KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JUNE 25, 2019
PORTLAND, OREGON AT MODA CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with a video package recapping the handicap match on last night’s Raw featuring Roman Reigns against Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre, and the surprise return of The Undertaker, who came to Reigns’ aid. The package ended on a still graphic of the now official tag team match (Reigns/Undertaker vs. McMahon/McIntyre) at Extreme Rules.
-The camera cut to Shane McMahon, backstage in his office. He said last night, Roman Reigns’ fear caught up with him. He said Reigns was desperate and called in help from the Deadman. Shane said, unlike The Undertaker and Roman Reigns, he doesn’t “come and go as he pleases.” Shane says he has a company to run. He urged members of the Smackdown roster not to get on his bad side. “Because quite frankly, I’m pissed,” Shane said.
-Live in the arena, Tom Phillips welcomed the audience to the show over a wide shot of the Moda Center. Big E’s voice filled the PA and The New Day came to the ring. The announcers covered Kofi’s victory over Dolph Ziggler at Stomping Grounds, and previewed his match against Samoa Joe at Extreme Rules.
Kofi said, since winning the WWE title at WrestleMania, he’s experienced some of the greatest moments of his career and his life. He said he’s also faced some of his most grueling, and agonizing moments as well. He mentioned his steel cage match with Dolph Ziggler. “I had to take a literal leap of faith to emerge victorious.” Kofi said before he even had a chance to take a breath after retaining his title, another one of those agonizing moments occurred.
A clip aired of Samoa Joe’s attack on Kofi last night on Raw. “Samoa Joe is not a complicated man,” Kofi said, “he’s like a force of nature.” He compared the Coquina Clutch to the jaws of a great white shark. Kofi said that Joe thinks he’s a shark who has found his prey. “I’ll be damned if I let him eat me alive,” Kingston said.
Dolph Ziggler’s music hit, interrupting the champion. Ziggler said he did all the hard work, and now Samoa Joe wants to stroll in and take his spot. Ziggler said this is his career, and his livelihood. He said Xavier Woods saved Kofi at Super Showdown, and Kofi took the cowards way out at Stomping Grounds. “Everyone knows I should be WWE Champion right now,” Ziggler concluded. He informed Kofi that they’ll be facing each other tonight, and if Dolph wins, he’ll be added to the WWE title match at Extreme Rules.
In the ring, Big E stood eating saltine crackers disinterestedly. Ziggler added that the match will be two out of three falls, “so that you can’t take the coward’s way out.” Ziggler wished Kofi good luck, dropped the mic, and walked out.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m not really sure we need to see another Kofi vs. Dolph match. Interesting that they’re going with yet another multi fall match, though, to again avoid taking commercial breaks during a match. This practice is going to get old very quickly. Big E eating crackers was hilarious. He and Woods said nothing during this segment, but as always, added plenty with their antics and expressions.)
-Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Rowan were shown walking down the hallway. Corey Graves said they’d be in action after the break.
-Backstage, The Miz approached Elias, who was guarding Shane McMahon’s office door. Elias told Miz not to walk in there, given Shane’s mood. “You go in there, you’re a deadman walking,” Elias said. Miz called Elias a “bootleg Bob Dylan.” Elias played a quick tune. Miz grabbed the neck of the guitar, “strum that guitar one more time and I’ll shove it up the dark side of your moon.” Miz told Elias to tell Shane that he and Shane have unfinished business and that he wants to face him one more time at Extreme Rules.
Miz walked away. Shane popped out of his office. Elias delivered the news, and Shane said he should go beat down Miz right now. He said Miz can have his match tonight, if he beats Elias in a two out of three falls match. He asked Elias to play him a song.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Another one? Man, they’re really going on all in this no matches during commercial breaks thing, and they’re not even trying to be subtle about it. I’m actually in favor of one more match between Miz and Shane, though. Miz needs to get a win back, and that feud never felt like it was really settled.)
-Back in the arena, Xavier Woods was stretching Big E’s leg for him while the New Day’s music continued to play. He tossed pancakes out of the ring haphazardly. Daniel Bryan’s music hit and the tag team champions, Daniel Bryan and Rowan, headed to the ring.
(1) BIG E & XAVIER WOODS vs. DANIEL BRYAN & ROWAN
Daniel Bryan and Xavier Woods began the match. They locked up in the center and Bryan applied a headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. They engaged in a brief test of strength then exchanged some quick chain wrestling. Bryan tagged in Rowan.
Rowan delivered a hard shoulder to take down Woods, followed by a pair of headsets and some stomps. Bryan kicked Woods repeatedly while the referee was briefly distracted. Rowan tagged Bryan back in, and the two began to isolate Xavier.Rowan hung Woods up on the top rope, and Bryan soared from the top with a knee to back of Woods’ head.
Bryan tagged Rowan back in. Rowan set Woods into the corner and charged at him, but Xavier got his boot up. He dove from the middle rope, but Rowan caught him in a powerslam position. Woods countered out and tried to build some momentum, but Rowan flung his body at him and cut him off. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Rowan tossed Woods to the outside and the referee began a count. Woods broke it late, and Rowan continued to dominate. He tagged in Bryan, who continued the assault. Xavier recovered briefly, but Bryan cut him off at the leg and tagged in Rowan.
Back to full screen, Rowan tried to keep Woods isolated. Xavier hit an enziguri that allowed him to reach the corner and tag Big E. Rowan tagged in Bryan. Big E cleaned house, taking down Rowan then hitting Bryan with a big belly to belly suplex.
Big E tried to splash Bryan, but Bryan got his knees up and turned Big E in the Labell lock. Woods broke up the submission attempt. Rowan hopped in the ring and tossed Woods to the outside. He went to meet Woods out there, and got caught with a big dropkick into the ringside barrier.
In the ring, Bryan delivered “Yes” kicks to Big E in the corner. Big E fought out, then tagged in Woods. Big E hoisted Bryan and Woods came off the top with the Midnight Hour for the pin fall victory.
WINNERS: Big E & Xavier Woods in 10:00
New Day celebrated briefly, but were attacked from behind by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Rowan joined in on the beat down. Heavy Machinery’s music hit and they rushed the ring. They provided enough resistance for Big E and Xavier to recover, and together, the babyfaces cleaned house. The show went to a quick commercial break.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Standard TV tag team match, with a long segment of heel isolation followed by a quick come back and finish. I didn’t realize how formulaic these matches can be until I started covering the shows on a weekly basis, and it’s really detrimental to their enjoyment factor. There’s rarely even a hint of differentiation from one match to the next. In any case, I don’t love the idea of Bryan and Rowan losing cleanly after a big win on Sunday, but I also understand WWE’s insistance on getting New Day a win after their loss. Owens/Zayn vs. New Day seems very played out, but it seems like this may be leading toward a four team match for the tag titles at Extreme Rules, and that should be very entertaining.)
(2) BIG E & XAVIER WOODS & HEAVY MACHINERY (Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic) vs. DANIEL BRYAN & ROWAN & KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN
After the break, and impromptu eight man tag team match began. The match immediately broke into chaos, with all eight men rushing the ring at the same time. The chaos cleared quickly, with the heels gaining the upper hand. Tucker was driven into the heel corner. Owens kicked away at Knight in the corner, then tagged in Bryan, who continued the attack.
Bryan tagged in Rowan. Rowan lifted Tucker up to the top rope, but Tucker fought him off. The announcers remarked that all of Tucker’s opponents were down on the outside, leaving him to fend for himself. Rowan hoisted Tucker to the top turnbuckle again and have him a big superplex. He covered Knight, but New Day broke it up at a count of two.
Daniel Bryan slipped into the ring and hit Big E with the running knee. Rowan gave Xavier Woods the Iron Claw. He tagged in Bryan and dropped Tucker. Bryan dove from the top rope, but Tucker moved. Bryan landed on his feet and tried to deliver the running knee, but Tucker turned him inside out with a huge clothesline. Otis climbed back onto the apron. Knight made the hot tag. Bryan reached Sami Zayn.
Otis gave Sami a spinning body slam. He ran into Zayn repeatedly in the corner, then set up for the caterpillar. Kevin Owens hung his head in shame, climbed off the apron, and walked out on the match. Otis hit the caterpillar and tagged in Tucker. Heavy Machinery hit the Trash Compactor for the three count.
WINNERS: Big E & Xavier Woods & Heavy Machinery in 5:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: A quicker, more chaotic match, but it did do a bit better job at breaking from the formula of the previous bout. This was a precarious situation to deal with, booking wise, as there were a lot of moving parts and a lot of mouths to feed. Giving Heavy Machinery a win was good, but it also means that Bryan & Rowan technically took two losses tonight, which is far from ideal.)
-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips discussed the developing story between Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. He threw to footage of what happened during their tag team match last night. In footage from WWE.com, Nikki Cross told Alexa that she (Nikki) will be facing Bayley on Smackdown. If Cross wins, Bliss will get a rematch against Bayley at Extreme Rules. The announcers previewed the match between Cross and Bayley for tonight’s show.
-Backstage, The Miz walked toward gorilla. Tom Phillips teased The Miz’s two out of three falls match against Elias, coming up after the break.
-Coming out of the break, the Ali vignette from Stomping Grounds aired.
-The Miz’s music hit. Phillips was trying to talk up Ali, but Graves cut him off. The announcers discussed Miz’s ongoing rivalry with Shane McMahon. Shane McMahon came to the ring, introduced emphatically by Greg Hamilton. He stop atop the ramp and waited for Elias, who came out with his electric guitar. Elias played himself to the ring.
(3) ELIAS (w/ Shane McMahon) vs. THE MIZ – 2 out of 3 falls match
Miz attacked Elias as soon as the bell rang. Elias retreated to the outside, but Miz dropkicked him through the ropes. Both men quickly returned to the ring. Miz rolled Elias up for a two count. Miz tried to hit a springboard move on Shane, but Shane grabbed his leg. Miz kicked Shane away, and went for the springboard move a second time. Elias caught him with double knees to the face. He stopped up Miz and hit Drift Away for a quick three count, securing the first fall in under a minute. Phillips sent the show to commercial.
Returning from break, Elias was in control of Miz. He grounded Miz in the corner and stomped away, then drove his knee into Miz’s face. Out of the corner, Elias hit a clothesline then mounted Miz and delivered a series of punches. Elias gave Miz a suplex for a quick two count. Elias applied a resting headlock. The crowd began a “let’s go Miz” chant. Miz battled to his feet and elbowed Elias in the gut. Miz broke free and hit Elias with rights and lefts. He backed Elias into the corner and hit a series of “it” kicks, followed by running double knees.
Miz went for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Elias fought out. Miz grabbed him again hit a DDT for a near fall. Elias rose to his knees, and Miz attacked with more “it” kicks. Elias ducked the last one into a roll up for a two count. Miz fired up and took Elias down. Shane got onto the apron, but Miz punched him off. Elias hoisted Miz into the electric chair position.Miz slid down the back and hit Skull Crushing Finale. He pinned Elias, but Shane McMahon jumped in the ring and began pounding away at Miz, causing a disqualification and tying the match at one fall each.
Shane argued with the official. He and Elias began stomping away at Miz. Graves confirmed that the third fall had not yet started. Shane threw Miz outside and began pounding his head on the announcers desk. “Not only is this legal, it’s brilliant,” proclaimed Graves.
Shane tossed Miz over the desk. Elias continued to stomp at him. “No more Shane,” the crowd chanted. Elias rolled Miz in the ring and picked him up. Shane mocked Roman Reigns and speared Miz. Shane demanded that the referee ring the bell. The referee obliged as Elias ascended to the top rope. Elias hit a diving elbow and covered Miz for the victory.
WINNER: Elias in 14:00
Shane and Elias celebrated and began to leave. Elias stopped and whispered something to Shane, and they returned to the ring. Elias dragged Miz to the corner. Miz climbed the opposing turnbuckle and hit Coast to Coast. He got in Miz’s face and yelled “never come at me again.”
(LeClair’s Analysis: I echo the sentiments of this crowd. “No more Shane.” It’s a bit too much. He’s dominating both shows and continuing to receive not only preferential treatment, but downright ludicrous amounts of offense against what are supposed to be credible wrestlers. I’m of the belief that Miz has been damaged fairly significantly over the last several weeks, becoming the designated job guy for Shane, his cronies, and their antics. That aside, this wasn’t a particularly strong match either.)
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton welcomed Intercontinental Champion, Finn Balor. She asked Finn what brings out the intensity of the demon. Finn said he respects a competitor like Andrade. “The better the opposition, the better I have to be to overcome,” Finn said. Kayla asked Finn who might be next. Finn contemplated this for a moment, then looked off camera. Shinsuke Nakamura walked into frame, staring at the Intercontinental title. He motioned toward the title, then walked away. Finn smiled as the camera faded back to the ring.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Glad to see Nakamura back on TV. A Finn/Shinsuke program could be really interesting if they spend any time promoting it, rather than just throwing it out there to fill time as they so often do with the mid-card titles.)
-In the ring, Miz was still laying in the corner. He received help from an official and finally stood on his own accord. The referee helped Miz to the back while the announcers teased the two out of three falls match between Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler later in the show.
-On a backstage split screen, Bayley and Nikki Cross prepared for their match against each other. Phillips said their match would take place after the break.
-Back from commercial, Nikki Cross made her way to the ring, followed by Bayley. The announcers discussed Nikki’s uphill battle, going at it alone while Bliss is in Singapore. A brief inset promo from Bayley played as she headed to the ring. Bayley said she hopes Nikki Cross is ready to learn the truth about Alexa Bliss’ intentions.
(4) BAYLEY vs. NIKKI CROSS
Nikki took down Bayley out of the gate with a cross body. She hopped on Bayley’s back and clawed at her face. Bayley shook her off. The Women’s Champion smashed Cross’ head in the corner, then tossed her out onto the apron. Bayley hit a guillotine stunner. Cross fell into the ring and Bayley pinned her for a two count.
Cross recovered and headed to the top rope. She hit a cross body for a near fall of her own. Cross charged at Bayley in the corner, but Bayley dumped her onto the turnbuckle. She hung up Nikki in a tree of woe position. She charged at Nikki and hit a running elbow for a two count. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Bayley and Nikki traded quick rest holds before spilling to the outside. Bayley went for a dropkick through the corner of the ring, but caught her own knee on the turnbuckle. She shook it off as Nikki got back in the ring. Bayley slapped on an armlock as the show returned to full screen.
Nikki hit a jawbreaker to fight out of the hold. She caught Bayley with an elbow to the chin. She charged at Bayley in the corner with a body splash, followed by a running bulldog for a two count. Nikki chawed at Bayley again, but Bayley sidestepped her and sent Cross tumbling to the outside. Bayley dove through the bottom rope, but Nikki moved and Bayley landed hard on her back on the floor. Bayley screamed in agony. Cross tossed her back in the ring.
Nikki hit a neck breaker and covered Bayley for a near fall. Bayley caught an attempted kick from Nikki and kneed her in the face. She hit a side belly to back suplex, then climbed to the top. Bayley dove for a cross body, but Cross moved. Cross rolled up Bayley for a two count. Bayley rolled Cross into an inside cradle for a two count. Bayley kneed Cross again, then tried to roll her up. Cross rolled through the pin into one of her own and caught the champion for a three count.
WINNER: Nikki Cross in 7:00
Nikki celebrated her victory, giving Alexa Bliss a rematch for the Smackdown Women’s Title at Extreme Rules. Bayley sat in the ring stunned. Nikki leaned over the announcers desk and slapped hands with Corey Graves. “I can’t wait to tell Alexa!” she exclaimed.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent match. Bayley took a lot of tough spills in this one. I’m not sure if it was a lack of chemistry with Nikki or if the match was simply booked that way, but I’m glad she walked away (seemingly) unscathed. I like the Bliss/Cross angle, even if I wish they’d definitively pick a lane for Bliss and stick with it. Bayley isn’t the best foil for their situation, but it makes sense to continue this for now.)
-Backstage, Carmella was shown looking for R-Truth. She stumbled upon Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. They said they were about to beat up Carmella’s friend Ember Moon. They wandered off Truth peaked out of some hockey boards. He climbed out and Carmella retrieved his 24/7 title as Drake Maverick walked into the scene.
Drake promised he came without a referee. He recounted his 24/7 title win, and how Truth stole it from him at his wedding. “I spent thousands and thousands of dollars…of my mother in law’s money,” Drake recalled. Maverick said he has nothing left, and told Truth he’s ruined his life. Truth gave him a hug and apologized. “I thought it was Carmella’s wedding,” Truth said. Truth told Drake to retrieve a referee. Maverick had one waiting.
“Psyche!” Truth said. He told Drake that he loves this title more than Drake loves his wife. He ran off with Carmella. A parade of wrestlers followed behind him. Maverick sat on the floor, dejected.
-In another backstage hallway, Ember Moon headed toward the camera, ready for her match after the break.
-Ember Moon headed to the ring as the show returned from break. The announcers threw to a clip from last week’s Smackdown, showing Ember’s confrontation with Mandy and Sonya. Sonya Deville entered next, with Mandy Rose by her side.
(5) EMBER MOON vs. SONYA DEVILLE (w/ Mandy Rose)
Byron Saxton said Rose and Deville target Ember because she’s a loner. Sonya attacked Moon quickly as the bell rang. Moon hit Deville with a slap, then a big spinning elbow. She dropkicked Sonya. Deville left the ring quickly to regroup. Moon went to retrieve her. Mandy tired to get involved, but Moon backed her off quickly.
Moon tossed Deville into the ring. Mandy Rose approached again. Moon kicked at her wildly from the apron, but missed. Deville shoved Moon hard into the turnbuckle. She pulled Ember into the ring and covered her for a quick victory.
WINNER: Sonya Deville in 1:00
Mandy Rose returned to the ring to hug Sonya. Graves made fun of Ember for being distracted and getting beaten so quickly.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I doubt this is the end to this head scratching angle. We still have no idea who Ember Moon is, though tonight’s commentary suggests they’re trying to paint her as a “loner”, which in WWE speak, means “loser.” Moon deserves better than one minute distraction losses. Hopefully this leads to something meaningful for her, but I’m not getting my hopes up.)
-Backstage in a darkened room, Aleister Black paced violently back and forth in front of the camera. He sat down, rocking violently. “I don’t get it, it’s almost funny, but it’s not.” He said he’s begging for someone to fight him, but no one wants to challenge him, Black said he’s starting to think there is no one man enough to pick a fight with him. Suddenly, the lights cut out and there was a knock on the door. When the lights came back on, Black let a sinister smile creep across his face as he stared into the camera and the screen faded out.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Black’s delivery was a little Patrick Bateman-esque here. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the lights out schtick was strange and didn’t work for me. I’ve said this almost weekly at this point, but it’s high time to get Black out of this dressing room and into the ring.)
-Back in the arena, Dolph Ziggler’s music hit. He walked to the ring for his two out of three falls match with Kofi Kingston. The show went to commercial break.
Ziggler was pacing at ringside when the show returned from commercial. Kofi Kingston’s music hit and the WWE Champion walked to the ring with pancakes tucked into the space between his stomach and the WWE title. He tossed them out to the crowd as the announcers teased Kingston’s WWE title match against Samoa Joe at Extreme Rules, and the implications for it should Ziggler win tonight.
(6) KOFI KINGSTON vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER – 2 out of 3 falls match
Kingston and Ziggler danced around the ring. Ziggler looked to shoot a takedown but Kofi was too quick for it. They exchanged waist locks, then went through a chain wrestling sequence. Tom Phillips set the stage for “resets” in between each fall.
Ziggler hit a dropkick for a two count. He put Kofi in a headlock and worked him to the mat. Kofi battled out, but Dolph got him in the corner. Kofi countered out and hit a big dropkick of his own for a two count. The two traded roll ups for quick two counts. Ziggler shot Kofi onto the apron. Kofi gave Ziggler a shoulder to the mid section and went for a springboard over the top into a roll up, but Dolph held onto the top. He leveraged Kofi into a pin and held the rope. The referee was about to count to three, but saw Dolph’s hand and broke the ball. Kofi rolled Ziggler up and caught Ziggler for a three count, earning the first fall at the four minute mark.
Ziggler immediately attacked Kingston. He tossed him outside and threw him into the ringside barrier. The announcers sent the show to commercial break.
Back live, we joined the second fall already in progress. Kofi got a quick near fall off of a corner cover. Ziggler quickly recovered and caught Kofi by surprise with a super kick. Dolph fell on top of Kofi for a three count, earning the second fall at the nine minute mark.
Ziggler returned to his feet first. Kofi used the ropes to stand. Dolph regained control as soon as the ball rang. He hit a neck breaker for a two count. He dragged Kofi’s face across the middle rope. Ziggler applied a rear chin lock and began to transition into a chicken wing. Kingston fought valiantly to escape. Kingston broke free with a head butt. He Irish whipped Ziggler hard into the corner. Both men were slow to recover.
Ziggler dumped Kingston face first onto the middle turnbuckle. He delivered a jumping elbow for a near fall. Kofi caught Ziggler with a back slide for a two count. Ziggler took Kofi down and tried to slingshot him into the corner, but Kofi hopped the turnbuckle and came off with a big cross body. Ziggler rolled through it into the cover for another near fall. Dolph hit a DDT immediately after for another near fall.
Both men returned to their feet and Kofi hit a big jumping clothesline. He went for the boom drop, but Dolph rolled toward the ropes and dumped Kofi to the outside. Kingston caught Dolph with a side kick from the outside. He hit big springboard clothesline back into the ring for a very near fall.
Back to his feet, Ziggler kicked the champion in the shin. He went for the famouser, but Kofi lifted him up into a power bomb position. Kofi hit a spinning sit out power bomb into a cover, and Ziggler kicked out at the last possible moment. The crowd mounted a weak “New Day rocks” chant.
Both men returned to their feet slowly. Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise, but Ziggler caught him by the foot. He took Kofi down, but the champion immediately cradled him into a small package for a two count. Ziggler grabbed Kofi and slammed him headfirst into the turnbuckle. Kofi staggered out and Dolph hit the Zig-Zag for a believable near fall.
Ziggler sized up Kofi for a super kick. Kingston rolled through it and went for Trouble in Paradise. Ziggler caught his leg and shoved him off. He went for another super kick, but Kofi caught him with Trouble in Paradise. He covered Ziggler for a three count.
WINNER: Kofi Kingston in 18:00
Saxton praised Kingston’s gutsy performance. Graves said he doesn’t know how Kofi continues to pull out these victories. Kofi celebrated with the WWE title as the show went off the air.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid match, especially the final few minutes which were loaded with good action and plenty of near falls. I think Kofi going over clean and moving on to a one on one match with Samoa Joe is the right move here. Ziggler had a logically sound argument about the quality of Kingston’s victories over him, but that was dashed once and for all with this (truly) clean win tonight. It’s time for both guys to move on.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A wrestling heavy show that still managed to set the table for Extreme Rules and turn the page (mostly) from Stomping Grounds. There are still fundamental issues with the way WWE produces their weekly television, but all in all, I think this week has been a step in a better direction, even if the changes, thus far, are rather minimal. Smackdown still feels a little bit too much like a continuation of Raw because of the wild card rule (which wasn’t even mentioned at all tonight), but if you ignore the parameters, this wasn’t a terrible couple hours of television.