SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 15, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton
-A video package hyped John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal for the first time tonight.
-The Singh Brothers introduced Jinder from the stage. As he walked out, they cut to the announcers at ringside who spoke about Mahal and how he has Shinsuke Nakamura on the agenda next Sunday, but Cena first. No talk about his loss to Randy Orton last week.
Jinder spoke from mid-ring, on a beautiful rug with some rope decorations, and said his people are celebrating Independence Day of the Greatest Nation on Earth, India. Boos from the crowd. He said they are celebrating the reign of the greatest WWE Champion of all time also. An Indian celebration dance performance took place on the stage with nine dancers and a live drummer. A woman sang. The fans rudely booed.
(Keller’s Analysis: This really makes American pro wrestling fans seem like jerks. They even cut to a kid around age 12 booing, looking hostile toward a cultural celebration that happened to not be part of the Western Europe immigrants of America over the centuries. This is embarrassing for WWE. I mean, there is nothing heelish about this. It justifies Jinder being a babyface in India, if nothing else.)
Jinder said this was exactly the reaction he expected. He said the people can expect him to beat their hero, John Cena, later tonight. He said for years, their hero Cena had the weight of the company on his shoulders, but there’s a new face of WWE. The crowd chanted “USA! USA!” He said he is the one who makes WWE the “Global Superstar” that it is. He corrected himself and said “Global Phenomenon.” He said people are paying for WWE Network to see him dominate at Summerslam. He said when Cena faced Nakamura, it was called a dream match, but he will end that dream tonight against Cena. He said he will show Nakamura why his destiny is to lose to the Modern Day Mahajra. He then spoke in Punjabi. How dare he!!
Shinsuke Nakamura then came out to his music. He said today in Japan people pray for peace. He said Sunday in America at Summerslam will be the day he loses the WWE Title. He made straining faces as a “Yes!” chant began. He then sang, “To meeeeeeeee!” He did arm gestures and his music played and he slid under the bottom rope to ringside. The Singh Brothers yelled down at him and he smiled back.
(Keller’s Analysis: Eh. It was okay, I guess. Jinder plays his cardboard foreign heel character pretty well, and Shinsuke does the peculiar oddity from Japan in a way that’s a mix of cool and disconcerting. It’s hard to really get back into this, though, after that thuggish xenophobic opening act.)
-JBL said tonight A.J. Styles will apologize to Shane McMahon. Saxton plugged Natalya vs. Becky Lynch as a split screen showed both of them. [c]
(1) BECKY LYNCH vs. NATALYA
They cut to cheering fans during Becky’s ring entrance. They were wearing Bullet Club t-shirts, not available at WWE Shop. Before the match began, Naomi made her full ring entrance. The announcers wondered how Natalya felt about it. She smiled at first, then got upset as it lasted longer. The announcers welcomed her to the announce desk. Natalya put Lynch in a headlock early and glared at Naomi at ringside. They cut to a break early, but showed the action on a split screen. Natalya choked Becky over the middle rope and yanked her by her hair back to center ring. Then she applied an abdominal stretch mid-ring. [c]
Saxton asked Naomi if she agrees with Natalya that she hasn’t achieved her potential yet. Naomi disagreed, but then agreed by saying people have only seen “the tip of the iceberg.” She objected to Natalya’s #glowstopper hashtag. Lynch fought back with some kicks and an exploder suplex. Becky went for a Dis-arm-her. Natalya countered into a sharpshooter attempt. Becky escaped and went for another armbar. Natalya rolled her up for a two count. Becky kicked Natalya. Becky went for a top rope legdrop, but Natalya moved and applied a sharpshooter to get the tapout win. She eyed Naomi as she applied the hold.
-Afterward, Natalya went after Becky again. Naomi said, “What the f…” and stopped herself there, then entered the ring for the save. Natalya let go and bailed out to ringside. Naomi went to check on Lynch. Suddenly Carmella’s music played and she came out with James Ellsworth. She stood in the aisle and addressed both Naomi and Natalya. She said she is Miss Money in the Bank. She wished them both luck and said from the bottom of her heart, may the best woman win. Ellsworth said whoever wins will also lose. He pointed at the MITB briefcase. The announcers explained what they meant.
(Keller’s Analysis: Paint by numbers formulaic stuff here. That’s not necessarily bad. In this case, it was just sort of there.)
-Saxton said tonight features “The Fashion Peaks” finale tonight. Phillips said “the most significant main event in Smackdown history” is later between Cena and Jinder to see who is the Face of the Company. It’s so important, they announced it today, not last week. Saxton hyped the Styles apology to Shane again.
-Backstage Tamina approached Lana angrily and asked why she doesn’t have a match tonight. She said she thought they came to an understanding that Lana would use her ravishing ambition to help her become champion. Lana said she’s not ready. Tamina objected and said Lana had back-to-back-to-back title opportunities. Lana told Tamina people just walk past her and don’t fear her. Tamina asked her what that meant. Lana said, “They don’t fear you… yet.” She told her to follow her lead, though. She said she’ll use her beauty and cunning and manipulate her way into helping her. She said she will become a destructive force with one purpose, which is to crush. “Together we will become unstoppable,” she said. She said only then will she become Smackdown Champion.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lana showed some of her old edge here. This seems likes it’s being made up as it goes along, but this gives their dynamic some direction for the first time. The downside is WWE is showing Lana basically plotting a secret strategy IN FRONT OF A CAMERA ON LIVE TV. Nobody says they’re going to manipulate people who can hear them say that. It’s so stoopid. Yes, with two-O’s.)
-Backstage they showed Daniel Bryan laughing at a text. This would have made for very boring TV if the Usos didn’t JUST HAPPEN TO WALK UP TO BRYAN AT THAT MOMENT to talk to him. Why can’t the camera show the Usos walking up to Bryan, because that makes sense for the director to choose to show on TV. Anyway… They said they wanted to talk to Bryan about something. He asked if they want him to be the third member of their “rap group.” So the Usos are a wrap group? He said he’s been working on his beats and hooks and they’re sick. The Usos said they want to know which New Day members they’re facing at Summerslam. Bryan said it’ll be Big E & Xavier Woods, with Kofi Kingston in the corner. Uso said they want Kofi & Woods tonight because of what happened last week. Bryan said he can hook them up with that.
(Keller’s Analysis: Bryan acted really dorky, and way way too into the heel Usos act just for the ha ha laughs. The Usos are supposed to be an edgy act that do things Bryan would object to. This segment, just to make Bryan look silly, undercut both the Usos and Bryan. Bush league. Shouldn’t Bryan’s character be more concerned about Ellsworth interfering on his first night back last week or Rusev jumping Orton from behind instead of joining the Usos “rap group.” This is just an awful episode so far.)
-Rusev’s ring entrance took place. They showed Rusev jumping Orton last week. [c]
(2) RUSEV vs. CHAD GABLE
Early on, Gable caught a charging Rusev with a boot and then overhead suplexed him. Rusev rolled to ringside. Phillips called it incredible. When Gable went after him, Rusev tossed him into the air and into the ringside steps. Then he rammed his head into the steps three times as the ref counted. He threw Gable into the air and over the announce table. The ref called for the bell.
WINNER: Double Countout in 2:00.
-Rusev (the Nashville Predator super-fan, country-music-loving heel foreign menace) cleared the announce desk of the monitors because he wanted to hurt Gable, but just not too badly. He then put Gable in the Accolade on the desk. The crowd chanted “Randy! Randy!” Rusev entered the ring and took the mic and began to address Randy when, out of nowhere, Randy hit the RKO. Orton posed on the corner ropes for the crowd as his music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Rusev carried himself with more of a heelish badass edge this week, but there’s so much he through social media and WWE through “Total Divas” have put out there that runs counter to this persona, it’s just hard not to see that when he is out there playing the role of the Bulgarian Brute. It’s be so much better even for the fans who think they don’t care because “it’s all a work and they know it” if there was some mystique to who Rusev is in “real life.”)
-They went to the announcers at ringside who plugged Summerslam and NXT Takeover on WWE Network and reiterated the 30 day free trial.
-They showed Styles backstage. [c]
-Phillips said the New York Post broke the news that Summerslam is coming back to Brooklyn next August in 2017 for the fourth year in a row. “Brooklyn has become the home for Summerslam,” said Phillips.
-Styles made his ring entrance. They replayed what happened with Styles and Shane McMahon last week. Styles soaked up an “A.J. Styles” chant. He said the first thing they need to do is get Shane out there. Shane’s music played and he danced to the ring in his signature sneakers, jeans, and sports jacket. He slapped hands with fans. He then ran backwards and danced inside the ring to his music as Styles looked on. Fans chanted “Shane-o-Mac.” Shane thanked them for the love and said “right back at you.” Shane told Styles if he invited him out there to apologize for something, there is no reason for an apology. He said he is special referee for one reason, which is to get between him and Kevin Owens, “take a hit, and keep on going.” Another Shane chant, this one loud.
Styles asked Shane “man to man, and between you and I and everyone else,” he wanted to know if he was going to use what happened last week as an excuse to screw him over at Summerslam. Shane said with most officials, you cannot touch them. He said if Styles pushes or shoves him, it’s a different story. He said they’re going to chalk up last week to an accident, but if Styles puts his hands on him again, he’s going to put his all over him. “Man to man,” said Shane. Styles asked if that’s a threat. He smiled, as if Shane amused him. Shane said he’s not threatening him. He said what he’s saying is that what’s going to happen this Sunday… at which point Shane had nothing else to say but the music that was supposed to play didn’t play. He adjusted his suit jacket and looked down and gulped nervously and looked like a fool for five awkward seconds.
(Keller’s Analysis: That might have been an accident. It might not have been. WWE has a history of doing this to people to test their ability to improvise, and political games can come from various power bases aimed at others. That said, Shane handled that terribly. The first thing theater students learn about reading their lines is to always have something beyond the memorized script to say that makes sense in the flow in case someone is late with their line. This was bush league that Shane wasn’t ready with something more and couldn’t think quicker on his feet.)
Owens walked out and said if Shane wants to give him the benefit of the doubt, that’s okay. He said he likes the idea that if Styles hit Shane, Shane hits him back. He said that means Styles can’t hit the ref to get DQ’d just to try to hold onto his title. Owens told Shane that unlike Styles, who seems like he has something planned at Summerslam, if he were to collide with him and cause him physical harm in any way, it would be a complete accident and involuntary. He said he’s telling the truth. He offered to shake his hand. He said he is thrilled the Shane is referee on Sunday because he is the man to call it right down the middle, which means “I am getting my United States title back.”
Shane said it would not be appropriate for him to shake his hand. Shane said if he wants to shake a hand, shake A.J.’s. Owens offered his hand with a smug smile. Styles pointed at Owens. Owens shoved his hand down, and knocked the mic out of Shane’s hand. Owens and Styles got into a heated argument. They shoved each other. Shane got between them. Owens shoved Shane against the ropes. Styles went to hit Owens. Owens ducked. Shane caught his arm before it hit him. Shane grabbed Styles’s wrist and lectured him with his finger pointed in his face. Owens went to super kick Styles, but Styles ducked and Owens kicked Shane. Owens looked like he blundered big time. Owens walked to the back as Styles laughed. Shane was slow to sit up and he nodded as he regained his bearings.
-The announcers speculated during replays whether Owens kicking Shane was really an accident. Shane’s music played and they showed him gingerly leaving the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment, minus the timing issue, in terms of setting the stage for how all three volatile personalties could play off of each other and react to various twists and turns and misunderstandings. The downside is that Styles was supposed to fear Shane retaliating. Shane is a 47 year old civilian who plays wrestler now and then. Styles is a full-time World Champion level wrestler WWE needs to be perceived as a star, not a guy who’s scared of the gray haired non-wrestler fantasy camp son-of-the-promoter stunt man.)
-The New Day danced to the ring. There’s a lot of dancing to the ring this week on Smackdown. They talked about their WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title defense. They made a Foxboro Stadium reference which got a nice pop. Then to prove how hip they are, they made some “Game of Thrones” reference. They said they will make the Usos bend that knee and still be the tag team champions. They led the crowd in “New Day Rocks” chants.
(3) THE USOS vs. KOFI KINGSTON & XAVIER WOODS (w/Big E)
Xavier and Kofi went to work early with rapid-fire offense. Phillips called this New Day’s “speed combination.” Summerslam features their “power pairing.” They took it to the Usos in the ring and then at ringside. The Usos took control during the break, which we could see on split-screen. It included an Uso throwing Kofi into the ringpost. [c]
Eventually the New Day rallied. Jimmy blocked a Trouble in Paradise. Jey shoved Xavier off the top rope second later. Jey distracted Kofi, so Jimmy clipped Kofi’s left knee. The Usos then double-superkicked Kofi for the win.
WINNERS: The Usos.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s no surprise that the member of New Day not in the Summerslam match was the one pinned here. Smart.) [c]
-They showed the announcers at ringside, who threw to “The Fashion Peaks” final episode. Phillips noted that Arn Anderson admitted he was responsible for all of the “atrocities” against Breezango.
-The Fashion Peaks: The bulletin board showed a picture of fake Razor Ramon and Diesel with “Dopplegangers” written under it. Then “Found” written under Fandango’s missing poster. Fandango talked about being probed and things getting weird and deep and uncomfortable. “I mean they mentally probed me,” he said. “I should have said that in the first place.” Tyler Breeze walked in with a white wig and red blouse. He said there are a lot of remaining mysteries even though they solved the case last week. He wouldn’t want people thinking they’re making this up as they go along. Fandango held up “a rock from space.” He said they left it in his back pocket. He said it’s also known as “a space rock.” He was going to throw it which he said would catch the culprits. It hit Ascension who walked into the room to return the pie, which was terrible, they. Fandango examined the pie and said it was disgusting. It had hair and a used Band-aid in it. He was most disgusted by gluten. Konnor said they live a gluten-free lifestyle and gluten is the root of all evil. They left. Fandango found a piece of paper that said “Two B.” Breeze wondered what that meant. They looked off into the distance and agreed it indicated danger on the horizon. Fandango said the whole tag team division is in danger. Breeze said, “Oh no, it’s happening again.” The screen then said: “Breezango Will Return… In 25 Years.” Then it changed to “In Two Weeks.”
-The announcers hyped Cena vs. Jinder. [c]
(4) JOHN CENA vs. JINDER MAHAL
Cena was greeted with a loud “Let’s Go Cena, Cena Sucks” chant. They locked up in a test of strength mid-ring. They had a bit of stalemate at first, and then Jinder dropped Cena to his knees. Phillips said Cena has “packed on 16 pounds of muscle since he returned to WWE.” Phillips said Jinder watched the rise of Cena during his first stint in WWE, “and my how the tables have turned.” With the ref scolding Jinder for a punch against the ropes, a Singh Brother punched Cena. That drew boos. Jinder threw Cena to the floor. The Singh Brothers trash-talked him as Jinder paraded around, yelling and raising his arms. [c]
Cena rallied after the break. He signaled for the You Can’t See Me and then went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. The Singh Brothers yanked Mahal to safety at ringside. The Singh Brothers held Cena’s leg as he tried to reenter the ring after he had tried to chase down Jinder. The ref saw that and ordered the Singh Brothers to return to the back. They threw a fit, but followed instructions. Jinder wasn’t happy. Cena locked on the STF. Jinder crawled to the bottom rope to force a break. The ref counted and Cena broke at four. Cena went for an AA, but Jinder grabbed the top rope. He snapped Cena’s neck over the top rope and then hit his high knee for a two count. Jinder stood behind Cena and waited for him to stand. Then he locked on his Khallas submission. Cena powered out and quickly hit an AA for a believable near fall. Cena then landed an AA off the top rope rope. Baron Corbin charged out and broke up the pin. The ref called for the bell.
WINNER: No contest? Jinder via DQ?
-Corbin then hit Cena with his MITB briefcase and began to leave. He then looked at the briefcase and thought it was good time to cash in. He ran back to the ring and cashed in. The ref explained to the dopes at ringside how this whole thing works. Then Corbin entered the ring. The ref checked on Jinder and informed him the match was about to begin. He took a while and held Corbin off until Jinder stood up. Since when is that a rule?
(5) JINDER MAHAL vs. BARON CORBIN – WWE World Title match
When the bell rang, Cena stood on the ring apron. Corbin turned and punching him. Jinder ran up behind Corbin and rolled him up a three count. Corbin’s shoulder was up at three.
WINNER: Jinder in in six seconds to retain the title.
-Corbin threw a fit as Jinder’s music played. The announcers said Corbin’s plan backfired. Cena gloated on the stage as Corbin continued to pace angrily at ringside. JBL said Corbin just joined the unfortunate company of those few people who have cashed in and not become champion. JBL said the referee did not have to give Jinder the time he did to stand up. I think he said they hadn’t seen that before, but Jinder’s music was loud. JBL said if Jinder was mad before, we’re about to see one hell of a fight at Summerslam.