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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 23, 2019
MIAMI, FL AT AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips. David Otunga, Big E, Xavier Woods
-The show began with a video package recapping the on-going rivalry between Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens
-New Day’s music played over wide shot of the American Airlines Arena in Miami. Tom Phillips announced that Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were not in the building tonight, and David Otunga was joining him on commentary. Big E and Xavier Woods danced atop the announcer’s table. Phillips said the tag team champions would be joining them as well.
Phillips remarked that Shawn Michaels was originally scheduled to be on commentary, but instead would be joining the Miz for a special edition of MizTV later in the night.
Shane McMahon’s music cut off New Day’s. Big E and Xavier quit dancing as Shane stepped out onto the stage. Shane climbed to the second rope and called on Greg Hamilton to introduce him. “Don’t do this Greg,” Xavier pleaded from the commentary table. Hamilton delivered Shane’s introduction as usual.
Shane touted the Raw Reunion. He said he was happy to see many faces, but was especially happy to not see Kevin Owens. Shane said Kevin Owens was “yapping on social media and challenged me to a match at Summerslam.” Shane accepted Owens’ challenge, saying Summerslam wouldn’t be the same without the best in the world competing.
The crowd broke into a “you can’t wrestle” chant. “Ask Roman Reigns about that,” Shane said. Shane announced that KO said he’d quit if he couldn’t beat Shane. Shane showed a clip from Raw last year when Owens “quit” after a match with Seth Rollins. Shane said this time, he wanted Owens’ promise in writing. Kevin Owens’ music hit and he stood atop the ramp.
Owens said that the clip Shane dug up was the lowest moment in his career. “That was the old version of me, the version who didn’t want to ruffle any feathers,” Kevin proclaimed. He said that’s not him anymore. Owens said he knew Shane would accept his challenge, because he loves the spotlight so much. “I’m not gonna quit, because at Summerslam, I’m gonna beat the living hell out of you,” Owens said. He said he doesn’t need to wait until Summerslam, and started to walk toward the ring.
Shane said if he comes any closer, the match at Summerslam is off. He said Owens should fight tonight, though. Shane contemplated an opponent, then settled on Roman Reigns. Shane smiled and his music played as he and Kevin jawed at one another.
-Tom Phillips teased that Kofi Kingston would announce who he’d like to defend his WWE title against at Summerslam. Otunga brought up Shawn Michaels on MizTV.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Glad to see the Owens/Shane match made official. Hopefully this is a clear cut win for Owens and we can get a bit of a reprieve from Shane for a while. I’m really enjoying the babyface Kevin Owens and I’m really interested to see how he continues to develop. The decision to put him against Roman Reigns is curious, but I expect it to end in some sort of shenanigans.)
-Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura headed down a hallway. Phillips announced he’d face Apollo Crews after the break.
-After the break, Shane McMahon was shown walking backstage. He ran into Elias and Drew McIntyre. Elias said Shane has outdone his brilliant leadership by forcing Kevin Owens to face Roman Reigns. Shane said the match needs to be even more special, so he’s making Drew McIntyre the special guest referee and Elias the special timekeeper. Shane decided he would serve as special guest ring announcer.
-Shinsuke Nakamura headed to the ring. The announcers threw to clips from Extreme Rules, where Shinsuke won the Intercontinental title from Finn Balor. Apollo Crews headed to the ring as New Day cracked jokes on commentary.
(1) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. APOLLO CREWS
Xavier Woods talked up Apollo Crews and his new assertive attitude. Nakamura kicked Apollo’s hand and applied a headlock. Off the ropes, Crews took down Nakamura with a shoulder tackle. He followed it up with a scoop lam and a jumping elbow for a quick two count.
Crews lifted Nakamura and hit an impressive stalling suplex for another two count. Crews lifted Nakamura. Shinsuke hit him with quick chops. Apollo clotheslined Nakamura over the top rope to the floor. Crews hit a moonsault onto Nakamura from the apron. Phillips send the show to picture in picture commercial.
On the small screen, Nakamura kicked Crews’ legs out from underneath him on the apron, then ripped Apollo to the outside. He tossed Crews back in the ring and covered him for a one count. Nakamura slapped on a headlock to slow the match down. He lifted Apollo and tossed him in the corner, kicking away at his abdomen and then shoving his heel in Apollo’s neck. Nakamura continued his assault with vicious kicks in the corner.
Out of the corner, Shinsuke kicked Apollo in the midsection and then downed him with another headlock. Apollo slowly broke free. Back to full screen, Crews hit Nakamura with a jumping clothesline. New Day reacted excitedly. Crews scored a near fall after a quick side kick. Crews lifted Shinsuke for the military press, but Nakamura slid down his back and connected with a stiff kick.
Nakamura hung Crews up in the ropes, kicked him in the back and then connected with the sliding snap German suplex. Nakamura set up and then charged at Crews for the Kinshasa, but Apollo caught him with an enziguri. He followed it up with an Olympic slam for a believable near fall. Crews headed to the top rope, but Nakamura cut him off with a kick to the face.
Nakamura kneed Crews in the face then retreated to the corner. He charged at Crews again for the Kinshasa, but Crews threw him up into the air and dropped him. He went for a standing shooting star press, but Nakamura moved out of the way. Shinsuke quickly stood and connected with the Kinshasa for a three count.
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura in 8:00
After the bell, Nakamura kicked Apollo Crews repeatedly. Crews rolled toward the ropes in retreat, but Nakamura continued to kick him. He stomped Crews on the outside, then climbed the ramp for a running start. He charged at Crews and hit him with the Kinshasa again.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really solid match. Apollo Crews is finally getting an opportunity to show his skills on a weekly basis and you can hear the crowds slowly getting behind him. Nakamura seemed motivated and worked extremely well with Apollo. The post match attack gives Crews a reason to show fire in the coming weeks, and it establishes Nakamura as a ruthless heel on a dominant run. I liked this segment all the way around.)
-Backstage, Sonya Deville was shown on her cell phone. Mandy Rose approached. Sonya asked where she’d been all day, and Mandy said she’d been taking care of business, talking to Shane. She brought up something about Kevin Owens making fun of the Iiconics (this wasn’t clear, Mandy definitely forgot her lines.) She said because of this, she and Sonya were getting an opportunity next week. “We’re getting a tag team title match?” asked Sonya. Mandy said yes, then contradicted herself by saying they’d get a title match if they won their match next week. They hugged.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was a total mess. Mandy flubbed her first line and you could tell it immediately threw her off. The rest of the promo made no sense.)
-The Miz was shown walking down a hallway backstage. The announcers teased his MizTV segment with Shawn Michaels coming up after the break.
-Ali was shown sitting in a stairwell. He said he needs to rewrite his story, and it won’t be a sob story. He recalled his humble beginnings and talked about the injury that led him to being removed from the Elimination Chamber match. He said the pen is in his hand and he’s not going to let anyone else write his story. “Mark my words, Ali will go down in history for his story.”
-Back in the ring, The Miz stood in the ring. Greg Hamilton introduced him as the host of MizTV. Miz welcomed the audience to the show and asked how Miami was feeling. They cheered. He plugged Miz & Mrs. and then threw to clips from last night’s Raw Reunion.
Back live, Miz talked up Shawn Michaels before welcoming him to MizTV. Shawn’s music played and Big E and Xavier comically sang along from commentary. Michaels entered the ring with plenty of energy. At the announcers desk, Big E played his tag title belt raucously like a guitar.
Miz asked Michaels how he felt about Raw Reunion and whether or not it took away from the current talent. Shawn said he’s been on both sides, but Stone Cold said it best when he said that they’re like family and they can’t pass up an opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Miz said everyone had a blast. The crowd broke into a loud “HBK” chant.
Shawn said they welcomed an honorary member of DX and the Kliq in Seth Rollins. “Yeah, thanks for the invite,” Miz joked. Shawn said he’s enjoyed watching Seth work his way from the PC and NXT to WWE. He plugged Rollins’ match with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. Dolph Ziggler’s music cut Michaels off.
“Enough with these so called legends,” Ziggler said. “If I’m ever just happy to be here, just put me out of my misery.” Miz said he’d be happy to punch Ziggler in the face again. Michaels told Miz to give Ziggler a chance to get this off his chest. Ziggler said he used to look up to Michaels. He said HBK had a chance to go down as the greatest of all time, but shuffles out to the ring every chance he gets. “It’s embarrassing as all those legends last night, it’s as embarrassing as Goldberg in a wrestling ring, Shawn, you are embarrassing.”
Ziggler told Shawn that he broke his heart when he got back in the ring. He said he was embarrassing again. Michaels said he doesn’t disagree. “It was embarrassing, and I was embarrassed.” Michaels said the only thing worse is working your entire career to be known as nothing more than a “second rate Shawn Michaels wannabe.” Ziggler scowled.
Ziggler said there’s only one second rate Shawn Michaels, and it’s Shawn Michaels. “I’m looking at him,” Ziggler said. Ziggler said Miz is making a career out of kissing ass. Miz cut him off and told him to “do something already.” He said he’s tired of listening to Ziggler complain. “In this company, you make it you,” Miz yelled. “Do something about it.”
Michaels held Miz back by the arm. Ziggler stared at him. Miz leaned in to Ziggler, arms behind his back. Dolph turned his back to walk away. Michaels grabbed him by the arm. Ziggler threw a bunch but Shawn ducked, so Ziggler connected with Miz. Michaels punched Ziggler then turned to help Miz. Ziggler caught him with a super kick. Dolph shook with rage, then darted out of the ring before Miz could get his hands on him. Miz attended to Michaels while Ziggler looked on.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This segment seemed to lack purpose until Ziggler showed up. The opening moments felt like WWE directly addressing the part of the audience that’s tired of seeing nostalgia acts hijack shows. “Everyone had a blast!” was essentially code for “don’t complain!” Things picked up when Ziggler came out, though. To be honest, it was a bit surreal seeing Ziggler and Michaels in the ring together after many considered it to be a dream match for so long. It looks like we may wind up seeing it after all, or, at the very least, Michaels accompanying Miz for a match with Ziggler. I guess now that the cork is out of the bottle, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to see Shawn work a couple of matches if that’s what he wants. I wish a feud with Ziggler could mean more, though.)
-Tom Phillip quickly teased Ember Moon vs. Charlotte Flair as the show went to commercial.
-The show returned from break with Ember Moon and Charlotte Flair already in the ring. Charlotte’s music was still playing.
(2) EMBER MOON vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR
Tom Phillips touted this as a “first time ever” match as the referee rang the bell. Charlotte quickly dropped Ember to her knees and shot her off the ropes. Charlotte went for a hip toss but Ember rolled through it. Charlotte dropped her to the mat and gave her a stomp. Bayley’s music hit.
Bayley stepped out onto the stage. Charlotte stopped her attack to turn her attention to Bayley walking down the ramp. Ember Moon rolled up Charlotte for a quick three count.
WINNER: Ember Moon in 1:00
After the match, Bayley stood beside Ember outside the ring, jawing with Charlotte. Ember grabbed Bayley and tossed her into the ring. Charlotte gave Bayley a big boot to the back of the head. Charlotte laughed at Bayley as Ember climbed to the top rope. She flew off the top and hit Charlotte with the Eclipse. Ember climbed to the top rope on the opposite corner and hit Bayley with the Eclipse as well. The announcers touted Ember’s strategy as she prepares to face Bayley.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I would’ve rather seen Ember get a real win over Charlotte here to establish that she’s an up and coming act that should be taken seriously. It’s no surprise they didn’t go that route, given how much they value Charlotte, but this segment was an overall net positive for Ember, so it’s hard to complain too much.)
-Backstage, Kofi Kingston was shown walking down a hallway, tossing out pancakes. New Day cheered Kofi on as Phillips teased Kofi’s Summerslam opponent announcement coming up after the break.
-The second hour began with a shot of Roman Reigns backstage, readying himself for his match against Kevin Owens. David Otunga teased the match and Shane and company’s involvement.
-Back in the arena, Kofi Kingston headed to the ring and tossed pancakes to the crowd from between his title and his waistline. Tom Phillips teased the “Smackville” special event airing on WWE Network this Saturday.
At the announcers desk, Big E and Xavier had been replaced by Michael Cole. Tom Phillips announced that Byron Saxton was absent because of the death of his father. No mention of Corey Graves.
In the ring, Kofi danced along to a “Kofi” chant. He said before he faces Samoa Joe, he wants to talk about who he hopes will be his opponent at Summerslam. He called out Randy Orton. Randy Orton’s music hit and Orton walked slowly to the ring.
Kofi said he called Randy out because they have a bit of history. Kofi brought up their match at Madison Square Garden. He threw to footage from the match in November of 2009. Kofi said the moment still gives him goosebumps, because it was supposed to be the moment that he took it to the next level. “That was the moment I was supposed to make it to the main event scene.” Kofi said Orton used his influence to hold him back. “It almost worked, until it didn’t,” Kofi said.
Kofi said he kept working, kept grinding, and found the power of positivity. Orton admitted to holding him back. “I was doing you a favor, you weren’t ready back then, and you’re not ready now.” He called Kofi’s title win a fluke. Orton touted his eighteen years on top. He said he never had to work hard to get where he is, because he’s Randy Orton. “I didn’t have to fake a Jamaican accent, throw pancakes, or shake my ass, all I had to do was be me,” Orton bragged. Orton said he wins matches, he wins titles, he wins Royal Rumbles, and he main events WrestleManias.
Orton said it’s only because of him that Kofi got a title shot. He explained that he’s responsible for injuring Ali, and Kofi took Ali’s place. Orton said Kofi doesn’t deserve the title, and he can take it from him whenever he wants. Kofi challenged Orton to a match at Summerslam. Orton accepted. He said Kofi’s fairytale comes to a halt at Summerslam, thanks to an RKO. Orton tossed the mic to the mat and left to his music.
Samoa Joe’s music hit as Orton walked up the ramp. Joe and Randy crossed paths and stared each other down in passing. Orton turned back to watch Joe. Joe slid in the ring and got in Kofi’s face as Orton sauntered back toward the ring. Phillips said the match between Kofi and Joe would be next.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m glad they immediately brought up the history between Orton and Kingston. I’m not usually particularly excited about Randy Orton title programs, but this is just about the most interesting one he could have, and probably the most interesting scenario for Kofi right now too. Hopefully Orton is motivated enough to lead to a really great match at Summerslam.)
-A video package aired for Aleister Black, presented by Burger King.
(3) KOFI KINGSTON vs. SAMOA JOE
The bell rang as soon as the show returned from break. Randy Orton had taken a seat at ringside. Orton and Joe locked up. The traded arm twists and holds. Kofi caught Joe in a waist lock but Joe quickly fought free and dumped Kingston with a fireman’s carry. He began working over Kingston’s arm again and manipulating his fingers.
Kofi broke free and twisted Joe’s arm. Joe grabbed the champion by the hair and dropped him to the mat. Joe chopped Kofi hard, then gave him a headbutt. Kofi battled out with slaps to the chest and punches to the head. Joe bounced off the ropes, but Kofi leapfrogged him twice and then caught him with a hip check. He kicked Joe out of the ring, then flew over the top rope, taking down Joe on the outside. Kofi tossed Joe back in the ring.
Kingston charged and hit Joe with an elbow in the corner. He mounted Joe for punches, but Joe slid underneath, slamming Kofi’s head off the top turnbuckle. Joe chopped Kofi again. Kofi ducked a shot from Joe and sent him flying into the corner. Kofi charged, but Joe caught him with an STO for a near fall. The show went to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Kofi slowly returned to his feet. Joe pummeled him with body shots and backed him into the ropes. Kofi flurried out with chops and kicks, but Joe cut him off with a big clothesline. He slapped a chin crank on Kofi for the remainder of the break.
When the show returned to full screen, Kofi began working out of the hold. He caught Joe with two running chops, then a leaping clothesline to take Joe off his feet. He followed it up with a boom drop. Kofi set up for Trouble in Paradise. Joe averted Kofi’s attempt, but Kofi still managed to hop up to the top rope and hit Joe with a leaping forearm smash.
Randy Orton slid into the ring and tried to RKO Kofi, but Kofi pushed him away. The referee immediately called for the bell.
WINNER: Kofi Kingston by disqualification in 8:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Slow match with odd pacing. They didn’t really pick things up until the final minute or so, and by then it seemed obvious that Orton would get involved in some capacity. I really dislike the way Samoa Joe is being utilized right now, often playing the single night foil for a babyface in need of a win. Joe is treading water and is being taken advantage of because he’s so good at re-establishing his heat with a microphone after suffering a loss.)
Kingston stood toe to toe with Orton, arms up, ready to fight. Samoa Joe grabbed Randy Orton, and Orton dropped him with an RKO. This temporary distraction allowed Kofi to hit Orton with Trouble in Paradise. Kofi celebrated with the WWE title, standing over Randy Orton.
-The announcers talked up the main event between Kevin Owens and Randy Orton while showing Kevin Owens taping his wrists backstage.
-In the arena, the lights dimmed and Finn Balor’s music hit. Balor headed to the ring as the announcers talked about him being attacked by Bray Wyatt. Phillips thanked the nights sponsors before the show went to commercial.
Back from break, Finn paced around the ring. The announcers teased his Intercontinental title match against Shinsuke Nakamura at the WWE Network special on Saturday.
Kayla Braxton joined Finn Balor in the ring and threw to a clip of Bray Wyatt’s attack on Balor. Kayla asked Finn how he thought he may have ended up in Bray’s crosshairs. Finn said he didn’t know. He said they’ve crossed paths, and he wonders whether he’s back to settle an old score or to start something new. Balor said he can’t explain anything he’s seen from the new Bray Wyatt. “Clearly he’s more twisted and messed up than ever,” Balor said. He said he’s stared fear in the eyes before, and he won’t back down He challenged Bray to a match at Summerslam.
The Firefly Fun House theme song played. The clip aired on the tron at first, but then cut to full screen. Bray Wyatt walked into frame. Mercy the Buzzard appeared to his left, and Rambling Rabbit to his right. He said hello to Finn. He called Finn brave, and said they’re all big fans of his. “As for the Fiend, he’s not such a big fan.” Bray said the Fiend is accepting Finn’s challenge. Bray said while Finn is an extraordinary man, the Fiend is “no man.” Bray called the Fiend an abomination. He grew increasingly serious. The camera zoomed in on his face as he said, “let me in.” The screen cut to black.
The Fiend appeared in a creepy montage of disjointed clips. It stopped on a still shot, where he reached out toward the screen. “Let me in,” the Fiend said.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m not a huge fan of this being Wyatt’s first program, given that both of the desperately need a decisive win in a feud right now. With that being said, I’m glad that we got our first taste of Bray’s split personality tonight. I think most of us assumed that’s likely the direction his new character was headed, and I think it can be very effective if handled with care. The Firefly Fun House Bray seems to be conflicted and genuine in his desires to right his past wrongs, while the Fiend is the embodiment of a darkness even the old Bray Wyatt didn’t exhibit. This could be a lot of fun.)
-The announcers teased the main event match between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns coming up after the break.
-After the commercial, the announcers recapped the confirmation of “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor at Summerslam. Tom Phillips threw to footage of the 24/7 shenanigans on last night’s Raw.
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber welcomed Charlotte Flair, saying she’d requested an interview. Charlotte cut Sarah off. She said it’s a slap in the face to not be on Summerslam, and to hear that Bayley chose Ember Moon over her. Charlotte said she’d be at Summerslam. She thought better of it, saying she demands to be at Summerslam. She said her opponent will be better than Ember Moon, and she’ll prove that she’s “the greatest female superstar of all time.”
-Greg Hamilton introduced Shane McMahon as the special guest ring announcer for the main event. Shane danced to ringside and took Greg’s microphone. He introduced the guest time keeper for the match, Elias. Elias’ walked to the ring as Shane clapped emphatically for him. Shane introduced the special guest referee, Drew McIntyre. Michael Cole praised Shane’s announcing as “pretty good” and “Howard Finkel like.” McIntyre headed to the ring. Shane raised Drew and Elias’ hands as the show went to commercial.
The show returned from break with Elias at the timekeeper’s table and Drew standing in the ring. Kevin Owens music played and he marched to the ring and jawed with Drew McIntyre. Roman Reigns came out next to a mostly positive reaction. Reigns stepped to McIntyre before falling back to his corner. Shane McMahon introduced Roman Reigns as the “the man who lost to me at Super Showdown.” He introduced Kevin Owens as “the quitter and the man who will lose to me at Summerslam.”
Owens hopped out of the ring and grabbed a microphone. He said he has no problem going through Reigns, McIntyre and Elias to get to Shane. “You’re getting dropped, whether you like it or not,” Kevin said. Roman took the mic from his hand. Reigns scoffed at Owens saying he’d run through him. “Well, Miami, it looks like I’m gonna whoop everyone’s ass tonight,” Reigns said. he tossed the mic flippantly.
(4) ROMAN REIGNS vs. KEVIN OWENS
Shane called for the bell to be rung. Owens and Reigns locked up. Reigns pushed Kevin to the corner. McIntyre broke them apart. Owens and Reigns circled each other, Kevin slapped on a headlock. Reigns backed Owens into the corner and Drew broke the pair up again. He told Reigns and Owens to listen to him. Roman and Owens traded a look.
Reigns gave McIntyre an uppercut and tossed him out of the ring. Elias hopped up onto the apron. Owens punched him off.
WINNER: No contest in 2:00
Shane quickly circled the ring, trying to run to the back. Reigns cut him off, forcing Shane to slide into the ring. He escaped out the other side, but Owens caught him. McIntyre returned to the ring and attacked Reigns. Owens hopped back in and began trading punches with Drew. Elias slid into the ring and blindsided Owens with a running knee. Elias dumped KO out of the ring and he, McIntyre, and Shane began kicking away at Roman Reigns.
Elias and McIntyre lifted Reigns and walked him to the corner. Shane backed up, teasing a spear. Owens grabbed his leg from the outside and pulled him to the floor, tossing him into the barrier. Elias jumped out of the ring to help Shane, but Owens had already slid back in. He gave McIntyre a super kick. Elias got back in the ring. KO super kicked him too. Reigns recovered and drilled McIntyre with a spear. Owens gave Elias a stunner.
Shane retreated up the ramp, but Reigns chased him down and threw him back into the ring. Reigns gave him a superman punch and KO followed it up with a stunner. Owens and Reigns gave each other a nod of respect. The crowd chanted “one more time.” KO obliged, lifting Shane and giving him another stunner. Reigns left Owens as Elias collected Shane McMahon at ringside.
The announcers recapped the situation over clips. Back live, Owens had retrieved a microphone. He said tonight was nothing compared to Summerslam. Owens said he’s going to do something no one has ever done, “make Shane McMahon actually enjoyable because of the ass-whooping I give him that night.” Owens played to the crowd as the show went off the air.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This is the second week in a row that the show has ended with a no contest finish, though they didn’t even try to pretend this match was going to really happen. Even still, it wound up being an enjoyable segment. Reigns giving Owens the floor and solidifying Owens’ position with a nod of respect should realistically help both characters.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Like most Smackdowns, there was a fair amount of good with some bad sprinkled in. From a storyline perspective, I give tonight a solid thumbs up. We got some positive Summerslam developments, some teases for Charlotte’s future, a curious situation between Dolph Ziggler and Shawn Michaels, and a new segment for Bray Wyatt. On the downside, we didn’t see anything out of the tag team division tonight, Samoa Joe continues to get lost in the shuffle, and Shane McMahon continues to dominate screen time. I thought the change in commentary teams was refreshing, even if only to get some different perspective and new voices on the show for a week. I’m all for keeping the commentary teams exclusive and would like to see Corey Graves stick to only one show going forward.