WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 2/5: Nakamura & Rusev vs. Anderson & Gallows, Ali vs. Orton, Hardy vs. Bryan

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist

Jeff Hardy arrested for DUI
Jeff Hardy (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)


FEBRUARY 5, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton

Arena and Items Advertised by WWE

Smackdown makes its first appearance in the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everrett, Wa.  The arena opened for business in 2003 as the Everrett Events Center and has gone through several names through the years.  At one point it was the Xfinity Arena, and hosted Raw back in February of 2015.  We have a quick turnaround on PPVs as our attention is on Elimination Chamber, which takes place in less than two weeks on February 17, 2019.

Here’s what is advertised by WWE.comfor tonight.  They may be light in terms of how many items of emphasis there are, but certainly definitive as we have three matches on tap:

  • Can Nakamura & Rusev coexist against the Good Brothers?
  • Mustafa Ali and Randy Orton collide with Elimination Chamber Match in sight
  • Jeff Hardy looks to gain pivotal momentum against “The New” Daniel Bryan

Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev vs. The Good Brothers (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows)

Last week, Shinsuke Nakamura lost his newly won U.S. Championship to R-Truth.  WWE may have taken a dig at the NFL following the blown pass interference call in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship game.  Truth rolled up Nakamura and the referee counted three after Nakamura appeared to kick out.  After the confusion was cleared up, Truth was awarded the title.

Rusev, who had lost the title to Nakamura two nights earlier, came out to challenge R-Truth.  He claimed the title deserved better than to be around his waist.  In about three minutes, Truth got the win by rolling up Rusev and getting a legitimate three count.  Nakamura would re-appear, and he and Rusev would double team Truth.

Later on, Anderson & Gallows would confront Rusev.  They challenged him and Nakamura to face them in a match.  Nakamura would walk in and say, “challenge accepted.”  Rusev agreed to team with him one time and told him not to screw him over.  That match takes place tonight.

Frank’s Analysis:  See my Raw primer for all the turns since August of last year.  I don’t care how many turns WWE wants to do as long as they make sense.  I’m not sure what’s gained from Rusev quickly turning heel.  It could be a temporary thing to further the feud between he and Nakamura.  As far as the quick change of the U.S. title and putting it on R-Truth, it shows how little WWE values the championship.  R-Truth getting wins over Nakamura and Rusev in the same night on paper makes him seem legitimate, but it still diminishes the value of a championship once held by greats like Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Sting, etc.       

Mustafa Ali vs. Randy Orton

Non-Title Match: WWE Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy

For the purpose of this report, we will look at these matches together.  They are related as a result of last week’s closing segment.

WWE Champion Daniel Bryan came out and introduced Rowan, who had helped him retain the title over A.J. Styles a few nights earlier at the Royal Rumble  He said he was someone who understands the “greater good.”  In his attempt to change the climate, he introduced a new WWE Championship belt and dumped the previous version in the trash.

I can confirm it wasn’t the same garbage can in which Madusa dumped the WWF Women’s title in 1995 on Nitro.  Come on, for those who were watching wrestling back then you know you thought about this last week.  Here’s the YouTube clip of Bryan’s actions:

One by one, A.J. Styles came out followed by Randy Orton.  After the commercial break, Jeff Hardy had arrived followed by Mustafa Ali, and then Samoa Joe.  It’s as if we didn’t know what was coming.  Joe trashed talked, especially at A.J. Styles asking how his wife was doing.  The wrestlers went at it while Bryan was on the outside of the ring with his newly revealed title belt.  He said nobody is getting a title shot.  Triple H appeared on the big screen and agreed, but then revealed that Bryan would instead defend the title against all competitors in an elimination chamber match at the Elimination Chamber PPV.

Tonight, we see some “flavors” of the upcoming match as Mustafa Ali takes on Randy Orton for the first time on television.  Orton pointed out last week that Ali had been eliminated from the Royal Rumble by Nia Jax.  Bryan goes one-on-one with Hardy in a non-title match.  They had a match in May of last year shortly after Bryan’s return to the ring.  Hardy lost by tapping out to Bryan’s heel hook.  Bryan was a babyface at the time.

Here’s a YouTube clip of what happened after Smackdown went off the air last week:

Frank’s Analysis:  If you watched the clip, Orton almost seems to be a babyface again.  Why not, everyone else turns twice in under a year right?  This to me is actually fine if that’s the direction in which they are going with Orton.  At this point in his career it’s just easier to keep him babyface.  At any rate, Bryan previously defended the World Championship as a heel in the same match back in 2012.  His opponents then were Big Show, Cody Rhodes, the Great Khali, Wade Barrett, and Santino Marella.  Marella and Bryan were the final two in that match.  This is a good collection coming up and the matches tonight will be interesting to watch.  Notably absent from this match are Rey Mysterio and Andrade.  Andrade attacked Rey before his scheduled match last week and you wonder if they will be in the mix to determine the #1 contender for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.  Considering they’ve done a handful of TV matches already, I would hope they have a match planned for a PPV.      

Items to Anticipate Tonight:

  • Last week, Becky Lynch punched out Charlotte Flair after Charlotte’s half-hearted and sarcastic congratulations on winning the Royal Rumble.  Last night on Raw, Becky was suspended indefinitely by Stephanie McMahon for refusing to get medical attention on her knee.  Becky attacked Stephanie afterwards.  What I found interesting was Stephanie asking the crowd “Do you want to see Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch at WrestleMania?” which indicates they want to keep the match one-on-one, right?  You wonder now if they are clearing the path for Charlotte to get into the match.  That may or may not begin tonight.  Charlotte didn’t have much to say on Twitter regarding this, but there are several tweets showing her working house shows with Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka.
  • Last night, Bayley & Sasha Banks qualified for the Elimination Chamber match to determine the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.  Over on Smackdown things are done differently, as all you have to do is announce you want to partake.  Since last week, the IIconics (Billy Kay & Peyton Royce) announced their participation.  One team remains from Smackdown to fill out the match.  I’m still guessing it’s Naomi & Carmella, although Lacey Evans is lurking.  I can’t imagine her finding a partner though because everyone to her is a “nasty.”  Look to see them fill out that match tonight.
  • Last week, the Usos became the #1 contenders to the Smackdown Tag Team Championship currently held by the “Best Tag Team in the World,” Shane McMahon & the Miz.  During Miz & Shane’s celebration of winning the titles, Shane surprised Miz (Mike Mizanin) by having his father on the show.  Mr. Mizanin proceeded to tell his son he was proud of him.  The Usos challenge Shane & Miz at Elimination Chamber.  Buildup for that should start tonight which will be interesting considering the Usos are a babyface team.
  • Mandy Rose revealed why she has issue with Naomi.  During the 2015 version of Tough Enough, Naomi was particularly tough on Mandy and made a point to say she’s not sure she has what it takes.  This gave Mandy a complex to the point where her boyfriend at the time couldn’t take it and dumped her.  Calling back to Tough Enough gives this feud a little more juice, even if it’s still on the lower end of the card.  Look for follow-up tonight.  They could tie this somehow into the upcoming championship picture.
  • According to the Wrestling Observer,  a promo aired in Canada during Raw which featured an “International Superstar Shakeup.”  It will apparently take place over a two-day period including April 15-16  in the Bell Centre on Montreal.  The significance of “international” was not explained.  It could be because it’s taking place in Canada, but that’s just speculation.  I can’t imagine this not being aired during Raw in the U.S. first before Smackdown, but it could be brought up tonight now that it’s out there.

Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website

The Angel of the Winds Arena is advertising a start time of 4:45 p.m. local time with doors opening at 3:15.  They advertise a “double main event”:

  • A.J. Styles vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
  • Triple Threat Match: Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair

They also show Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, and New Day appearing.

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

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