KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 30, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
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-Shinsuke Nakamura made his full ring entrance to his music as the announcers sang his praises. Phillips said, “Never has it been more true that Shinsuke Nakamura is truly the rock star of WWE.” Graves called it a “career-defining moment” when he “punched his ticket to WrestleMania.” Graves that while Nakamura said he wanted to face A.J. Styles for the WWE Title at WrestleMania, it’s a long road to WrestleMania and Styles might not be champion by then. When he entered the ring, the fans chanted “Nak-a-mura.”
He said at the Royal Rumble, Sami Zayn took a knee to the face, John Cena (boos) took a knee to the face (cheers), Roman Reigns (boos) took a knee to the face (cheers). He said at WrestleMania, A.J. Styles (cheers) will take a knee to the face. Or, as Nakamura put it: “Knee… Face… New WWE Champion.” Then he pointed at the WrestleMania sign.
Kevin Owens’s music interrupted and he strode out with Sami. KO asked fans to “give it up” for the 2018 Rumble winner, Shinsuke. He said he can point at the WrestleMania sign all he wants and talk about beating Styles, but two nights ago they were screwed out of their title. Sami yelled, “Yep!” Owens said they should be standing there as co-champons. He pointed at the big screen to show that the tag didn’t take place, but the referee thought it did, and Styles then pinned the wrong wrestler. Owens said they were victims of the vendetta Shane has and his obsession with holding them down. Sami said the referee has just one job and he failed. He said Styles pinned the wrong man. He told Shinsuke that he won’t be facing Styles, he’ll be facing them. Sami jumped up and down in Shinsuke’s face and chanted “Yep!” Shinsuke said Styles is a winner and they are losers. After an awkward few seconds, Styles’s music played.
Styles said those two can cry and complain all they want, but there will be a dream match in New Orleans on the grandest stage of them all between him and Shinsuke. He entered the ring and stood next to Shinsuke and said this is the House that A.J. Styles built, and he suggested to Shinsuke they turn the dream match into a dream team and face Owens & Sami tonight. Sami and KO left the ring and stood on the ring apron. Then they said, “Nope!” together. Shinsuke and Styles charged at them both and knocked them off the ring apron with forearms. Shinsuke’s music played as Owens and Sami retreated.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment. Nakamura is likable, and what’s been missing is just extended time to see him as more than a weird gyration and funny face. He also has lacked a “stated mission,” and now he has one.)
-Phillips plugged the U.S. Title No. 1 Contendership match up next. [c]
-They cut backstage to Daniel Bryan texting on his phone (why?!!?!). After four awkward seconds, in barged KO and Sami. Bryan said Styles doesn’t have the power to make matches. KO and Sami thanked him. Bryan then announced that they will face Styles & Nakamura. Sami said this is almost as bad as the Rumble. Bryan said the referee’s decision is final. He said the ref made a mistake and it was too close to call. Owens called it a “life-changing catastrophe,” not a mistake. Owens said they deserve another opportunity at the title. “We deserve better,” he said. “You know it.” Bryan said he agrees with them, so they will get another opportunity. Sami jumped up and down and hugged Styles. Sami said he told KO that Bryan is the voice of reason. Bryan said next week he’s planned a big match, and the winner faces Styles at Fastlane for the WWE Title – Sami vs. KO. “Isn’t that great?” he asked. KO and Sami were besides themselves.
(Keller’s Analysis: They announced at Raw last night, to the crowd only, that Styles would be defending against KO tonight with Bryan as special ref. Not sure if that was a ploy to sell tickets or a change in plans, but either way, this sets up a match with one week’s notice that fans can anticipate. Bryan didn’t seem to be on the side of KO and Sami this time, although he is technically guaranteeing one of them a title shot against Styles at Fastlane, so KO and Sami can look at that as a bright side of this decision, right?)
(1) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Big E, Xavier Woods) vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/Samil Singh) vs. RUSEV (w/Aiden English vs. ZACK RYDER – No. 1 Contendership for the U.S. Title
Bobby Roode joined the announcers on commentary. Byron said Samir Singh suffered a leg injury and Jinder is blaming Roode. Roode said he didn’t as Samir to jump him after he beat Mojo Riley. (He meant Rawley, but he said Riley. Who does he think he is, Kurt Angle?) Phillips said Samir suffered a torn ACL. The crowd wasn’t going bonkers for Rusev. A few minutes in, Ryder clotheslined Jinder over the top rope and then swing-kicked him. Kofi leaped over the top rope onto both of them. Big E threw pancakes at the announcers. Rusev then signaled for a dive of his own. He was tripped by Samil. English walked up to him and grabbed him and then shoved him into Big E and Xavier, knocking over their tray of pancakes. Big E and Xavier blamed Singh for the error. The ref ordered all of them to the back. [c]
They aired the match on split-screen. Jinder made a comeback against Kofi. Rusev joined him in beating on Kofi, with Ryder still out of the picture. Then they threw Kofi to the floor. Back after the break, Jinder ducked a Kofi leap and then threw him into the ringside steps. Jinder then threw Rusev into the ringpost and threw Ryder back into the ring. When Rusev rallied against Jinder, some fans chanted “Rusev Day!” Ryder hit Rusev with a top rope missile dropkick and a flying elbow in the corner. Jinder cut off Ryder’s momentum with a running boot for a two count. Ryder rolled to the floor. Jinder scored a two count on Rusev. After some four-way chaos, Rusev cleared the ring of Ryder and Jinder and put Kofi in the Accolade for the tapout win.
WINNER: Rusev in 14:00.
-Rusev walked to ringside and looked at Roode and pointed at the U.S. Title belt. Roode stood and stared him down.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m curious how the crowd reacts to Roode when he faces Rusev. Roode has so little to say as a babyface, and perhaps a heel turn would work well against Rusev. It’d be crazy for WWE to position Rusev as anything but a breakout babyface act at this point.)
-The Usos walked while walking backstage and the screen provided bold captioning of certain words they said. Strange. [c]
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-They went to the announcers at ringside who talked about the Super Bowl. Graves complained about pancakes everywhere. Byron excitedly said Breezango took over social media earlier. They hung out with The Ascension answering questions from fans. Someone asked what kind of conditioner Tyler Breeze uses. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin barged in. Shelton asked if Fashion Files is still a thing. Gable said they are clowns and they’re embarrassing their tag team division. Breeze asked if it’s more embarrassing than losing to the Usos twice in one match. The Ascension belly-laughed. Shelton asked if they think they can beat them tonight. Gable said no. Shelton knocked over the table with the laptops on it. He’s a regular Braun Strowman!
-The Usos came out and stood mid-ring. They asked the City of Brotherly Love to show them some love. They said things were about to get real. They bragged about beating Gable & Benjamin with a clean sweep. They listed the opponents they beat and shouted “Lockdown” each time. Then a jail door graphic slammed shut on the screen each time. (This is cheesy and just further erodes any sense that anything happening on Smackdown LIVE is anything but carefully orchestrated and produced.) They talked about being real and 100 and the lifestyle they represent. They talked about getting up early to go to work and struggling to pay bills and kids trying to get good grades. They talked about how struggles make them stronger. They talked about their brotherly bond and that makes them different than every tag team in that locker room.
-The Bludgeon Brothers walked out to their music. [c]
(2) THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS vs. TWO JOBBERS
One of the jobbers tried to leave, but Luke Harper blocked him. Erick Rowan knocked him of the ring apron. Harper then gave him a big boot. Rowan then tossed the other jobber into the corner of the ring into the lap of his partner. They stood, but were groggy. The Bludgeon Brothers then hit their finisher on each of them. Phillips wondered how the Usos feel about what they see.
WINNERS: Bludgeon Brothers in 2:00.
-Daniel Bryan did a selfie video. He said they are always looking for new ways to make the show more interesting and engaging for viewers. There were more of those words popping up on the screen matching words he was saying. (My God, this flashing words on the screen thing is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.) He said there will be an Official Top Ten List. He said wrestlers will be voting for who who deserves title opportunities. He said this lets the wrestlers have their voice be heard, although they can’t vote for themselves. “This is going to be so cool!” he said. “I’ve always wanted to see a top ten list from our talent.” He said this will be a huge asset for him and Shane when deciding on title opportunities and constructing the show.
(Keller’s Analysis: Was that a Daniel Bryan heel turn? Because he was so annoying there.)
-Shane was on his phone talking with someone about the the Top Ten List and top happenings at the Royal Rumble. Tye Dillinger said any other day he’d like to talk about the Top Ten List (get it?). He said his opportunity at the Rumble was taken away. Baron Corbin walked in and complained about Bryan handing another opportunity to Owens and Sami. Shane said he’d have a talk with Bryan because he doesn’t think either of them deserve this opportunity. Corbin asked if he’s changed his last name or is he still a McMahon. Shane didn’t like that. Tye stepped up. Corbin asked if he was still there. Tye said yes, unlike his MITB contract. Shane then booked them against each other because on Smackdown, they settle things in the ring. Shane told Tye that Boaron is a little sensitive about that MITB contract thing. “Truth hurts, Shane,” Tye said.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to see Tye get some decent screen time where he wasn’t just spewing lame “10” puns and flicking his fingers obnoxiously and referring to himself in the third person.)
-Charlotte made her way to the ring. [c]
-A video package aired on Ronda Rousey’s appearance at the Rumble and the media headlines.
-Renee Young asked Charlotte what it was like to have a front row seat at the first-ever Women’s Rumble match. Charlotte said she couldn’t have been more proud. She said she is so competitive, though, it was the first night she didn’t want to be champion because she wanted to be in the ring with all of those legends. She said it would have given her a chance to enter no. 3 and last the whole match like another guy she knows, she said with a sly smile. She then brought up “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. She said she is walking into WrestleMania as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. She asked who will be standing across from her in the ring in New Orleans. The Riott Squad interrupted.
Out walked Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan. Ruby told her to forget about Asuka and Rousey. Ruby said she has met people like Charlotte in every stage of her life: “Impossibly talented, but impossibly arrogant. Impossibly entitled and impossibly unoriginal.” She said there is only one Ruby Riot, “the way I talk, the way I act, and the way I look.” She said Charlotte is just a cheap imitation of her father. The Riott Squad entered the ring. Riott said her time is over and if she has her way, she won’t make it to WrestleMania. Charlotte asked if she’s done yet, then let out a big “woo!” The Squad attacked her. Charlotte held her own and cleared the ring. The Riott Squad returned after a few seconds and swarmed her. Byron said it was the pack mentality of the Riott Squad.
The Riott Squad left Charlotte lying in the ring. Carmella came out with her MITB briefcase. The referee explained to the official at ringside what was happening. As Charlotte stood, Carmella went for a dropkick, but hit the ref instead of Charlotte. The ref went down hard. Carmella screeched, “What are you doing?! Come on, ref?!” Graves noted that the bell didn’t ring. Carmella was left alone in the ring with Charlotte, so when Charlotte shot her a look, Carmella grabbed her briefcase and headed to the back. “Not today,” she said. “Not today.”
-They cut backstage to Shinsuke. Styles walked up and asked about their gameplay. Shinsuke said, “Yes, I’m going to beat you at WrestleMania.” Styles said, “What? No, we have a tag match tonight. You understand, right?” Shinsuke repeated, “I’m going to beat you at WrestleMania.” Styles asked if he is messing with him. Shinsuke smiled and said he is messing with him. “We’ll be fine out there,” Shinsuke said. “Just listen to me out there.” Styles was taken aback and said, “Listen to you?”
-Tye’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-Renee Young interviewed Carmella backstage. Carmella said she just had a chance to remind Charlotte that she’s dangerous with the MITB contract, and everything out there went the way she wanted. Renee cut her off when she began to claim she didn’t even want to cash in because she has a broken nail.
(3) TYE DILLINGER vs. BARON CORBIN
Tye went after Corbin aggressively at the start. Corbin fought back a minute later and then tossed Tye over the top rope. They cut to a break. [c]
They stayed with the action on split-screen during the break. Corbin dominated at ringside and finished Tye with his End of Days.
WINNER: Corbin in 9:00.
-A selfie promo aired with Rusev and Aiden English. Aiden said next week can end only one way, with victory on Rusev Day.
-A promo aired with Roode, not selfie-style, who said he has an appointment with Rusev Day next week. He circled next Tuesday and then turned the circle into a “O” in the word “GLORIOUS” on the calendar.
-Owens & Sami were preparing backstage for the main event tag match. Sami had thoughts, and finally expressed them. He said the good news is at least one of them will be getting the WWE Title opportunity. He said it’s a shame they have to go against each other, but opportunity is all they’ve ever needed. They began to talk about each other’s failures when they had opportunities and the tension rose. Owens said, “You won’t fail… tonight.” [c]
-A video montage aired from the Royal Rumble.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who showed Tweets from 205 Live wrestlers talking about who could be a great G.M. for them. Drew Gulak suggested Vickie Guerrero. Kalisto said Rey Mysterio. TJP said Dean Malenko. Cedric Alexander suggested Mauro Ranallo. Mustafa Ali suggested Eric Bischoff. Tony Nese suggested Chris Jericho. Graves liked Vickie.
(4) BREEZANGO vs. CHAD GABLE & SHELTON BENJAMIN
WINNERS: Gable & Benjamin. [c]
(5) KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & A.J. STYLES
Graves said Sami and KO feel bad that one of them won’t get a title shot, whereas Styles and Shinsuke don’t have any sympathy for each other. Owens eventually got upset at Sami because he was knocked down at ringside and not available for a tag. Shinsuke threw KO to the floor. Sami asked KO why he was yelling at him. The argument escalated to the point that Sami walked toward the back. Sami wished him luck. Owens told him to “get the hell back here” as they cut to a break. [c]
Owens had Styles in his headlock after the break. Sami stood on the stage watching. Sami ran to the ring to save KO from getting pinned by Styles. KO tagged in Sami. Sami tagged KO back in with a slap to the chest. They argued some more and Sami left. Shinsuke got a hot tag and finished KO with the Kinsasha kick.
WINNERS: Styles & Nakamura.
-They showed Sami reacting backstage with concern over what just played out. Renee asked if that’s the end of his friendship with KO. Sami said no, this is about opportunites, and Owens has had his. He said after next week he’ll be known as the guy who beat KO and after Fastlane he’ll be known as the guy who beat Styles to become WWE Champion, not just KO’s best friend.