WWE SmackDown returns tonight (Aug. 7) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) on Aug. 23.
It had been a long time since we saw the Fiend inside the WWE PC prior to last week.
If you count his WrestleMania match as a cinematic, the last time was actually before WrestleMania. Bray Wyatt was there to face Braun Strowman at Money in the Bank, but as Fun House Bray, not the Fiend. That was the last time that any version of Bray Wyatt was in the arena before last week’s episode.
His story with Braun had been lacking due to his absence.
Not that I blame Bray Wyatt if he opted to stay away from the PC, which had a COVID outbreak not long ago, given he has young children at home. And they’ve actually been able to do a lot with him with video Fun House segments and cinematic matches. But his character benefits from the threat of the Fiend striking at any time.
That finally happened last week.
The Fiend made his big return to the Performance Center with an attack on Alexa Bliss that was very well done. During the Swamp Match, Alexa Bliss was set up as someone who Universal Champion Braun Strowman cares about. Maybe even a love interest. That made her the perfect victim for the Fiend.
He slowly teased out the possibility of locking the mandible claw, making the audience wonder if he’d actual go through with it, before he did so. This is the first time the Fiend attacked a woman, making him feel more dangerous than he did prior. No one is off limits.
That closing angle finally added some stakes to this feud that hadn’t been there before. It was clear they were stretching out a program between former teacher and student until they got to the Fiend vs. Strowman for the title. The process was too drawn out getting here, but now that they’re here, they’ve made it feel big.
Now we wait for Braun to return from the swamps (he’s been missing since being submerged) to get his revenge. Meanwhile, Bray returns to the Fun House to discuss his other half’s vile deed.
The Title Scene
We don’t have an opponent for Bayley’s SmackDown Women’s title for SummerSlam. We also don’t have opponents for her and Sasha Banks’ Women’s tag titles. Bayley just defeated Nikki Cross yet again and unfortunately, there aren’t any great options for her to face in two weeks. I doubt the tag straps are on the line at the PPV but Bayley is going to have to defend her title. Maybe it’ll be a multi-person match give the lack of legit single challengers.
AJ Styles is also without an opponent, having defeated Gran Metalik to retain his Intercontinental title last week. The announce team continues to mention Daniel Bryan so maybe a rematch is on the table. However, with DB just becoming a father, he’s probably off the table.
The SmackDown tag title picture looks a bit clearer. After Metalik lost that IC title match, he and Lince Dorado were mocked by the tag champs of Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. It’s not a program that’s going to blow any minds, but it’ll surely be a strong match.
Other things to keep an eye on:
- I’ve become a big fan of Baron Corbin’s King Ransom gimmick, where he’s offering a payout to whomever can take out Matt Riddle. It’s got an old school feel to it. Plus, Shorty G took him up on the offer so we should see Chad Gable vs Matt Riddle soon. That’s a match that Riddle mentioned wanting to have multiple times when he was on Corey Graves’ podcast. That’ll have to wait though because it’s actually Riddle vs. Sheamus tonight. (That’s another opponent Riddle talked about wanting to face.)
- Jeff Hardy was interrupted by King Corbin last week when he was discussing the fallout from the Bar Fight with Sheamus. So they’re fighting tonight. Corbin and Sheamus just swapped feuds as if they were at some wrestling key party.
- Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville’s rivalry is back on after a vicious attack from Sonya last week, which including taking a lock of hair as a prize. Deville will discuss that on the Dirty Sheet tonight.
What will you be looking for when SmackDown returns tonight at 8 ET on Fox?