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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 5, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with Charlotte’s ring entrance as Phillips introduced the show. They didn’t put the name of the city (Everret, Wash.) in the corner of the screen or acknowledge it. Phillips said last week Charlotte was facetious in her excitement for Becky Lynch. Charlotte was wearing heavier make-up than in the past again this week. They went to a recap of the Stephanie-Lynch angle on Raw last night. The Smackdown announcers noted Stephanie aimed her kick at Becky’s injured leg. Saxton said the question now is whether Becky is “becoming more of a liability” with the knee injury. Charlotte said they say the only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance. She said Becky exuded that last night by refusing medical help and attacking Stephanie. She said Becky’s behavior is what got her suspended. Charlotte said she hopes Becky is ready in time for WrestleMania. She took a mocking tone and tried to chant for Becky. Charlotte said she’s 100 percent and she’d love to face Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. She pointed at the WM sign. Becky walked out through the crowd. Graves said she’s suspended and shouldn’t even be there. “It’s one thing to take my dad’s catchphrase, but it’s another to steal Roman Reigns’s entrance,” Charlotte said. She accused Becky of trying to steal her spotlight again.
Becky grabbed a mic and walked past security who were verbally warning her. She told Charlotte to stop boring everyone. Charlotte imitated her limp and laughed obnoxiously. Triple H came out and said this is enough and it’s time to stop. He said Becky was suspended and she’s not supposed to be there. “Go home!” he said. Boos. He said she needs to see a doctor to get her suspension lifted. (So beating up Stephanie goes away if she sees a doctor?) She turned to Charlotte and told her this doesn’t concern her and to leave. She did. He turned back to Becky and told her to see a doctor and get cleared, “it’s as simple as that.” Becky said, “My problem is I don’t trust you, I don’t trust any of this in good faith.” Hunter said she doesn’t have to trust it, it is what it is. He said until she agrees to see a doctor, go home. Boos. He left. Becky asked, “How’s Steph?” She asked Hunter if she was checked by a doctor to be cleared, “you know, after I punched her in the face.” Fans loudly chanted, “Becky! Becky!”
Hunter stopped and said he didn’t see it until now. “I’m not sure why I didn’t see it,” he said. “I bought into this whole ‘I’m the Man’ crap just like they did. The truth is you’re not The Man, are you? That’s a lie. You’re just a self-destructor afraid of failure, that’s all this is.” He said she stands there with that smug look, but she knows he’s right. He said she’s looking to be a martyr and for a way out of this whole thing. He said that’s why when she scratched and clawed her way to the Survivor Series match against Ronda Rousey, she recklessly came to Raw the next night looking for a way out. “You knew that was a suicide mission, but you did it anyways,” he said. He said the next night she blamed everyone but herself. He said she called it “Medical Prison.” He said that’s another way of saying “Convenient Excuse.” He said that’s why she’s out there doing the exact same thing. He said she had the opportunity to go to WrestleMania. He told the fans this doesn’t concern them and to shut their mouths. More boos.
He continued and said now they’re standing there again with a convenient excuse to look for a way out because she’s afraid and scared. He said she’s scared of what the doctor might say, such as what if he says he doesn’t think she’s even injured. “Is your knee really hurt or is this just an act to find a way out,” he said. He said she’s actually scared the doctor will say she can go to WrestleMania “and you’re afraid at WrestleMania that Ronda Rousey will explode you as the fraud that you are.” (I can’t wait for Hunter to be a babyface next time we see him with no explanation.) He said Becky fears Rousey. She listened, leaned in, and then slapped him. They had an intense staredown. Fans chanted, “One more time!” Becky smiled and left. Graves said he doesn’t know if that was brazen or insane. Saxton asked if those scathing words from Hunter had any effect on her. Graves said maybe Becky is looking for a way out and does fear Rousey and the pressure of being The Man is a little too much for her.
(Keller’s Analysis: They left fans wondering if Triple H was perhaps onto something. The fans seemed to eat up Becky the whole way. Slapping Triple H, staring him down, and walking out on her own terms fits her character. But is it enough for her to say she believes the system is rigged and that’s why she won’t see a doctor? What’s her evidence, or what makes her believe WWE brass doesn’t want her in the match and will instruct the medical team to sabotage that? Having some reason for fans to believe management wants Charlotte in that spot instead is needed here. That was obvious when fans were choosing Daniel Bryan over Batista and Roman Reigns several years ago.)
-Phillips hyped Randy Orton vs. Mustafa Ali as a first-ever match-up. Graves plugged Daniel Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy. Saxton plugged Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson. [c]
(1) LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON vs. RUSEV & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
Anderson and Gallows were already in the ring for the tail end of their entrance music. They commented on a replay of last week’s Rusev heel turn. Phillips said R-Truth is recovering at home this week. Rusev and Nakamura argued about who’d start. Anderson rolled up Rusev from behind. Anderson flip dove onto Rusev and Nakamura seconds into the match. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action on split screen. [c]
Rusev caught Anderson in mid-air and the heels took over during the break. Anderson hot tagged in “the big L.G.,” said Graves. Lana yelled at Nakamura to get up and get back into the ring after Gallows clotheslined him to the floor. Graves called it teamwork. Nakamura broke up a Magic Killer attempt on Rusev. Anderson took Nakamura down with a kick, but Rusev then nailed a Machka Kick for the win. Rusev helped a groggy Nakamura to his feet and raised his arms in victory mid-ring with Lana. Rusev and Nakamura still looked at each other with some leeriness.
WINNERS: Rusev & Nakamura in 7:00.
-They went to the announcers on camera. They talked about whether the Elimination Chamber format is fair for Bryan. Graves said Bryan is using his platform for the betterment of Planet Earth.
-Mustafa Ali said in a backstage segment that nobody expects him to survive against someone like Randy Orton, but what if he not only survives, but he goes on to become WWE Champion. “What if?” he concluded.
-Paige sat backstage and said it’s “amazing to be back” and thanked viewers for not forgetting about her. “That’s incredible,” she said. (She has a low view of WWE viewers’ memories!) She introduced the trailer for her movie. [c]
-The announcers hyped the Smackdown Tag Team Title match at Elimination Chamber. They said next week Miz TV will feature The Usos and Shane McMahon with The Miz.
-The Usos stood backstage and talked about facing Miz & Shane-o-Mac. They said they know how to struggle together and be hot and cold at the same time. He said next week Miz TV is about to get locked down. “Welcome to the Uso Penitentiary.”
(2) RANDY ORTON vs. MUSTAFA ALI
Ali was already in the ring when Orton’s ring entrance took place. They aired an inset interview where Orton said he couldn’t even be bothered to learn his opponent’s name tonight because he’s like 1000s of his past opponents, he’s prey. He said at EC, he won’t see names or faces, but rather he’ll hear the screams of pain from the trail of bodies he leaves on his way to becoming WWE Champion. Graves called him sadistic. Orton took control early and took it to the floor where he lifted and dropped Ali onto the announce table,. Back in the ring he scored a two count. Orton landed a superplex for another two count. They cut to a break. [c]
They showed that during the break Orton catapulted Ali upward into the bottom rope. Orton scored another two count and then settled into his obligatory mid-match chinlock. Phillips explained the rules of the Chamber match. Orton took it to ringside again and rammed Ali into the announce table. Ali made a comeback by flipping out of Orton’s arms and then landing a nice standing dropkick to knock Orton over the desk. Then he dove into him and punched away at him at ringside. Back in the ring, Ali charged at Orton, but Orton kicked him in the chin. Ali fired back with a kick and then a face-plant for a two count. When Orton went for an RKO, Ali hesitated and landed a tornado DDT for a believable near fall. Ali then climbed to the top rope and set up his 054, but Orton yanked him off the top rope and hit an RKO for the win.
WINNER: Orton in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good basic match. No shock Orton would win, but it does take some of the shine off of what Ali’s immediate upside is.)
-Samoa Joe showed up with a Coquina Clutch Out of Nowhere on Orton. He kicked Ali out of the ring. Bryan then walked out. As Joe made a move toward Bryan, Rowan joined Bryan. Joe hesitated. They cut to a break. [c]
-Joe was in a rage backstage as he said in his world, for every action there will be an opposite and overwhelming reaction. He said tonight is about retaliation, but at Elimination Chamber it will be something very different. He said it will be retaliation, evisceration, and justification for him because the ends to his means is him holding up his WWE Championship. “See you soon, boys,” he said.
-Bryan stood mid-ring as his music stopped. He was holding up his eco-friendly WWE Championship belt. The ring announcer said Bryan is “the favorite son of Washington.” Graves said the trees are greener and the air and cleaner and he just feels great being in this state. He complimented the craftsmanship of the belt.
Bryan said finally he gets to talk to people who understand what he’s trying to do here. Cheers. Fans chanted “Yes! Yes! Yes!” He said the people of Washington are intelligent and smart people who realize that they need change. “Unfortunately, as the WWE Champion, I speak to a global audience.” Boos. He said the people he speaks to don’t realize their crass, selfish behavior does nothing but destroy their minds, fatten up their bodies, and kill the very planet that they all live on. He said they fill their emptiness by stuffing their faces with “deep fried animal carcasses” just trying to get that next dopamine rush. He said he is battling an uphill battle, which is why he has created a symbol for people to rally behind. He said the old WWE Title was a symbol of excellence, but also of excess. He said his belt is a symbol of change. He said there are people who are threatened by that change.
Rowan said those familiar with Galileo fear people like them because of their ideas. He said their ideas have good intentions, which is why people fear them. He said they especially fear Bryan because he holds the championship. He said as long as he is WWE Champion, they will try to silence him. Some fans heckled Rowan with “What?” chants. Bryan said, “How dare you ‘what?’ my good friend Rowan.” Bryan said he serves a greater purpose than corporate power and greed because he is The Planet’s Champion. He said the suits backstage never wanted him to be their champion, which is why they put him in a title situation he shouldn’t be in. Fans booed, backing Bryan’s complaint. He said he’s been there before and he knows what it takes, which only serves to reenforce how dangerous and painful this situation is. He threw to a video package on past Elimination Chambers.
Back live, Bryan listed everyone else in the match. He said those are the men who will be the locked in the Chamber will him. He said they all want to take the title to the past and put it back on leather. He said the ignorant masses need him as WWE Champion, and most importantly they need the New Daniel Bryan. He was cheered by most, but not all fans. Graves said while you might not agree with what Bryan believes, it’s unfair he’s locked inside a chamber with five wrestlers who want what is his.
(Keller’s Analysis: Bryan knew he’d have a receptive crowd, but he laid on the “I know what’s best for you and the planet” thicker than he has before, which surely played heelish to most viewers.)
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Jeff Hardy backstage. He said he still has scars from defending the WWE Title and nobody has disrespected the title like Bryan. Kayla asked if he thought about confronting Bryan rather than standing backstage. Hardy said he’s not interested in a debate and you can’t change the ways of a madman, so he’s going to go out there and make him shut up in their match later. In walked A.J. Styles. He interrupted Hardy and said he’s been around a long time and, no disrespect, but with his recent history, is he really the guy to represent the title. Hardy said with Styles’s history, it says the Real Styles can’t beat the New Bryan. Styles said Hardy is ignoring the giant Sasquatch standing in the ring (Rowan). Hardy said after he takes care of Bryan tonight, they’ll finish their dispute inside the Chamber.
(Keller’s Analysis: That felt a little forced in trying to create tension between them. I don’t really believe Styles would be compelled to interrupt a promo like that. Hardy wasn’t really believable in his final delivery either, although acting hasn’t been his calling card as a wrestler ever.)
-Naomi made her ring entrance. A soundbite aired with Naomi and Carmella. Naomi said Mandy Rose’s sob story last week about what happened over four years ago Tough Enough was ridiculous. Carmella said Naomi was looking for someone with style and substance to team with, so now they’ve formed the most fabulous team in WWE. Naomi said “Fabulous Glow is going to come out on top” at the EC. [c]
-A soundbite aired with the IIconcis from a WWE.com interview saying their hard work would all be worth it if they become the first women’s tag champions. They finished each other’s sentences and giggled.
-Kayla interviewed Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville. Rose said they’ve been in the Chamber before so they’re more ready than their opponents. Rose said Naomi hasn’t pinned her yet, so she must be doing something right.
(3) THE IICONICS vs. NAOMI & CARMELLA vs. MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE – Elimination Chamber Qualifier
They cut to a break seconds into the match. [c]
They stayed with the action on split screen. Rose applied an abdominal stretch on Carmella after the break. Carmella powered out and tried to tag Naomi, but Rose blocked her. Carmella tried again and tagged in Naomi. Rose ran away and tagged in Deville. Naomi went after Deville instead after Rose ran away. Eventually Naomi did get her hands on Rose. She mounted her and punched away. Naomi gave Peyton a Rear View when she tried to interfere. Rose entered and surprised Naomi with her finisher for the win. Graves said that finish was up there with Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3.
WINNER: Rose & Deville in 6:00.
-Andrade and Zelina Vega talked about Rey Mysterio. Zelina said Rey is a myth best left in books written about the past. She said the legend of Andrade begins with Rey Mysterio’s end. [c]
-They replayed highlights of the Becky-Hunter angle earlier. Then the announcers on camera talked about it. Saxton said they don’t know Becky’s condition, but he fears she could become her own worst enemy. Phillips asked if anyone is ready for Asuka. A video package aired on Asuka.
-Hardy’s ring entrance took place. [c]
(4) DANIEL BRYAN vs. JEFF HARDY
Graves sung Bryan’s praises and ripped on Saxton for the size of his carbon footprint. Saxton said Bryan has made defending the title easier with Rowan at ringside for him. Graves said he could only hope to be as good of a human being and as environmentally responsible as Bryan. “I am trying to be a better me as a result,” he said. Saxton said Bryan is using his platform as WWE Champion to preach to everyone how they should live their lives. Graves said he could barely finish his quinoa when Saxton walked past him with his fried chicken. Hardy charged at Bryan at ringside, but Rowan stood in his way. Bryan then attacked Hardy from behind. They cut to a break. [c]
Back live Hardy was rallying. Bryan countered Hardy and stomped on him. Graves said if this was the old Daniel Bryan, everyone would be clamoring and complaining that he’d have to defend his title in the Chamber. Saxton said there’s nothing wrong with Bryan’s views and wanting to save the planet, the issue is being the judge and jury of the entire WWE Universe. Late in the match Hardy leaped off the ring apron with a clothesline and took Bryan down hard. Hardy took off his shirt and the went for a Swanton Bomb. Bryan rolled out of the way and then sent Hardy head-first into the middle turnbuckle. A minute later Hardy landed the Swanton, but Rowan yanked Hardy off of Bryan as the ref began to count and then threw him into the ringside steps. The ref called for the DQ.
WINNER: Hardy in 12:00 via DQ.
-Bryan put Hardy in the Yes Lock mid-ring. Joe showed up and attacked Rowan, throwing him into the ringpost. Then he entered the ring put the Coquina Clutch on Bryan from behind. Orton ran out and attacked Joe. Ali then ran out and dropkicked Joe and Orton. He then dove through the ropes onto Joe. Then he dove at Rowan, but Rowan caught him and slammed him onto the announce table. Graves said Rowan is the axe that clears the forrest in WWE. Styles’s music played and he walked out and then ran to the ring. He went after Orton and landed an enzuigiri. Then he drove a knee into Joe’s head at ringside. Then he hit Hardy with a Phenomenal Forearm in the ring. Bryan and Rowan had retreated to the stage at that point. Styles turned and pointed at them.
-They cut backstage to Bryan in a rage, yelling at Kayla for getting in his face with a question. She asked why he needed Rowan. He interrupted and insisted he is the greatest and did it by himself. He said he and Rowan hang out together because they’re intellectual peers. He asked if she’s smart enough to understand that. He said those other wrestlers can’t end his reign because he’ll be WWE Champion forever “because that’s what the planet needs.” He said nobody understands it but him and Rowan. They cut back to Styles as he played to the crowd.
-The announcers hyped the Elimination Chamber main event for the WWE Title one week from Sunday to close out the show.
(Keller’s Analysis: There was a sense there that they had 30 extra seconds to fill and just stalled a bit with Styles in the ring. This was the closest Bryan has gotten to being dislikable for a reason other than having “inconvenient facts about environment issues.” WWE and Bryan have to aim to make everyone uncomfortable with Bryan in a way where they do dislike him, which means making vegans upset with him, not just people who like ketchup steak wraps and the convenience of plastic water bottles and plastic straws, dammit! This week he did that, not only with his delusional arrogant proclamations of him being the person the world needs, but also his denial that Rowan is there to give him an unfair advantage in matches not to mention just being rude to Kayla. This was a step in the right direction for Bryan’s character. The closing action after the main event felt like the angle you run at the end of the last show before the PPV. I’m curious what they come up with next week to end on a higher note.)