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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
SEPTEMBER 5, 2017
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with scenes from last week’s main event of Randy Orton giving Shinsuke Nakamura an RKO as they were celebrating their tag team win. The narrator said two of the biggest Superstars in WWE collide, winner going on to face Jinder Mahal at Hell in a Cell.
-They went to Phillips and Saxton as the camera panned the crowd. The pan was from the floor aimed up at the lower bowl with a dark upper deck, so likely a small crowd. They didn’t put the graphic on the screen saying the city they were in nor did Phillips mention it. Phillips said JBL has stepped down from the Smackdown broadcast team to participate in more charity work. The camera panned left and showed Graves was joining them now, “expanding his duties,” said Phillips. They hyped the main event.
-They cut backstage to Randy Orton who held a pose awkwardly for five seconds, then began speaking at the camera. He said he taught Nakamura a lesson last week that if you are distracted for even one second, you will go down. He said he also showed him that he won’t let anyone stand in his way as he takes the WWE Title back from Jinder Mahal.
-They cut to Nakamura warming up backstage. He then began talking to the camera. He said Orton knows how to inflict pain out of nowhere, but he is chasing his destiny. He said he respects the legend of Orton, but the pain he inflicts will be felt everywhere. He then struck a post.
(Keller’s Analysis: They tried a new technique there and I’m not a fan. It just felt so inorganic and staged, especially Orton standing there frozen staring at the camera waiting for his cue to then speak memorized lines. I prefer interviewers asking questions for a formal interview.)
-In the ring stood James Ellsworth and Carmella. Ellsworth began to introduce Carmella when Kevin Owens’s music played. He marched out to the ring and said he has been assigned special referee duties for this match. Owens told the ref to take off his shirt, but the ref refused and left the ring. Shane McMahon’s music played and he walked onto the stage in his latest pair of sneakers. Shane asked how everyone was doing, but he didn’t mention the town. Is he ashamed of cheap pops or is WWE ashamed of being in Sioux Falls, S.D.?
(Keller’s Analysis: This general policy of not admitting or drawing attention to the city their in when it’s not “cosmopolitan” enough for Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn is embarrassing. They’re take money from South Dakota fans, but they don’t want to admit they go there with live events?)
Shane said he is out to nip it in the bud. He said he is not going to let Owens name himself a referee. He said at every turn he has been extremely patient, but he has been defiant to him. He said needed to get something clear. He then stopped talking and the crowd laughed at someone yelling something. There was a longer awkward pause. He stared at Owens and Owens, off-mic, yapped back at him. The crowd chanted “Shane-O-Mac.” Shane said Owens needs to stop blaming him for his losses. He said he blamed him for his losses back at Summerslam when he told him that if he or A.J. Styles put their hands on him, “things could happen.” He said he blamed him for his loss. He said he had a chance to win the U.S. Title with a referee of his choosing. He said once again Owens blame him for his losses. He said he’s not sure what else he can do for him. Owens said Shane pulled Corbin out of the ring and then cheated him. Owens said he knows that he never wanted him on Smackdown. He said if it was up to him, he’d still be on Raw. Shane said Triple H single-handedly gave him the Universal Championship, so he can see why he’d want to be on Raw. Not a good point since Kurt Angle is in power now, not Triple H. He said on Smackdown, people have to earn their own success.
Owens said Shane makes sure that everything that happens involves him somehow. He asked him why he’s that way. He asked why he has to steal the spotlight. “Is it because your daddy didn’t give you enough attention when you were a kid?” he asked. The crowd ohhh’d. He said he drags his kids to the ring and makes them dance during his entrance. Shane leaned in and said, “Do not mention my kids again.” Owens went on to imitate Shane bragging to his dad about leaping off high places and surviving a helicopter crash. Owens said Shane’s entire family would have been better off if he hadn’t survived that crash. “Everyone. Your dad, your wife, and especially your kids.” Shane heard enough and leaped at Owens with a barrage of punches. Shane tripped at ringside as he dove toward Owens. He tackled him into and over the announce table. Referees and producers and even Daniel Bryan pulled him away. Bryan asked him what he was doing. Shane finally backed away and took some deep breaths. The crowd chanted “Shane-O-Mac.” They cut to a break.
(Keller’s Analysis: I have no idea what was going on when Shane stopped talking there. Did he lose his train of thought or get distracted by a fan? It was awkward, but the segment recovered and Owens was villainous in his comments about Shane’s family. Shane was great in reacting how anyone would like to in those circumstances, although his punches remain inexcusably awful.) [c]
-Back from the break, they replayed Owens’s comments and Shane’s attack on Owens. The announcers said Bryan seemed to be the only person who could get him to step back and compose himself.
-Owens was helped backstage. Bryan walked up to Owens, who was selling the attack, gasping for breath, clutching his ribs. He apologized to Owens and said no matter how provoked Shane was, Shane shouldn’t have gotten physical with him. Owens said he’s going to sue WWE and turn Smackdown into the Kevin Owens Show. He said he’s going to take the show down and take WWE down. He said Shane will regret ever putting his hands on him. Bryan said there must be a way to resolve this otherwise. Owens said he’s going to press criminal charges on Shane himself. A worried Bryan walked away. Referees tried to console Owens.
-At ringside, Graves and Saxton said Owens went too far with those comments. Saxton said Owens should be ashamed of himself.
(Keller’s Analysis: Bryan needed to be more upset with Owens, too, at least at the start because Owens went dark places, but at least the announcers seemed to react like normal human beings and not corporate suits worried about legal ramifications before rational disdain for Owens.)
-They hyped that next week in Las Vegas, Nev., Natalya will defend against Naomi. They’ve mentioned the name of the city next week, but not this week’s city.
(1) NATALYA vs. CARMELLA (w/James Ellsworth)
After a flurry of action in the opening seconds, Carmella gave Natalya a spinning head scissors. Carmella then threw a dropkick early and scored a soft two count. Natalya stood up and slapped Carmella and yelled at her not to put her hands on her. Isn’t that necessary to have a match? Carmella slapped back. Natalya landed a discus clothesline. Carmella rolled to the floor and Ellsworth tended to her. Natalya called her a “such a coward.” They went to a commercial, but stayed with the action on a split screen. [c]
Natalya applied a chinlock. Carmella escaped a bodyslam attempt and scored a two count on Natalya. Carmella stayed in control and strutted around with her arms in the air, gloating. She mounted and pounded away at Natalya’s head and then scored another two count. After the break, Carmella had Natalya locked in a body scissors mid-ring. They showed Naomi watching backstage at a 90 degree angle from the screen. When Natalya went for a sharpshooter, Carmella fought it. Natalya catapulted her into the corner. Carmella came back with a kick to the face and a two count. Ellsworth jumped onto the ring apron in anticipation of a celebration, but he dropped the briefcase. Carmella yelled at him and threw the briefcase back at him. Natalya then schoolgirled her for the win. Graves said Ellsworth got overzealous and it cost Carmella.
WINNER: Natalya in 7:00.
-Afterward, Ellsworth continued to try to explain himself and apologize to Carmella. Graves said, “Most people live their whole lives wanting a loyal companion like Ellsworth.” She said she knows Ellsworth is sorry, then added, “You are the sorriest excuse for a human being I’ve ever met. In fact, you’re not even human.” She repeated herself and then called him a genetic defect. She said she doesn’t need him to succeed. She wondered how he is even still employed. “You’re a charity case,” she said. “And your mother should have given you away at birth. You are so lucky to even be in my presence, and now you stuck that pathetic lump where your chin is supposed to be in my business for the last time.” She said they are through. Ellsworth collapsed in the corner in sorrow.
(Keller’s Analysis: The writers seemed to go further than usual this week with some really heavy-handed heel comments. A little of this goes a long way. I’m curious what’s next for Ellsworth.)
-They showed Shane pacing backstage, trying to take deep breaths as he contemplated what happened. Then they plugged that Dolph Ziggler’s “re-debut” takes place later tonight. [c]
-They went to the announcers again. Phillips said that “at WWE arenas like here tonight” fans might have noticed are decked out in gold due to Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. They aired the video of Miz, Maryse, and Alexa Bliss cheering up kids.
(Keller’s Analysis: They have a whole roster of wrestlers to choose from to shine a spotlight on regarding charity work, and they choose three heels plus Finn Balor? How can you boo, with any sincerity, those three after seeing that touching video?)
-Ziggler walked out in red, white, and blue trunks. Graves said he was expecting an all-new Ziggler, but he looks the same. Ziggler told the fans they have no appreciation for what he can do in the ring. He said they’d rather sit on their hands unsatisfied with the “greatest performer in WWE history right here in front of you face.” He said “shame on all of you.” He said they don’t want him, they’d rather have some dumb gimmick. He threw the mic down and walked to the back. Then John Cena’s music played. The crowd didn’t pop as the were suspicious. Out came Ziggler imitating Cena. He threw a hat to the crowd. Ziggler looked at the camera and made zany commented excitedly like Cena does. There were some “John Cena sucks” chants. Ziggler chewed on his gum and asked if the fans saw through it. He said if they like nostalgia, here you go. He came back out as Randy Savage. He had a woman on his arm and treated her like Randy treated Elizabeth. He said that’s not working, either. Saxton said this is getting weirder by the moment. Next he came out to Naomi’s music wearing a neon dreadlocks wig and dancing around like her. He said anybody could do what he just did, but no one can do what he does in the ring. Does he mean lose a lot? He said the fans couldn’t care less, though. He said he doesn’t give a damn about them, either. He said they all make him sick. He turned and left.
(Keller’s Analysis: This infantile self-indulgent temper tantrum is boring and pointless, from a booking standpoint and a character standpoint within the narrative WWE presents. Shouldn’t WWE announcers point out that once the robe is taken off and the music stops, you have to deliver in the ring, but what counts in WWE are wins and losses, not great athleticism. Say Ziggler is a great athlete, but he hasn’t utilized that to actually have a winning record, and now he’s blaming his low contendership status on everything but his own tendency to look spectacular while usually losing.) [c]
(2) SAMI ZAYN vs. AIDEN ENGLISH
Sami interrupted English’s singing. Graves said, “Leave it to Sami Zayn to interrupt something majestic and artistic.” Sami took English down with a head scissor early, then rammed English’s head into the top turnbuckle and then clotheslined him. English ducked a top rope dive and then cradled Sami for a leverage three count. Sami absorbed the loss and covered his face with his hands in shame and disappointment. English tried to sing again afterward, but Sami chased him away.
WINNER: English in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure what they’re doing with Sami, but I think Smackdown would be a better show if they were pushing him as a serious contender and not a neurotic flake who loses to jobbers.) [c]
-They replayed highlights of the Owens-Shane segment earlier.
-They cut backstage to Bryan who was rewatching it on a monitor and shaking his head. In marched New Day. Bryan smiled and said if anyone could cheer him up, it’d be them. He said he’s glad they came in. Then in walked the Usos from the other side. Bryan said he’s glad they’re there because he’s announcing an Usos vs. New Day street fight next week in Las Vegas. The Usos were happy and then walked away. Big E said they’re the dealers and the Usos are about to bust. He was happy with himself, but Xavier Woods and Kofi Kington weren’t. Bryan said he got a call he had to take. “Yes sir, how can I help you? You want me to do what? In the ring? Sir, there’s got to be a better way we can handle this.” He said he understood and would follow orders right now. He shook his head and exhaled. [c]
-Bryan walked to the ring. He said he needed to talk to Shane in the ring. Shane walked out. It’s so strange when people walk to the ring without music. Shane looked nervous. The fans chanted “Shane-O-Mac.” Bryan asked what he was thinking. Shane admitted things got out of control. Bryan told Shane that when Miz berated him and taunted him, he thought over and over how much he wanted to punch him or headbutt him in the face, but he didn’t because Shane told him he had to put WWE and the fans and their employees first. (And independent contractors, too!) He said he restrained himself and did what was best for the company and the show. He said by bringing up his family, he went into a blind rage and there is no coming back. Shane told Bryan he must understand since he is now a dad. Bryan asked if he knows what legal trouble their in. He said he’s worried about the people in the back because this is how they feed their families. Shane said he’ll take care of it and talk to Owens and smooth it over. Boos. Bryan said it’s too late because he got a call from his father. He said the Chairman of the Board and CEO of WWE, he has to inform him that he is FIRED! Nope, “Indefinitely suspended.” The crowd chanted “Shane-O-Mac.” Shane pounded his heart with his fist. He slowly left the ring and fans chanted “Thank you, Shane!” [c]
-Renee Young interviewed Jinder Mahal with the Singh Brothers. She asked if he’d rather face Orton or Nakamura. Jinder said all of the hype and all of the social media attention didn’t matter, Nakamura still lost to the Modern Day Majaraja. He said there is a reason the New York Times is writing about him – because he represents Asia better than Nakamura ever could. He said for over 100 days he has proven he is the greatest WWE Champion of all time. He said he is watching the main event very closely, just like the rest of the WWE Universe. He said may the better man win, and may that man fall to him. He then spoke to his people in his language of Punjabi.
-A.J. Styles joined the announcers on commentary.
(3) BARON CORBIN vs. TYE DILLINGER
Saxton told Styles that his U.S. Title Open Challenge has injected new energy into the locker room. Corbin dropped to ringside as soon as the bell rang to threw some words at Styles. Dillinger chased him down and attacked him aggressively at ringside. Saxton said you can’t blame Dillinger because he affected his ability to win the U.S. Title last week. Back in the ring Dillinger threw some chops and clotheslined Corbin hard over the top rope. They cut to a commercial, but stayed with the action on a split screen. [c]
Corbin made a comeback during the break and worked over Styles methodically. He settled into a chinlock as the commercial ended. Corbin made a comeback and hit a hard clothesline for a believable near fall. Corbin kept losing focus and yelling down at Styles. Dillinger was able to mount a comeback as a result, including a flying forearm. Dillinger stomped away at Corbin in the corner and then pulled his kneepad down. He went for the Tye Breaker, but Corbin slipped free and kicked Dillinger hard to the floor. Corbin went after him at ringside and threw him into the barricade. Back in the ring Dillinger surprised Corbin with a rollup for a near fall. Graves said Corbin needs to keep his focus on Dillinger, not Styles. Dillinger mounted Corbin in the corner and punched away at him. Corbin took a cheap shot to Dillinger’s throat as he masked the referee’s view. He then dropped Tye over the top turnbuckle. Styles stood up and yelled that he’s a “cheap shot artist.” Corbin gave Tye the “End of Days” for the win.
WINNER: Corbin in 9:00. [c]
-Backstage Styles approached Dillinger, who was still selling the shot to the throat. Styles said it was a good fight this week and last week. He said that’s what Corbin does, he’s a cheap shot artist. He said next week he’s offering him the U.S. Title Open Challenge title shot. “Let’s give the WWE Universe the fight they want to see!” he said. “What do you say?” Tye shook his hand and said, “Phenomenal.”
-They went to the announcers who reacted to that. Graves said Smackdown Live has finally become glorious. They went to a video package on Roode.
(Keller’s Analysis: Basic stuff, but it makes Roode seem more special when he’s featured in an extended video package.)
-Ellsworth tried to apologize to Carmella. “I am a freak, I am subhuman, and I probably belong in a zoo,” he said, but he promised to do whatever she wanted to remain in her good graces. She said from now on they’re doing things her way. She then kissed him long and hard. Then she slapped him. Ellsworth looked confused. Phillips laughed and asked, “What in the world just happened?” Graves said he actually envies Ellsworth right now.
-Nakamura’s full ring entrance took place. [c]
-Orton’s full ring entrance took place.
(4) RANDY ORTON vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA – No. 1 contendership match
Phillips said it’s been a summer of frustration for Orton, suffering one of the biggest upsets in pro wrestling history. The match started 44 minutes into the second hour. Orton went for an early sudden RKO after ducking a Nakamkura kick. Saxton said just like that it could have been over. Nakamura smiled and brushed his hands through his hair, then locked up with Orton again. When Nakamura pressed his head against Orton’s chest up against the ropes and dangled his arms, Orton set up Nakamura for his signature DDT off the middle rope. Nakamura dropped to the floor and regrouped. They cut to a break. [c]
Orton had Nakamura in a mid-ring chinlock after the break. I know, you’re shocked. They showed the Singh Brothers and Mahal watching from a luxury box. Nakamura punched himself free. Orton dropped to the floor. Nakamura reached for him, but Orton turned and tried to DDT him to the floor. Nakammura shoved Orton into the announce desk. Orton kicked Nakamura in response and then dropped him hard on the announce table. Orton applied his obligatory mid-match chinlock in mid-ring. Nakamura made a comeback with a knee and a tornado kick. Both were down, both were slow to get up.
Nakamura began kicking Orton’s chest as Orton kneeled mid-ring. This spot is being overdone. Orton caught Nakamura’s leg, but Nakamura landed an enzuigiri. He splashed Orton in the corner, then set him on the top rope and kneed his exposed ribs. That led to a two count. Orton came back and hit a high superplex. Phillips called it “spine shivering.” That was good for a near fall. Nakamura sat up and told Orton to bring it. He caught Orton as he approached and drove his knees into the side of his head over and over. Orton went face down in a heap. Orton surprised Nakamura with a snap powerslam for a near fall. He sat up wide-eyed. The fans chanted “This is awesome!”
Orton set up his second rope DDT and landed it. He paraded around the ring with his arms extended. He pounded the mat and signaled for the RKO. When he went for the RKO, Nakamura countered mid-air into a cross arm breaker submission attempt. Nakamura transitioned into a triangle when Orton blocked the arm breaker. Orton lifted Nakamura and powerslammed himself free. That never works in MMA, by the way. It’s clearly the harder surface of a wrestling ring compared to the Octagon? Orton went for an RKO, but Nakamura turned into a back stabber. Nakamura then hit Orton with the Kinshasa for the clean win.
WINNER: Nakamura in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match, among Orton’s more exciting in ages.)
-As Nakamura’s music played, the announcers closed by hyping next week’s line-up – Natalya vs. Naomi, Uso vs. New Day, and Styles vs. Dillinger.
-They showed Owens walking the back halls for no apparent reason. Then Bryan ran up to him and said now that Shane has been suspended, it’s over, it’s done. Owens said, “We’re just getting started, buddy.” He said they are making Smackdown his personal playground next week and Bryan’s personal nightmare. Owens said he cannot do anything about it. Bryan said someone is coming to Smackdown to address the situation. Owens asked if it’s Shane’s wife. Bryan said, “No, Mr. McMahon.” Owens gulped.
-They went back to Nakamura to close the show as he continued to celebrate.
LISTEN TO MY PODCAST ON THIS EPISODE AT PODCAST ONE HERE. It includes cohost Jake Barnett from ProWrestling.net and I talking about the top segments, then interviewing two on-site correspondents, and finally answering a diverse mix of emails regarding the show. You can subscribe in iTunes HERE, also.
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