WWE Friday Night SmackDown continues. Jeff Hardy backstage talks up how he asked the WWE Universe to send him their good vibes and that has put him on a new path. He talks up how important the Intercontinental Champion is to him, the first singles title he ever won. Says if he could reclaim it, everything he’s been through would be worth it and nothing could be better than to defeat the bully that’s been trying to tear him down. Ask the universe and it provides.
We then have another ‘controversial’ message from the Forgotten Sons. They talk about how tough it’s been for them adjusting to life back home. If that makes people uncomfortable to hear than good. Because it’s their blood on your hands. And now, it’s time for your blood on theirs. I feel like this might be an occasion where WWE wants to tell a story that’s more mature than they’re actually willing to get. They’re gonna have to get a lot less vague if they actually want there to be some shock value or uncomfortable vibe to this gimmick. Backstage The Miz asks John Morrison why he put him into that match but Morrison talks him down saying now they’ve got a handicap Universal title match. Renee Young asks them if he thinks the two of them teaming together will make the difference. They say yes, Braun’s track record in handicap matches is terrible. They finish with the hey hey and force Renee to say ‘ho ho’.
We now have our main event – Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus in a big grudge match for a spot in the IC title tournament semi-finals. This got it’s own vignettes and seems like it’ll get a fair bit of time, trying to make as big a deal of this as they can.
WWE Intercontinental Championship First Round: Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus
Sheamus takes Jeff into the corner, ref forces the break. Hoists him up, drives him into the corner. Jeff ducks a clothesline, side headlock. Takeover, Sheamus keeps the hold on even as Jeff rolls over. Hardy fights to his feet, reverses into a headlock. Sheamus shoots him off, forearms to the face, stomps his head into the bottom rope. Whips him to the ropes, Jeff with a kick stopping a back body drop, hits the ropes but Sheamus catches him with a charging back elbow. Jeff rolls to the apron. Sheamus pulls him to his feet, mocking him until Jeff hits a hotshot, back body drop takes Sheamus to the outside, hits the ropes, big baseball slide nailed! Jeff rushes off the apron for a crossbody but Sheamus catches him and drives him hard into the ringpost! Hoists him up and tosses him onto the announce table! Hollers at Cole to tell people about that, says he spent four weeks putting that lump of crap over! “What about me?!” Commercial break.
As we come back, Sheamus is wringing Jeff’s neck with a side headlock. Jeff elbows his way out but gets taken down with a hair trip. Hits the ropes, knee drops commence. Jeff trying to fight out but Sheamus keeps cutting him off. Jeff ducks a Short Arm clothesline but the second attempt lays him off. Sheamus talking trash. Jeff throws hands, Reverse Enziguri. Back elbow off the charge, Jeff hits Whisper In The Wind but can’t cover in time, Sheamus kicks out at 1. Sheamus retakes the advantage, hits three consecutive Irish Curse backbreakers. Jeff has gotten incredibly little offense. Sheamus takes Jeff to the apron and clobbers him with Ten Beats of the Bowery. Sheamus dancing around, making a mockery of Jeff.
Wants a back suplex, Jeff escapes behind him, throwing rights until Sheamus takes him to the corner, Hardy sidesteps and Sheamus posts himself! Hardy with a clothesline, Inverted Atomic Drop, double leg into a Legal Low Blow, Basement Dropkick for a nearfall! Jeff tries a Twist of Fate but Sheamus escapes to the floor, posts him! Jeff scales the barrier, runs across it and flies at him for a clothesline! Takes him into the ring, scales the top rope and tries the Swanton but Sheamus with the knees up! Clooose nearfall off of that one! But then he just up and hits a Brogue Kick though it’s not called as one, might’ve been more of a pump knee but it sure looked like a kick, gets a nearfall regardless! Charges for the real Brogue, Hardy ducks it, Sunset Flip stacks him up and Hardy escapes with the win!
Winner: Jeff Hardy
Decent underdog victory caps off what was maybe WWE’s strongest weekly episode of Raw or SmackDown since the pandemic started.
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