SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
APRIL 2, 2019
BALTIMORE, MD. AT THE ROYAL FARMS ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00PM EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
WWE Smackdown returns to the Royal Farms arena in Baltimore, Md. The arena opened for business in 1962 and is no stranger to WWE nor WCW events for that matter. It was formerly known as the Baltimore Arena, 1st Mariner Arena, and Baltimore Civic Center. Old WWF events such as Superstars of Wrestling and Saturday Night’s Main Event took place as well as WCW events such as The Great American Bash and SuperBrawl. The first time Smackdown emanated here was shortly after the show started in 1999.
Tonight, we put a wrap on the WrestleMania build as we get ready for a big weekend of wrestling. Here’s what is advertised by WWE.com for tonight thus far:
Matches & Segments:
- WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston to make their WrestleMania match official with contract signing
- A.J. Styles and Randy Orton set to appear on the Kevin Owens Show just five nights before WrestleMania
- Rey Mysterio and Andrade to rekindle their already classic rivalry
- What will be the fallout of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch’s arrest?
- Is The Miz prepared for Shane McMahon and Falls Count Anywhere?
ADVERTISED MATCHES & SEGMENTS
WWE Championship Match Contract Signing: Daniel Bryan (champ) and Kofi Kingston
It seems like we’ve been here before.
Last week, New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods) came out to discuss the previous week’s situation in which Kofi won his gauntlet match to earn a WWE Championship match against Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. We thought that until Vince McMahon came out at the end and told Kofi he needed to beat one more wrestler, none other than WWE Champion Daniel Bryan himself. Kofi came up short.
In the week that followed, as a result of tweets from Big E and Xavier Woods, we were led to believe they would quit WWE due to Vince’s actions. They asked Vince to come out and when he did, Bryan interrupted. He said Kofi was nothing but a B+ player (bet he loves saying that after being called that himself in 2014), lost at Fastlane and Elimination Chamber, and Vince has been right about him every step of the way. When all was said and done, Vince refused to give Kofi another opportunity but put Xavier and Big E in a tag team gauntlet match. If they won, Kofi would be “going to WrestleMania” (still didn’t specifically say gets a WWE title match).
New Day would go on to defeat the Good Brothers (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson), Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura, The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus), The Usos by forfeit when the Usos refused to wrestle out of respect for Kofi Kingston, and Daniel Bryan & Rowan. Here’s New Day in a WWE.com exclusive following the big win:
Kayla Braxton caught up to Vince McMahon getting into his limo. He said Kofi was going to WrestleMania, and “the real question now is whether or not a B+ player can defeat Bryan for the championship.” So, he didn’t specifically say Kofi will be challenging Bryan for the championship at WrestleMania; however, WWE tweeted this out on their WrestleMania Twitter account the same night:
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) March 27, 2019
Tonight, Kofi and Bryan sign the contract for their match… hopefully.
Frank’s Analysis: Somebody please call the WWE board of directors and call an emergency meeting or something that would force Vince to not be in attendance tonight. This, like the Becky-Ronda-Charlotte situation, has taken a long and winding road to get to this point. The good part is we’ve seen a more serious side of New Day. I despised them coming out last week shucking and jiving, smiling, and flinging pancakes. It did not line up with what happened the previous week. Fortunately, they got serious when they entered the ring, and that’s what matters. They stayed away from the racial tones, which was good, but they’ve still backed themselves into a corner in which Kofi has to win in my opinion. I worry about how this will be handled at WrestleMania.
A.J. Styles and Randy Orton on The Kevin Owens Show
It’s a tale of different paths for A.J. Styles and Randy Orton. Let’s review their careers in a nutshell.
Between 2001-2002, Styles actually wrestled dark matches for WWE. In January of ’02, he was offered a contract by WWE (then WWF) but turned it down due to family obligations. He would go on to work the independent scene and have notable & successful tenures in Ring of Honor, TNA/Impact Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was part of the famous stable The Bullet Club in New Japan alongside current WWE tag team The Good Brothers (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson).
Randy Orton made his WWE in 2002. His history includes multiple WrestleMania main events, 13 world championships, multiple Royal Rumble wins, Money in the Bank, Survivor Series wins, Intercontinental & U.S. Championships, and even a reign as co-holder of the Smackdown Tag Team Championship with Bray Wyatt. At 25 years old, he wrestled and lost to the Undertaker at WrestleMania 21. He became the first WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2013 when he won a ladder match and defeated John Cena and unified the World Heavyweight Championship with his WWE Championship at the time.
Styles made his WWE debut in 2016 and actually did wrestle Orton on Smackdown a year later for the right to challenge Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 33 for the WWE Championship. Styles has built a WWE legacy that includes two WWE Championships and multiple reigns as U.S. Champion (a title he frequently swapped with Kevin Owens, ironically, in 2017). He’s also had the distinct honor of wrestling “Best in the World” Shane McMahon at WrestleMania. He refers to Smackdown as “the house that A.J. Styles built,” although some would argue that Randy Orton holds that honor.
They go one-on-one again at WrestleMania. Tonight, they will be the guests of Kevin Owens on his show.
Frank’s Analysis: These two cut a great back-and-forth promo a few weeks ago but have done nothing of significance since. Perhaps WWE has been so tied up convoluting the Kofi Kingston story, the Charlotte Flair-Becky Lynch-Ronda Rousey situation, and not to mention having a gauntlet match every week that the Styles-Orton feud has taken a back seat. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that they’re doing this on the Kevin Owens show. Owens currently has nothing for WrestleMania. I don’t see him getting involved in the match, but seeds could be planted for a future feud with Orton if the two are to remain on Smackdown following the Superstar Shakeup in a few weeks and Owens remains a babyface. They could also be remaining cautious with Owens as he comes off knee surgery. He hasn’t really wrestled a solid one-on-one match, at least on TV. Why push him if you don’t need him right now anyway?
Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade
Rey Mysterio and Andrade are no strangers to each other. They have battled on Smackdown going back to October when Rey Mysterio returned full-time to WWE. They traded victories before having a two-out-of-three falls match that ended in a no-contest due to Samoa Joe’s interference.
They’ve been involved in tag team matches as well as fatal four-ways for the U.S. Championship, which is currently held by Joe. At Fastlane, Rey and Andrade were to tangle on the kickoff show. That got changed to them participating in one of said fatal four-way matches on the main card which saw Joe retain the title.
At WrestleMania, Rey challenges Joe one-on-one for the U.S. Championship. Andrade is slated for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. This past Sunday afternoon, WWE announced that they renew their feud one-on-one tonight. Andrade was excited as is shown on Twitter:
Frank’s Analysis: How can one complain when they genuinely excited to work together? I mean you can’t help but appreciate the respect these two have for each other. The problem is Andrade is a heel, and his showing respect for Rey publicly makes me like him not in a good way. That’s the problem social media presents. These people step out of character and it’s hard to invest in what they should be on-screen. With that said, this match certainly deserves a bigger stage and WrestleMania would have been perfect. Somebody else could have challenged Joe for the U.S. title and Andrade could do a lot better than the Andre battle royal.
STORYLINES ADVERTISED FOR FOLLOW-UP
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch’s Arrest
Last night on Raw, all three women of the main event triple threat match at WrestleMania were arrested by the fake police hired by WWE following their defeat of the Riott Squad. Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch all brawled with each other and the arrests started when Ronda inadvertently hit one of the fake cops while going after Becky. They all ended up getting taken away in police vehicles but not before Becky and Ronda were put in the same vehicle at one point and started attacking each other once the camera was properly on them. They were removed from the vehicle, but then Ronda got in the front and somehow put it in drive while handcuffed and drove it into the other police car. Here’s the YouTube clip if you missed it or saw it and want to have a couple of laughs:
Earlier in the evening, Stephanie McMahon announced that the winner of the match at WrestleMania “takes all.” It wasn’t specified if they’re unifying the Raw and Smackdown women’s titles.
Frank’s Analysis: This was so bad it was good if that makes any sense. What’s the fallout of their arrest WWE asks? They’ll be at WrestleMania. As far as the “winner takes all,” this explains why Charlotte defeated Asuka for the Smackdown title last week. It still feels odd that they put the title on Asuka in the first place; however, I suppose had Charlotte been Smackdown champion at the time of the Royal Rumble she would not have taken part in the Rumble itself. The idea was to have Becky eliminate Charlotte to win after inserting herself into the match. The whole story is still complicated, but thankfully will conclude this Sunday.
Miz and Shane McMahon Set for Falls Count Anywhere at WrestleMania
Last week, Miz and Shane McMahon agreed to have a falls-count-anywhere match at WrestleMania upon Miz’s request.
Shane agreed to the match. He did so with not only fake security guards in front of him but Sanity, Shelton Benjamin, and Primo. Claiming they were there for “Miz’s protection,” Shane made a bold statement saying Miz is making the biggest mistake since his father impregnated his mother. He regretted he didn’t punish Miz’s dad more at Fastlane.
When Miz charged at Shane, one by one everyone took their turn according to their script attacking Miz. Miz fended off all three members of Sanity, Shelton, and Primo. Miz and Shane head to WrestleMania and perhaps will add another chapter to their story tonight, especially with Miz & Mrs. returning to the USA Network tonight.
Frank’s Analysis: People like this feud, and for the most part they say it’s been well done. I agree on it being well-done and am certainly intrigued by the outcome. On the other hand, if they weren’t doing this, I wouldn’t blink an eye. I don’t need to see Shane in the ring. I’ve felt that way since, well when he returned three years ago to face the Undertaker. The falls-count-anywhere stipulation is a nice way to mask what probably wouldn’t be a very good match if it were straight up.
Other Items to Anticipate Tonight:
As expected, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake was announced as the final entrant into this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class. Look for a mention of that tonight.
It’s hard to say, but in theory you would think they’d follow up on Asuka losing the Smackdown Women’s Championship to Charlotte Flair last week in an unadvertised, impromptu match. Asuka is currently slated for the women’s battle royal. There has been backlash both from fellow wrestlers and fans in regard to the sudden switch.
The Usos do not have challengers at WrestleMania for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. It was rumored their opponents would be Matt & Jeff Hardy; however, they are slated for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Look for that situation to come to fruition, although we still don’t know who’s challenging for the Raw Tag Team Championship either. (How about unifying those titles? Yeah let’s do that.)
I think we can safely expect a break from gauntlet matches. I think we’re good for a few years given how many we’ve had recently.
Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website
The Royal Farms Arena’s website shows a start time of 7:30 p.m. They advertise a double main event:
Kevin Owens vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan for the championship
A.J. Styles vs. Randy Orton
They show Samoa Joe, the Usos, Rey Mysterio, Shinsuke Nakamura, New Day, Asuka, and Charlotte Flair appearing. They incorrectly show Asuka as woman’s champion.
205 Live will follow the main show.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani or e-mail email@example.com. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!