WWE SmackDown Fallout: Dubious Jeff Hardy Storyline, Daniel Bryan Shines, More
Following a tough week, many WWE fans were hoping Friday's episode of SmackDown would provide an escape, but at least one segment did not sit right with a lot of people.
The show opened by showing Elias having been hit by a car. The police quickly found out the car belonged to Jeff Hardy before locating him nearby in what appeared to be an inebriated state.
Hardy and Elias were taken out of the intercontinental title tournament. AJ Styles chose to take the free pass to the final round, while Daniel Bryan wanted to earn his shot. Sheamus won a Battle Royal for the right to face Bryan later in the show.
We also saw Bayley once again offer up Sasha Banks for a match, and Matt Riddle was officially moved to the SmackDown roster after an introduction from Hall of Famer Kurt Angle.
Let's look at the biggest moments from SmackDown and how they will affect the future.
Jeff Hardy Storyline Proves Controversial
Hardy has been open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol for years. WWE even made a documentary chronicling his recovery, which was shown over the span of a few weeks on SmackDown.
When Friday's show opened with a chaotic scene outside the Performance Center, it quickly became clear WWE was setting it up to look like Hardy had relapsed. He later returned to the show and attacked Sheamus, which indicates The Celtic Warrior is likely responsible for framing The Charismatic Enigma.
While the segment was taking place, a lot of people took to social media to voice their displeasure at WWE for having Hardy participate in a storyline that made it appear as if he were drunk.
Pro Wrestling Sheet founder and WWE Backstage contributor Ryan Satin had this to say on Twitter: "I can't even begin to explain how much I hate WWE making an angle out of someone's real-life addictions. Maybe I should reserve judgment until the angle plays out, but this is in such poor taste."
This is not the first time Hardy's history with drugs and alcohol has been used in a storyline in WWE. It was a constant topic of discussion during his feud with the straight-edge CM Punk.
The former WWE champion likely signed off on the angle or would have expressed discomfort about using that part of his life in a storyline, but the segment still fell flat for many watching at home.
Hardy's future appears to include more matches against Sheamus, so we could see them lock horns again at Backlash on June 14.
The Final of the IC Title Tournament Decided
The segment with Hardy and Elias at the top of the show meant they were unable to compete in the intercontinental title tournament.
Styles was stoked to find out he would be able to skip the semifinals and head right to the title match at Backlash, but Bryan wanted to earn his spot.
Adam Pearce decided to book a Battle Royal to see who would face Bryan later in the show. Sheamus won the Battle Royal but lost to Bryan thanks to a distraction from Hardy.
This means the IC title tournament will end with Styles vs. Bryan unless WWE changes course and decides to have Styles earn his spot with another match in the next two weeks.
Bryan and Styles have fought before, and they have always had incredible chemistry. They should be able to put on another classic when they clash for the belt.
Bayley Continues to Volunteer Sasha Banks for Matches
Bayley and Sasha Banks are as close as friends can be in WWE, but the SmackDown women's champion has been putting The Boss in harm's way recently.
Not only has Banks had people like Tamina cause her to doubt her alliance at times, but Bayley has also volunteered her for a few matches recently without consulting with her first.
Friday saw The Boss take on Alexa Bliss while Bayley and Nikki Cross sat with the commentary team. Banks scored the win, but she was visibly upset after the match was made.
WWE has been planting the seeds for a breakup for several weeks. Banks and Bayley have gone from friends to enemies a few times over the years, but this will be the first time the former Hugger will be the heel in the storyline.
WWE may turn Banks babyface, but it wouldn't be surprising to see her used as a heel down the line despite turning on Bayley. The Boss has always worked best as an antagonist.
Matt Riddle to SmackDown
Kurt Angle appeared on Friday's show to give a special announcement. After refereeing his cage match with Timothy Thatcher on Wednesday, the former Olympian introduced Matt Riddle to the SmackDown audience.
The former MMA fighter had a brutal and bloody contest against Thatcher on NXT, putting over Thatcher on his way out of NXT and paving the way for him to debut on the blue brand.
The Bro is a popular act for the black and gold brand, but he also has a history of making comments about Superstars like Goldberg that could land him in hot water.
Regardless, Riddle is a great addition to the SmackDown roster as he brings a skill set few Superstars can replicate. His carefree personality will earn him fans and enemies quickly, so it shouldn't be long before we see Riddle mixing it up with stars like Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro.
It should also be noted that putting him on SmackDown will keep him away from Brock Lesnar, but that is a match WWE would be foolish not to try to book if the two can work together.