Previously on the Best and Worst of Friday Night Smackdown: It was time for Money in the Bank, featuring the Smackdown Women’s and Tag Team Champions retaining, and Otis figuratively throwing Tucky through the Barber Shop window by winning the Money in the Bank briefcase.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for May 15, 2020.
Worst: Hour One
This week’s show was a tale of two hours. Hour two wasn’t completely terrible, and hour one was … the opposite of hour two.
Up first is Otis celebrating his Money in the Bank win on Miz TV with The Miz and John Morrison doing a sort of low budget, “Otis This Is Your Life.” They put up photos of him as a kid to make fun of him — thankfully not photoshopped — while he breaks the chair he tries to sit in (because he’s fat) and reveals he carries around a bratwurst (because he’s fat) and Gas-X (because he’s fat) in the briefcase. I’m still not sure why they keep treating 330 pound Otis like he’s the fattest man who ever lived. Dude can’t climb a ladder or use furniture, he’s just in a constant state of standing up and awkwardly pacing around. He’s 110 pounds lighter than Gorilla Monsoon, who used chairs on TV for like 20 years. I think the Otis character is always hip thrusting and jiggling his torso so he can get his blood circulating and keep his entire body from atrophying.
Anyway, Miz brings Otis on the show so he can make fun of him for having a learning disability and fill Smackdown’s weekly quota by challenging him to a tag team match. Tucky is unavailable, however, due to the fact that he, “got a case of the [dysentery] in the Oregon Trail.” Dysentery is in brackets because he pronounced it, “dissin-berry.” Also, did Tucker Knight miss Smackdown because one of his party is sick in an old game of Oregon Trail? Or is that just how Otis’ mom explained away Tucky having severe, bloody diarrhea? Next week they should say Tucky can’t make it because he broke his leg trying to ford the river and lost three wagon axles. I want him to never show up again, and then the next time they’re in Oregon Otis stumbles upon his tombstone.
This week’s biggest story is that WWE, who promised there would be no retaliation toward people who choose not to work during the global pandemic, stripping Sami Zayn of the Intercontinental Championship for not coming to work. Maybe after he’s been gone for a few weeks they’ll start editing him out of video packages.
The first match in the Jordan Devlin Sure Knows How You Feel Intercontinental Championship Tournament is King Corbin versus Elias, bringing back fond memories of the worst parts of WrestleMania 36 and the Smackdowns before it. It’s over 15 minutes long in an empty arena, because God is real and hates us. This is boring in the same way the Pacific Ocean is wet. If they kept Elias and Corbin in the ring together long enough I think time itself would begin grinding to a halt.
The big moment of the match is when King Corbin smashes Elias’ guitar, the one Elias is always smashing over people and breaking himself, into the ring post. Elias is so enraged by this that he hits Corbin with [checks notes] an inside cradle. I could’ve paused Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gulak at any point and stared at the static image for 16 minutes and it would’ve been a better time.
The mysterious Smackdown hacker is still hacking. “I am everywhere, I see everyone, I hear everything, I am the truth, and no one is safe!” Pretty strong words for a guy whose only contribution to the show so far has been letting Mandy Rose know Dolph Ziggler wasn’t on the up and up. Join us next week when the hacker uses his 1990s Bat Cave computer and vast catalog of Smackdown footage to reveal that Otis is thinking about cashing in Money in the Bank.
Naomi, who apparently has totally forgotten how to wrestle, loses another match to Dana Brooke. We can hope this is setting up some kind of Naomi heel turn and character tweak where she’s still a dancer in the background of a scene in Batman Forever but EVIL, because if not, Naomi’s just straight-up losing multiple matches to a character so dumb she tries to win a rooftop match by disassembling a conference room and walks around with a giant picture stuck around her neck because someone smashed it over her head.
I think this Forgotten Sons promo technically happened in hour two, but I’m going to go ahead and lump it in with hour one. My favorite part is that they’re now putting up a disclaimer so it’s clear that WWE doesn’t want you to punch people who don’t love the troops. Don’t worry, guys, the Forgotten Sons promo’s not what’s making us think that.
Better: Hour Two
Ratings magnet Charlotte Flair pops in to promote her Genetic Supremacy™ and further stir the pot between Sasha Banks and Bayley. If you’re wondering why Raw Superstar and NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte flair would show up on Friday Night Smackdown, it’s because of the “Brand to Brand Invitation,” which states that, as far as I can tell, anyone assigned to a brand can appear on a different brand four times per year. Charlotte can only make three more appearances on Smackdown between now and May 16, 2021! I’m sure that’ll come up again! Why does WWE keep putting weird arbitrary number limits on ideas? Only four superstars at a time for the wild card! Only four times a year for the brand to brand invitational! Just do what you want to do and stop over-complicating it, damn. There’s a pandemic on, and you guys are just giving yourself rules that in a couple of weeks you’ll decided to start ignoring.
I didn’t love this segment, but it at least felt like it had a point. And I’m a sucker for anything that makes me think old NXT stars have maintained some sort of character consistency on the main roster. I like that Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks both clearly still think Bayley’s a lame hanger-on and can casually disrespect her to her face. Even main roster bob Bayley with the title belt bandolier gets intimidated by anyone who used to shade her when she as a naive “hugger,” so Bayley challenges Flair to a champion versus champion on next week’s show with the stipulation that Sasha Banks is definitely going to turn on one of them.
Unsurprisingly Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gulak in the night’s second Intercontinental Championship Tournament match is the best part of Smackdown by a mile, and probably the best thing to happen on Smackdown this year. That’s not to overstate the match, though, and isn’t a huge compliment considering even the pre-quarantine stuff from Smackdown this year mostly revolved around Lacey Evans and those endless King Corbin and friends vs. Roman Reigns and friends matches. Remember those days? They feel like they happened so long ago.
This was a nice counterpoint to the Bryan vs. Gulak match from Elimination Chamber as they’re now catch-as-catch-canning as friends instead of enemies. It’s the kind of match you can go through move for move, sequence for sequence, and find some reason in it. It’s also two and a half minutes shorter than Corbin vs. Elias, which is a real “glass half empty or half full” situation. My favorite moment is the Gulock getting countered into the Yes Lock, which Michael Cole describes as Daniel Bryan, “trying to make it back to a vertical brace.”
To me, at least, two hyper-focused guys grappling their hearts out to win a wrestling competition plays a lot better in the empty arena than the slow kick-and-punch walk-around with audience participation most people in WWE do. More clever submission counters, fewer instances of Dana trying to get a slow clap going among the empty chairs.
Sonya Deville’s promo here is the “Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gulak” of Smackdown mic work. Sonya’s been a low key MVP of the Smackdown quarantine era, and while her motivations, general plot arc, and choice of friends are all severely iffy, she still manages to sound like she means what she says, and says it with enthusiasm. Also, bonus points for her 7 out of 10 Otis impression.
As for Actual Otis, he spends most of the night backstage wandering around in his underpants looking for a replacement tag team partner. How can you ever hope to replace TUCKER, the man and his dream? Here he is trying to enlist help from Sheamus, not considering that Sheamus’ kayfabe relation to the Muppet Beaker might conflict with his own relation to Junior Gorg from Fraggle Rock.
Mandy Rose suggests asking Braun Strowman to be the tag team partner, tag team name HAM SLAM (not really), and Braun accepts. Looking at Braun and Otis standing next to each other is like seeing a Charmeleon side-by-side with a Charizard. In this simile, the Charmander is maybe Cameron Grimes?
Otis plays Thiccy Morton for the majority of the match before tagging in Braun, so Brauns Up and cleans house. John Morrison’s able to get in an exciting 30 seconds or so of action after Braun hits his signature move, “accidentally running shoulder-first into the ring post,” but that quickly turns into a powerslam for the loss. Plus, this happens:
Between this and the time he danced with New Day, we can confirm that Braun Strowman’s hips don’t lie. They also don’t move. At all. Ever.
After the match, Mandy Rose shows up to suspiciously celebrate Otis’ victory from the ramp, giving Otis a chance to tease a Money in the Bank cash-in. I like that it might’ve worked, but he was too drawn to the rhythm of ‘Golden Goddess’ to hustle. You know, I’d be interested to see how a Strowman vs. Otis match would play out, although I’m 75% certain they’d do a spot where the guy who routinely flips ambulances and tears down trusses with a grappling hook “buckles” under the weight of Otis.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
“The NXT champion is coming from Monday Night Raw here to Smackdown”
“Daniel Bryan & Drew Gulak are best friends…”
Baron Von Raschke
Morrison [waiting for that double caterpillar]: So…this is what it’s like to wait for me to do Starship Pain?
I’ll only accept the results of the IC tournament if the winner is a certain masked, generic luchador from Mexico who looks rather similar to an existing member of the roster. I’m speaking, of course, about Juan Cena.
Otis should go find Riddle, I heard he needs a new tag partner. They could be called the Bro-Dozerweights.
They should bring Drake Maverick back just so he and Otis can do a Tommy Boy gimmick
I’m in a toxic relationship with WWE. They insult me and treat me like I’m stupid and I keep coming back even though I can do better
Dave M J
Me watching Corbin yet again.
The numbers were crunched and Vince felt Flair would help improve ratings for all 3 brands.
RON HOWARD: She did not.
That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown. The show is still struggling for the most part, but this week’s episode was notably better. The “champion pins the challenger” streak ends at five in a row, there was at least one match containing good wrestling, there was some good promo work, and we saw new character interactions. Corbin vs. Elias brings it down considerably, but, you know, baby steps.
Anyway, thanks as always for reading. Your comments, shares, and readership are appreciated tremendously, and we hope you’ll be here again next week for a Mixed Match Challenge, the Smackdown Women’s Champion versus the NXT Champion from Raw, and two more first round matches in the Come To Work Classic. See you then.