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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
APRIL 9, 2019
BROOKLYN, N.Y. AT BARCLAYS CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Todd Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with a wide shot of the Barclays Center as Todd Phillips welcomed the audience to the show, “in the wake of Wrestlemania.” Big E’s voice filled the P.A. system and The New Day appeared on the stage. Byron Saxton said Kofi being WWE Champion “just feels right.”
In the ring, a large rainbow of balloons soared above the ring posts, which were adorned with large plates of pancakes. The Brooklyn crowd showered the new champion with “Kofi” chants as the announcers recapped Kingston’s match with Bryan at WrestleMania.
“Oh, I love it!” exclaimed Big E as the crowd broke into a loud “you deserve it” chant. Big E said that at WrestleMania, a man made millions of fans cry tears of joy. He said that man happened to be an A+ player with extra credit, and he became WWE World Heavyweight Champion (spoken in New Day’s signature gyration cadence.) Xavier Woods suggested that Big E perform an encore of his split from Monday Night Raw. Big E obliged, much to the delight of the crowd. Big E said that last night, Kofi almost became a dual champion like Becky Lynch. He said that would have been fun, but there’s nothing quite like being on Smackdown. Big E said over the years, fans have grown accustomed to the New Day’s crude humor. “Mostly butt stuff,” he surmised. “But tonight is not about crude humor,” Big E continued, “it’s about a celebration.” Xavier Woods said tonight was about celebrating the career of their friend and brother, Kofi Kingston.
Woods recalled seeing Kofi debut, following his career, and then finally meeting him. Big E said that getting New Day together was about “reshaping culture and changing history.” Big E said Kofi accomplished that at WrestleMania.
Kofi took the microphone and said that this wasn’t in the cards. He thanked the fans, and then his family, introducing his wife and two sons who sat at ringside. Kingston said they inspire him to be the best husband, father, and role model that he can be. At this point, he was interrupted by The Bar’s music.
“You owe us a big thank you for saving your skin last night,” Sheamus said as he and Cesaro walked down the ramp. Cesaro said if it weren’t for them, Seth Rollins would have the WWE Championship right now. The crowd pelted the Bar with consistent boos. Sheamus and Cesaro proposed a six-man tag team match. The New Day questioned who would team with Sheamus and Cesaro. The Bar said that, when they visited Raw last night, they made a friend. Drew McIntyre’s music hit, and he walked down to the ring to stand between The Bar. The two trios stared each other down as the camera cut to the announcers at ringside.
-Phillips, Graves and Saxton briefly talked about their surprise to see Drew McIntyre on Smackdown and concluded that he, Sheamus, and Cesaro must be in fowl moods following the events of WrestleMania and last night’s Raw. They announced that The Usos would defend the Smackdown Tag Team titles against The Hardy Boys later tonight.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I really enjoyed New Day acknowledging the gravity of Kofi’s win and foregoing the shenanigans to honor him. Both Xavier and Big E seemed sincere, and Kofi was obviously overcome with emotion thanking the fans and his family. It was funny to watch the crowd react to The Bar, seemingly carrying over their heat from last night’s main event segment. I’m a big fan of McIntyre, but I dislike all of the cross-promotion happening on these shows, especially with the shake-up coming next week.)
-The camera cut to a wide shot of the arena and Aleister Black’s music hit. “The time has come for Brooklyn, New York to fade to black” said Corey Graves. Todd Phillips previewed a six man tag team match coming up after the break.
(1) ALEISTER BLACK & RICOCHET & ALI vs. ANDRADE (w/ Zelina Vega) & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RUSEV (w/ Lana)
The show returned from commercial as Shinsuke Nakamura made his way to the ring. He and Ricochet started things off, and the crowd broke into a loud rendition of Shinsuke’s theme song. Nakamura worked over Ricochet’s arm in the opening moments. Ricochet executed a pair of athletic counters to Nakamura’s attempts and connected with a head scissor takedown. Nakamura recovered and sent Ricochet into the corner. He tagged in Rusev, who stomped on Ricochet in the corner. Rusev then tagged in Andrade. The heels continued to tag in and out, working over Ricochet and isolating him in their corner. The announcers contemplated potential moves to Raw for each of the wrestlers in the match.
Ricochet eventually took down Rusev with a leaping neck breaker, allowing him to reach Ali for a tag. Ali used his speed to take down Rusev with a dropkick, then he tagged in Aleister Black. Black and Ricochet began tagging in and out quickly, much like the heels had done moments ago. Aleister Black cleared the ring and all the heels gathered together outside. Black looked to soar over the top rope, but the heels moved, and Black backflipped onto the mat into a seated position. Ali and Ricochet joined him. Todd Phillips threw to a picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, the heels regrouped outside as the babyfaces guarded the ring. Black tagged in Ali, and he and Andrade locked up. Andrade quickly tagged in Nakamura, who began working over Ali. The heels continued isolating Ali throughout the break. The show returned to full screen with Ali locked in a bear hug at the hands of Rusev. Ali broke free, but Rusev took him down with a vicious clothesline that turned Ali inside out. Rusev knocked Black and Ricochet off the apron and continued his attack on Ali. Ali recovered enough to hit a tornado DDT on Rusev. He crawled to his corner for a tag to Aleister Black. Rusev tagged in Andrade.
Black took Andrade down with a series of kicks. He hit a middle rope springboard moonsault for a two count, broken up by both Rusev and Nakamura. This brought Ricochet in the ring. He attempted a baseball slide on Rusev, but Rusev moved out of the way. Ricochet ducked a clothesline, hopped onto the ringside barrier, and connected with a moonsault. Nakamura hit a running knee on Ricochet from behind. Nakamura climbed back onto the apron, but Aleister Black hit him with a Black Mass. Andrade quickly rolled up Black for a two count. Black tagged in Ali. Ali hit an reverse hurricanrana on Andrade and headed to the top rope. He connected with a 450 splash for the three count.
WINNERS: Aleister Black & Ricochet & Ali in 10:00
Ali’s celebration was short lived. A close-up shot hid Randy Orton, who had slid into the ring unnoticed. Orton hit an RKO on Ali and left the ring immediately. He kept shielding his eyes and pointing at the overhead lights, saying “I can’t see”, an obvious reference to the lighting issues the crowd experienced during his match at WrestleMania.
As Orton’s music continued to play, Rusev returned to the ring, jawing with Ricochet and Black, who were pulling Ali from the ring. Kevin Owens entered the ring, grabbed Rusev, and delivered a stunner. Owens ignored everyone else at ringside and walked up the ramp as his music played. Rusev was shown throwing a fit at ringside, surrounded by Lana and Nakamura.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Pretty typical TV tag match. I liked that each team sort of copied the strategy of their opponent at different points, and the announcers were cognizant enough to bring it up. This was a big win for Ali, who hasn’t been given much as of late. The post-match happenings were interesting. The announcers played off both Orton and Owens’ appearances as “jockeying for position” prior to next week’s shake-up, though I’m sure why their actions have any impact on next week’s events, given that the roster switches are, as far as the audience is concerned, entirely arbitrary.)
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton said that Smackdown was off to a chaotic start. She mentioned the upcoming tag team title match, and welcomed The Usos. The Usos congratulated Kofi Kingston and said tonight is a must-win for them. They said they’d never faced The Hardy Boys, and this match is about proving who is the greatest tag team in WWE history. The show went to commercial.
-Coming out the break, a video package aired for the B.A. Star campaign and events held in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
-R-Truth and Carmella were in the ring as Truth’s music played. Truth asked “what’s up?” and then told the audience that Becky Lynch is a double champion. Carmella said Kofi Kingston is WWE Champion. R-Truth remarked on their largest 7 second dance break at WrestleMania and congratulated Carmella on “defeating Andre the Giant in the Royal Rumble match.” Carmella corrected him, but Truth didn’t understand. She pivoted to talking about winning Money in the Bank a year ago, and becoming Women’s champion. She said thanks to winning the battle royal, she sees big things for herself again. Samoa Joe’s music hit, cutting her off.
Joe walked briskly to the ring, U.S. Title slung over his shoulder. He slid in the ring and R-Truth immediately attacked him. Truth got in some brief offense, but Joe quickly locked in the Coquina Clutch and tossed Truth out of the ring. He yelled for a microphone as the crowd chanted his name.
“What stands before you is the man who destroyed Rey Mysterio in under sixty seconds at WrestleMania,” Joe barked. He said it may take him less time to beat up any other superstar in WWE. Braun Strowman’s music hit. Strowman marched to the ring, talking trash at Joe. He attacked Joe quickly, but Joe locked the Coquina Clutch on Braun. Strowman fought out and struggled mightily to hoist Joe up for a powerslam. Joe eventually slid out of it, and out of the ring. As Strowman left the ring, The Iiconics’ music hit. They offered a handshake to Braun, but he refused. They headed to the ring as the show went to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Lots going on here. Joe’s quick destruction of Truth is the kind of segment you like to see from Samoa Joe. Again, though, the talent crossover is baffling. Strowman/Joe sounds like an interesting match on paper, but I dislike teasing scenarios we may not see, or spoiling scenarios they plan on executing next week. Strowman seemed to legitimately struggle lifting Joe, it was definitely a sight to see. I presume this was done by design, but it’s not often they show weakness from Braun.)
-Back from commercial, the weird boxed puppet promo originally seen last night on Raw aired again.
-In the ring, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay stood with their titles and microphones. “Against all odds, we emerged with the WWE Women’s’ Tag Team Championships!” they exclaimed. They said when people win titles, they talk a lot about becoming fighting champions. They said they don’t just talk, they walk. Royce said they arranged to defend their titles against the “best tag team they could find.” They introduced their opponents, Kristen and Karissa, known as the Brooklyn Belles. Peyton said she and Billie are honored to have their first title defense against such a prestigious team. Corey Graves feigned concern, saying the new champions’ title reign may be in jeopardy.
(2) THE IICONICS (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) vs. THE BROOKLYN BELLES (Kristen & Karissa) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match
“Is this some sort of joke?” Byron asked as the match began. Graves, botching the women’s names, said they have “Floyd Mayweather like numbers.” Peyton and Billie dominated one of the Belle’s as the camera cut to Paige backstage, who was watching the match on a monitor. Belle #1 tagged in Belle #2 (Phillips called both girls Kristen, for the record.) Belle #2 got a brief moment of offense in before quickly being overwhelmed by the champions. Kay held up Belle #2 and Royce connected with their Sick Knee tag finisher for the quick victory. Royce and Kay celebrated as thought they’d just won the titles all over again.
WINNERS: The Iiconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) in 2:00
-The camera cut backstage, again showing Paige standing a monitor. Kayla Braxton moved into frame and asked Paige what brought her to Smackdown. Paige said she wanted to get a close-up look at Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. She said they were very impressive. Paige said she’d be bringing an impressive tag team of her own to next week’s Smackdown.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This isn’t a bad gimmick for The Iiconics if it becomes a regular thing, though I’m not sure working with unsigned talent is going to raise the stock of their in-ring performances. Paige’s tease for next week is certainly intriguing, though. Many have long thought her to be an ideal person for a managerial role, and it appears she may be shifting into that position.)
-The balcony camera panned to the ring as Shane McMahon’s music hit. Shane slowly stepped onto the stage, sporting a black eye. The announcers teased that we’d hear from “the best in the world” after the break.
Back from commercial and entering hour two, Shane McMahon stood in the ring with his Best in the World trophy as Greg Hamilton reintroduced him to his liking. The announcers thew to a quick recap of his match with The Miz from WrestleMania.
Shane said it’s already been an amazing night, and it’s been an amazing week. He said that would continue next week with the Superstar shake-up. He ran down some of the events of WrestleMania, concluding with his own win over The Miz. He said thousands of people attended WrestleMania and millions watched the show at home specifically to see his match with The Miz. Shane said Miz was not in the building because he’s too busy attending to “Mr. Miz.” Shane said Mr. Miz “aggressively put his hands up” and hit him in the eye. The crowd broke into a “you deserve it” chant. Shane paused and said, “actually, he deserved it.” Shane said he had to defend himself, and he and his son got exactly what was coming to them. Shane called himself the best in the world and the crowd broke into a loud “C.M. Punk” chant. “Please,” Shane said, rolling his eyes. He called Greg Hamilton into the ring. He asked why Greg didn’t deliver his introduction with more fervor. Greg said he’d been threatened by fans earlier in the day. Shane called Brooklyn the best city in the world because he lives there. Shane told Greg that he didn’t need to worry about the people in Brooklyn, but he did need to worry about him. The crowd seemed to be growing tired of this.
Shane dragged Greg out of the ring by his tie as he repeatedly tried to introduce Shane to his liking. At the top of the ramp, Shane told Greg he had one last opportunity to get it right. Greg delivered it one final time, stretching the words at Shane’s cues. “Good job,” Shane said before sending Greg back to the ring and leaving the stage.
(LeClair’s Analysis: The crowd was growing restless with this segment, and I felt the same way. The abuse of Greg Hamilton went on a little too long and Shane didn’t really seem fully invested without having The Miz to play off of.)
-At the announcers desk, Todd Phillips threw to footage showing the Undertaker’s appearance on last night’s Raw.
-Back live in the arena, The Hardy Boys music hit and the team headed to the ring as Phillips sent the show to commercial break.
(3) THE USOS (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) vs. THE HARDY BOYZ (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title match
Returning from break, The Usos were already in the ring. The bell rang immediately, and the two teams engaged in a stare down from their opposing corners. Matt and Jey started things off with a lock up. Matt quickly tagged in Jeff and Jey immediately tagged in Jimmy. A brief offensive series between the two ensued before Jeff tagged his brother back in. Jey made a blind tag back in the ring, Jimmy hit a Samoan drop on Matt and Corey said it was a rare instance of miscommunication between the Usos. Jey and Matt battled on the outside. Jey threw Matt into the ringside barrier and jawed with Jeff. Matt recovered and sent Jey back in the ring.
Inside, Jey recovered and tagged in Jimmy. He and Jey engaged in a number of tags, isolating Matt Hardy. After a double team backbreaker, The Usos stared down Jeff Hardy on the apron as the match went to a picture-in-picture commercial break.
During the break, Matt struggled to reach his corner. Jey repeatedly cut him off and tagged in Jimmy. Jimmy continued the strategy. Matt battled back with a number of punches, eventually connecting with a DDT. He reached his corner and tagged in Jeff.
Back to full screen action, Jeff took it to both Usos. The advantage was short lived as Jey tagged out and Jimmy took control. Jimmy attempted Jeff’s Whisper in the Wind from the top rope, but Jeff ducked. Jeff went to the top rope and executed the move himself for a near fall on Jimmy. Jeff tagged in Matt. They set Jimmy up and hit Poetry in Motion. Matt hit Jimmy with a Side Effect for another near fall. Matt attempted a Twist of Fate on Jimmy after tagging in Jeff, but Jimmy broke out of it and hit a super kick on Matt. Jeff rolled up Jimmy for a two count. Jimmy hit a super kick on Jeff. Jimmy tagged in Jey, who hit a big splash on Jeff Hardy from the top rope for a believable near fall. The camera zoomed in on Jey, who was shocked that Jeff kicked out.
Jey tagged in Jimmy and the pair climbed to the top rope of opposing corners. Matt tried to stop Jey, but Jey kicked him off the apron. The Usos went for double splashes, but Jeff Hardy rolled out of the way and tagged in his brother. Matt went for a Twist of Fate on Jimmy, but Jimmy pushed him off and into his own corner. Jeff made a blind tag. Jimmy went for another super kick, but Matt blocked it and connected with the Twist of Fate. Jeff climbed to the top rope and hit the Swanton Bomb for a three count.
WINNERS: The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) in 9:00 to become new WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions
Post-match, Kayla Braxton entered the ring to interview The Hardys. Before she could ask her question, Lars Sullivan’s music hit and he walked menacingly toward the ring. He climbed into the ring and the Hardys tried to attack him, but he made quick work of both of them. Lars delivered powerslams to Matt and Jeff, then climbed to the top rope and delivered a falling/diving headbutt to Matt. The crowd booed and mustered a weak “you can’t wrestle” chant.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I, and I’m sure many others, was excited to see The Usos face the Hardys. The result was a solid, if not slightly underwhelming TV match. I’m not necessarily a fan of the title change here, but I’m reserving full judgment until I see how it plays out. Having Sullivan immediately take out of the tag champions seems to send the wrong message about the tag division, though.)
-The show returned from commercial with the opening notes of Becky Lynch’s theme. The “Champ Champ” headed to the ring amidst a sea of “The Man” mini signs in the audience. The crowd seemed subdued, likely due to fatigue. Phillips threw to a recap of the triple threat main event from WrestleMania.
Becky’s music faded out and the crowd continued singing along. Becky took it in before telling the crowd they had the voices of angels. “What a week, huh?” Becky smiled as the crowd broke into a “Becky” chant. Becky said, at WrestleMania, she did exactly what she said she would do. She called herself “Becky 2 Belts”, which turned into a chant from the crowd. She said her victory was cause for celebration, and she tried to celebrate last night. She threw to footage of Raw, recapping Lacey Evans interruption and subsequent attack on her.
“Lacey Evans finally decided to get her gloves dirty and hit me with a right hand.” Becky said that punch reminded her that she’s holding two big targets. Becky said, regardless of the shake-up next week, having both belts means she’s going to be pulling double duty. Becky said she if she has to beat every woman in the locker room and sleep with one eye open, she will. “I have walked through hell to get these titles, so I promise you, you will meet a red-headed devil if you think you’re going to take them away from me.”Becky threw down the mic and posed defiantly with her titles before leaving the ring. Corey Graves pondered whether or not Becky’s confidence would wind up becoming her downfall.
As Becky reached the top of the ramp, she turned around and was met with a stiff forearm from Lacey Evans. Becky crumbled to the floor and Lacey stared down at her, posing with her hands at her hips. Becky checked her face for blood and slowly returned to her feet as a graphic promoting the main event filled the screen. Phillips sent the show to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Short and to the point, but effective. I really liked Becky’s closing line. I’m not sure Lacey Evans is a great in-ring choice to be Becky’s first feud, but it’s a fresh matchup and it’s clear the powers that be are high on Evans. Becky sold Lacey’s shot far better tonight than on Raw, and I expect the move’s abrupt effectiveness will be the selling point of this angle.)
-The show returned from commercial with the heels already in the ring and New Day getting settled on the apron. Sami Zayn’s music played and he stood at the top of ramp. The crowd sang along to his theme after it faded out. Sami looked around contemplatively for a moment, then said “yeah, you’re not worth it.” He threw the mic down and left.
(4) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Big E & Xavier Woods) vs. THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro) & DREW MCINTYRE
Xavier Woods and Sheamus started things off. Woods took control in the early going and made a quick tag to Big E, who made an even quicker tag to Kofi Kingston. The trio continued with quick tags to work over Sheamus. Sheamus clotheslined Woods over the top rope and tagged in Drew McIntyre. Drew grabbed Xavier and delivered a nasty looking reverse Alabama slam onto the edge of the announcers table. Xavier screamed in pain as the show went to commercial.
After the break, a hot tag was made to Big E. He hit a number of slams and suplexes on Cesaro, followed by a running splash. He knocked Sheamus off the apron, then threw Cesaro over the top rope. Cesaro stayed on the apron and blocked a running attack from Big E with a knee to the face. The action between the two continued, and Big E attempted a Big Ending. Cesaro fought out, made the tag to Sheamus, and the duo hit a double White Noise backbreaker on Big E for a pinball attempt. Xavier Woods broke it up. Sheamus hit an Irish Curse backbreaker on Big E and set up for a Brogue Kick. Big E cut him off at the charge with a big clothesline. Kofi riled up the crowd from the apron. Big E reached his corner and tagged in Kofi Kingston.
The WWE Champion entered the ring and took down Sheamus. He launched himself over the top rope onto Cesaro. Back in the ring, he set up for the Trouble in Paradise. Sheamus caught him in mid air and threw him off. Kofi recovered, attempted Trouble in Paradise again, and this time, connected. He pinned Sheamus for a three count.
WINNERS: The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E & Xavier Woods) in 9:00
The New Day began to celebrate their victory. Kofi brought his sons and wife in the ring while the announcers wondered if this would be The New Day’s final appearance on Smackdown. They wondered if perhaps they’d be split up. Phillips said the landscape in WWE changed drastically after WrestleMania, but is poised to changed even more next week. The show faded out as the announcers continued to hype the superstar shake-up next week.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Largely forgettable match, aside from McIntyre’s brutal looking move to Xavier in the early going. This really didn’t do Drew McIntyre any favors. Granted, he wasn’t involved in the decision and was largely absent through most of the match. Still, that begs the question of why he was brought into this scenario in the first place. Match aside, I don’t have any qualms about ending WrestleMania weekend with another celebration for Kofi Kingston, though it lost a lot of impact having already been done last night on Raw.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This felt like a by-the-numbers show with some appearances from Raw wrestlers to tease the shake-up. I’ve already made extensive mention of why I dislike that strategy, so I won’t expand upon it again here. The crowd seemed tired and mostly worn out, and it’s hard to blame them. A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan were strangely absent, though I don’t necessarily think that hurt the show. Overall, a fine, but uneventful conclusion to WWE’s week in the New York City area.