WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 2/26: Aleister & Ricochet vs. Rusev & Nakamura, Johnny “Wrestling” vs. Cesaro, Bryan and Kofi sign, Asuka and Mandy Rose

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist

WWE Smackdown hits & misses
Shinsuke Nakamura (art credit Travis Beaven © PWTorch)


FEBRUARY 26, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton

Arena and Items Advertised by WWE

WWE returns to the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. for Smackdown for the first time since November of 2017.  The Raw go-home show for Crown Jewel last November took place here, and the arena has hosted many WWE events since opening for business in 2005.  The Spectrum Center is the home of the second incarnation of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

Here’s what is advertised by WWE.com for tonight.

  • Aleister Black and Ricochet look to rise up on Rusev & Nakamura
  • Can Johnny Gargano keep the momentum going against Cesaro?
  • “The New” Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston to sign the contract for their WWE Title match at Fastlane
  • Can Asuka bounce back from her loss to Mandy Rose?

Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura

Last week, Aleister Black made his debut on the main roster on both Raw & Smackdown.  He defeated Elias on Raw and former rival Andrade on Smackdown.  Ricochet did the same by teaming with Finn Balor to defeat Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush on Raw and knocked off Eric Young of Sanity on Smackdown.

Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura have been on the dance floor for a while both as opponents and as teammates recently.  They traded the U.S. Championship from Christmas to Royal Rumble week when Nakamura ultimately dropped the title to R-Truth.  Truth defeated both men in the same night winning and successfully defending it before being attacked by both Nakamura & Rusev.  In the following week, Rusev & Nakamura would team up to defeat the Good Brothers (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows).

Aleister & Ricochet have teamed up before, as they were paired up with Velveteen Dream and defeated Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa at Halftime Heat during this year’s Super Bowl.  They get together again tonight to meet the pair of Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura.  Last night on Raw, they defeated Raw Tag Team Champions the Revival.

Frank’s Analysis:  Teaming Aleister and Ricochet takes away from what each of them could do individually.  Historically, things of this nature have been more effective when the characters are more established and there’s a reason to do the match.  Also, Aleister is a character that generally works better alone and should only team up in an extraordinarily necessary circumstance and with someone that compliments his style.  As far as Rusev & Nakamura, they appear to be headed for more tag team work.  You wonder if they are headed for an opportunity at the Smackdown tag titles at some point considering WWE probably doesn’t have anything for them in the singles scene.

Johnny Gargano vs. Cesaro

Johnny Gargano also made his presence known on the main roster on Raw & Smackdown teaming with former DIY partner and long-time rival NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa.  On Raw they defeated Tag Team Champions the Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) in a non-title match.  On Smackdown they defeated the Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro).

This past week on NXT, Gargano dropped the North American Championship to Velveteen Dream with Ciampa looking on in the back.  Tonight, Ciampa stands in Gargano’s corner while he takes on Cesaro in a one-on-one with Sheamus in his corner.

Frank’s Analysis:  This should be a good match between two wrestlers that can deliver.  In any other promotion, or if WWE wasn’t run by Vince McMahon, this could be a match pushed on a much higher level.  The issue here is Gargano and Ciampa being on the same page.  It doesn’t fit with what they were doing in NXT over the past year.  Knowing WWE’s booking, you can’t be all that confident that they have something in mind for these two that would make sense.  We’ll just have to stand by and see things play out. 

Contract Signing for WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston

Last week, we were kept in suspense for the entire episode of Smackdown as to whom Daniel Bryan would defend the WWE Championship against at Fastlane.  At Elimination Chamber, Bryan retained but had to go against Kofi Kingston for the the last 12-13 minutes to hold on.

The main event of Smackdown last week featured a six-man tag match of all men involved in the Elimination Chamber match from Sunday.  Jeff Hardy & A.J. Styles & Kofi Kingston (New Day) squared off against Samoa Joe & Randy Orton & WWE Champion Daniel Bryan.  Hardy and Styles were making “amends” in the back when New Day showed up and offered a “pancake branch” after all they went through at Elimination Chamber.  Later on, prior to the six-man tag, New Day was interviewed in gorilla.  They talked about Kofi’s journey and how he had been here for 11 years and deserved this opportunity.  Kofi cited how he had his friends “Mo and mentum” in his corner.

Kofi would go on to pin Bryan to win the match for his team.  Later on, Shane McMahon would come out and announce that facing Bryan for the title at Fastlane would be none other than Kofi himself.  Tonight, they sign the contract for that match. 

Frank’s Analysis:  Typically, the contract signings take place on the go-home show, and thus you wonder what they may have planned for next week.  It was discouraging to see Kofi go right back to the child-like antics with New Day after such a great match at Elimination Chamber; however, all went away when Shane made the announcement as it got a huge pop from the crowd. 

I want to offer a different perspective on this match.  I’m all for it and happy to see Kofi do something meaningful.  The question is does he really “deserve it?”  I’m not saying he shouldn’t be given this opportunity, but he’s spent the last five years gyrating and flinging pancakes with New Day.  He’s spent the better part of the last ten years doing stunts at the Royal Rumble.  Before the gauntlet match and Elimination chamber, where was that amazing run of top-flight matches that made us say Kofi deserves a championship match?  I’ve always liked Kofi, don’t get me wrong.  I just accepted he was a mid-card act that put on good matches and so be it.  Seth Rollins deserves his match with Lesnar and probably should have had it sooner based on his work in 2018.  I think the #kofimania hype has more to do with seeing something different and that’s fine but call it what it is. 

Asuka to Bounce Back?  

After not being on TV for a few weeks, Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka appeared to do an in-ring interview with Dasha Fuentes.  Dasha pointed out that more attention has been on the Raw women’s division and asked if she felt lost in the shuffle (duh).  Asuka didn’t want to talk about Raw women and wanted to know who was “ready for Asuka.”  (We have to get those catch phrases in folks.)

Mandy Rose answered the challenge and was of course accompanied by her Fire and Desire tag team partner Sonya Deville.  They went around ten minutes, and Mandy Rose picked up the win in the impromptu non-title match.

Here’s some exchanges on Twitter with Asuka, Mandy, and Sonya:



 Frank’s Analysis:  This is fairly straight-forward, as it looks to be headed towards a championship match between Asuka and Mandy Rose at Fastlane.  Mandy has certainly come on as of late, especially with her showing in the Elimination Chamber women’s tag team match.  As for tonight, anything is possible ranging from a match between Sonya Deville & Asuka considering their recent Twitter exchange.  Which ever they go, they should just be cautious beating Asuka too much on TV.  I don’t know if WWE realizes this, but last week between Raw and Smackdown three champions took pinfall losses (Revival to Gargano & Ciampa, Asuka to Mandy Rose, and Bryan to Kofi in the six-man tag).  Back in the day, it was a big deal when a champion was pinned or submitted.  I could still remember the British Bulldogs beating the Hart Foundation in non-title matches and the announcers making a big deal of it with follow-up.  These days, it’s just par for the course.

Items to Anticipate Tonight:

  • As reported By CBSSports, WWE legend Wayne Ferris, better known as the Honky Tonk Man will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year:

One could argue that the Honky Tonk Man was one of the greatest heel characters in the business.  In 1987, when title changes barely ever happened on TV, Honky shocked everyone when he defeated fellow WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship and began his record 454-day reign.  He famously lost the title to the late Ultimate Warrior, another fellow HOFer, during essentially a squash match at the inaugural SummerSlam in 1988.  You could make the case that those victories launched each of their legendary careers.  Honky has had his issues with WWE through the years, but it’s good to see them on the same page now as he takes his rightful place in the “Hall.”  Congratulations to Wayne Ferris on this honor.  This will certainly be brought up on the show tonight.

  • Last week it was announced that the Usos would defend their Smackdown Tag Team Championship against Miz & Shane McMahon at Fastlane, the gentlemen from whom they took the titles at Elimination Chamber (those guys get a rematch?  Well it is Shane so…).  Miz announced his father will be at ringside, as Fastlane will take place in Miz’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.  Look for Miz to take on one of the Usos and plant further seeds for their upcoming match. 
  • Charlotte Flair showed the bruises on her body from Becky Lynch’s attack at Elimination Chamber.  Becky was arrested last night on Raw for attacking Natalya and Ronda Rousey during their tag match with the Riott Squad.  WWE needs to follow up on what happened with Becky.
  • Do we still have a U.S. Champion? 


Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website

The Spectrum Center’s website is advertising a start time of 7:30 p.m. local time, but don’t specify when doors will be opening.  They advertise no matches, but rather a list of wrestlers appearing.  They incorrectly still show Shinsuke Nakamura as U.S. Champion as well as the Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) as Smackdown Tag Team Champions.  205Live follows Smackdown.

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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