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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 16, 2019
WORCESTER, MA AT DCU CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with a recap of Kevin Owens’ “pipe bomb” promo from last week’s Smackdown.
-In a clip from earlier today, Shane McMahon was shown backstage with a line of security. He informed them that Kevin Owens should be arriving soon. Just then, Kevin walked through the door. Shane greeted him jovially. Shane told Kevin that his message last week inspired Shane to hold the first ever Smackdown Town Hall, in case other wrestlers have grievances they’d like to get off their chest.
Owens questioned whether or not Shane would listen. Shane said he would. Shane told Owens that he would not tolerate insubordination. “My contract is with WWE, not with you,” KO retorted. Shane told Owens, “like it or not, I’m your boss.” Shane informed Kevin that he has the night off, and told him to leave the building. Owens left the arena reluctantly.
-The camera cut to the arena, where the entire Smackdown locker room stood atop the stage while Shane McMahon’s music played. Shane stood in the ring as Tom Phillips threw to clips from Shane McMahon’s tag team match at Extreme Rules.
Back live, Greg Hamilton delivered his patented ring introduction for Shane McMahon. Shane soaked it in and flailed like an orchestra conductor. The crowd pelted Shane with boos and a “you suck” chant. Shane recapped what he said to KO earlier in the day. Shane said he’d be happy to hear from any Superstar, so long as they’re respectful. He asked who would like to go first.
After some deliberation, Roman Reigns stepped to the microphone. New Day barked at him. “I don’t think you get it, nobody in this room respects you,” Reigns said. He told Shane to kiss his ass. Shane said he would fine Roman for the disrespectful comment.
Shane called on Charlotte to speak. She said what Roman said was uncalled for. She thanked Shane and praised the McMahon family for being gracious to her and her family. Liv Morgan interrupted her and asked her to stop being a phony. “Is there anything real about you?” Liv asked. Charlotte asked who Liv was.
Shane cut them both off and called Buddy Murphy to the microphone. Buddy said he doesn’t need Owens to fight his battles. He told Kevin to keep his name out of his mouth. Shane was impressed and said he’d talk to Murphy later. He called on Apollo Crews.
Crews said everyone agrees with Kevin Owens. Zelina Vega interrupted him and said she and Andrade don’t appreciate him kissing up to the fans. She suggested Apollo face Andrade tonight. Crews accepted.
Elias strummed his guitar and introduced himself. He was immediately cut off by the New Day. Big E called Elias the “greatest jackass in Smackdown history.” Kofi said that even though New Day doesn’t like Kevin Owens, he’s making good points. Kofi accused Shane of not giving people opportunities. His microphone went dead. Shane apologized and claimed “technical difficulties.” He said the meeting was productive and abruptly concluded the town hall.
The Smackdown locker room filed to the back, but Cesaro appeared and told Shane he’s a wild card from Raw, looking for a match with Aleister Black. Shane granted him the match.
Shane said he hoped that the town hall proved he “doesn’t rule with an iron first.” Kevin Owens slid in the ring behind Shane. He spun him around and kicked him in the gut. Shane slipped to his knees as Owens tried to stun him, making for an awkward moment. He staggered back up and KO hit the stunner. Owens mocked Shane’s dance to a big reaction from the crowd. He escaped through the crowd.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was a bit of an odd segment. Reigns was the right guy to lead the charge in calling out Shane to start things out, but by and large, this didn’t quite live up to the level of intrigue I was hoping for going in. The lesser-used talent didn’t really stand out, the heels made endeared themselves to Shane generically. The highlight of the segment, aside from Owens showing up to deliver a stunner, was New Day barking excitedly at Roman Reigns.)
-After the break, the announcers recapped Owens’ appearance at the end of the opening segment.
-Aleister Black’s music hit. Byron Saxton called Black’s entrance “stunning.” The announcers discussed Black’s victory over Cesaro at Extreme Rules. Cesaro headed to the ring as the announcers teased the women’s tag team title match happening later in the night.
(1) ALEISTER BLACK vs. CESARO
Black ducked a tie up and delivered some punches. Cesaro fired back with an uppercut. Black caught Cesaro with a knee to the midsection, then a hard kick to the head. Cesaro rolled to the outside. Black teased a dive, but backflipped into the ring into his signature seated position. He stared down Cesaro as Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Cesaro reentered the ring with a headbutt to Black’s midsection. Aleister recovered quickly and kicked Cesaro into the corner. Cesaro blocked a kick and dumped Black over the top rope to the floor. He caught his breath, then retrieved Aleister from the outside. Cesaro slapped on a hold but Black quickly fought out and sent Cesaro into the corner. Black shoved him out, hopped to the top rope, and connected with double diving knees.
Both men returned to their feet and traded forearms. Cesaro tossed Black off the ropes and tossed him up into the air, landing a bit uppercut for a two count. He hit a running uppercut for another two count. Black locked in a chin lock for the remainder for the break.
Back in full screen, Black fought free. He and Cesaro traded blows again. Black hit a leg sweep kick to take Cesaro down, then followed up with a sliding knee. He followed it up with a springboard moonsault from the middle rope for a two count. Black slapped the mat and set up for Black mass. Cesaro countered with an uppercut. He took Black down with a big boot for a two count. Cesaro turned Black over immediately into a crossface. Black turned it over into a cover for a two count.
Back on their feet, Black shot Cesaro into the ring post and followed with a jumping knee strike to the face. Cesaro collapsed. Black lifted him up by the face with his foot, then connected with Black Mass. Cesaro’s mouth guard flew out his mouth on impact. Black covered Cesaro for a three count.
WINNER: Aleister Black in 6:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match, but a step down from their Extreme Rules encounter. This needed more time to really get going, and the extended commercial break in the middle prevented it from ever really reaching any sort of crescendo. Still, Black is getting over with his style and believability.)
-Backstage, Dolph Ziggler approached Shane McMahon. He said he wants to teach Owens a lesson by beating him tonight. Shane said he’s probably long gone by now. Dolph said he always “makes things happen” and can get Owens back to the arena if he’s promised the main event. Shane agreed.
-Charlotte Flair was shown walking down a hallway backstage. Corey Graves announced she’d face Liv Morgan after the break.
-Back from the break, Tom Phillips discussed Daniel Bryan’s “career altering announcement” later tonight. He threw to a clip from WWE.com following Bryan’s loss at Extreme Rules. In it, Bryan said he had a dream about elevating the tag team division and he failed. Bryan was incensed. He said if he wants to change the planet, he has to aim higher and “go where Daniel Bryan has never gone before.”
-Charlotte Flair’s music hit and she headed to the ring. Liv Morgan headed to the ring as the announcers plugged the Raw and Smackdown tapings at Madison Square Garden in September. Byron talked about Liv’s lack of opportunity on Smackdown thus far.
(2) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. LIV MORGAN
Charlotte shoved Liv to the mat and taunted her. She went for a clothesline but Liv ducked it and gave Charlotte a quick hurricanrana followed by a missile dropkick. She posed as Charlotte recovered. Flair went for a dropkick but Morgan caught her in a waist lock. Charlotte powered out and took Morgan down.
Flair hung Liv up in the ropes until the referee broke the hold. She chopped at her chest. Liv countered out of a backdrop and connected with an enziguri. She covered Charlotte for a two count. Liv shot off the ropes but Charlotte caught her with a big power bomb. She locked in the figure four and bridged into the figure eight for a quick tap out victory.
WINNER: Charlotte Flair in 2:00
Liv hobbled out of the ring as Charlotte’s music played. She snatched Corey’s headset off of his head. “Charlotte was right, and when I come back, I’m gonna be real,” Liv said. She threw Graves’ headset down and limped away.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Liv showed a little bit of fire here. Charlotte getting a clean win was obviously the right move, and begins to re-establish her position on Smackdown. I’m interested to see where they take Liv, though, especially after the post match message.)
-Backstage, Ziggler retrieved a phone number from a referee.
-In a hallway backstage, Ember Moon walked toward the camera. Byron teased a tag team match between Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville against Ember Moon and a partner of her choosing after the break.
-The show returned with Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose making their way to the ring. Ember Moon entered next as the announcers debated whether or not she’d found herself a partner. Bayley’s music hit, and she and Ember unleashed the Bayley Buddies together. The announcers recapped Bayley’s Women’s title match at Extreme Rules.
(3) MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE vs. EMBER MOON & BAYLEY
Rose and Deville attacked Bayley and Ember as soon as the bell rang, catching them off guard. Bayley was declared the legal woman. Rose and Deville immediately began double teaming her, tagging in and out quickly. Rose hung Bayley up on the middle rope and broke just before the referee hit five.
Bayley recovered quickly, took down Rose, and tagged in Ember. Ember unleashed on Rose, sending her corner to corner and delivering a big clothesline. She climbed to the top rope to set up for the Eclipse. Sonya Deville hopped in the ring. Bayley intercepted her and connected with the Bayley to Belly. Ember hit the Eclipse on Mandy Rose for the three count.
WINNERS: Ember Moon & Bayley in 2:00
Kayla Braxton got in the ring to speak with Bayley and Ember. She asked Bayley who her next challenger will be. Bayley said she wants to get back to elevating the Smackdown Women’s division. The crowd booed. Bayley ran down the list of qualities she’s looking for in an opponent. She looked deep in thought, then turned to Ember Moon. “What do you say?” asked Kayla. “Hell yeah!” Ember said.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Nothing match. The Bayley reveal didn’t seem to generate any sort of response either way from the crowd, and the match was basically over before it began. Thankfully, the post match promo confirmed that this little feud with Mandy and Sonya seems to be over. Unfortunately, Ember hasn’t built any sort of momentum to be Bayley’s next challenger. She’s been trading wins and losses in quick matches with Deville and Rose, hardly a precursor to facing the Women’s Champion. In any case, it should be a good match, at least.)
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber stood with the new Intercontinental Champion, Shinsuke Nakamura. She congratulated him on his victory. Nakamura said he’s free to bring chaos to the whole universe. He turned to leave, but Ali was standing in his path. Ali congratulated him and walked away.
-Daniel Bryan and Rowan were shown heading to gorilla. Corey Graves said Bryan’s announcement would be next.
-Out of the commercial, Tom Phillips recapped the happenings between Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens earlier in the show. At the announcers desk, Phillips confirmed that Owens had been contacted and was on his way back to the arena.
-The second hour began as Big E’s entrance announcement filled the PA system and New Day headed to the ring, happily tossing out pancakes. Big E “swam” into the ring. The trio grabbed microphones.
Kofi asked the crowd to give it up for the New Day. Xavier Woods said that Kofi dismantled Samoa Joe at Extreme Rules. Kofi wanted to talk about Big E and Xavier becoming Smackdown Tag Team Champions after dethroning Daniel Bryan and Rowan. the Crowd roared in approval. “We got all the gold!” yelled Kofi. He referred to New Day as “African American Leprechauns .”
Big E said he already knows what Daniel Bryan’s announcement is. He said Bryan wants to talk about fracking, and the ridiculous ice cream licking challenge. “Please stop doing that,” he implored. He said he knows Bryan wants a tag team title rematch, and New Day accepts, “right here tonight in Worcester.”
Daniel Bryan’s music hit and he and Rowan walked onto the stage. Bryan looked around at the crowd with contempt. He and Rowan turned around and walked to the back, but reappeared a moment later. Bryan walked toward the ring. His face twitched. He raised the microphone to his mouth, but turned back and walked backstage again.
A moment later, he entered for a third time. The crowd broke into a “New Day rocks” chant. Bryan dropped the mic and walked out for a third time.
Samoa Joe’s music played and he walked onto the stage. Joe said it appears as though Daniel Bryan isn’t in the mood for a title opportunity. “Unfortunately for you gentlemen, I do not suffer the same affliction,” Joe said. He called Big E and Xavier “backup dancers” passing out title opportunities like it’s Christmas in July. He challenged Kofi to a WWE title match tonight.
Elias’ music cut Joe off. He said he’s primed to take the WWE title from Kofi. Randy Orton’s music hit. Orton threw his name out, saying it’s been a while since he’s had gold and he’s “gonna take it.” He said he’d do it with the three most destructive letters in Sports Entertainment. Elias suggested he, Joe, and Orton team up to face New Day tonight.
“Are you suggesting a six man tag team match, playa?” asked Xavier. Kofi called for a “championship huddle.” New Day accepted. “A six man? Nah, I’m good,” Orton said. He turned to leave. Kofi accused Orton of being “limp.” This turned Orton around, apparently making the match official.
(LeClair’s Analysis: The segment was fine, but failing to deliver on the advertised announcement from Bryan was a little disappointing. I assume this is likely a tease leading to him facing Kofi again, be it at Summerslam or at a later date, given Orton, Joe, and Elias getting involved after Bryan’s departure.)
(4) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Big E & Xavier Woods) vs. RANDY ORTON & SAMOA JOE & ELIAS
The match began as soon as the show returned from break. Elias grabbed a head lock on Kofi Kingston and then took him down with a shoulder tackle. Kofi hopped over Elias when shot off the ropes and took him down with a clothesline.
Elias returned to his corner and tagged in Samoa Joe. Joe whipped Kofi into the corner and charged, but Kingston caught him with double knees to the mat. Kofi gave Joe a snapmare then tagged in Xavier Woods. The pair executed a seated dropkick/elbow combo. Kofi hit a springboard splash, then Xavier dove from the top rope with a splash of his own. Big E tagged himself in and splashed Joe as well. He covered Joe for a near fall.
Joe fought off Big E and tagged in Elias. Big E immediately caught Elias in an abdominal stretch and smacked Elias to the New Day tune. Big E tagged in Woods and they hit a tandem wheelbarrow splash. Woods hit the Honor Roll on Elias for a near fall.
Elias recovered and distracted the referee. Randy Orton dropped Xavier Woods from the apron. Elias shot Woods into the corner and kicked him repeatedly. He tossed Woods to the outside. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, the heels took advantage of Woods on the outside. Elias tagged in Joe and Xavier returned to the ring. After dominating Woods for a minute or two, Joe tagged in Randy Orton. Orton tossed Woods to the outside and slammed him into the announcers desk.
Back to full screen, Orton tagged in Elias, who continued cutting Woods off. Xavier fought to try to make it to his corner, but Elias pulled him back then clotheslined both Big E and Kofi to the floor. Samoa Joe left the apron and attacked Big E at ringside. Elias set Woods on the top rope and attempted a superplex, but Woods fought him off.
Xavier flew off the top rope with a missile dropkick. He crawled slowly to his corner and tagged in Kofi Kingston. Elias tagged in Randy Orton. Kofi cleaned house, clotheslining Orton three times and then hitting the Boom Drop. He set up for Trouble in Paradise. Orton backed away from it. Randy went for the RKO, but Kofi blocked it.
Kingston hopped onto the top rope and hit a flying cross body, but Elias broke up the pin fall attempt. Big E returned to the ring and gave Elias a big belly to belly suppler. Samoa Joe ran in and took Big E down with a clothesline. Woods jumped Joe from behind and dumped him over the top rope. Woods dove over the top with a suicide dive, taking out Joe. Joe quickly recovered and slammed Woods’ head into the apron, then locked in the Coquina Clutch on the outside.
Big E tried to save Woods, but Elias caught him with a running knee strike. He slid back in the ring. Kofi caught Elias with Trouble in Paradise. Randy Orton immediately hit Kofi with the RKO and covered him for the victory.
WINNERS: RANDY ORTON & SAMOA JOE & ELIAS in 9:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent, albeit standard six man tag team TV match. The chaotic finish was fun, and Orton getting a clean win over Kingston should solidify him as Kofi’s Summerslam opponent. Randy doesn’t always deliver the most interesting matches, but this could be an entertaining feud if they draw on their history together. I really hope they back to their short lived program from 2009-2010.)
-Backstage, Asuka and Kairi Sane walked down the hallway with Paige a step or two behind them. Saxton said their tag team title match against the Iiconics would be after the commercial.
-Carmella was shown backstage searching for R-Truth. Truth’s disembodied voice could be heard somewhere in the vicinity. Carmella found him hiding inside what looked like an old washing machine. Carmella suggested he wear a costume and hide at Comic-Con. Truth thought she was talking about jail and refused. He fell out of the machine and yelled “Truth down!” Carmella scooped him up and led him away.
-Back in the arena, The Iiconics headed to the ring. Asuka and Kairi Sane were already waiting for them. Hamilton gave each team formal introductions.
(5) THE IICONICS (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) vs. ASUKA & KAIRI SANE (w/ Paige) – WWE Women’s Tag Team title match
Kairi Sane and Peyton Royce began the match. Peyton slapped Kairi. Sane slapped her back and took her down with a head scissors. She tagged in Asuka, who hit a code breaker on Royce. She and Sane hit a pair of tandem moves. Asuka covered Royce for a near fall.
Royce recovered and hung up Paige in the middle rope. She tagged in Billie Kay. Kay rolled up Asuka for a two count. Royce yelled at Asuka. Asuka kicked her in the head. Billie rolled to the outside. The referee began to count. Billie climbed back onto the apron at a count of seven, but thought better of getting back in the ring. She dropped down to the mat and The Iiconics celebrated their count out loss.
WINNERS: Asuka & Kairi Sane by count out in 2:00, Iiconics retain titles
Sane and Asuka immediately rushed out of the ring and attacked the champions. Asuka tossed Peyton Royce in the ring and delivered a stiff kick to the face. Kairi Sane followed it up with the Insane Elbow. Paige raised Sane and Asuka’s arms as the Iiconics escaped up the ramp.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This wasn’t good. I understand that this was done to set up another match between these teams, but they’ve been teasing this for weeks and failing to deliver. Finally, they come through, and it’s a quick non-finish. The Women’s tag team titles have been virtually meaningless since being introduced, and the Iiconics rarely wrestle. This doesn’t do anyone any favors, and marks the second pre-announced Smackdown segment that wound up with no delivery.)
-Andrade was shown walking backstage alongside Zelina Vega. The announcers teased his match with Apollo Crews coming up next.
-Back from the break, Andrade and Zelina Vega were already in the ring. Apollo Crews headed to the ring next. When he leaped over the top rope into the ring, Andrade kicked him in the gut and began stomping away at him. Phillips mentioned we’d seen this exact same thing before. Crews slowly returned to his feet and told the referee he could still wrestle.
(6) ANDRADE (w/ Zelina Vega) vs. APOLLO CREWS
The referee called the bell and Andrade attacked immediately. Crews fought back with punches. He went for an enziguri but Andrade ducked it. He kicked Apollog in the head and then followed it up with a hard back elbow that dropped Crews. Andrade propped Crews in the corner and charged with the running double knees.
Andrade tried to cover Crews, but Apollo rolled him over into a crucifix pin for a surprise three count.
WINNER: Apollo Crews in 2:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Another quick match that did no one any favors. We saw this identical pre-match attack weeks ago, as referenced by the announcers. They set this match up earlier in the night for no real reason other than to essentially get Apollo his win back, but still get beaten down in the process. This is the kind of 50/50 booking that just winds up dulling everyone, and everything down.)
Crews escaped the ring quickly as Zelina yelled at him. Andrade slapped the mat in frustration.
-At the announcers desk, Phillips and Graves discussed Bray Wyatt’s return on last night’s Raw. They showed clips of his attack on Finn Balor.
-Dolph Ziggler was shown walking backstage for his main event match against Kevin Owens, coming after the break.
-Dolph Ziggler headed to the ring first for the main event. The announcers plugged Summerslam. Kevin Owens came out next, walking with a purpose.
(7) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. KEVIN OWENS
The referee held Owens back until the bell rang. Ziggler charged at Owens for a super kick, but KO caught the leg and tried to give Ziggler a Stunner. Ziggler backed away quickly and left the ring. Owens immediately dove over the top rope and took Ziggler down. He tossed Dolph back in the ring, yelling, “I’m so much better than you!”
Owens climbed to the top rope and went for a senton. Ziggler got his knees up. He quickly hit the Famouser for a near fall. Ziggler followed it up with a jumping elbow for another two count. He applied a hold and then settled into a crossface. Owens fought out got to his feet, but Dolph held on and hit a neck breaker for a two count. Ziggler applied a headlock.
Owens battled out with knees to the stomach. He and Ziggler exchanged meetings with the turnbuckles. Ziggler hit a jumping DDT for a two count. Ziggler charged at KO but wound up slamming his own face into the top turnbuckle. Owens hit him with a super kick. Owens climbed to the top rope and hit the senton for a near fall.
Shane McMahon walked down to the ring with Drew McIntyre, Elias, and the majority of Smackdown’s heels. Owens jawed with Shane. Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on a distracted KO for a very close near fall. The camera pulled back to show all the heels surrounding the ring.
Ziggler tossed Owens into the ring post. He slapped him repeatedly. Owens punched Ziggler in the face. Ziggler pounded away at Owens. He tossed him into the ring post a second time. Owens collapsed to the mat. Ziggler tuned up the band and went for the super kick. KO ducked it and hit the Stunner. He covered Ziggler, but Shane pulled him out of the ring. KO stunned Shane as well.
Owens had to retreat up the ramp as all the heels gave chase.
WINNER: No contest (?) in 9:00
The camera focused on Shane McMahon, who had propped himself up against the ring apron. Kayla Braxton approached him. Shane said Kevin Owens is gonna pay. He got up and walked up the ramp with Drew McIntyre at his side. Corey Graves said the McMahons will not be disrespected as the show went off the air.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was a good match up until Shane and company got involved. I would’ve preferred Owens get another victory and then have the shenanigans happen. Technically, this should’ve been a DQ in Owens’ favor, but it wasn’t announced as such because rules don’t matter. I’m really enjoying Kevin Owens’ babyface persona and I’m hoping that this doesn’t somehow lead to him losing to Shane McMahon.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This show was heavy on wrestling, but most of it wasn’t very good. The opener between Black and Cesaro was good, but too short, and the Owens vs. Ziggler match was marred by the non-finish. The rest of the night’s action was either largely forgettable, counterproductive, or simply too short to matter. Smackdown usually gets by on about four matches, and this week’s show featured seven. WWE failed to deliver the advertised Women’s Tag title match in any real capacity, and postponed Bryan’s announcement with his walk out. As usual, there were some enjoyable aspects to this show, but it was bogged down by wonky booking and, in the case of tonight, a breakneck speed.