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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 2, 2019
SAN ANTONIO, TX AT AT&T CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with a wide shot of the AT&T Center, then cut to the announcers desk. Tom Phillips threw to footage from the big Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley stunt on Raw. Phillips confirmed news that Strowman suffered a “potentially ruptured spleen,” and teased that we would hear from Bobby Lashley later in the show.
-Kevin Owens’ music played and he walked to the ring for the KO Show. Kevin took a seat in one of the three office chairs in the ring. He welcomed the audience to the show. He read from KO Show cue cards, emphasizing the breaks between each card. He introduced his guests, Drew McIntyre and “the best in the world” Shane McMahon.
Shane McMahon danced out onto the stage, then pointed back for Drew McIntyre’s entrance. Drew walked to Shane’s side and the pair bumped fists before walking to the ring. McIntyre moved Owens to a different chair. Shane McMahon frowned upon Owens’ introduction of him, and commanded Greg Hamilton deliver it instead. Hamilton placed a hilariously long emphasis on “world.” Shane was pleased.
Owens asked for the truck to show footage from The Undertaker’s appearance on Raw. Back live, Shane said “spooky,” in a sarcastic manner. Owens asked if Shane was afraid of The Undertaker, to which Shane scoffed and said he wasn’t. The crowd broke into an “Undertaker” chant. Shane promised he and Drew would run through Roman Reigns and The Undertaker at Extreme Rules, and announced that the match would no be no holds barred.
McIntyre said Undertaker and Reigns are stepping into the ring with the best in the world and the most dangerous man in the world. He said the match at Extreme Rules will be a “vicious, physical assault like nobody has ever seen before.” Owens asked to see a specific part of the footage again – Shane and Drew hurriedly leaving the ring as Undertaker walked down the ramp.
“It sort of, kind of, a little bit looks like you’re kind of afraid of The Undertaker,” Owens said. Owens said it must be a coincidence that Shane fled the ring so quickly. He said the gut reaction to hearing the “gong” is to end up in the fourth row. Shane told Kevin that he should be a “good little talk show host” and do what he’s told. “Okay, I got it,” Owens said.
KO resumed reading from the cue cards. He began asking a Shane-curated question, but swapped to the next card. He asked Shane how it felt to make his long awaited return to WWE in 2016 only to lose to The Undertaker. McIntyre stood up and said that the interview was over. He got in Owens’ face.
Dolph Ziggler’s music hit, and he walked down the ring saying “no.” Owens cut him off, yelling that he’s not going to let Dolph come out and talk about how “it should’ve been him.” “Yeah, it should’ve been you eight years ago, and it was for a little bit kinda, then it wasn’t,” exclaimed Owens, “get over it!”
Ziggler said everyone knows he should be WWE Champion. He said he deserves it for all his hard work and loyalty. “I look the part, you look like you could be entered in a hot dog eating contest.” Owens said if were entered in a hot dog eating contest, he’d win, “which is more than you can say about wrestling matches.” The crowd popped.
Owens said he wants another title shot. He asked Shane to decide who deserves an opportunity. Shane said neither of them do, but they can team up tonight to face Heavy Machinery, with the winner being added to the Smackdown Tag Team title match at Extreme Rules.
Shane and Drew left the ring while Owens and Ziggler jawed at each other off mic. Owens said this is still his show and asked the truck to play his music so he could leave. His request was granted.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Weird segment. Owens came off like a total babyface throughout, so much so that I began to wonder if this was a full fledged turn (again) before Shane teamed he and Dolph. Owens is really good in this antagonistic role, especially playing off of other heels, and it furthers my interest in seeing him actually have a legitimate babyface run.)
-Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Rowan were walking down a hallway when suddenly approached by Kayla Braxton. She asked for their thoughts regarding a third team being added to their title match at Extreme Rules. Bryan said that Shane has been making a lot of unpopular decisions lately. He said they’ve made it mathematically harder for he and Rowan to retain their titles. He asked Kayla if she knew anything about math, then quickly said it didn’t matter, because they’re walking in and out of Extreme Rules with their titles.
-After the first commercial break of the night, Big E and Xavier Woods were in gorilla. Kayla Braxton approached. She asked about New Day’s feelings about a third team being added to their match. Xavier Woods said it makes things “a little fuzzy”, but that New Day is always looking for a fight. Big E said they’d kick in the door, and become WWE Tag Team Champions. He broke into his signature New Day entrance.
Back in the arena, New Day’s music played and the duo walked out on stage. Byron said he had goosebumps from watching Big E do the New Day’s intro(it was a nice touch.) Daniel Bryan headed to the ring with Rowan at his side. Tom Phillips made note of the fact that New Day have defeated Bryan and Rowan in various scenarios over the last few weeks.
(1) BIG E (w/ Xavier Woods) vs. DANIEL BRYAN (w/ Rowan)
Big E and Bryan circled one another. Big E began clapping to rile up a “New Day rocks” chant. Big E and Bryan locked up. Bryan applied a waist lock, but Big E gyrated his hips and overpowered Daniel. Big E applied a waist lock of his own, but Bryan elbowed free. He tried to shoulder tackle Big E multiple times, but Big E wouldn’t budge. He caught Bryan and applied an abdominal stretch.
Big E shot Bryan off the ropes and gave him a shoulder tackle. Bryan shot up, but Big E hit him with a big clothesline. Bryan rolled to the outside and Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Big E stalked Bryan on the outside. Bryan got back in the ring and begged off Big E. Big E charged him, but Bryan slipped outside again and taunted the crowd. Bryan returned to the ring slowly, and he and Big E engaged in a brief test of strength but Bryan gave him a cheap shot into the corner. Bryan mounted Big E for several punches then hit a number of corner kicks. He tried to whip Big E, but Big E used his size to block Bryan’s attempt. He shot Bryan to the corner and delivered punches of his own.
Out of the corner, Bryan gave Big E a chop block to take him down. Bryan applied a single leg Boston Crab. Big E escaped, but Bryan continued his onslaught. He hung up Big E’s leg in the corner. Back to full screen, Bryan kicked away at Big E’s bad knee. The announcers pointed out that Bryan was working the knee that Big E had surgically repaired.
Big E managed to fight back and hit a pair of overhead belly to belly suplexes. He tried for a third, but Bryan kicked at Big E’s knee. He got Big E down to his knees and began the “yes” kicks. Big E ducked the final, and hit a belly to belly suplex, followed by a running splash for a near fall.
Big E tried to use his body as a battering ram, but Bryan stepped out of the way and sent Big E crashing through the ropes onto the mat below. Bryan went for a running dive, but Big E caught him with an elbow. As the referee checked on Bryan, Rowan shoved Big E into the ring post, then back into the ring. He then took down Xavier Woods on the outside. In the ring, Bryan geared up. He hit the running knee on Big E for the victory.
WINNER: Daniel Bryan in 8:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match, despite being a little on the short side. I liked the psychology of Bryan working over Big E’s knee, and Big E selling it throughout what was left of the match. I’d really like to see these guys have another match with more time.)
Bryan and Rowan celebrated with their tag titles as Xavier tended to Big E in the ring. The announcers teased the Heavy Machinery vs. KO/Ziggler match later tonight to determine which team will be added to the tag title match at Extreme Rules.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton stood in front of the interview set. She welcomed R-Truth. Truth tried to prevent Kayla from throwing to footage of him losing the 24/7 title on last night’s Raw. Kayla eventually won out. Back live, Truth said he remembered his honeymoon, then second guessed himself and said he never went. He said he’s heard Hornswoggle (Maverick) and his wife are in San Antonio. Truth said he’s coming for them, because he wants his baby back.
-In a hallway backstage, Nikki Cross walked alongside Alexa Bliss. Bliss looked to be deep in thought. She stopped Cross and told her she wants her to host Moment of Bliss tonight. Nikki said she couldn’t do it, but Bliss talked her into it, saying she believed in her. “I’m gonna kick you out of the nest, and you’re gonna fly,” Bliss said. Corey teased that A Moment of Bliss would be next.
-Greg Hamilton welcomed Nikki Cross as the host of A Moment of Bliss. Nikki ran out to the set and said hello. She said she wanted to take a moment to thank the person she “admires the most,” and said she loves Alexa Bliss. Nikki said she’s from Scotland and has a bit of an accent. She said she’d speak slowly to be the best host she could be. She welcomed Women’s Champion, Bayley.
Bayley walked out in ring gear and took a seat next to Nikki. Bayley said she was impressed that Bliss gave Nikki the spotlight. Nikki began defending Alexa. Bayley cut her off, telling Nikki not to do her bidding. Cross said she’s here to host A Moment of Bliss and ask the tough questions. She asked Bayley why she called Bliss a liar.
Bayley said she called Bliss a liar because she is a liar. Cross said it’s not true and it’s unfair that Bayley continues to drag Bliss’ name through the dirt. Nikki said it isn’t fair. Bayley used that to parlay into her next point – wondering why she’s facing Alexa Bliss at Extreme Rules instead of Nikki Cross. Bayley brought up the fact that Cross defeated her, and Carmella, while Bliss has done neither. Cross said she’d like to face Bayley now. Bayley accepted. Cross ran to the ring, and Bayley walked behind her. The show went to commercial.
(2) NIKKI CROSS vs. BAYLEY
The show returned from break as the bell rang. Bayley quickly dropkicked Nikki Cross and went for a cover. Cross immediately kicked out. Cross left the ring to regroup. She frantically paced ringside before getting back in the ring. Bayley dropped her with a shoulder tackle.
Bayley whipped Nikki into the corner then gave her an elbow to the neck. She locked on an arm hold. Nikki fought out of it and connected with a jawbreaker. Bayley kneed Nikki in the mid section, then elbowed her into the corner. Nikki battled out and jumped on Bayley’s back, but Bayley snapped her off.
Nikki took Bayley down and climbed to the top rope. She connected with a flying cross body for a two cont. She clotheslined Bayley twice, then hit a running bulldog out of the corner. She pounded the mat, setting Bayley up for her finisher. Bayley rolled through into a backslide for a two count. Nikki climbed back to the middle rope and went for a tornado DDT, but Bayley threw Cross off. She quickly hit the Bayley to Belly for a three count.
WINNER: Bayley in 3:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to this one, but the action was fine while it lasted. I thought both women came off well in their respective roles here, which hasn’t always been the case with segments involving Bayley, Nikki and/or Bliss. Giving Bayley her win back was probably the right idea here, though I think I would have rather seen this given a little bit more time to develop. Cross got a good amount of offense in, though, so it’s hard to get really upset.)
-Backtage, Kofi Kingston was shown walking toward gorilla, smiling and pointing out people. He tossed a pancake to someone off screen. Byron Saxton said his face to face with Samoa Joe was coming up next.
-An Ali promo aired coming out of the break. He stood outside in a parking lot. He said people chase the WWE title because it brings money, fame and power. He said he doesn’t want that. He chases the WWE title because he wants to bring change. He wants to changes the minds of people who believe the lie that says where you come from, what you look like, and what your name is ultimately defines you. He equated himself to the every man, and said that when he accomplishes his goals, it will changed everyone’s mind. “Let the chase continue, friends, and more importantly, let the change begin.” Ali said.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Ali is good at these kinds of promos, but his message felt a little too Kofi Kingston-esque for me. This kind of thing plays better when you have a corporate, or at the very least, a heel champion on top imposing his will. Kofi Kingston is similarly a man of the people, with a grassroots, humbling story. It makes it harder to really get behind Ali’s similar come up with Kofi still on top.)
-Kayla Braxton stood in the ring to kick off the second hour. She welcomed WWE Champion, Kofi Kingston to the ring. Kofi skipped onto the stage with a full platter of pancakes (and more tucked into the title belt.) He tossed them out to the crowd on his way to the ring.
Kofi stood next to Kayla as she welcomed his challenger, Samoa Joe. Joe walked to the ring with a scowl on his face, staring intently at Kofi Kingston. The announcers claimed they’d never seen Joe quite this dangerous.
Samoa Joe said he and Kofi were about to discuss some “very sensitive subjects.” He suggested she leave the ring in the interest of “limiting collateral damage.” She quickly left. Joe called what he’d just done an act of generosity. He said Kingston is used to receiving those. “Every time New Day is offered a singles title opportunity, your name inevitably comes up,” Joe said. Joe said game recognizes game, and that he knows hustle when he sees it. Joe said while he hustles with fear, Kofi hustles with smiles and niceties. “You’re using these people, you’re no better than me,” Joe said.
Samoa Joe said Xavier Woods is destined to become Kofi’s hype man, while Big E serves as his butler. Kofi reminded Joe that he defeated Daniel Bryan alone, beat Kevin Owens alone, and beat Dolph Ziggler alone. He said he’d beat Samoa Joe alone, too. Kofi reminded Joe that he recently lost the U.S. title to Ricochet. “I almost feel bad for you, what happened to the old Samoa Joe?”
Kofi said the old Samoa Joe would take on all comers, now he just slowly creeps around. “Your ass is too big to be playing hide and seek,” Kofi said. Joe laughed and said Kofi is slick, always having an answer prepared. He accused Kofi of using his family to peddle New Day merch. “Right on cue,” Kofi said, “this is the part where Samoa Joe insults my family.” He said Joe is jealous. “Jealous Joe!” he exclaimed. The crowd broke into a brief chant.
Kofi said Samoa Joe will never have a moment like the one he had at WrestleMania. Joe said despite him always telling the truth, everyone chooses to continue being willfully ignorant. He said he’d prove himself right and asked Kofi to shake his hand. He said doing so comes with the realization that he’s shaking the hand of the next WWE Champion. Joe said in return, he’ll guarantee the safety of Kofi and all the people he loves up until Extreme Rules. Joe held out his hand.
“You know what I do, so what is your answer?” Joe said. Kofi looked at him intently. Joe said he had five seconds. After that, he said he’ll slap Kofi around the ring and “you’ll beg me to shake my hand.” Kingston held his hand out, but then looked up at Joe. He stuck his middle finger in Joe’s face. Joe became enraged, shaking. He went to attack Kofi, but Kofi hit him with Trouble in Paradise.
Kofi stood over a downed Samoa Joe and held up the WWE title. Saxton called Kofi a “proud and dominant WWE Champion” while Graves said the target on Kofi’s back just got bigger.
(LeClair’s Analysis: What a segment. Kofi was affable without falling back on a lot of the tropes they’ve built into his character recently. Joe was menacing and calculated. Joe’s logic behind requesting the handshake held weight because not only did he explain himself well, but the proposition included a callback to Joe’s feud with A.J. Styles and the torment of Styles’ family. All of this worked, and Kingston’s moment of defiance at the end was refreshing and painted him as a tough, strong-willed, bad ass champion. This was genuinely one of the better talking segments on Smackdown in a long while.)
-Sarah Schreiber stood at the interview set backstage. She welcomed Heavy Machinery. Sarah asked what went through their minds when they found out about their match tonight. Tucker said it was a big opportunity. They touted Ziggler and Owens’ individual accomplishments, but Otis added that they’ve never won a match together. Tucker said they have a great deal of respect for their opponents, and spend a lot of time scouting them. “The way we see it, Kevin and Dolph are going to implode, and we’re gonna take care of business.” Otis said they’d win the Smackdown tag titles, “we’re coming!” he yelled.
-Apollo Crews was shown walking down a hallway backstage. Byron Saxton said he’d be facing Andrade after the break.
-The show returned with a shot of the announcers desk. Tom Phillips threw to clips from the Strowman and Lashley stunt from Raw. A Twitter clip aired from Bobby Lashley’s account. Lashley said Braun got what he deserved. Lashley said he could’ve been electrocuted or worse, and Strowman knew that and didn’t care. “Next time I see that son of a bitch, I’m not gonna send him to the hospital, I’m gonna send him to the morgue,” Lashley said.
(3) APOLLO CREWS vs. ANDRADE (w/ Zelina Vega)
The camera cut back to the ring, with both competitors ready to go. The bell rang immediately. Crews engaged Andrade immediately, throwing a flurry of punches. Andrade took control quickly, downing Crews in the corner and stomping away at him.
Andrade hit the double running knees from the corner and covered Crews for a near fall. Zelina shouted instructions from ringside. Crews recovered and clotheslined Andrade to the outside. He stepped through the ropes and hit a moonsault off the apron, taking Andrade down. He tossed Andrade back in the ring and covered him for a two count. Phillips threw to a picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Andrade retreated to the outside. Crews followed him. The two traded punches at ringside, and Crews got the better of the exchange. He threw Andrade back in the ring then hit a springboard senton. He tried to press Andrade, but Andrade rolled down his back and knocked Crews out of the ring.
Andrade met Apollo on the outside and the two traded punches again. Back in the ring, Andrade dropped Crews in the corner and went for the double running knees a second time. Crews moved. Back in full screen, Crews caught Andrade with a quick side kick and then a trio of clotheslines. Saxton noted that this is Crews’ first official match on Smackdown since coming over in the Superstar Shakeup.
Crews lifted Andrade off the top rope and dropped him with a military press slam. He followed it up with a standing moonsault for a near fall. Crews went for a backdrop, but Andrade rolled over his back. He caught Crews with a big elbow. Crews rolled to the outside. Andrade tried to jump to the outside with a cross body, but Crews caught him and slammed him on the ring apron. The referee went to check on Andrade.
Zelina Vega hit a running hurricanrana on Crews, dropping him face first into the announcers desk. Andrade rolled outside and retrieved Crews. He hit the Hammerlock DDT and pinned Apollo Crews for the win.
WINNER: Andrade in 6:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Quick match, but solid enough. Both of these guys are supremely talented in the ring and it’s always nice to see them get TV time. Andrade needed a win here and I’m glad he got it, but Apollo Crews looked good and the announcers talked him up plenty. Hopefully this means more time for both of them going forward.)
-Backstage, Dolph Ziggler was shown tapping his wrists in a locker room. Kevin Owens walked in. He suggested this team may work if Ziggler stays in the corner and looks pretty while he does all the work. Ziggler recommended the opposite, saying he’d steal the show and win. Owens said they’re both pretty good on their own, but maybe they could be something together. He suggested they try to get along. “Fine, I’ve done way worse,” Ziggler said.
-Ember Moon was shown walking down a hallway. Carmella approached her to wish her good luck. Tom Phillips said Moon would face Mandy Rose after the break.
-The show returned with Aleister Black in a darkened room. He said there was a knock on his door last week, but he found that no one was there. “I applaud you,” he said. Black said this means he’s fighting with the mystery man on both a physical and spiritual level. He said he wants the man to show up at Extreme Rules. Black said he felt invigorated and was willing to “walk through the seven layers of hell” with whoever his opponent happens to be.
(4) EMBER MOON vs. MANDY ROSE (w/ Sonya Deville)
Moon and Rose were already in the ring when the camera cut back to the arena. As soon as the bell rang, Ember ran toward the ropes, trying to take out Sonya Deville. Deville backed away, and this allowed Rose to grab Ember by the hair and pull her down.
Moon quickly recovered and delivered a hard spinning elbow to Rose. She pounded on her back until Mandy made it into the ropes. Ember went for a quick kick, but Mandy caught her leg and lifted her into a sidewalk slam position. She flipped Ember over onto her stomach in a slam for a near fall.
Mandy whipped Ember into the corner. She hit her with a hard running knee and covered her for another near fall. Mandy elbowed Ember in the face then shoved her toward the corner. Moon hopped the ropes and flew off, taking Mandy out with double knees. As Mandy recovered, Ember climbed back to the top rope and connected with the Eclipse. She pinned Rose for a three count.
WINNER: Ember Moon in 3:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to this one, but good to see Ember get her win back. Hopefully this is the end of the awful angle these women have been trapped in. I’m all for secondary women’s angles, but the stories they tell should be, at minimum, substantially better than this. Saxton referred to this a “statement win” for Moon, which usually indicates that talent is moving on and up.)
-Shelton Benjamin was shown against a lit backdrop backstage. A disembodied voices asked him who he thought would win the WWE title match at Extreme Rules. Shelton looked around confusedly. The camera zoomed in on his face slowly. Benjamin smiled, then walked off screen.
-While Graves pondered what’s going on with Benjamin, Ziggler and Owens were shown walking toward gorilla. Phillips said their tag match was next.
-Back from the break, Xavier Woods and Big E were seated at their own announce desk, covered in platters of pancakes. Daniel Bryan and Rowan had joined the main commentary table. The two teams stared each other down, somewhat comically.
Owens and Ziggler made their way to the ring separately, followed by Heavy Machinery. Bryan and Xavier went at it over commentary. Bryan pondered why Heavy Machinery had the opportunity to earn another title shot. He then complained that since he just beat Big E, New Day isn’t qualified for a title shot either.
(5) KEVIN OWENS & DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. HEAVY MACHINERY (Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic)
Otis and Ziggler started off the match. Ziggler tried to shoot the leg, but Otis shoved him off. He tried a second time, and Otis caught him in a waist lock slam. Ziggler fought back to his feet an dropkicked Otis to his knees. He tried to whip Otis to the corner, but Otis countered and body splashed Dolph.
Owens pulled Ziggler to the outside to save him from Otis. Meanwhile, Big E grew tired of listening to Bryan on commentary and dove off his own table onto Bryan. Rowan and Xavier got involved. Bryan recovered and hit a running knee on Big E. Rowan flattened Xavier with a clothesline and then threw New Day’s pancakes everywhere. Rowan hit the Iron Claw on Xavier through New Day’s announce table. The show went to break.
Back from commercial, Tucker Knight and Kevin Owens circled the ring as the legal men. The announcers confirmed that Bryan and Rowan and New Day were ejected from ringside. Tucker hit a big dropkick on Owens then slapped on a headlock. Owens broke free. Tucker ran for the ropes, but Dolph pulled the top rope down and sent Knight spilling to the outside.
Owens tagged in Dolph, who went to retrieve Tucker. He rolled Tucker back in the ring and applied a toe hold, then tagged Owens back in. Owens and Ziggler began trading frequent tags to isolate Tucker in their corner. Phillips notated their teamwork.
Tucker nearly made it to Otis for a hot tag, but Ziggler powered him back into his corner and tagged in KO. Owens tried to maintain control, but Knight leaped off the middle rope with a twisting cross body. This allowed him to recover enough to make the hot tag into Otis.
Otis took down Owens, then hit Ziggler with a big running head butt. He gave Dolph a spinning body slam. Otis gave Ziggler a capture suplex for a near fall. Dolph slowly recovered and caught Otis with a DDT. He tagged in Owens.
Owens hit Otis with a super kick to the mid section. Otis shoved Owens to the outside. Ziggler ran in and tried to give Otis a Zig-Zag, but Otis bounced him off his back. He gave Ziggler a big body splash out of the corner. Otis set up for the caterpillar. The crowd came alive. Otis hit it, but then got caught with a super kick from Owens.
Owens went for a Stunner on Otis, but Otis shoved him off. Ziggler came in quick with a super kick, but Otis ducked and Ziggler kicked Owens instead. Tucker Knight returned to the ring and clotheslined Ziggler to the outside. Heavy Machinery hit the Compactor on Owens for the three count.
WINNERS: Heavy Machinery in 13:00
Heavy Machinery celebrated their win as the announcers showed highlights from the match. Owens struggled to his feet as Ziggler returned to the ring. He pulled Owens up by his head. Owens kicked Ziggler in the gut and hit him with a stunner. Owens kicked the ropes and screamed “this is my show!” The crowd chanted “one more time” as the show went off the air.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Fun match. A little chaotic at the start, but it served its purpose of heightening the tension already built between New Day and Bryan and Rowan. Heavy Machinery continue to improve, and Ziggler and Owens played great foils for them here. The finish seemed like the right one, and Owens’ attack on Ziggler after the match was a nice touch. I’m very much rooting for a full fledged babyface Kevin Owens.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This show was a marked improvement over anything we’ve seen on Smackdown in recent months. Beyond some solid wrestling, we got a fantastic segment between Samoa Joe and Kofi Kingston, minimal Shane McMahon, and a show centered largely around making the tag team titles seems like a big deal, with multiple stories interwoven throughout the night. KO’s personality developments are intriguing and enticing. We saw some rarely featured talent get TV time, an expiration date for Aleister Black’s odd promos, and what appeared to be an all around renewed focus on the things that matter. I’m considering night one of the Bischoff era to be a notable success.