WWE SMACKDOWN ON-SITE REPORT
APRIL 9, 2019
BROOKLYN, N.Y. AT THE BARCLAYS CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 P.M. EST
FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTorch Specialist
The following takes place between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on the Tuesday after WrestleMania.
Are there any fans of the FOX show 24 that got that? I’m sorry if you didn’t, but I just always wanted to do that in a public forum. It’s one of my top five favorite shows of all time. At any rate, my eye-rolling humor and choice of shows you likely don’t care about aside, my wife Erin and I had the pleasure of attending Smackdown this past Tuesday. Typically I am previewing Raw and Smackdown for you here at PWTorch.com and it’s cool to actually be reviewing one of the shows from an in-person perspective.
We debated attending Raw, but the prospect of sitting there for three hours was a bitter potential pill to swallow especially following nearly eight hours of WrestleMania. We had previously attended Raw during the Superstar Shakeup in 2017 at the Nassau Coliseum, and that was tough to take. On top of that, I had attended the ROH/NJPW G1 Supercard and that was unnecessarily nearly five hours.
I had a few questions in mind as we arrived at the show. First of all, could we shake off the miserable drive in rain, traffic, and side streets as we got towards the Barclays Center. Anybody that lives in the boroughs of New York knows what I’m talking about. I bring that up because it could affect the crowd. Secondly, coming off the debacle of an ending to Raw we got, would the crowd be negative on the show as the event unfolded? Third, would Kofi get a strong reaction considering we got to see him on Raw as part of that main event? Coming out of WrestleMania, you had figured we wouldn’t see him until Tuesday to celebrate his championship. I felt perhaps seeing him two nights in a row would make it feel less special.
It turns out there were NO issues whatsoever. The crowd was hot and energetic from start to finish. I sensed it was a different crowd from Raw, and I tend to believe that is the case when Raw and Smackdown run in the same arena on back to back nights. I felt that way when Erin and I went to the Smackdown after SummerSlam, also in the Barclays Center. Given the Smackdown ratings Wade Keller discussed on his hotline (Go VIP to be able to listen to the Wade Keller Hotline among other great benefits by the way), I sense that Smackdown has its sustained niche audience. Raw to this day I believe still tends to be recognized as the “flagship” show and after people watch that, they have enough and can’t sit through another two hours on Tuesday night. While there may have been some international & out of town fans, I sensed it was mostly a localized crowd. I didn’t sense many families bringing their kids, especially considering it was a school night. This was one of the questions Wade & Jason Solomon had for me when I was the on-site correspondent on the post-show. In the lobby you could hear people chanting several things like “Adam Cole bay bay” and the New Day skit amongst other things.
The lines for the t-shirts were long. We decided to wait until later to buy. It turned out there wasn’t a great selection, but they did have the new Kofi shirts revealed at WrestleMania. They also had Rey Mysterio, another New Day shirt, John Cena, the Hardys, Roman Reigns (including the “we overcome”) and a few others escaping my memory.
I won’t do a play-by-play for each match, as you can find that in multiple Smackdown results reports here at PWTorch.com. I’ll just focus on the vibes and the overall experience throughout the night.
Dark Match: Harper vs. EC3 (with Drake Maverick)
Yes folks, we have another name shortening. Luke Harper joins Mustafa Ali, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Otis Dozovic, and Tucker Knight to get a trimming. He is now “Harper,” who came out first to a nice reaction. There was even a “Harper” chant before and during the match, likely due to his tweet discussing his career a few weeks ago. Next out came EC3, flanked by Drake Maverick. Apparently they have gone in the direction of Drake being his manager. I don’t know if he is still managing AOP (talk about another name shortening), but that could be a nice little stable if handled right. At any rate, EC3 got a mild reaction. There was no heat or pop either way. The match if I was to guess went about five minutes. Harper still seems to think he’s a 205Live wrestler as he did a couple of leaps through the ropes and over the top into the ring. It’s still cool to watch and considering his popularity right now, WWE ought to capitalize. Nonetheless the end of the match came when Drake was on the apron talking to EC3. As Harper charged, EC3 got out of the way and was shocked when Harper knocked him off. Harper then hit him with a variation of JBL’s Clothesline from Hell and scored the pin. If I were to guess the time it went about four to five minutes. Harper left to a nice reaction.
Show Start & Kofi Kingston Celebration
For those who didn’t check WWE’s Twitter account, you knew the Kofi Kingston celebration was going to lead off the show as they brought out the pancake toppers for the ring post and multi-colored balloon collage (geez my wife and I should hire whomever put that together and do balloons for our kids’ birthdays). The crowd already broke out into a “Kofi” chant as this was happening and thus that’s how I knew there would be no issue. They played a WrestleMania recap video of Kofi’s win over Daniel Bryan and the chants continued. Once New Day’s music hit, the place erupted. You could see people dancing. I even caught myself getting into the groove. Nonetheless, when the music stopped the “Kofi” chants continued and you could see it was appreciated by all members of the New Day, but they wanted to get on with their bit.
I didn’t mention this to Wade and Jason as it slipped my mind, but the audio absolutely stunk. I can’t tell you how many times I had to ask Erin or the guys around me “what did he say?” “What was that?” My wife would concur. Even later on when Paige came on the Titantron I had to ask what she was saying. The guy behind me had to tell me she’s bringing a tag team of her own to Smackdown next week, Nonetheless, when the Bar came out they got booed as one would expect. In 2019 I have no faith in heels getting real heat, and thus I believe the boos were as a result of what happened on Raw the previous night. It also could have been due to them interrupting New Day, but I would lean on the previous. They were getting booed as they spoke, and then of course introduced Drew McIntyre. His music was loud, and thus it was hard to tell if there were more cheers than boos. When his music hit, there was more of a “wow” than anything else.
Frank’s Takeaway: New Day is definitely over without question. You can tell people are genuinely behind Kofi. My money is his run doesn’t last long, but we’ve been fooled before. I don’t see them having issues with any crowds at least in the early stages of his championship reign.
Six-Man Tag Match: Aleister Black & Ricochet & Ali vs. Andrade & Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura
What was I talking about with name shortening earlier? I’m surprised Shinsuke Nakamura hasn’t had “Shinsuke” dropped. At any rate, Aleister Black’s music hit as all parties from the first segment made their way back. It got a none-mild reaction which is what I feared upon his promotion from NXT. They obviously went to break as the lights went out. Back from break we got Ricochet’s entrance and that got a very good reaction. Ali got the same. The best reaction oddly enough was Rusev, as the crowd broke out in a “Rusev Day” chant. Shinsuke’s music played, and I concur with one of the callers on Wade’s show as it sounded like the singing portion of the remix was removed. Then again the audio stunk so I might not have heard it.
During the match, the reaction got better for Aleister as he did a flip on (I believe) Andrade. Those that remember their feud in NXT likely responded to that. When Aleister, Ali, and Ricochet all did the flip into the cross-leg sit it got a huge reaction. Of course we got the “Rusev Day” chant mid-match. One guy behind me asked “why is Lana dressed like Santa Claus?” I’d like to know that too. Is she recording an remix of “Santa Baby” coming up? Anyway, the crowd popped for Ali hitting the 450 and celebrated the win. The crowd popped even bigger for Randy Orton hitting the RKO Out of Nowhere on Ali. We weren’t done there, as the crowd loved Kevin Owens hitting the Stunner on Rusev. Everyone made their way to the back, and they played a video for the Boys and Girls Club of America. I think I checked my phone at that point.
Frank’s Takeaway: There was real good action the crowd loved. I’m glad to see Aleister get a better reaction as the match went on. You wonder if they’ll split up he and Ricochet. A renewal of the Ali-Orton feud that briefly ran before WrestleMania could be on the horizon. Owens and Rusev has possibilities, but it all depends on the Superstar Shakeup and if they split he and Nakamura.
R-Truth & Carmella with Samoa Joe’s Interruption
The crowd got a kick out of this segment, and I think people genuinely found R-Truth funny when he said Carmella beat Andre the Giant the win the battle royal Sunday. You knew this was coming as the women’s battle royal trophy was brought out after the six-man tag. At any rate, nobody seemed to care that Carmella won the battle royal (I don’t blame them), and they did pop a little when she reminded everyone that she cashed in Money in the Bank one year ago.
When Samoa Joe’s music hit, the crowd popped in a “Joe! Joe! Joe!” chant. As much as they loved Truth, they loved the attack. As Joe was speaking of course Braun Strowman’s music hit, and I would say that was the third best reaction after Becky Lynch later on. I told Wade and Jason that the Hardys were behind Kofi and Becky, but I honestly forgot about Braun. It was an odd surprise to be honest, but one that the crowd surely loved.
Frank’s Takeaway: I would love to see Joe turn babyface, but if Braun is moving to Smackdown a feud with Joe would work real well. At some point he has to turn as you could just feel the crowd wants to cheer him.
The Iiconics vs. Brooklyn Belles
Now, everyone has to use the facilities now and then so, I got up when they came out. I felt a pretty good reaction for them by the crowd. By the time I got back they have introduced the Brooklyn Belles as their opponents. The match went quick without much fanfare as it should. Afterwards, you saw Paige on the screen saying she’ll bring a new tag team next week. There was some but not much chatter around us. I may have heard someone say Nia Jax & Tamina as a possibility, which isn’t very inspiring.
I didn’t realize until I was on with Wade and Jason later that the weird puppet vignette played. Erin said that got absolutely no reaction.
Frank’s Takeaway: For Paige to mention this, you wonder if it’s an impactful team such as Kairi Sane & Io Shirai. Sane is done in NXT and Shirai can ride along with her. They have plenty of women to challenge Shayna Baszler down in NXT including Bianca Belair. We shall see.
Shane McMahon came out to his music to not much heat, but his music suddenly stopped. Ring announcer Greg Hamilton said Shane McMahon refuses to come out unless his Best in the World trophy was in the ring. The crowd then started booing. Hamilton’s announcement didn’t make TV which makes sense as the ring was darkened. The crew then started scrambling to put the trophy in the ring likely to give the impression they were hustling for Shane. Shane then got plenty of heat as his music stopped.
As the segment went on I sensed, or maybe it was just me, that people had enough of congratulating Kofi, Becky, and Seth Rollins on their WrestleMania title wins. New Day did, R-Truth did it, and Shane doing it felt overdone. People then became annoyed with Shane constantly having Hamilton do the “Best in the World” bit. That’s when you got the very loud “CM Punk” chants. I sensed detachment from the crowd as enough was enough already, and I believe that was the root of the Punk chants.
Frank’s Takeaway: With the Miz not being there I’m guessing they wanted to keep the focus on Shane getting the heat, which for the most part they accomplished with his refusal to come out unless the trophy was there.
The crowd cheered fairly well but not crazy for the Undertaker arrival on Raw the night before.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. The Hardys
The crowd was very into the Hardys and not so much into the Usos as both teams made their way out. I didn’t sense any heat or boos for the Usos, but I believe it was just because of the universal love for the Hardys. In the video promo the Usos cut earlier in the night, the crowd went along with “welcome to the Uso penitentiary.
There was a tell that the Hardys were going to win as Kayla Braxton was escorted through the crowd by security. Obviously later on she attempted to do a post-match interview, and thus her coming out indicated that was going to happen.
As Matt hit the Twist of Fate you could sense the crowd was anticipating the title change. When Jeff hit the Stanton and score the pin, the crowd erupted. It felt like the early 2000s all over again, or even WrestleMania 33 for that matter when they returned.
Lars Sullivan got fairly decent heat as he interrupted the post-match interview. When he did the flying headbutt, a small “CTE” chant broke out in a section near me. People around me couldn’t believe he did a flying headbutt given how many people (Daniel Bryan, Dynamite Kid, Chris Benoit, Harley Race, etc.) have suffered because of this.
Frank’s Takeaway: The Hardys are still loved, and can be useful as the gatekeeper team on Smackdown if the Usos are moving to Raw. It certainly feels like that’s the way they are going. Lars attacking the Hardys doesn’t make much sense the way him attacking Kurt Angle the night before didn’t as well. There won’t be any follow-up
It may have been here or after the Becky Lynch segment that the “main event” for tonight would be Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the live crowd. I apologize that I don’t remember exactly when this happened, but it was certainly announced.
The Becky Lynch promo was as expected as the crowd was alive and popped for her arrival. It wasn’t as strong as Kofi Kingston earlier, but it was strong nonetheless. I’m sure the video was on TV, but they conveniently blacked out the pin when Ronda Rousey’s shoulders came up on the one count. You could hear “Becky! Becky! Becky!” chants strong and there may have even been “Becky Two Belts!” if my memory doesn’t escape me.
When she threw the mic down there was a bit of a pause because people weren’t sure if she was done, but then her music hit and people cheered. When she made her way back, people looked towards the Titantron as she turned around, figuring Lacey Evans would come out and attack. As sure as night follows day, that happened, and she got fairly good heat. Once she made her way back the crowd was somewhat cheering when Becky got up, hoping perhaps she would go after Lacey.
Frank’s Takeaway: I like the potential of a feud with Becky for Lacey. I’m glad Charlotte wasn’t there, and I get the sense nobody missed her. I know I need a break from Becky-Charlotte-Ronda for a little while and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m not alone.
Six-Man Tag Main Event: New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E) vs. The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) & Drew McIntyre
Everyone made their way out to the ring to abbreviated versions of their songs except for McIntyre (no aaaaaawwww Brooklyn for New Day, no siren start for Cesaro portion of the Bar music). The reaction for New Day was still strong, but not as much in the beginning as is to be expected. The heels got pedestrian heat but not non-existent. Sami Zayn got big heat for telling the crowd “you’re just not worth it.”
Now the part that didn’t make TV was McIntyre leaving the ring. Out of nowhere he flailed his hand at the Bar, as if to say I’m done and just started walking out through the crowd with security. An injury was not apparent, as something like that would stick out. He worked Xavier into the announce table, and perhaps that’s where he got hurt? The problem is it wasn’t obvious. I asked people around me what happened, and nobody knew. Even Erin who’s very observant (she notices all my mistakes around the house) didn’t see anything. Big E took a dive from Cesaro on the outside the wrong way, and suffered an injury as we have found out in the last few days. Nonetheless, when Kofi finally hit Trouble in Paradise and pinned Sheamus the crowd was into it. Again, they weren’t as rabid as they were earlier in the night, but they were into it nonetheless. People loved Kofi bringing his family into the ring.
They began to setup for 205 Live and we, along with many others, made our way out. The lobby was crowded so I can’t imagine many people stayed.
As I indicated to Wade and Jason on the post-show, it was enjoyable. I think they needed to clean up their mess after what happened on Raw. To quote one of my favorite sports talk show hosts Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, they look like a “horse’s fanny” on Monday night having the Bar interrupt Rollins and Kofi. In the end I think the crowd was satisfied and I sensed no level of frustration.