KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 12, 2019
DAYTON OHIO AT NUTTER ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-The show opened with a shot of the crowd as Phillips introduced the show. The graphic said “Dayton, Ohio,” but Phillips didn’t mention out loud. Then Shane McMahon’s entrance theme played: “Here comes the money!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Finally his song fits his character.)
Graves said he’s really curious to hear what Shane has to say tonight. They showed a fan with a sign that said, “Shane made a Miztake.” They showed freeze-frames of the Fastlane match and post-match angle with Shane and Miz. Phillips said Miz is at home recovering from Shane’s attack and consoling his father. Shane entered the ring and stood next to the Best in the World trophy. Fans booed. “You suck!” chanted the fans. He stood there and signaled to the ring announced to come over. He said something to him and then the ring announcer entered the ring. Hamilton said: “The Best in the World, Shane McMahon.” Shane grabbed him and said, “Say it like you mean it!” Hamilton tried again. Shane wanted a third try. He was finally satisfied with the third enthusiastic announcement.
Shane said people have been asking why he would beat down his so-called co-bestie. “Frankly, I’m sick of it,” he said. He said he’s not just talking about the fans or the wrestler in the back or the thousands of WWE employees. He said they’re always wanting him to do something for them to get ahead in life. Fans began chanting “We Want Kofi!” He paused, then he picked up where he left off. He said the fans have no idea what he does for them behind the scenes each and every day. He said it’s all about what he can do for them. “Them, them, them,” he said. He put a stop to that when he beat up Miz in his own hometown, he said. He said he’s not the Best in the World because he won a trophy or because he became tag team champions. He said he became Best in the World “because I was born that way.” He said from this point forward, he’s going to start doing things for himself. He said it felt so good on Sunday.
He said took a dig at Miz’s dad, saying he had a “baked potato face.” He said the feeling he had on Sunday was so tremendous, everyone should get used to it because this is the new him. He pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said Miz works for him. He told Miz to get ready for “another Best in the World beating.” He said for him the beatdown will feel “awesome.” He threw the mic down and left.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was really good. You could believe his story and also resent him for how he is dealing with it. I’m glad he didn’t yell and scream and froth. He just made his case for being born Best in the World and convinced me he was putting up a front of happiness being a people-pleaser all these years and now he’s going to be ruthless and arrogant. I always knew this was the real Shane. Also, I have to say I related to Hamilton because Todd Martin used to do that to me every time I didn’t say “Best in the World Shane McMahon” without enough conviction during the recording of “The Fix” during the latter part of 2018 and early this year.)
-The announcers hyped Smackdown including Becky Lynch coming out later.
-Aleister Black made his ring entrance. [c]
(1) ALEISTER BLACK & RICOCHET & MATT & JEFF HARDY vs. RUSEV & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro)
Saxton said this match shows how healthy the tag team division is, “especially here on Smackdown Live.” The announcers talked about how Ricochet & Black have forced Smackdown teams to up their game to keep up. Ricochet rallied, but Rusev punched him out of mid-air. They cut to a break. [c]
Ricochet took a beating for a while before hot-tagging in Matt. The announcers complimented Matt on losing 15 pounds and noted the Hardys hadn’t teamed on Smackdown in ten years. Fans chanted “Delete!” He tagged in Jeff. Sheamus interfered. Black knocked Sheamus out of the ring with a pump knee strike. More chaos with everyone getting involved. Hardy gave Cesaro a Twist of Fate, yanked off his own shirt, and leaped off the top rope with a Swanton for a near fall, broken up by all three heel partners. (Cesaro had to totally position himself for the move.) An eight-way brawl broke out. The New Day ran out and joined in the brawl. Fans popped. Graves said New Day, and especially Kofi Kingston, feel totally mistreated. He said this, though, isn’t a wise decision. Saxton said they’re tired of being tired and are doing something about it. Graves said an opportunity from Mr. McMahon could go up in smoke. (What opportunity? He yanked it away from Kofi at Fastlane and hasn’t promised anything since.)
WINNERS: No contest in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action and a crowd-pleasing run-in to end it.)
-Back, the Usos said they just saw New Day try to take what’s theirs like they took what’s theirs at Fastlane. They listed the teams they beat and said there’s one left – “brothers like me and you, but they’re nothing like me and you.”
(Keller’s Analysis: The Usos have a real edge and intensity to the now. It’s almost too much for the tone WWE otherwise sets for their heels.)
-Randy Orton walked out to his music. Phillips said something has been burning inside of him for a long time and tonight he needs to get it off his chest. [c]
-Orton said he has something to get off his chest. He said if this is the House that A.J. Styles built, in 2002 Styles was wrestling for “ten bucks a night in a high school gymnasium in front of 12 people, while I was here making my WWE in-ring debut.” He said in 2004, Styles was shaking hands with his opponents in the Bingo Halls while he was becoming the youngest WWE Champion ever. He said in 2005, Styles was in Florida “getting a tan with Dixie Carter” while he was wrestling Undertaker at WrestleMania. He said from 2006 through 2015 he was here as a champion. “This isn’t the House that A.J. Styles built!” he said. ‘This is the House the Randy Orton built.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a hell of an argument. I mean, I can see how Orton’s character would feel that way every time Styles said his catch phrase. Was the Dixie Carter reference building something for EC3 to play off of if he ever gets off of Main Event.)
Styles’s music interrupted and he walked out. He entered the ring and said for someone who looks down at the indies, he sure followed his career closely. He said he did come from the indies and he’s proud of it. He said people say that guys like Orton weren’t built for the indies, they were built for WWE. “That’s a good thing, because guys like you would not have made it in my world,” he said. He struck Orton’s pose and said, “Not with things like this and a knockoff Diamond Cutter.” The crowd “oooh’d.”
Orton asked if Styles is telling him that him and his “little indy pals” never ripped anybody off. He held up the Bullet Club hand symbol. Styles said, “Look backstage, you’re surrounded by them. They earned the right to be here in WWE. They didn’t go to their father to get them a job.” More “ohhh’s” from the fans. Styles said his first year Orton had help with the stroke of Triple H, the cunning of Ric Flair, and the muscle of Batista “just to make sure you didn’t fail.” Orton said he performed more by age 24 than he and his cohorts ever dreamt of accomplishing. He ran down his accomplishments. (I’m waiting for Styles to call Orton the three-star specialist.)
Styles brought up Legacy and Rated RKO “and here’s a good one – the Wyatt Family.” He said: “It sounds to me you had a lot of babysitters.” Styles said he is a viper and he uses everyone around him and then tosses them to the curb. He said that’s why he got the jump on him at Fastlane because he won’t be his next victim. Orton said he doesn’t have a choice. Orton said he’s the landlord of Smackdown “and rent’s due, you son of a bitch.” He told him to make the check out to the most destructive three letters in sports entertainment: R-K-O. He dropped the mic and turned to leave. Styles said if he wants his rent, then come and take it. He pointed at the WrestleMania banner and threw the mic down. Graves said there was a great deal of truth thrown down by both sides.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a lot of fun, and I’m glad they let Styles make his case with truth even if it did acknowledge the indy scene more than WWE typically does. Graves even acknowledged that both guys spoke their truth. While Orton is a heel and Styles is a babyface, this almost feels like they’re trying to pit WWE loyalists against indy loyalists who also watch WWE.)
-Asuka’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-The announcers hyped WrestleMania’s developing line-up.
(2) SONYA DEVILLE (w/Mandy Rose) vs. ASUKA
Phillips said he was curious to see how things were between “Fire and Desire” after what happened at Fastlane. They showed freeze-frames of the finish of the Rose vs. Asuka match. A few minutes in, Deville rolled to the floor. Asuka slidekicked Deville and Rose. Mandy pulled the ring apron and Deville slipped. Asuka then applied the Asuka lock.
WINNER: Asuka in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: What’re the odds?!)
-Backstage the IIconics said Deville and Rose are always tripping over each other. They got cartoonishly iconic and said Sasha Banks & Bayley can’t run from them forever.
-Becky Lynch’s music played. Graves said it’s been a long, strange trip for her. She limped out on a crutch and then threw it away. She limped to the ring without it, smiling as she marched. Saxton said it’s been an emotional roller coaster. [c]
-They showed freeze-frames from Fastlane of Lynch winning thanks to Ronda Rousey.
-Becky talked about her bumpy road with arrest and suspensions, but she said The Man is back and on her own two feet ready for the main event of WrestleMania. She said this is the match she set in motion. She said she picked Rousey, then Charlotte got shoehorned in by Vince, and she had to earn her way back into her match twice – once by winning the Rumble and the other way was playing Rousey like a fiddle. “Lads, lads, do you know how hard it is to play mind games on a woman with no brain?” she said. Fans laughed. She said she got Ronnie so wound up, she did her bidding for her. “Thanks for that, Ronda, you little wierdo.” She said she’ll repay her at WrestleMania by taking her title and ripping her arm off. She said she doesn’t care who she beats, Charlotte or Rousey, she’s taking what they’ve tried to give to someone else.
(Keller’s Analysis: That worked, I think. She explained she had a master plan to mess with Rousey and trigger her to act the way she did at Fastlane. It explains her snickering in the corner after the win at Fastlane. Now, granted it’s a bit of a stretch if you think about it for five seconds or longer, but Becky was so entertaining poking and prodding Rousey with her words and tone, it worked.)
Charlotte came out to her music and congratulated Becky for qualifying for her main event. She said as Becky kept doing anything to stay out of the ring, “I’ve been putting in all the work.” She said her resume speaks for itself. She said it’s one thing to be hot for six months, but she’s been hot for four years. She said that’s why she was chosen. “I was chosen to get the job done,” she said. Charlotte said no matter how hard she spins it, this Sunday she got a handout. She said never in her life has she seen someone do so little, but take credit for so much. She said that’s why she’s going to make her and Rousey relevant again “when you bow down to the queen.” She called herself Miss WrestleMania. “Woo!”
Becky said, “Ah, shut your face, you plastic-faced dope.” She said in four years she didn’t do anything with the women’s division, and now The Man came along and they’re main eventing WM. “We didn’t need a queen, what we needed was The Man.” She extended her right arm up and smiled as her music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Charlotte was good here. I liked each making their case, like Styles and Orton did, but you were nodding along more to Becky than Charlotte.)
-Kayla Braxton stood outside of Vince McMahon’s office. As Daniel Bryan and Rowan walked out, she asked what it was about. Bryan said it was private. She asked if it had to do with Kofi. Bryan said as a matter of fact, it was. He said he thought Mr. McMahon deserved to have his honest feedback about Kofi tonight before he makes his decision. She asked what McMahon’s reaction was. He said McMahon put him and Rowan in a match tonight against Mustafa Ali & Kevin Owens. Phillips said Bryan didn’t seem thrilled with McMahon booking that tag match.
-Rey Mysterio made his ring entrance. [c]
-A highlight package aired on the U.S. Title Fatal Four-way match at Fastlane.
(3) SAMOA JOE & ANDRADE (w/Zelina Vega) vs. REY MYSTERIO & R-TRUTH (w/Carmella)
Graves said he wants to see Saxton do a sit-down interview with Joe so he can present Joe with his theories to his face. (Just because someone might beat someone else up when presented with the truth, doesn’t mean the truth isn’t the truth.) Phillips said he’s not sure Truth doesn’t know he’s not the U.S. Champion anymore. Saxton said maybe that a good thing. “You block out traumatic moments in your life, it keeps your confidence high,” he said. Graves asked, “Is that why you don’t date?” Graves cracked up at his own dig. (That was pretty funny.) Saxton asked if he ever stops. [c]
Joe beat up Rey during the break. Back live, Joe tagged in Andrade. A few minutes later Rey hit a 619 on both Joe and Andrade. Graves called it the 1218. Rey leaped off the top rope with a frog splash on Andrade, but Joe gave Rey a senton. He then went for a urinage, but Rey countered with a roll-up for a leverage pin. Afterward, Joe went on a tirade against Rey, Truth, and even Andrade.
WINNERS: Truth & Rey in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That didn’t seem like the follow-up to Joe’s U.S. Title win that is going to lead to John Cena challenging Joe at WrestleMania. That seemed to build Rey vs. Joe or a multi-man match again for Joe instead.)
-The announcers threw to a clip from Raw of Alexa Bliss announcing she’d be host of WrestleMania this year.
-Kevin Owens made his ring entrance. The announcers hyped Mr. McMahon would announce Kofi’s WrestleMania fate later tonight. [c]
(4) KEVIN OWENS & MUSTAFA ALI vs. DANIEL BRYAN & ROWAN
Saxton talked about what a tough situation Ali was put in because “the Universe” wanted Kofi in that match, but Ali made the best of it. A few minutes in, with Bryan in control, they cut to a break. [c]
After Rowan knocked Owens out at ringside, Rowan tagged in and surprised Ali with a claw slam for the win.
WINNERS: Rowan & Bryan in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Some good wrestling, but not a lot of purpose to it otherwise. These last couple weeks still feel, all in all, like a really flat way to reintroduce Owens as a babyface.)
-As Bryan and Rowan walked to the back with their arms up in victory, Mr. McMahon’s music played. He walked onto the stage and saluted Bryan and Rowan. He had more of a spring in his step than usual. Maybe he was just reducing the exaggerated McMahon strut and he seemed less freakish. [c]
-McMahon took the mic and said he’s there to give the fans and Kofi what they want – a WWE Title match at WrestleMania. He got right to it. He pointed at the big screen and said he wanted to show people what happened on Sunday that seemed to run contrary to that. Then clips aired of the New Day and Vince backstage, and then The Bar beating up Kofi.
Back live, Vince said fans hear what they want to. He said he gave Kofi an opportunity to compete, but he failed. He said when he says things, you better listen. He said everything he does is a teachable moment. As he talked about the importance of teachable moments, The New Day interrupted.
Big E said, “If I’m being honest, we’re not in the mood for you to teach us a damn thing.” Vince told them to watch his mouth. They said they make every request and appearance and never complain, but he still treats them like garbage. Big E said Kofi deserves more. Vince said he doesn’t deserve a damn thing. He said the fans don’t, either. He said they don’t deserve to breathe in and breathe out. He said he created Smackdown and Raw and WrestleMania, “it’s almost like I created heaven and earth, but I don’t ‘deserve’ anything.” He said no one deserves anything.
Big E said this is bigger than just their opinion and it’s bigger than New Day and it’s even bigger than his damn ego. Vince said there is nothing justifiably bigger than his ego. Fans laughed. Xavier said if nobody deserves anything, they’ve earned something. Xavier said Kofi has defeated people who were champions, but for some reason he was never rewarded with a WWE Title opportunity. Big E said the WWE Universe has one demand – that Kofi be given the opportunity to compete for the WWE Championship. Fans loudly chanted “Kofi! Kofi!”
Vince said Kofi is great, but he’s not championship caliber. He said he’ll go into the Hall of Fame some day, but only as part of New Day, not as an individual. He said at his age, he’s leaning on Big E and Xavier. He said he’s not championship material, and that’s not meant to be a knock. He said earlier he was talking to Bryan and Bryan really hit the nail on the head. He said Bryan told him that Kofi is a nice B+ player. Big E and Xavier were mad. Kofi told them not to get fired because of him. Kofi said, “Mr. McMahon, I’m not asking for a free ride or a handout.” He said 11 years ago, he was just a kid with a dream, and that dream has near come true.” He said he gets to travel the world entertaining the WWE Universe. “My life is blessed,” he said. But he said over these 11 years, he has proven many times he is worthy, but Vince doesn’t see it that way. He said he doesn’t complain about anything around there, despite busting his ass week after week while other people are given opportunities because Vince thinks they’re more worthy than him. He said he has missed weddings and birthdays and special moments. “Do you know I’ve never been trick or treating with my kids because I’ve always been here,” he said. He said he wasn’t there to see his son lose his first tooth and the excitement of getting money from the tooth fairy because he was on the road. He said he never complains that he has “never allowed someone like me to compete or contend for the WWE Title.” He said he has never complained and he won’t start now. “What I need from you, right here, right now, face to face, man to man, is to tell me what I need to do so I can do it. These people believe in me.”
Orton’s music played. He walked out and Vince said all he has to do is beat Orton. Out walked Samoa Joe to his music. “And beat that man,” he said. Then out came The Bar. “And beat those men too.” Out came Rowan. “All you have to do is beat them in a gauntlet match and you’re going to WrestleMania.” Graves said that’s an impossible task and Kofi’s dream is over. Saxton wondered if this is what they waited for. The Bar and Joe ran to the ring. The New Day fought back as Bryan and Vince watched on the ramp. Saxton said Kofi got screwed again. Kofi yelled back at Vince and Bryan as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: They should pop a rating last week. Kofi was great here. New Day collectively were. And that was Vince’s best performance in ages.)