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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 7, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with Phillips welcoming fans to Smackdown live from Louisville, Kentucky. (He said the city, even though they don’t have an NFL team and aren’t a coastal cosmopolitan market!)
-A.J. Styles’s music played. The announcers said, “Look who’s back.” Graves actually said they missed him. (Oh, such distant memories of Styles on Tuesday nights.) Phillips announced that Vince McMahon announced a Wildcard Rule where “a limited number of Superstars from Raw or Smackdown can be invited to cross brand lines and go to either Smackdown or Raw on any given night.” He said it was due to Roman Reigns defying WWE management’s orders.
(Keller’s Analysis: This doesn’t explain anything other than there are no rules about the roster split other than “wrestlers who are treated like they don’t matter will only appear on one show.” Otherwise, there’s basically no brand split anymore. We aren’t being told who decides – wrestlers or the promoter or other – or under what circumstances it will happen. I mean, in this very segment, Phillips said as Styles came out, “Look who’s taking advantage” of the Wildcard Rule. Then he said wrestlers are “invited to cross brand lines.” So its Styles there because he’s “taking advantage of the Wildcard Rule” or because of an “invitation to cross brand lines”? This isn’t thought through.)
Fans chanted “A.J.!” when he arrived inside the ring and his music stopped. Styles wore a gigantic smile and said, “Oh God, how I missed you, Smackdown Live!” He said on Raw last night, Mr. McMahon instituted a Wildcard Rule for Raw and Smackdown, so what that means is, if you are brave enough and fast enough, you can cross over to a rival brand. He said you can be one of the four Superstars each week to “crash a rival brand.” So it’s four. He said he wanted to be the first to do it. He said Smackdown is still “the house that A.J. Styles built.” He was then interrupted by Sami Zayn. The announcers weren’t excited that he was one of the crossovers from Raw.
Sami said he doesn’t want to be there, either, and he’d rather be anywhere on his day off than surrounded by a bunch of Kentucky Fried Hillbillies. He said he knew Styles, with his toxic ego, would “pull a stunt like this.” He said he had to show up because no one else would call him out. Styles said his nose is burning. He said he’s happy he made it out of the dumpster that Braun Strowman threw him into, but he should have taken a shower because he smells like a foot. Sami said he did take a shower, but the smell doesn’t come out that easily. “Take a shower!” chanted the fans. Sami said this is classic deflection. He was interrupted by The New Day music. Byron Saxton was overjoyed. Out danced Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston.
Kofi asked why they’re having a party without inviting their boys, The New Day. The crowd shouted it with them. Kofi took exception to Styles talking about building Smackdown. “We get it, man,” he said. “You like to say it. It’s an amazing catch phrase. But you do not live here anymore.” Boos. They rolled into the ring and Kofi asked what he is doing here tonight. Styles said he saw Kofi on Raw last night, so he thought he’d return the favor. Xavier said he might want to check himself before he wrecks himself. Kofi said he is the Champ now. Cheers. He asked him what he wants to do about it now that they’re both standing in a Smackdown ring.
Sami interrupted and said he can see where this is going. He told Kofi not to offer Styles a WWE Championship match tonight. Sami told Kofi he loves him so he will tell him the truth. He said the fans aren’t happy for him. He said he’s caught up in the trap of constantly trying to please them, even at his own detriment, including defending his title when he doesn’t need to. He said if anyone deserves a WWE Title match, it’s him. He said the people deserve to have a champion who will tell the truth whether they want to hear it or not. Kofi asked him what the smell is. Fans chanted “Take a shower” at him again. Xavier said he smells like his tenth grade sock drawer. Kofi said he defended his title on Raw last night against Daniel Bryan to show everyone that what happened at WrestleMania was not a fluke. He said he considers himself to be a fighting champion, so he wants to put the title on the line tonight against either of them. Some fans chanted “Triple Threat” briefly. Kofi said it doesn’t matter who it is, he’ll remain champion. Kofi and Xavier gyrated and danced. Their music kicked in.
(Keller’s Analysis: Or they could promote a WWE Title match more than a week ahead of time and decide this week who the “fighting champion” will face next week. It was awkward for fans who were forced to choose sides as two of their favorites bickered over who was out of line by appearing on the other’s show.)
-The announcers wondered who will face Kofi. They also plugged that Shane McMahon would crown new tag champs. Saxton said it’s all about momentum as Carmella & Ember Moon take on Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose.
-Words on Screen: Kevin Owens. Owens sat in his car. He said it’s his birthday today, so he’s heading home. He vowed to take the WWE Title from him at MITB. “Happy Birthday to me!” he said. (KO turned 35 today.)
-Ali made his ring entrance as the screen said he’ll face Andrade next. [c]
-The announcers said Shane McMahon has booked a triple threat match for later.
-A vignette aired with Ali saying the light shows you a path, and sometimes it seems like it’s too far away, but as long as you see the light, you must fight. He talked about Money in the Bank being another chance to regain what was snatched away from him due to injury. He said as long as he sees that contract, he will fight for another opportunity that could change his life.
-Zelina Vega and Andrade walked out. Vega talked about the Kentucky Derby being a place where thoroughbreds race at their peak, but on Smackdown, there is only one thoroughbred. Andrade vowed to win MITB in two weeks.
(1) ALI vs. ANDRADE (w/Zelina Vega) – Winner Gets Their Full Name Back (*not really)
They went to ringside in the opening seconds. Vega distracted Ali standing on the ringside barricade as he was about to leap at Andrade, and then Andrade swept his legs out from under him. They cut to a break. [c]
They aired footage on split screen of Andrade beating up Ali. Ali teased a comeback with some punches, but Andrade came right back and scored a two count. He set up a top rope move, but instead settled into a surfboard. Once the break ended, then he went back to the top rope spot, so apparently the referee told him during the break that he was going to that spot too soon and the commercial wasn’t over. (Yes, that’s what pro wrestling has come to.) Andrade climbed to the top rope. Ali met him up there and gave him a Spanish Fly. They cut to a worried Zelina at ringside. Randy Orton then attacked Ali from behind.
WINNER: No contest in 6:00.
-Zelina grabbed Andrade’s legs to stop Orton from DDT’ing him. Ali went for a super kick, but Andrade blocked it. Orton gave Andrade a forearm to the chest. Ali attacked Orton with a barrage of forearms. Orton then gave Ali an RKO. Andrade leaped off the top rope, but Orton gave him an RKO out of mid-air. Orton looked up at the briefcase as his music kicked in.
(Keller’s Analysis: Yes, they had been in a “grueling six minute match” first, but this made Ali and Andrade appear to be jobber fodder for Orton heading into MITB, not actual contenders. Orton was neither a heel nor a face here, but just treated like a bigger star with a cool dominant move.)
-They went to the announcers on camera at ringside. They threw to highlights of Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre ending with a Shane McMahon and Elias run-in. Phillips threw to a video on Reigns who talked about having a unique story that he hopes people can take as an inspiration. They showed a slideshow of images of Reigns in 2010, 2012, 2014 including early Shield footage, then Reigns winning the 2015 Royal Rumble, then facing Triple H at WrestleMania in 2016 to win the World Hvt. Title to which JBL declared they were witnessing “the beginning of the Roman Empire.” (*It was the third time in six months Reigns won that title.) Then they showed Reigns beating John Cena at No Mercy 2017. Then beating Undertaker at WrestleMania in 2017. Then beating Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2018. The music and tone changed as they showed Reigns in October 2018 announcing his leukemia diagnosis followed by his announcement he was in remission four months later. Then it showed him punching Vince McMahon and announcing Smackdown is his yard too. They cut to fans cheering in the crowd.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was a well-produced video on Reigns’s journey, and showed some “extra effort” on a show that often budget-wise and production-wise feels phoned in and thrown together.)
-Shane McMahon made his ring entrance. Phillips said he’d crown new Smackdown Tag Team Champions next. [c]
-A Make-a-Wish video aired along with Phillips saying how viewers can donate.
-Shane danced a little bit mid-ring as his music faded. They replayed Shane and Elias attacking Reigns, followed by Miz running out for the save and chasing Shane down in the parking garage with a chair to the back, but then Shane low kicking him and fleeing in his limo. Back live, Shane criticized Miz for hitting him with a steel chair. He asked what kind of human being does that. He used some “big words,” and then said he remembered he’s in Kentucky, so he simplified his insult to “disgusting.” He vowed to win the cage match at MITB. Fans booed.
Shane transitioned to addressing the vacated tag team titles. He said he had to decide who would be worthy of being Smackdown Tag Team Champions. He scoured the roster and then it was staring right at him from the page. He pointed at the stage and out came Daniel Bryan and Erik Rowan. “What a deserving tag team!” declared Graves. Saxton disagreed. He asked if they even have wrestled a tag match. Bryan and Rowan entered the ring and shook Shane’s hand. The Usos interrupted.
Shane asked what they were doing there. Jey said Roman said it was his yard and he said they can slide through whenever they feel like it. Jimmy said Shane’s brilliant innovative daddy created a new rule. Jimmy said they worked too hard to put the Smackdown Tag Team division on the map to watch them just get handed to someone. Jey said Shane even earned the tag titles when he beat them. Jimmy asked if he’s really going to hand the belts over to Beavis & Butt-head, Ren & Stimpy, or Spongebob & Patrick. The crowd popped biggest for the Spongebob reference. Fans chanted “Usos!” Shane said that works for him. He said the match is going to happen right now, and he’s going to enjoy watching Bryan & Rowan kick their butts all the way back to Raw empty-handed. He called for a referee. Saxton said, “I didn’t think I’d say this, but thank you Shane McMahon.” [c]
-Big Words on Screen – Finn Balor: He was in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. He said there’s only thing one thing on his mind – the MITB ladder match. He vowed to win and cash in. He said he will become the WWE IC Champion and the WWE Champion, which would be extraordinary. He said he likes the sound of holding two belts. Saxton said he can’t wait to see the tricks he’ll have up his sleeve at MITB.
(2) DANIEL BRYAN & ERICK ROWAN vs. THE USOS – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles
Graves talked up the Wildcard Rule and said it changes the complexion of Raw and Smackdown because you never know who is going to show up any given week. The Usos got in early offense. A few minutes later, with Rowan in control, they cut to a break. [c]
Bryan was in control after the break. He threw Yes Kicks at Jey. Jimmy tagged in and kicked Bryan and scored a quick two count. Bryan blocked a Jimmy top rope splash and applied the LeBell Lock. Jimmy eventually escaped by leveraging Bryan’s shoulders down for a two count. Jimmy supe kicked Bryan. Both were slow to get up. Jey and Rowan both tagged in. Rowan caught Jey and set up a suplex, but Jey escaped and kicked him in the gut. Later Jey tagged back in and kicked Rowan as he applied the Iron Claw on Jimmy. The Usos hit stereo super kicks. Jey dove onto Bryan, then Jimmy landed a top rope splash on Rowan for a believable near fall that popped the crowd.
Rowan blocked a double dive at ringside by the Usos. Bryan dropkicked Jimmy. Jey took control in the ring against Rowan until Rowan caught him with his Iron Claw Slam for the win. Shane presented them with the tag title belts. Phillips said it was a fantastic match.
WINNERS: Bryan & Rowan in 12:00 to become WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
(Keller’s Analysis: I really like Bryan & Rowan as a tag team. It makes more sense that Bryan jobbed to Kofi last night in a quick-turnaround WrestleMania rematch if they were going to move Bryan into the tag division. Rowan scoring the win gives him a dose of credibility, as does in general having them beat The Usos who are a credible tag team.)
-Phillips plugged Sonya & Mandy vs. Ember & Carmella. Phillips said Shane apparently has something he wants to say about the MITB matches next. [c]
-Shane stood in the ring with both MITB briefcases on tables behind him. He explained that winning MITB virtually guarantees you’ll win a championship. Miz charged in and attacked him. They brawled onto the stage. B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel), Shane’s new hired henchmen, attacked Miz. Shane then hit Miz from behind with a chair and left him lying on the stage. His music played and he walked to the back.
-They cut backstage to Bryan telling Rowan they are The Planet’s Tag Team Champions, “but we’ve just got to fix these titles.” Heavy Machinery then walked up to them. Otis congratulated them and eye’d the belts. Tucker whispered something to Otis. Bray & Rowan walked away.
-Ember Moon made her ring entrance. [c]
-They stayed with the rest of ring introductions on split screen during the break.
(3) EMBER MOON & CARMELLA vs. SONYA DEVILLE & MANDY ROSE
Deville broke up a pin attempt by Moon a few minutes in. Moon kicked Mandy out of the ring and then did a running dive, but she hit Deville instead. Rose then gave Moon a running knee to the chin. Back in the ring Rose finished Moon with a face plant for the win. Graves gushed.
WINNERS: Rose & Deville.
-As Rose and Deville celebrated, out walked Paige with Kairi Sane & Asuka. Paige congratulated them for their win. She said she used to represent them “when you actually meant something.” She said she traded up. She said her new team will rip through the tag division, and they’ll start next week with those two. (Says who?) Phillips said it’s a challenge Paige laid down for those two at the O2 in London.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Matt Hardy. Matt said Jeff will be back stronger than ever. R-Truth walked in and said he had something to say, but he forgot. Matt asked if he was going to talk about Lars Sullivan. Truth said that’s why he forgot, because he didn’t want to remember. Kayla ran away suddenly. Matt turned around and said, “It’s him.” He put up his fists. Lars attacked Truth with a headbutt. Lars then threw Matt into a door. Truth tried to spear Lars, but Lars no-sold it and laughed. Lars then gave Truth a powerbomb onto a table. He then stood over him and breathed loudly. [c]
-Phillips congratulated WWE for “Dominating the Shorty Awards.” (What ironic timing. After years of touting social media growth as the “positive stat” among weaker metrics, WWE touts this during a month when the metric that matters most to their revenue – live cable viewership – is at all-time lows.)
-Aleister Black in a black shirt in front of a black backdrop talked about sins and marks left upon themselves. He said he arrogantly sits before them as both their wrath and salvation. He said he must apologize to his opponents for his “over compensatory need to prevail at your expense.” He said they are the embodiment of the sins of which he speaks, and now that he has revealed this part of himself, he must ask for forgiveness for his own sins. He said he will seek absolution for them in the form of victory which he shall take from them.
-Styles made his ring entrance. Then Sami. Then Kofi with Xavier. Saxton said Kofi wants to be a fighting champion with a record that critics can’t poke a hole in. [c]
(4) KOFI KINGSTON vs. A.J. STYLES vs. SAMI ZAYN – WWE Title match
Formal ring introductions took place after the break. Styles got ALMOST ZERO REACTION. (Do Smackdown fans resent Styles being back on Smackdown? Do they hold it against him that he walked out on Seth? Do they just love Kofi that much? Or did that five minute pause after ring entrances pour a bucket over their enthusiasm for him?) That was strange. Sami got booed. Kofi got polite applause.
The bell rang. A brief “Kofi!” chant was soon replaced by a “Take a shower!” chant. Sami bailed out to ringside as Styles and Kofi battled. Graves noted that it’s a smart strategy as long as no one scores a pin with him at ringside. Kofi gave Styles a top rope splash as Styles was kneeling. Styles kicked out at two. It looked like it maybe didn’t go exactly as planned. Sami entered and tried to beat up both Styles and Kofi, but they soon took him down and went back to fighting each other. Sami tripped Kofi from ringside to stop his Trouble in Paradise. Sami then yanked Styles’s leg and knocked him hard onto the ring apron. They cut to a break. [c]
Sami superplexed Kofi, but was slow to make the cover. It was good for a two count. Styles entered and set up both for a move, but Kofi intervened and gave Styles an S.O.S. All three were down and slow to get up. Fans chanted “New… Day Rocsk!” Kofi blocked a Phenomenal Forearm, then gave Styles a Trouble in Paradise, sending him tumbling to the floor. KO then attacked Xavier at ringside. Kofi was down and didn’t notice at first. KO threw him into the ringside steps. Kofi staggered to his feet. Sami then gave Kofi a Blue Thunder Bomb for a – yes – believable near fall in that moment. KO fled as Sami gave Kofi another Blue Thunder Bomb. Another dramatic kick-out. KO watched from the stage. Sami delivered a third for yet another close fall. Sami was frustrated and watched Kofi crawl to the corner and stand up. Kofi then surprised a charging Sami with a Trouble in Paradise for the win. They showed KO walking off the stage.
WINNER: Kingston in 18:00 to retain the WWE Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. Two nights in a row with Kofi establishing he’s a “fighting champion,” and in both cases, no big PPV match was sacrificed but both matches felt like they had some meaning. Bryan was the former champ and it was the WM rematch; Styles is a former champ but Sami did the job after a credible showing. On the downside, imagine how much better those Sami near falls would have played if he wasn’t dumped into a garbage truck last night and had been treated as credible in recent weeks in other ways. Also, what can they do next? Kofi can’t win every week, and there’s an argument that two WWE Title matches on TV on back-to-back nights also waters down the very concept of WWE Title matches, especially since they were booked on the fly. It’s not a formula you want to go to often, but they felt desperate with the ratings being what they were.)