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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 23, 2018
NEWARK, N.J. AT PRUDENTIAL CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Tonight after WWE Smackdown, join me live with guest cohost Mike McMahon (from the Impact Post-Show on the PWTorch Livecast line-up) to break down the show with live callers, an on-site correspondent, and the mailbag.
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-Phillips introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd. He welcomed fans, but didn’t say they were in New Jersey. The graphic on the screen did indicate it, though. Then New Day made their ring entrance. Graves said, “New Day is the equivalent of drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth. There is nothing pleasant about it.” Byron said, “Suit yourself.” (I’m not sure if he was just being a New Day fan or indicating he enjoyed the taste of OJ after brushing his teeth.) They went to a replay of Big Show turning heel last week on Smackdown, costing New Day the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Phillips said Shane McMahon has booked The Bar vs. The New Day in a title rematch.
(Keller’s Analysis: Interesting he credited Shane for the decision instead of Paige. Is WWE not allowed to have women even book matches for the Saudi show?)
Xavier Woods said last week New Day were cheated and defeated. The crowd booed. Kofi Kingston said, “They didn’t set the bar, they lowered the bar.” He said they took advantage of the situation and that’s what they do. What he can’t wrap his mind around is Big Show’s decision. They began saying “Big Show” like they “Who?” Xavier asked if that makes him the Bartender now. Big E rolled his eyes at the joke. Big E said they thought he was cool, but said Big Show flips back and forth more times than a flapjack. Kofi said he wanted retribution and called out any of the three for a singles match. The Bar’s music played as Big Show, Sheamus, and Cesaro walked out. Show smiled and stared down Big E.
(1) THE BIG SHOW (w/Cesaro, Sheamus) vs. KOFI KINGSTON (w/Xavier Woods, Big E)
Before the match, Sheamus teased he was going to wrestle Kofi. Then Cesaro took his place. And finally Show entered and the bell rang. Phillips called it mind games. Kofi hit an early dropkick, but Show overpowered him and chopped his chest seconds later. He tossed him across the ring. Then he chokeslammed him three times. When he set up another, Big E and Xavier ran in. Sheamus and Cesaro also ran in. The ref called off the match.
WINNERS: No contest in 4:00.
-They continued to brawl after the match. The heels got the better of New Day. Graves relished that New Day finally met their match and didn’t have a numbers advantage anymore. Show gave Xavier his KO Punch as Cesaro and Sheamus held him up. Then they raised their arms. “Good luck stopping this trio!” said Graves. Graves told Saxton this isn’t a Disney movie where the good guys always win. As Show’s music played, he gave Xavier an extra chokeslam. Cesaro laughed.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment. Show looked dominant. The heels were mean. The fans like the babyface trio and feel sympathy for them. They’ll root for them to regain their belts at Crown Jewel. Paint by numbers solid booking.)
-Graves plugged A.J. Styles & Daniel Bryan vs. The Usos in a rematch from last week. [c]
-As they showed the exterior of Prudential Center, Phillips talked about the story transcending sports and transcending entertainment. They went to the announcers on camera and they threw to a video package on Roman Reigns. The video included photos of Reigns as a college football player and early footage of him in WWE Developmental. Fans chanted “Thank you, Roman!” in the arena afterward. They showed all of the big media outlets covering the story.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE did not need to utilize Reigns’s diagnosis to point out what a big story this is and what a big deal Reigns and WWE are. This wasn’t a “big signing” or a “marriage proposal,” and they don’t have the good sense to dial down the self-promotion in situations like this.)
Graves said they’ve had 24 hours to reflect on the news and become inspired by Reigns. Phillips said Stephanie McMahon and Baron Corbin had to decide what to do with the vacated Universal Title. They said it would be Braun vs. Lesnar for the title at Crown Jewel.
(2) THE USOS vs. A.J. STYLES & DANIEL BRYAN
Graves said the Usos might be extra motivated given what is going on with their cousin Reigns. (Not sure that’s the best strategy to get viewers to back the babyface in this match.) He also said Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were motivated enough to win the tag team titles. (Also not the best example since Dean attacked Seth afterward, hardly honoring Reigns and The Shield.) Bryan and Styles cleared the ring of both heels a minute in, then slingshot themselves onto them on the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
They stayed with the action on split screen. The Usos stopped Bryan’s momentum during the break and isolated him in their corner. Eventually Bryan hot-tagged in Styles. A minute later Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm on Uso, but Uso ducked and he almost hit Bryan. What a coincidence! Styles immediately went for a Pelé kick on Uso, but Uso ducked again and the kick caught Bryan on his head. Uso tagged out and then the other Uso frog splashed Styles for the win. (None of the announcers called them Jimmy or Jey, so they must’ve lost track.)
WINNERS: The Usos in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know they’re “telling stories” here, but Styles taking the pin in a short match like this, even under these circumstances, diminishes him and the championship. They need to also parlay this into being something the Usos can use as a boost, not just to manufacture “tension” between Styles and Bryan. It always makes babyface look bad when they’re not the least bit understanding of the concept of “accidents happen” and take into consideration there’s zero evidence of bad intentions.)
-Phillips threw to a video package on the Ronda Rousey-Nikki Bella match at Evolution. [c]
-Dasha Fuentes asked Styles if what happened was intentional. She said it appeared to be very similar to what happened with Bryan last week. Styles said it was of course an accident. Bryan said he has respect for Styles “so for sure *mine* was an accident.” Styles asked Bryan if he was accusing him of lying. Bryan said his nose appears to be growing. Styles got defensive. Bryan did the “Too Sweet” had gesture and put it in Styles’s face. Styles stormed off. Bryan said, “Too Sweet, brother, right?”
(Keller’s Analysis: Two adult wrestlers acting like petulant children needing a third grade teacher to restore order. Not a good look.)
-Philllips threw to the angle they taped at the Performance Center where Charlotte talked to women training in her usual robot-like cadence. She gave some advice about listening to coaches and leaning on peers. She said the business is built on respect. She told them not to let anyone walk on them, but don’t look down at anyone because you never know when you’ll need their hand. She said she can’t wait to see what this class of women eventually accomplish. She said she hopes she can face each of them eventually. They applauded her speech. In a Q&A, she asked about how it’s different wrestling in NXT compared to Raw and Smackdown. Charlotte said introducing your character a new audience is the challenge. She said in NXT you also get to practice all the time. When asked about the Last Woman Standing match, Charlotte said she is honored.
Becky Lynch barged in and said she is the champ and she should’ve been invited. She told them not to make friends with anybody because they’ll hold you back, so blindside them first. She told them to watch what she does to Charlotte and take notes and be in awe because no amount of self-righteousness or privilege or training is going to prepare Charlotte for what she’s going to do to her. They brawled. The trainees tried to separate them, but Becky got the better of Charlotte and threw her into the ringside steps. Charlotte yelled, “Who are you?!” Becky yelled back that she’s the Women’s Champion.
-In a pre-taped interview with a backdrop with Charlotte, she talked about Becky disrespecting the foundation that got them to where they are today. Her voice cracked as she talked about how Becky has changed. She said there is no line Becky won’t cross. She vowed to win back her Smackdown Championship, and afterward she’ll be standing over not just a defeated opponent, but “a friend who lost her way.”
-The announcers hyped the Lynch-Charlotte match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment. The flaw, as with a lot of the Becky-Charlotte angles, is that Becky was the sympathetic figure in one sense – which is that Charlotte was picked to give advice to the trainees rather than the reigning champion. It was another bullet point on Becky’s list of reasons she feels Charlotte keeps getting preferential treatment. Both Charlotte and Becky were good here, and they took a situation that could have felt really stilted and made it feel more organic, especially considering how robotic Charlotte’s speech pattern can be.)
-Rusev’s ring entrance took place.
-Promos aired for teams in Mixed Match Challenge. [c]
(3) AIDEN ENGLISH vs. RUSEV (w/Lana)
Aiden sang on his way to the ring. He took digs at Newark, calling it a city of “dirt and rust.” He told Lana she knows he’s right because “instead of a short Rusev Day, you could have had a hot, long Aiden night.” Rusev was upset with those words. When the bell range, he charged at English, who bailed out to ringside. Lana stopped English and then Rusev caught up to him and attacked him at ringside. Back in the ring, English took over with a kick and a neck breaker. English pointed down at Lana. Rusev surprised him with a Machka Kick. English tagged out. Rusev held it on a few extra seconds.
WINNER: Rusev in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Is that the end of the feud or will they find a way to stretch it out with additional chapters?)
-Graves hyped Miz TV with Rey Mysterio. [c]
-Miz TV: Miz stood mid-ring. He welcomed fans to his most must-see talk show in history. He talked up what happened on the show so far and the World Cup. As Rey came out, the announcers talked about the World Cup and showed a graphic with wrestlers in the eight-man tournament. For whatever it’s worth, it still includes John Cena, who reportedly is against going to Saudi Arabia again. Miz told Rey the WWE Universe is thrilled to have Rey back, but he can’t help but be curious as to why he is back. Rey said it feels so good to be back home. He said the reason he’s back… at which point Miz interrupted.
Miz said he knows why he’s back. He said he’s out to show the world a little man can achieve big things and the little engine can climb up that hill “and if you wish big enough and try hard enough, all dreams can come true” on going to Crown Jewel. Boos. “How very ’90s of you,” said Miz. He told Rey he’s been gone so long, he doesn’t realize people aren’t interested in the plucky underdog anymore, but rather are interested in larger-than-life stars like him. He didn’t like the response from the crowd, so he repeated it. More boos. Miz bragged up his resume and said he will prove at Crown Jewel that he is the best in the world. He told Rey he is sorry to disappoint, but Rey’s dream won’t come true.
Rey retorted: “You are absolutely right. I am very disappointed because I thought I was booked to be on Truth TV.” The fans laughed, then began chanting “Truth TV!” Miz asked if he was joking or if he wanted a “dance break.” Miz said he had that show cancelled, and last week’s Truth TV was an illegal broadcast. He told Rey if he doesn’t watch himself, he’ll have him cancelled too. Rey wasn’t fazed and told Miz to “take it easy now.” He said he didn’t come back to Smackdown to take part in some dusty talk show, he came back to compete. In Spanish he said something which popped some of the fans. “Let’s throw down right now!” he said. Miz stayed sitting and assured him that nobody wants them to fight. He said it’s just not going to happen. He looked around and fans got more and more excited about the prospects. As he explained why he wouldn’t fight, he jumped Rey. and stomped away at him. Rey made a comeback and went for the 619, but Miz moved. Phillips wondered if they’d have the match next. [c]
(4) REY MYSTERIO vs. THE MIZ
Phillips said Paige made this match official during the break. Graves complimented Miz for accepting the match on short notice. Rey took early control including a sliding splash off the ring apron onto Miz on the floor. Saxton said Rey has made changes in his diet and training and feels the best he has in his entire career. Phillips said the last time wrestled was Summerslam 2012. Rey mounted Miz in the corner and punched away at him. The crowd counted along. Miz eventually came back and beat up Rey. He set up a Skull Crushing Finale, but Rey arm dragged out of it. He set up a 619, but Miz ducked again. Miz DDT’d Rey and scored a two count. They cut to a break. [c]
They stayed with the action on split screen. Miz was throwing It Kicks after the break. Rey countered with a schoolboy, but Miz stood and kicked Rey in the head for a two count. Miz shoved Rey chest-first into the turnbuckles. Miz then went for a Skull Crushing Finale in the corner. Rey elbowed out of it and took Miz down with a head scissors. Both were slow to get up. Rey springboard onto Miz with a seated senton. Miz rolled through, but Rey rolled onto his feet and roundkicked Miz to the side of his face. Rey springboarded at Miz, but Miz caught him mid-air and gave him a neck breaker for a two count. They kept up a nice pace. Rey elbowed out of a Skull Crushing Finale, but Rey countered and this time finally hit the 619. He then did his Drop the Dime finisher for the winner:
WINNER: Rey in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. Really good chemistry between them. Rey can be flashy by WWE standards without being highspot-happy, and the pace and crispness works with Miz’s refined WWE style. The teases for both of their finishers was well done.)
-The announcers hyped the Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton main event.
-Naomi made her ring entrance. Phillips said the WWE Universe is buzzing because of Evolution and “Nassau Coliseum will feel the glow” on Sunday. Asuka came out second. [c]
-After the break, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville walked out. Graves was drooling over Rose. As the match was about to begin, the IIconics interrupted. They said they are so excited about Evolution. They said they’ll make history by being IIconic. They were interrupted by Lana. She wished everyone a Happy Lana Day. She was immediately interrupted by Carmella. Carmella said nobody wants to hear anybody talk, what everybody in New Jersey really wants is a “dance break.” She began dancing, doing the floss. Zelina Vega threw Carmella into the ring. An impromptu battle royal style brawl broke out. Phillips said they’ll fight Sunday, but apparently they couldn’t wait. Asuka ended up standing alone in the ring at the end.
-They went to the announcers who hyped Evolution’s full line-up. Then they hyped the Orton-Hardy main event. [c]
-Shane McMahon danced onto the stage and slapped hands on his way to the ring. He danced into the ring. Saxton said whomever wins the World Cup tournament will have earned the right to be called The Best in the World. Shane thanked the fans for the love and threw out the name of the city for the cheap pop. He talked about Evolution. He talked next about the World Cup. A chant broke out of “C.M. Punk!” Shane had that irritated look that said he had to think quickly on his feet. He said, “I don’t believe he is in the tournament.” (WWE asked for that one.) Shane said he thinks someone from the blue brand will win. He listed Hardy, Miz, Rey, and Orton, pausing between each name for fans to react. He then welcomed Hardy to the ring. Hardy made his ring entrance. He circled the ring and slapped hands. Then Orton walked out. Phillips said he must be salivating at this opportunity.
(Keller’s Analysis: Shane went to the arena for that segment? I was thinking something would happen between him and Orton. That was just pointless. A pat on the head for the women’s PPV, a basic walk through the World Cup wrestlers, and… well, nothing else. Was he just there to talk about Crown Jewel because Paige wasn’t allowed to associate herself that strongly with the show since she’s a woman in a position of authority?) [c]
(5) JEFF HARDY vs. RANDY ORTON
Orton went at Hardy aggressively early. Eventually Orton put his finger in Hardy’s ear hole again, then lifted and dropped Hardy onto the announce table. Hardy made a comeback in the ring and scored a two count after a Whisper in the Wind. Next he took off his shirt and set up a Swanton Bomb. Orton rolled out of the ring. Hardy leaped off the ring apron, but Orton moved. Hardy crash-landed. Orton threw Hardy into the ring and pounded the mat to signal for the RKO. Hardy countered with a backslide for a near fall. Orton then hit the RKO for the win.
WINNER: Orton in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: All I guess is they wanted to set up Orton to look strong headed into a tournament win because he’s slated to be a WWE Title challenger soon.)
-Orton gave Hardy an RKO afterward. Then he caught Rey flying through the air with an RKO. The crowd booed. Phillips said there are no friends Friday at Crown Jewel. He said it took early, as Orton hadn’t attacked a “friend” or partner yet. Orton then delivered the RKO to Miz. That’s when Phillips was supposed to say there are no friends on Friday. Oh well.
(Keller’s Analysis: I think it’s pretty hilarious Phillips said the line about “no friends” at the wrong time, showing how being overscripted and overproduced can lead to mindless robot mistakes. Now, in fairness to Tom, I am not convinced he is not a mindless robot programmed to portray a WWE announcer.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Pretty flat show. Moderately enjoyable throughout, but nothing stood out other than the really good Miz-Rey match and an other strong performance from Becky.