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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JUNE 12, 2018
MEMPHIS, TENN. AT FEDEX FORUM
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-The announcers introduced the show and hyped a loaded line-up: Daniel Bryan vs. Shelton Benjamin for the first time ever, Samoa Joe vs. Rusev for the first time ever, and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy for the first time ever.
-Paige stood mid-ring for the Women’s Summit alongside Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Lana. Paige listed the Raw wrestlers who will be in the MITB match – Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Alexa Bliss. She talked about this being a career-defining moment. She said she hopes one of them brings the MITB briefcase “back to my house.” Lana said, “Don’t worry, I’ll bring it home.” Naomi interrupted. Lana, without an accent, told her she hopes she climbs a ladder better than she dances. Naomi told everyone to remember she won the first WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. Charlotte told Naomi that she won only because she wasn’t in the match. Charlotte listed her accolades, and said the one thing she hasn’t done is win that contract, so this Sunday she plans to bring it home. Becky Lynch said she was the first woman drafted to Smackdown and the first-ever Smackdown Women’s Champion. She said she’s going to grab that briefcase and cash it in on either Carmella or Asuka and become Smackdown Women’s Champion again. She reminded Charlotte she beat her last week and then asked how her arm is. Naomi said there are other women in the match. Becky said she’ll beat them, too.
The IIconics came out. Graves said they’re not in the MITB ladder match. The Iiconics said the Smackdown Universe smells kind of funny. They made fun of Becky’s accent. The crowd booed. Then they mocked Charlotte and said she likes to dress up in her daddy’s robes and is a baby from North Carolina who cries when she loses. Naomi asked if they’re done “yapping and running your mouth.” The IIconics said they didn’t forget about her. They sang her song and square danced to the tune. They spared Lana.
They were interrupted by Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, who came out in new ring gear with a base of white and then rainbow splashes of color. Rose said Paige will be disappointed because the talent outside the ring is far superior to the talent inside the ring. Becky led the foursome in the ring to attack the two pairs in the aisle. They brawled for a few seconds before the camera switched to the announcers at ringside as referees were trying to separate them.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not a fan of just cutting away from a brawl before the women have been fully separated. This was a paint-by-numbers method of setting up a TV match. It’s fine. It’s formulaic, but it gets them to where they want to be. Becky was the only one who seemed very likable by the end. Everyone was either being bean or snarky or arrogant or self-centered.)
-The announcers hyped the Bryan vs. Shelton match by noting that in Memphis on March 30, 2014, Bryan led a protest. Then two months ago, as Randy Orton was battling Shelton, Sunil Singh interfered in a red mask, giving Shelton an opening to score a pin on Orton.
-They showed Bryan doing jump rope backstage and then doing an intense “Yes!” chant. Phillips said they’d fill fans in on what happened on social media between Bryan and Shelton.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure what the highlights of Orton vs. Shelton or Bryan’s protests four years ago had to do with Bryan vs. Shelton today.) [c]
-In a SHOCKING announcement, Phillips said Paige booked an eight-woman tag match involved the foursomes who brawled before the break. He said it’s the biggest women’s tag match in Smackdown history. The announcers then threw to a “social media” selfie movie from an unflattering angle of Daniel Bryan yelling that he’s going to make Big Cass tap out at MITB on Sunday. Graves said Bryan better be ready for the fight of his life. He said he’s never seen that level of intensity and anger out of Bryan.
(1) DANIEL BRYAN vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN
Phillips said Bryan took exception to Shelton’s thoughts on social media lately about Bryan’s criticism of Cass. What they put on the screen didn’t really seem like fighting words or controversial. Shelton took Bryan down at ringside. Bryan sold his knee being injured. [c]
They stayed with the action during the break on split screen. Bryan took a running leap off the ring apron and took Shelton down. Shelton came back with an attack on Bryan’s knee. After the break, the announcers talked about Bryan’s weakened knee being a factor headed into Sunday’s match against Big Cass. Shelton put Bryan in a half crab, but Bryan countered into his heel hook for the tapout win.
WINNER: Bryan in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Okay match. It seemed ultimately to be about setting up Bryan’s leg being weak for a Cass win on Sunday to extend the feud.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside on camera who plugged WWE Network and the new one hour earlier start time for PPVs now. [c]
-Asuka told Paige backstage she wants Carmella tonight. Paige said she’d expand the match to a “ten girl tag.” (Girls?) Then she saw Miz in a referee shirt and a black headband. She asked what is doing. He made up a fake story about rehearsing for a movie about a dog refereeing at WrestleMania called “Ruff Ruff Ref.” He asked her to put him in the Samoa Joe vs. Rusev match as a special referee. Paige said she knows what he’s up to and it’s not going to happen. Miz was upset. Paige said, “When my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut!” She appointed Miz referee for the Joe vs. Rusev match. Miz said that’s what he wanted.
-Graves said he’s excited to see “Ruff Ruff Ref.” Graves threw to a video package on the A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura “Last Man Standing” match.
-Jerry Lawler, a Memphis wrestling legend, walked out. He introduced A.J. Styles. Lawler asked Styles what caused him to slap Nakamura the way he slapped Andy Kauffman back in the day. Styles said he lost his cool and maybe he should apologize. Styles said, “I’m sorry. Yeah, I’m sorry I didn’t knock his head off with my fist. This isn’t no playground. This is Smackdown Live, the house that A.J. Styles built. This is what we do.” He said they have some unwritten rules and if Shinsuke can’t follow those, he has to be disciplined. He said if he wants to act like a child, he’ll act like a man – the Last Man Standing. He said he’s walking out of the ring the same way he walked in, as WWE Champion.
(Keller’s Analysis: To the point. I like it. Not too cute. Just Styles calling out Nakamura for his childish behavior. It was hilarious how happy Lawler was when Styles said he was sorry he didn’t knock his head off.)
-Miz talked with a regular ref backstage about the latitude he has to keep order in the ring as referee. “They can’t touch me,” he said. “I have full control. They can’t touch me, but I can touch them.” The ref said he can’t cross over certain lines.
-Graves said Joe vs. Rusev just became must-see with Miz being added. [c]
-Phillips said The Bludgeon Brothers will defend against Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows on the MITB Kickoff Show.
(2) RUSEV (w/Aiden English) vs. SAMOA JOE
Miz came out first. Then Aiden took the stage. Fans greeted him with “Rusev Day” chants. English opera-rapped about Money in the Bank. Samoa Joe then came out. The announcers hyped the full MITB men’s match line-up. Phillips said Rusev is one of the few “Superstars” who can match up power-for-power with Joe. Joe knocked Rusev to the floor and then knocked him down with a flying elbow to the side of his head. [c]
Back live, Joe had Rusev in a chinlock mid-ring. Graves wondered what would happen if “Ruff Ruff Ref” gets an international release on Rusev Day. They went to a split screen with a commercial for the MITB PPV.
(Keller’s Analysis: The really, really long headlock by Joe just feels too conveniently lined up with the commercial, as does Rusev fighting back to break out of it right after it end. It just is so obvious they’re told to just rest in the middle of the ring until the commercial message finishes playing on split screen. It chips away at the match momentum and any suspension of disbelief that these two are fighting to win rather than fighting to perform within a prescribed parameter.)
Rusev fought back with round kicks and dropped Joe. Then a leaping spin wheel kick took Joe down hard. Joe came back with a sleeper. English distracted the ref. Rusev escaped and then Joe charged at Rusev, but Rusev moved and Joe knocked into the ref, Miz, in the corner. Joe kicked English off the ring apron. Joe gave Rusev a urinage and made the cover. Miz didn’t make the count and instead yelled at Joe. Joe twisted Miz’s wrist. Rusev then “blindsided” Joe with a Machka Kick to the side of his head for the win.
WINNER: Joe in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was hardly a match. Between the regular commercial and the MITB insert commercial, it didn’t amount to much and never really got in the flow. I’d like to see more between these two some day, though.)
-After the match, Rusev rammed Joe with a ladder. Rusev set up the ladder and climbed to get the briefcase. Byron said he was looking for a visual display of what could happen this Sunday. Miz yanked him off the ladder and gave him a Skull Crushing Finale. Then he climbed the ladder and held up the MITB briefcase and let out some barbaric yells. Miz went to ringside and slammed the briefcase in front of Byron. He said he’s going to win the briefcase and then cash in and become WWE Champion. Miz told Saxton to open it and look inside at the contract. Byron opened it and it was filled with pancakes. Miz threw the pancakes around and yelled, “Where is the contract?! New Day! New Day!” They cut to New Day backstage cackling in celebration over Miz being mad at them. Xavier and Kofi were sharing a single t-shirt.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not only was Miz’s reaction and New Day’s reaction aimed at 8 year olds, but 8 year olds are the only ones who wouldn’t notice that New Day’s prank working was predicated on the unforeseeable sequence of Miz deciding to make himself referee, retrieve the briefcase after the match, and decide to open it or insist someone else open it even though no one has ever opened the briefcase before. It’s just stoopid. If you turn your brain off entirely, it’s HILARIOUS. But the acting was unnecessarily over the top and the unlikely series of events taking place to pay it off was just distracting.)
-The announcers hyped Nakamura vs. Hardy up next. [c]
(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. JEFF HARDY
Hardy made his full ring entrance. Then Nakamura. Nakamura slid out of the ring a few minutes into the match, mocked Hardy’s hand gestures, and then let out a “Come on!” yell. Hardy went after him and threw him into the ringside barricade. Hardy then leaped off the ring apron with a flying clothesline. They cut to a break. [c]
Nakamura took control during the break in action that showed on split-screen. Hardy made a comeback. Nakamura took control again briefly, but Hardy snapped Nakamura throat-first over the top rope and then flipped off the top rope with a Whisper in the Wind for a near fall. Hardy then landed a Swanton, but he was slow to make the cover as he sold a back injury. Nakamura put his foot on the bottom rope to stop the ref’s count at two. As Hardy set up a Twist of Fate, Nakamura gave him a low blow for the DQ.
WINNER: Hardy via DQ in 8:00.
-After the match, Nakamura gave Hardy a Kinsasha and counted to ten for a symbolic Last Man Standing style victory.
-Backstage in the make-up area, Carmella told the make-up lady she basically woke up looking this good, then told her to leave. Renee Young asked Carmella if she’s at all concerned about her defense on Sunday. Carmella laughed off the question and said she’s champion and not at all concerned. She explained the transitive math logic of being better than Asuka because she beat Charlotte twice and Charlotte beat Asuka. She said Becky, Charlotte, Lana, and Naomi should be concerned, and Asuka should be scared. “I’m ready for Asuka,” she said. “Because ‘Mella is money.” [c]
-They aired an ad for Stephanie McMahon on “Undercover Boss.”
-Renee tried to interview Big Cass. He said he could do this on his own. He looked at the camera and said he made an appearance at the Memphis County Fair. He said he smiled for a few pictures, took his money, and stole a souvenir. He showed off a crazy clown height measurement stand. He said unfortunately Daniel Bryan doesn’t make the height requirement for the ride. He said Bryan is going to take a free fall drop on Sunday.
-Asuka’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-More ring entrances took place for the main event.
(4) THE IICONICS (Peyton Royce & Billie Kaye) & MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE & CARMELLA vs. BECKY LYNCH & CHARLOTTE & LANA & ASUKA & NAOMI
Becky tossed around Rose and scored a two count a minute into the match. They cut to a break. [c]
Becky and Deville slowed down so they could go to split screen and air a MITB commercial. Asuka eventually tagged in and went after Rose. When Asuka went for an Asuka Lock, Rose’s teammates ran in. A big brawl broke out with everyone. Charlotte moonsaulted The IIconics at ringside. Rose and Deville then threw her into the ringside barricade. Naomi then dove onto Deville off the ring apron. Asuka kicked Rose, but Carmella surprised Asuka with a kick. Lana broke up what looked like a convincing cover. Carmella knocked Lana out of the ring, but Asuka then kicked Carmella and applied the Asuka Lock for the tapout win. Graves paused his drooling over Rose to say that he had his doubts whether Asuka could do that to Carmella again on Sunday.
WINNER: Team Asuka.
(Keller’s Analysis: The lead-up was very different, but the visual of the challenger forcing the champion to tapout is too similar to what happened on Raw.)
-After the match, the scene changed to Charlotte, Naomi, Lana, and Becky surrounding Asuka and looking up at the briefcase as the show ended.