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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
APRIL 25, 2017
DES MOINES, IOWA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton
-The camera panned the crowd as Phillips introduced the show.
-Renee Young stood mid-ring and introduced Shinsuke Nakamura. Phillips asked Saxton what the WWE Universe is in for as they get to know Nakamura. JBL said he’s known for his “strong style” and he touted his title runs in Japan. Nakamura danced his way to the ring and then bowed when he got center-ring and his music wound down. As Renee began to ask him a question, he was immediately interrupted by Dolph Ziggler’s music. Shinsuke exhaled in an exasperated way. JBL said it was a great interview.
Ziggler entered the ring. He said everyone wants him to “play interview,” so he’ll play. He asked who his influences are, who is he wearing, who has he looked up to. As Shinsuke began to answer, Ziggler interrupted and said since the crowd doesn’t know Japanese, he’ll translate. He claimed Shinsuke said Ziggler is his favorite wrestler who deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame while being an active wrestler. He said he stopped him there because the interview is about Shinsuke.
Ziggler asked him what’s going on his crazy mind and doing those “dope” and “wacky” dance moves. Shinsuke leaned away and refused to answer. Ziggler said he is understandably intimidated by being in the ring with his hero. Ziggler’s then tone got sinister. He said Shinsuke isn’t who people think he is. He said his real name is Michael and he grew up in Gary, Indiana as an underprivileged kid. He claimed his siblings are Tito and Janet and Latoya and Jermaine. “But somehow you proved to be the biggest weirdo in his family, and that’s hard to do,” he said. He continued the Michael Jackson line of talk, saying he built a ferris wheel in his back yard and has a monkey as a pet. He said somehow he dipped into obscurity and reemerged in Japan under the alias, Shinsuke Nakamura. He said it translates to Petty Pathetic Overrated Freak. JBL wondered “how much Shin’s going to take.”
Shinsuke took the mic and, while wearing a red mouthguard, said it’s his turn to ask questions. He asked Ziggler what his problem is. As Ziggler began to answer, Shinsuke pulled the mic away. He translated. He said some words in Japanese, and ended with “jackass.” Ziggler kicked him. Shinsuke went down on his knee, but then got up and delivered an overhead suplex. Before he could deliver the Kinshasa knee strike, Ziggler rolled out of the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I had concerns throughout. Now, the more I think about it, the more I think it was perhaps awful. The Michael Jackson thing was lame and drawn out. I’m a little worried about WWE putting Nakamura’s quirkiness out front before establishing his in-ring work. I’d have voted for him being portrayed as a badass in the ring who just happened to be incredibly quirky in terms of his mannerisms, and then draw attention to those later. I’d have framed Nakamura’s charisma as “that of a rock stars” who just captivates an audience, and compare him *in passing* to Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, and even Bono. By doing so much related to Michael Jackson here, it frames him as Honky Tonk Man is to Elvis – an impersonator. That’s not Nakamura. Not at all. There’s a large segment of Smackdown viewers who are seeing him as almost a comedy figure first doing schtick before they get introduced to his in-ring skills, which stand out on their own. All of this said, I think there’s a certain bullet-proof aspect to Nakamura in that even if Vince gets it wrong or goes too far focusing on the mannerisms and comparisons to Michael Jackson, fans will bond with Nakamura over what Nakamura ultimately does in the ring. But I’m more worried than I imagined I could be at this point.)
Reaction to Shisuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler segment on #SDLive:
— Pro Wrestling Torch (@PWTorch) April 26, 2017
-They showed A.J. Styles and Baron Corbin on a split screen and hyped that their match was up next. [c]
-Kevin Owens joined the announcers at ringside. Phillips talked about his match against Chris Jericho at Payback on Sunday, and if Jericho wins, Jericho will follow him to Smackdown. Owens said that won’t happen.
(1) A.J STYLES vs. BARON CORBIN
Owens said with on commentary, this match will be incredible experience. JBL expressed enthusiastic full agreement. Saxton asked how he is preparing for his match on Sunday. Owens called Saxton an idiot because he should know he’d never reveal that. “You have no idea how things work in that ring, do you?” he asked. Saxton said he seems a little on edge. A few minutes in, Corbin knocked Styles off the ring apron. And it’s a good thing, too, because they had to get in a commercial break. [c]
Back live, Corbin was in control with a chinlock. Styles slipped out of a superplex attempt by Corbin and then he Pelé kicked him. Owens said Saxton’s “stupid questions” are causing him to miss Michael Cole. “Do you know how terrible that is?” he asked. Styles threw some rapid-fire kicks. As Styles rallied, Owens got up and yelled at Styles. Styles kicked him. When he went for a Phenomenal Forearm, Corbin ducked and then set up a powerbomb. Styles, though, slipped out and gave him a sunset flip for a three count.
WINNER: Styles in 12:00.
-Owens jumped into the ring and beat on Styles immediately. Corbin joined in. Sami Zayn ran out for the save. Owens fled, but Corbin stayed in the ring and fought. Sami got the best of him. He knocked Owens off the ring apron. Sami gave Corbin a Helluva kick. Owens then attacked Sami. He also gave Styles, when he got up, a Pop-up Powerbomb. Owens called for his U.S. Title belt and held it in the air. He yelled, “It’s mine! Mine!!!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Basic good stuff, putting the structure of the match out there and letting the wrestlers wrestle and the personalities add color, not cutesy writing and pop culture references. Smart to have Styles win, too, despite the distraction by Owens. Having Styles win clean, but with a sunset flip instead of his finisher, is still to a certain degree “protecting” Corbin from seeming a level below him.)
-Dasha Fuentes (still not mentioned by name or captioned) interviewed Charlotte backstage. Charlotte said gold runs through her veins. Maybe so, but it’s certainly the color she selected for her spray tan session – all four times she apparently went through it today. She said she accomplished everything on Raw with four Women’s Title reigns, and now she needs a new kingdom to rule. She said she needs the Smackdown Women’s Title and tonight “the drive for five” will be completed. She said she will prove she is already the greatest female wrestler in WWE history.
-Phillips hyped American Alpha vs. The Colons in a Beat the Clock Challenge match.
-A WWE Make-a-Wish video aired.
(Keller’s Analysis: You had to expect these were going to show up after all the headlines about bullying and hazing in WWE over the years. WWE is going to push back against the bad p.r. hits they’ve taken the last month.) [c]
(2) AMERICAN ALPHA vs. PRIMO & EPICO COLON – Beat the Clock Tag Title Contendership match
The announcers explained the rules. Saxton helpfully noted the clock is counting up, not down. They talked about the strategy being employed by the Colons to slow down the match is typically good, but not for a match like this because the next match will include a countdown clock trying to end before the length of this match. In the end, Alpha won with Grand Amplitude. Jordan made a big production of pointing at the time on the big screen afterward. There has never been a bigger countdown clock in the history of civilization. It was Font Size 100,000.
WINNERS: Alpha at 5:17.
-They hyped Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan along with a Rusev promo. [c]
-A vignette hyped the arrival of New Day “Coming Soon” to Smackdown.
(Keller’s Analysis: Some time away from TV could freshen up New Day. With the Colons, for instance, getting a fresh gimmick, I hope New Day arrive with a fresh spin on their act, and ideally pulling back on how over-the-top they ended up in recent months.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside. A jovial JBL was amused by Saxton getting very excited about New Day’s Booty-O Buffet. You can just see JBL chewing on the words he has to keep in these days like a hungry goat feeding on garbage. Like Chandler in that “Friends” episode, he had so much he could have said to be snarky, but he is having to hold back on it all.
-A video aired of Rusev saying he doesn’t like Smackdown Live general manager Daniel Bryan or Smackdown Live commissioner Shane McMahon, and he doesn’t agree with “his father’s Shake-up.” He said the only way he will come wrestle at Smackdown is if they give him a championship match at Money in the Bank. “Otherwise, I will just pack my bags and go fight back home in Bulgaria.”
-Fuentes interviewed Becky Lynch backstage. She asked about Charlotte’s arrival on Smackdown. Becky said she and Charlotte have a complex relationship. She said she doesn’t approve of her methods, but she can appreciate that she’s getting results. Natalya, Tamina, Carmella, and James Ellsworth walked in. Natalya asked her where she stands on the Charlotte situation because she’s been a little wishy-washy in the past. Ellsworth said she’s with them or against them. Carmella, chomping on her gum, told her to choose wisely.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is all weird because Charlotte is a heel, but you feel sympathetic for her because these obnoxious other heels are ganging up on her. It’s pointing toward a babyface turn for Charlotte, especially with Becky not denouncing her but calling her relationship with her complicated and merely saying she doesn’t approve of her methods but appreciates her results.)
-Randy Orton came to the ring carrying the WWE World Title belt. Phillips plugged the House of Horrors match coming up on Sunday. The announcers speculated on what it will entail.
(3) RANDY ORTON vs. ERICK ROWAN – No DQ match
Orton methodically went after Rowan early including slamming his head on the announce desk a few times. Saxton said he’s taking advantage of the no DQ stipulation. Yeah, because the ref normally would DQ a wrestler for that. Orton suplexed Rowan onto the table. JBL said it was 15 years ago today that Orton debuted on Smackdown. JBL said he has met or exceeded all lofty expectations. Rowan brushed all of that off and reversed Orton into the ringside steps. In the ring, he landed a corner splash and a running dropkick leading to a two count. Rowan rolled to the floor and came out with a kendo stick. Orton blocked an attempted suplex onto a table at ringside. Orton used a kendo stick to knocked Rowan off the edge of the ring and onto and through the table at ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Rowan was on offense against Orton, shoving his boot onto his throat in the corner. Back at ringside, Rowan threw Orton’s head into the announce table. JBL wondered if Bray had a talk with Rowan before the match because he was thoroughly impressed. Orton made a comeback at that moment, catching Rowan entering the ring and delivering a DDT off the middle rope. Then he pounded the mat and went for an RKO. Rowan blocked it and shoved him off and the hit him with the kendo stick again. At ringside, Rowan lifted the ringside steps and charged at Orton. Rowan threw Orton into the ring, then grabbed a metal folding chair. He wedged it in the corner. Phillips said the way this is going, Orton might even make it to the House of Horrors match. Rowan charged at Orton, but Orton side-stepped him and threw him into the chair. Then he delivered the RKO Out of Nowhere for the win.
WINNER: Orton in 13:00.
-Afterward, Orton said he doesn’t understand what a House of Horrors match is, but on Sunday he’s going to find out. He said yesterday on Raw, Bray Wyatt said this match would be his purgatory. He said for Bray, it will be his eternal hell. He dropped the mic and held up his title belt. Suddenly Jinder Mahal’s music played. Mahal walked onto the stage. He told Orton her shouldn’t dare to overlook him and disrespect him. He said he is his true horror and he will take his WWE Title. He said he has more wealth, talent, class, and culture than anybody in the arena.
(Keller’s Analysis: If only he stopped right there, it would have been good. But instead, they couldn’t help themselves, and they had to have him bring up his ethnicity again. It’s totally unnecessary and trite and counter-productive, because it paints him as sympathetic and it’s just a bad pro wrestling cliche to go there. Here we go…)
So Jinder then entered the ring and accused Randy of disrespecting him because he looks different, because of his arrogance, and because of his lack of tolerance. He said at Backlash he will take back his respect. He said he’d take “the glory of the World WWE Championship back to me and my people.” He addressed his people in his language of Punjabi. When he took a swing at Orton, Orton blocked it and then punched him. The Bollywood Boys ran in and attacked Orton before he could DDT Mahal off the middle rope. Mahal gave Orton his cobra slam.
(Keller’s Analysis: If Jinder’s push stops next week, it’ll be because he said World WWE Championship! I bet Triple H has a snarky comment for him, at the very least. He’ll call him ErJind Mahal for the next two months or something.)
-The announcers hyped the Beat the Clock tag match and Women’s Title match coming up.
-A Lana vignette aired with her dancing on and around a chair seductively. [c]
-They replayed The Bollywood Boys, also called the Singh Brothers, helping Jinder attack Orton before the break. Then they cut to Jinder standing up through a moon roof in a giant white stretch limo holding up the WWE Title belt while yelling in celebration of his theft.
(4) THE ASCENSION vs. BREEZANGO – Beat the Clock Tag Team Contendership match
They had the countdown clock on the screen. Ascension quickly went on the attack, but a couple minutes in, Breeze hit a Supermodel Kick and then Fandango finished Konnor with a falcon arrow for the win. Super-cheerful-super-booster (NOT bully, not anymore!!) JBL said fuzzy selfie sticks aside, this is a hell of a tag team.
WINNERS: Breezango with 2:36 left in the Beat the Clock Challenge to become no. 1 contenders. [c]
-They announced that Talking Smack would feature Renee Young and JBL hosting with Sami, Becky, and Breezango.
-A promo aired with Neville promoting his 205 Live match against T.J. Perkins and then hit title defense at Payback.
-They went to the announcers who discussed Payback.
-A Bray vignette aired. Same as the one that aired on Raw.
-Renee interviewed Naomi backstage. Naomi said Charlotte has been a standout wrestler since she arrived. She didn’t like how she has been bragging about her win last week. She said you have to be champion to be the best. She said Charlotte is Chuck Foreman and she, Naomi, is Muhammad Ali. She said she’ll prove why she is the Smackdown Women’s Champion. She said Charlotte is about to feel the glow.
-Naomi’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-Naomi’s ring entrance concluded after the break. Then Charlotte’s ring entrance took place.
(5) NAOMI vs. CHARLOTTE – WWE Smackdown Women’s Title match
Phillips and JBL agreed that Charlotte was the top acquisition in the Superstar Shake-up. Charlotte took control at ringside a minute into the match and then yanked Naomi off the ring apron onto the mat. As Charlotte celebrated, they cut to a break. [c]
Charlotte remained on offense after the break. Naomi came back with a kick to Charlotte’s head for a two count. A minute later Charlotte went for a top rope moonsault, but Naomi lifted her knees. Suddenly Carmella and Tamina attacked Charlotte, while Natalya yanked Naomi out of the ring. Charlotte gave Natalya a boot to the face. The three heels swarmed Charlotte. Naomi made the save. JBL said they could have been jealous and sat back or done something about it and they chose to do something about it. A “We Want Becky” chant broke out. Natalya, Tamina, Carmella, and Ellsworth stood center ring proudly as Natalya’s music played.
WINNER: No contest in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A Charlotte babyface turn, if that’s what’s happening here – and it sure looks like it – could end up being too soon, but more so because it feels like there’s more she could have done as a heel than she’ll necessarily be a lousy babyface. This could give Natalya a chance, though, to be a main event program for the Women’s Title, and those two have worked well together before.)
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