KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JUNE 13, 2017
NEW ORLEANS, LA.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY WADE KELLER, PWTORCH EDITOR
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton.
-New Day came to the ring with a local jazz band, The Soul Rebels, who were as neon and colorful as New Day were. It was like they just won the WWE Title out of nowhere or something. They talked about Smackdown being in New Orleans, the site of WrestleMania next year. Xavier said when they win the tag team titles at Money in the Bank, they could return to their off off off off off Broadway version of “Straight Outta Compton” and arrive next year still reigning as the tag team champions. The Usos came out shortly into their talk.
They said they can’t be serious and they aren’t playing any games. They entered the ring and held up the tag team title belts and vowed after Money in the Bank they’ll still be tag team champions. They were interrupted by Breezango. The Colons came out next. After a few words denying they had anything to do with trashing Breezango’s office, Big E said they were about to insert their boots between their buns because New Day Rocks.
(Keller’s Analysis: The New Day entrance was cool, but the rest was pretty much fluff. Just a parade of soundbites that feels too “sports entertainment-ey” and not nearly spontaneous enough. Just formula. WWE is really overplaying the wrestlers talking in the ring being interrupted by other wrestlers walking out to the ring. I’d like to see WWE institute a one month embargo on wrestlers interrupting others in the ring just to see what they creatively come up with as an alternative.) [c]
(1) NEW DAY & BREEZANGO vs. THE USOS & THE COLONS
When did you think the first mention of “momentum” would occur? Phillips said at the start of the match that this was a chance for wrestlers involved to gain momentum going into Sunday. Some action before the break settled into the babyfaces isolating Primo. When chaos broke out, the babyfaces cleared the ring of the heels. As the heels regrouped, they cut to a commercial but showed the action in a split screen. [c]
Breeze took a sustained beatdown from the heels for several minutes. Breeze eventually hot-tagged in Kofi. Kofi hit Trouble in Paradise on Jimmy Uso and went for the pin, but Jey broke it up. Epico tagged in, but shortly thereafter, New Day finished him when Xavier landed a flying top rope knee onto Primo who was being held vulnerable in a backbreaker position mid-ring.
WINNERS: New Day & Breezango when Xavier pinned Primo.
-Phillips plugged Charlotte vs. Natalya. [c]
-A short John Cena video aired.
-A.J. Styles told Shinsuke Nakamura backstage that Sami Zayn tends to get a little excited about these things. Sami walked up to them and was rather calm and suggested they talk strategy. He began talking out loud and went down a winding road of thoughts and counter-thoughts. Shinsuke looked at Sami like he was being a freak. Sami offered a high-five, but Styles and Nakamura didn’t respond. Sami then asked if there’d be a celebration later. Sami said of course there will be and left. Shinsuke told Styles, “I like him.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m leery of how they’re portraying Shinsuke, and Sami continues to be portrayed as a flake. That said, it could lead to a long-term storyline of a developing relationship and dynamic between Styles and Nakamura that maybe could grow on me. We’ll see.)
-Dasha Fuentes interviewed Mojo Rawley backstage. He said a small part of him is glad he lost last week because he knows how he responds to adversity. He said the best of Mojo is yet to come. Zack Ryder walked up behind him and told him he has nothing to be ashamed of. Ryder said they have some unfinished business as a team. Mojo was happy and they shook and patted each other.
(Keller’s Analysis: The re-teaming of the Hype Bros. explains why they were willing to sacrifice Mojo last week to Jinder. I like Mojo addressing the loss this week and saying it’ll motivate him, compared to the alternative which is everyone just ignoring that happened.) [c]
(2) NAOMI vs. TAMINA
Lana came out and watched the match at ringside. JBL said she is scouting. JBL said Naomi has no footage to research how Lana wrestles as some sort of way of saying Lana, storyline-wise, should have a chance against her at MITB. Tamina settled into a chinlock a few minutes into the match. After some ambitious yet awkward exchanges, Tamina scored a near fall after a turning chokeslam. Tamina climbed to the top rope. Naomi yanked her to the mat and then moonsaulted her for the win.
-Lana attacked Naomi afterward and was booed. In her gown, she gave her a sitout powerbomb. She had trouble breaking free and standing up as her dress got tangled up under Naomi’s legs. She then took the WWE Smackdown Women’s Title belt and held it up. Phillips said this could be a shocking reality on Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: Naomi vs. Lana is going to be a match to pay close attention to on Sunday, but for all the wrong reasons. There’s a chance it’s as big of a mess as we’ve seen in a title match on a WWE PPV. But maybe they’ll surprise me. I haven’t seen evidence to make me confident of that, though.)
-They showed Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers walking backstage for their in-ring segment with Randy Orton. [c]
-Mahal and the Singh Brothers walked to the ring to Mahal’s entrance music. He snarled, but not as cartoonishly. He’s better when he has a more subtle, confident crazed look than being over-the-top with the snarl. He asked the fan to rise and show respect for their WWE Champion. A bunch of fans in the front row were standing. He said he will prove on Sunday that Orton is a coward who is afraid to let down his hometown and his family. He said even though he has mentioned Randy’s father by name, Randy has yet to come out and face him like a man. He said it is fear of him, the Modern Day Maharaja. He said Randy now hides in the weeks like a defanged garden snake. He said he will tear him down piece by piece until there is nothing left of the Orton name. He said the day of the Viper is finished and it’s a new era of the Modern Day Maharaja. He said he would speak to his people in his language of Punjabi. A “USA” chant broke out. Orton’s music finally interrupted after another minute of Punjabi promo time.
Mahal sent the Singh Brothers out to cut him off at ringside. Orton, though, hit the “RKO out of nowhere” on Jinder. The Singh Brothers ran to Jinder’s aid. Orton returned to the crowd from whence he came to soak up cheers and, yes, pose for selfies.
(Keller’s Analysis: I didn’t think was a particularly strong situation for Orton to just stand in the ring and take turns talking with Jinder in a “face-to-face,” so I liked this better. Also, since I highly doubt Orton wins on Sunday, it’s good for his character not to make promises he doesn’t keep. But it’s also better not to put him out there to half-heartedly talk about wanting the WWE Title back.)
-Backstage Baron Corbin told Kevin Owens he’s out of his mind if he thinks he’s going to listen to his ideas for strategy. Owens said he doesn’t like Corbin, and doesn’t like Dolph Ziggler either, but he dislikes Ziggler a little less. Owens suggested at MITB on Sunday to Corbin and Ziggler they work together to get rid of the other three and then battle it out. Corbin just walked away.
-Saxton plugged Charlotte vs. Natalya. [c]
(3) CHARLOTTE vs. NATALYA
Charlotte credits Natalya for being a valuable mentor to her, and with their history, this should be good match, especially with Charlotte improving over time. They showed Becky Lynch backstage watching on a monitor. They cut to an early break with Charlotte knocked out at ringside. They stayed with the match in a split screen during the break. [c]
Natalya continued on offense after throwing Charlotte into the ring and she settled into an abdominal stretch. When Charlotte fought free, Natalya dropped her with a discus clothesline. She then surfboarded Charlotte and went into the full inversion as they went back live. Charlotte looked right at the hard camera in pain at that moment. They cut to a wide shot and showed the MITB briefcase hanging above the ring. Natalya threw Charlotte head-first into the middle turnbuckle. Charlotte came back with several chops and a knee drop, which Natalya shifted slightly to get into “perfect position” for. She did it again on the next move to set up Charlotte’s moonsault off the top rope. Phillips said she got all of it, although it looked like she overshot it slightly. They cut to James Ellsworth and Carmella watching backstage at a really awkward angle. When Charlotte climbed to the second rope, Natalya got up and powerbomb her to the mat for a near fall. Charlotte then made a comeback by countering a sharpshooter attempt and quickly finished Natalya with a big boot and Natural Selection for a clean win shortly thereafter.
WINNER: Charlotte in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nothing special there, but it wasn’t really given a chance to develop into much. Even with the footage they aired during the commercial, it still didn’t feel like a full-fledged match.)
-The announcers on camera pitched MITB and a 30 day free trial of WWE Network. They added that Great Balls of Fire will be part of the 30 day trial, too.
-Suddenly the latest “Fashion Files” interrupted them. This was titled “Sweet Victory.” Fandango said in his thoughts which we could hear that he can’t wait to show his pecs off to his main man, Breezy. He went looking for Breezy. He found him attacked on the floor in the back. Fandango asked him to describe who attacked him. Breeze said, among other traits, they had one arm. Then he said, “No, two arms!” As Breeze described the culprits, Fandango sketched them. He revealed it was a picture of two stick figures. Breeze said, “That’s them!” They left together.
(Keller’s Analysis: I found that pretty funny, actually. Start to finish. And it didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s not that the material is especially great, but the deadpan of Fandango and earnestness of Breeze just clicks.) [c]
-Fuentes interviewed Lana backstage. She laughed about what she did to Naomi. She said she will shock the world when she crushes Naomi and becomes the first-ever ravishing Smackdown Women’s Champion.
-Main event ring entrance time. Owens walked out first with his U.S. Title belt first. Everyone else entered, with surprisingly (or maybe not) Nakamura coming out last – right after Styles. That almost seems like a slight against Styles since he’s more firmly established as a top act on Smackdown. It does show how they still feel about Nakamura, even if they haven’t figured out how to best feature him yet. [c]
(4) KEVIN OWENS & BARON CORBIN & DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. A.J. STYLES & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & SAMI ZAYN
The match was joined in progress with Dolph Ziggler working over Nakamura’s arm. Ziggler’s new shiny blue trunks say “Hollywood Heel.” Ziggler landed a sharp dropkick to Nakamura’s face, then tagged in Owens. Owens pelted Nakamura with some atypically weak looking stomps and a punch. He tagged Corbin in next. Corbin got mad at the ref for scolding him for not breaking until just before the five count. Ziggler then tagged in quickly and settled into a chinlock. Nakamura hot-tagged Styles into the match and he went to work rapid-fire against all three heels. He gave Ziggler a fireman’s carry neckbreaker, but when he went for the pin, Owens interfered. Sami tossed him out of the ring. Zayn then did a running flip dive onto Owens. Corbin and Sami battled and they cut to a break. [c]
(Keller’s Analysis: No inset footage during this break for some reason. It feels like something is being “taken away” when they don’t give you the split-screen during breaks now when a match is taking place.)
They aired the commercial for “Free Agent John Cena” returning to Smackdown on July 4 right before coming back to the match live. Ziggler had Sami in a side headlock. Owens tagged in. JBL said Owens really enjoys beating up Sami Zayn. He DDT’d Sami after stopping him from tagging out. Owens tagged in Corbin next. Corbin mouthed off to Styles and Nakamura, which gave Sami a few extra seconds to recover and mount a brief hope spot. Corbin, though, cut him off. Corbin threw Sami into his corner and Sami forearmed Ziggler off the ring apron. Corbin charged at Sami next, but ate a clothesline. Sami then pretended to try to tag out to Styles, and then ducked a charging Ziggler and a charging Owens. It looked better on paper than on TV, I think. When he finally lunged toward Styles and Nakamura, Owens and Ziggler yanked them to the floor. Sami, though, managed to his a Helluva Kick seconds later on Corbin to get the win.
WINNERS: Sami & Styles & Nakamura.
(Keller’s Analysis: Boy did Nakamura do almost nothing in that match. Sami was the right guy to win this match, though, just to give some sense of – yes – “momentum” for Sami going into Sunday.)
-Owens and Ziggler rammed a ladder into Sami after the match. Then the same to Styles. Ziggler was in the mood to celebrate, but Owens wasn’t. He pointed up and said it’d be all about him. Then the camera showed the briefcase, missing Corbin hitting both Owens and Sami with the ladder. They replayed it. How did the director miss that? Geesh. Nakamura then gave Corbin the Kinshasa Kick. Then he climbed the ladder a brabbed the briefcase.
(Keller’s Analysis: Does that mean Nakamura has already won the Money in the Bank? Is the match still on for Sunday? I wonder if Nakamura is confused?!? Seriously, though, I would say the way Vince McMahon books, you can write off Sami Zayn and Nakamura as MITB winners and put your money on Baron Corbin, since he took the pin and he also turned on his two heel partners before the match. That plays right into McMahon’s heavy-handed “reverse psychology” approach to booking where the opposite of where things seem to pointing is how things actually go at the PPV. This main event six-man tag match was just sort of there, but then went poof when it was gone. It was fine, but very much formulaic.)