Featuring a match for the Intercontinental Championship and a match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, this August 21st edition of SmackDown is the official debut of the ThunderDome!

Honestly, the ThunderDome looks awesome! They’re making the best of a bad situation and the crowd looks to be having fun, and there’s only occasionally a copy of the same person on a different screen. Vince McMahon comes out to address the WWE Universe. Before he can really say anything, The Fiend comes out into the ring with him. He plays mind games with the Chairman, laughing at him, but Braun Strowman enters, still looking stupid with his bald head.

The two square off, but then they are interrupted by RETRIBUTION. The Fiend decides this isn’t his scene and leaves Braun alone to fight the mob. The numbers game comes into play and they take out Strowman, The SmackDown roster comes to the aid of Strowman, clearing the ring of RETRIBUTION. Strowman thanks his peers by taking two of them out and walking out of the ring angrily.

Sheamus VS Big E

With the SmackDown roster protecting them at ringside, the two big men start off pushing each other around. Sheamus hits Big E with some hard knees, but Big E clotheslines him out of the ring, and then drives him into the ring. He hits his big splash on the apron. The Celtic Warrior takes control with a flying clothesline and then delivers the Ten Beats of the Bodhran. Sheamus trash talks the crowd like the good old days, and hits an Irish Curse backbreaker for 2. The lights flash on and off ominously as we go to commercial.

When we come back, Big E is getting fired up, delivering a succession of belly-to-belly suplexes. He delivers his big splash again and looks for the Big Ending, but Sheamus gets out of it. Big E reverses a Brogue Kick attempt but gets hit with a bicycle knee for a 2 count.

Sheamus with White Noise to Big E. Photo: WWE

The two trade punches, and Sheamus goes for White Noise, but instead Big E hits a uranage for 2. Big E reverses another Ten Beats of the Bodhran and looks for the Big Ending, but is instead slammed with White Noise, earning Sheamus a 2 count. On the outside of the ring, a fight breaks out between King Corbin and Matt Riddle. The melee distracts Sheamus, and Big E rolls him up from behind for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Big E

Match Rating: 3.5/5

Backstage, we see that Jeff Hardy has been injured. He was apparently attacked from behind, and his leg is jacked up. If it wasn’t AJ Styles, I’m sure he’s very pleased with the way things are turning out for him.

Lucha House Party (Dorado and Metalik) (w/ Kalisto) VS SmackDown Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships

Before the match, the tag champs attack their opponents backstage, surprising them from behind. The ThunderDome looks great with Shinsuke Nakamura’s graphics. Maybe it’s just because all we’ve had has been the Performance Centre for the last little while, but the size and style of the place is awesome. And while it does look a little weird, having fans on Zoom is pretty cool as well.

Nakamura enters with some objectively cool gear: a long, flowing, blue and red cloak. The champs start off strong against Gran Metalik, with some hard strikes by Nakamura and an elbow by Cesaro that gets a 1 count. Metalik fights back with a sickeningly spinny headscissors. He tries for a hurricanrana, but gets caught with a big powerbomb by the Swiss Cyborg for a 2 count. A hurricanrana puts you in a perfect position for a powerbomb, you think they’d learn to maybe not do it at this point.

Nakamura delivers his corner knee for 2 as The Miz and John Morrison take the time out of their busy days to make fun of every person in the match. Cesaro delivers a picture perfect slam and leg drop for 2, and the tag champs hit a double team kick on Metalik. Nakamura surprises Lince Dorado with a cheap shot, and then he tags in Cesaro who tries for a top rope maneuver, but Metalik catches him with a hurricanrana that works this time.

Both wrestlers tag in their partners, but it’s Dorado who gets the upper hand with a kick and a frog splash. He takes out Cesaro and hits his three moonsaults for 2. Dorado throws Cesaro out of the ring, and Metalik goes for a flying hurricanrana, but instead he just lands hard on his back on the outside. Of all the moves to botch, he botched the one with the worst consequences. Ouch.

Lince Dorado with his 3rd moonsault to Shinsuke Nakamura. Or is it his 2nd? Photo: WWE

Inside, Nakamura hits Dorado with his reverse exploder suplex, and he looks for the Kinshasa, but Dorado reverses into a roll-up for 2. He drops Nakamura with a springboard stunner, and reverses Cesaro’s attempts of a giant swing after he gets tagged in.

Dorado looks for a hurricanrana pinning combination, but Cesaro reverses it into his own pin for the win. After the match Dorado and Kalisto have a heated argument and end up shoving each other around. Don’t know why, not like Kalisto got in the way or anything, but it happened.

Winners via pinfall and still SmackDown Tag Team Champions: Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura

Match Rating: 4/5

We get to see how Jeff Hardy got injured: it was AJ, who kicked him in the leg during the RETRIBUTION attack. He calls Jeff’s career shameful, and says that it’s unfortunate that Jeff can’t compete tonight.

Backstage, Bayley says that she’ll be fine at SummerSlam. She says it won’t be like her match with Asuka this Monday on Raw, since she’ll actually have something important to fight for at SummerSlam. We see that that comment hurt Sasha’s feelings badly before Asuka comes backstage and takes them both out.

Backstage, we check in on Mandy Rose. They kinda loosely reference what happened to Sonya Deville this week, and Rose says she wants to put all their animosity behind them and be friends again.

Corey Graves interviews the Women’s Tag Champions. They are positive that they’re going to win at SummerSlam, but they have some cracks in their friendship. They aren’t sure about who’s going first. Naomi comes out and challenges both of them tonight, and they can’t agree then either. Corey Graves suggests a Beat the Clock challenge, and Naomi accepts and then kicks both champs out of the ring.

Naomi takes out both Bayley and Sasha Banks. Photo: WWE

Sasha Banks VS Naomi

It’s official. Whoever is booking this just doesn’t get it. The stipulation is that whoever beats Naomi in the shortest amount of time gets to face Asuka second at SummerSlam. They gave no indication that Naomi might win. Now I’m not one to use hashtags, but this time, truly and honestly, #NaomiDeservesBetter.

Banks starts out with some punches and a pin for 1, but Naomi takes control with a few creative pinning attempts, none of which get her the win. Naomi throws Banks out of the ring and jumps over the ropes to attack her. Banks fights back, stacking Naomi on the middle rope and hitting her double knees and getting a 2 count from the following pin. She gets frustrated and goes for a second pin, getting the same result.

Naomi hits Banks with her split-legged jawbreaker, and then delivers a flying crossbody. She stacks Banks on the top rope and hits her with a springboard kick for 2. Naomi sets up for her split-legged moonsault, but Banks rolls her up for 2. Banks locks in the Bank Statement in the middle of the ring, winning in 3:39. Bayley runs in immediately and beats down Noami, knowing what’s at stake in this match.

Winner via pinfall: Sasha Banks

Match Rating: 2.5/5

Bayley VS Naomi

Bayley doesn’t waste any time, dropping Naomi with a suplex for 2. She stomps down on Naomi, and hits a sliding clothesline for another 2. Naomi fights back, hitting a bulldog into the turnbuckle.

Bayley bursts out of the corner with a clothesline, but when she goes for a knee, Naomi dodges it and hits the Rear View for the win.

Guys. Naomi just beat a champ, after already having a match beforehand. Kinda sounds like the thing Asuka is going to try to do at SummerSlam. Sure she lost one, doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t logically get a title shot as soon as possible.  After the match, Asuka comes out and kicks the heck out of both champs, effectively warning the pair about what will happen at SummerSlam.

Winner via pinfall: Naomi

Match Rating: 2.5/5

Backstage, Jeff Hardy has received his leg brace. After dancing around a bit on it, he says he’s ready to go. With a fist bump from the doctor, he is cleared for action.

Backstage, Sonya Deville receives condolences from Dana Brooke for the events that transpired this week. She responds with a hard slap, calling Dana disrespectful. She says that it’s nothing she can’t handle. She comes out to address Mandy Rose, saying the match is gonna happen at SummerSlam no matter what. However, she proposes a change to the stipulation. She wants a No Disqualification match, and the loser leaves WWE. Because according to Deville, “Hair or no hair, I’m sick of looking at your face.”

That’s such a great line.

We get a recap of the Braun Strowman-Fiend feud so far. Backstage, Nikki Cross comments on how Alexa Bliss has been acting a little different. She says she has the feeling that something terrible is about to happen.

Jeff Hardy VS Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles for the Intercontinental Championship

AJ Styles wastes no time going after the knee, but Jeff Hardy fights back with what may be the first successful back body drop I’ve seen since the 80’s. Styles drives Hardy into the corner, and sweeps Hardy’s leg out from under him hard. He proceeds to stomp hard on Hardy’s leg, ripping the pants of Hardy to expose the brace. Styles tries to throw Hardy to the ropes, but Hardy just collapses.

Styles continues to smugly attack the knee, but Hardy hits his sit-out jawbreaker. He throws Styles to the apron, but Styles slips off the apron and falls to the floor hard as we go to commercial.

When we come back, Styles has Hardy in a painful leg lock. Hardy kicks Styles away, and delivers a mule kick. Hardy delivers his inverted atomic drop-leg drop combo, and then delivers a dropkick and a splash for 2. He slams Styles with a facebuster for another 2.

Hardy tries for the Twist of Fury, but Styles reverses it into a Pelé Kick and both men go down. They both get back to their feet, and Hardy goes for Whisper in the Wind, but his leg can’t take it and he falls off the ropes.

Styles looks for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Hardy catches him with a punch to the gut. Styles locks in the Calf Crusher, but Hardy crawls to the ropes. Styles is throwing everything he’s got at him, but Hardy is still fighting. Styles goes for the Styles Clash, but Hardy hits him in the face with his knee brace. Hardy delivers a Twist of Fate, and then the Swanton Bomb for the win.

A good match, and I’m happy to see Hardy with a belt, but it seemed a little unbelievable to me. I get that Hardy has guts, but the man couldn’t run at one point in the match. I did like the use of the leg brace though, it’s only fair.

Winner via pinfall and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Hardy

Match Rating: 4/5

Backstage, Styles is yelling at poor Joseph Parks. He’s absolutely furious that he lost his title. He’s red in the face yelling about how unfair it is. I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, that is what we call karma.

We take a trip to the Firefly Fun House, where Bray Wyatt takes us to the Firefly Theatre. We get a lovely show called Braun and Alexa, with Huskus playing Braun and Ramblin’ Rabbit playing Alexa Bliss. Bray doesn’t like how the show is going, and tells both actors to get lost.

He suggests we should all be more like The Fiend, built on rage. Suddenly, Bray smells something. He says “what took you so long” and Braun comes charging into the Funhouse, taking out Bray and dragging him away.

He continues to assault Bray backstage, tossing him off a ledge. WWE officials load Bray into an ambulance. It drives away a little, and then backs up. The doors open, revealing The Fiend, who ends the show with a sick laugh.



SmackDown August 21

Yet another great SmackDown! The mild annoyance I felt last episode at how crowded the show was has gone completely. This episode was a perfect balance of storyline progression and exciting action. And the ThunderDome looks great!