LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 5/21: alt perspective, detailed coverage of Dolph Ziggler’s return, Reigns/Elias, 24/7 title and more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 21, 2019
PROVIDENCE, RI AT DUNKIN’ DONUTS CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

-The show opened on Shane McMahon on the phone in his dressing room. Elias walked in. He complained about the crowd being rude to him at Money in the Bank, despite his stellar performance. He said he lost focus, and that’s why he wound up losing to Roman Reigns so quickly. He said he feels like he let Shane down. He said he’d be in Shane’s corner at Super Showdown. Shane refused, saying he could handle Roman on his own. Shane did confirm, however, that he’d be in Elias’ corner when he faces Roman Reigns later tonight.

-The camera panned over the crowd in Providence inside the arena as Tom Phillips touted a Money in the Bank rematch between Roman Reigns and Elias. New Day’s music hit and Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods danced out onto the stage. They said tonight was a special night, because it marks the return of Big E. The crowd cheered loudly.

Kofi and Xavier led a man out onto the stage, covered in a black robe. They asked for a drumroll and received one. It was an unnamed imposter in Big E’s gear, holding pancakes. Kofi and Xavier accosted the man and told him to leave, and take all the props with him. The man obliged.

Kingston and Woods introduced Big E again. This time, Big E’s patented mic intro blared over the speakers and the real Big E exploded onto the stage. He jovially embraced members of the crowd and slapped hands as he and the rest of New Day walked to the ring, which was filled with neon colored presents and a banner reading “Welcome back, Big E!”

Clips from Sunday’s WWE title match aired, culminating with Kofi’s clean win over Kevin Owens. Back in the ring, Big E blew kisses to the crowd. He asked to smell Xavier and Kofi. They obliged. “He’s not medically cleared to wrestle, but he is medically cleared to sniff,” Xavier said. Big E said he missed his boys, and the fans. Xavier said they’re happy to have Big E back, but they’ll miss his antics on Twitter.

Kofi told his cohorts that he’s supposed to be serious. “They want me to be serious, guys.” Kofi discussed retaining the WWE title and Brock Lesnar winning Money in the Bank. He said tonight isn’t about him, though, it’s about Big E. Kevin Owens’ music hit.

Owens sauntered down the ramp slowly. “It’s my party, why are you here?” yelled Big E. Sami Zayn’s music played and he joined KO on the stage. Zayn said this is nonsense. He asked Big E how he’s been out, and said he (Sami) got nothing when he was out for nine months. Big E said the New Day planned to get Sami the same thing Kevin Owens got at Money in the Bank – nothing. New Day sang “nothing” in increasing octaves. Kevin Owens turned around an left the stage.

“You see what you did?” Zayn asked, distressed. He said they only reason Owens didn’t win is because his friend was hung upside down in the back. He called the New Day’s celebration disgusting and chastised the fans for creating a toxic culture. Xavier began interrupting Zayn with the trumpet. “Mark my words, your not is not gonna end it fun,” Sami said. He promised to beat Kofi in front of all his friends and “all these trash people.”

“Don’t let the pancakes and the hip swivels fool you, when it’s time to throw down, we throw down,” Kofi retorted. He said he’d walk through Sami Zayn. Big E led the crowd in a “New Day rocks” chant.

(LeClair’s Analysis: It’s good to see Big E back, and to see Kofi Kingston lean into being the serious member of New Day when he needs to. I’m not terribly keen on keeping Zayn and Owens so close yet again, though it’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things.)

-The announcers teased some of the matches on the card tonight, including Kofi Kingston versus Sami Zayn, a women’s tag team match, and the rematch between Roman Reigns and Elias.

-Backstage, Carmella was shown walking down the hallway searching for R-Truth. Drake Maverick and Apollo asked Carmella where he was. She stumbled upon someone back-to in a blonde wig. It was R-Truth in disguise. Carmella told Truth that the wig was not going to keep him hidden from people looking to win the 24/7 title. Truth asked for Carmella’s help. She shuffled him away, tearing down a “WANTED” poster for Truth on the wall as she walked off screen.

-Back at ringside, Ali headed to the ring. The announcers threw to clips from the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match before heading to commercial.

Back from commercial, Andrade was in the ring with Zelina Vega. Tom Phillips teased Andrade’s Intercontinental title match again Finn Balor at Super Showdown.

(1) ALI vs. ANDRADE (w/ Zelina Vega)

A small “Ali” chant broke out as the two moved about the ring. Both men were taped up following Money in the Bank. They locked up and Andrade forced Ali into the corner. Andrade his a forearm to the face of Ali for a two count. He chopped Ali, worked over his arm, and attempted a back body drop. Ali rolled out of it and took Andrade down with an inverted frankensteiner. Ali hoped up onto the middle rope, but Zelina jumped onto the apron to provide a distraction. Andrade knocked Ali off. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.

On the small screen, Andrade maintained control and tossed Ali to the outside. He slammed Ali’s head off the apron, then rolled him back inside. He hung Ali’s arm in the ropes and locked on an arm bar, utilizing nearly all of the referee’s count. Ali fought out of another arm hold and went for a headscissor takeover, but Andrade dropped him flat on his stomach in a great counter. He continued to manipulate Ali’s arm. Ali finally fought out and hit a dropkick on Andrade to buy himself some time (and space.)

Back to full screen, Ali had pulled himself up in the corner. Andrade charged, but Ali leap frogged over him and hit the tornado DDT. Andrade rolled to the outside. Ali flipped over the top rope onto Andrade, taking him down. Ali’s taped up back drove hard into the knee of Andrade. Ali continued to sell the back, and Andrade recovered and took control. He knocked Ali off the apron and called for the referee to count him out.

Ali broke the count at eight, and Andrade immediately began stomping at his back. He hit a pair of suplexes, then body slammed Ali into the turnbuckle. Ali fell to the outside. Andrade met Ali on the outside and whipped him into the barricade. He chopped Ali across the chest, then slammed his back into the ring post. He then tossed Ali over the barricade into the timekeeper’s area.

The referee began to count again. Ali made it back in the ring at the very last moment. Zelina was beside herself. Andrade draped Ali across the bottom turnbuckle and hit his double running knees to Ali’s back. Ali kicked out of a very believable near fall. Andrade picked up Ali, but Ali rolled him into a cradle for a surprise three count.

WINNER: Ali in 11:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid match. I liked the idea of really honing in on Ali’s wounds from Money in the Bank. It’s very rare that WWE actually pays attention to these things, so this was a welcomed detail. I would’ve preferred Andrade pick up the win here, but if Ali had to win, a surprise roll up is the right finish.)

Andrade and Zelina looked on enraged as Ali escaped up the ramp, still selling the injury to his back. The announcers continued to promote the matches coming up tonight.

-Backstage, Carmella was using hairspray on R-Truth and his blonde wig. Carmella talked him up and Truth told her felt like something is missing. Carmella thought for a moment, then presented him with a bra. Truth said he needed help putting it on, “I’ve always had trouble getting these open,” he said.

-In the arena, Mandy Rose headed to ringside with Sonya Deville for a match with Carmella after the break.

-Back from commercial, the announcers discussed Roman Reigns’ nomination for the “Real Life Hero” award at the MTV Movie and TV Awards.

-A video package for Lars Sullivan aired, covering his destruction to date.

-In the ring, Mandy Rose stood awaiting her opponent. Carmella moonwalked onto the stage with R-Truth in disguise (but still carrying the 24/7 title.)

(2) MANDY ROSE (w/ Sonya Deville) vs. CARMELLA

Carmella took down Mandy and threw a flurry of punches. The referee separated her from Mandy, and Sonya pulled Rose to the outside to regroup. Mandy stalled, so Carmella went outside and retrieved her. She kicked Mandy in the face, then pulled Sonya into the ring and began punching her. Mandy rolled up Carmella from behind, but she kicked out. Carmella kicked Rose in the face again.Then, the entire undercard locker room rushed down to the ring, coming after R-Truth.

WINNER: No contest in 1:00

R-Truth put Carmella on his back and ran through the crowd, with the cavalcade of wrestlers in pursuit.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This was merely a setup to get to the 24/7 angle for the evening, which is too bad, really, considering Carmella and Mandy had a bit of an angle coming out of the ladder match on Sunday. Unlike the previous contest, Carmella showed no remnants of her knee injury, but I guess one out of two is better than none at all, right?)

-Backstage, Kayla Braxton welcomed the new Smackdown Women’s Champion, Bayley. Bayley said Money in the Bank was a brutal night, but she’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. She said she created her opportunity so that no one could doubt her capability. Kayla asked the difference between Bayley the Champion and Bayley the hugger. Bayley said she’s moved past the hugs, and wants everyone in the locker room to bring their best.

-Somewhere else backstage, Carmella and R-Truth sped down a hallway frantically. They stumbled upon, and entered the female locker room. A woman screamed from inside, and Truth and Carmella quickly left, taking off again. The undercard locker room followed, with Jinder Mahal trailing behind and Drake Maverick bringing up the rear, holding the “WANTED” poster. They passed Sami Zayn, who smirked and walked in the other direction. Phillips said Zayn’s match with Kofi Kingston would be next.

-Back from the break, Elias was in the parking lot, strumming his guitar and waiting for Roman Reigns to arrive.

-In the arena, Sami Zayn emphatically bopped to the ring. The camera cut backstage to show Big E down on the floor, clutching his injured knee. Woods was kneeled at his side. Big E repeated “Owens, man.” Kofi appeared and asked what happened. Woods told him to go take care of business.

New Day’s music hit and Kofi walked briskly to the ring, all business.

(3) KOFI KINGSTON vs. SAMI ZAYN

The referee had to hold Kingston back. When he rang the bell, Kofi charged, taking Zayn down. Sami fled to the outside, but Kofi followed him and clotheslined him. Quickly back in the ring, Kofi delivered another handful of shots before Zayn backdropped Kofi over the top rope.

Sami rolled to the outside to retrieve Kingston. He threw Kofi shoulder first into the steel steps, then hopped up and down, mockingly. He tossed Kofi bak in the ring and begin kicking at the champion’s midsection. Sami whipped Kofi into the corner, but Kofi jumped the turnbuckles and spun into a springboard dropkick. Zayn rolled to the outside to regroup and Phillips sent the show to commercial.

Back from commercial, Zayn had Kingston perched on the top turnbuckle. He delivered a number of punches and then followed it up with a big superplex for a two count. The announcers confirmed Big E had been taken to a local medical facility. Zayn set up for the Heluva Kick, but Kofi flew out of the corner with a clothesline. He whipped Sami into the corner and gave chase, but Sami caught him with a boot to the face.

Kofi quickly recovered and went for Trouble in Paradise, but Zayn countered. He life Kingston for the Blue Thunder Bomb, but Kofi flew over his back and connected with Trouble in Paradise for the pin.

WINNER: Kofi Kingston in 8:00

As Kofi celebrated, Paul Heyman walked out slowly onto the stage holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. He teased opening it, moving his figures on the latch and then looking back toward the entrance way.

Suddenly, Dolph Ziggler attacked Kofi Kingston from behind in the ring. He punched the champion repeatedly, then shoved him into the corner. He pulled at Kofi’s hair and hung him upside down on the turnbuckles. Ziggler clawed at Kofi’s eyes. Dolph picked up Kofi and threw him over the announcer’s desk, then grabbed a chair. He enclosed it over Kingston’s head and then rammed him into the announcer’s desk, face first. He continued to stomp away at the WWE Champion while officials tried to remove him. A trainer rushed to Kofi’s aid. Ziggler shoved everyone away and wrapped the chair over Kofi’s head again, delivering a hard stomp.

Ziggler walked emotionless up the ramp as a stretcher was brought down for Kofi. The announcers contemplated Ziggler’s motivation as paramedics loaded Kingston onto the stretcher. Halfway up the ramp, Kofi began to stir. He tried to climb off of the stretcher, but the referees and trainer held him down.  Kofi allowed them to wheel him to the top of the ramp, but then slumped off the stretcher and walked to the back under his own power as the show faded to commercial.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Well. Can’t say I expected that. First things first, the match was decent, though mostly contested through the commercial break. We’ve seen these two wrestle recently and that encounter was far better. The main story here, though, is Ziggler’s return. Heyman’s distraction was a nice distraction from the extended celebration Kofi had going in the ring, and added drama to the moment. I like Ziggler, and think he was largely rehabilitated during his stint on Raw, but I worry that this feud feels far too mid-card to be a WWE title program.)

-The show returned from commercial with a recap of Ziggler’s return and brutal attack on Kofi Kingston. The announcers continued to wonder what prompted Dolph to unleash such an “unwarranted attack.” Tom Phillips confirmed that Kofi had been escorted to the trainer’s room for evaluation.

-In the parking lot, Roman Reigns was shown walking between two production trucks toward the arena. Elias stood atop one of the trucks, playing his guitar. Reigns listened, annoyed, then continued walking toward the building.

-In the arena, Lacey Evans strutted to the ring for tag team action. She gave her hat to a young girl at ringside. Charlotte Flair headed to the ring next. Graves referred to her as “Charlotte 9 Reigns.”

The camera cut toe gorilla position, where Kayla Braxton welcomed Becky Lynch. She asked Becky her state of mind following her loss of the Smackdown Women’s Title. Becky said she doesn’t feel right without the blue title, but if anyone else is going to have it, at least it’s “her.” Bayley slid into frame. Becky said she’d shake Bayley’s hand, but she’s afraid she might drop her if she does. She told Bayley she’s coming back for her title. Bayley said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Becky Lynch headed to the ring first to a warm reception. Bayley followed to a subdued reaction, but a slightly larger pop once the Bayley Buddies popped up. Bayley finished her entrance on the small screen as a picture-in-picture commercial break kicked in.

(4) BECKY LYNCH & BAYLEY vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR & LACEY EVANS

The ball rang during the break. Becky and Charlotte kicked things off. Becky sidestepped Charlotte and attacked Lacey on the apron. Charlotte quickly took down Becky from behind. Bayley got in the ring to cut off Lacey. Becky took Charlotte into her corner and tagged in Bayley.

Quickly back to full screen, Bayley drove her shoulder into Flair in the corner. Charlotte popped out and hit a big boot on Bayley, then began stomping away at the new champion. Flair pulled Bayley’s ponytail against the ropes. Charlotte dragged Bayley to the corner and tagged in Lacey Evans. Evans grounded Bayley in a rest hold, then tagged in Charlotte.

Bayley recovered and knocked Charlotte to the outside then tried to tag in Lynch. Charlotte pulled Becky off he apron before Bayley could reach Becky. Back in control, Flair pounded on Bayley and traded tags with Evans, isolating Bayley in the heel corner.

Bayley took down Charlotte and tried to reach Becky. Charlotte tried to prevent the tag again, but Lynch kicked her away and secured the tag in. Becky hit a cross body off the top onto Flair, then knocked Lacey off the apron. She elbowed Flir, climbed to the middle rope, and hit a flying forearm. She followed up the Bexploder.

Charlotte recovered and slammed Lynch’s head onto the turnbuckle. She followed it up with a big boot. Becky returned to her feet slowly, countered Flair, and rolled her up. Charlotte used her momentum to roll into her own pinning combination and she held onto the rope. The referee caught her just before he counted to three. Becky used the momentarily distraction to parlay the pinning combination into the Disarm-Her. Lacey rushed into the ring and knocked down Lynch with the Woman’s Right.

Becky was able to roll toward her corner. Bayley tagged herself in. She knocked Lacey off the apron. Charlotte took Bayley down and went for a figure four, but Bayley rolled her into a small package for a three count.

WINNERS: Bayley and Becky Lynch in 7:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: I like the friendly contention in the pre-match gorilla program. Becky is the first former champion in a while to show genuine frustration and grief over losing a title and and it’s been refreshing. The match itself was fine, though nothing of note.)

-Backstage, R-Truth was still on the run. Jinder Mahal attacked him from behind and rolled him up. Truth kicked out at two. Carmella grabbed Truth’s hand and led him toward the parking lot. There, the B-Team attacked him. Bo Dallas pinned Truth, but Axel pulled him off. The two began to argue about who would take the title. This allowed Truth to recover and continue his escape, title still in tow.

(LeClair’s Analysis: If you had asked me to predict the events surrounding the 24/7 title tonight, I would not have had R-Truth outsmarting, or at the very least, escaping, the entire locker room. But, alas, here we are.)

-After a commercial break, Sarah Schreiber approached Dolph Ziggler backstage, asking for an explanation. Ziggler said it was an honest question, deserving of an honest answer. He said, instead of giving it to Sarah, he’d give it to the audience. He walked toward gorilla.

Dolph walked out onto the stage. He said this goes back to when Ali got hurt and Kofi took his spot in the Elimination Chamber. Ziggler said it should have been him. He said Kofi overcame the odds and achieved success he’d never before experienced, and it all should have been him (Dolph.) Ziggler looked as though he was fighting back tears. “He walked into WrestleMania to fight Daniel Bryan for the WWE title while I sat at home, and it should’ve been me.” Ziggler said, on that night, Kingston was the better wrestler and he earned the WWE title.

Dolph said every day since, Kofi has been a fighting champion and earned the respect of the fans and his peers. Ziggler said that’s why he did what he did, because it should have been him. He said at Super Showdown, he’s going to beat Kofi Kingston for the WWE title because “I have to.” Ziggler said the crowd will love and respect him the way they respect Kingston. “Your WWE Champion should have been me,” Ziggler said. He threw down the mic and left.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This is an interesting route to take. Ziggler managed to keep the mood of the promo mostly somber in tone and volume, so, kudos to him for that. While somewhat over the top, his words actually contained a fair amount of truth. Dolph’s career has paralleled Kofi’s in a number of ways and it’s really interesting to see them frame a feud this way so many years into their respective careers. If nothing else, it’s an intriguing angle to take.)

-At the announcers desk, Phillips, Graves, and Saxton ran down the line-up for Super Showdown. At Randy Orton vs. Triple H, Phillips threw to a video package recounting the two wrestler’s history as partners and rivals.

-Shane McMahon’s music hit. He came to the stage with a microphone and introduced “Smackdown’s greatest acquisition, Elias.” Elias walked out onto the stage strumming his guitar and introduced himself. He played a song as he and Shane walked to the ring.

Backstage, Roman Reigns was shown walking to the ring. Tom Phillips teased their match, coming up after the break.

After the break, Elias stood waiting in the ring with Shane’s music playing. Roman’s music hit to a big initial pop from the crowd. Reigns flexed and stared down Elias and Shane as the announcers teased Reigns’ match with Shane McMahon at Super Showdown.

(5) ROMAN REIGNS vs. ELIAS (w/ Shane McMahon)

Elias charged at Reigns as the bell rang, but Roman dropped him with an uppercut. Elias left the ring and Roman gave chase. He slammed Elias on the apron, backed up, and hit the Drive-By. Shane taunted Roman, who stalked him around the ring.

Roman re-entered the ring, and Elias hit him with a DDT for a near fall. He began stomping away at Reigns. He slammed Roman into the ring post. Reigns fell to the outside. Elias followed him out there and taunted the crowd as Phillips sent the show to commercial.

Back from commercial, Reigns had taken control. He backed Elias into the corner and delivered nine clotheslines. Elias walked dazed out of the corner, and Reigns followed up with a big boot. Shane distracted Roman, allowing Elias to recover and hit Reigns with a leaping knee. The advantage was short-lived, as Reigns recovered and delivered a stiff right to Elias.

Reigns set Elias up on the top rope and tried to execute a Samoan Drop. Elias slipped through and pulled Reigns down off the top in an electric chair position. He spun Reigns around into a sit out power bomb for a near fall. Elias pulled Reigns to his feet slowly. He set Reigns up for Drift Away, but Roman gave Elias a big head butt.

Reigns punched Elias, cocked his fist, backed up, and hit the Superman punch. He covered Elias, but Shane put Elias’ foot on the ropes. Reigns hopped outside the ring and hit Shane with a Drive-By. Elias immediately pounced on Reigns on the outside, throwing him into the ring post and then the steel steps. He threw Reigns back in the ring and climbed to the top rope. Elias connected with a big elbow for a near fall.

Shane recovered at ringside and began shouting directions at Elias. He retrieved Elias’ guitar and placed it in the corner of the ring, then distracted the referee. Elias charged at Reigns with the guitar, but Reigns caught him with a spear for a three count.

WINNER: Roman Reigns in 10:00

Shane immediately entered the ring and attacked Reigns. He sized Roman up with the guitar. Shane swung, but Reigns caught him with the Superman punch. Roman picked up the guitar and stared angrily at Shane. Drew McIntyre appeared in the ring. Roman spun around and Drew hit him with a brutal Claymore Kick. Shane McMahon raised Drew’s hand as they stood over Roman and the show went off the air.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Better match than anticipated, and one of Elias’ better efforts. McIntyre was a decent surprise, so much as the wild card rule appearances can be.)

 

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