LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 6/18: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of final hype for Stomping Grounds, Ziggler vs. Woods, Kofi/Seth vs. KO/Sami, and more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor

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JUNE 18, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

-The show began with a sweeping shot of the audience as Big E’s voice boomed over the PA system. New Day appeared on the stage, dancing excitedly. Kofi carried a large platter of pancakes that he tossed to the crowd. The announcers talked up Kofi’s steel cage match against Dolph Ziggler at Stomping Grounds.

Kofi Kingston welcomed everyone too Smackdown. Xavier Woods talked up Kofi’s match with Dolph Ziggler at Stomping Grounds, but said in order to get there, Dolph would need to “make it through your boy” later in the night. Big E pitched what he called “the freaky hour,” a new concept for the second hour of Smackdown. He said it involved a slip and slide, but was cut off by Dolph Ziggler’s music before he could explain.

Ziggler said this behavior was typical of New Day, distracting people from the fact that Kofi Kingston doesn’t deserve to be WWE Champion. Ziggler said Kofi would be nothing without the other members of New Day. Dolph said the next time Kofi goes to Ghana, it will be for an apology tour. Dolph said that when everything is on the line and Kofi is backed in a corner all by himself, he will fail. The crowd rallied with a “Kofi” chant. Ziggler said, at Stomping Grounds, he’ll slam Kofi’s body int0 the “unforgiving steel”, and it’ll be Dolph “kicking ass and taking names.”

Kingston said Dolph seems to have forgotten how his journey to the WWE title began. He said it started in the Elimination Chamber, so he’s well aware of the brutality that takes place in steel cages. Kofi said it doesn’t matter whether he pins Ziggler, escapes the cage, or knocks him so hard with Trouble in Paradise that he decides to “millie rock my way right out that front door,” he plans to leave Stomping Grounds with the WWE title.

Kofi said that’s for Sunday, though, and Dolph still needs to worry about tonight when he faces Xavier Woods. Ziggler said he hasn’t forgotten about what Woods did to him at Super Showdown, and that if it weren’t for him, he’d already be WWE Champion. “After tonight, he will never be able to help you again,” Dolph said. Ziggler said all the fun and positivity comes crumbling down on Sunday. “You will no longer be WWE Champion, because it should have been me, and Sunday, it will be me,” Ziggler said through clenched teeth. He stared down New Day as he approached the ring for his match.

(LeClair Analysis: New Day’s portion of the promo was fine. I think I would’ve been more intrigued to hear about Big E’s idea for the freaky hour than listen to the same promo from Ziggler again, though.)

-Backstage, Bayley walked by a poster of herself in the hallway and clinked her Women’s Title with the title in the photo. The announcers teased her appearance on A Moment of Bliss later in the night.

-Back at ringside, Ziggler stretched at ringside and the announcers teased his match with Woods after the commercial.

(1) XAVIER WOODS (w/ Kofi Kingston & Big E) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER

The bell rang as soon as the show returned from commercial. Ziggler and Woods engaged in some chain wrestling to kick things off. Woods rolled Dolph into a cradle for a one count. Ziggler trapped Woods in one of his own for a one count as well. They traded arm locks. Ziggler forced Woods into the ropes and the referee broke the hold.

Woods caught Dolph in a headlock, but Dolph quickly broke free. He raked Woods’ face across the top rope, then hit a delayed neck breaker for a two count. Woods and Ziggler traded body blows. Ziggler kicked Woods in the head out of the corner, but Woods fought back with the Honor Roll. He climbed to the top rope.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn rushed to the ring and attacked Big E and Kofi Kingston at ringside. Woods changed directions and leaped out of the ring onto Owens and Zayn. The referee tossed KO and Sami from ringside. Woods returned to the ring, but Ziggler caught him with a hanging DDT for a near fall. The show went to picture-in-picture commercial.

On the small screen, the referee tossed Kingston and Big E as well. Ziggler and Woods recovered and traded head smashes in the corner. Ziggler gained the upper hand and took Xavier down with a big dropkick for another two count. He draped Woods across the middle ropes and raked his eyes, then went for a hold. Woods fought valiantly to break free, but Ziggler stayed on top of him. He downed Woods and applied a modified chin lock.

Woods slowly battled free and into a backslide pin for a two count. He caught Ziggler with a clothesline, then a kick to the mid section. Back to full screen, Woods hit a spinning elbow for a two count. Woods charged at Dolph and got caught with a boot to the side of the face. Ziggler went to the outside to regroup, but Xavier dove through the middle with a dropkick. Back in the ring, Woods bench pressed Ziggler high above his head and dropped him into a gut buster for a near fall.

Ziggler rolled underneath the bottom rope to the apron. Woods went out there to meet him. Dolph recovered enough to shove Woods into the ring post, then deliver a super kick that sent Xavier crashing to the floor. Ziggler tossed Woods back in the ring. Woods slowly rose to his feet and Dolph connected with the Zig Zag. Instead of pinning him, Ziggler lifted Woods and tired him up in the ropes. He delivered a super kick to a defenseless Xavier Woods for the three count.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler in 12:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent match. It’s good that they gave Ziggler a clean win here, as he really needs something heading into the WWE title match. A valiant loss doesn’t hurt Woods a whole lot, and he’s generally protected enough that it helps out Dolph a bit. Still, it doesn’t feel like there’s a ton of heat behind this title match, especially after Super Showdown.)

-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips discussed the Universal Title match at Stomping Grounds and threw to footage of Seth Rollins’ chair attacks last night on Raw.

-Backstage, the camera focused on a sign for Baron Corbin next to a locker room. Shelton Benjamin stood in line, with the B-Team behind him. Matt Hardy stepped out of Corbin’s locker room and sent “Señor Benjamin” in after him. “That’s Mr. Benjamin,” Shelton said. The announcers teased that Corbin is still looking for a special referee for his match with Seth Rollins.

-The announcers hyped that last night’s episode of Firefly Funhouse would air again later tonight.

-Backstage, Alexa Bliss stood going over A Moment of Bliss cue cards with Nikki Cross as she sipped on her coffee. Corey Graves said A Moment of Bliss would be next.

-The show returned as Alexa Bliss’ music hit and she strutted to the Moment of Bliss set with Nikki Cross. Cross stood excitedly at her side as she took her seat. Bliss welcomed her “special friend”, Nikki Cross. Bliss said her guest tonight was Bayley, but became distracted when she realized she didn’t have her coffee. She snapped her fingers and asked for someone to bring it out.

Bayley’s music hit, and she walked out carrying Alexa’s coffee cup, taking a sip. Bliss said Bayley is selfish and takes things that don’t belong to her. Bayley began to apologize for Nikki for what she was about to say, but Bliss cut her off, asking her if she’s sorry for stealing her coffee. Bayley said she’s sorry that she has to be the one to tell Nikki that Alexa isn’t her friend and she’s using her.

Bayley said she’s tired of Bliss talking about her behind her back. She stood up and approached Bliss’ chair, and dared her to “say it to my face.” Bliss stood up and said she knows “the real Bayley.” Bliss said in NXT, all the women in the locker room made her feel like she didn’t belong, so she turned to the “nice girl”, Bayley. Bliss said Bayley made her feel worthless. “The only person who gave me the time of day was Charlotte,” Bliss said. Alexa said Bayley is a liar who looks like she works at Forever 21.

Bayley said Bliss is doing the same thing to Nikki that she did to Nia Jax and Mickie James. Bayley said Bliss can’t handle the truth. “You’re not some goddess, you’re just an entitled little princess that doesn’t deserve a damn thing.” Bliss said she’s not entitled. “I’m just better than you,” she retorted. Bayley said Bliss latches on to others to get ahead, while she’s never needed anyone but herself. Bliss called Bayley a placeholder. “You’re a placeholder. You peaked in NXT,” Bliss said. She said that she’s the one having the career Bayley always wanted.

Bayley attacked Alexa with a hard elbow. The two tumbled to the stage, but Nikki Cross quickly intervened and pulled Bayley off. Bayley and Nikki started arguing. Bliss attacked Bayley from behind and left with Nikki Cross, leaving Bayley writhing on the stage.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Interesting segment. Bliss brought a little something out of Bayley here, but I can’t help but continue to wish they’d really define Alexa’s role and stick with it. She exhibits a huge variety of heel and babyface characteristics and I think it’s getting progressively harder for the fans to determine what they’re supposed to do with her.)

-Backstage, Zelina Vega was staring at herself in a mirror. Apollo Crews wandered into the shot. Vega asked if she could him. Crews said he was looking for Andrade. Vega accused Crews of flirting with her. Andrade attacked Crews viciously from behind. “Oh, there he is,” Vega said. Chad Gable was seen in the corner, taking notes.

-In another backstage area, Smackdown Tag Team Champions, Daniel Bryan and Rowan, stood talking. The announcers said Bryan would be on commentary during Heavy Machinery’s match after the break.

-The show returned from commercial with the B-Team already in the ring, and Daniel Bryan and Rowan on commentary. Bryan said he and Rowan spoke to the B-Team about teaching Heavy Machinery what it’s like to face former tag team champions. Heavy Machinery headed to the ring.

(2) HEAVY MACHINERY (Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic) vs. THE B-TEAM (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)

Tucker Knight and Curtis Axel began the match. Bryan immediately began talking about Heavy Machinery’s lack of intelligence. The B-Team isolated Knight in the corner and began quickly tagging in and out of the ring Axel hit Knight with a DDT for a two count.

Tucker fought back with a big clothesline, then tagged in Otis. Otis bulldozed into Axel and Dallas, then gave Dallas a spinning body slam. Dallas recovered and tried to kick Otis in the gut, but Otis kept thrusting. He slammed Bo, then threw Axel into him. Dallas fell out of the corner onto the mat, allowing Otis to set him up for the caterpillar. He hit it, then tagged in Knight. The duo executed their double team finisher, the Trash Compactor, for the three count.

WINNERS: Heavy Machinery in 3:00

Heavy Machinery looked down at Bryan and Rowan on commentary. Bryan said this match didn’t change his outlook for Stomping Grounds. “I’m going to take advantage of Otis when he’s grinding his hips,” Bryan said.

-In the ring, as Axel and Dallas began to recover, Seth Rollins appeared with a steel chair. He cracked Axel in the back, then hit Dallas in the gut. He began cracking both of them repeatedly in the back with the steel chair. The crowd cheered in approval, then broke into a “burn it down” chant.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Bryan is so good in this role, it’s a little sad that he’s relegated to working the tag team division. Heavy Machinery is an interesting act that can balance some solid in ring work with good comedy, and I’m looking forward to this match on Sunday.)

-Outside the arena, a limo pulled up to the loading bay. The driver opened the door, and Shane McMahon stepped out. On his way into the building, he was approached by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Sami told Shane that Seth Rollins attacked again, and that he feels unsafe as a wild card guest. Zayn and Owens said something needs to be done about Rollins. “Both of your champions are bad people.” Shane McMahon announced Kevin and Sami would face Kofi Kingston and Seth Rollins in a 2 out of 3 falls match later tonight.

-After the break, Aleister Black was in a dimly lit room. He said he understands why no one has picked a fight with him. “I can hear your whispers as you pass by,” Black said. He said he’s heard that he’s a child destined to fall from grace. He promised this is not a “woe is me” story, but rather, a “woe my opponent” story. Black said someone will eventually pick a fight with him, and that when it happens, he’ll “change the essence of that man.” The camera zoomed in close on Black’s face as it faded out.

-Back in the arena, Shane McMahon skipped onto the stage to begin the second hour. He motioned to the back, and Elias joined him on stage. He pointed to the back again, and Drew McIntyre’s music played. McIntyre walked out to stand beside Shane, and the trio walked to the ring.

Shane informed Greg Hamilton he wouldn’t need an introduction tonight. Shane said he’s not out here to talk about his “incident” with Roman Reigns last night on Raw. Instead, he declared, he’s out there to shine a spotlight on Drew McIntyre. Shane said at Stomping Ground, Drew will defeat Roman Reigns.

Drew said that he’s done Roman a favor by not ending his career tonight. He accused Reigns of sucker punching Shane and company. He said he wants no excuses coming Stomping Grounds, he just wants Reigns at one hundred percent. The Miz’s music hit.

Miz walked out onto the stage. McIntyre threw his mic down in frustration. “First Rollins, now you, what’s going on here?” Shane asked. Miz somberly told Shane and company to watch the tron. Clips of Roman Reigns attacking Shane, Drew, and The Revival on last night’s Raw played.

Miz threw his arms up in celebration. “You think that’s funny?” Shane asked. Miz said it wasn’t, at least compared to this other clip. He showed Shane running from Roman in slow motion and provided sound effects. Shane threatened to fire people in the production truck if they showed any more clips. “Settle down, junior, you’re just the boss’s son,” Miz said. He said he couldn’t wait to host Miz TV filled with clips of Roman Reigns knocking Drew McIntyre out.

Shane accused Miz of having daddy issues because his father came from dirt (because he’s a “potato.”) Miz said Shane created the land of opportunity on Smackdown, but now all he does is suck up the air on both shows and everyone is sick of it. Miz said he blames himself for getting injured and allowing Shane to take his place in the best in the world cup. “I was the one who sent you down this ego trip, and I will be the one to end it,” Miz said.

Shane said Miz couldn’t get the job done. Shane proposed that Drew McIntyre and Elias face The Miz and “any partner” of his choosing, as long as he finds said partner “in the next ten seconds.” He began counting. R-Truth hopped the barrier, looking around confusedly. Miz called Truth out, and announced that Awesome Truth is back.Shane made the match official, and added an elimination stipulation. He said the match is next.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Interesting to see them feeding Miz lines about Shane sucking the air out of the shows. I find that to be largely true, and he’s quickly become the most over exposed member of the roster. Hopefully this is a sign of an impending change, and not only a meaningless acknowledgement.) 

-After the break, AOP were shown leaving Baron Corbin’s office (they’re back?) Billie Kay and Peyton Royce stepped up to them and said, “impressive”, before AOP walked away. The Iiconics stumbled upon Asuka, Kairi Sane and Paige. The crowd popped. “Maybe they’re gonna try to plunder our gold” Royce said. Paige challenged The Iiconics. Billie and Peyton said they’d love to, but they’re traveling a lot this month.

Paige said the funny thing is, they’re traveling to the same places. Paige informed Royce and Kay that they’ll be facing Asuka and Sane next week in Tokyo, and if the Warriors win, they’ll earn a women’s tag title shot. Paige, Asuka, and Sane mimicked the “iconic” pose as Royce and Kay reacted in pure horror and disgust.

(3) THE MIZ & R-TRUTH vs. DREW McINTYRE & ELIAS (w/ Shane McMahon)

The camera faded back to the ring and the bell rang. Truth was already getting the crowd going with a “what’s up” chant. Miz and Elias locked up and traded holds. Elias knocked Miz down with a shoulder tackle. Miz bounced back up and hit one of his own, then tagged in R-Truth.

Phillips announced that the 24/7 rules are suspended while he competes in a sanctioned match. Truth took down Elias for a two count. Truth hit a side kick, then did a jumping split. Elias tagged in Drew McIntyre. Truth kicked Drew in the head, then went for a scissor kick. McIntyre countered and slammed Truth. He chopped him hard twice in the corner, then pounded away at him. Elias choked Truth in the corner while Drew distracted the referee.

Drew tagged in Elias and the isolation process began. Truth fought back with body shots, then eventually dumped Elias over the top rope. Truth tried to reach his corner to make a tag, but Shane McMahon pulled Miz off the ropes. Elias hit a running knee out of the corner and pinned R-Truth, eliminating him at the four minute mark.

A cavalcade of Smackdown and 205 undercard wrestlers rushed the ring. Shelton Benjamin stole the 24/7 title and began running in circles around the ring with it. The referee explained that he has to pin R-Truth to win the title. Truth grabbed the belt and then disappeared into the crowd, with the rest of the wrestlers giving chase. The show went to picture-in-picture commercial.

On the small screen, Miz regrouped as Elias and Drew discussed strategy in the corner. McIntyre tagged in and attacked Miz. They spilled to the outside. Drew beat on Miz at ringside, then tossed him back in the ring. He tagged in Elias, who applied a headlock for the rest of the break.

Back to full screen, Elias climbed to the top rope and went for a double axe handle. Miz dropkicked him out of the air. He backed Elias into the corner and hit a series of “it” kicks, followed by a pair of running knees and then a running clothesline. He hit a DDT for a near fall. Miz hit a number of “it” kicks on Elias. Elias blocked the final attempt and hoisted Miz into the electric chair, but Miz slid down his back. Miz stumbled toward the ropes and got hit with a Glasgow Kiss from Drew McIntyre. Elias tagged in Drew.

McIntyre sized up Miz. Miz slowly returned to his feet and McIntyre obliterated him with the Claymore kick for the a three count.

WINNERS: Drew McIntyre & Elias in 10:00

Shane hopped in the ring and dragged Miz to his feet. He threw him into another Claymore kick from McIntyre. Shane picked up Miz again. McIntyre hit a third Claymore. Shane raised McIntyre’s arm in victory.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m not big on the 24/7 shenanigans mingling with what is supposed to be a serious angle. Furthermore, I’m not sure having The Miz take these losses nearly every single week is helping him, or anyone beating him for that matter. The lack of Roman Reigns was a bit strange, but unconcerning, given the risk of overexposure WWE is regularly dancing with in this “wild card” era.)

-The announcers teased various matches on the Stomping Grounds card, including Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin, Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler, and Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans.

-Backstage, Ember Moon walked slowly through a hallway. Carmella brushed by her, and Ember called back to her, asking if she’d seen Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Carmella said she hadn’t, but asked if Moon had seen R-Truth. Carmella told Moon to let Rose and Deville know that they have unfinished business.

Ember walked a little further down the hallway and found Mandy and Sonya eating donuts. Sonya apologized for breaking Ember’s video game. Sonya offered Ember a donut. Ember knocked the box of donuts into Mandy’s face and elbowed her. Moon continued to attack until officials ran on screen to separate her.

-In another backstage area, Seth Rollins was shown talking to Kofi Kingston. Byron Saxton teased the tag team main event later in the night.

-After the commercial, a replay of last night’s Firefly Funhouse aired. This was the most overtly dark episode of the vignettes to date, and would suggest Bray’s re-debut is drawing near.

-R-Truth was shown briskly walking into the parking lot, calling for Carmella. He stumbled upon a car with a referee, who apparently doubled as an Uber driver. He turned and called out “mini Carmella,” who revealed herself to be Drake Maverick in disguise. Truth tried to escape in the vehicle, but Maverick pulled him out in a roll up. He put his feet on the SUV for leverage, and the referee counted to three as Maverick’s fake breasts fell out of his shirt. Drake Maverick hopped into the SUV and drove off with the 24/7 title, screaming that he was off to get married. R-Truth was confused, thinking he was just pinned by Carmella, and was upset that he didn’t know she was getting married and he wasn’t invited.

-Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown talking backstage. The announcers teased the tag team main event, coming up after the break.

-New Day’s music played as the show returned from commercial. WWE Champion Kofi Kingston headed to the ring, tossing out a small stack of pancakes. He was followed by Universal Champion, Seth Rollins. Rollins carried a steel chair to the ring and held it up defiantly.”K-O” lit up the blackened stage and Kevin Owens walked down the ramp, jawing at Kingston and Rollins. Sami Zayn joined him. Owens ripped up a “Pancake Power” sign that he took from someone at ringside.

(4) KOFI KINGSTON & SETH ROLLINS vs. KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN – 2 out of 3 falls match

The bell rang, and Kingston charged at Zayn, connecting immediately with Trouble in Paradise. He covered Zayn for a quick three count, winning the first fall in seconds. Phillips said the second fall would begin after the commercial break.

The show returned to Rollins and KO in the ring. Rollins tagged in Kofi, who took control, holding KO by the arm. He tagged Rollins back in and Seth hit a double axe handle from the top rope. Seth attempted a springboard move from the apron, but Owens dropped him to the mat then hit him with a DDT. He covered Seth multiple times, but only got a two count.

The camera cut backstage, where Paul Heyman was watching the match intently. Back in the ring, KO tagged in Sami, who continued to work over Rollins. Sami hit a sidewalk slam for a two count. He began pounding on Rollins’ upper back, then slapped on a chin lock.

The crowd began to slowly build behind Rollins. He returned to his feet, but Zayn shot him into the corner. Owens clapped in approval. Zayn set up Seth on the top rope and tried to superplex him. Rollins knocked Zayn off with a headbutt, but Sami quickly tagged in KO before Seth could fully recover. Owens approached Rollins, who came off the top with a blockbuster.

Rollins made it back to his own corner to make a hot tag into Kofi. Kofi dropped Owens, then hit a series of jumping clotheslines on Sami Zayn. He climbed to the top rope and hit a diving cross body for a near fall. Both men battled back to their feet. Sami connected with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Zayn tagged in KO.

Kofi recovered and dropkicked Owens. Zayn hopped in the ring and Kofi tossed him out. Kingston tagged in Rollins. Rollins dove to the outside onto Zayn, then dove onto KO, who had rolled to the outside. Back in the ring, Rollins riled the crowd up for a stomp. Zayn grabbed Rollins’ leg, but Kofi took him out. KO looked for a pop up power bomb, but Rollins jumped it and hit a kick to the mid section. He followed with enziguri and the stomp for a three count.

WINNERS: Seth Rollins & Kofi Kingston in 11:00

Kingston and Rollins celebrated and Phillips said there was no doubt about the momentum they have heading into Stomping Grounds.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent match, but little reason for it to be 2 out of 3 falls. It’s certainly not a great sign for KO and Sami to losing two back to back falls here, but I suppose momentum for the champions isn’t a bad thing.)



1 Comment on LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 6/18: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of final hype for Stomping Grounds, Ziggler vs. Woods, Kofi/Seth vs. KO/Sami, and more

  1. I wonder of Big E has an idea of turning heel and betraying Kofi and challenging him for the belt. Now that would be cool. I would much rather see Big E as champ then Kofi.

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