WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
APRIL 16, 2019
MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Tonight after WWE Smackdown, join me live with guest cohost Greg Parks from the PWTorch Livecast and PWTorch Newsletter to break down the show with live callers, an on-site correspondent, and the mailbag.
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-They opened with a video package on the Superstar Shake-up happenings on Raw with quotes from corporate news entities about the moves including ESPN on the Viking Experience, Bleacher Report on Andrade, Newsweek on Rey Mysterio, and Sporting News on The Usos. Then they closed with the reveal of A.J. Styles as the partner in the Raw main event for Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns with a quote about it from a Forbes article.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s a good idea for WWE to show all of these name-brand well-known media entitles talking about the Superstar Shake-up. As innocuous as some of the quotes were, it made last night seem like it was “the talk of the country” since last night. For someone who lived through decades of mainstream media brands barely touching pro wrestling, and usually only for a scandal or a death, it’s remarkable in the Internet age where clicks rather than snobbish hang-ups dictate which stories editors pay freelancers to write, how pro wrestling sure has risen to being a top priority.)
-Kevin Owens came out for “The KO Show.” Graves noted he’s “a hometown boy.” He spoke some French, then said there are surprises still to come. He said Mr. McMahon himself will be out later. Fans booed. Owens said, “You guys said it, not me.” Fans chanted “Kevin Owens!” loudly. Owens introduced his guest, Kofi Kingston. He danced out with Xavier Woods with a giant platter of pancakes to the New Day music. Byron Saxton said Big E is sidelined with an injury and can’t be there. Owens talked about Kofi getting his first WWE Title match in 11 years against all odds. He congratulated him for the win. He stood and applauded. The fans stood and applauded and chanted “Kofi!” He said he got to celebrate with his family, his friends, and with the fans, whom he said were most important. He spoke in French and fans roared with cheers. They sat back down. Owens said, “I’m going to sit back down; I love sitting.”
Owens said the bad news is Big E isn’t there, and it’s not because he was still stuck in the splits position in Brooklyn. Xavier complained that that the Shake-up has taken most of his Up Up Down Down roster and to be a YouTube success, he needs Tyler Breeze on Smackdown by the end of the night. He got worked up about it. Kofi calmed him down and said they have business in the ring to take care of. KO said he forgot his notes in the back, but he knows they are scheduled to face Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura later.
KO said with Big E gone, he wants to be with them. He said he’s the Big K, then he changed it to Big O “because it’s funnier.” Kofi said if he wants to be the third member of New Day, it’s a big commitment. He asked if he’ll wear a crop top. KO said they could talk about it. Xavier said there is cereal testing, pancake throwing, and video game tournaments. KO said he was game. They showed Rusev and Nakamura watching backstage, seemingly amused. Kofi said there’s a lot of “movement of the groinal region with us.” He asked if KO can do that. KO gyrated his hips. Kofi and Xavier popped up and looked impressed, if not intimidated. Kofi asked the fans how they felt about KO being an honorary member of New Day. Cheers. Xavier said it’s settled, Big O is part of New Day tonight. Kofi gave KO his shirt. Xavier put the unicorn headband on KO. They hugged and jumped up and down in celebration. Then they danced and KO seemed to be a good sport about it all. Graves said he can never un-see it.
-Backstage Cesaro asked to join Rusev and Nakamura in the match later because there are three of them in the ring. Rusev called KO “The Big Odor” (I think).
-As Kofi, Xavier, and KO continued to dance, Finn Balor made his ring entrance. Fans were excited to see him. Phillips said the Intercontinental Title comes with him to Smackdown. [c]
-Nealry four minutes later they returned to the show where Saxton plugged the six-man tag match now scheduled for the main event and Balor’s music was still playing in the background as he stood in the ring.
(1) FINN BALOR vs. ALI
The announcers talked about what this match means for both wrestlers. Saxton said Ali has had some hiccups lately, and a win against the IC Champ in his Smackdown debut would be big. When Ali applied a side headlock, fans chanted “Let’s Go Balor.” Balor made a quick comeback and scored a one count. Ali sent Balor to the floor with a head scissors, then kicked him as he tried to re-enter. Ali dove through the ropes and tackled Balor at ringside. [c]
They stayed with the action during the break on split-screen Ali controlled early with some matwork. Balor took over with an armbar and then an abdominal stretch. When the break ended, the action picked up. Ali landed running hard chops to Balor’s chest. Balor came back and had the crowd on his side, but when he charged at Ali, Ali caught him with a super kick. Ali scored a near fall. Both were slow to get up. Balor landed a double stomp after countering an Ali satellite DDT attempt. Balor then climbed to the top rope, but Ali kicked him off balance. Ali climbed to the top rope, but Balor avoided his finisher and then dropkicked him hard into the corner. Balor landed a Coup de Grace to win. Balor offered a handshake afterward. Ali stood and accepted it. Balor applauded Ali’s effort, then celebrated with the fans.
WINNER: Balor in 11:00.
-Backstage, Xavier and Kofi were wandering looking for Big O. They found him playing with the unicorn horn. They asked if he’s ready for his initiation. Xavier said he has to eat the platter of pancakes in under 5:37 to beat Big E’s record. Owens said he’s never eaten a pancake before. KO began shoving them into his mouth. They had a camera in the upper deck of the crowd showing fans smiling as they watched. It also was a good visual that the arena was pretty full to the last row. Graves said, “I didn’t now Owens ate carbs at all.”
-R-Truth and Carmella made their ring entrance. Phillips plugged that Carmella would face Charlotte next. [c]
-The Buzzard in the Smoking Box vignette aired.
-Saxton said he’s not sure what he just watched, but he hopes he never sees it again. Carmella and Truth were still dancing and singing. Graves said that’s how he feels about the dancing. They cut backstage to KO who was finishing the platter of pancakes. Kofi and Xavier said now he’s ready for a match and he’s part of them now. Owens teased throwing up, then indicated he was okay.
(2) CARMELLA (w/R-Truth) vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR
Charlotte yelled that she hates Canada to get some heat early. Carmella got in some offense, but Charlotte came back with a boot to the face to knock Carmella off the ring apron to the floor. [c]
Back from the break, Charlotte kipped up and strutted as fans booed. Charlotte worked over the Women’s Battle Royal Winner Carmella’s legs and tapped her out with a Figure Eight.
WINNER: Charlotte in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good strong win for Charlotte, but what exactly was the point of Carmella winning the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania?)
-Afterward, Lars Sullivan came out as Truth was consoling Carmella. Truth punched away at Lars, but Lars absorbed his punches and kick and smiled. He turned and attacked Truth with a side slam. Fans booed. He turned and eyed Carmella. Ref Charles Robinson helped Carmella slip out of the ring and he led her away of the ring. Fans chanted “Asshole!” at Lars. Lars turned back to Truth and gave him a running sitout powerbomb. Lars soaked the moment and laughed and said, “That was beautiful!”
-The announcers plugged that Vince McMahon would be out later to announce “the biggest acquisition in Smackdown history.” [c]
-They plugged The Shield Farewell on Sunday.
-Becky Lynch made her way to the ring. Phillips said he understands she has her own announcement regarding the Superstar Shake-up. As Becky played to the crowd, they showed a video package on her win at WrestleMania. She said it feels so good to say it, but she did what she said she was going to do at WrestleMania and became the Raw and Smackdown champion. Fans chanted “Becky Two Belts!” She said, “That’s me!” She said nothing focuses a mind like the Superstar Shake-up. She said she was reminded quickly at Raw last night what her job is. She said she has to beat Lacey Evans first, but she also needs to break new ground, win new battles, and slap new heads. She said whomever they produce, she will batter those dopes. She said the titles are her passport to pick fights with anyone on either brand “just because I can.” Ember Moon then interrupted her.
Becky advised her not to interrupt her. Moon said she’s not out there for advice, she wants to confront the person who beat Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. Bayley then interrupted Moon. She was booed. Bayley said this is exciting and what the Superstar Shake-up is all about. She said she’s joined Smackdown Live. More boos. Becky asked if she wanted a hug or something. Bayley said she got all her hugs out on Raw. She said it’s been a while since they’ve seen each other and a lot has changed. She said she willed the Women’s Tag Team Titles into existence, and with Sasha Banks, they became first-ever tag team champions. More boos. She said as special as those titles are, she’s on Smackdown as a singles competitors, so she has her eyes on two other titles. She was then interrupted by The IIconoics.
Billie Kaye said someone said two belts. Peyton Royce agreed she heard “two belts.” They said their belts are so much better than Becky’s because theirs are IIconic. Paige interrupted. She said she’s there to introduce the duo that she will be representing on Smackdown. She said she’s believed in these two women from the beginning. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville interrupted. Graves gasped with joy. Mandy and Sonya walked past Paige and said they need no introduction. Sonya said everyone has waited long enough for the reunion of Absolution. Paige said she’s not there to introduce them, but rather “two brand-new revolutionary women.” She introduced Asuka first, and then her new partner, Kairi Sane. Out came the “Pirate Princess.” Phillips said the Superstar Shake-up affects all wrestlers, including NXT. Paige sent them to the ring to “make an impact.” A brawl broke out with everyone. Becky stood in the corner and shrugged her shoulder as the rest of the women battled. She left the ring as Asuka, Sane, Moon, and Bayley cleared the ring. [c]
(2) BAYLEY & EMBER MOON & ASUKA & KAIRI SANE (w/Paige) vs. THE IICONICS & SONYA DEVILLE & MANDY ROSE
After some early action with Asuka and Sane getting in flashy moves, Moon leaped onto the IIconics at ringside before they cut to a break. [c]
They stayed with the action on split screen. After some chaos with rapid-fire moves by everyone, Kairi Sane landed the top rope flying “Insane Elbow” for the win, getting the pin on Rose. Paige entered and raised the arms of her team along with Moon and Bayley in the ring.
WINNERS: Sane & Asuka & Bayley & Moon in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Bayley’s stint as a singles wrestler on Smackdown didn’t last long. This seemed to add a dose of depth that the Women’s Tag Team Division hasn’t had.)
-The announcers said Bayley, Kairi, Moon, Balor, and Lars are all officially now on Smackdown. Phillips commented on a clip of what Lars has done to Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, and the Hardys.
-Backstage Matt and Jeff Hardy talked about Lars, then held up the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Matt said some have forgotten about their greatness, but they made them remember. Jeff said they are the greatest in all of space and time.
-Backstage Owens tried to replace Big E’s introduction. KO yelled “Ahhh!” Xavier and Kofi said he had to yell it out from the plums. He tried again and said, “Montreal, don’t you dare be sour and clap for the world famous five-time champs…” etc. Then they made their ring entrance. Saxton said he had goosebumps. Graves said he misses Big E already. [c]
-A soundbite aired with Buddy Murphy who said he is WWE’s best kept secret. Her said he’s spent six months destroying and dominating the 205 Live roster as Cruiserweight Champion. He said if you don’t know him, you soon will because he is coming to Smackdown. Graves said he’s one of the most intense athletes in WWE.
(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RUSEV & CESASRO vs. XAVIER WOODS & KOFI KINGSTON & KEVIN OWENS
Graves said this isn’t the Kevin Owens he once respected. Phillips ominously mentioned they have some history because Owens got the title shot at Fastlane that Kofi was originally scheduled for. Saxton said he thinks KO teaming with Kofi & Xavier is a “good life choice.” They cut to a break a few minutes in after Rusev and Nakamura double-teamed Xavier at ringside and dropped him over the ringside barricade. [c]
Several minutes later Kofi hot-tagged to KO who got a nice pop when he entered. He threw Rusev to the floor and then he launched Kofi over the top rope onto Nakamura and Cesaro at ringside. Kofi hit a Trouble in Paradise on Rusev. KO followed up with a Stunner for the win.
WINNERS: Xavier & Kofi & KO in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure where the KO-New Day relationship is going, but it’s pro wrestling so it can’t just end with a smile and a handshake as they go their separate ways, can it? Big E’s injury might have sparked something different with KO that wasn’t planned, at least in the path they’re taking with him. Maybe this was a one-week sidebar because they were in Montreal. This also could be a start of a storyline where Big E is upset with being replaced, even in an honorary manner. How did he feel? Check out Twitter…)
— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) April 17, 2019
-They showed Vince McMahon watching on a monitor backstage smiling. [c]
-Vince McMahon made his ring entrance. He talked right over his music and got right to it. He said it’s great to be back in Montreal. Fans booed. He said it’s not often that he puts a seal of approval on a Superstar. He said the man he’s about to introduce is the future of Smackdown and WWE, and without question the greatest acquisition in Smackdown history. He said he’s talented and exudes charisma. He asked for a drum roll. Then he introduced Elias. “I quit,” said Graves. Elias walked out with his guitar and he introduced himself. Graves said it’s a big “get” for Smackdown. Fans weren’t pleased with this if this was the payoff. They chanted something in French.
Elias entered the ring and said he wasn’t thrilled with how he’s been featured lately with John Cena and Undertaker, but that introduction showed Vince has his finger on the pulse of what fans want. Elias said he’s happy to be on Smackdown, but he’s not happy to be in Montreal. He said they speak a language he can’t even understand. He said with A.J. Styles gone, Smackdown will become The Temple of Elias. He asked fans to silence their cell phones, hold their applause, and shut their mouths. He began to strum, but then Roman Reigns’s music played. “Wait a minute,” said Phillips. “Oh my god!” Saxton said this is game-changing and this is the headline story.
Reigns eyed Elias from the ring apron and then attacked him. The male fans sounded like they were back to booing Reigns. Vince yelled at Reigns and told him to leave his ring. Reigns gave Vince a Superman Punch. Elias caught him as he fell back. Vince sold being knocked silly. Reigns said, “I don’t care what he says, Smackdown Live is my yard now!” He dropped the mic and his music played. Reigns left, then returned and gave Elias a spear. Graves said Reigns is a symbol of excellence who now belongs to Smackdown. Phillips said he is the future of Smackdown and WWE, and Smackdown’s greatest acquisition ever. Reigns played to the crowd as his music played and the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: I can think of no better heel opponent to define the early phase of Kofi’s inspirational underdog WWE Title reign than Roman Reigns. Or, maybe Reigns will just overshadow Kofi’s push and cement he’ll get booed again for it? The heavy-handed talk about him by the announcers can hurt the perception that he’s not being overpushed.)