KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 19, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-Phillips introduced the show as an on-screen banner said they were in Indianapolis. The announcers hyped a KO Show with Charlotte and Becky Lynch, plus the Kofi Kingston gauntlet match. Fans were chanting “Kofi” in the background.
-Miz’s entrance music played and he walked out onto the stage. Saxton said Shane McMahon has booked himself against The Miz at WrestleMania. Graves gave Saxton a hard time for saying “Shane McMahon” instead of “Best in the World Shane McMahon.” Miz, who had a more serious demeanor than usual (ever), pointed at the big screen to start. It recapped Shane’s heel turn and giving ring announcer Greg Hamilton a hard time last week. Back live, Miz said for ten-plus years he’s been laser-focused on one road, the Road to WrestleMania “but at what cost?” He said he has taken shortcuts and taken advantage of people and taken undeserving opportunities. He said other than his wife and daughter, he has sacrificed every single relationship he has had in the business. He said his friendship with Shane meant so much to him.
He paused and some fans chanted “Miz.” He thanked them. He said it was all to make one man proud of him. He said when his dad stood in the ring, it was the first time he has ever heard him say “I love you” and “I am proud of you.” He said it meant so much and Shane made it happen for him. He said people actually told him to watch his back. “They warned me – me, The Miz! They warned me about Shane. They said behind the scenes he’s a little different. I didn’t believe them. It’s Shane McMahon.” His voice cracked as he said Shane attacked him from behind in front of his 68 year old father. He said his dad watched as Shane decimated him. He asked what kind of human being would do that. “And then he put his hands on my father,” he said. “It is something that will be engrained for the rest of my life.” He said Shane is vile and disgusting and rotten to the core “just like your father.” He said Shane wasn’t born Best in the World. “You’re a McMahon; you were born the worst,” he said.
He said McMahons might own the company, but they don’t own him. “And you sure as hell don’t own Kofi,” he said. Fans began chanting “Kofi! Kofi!” He said he wasn’t born rich or of privilege. He said he was born destined to flip burgers. He said people told him he was average, but he didn’t make that a self-fulfilling prophesy. He said he proved everyone wrong by finding his way through “The Real World” and he became a champion and the most must-see WWE Superstar of all-time. He said he did it on his own. (He did admit he stabbed everyone in the back on his way.) He said you can’t think what you want about him, but no one questions his work ethic. “I’ve always prided myself on working harder than everyone else because I’ve always believed hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard enough. I am a proven success story and that is something to proud of.” He said his dad didn’t give him love, he had to earn it. (Sad.) He said the fans didn’t respect him, he had to earn it. He said as he stands there now, he feels he has earned it. A “Miz” chant got going a bit, mixed with a “You deserve it!” chant. I think some fans are still hesitant to chant for Miz. “You’re damn right I do,” he said in response to the “You deserve it!” chant. Miz said Shane deserves the ass whipping he’s going to give him at WrestleMania. He dropped the mic and his music played.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Graves said the ruthlessness of Vince is a part of Shane’s DNA so Miz had better be careful.
(Keller’s Analysis: Although I think some fans remain understandably suspicious and perhaps just in general reluctant to cheer Miz too enthusiastically, that was a really well-thought-out and well-executed promo. I think if he expressed a little more regret for how he has acted in the past fans might have been more willing to accept he was sincere now and worthy of their enthusiastic cheers. I still can’t believe how much Miz throws his dad under the bus for in terms of never expressing love and support for his son. Geesh. I get it’s part of the story, but it hardly makes you root for MizDad or feel all that sorry for him.)
-Bayley and Sasha Banks began their ring entrance. [c]
-Back live, The IIconics were on the stage. They said Sasha and Bayley look scared and strange and small “like their parents bought their way into an Ivy League school they couldn’t get into.” They laughed. (That’s trying way too hard to inject current events in a situation that doesn’t resonate at all.) They said they went back to NXT to try to make themselves feel important, then got chased off on their own turf on Raw, and now they have no choice but to face the best team in WWE, The IIconics, in unfamiliar territory. Fans booed.
(1) SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY vs. THE IICONICS (Peyton Royce & Billie Kaye)
Lacey Evans walked out early in the match and distracted the four wrestlers. It gave Bayley a chance to make a comeback against Kaye. Royce blind-tagged in and took over against Bayley immediately. [c]
They stayed with the action during the break which was an extended beating of Bayley. After the break Bayley made a hot-tag to Sasha. A few minutes later, Kaye grabbed Sasha’s leg to slow her. Bayley charged at ringside, but Kaye gave her a big boot. Then Royce rolled up a distracted Sasha. Kaye helped hold Sasha down out of sight of the referee as he counted to three. Bayley sold at ringside like she was killed by the kick to the face. She didn’t move at all.
WINNERS: The IIconics in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seriously, another babyface losing after they turn their back to something going on outside the ring that isn’t an immediately threat?)
-Kayla Braxton recapped what happened robotically as if she memorized the words, but didn’t know what they meant, and hadn’t seen the match because it hadn’t actually happened yet. Then she introduced Rey Mysterio for an interview. Rey brought his son Dominic into the picture. He announced he would be facing Samoa Joe for the U.S. Title at WrestleMania. He said he hadn’t told his son yet. Dominic smiled and said Joe is a bully and he’ll be sitting front row seeing Rey take care of another bully and bringing home another championship.
(Keller’s Analysis: “Joe’s Gonna Kill Dominic!” So not only is John Cena not wrestling Kurt Angle, he’s also not wrestling Joe for the U.S. Title as a lot of us had guessed.)
-Kevin Owens walked to the ring as his music played. [c]
-The announcers hyped the WrestleMania line-up so far. The fans booed the Angle-Corbin graphic. Phillips said fans are in an uproar over “Corbin being given this opportunity.” (Angle CHOSE HIM. Phillips phrased that like it was some bad decision by WWE brass.)
-KO sat in the ring and said it’s the new improved KO Show. He said he has new signage and he dressed up. He was wearing a t-shirt and a tie. He said every year he calls WrestleMania “KO Mania,” but this year there is no denying it’s all about Kofi Kingston. He said they will find out tonight if he can run the gauntlet and go on to WrestleMania. He said he’ll be watching closely. He said another match stands out because it features the hottest rivalry in WWE today. He introduced Becky Lynch. Becky came out to cheers and some “Becky!” chants. KO said, “Hey, they like you.” She smiled. KO then introduced Charlotte.
Graves said,”If there was ever a perfect fit to the puzzle that is WrestleMania, it is Charlotte in a main event.” Phillips said Becky would disagree because she says Charlotte was “shoe-horned into the match.” Saxton said Becky had to jump through hoop after hoop to get back into the match she earned at the Royal Rumble. Phillips said Charlotte is a sure-fire main eventer whereas Becky is unreliable and unpredictable. Fans again chanted “Becky! Becky!”
Becky and Charlotte sat on opposite sides of a table mid-ring. KO said he knows as well as anyone that sometimes friends can get under each other’s skin. KO said he had some notecards to remind them of what they’ve been saying about each other. He began with inflammatory Ronda Rousey quotes. He said people don’t want to see them talk anymore, they want to see them fight. They stood up and approached each other. Charlotte said she would beat the holy hell out of Becky. KO stepped out of the ring and then told Becky to respond. Becky punched Charlotte. Charlotte tackled Becky over the table and they tumbled to the mat. Becky tried to lift and slam Charlotte, but Charlotte got the better of her. Becky then rolled on top and pounded away at Charlotte. Charlotte rolled to the floor, but then rammed Becky into the ring apron and then the ringside barricade. Becky fought back and they brawled some more. Referees and security tried to separate them as fans chanted “Let them fight!” Charlotte and Becky beat up some of them. Fans loudly chanted “Becky! Becky!” Graves said there will be massive fines and perhaps the WrestleMania match is in jeopardy. They were finally separated.
(Keller’s Analysis: Since it seems Becky is likely going to pin Charlotte at WrestleMania, the goal seems to be to make fans take joy in seeing Becky pin Charlotte. The only problem is Charlotte didn’t do anything heelish and she also held her own with Becky, at times seemingly out-powering her, including stuffing Becky’s initial takedown attempt. This was an intense pull apart brawl that made it seem like they want to tear each other apart, but it didn’t put heat on Charlotte. KO was okay here, but babyface pro wrestling talk show hosts don’t have as much to work with as heels do.)
-Kayla acknowledged what just happened robotically as if she memorized the words, but didn’t know what they meant, and hadn’t seen the brawl because it hadn’t actually happened yet, then introduced A.J. Styles for an interview backstage. Styles said Orton is great, with the agility of a man half his size. He said the difference between them is Orton is a first round draft pick while he’s a walk-on, “but look at me now.” He said Orton will be standing across from someone at WrestleMania who wasn’t handed anything. He said he is going to tear the house down at WrestleMania because he is the Phenomenal A.J. Styles. Fans said it along with him. He began to leave, then walked back and wished Kofi good luck.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good, quick, to the point interview that wasn’t overly cute or injected with awkward puns or current events references. I also loved Styles acknowledging the Kofi gauntlet match. It makes something feel like a big deal when other wrestlers are talking about it.)
-Daniel Bryan and Rowan walked to the ring. [c]
-Bryan and Rowan stood mid-ring as Bryan’s music faded. He said Kofi being in this gauntlet match is an injustice. Fans booed. “Because Kofi Kingston does not deserve the opportunity,” he said. More boos. He said he knows better than anyone else what it’s like to have The Authority hold you down. He said it has not happened to Kofi, despite the illusion he sold to the fans. He said Kofi was chosen to replace Mustafa Ali in the gauntlet match before the Elimination Chamber. “He was hand-picked out of the tag team division and just given an opportunity he had never earned,” he said. He said Kofi fought valiantly, but both times Kofi lost and he has earned nothing “because Kofi Kingston, unlike me, is nothing but a B+ player.” He said that’s okay for all of the fans because for them, B+ is good enough. He said maybe they should put that on a t-shirt and on the boxes of Booty Os and pancakes “and all kinds of other crap people don’t need to buy.” He said no matter how much they chant Kofi, it won’t matter because Kofi will keep losing. He was interrupted by Big E introducing New Day.
Big E and Xavier gave Kofi some words of encouragement on the stage and sent him to the ring. Kofi had a serious demeanor. Sheamus then made his ring entrance. [c]
(2a) KOFI KINGSTON vs. SHEAMUS – Gauntlet Match
The match began with about 30 seconds left in the first hour, so settle in, folks. Graves said Kofi is a great person and a great in-ring performer (NOT A WRESTLER! THEY DON’T EXIST IN WWE!), but he has no chance in this gauntlet match. After Saxton talked about Kofi’s long resume in WWE, Graves said Kofi has been around a long time, but he doesn’t get the job done when given big opportunities. “Being a solid, reliable player doesn’t make you captain of the team,” he said. He said in 11 years he had chances and he hasn’t earned big title matches. Kofi leaped over the top rope onto Sheamus a few minutes into the match and got a nice pop. Sheamus took over back in the ring. [c]
The announcers talked about the odds being against Kofi. Graves said Kofi can’t be happy with how long this first match is going. Kofi rallied with clotheslines, a Boom Drop, and then an attempt at a Trouble in Paradise, after pausing to point at the WrestleMania sign. Sheamus avoided his finisher. Kofi came back with a top rope splash for a near fall, but Sheamus rolled out of the ring. Sheamus landed an Irish Curse shortly thereafter for a near fall and then a cloverleaf. Kofi countered with a roll-up for a near fall that looked like the ref stopped before the kick-out. When Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, Kofi avoided it and then won with a victory roll. They showed the Usos, Mustafa Ali, The Hardys, and the rest of New Day cheering in the locker room.
WINNER: Kofi in 13:00.
(2b) KOFI KINGSTON vs. CESARO – Gauntlet Match continued
Cesaro got into the ring right away and hit a quick gut-wrench suplex for a near fall. Kofi showed some fight, but Cesaro stayed in control. [c]
Cesaro spun Kofi with the Cesaro Swing. The announcers said Kofi isn’t just tired, he’s now going to be disoriented. When Cesaro went for a Boston Crab, Kofi rolled out of it, but then Cesaro went for a Neutralizer. Kofi countered with his S.O.S. for the win.
WINNER: Kofi in 7:00.
(2c) KOFI KINGSTON vs. ROWAN – Gauntlet Match continued
Rowan dominated Kofi with brutal relentless offense. When he took it to the floor, he bashed Kofi with a chair and the ref DQ’d him.
WINNER: Kofi in 3:00.
-After the ref called for the DQ, Rowan rammed Kofi back-first into the ringpost and then tossed him into the time keeper’s area. Then he claw-slammed him onto the announce table. He didn’t even bother to move the monitors first.
(2d) KOFI KINGSTON vs. SAMOA JOE – Gauntlet Match continued
Joe dominated. He nearly took Kofi’s head off with a hard clothesline for a believable near fall. Joe settled into a chinlock. More wrestlers gathered including Ricochet, Heavy Machinery, R-Truth, and Carmella. Saxton said it shows how much respect Kofi has earned in the locker room. When Joe went for a Coquina Clutch, Kofi dropped down. Joe grabbed his chin. When Kofi charged, Joe gave him a urinage for a two count. Graves said at this point Kofi is just delaying the inevitable. He said he needs to accept his fate because he cannot survive tonight. They showed on slo-mo Kofi’s head hitting the canvas first and hard on the urinage. Ouch. Joe settled into a head twist chinlock. Saxton it’s a miracle Kofi has gotten to the fourth competitor of this match-up created by McMahon. Kofi tried to rally, but Joe side-stepped his charge. Joe went for a Muscle Buster off the top rope, but Kofi sunset flipped him for the leverage pin. “Oh my God, he did it!” exclaimed Phillips. They cut to the gathering of wrestlers in the back celebrating.
WINNER: Joe in 9:00.
-Afterward Joe put Kofi in a sleeper. Referees and officials pried Joe off of Kofi. Then they angrily ordered Joe to the back. Graves said just when you believe maybe there is a chance, Joe extinguished it. Then Randy Orton began his ring entrance. The gathering of wrestlers in the back looked nervous for Kofi. Nikki Cross had joined them. [c]
(2e) KOFI KINGSTON vs. RANDY ORTON – Gauntlet Match continued
After the break, Randy was beating up Kofi at ringside. Graves said a hush has fallen over the arena because they know the inevitable truth. Orton told Kofi he is stupid. Kofi reverse-whipped Orton into the ringside steps. Phillips said he can’t imagine where Kofi is getting this energy. Graves said even he is starting to believe it’s possible. A backstage shot showed EC3 hovering in the background. Orton settled into his obligatory mid-match chinlock as fans began to chant “Kofi!” Orton swatted a Kofi dropkick out of mid-air and stomped away at his body. [c]
Back from the break, Saxton said Kofi was barely hanging on. Kofi fought off Orton on the second rope and then leaped off the top rope with a crossbody. Orton rolled through for a two count. Orton then landed a second rope DDT. Orton showboated a bit and pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said, “He ain’t going!” Orton pounded the mat. When Orton set up an RKO, Kofi countered with another roll-up and scored a three count. Orton’s shoulder was up, but the ref counted three anyway.
WINNER: Kofi in 12:00.
-Xavier and Big E ran out to the ring to celebrate with Kofi. “The Good Lord just picked his jaw up off the floor,” said Graves. He said that was the greatest performance in WWE ever. Kofi soaked up the moment by standing on the second rope and looking at the WrestleMania sign. With six minutes left in the show, Vince McMahon’s music played.
McMahon stood on the stage and said he wants to say what’s on the mind or everyone all over the world – “Kofi Kingston, congratulations!” He added: “Kofi, you are going to WrestleMania… as long as you can beat this one last opponent.” He ordered Big E and Xavier to leave the premises immediately. Vince wished Kofi luck. Then out came Daniel Bryan.
(2f) KOFI KINGSTON vs. DANIEL BRYAN – Gauntlet Match continued
Saxton said it’s clear Vince doesn’t want Kofi representing WWE at WrestleMania. He said it’s absurd. Xavier and Big E walked past Bryan as Bryan smirked. Bryan went on offense with knees in the corner. Kofi fought back with round kicks. A fresh Bryan reverse-whipped Kofi into the ropes and then hung him upside down in the corner. Bryan set up a top rope back suplex and delivered. Bryan then set up a LaBell Lock mid-ring. Fans chanted “Kofi! Kofi!” Kofi put his foot on the bottom rope. Bryan delivered Yes Kicks next. Fans yelled “No! No!” Kofi surprised Bryan with an S.O.S. for a believable near fall out of nowhere. He landed on his own head executing the move. Graves said Kofi might have hurt himself doing the move. The match continued with Bryan throwing kicks and fans chanting “Let’s Go Kofi!” Kofi hit more near falls. Bryan then won with a running knee.
WINNER: Bryan in 5:00.
-Xavier and Big E checked on Kofi as Bryan celebrated on his way to the back.
— Pro Wrestling Torch (@PWTorch) March 19, 2019