WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/15: Rey vs. Andrade, Carmella “squares up” against Sonya, Shane’s birthday bash, A.J. gets ready for Bryan, Becky’s gunning for Asuka

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist

Shane McMahon (photo from McMahon's Twitter banner)

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JANUARY 15, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves 

Arena and Items Advertised by WWE

Smackdown returns to the Legacy Arena at the BJCC for the first time in nearly three years.  This arena has hosted WWE events going back to Wrestling Challenge from the late 1980s.  WCW Monday Nitro and Thunder (sorry to remind you about that show) also took place here through the 1990s.  WWE (then WWF) had its Armageddon PPV here in December of 2000.  That night saw Kurt Angle retain the WWF Championship in a six-pack Hell in a Cell match that featured “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Rikishi, and Triple H.  During the match, Undertaker choke slammed Rikishi off the top of the cell onto a truck filled with pine chips in one of the many “OMG” moments in WWF/E history.  It’s funny how time flies as Austin, Rikishi, and Angle are all members of the WWE Hall of Fame.  The others are certain to enter at some point.

Back to today’s events, here’s what’s on tap for tonight according to WWE.com

  • Carmella and Sonya Deville to square up
  • The Miz to throw Shane McMahon the “best birthday bash in the world”
  • Rey Mysterio and Andrade “Cien” Almas to continue their epic series
  • What’s next for Becky Lynch and Asuka?
  • Will A.J. Styles find out how vicious Daniel Bryan can be?

Carmella vs. Sonya Deville

 Last week, Carmella participated in a triple threat match involving Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair to determine the #1 contender to Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka at the Royal Rumble.  She was unsuccessful as she tapped out to Becky’s Disarm-her, allowing Becky to move on to challenge Asuka.  Charlotte, Carmella, and Becky all held the title at various times throughout 2018 before Asuka captured the title at TLC in December.

You can always smell a match brewing if you follow Twitter.  Carmella, who’s never at a loss for words in her social media platform, has been going at it with Sonya Deville all week.  Here’s a few tweets to paint the picture:



Tonight, Carmella and Sonya go at it one-on-one.

Frank’s Analysis:  I have to admit I liked Carmella in her pre-match promo last week.  I could have done without the “Mella is Money” catchphrase at the end, but I know WWE writers are addicted to this so, I just accept it as standard operating procedure.  Nonetheless I thought she held her own in the triple threat match, as best as Carmella can.  I hope we move forward with a more serious and competition-driven Carmella instead of the person who gives us “dance breaks.”  Look for Naomi and Mandy Rose’s feud to be tied into this match.  Last week, Mandy cost the Usos an opportunity for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship by distracting Jimmy Uso during their non-title match against the Bar.

Miz’s Birthday Bash for Shane McMahon

Before I proceed, do I still have to call Shane McMahon “Best in the World?”

According to Wikipedia, Shane’s birthday is tonight (as is my niece, a fact I know nobody reading these cares about LOL).  Anyway, his “bestie” The Miz is planning to throw him the “best birthday bash in the world.”  He announced it on Twitter:

Frank’s Analysis:  Is there really an intelligible analysis for this?  I just wonder where this is ultimately going.  The Miz turning on Shane would be the first thought, but that’s too obvious.  Shane turning on the Miz is a possibility, but do we need a heel Shane at this stage of the game?  What purpose would it serve?  It’s not as if a win over Shane does a babyface any favors.  My thought is this just plays itself out, and Miz goes on as a babyface.  His last babyface run was from late 2012-late 2013.  He never truly turned then, and still hasn’t had that moment during this apparent babyface turn.

Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas 

Last week, Andrade “Cien” Almas and Samoa Joe teamed up to defeat Mustafa Ali and Rey Mysterio.  They got the win when Almas hit his signature hammer lock DDT on Mysterio to score the pin.

They last had a singles match back in November following Mysterio’s return to WWE.  That match saw Mysterio come out on top.  They go at it again tonight.

Almas and his business manager Zelina Vega have not been at a loss for words on Twitter:

Frank’s Analysis:  In my opinion this match should have more build and should have been saved for a PPV, but I’m not going to complain.  WWE announced this match on Saturday, so that tells me they see it as a big deal.  Both men are in the Royal Rumble, so it’s possible whatever happens from tonight and up to and including the Rumble leads to a bigger match at a PPV.  Mysterio won the Rumble in 2006, which lead to a World Championship win at that year’s WrestleMania.  I have Almas as a dark horse candidate to win this year’s offering, and if not be one of the guys to spend significant time in the match.  I’ll take it a step further and say it’s not crazy to see them as #1 and #2.

Becky Lynch and Asuka 

As discussed earlier, Becky Lynch won a triple threat match against Carmella and Charlotte Flair to earn the right to face Asuka at the Royal Rumble for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.  She did so by tapping out Carmella to the Disarm-her.  All three women held the title in 2018 prior to Asuka winning at TLC.

At the end of the match, Asuka came out and had a face-to-face with Becky to close out the show.  Here’s Becky in a WWE.comexclusive after the match:

Tonight, we continue to get ready for this championship match taking place in less than two weeks.

Frank’s Analysis:  I could probably do an entire report on the women’s division.  It is intriguing where things are headed.  It has been speculated that Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, Charlotte, and Becky will have a triple threat match at WrestleMania.  How do we get there?  If Becky wins back the title, does Ronda and/or Becky challenge each other in the champion vs. champion match we never got at Survivor Series and do we cherry pick Charlotte into the match if she wins the Royal Rumble?  What if Becky doesn’t win the title?  Is their title match before the women’s Royal Rumble where she can enter and win and challenge Ronda?  Perhaps Charlotte gets involved either in the title match or dare I say, we do a Bret Hart & Lex Luger finish to the Rumble from 1994 where both men’s feet touched the floor (please no, but the thought crossed my mind)?  I could go on and on.  I think they’ve set things up in a way that make it difficult to figure out the path to WrestleMania, and in a way that’s good.  When things are too predictable as they were in recent years, it makes watching the events boring.

A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan

Two weeks ago, A.J. Styles (and the animal inside of him) won a fatal five-way to earn a WWE Championship match against the “New” Daniel Bryan.

Bryan went on a tirade to start Smackdown last week in the concession area.  He lambasted fans for various reasons including eating popcorn, candy, hot dogs and drinking soda containing high fructose corn syrup.  He went so far as to slap a hot dog out of someone’s hand and pour soda on another.  Does anybody know if those fans were compensated?  Nonetheless he went on and on and went even further to call a fan “impotent.”  Eventually R-Truth attacked Bryan prior to their scheduled match (that wasn’t announced ahead of time).  Bryan would make quick work of Truth in a non-title match.

Later on, Kayla Braxton caught up with Bryan as he was leaving the arena.  He continued discussing how he wants to make the world a better place and will be WWE Champion forever.  Here’s the clip:

The build for their match at the Royal Rumble continues tonight.

Frank’s Analysis:  Bryan has truly settled into his character.  I am legitimately intrigued by what he’s going to do on a weekly basis.  My uncle, who watched wrestling during the Bruno days up until the mid-1990s, recently started watching wrestling casually again.  He said he likes this Bryan character better than when he was a babyface.  I thought that observation was interesting because it seems a lot of people feel that way about Bryan, and you can put me in that camp.  I thought his babyface character was good, but he looks all in (no pun intended) on this character.  I do reserve it could be Vince’s negative feelings about “environmentally conscious” people coming through Bryan, but even if it is, he seems 100% invested.  I am intrigued by the finish to this match.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that A.J. regains the title, but I’ll stick with Bryan retaining. 

Other Items from Last Week:

  • U.S. Champion blamed Shinsuke Nakamura for his wife Lana being home injured, after taking a bump in the previous week.  Nakamura was in the video truck to attempt to prove otherwise.  When Rusev went after Nakamura, he was waiting and attacked him in the back.
  • Naomi went after Mandy Rose after she interfered in the match between the Usos and the Bar.  By the Usos losing, it cost them a chance for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

NXT Callups

Last night on Raw, all of the NXT callups appeared on Raw except for Lars Sullivan.  EC3 was standing outside of Vince McMahon’s office smiling (is he replacing Finn Balor in that role?) in his attempt to get a Universal Championship match, Nikki Cross teamed with Bayley & Natalya to defeat the Riott Squad, Lacey Evans was seen in the back talking to Dana Brooke, and Heavy Machinery interrupted A Moment of Bliss with Alexa Bliss and Paul Heyman in a vey odd spot.  Michael Cole informed us that the callups would appear on both shows for the time being until it was decided on what shows they would permanently reside.

Nikki had previously worked a match with Becky Lynch on Smackdown when Becky was women’s champion.

It’s still unknown what’s going on with Sullivan.  Rumors are he was to work with John Cena at WrestleMania, but that is looking more unlikely.

Start Time and Matches Advertised by the Arena Website

The arena website shows a start time of 6:30 p.m. with doors opening at 5:15 p.m.  The website was troublesome, but I was able to watch a YouTube clip of their advertisement.  It announces the following matches:

  • Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship:  Daniel Bryan (champ) vs. The Miz vs. A.J. Styles
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton

The triple threat match I suppose is possible as a dark match.  Mysterio vs. Orton could happen I suppose if Orton gets involved in the Mysterio-Almas match.

Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani.  My e-mail is fpeteani@gmail.com.  Questions and discussion are welcome.  Thank you for reading!

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