LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 8/6: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of final Summerslam hype, Roman Reigns’ search for his attacker, Black vs. Zayn, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor

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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 6, 2019
DETROIT, MI AT LITTLE CAESARS ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

-Tom Phillips welcomed everyone to Detroit over a wide shot of the Little Caesars Arena. Charlotte Flair’s music hit. “What a way to kick things off, with the queen,” Phillips said.

The announcers teased Charlotte’s match with Trish Stratus as Flair walked to and entered the ring. Charlotte said every time she steps in the ring, the audience witnesses greatness. She said most people don’t have the genetics, talent, or discipline to achieve it. She accused Trish Stratus of quitting the industry in favor of “a family and a mini van” when the women’s division started to change.

Charlotte said Trish was never as good as she is now. “The athletes of today are far more superior than they were yesterday,” Charlotte said. She mocked Trish for wanting a comeback match in front of her children and in her home country. She said she would shatter Trish’s dreams. Charlotte threw to a video package of her own career highlights.

The video package was actually highlights of Trish Stratus’ career. The camera cut back to Charlotte in the ring, who looked disgusted. Trish Stratus’ music played and she stepped onto the stage. “I thought I spotted your mini van in the staff parking lot,” Charlotte joked.

Trish said she played that video to remind Charlotte why she’s been given history making opportunities. Stratus said that Flair is right, she has been dreaming of one more match. “You are the embodiment of everything I fought for,” Trish said. She said she wants it to prove to her kids, to the fans, and mostly to herself. “You may be the queen, but you’re not me,” Trish concluded.

“Welcome to your nightmare, Trish,” Charlotte smiled. She said at Summerslam, she’d make Trish bow down to the queen. She “woo’ed” in Trish’s face. Trish slapped her. Charlotte stared her down. The crowd chanted “one more time.” Flair smiled and then backed away slowly, leaving the ring.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This was the best of the limited interaction between these two. Trish seemed a bit more confident on the microphone and Charlotte delivered a fairly by the numbers promo by her standards. I’m intrigued to see how these two match up on Sunday.)

-Tom Phillips teased an exclusive interview with Roman Reigns coming up later in the night. Byron talked up a tag team match between Daniel Bryan & Rowan against Big E & Xavier Woods. Corey Graves teased the KO Show featuring Shane McMahon.

-Backstage, Rey Mysterio walked down a hallway toward the ring. Phillips said he’d face Dolph Ziggler after the break.

-Coming out of the break, Goldberg’s music played over a live shot of the arena. The camera cut backstage to reveal Dolph Ziggler’s locker room door. Security knocked on his door, mimic kingly Goldberg’s signature entrance. Ziggler entered to Goldberg’s music and a brief chorus of boos from the crowd. The announcers talked about Ziggler’s match with Goldberg at Summerslam as Rey Mysterio headed to the ring.

Dolph blindsided Mysterio from behind as he slapped hands with fans at ringside. Dolph raked at Mysterio’s mask and then delivered a super kick. Officials ran to ringside to check on Rey and hold Dolph back. Ziggler shoved them aside and lifted Rey to his feet, then delivered a second super kick. He grabbed a microphone.

“Another legend goes down courtesy of DZ.” Ziggler said he’d keep doing this as long as legends keep showing up. He said he’d end the legend of Goldberg on Sunday. “I’m not next!” Ziggler declared. He said the match at Summerslam would be Goldberg’s last.

Ali’s music hit and he ran to ringside. He quickly checked on Mysterio, then rolled in the ring and dropped Ziggler with a spinning kick. Dolph quickly rolled out of the ring. Ali dove through the ropes onto him. The show went to picture-in-picture commercial.

On the small screen, Ali grabbed a microphone, presumably challenging Ziggler to a match (there’s no audio during the breaks.) A referee slid in the ring and Ziggler reluctantly joined, apparently making the match official.

(1) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. ALI

Ziggler slid in the ring and charged at Ali, who ducked him and rolled him into a school boy for a near fall. Ziggler kneed Ali in the stomach and tossed him into the corner. Ali countered Ziggler out of the corner and wound up on the outside apron. He went for a springboard dive, but Ziggler pushed him off the rope and onto the floor.

Ziggler joined Ali on the outside and slammed his head into the ring steps. He rolled him inside the ring and covered him for a two count. Ali fought back to his feet, but Ziggler maintained control. He slapped on a headlock and taunted the crowd. Ali fought out and took Ziggler down with a dropkick as the show returned to full screen.

The announcers provided a quick recap of Ali’s challenge that took place on the small screen. Ali hit a rolling sit out jawbreaker for a near fall. Ziggler returned to his feet and hit a back elbow, followed by a clothesline. Dolph set up for a super kick. Ali ducked it into a roll up for a two count.

Ziggler and Ali returned to their feet simultaneously. Dolph gave Ali a headbutt and immediately followed it up with a super kick for a three count.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler in 4:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: This match was over before it ever really got going, but we saw was good enough. Ziggler needed a clean win here, even at the expense of Ali. Regarding the pre-match activity, Ziggler’s attack on Mysterio made sense given this anti-legend gimmick he’shas been exploring lately. It doesn’t seem to be all that effective at garnering him heat on any real level, nor does the crowd seem to be particularly interested in the Ziggler character.)

-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips threw to video footage of Roman Reigns’ “career threatening week.” They showed clips from last week’s scaffolding incident, and last night’s attempting vehicular homicide.

-Backstage, Roman Reigns was shown being mic’ed up for his interview. Corey Graves said we’d hear from Reigns after the break.

-The show returned from break with the announcers discussing the Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins match at Summerslam. Phillips threw to footage of Rollins’ appearance on Raw last night. They confirmed Rollins has been cleared to compete. They then ran down other highlights of the Summerslam card. Tom Phillips then threw to Kayla Braxton for her sit down interview with Roman Reigns.

-Backstage, Kayla Braxton sat opposite of Reigns, formal interview style. Kayla thanked Roman for taking the time to speak with her. She asked how he’s “keeping it together” following the past week.

Reigns said he’s been through a lot this year, but he’s always known who his attacker has been. He said right now, he’s in the dark. Roman said WWE has offered him personal security, but he’s a man who does things on his own. He said its effected his life and his livelihood.

Kayla said there’s been rumors online and in the locker room about who is responsible. She asked Roman who he thinks it could be. Reigns said he knows it’s not Samoa Joe. He publicly apologized to Samoa Joe. The crowd clapped. Roman said the attacker is still out there, and he plans on getting answers tonight.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Roman was calculated, sympathetic, and effective here. Apologizing to Samoa Joe was the right path to take, and it was clear that the crowd appreciated it.)

-Natalya was shown walking down a hallway. Byron Saxton said she’d face Ember Moon in a “challenger vs. challenger” match after the break.

-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips said they wanted to take a moment to honor the legacy of the late Harley Race. A video package highlighting Race’s career aired.

-Natalya marched quickly to the ring, all business as her music played. The announcers showed a clip of Natalya refusing to break her sharpshooter on Becky Lynch during last night’s Raw. The announcers teased both Women’s title matches shcheduled for Summerslam as Ember Moon made her way to the ring.

(2) NATALYA vs. EMBER MOON

Ember and Natalya locked up as soon as the bell rang. Natalya got the better of the initial exchange, but Ember quickly shoved her off. Natalya backed Moon into the corner but Moon fought out. Natalya tired to deliver a back drop on Moon, but Moon flipped out of it and kicked Natalya swiftly in the head.

Ember Moon headed to the top rope, setting up for the Eclipse. Natalya rolled out f the ring quickly. Ember hopped down to meet her. Moon dropkicked Natalya into the ringside barrier. Natalya recovered and gave Ember a big clothesline. She turned Ember over into the sharpshooter on the outside of the ring.  The referee reached a ten count and called for the bell.

WINNER: No contest in 2:00

Bayley’s music played and she ran to the ring to pull Natalya off of Ember Moon. Natalya shoved Bayley into the guardrail and stormed off. Bayley reluctantly helped Ember to her feet.

(LeClair’s Analysis: A non-finish was the right way to go here, with neither challenger looking all that weak. Natalya continues to show edge, and Ember Moon wasn’t completely degraded by being part of a double count out. Meanwhile, she and Bayley maintaining their cool coming out of the confrontation was a plus. No complaints here.)

-Backstage, Kevin Owens was shown walking past the Smackdown interview set, heading toward the ring. Tom Phillips said the KO Show with Shane McMahon would be next.

-Kevin Owens was already in the ring with his set when the show returned from break. Greg Hamilton introduced him as the host of the Kevin Owens Show.

Owens asked for the music to be cut. He called out Shane McMahon immediately. Owens waited reluctantly. Shane’s music finally played and McMahon danced arrogantly to the ring. The announcers teased their match at Summerslam.

Shane climbed to the top rope and called on Greg Hamilton to deliver his introduction. Owens cut Hamilton off, “we don’t have time for this crap tonight.” Owens said he called Shane out for a specific reason. He said people are asking why Shane’s career isn’t on the line as well. Owens said the answer is simple, it’s because of Shane’s last name. “You can do whatever you want, and say whatever you want.”

Owens said he’s changed his mind and wants to appeal to whatever sense of pride Shane has, “or maybe that disgusting ego of yours.” He asked Shane to put his career on the line at Summerslam. The crowd began a “Yes!” chant. Shane looked around quizzically. “That would be an emphatic no,” Shane said.

Shane said it’s KO’s ego that got them here in the first place. Shane ran down all the ways he could potentially beat Kevin Owens to end his career – pin fall, submission, count out, or disqualification. He said no matter which it is, Shane will be rid of Owens for good. Kevin said that Shane just exposed to everyone that he doesn’t have any balls.

“I’ve got those, and brains, Kevin,” said Shane. He offered Owens a prelude to Sunday. Owens cleared the set from the ring. Elias entered and attacked Owens. KO tossed Elias from the ring, but Shane attacked him from behind. Owens quickly gained the upper hand, tossing Shane over the announcers desk.

Owens cleaned off the desk and pulled Shane atop it. Elias returned and attacked KO. KO battled back and gave Elias a stunner on top of the table. Shane swept Owens at the leg, dropping him on the table. He stomped away at Owens on the floor. Shane toppled the announcers desk onto Kevin Owens and continued pummeling him.

Shane grabbed a steel chair and propped it up against Owens’ head. He backed up and ran full speed toward Owens, dropkicking the chair into Owens’ face and bouncing his head off the ringside barrier. Shane screamed “you are done!” as officials tried to pull him away. The show faded to commercial.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This served its purpose well enough heading into what I hope is a clean Kevin Owens win at Summerslam. Giving Shane such a strong upper hand going into the match seems to indicate a clear win for Owens, and I hope I’m not wrong. This has been a (mostly) enjoyable program with Owens just starting to get his legs under him as a babyface. This was a solid way to lead into Sunday.)

-The announcers recapped Shane McMahon’s attack on Kevin Owens when the show returned from commercial.

-Sami Zayn obnoxiously danced his way onto the stage and down the ramp. Sami said he offered Aleister Black a gift last week. Sami said he wants to rid Black of the burden of hype he can’t live up to. Zayn accused Black of locking himself in a dark room to keep himself safe.

Zayn said the truth is that Black doesn’t actually want to fight him. “He knows the hype will all be gone, and that terrifies him.” The lights cut out and Aleister Black’s music kicked in. The camera cut to an awkward angle of Black laying prone on his plank. He said the match wasn’t happening at Summerslam. Instead, it would happen now.

Black was lifted to his feet and he walked to the ring. Zayn paced the ring angrily, then settled in and watched Black approach.

(3) SAMI ZAYN vs. ALEISTER BLACK

Sami begged off as the referee rang the bell. He then approached slowly and kicked Black in the gut. He tried to give Black a shoulder tackle, but Aleister shrugged it off and kicked Sami square in the chest, dropping him to the mat. Sami retreated to the outside. Aleister charged, but executed his springboard backflip fake out. Black sat down in the ring and Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.

Sami paced around the outside slowly. Black dashed outside to meet him. He kicked Sami into the barrier then tossed him back in the ring. Sami cut Black off in the ring and hung him up on the middle rope, then pounded him into the corner. He tossed Black off the ropes, but Black rolled over his back and kicked him in the chest again.

Sami backed Black into the corner and delivered a series of punches into the referee backed him off. Black  caught Sami out of the corner and tried to give him a German suplex, but Sami held onto the ropes and pushed him off. Sami dropped Black by the fair as the show returned to full screen.

Zayn mounted Black and delivered a flurry of punches. Graves said Zayn weathered the early storm from Aleister Black. Zayn gave Black a clothesline and covered him for a two count. He covered again, this time hooking the leg. Black kicked out at two again.

Zayn dropped Black with a backbreaker for another two count. He punched Black and then locked in a headlock. Black fought his way to his feet and gave Sami a knee strike to the face. Black followed up with two back elbows and a running knee. He caught Zayn with a springboard moonsault then set himself up in the corner. Zayn returned to his feet, dazed. Black caught him with a bicycle knee strike to the face. Zayn collapsed.

Black lifted Sami with his foot and then delivered the Black Mass for a three count.

WINNER: Aleister Black in 6:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match, albeit too short to really get going. Black’s style is so unique within the confines of WWE and you can hear the crowd react with awe whenever he lands one of his patented strikes. I hope his stock continues to rise.)

-Backstage, Shelton Benjamin stood against a blue curtain. A disembodied voice asked if he’d ever compete for the 24/7 title. Shelton looked around. “Well…” He wandered off screen.

-Big E and Xavier Woods were shown walking down a hallway backstage. Graves said their match with Daniel Bryan and Rowan would be next.

-A new Firefly Funhouse aired. It began with Huskus the Pig devouring sweets. Bray Wyatt appeared beside him. He said Finn Balor isn’t afraid of anything. “And I love that!” Bray said. Bray said he’s afraid Finn’s courage is just ignorance in disguise. “After all, he invited the Fiend to his doorstep willingly. Yowie Wowie!” Bray let out a belly laugh. Bray said that they’ve been hurting for so long now, but now it’s Finn’s turn to hurt. He said the Fiend is coming for him. “Let me in,” Bray said. Quick images of The Fiend cut in and out. The show went to commercial.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I’ve been enjoying these Firefly Funhouse vignettes more than the Fiend’s actual in-ring appearances. You can see Bray’s fingerprints all over this, and I enjoy the dichotomy of Bray’s apologetic, almost childlike demeanor contrasted with the ruthlessness violence of the Fiend. Bray is delivering these promos as though he knows exactly what’s coming, but he’s powerless to stop it. It’s an effective character in the horror genre and he plays it well.)

-The teaser trailer for WWE 2K20 aired.

-Backstage, Chad Cable was shown using stretch bands. Elias approached and told him to keep his stuff away from his guitar. Gable apologized. “Oh no, it’s my bad,” Elias said,” I thought I was talking to a child.” He made fun of Gable’s height and told him he had to be “this tall” to step to Elias. He walked away. Gable looked embarrassed.

-At the announcers desk, Phillips recapped the video package they aired last week covering Randy Orton. They threw to Kofi Kingston’s “response” video, highlighting additional footage from their rivalry interspersed with interview clips from Kingston. Kofi said beating Randy Orton will be vindication.

-The crane camera swept across the arena as Big E delivered his New Day intro. He and Xavier Woods headed to the ring. Big E gyrated as Xavier played his trombone. Daniel Bryan’s music hit and he and Rowan walked solemnly to the ring. Bryan glared at the crowd, then at New Day. The announcers discussed Bryan’s “career altering announcement” and how he continues to tease it, only to not deliver.

(4) BIG E & XAVIER WOODS vs. DANIEL BRYAN & ROWAN

Daniel Bryan charged Xavier Woods as soon as the bell rang, knocking him into the corner. Bryan shot Woods off the ropes but Woods caught him with a flying headscissor. Bryan rolled to the outside, and Woods dove over the top rope to the outside, taking him out. Phillips sent the show to commercial.

Bryan was working over Big E’s arm when the show returned from the break. Big E fought out and took Bryan down, then tagged in Xavier Woods. Woods splashed Bryan for a two count. He twisted Bryan’s arm Bryan rolled through and dragged Woods to his corner, tagging in Rowan.

Rowan gave Xavier a big scoop slam. He tossed Woods toward the corner, but Xavier hopped up over the turnbuckle and smashed Rowan into the corner. He fired punches at Rowan. Woods tried to toss Rowan off the ropes, but Rowan caught him with a crossbody. He gave Xavier a headbutt and then tagged in Daniel Bryan.

Rowan tossed Bryan into Woods for extra leverage. Bryan applied a neck hold on Woods. He let go, kneed him in the face, and slapped the hold back on. Big E willed on the crowd to come alive for Woods. A brief “New Day Rocks” chant broke out. Woods fought out and tried to tag in Big E. Bryan cut him off. Woods hit a spinning elbow on Bryan and crawled toward his corner. Bryan tagged in Rowan. Rowan knocked Big E off the apron and tossed Xavier to the outside.

Rowan threw Woods into the ring steps and then tossed him into the timekeeper’s area. Phillips sent the show to another commercial break.

The show returned to a frantic Big E willing Xavier to make a tag. Woods and Rowan were both crawling to their respective corners. Both men reached their partners. Big E hit Bryan with an overhead belly to belly three times. He followed them with a running splash. He set up for the Big Ending. Bryan rolled through it and kicked out Big E’s leg. Bryan began delivering the Yes Kicks. Big E ducked the final one and rolled him up for a one count.

Big E maintained his positioning and turned Bryan over into the stretch muffler submission. Bryan fought out of it and into the Labell Lock. Big E powered out, but Bryan downed him again and applied a triangle. Big E lifted Bryan into the air and slammed him with a power bomb for a near fall.

After trading a number of punches, Bryan gave Big E a headbutt and tagged in Rowan. Rowan gave Big E a spin kick for a two count. Rowan lifted Big E onto his shoulders, but Big E slide out and tagged in Xavier Woods. Woods kicked Rowan at the leg and climbed to the top rope, delivering a diving elbow. He covered Rowan, but Bryan brock up the pin just in time.

Big E tossed Bryan to the apron and gave him a diving spear through the ropes. Rowan retreated to the outside. Woods charged at him, but Rowan hit him with the steel steps through the ropes. The referee called for the bell.

WINNERS: Big E & Xavier Woods by disqualification in 16:00

Rowan hit Big E with the steel steps on the outside. He tossed Big E in the ring while Bryan stomped viciously at Woods. Rowan gave Big E  the Iron Claw. Rowan lifted Xavier Woods. Bryan gave Woods the running knee. Bryan and Rowan looked around at their carnage as the fans booed.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This match felt a little empty, especially at its length. It felt like a vehicle to get to the show closing angle, which is fine, but they could have at least provided a finish after wrestling for nearly twenty minutes. Some of the action was good, but overall, it was marred by two full commercial breaks.)

-The camera cut to Roman Reigns walking backstage. He came upon the men’s locker room and went inside. “Everybody out,” Reigns demanded. The locker room began to empty. Reigns told Buddy Murphy to stay and sit down. Roman pulled up a chair in front of Murphy.

Reigns said he saw the footage, and he saw Buddy in the hallway. “That means either you did it, or you know exactly who did.” Murphy said he doesn’t know. Reigns stood up and said he’d ask one more time. “If you don’t give me the answer I want, this ain’t gonna end well for you, “Reigns said.

Murphy said he didn’t want any trouble and he didn’t know who did it. He smirked. “If I did, I still wouldn’t tell you a damn thing.” Reigns gave Murphy an uppercut and tossed him into a trash can. He lifted him and threw him onto a table. “You sure you don’t want to tell me?” Reigns picked up Murphy and shoved him into the wall. he pushed his forearm against Murphy’s face.

Murphy said Rowan did it. Reigns asked if Bryan and Rowan did it. “I didn’t see Bryan,” Murphy said. Reigns let Murphy go. The camera cut back to the ring. Rowan stood emotionless. Bryan looked conflicted. The show faded to black.

(LeClair’s Analysis: So much for Reigns seeming likable earlier. I understand that this is a grave situation with dire consequences, but Reigns doesn’t win any points by demanding the locker room clear out. It also doesn’t help to demean a guy who hasn’t really even been giving much an opportunity to debut and establish himself on Smackdown. The reveal is a bit intriguing, and Bryan’s perplexed demeanor indicates that there’s going to be a lot more to come with this story. I’m interested to see if they follow it up in any capacity at Summerslam.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This show felt a little like it was booked on the fly, and if the rumors flying around today are accurate, that may have been the case. Despite being a go-home show, there was a certain holding pattern to the way things progressed. The tag team main event lacked purpose, the other matches were incredibly short, and most of the development for Summerslam took place through video packages and recaps. Though this wasn’t a show to get excited about, I suppose it served its purpose.

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