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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 26, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-The show opened with Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon in the ring, with Daniel Bryan sitting in at the contract signing table with Erick Rowan standing behind him. Stephanie welcomed everyone to Smackdown Live. Shane said it’d be “an historic” evening and got the Charlotte mention in for cheap heat. Stephanie introduced Bryan, or as she put it, “the man who is seated in his lovely leather chair.” Boos. When Stephanie said Bryan would be defending his title in 12 days, fans chanted “Kofi!” Shane said Kofi was “an overnight success over the past 11 years.” He said when he debuted, unbelievable things happened. They showed his debut in 2008. Then they showed highlights of Kofi’s stunts to stay alive in Royal Rumble matches. Then examples of him winning the Intercontinental Title and U.S. Title and finally some New Day footage with the tag team titles. Shane said perhaps they have overlooked him, but no longer. Stephanie then said Kofi scored a “globally trending victory” over Daniel Bryan and then Kofi’s performance in the Elimination Chamber. Highlights aired as the announcers added some commentary, too. Stephanie said last Tuesday he once again defeated Bryan. Clips aired.
Shane said that is why Kofi was named his opponent for Fastlane, his first opportunity ever to win the WWE Title. He threw to Kofi’s entrance. Big E did his introduction, mentioning Charlotte of course, and then New Day danced to ring and threw pancakes to the crowd. More “Kofi!” chants. Graves said Kofi maybe has been under-appreciated on his WWE journey, but he deserves what is coming his way now. Phillips said this will be Kofi’s first-ever one-on-one opportunity for the WWE Title. Kofi did a lap around the ring, slapping hands. As Kofi began talking about this opportunity, fans began chanting “You deserve it!” Kofi said he knows that none of this would’ve been possible if not for the Tweets, hashtags, trending topics, skywriting, letters, and smoke signals from the WWE Universe. “You made it happen!” he said. Bryan was shown stoically leaning back and listening. Kofi looked at Bryan and said he’s going to beat Bryan and become WWE Champion. Big E and Xavier cheered him on. Fans started another “Kofi!” chant.
Shane told Kofi to have a seat at the table. Bryan signed the contract. He paused when fans booed, then finished. Kofi was about to sign it, but then Vince McMahon’s music played. He walked out. (KOFI SIGN IT! SIGN IT!) Kofi got up and looked at the stage. Vince smiled and said Kofi is extraordinary. He said before moving on, he wanted to thank him for all he has done in WWE. “Truly remarkable, truly,” he said. “However…” Boos. Pause. Vince said as the chairman, it’s incumbent upon him to give fans what they want and deliver the biggest box office he can. He said, “Therefore, Kofi, I’m replacing you.” Kofi looked dejected. Xavier and Big E yelled angrily. Vince said he’s replacing him with someone more deserving and more qualified. He then introduced Kevin Owens.
Owens walked out onto the stage with a t-shirt that reads “Fight Anyone.” Saxton said this isn’t right because Kofi earned this. Owens entered the ring, without much of an expression, and signed the contract. New Day walked to the back as Xavier and Big E yelled about Kofi being cheated out of something he earned. Owens sat expressionless and stared at Bryan as fans chanted “Kofi!”
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a twist. WWE is bringing on it the WrestleMania-season booking twists and turns right now to keep things interesting. I’m amused that Vince McMahon has now made his gimmick that he’s taking things away from fans that they want. I’m intrigued to see where this goes. If it leads to Kofi getting his one-on-one shot at WrestleMania. this could be great. If it’s a Triple Threat, it’s awful.) [c]
-Stephanie, alongside Shane, asked Owens how long he’s known about this. Owens said that doesn’t matter, but he told at least his father recognizes his talent and value to the industry. He said he’s sure Kofi is disappointed, and that’s understandable, but he saw the smug look on the faces of Bryan and Rowan. He said he realizes he’s been put in a fortunate position, and he’d like to team with Kofi tonight – “a man who in my mind is just as deserving of facing Daniel Bryan as I am” – against Bryan & Rowan. Stephanie and seemed just disgusted by the situation. She said they’d take it under advisement. Owens thanked them and left.
-The announcers hyped that Charlotte tonight would address what happened last night between Ronda Rousey and Stephanie plus Becky Lynch being arrested. Graves updated fans on Reigns’s announcement last night and said they’d “take an in-depth look at that later tonight.”
-The Bar stood in the ring awaiting their opponents. The Hardy Boyz came out together as their surprise opponents.
(1) THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro) vs. THE HARDY BOYZ (Matt & Jeff)
The announcers said Matt looks to be in the best shape he’s been in in years. Jeff leaped off of Matt’s back and flip dove onto The Bar at ringside. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action on split screen. [c]
The Bar took over during the break. Cesaro gave the Cesaro Swing to Jeff. Sheamus tagged in and settled into a chinlock. Jeff battled back and landed a Whisper in the Wind on both members of The Bar. He crawled over and hot-tagged Matt. Matt went to work against Cesaro and then played to the crowd and got cheered. He hit a Side Effect and a second rope elbow drop for a two count. He signaled for a Twist of Fate, but Sheamus kicked him from the ring apron. Cesaro scored a very near fall. The ref had to stop his count before Matt lifted his shoulder. Jeff caught Cesaro with a Twist of Fate and then Matt rolled up Sheamus for a two count. Matt gave Sheamus a Twist of Fate. Jeff then tagged in and landed a Swanton Bomb for the win.
WINNERS: The Hardy Boyz in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This could be a spark for the tag team division or it could be an angle to set up the return of Bray Wyatt with a Matt Hardy turn on Jeff, or something else entirely. It’s almost like Broken Matt never happened in WWE.)
-Saxton hyped “the unique team” of Aleister Black & Ricochet facing Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev later.
-Backstage Ricochet talked with Black when in walked Lana who seemed to be checking out Ricochet. She then said she didn’t know what all the fuss was about. She said Ricochet is nothing special and Black is quite ordinary. She said they’re not respected members of the locker room, and are just going to be crushed by Rusev and Nakamura. Ricochet said she must not have seen their victory over The Revival on Raw. He said he enjoys the look on people’s faces when he proves them wrong. He said Rusev can’t beat what he can’t catch. Black said Lana fears the unknown, and the only thing she needs to know about him is written on his flesh. He said Rusev and Nakamura will fade to black. Lana smiled and walked away.
-R-Truth and Carmella danced to the ring as Truth’s song played. Phillips said Truth plans to issue an open U.S. Title challenge next. [c]
-The announcers said Honky Tonk Man, as reported by CBS Sports, will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. A video package aired on HTM.
-Truth and Carmella were in the ring. Truth said John Cena has been his hero since he was a little kid, so he’s going to continue his tradition. There were some boos. Truth said, “Oh, come on guys.” Carmella introduced a Seven Second Dance Break. Graves pointed out that Truth is as old as Cena. Saxton said he thinks he’s actually older. Andrade and Zelina Vega answered the challenge. Rey Mysterio ran out and knocked Andrade down and entered the ring first. Andrade ran into the ring. Truth told everyone to calm down and asked if they can just all get along. He said he’s at a crossroads right now. He said in moments like this, he asks himself what would John Cena do. Carmella said Cena would face both opponents at once. Truth said, “Damn, he brave!” Fans laughed. He said he was thinking more like, “No thank you, no thank you.” He then said he wanted to make John proud, so let’s do it.
(2) R-TRUTH (w/Carmella) vs. ANDRADE (w/Zelina Vega) vs. REY MYSTERIO -U.S. Title match
Rey and Truth battled after knocking Andrade out of the ring. Andrade powerbombed Truth off the ring apron to the floor. Rey slidekicked Andrade and then tried to belly-slide onto Truth, but Andrade intercepted him with a dropkick at ringside at 90 degrees. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Rey leaped off the top rope with a flying head scissors on Andrade as he was lifted onto Truth’s shoulders. Truth eventually rallied against Andrade and then went into the You Can’t See Me routine with a sideslam and Five Knuckle Shuffle for a two count. Zelina stepped onto the ring apron to grab Andrade’s arms to stop an Attitude Adjustment. Carmella yanked Zelina off the ring apron. Andrade threw Truth shoulder-first into the ringpost. Mysterio then went after Andrade and attempted a 619, but Andrade moved. Andrade then hit Rey with a spinning back elbow for a near fall. Rey set up both Truth and Andrade for a 619. Rey hit Andrade, but Truth moved. Truth then schoolboyed Rey for the win. As Truth celebrated, Rey stood and smiled. Andrade attacked Rey from behind, but Rey reversed him into the ropes for a 619 set-up. Andrade bailed out. Graves said that rivalry is far from over.
WINNER: Truth to retain the U.S. Title.
-They went to the announcers on camera. They said the tag match KO requested has become official and called it an odd tag team. Saxton angrily said Kofi was screwed. Graves told him not to have aneurysm. Saxton said Kofi got “royalty screwed.” Graves said Mr. McMahon didn’t screw Kofi, Kofi screwed Kofi. Graves shifted to plugging Ricochet & Black vs. Rusev & Nakamura later.
-They showed Charlotte swaggering backstage. [c]
-Phillips thanked the WWE Universe for reaching the 40 million subscriber mark on YouTube.
-The announcers commented on a highlight package of the segment at the start of Smackdown with Kofi and KO and the McMahons.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. They aired clips of Rousey on Raw last night.
She asked if everyone saw what happened earlier in the night when Vince made the main event of Fastlane even better. She said Bryan vs. Owens was almost as important as when Mr. McMahon anointed her, The Queen, to face Ronda Rousey instead of Becky Lynch. Charlotte said she knows why Mr. McMahon did that – “I know my lane and I stay in it” unlike Rousey or Becky. She said she does exactly what is asked of her and she always delivers. “Media, charity, live events, and the main events, I am the gold standard,” she said. She said Ronda laid down the title and Becky got herself arrested because they fear her. Charlotte said she fears nothing and a true champion fears no one. Charlotte threw to a clip of Rousey saying a true champions can’t choose when or who to fight, but fights no matter what and is willing to prove you’re a champion on your worst day. And if you can’t, you step aside. Charlotte said Rousey said it all. “The difference between the two of us is I will never quit and I will never lay down that title because I am the true champion.” He held her out arm and spun around and smiled. She said next Monday on Raw she is going to show up so Mr. McMahon can crown her the new Raw Women’s Champion. “Someone who deserves it,” she said. She winked as her music played and she pointed at the WrestleMania sign to end the segment.
(Keller’s Analysis: Charlotte is so much better as a heel than a babyface. Her cadence remains a bit too deliberate some of the time, but overall a really good heel promo.)
-Aleister Black’s ring entrance took place. Then Ricochet’s.
-They aired a Black History Month video. [c]
(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RUSEV (w/Lana) vs. ALEISTER BLACK & RICOCHET
When Black and Nakamura exchanged strikes early, Phillips said this is “a dream match if there ever was one.” Overstatements such as that don’t enhance the announcer’s credibility. Graves talked about Ricochet & Black beating The Revival on Raw 24 hours ago. When Nakamura knocked Black to the floor, Rusev knocked him over and yelled. [c]
They stayed with the action on split screen as the heels isolated Black. Saxton said he’s surprised Rusev and Nakamura have been able to work together given how they feel about each other. Ricochet eventually got the hot-tag and went after Rusev. Rusev caught him coming off the ropes and took him down hard with a one-arm slam for a near fall. Nakamura tagged in, but Ricochet elbowed him. He ducked a charging Rusev, who then tumbled to the floor. Black tagged in, but first Ricochet flip dove over the top rope onto Rusev. Nakamura gave Black a reverse exploder suplex. He signaled for his finisher, but Black landed the Black Mass for the win.
WINNERS: Ricochet & Black in 13:00.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed A.J. Styles backstage. He said he is happy to hear that Roman Reigns is remission. Kayla said the entire WWE Universe is with him. She said Styles has established himself as a family man at times and a ferocious pit bull other times. She said some are saying he’s in a slump. He said he’s his own harshest critic and he has standards that drive him to be the best. He said lately he hasn’t been at his best, so he’s partly to blame for the rise of Bryan. He said that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop trying. He said maybe she’s forgotten how long it took him to get to WWE. He said it took 15 years and nothing was ever given to him. He said he’s going to stop listening to the critics, pick himself up, and step up to the next challenger and keep fighting to justify his claim that this is the House that A.J. Styles built. Randy Orton walked up to him and asked, “The House that A.J. Styles what?” Then he walked away.
-Lacey Evans sauntered to the ring and then left. [c]
-The announcers plugged 205 Live featuring Tony Nese vs. Kalisto and The Brian Kendrick vs. Drew Gulak in a Cruiserweight Tournament to determine the no. 1 contender.
-They went to the announcers on camera who threw to a video package on Reigns’s announcement on Raw.
-Kofi made his ring entrance. The announcers wondered how he could even concentrate after what happened earlier. [c]
(4) KEVIN OWENS & KOFI KINGSTON vs. DANIEL BRYAN & ERICK ROWAN
Bryan’s ring entrance was finishing when they returned from the back. Kevin Owens was already in the ring, so his ring entrance didn’t air. The bell rang 43 minutes into the second hour. The announcers wondered how long Owens knew about being inserted into the WWE Title match at Fastlane in place of Kofi. Graves said Mr. McMahon has his eye on box office when he books matches. Saxton said Mr. McMahon has a good track record, but it doesn’t change the fact that Kofi got screwed. When Graves tried to compare Kofi to Becky, Saxton said the difference is Kofi didn’t do anything to prompt the change. Owens flip dove onto Bryan at ringside as they cut to a break. [c]
Saxton said what baffles him is that KO punched Vince once. Graves said McMahon must put business ahead of personal feelings and thinks KO is a better attraction. Saxton said Kofi is learning it doesn’t pay to be a professional in WWE. Graves said the decision wasn’t made of malice, but the more he hears the support for Kofi, the more he questions Vince’s decision. Bryan applied a LaBell Lock on Kofi at 13:00. Kofi put his foot on the bottom rope to force a break. Kofi eventually made a comeback and tagged in Owens. Owens went to work against Bryan aggressively and even took a shot at Rowen on the ring apron, paying him back for doing it to him earlier. He stopped Rowen from entering, then landed a cannonball in the corner. Owens fended off Rowan again with a super kick. Bryan tried to surprise KO, but KO turned it into a Pop-Up Powerbomb. KO climbed to the top, but Rowen yanked him down and threw him into the announce table. Kofi slingshot himself onto Rowan at ringside, then shoved him into the ringpost. Kofi climbed to the top and leaped off onto Rowan, although nearly missed him. Bryan threw KO back into the ring. Bryan went for a running knee, but KO avoided him and then hit a Stunner for the win. Phillips said, “Oh, hell yeah!” Referee Charles Robinson lifted the arms of KO and Kofi afterward. KO might have been offering Kofi a title shot after he beats Bryan at Fastlane as they talked after the match.
WINNERS: KO & Kofi in 16:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m intrigued and not sure where this is going. The match was solid, but not must-see.)
END OF SHOW