KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 22, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-Phillips introduced the show. He welcomed fans to Smackdown Live, but didn’t say the name of the city. There was a graphic on the screen, though, saying they were in Wichita, Kansas.
-Becky Lynch walked out to her entrance music as Phillips talked about her challenging Asuka at the Royal Rumble for the Smackdown Title, the first time they’ve gone one-on-one. They hyped, with a graphic on the screen, the Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. match, noting Zelina Vega is banned from ringside and the match is two-out-of-three falls. Fans chanted “Becky!”
She said she loves standing in the ring. She said “The Man has something to say.” She said it wasn’t long ago people weren’t talking about her, and now people have all kinds of ideas of what she should be doing. She said what she should be doing is main eventing WrestleMania. More “Becky” chants. She said she plans to slap the heads off of every person who gets in her way. She said she watched Asuka clean out NXT and steamroll her way through Smackdown. She said Asuka is one of the best in the world, but she is better. She reminded everyone that Asuka never beat her for the title. She said that should be eating up Asuka, but it’s not, and that tells her a lot about Asuka. She vowed to take her title back on Sunday. She said she already dethroned the Queen and now she’s coming to break the Empress. She said she will walk through fire and hell. Asuka’s music interrupted.
Asuka made her ring entrance. Asuka and Becky went face-to-face and exchanged some spirited words. Then out came Charlotte. Phillips said if Charlotte wins on Sunday, she will be very much in the mix at WrestleMania. (Ya’ think?) Charlotte said she’s excited for their match on Sunday, but nothing will be more exciting than tossing everyone in the Rumble over the top rope to win the match. She talked about her choices, taking digs at Ronda Rousey, Sasha Banks, Asuka, and Becky, speaking about her history with each of them. When she condescending called Lynch “Becks,” the crowd chanted “Becky! Becky!” She said Becky might have owned her recently, but she owned the division the last four years. She “wooo’d.” Asuka attacked Becky from behind. Nothing from the announcers indicated attacking someone from behind was cowardly and worthy of criticism. Graves praised it. Saxton said this shows Asuka was tired of being downplayed. Producers and referees separated them, but they broke through and kept fighting. Becky fought back and whipped Asuka with her leather jacket. Becky leaped off the table with a flying forearm. Becky eventually left, strutting her way to the back. Asuka sat up and began yelling angrily in Japanese.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment. Charlotte addressing all four possibilities for her if she wins the Rumble sets the stage nicely. Asuka’s intensity and Becky’s bravado built up their match well.) [c]
-The announcers on camera threw to a video package on the Jimmy Uso-Mandy Rose saga. A female narrator recapped the segment with a tone to her voice that sounded like she was trying to get people on a late night commercial to call a 900 line to talk to beautiful women. They replayed Naomi and Mandy fighting on a hotel room bed. “Tonight there will be an eruption of emotions when Naomi faces Mandy.”
(1) NAOMI vs. MANDY ROSE (w/Sonya Deville)
Naomi’s ring entrance took place first. Then Mandy Rose made her entrance, accompanied by Sonya Deville. Graves said Mandy is God’s greatest creation and whatever she does she can do no wrong. Naomi attacked Mandy on her way to the ring and rammed her face into the ring apron edge. Mandy grabbed her mouth. They cut to a commercial break but stayed with the action on a split screen. It was mostly matwork. [c]
Back live Naomi face-planted Mandy and then kicked her in the head. She then hit a clothesline. Both looked awful. She shoulder tackled Mandy until Mandy leaped up and shoulder blocked Naomi. She then scored a soft two count. Naomi came back with more kicks and punches. Naomi knocked Mandy into the ref. Sonya grabbed Naomi’s leg. Mandy shoved Naomi into the ringpost and then scored the pin. Jimmy came out to check on Naomi. Naomi was upset with the loss and tough to talk to.
WINNER: Rose in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Yikes, that was pretty rough.)
-In a backstage vignette Rey Mysterio talked about spending over an hour in the Rumble back in 2006 and he used every trick in his bag to stay alive. He talked about his speed and stamina and will to keep fighting. He said he shocked the world. He said on Sunday he wants to repeat history, but tonight he wants to earn respect. Rey said tonight the playing field is even with Zelina banned from ringside. He said for Andrade to gain respect, he needs to earn it.
-Shane McMahon approached Miz and asked if he was ready. Shane excitedly said Miz is the most must-see Superstar in WWE history. Miz said he loves it. [c]
(2) THE MIZ (w/Shane McMahon) vs. CESARO (w/Sheamus)
Cesaro hit a series of European Uppercuts and a suplex followed by a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Miz applied a figure-four leg lock a few minutes later. Sheamus pulled Cesaro to safety. Fans booed. Miz went for a kick through the ropes, but Sheamus and Cesaro moved. Cesaro then gave Miz an uppercut. Shane ran over to protect Miz. [c]
Miz was in contr0l after the break with a series of kicks, a running dropkick, and a clothesline. Miz celebrated, giving Cesaro chance to recover and surprise Miz with an uppercut. Shane knocked Cesaro’s feet off the middle rope as Cesaro tried to cheat to score the pin. Sheamus charged and knocked Shane into the ringside barricade. Sheamus kicked Miz in the face. Cesaro then gave Miz a Neutralizer for the three count for the win.
WINNER: Cesaro in 9:00.
-Shane attacked Sheamus afterward, throwing a barrage of his punches at him. He did the same to Cesaro and then threw him into the ringpost. Fans chanted “Shane-o-Mac.” Shane then set up a table spot, moving the monitors because he wanted to hurt Cesaro but not break expensive equipment. Shane laid Cesaro on his back on the table and then climbed to the top turnbuckle. Sheamus shoved Shane off, and Shane went head-first into the ringside barricade. Sheamus threw Miz into the ringpost. Sheamus and Cesaro then stomped away at Miz. Then Sheamus delivered a Brogue Kick. Miz laid over Shane to provide cover. Sheamus and Cesaro beat him up some more and put him on the announce table. Then they lifted and dropped Shane onto Miz. The announcers stood and checked on Miz and Shane being tended to, noting they won’t be 100 percent on Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: Miz really came to Shane’s defense in a way that made it seem like he’s genuinely on Shane’s side and this isn’t some ploy. Certainly if Miz is messing with Shane in any way, he took quite a beating from The Bar as part of “the ruse.” The announcers don’t really talk about whether Miz should be trusted, rather referring to it as merely “an unlikely friendship.”)
-A video package aired on the Mustafa Ali-Samoa Joe situation with Ali speaking to the camera about it. He spoke about his former job as a police officer. He said when he was on the streets, he learned a valuable lesson – eyes don’t lie. He said you can look into someone’s eyes and see all you need to know. He said he understands Joe, not from the beating he gave him, but from his eyes. “Your eyes told me you didn’t think I was worthy to be in the ring with you,” he said. “Your eyes told me you think I’m nothing.” He told Joe to look into his eyes because he’ll see a man with no fear, only purpose. He said he’ll see someone who believes he can beat him.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous. That is precisely what last week’s angle called for.)
-They went back to Miz and Shane being tended too. They showed Vince McMahon watching on a monitor backstage. They replayed the Brogue Kick which really made contact with the side of Shane’s head. Ouch. Miz finally stood as they cut to a break, but he was still clearly hurting. [c]
-Vince McMahon made his way to the ring. (I had never seen fans react to a promoter like fans today do with Vince McMahon until Tod Gordon in ECW.) Vince said he’d reserve comment about what just happened to his son Shane and Miz. He said it’ll be a hell of tag team match on Sunday. He shifted to talking about A.J. Styles challenging Daniel Bryan at the Rumble. Styles came out first. Then Bryan.
Bryan paced around ringside. McMahon said the idea is “face to face,” so he asked Bryan to please step to the ring. Bryan said he’s not falling for that. “I refuse to step into the ring with a sociopath,” he said. “I’m taking about the man who slammed me into a bunch of processed animal carcasses in the concourse last week.” He said he’s too embarrassed to step into the ring with him right now. He said he panders to people by encouraging them to eat hot dogs and become walking billboards for his merchandise. He said the future if Styles is champion is an ignorant, impotent, and illiterate future. He said that’s why he cannot allow Styles to take the title from him. He said Styles uses his power for fame and money, whereas he uses his power for the greater good.
Styles asked Bryan if the greatest good is Bryan coming out and talking like a jackass. Bryan said fans like to laugh and cheer and jump out of their seats for Styles, but he never makes them think and never makes them feel guilty about things they should feel guilty about every single day of their lives. He said he doesn’t care about the fans’ feelings, though. “Because I am not The People’s Champion, Daniel Bryan is The Planet’s Champion,” he said. He said the planet doesn’t need Styles, it needs him to be the Voice of the Planet. (Lots of t-shirt ideas there.) Styles said if the planet had a voice, it’d be screaming at him to shut up. Styles said Bryan didn’t ride a bike to the arena, he flew a plane. He said there’s a word for that: Fickle. Fans pelted Bryan with a “Fickle!” chant. “You’re fickle! I am not fickle!” Bryan shouted like a madman. Styles said Bryan is scared.
Styles said Bryan corrupted himself for the WWE Title. He asked what Bryan will have left when he takes the title from him. He said he’ll have nothing. Bryan said, “The great Karl Sagan once said…” at which point Vince interrupted and said, “I’m tired of this; get in the ring.” Fans chanted “Yes! Yes!” Bryan said of course Vince doesn’t want to listen to this because he and the entire Baby Boomer Generation are the great parasites of this world. He said the fans bow down to him when he walks out, but they don’t realize that his entire generation takes and takes and takes but don’t give back, putting profits over both the people and the planet every single time, and they bow to him for it. “It’s like you pulled this incredible magic trick, this illusion, while you’ve concealed from them all of this economic and environment debt you’ve created while they’ve become satisfied with with trading Instagram likes and Facebook messages and social media stuff all while you’re in the back hoarding all the wealth, hoarding all the power, and they ignore it because they’re distracted. You’ve created an environment for someone like A.J. Styles to become a hero where his brand of ignorance and impotence is the perfect…” at which point Vince interrupted again and insisted he get in the ring. More “Yes!” chants.
Styles said if Vince wants a face-to-face, it doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the ring. He went after Bryan at ringside and attacked him, throwing him into the stairs. Styles threw Bryan into the ring and set up a Phenomenal Forearm. Bryan hid behind Vince. Bryan then hit Styles with a flying knee. Bryan retreated, grabbed his title belt, and walked to the stage where he was raised his arms and smiled.
(Keller’s Analysis: I think “The Planet’s Champion” is a great t-shirt idea. I never imagined those things would be shouted at Vince McMahon on live TV. I wonder, regardless of the maniacal madman tone of his delivery, if some of what Bryan was saying made McMahon even a feel a little guilty or prompted a moment of introspection. Nah.) [c]
-They went to the announcers on camera who talked about WWE Network including not just Royal Rumble, but also Elimination Chamber with the Women’s Tag Team Champions being crowned.
-Backstage R-Truth told Carmella he’s eager to win the Rumble and choose to face the winner of Styles and Bryan. Carmella said he won’t go after the Universal Title. Truth said he doesn’t want to go to Sioux Falls City. He said maybe Bobby Murphy and the Cruiserweight Title. Carmella said it’s Buddy and there’s a weight limit. Truth fumed over her calling him fat. She said that’s not what she meant. Charlotte walked up to Carmella who talked about the chaos of the Rumble. Carmella reminded her she is no. 30. “I’m the Gatekeeper in Gucci and nobody is getting through me.” Charlotte said she doesn’t know what number she will draw and she’s never been in a Rumble before, but she’s confident because the Rumble won’t be the tornado, she will be.
(3) SAMOA JOE vs. MUSTAFA ALI
Joe dominated early. They cut to a break a couple minutes in. They stayed with the action on split screen where Joe grounded Ali. [c]
After the break Ali made a comeback and attacked Joe ferociously at ringside. Back in the ring as Ali set up an 054, Joe knocked him off balance and then applied the Coquina Clutch for the tapout win.
WINNER: Joe in 8:00. [c]
-Backstage Kayla Braxton interviewed New Day about being in the Rumble. Kofi Kingston said when one of them wins the Rumble, they all win the Rumble. Big E said they’re about to dog walk everyone in the Rumble. Kofi suddenly looked sad. Kofi said this might be the year he can’t find a way to keep his feet on the ground. Xavier and Big E lifted his chin. He smiled and said he has an idea. Kayla asked for him to share. They sang, “No Kayla” to her. Saxton fantasized that the main event of WrestleMania might be graced by the power of positivity. Graves hated the idea.
(4) REY MYSTERIO vs. ANDRADE – Best of Three Falls
Rey knocked Andrade to ringside and then landed a flying head scissors. They cut to an early break. [c]
Rey knocked Andrade off balance on the top rope. Rey went for a huracanrana, but Andrade blocked it and slammed Rey with a sitout powerbomb off the top rope and scored a three count.
FIRST FALL WINNER: Andrade in 8:00.
Andrade gave Rey two powerbombs, but Rey kicked out. Rey then landed his inverted spike and scored a three count.
SECOND FALL WINNER: Mysterio in 10:00.
With both men down, they cut to a final break. [c]
Andrade charged at Rey with a flying knee, but Rey moved, so Andrade tumbled over the top rope to the floor. Rey then slid head first at Andrade, but Andrade caught him. Rey shoved Andrade into the barricade and then nailed an enzuigiri. Rey scored a near fall with a West Coast Pop. Fans chanted “619.” Andrade caught Rey in the ropes with an armbar, but released before the five count. Andrade came back and rammed Rey back-first into the ringpost, then delivered a hammerlock DDT, but Rey draped his leg over the bottom rope to stop the ref’s count. They had a miscommunication on a spot off the top rope by Rey, but recovered and Rey went on offense and scored a near fall. He set up a 619 with a springboard head scissors, then nailed the 619. The crowd popped. Samoa Joe came out and grabbed Rey and powerbombed him onto the ring apron.
WINNER: No contest in 22:00 total.
-Joe threw Andrade into the ringpost. Graves said this is about eliminating threats in the Rumble on Sunday. Joe put Rey in the Coquina Clutch. Saxton said Joe is obsessed with sending a message of dominance to everyone in the Rumble. Graves said Joe is showing a blatant disregard for the industry and everybody. Joe got on the mic and yelled that he came there to make a statement. He said what they see in the ring is what he’ll do to the other 29 Superstars in the Royal Rumble. Randy Orton then ran into the ring and hit Joe with an RKO Out of Nowhere. Fans popped. Graves said there’s another person Joe has to deal with on Sunday. Orton’s music played as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: Joe had a good thing and inserting Orton at the end, while it had the element of surprise and adding a late big name contender for the Rumble, seemed to extinguish the momentum Joe had. Having another heel take out Joe like that made Joe seem like less of a threat and less impressive and it doesn’t really set up an obvious match. I’d have rather seen Orton do something earlier in the show and instead end Smackdown with Joe’s fiery promo.)