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WWE SmackDown preview (July 3, 2020): Just a bit longer


WWE SmackDown returns tonight (July 3) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards Extreme Rules: Horror Show pay-per-view (PPV) on July 19.

The Headliner

When WWE’s COVID outbreak forced SmackDown to run a rewritten show last week, we kind of hoped scrapping the latest Jeff Hardy/Sheamus segment would mean maybe just fading out this feud for good.

After all, it’s been a mess. I was in “wait and see” mode after the obvious frame job that got Hardy arrested for a DUI after a car hit Elias, putting him out of action for many months. Given they absolved Jeff almost right away and it was clear that a heel was using his demons against him, it was possible that they were going to use this story for Jeff to be honest about his struggles while showing how he’ll always have his history as a stigma no matter how well he does.

But instead then they gave us a recycled piss segment that must have had Vince McMahon chortling like a child before having Jeff lose to Sheamus at Backlash. Meaning as of now, the good guy with the addiction history has been a continual loser in this feud.

Because of all that, they actually can’t just hit the halt button. Given Jeff’s real life demons that have been used in this story, he absolutely needs to get the win in the end. Otherwise the final take away is the recovering addict is also a loser and the bad guy gets away with it all.

So they can have their latest segment where Sheamus offers a toast to Jeff Hardy, ride it out until the Horror Show (an aptly named PPV given this story so far), and allow Jeff to get a decisive victory in a stipulation match that ups the stakes a bit.

Until they, WWE, please don’t get stupid with it. Just get to the Horror Show, give Jeff the decisive win, and we’ll do our best to forget this feud until you all recycle this urine segment in another 14 years.

The title scene:

The Universal championship will not be on the line at Extreme Rules. Instead, Champion Braun Strowman will face Bray Wyatt in a Swamp Fight, an off-site brawl calling back to their history together when Bray was a cult leader and Braun his black sheep. However that goes, this is to get us to the Fiend’s reappearance to take back his gold.

Bayley has a lot going on. She’s one half of the Women’s tag team champions alongside Sasha Banks. Both women have issues with NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai and Raw Women’s Champion Asuka, who Sasha is challenging at the Horror Show. With all that going on, Bayley will need to focus because she’ll be defending her SmackDown Women’s championship against Nikki Cross at the PPV in a couple weeks.

AJ Styles will defend his Intercontinental title against Drew Gulak tonight. This match was originally booked for last week, but the COVID changes delayed the bout. It should be a banger. It’ll be interesting to see if Daniel Bryan is in Drew’s corner or if he’s staying away for a bit during the WWE outbreak.

The New Day are in a feud with the Artist Collective (Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura) and likely will defend their SmackDown tag team championships against them at the Horror Show.

Other things to keep an eye on:

- Matt Riddle’s roll out continues, this week with a sit down interview with Michael Cole, likely designed to show the wider audience at home his unique personality. This goes along with the rumor that WWE was already well aware of the sexual allegation against him prior and that won’t affect their plans for him.

- Let’s not forget that Otis holds the Money in the Bank briefcase. He probably will for awhile. If the idea is for Braun to eventually lose it to Bray, I don’t see a good opportunity for Blue Collar Solid to cash in any time soon.

- With Dolph Ziggler on Raw, Sonya Deville is continuing her feud with Mandy Rose alone. Rumor is they paired her with Dolph so she could have a mouth piece but then they realized she’s actually a strong talker.

What will you be looking for when SmackDown returns tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox?

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