KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 27, 2018
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Philips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
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-Phillips welcomed fans to Smackdown as the camera panned the crowd in Los Angeles. John Cena’s ring entrance then took place. “Mixed emotions, but electric nonetheless,” he said as he began his promo from mid-ring. He introduced himself. Boos. He smiled. He asked to explain why he is there. He said he is there for the same reason that 99.9 percent of the Smackdown Superstars are. (He didn’t say Smackdown Live Superstars; expect a fine!) He said the only wrestler with a guaranteed match at WrestleMania is Shinsuke Nakamura. He said he wants in on the Fatal Five-way match at Fastlane. “I want in!” he said. “I am not here for a handout. I am here tonight to do whatever it takes to earn a spot in that match.” He asked what he has to do to make it to WrestleMania. He pointed at the sign.
Shane McManon slapped hands on his way to the ring. He said he’s standing in the ring with one of the most decorated Superstars in WWE history. He welcomed him back. He said they all just heard what he said. He said everybody is looking for their role on the grandest stage of them all. He turned and pointed at the WrestleMania sign. A “Let’s Go Cena! / Cena sucks!” battle chant broke out. Cena said half of the fans want him to win, half want him to lose, so he thinks it’s a great idea to be added to it. Shane regrouped and said the path he is proposing puts him in the middle of the Fastlane main event for the WWE Title. Yep. A “Rusev Day!” chant broke out. Shane did not “duly note” it this time. He said if Cena won, not only would he go on to WrestleMania, but he’d walking in as the 17 time World Champion. Shane said, “This is the land of opportunity.” Zero pop. As he began to say something else, Daniel Bryan interrupted.
He “Yes!” chanted his way to the ring. Bryan said he thinks he’s on the same page with Shane. He said Smackdown is the “Land of Opportunity,” and every Superstar in the Fatal Five-way match earned their opportunity to be in the Fatal Five-way match. He said they’re going to give him what they give to everyone else – an opportunity. He said Cena has to win the main event tonight and if he wins, he’s in. “Fine, who’s my opponent.” Bryan said it’s someone he’s very familiar with. He said he’ll go one-on-one with A.J. Styles. Shane approved. Fans chanted “Yes!”
(Keller’s Analysis: That got right to the point. Cena has enough stature and accomplishments to ask for and receive such a quick opportunity.)
-The announcers hyped Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin up next.
-A selfie promos aired with Finn Balor & Sasha Banks and The Miz & Asuka out in front of Staples Center. [c]
(1) SAMI ZAYN vs. BARON CORBIN
Graves talked about what Corbin did last week to Sami and KO. He said if he can establish similar dominance at Fastlane, he can become champion at Fastlane. Kevin Owens joined in on commentary. When Corbin looked at Owens at ringside, Owens said: “If you’re looking for your hairline, it’s on top of your head, by the way.” Sami and Corbin fought at ringside briefly early. Byron told Owens it seems like he’s “a little nervous” his chances to become WWE Champion are slipping away. Owens replied: “It seems like you’re a little stupid, but you’re actually really stupid, so sometimes appearances aren’t what they are.” Sami backdropped Corbin over the security barrier. They showed Bryan watching on a monitor backstage. Shane asked Bryan if he’s allowing Owens to be at ringside on commentary for a Sami match. Bryan said Owens does a great job and provides a competitor’s perspective. Shane said it’s entertaining if you like interference. Bryan said there’s no reason to assume Owens will interfere. They cut to a break. [c]
After the break, Sami was in control. They cut back to Shane and Bryan. Shane walked in with popcorn. Bryan said the match has been awesome since he was away and Owens has been providing great commentary. Owens said if Cena gets added to the Fastlane title match, no big deal – he’s beat him before and he welcomes the chance to do it again. When Corbin dropped Sami on the announce table and Corbin looked at Owens, Owens said, “Concentrate on your match, you idiot.” Amen. Back in the ring Corbin scored a near fall. Sami began a comeback with a tornado DDT for a near fall. Suddenly Dolph Ziggler superkicked Owens from behind. Owens tipped over in his chair. Ziggler fled the scene as quickly as he arrived, hiding on the opposite side of the ring. Corbin then gave Sami an End of Days for the win.
WINNER: Corbin in 8:00.
-As Corbin began to celebrate, Ziggler surprised him with a Zig Zag. Graves said Ziggler should be arrested.
-Backstage, Shane said maybe he should go check “his boys.” He said they got what was coming to them. Bryan said he’d let Shane check on them because he’d like to check out early and see his wife and baby. Shane said that sounded good to him. Shane continued to pop popcorn into his mouth obnoxiously the whole time.
-Saxton plugged Naomi vs. Ruby Riott was up next. [c]
-Backstage Sami and KO were upset with what happened with Ziggler. Sami asked Shane if he saw what happened out there. Shane popped popcorn into his mouth and said, “Yep.” Shane said Daniel Bryan just left and he suggested they catch up to him “because Brie doesn’t like it when you guys are late for dinner.” Sami yelled, “It never ends with this guy!”
(2) RUBY RIOTT (w/Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan) vs. NAOMI
After Riott Squad arrived in the ring, Charlotte and Becky Lynch walked out and stood in the aisle awaiting Naomi. Graves said it was totally unnecessary for them to be there. Naomi slapped Riott a minute in. She rolled to the floor. Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky pursued them. They argued at ringside. The referee called for them to get back in the ring and wrestle. Well, he didn’t say “wrestle,” but you get the idea. [c]
They showed that during the break, Riott took control and had settled into a full nelson. They cut backstage to Carmella who was deciding between pancakes or waffles on her phone. Okay. Phillips brought up Carmella’s Money in the Bank contract. When Naomi made a comeback, she missed with a top rope move, but followed up with a scorpion kick. Riott countered Naomi’s subsequent charge but sending her head-first into the top turnbuckle and then hit the Riott Kick for the win. Charlotte and Riott had a staredown afterward, with Charlotte in the ring and Riott at ringside.
WINNER: Riott in 9:00.
-The announcers hyped Styles vs. Cena. Phillips called it a “monumental match-up.”
-Backstage Fandango and Tyler Breeze looked at various pictures of solved and unsolved crimes on a bulletin board. In walked Josh Duhamel, host of a new show on USA Network called “Unsolved” chronicling the unsolved murders of Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur. Breeze plugged his show and said, “It’s debuts tonight!” He had trouble pronouncing his name. Then Josh called Fandango with improper pronunciation. When Breeze said they solve all their mysteries, Josh said Breezango aren’t solving cases, they’re just making stuff up so they can do parodies of TV shows and movies. Fandango told him to be quiet and got his finger near Josh’s nose. They said they’d solve his unsolved mystery. In walked New Day with pancakes. Kofi was chomping on them. Fandango said Big E is there, so mystery solved. Josh said he’s trying to solve the murder of Biggie Smalls. Josh said he’s not a real detective, he just plays one on TV. “It’s all make-believe, man.” Fandango was crestfallen. Breeze said, “What do we do now?” Xavier congratulated Josh on the new show.
(Keller’s Analysis: Blatant cross-promotion, but still nice to see Breezango get some TV time again. They always crack me up. Now that USA is promoting a show that examines the DRIVE BY shooting death of Notorious BIG, will they decide to change the name of Reigns’s signature kick?)
NOTE: If you have questions or a reaction to tonight’s Smackdown, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Mailbag Segment of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast (#WKPWP) taped tonight and available a couple hours after Smackdown ends.
–New Day made their ring entrance, and their entrance now has cartoon font letters blasting their signature entrance words on the screen in pastels. New Day danced out and threw pancakes to the crowd. Phillips said New Day have earned a title shot against the Raw Tag Team Champions at Fastlane. He quickly corrected himself and said Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Xavier said they’re looking to secure their position on the grandest stage of them all. They pointed at the WrestleMania sign. They talked about the Usos taking them to the limit at Money in the Bank to Hell in a Cell. Big E said that rivalry is hotter than his inner thighs in the summer. He asked Kofi to spritz him. Kofi spritz’d his crotch area. Big E insisted on three different awkward angles. Kofi said when they win at Fastlane, they’ll party in New Orleans. Kofi said they’ll swivel their hips and twerk with the entire WWE Universe. The Usos then came out.
Jimmy Uso said they used to be just like New Day. “Yeah, running around here, dancing, singing, wearing rainbow colors, looking like a box of Skittles, but we got sick and tired of it,” he said. “It didn’t take us to the next level.” Jey said for nine years they’ve been grinding while New Day were swiveling their hips. Jey said they proved they belonged on WrestleMania. They said year after year they’ve been passed over. They listed each of the WrestleManias they weren’t on. “This year, it’s our time!” they said. Jimmy said they’ll run right through them like they always do. Jey said they’re the first-round draft pick and all-star team and the starters, while the New Day will be on the sidelines. Jimmy said they adapt, evolve, and move with the game, “while you guys are stuck in the past five years.” Big E interrupted as they began their closing “Welcome” catch phrase.
Big E said they’ve been on the top, kicking down doors, breaking down barriers, and setting records. He said they hosted WrestleMania while the Usos were in the back eating catering. “We didn’t get here because of our daddies!” The crowd ohh’d. “We didn’t stand on the sideline because we rushed the field and took what was ours. And at Fastlane, we take what is currently yours and become not the one-time, not the two-time, not three or four, but five-time WWE World Tag Team Champions.” He said there’s not a damn thing the Usos can do about it. Jey slapped the mic out of his hands. They got in each other’s personal space. Then the lights went out and the Bludgeon Brothers walked out. They entered the ring with their “giant mallets.” The Usos and New Day looked intimidated and left the ring. Graves said discretion is the better part of valor.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s so good to see New Day get out of the Frivolity Zone. Big E cut a money promo there. The Bludgeon Brothers movements are so orchestrated that they don’t seem authentic, but rather a corporate cartoon character or cosplay act, so it didn’t feel legit that the Usos and New Day would be scared enough to leave the ring like that.)
-The announcers threw to a clip of Shane McMahon making a phone call earlier in the day. He was interrupted by Aiden English and Rusev walking in as he was talking about John Cena being in the house. English said it should be a Happy Rusev Day, but Shane hasn’t been booking him on Smackdown. “I think you’re just jealous that nobody is clamoring for a Shane McMahon Day.” Shane booked English against Shinsuke Nakamura. Shane sang his name like English sings. Rusev shrugged. [c]
-Graves thanked Sur for “Lean Back,” the official theme of Fastlane.
-A selfie promo aired with Dolph Ziggler whose words were flashed on the screen as he talked. Ziggler said he didn’t come back to Smackdown to get lost in the shuffle. He said at Fastlane he’d rise above everyone, even “Golden Boy John Cena.” He said he’ll do what he was put on this planet to do – main event WrestleMania. He said he is that good and that is the reality.
(Keller’s Analysis: These words on the screen might drive me totally mad.)
-Byron talked about the Cena vs. Styles ramifications. Phillips talked about the Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton match at Fastlane becoming official last week.
-Renee Young interviewed Roode backstage. Roode said he’s excited. He said he wants to be the greatest United States Champion in history, but to do that, he needs to test himself against the very best. He said Orton is among the greatest of all-time, even though he has an issue with him of late. He brought up the Smackdown Superstars Top Ten List as maybe the reason. In walked Orton, who said it’s not about the list, it’s about the title. He said the U.S. Title is the only one he hasn’t held in his 16 years in WWE. “You just so happen to be the guy I have to run through to take it.”
-English and Rusev stood in the ring. English sang that the fans don’t deserve to celebrate Rusev Day. There was a dancing Rusev head bouncing on words on the screen Karaoke style.
(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. AIDEN ENGLISH (w/Rusev)
Graves suggested a “Total Rusev” show on E! Saxton called Graves delusional. A “Nakanura / Rusev Day” battle chant broke out. English bailed out a minute into the match. Rusev consoled him. Nakamura threw English back into the ring, but then Rusev kicked Nakamura on the side of his head. They cut to a break as fans chanted “Rusev Day!” [c]
After the break, English remained in control. Nakamura was going to make a comeback, but Rusev distracted him. English then gave Nakamura an inverted Attitude Adjustment for a two count. Nakamura gave English a leaping kick toward his head, which showed light, but Phillips said it “connected” and Graves said it was “wicked.” Nakamura kicked away at English’s chest several times as English kneeled. (Man, that spots is overdone these days.) Nakamura applied good vibrations and then kneed him in the gut. Then came the Kinshasa for the win.
WINNER: Nakamura in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Trying to keep Rusev heel seems so against fan interest at this point, I’m baffled. They’re onto something with Rusev, and it seems like they think it’s an inconvenience. You know, like when Daniel Bryan got over huge out of nowhere. And C.M. Punk…)
-Cena walked out with Nakamura still in the ring. They crossed paths at ringside and sized each other up. Cena pointed at the WrestleMania sign. Nakamura did the same. Cena waved his hand in front of his face. [c]
-They showed Lilly Singh, a YouTube Superstar, at ringside.
(4) JOHN CENA vs. A.J. STYLES
The bell rang 36 minutes into the hour. They cut to an early break. [c]
Cena was in control after the break. Cena put Styles on his shoulders and stood on the second rope, but Styles escaped and then gave Cena a spinning powerbomb for a two count. They showed Corbin and Ziggler watching backstage. Saxton said everyone in the Fastlane main event respects Cena and knows the impact he’d have on the event. Graves said they just don’t want a sixth competitor because “it lowers their chances drastically.” They showed Owens and Sami backstage watching nervously. (Is it just me or did Cena go from looking like he’d never look a day over 30 to suddenly looking 55 in the face almost overnight?) Styles fired back with an enzuigiri. With both men down, they cut to a break. [c]
They began to exchange signature moves and near falls in rapid-fire fashion. Cena delivered an AA, but when he went for a second one, Styles grabbed the top rope and pulled himself to the floor. When Cena charged at him, Styles side-stepped him and Cena barreled into the ringside steps. Both were slow to get up. Cena gave Styles an AA onto the announce table. Graves declared: “A.J. Styles is broken!” Styles beat the ten count just in time to keep the match going. Styles applied the Calf Crusher. Cena powered Styles into the air and then gave Styles an AA for the clean win.
WINNER: Cena in 22:00 to earn a spot at Fastlane.
-KO came out afterward with Sami. Corbin then blindsided Cena in the ring. KO and Sami joined in a stomp attack of Cena. KO went after Styles. Corbin joined in. Ziggler sprinted out and went after Corbin and superkicked him. Then same to Sami. He then stood next to Styles and Cena and pretended to be their friend. Then he attacked Styles. Cena then gave him an AA to end the show.