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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 24, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
Tonight after WWE Smackdown, join me live with guest cohost Jason Solomon from Solomonster Sounds Off to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and a live on-site correspondent from Evansville, Ind.
-They opened outside the venue with a limo pulling up. Then Miz and Maryse stepped out. Maryse was holding their infant baby. The premiere episode of “Miz & Mrs” is tonight right after Smackdown.
-Randy Orton came out to his entrance music. They went to a video package of highlights of what Orton has done to Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules and Smackdown last week. He stood in the ring as fans booed. A fan held up a sign that said “Why Randy, Why?” He said he has heard all of their theories, such as he and Jeff had unfinished business from a decade ago or that he was bitter about being ranked at no. 9 on the Smackdown Top Ten List (remember that?), but that didn’t bother him. He said the reason he did what he did was because of the fans. “I have busted my ass for 16 years for you people,” he said. He said he’s the longest tenured wrestler in WWE and every Superstar who walks down the aisle eats at the table he set. He said he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He wondered if it’s because he doesn’t paint his face and wave his hands like an idiot or because he doesn’t change the colors of his merchandise every month and “to steal more money out of you people’s pockets” or because he competes all year long and doesn’t just show up in time for WrestleMania or because he doesn’t put his life on the line and dive off of high places. He said he’s not a indy darling who competed in rundown bingo halls and he didn’t steal some “sweet hand gesture, either.” He asked, “Is that why you don’t respect me? I didn’t pay my dues in front of hundreds of people, I learned from the absolute best this business had to offer.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Okay, so far I’d like to compare this to Dolph Ziggler’s script several months ago. This is better by a good distance in terms of delivery, but man does it ever sound familiar.)
He said he paid his dues in front of millions and millions of people and accomplished everything there is to accomplish in WWE. He said he started as a Legend Killer and now he realizes who the true Legend Killer is. “It is each and every one of you,” he said, turning and pointing at the fans. He said he won’t let them win. “Now I am thee legend and I will make it my mission to destroy every Superstar that you put on a pedestal starting with Jeff Hardy.” He said Jeff isn’t there tonight because of him and when he’s finished with him, Hardy won’t ever be back. He said the only part of Hardy’s story he cares to write about is the final chapter. He said he can be referred to by various nicknames, but the real three letters he’s known for is R-K… and then he dropped the mic and walked out of the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s a little inconsistent to begin with Jeff Hardy, who is 40 compared to Orton at age 38, and whose tenure in WWE, while interrupted with a big gap, started before Orton by a several years. Overall, a really good promo that sets up Orton with an actual “journey” to go on. He’s been floating around pretty aimlessly for a while without any tangible goals most of the time. Smackdown sure needs some top babyface depth, though.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Phillips reacted briefly to Orton, then quickly pivoted to previewing a recap of the Raw announcement about the Evolution PPV. [c]
-The announcers hyped Paige’s announcement of who Styles’s opponent will be.
-A video package aired on the women’s PPV announcement along with some of the women reacting including Bayley who said she can’t wait.
-Rusev made his ring entrance with Lana. They cut to footage from earlier in the day where Zelina Vega told Lana that Almas should be A.J. Styles’s opponent at Summerslam because he’s twice the man that Rusev is. Lana said if not for Aiden English’s mistake, he’d be champion so therefore he deserves another chance. Rusev challenged Almas to a match at Summerslam. Zelina said her client accepts.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good set-up, and it sure looks like Rusev is going to replace Orton as a top four singles babyface on the Smackdown roster along with Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Hardy.)
(1) RUSEV (w/Lana) vs. ANDRADE CIEN ALMAS (w/Zelina Vega)
Almas and Vega then made their ring entrance. Almas carries himself like he believes in himself. The announcers commented on English not being present. Almas did the cocky tranquilo pose in the ropes early. Rusev chased Almas back into the ring. Rusev knocked him down with a forearm and then delivered a suplex as fans chanted “Rusev Day.” Almas rolled to the floor. [c]
They stuck with the action on split screen. Almas avoided a Rusev charge into the corner, then applied an armbar in the ropes for a four count. They fought briefly at ringside. Almas continued to work over his arm in the ring. They returned from the break with Almas locking an armbar on Rusev mid-ring as more “Rusev Day” chants broke out. Rusev eventually made a comeback with a high kick to the head. He stomped the mat and charged with a Machka Kick, but Almas moved and slapped Rusev in the chest. Rusev no-sold it and then nailed Almas with hard side elbow shots to the head. He set up a hammerlock DDT, but Almas faked with a kick and landed a spinning backfist. When he charged, Rusev surprised him with a Machka Kick. Both were down and slow to get up. “Rusev Day!” broke out again as Lana and Zelina argued at ringside. Zelina slapped Lana and laughed. Lana tackled Zelina. English ran out and pulled Lana off of Vega. Zelina knocked English into Lana. Rusev looked up and saw the end of what happened and yelled at English. Almas then gave a distracted Rusev his hammerlock DDT for the win.
WINNER: Almas in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a good feud for both Rusev and Almas, in part because fans will love cheering Rusev against Almas, and Almas can have really good matches with Rusev. Also, Lana and Zelina clashing adds a whole other dynamic to this. Good choice to feud these two at this point, and I expect it to continue. English is an X-factor at play, too.)
-Graves plugged the Premiere Party for “Miz & Mrs” later on Smackdown.
-R-Truth talked with Tye Dillinger about Samoa Joe. Truth lamented that his first match back on Smackdown Live is against Joe. Tye gave him a pep talk about being The Truth. Truth got psyched up and said he’s about to show Joe what’s up. [c]
-Backstage Lana and English were yelling at each other. Maybe Bayley and Sasha know a counselor who could help. Rusev told them to shut up and said, “Maybe none of you is good for Rusev Day!” He stormed off. The crowd “ohhh’d.” Lana and English looked worried.
(2) SAMOA JOE vs. R-TRUTH
Truth danced out and sang his “What’s up?” entrance theme and shook hands with fans. They replayed what happened with Joe and Tye before the match. Joe went after Truth aggressively, but Truth ducked, did the splits, and wheel kicked Joe. He then hit a corner splash and landed a flying clothesline. He played to the crowd and got cheered, but after doing a celebratory splits, Joe headbutted him and then gave him a urinage. Joe then applied a rear naked choke. Truth tapped out.
WINNER: Joe in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s the type of dominant squash that indicates Joe is being built to be Styles’s challenger at Summerslam. Truth is a sympathetic likable opponent to keep Joe on the heel side of things.)
-Phillips plugged New Day vs. Sanity would begin the Smackdown Tag Team Contendership Tournament.
-Backstage, Dasha Fuentes asked Asuka for her reaction to Evolution. She said she is ready, but Billie Kay is not ready for Asuka.
(Keller’s Analysis: I guess they’re doubling-down on Asuka’s goofy cornball over-the-top cheesy over-enunciation as being her “thing.”)
(3) ASUKA vs. BILLIE KAYE (w/Peyton Royce)
Graves said during Asuka’s ring entrance that she continues to “redefine sports entertainment’s women’s division.” Phillips talked about her winning streak in NXT. A quick selfie-promo aired with the IIconics reacting to the first-ever all-women’s WWE PPV, which quickly turned into an insult session aimed at Asuka where they concluded (with massive over-modulation) that they are better than Asuka. Billie got in a little bit of early offense, but Asuka finished her with some stiff kicks.
WINNER: Asuka in 3:00.
-A selfie-promo aired with Shinsuke Nakamura who talked about still being U.S. Champion despite Hardy coming close. He asked if Hardy could hear him. “Poor Jeff, you have been bitten by the Viper,” he said. He told Randy to be careful because he bites back.
-The announcers hyped Becky Lynch vs. Carmella coming up later. [c]
-They showed Miz and Maryse and their baby daughter being photographed in front of a “Miz & Mrs” backdrop.
-Paige stood in the ring for the big Summerslam announcement. She told fans she is having so much fun being their Smackdown General Manager. She also commented on the Evolution PPV and said she’s excited to see Trish Stratus and Lita along with 50 women on one show “from the past, present, and future.” How are they going to feature women from the future, exactly? She shifted to her WWE Title match announcement. She introduced the fans to A.J. Styles, who made his ring entrance.
When Styles entered the ring, an organic and loud and sustained “A.J. Styles” chant broke out. He smiled and soaked it up. He said to those who do not know, he is a husband and a father, and when he heard Stephanie announce the all-women’s PPV, the first person he thought of was his little girl. He said he can look into her beautiful brown eyes and say if she wants it bad enough, now is the time to go after it and get it as there’s nothing she can’t accomplish in this world. He said he’s proud of the company he works for.
He said he is also proud to defend the most prestigious championship “not just in WWE, but in the world.” (That’s old school, talking about your title being a bigger deal than all of the others outside of your company.) He talked about his past matches at Summerslam. He said Summerslam is no different than WrestleMania, except he’s turning the heat up a little bit more. He signed the contract and then asked Paige who his opponent is going to be.
Paige asked for a drum roll and then said his opponent is going to be… at which point James Ellsworth interrupted. The look on Styles’s face was priceless. The announcers wondered what was going on. Ellsworth introduced himself and complimented Carmella as being exquisite. He said the real reason he came back to WWE was for the title Styles holds. He said he’s the most worthy challenger because he’s defeated him three times. “You know what they say,” he said. “A fourth time’s a charm.” Styles said nobody says that. Ellsworth said they will after he beats him. He said it’s obvious Styles is scared of him. He said he’ll make him quit and then he’ll be the new champion. “Hot damn!” Ellsworth concluded. Paige told Styles she’s got this. “James, just stop it, okay?” she said. Fans laughed. She asked what he’s doing out there. “You’re a joke,” she said. Some fans laughed, others thought it was a bit harsh, it seemed. Ellsworth said Paige is the joke. He said they can’t even understand what she says half the time. “And look at the way you look,” he said, with a chuckle, oblivious to the irony. She said they don’t make fun of people around here. “You’re as pale as a ghost,” Ellsworth chuckled. She walked up to him and put her hand on his shoulder and brushed his arm. She grabbed his arm and said, “I’ve got two words for you. No, not those.” (The crowd yelled “suck it” and that’s what she was responding to.) She said: “Two other sprang to mind. You’re fired!” She called for security to escort him out. “Yes! Yes!” chanted the fans. Two security guys carried him out as he flailed wildly. Paige followed them to the back and told Styles to hold a minute.
They went backstage where Ellsworth continued to flail. Security set him down and she booted him out the doors, literally kicking him in the ass. She told security to guard the doors so he doesn’t try to sneak back in. Then she made her way back to the ring. Back inside the ring, Joe had attacked Styles and then put him in the Coquina Clutch. Graves called it an ambush. Joe put Styles out cold and then stood and signed the Summerslam contract. Then he threw the table down and left the ring. Phillips wondered if that means it’s official.
(Keller’s Analysis: Ellsworth was obnoxiously fun, and Paige booting him out of the arena, literally, was a good payoff. Not sure if he’s really gone, but it’d be a shame as he does add to Carmella’s act. It set up Carmella losing and then perhaps lobbying to get Ellsworth back by her side somehow. As for Joe, I like his intensity and the set-up for the match against Styles at Summerslam. A lot of fans like Joe, but the way he’s acting is the best bet to keep who like both Joe and Styles reacting more positively to Styles.) [c]
-They replayed the Joe attack.
-Paige confronted Joe backstage. She asked what he was doing. She said she picked him to be the opponent of Styles because he’s unpredictable and has a killer instinct, but that’s not the right way. Joe said that was unpredictable and showed killer instinct. He said what she had planned was pedestrian, but what he did was phenomenal. Paige took some deep breaths. Carmella walked up to her and said what she did to Ellsworth was rude and power has gone to her head. She said she’s staying champion until the first-ever all-women’s WWE PPV. She said she beat Charlotte Flair twice and Asuka twice and she’ll beat Becky Lynch right now.
(4) BECKY LYNCH vs. CARMELLA
Becky took it to Carmella early. Carmella bailed out to ringside. Becky went after her and knocked her down. Carmella rolled out of the ring again, but his time threw Becky into the security barrier. [c]
During the break on split screen, Carmella settled into a chinlock. They fought back and forth for a few minutes. Becky climbed to the top rope, but Carmella knocked her off balance and then took Becky over with a head scissors for a two count. Becky went for a top rope legdrop a minute later, but Carmella moved and she kicked Becky and scored a believable near fall. Becky surprised Carmella with a disarmher to earn a Summerslam title match. Graves made a big deal out of a slow ref count earlier in the match, making the case Carmella was the rightful winner and was cheated.
WINNER: Becky Lynch in 10:00.
-A soundbite promo aired with The Bludgeon Brothers. They said the same fate awaits whoever wins the tournament – it will be a bludgeoning.
-New Day made their ring entrance. [c]
(5) THE NEW DAY (Xavier Woods & Big E w/Kofi Kingston) vs. SANITY (Killian Dane & Alexander Wolfe w/Eric Young)
The Usos joined the announcers on commentary. The Usos said the pancakes taste like they were soaked in hot dog juice. “Are those the ones that were pulled out of Big E’s singlet,” said Graves. Byron told them not to worry about the details, but just enjoy the taste. The Usos said they’ve been beaten and knocked down , but they’ll rise to the top again. Sanity dominated the first couple minutes and they cut to a break. [c]
The Usos made fun of Phillips. In the end, Young tried to interfere, but Kofi knocked him out of the way. Woods and Big E then hit the Up Up Down Down on Wolfe to get the pin.
WINNERS: New Day in 8:00.
-The Usos stepped onto the ring apron. Then Sheamus & Cesaro stepped onto the stage and said they’re back and asked if anyone missed them. They said they miss being the tag team champions, so they’ll win the tournament and then beat The Bludgeon Brothers at Summerslam. They closed with their “We are the bar” line and hugged. [c]
-Backstage Miz and Maryse told Paige they need a babysitter. In walked Sin Cara in a mask. Miz wasn’t happy that he was in a mask. Miz said he’d officially introduce the cutest baby ever to the WWE Universe. He put on the baby backpack and began to make his way to the ring. [c]
-Miz and Maryse and their baby came to the ring. Miz complimented Maryse and said she’s the Mother of the Century. She brought up the all-women’s PPV and said, “Let’s face it, the Evolution started with me.” She shifted into a plug for “Miz & Mrs.” Miz said their baby has accomplished more in her short life than Daniel Bryan has since his return. Miz formally introduced Monroe Sky to the WWE Universe. Fans chanted her name. Miz whispered that it seemed the mere mention of Bryan’s name has put Monroe into dream land. He asked everyone to use their lower voices. Fans booed. He asked what kind of a city they are. He said it’s time to air a preview of “Miz & Mrs.”
A series of clips aired of embarrassing Miz snippets from his days in WWE. Bryan then appeared on the big screen. He said he doesn’t know what happened and blamed “Kerwin in the truck,” but it sure looks like it was the greatest reality show ever. He apologized, but he said he should apologize to Miz in person in the ring. Bryan on his way was confronted by two security guys. Bryan fought through them. Then he entered the ring and Miz seemed to throw Monroe at Bryan. Bryan caught what was actually doll. Miz then surprised Bryan with a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz said he knew Bryan would try to steal his spotlight because it always has to be about Bryan. He gloated about fooling everyone with a baby doll. He said the baby backstage was an actor. “Do you really think I’d bring my precious little angel to a city like this?” he asked. He told Bryan that his face is in the mat. Graves gloated about what Miz pulled off.