KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 3/20: Daniel Bryan to appear live day he was medically cleared, Styles-Nakamura hype, U.S. Title hype, more

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

WWE Smackdown Live logo - new July 2016 (c)


MARCH 20, 2018

Announcers: Tom Philips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

NOTE: If you have questions or a reaction to tonight’s Smackdown, send it to for the Mailbag Segment of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show (#WKPWP) taped tonight and available a couple hours after Smackdown ends. Call (347) 215-8558 to converse with Wade Keller and guest cohost Cameron Hawkins from the PWTorch East Coast Cast.

Subscribe to download the show by searching “Wade Keller” in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts!


-They opened with highs and lows of Daniel Bryan’s career including his tearful retirement announcement followed by WWE’s Renee Young saying earlier today that he has been cleared to return to in-ring action by WWE’s expert panel of doctors. They showed a collage of Tweets from WWE wrestlers reacting.

-They went went inside the arena where Phillips welcomed fans to Smackdown. Fans were chanting “Yes!” Out walked Daniel Bryan in a suit jacket with a giant smile on his face. He led the crowd in a “Yes!” chant. Bryan teared up as he stood inside the ring and fans chanted “Welcome Back!” and then “Daniel Bryan!” He thanked the fans. “First, last week something horrific happened to Shane McMahon.” He said he’d address that later, but the two people he need to confront aren’t there yet. He said as a result, he’ll talk about something else.

He said about two years ago when he was forced to retire, it was one of the worst days of his life. He said he focused on being grateful. He said there were times he was depressed, so he focused on being grateful. He said there were times he was angry, but he focused on being grateful. He said he has a lot to be grateful for. He said he has amazing family, amazing friends, and the best fans in the world. He said he also has an amazing (he choked up) beautiful wife. He said she saw that all he wanted to do was get back in the ring, and she told him it’s wonderful that he’s grateful, but he needs to fight for his dreams. “She’s the one who encouraged me to start going to specialists.” He said he saw one specialist after another who gave him good reviews. “Thank you, Brie!” chanted the fans. She told him that Daniel Bryan “fights for his dreams.” He said he wasn’t just grateful, he decided to fight. He got worked up and said at one point he wanted to quit, but Brie told him not to but instead fight for his dreams. “And if you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you!” he said emphatically.

Bryan said every hard thing seems impossible until it becomes real. He said he asked WWE the last two months to take a new look at his case. He said they sent him to every neurologist and specialist. He said they all said the same thing: “You are cleared.” The “Yes!” chants broke out again. “There was a time when being cleared to compete in a WWE ring seemed impossible,” he said. “But now it is real. So I’ve got a lot of thank you’s to say right now.” He thanked WWE and their doctors. He said they looked at him as a person and not a wrestler, so he’ll be forever grateful to them. He thanked the fans next. And finally, his voice cracking, he thanked Brie. He said she has supported him in ways the fans will never know. “So, now, onto the fun stuff, right?” he said with a big smile.

He said he doesn’t know exactly when or where he will get back in the ring. Fans began yelling “Tonight!” And then a “WrestleMania!” chant started. He looked up at the sign yearningly. He said he’s not sure, but he will wrestle again. He enthusiastically led a “Yes!” chant to end the segment as his music kicked in again.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was really good and an emotional release for him and, I’m sure, many many fans and colleagues. The only slight downside is I wish he had a mission beyond just stating he wanted to wrestle again. I’d like to hear a little bit about why he wanted to compete – a larger purpose such as winning the championship and fighting against dishonorable competitors. I know it’s to soon to name names.)

-The announcers hyped Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a rematch next. [c]

-Backstage they showed Bryan walking and then ref Charles Robinson shook his hand and said it’s great news. He asked if he’s seen Sami and KO yet. Charles hadn’t, but he said if he saw them, he’d send them to his office. Then Dolph Ziggler walked up and said, “Let me be the first to say I can’t wait to beat you.” Bryan said, “Well, you can certainly try.”

(1) RUSEV (w/Aiden English) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA

A.J. Styles joined the announcers at ringside. Graves wished him a Happy Rusev Day. Shinsuke gyrated and showboated early to get in Rusev’s head. They exchanged some kicks and elbow strikes to the head. Rusev won the battle and got Shinsuke in the corner, then dropped him with a leaping spin wheel kick leading to a  two count. They cut to an early break. [c]

Rusev dominated on split screen during the break and settled into a chinlock. Nakamura made a comeback by grabbing Rusev’s leg. He gave Rusev a running knee to his ribs, but when he charged, Rusev ducked and dropped Shinsuke with a Russian leg sweep. Then he round kicked Nakamura in the head and scored a two count. Rusev stomped the mat to signal for his Machka Kick, but Nakamura ducked and then rolled up Rusev into a cross armbreaker attempt. They leveraged each other and Nakamura ended up with a three count after a brief struggle and reversal.

WINNER: Nakamura in 8:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good relatively short match. Those two have good chemistry.)

-Afterward, as Nakamura celebrated, English leaped in and joined Rusev in a post-match attack. Styles waited, took his time taking off his vest and title belt, and then walking toward the ring. Nakamura, though, cleared the ring on his own. Saxton said that was Nakamura’s way of saying he didn’t need his help. Nakamura strutted and smiled.

-An Asuka vignette aired.

-Backstage Charlotte was watching a monitor and oddly looking into it like it was a mirror. Then Natalya walked up and said she sees the look in her eyes and she’s scared. She said she knows her well enough that she can’t hide it from her. Charlotte said she’s actually excited. Natalya said she is better than both Asuka and Charlotte. She said Asuka stole her WrestleMania Moment, and “she’s only undefeated because she hasn’t faced me yet.” Natalya said she knows that Charlotte can’t beat her. Charlotte said she can face her tonight. Natalya shrugged, grinned, and said, “Good.”

-Saxton plugged that later they’d find out if Sami and KO would face a reward or repercussions. [c]

-Backstage Styles was walking and Nakamura walked up to him. He told Styles he didn’t need his help. Styles said he saw that. When Nak was about to talk, Styles said he knows what he’s going to say, “You’re going to beat me at WrestleMania.” Nakamura told Styles that’s true, but he should have more confidence. Fans laughed. Nakamura then said he’d beat him with “knee to face.”


Tye didn’t get his ring entrance so we all missed out on his five-finger-flicking prance. Aw, shucks. (Sarcasm.)  Corbin dominated early. Tye side-stepped him a couple minutes in and then clotheslined him over the top rope. The announcers wondered what Corbin’s WrestleMania match would be. Phillips speculated it’d be in the Andre Battle Royal. They fought at ringside briefly. Back in the ring, Tye dove at Corbin. Corbin caught him and went for an End of Days, but they botched the spot. Corbin threw Tye out of the ring for an improvise. Corbin threw Tye back into the ring and then gave him an End of Days. Anticlimactic.

WINNER: Corbin in 3:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Botched spots can happen, but it’s never good. What this exposed is how little they’re able to improvise in a believable way. They didn’t want to eat up any extra time, so they just went right back to the move out of nowhere without any build-up. They’re so used to doing a move set in memorized ahead of time leading into a finish that when something goes wrong, they’ve got no ability to think on their feet and do a smooth spot that gets back to the finish. That’s one of the aspects of how matches are plotted out today that older wrestlers lament.)

-Charlotte made her way to the ring. [c]


They aired the end of Natalya’s ring entrance after the break. Charlotte made a comeback and landed some hard chops and a suplex. When Natalya went for a discus punch, Charlotte ducked and nailed her with a boot to the face. Then she drove her into the turnbuckle. Natalya knocked Charlotte off balance on the top rope and then gave her a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Nicely executed sequence at 11:00. Natalya applied a sharpshooter next. Charlotte crawled quickly to grab the bottom rope. Natalya slingshot Charlotte throat-first into the bottom rope, then hit a discus lariat for a near fall. Charlotte surprised Natalya with a small package for a two count. Natalya kicked Charlotte out of the ring when she went for a figure-four. At ringside, Natalya charged but Charlotte speared her out of mid-air. Back in the ring she applied the figure-four. She bridged into the Figure-Eight. They exchanged slaps and then Natalya reversed it. Charlotte slipped out of the ring, but Natalya held on. Charlotte eventually broke free and Natalya sold a knee injury.


Charlotte climbed to the top rope. Natalya met her up there and kneed her. Then she landed a top rope superplex. Both were slow to get up. Suddenly Carmella’s music played and she ran out with the MITB contract. She handed the briefcase to a second ref at ringside. She turned and ate a boot from Charlotte. Natalya then rolled up Charlotte for a leverage three count. The MITB cash-in was not official because the bell never rang.

WINNER: Natalya in 13:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. These two are comfortable and just when you thought you knew where it going, they’d take it a different direction. The Carmella run-in was a good way to remind fans of the MITB as a factor headed into WrestleMania. I’m surprised they gave Natalya a win over Charlotte under any circumstances headed into the Asuka match.)

-Phillips listed some injuries Shane McMahon was diagnosed with including a contusion and some strains of various body parts I’ve never heard of. He said he’s resting at home. Graves wondered if there would be repercussions for Sami and KO or perhaps a reward. Saxton hyped Jimmy Uso vs. Luke Harper next. [c]

NOTE: If you have questions or a reaction to tonight’s Smackdown, send it to for the Mailbag Segment of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show (#WKPWP) taped tonight and available a couple hours after Smackdown ends. Call (347) 215-8558 to converse with Wade Keller and guest cohost Cameron Hawkins from the PWTorch East Coast Cast.

Subscribe to download the show by searching “Wade Keller” in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts!

-Phillips talked about Bryan being cleared and they showed some headlines from Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, E! News, The (UK) Sun, USA Today, ESPN, and TMZ Sports.

-Before the match, the Usos cut a mid-ring promo. They talked about the Bludgeon Brothers interrupting the New Day vs. Usos match at Fastlane match, which they said was on their way to being another classic to determine who’d go on to WrestleMania to defend the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles. He said they’re hurt, but still there with the belts holding down the tag team division. They said they don’t know how to back down; they only know how to survive and go hard and be the best damn tag team WWE has ever seen. Some cheers, but not what you’d hope. Jimmy said they’re about to go to war and closed with their catch phrase: “Welcome to the Uso Penitentiary.”

(4) JIMMY USO (w/Jey Uso) vs. LUKE HARPER (w/Erick Rowan)

They cut to a break during the Bludgeon Brothers’ ring entrance, but stayed with it on split screen. Jimmy dove at Luke at ringside, but Luke popped him out of mid-air and then beat him up at ringside near the announce table. Rowan wore his sheep headgear at ringside. When they fought to ringside, Jimmy shoved a charging Harper into the LED apron, knocking out a video square. A distraction by Rowan gave Harper an opening, but Jimmy kicked Rowan off the ring apron and then kicked Harper with an enzuigiri. Jimmy then superkicked Harper for a near fall. Jimmy climbed to the top rope, but Graves knocked him off balance and rammed his head into the ringpost. He then nailed Jimmy with a spinning clothesline for the clean win.

WINNER: Harper in 5:00.

-They showed Jinder Mahal and Samil Singh backstage. [c]

-Jinder said a man of his wealth could be vacationing anywhere in the world. “A man with my good looks and physique, I could be the biggest movie star in Bollywood, yet I chose to hone my craft. I am the man who restored glory to the WWE Championship.” He said he made Smackdown the premiere show, but the fans pelt him with discontent. He said fans just want the status quo with men like Randy Orton instead of embracing change. Bobby Roode walked out and said the only hypocrite in the arena is him. He said respect is a two way street and Jinder doesn’t deserve any respect. He said the only thing Jinder deserves at WrestleMania is him beating him and regaining his U.S. Title. He said when he does, it will be… at which point he was interrupted by Randy Orton.

Orton said he doesn’t understand why nobody respects him. He said his name never comes up when talking about great champions. “The reason is, without the help of your little stooge, you suck.” Jinder made that face he makes and threw the mic down and yanked off his jacket and threw Singh at Orton and then ducked to ringside. Orton gave Singh a DDT off the middle of rope. Orton set up an RKO, but Roode stole the moment with a Glorious DDT. When Orton moved in, Roode blocked his RKO attempt. They turned to keep Jinder from entering, then turned back to one another. Fans chanted “RKO!” Jinder yelled, “See you at WrestleMania.” He pointed at the sign.

(Keller’s Analysis: Paint by numbers segment, and it was fine, although the only one who seemed the least bit human as opposed to a catch-phrase-spewing script-reciting sports entertainer was Orton.)

-Backstage Naomi and Becky Lynch were chatting. [c]


When Becky applied a Disarmher on Logan, Naomi used a Rear View to prevent Morgan from interfering. Logan tapped out.

WINNERS: Becky & Naomi in 3:00.

-Backstage Bryan told someone on the phone thanks and “yes, it’s been a long time.” A backstage worker on a headset (likely a creative team member) told Bryan that KO and Sami have arrived. He said he’d meet them in the ring.

-Promos aired for Mixed Match Challenge. [c]

-A Snickers sponsored video aired highlighting WrestleMania 1 starring Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.

-Bryan was in the ring leading “Yes!” chants. Phillips said it’s been an incredible day for Bryan, but he must now deal with his duties as General Manager. He said it’s already been a big night for him, but he has one more thing to address. He asked KO and Sami to come to the ring. KO’s music played and they walked out. Phillips said they administered a heinous beatdown of Shane last week. KO said they’re so thrilled for him. He said they weren’t going to come, but they got the news that everyone’s been waiting for for years. He said they got the notification on their phone. So he said they raced over there as quickly as they could. Owens said they got a ticket for speeding 10-15 miles per hour over the speed limit, “like that’s a big deal.” He said they talked their way out of it. “Because what’s the saying? Everyone’s dumber in Texas.”

Sami said Bryan has been their biggest supporter since Day One. He said Bryan was fair to them when Shane had a personal vendetta against them. Sami said regarding the A-show/B-show debate about Raw and Smackdown, any roster that has Sami, KO, and Bryan on it is “The Dream Show.” He said if they teamed together, it’d be a dream team. Bryan said he appreciates that, but that’s not why he brought them there. He threw to a video package of the Shane beatdown last week.

Back live, KO and Sami laughed. Bryan asked if they thought it was funny. KO said they might have gotten carried away. Sami said it looked extreme, but Bryan has to admit Shane deserved it. Bryan said they’re acting like this is no big deal. He said this is not a small thing, it’s a big deal. He asked if they understand what they just did. He said they have to know he believes they are two of the best performers of this generation. Mix of applause and boos. Bryan said Shane is right he was living vicariously through them. He said they came from the same place and have known each other for 15 years.

He said they did more than get a little carried away. “You assaulted your boss,” he said. “Here’s what I don’t get. Here’s what I am really having a hard time understanding. You guys won. You guys won. Shane came out here and admitted he treated you guys wrong and gave the two of you a singles match against each other at WrestleMania, the Grandest Stage of them All.” He told them to imagine ten years ago in an armory in front of 300 people that someone said they’d get to fight each other at WrestleMania. He said Shane said he was leaving, too, and they knew that he would be there in their corner to run the show, but they still felt the need to assault the boss. He said he doesn’t get it. He said Shane is right. He said he’s been fired from the company twice and he came back a better man. He said they can learn and grow. He said he hates that he has to do this, “but Sami, Kevin, you’re fired.” Huge explosion of cheers. Fans chanted “Yes!”

Bryan said they’re not fired forever necessarily, but they are fired for now. He said they know how much they mean to him. Bryan offered a handshake. Sami shook his hand as fans chanted “Hey hey hey, good bye.” KO shook his hand next. They both were dismayed. KO then turned to leave, but then turned back and attacked Bryan. Boos. “You did this!” he said. “You!” Sami mounted Bryan and punched away at him. KO and Sami looked at each other and were fuming. Bryan fought back against both of them. He threw kicks to KO. Sami jumped him from behind. Bryan gave Sami a snap German suplex and then KO a running dropkick in the corner. Then he gave one to Sami. Then another to KO and another to Sami. “He is back!” said Graves. Bryan began Yes kicking KO. Sami jumped him. KO superkicked him as Sami held him.

Sami then delivered a Helluva kick to Bryan’s head. Bryan collapsed to the mat. “You suck!” chanted the crowd. Sami threw Bryan to ringside. Several referees tried to talk them into backing down. Nobody ran out for the save. KO then powerbombed Bryan hard on the edge of the ring apron as Phillips yelled, “Don’t do this!” They left as referees checked on Bryan. A gurney was wheeled out. The show ended with Bryan being carefully put on the back-brace to be strapped in.

(Keller’s Analysis: Bryan didn’t dip his toe back into in-ring action. He unleashed a fury of offense and took some nasty bumps. Very dramatic and very much playing on fans’ emotions.)

NOTE: If you have questions or a reaction to tonight’s Smackdown, send it to for the Mailbag Segment of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show (#WKPWP) taped tonight and available a couple hours after Smackdown ends. Call (347) 215-8558 to converse with Wade Keller and guest cohost Cameron Hawkins from the PWTorch East Coast Cast.

Subscribe to download the show by searching “Wade Keller” in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts!

14 Comments on KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 3/20: Daniel Bryan to appear live day he was medically cleared, Styles-Nakamura hype, U.S. Title hype, more

  1. Come on Keller, wrestlers have just repeated the botched spot for eons – especially if it’s the finish and they’re running over time as it is. That’s not some new-fangled thing that older wrestlers didn’t do.

    • Actually, a good wrestler did not just look lost and go right back to a botched spot without context. They would re set the match and move on. The paint by numbers wrestling is a WWE thing and often gets exposed when a wrestler can’t call a match properly or when there is a botch and they have no idea how to improvise.

    • I’m liking this card so far. HoF is a bit overcrowded, NXT will outperform as usual. A couple royals to get everyone a payday. Looks like an USOs-New Day-Brothers 3 way, Ronda looks fun and HHH obviously has no problem taking shots from her, Brock-Reigns… uggh, I’d rather have had Brock-Braun but ok, Cena-UT or if not Cena-Kane… maybe 3-way? Vets get a pay day. Alexa-Nia is going to be fun just to see how they do the size discrepancy without a ton of Mickie run-ins. Aj-Shinske looks like a wrestling clinic and the Shane-Daniel vs Owens-Sammi [yes it will be coming] could be some more carnage. I love me some carnage. And i am interested in Braun’s partner… hopefully some useless little twerp that has no right to be in there and gets the pin.

    • “A lot” is two words. You weren’t typing up a 4,000 word report in real time on a live TV show with a podcast to host immediately afterward and you you didn’t even proofread your own two sentence post. Glass house! 🙂

  2. So let’s say some good things for a change…. Daniel Bryan did some nice moves for a top of the card performer which he’s not [YET]. For a guy who sat on the bench for a couple years, absolutely stunning. I forgot how good he could be when WWE lets him do his stuff. Natty-Charlotte… well Charlotte just got some good post-University training for WM. This is what she needs, a couple tune-up matches with Natty to bring her back to the Charlotte we know. If Vince is going to bury Asuka then at least Charlotte is ready to rock. Also nice to see a major one on one womens match. The MITB stuff… well, somebody remembered it exists and watching Carmella walk to the ring is always nice even if she is wearing the dumb Lana suit these days. Scott asked why I don’t rag on Shinske…. well, this week showed why. Shinske pulled out a couple of full speed wrestling moves that almost reached Bryan’s level. And he actually does his promos, and yes they are awful but Shinske is nuts and other than Braun’s carnage the only thing I like better is nuts. Shinkse-Ambrose is a series I could really enjoy. One of the few Smackdowns I watched without reading Wade first and quite enjoyable. See Vince, lose the Daniel-Shane nonsense and looky…

  3. Can anyone truly explain the hype for Asuka?. Her entrance is terrible, She’s awkward in the ring, has no real appeal and can’t give any type of promo. My opinion is she’s not ready to hold the WWE Woman’s title.

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