SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
MARCH 5, 2019
WILKES-BARRE, PA. AT THE MOHEGAN SUN ARENA AT CASEY PLAZA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00PM EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton
In Memoriam: King Kong Bundy
We were saddened today to learn the news of the passing of Christopher Pallies, better known to us wrestling fans as King Kong Bundy. He was 61 years of age and the cause of death is unknown at this point.
He famously main evented WrestleMania 2, challenging Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship (as it was then known) in a steel cage match. That feud is very near to my heart. It is the first I got into as a kid when I started watching WWF in 1986. Who could forget Bundy’s attack on Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event a few months prior in a match with Magnificent Muraco that lead to the WrestleMania encounter.
Bundy not only tangled with Hogan through the years but with the late WWE Hall of Famer Andre the Giant and was even an opponent of the Undertaker at WrestleMania in 1995 in the embryotic stages of ‘Taker’s streak. Bundy was a member of Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation at the time. He frequently teamed with Big John Studd while a member the Heenan family. They were the opponents of Hulk Hogan and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff on an episode of WWF Superstars when Orndorff betrayed Hogan after the match in one of more infamous heel turns. He defeated S.D. (Special Delivery) Jones at the inaugural WrestleMania in nine seconds. At that time, he was managed by “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart. He was famous for demanding a “five count” from referees after hitting his signature Avalanche splash finisher
Here are a few tweets showing support for Bundy:
Saddened to hear of King Kong Bundy's passing. A WrestleMania attraction, a true big man and a fan-favorite of the @WWE Universe. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/w8NGxRL9lk
— Triple H (@TripleH) March 5, 2019
Overwhelmed by King Kong Bundy’s passing, only great memories,R.I.P. big man until we meet again. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 5, 2019
GOODBYE BIG MAN. I LOVE YOU pic.twitter.com/U752kS5oj2
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) March 5, 2019
In my opinion he’s one of the more underappreciated and forgotten heels in the history of wrestling at least from the 1980s and on. Rest in peace sir, and your fans send you family and friends our deepest condolences
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
WWE returns to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for Smackdown after the show appeared in July of 2018. The arena opened for business in 1999 and has hosted WWE events as far back as 2002, including now-defunct shows such as Velocity and Heat and some of the original incarnations of NXT.
Here’s what is advertised by WWE.com for tonight.
- R-Truth to issue another U.S. Championship open challenge
- The Miz to face Jey Uso
- Is Kevin Owens looking to gain more momentum heading into WWE Fastlane
- Will the Hardy Boyz continue their quest to become the greatest tag team?
R-Truth U.S. Championship Open Challenge
Last week, U.S. Champion R-Truth issued an open challenge for his title alongside Carmella…and gave us a seven-second dance break. He cited John Cena as his hero going back to when he was a “little tyke,” when he was doing the U.S. Championship open challenge. I’m not sure if Truth realizes he’s five years older than John. Never mind.
Both Andrade and Rey Mysterio answered the challenge, and thus we had a triple threat match. Mysterio and Andrade have been involved in a feud going back towards the end of last year. Their last encounter was a two-out-of-three falls match that ended due to outside interference. Truth initially hesitated but agreed to do it because he wanted to make John Cena proud. Truth would win via pin fall as he rolled up Mysterio.
Tonight, he issues another open challenge.
Frank’s Analysis: It would be interesting to see what people like Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, Barry Windham, etc. would think of the mockery they’ve made of this title. R-Truth in no way should be beating top stars such as Mysterio and Andrade. It does the title no favors and defines both of those men down. R-Truth is not the worst wrestler in the world, but this is not the role he should be playing. As far as who should answer tonight how about Samoa Joe come out and steamroll through him in two minutes, and that way we can get to real U.S. Championship matches.
The Miz vs. Jey Uso
This coming Sunday at Fastlane, Smackdown Tag Team Champions the Usos (Jimmy & Jey) will defend their titles against former champions and the men from whom they took the title in McMiz (Shane McMahon & The Miz). Miz’s father will be at ringside. Here’s a YouTube clip from a few weeks ago when Miz apologized to Shane and convinced him to make a rematch with the Usos:
In the run-up to that match, Miz takes on Jey Uso tonight.
Frank’s Analysis: I was Greg Parks’ guest co-host on Wrestling Night in America this past Sunday and we discussed this topic. All options are on the table as far as how this ends up, which likely leads to Shane McMahon vs. the Miz as WrestleMania. Logically, Miz turns on Shane and plays the heel. For me, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Shane turns citing frustration with Miz but doesn’t necessarily “turn heel.” They can just have a match to get out their frustrations with each other, and both remain babyface after the match. It’s also not crazy that they don’t break up and have another match together at ‘Mania and break up for a storyline in the following months. That’s the least likely scenario, but one that should not be taken off the table.
Kevin Owens and Momentum Heading into Fastlane
In an unexpected turn of events last week, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon interrupted the contract signing for the WWE Championship match at Fastlane between champion Daniel Bryan and challenger Kofi Kingston of New Day. He said it was his responsibility to make the best matches possible and offer the best “box office” possible. He replaced Kofi with a returning Kevin Owens. We had been hearing about Kevin’s return through vignettes of him and his family going bowling, going to the movies, etc. He was previously a member of the Raw roster, but apparently is on Smackdown now due to his being absent for an extended period. Here’s a YouTube clip of the segment:
Kofi expressed sadness in his being pulled, and his New Day partners Xavier Woods & New Day expressed frustrations. Later on, in the broadcast, Corey Graves said that Kofi screwed Kofi (ya know, have to call back to Bret screwed Bret), and Byron Saxton acknowledged how Kevin headbutted Vince on TV not too long ago.
Both Shane and Stephanie McMahon questioned how long Kevin knew about this. He said it didn’t matter and expressed his desire to team with Kofi against Bryan and his sidekick Rowan later in the evening. He acknowledged Kofi deserved the title match as much as him. They said they would take his idea under advisement.
Later on, they would have the match. Kevin and Kofi worked well together and would win the match when Kevin hit Bryan with a Stone-Cold Stunner. After the match Kofi and Kevin were talking, and while it was hard to understand what they may have been saying to one another it looked like Kevin was saying something along the lines of making things right.
Last night on Raw, Becky Lynch’s suspension was overturned, and she was put in a match at Fastlane against Charlotte Flair. If she wins, she gets added to the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania between champion Ronda Rousey and Charlotte. Who knows tonight if another one of Vince’s heavy-handed decisions gets changed.
Frank’s Analysis: I don’t like how this was done and not because Kofi Kingston was pulled from the match. It’s the McMahons getting involved in the storyline and getting away from what got Kofi over that is incredibly frustrating. It also does Kevin Owens no favors especially if they want him to be a babyface. The story is certainly intriguing, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but one we need to see play out. It’s different from any other story that has been told before. Ultimately you hope they go to Kofi vs. Bryan at WrestleMania as that is the match people want. I’m fearful they go to a triple threat involving Kevin, which isn’t the end of the world but still not what fans are looking for.
Hardy Boyz are Back Together
Last week there was a match scheduled between Johnny Gargano and Cesaro of the Bar. The Bar came out together and instead the Hardy Boyz music played, and out came both Matt and Jeff Hardy.
It had been quite some time since we’ve seen them together as a tag team. We all recall their surprising return at WrestleMania 33 in 2017 where they captured the Raw Tag Team Championship. Later on, in that year with Jeff on the injured list, Matt would revisit his “Broken” character from his time at Impact Wrestling and it would be rebranded “Woken.” He would feud with Bray Wyatt but eventually team with him and have a run as Raw Tag Team Champions. Their run ended around the summertime of 2018.
In the meantime, Jeff returned to Smackdown in the Superstar Shakeup last year. He had a run with the U.S. Championship and had feuds with Randy Orton and Samoa Joe. Last week, he and Matt reunited and defeated the Bar. Here they are in a WWE.com exclusive after the match:
Frank’s Analysis: With the Usos expected to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, a match between them and the Hardys would certainly be appealing for WrestleMania. It’s a smart use of both men. They can share the workload and not take as many bumps and add much needed life to the tag team division on Smackdown. You can only have so many Usos vs. Bar, Bar vs. New Day, Usos vs. New Day matches. Since they haven’t built up any other teams and considering your #1 contenders are Miz and Shane McMahon, putting the Hardys back together is certainly a wise choice.
Items to Anticipate Tonight:
- They will no doubt acknowledge the latest WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Torrie Wilson. If anyone can offer me a logical reason as to why she belongs in the Hall, my Twitter account and e-mail are listed below. I mean no disrespect to Torrie Wilson, who is likely a fine human being. She had FAR from a Hall of Fame career, nor did she offer anything significant to the product. They induct Chyna as part of DX but induct Torrie on her own. Next thing you know, Candice Michelle and Stacy Kiebler are going to get the call.
- Addressing what was next for Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka was advertised for the show last week, but WWE did not do anything on TV in this regard. There was a WWE.com exclusive the night of the show, in which Mandy Rose said she was challenging Asuka for the title at Fastlane. Here’s the YouTube clip:
At a recent house show in White Plains, N.Y., Mandy appeared to have accidently injured Asuka in a match that ended up being ruled a no-contest. According to Asuka’s Twitter account, she is fine:
- Look for WWE to address what took place on Raw last night involving the no-longer suspended Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, who is set to challenge Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania for the Raw Women’s Championship. If Becky defeats Charlotte at Fastlane, she is added to the match and it becomes a triple threat. Bear in mind, Becky won the women’s Royal Rumble but has been suspended by both Stephanie McMahon for not seeing a doctor and Vince McMahon for having a “bad attitude.” Last week, Charlotte cut a promo expecting to go to Raw and be handed the Raw Women’s Championship.
- Look for more from Aleister Black and Ricochet. Last week they defeated Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev. Last night on Raw, they challenged Raw Tag Team Champions the Revival for the titles and won via DQ but not the titles when Bobby Roode & Chad Gable interfered.
- Mustafa Ali returned at a recent house show. He’s another candidate to answer the U.S. Championship open challenge even though it’s babyface vs. babyface.
Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website
The Spectrum Center’s website is advertising a start time of 7:45 p.m. local time, but don’t specify when doors will be opening. They advertise a “double main event” which doesn’t seem likely to happen:
- A.J. Styles vs. Daniel Bryan
- Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair
They also show Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, The New Day, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Miz, Naomi, Samoa Joe, Rusev, The Bar and “many more!”
205Live will follow the main show.
Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani or e-mail me at email@example.com. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!