SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JUNE 4, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with the actual Smackdown theme playing in the background as Phillips hyped that Goldberg is going to be on Smackdown for the first time ever to hype his match against Undertaker at Super Showdown. Graves hyped that Shane McMahon plans to call out Roman Reigns.
-The New Day entrance music played. Xavier Woods joined WWE Champion Kofi Kingston on his way to the ring, tossing pancakes to fans the whole way. Kofi said he’s learned the last few months how crazy life can be. He said life is full of surprises. He said over the past 11 years he thought he had seen it all and done it all – championships and friendships. He pointed over at Xavier. Fans chanted “Kofi! Kofi!” Kofi laughed. He said it hasn’t all been highs. There have been a lot of lows, too. He said he takes a lot of pride in being able to fight though the lows. He said by doing that, it provided him with an opportunity of a lifetime which was winning the WWE Title at WrestleMania. Fans chanted, “You deserve it!” He said what is most important to him is being able to inspire people to believe in themselves and believe anything is possible. He pointed at the big screen.
A video aired of Kofi visiting Ghana. He said it’s been 26 years since he was there. Fans swarmed him on the streets with huge cheers. He was choked up when they went back to the ring live. He said the look in the kids’ eyes is what it is all about. He said he was able to hug his grandmother for the first time in over 30 years and meet aunts, uncles, and cousins he had never met before. Dolph Ziggler interrupted. He walked onto the stage and said Kofi is an inspiration. He said this isn’t about Kofi, though. “This is about me,” he said. Magically, a video suddenly played, narrated by Ziggler, showing his 14 year journey in WWE including big wins and big moments for him. He seethed that after all of that, he has gained nothing. “It should have been me! It should have been me!”
Kofi said nobody is saying Ziggler hasn’t had great moments. Kofi said Ziggler beat him to win his first IC Title. Kofi said he knows what it’s like to be passed over when you think you’re deserving. Then Kofi threw to a magically cued-up clip of Ziggler on the Dec. 29,- 2017 Smackdown relinquishing the U.S. Title because he wasn’t feeling appreciated. (This was back when he yelled all the time.) Back live, fans booed, then some audibly chatted, “You f—ed up!” Kofi said if it should have been him, it would have been him. He said it could have been him, but when things didn’t go his way, he quit and turned his back and took himself out of the game. “That’s the difference between you and me,” he said. Kofi said that’s the difference between them, because no matter how bleak things looked, he never quit on himself, his brothers, or “the WWE Universe.” A “Kofi!” chant broke out. He said as long as he is WWE Champion, it will never be him, and he will find this out on Friday.
Suddenly another video aired from two weeks ago of Ziggler attacking Kofi with Ziggler saying “It should have been me!” in the background.
(Keller’s Analysis: It was jarring to me how there just happened to be “perfect video clips” cued up when this supposedly impromptu discussion was taking place between Kofi and Ziggler. They could have presented this as planned and had a host for a segment have clips cued up for wrestlers to react to. This was just too smooth and too cute to seem realistic at all. That aside, this was really good. Kofi exudes a “joy” that has been missing for so long in champions in WWE. It’s contagious. And Ziggler is a well-timed contrast to that, presenting his resentful bitterness effectively.)
-Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn began to walk out to KO’s music as they cut to a break. [c]
Newsmaking Interview Alert…
THE FORMER DEAN AMBROSE, JON MOXLEY, SPOKE OUT ABOUT HIS FRUSTRATIONS IN WWE. Check out my nearly 2.5 hour interview with Moxley. Click links below, or subscribe in your podcast app of choice by searching “Wade Keller” and clicking on the blue logo version of our show. (CLICK HERE to subscribe in Apple Podcasts.)
NOTE: Both of these podcasts are currently in the top 20 of all sports podcast episodes today, and the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast is ranked no. 5 in the Apple Podcasts rankings among all sports podcasts today.
(1) KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN vs. KOFI KINGSTON & XAVIER WOODS
They showed Ziggler watching backstage, but he had his back to the TV screen and body facing the camera, so his head was twisted around to watch the screen.
(Keller’s Analysis: NOBODY WATCHES TV THAT WAY! Wrestlers train for years to try to make fake wrestling moves look real, but WWE can’t be bothered to make wrestlers watching TV look real by having them stand facing the TV. We could still see the wrestler’s profile. It’s not like we won’t recognize Ziggler if he’s not 100 percent facing the camera. It’s just so stupid.)
Kofi dove onto KO at ringside. Xavier then chopped away at Sami’s chest at ringside. KO prevented Xavier from returning to the ring, giving Sami a chance at a cheap shot. KO then whipped Xavier into the ringside barricade. KO yelled at the fans, then threw Xavier back into the ring. KO landed a senton for a two count. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action on split-screen. [c]
Owens and Sami tagged in and out, grounding Xavier and preventing a tag. After they returned from the break, Xavier hot-tagged Kofi, who went to work on Sami with a flurry of offense. He landed the Boom Drop, then played to the crowd as he waited for Sami to stand. KO grabbed Kofi from ringside. Xavier tackled him. Kofi then hit Sami with a Trouble in Paradise for the win.
WINNERS: Kingston & Woods in 11:00.
-Ziggler attacked a celebrating Kofi with a superkick. He then kicked Xavier as he charged in for the save.
-A clip aired of Shane, Drew McIntyre, and The Revival beating up Reigns on Raw. Then a soundbite aired with Shane backstage where he said everyone thinks he brutalized Reigns to soften him up for Friday. Then they went to more clips of the beatdown of Roman from Raw. Shane then said that was some amazing athleticism on his part. He said he showed Reigns that he was wrong when he said he doesn’t stand a chance in the ring against him. He said whatever Reigns can do, he can do better. He said he’s heading to the ring to call him out. He asked if the Big Dog will come out strutting his stuff or will it be a little pup with his tail between his legs.
(Keller’s Analysis: Shane seems to be embracing the heel persona and is having a blast.)
-Alexa Bliss began her ring entrance. Graves was so excited, Phillips told him to calm down. [c]
-Bliss said it’s great to be visiting Smackdown because of the Wildcard Rule. She called Raw the superior A-show. She introduced her guest, Bayley. Graves said he’s impressed by Bayley’s mental make-over that she’s undergone since winning the Smackdown Women’s Title. Bliss’s assistant brought her coffee. She didn’t like the coffee and said it was made by a “blue brand incompetent.” Bliss asked for fresh coffee. “Perks of being a goddess,” said Graves.
Bayley asked if she’s going to ask her any questions. Bliss said yes, but she’s waiting for her coffee. Bayley protested. Bliss said it’s her show and Bayley is just the guest. Bliss asked her about where it all began, at Money in the Bank. Bayley said it started long before that. Bliss said she’s not here to argue, but she’s just saying she had a go0d night. Bayley again said she worked hard for a long time to make that night work. Bliss said she cashed in against Nia Jax and it was a spectacular night. Bliss ran down her resume as Smackdown Women’s Champion. She said when she was champion, it meant something. “Do you think the title really means anything around your waist?” Bliss asked. Bayley said she’s trying to bait her in, but a lot has changed since they last saw each other. Bayley said she’s looking for new challenges. Bliss interrupted and said she’s sure her new coffee is coming. Out came a new coffee. Bayley slapped it out of Bliss’s hands. It was clearly an empty cup, not one of the mugs Bliss was holding earlier. (Were they that worried about coffee being spilled on the stage?)
Bliss stood and asked, “Are you kidding me? Is that really the kind of champion you want to be?” Bliss said she deserves the title more than her. Carmella then danced out to her music. Carmella said you can’t have a conversation about being Miss Money in the Bank without talking about her. Carmella said she should have a chance at the title next, because she’s an actual Smackdown Superstar. Bliss said that sounded like a challenge to her. Charlotte then came out to her music. Graves said Charlotte is a scene stealer, meant as a compliment, not a dig.
Charlotte said she couldn’t help herself. She said she just talked to her good friend, Shane McMahon, and there will be a match tonight to decide whom Bayley will face at Stomping Grounds – Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte. (She did the tired “wait for it, wait for it” it before saying her own name. Can we send that back to 2009 and be done with it?)
-The announcers hyped Goldberg’s appearance again. They went to the announcers on camera. Saxton said he gets goosebumps when he hears Undertaker vs. Goldberg is taking place. Graves said he is very curious to see how it plays out.
-Backstage Truth called Carmella over to him where he was hiding. He said she has a huge opportunity tonight for the Women’s Championship. Truth said he’s had to defend it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, “even on holidays.” He said he’s been waiting for Shane to call him back. Carmella’s phone rang. “I’ve been using your phone!” Truth said. Carmella answered it and said it was Shane and handed the phone to Truth. Truth asked who it was. He said the title was ruining his life. They had a nice talk, which led to Shane telling Truth he had to have a proper match and it’s next. Truth ran to the ring.
-Elias sat mid-ring with his guitar. Phillips wondered if Elias is Truth’s scheduled opponent.
-A commercial aired for the Triple H vs. Randy Orton match. [c]
(2) R-TRUTH vs. ELIAS – Lumberjack Match
They came back from the break with the ring surrounded by 24/7 contenders. Elias stood in the ring. Truth made his way to the ring. The ring announcer said it’s a lumberjack match, but no other wrestler can pin the champion during the actual match. As soon as the bell rang, Truth rolled up Elias for a two count. Elias fought back with a chop and threw Truth to the floor. The lumberjacks swarmed Truth and then threw him back into the ring. Elias gave Truth a high knee for the win.
WINNER: Elias in 30 seconds to capture the 24/7 Title.
-Elias realized with the match over, he was fair game for everyone else. They attacked him mid-ring – Robert Roode, Matt Hardy, Titus O’Neal, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Cedric Alexander, Mojo Rawley, Eric Young, Drake Maverick, Jinder Mahal, No Way Jose, EC3, Shelton Benjamin, and Jack Gallagher. Elias snuck out of the crowd and crawled at ringside. Truth met him on all fours. They went under the ring. A referee followed them. The bell rang and Truth came out with the 24/7 Title. Phillips wondered how the time keeper could see that. Truth then ran through the crowd diving out of reach of Drake Maverick in the process. “What in the blue hell is happening?” asked Phillips.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m enjoying the chemistry between R-Truth and Carmella. Truth losing so quickly and decisively shows how not-seriously this whole 24/7 Title is being presented, but it’s still a fun largely separate slice of the WWE style of presenting their product. It’s polarizing, but even those who don’t like this ought to admit there’s a sizable slice of the fanbase who do.)
-Phillips plugged Goldberg’s appearance again.
-They showed Shane McMahon walking backstage, ready to call out Reigns. [c]
-An Aleister Black promo aired. He said he issued an open challenge last week. He said he guesses it’s either cowardice or perhaps intelligence that has kept people from knocking at his door. He said he’s not a hard man to find because his door has his name on it. He said as he says these words out loud, he thinks he understands because his track record speaks for itself. “What I inflict isn’t exactly your daddy’s WWE,” he said. He said he’ll wait for that knock on the door impatiently until someone decides to be a man and come there and pick a fight with him.
(Keller’s Analysis: After my complaining that he was just thrown onto Raw with announcers telling us how to think about him, it’s refreshing to see Black get to show who he is with this series of vignettes building up his reset and refresh as a new act on Smackdown. I’m not even sure he’s going to be a heel, even though that’s the assumption. I could see him using his cerebral calm approach to calling out other wrestlers who are cocky and talk a big game, but don’t step up when challenged.)
-Shane entered the ring and insisted on the proper ring introduction. Greg Hamilton delivered. Fans chanted “C.M. Punk!” Shane thanked The Revival for doing a great job on Monday. He said he wants to watch what happened last night. He commented on clips of him beating up Reigns and spearing him. He said what he did last night was like training a male dog. He said he’s doing what you have to do with a new male dog – you have to show him whose boss. He said he is the boss literally and figuratively around there. He said sometimes there’s a dog that’s more high spirited like Roman. “What do you do with a dog like that?” he asked. He said you have to take it to another level. He said he’ll do that this Friday at Super Showdown when he snips and neuters the Big Dog so it lays at the heels of the Best in the World. Dash and Dawson pretended to praise a “good boy” at their feet.
Reigns’s music played. The Revival went after him. Reigns knocked them down quickly and easily with Superman Punches. Shane danced in the ring and called Reigns to the ring. Reigns made his way to the ring as Phillips stressed there is nothing standing between Shane and Reigns. Drew McIntyre then caught him with a Claymore Kick Out of Nowhere at ringside. Drew held Reigns in the ring as Shane showboated and then speared Reigns again. Shane got all into it and let out big Reigns-like yells and danced in the ring. Fans chanted, “You suck!” He extended his arms and did the Reigns yell, but then quickly pulled the front of his shirt down. (To get mega-heel heat, he should employ the French tuck with his t-shirt.) He danced backwards up the stage. Reigns sat up and looked angry.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m fearful that Shane will be booked to be “even play field competitive” with Reigns on Friday. I’m hopeful that his cockiness comes from his ability to change the rules on the fly and make it a four-on-one match or something. Shane is clearly embracing his heel persona and having maybe more fun than I’ve seen him have. For this to work, though, he has to be the cocky spoiled rich kid who gets it in the end. McMahons usually aren’t shown up like that, but this is Roman we’re talking about, so it’s probably okay for him to come out on top decisively.)
-Graves plugged Goldberg, calling him “the face of WCW.” He said he’s on Smackdown for the first time ever. Then a graphic appeared with Carmela, Charlotte, and Bliss. Phillips said that match is next. [c]
(3) CARMELLA vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. ALEXA BLISS
Bliss landed an early sunset flip bomb on Charlotte, with the pin broken up by Bliss. Carmella applied the Code of Silence on Charlotte a minute later. Charlotte stood to break it up. Bliss punched a vulnerable Charlotte. Charlotte caught Bliss with a big boot a minute later. Carmella kicked Charlotte in the face, then strutted. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville walked out to ringside to watch up close. Charlotte chopped away at Bliss right in front of them. She chased Bliss down at ringside and chopped her on the other side of the ring. [c]
They stayed with the action during the break. Carmella gave Charlotte a frankensteiner off the top rope after the break for a two count. Charlotte came back with a figure-four into a Figure Eight a minute later. Bliss climbed to the top rope where Charlotte was perfectly positioned to be landed on with a Twisted Bliss. Carmella broke up the cover just before three. Charlotte said something to the ref and rolled out of the ring. Bliss went for a couple of flip splashes on Carmella, but Charlotte rushed into the ring and delivered a Natural Selection. She knocked Carmella to the floor, then turned back to Bliss. Bliss threw Charlotte face-first into the middle turnbuckle, then rolled her up with a yank of the rights. Charlotte kicked Bliss’s leg and set up a figure-four, but Carmella gave her a superkick. Mandy and Sonya grabbed her feet. Bliss then surprised Carmella with a DDT for the win.
WINNER: Bliss in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Way better than Charlotte’s match last night on Raw against Lacey Evans, although it still had some clunky moments. The build to Bliss as Bayley’s first challenger can be fun over the next couple of weeks. I just hope next week on Raw, Nikki Cross brings up what a jerk Bliss was and ask Bliss if she is really trustworthy. Bliss can talk herself out of anything, but to protect the integrity of Nikki’s character and seeming naive innocence, she ought to be booked to not just be oblivious to Bliss’s role on Smackdown.)
-They went to the announcers who talked about the angle with Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar last night on Raw. Highlights aired. Phillips said Seth has vowed he’d be at Super Showdown on Friday, but so has Lesnar. Saxton and Graves had the serious solemn faces on. They hyped the Super Showdown line-up.
-They showed Kayla Braxton being wired up for an exclusive interview with Lars Sullivan next. [c]
-Kayla stood in the ring. Lars made his ring entrance. She asked what drives him to do the things he does. Lars asked: “Would you ever ask a nightingale why they sing their sweet song or why a lion methodically stalk their prey before sinking their teeth in the flesh and viciously ripping it apart? Then why would you ask what drives a man like me?” She tried to answer the rhetorical question, but he pulled the mic back and said he realizes he is no regular man. He said his entire life he’s been described by one word. “Do you know what the word is, Kayla? Say the word!” he said. She looked reasonably intimidated. He said he’s been called this word his entire life, so he can take it. “Freak,” she said.
Lars took some deep breaths and said, “When a lion performs its primary function, people call it a lion. When I perform my primary function, people use that particular word. My primary function is to hurt, maim, dissect, vivisect, and dehumanize people!” He paced and then said his primary function is to show the fans the world isn’t full of rainbows and sunshine, but rather real life freaks of nature like him. Kayla asked if that’s what he hopes to teach Lucha House Party at Super Showdown. Fans began chanting “Lucha!” Lars laughed and asked Kayla if she likes nursery rhymes. “Three blind mice, watch how they run, watch how their caught, watch how their tails are ripped apart with my bare hands and the beautiful portrait that is painted with their bodily fluids.” He laughed and asked Kayla how she likes that. He was very satisfied with himself. His music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was tremendous, with one big asterisk. Very well delivered and spot on to frame his character. That’s a promo you could have seen in 1978 in any of two dozen territories to establish a new heel, and he made it work in 2019. The asterisk is that they shouldn’t be having Lars talking about the use of insensitive words. It’s just drawing attention to the shameful things he said over the course of several years on a message boards several years ago. By all accounts, he has pulled aside the right people in WWE to apologize and his apologies have been seen as sincere. Why mess around with anything that remotely reminds people of that? Beating up three Luchadors is something I could imagine they’d have done even if there was never any controversy with message board comments about Hispanics, but it seems like they should try harder to avoid anything that might be seen as possibly monetizing or amplifying his past to enhance his heel character. I’ve been a fan of his throwback heel persona since his NXT days before the message board controversy came out, and it seems like he’s succeeded in putting it somewhat behind him in terms of with his colleagues and management, so why would the writers play with fire like this regarding what he says and whom he fights first.)
-Saxton excitedly hyped Goldberg appearing later.
-Andrade made his ring entrance alongside Zelina Vega. Phillips didn’t say who he was facing. [c]
Crews) was ready to face Andrade, but Andrade attacked him before the bell. He gave him a hammerlock DDT. Finn Balor made the save. Andrade waited for his arrival and they brawled. Balor landed a double-stomp and then a barrage of offense in the corner followed by a sling blade. Zelina grabbed Balor’s leg. Andrade seized the distraction and attacked Balor. He gave him a hammerlock DDT.
-They showed highlights of Undertaker’s promo last night.
-They showed Goldberg’s locker room door and security standing outside of it. [c]
-A video package aired on the Triple H vs. Randy Orton face-to-face last night.
-Goldberg made his ring entrance, starting with his exit from the locker room and accompanied by security. He walked onto the stage and was greeted by cheers. He shook a little boy’s hand. As he entered the ring, Phillips hyped the Undertaker vs. Goldberg first-time-ever match. Graves said it will be a clash for the ages. When his music stopped, fans chanted “Goldberg! Goldberg!” He said, “Don’t do this to me again.” He soaked up more chants. He thanked Laredo. He said he’s been waiting his whole career for this opportunity to experience Undertaker as his opponent. He said he wouldn’t let the family man happy version of Goldberg anywhere near the Undertaker. He said he’s going to get the other Goldberg and he will find out how he stacks up against him. He laughed. “You’re going to get that ass-kicking, Goldberg, that you asked for. Friday night, once and for all, we will all find out who the better man is. Because Undertaker, you’re next to Rest in Peace.”
Taker’s bell sounded. The crowd popped. The lights went out. The lights came back on and Goldberg was staring at the stage, but Undertaker was standing behind him. Goldberg turned around stared him down. Fans chanted “Holy sh–!” After ten seconds, the bell sounded again and the lights went out. Then they came back on and Goldberg was alone in the ring. Goldberg applauded and picked up the mic. “So that’s it? Friday night it is, then. Big man, bring your jock strap and tighten that sum bitch up tight, because it’s going to be a ride.” He switched and left the ring. Saxton said he cannot wait to see those legendary names clash this Friday. Graves said his goosebumps have goosebumps. He said he is fired up and it’ll be awesome.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’d have voted for Goldberg not seeming so nonchalant and unaffected by Undertaker staring him down and then disappearing. I’d have voted for a confident Goldberg full of bravado before Taker appeared being humbled if not spooked by having seen into the eyes of The Dead Man up close like that. Having Goldberg go from that intimidation by Taker to smiling and seeming to blow off Taker, then drop to the floor and shake hands with a kid felt like it wiped away what should have been the intent of having Taker show up in the first place. I thought Goldberg before Taker showed up was really good. He talked for a while and seemed totally in the moment and not nervous about getting a line wrong. It was a good follow-up to what Taker said on Raw. I liked Goldberg closing with Taker’s signature line as a counter to Taker closing with Goldberg’s signature line on Raw.)
-They went to the announcers for a final hard sell for Super Showdown running down the line-up to close the show.
(Keller’s Analysis: It was odd seeing them close with a hard sell for the PPV with the line-up. WWE usually goes off the air with something in the ring, and on a rare occasion someone reacting backstage (usually a McMahon). But going to the announcers on camera for a wrap-up and PPV line-up rundown is unheard of.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A solid episode. There was no glaring controversy like the bait and switch with Brock Lesnar that the announcers bought into and propagated to fans on Raw. The presentation of the videos during Kofi-Ziggler was bad, but I’m really digging Ziggler’s backstory in contrast to Kofi’s as a basis for a feud.