LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JUNE 4, 2019
LAREDO, TX AT SAMES AUTO ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with a panning shot of the Same Auto Arena in Laredo. Tom Phillips welcomed the audience and hyped Goldberg’s first ever appearance on Smackdown. Corey Graves teased Shane McMahon calling out Roman Reigns later on in the show.
-The New Day’s music hit. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods stepped jovially out onto the stage. Kofi threw pancakes to the crowd. The announcers teased Kingston’s match with Dolph Ziggler at Super Showdown.
Kofi said if there’s anything he’s learned in the last three months, it’s that life is crazy and full of surprises. He said he thought he’d seen it all in his eleven years with WWE. Kofi said there’s been a lot of highs and lows, but that he takes pride in fighting through the lows. He said as important as winning the WWE title was to him, it’s even more important to inspire people to be themselves.
A video package showing Kingston’s visit to Ghana, West Africa aired. It showed Kofi mingling with fans and government officials. It was noted that this was his first visit in twenty-six years.
Back in the ring, an emotional Kofi recounted the look in the kids’ eyes as he told them they could be whatever they wanted to be, because he did it. He said he met aunts and uncles and hugged his grandmother for the first time in almost three decades.
“Kofi, Kofi,” Dolph Ziggler cut Kofi off. “This is about why I am the way I am, this is about me,” Dolph growled. A video package showing Ziggler’s career highlights aired, featuring voiceover from Dolph.
“I gave my soul to WWE and it’s you who gets to have the WrestleMania moment,” Ziggler said. He said it should have been him. Dolph called Kofi a hero, but said someday, everyone will realize Dolph is the hero of this story. Kofi agreed that Ziggler has had a great career. He said Ziggler beat him to win his first United States and Intercontinental title. Kofi said Dolph was neglecting something, though, and asked the truck to roll footage.
A clip from Smackdown in December 2017 aired, when Ziggler relinquished the United States Championship and walked out. “If it should have been you, it would have been you. Honestly, it could have been you,” Kofi said. He said when things got tough, Ziggler quit, and that’s the difference between the two of them. Kofi said he never quit on himself, his brothers, or the fans. He paused for a small “Kofi” chant. “At Super Showdown, it’s not gonna be you, and as long as I’m WWE Champion, it will never be you,” Kingston claimed.
Ziggler pointed to the tron. Footage from Ziggler’s attack on Kofi aired. When it ended, Ziggler stared intently at Kofi. “Friday, it will be me.” Ziggler waked to the back as Kevin Owens’ music hit. He and Sami Zayn crossed paths with Ziggler on their way to the ring. Tom Phillips teased a tag team match coming up after the break.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Way too many video packages. I tend to dislike this style of promo, because it feels completely unnatural for all of these clips to just be cued up and ready to go. It completely takes away any illusion of this being anything other than a reading of meticulously scripted lines. Interesting to note, Ziggler has a Raw banner on his name, so apparently, he’s been on loan under the wild card rule this whole time.)
(1) KOFI KINGSTON & XAVIER WOODS vs. KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN
The show returned from break just as the bell rang. Sami Zayn immediately attacked Xavier Woods and drove him to the mat with a series of punches. Woods recovered and dropkicked Sami to the mat. He began working over Zayn’s arm. Woods tagged in Kofi, who flew off the top rope with an axe handle smash. The camera cut to Dolph Ziggler watching on a monitor backstage.
In the ring, Sami Zayn tagged in Kevin Owens. Kofi immediately took Owens down and mounted him with punches. Owens quickly recovered and dropped Kofi to the mat, then proceeded to level him with stomps. Owens Irish whipped Kofi toward the corner, but Kofi hopped to the second rope and hit Owens with a dropkick. Owens immediately rolled to his corner and tagged in Sami.
Kofi quickly took control, sending Zayn to the corner and beginning the Unicorn Stampede with Xavier, tagging in and out frequently. Once they finally let up, Sami rolled to the outside to regroup. Kofi flew over the top and took both and Sami down. Woods retrieved Zayn and threw him back in the ring, but Owens held Xavier’s leg to prevent him from returning to his feet. This allowed Sami to recover and kick Woods in the head. Sami tagged Owens and Kevin went on the offensive.
KO hit a senton splash for a two count. He took his time, staring menacingly at the crowd. He let Woods get a couple of gut punches in, but quickly took him down with a short arm clothesline. Tom Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Owens and Zayn isolated Woods in there corner. Sami applied a headlock and jawed at Kingston. Woods almost broke free and tried to make the tag, but Zayn was able to maintain his grip and regain control. Owens tagged in and mocked Woods, feigning a desperation tag to Kofi. The pair continued to dominate.
Back to full screen, Kevin Owens set up Woods on the top rope. Woods fought him off with shots to the back, and took KO down with a big dropkick. Woods made the diving tag to Kofi Kingston. Owens tagged in Zayn. Kofi cleaned house. He hit Zayn with a clothesline and followed it up with the Boom Drop. Kofi set up for Trouble in Paradise. Owens distracted Kofi, but Woods took him down on the outside. Zayn tried to capitalize, but Kofi hit Trouble in Paradise for a three count.
WINNERS: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods in 11:00
Kofi celebrated, but was quickly blindsided with a super kick from Dolph Ziggler. Xavier returned to the ring and Ziggler kicked him as well. Ziggler stood over Kingston and then slowly left the ring.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent TV tag match, albeit a bit slowly paced. It’s sort of a shame how quickly Owens and Zayn have been reduced to afterthoughts following their respective returns.)
-The announcers again teased Goldberg’s appearance and Shane McMahon calling out Roman Reigns.
-Backstage in an office, Shane McMahon was saying “quiet down” directly into the camera, apparently directed at the audience. He said he’s been accused of trying to soften up Roman Reigns for Super Showdown, then threw to a clip from last night’s Raw when Shane, Drew McIntyre, and The Revival put a beating on Roman. Shane said the beatdown happened because Roman said Shane didn’t stand a change against him. “Anything you can do, I can do better, because I’m the best in the world.” Shane said he’d go to the ring in a few minutes and call Roman out. He wondered which version of Reigns would show up – the “Big Dog” or the “little pup.” He mocked Reigns’ “Ohhh-Waaaa” taunt.
-Back in the arena, Alexa Bliss’ music hit.She walked to the Moment of Bliss set at the top of the stage, sporting full in-ring gear. Corey Graves teased that her segment with Bayley would be next.
-Back from the break, Greg Hamilton introduced Alexa Bliss. Bliss said she was happy to host this very special edition of Moment of Bliss, on loan from the “more prestigious and superior brand” (cue eye roll.) She welcomed Bayley to the stage.
Alexa took a sip of her coffee and asked, “what blue brand incompetent made this swill?” She requested a new cup. Someone from the back and retrieved the cup. Bayley asked if Alexa planned on asking her any questions. Bliss said she’d love to, but she was going to wait for her new cup of coffee. Bayley protested, so Alexa began the show.
Bayley discussed winning Money in the Bank and then the Smackdown Women’s Title. Bliss interrupted her and recounted her own experiences doing the same. She said she made the title mean something. Bayley started to speak, but Alexa interrupted her, saying her coffee was about to arrive. A stage hand came out and gave Bliss her new coffee in a mug.
Bayley stood up and knocked the mug out of Bliss’ hands. “Excuse me,” Bliss said. Carmella’s music hit. She said her name is synonymous with the Smackdown Women’s title and Ms. Money in the Bank. She said if anyone deserves a shot at the title, it’s her.
Charlotte Flair’s music hit and she walked onto the stage and posed in front of the other women. Charlotte said she couldn’t help herself. Flair said she just spoke to her good friend Shane McMahon, and there’d be a match later tonight to determine who Bayley will face at Stomping Grounds. She announced it be a triple threat match between Carmella, Alexa Bliss, and herself. Charlotte’s music played as all four women looked around at each other rather awkwardly.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m usually a huge fan of Alexa Bliss and her promos, but this simply wasn’t good. It was in rather clear contrast to the timid, “will she or won’t she” babyface she’s been portraying on Raw. She was overly catty to a point of bad comedy, and it didn’t help Bayley either. Her inclusion in a number one contender’s match for a title that’s part of a brand she isn’t even on is laughable at best. This was a mess.)
-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips plugged Goldberg’s appearance again. They spoke about The Undertaker’s appearance on Monday Night Raw.
-Backstage, Carmella was walking down the hall with her phone, apparently trying to reach R-Truth. Truth appeared from the shadows and called her over. Truth said he’s happy for Carmella’s opportunity, but he’s stressed about the 24/7 title. He said he’s put a call into Shane McMahon, but he hasn’t gotten back to him. Carmella’s phone rang. It was Shane. Truth informed Carmella that he’d been using her phone. Carmella answered, then passed the phone to Truth. “Who is this?” Truth asked. Shane apparently told Truth he’d have a 24/7 title match immediately, contested under traditional rules. Truth handed the phone back to Carmella and rushed off. Carmella put the phone to her ear. “Wait, what kind of match?” she said. Carmella looked shocked.
-Back in the ring, Elias sat with an electric guitar. Greg Hamilton introduced him and the show immediately went to commercial.
-The show returned with the Smackdown theme music playing. Elias was in the ring, and various members of the Raw and Smackdown rosters milled about at ringside. R-Truth headed to the ring and Greg Hamilton announced a lumberjack match for the 24/7 title.
(2) R-TRUTH vs. ELIAS – Lumberjack match for the 24/7 title
Truth quickly sidestepped a lock up and rolled up Elias for a two count. Elias threw Truth to the outside and the lumberjacks swarmed, kicking away at the champion. They threw him back in the ring and Elias rolled Truth up for a three count.
WINNER: Elias in 1:00 to become new 24/7 Champion
The lumberjacks immediately stepped onto the apron, then swarmed the ring and attacked Elias. Chaos ensued between everyone in the ring, which allowed Elias to sneak under the bottom rope and escape. Elias crawled around the corner and came face to face with R-Truth. Both Truth and Elias crawled under the ring. The camera cut back to the ring, but the ring mics picked up the audio of a three count. R-Truth emerged from underneath the ring with a referee and the 24/7 title and was declared champion again. He escaped through the crowd.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This essentially doubled as a teaser for the giant battle royal at Super Showdown. The several Raw guys serving as lumberjacks seemed to indicate that they’ve already conveniently done away with the 4-person limit to the Wild Card rule, meaning the brand split is, for all intents and purposes, officially dead.)
-Backstage, Shane McMahon was shown walking down a hallway. The announcers teased him calling out Roman Reigns after the break.
-Aleister Black sat against a darkened back drop. He said last week, he offered an open challenge. He said it’s either cowardice or intelligence that have prevented challengers from knocking on his door. He says he’s not hard to find. Black said his track record speaks for itself. “What I inflict isn’t exactly your daddy’s WWE,” Black snarled. Black grew increasingly frustrated. He said he’ll continue to wait impatiently until someone decides to be a man and decides to pick a fight with him.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was a little better than the nonsense until the guise of intelligence that Black had been being fed for weeks on end. Aleister is perhaps one of the most likable people on the entire roster if you happen to follow him on social media. While I have no problem with his general demeanor being dark and oppressive, this is a talent loaded with natural charisma and charm and I hope he gets to display it at some point.)
-Shane McMahon darted onto the stage to kick off the second hour. He stopped and pointed back to the stage. The Revival appeared and flanked him on his way to the ring. Shane asked Greg Hamilton to deliver his signature introduction. Hamilton obliged, and Shane nodded in approval.
Shane told The Revival he had a great time on Raw, and that they were amazing. He thanked them for providing emotional support tonight. Shane called for footage from last night’s Raw, showing the Reigns beatdown. Shane said Reigns was like the high spirited dog who just wouldn’t take to training. He said you have to “take it to another level” with a dog like that, and that’s what he planned to do to Roman at Super Showdown. He said he planned to neuter the big dog and make him lay at the feet of the best in the world.
Roman Reigns’ music hit and Roman walked slowly onto the stage. The Revival rushed out of the ring and up the ramp to take care of Reigns, but Roman quickly took them both out with Superman punches. Reigns stared on disgustedly at Shane. He walked down the ramp with his eyes fixated on McMahon. Drew McIntyre appeared out of nowhere and hit Reigns with a Claymore kick. He tossed Roman in the ring.
McIntyre lifted Reigns to his feet and Shane hit Roman with a spear. He began excitedly mocking Roman’s “Ohhh-Waaa” taunt again. Shane danced proudly back up the ramp with McIntyre at his side.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Shane’s promos grow less interesting by the week, especially when he’s delivering one on both shows as of late. The crowd was having none of this, just booing in general displeasure throughout, showing no real interest in the promo. That’s been a growing trend whenever Shane is in the ring, and quite honestly, deservedly so. Again, the Wild Card rule is totally out the window here.)
-The announcers teased Goldberg’s appearance yet again, and announced that the women’s triple threat match would take place after the break.
-Charlotte Flair, Carmella, and Alexa Bliss were already in the ring when the show returned from break. Alexa’s music was still playing.
(3) ALEXA BLISS vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. CARMELLA – #1 Contenders match for the Smackdown Women’s title
Phillips said that the winner would face Bayley for the title at Stomping Grounds. The three women sized each other up. Charlotte quickly tossed Bliss to the outside. She tried to dispatch Carmella as well, but she kicked Flair in the midsection. Alexa returned to the ring and hit Charlotte with a sunset bomb into a cover, but Carmella broke up the pin at two.
Carmella gave Bliss a hurricanrana and Bliss rolled to the outside. She then took down Flair and applied the Code of Silence submission. Flair quickly powered out. Bliss returned to the ring and took down Carmella with a big right hand. Bliss gave Flair an arm drag but Charlotte rolled to her feet and hit Alexa with a big boot. Carmella took down Charlotte. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville walked down the ring, distracting Carmella.
Carmella climbed outside the ring to retrieve Bliss. She tried to throw Alexa into the ring steps, but Bliss countered and tossed Carmella into the ringside barrier. Charlotte chopped Alexa down and then jawed at Rose and Deville, who had made their way down to ringside. Charlotte then gave chase to Bliss, caught her, and tossed her in the ring. Phillips threw to a picture-in-picture commercial.
Charlotte and Alexa traded shots and holds on the small screen. Carmella climbed to the top rope and took both women down with a flying cross body. She covered Charlotte for a two count, then Alexa for another two count. She went back to Charlotte for one, then back to Alexa for one. Carmella looked disappointedly at the referee. She tossed Bliss into the turnbuckle.
Back to full screen, Carmella set Flair up on the top turnbuckle. She clutched Charlotte for a hurricanrana, but Charlotte held on. Charlotte got Carmella into power bomb position, but ‘Mella threw a couple of punches and executed the top rope rana. She then stomped at Bliss in the corner and followed up with a bronco buster. Carmella walked into a big clothesline from Flair.
Charlotte immediately locked in the figure four and breached into the figure eight. Carmella screamed in agony as Alexa Bliss climbed to the top rope. Bliss flew off the top and hit Twisted Bliss on Charlotte for a near fall, just barely broken up by Carmella.
All three women writhed in pain on the mat. Carmella returned to her feet first, then Bliss. Alexa took Carmella down and went for a standing moonsault. Carmella rolled out of the way, and Bliss tweaked her knee. Charlotte came rushing in from behind with Natural Selection. She covered Bliss, but Carmella saved the pinball again.
Carmella rolled to the ring apron and stood. Charlotte charged and hit her with a big boot, sending her crashing to the mat. Charlotte went to retrieve Bliss in the corner, but Alexa dumped her into the turnbuckle and then rolled her up and grabbed the tights. Charlotte kicked out at two. Charlotte kicked Bliss in her injured knee and set her up for the figure four. Carmella returned and gave Charlotte a super kick. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville grabbed Carmella by the legs and dragged her to the outside. Charlotte and Alexa returned to their feet. Bliss hit Flair with a DDT for a three count.
WINNER: Alexa Bliss in 9:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent match, though rather sloppy at multiple points. I’m glad to see Bliss back in action, but I dislike the complete and total lack of logic at her even having this opportunity in the first place. Creatively, this is a pretty big reach, much like most of the show thus far.)
-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips threw to footage from last night’s Raw, showing Lesnar’s teased cashed in and the subsequent beatdown on Seth Rollins. Back at the desk, Phillips confirmed that Rollins has vowed to compete at Super Showdown.
-At gorilla position, a stage hand was assisting Kayla Braxton as she prepared to come to the ring to interview Lars Sullivan. Phillips said the interview would be next.
-Kayla Braxton stood in the ring as the show returned live. She welcomed Lars Sullivan. Lars walked slowly and stoically to the ring. The announcers teased his 3-on-1 handicap match against Lucha House Party at Super Showdown.
In the ring, Kayla asked what drives Lars to do the things he does. A soft but audible “boring” chant echo throughout the arena. Sullivan looked around and pondered his answer for a moment. “Would you ever ask a nightingale why they sing their sweet song?” Sullivan asked. “Would you ever ask a lion why they methodically stalk their prey before sinking their teeth into flesh and viciously ripping it apart?” He wondered why anyone would ask what drives a man like him. Sullivan said he’s come to realize he’s no man. He said he’s only been described by one word his entire life. He asked Kayla to say it.
Braxton hesitated. “Say it,” Lars demanded. “Freak,” she responded. Sullivan said he’s just performing his “primary function” – to hurt and dehumanize people. Kayla asked if that’s what he hoped to teach Lucha House Party at Super Showdown. Lars asked Kayla if she liked nursery rhymes. Lars said he’d paint a beautiful portrait with Lucha House Party’s bodily fluids. He laughed and Kayla hurried out of the ring.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Sullivan’s push hadn’t been going particularly well, and then his controversial message board presence became public and the crowd’s interest in him seemed to take a nose dive. They’re hardly reacting negatively, they’re just flat out hardly reacting.)
-Backstage, the camera zoomed in on Goldberg’s locker room door. Byron Saxton teased his “first ever appearance” on Smackdown, still to come.
-Back at ringside, Andrade’s music hit. Lars Sullivan could be seen casually leaving the ringside area, through the timekeeper’s section and into the crowd. Phillips teased that Andrade would be in action after the break.
-The show returned with Apollo entering the ring. He posed on the top turnbuckle, but the moment he stepped down, he was blindsided by Andrade. Andrade punched and kicked Apollo viciously in the corner, then hit him with the Hammerlock DDT. Apollo rolled to the outside.
Finn Balor’s music hit and he rushed to the ring. Balor hit Andrade with the slingblade. He started to head toward the ropes, but Zelina Vega grabbed his leg. This allowed Andrade to kick Finn in the midsection and hit him with the Hammerlock DDT. Zelina jawed at a downed Balor as she and Andrade backed up the ramp.
-The announcers continued to tease Super Showdown. They threw to a clip of The Undertaker’s promo from last night on Raw.
-Backstage, security guards surrounded Goldberg’s locker room. Phillips said Goldberg would head to the ring after the break.
-Back live, Phillips talked about the Triple H vs. Randy Orton match at Super Showdown. Clips were aired from their promo last night on Raw.
-A wide camera shot of the arena panned over the audience as Goldberg’s music hit. It faded into the backstage camera waiting at Goldberg’s locker room. Goldberg busted out and walked briskly toward gorilla. The camera cut back to the arena. Goldberg walked to the ring, slapping hands with a few children at ringside. The crowd was surprisingly subdued, though Graves called the intensity “tangible.”
Their chants picked up as the music faded out. Goldberg paced around the ring, soaking it in. He thanked Laredo. “Now it’s time to get down to business,” he said. Goldberg said he’s waited over twenty years to experience a one on one match with The Undertaker, and now he gets it. He said Undertaker made an interesting point on Raw when he said he didn’t want to share the ring with family man Goldberg, but instead, ass-kicking machine Goldberg.
“It made a light switch go off in my head, because he’s right,” Goldberg said. “I don’t want family man Goldberg anywhere near The Undertaker, because he falls short. I left his ass at home.” Goldberg guaranteed he’d deliver the Goldberg that The Undertaker requested. He said Undertaker is going to get the ass-kicking he’s asked for. “You’re next to rest in peace,” Goldberg yelled.
The bell sounded and the lights went out. The eerie blue glow revealed The Undertaker standing behind Goldberg. Bill spun around, laughing. Goldberg and The Undertaker stood face to face in an intense stare down. The bell sounded and the lights went out again. When they returned, Goldberg was alone in the ring. He picked up the microphone.
“So that’s it. Friday night it is.” Goldberg told The Undertaker to bring his jockstrap and “tie that ‘sum bitch up tight, because it’s gonna be a ride.” Goldberg left the ring, three minutes shy of show’s end.
-The announcers ran down the Super Showdown card to close the show.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This felt like watching something that is supposed to be a big deal but just isn’t. The Undertaker’s surprise appearance was a nice novelty for those in attendance, but the stare down didn’t do anything to conjure up sudden interest in the match for me. Perhaps it’s the Saudi cloud hanging over the event, or perhaps it’s because the match is many years too late, but I simply do not care.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Smackdown has been in a bit of a free fall over the last couple of weeks. Tonight was another step in a very wrong direction. The incessant recaps, hype videos, and card rundowns were overdone to the point of nausea. The rules of the Wild Card have been completely discarded, rendering the brand split dead in its tracks. The show featured two legitimate matches totaling just over twenty minutes of actual in-ring time. I don’t think the last two weeks have been good shows by any standards, but considering they both came off the heels of two stellar events (Double or Nothing last week, NXT Takeover this week), it’s nearly impossible not to take note of the immense contrast in quality. Granted, while it’s not fair to compare large-scale events to weekly television, it would be naive to ignore the positive will earned by both NXT and AEW through their respective recent output. WWE television should be held to a higher standard and it’s simply not reaching the bar. Frankly, it’s not even coming close.