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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
APRIL 11, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton
-They opened to a shot of the cheering crowd as Phillips said tonight would continue what got started last night, as wrestlers who were moved to Smackdown would begin to be revealed.
-Kevin Owens walked out to his entrance theme. They cut to the announcers where Saxton joined Phillips and JBL since Saxton was traded from Raw for David Otunga. JBL was all smiles and shook his hand.
-Owens stood mid-ring with a fresh beard trim and haircut wearing a suit. He sternly said, “Welcome to the brand new Kevin Owens Show.” He had the U.S. Title on his shoulder. He said Smackdown Live just got a huge upgrade “because I’m here now.” He said it may seem odd to some people in the audience that he is the United States Champion when he is from Montreal, Quebec. He said Canada is much better than the United States. He said it’s well known that Canadians are better athletes than Americans. There were some “USA” chants. Owens said the Montreal Canadiens beat their Boston Bruins all the time. He asked if they’re mad about the truth. He spoke French, his native language. He called the fans morons for only speaking one language. He said if anyone has a problem with what he’s saying, get in the ring and say so. He said he can beat the hell out of anyone in that locker room. He said that’s exactly what he’s going to do. He said he’s not there for any of the fans or any wrestlers in the back; he said he’s there for himself only.
Of all people to respond, out walked Baron Corbin. Philips said he’s “a mainstay of Smackdown Live.” Corbin said he’s sure Owens can beat up everyone in the arena and most of the locker room, but not him. He said last week, he beat Dean Ambrose so badly that he “went and hid on Raw.” He laughed and said last night Dean beat him so bad, he tucked his tail and ran to Smackdown. He said the math is simple – Owens won’t be much of a problem for him. He said since he’s owed a championship match, and since Owens is the only one out there with a title, he has to beat him and take it. Owens said he has some bad news because no matter who he beat, he doesn’t deserve an opportunity at his title.
Sami Zayn’s music played. JBL, a self-proclaimed heel (to justify his berating of Mauro Ranallo), declared excitedly, “It gets better and better!” Owens said, “No, no, no, no, you can’t be here. This can’t be real. You cannot be here!” Owens looked distressed. Sami entered the ring and said he is finally on Smackdown Live! Corbin said nobody cares that he’s there.
A.J. Styles music played. Styles walked out. JBL was thankful Styles didn’t go to Raw. “How great is Smackdown Live?” he asked. Styles extended his arms and soaked up some cheers and an “A.J. Styles!” chant. Styles said this is not the Kevin Owens Show, this is Smackdown Live. He said it’s not about the Underdog from the Underground or the Lone Wolf. He said, “This is about me.” He said this is about the house that A.J. Styles built. “And I am still here!” he declared.
Daniel Bryan’s music played and the “Yes!” chants began as Bryan walked onto the stage. Bryan said Owens will still defend his U.S. Title at Payback against Chris Jericho, and whoever wins that match will officially become a member of Smackdown Live. He said that means the title won’t be defended “on the blue side” until after Payback. He said the good news is, one of those three will face either Owens or Jericho for the U.S. Title because tonight they are going to have a no. 1 contendership triple threat match. He announced Corbin vs. Sami vs. Styles.
(Keller’s Analysis: Fans are supposed to get excited about an apparent demotion of Styles to the U.S. Title picture? Or that Sami and Owens might keep fighting whenever Smackdown has 15-20 minutes to fill? Not that Miz and Dean Ambrose going to Raw was a bigger deal than Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn showing up here, but it wasn’t an especially electric start for Smackdown, hurt in part by Corbin pointing out that Owens lost last night on Raw to the guy Smackdown lost. There’s still a lack of explanation to the audience how this all worked. The announcers should be making it clear that everyone who shows up on Smackdown was essentially traded for someone else in secret negotiations. They also should have officially addressed the departures of Dean and Miz & Maryse and not just assumed the audience had knowledge of it all. It just makes everything feel more official and formal and organized.)
-The announcers hyped that Shane McMahon would address the Smackdown audience.
-They showed Randy Orton backstage with his WWE Title belt. [c]
-WWE Fact: Dolph Ziggler was inducted into the Kent State University Hall of Fame in 2016.
(1) ERICK ROWAN vs. RANDY ORTON
The announcers talked about the House of Horrors match and wondered what it entailed. Well, WWE is apparently taking “fan input” first with their various surveys sent out to their Fan Council this week asking what potential aspects of a House of Horrors match would entertain them the most. Orton took it to Rowan at ringside, then set up a DDT off the middle rope. After hitting the move, Bray appeared on the big screen and interrupted the match. He asked Orton if he can smell the stench of fear. He said their paths will cross again because he can feel it. He said he knows it all. He said he is everywhere and everything. He then did his laughing. When the lights came back on, he went back after Rowan at ringside. Rowan hit him with the ringside steps. The ref DQ’d him immediately.
WINNER: Orton via DQ in 5:00.
-Saxton hyped a “special look” at Styles, Sami, and Corbin later. Phillips announced a WWE Tag Team Title match up next. [c]
(2) THE USOS vs. AMERICAN ALPHA – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles
JBL said these are the two best tag teams in the world in a loaded Smackdown Tag Team Division that he believes is the best in years. “It does not get any better than this,” he said. Jason Jordan opened against Jey Uso. Jordan slammed Jey hard to the mat in the opening seconds and scored a one count. Chad Gable tagged in and he suplexed Jey and bridged for a two count. Jimmy tagged in seconds later and took it to Gable. Jordan blind-tagged in and intercepted a Jimmy slam of Gable. They tossed Jimmy over the top rope. The Usos regrouped at ringside as they cut to a break. [c]
There was a crowd chant after the break. Apparently it was “Brad… shaw sucks!” I don’t think the average viewer would have picked up on that. During the commercial, correspondents in the arena were chanting “Fire Bradshaw” and “We Want Mauro.” The Usos isolated Jordan and beat on him. Jordan avoided a corner splash by Jey and then fended off Jimmy grabbing his leg. He hot-tagged Gable. Gable suplexed Jimmy twice, and then exploder suplexed a charging Jey when he ran into the ring. He then landed a moonsault for a near fall. Gable applied a hanging armbar, but Jimmy broke it up. Jimmy then went for a splash on Gable, who was kind enough to shift into perfect position. He then lifted his knees, though, and hot-tagged Jordan. Gable gave Jimmy a top rope bulldog off of Jey’s shoulders. The Usos knocked Gable and Jordan out of the ring. When the Usos stereo dove at Alpha at ringside, Alpha caught them and gave them overhead suplexes. Chaos broke out inside the ring, during which Jey blind-tagged in and superkicked Chad Gable. Then a top rope splash later, the Usos scored the victory. JBL said it’s clear now who the best in the world are. Saxton said Alpha have nothing to be ashamed of.
WINNERS: The Usos in 10:00 to retain the tag titles.
-Primo & Epico attacked American Alpha after the match. JBL said the tag team division just got more competitive.
(Keller’s Analysis: A really good TV match, as you’d expect from these two teams, but with about 35 percent cut out with a commercial in a match clocking in around ten minutes total, it felt a bit rushed. Trying to pass off Primo & Epico as some sort of pertinent acquisition makes Smackdown seem second-rate. And Alpha apparently feuding with them now really moved them down the totem pole.)
-Phillips hyped the Shane McMahon announcement later regarding the Women’s Division. He said he’s been negotiating all week to bring new Superstars to Smackdown. Saxton hyped Mojo Rawley vs. Jinder Mahal.
-They showed the exterior of TD Garden.
(3) MOJO RAWLEY vs. JINDER MAHAL
Before the match they showed the WrestleMania incident with Mahal and Rob Gronkowski. A couple minutes into the match, Mahal noticed Gronkowski at ringside. He walked over to him. Gronk had some words for him. Mojo came up to him and punched him. Gronk then threw a drink in Mahal’s face. Back in the ring Mojo splashed him in the corner and scored the pin. Mojo celebrated with Gronk in the crowd. Self-proclaimed heel JBL was having tremendous time, applauding and laughing as Mojo put on JBL’s cowboy hat. JBL said someone can wake up Mahal in a few weeks and tell him they’re glad to have him on Smackdown Live.
WINNER: Mojo in 3:00. [c]
-Shane McMahon came out and thanked the departed Smackdown Live Superstars who have moved on to Raw for showing the world what he and Daniel Bryan have said from Day One – which is Smackdown Live is the land of opportunity. He said they have seized an opportunity to take the Smackdown Women’s Division to a new level. He invited the entire Smackdown Women’s Division to the ring.
Naomi, Carmella (w/James Ellsworth), Becky Lynch, and Natalya walked out to the ring. Ellsworth yanked the mic away from Shane after he congratulated Naomi for her title victory at WM33 and then claimed the only reason people tune into Smackdown each week is to see him and Carmella. Naomi fired back with some insults, then asked Shane to please tell them who will be joining Smackdown Live. Shane then led viewers to think it was Charlotte. He said she is a second generation star whose father is one of the all-time greats and a WWE Hall of Famer. Then he introduced Tamina. JBL said that’s not exactly who he was expecting, but she’ll be a big addition to the roster. Saxton said she’s one of the harder hitting, tough women in WWE. Phillips said she’ll have a big impact on the division.
The crowd chanted “We Want Sasha.” Shane said the crowd was expecting someone else. He said he is proud to say this may be the biggest acquisition of the Superstar Shake-up – Charlotte. Fresh off her loss on Raw, Charlotte strutted out onto the stage in a green peacock style robe. [c]
-The announcers then revealed additional Smackdown acquisitions: Sin Cara and Rusev.
-Aiden English said he stood in the ring bereft of any company, but now the spotlight shines solely on him. He began to sing opera style.
(4) “PERFECT 10” TYE DILLINGER vs. AIDEN ENGLISH
Tye taunted English by flashing “10” fingers at him. Tye finished him off with the Tye Breaker.
WINNER: Dillinger in 4:00.
-Phillips threw to a video feature on A.J. Styles. [c]
-A vignette aired hyping Lana’s arrival. She did a dance on a chair in a red dress and blew a kiss. That was strange.
-Dolph Ziggler stood in the ring and said with the Superstar Shake-up, you’re going to get some shiny new toys, but each week it’ll be less exciting and after a few more weeks it’ll be “just sad” and what they’ll be left with is him doing what he does better than anyone else in this business. He was interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura’s music. He entered the ring. “You want to know who I am? I am Shinsuke Nakamura.” The crowd chanted “Nakamura.” Ziggler tried to sneak a superkick at Nakamura, but Nakamura blocked his leg and shoved him down. He then told Ziggler to stand up, as only Nakamura can. Ziggler was seething, but instead slid out of the ring to boos. Nakamura bowed sarcastically to him and then danced in the ring to his music. Phillips said Ziggler doesn’t know what to make of Shinsuke. JBL asked, “Who does?”
-They went to the announcers at ringside who talked about the main event. Then they threw to the video feature on Baron Corbin. Corbin says, “This wasn’t my dream. This is just what I do. I just don’t give a damn.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous line saying that this wasn’t his dream. It’s so sappy and overdone having so many wrestlers just act awe-struck by being a “WWE Superstar” and what an honor it is to work for WWE that it’s refreshing to have a heel counter that by approaching this like it’s a way to make money and beat people up, not fulfill some childhood dream. It really distinguishes him as a heel who isn’t buying into the whole “living the dream” cliché that WWE overplays.) [c]
-They went to the announcers at ringside. JBL said perhaps the greatest Women’s Division got better. Saxton said he likes it here. Phillips said more Superstars will be debuting soon on Smackdown. They revealed The New Day are headed to Smackdown, also. Saxton was elated. JBL chuckled and said Saxton is having a conniption. Phillips then threw to a Sami Zayn video feature. Sami said what drives him is doing something bigger than himself. He said a big part of his success is people taking him lightly. He said it’s all part of his dream.
-Ring introductions took place for the three main eventers – Zayn, Corbin, and Styles. [c]
-A soundbite aired with T.J. Perkins. He said everyone has been sleeping on him lately except Neville, and now he’s dropping “that loser-weight Austin Aries” and he’ll climb back to where he belongs at the expense of the “rejected circus freak” Jack Gallagher.
(5) SAMI ZAYN vs. BARON CORBIN vs. A.J. STYLES
They teased doing a three-way lock up. Sami and Styles ended up double-teaming Corbin. Corbin ended up suplexing them both at once. Corbin clotheslined Styles over the top rope. Sami and Styles clotheslined Corbin over the top rope a minute later. Styles then turned to Sami. They eyed each other and circled each other, realizing it was time to fight each other. Sami applied a headlock. Styles escaped, but Sami dropkicked him to ringside. Sami then set up a running dive, but Corbin yanked him out of the ring by his leg. Styles charged after Corbin, who punched Styles. Sami then flip dove onto both Corbin and Styles at ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
Corbin got a stretch of offense after the break. Styles was making Corbin look great, selling a big boot like he was shot. Styles fought back, but Corbin dropped him with a clothesline. Sami then charged at Corbin and dropped him hard with a clothesline. Styles charged at Sami, but Sami backdropped Styles to the floor. Sami then caught Corbin and gave him an exploder into the corner. He set up a Helluva kick, but Styles intercepted him and gave him Ushigoroshi. Corbin nailed Styles with a hard lariat. Styles gave Corbin a knee as Corbin was running around ringside. Back in the ring, Sami hit the Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall.
With Corbin out of the mix, Sami set up a superplex on Styles. Corbin re-entered the ring and put Sami on his shoulders. When Styles flew at Sami, Sami rolled up Corbin instead so Styles overshot them and hit the mat hard. Corbin kicked out at two. Corbin gave Sami a Deep Six a minute later, and Styles broke up the pin attempt. Styles avoided a charging Corbin, so Corbin went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Then he took Corbin down with a leaping roundhouse kick to the head. He landed a springboard 450 splash, but Sami broke up the pin. “This is awesome!” rang out from the crowd. Styles and Sami battled mid-ring. Styles gave Sami a Pelé kick. He set up a Styles Clash, but Sami backdropped out of it. Sami gave Corbin a running Heluva kick as he reentered the ring. Styles then caught Sami with a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
WINNERS: Styles. in 18:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. Styles made Corbin look better than he’s ever looked before. I’m still not sure about Styles being the U.S. Title mix instead of going after the WWE Title. It feels like a downgrade for him. But Orton is tied up for now with Bray Wyatt. Some good wrestling on this show with the tag match earlier and this especially. I guess getting a handshake and endorsement from Shane last week made A.J. Styles officially a babyface and counts as his “turn.” However they got there, they’ve landed in the right place with A.J. Now it’s Roman’s turn.)
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UP NEXT – PWTorch Livecast Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET (04-11-17): Smackdown Post-Show w/Wade Keller
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 4/4: WrestleMania 33 fallout including celebration interview with Orton, rematches, Miz & Maryse, and some NXT call-ups!
I don’t get what the big deal is about Baron Corbin. Sure, he’s tall, and he has a legit background they choose to ignore (Hands of Stone, anyone?). But, he’s got a “physique” they’ve had to cover with a shirt, that greasy mop balding dude do, and he’s average at best in the ring and decidedly below average as a promo. Plus, is there anything more weak than a guy his size begging the refs to count faster? Who came up with that idea? We don’t see Strowman doing that. The last two winners of the Andre Battle Royal are looking more and more like Mabel winning King of the Ring. They themselves said at a later date, “what were we thinking?”