KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
SEPTEMBER 11, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Tonight after WWE Smackdown, join me live with guest cohost Travis Bryant from the PWTorch East Coast Cast to break down the show with live callers and the mailbag.
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-They opened with a ten bell salute for the victims and heroes of Sept. 11, 2001 with “Never Forget” on the big screen and an image of the Twin Towers. Fans chanted “USA” afterward.
-Phillips introduced the show and (a little too excitedly) said it’s a date in history we will never forget as Hardy made his way to the ring. Hardy slapped hands at ringside. Phillips said he revisits an old rival tonight. They replayed Hardy flip-diving onto Randy Orton through a table three weeks ago, then sitting up with a sinister smile of satisfaction. Saxton said Orton has drawn out this part of Hardy’s persona. Hardy talked about “demons being all around us, tempting us, taunting us, tearing us apart at times.” He said he’s had quite a few in his life and he stands before them a better man as a result. Spattering of applause. He said the only way to cleanse demons is to confront them head-on, and this Sunday he will face his most venomous demon inside Hell in a Cell, his version of paradise. He improvised a strange yell and “oh yeah” at this point. He said Orton has forgotten that while Orton’s a demon, he’s a daredevil without fear. Lots of quiet fans, accentuated by a long pause between words by Hardy. A small “delete” chant filled some space. He said this Sunday he will unleash a lifetime of torment, pain, and suffering on Orton until he fades away and classifies himself as obsolete. Hardy shifted to talking about cleansing himself of a demon of the not-so-recent past, Shinsuke. “Then I’m going straight to hell,” he said. He hopped in the air and shouted, “Enjoy the show!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Hardy is so awkward, but it’s kind of endearing when you see glimpses of his awkward self. I’m just not sure Hardy should ever be assigned a four or five minute solo promo mid-ring. The crowd was so quiet, and part of that was the odd cadence of Hardy’s delivery, but it’s a bad sign for the energy level in the arena tonight. I think having Renee Young or someone interview him and keep the interview moving naturally would have been a better choice here.)
(1) JEFF HARDY vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
Graves said this is a big risk for Hardy to face someone the caliber of Nakamura just five days before facing Orton in a Cell. (So who decided that? Hardy? Or the G.M.?) Hardy took it to Nakamura at ringside when Nakamura ducked to the floor to stall. Hardy charged and clotheslined Nakamura hard into the barricade. They cut to a break. [c]
Nakamura had Hardy grounded after the break with a chinlock. Phillips noted that only Triple H and Undertaker have competed in more HIAC matches than Orton’s three. He drove some knees into Hardy’s ribs. He strutted a bit and then threw some roundkicks. Hardy caught his leg and began a comeback. He landed a sling blade next. Both were slow to get up. Hardy landed a Whisper in the Wind, but couldn’t make the cover. Again, both were slow to get up. When Hardy climbed to the top rope, Nakamura kicked him off balance and then took Hardy off the ring apron with a running kick. They cut to another break. [c]
They stayed with the action this time on split screen. Nakamura dominated during most of the break until a comeback by Hardy. Hardy landed an inverted atomic drop for a two count. Hardy charged Nakamura, but Nakamura moved and Nakamura round kicked him in the neck. Then he stomped on his head over and over in the corner. Graves called this vicious. Nakamura hit Hardy with a running knee. Hardy ducked two Nakamura kicks and hit a Twist of Fate to turn momentum. He pulled off his shirt and then climbed to the top rope. Orton appeared out of nowhere and knocked Hardy off the top rope. Hardy crotched the top rope and then tumbled to the floor.
WINNER: Hardy via DQ in 17:00.
-Orton rammed Hardy’s head into the ringside steps. He brought a chair into the ring next. Orton jabbed Hardy in the ribs and bashed him across the back. With Hardy down, Orton set up an RKO. He pounded the mat. Graves said, “The Viper was coiled, ready to strike.” Hardy blocked it and went for a Twist of Fate, but Orton shoved him off of him. Hardy then bashed Orton with the chair six times. Then he hit the Twist of Fate. Then he landed a Swanton Bomb. Graves said maybe they were all underestimating Hardy going into the HIAC match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Some Booking 101 stuff here, and it was solid. Orton interfering kept them from “sacrificing” Nakamura in a TV match to Hardy and put heat on him for ruining a possible satisfying finish. Hardy got the better of Orton in the attack by the end.)
-Phillips plugged Brie Bella (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. Maryse (w/The Miz) in the TV main event. He said it’s the first time in seven years Maryse would wrestle in a WWE ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: So which brand is Brie assigned to anyway?)
-In a backstage interview, Miz interrupted Kayla’s introduction. He said his wife’s name should come first. She complied. Maryse said it took Bryan three years to come back to the ring and it took her five months after giving birth, so she’s ready. She said she’d make her husband proud and show their daughter how great Mommy is at punching Brie Bella in the face. Miz said they call them the Hardest Hitting Couple in WWE. Miz said Brie and Bryan is a marriage of convenience, but it doesn’t seem like it’s convenient for Brie because Bryan wants to pick berries and read books about saving the environment. He said what Maryse does to Brie will be awesome. Miz and Maryse kissed.
-Phillips plugged Charlotte Flair vs. Sonya Deville. Saxton plugged A.J. Styles was up next. Cheers from the crowd when his face appeared on the arena screen. [c]
-The announcers on camera threw to a video segment filmed earlier in the arena with Styles.
-Styles sat on the ringside steps. He said Samoa Joe knows his biggest weakness is his temper, and he knows to trigger it, he talks about his family. He said he brought his wife into it and his three year old daughter too. He said he thinks if he messes with his heart, he can have the advantage. Styles said after nearly 20 years of friendship, he knows a lot about Joe, too. He said, “Believe it or not, Joe has a family.” He said he would never mess with that because he has integrity. He said integrity is his strength, whereas Joe’s strength is running his mouth. He said Joe’s strength is also being a piece of garbage. He said when the bell rings, no one has the upper hand on him. He said at HIAC, the talking stops and the intimidation ends and Joe will get another dose of what happens when he talks about his family. He said this is the House that A.J. Styles built and it isn’t for rent or for sale.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like the change in setting, and Styles’s delivery was strong here. It felt genuine.)
-Saxton said he’s concerned about Styles’s state of mind going into Sunday. Graves said he thinks Styles is actually scared. Phillips said Joe will present another message later for Styles’s family. Then he threw to an extended clip of the Charlotte-Becky Lynch exchange last week on split screen.
-Kayla interviewed Charlotte, asking her why she requested a match against Sonya Deville this week. Charlotte said she thrives on competition and she doesn’t just talk about, like Becky, but she shows it in the ring. She said at Hell in a Cell, she’ll learn how much easier it is to talk the talk than walk the walk. She let out a “wooo!”
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. [c]
-Back from the break, they threw to a look at the Raw matches on Sunday’s Hell in a Cell and then a video package on Braun Strowman challenging Roman Reigns on Sunday. The announcers then plugged the WWE Network.
(2) CHARLOTTE vs. SONYA DEVILLE (w/Mandy Rose)
Charlotte had to wait inside the ring that whole time. Graves passed on a drooling over Mandy and talked about this being a big chance for Charlotte just five days before HIAC. Saxton said Charlotte thrives on sharpening her skills with tough competition. Graves said Deville took exception to Charlotte framing this as a warm-up match. Charlotte grappled with Sonya early. Charlotte drove Sonya’s head into the mat. Mandy distracted Charlotte. When Sonya tried to take advantage of that with an elbow, Charlotte fired back with a big boot. Sonya bailed out to ringside. [c]
Back live, Sonya had Charlotte in an abdominal stretch. Charlotte came back with a belly-to-back suplex. Then she hit a series of chops in the corner and a then went for a moonsault. Deville lifted her knees. Charlotte overshot and, as usual, the moonsault was a mess. Deville surprised Charlotte with a triangle choke attempt. Charlotte lifted her and slammed her head into the top rope and then turned it into a powerbomb for a two count. That was sloppy and dangerous. Charlotte recovered and put on the Figure-Eight for the tapout win.
WINNER: Charlotte in 9:00.
-Charlotte celebrated her win and made her way toward the back. They stayed with her suspiciously long as she slapped hands with fans on her way to the back. Graves said no opponent has ever known Charlotte as well as Becky. Charlotte returned to ringside and took a selfie pic with fans. Then Becky, in disguise, attacked her. Becky took off her wig and stomped away at Charlotte and then applied the Disarm Her. Some fans defiantly chanted “Becky! Becky!” Becky did her best to seem thuggish as she backed up the stage and trash-talked Charlotte.
(Keller’s Analysis: How freakin’ convenient that Charlotte went to take a selfie in that very spot after the match. Come on WWE, try hard to make this stuff seem plausible and not overtly orchestrated. And Becky’s heel turn is a real thing. There’s no ambiguity at this point; WWE is going through with it.)
-Samoa Joe appeared on the big screen and said he had a bed time story for everyone. He said his story has a hero and a villain, plus a happy ending. He said it’s called “Night Night A.J. by Samoa Joe.” He held up a book with that cover and actually went through the pages with had animated video popping off the pages to go along with the words. It included clips of their feud so far including Styles’s family’s involvement. It closed with an illustration of Styles’s wife and daughter sitting next to Joe with his “newly won” WWE Title belt.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was very well done.)
-They showed Bryan and Brie getting psyched up backstage. The announcers then plugged The Bar vs. Rusev Day. Graves said it’s the first time ever those two teams would do battle. [c]
-Backstage, Kayla interviewed Becky Lynch backstage. Becky said she will break Charlotte’s arm after she takes back her title at HIAC. Then she walked away.
-Back to the announcers, Saxton said Becky’s on a new level of intensity, which is a scary thought. The New Day were stationed at ringside at their own table with all of their usual props.
-A clip aired of The Bar discussing strategy earlier when Kofi Kingston walked into the picture in a white wig pretending to be an announcer, Kramer Kingsman. The Bar made their ring entrance and eyed New Day at ringside as New Day made fun of them. Then Rusev and Aiden English made their ring entrance. English sang his introduction as fans chanted “Rusev Day!” Lana joined them on the stage as they began their trek to the ring.
(3) THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro) vs. RUSEV DAY (Rusev & Aiden English w/Lana)
They cut to a break as the match began, but stayed with the action on split screen. [c]
Rusev backdropped English onto Sheamus and Cesaro at ringside a few minutes in. English scored a two count on Sheamus in the ring after a face-plant DDT. The Bar took over and as Cesaro settled into a chinlock on English, they cut to a break. [c]
(WWE is advertising Samoa Joe & Randy Orton vs. A.J. Styles & Jeff Hardy for the main event of the Nov. 27 Smackdown Live in Minneapolis, Minn. at Target Center.)
Rusev eventually got the tag and rallied against Cesaro. Big E continued to stir pancake batter at ringside in a giant stainless steel bowl. Rusev applied the Accolade mid-ring on Cesaro. Sheamus broke it up. Sheamus and Cesaro double-teamed Rusev and then Sheamus scored a near fall. They isolated Rusev in their corner, but Rusev fought free and rolled up Sheamus for a two count. Sheamus came back with a snap powerslam for a near fall. They caught their breath. Sheamus stood and signaled for the Brogue Kick, but English stepped in the path of it to protect Rusev. Rusev then hit the Machka Kick on Sheamus to get the win. Graves gave English credit for an “absolutely selfless act.”
WINNERS: Rusev Day in 13:00 to earn a Smackdown Tag Team Title match.
-They went to the announcers. Saxton talked about what an incredible match it would be on Sunday between New Day and Rusev Day. Graves then threw to a video package on the Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss match.
-Carmella made her ring entrance. Then R-Truth joined her and they did a duet version of Truth’s entrance song. [c]
(4) R-TRUTH (w/Carmella) vs. ANDRADE CIEN ALMAS (w/Zelina Vega)
Rapid-fire action early including Almas countering Truth’s cartwheel showboating with a backflip into a Pelé kick for a near fall. More rapid-fire back-and-forth. When Almas lounged on the middle rope in a cocky display of confidence, Zelina struck the same pose under him. Carmella yanked her of the ring apron. Almas then rolled up R-Truth and yanked on his jeans to score the three count.
WINNER: Almas in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The pace of that match suggested this wasn’t going to last long. It’s amazing they’ve found a way to incorporate Truth into the show in meaningful way in 2018. Is this a babyface turn for Carmella, or is she destined to discard Truth?)
-Kayla interviewed Asuka about her return last week. Asuka was all smiles. Naomi interrupted Asuka before she could answer the question about her return. Naomi thanked Asuka for having her back last week. She asked why. Asuka said the IIconics are mean and because of their accent, she doesn’t understand them. Her broken English was supposed to be funny-ironic. Asuka said they are fun to punch. Naomi said “Glow.” Asuka thought she said “go” and began to leave. It ended with Naomi thinking she said “Teriaki” and they both got hungry and left. They cut to a shot of the crowd who weren’t sure what to think of what they just watched.
-Brie Bella made her ring entrance alongside husband Daniel Bryan. [c]
(5) BRIE BELLA (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. MARYSE (w/The Miz)
Lots of stalling early by Maryse and Miz. Brie called them cowards. Miz took exception on the mic. “You think we’re cowards?” he asked. Fans chanted “Yes!” Miz said the main event match is over and they’d see them at Hell in a Cell. He said, “Thank you” and then they began to walk to the back. Saxton said they couldn’t be serious. Graves applauded the mind games. Brie chased down Maryse and threw her into the ring apron several times and then into the ring. Graves called Brie psychopathic. Miz distracted Brie. Maryse then surprised Brie with a hook kick to the face and got a two count. Brie came back with a Yes Lock. Miz yanked Brie out of the ring.
WINNER: Brie via DQ.
-Bryan went berserk and attacked Miz. Mix threw Bryan out of the ring and Bryan landed on Brie. Bryan looked on in shock as Brie winced in pain and grabbed her abdomen and back. Miz then attacked Bryan. He told Maryse to go after Brie. She did. She threw Brie head-first into the ring apron. Graves said he cannot wait to see what Maryse does on Sunday. Back in the ring Brie made a comeback with a Thesz Press. Miz entered. Brie stood up to him. Maryse hit Brie from behind and went for a French Kiss DDT, but Brie blocked it. Bryan then attacked Miz with a barrage of Yes Kicks. The crowd was worked into a frenzy as Bryan showed real energy. He told Miz to stand. Miz turned to avoid Bryan and then Brie punched him. Bryan clotheslined Miz over the top rope to the floor. Bryan led the crowd in “Yes” chants. Phillips said Miz and Maryse have more coming on Sunday.