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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 30, 2019
MEMPHIS, TN AT FEDEX FORUM
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with a vertically filmed Shane McMahon selfie promo, tagged “earlier today.” Shane said “the best in the world” had an announcement to make. He said it would ruin a lot of people’s evening. “I will not be a part of Smackdown tonight,” Shane said. He said he was angry, and it’s Kevin Owens’ fault. He said Owens has systematically and violently attacked him for no reason.
Shane said his life coached calmed him down by telling him he’s getting exactly what he wants – a match with Kevin Owens at Summerslam. Shane said Kevin’s career will be over. He said the announcer will hand Owens a microphone and he’ll look Shane in the eye, tell him he’s the better man, and quit. Shane smirked as the image faded.
-Tom Phillips welcomed the audience to the show over a wide shot of the arena. Byron Saxton said it would be a jam packed evening, including Kofi Kingston vs. A.J. Styles. Corey Graves confirmed we’d finally hear Daniel Bryan’s career altering announcement tonight. Phillips previewed King’s Court featuring Trish Stratus. Finally, we were told Roman Reigns would issue his Summerslam challenge.
-Kevin Owens’ music played and he sauntered out onto the stage. Graves said Owens should be apologizing to the fans for depriving them of seeing Shane McMahon. Tom Phillips threw to clips of last week’s “match” between Owens and Reigns.
In the ring, Owens asked people not to panic at the news that Shane McMahon is not in the building. He feigned concern and said he and the audience would get through it together. Kevin looked in the camera, speaking directly to Shane. He said maybe Shane’s absence means tonight’s show could be about the talent, and not Shane’s stupid face. The crowd cheered.
Owens said at Summerslam, he won’t quit because he’ll beat Shane. He said he’ll beat the living hell out of Shane so badly, that Shane will know that he doesn’t belong in the ring with people like him. KO said no one can stop Shane from showing up because of his last name, but Owens can make sure Shane knows it’s not his ring, or his show. “This is the Kevin Owens show!” Owens slammed the mic down.
Drew McIntyre’s music hit. Drew walked to the ring, staring a hole through Owens. Drew got in Owens’ face. “You talk too much,” Drew said. He informed Kevin that they’d be facing each other tonight. McIntyre gave Owens a cheap shot.
Drew slammed KO into the ring post, then tossed him over the announcers table. “You better dust yourself off, because that match is now,” McIntyre said, leaning over the table. Phillips sent the show to commercial.
(1) KEVIN OWENS vs. DREW McINTYRE
Both Owens and McIntyre had returned to the ring when the show returned from break. The referee immediately rang the bell. Owens popped out of the corner with a flurry of punches. Owens clotheslined McIntyre, but couldn’t take him off his feet. Drew took Owens down with a big shoulder tackle.
McIntyre sent Owens into the corner and pummeled away on him. He hit a snap suplex for a quick one count. McIntyre tossed Owens off the ropes and hit a nice overhead belly to belly suplex. He slapped on an arm hold. Owens fought slowly to his feet to break the hold. Drew knocked him down with a back elbow.
Drew stomped at Kevin’s head. He pulled him up by his beard and gave him a big chop. McIntyre pushed Owens into the corner then hit him with another overhead belly to belly for a two count. Back on his feet, Owens fired shots a McIntyre. He dodged a running attack and tossed Drew into the ring post. Owens charged and hit a cannon ball for a two count.
Owens began to climb to the top rope, but Drew cut him off. Drew looked for a superplex, but Owens gave him a headbutt and sent him crashing back to the mat. Owens hit the frog splash for a near fall. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
Both men recovered on the small screen. Owens tossed Drew to the outside and began a charge for a dive, but Drew stepped out of the way, causing Owens to stop in his tracks. Owens climbed out onto the apron, gave Drew a “suck it” chop, and hit a rolling senton dive. He rolled in the ring to break the count. Back on the outside, Owens tried to whip Drew into the ring post, but McIntyre turned it around on him. Drew then tossed Owens into the ringside barrier. He brought Owens back into the ring.
McIntyre sent Owens into the corner and mounted him for a series of punches. He positioned Owens on the top and climbed up for a superplex. Owens fought out. Back in full screen, Owens gave Drew a head butt and sent him crashing to the mat. He hit a diving senton. Owens crawled over into the cover, but McIntyre kicked out.
Owens looked to the crowd for life. He went for the stunner, but Drew blocked it and hit the Glasgow Kiss. He gave Owens a spinning sit out power slam for a near fall. Drew set up for the Claymore, but ran into a super kick. Drew returned to his feet slowly and Kevin hit him with another super kick, then a pop up powerbomb for a near fall.
Owens was shocked. He looked to the crowd again, then climbed back to the top rope. Drew cut him off again. McIntyre scooped Owens into his back and dove off with an Irish Curse backbreaker. Drew covered Owens for a two count. The camera got a close up of McIntyre’s frustration. A “this is awesome” chant broke out.
McIntyre threw Owens to the outside and ripped apart the announce table. He tossed Owens onto it and brought him to his feet. Owens caught him with a kick and gave him a stunner on top of the table. McIntyre rolled off the table, stumbled to his feet and got back into the ring. Owens followed. Owens caught McIntyre with another super kick, followed by an impressive stunner for a three count.
WINNER: Kevin Owens in 15:00
The announcers showed clips from the match. Corey Graves called this a pleasant stop on KO’s farewell tour. Drew looked on angrily from the ramp as Owens celebrated.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was about as entertaining a first thirty minutes of Smackdown could have been. Shane announcing he wouldn’t be in the building was a welcomed positive. Owens’ brief but impassioned promo set the tone early, and Drew presented himself as the intimidating counter presence. The match was exciting, entertaining, and hard hitting, particularly the last 5-7 minutes. While I’m not a huge proponent of Drew McIntyre losing cleanly quite as much as he does, this was a huge, clean win for Owens and something his babyface character can greatly benefit from.)
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton welcomed Dolph Ziggler. She said nearly the entire roster has expressed displeasure with what Dolph did to Shawn Michaels last week. She threw to clips of last week’s MizTV segment.
Ziggler said he’s got two words for wrestlers complaining on Twitter – “too bad.” He said Mick Foley got decimated by The Fiend because he doesn’t belong in a wrestling ring. “Speaking of not belonging in a wrestling ring, have you seen Goldberg’s last match? Ziggler asked. “I sure as hell hope we did.” He then turned to Shawn Michaels, saying he made “the biggest mistake” by putting his hands on him.
Ziggler called Miz WWE’s “resident Kardashian sister.” He said he’s more afraid of Maryse than he is The Miz. Dolph said tonight, he’s facing Finn Balor and Finn wants to teach him to respect his elders. Ziggler said Balor is living in the past. “I’m the best damn thing going today,” Ziggler said before walking off.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was…strange. Ziggler blazed through this promo like he was watching a shot clock off screen. I liked the involvement with Michaels last week, but now that it’s evident that we don’t appear to be getting that match, I’m left wondering, what’s the point? Another match with Miz isn’t particularly engaging, and what does anyone benefit from Ziggler running down other legends?)
-Ember Moon was shown stretching in a locker room backstage. She was approached by Bayley. Bayley said even though they’re teaming tonight, she hasn’t forgotten what happened last week. She told Ember not to forget that she wouldn’t be in this position had Bayley not chosen her as her opponent. Ember stared her down.
“if you even think about pulling something again, you’ll regret it,” Bayley said. Ember continued to stare at her. Phillips said Ember and Bayley would team to face Alexa Bliss and Nicki Cross after the break.
-Aleister Black sat in a darkened locker room. He said he feels different, not just in an aesthetic way. Black said his salvation lies in another man’s willingness to pick a fight with him. He said part of that salvation was achieved when defeating Cesaro. He pondered how best to write the next chapters of his book. “I find myself again in my self imposted prison,” Black said. He said he’s waiting again, this time a little less patiently.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Black’s matches with Cesaro were good. Very good, even. After a week off, I hoped to see Black continue to be showcased in the ring, not with these cryptic promos.)
-Ember Moon made her way to the ring as the announcers talked over clips of last week’s happenings between she, Bayley, and Charlotte Flair. Bayley headed to the ring and the announcers teased she and Ember’s Summerslam match. Their opponents, Alexa Bliss and Nicki Cross, came out next.
(2) BAYLEY & EMBER MOON vs. ALEXA BLISS & NICKI CROSS
Bayley and Ember teased tension with a small argument about how would begin the match. Ember kicked things off with Alexa Bliss. Ember flipped out of a hip toss attempted and took Bliss down with a kick to the face. Ember tagged in Bayley.
Bayley lifted and dropped Bliss onto the turnbuckle, then hit a sliding dropkick on the outside. Nicki get in Bayley’s face. Ember Moon dove through the ropes to take out Nicki. Bayley tossed Bliss into the ringside barrier and then she and Ember stood face to face. The show went to break.
The show returned with Cross in control over Bayley. Nicki tagged in Bliss, who slapped Bayley hard in the face. Bliss quickly tagged Nicki back in and the two double teamed the champion. Bayley thwarted multiple double team attempts from Cross and Bliss to outsmart them and make it to her corner to tag Moon.
Ember clotheslined Nicki then took down Bliss with an enziguri. She hut a running hip bump on both opponents in the corner. Ember climbed to the top rope and flew at Nicki, hitting the Eclipse. Alexa Bliss pounced immediately, tossing Moon into the turnbuckle. Bayley charged at Alexa from the apron, but Bliss struck her down with a big right hand. Alexa climbed to the top rope and hit twisted bliss from the top rope for a three count.
WINNERS: Alexa Bliss & Nicki Cross in 6:00]
Bliss and Cross celebrated as Graves contested that Bliss should be added to the Women’s title match at Summerslam. Bayley helped Ember Moon to her feet. The two shared nods of respect, but then Bayley hit Moon with the Bayley to Belly. Bayley celebrated with the title as her music played.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not a bad match. As a general rule of thumb, I dislike the trope of teaming opponents only to have them lose cleanly because they couldn’t get along. The problem here, though, is that they didn’t even really tell that story. Bayley and Ember weren’t perfect partners, but Bayley didn’t do anything nefarious or even accidental to lead to Ember taking the fall. As a result, it just kind of made Moon like a weak challenger.)
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber welcomed Sami Zayn. She asked what brought Sami to Smackdown. Sami said he came to scope out competition, but all he’s seen is people complaining and feeling sorry for themselves. “I get it, everyone is in pain.” Zayn said Aleister Black, in particular, is in pain. Sami said Black is under a lot of pressure to be great, and he’ll never live up to the hype.
“This man doesn’t need a fight, he needs to be beaten so that they hype can end and he can be exposed.” Sami said he’s decided to be the man to beat Aleister Black. He said he wants to do it at Summerslam.
-The announcers teased Roman Reigns’ Summerslam challenge still to come, and King’s Court featuring Trish Stratus after the break.
-The announcers talked up Big Show’s new project from WWE Studios and Netflix, highlighting clips from various entertainment outlets.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton welcomed Daniel Bryan. Bryan appeared wearing an oversized sweater with Rowan at his side. Kayla said Bryan requested this opportunity to deliver his career altering announcement. Bryan shifted his weight, stared at Kayla, then walked off.
-Back in the arena, Jerry “The King” Lawler was introduced by Greg Hamilton. The ring was set up for King’s Court. King said it was great to be in Memphis and he was proud to welcome one of his favor female superstars, Trish Stratus.
Trish headed to the ring, slapping hands. She shook Jerry’s hand and gave him a hug. Trish played to the crowd. “That feels good,” she said between a big smile. King confirmed with Trish that she’d missed Raw Reunion because she’d been on vacation. Trish said she was bummed about the timing. She gave Kelly Kelly a shout out for winning the 24/7 title.
King said Raw Reunion was magical. He said backstage, many of the legends said they wished they could come back for one last match. He asked Trish if she felt that way too. Trish said WWE is in her blood and there will never be a time she won’t have that itch. “But I’m kind of a mom now,” Trish concluded.
Charlotte Flair’s music hit the kick off the second hour, interrupting Trish. Charlotte said it’s a disgrace to hold King’s Court without a “proper queen.” Trish said hello to Charlotte. Charlotte scowled as she climbed the steps. She requested that Lawler hold the ropes for her. He obliged. Charlotte said it’s great that Trish is a mom, but that it sounds like an excuse.
“The greatest moment of your life hasn’t happened yet,” Charlotte declared. She challenged Trish to a match at Summerslam. The crowd broke into a “one more match” chant. “Nothing?” Charlotte asked. Flair said she knows why. She said its because the women of WWE are not longer models “shaking their assets”, instead, they’re trailblazing the industry. “I expected more of a competitive fire from you,” Charlotte said, “but you don’t think you can hang with the queen.”
Charlotte told Trish to get the hell out of the ring, hop in her minivan, and go back to changing diapers. Trish said she respects Charlotte and thinks she’s an incredible performer. “But right now, you’re just being a bitch,” Trish said. Trish said there’d be no trail for Charlotte to blaze if it wasn’t for her, Lita, Jacqueline, Ivory, and Beth Phoenix. “You should know, better than anyone, ” Trish smiled, “that to be the woman, you need to beat the woman.” She accepted Charlotte’s challenge. Trish and Charlotte stared each other down. Charlotte turned away slowly.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was a fun segment, but its impact was weakened because the match announcement had been spoiled on Twitter days prior. It would’ve been nice to see Trish involved in the King’s Court segment without any sort of indication that she’d be facing Charlotte. Even still, this was effective in getting them where they needed to go and this is a really intriguing match on paper. A welcomed addition to the Summerslam card, in my book.)
-Backstage, The O.C. were chatting and celebrating Gallows & Anderson’s tag title win. Styles asked how many times he has to beat Ricochet. He moved onto tonight, and his match with Kofi Kingston. He said Kofi would find out why Smackdown is, and always will be the house that A.J. Styles built. Byron Saxton teased the Styles vs. Kingston match for later in the night.
-A new Firefly Funhouse aired. Ramblin’ Rabbit was shown at a picnic table. He claimed to be Finn Balor’s biggest fan. He said he flies through the air like a honey bee. A honey bee flew over the screen. “Finn Balor made a very big mistake,” Ramblin’ Rabbit said, “the Fiend has been released.” He said Finn doesn’t understand what the Funhouse really is. Just then, Bray Wyatt walked into frame and the rabbit scurried off.
Bray looked around angrily, then up at the camera. He threw his hands up and laughed, then quickly turned serious. “Let me in,” Bray said. Footage of The Fiend played before a hard cut to black, straight to commercial.
-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips discussed the events involving Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar on last night’s Raw. He threw to footage from Lesnar’s attack. A tweet from WWE appeared on the screen, revealing that the doctor’s were not releasing an update on Seth’s condition. The announcers pondered whether or not the Universal title match could go on as scheduled at Summerslam.
-Dolph Ziggler came to the ring as the announcers teased his match with The Miz at Summerslam. Finn Balor came to the ring next and the announcers discussed his match against “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. Phillips threw to picture-in-picture commercial as Finn completed his entrance.
(3) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. FINN BALOR
The match began on the small screen with Ziggler on the offensive. He tossed Balor in the corner and hit him in gut, then raked his head against the ropes. Ziggler took Finn to the mat and locked in a chin lock. Balor slowly fought out with elbows to the chest.
The show returned to full screen as Finn elbowed Dolph out of the corner. He took Dolph down with a trio of clotheslines. Finn met Dolph in the corner and hit him with a chop. Ziggler hopped up onto the top rope, but Balor caught him with an eziguri and pulled him down. He hooked Dolph and hit an elbow across the throat for a two count.
Balor stalked Ziggler out of the corner. He went for the sling blade, but Ziggler pushed out of it. Dolph went for the famouser but Finn moved. Dolph kicked Finn in the knee and connected with a famouser on his second attempt for a near fall.
Dolph set up for a super kick, but Balor caught him with a sling blade. He followed with a standing double foot stomp. Ziggler wandered to his feet and Balor dumped him over the top rope. Just then, half the arena lights shut off. Balor looked around. The house lights shut off completely.
The eerie screeching filled the arena and flashing lights showed The Fiend. The house lights cut off again. When they returned, Ziggler was standing behind Balor, who was staring in the direction where Bray had just been. Finn spun around and Dolph caught him with a super kick for a three count.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler in 5:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to this one, but it had some fun moments. Both of these guys needed a win, and the distracted babyface is probably not the direction I would have gone. Still, it was nice to see Bray Wyatt appear exclusively on Smackdown this week, as it brings some importance to the show.)
-Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura was shown walking toward the ring. Phillips said he’d face Ali after the break.
-Shinsuke Nakamura was in the ring with his music still playing when the show returned from break. Ali entered shortly after.
(4) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. ALI
Ali hit Nakamura with a running dropkick as soon as the bell rang. Nakamura spilled to the outside. Ali immediately dove onto him. Shinsuke retreated into the ring. Ali flew off the top rope with a big cross body for a near fall.
Nakamura pulled himself up and into the corner. Ali charged him. Nakamura moved and shot Ali head first into the turnbuckle. Ali whipped back hard. Nakamura buried his foot into Ali’s chest and neck. He pulled him up by his hair and went for the reverse exploder suplex. Ali flipped out of it. He hit a jumping jawbreaker on Shinsuke.
Ali climbed to the top, but Shinsuke ripped him off the turnbuckle. He connected with the reverse exploder this time. He set up in the corner, then charged the the Kinshasa. Ali caught him with a super kick. Ali quickly climbed the ropes and went for the 630, but Nakamura moved out of the way. Shinsuke charged for a Kinshasa again, but Ali rolled out of it and caught Nakamura’s leg.
Shinsuke broke free and hit Ali with a rolling DDT. He set up a third time, but again missed the Kinshasa. Ali rolled Nakamura up for a surprise three count.
WINNER: Ali in 2:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Incredibly short match, but they crammed a lot into this one, and it was entertaining. These two are two for two right now, despite being given very little time to work with. I expect a a lengthy title match between them could be very entertaining.)
-The announcers threw to a video package hyping the Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton match and giving an inside look at the mind of Randy Orton. In it, Orton recapped moments of his career, particularly as it pertains to the years in which he first became entangled with Kofi Kingston (2009-2010.)
-Kayla Braxton welcomed New Day from gorilla position. Xavier took the microphone from Kayla and took over interviewing duties. He wished everyone a “happy Golden Girls day.” Kofi said Styles can say it’s the house he built as many times as he wants, but it doesn’t make it true. New Day did their usual title announcement thrusts. He said Smackdown is the “palace of positivity.” Big E began his signature New Day introduction.
In the arena, New Day strutted out onto the stage tossing out pancakes. The announcers touted champion vs champion coming up after the break.
New Day continued to dance to their music as the show returned from commercial. A.J. Styles music hit, featuring new O.C. graphics, and he, Gallows, and Anderson came to the ring. New Day danced to their music too.
(5) KOFI KINGSTON (w/ Big E & Xavier Woods) vs. A.J. STYLES (w/ Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows)
Kingston and Styles jawed at each other as the referee rang the ball. Styles applied a headlock. Kofi shot Styles off the ropes to break free. Styles took Kofi down with a shoulder tackle. Kofi grabbed a waist lock and Styles then wrestled him to the mat. Styles hung his foot on the bottom rope.
A.J. grabbed a headlock on Kofi then gave him a headlock takeover. Styles caught Kofi with a side kick. Off the ropes, Kingston leap frogged Styles twice then took him down with a back elbow. Kofi hit a springboard dropkick off the middle rope. Styles returned to his feet. Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise, but Styles ducked. Kofi knocked A.J. to the outside.
Gallows and Anderson crowded around A.J. to prevent Kofi from diving. Big E and Xavier quickly got in their faces. Kofi dove over the top, but Styles moved. Kofi landed on his feet. Styles caught him with a knee to the face coming off of the apron. He tossed Kofi into the timekeeper’s area. Phillips sent the show to commercial.
After the break, Styles and Kingston were back in the ring. Styles chopped Kofi in the corner then hit him with a running backbreaker for a two count. Styles applied a headlock. A pop up showed Kayla Braxton standing backstage, apparently awaiting Roman Reigns. Phillips said we’d hear from him before the end of the show.
In the ring, Styles shoved Kofi into the corner and kicked him in the chest. He positioned Kofi on the top turnbuckle. Kofi fought Styles off then connected with a flying tornado DDT. Big E and Xavier rallied the crowd from ringside.
Kofi chopped Styles to the mat twice, then followed up with a jumping clothesline. He connected with the boom drop then set up for Trouble in Paradise. He charged, but Styles ducked and sent Kofi into the turnbuckle. Styles charged Kofi, but Kofi caught him with double knees to the face. Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise again, but Styles caught the leg. He lifted Kofi up onto his shoulders, but Kofi flipped out and connected with the SOS for a near fall.
Kofi tried to suplex Styles, but A.J. blocked it and hit an enziguri. He charged at Kingston, but Kofi caught him with a kick to the head. Kofi climbed to the top rope and hit Styles with a splash. He covered Styles, but Gallows and Anderson pulled A.J. out of the ring. Big E and Xavier immediately came after Gallows and Anderson.
Styles returned to the ring and caught Kofi with a forearm from the apron. Kofi pushed Styles back to the floor. Styles fired a shot at Big E (the camera didn’t catch this, Phillips had to announce it.) This caused Gallows and Anderson to attacked Big E and Woods.
Kofi dove over the top rope and took out Styles, Gallows, and Anderson. He tossed Styles back in the ring. Gallows grabbed Kofi’s leg, but Kingston kicked him away. Kingston went for a springboard attack, but Styles caught him with an Ushigoroshi.
Gallows, Anderson, Big E, and Xavier resumed battling on the outside. Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forearm. He dove, but Kofi caught him in mid air with Trouble in Paradise. He covered Styles for the win.
WINNER: Kofi Kingston in 13:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. I’m not sure what caused them to change the plan from a six man to a singles bout, but this wound up being a lot of fun. The finish got a huge pop from the crowd, and the last couple of minutes were definitely exciting. The run Kofi has been on is really quite incredible when you stop to think about it.)
-The camera immediately cut to Roman Reigns walking backstage. It quickly cut to Kayla Braxton, then back to Reigns as he approached Kayla. Kayla yelled for Roman to look out as a tower of scaffolding came (slowly) crashing down onto Reigns. The camera quick cut to a shot positioned from inside the scaffolding. Kayla screamed for help among the chaos. A quick shot showed Reigns pinned underneath scaffolding and speakers.
The camera moved about frantically. Eventually, it focused on Reigns, who slowly sat up and onto a piece of equipment near the downed scaffolding. Paramedics checked on him, but he seemed fine. Reigns backed away from the paramedics slowly, refusing attention. The camera followed Roman as he walked confusedly down the hallway. The announcers wondered what happened as the show faded out.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was sloppy. Very sloppy. The camera placed inside the scaffolding was horrendously stupid, and just as WWE is apt to do in these scenarios. The “attack” didn’t effect Reigns in any way, which is fine, but the confused reproach in the aftermath was just awkward. A weak way to end the show.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Strong wrestling tonight. I really enjoyed the opener, as well as Kofi and A.J.’s match. Overall, the positives outweighed the negatives despite this not being overly newsworthy. The Reigns segment was a weird and awkward downer, but King’s Court proved to be entertaining and locked in an intriguing match up for Summerslam. We got some new direction for Aleister Black (despite them teasing the contrary.) All in all, this was a fine way to spend a couple hours on a Tuesday night.