This edition of Friday Night SmackDown was the debut of WWE ThunderDome which was held at the Amway Center in Orlando Florida. The show featured championship matches including AJ Styles defending the Intercontinental Championship against Jeff Hardy and the tag titles are on the line as Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura defended against Lucha House Party. Plus, Mr. McMahon was scheduled to open the show to introduce the WWE ThunderDome concept.
The show kicked off with pyro around the ThunderDome. Mr. McMahon was in the ring as he welcomed everyone to ThunderDome. He also advertised for SummerSlam and the tagline: You’ll Never See it Coming. Suddenly, the lights go out and The Fiend came out to the ring. The Fiend tried to trap McMahon in the ring until Braun Strowman came out. Retribution interrupted their confrontation on the apron. The Fiend waved at Braun. The lights went out and The Fiend disappeared. Retribution came into the ring and attacked Braun. The whole SmackDown locker room came out to the ring to brawl with them. Eventually, Retribution retreated out of the ring. Strowman suddenly attacked Drew Gulak and tossed Jey Uso out of the ring. Braun left the ring afterwards.
Big E Defeated Sheamus
Review: Good opening match. It was the type of hard hitting match you would expect from these two. Everyone was surrounding the ring to make sure Retribution didn’t interfere. This was just a match to give Big E a little more momentum along with how he has been portrayed as a locker room leader which is leading into a good direction so far.
Hardy is being checked on in the medical room as his knee is in pain from the Retribution attack earlier.
Lucha House Party were heading to the ring for their match with Cesaro and Nakamura until Cesaro and Nakamura attacked them from behind. Kalisto tried to help them up.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura Defeated Lucha House Party
After the match, Kalisto yelled at Lince Dorado for getting pinned. Gran Metalik tried to restrain them.
Review: It was a good match with how much action they put into it. There was a spot that Metalik screwed up that could’ve looked so good when he dived out of the ring for the head scissors. I also think Cesaro and Nakamura should’ve just won it straight up instead of a roll up. However, it wasn’t too bad of a match.
Kayla Braxton interviewed AJ Styles about how he attacked Jeff during the brawl. AJ said Jeff clearly is not standing on his own two feet now. AJ walked up to find Sasha and Bayley as they clunked their titles together, celebrating with their gold.
Kayla Braxton interviewed Mandy Rose to see how she was doing. Mandy said her and Sonya went through a lot together. She believed that the Sonya she use to know is still out there. She feels she should put all of this behind them.
Corey Graves interviewed Sasha Banks and Bayley in the ring. He asked if they are splitting that and they said no. Graves asked if Asuka is incapable of beating them and they said they will destroy Asuka. Sasha told Graves to not stir the pot between them. Graves thought that Asuka has their number. Bayley thought that Sasha is capable of going first at SummerSlam if she wanted to. Sasha argued with her about it. Naomi interrupted them, saying that she wants to face both of them. They agree. Graves suggested a beat the clock challenge and Naomi asked which one should go first. Naomi drop kicked both of them out of the ring.
Sasha Banks Defeated Naomi In The Beat The Clock Challenge At 3:39 And Naomi Defeated Bayley at 1:46
Asuka came out after the match saying that she will be the empress of every title and that no one is ready for Asuka. Asuka kicked Sasha on the stage as Sasha went after her. She attacked Bayley in the ring until Bayley escaped, leaving Sasha who was down on the ramp.
Review: This was good for what it was. Naomi got some shine as she took both of them on. I’m surprised they had Naomi beat Bayley and lose to Sasha. This kind of gives me the vibe that they are going to have Sasha lose the Raw Women’s title and Naomi will be slated to be pushed to challenge for the Smackdown Women’s title. We’ll have to see but it was a great way to determine who will face Asuka first at SummerSlam.
The doctor tells Hardy he’ll clear him to compete if he feels he is ready to go. Hardy said he’s ready to beat AJ Styles.
Kayla Braxton interviewed Sonya Deville about what Mandy said. Sonya said she will say what she has to say in the ring. Dana Brooke came up to her to console her for what had happened to her this past week. Sonya said it is nothing she can’t handle and slaps her. Sonya walks away, calling Dana disrespectful.
Sonya Deville came out to the ring. She said she knew Mandy had second thoughts about the match. Sonya said she doesn’t care what she thinks or anyone else. She increases the stakes for their match, making it a no disqualification match and a loser leaves WWE match along with hair vs hair.
Nikki Cross appeared in a sit down interview saying that Alexa has changed since her encounter with The Fiend. She said she has the feeling that something terrible is about to happen.
Jeff Hardy Defeated AJ Styles
Review: I was not expecting Jeff hardy to win the title. This was a shock to me but I don’t hate it. They’ve been building up this comeback story for Hardy and him overcoming his addiction. Maybe it should’ve waited for a bigger stage like SummerSlam but it was what needed to happen. However, it looks like they will continue the rivalry. It was a great match too. Not the best one of all the matches they had in the past but this one didn’t disappoint.
Kayla Braxton congratulated Jeff Hardy for the win. Hardy said he is overwhelmed with emotion. He said he has struggled and hopes he has helped people that are struggling now.
Kayla Braxton interviewed AJ Styles who is irate of losing the title. He complained to Kayla that Hardy cheated by using the knee brace. He yells at Joseph Park as well.
Bray Wyatt appeared for the Fire Fly Fun House. He shows a theater presentation of Braun and Alexa with Rambling Rabbit portraying Alexa and the pig portraying Braun. Bray interrupted as they were about to kiss and he told them to get lost. Bray said The Fiend can’t wait to get his hands on Braun. Braun attacked Bray from behind and dragged him out of the shot saying he is not finished with him.
Back from commercial, Bray and Braun were brawling backstage. Braun grabbed Bray by the throat and choke slammed him out of a tunnel where he landed on concrete. Officials brought an ambulance truck for Bray who was unconscious. They loaded Bray onto the stretcher and into the truck. The truck went forward but then backwards. Inside the truck turned red and The Fiend emerged. The show ended with The Fiend laughing into the camera.
Overall Review: This was a really good go home show. Before I go through the whole show in detail, I want to briefly mention the ThunderDome. Its definitely a step up from what they have been doing at the Performance Center. It gives the feel of it being like how it was before the pandemic. However, the sound effect of the audience was a little cheesy. I liked how the fans were on video, it’s very bizarre to see it but in a good way. The downside to that was how not showing the audience when someone is coming out and seeing their reactions. To me I love hearing crowd reactions to however is coming out.
The start of the show was starting out good until Retribution got involved in it. Out of all spots to bring out Retribution, they brought them out to beat down during the Braun/Bray segment in the opener. With the sizes of the Retribution members, I couldn’t take seriously that all of them combined to take down Braun especially with his size and the way they have portrayed him as a monster. If he was really the monster that he was portrayed to be, he would take them all out. They mostly should’ve done it during Big E and Sheamus’ match.
The Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose segments were great as always. Sonya cut the best promo with how intense she was. Them adding other stipulations like Loser Leaves WWE and it being No Disqualification, I’m okay with it being No DQ because of how personal it has gotten but the Loser Leaves WWE stipulation is not necessary. I don’t believe either one of them are leaving WWE. If one of them leaves, they’ll probably do a whole thing where they will find some silly excuse to bring them back and undo what they did at SummerSlam.
The segment with Bray Wyatt and Braun at the end was really good. I loved Bray coming back as The Fiend from the ambulance. Although, I don’t know how they explain Braun finding out where the Fire Fly Fun House is that was kind of unexplained like how Seth Rollins knew where it was in their rivalry.
Overall, I thought it was a good go home show before SummerSlam and maybe an even better one than Raw.
Overall Grade: 6/10