KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 8, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-No Gene Okerlund tribute. They went right to a shot of the arena crowd with Phillips welcoming fans to the home base of AEW. Okay, he didn’t say that. But he did mention the city. He hyped the Triple Threat match for the Smackdown Title shot at the Royal Rumble with Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Carmella.
-Daniel Bryan was in the concession area. He said the only concessions being made are to the detriment of their health. He said everyone should look at themselves and those next to them and decide if they’re healthy. He said they should ask how they feel after eating such junk. He said they are shoving popcorn and candy down their throats to fill a void in their lives, and that’s why they cheer A.J. Styles. He yanked a hotdog out of someone’s mouth. He said it is filled with toxic nitrates and chemicals the same way they cheer Styles. He threw the hot dog in the face of the fan. Then he yanked an extra large soda out of a fan’s hands. He lectured about the plastic straw and cup and drenched a fan in it. Then he yelled “Fickle! Fickle!” Then he asked for a “Yes Movement” t-shirt from the concession stand. There weren’t any. Bryan said that’s because the Yes Movement is dead because he killed it. He then complained about all of the Styles merchandise. He called it “needless consumption” and “plastic useless garbage that is harming the Earth.”
Bryan made his way down the aisle among fans. He said he is making the world a better place, and for it to work he needs the fans to change. He said the fans are weak and submissive and impotent. He called one fan “impotent” and the fan yelled back “I am not!” He said he will fill the void with something fans can be proud of, unlike Styles. He finally made it to ringside and told the fans that they can boo him, but he is changing the planet for the better. R-Truth leaped at Bryan and attacked him. Phillips said Truth was at the ring because he was scheduled to face Bryan. He took it to Bryan at ringside. The ref pulled him off and they cut to a break. [c]
(1) DANIEL BRYAN vs. R-TRUTH
Late in the short match, Truth made a comeback and showed fire and got a nice pop. He delivered an awkward looking jawbreaker for a two count. Bryan avoided a splash in the corner and hit a running knee for a three count.
WINNER: Bryan in 4:00.
-As Bryan celebrated on the stage, Graves said everyone though they knew Bryan, but they didn’t know Bryan at all. Styles then attacked Bryan on the stage. Styles fended off security trying to pry him off of Bryan. Phillips said this is the real Styles and the version Vince McMahon tried to activate. Styles threatened security with a chair as Bryan scurried away.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who talked about Styles getting a shot against Bryan at the Rumble.
-Rey Mysterio’s ring entrance began. They cut to a break, but stayed with the rest of the ring entrances on a split screen.
(2) SAMOA JOE & ANDRADE CIEN ALMAS (w/Zelina Vega) vs. MUSTAFA ALI & REY MYSTERIO
The announcers noted that this will be the first Rumble match for Joe and Ali this month. Graves talked about Ali shocking people with his early success. Graves said he’s made himself a target with this early success. Ali dropkicked Almas into Joe, then hit a tornado DDT. Almas rolled to the floor. Ali leaped over the top rope at Almas, but Joe caught him instead and overhead tossed him onto the announce table. They cut to a break. [c]
Ali made a hot-tag shortly after the returned to live action. Rey went to work against Almas. They had a rapid-fire sequence that Rey got the better of, so Joe interfered. Rey avoided his charge and landed a springboard seated senton on Joe. Rey went back at Almas, but Joe broke up a pin attempt. Rey hit Joe with a 619. Ali then leaped off the top rope with his 450 splash on Joe. Almas was legal, though. Rey instructed Ali to leap over Almas and flip-dive onto Joe, then land a 619 on Almas. Almas, though, countered by catching Rey and delivered a gut-buster and a hammer lock DDT for the win. Graves called it the biggest win of Almas’s Smackdown career.
WINNERS: Rey & Ali in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good action there. These two pairings could be a great season-long feud for the tag team titles.)
-A soundbite aired with Carmella who talked about winning Money in the Bank, becoming Smackdown Champion, and beating Charlotte twice and Asuka twice. She said all she needs is opportunity, and she will show everyone she is everything she says she is.
-The Usos backstage talked about stepping up so they don’t get stepped on. [c]
-The Miz asked Shane McMahon if he had anything to do with The Usos getting a chance to face the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. He said no one deserves that opportunity other than them. Shane said they are far away from the tag title picture right now. Miz said Shane can just use his power to give them a title match. Shane said he won’t abuse his power and inject them into the tag team title picture. “We have to train, we have to scout,” he said. “We have to challenge ourselves and the competition. Are we on the same page?” Miz said they are on the same page, but he wasn’t convincing. He asked Shane if he’s given more thought to their outfits. Miz suggested white leather. Shane humored him and grabbed his phone and walked away. Miz shouted, “Fine, red leather.” (Shinsuke Nakamura will have something to say about that.)
-Rusev stood mid-ring. Phillips said last week Nakamura inadvertently hurt Lana last week after Lana jumped him. Fans chanted “Rusev Day!” Rusev looked somber. He said Lana is at home resting. He said he stands before them, but not as the U.S. Champion. He dropped the belt to the mat. He said he’s not the Bulgarian Brute, either. He said he stands there as a husband. He looked at his wedding ring. He got enraged and said Nakamura crossed a line he can’t come back from and he will break every bone in his body and he will crush him. Nakamura appeared in a control room in the TV truck and said it’s not his fault his wife got hurt . He said he is in the TV truck to prove that it’s Rusev’s fault, not his. They replayed what happened last week. Graves said Lana had no business getting involved physically. Nakamura said Rusev crushed Lana, not him. Rusev paced angrily in the ring. He said if Nakamura doesn’t come to him, he will go find him. He charged to the back.
-They went to the announcers briefly as Graves said Nakamura is right. Nakamura surprised Rusev by ramming a rolling storage chest into Rusev’s chest. Then he kicked him. Referees and producers (Jamie Noble, Adam Pearce) intervened quickly. They sent Nakamura away. He charged back, though, with a Kinshasa to Rusev just as Rusev sat up.
(Keller’s Analysis: Last week I expressed that Rusev was missing that serious edge that his character could use. This week he showed it. Good segment.)
-A soundbite aired with Becky Lynch who said she has to jump through hoops tonight to get the title back that nobody beat her for. She said her title run was the talk of the industry. She said in tonight’s match, she can do whatever she wants. She said Asuka will have to do a lot more than climb a ladder at the Rumble. Becky said Asuka knows she’s on borrowed time until The Man shows up to settle the score.
-The Bar made their ring entrance. [c]
-They aired the full “Mean” Gene Okerlund tribute with a clip of Hulk Hogan’s introduction.
-The Usos made their ring entrance.
(3) THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro) vs. THE USOS
At 4:00, Cesaro interfered from behind and snapped Jey’s head over the top rope. Jey dropped to ringside and they cut to a break. [c]
Jey eventually hot-tagged in Jimmy just as Sheamus tagged in Cesaro. Jimmy went to work with rapid-fire offense including a Samoan Drop. He looked to the crowd and got a nice response and scored a two count. Next came some dives by both Usos, sending Cesaro over the barricade into the front row. Jimmy and Cesaro returned to the ring. Sheamus tagged in. The Usos double-kicked him, then Jimmy hit a superkick for a near fall. [c]
They returned and played up the same scene, with Jey crawling over to tag in Jimmy after taking a beating. This time, Mandy Rose showed up on the stage in a white towel. She asked Jimmy if she left “my tiny gold shorts and my tiny gold top in your hotel room.” Jimmy turned and watched. Sheamus knocked him off the ring apron. Cesaro then gave a Neutralizer to Jey for the win.
WINNERS: The Bar in 17:00.
-The Miz came out onto the stage with his mic in hand. He asked fans to give it up for the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, The Bar. He entered the ring and congratulated them for their victory and their dominance of all teams on Smackdown except for him and Shane. He told The Bar they have a chance to put their tag team titles on the line against the one team they have yet to dominate, The Best Tag Team in the World. Cesaro said they’re a dysfunctional duo with daddy issues. He turned to consult Sheamus, but Sheamus delivered a Brogue Kick instead. Fans booed and laughed. Cesaro looked down and said, “We accept,” dismissive of the idea that Miz & Shane are a threat to their tag team title reign.
-Naomi went after Mandy backstage. Sonya Deville helped Rose double-team Naomi. Then Jimmy ran up and broke them up. He asked what they were doing and what their problem is. He helped her up.
-Saxton noted that all three of them will be in the Royal Rumble match.
-A soundbite aired with Charlotte who talked about Carmella being last year’s hottest thing and Becky being this year’s hottest thing, but she’s the hottest thing on Raw and Smackdown the last four years running. She said she’s headlined Raw, Smackdown, and multiple PPVs. She said she’s not there to prove anything. She said she just wants her title back. She said she’ll win and then her focus will shift to Asuka. “Ladies, get ready to be humbled by The Queen.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I liked the three soundbites to build up the main event throughout the show. They were all serious and got across their backstory and motivations without joking around or relying on corny one-liners.) [c]
-Kayla caught up Bryan as he was leaving. She said this wasn’t a good night. Bryan said it might be because of the fat, ignorant, impotent fan who spilled mustard on his t-shirt. Fans laughed. Kayla said she was talking about Styles. Bryan said Styles attacked him unprovoked. He said he just wants to change the world for the better for him and his kids and he’s trying to fill the void in people’s lives, while Styles is just jealous that he is the champion. Bryan went into a rage and said people have not seen what he is capable of. He said Styles will never never never never take the WWE Title from him because he is fighting for a cause that is bigger than anything Styles has ever fought for in his life. He said the New Daniel Bryan will be WWE Champion forever.
(Keller’s Analysis: Bryan is so into this role at this point, it really is making for compelling segments. This was his best week to date.) [c]
-They showed postcard shots of Jacksonville, Fla. Then they aired the preview video again for the six call-ups from NXT.
-Backstage Miz told Shane that their plan worked and he is a genius. Shane said this isn’t what he meant. He said he wanted to scout and train. Miz said he believes in them and he is ready to win. He asked what they were doing if they weren’t going after The Bar. He said Shane should know how important it is to make their dads proud. Shane said this isn’t how he wanted it to go down. Shane asked Miz if he thinks they can win. Miz said he knows it. Shane smiled and said, “Let’s do it at the Rumble!”
(Keller’s Analysis: If you’re into Shane and Miz, this is a “fun” angle, and Miz is coming across as convincing that he’s not just setting up Shane for a big turn at the Rumble to set up Miz vs. Shane at WrestleMaia, so Shane doesn’t seem too gullible. That said, it seems predictable that’s where it headed.)
-Becky’s ring entrance took place. They showed a Twitter from Lynch: “I am not blonde, I’m not legacy, I didn’t parachute in from another sport. No one has beat me to become champ. I am the forever champ.” Carmella made her ring entrance. And finally Charlotte.
(4) CHARLOTTE vs. BECKY LYNCH vs. CARMELLA
They all exchanged shots in the opening minute. Becky knocked Carmella out of the ring and then took it to Charlotte, before kicking her out of the ring. Becky leaped off the ring apron onto Carmella, then hit Charlotte with a running clothesline. [c]
Back from the break, Becky and Charlotte exchanged chops mid-ring. Charlotte got the better of it. Becky landed a Thesz Press. Charlotte mounted Becky. Carmella then threw a kick at Charlotte and it truly might have been the worst kick thrown on national TV in all of history. Even Graves had to acknowledge Carmella didn’t get all of it. Unfortunately, Charlotte sold it like she was hit with an axe. Carmella applied a figure-four headlock. Charlotte stood up. Carmella rolled through for a near fall. Becky landed a flying dropkick on Carmella. Charlotte caught a charging Carmella with a boot, then dragged her into position for a moonsault. She dragged Becky next to her, then climbed to the top rope. Becky stood and knocked Charlotte off balance. Charlotte kicked Becky away and then went for a moonsault. She covered Becky for a two count, then covered Carmella for a two count. They cut to a break. [c]
A few minutes later Charlotte applied the Figure-Eight on Carmella. Becky landed on Charlotte with a flying legdrop off the top rope. Becky made the cover and scored a two count. Becky then quickly applied the Disarm Her. Carmella kicked Becky in the face to break it up. Then she threw Charlotte out of the ring. Carmella strutted back to Becky as fans chanted “This is awesome!” Charlotte re-entered and speared Becky. Carmella kicked Charlotte. Becky then surprised Carmella with a Disarm Her. Carmella tapped out.
WINNER: Becky via submission in 19:00.
-Asuka came out onto the stage to her music with her title belt. She got in the ring and strutted around before getting in Becky’s face to end the show.
(Keller’s Analysis: So does Becky come up short at the Rumble, but win the Rumble match and choose to face Ronda Rousey? Or does she win the Smackdown Title, but Nia Jax wins the Rumble and chooses to face Becky at WM? Or do they still find a way to get Becky and Charlotte in against Rousey at WM? This didn’t answer any of that, but it did set up a cool Rumble one-on-one match for the title. Carmella was the clear weak link here, and it was strange seeing her go back to a heelish role instead of the fun-loving partner to Truth.)