sweetened. They use the crowd LED boards to show Fiend graphics instead of the crowd. There are a zillion lasers.
The Fiend makes it to the ring. Okay, I think this crowd noise is definitely sweetened. There's no way the sound we're hearing is the sound of a 1000 people on Zoom. Braun Strowman's music plays, and Braun now walks slowly to the ring, but less slowly. Vince has disappeared from the ring at this point.
Braun and The Fiend face off in the ring… and suddenly, Retribution surrounds the ring. There a dozen or more of them. Braun and The Fiend smile at each other. The lights go out and The Fiend disappears, leaving Strowman alone.
Retribution attack and beat down Strowman. The Smackdown locker room runs out, but Retribution holds the ring. More Smackdown stars run out. It's a brawl, and the Smackdown stars start to gain the upper hand. Retribution retreats. The Miz runs out alone for some reason after everyone else. Drew Gulak helps Strowman to his feet.
Strowman levels Gulak and then tosses Jey Uso out of the ring. Then he leaves. Smackdown goes to commercials. So I guess Retribution's push is over before it's begun? The first time they had to actually fight some Smackdown stars, they lost and ran away.
Smackdown returns, and Big E, Shorty G, Matt Riddle, and Sheamus remain in the ring. Shorty and Riddle leave and we have a match between Big E and Sheamus.
Big E vs. Sheamus
- They're wrestling in the ring, but I can't stop looking at the screens.
- Because there's no way to enforce the distance between people's faces and the cameras, all of the heads are different sizes.
- My television can't handle all these LEDs. It's creating a moire effect the likes of which I haven't seen since way back when WWE first switched to HD and debuted the Raw HD set with the big LED boards on the stage.
- Big E is winning the match I guess.
- The crowd noise sounds pretty good, but I still don't believe it's coming from the people on the screens, or at least not entirely from them.
- Even Michael Cole says it's hard to concentrate on the match in the ring… but he claims it's because the superstars are concerned about Retribution, not because they are witnessing a dystopian nightmare right now.
- About a dozen Smackdown stars have stayed at ringside in case Retribution comes back.
- Sheamus is winning now.
- The lights start flickering again and Smackdown goes to commercials.
- Big E hits a trio of belly-to-belly suplexes on Sheamus after the break.
- Some people in the crowd have lost their connections or logged off or whatever, so there are black squares interspersed throughout the virtual crowd. You'd think they'd have some people on standby to take over when someone's feed goes out. Well, it's a work in progress I guess.
- Sheamus hits white noise on Big E.
- As if all of this stuff isn't distracted enough, Baron Corbin and Matt Riddle start brawling outside the ring and a bunch of superstars try to break it up.
- Sheamus is distracted. Big E rolls him up for the win.
This is going to take some getting used to. One thing I'm noticing is that there was no pop when Big E won. There's crowd noise… but it doesn't necessarily feel like it's reacting to what we're seeing in the ring.
Michael Cole tells us there's a developing story backstage. Jeff Hardy is in the trainer's room. He says somebody fell on him from being (what?) and his knee is hurt. He needs a brace because he can't miss his match tonight.
Lucha House Party are walking backstage when Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro jump them from behind. Smackdown goes to commercials again.
The Progressive Match Flow is Gran Metalik fighting Cesaro last week and Kalisto making his return. Cesaro and Nakamura head to the ring. There little CGI squares flying toward the camera because a zillion lasers and LEDs weren't enough apparently. Lucha House Party comes out next, as monstrous CGI pinatas dance above the ring. I down some vodka. I'm gonna need it tonight.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro vs. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado
- Cesaro beats the crap out of Gran Metalik to start.
- Miz and John Morrison pop up in picture-in-picture and crack a bunch of dumb jokes then sing their Hey Hey Ho Ho song.
- That damn furry, Lince Dorado, tags in and beats up Nakamura.
- He hits a bunch of flippy stuff, including three moonsaults, but Cesaro breaks up the pin.
- Dorado tosses Cesaro outside and then Metalik dives on him.
- That's enough to allow Nakamura to hit the furry with a reverse exploder, but Dorado rolls him up when he tires a Kinshasha.
- Cesaro tags in and after a couple of reversals, rolls up Dorado for the win.
This match never even got started. Kalisto comes in the ring and starts shoving Dorado and shouting at him in Spanish. Metalik tries to break it up, but these two really want to go at each other.
Backstage, the trainer is still working on Jeff Hardy's knee. Hardy wears pants when he wrestles, which means he doesn't shave his legs. It looks weird. So hairy.
We see footage from the brawl with Retribution at the beginning of the show which reveals it's AJ Styles who attacked Hardy's knee. Kayla Braxton talks to Styles backstage. Styles claims he was just trying to get rid of Retribution and Hardy got in the way. Now Hardy won't be able to compete tonight. It's shameful, but so is Hardy's career, which Hardy has wasted.
As Styles walks away, he runs into Sasha Banks and Bayley. They "cheers" with their titles. Smackdown goes to commercials again.
We see a bunch of headlines about the Thunderdome from all the big spots websites. Then Kayla Braxton talks to Mandy Rose backstage. Mandy says it's been a really rough week… because of Sonya Deville cutting her hair, of course. Mandy wants to speak directly to Sonya (through the camera). She says that she and Sonya have been through a lot as best friends. Today, Mandy is choosing to believe the Sonya she knows is still out there. She says they should put this fight behind them and get back to where they were. Mandy chooses to see the good in Sonya.
Banks and Bayley come out to the ring. I get motion sickness from the LED boards during their entrance. Corey Graves is in the ring to interview them. He screws up immediately and calls Sasha "Two Banks Belts." He asks if they're splitting up. They say no. Graves talks about Banks and Bayley's matches at SummerSlam, both against Asuka.
Bayley says there's no way Asuka is walking out with two belts. Graves points out that Asuka has beaten her before. Sasha says that at SummerSlam, they'll destroy Asuka. She accuses Graves of stirring the pot. Graves says he's just trying to understand the logic behind their decisions. Bayley says the logic is they have all the gold.
Graves brings up Bayley offering to fight Asuka first at SummerSlam. Graves doesn't think that's smart. Bayley says that it was just a suggestion she goes first. Sasha is just as capable of it. Sasha gets a little mad. She asks if Bayley is trying to volunteer her again. Graves asks if there's trouble here. Bayley says no. They're good, and there's no one that can beat them.
Naomi's music plays. She comes out and says she can help Sasha and Bayley handle their situation. Naomi wants to face both of them tonight. Sasha laughs and accepts. Bayley wants to know this helps them at SummerSlam. Corey suggests they could do a "beat the clock challenge." Naomi is like, sure, we can see which of you I can lose to faster. She kicks them in the face and Smackdown goes to commercials again. As we'll be at just about the one-hour mark when these commercials are done, this Smackdown report will continue in part two. Click down below.