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 23, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Tonight after WWE Smackdown, join me live with guest cohost Rich Fann from The Deep Dive edition of the PWTorch Dailycast to break down the show with live callers, an on-site correspondent, and the mailbag.
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-Shane McMahon made his way to the ring as Phillips introduced the show. The graphic said they were at the University of Nebraska. Shane danced a little at the start, but then strutted to the ring. Phillips and Graves bickered. Shane said his time was limited this week, so ring announcer Greg Hamilton had to get it right the first time. Shane said he wanted to talk about Roman Reigns. He said the fans should prepare themselves to feel disgusted by what they’re about to see replayed. They showed Reigns punching Vince McMahon last week and spearing Elias. Phillips back live said Reigns could be fired for his actions. Shane said it was horrific to watch and disgusting. He said his father is one of the greatest men to have ever lived and like a national treasure. He asked, with irony of course, what kind of man puts his hands on another man’s father. He said what Reigns did was like disgracing the American flag or defacing “Rount Mushmore” (that’s what he said). He paused and gathered himself a little. He said one of the things he can’t get out of his head is that Reigns had the audacity to hit the chairman and CEO of a billion dollar company.
Shane asked what would be appropriate. He asked if he should fine or suspend or terminate him. He said maybe his emotions are getting the best of him and he’s amped up, because he’s going to settle it in the ring “right here, right now.” He said it’s not a request, he is ordering Reigns to come to the ring right now. Pause. No music. Five seconds later, the music played. Reigns walked out and looked around at the fans. He was in a t-shirt, no vest. Phillips defended Reigns by saying Reigns was probably “just stuck in the moment, he was excited to be on Smackdown Live.” Phillips said Shane put his hands on Miz’s father a few weeks ago.
Reigns entered the ring. He looked at a mic, raised it, and then threw it aside. That signaled to Shane he wasn’t there to talk. Shane threw his mic aside and acted like a tough guy. Elias ran out and jumped Reigns from behind. Reigns turned, so Shane attacked Reigns from behind. He kneed Reigns in the corner a few times. Reigns kicked Shane in the head and then punched him. Elias jumped Reigns from behind. Shane held Reigns as Elias beat him down. Reigns fought back a little, but Shane and Elias smothered him. Shane and Elias kneed him some more. Elias then gave Reigns a Drift Away mid-ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Shane is a good heel. Not super-dynamic, but relatively convincing and unlikable. Elias getting a push at this level against Reigns showed they continue to believe in him as a top act. I’m curious to see the match quality if they present Elias vs. Reigns at MITB. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a two-on-one match, though.)
-The announcers hyped Charlotte-Becky Lynch “face to face” later, Finn Balor vs. Andrade (w/Zelina Vega), and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kofi Kingston.
(Keller’s Analysis: Still no explanation for the roster moves since last week’s shows, such as Andrade back on Smackdown and Samoa Joe and Cesaro being gone from Smackdown.)
-Backstage Elias and Shane gloated about what they did. Shane said his dad would be proud. Elias said it felt good. Shane said there are more lessons to come. Elias agreed.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Saxton said things don’t appear to be over between Reigns and Shane & Elias. Graves said it might be Roman’s yard, but it’s the McMahon’s universe and they all just live in it. Phillips said it was bittersweet last week with Big E being injured and Kevin Owens replacing him. Graves said he hasn’t slept right since witnessing Kevin Owens’ hip swiveling.
-Backstage Kayla Braxton interviewed Kofi Kingston, who was all smiles and still decked out in the New Day gear. Kofi said the love, support, and magic that the WWE Universe gave him is still with him and growing every day. He said all is right with the world because he’s WWE Champion. In walked Xavier who asked Kofi to say it again. Kofi declared loudly he is their WWE Champion. They swiveled. Kofi repeated all is right with the world. He said the one big change is KO replacing Big E while he’s out. He said Big E will be back “soon enough.” Owens said he knows things will be okay because “New… Day Rocks!” He yelled so loud he over-modulated the mic. He swiveled his hips.
-Finn Balor made his ring entrance with the Intercontinental Title wrapped around his waist. They threw to footage of Balor vs. Andrade eight days ago on Raw. Phillips said they’d have word on why that was Andrade’s only match on Raw. When Phillips said Balor feels he has a “settle to score” with Andrade, Graves said, “You’ve been hanging out at Rount Mushmore.”
-Backstage Zelina said Balor tried to escape them in the Superstar Shake-up (Oh, so now the story is wrestlers are in control of their brand movement!), but there is no escaping from Andrade. Andrade said he has one more hero to break. “I want to destroy the myth of Finn Balor.”
(1) FINN BALOR vs. ANDRADE
CIEN ALMAS (w/Zelina Vega)
Phillips just asked Graves what he thinks of the “mission statement” just issued by Andrade. (I’ve called for more overt “mission statements” by wrestlers to give more meaning and framework to matches and the consequences of wins and losses, so it’s nice to hear it overtly brought up here.) Andrade went after Balor early, but Balor turned it around quickly. When Andrade tried to leave, Balor dragged him back into the ring, but Zelina held onto Andrade so she was dragged into the ring. As the ref got Zelina out of the ring, Andrade took a cheap shot at a distracted Balor. He knocked Balor to the floor and then springboard twist splashed Balor at ringside. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action on split screen. [c]
Andrade stayed in control during the break including some matwork focusing on Balor’s left arm. A few minutes later Zelina leaped off the top rope at Balor, but Balor moved and Andrade caught Zelina. Balor dropkicked Andrade and then landed the Coup de Grace for the win.
WINNER: Balor in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match.)
-Elias strummed his guitar and sang a challenge to Reigns to a match at Money in the Bank. Shane then told Elias to join him in his limo and they drove off. Graves said he’s starting to come around on Elias’s music.
-Kairi Sane made her ring entrance with Asuka and Paige. [c]
-A clip aired from earlier in the day of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville confronting Paige and predicting that the Kairi & Asuka deal will blow up in her face and warned her not to come crawling back to them.
(2) KAIRI SANE (w/Paige, Asuka) vs. PEYTON ROYCE (w/Billie Kaye)
On their way to the ring, the IIconics cracked themselves up by calling Kairi & Asuka “super lame-o’s” instead of “super heroes.” They called Kairi “Kerry.” Peyton said she drank a whole gallon of water so she won’t be dehydrated. Kaye reacted as if that was a little more than necessary. Sane won decisively and quickly with her insane elbow. Graves said maybe Peyton over-hydrated.
WINNER: Sane in 1:30.
-Rose and Deville walked out, applauding slowly and mockingly as Rose’s music played. Then out came Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers. Phillips said the Superstar Shake-up is still in effect. (So since last week, Jinder and Andrade moved to Smackdown and Cesaro and Joe moved to Raw. Plus the Singh Brothers.) [c]
-Aleister Black sat down on a chair with a black backdrop. He said fans know who he is, but do they know what he is. He said the name and persona are not the same thing, and the aesthetic of the persona shouldn’t evoke certain reactions, but it does. He said he cannot explain the complexity of his tragic character in such a short time, but over time he will show them that the world he grew up in will have him condemned.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to see wrestlers speaking for themselves here instead of announcers reading a pithy character-summary sentence or two. It feels like this is the start of a “journey” for Black that fans can watch week-to-week play out.)
-As Chad Gable came out to wrestle Jinder, Lars Sullivan attacked him from behind. Lars entered the ring and confronted Jinder next. Jinder jumped out of the ring, so Lars beat up the Singh Brothers. Graves said Lars is over 300 pounds, terrifyingly agile and fast, and insanely intelligent. He gave Sunil a running sitout powerbomb. Suddenly R-Truth’s music played. Lars jerked his head to the stage. Truth marched to the ring with a determined look. Truth took it to Lars aggressively with a barrage of punches, but Lars brushed them off and lifted Truth and slammed him hard to the mat. Some fans chanted “R-Truth! R-Truth!” Lars gave Truth another running sitout powerbomb and then let out a big yell. Graves said, “The truth is The Freak is unstoppable.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Lars continues to do a really good job portraying his character with intensity and believability.)
-Graves plugged Charlotte and Becky up next. [c]
-After a replay of the Reigns-Elias/Shane segment earlier, Braxton interviewed Reigns in his locker room. Reigns said Elias got his licks in, but at MITB he’s going to break his jaw and he won’t ever sing again. He accepted Elias’s challenge. The camera stayed on Reigns as he sat and rubbed his sore neck.
(Keller’s Analysis: Short and to the point. It felt like what the Roman character would say, not what someone would write for him to say. It’s not really “entertaining” or “clever,” but to build a match, it’s sufficient and organic. He’s vowing revenge and fans who find Elias and Shane annoying will anticipate their comeuppance.)
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. She said at WrestleMania 35 (nobody in WWE *ever* says “35,” so I wonder if she’ll get a demerit for that), in the main event in a winner-take-all match, three of the very best – not three of the very best women, but three of the very best in the business – went head-to-head. She mentioned Ronda Rousey to no reaction and Becky to a nice pop and then herself. She let out a “woo!” She said Becky pinned Rousey, but she didn’t beat her, yet she has her belt. She asked Becky to come out and answer how she believes she is the rightful Smackdown Champion when she didn’t beat her.
Becky came out to her entrance theme. Becky entered the ring and asked Charlotte what she doesn’t understand about “winner take all” at WrestleMania. Becky said she already knew she could beat Charlotte because she beat her so many times, so she wanted to see if she could beat Rousey. She said that’s what she did, and there’s nothing Charlotte could do about it. Charlotte took a deep breath and said to Becky the fact remains she didn’t beat her. She said when Lacey Evans is knocking her out on Raw, all she’s seeing is Charlotte because it’s all she talks about on her Twitter and on TV. She said she’s in her head. Becky said she’s owned her countless times, yet she’s been on her worst winning streak ever, “so who is in whose head.”
Charlotte said she thinks Becky is scared and her days are numbered. She said Becky has everything to lose and she has nothing to lose. She said after she faces Lacey at MITB, she’s next in line. Becky asked how she’s next in line. Charlotte said, “Because I say so.” Becky got worked up when Charlotte interrupted her. Becky said she wants to new challenges like Bayley, Mickie James, and Ember Moon. “You are the web management will not untangle me from,” she said. Becky said after she runs right through Lacey at MITB, Charlotte can work her way from the bottom right to the top because she is still Becky Two Belts. “I did it eight times, I’ll do it nine,” Charlotte said.
Bayley came out to her music. Bayley said the Superstar Shake-up is supposed to be all about fresh starts, but all she sees is a rerun. She thanked Becky for the shout-out. She said she’s never defeated her. (This is where jobbing Bayley on Raw last week was so counter-productive.) Charlotte told Bayley to get to the back of the line because this is still her show. Bayley shoved Charlotte’s hand off her shoulder. Bayley said Charlotte should go through her to get that shot at Becky. “Me and you, right now!” she said. Charlotte told Bayley she’s not worth her time. Bayley knocked the mic out of Charlotte’s hand. Becky smiled. They cut to a sudden break. [c]
-A Make-a-Wish segment aired and then Phillips mentioned a website where fans can donate.
(3) CHARLOTTE vs. BAYLEY
They locked up at the start. Charlotte shoved Bayley in the chest on a break in the corner. Bayley shoved back and Charlotte went down. Charlotte got up angry, but Bayley stayed aggressive and knocked Charlotte to ringside. Bayley threw Charlotte back into the ring and took her down with a body press for a two count. Graves said he thinks Becky is afraid of Charlotte. She said she’ll be Becky One Belt after the next match against Charlotte. Phillips said Charlotte shouldn’t be complaining because everyone knew the rules going into the Triple Threat match at WrestleMania. Charlotte made a comeback with a neckbreaker and stomped away at Bayley’s chest. They cut to a break. [c]
They stayed with the action on split-screen and Charlotte worked over Bayley’s legs during the break. Bayley came back after the break with a knee to Charlotte’s head. Both were slow to get up as Bayley massaged her left knee. Charlotte went for a top rope moonsault, but Bayley moved but she landed on Bayley and her ankle and knee landed awkwardly. She clutched her knee. Bayley suplexed Charlotte hard and scored a near fall. Charlotte seemed okay. That looked close to a potentially serious injury. Bayley knocked Charlotte out of mid-air and then then sunset flipped Charlotte with her head crashing into the bottom turnbuckle. Bayley scored a near fall.
Charlotte knocked Bayley off the top rope and then went for figure-four, but Bayley countered into a small package for a believable near fall. Charlotte speared Bayley and scored a three count.
WINNER: Charlotte in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match.)
-Backstage they showed Becky watching the match on a monitor. Kayla asked why Becky was accepting a challenge when she’s already defending against Lacey at MITB. Becky said she’ll tapout Lacey quickly and everyone knows she can beat Charlotte. Kayla asked if she’s underestimating her competition. Becky said, “No, no, I’m just betting on myself.” She said at MITB she will defend her Raw Title against Lacey and her Smackdown Title against Charlotte, “and at the end of the night, I will still be Becky Two Belts.”
-They showed New Day warming up backstage.
-They showed the Bray Wyatt’s “Firefly Funhouse” segment that debuted on Raw last night. They cut to a crowd shot of them watching in the arena twice and lost audio for an awkward few seconds each time.
-They went the announcers who reacted. Saxton said: “Part of me feels like I’m tripping, and the other part of feels warm and fuzzy inside.” Exactly. They hyped the MITB line-up so far including Seth Rollins vs. A.J. Styles, Becky vs. Lacey, Becky vs. Charlotte, and Reigns vs. Elias.
-The New New Day warmed up backstage. KO did Big E’s part on the mic to send Kofi to the ring with a giant plater of pancakes. KO threw pancakes to the crowd, although they were falling apart in mid-air so he hasn’t got the technique down yet.
-Nakamura’s ring entrance took place. [c]
(4) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Kevin Owens, Xavier Woods) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Rusev, Lana)
KO and Xavier joined in on commentary. They were surrounded by platters of pancakes. Phillips noted that this is Kofi’s first singles match on Smackdown since becoming WWE Champion. The match built slowly. Nakamura put Kofi face down on the ring apron and leaped onto the back of his head with a knee. They cut to a break. [c]
A few minutes later, Nakamura set up a Kinshasa Kick. Kofi finally made a comeback by kneeing him to block the kick. Kofi ducked some Nakamura kicks and the hit an S.O.S. Rusev then attacked Kofi with stomps to save him. KO and Xavier made the save.
WINNER: Kofi via DQ.
-Afterward, KO backdropped Xavier over the top rope and he was supposed to land on Rusev, but Rusev was way out of position and Xavier overshot him. Was it an accident, though? Nakamura gave Xavier a Kinshasa at ringside. Back in the ring Kofi kicked a charging Nakamura with Trouble in Paradise, but then KO suddenly superkicked Kofi. The crowd erupted in boos. “Wait a minute!” exclaimed Phillips. KO menacingly tore off his New Day t-shirt and revealed a KO Show t-shirt. He then punched and stomped away at Kofi. KO threw Kofi around at ringside. Graves said KO played the New Day and the entire WWE Universe. He said it was an ingenious plan by one of the most sadistic Superstars in WWE. KO held the WWE Title belt in Kofi’s face and yelled that he hopes he and his kids had a good time with him as WWE Champion because it will be his soon. Kofi attempted a comeback, but KO stopped it and threw Kofi to the floor. KO then set up Kofi for a Pop-up Powerbomb on the floor. Xavier made the save. KO then clotheslined Xavier and gave him a Pop-up Powerbomb on the edge of the ring apron. “Kevin, no!” exclaimed Phillips. Several referees ran out as fans chanted “Holy sh–!” Kofi checked on Xavier, who was writhing in pain at ringside.
(Keller’s Analysis: It felt like only a matter of time, right? I thought last week convinced some of us it might be a while longer, which made this week’s turn actually more surprising. The match itself was just sort of okay, which is par for Nakamura these days, although this match was more a time filler and set-up for the turn than a payoff to a match that was built up.)