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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 20, 2019
SIOUX FALLS, SD AT DENNY SANFORD PREMIER CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, David Otunga, Byron Saxton
-Tom Phillips welcomed the viewers to the show over a wide shot of the arena. Randy Orton’s music played. Phillips said they were kicking off the show with “the most venomous superstar in all of WWE.”
Phillips welcomed David Otunga to the commentary table, stating that Corey Graves was still on vacation. The announcers previewed the King of the Ring tournament and discussed Daniel Bryan’s announcement regarding Roman Reigns’ attacker.
Orton paced in the ring. The announcers tossed to footage of Orton interfering in New Day’s match during last night’s Raw.
Orton said, unlike Kofi Kingston, he’s not a liar. “The truth is, at Summerslam, Kofi Kingston ran from a fight.” Orton called Kofi stupid. The crowd booed, he told them to shut up. Orton said he gave Kingston a chance to prove himself last week, but Kofi failed. He talked about decimating New Day with the help of the Revival on last night’s Raw.
“Every time I give Kofi a chance to prove himself, he fails.” Orton said he’s proven the power of positivity can be crushed out of nowhere with an RKO. New Day’s music hit. Orton dropped the mic and started at the entrance way, but New Day didn’t appear.
Commotion in the crowd gave away that Kofi was standing behind Orton. Orton turned around and Kingston caught him with Trouble in Paradise. He jawed at Orton, then retrieved a steel chair from ringside. Kofi wrapped the chair around Orton’s leg. He screamed, “this is for Woods!” Kingston climbed to the top rope, but the Revival ran to the ring. Orton rolled out of the ring. Kofi beat down Dash and Dawson with the steel chair.
Orton retreated up the ramp as Kofi yelled “who’s stupid Randy?”
(LeClair’s Analysis: This worked pretty well. It was short and to the point. Orton made sure he didn’t receive and adulation from the crowd and Kofi looked like the valiant babyface fighting off the heels and standing up for his friends.)
-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips discussed the attacks on Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan’s promise to reveal the culprit on tonight’s show. He tossed to footage recapping the angle.
Back at the announcers desk, Otunga said he’s heard from a layer friend that Bryan has done “extensive work” in determining the identity of Roman’s attacker.
-Andrade’s music played and he and Zelina Vega headed to the ring. Zelina pointed at the King of the Ring throne. Phillips said Andrade’s first round match against Apollo Crews would be next.
-Press coverage of NXT’s move to USA Network beginning September 18th was shown.
-Backstage, Shane McMahon was buffing a large TV screen with his coat sleeve. Kevin Owens walked in. Shane said he wanted to be sure Owens doesn’t do more damage tonight. Owens said he’s having a hard enough time focusing on the King of the Ring.
Owens said he thought about his $100,000 fine all week. He reiterated that it’s his kid’s future. He asked Shane to reconsider, father to father. Shane said he’d take it under consideration. Owens bowed his head and left the office.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I really, really, really hope there’s something more to this other than Owens groveling for forgiveness. This Kevin Owens character should not, under any circumstances, being serving heel authority figures with platitudes, fines or not. I like that they’re acting as though money matters to wrestlers, but this isn’t the way to do it.)
-Back in the arena, the camera focused on the King of the Ring throne as Andrade’s music continued to play. Apollo Crews’ music started and he came out, staring at the throne. Tom Phillips threw to the updated bracket.
(1) ANDRADE (w/ Zelina Vega) vs. APOLLO CREWS – King of the Ring first round match
Andrade charged at Crews and Apollo clotheslined him inside out. He covered him for a one count. Andrade recovered quickly and dropped Crews into the corner, hitting him with running double knees. Andrade covered Crews for a two count.
Andrade went for the Hammerlock DDT, but Apollo rolled him into a small package for a two count. Apollo climbed to the top rope and went for a diving double axe handle, but Crews dropkicked him out of the air. Andrade rolled to the outside.
Crews went to meet Andrade on the outside, but Andrade grabbed his leg and pulled him down, dropping Crews’ face onto the apron. Andrade rolled back into the ring and leaped over the top rope onto Apollo for a hurricanrana, but Crews caught him. Apollo looked to hit a power bomb, but Andrade rolled through into a hurricanrana sending Crews crashing into the steps at ringside. Phillips threw to a picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, the camera fixated on a motionless Apollo Crews for several moments. Andrade eventually retrieved him. Back in the ring, Andrade worked over Apollo’s arms and legs. He tossed Crews shoulder first into the turnbuckle and locked in an arm lock. Crews fought out, but Andrade held on and connected with the three amigo suplexes. He climbed to the top rope, but Crews returned to his feet and cut him off. Apollo chopped Andrade repeatedly.
Back in full screen, Andrade fought off a superplex attempt by Crews. He went for a diving cross body but Crews caught him. Andrade elbowed his way out and shot off the ropes. Crews tossed him in the air and hit the gut check knees. Both men rolled on the mat in pain.
Crews got the better of a punch exchange and knocked Andrade down with a jumping knee. He gave Andrade an Olympic slam for a two count. Andrade flipped out of a backdrop attempted and caught Apollo with a big boot. Andrade hopped onto the middle rope, but Crews caught him with a jumping enziguri to seat Andrade on the top turnbuckle.
Crews hoisted Andrade into a military press, but his bad arm/shoulder gave way, causing him to drop Andrade onto his feet. Andrade sent Crews crashing into the turnbuckle. Andrade went for the double knees, but Crews moved out of the way.
Crews went for another Olympic Slam, but Andrade countered into an arm drag. Crews rolled through to his feet and caught Andrade with a pump kick. He hit a standing shooting star press for a near fall. Andrade used the ropes to drag himself to his feet. Apollo went to retrieve him, but Zelina held onto his foot.
Crews let Andrade go to jaw with Vega, who feigned innocence. Crews turned around and ate a big back elbow from Andrade. He followed it up with the Hammerlock DDT for a three count.
WINNER: Andrade in 10:00
Andrade and Vega celebrated as Phillips threw to an updated graphic of the King of the Ring bracket.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good, logically sound match. Andrade is so impressive, and that’s to say nothing negative about Crews’ in-ring ability, either. I didn’t love the distraction finish – a typical case of the babyface not being smart enough to avoid the heel manager’s distraction, but nonetheless, it’s only a small knock on an otherwise entertaining match. The announcers were careful to really put over Crews’ athleticism in this one.)
-Backstage, Daniel Bryan entered a locker room with Rowan behind him, towing a person dressed in all black who’s head was covered by a black towel. Rowan sat the mystery man down in a chair. Bryan said he and Rowan know what the man did, and everyone else is about to find out. “Don’t you even think about moving from that chair, or you’ll be very, very sorry,” Bryan said.
-Elias was shown strumming his guitar as he walked down a backstage hallway. He stumbled upon a person wearing a black zip up hoodie, hanging his head and wearing a ball cap. It was a referee in disguise. Elias asked where “he” was (presumably R-Truth.) The referee pointed to a road crate. Elias opened it to reveal Drake Maverick. Elias grabbed Drake by the throat and gave him a paper and told him to read it.
Maverick read the letter, from Shane McMahon, which stated the 24/7 Championship rules were suspended for the entirety of the show so that Elias could focus on his King of the Ring tournament match against Kevin Owens. Elias stuffed Drake back in the crate and walked away. Drake peaked his head back out, “I just want to consummate my marriage,” he said.
-After the commercial, Alexa Bliss and Nicki Cross appeared on the stage to host A Moment of Bliss. Bliss welcomed the audience to A Moment of Bliss and said she and Nicki are humbled by their title reign. Bliss said A Moment of Bliss will still focus on “those less fortunate” who don’t have titles of their own. She said tonight was different, though, because their guest requested to be on the show. She introduced Charlotte Flair.
Charlotte said the King of the Ring throne was “a little more her style” over the show’s set chair. Bliss laughed it off and told her to sit down. Bliss said Charlotte’s victory at Summerslam could be seen as a passing of the torch. Charlotte said she took the torch.
Flair said she’s the queen of all eras, and the face of the Smackdown women’s division. Bliss said “some people” may say the face of the division is Bayley. “I mean, I wouldn’t say that, but some people would,” Bliss said. Charlotte said Bayley may be the champion, but she’s the brand. She said that’s why she gets sent to red carpets, media, and movie premieres. “Bayley is an afterthought,” Charlotte declared.
Bayley’s music hit and she walked onto the stage. Bayley said it sounds like Charlotte is making a bunch of excuses. “At the end of the day, I’m the champion, which means I am better than you,” Bayley said. She said it eats Charlotte up inside. Charlotte told Bayley she’s devalued the title and now she has to restore its prestige. Charlotte said she’ll beat Bayley at Clash of Champions.
“If that’s a challenge, I accept,” Bayley said. “I can’t wait to do all these people a favor and shut your mouth.” Bayley shoved the chair, knocking Charlotte to the floor. She walked away. Charlotte scowled as she regained her composure.
(LeClair’s Analysis: A Moment of Bliss pretty consistently fails to deliver it’s biggest draw – Alexa Bliss’ mic work. This was no exception. Charlotte cut her normal monotone promo and Bayley’s lines sounded forced. This feud has been done over and over with varying quality results and it’s hard to see the crowd getting all that behind it again. Bayley has been an ice cold character and champion, and the crowd seems far less enthused by Charlotte than they have been in the past.)
-In a locker room backstage, Buddy Murphy was pulling up his knee pads. Roman Reigns walked in. He asked Buddy if he’s been lying to him, or to Bryan and Rowan. Buddy said he was “pretty sure” he saw Rowan. Reigns said he needs to know for sure. Murphy said he was trying to help Reigns. “I hope so,” Roman said, “if I find out you’re lying again, I’ll come back and whoop your ass.”
-Daniel Bryan and Rowan headed to the ring. Bryan walked confidently and stared down the crowd. Phillips said Bryan’s match with Buddy Murphy would be after the break.
Bryan stood in the ring awaiting his opponent when the show returned from break. Buddy Murphy headed to the ring as the announcers continued to recap the whole scenario.
Bryan asked for a microphone. He questioned Murphy for saying he “thinks” he saw Rowan. “You’re the worst kind of liar – a cowardly liar,” Bryan said. He promised he and Rowan would reveal the culprit of the “tragedy” happening to Roman Reigns. Bryan said he’d reveal the Murphy had something to do with it too.
(2) DANIEL BRYAN (w/ Rowan) vs. BUDDY MURPHY
Murphy ran at Bryan and caught him with a knee to the face. He covered him quickly for a two count. Bryan retreated to the corner and Murphy stomped away at him. Bryan slid in and out of the ring quickly to avoid Murphy. He finally caught Buddy with a big kick to the mid section.
Murphy battled back with punches, but Bryan regained control by biting Murphy’s head. He gave Buddy a snapmare and a stiff kick to the back. He screamed “you’re a lair!” and slapped Murphy in the face. Bryan gave Murphy a series of hard chops. Buddy countered out, and shot him at the turnbuckle, but Bryan flipped over him. Bryan ran at Murphy, but Buddy clotheslined him over the top and them dove onto him on the outside. Phillips sent the show to commercial.
Murphy had Bryan on the mat when the show returned from commercial. The crowd was mounting a small “Buddy” chant. He caught Bryan with a side kick, then double knees from the top rope for a two count. Bryan flipped out of a back drop attempted and dragged him to the mat for the Labell lock. Murphy squirmed in agony, trying desperately to escape. Bryan pulled back Murphy’s arm, changing the hold into Rings of Saturn. He then wrenched Buddy’s leg. Murphy broke his arm out of the hold, but Bryan transitioned back into the Labell lock. Murphy stretched his leg out and reached the ropes.
A “let’s go Buddy” chant broke out. Bryan shook his head profusely. He began delivering the yes kicks. “Stay down, Buddy!” Bryan yelled. Murphy ducked the final kick and hit one of his own. Bryan quickly recovered and hung Murphy up in the tree of woe position in the corner. He kicked at his chest, then hit a sliding dropkick to Murphy’s head.
Bryan lifted Buddy onto the top turnbuckle and gave him a belly to back superplex. He covered Murphy for a near fall. Bryan shoved Murphy into the corner and gave him stiff chest kicks. He hit a running double knee out of the corner.
Bryan tired to mount Murphy in the corner, but Buddy countered into a running sit out power bomb for a near fall. Both men returned to their feet slowly. They traded punches and kicks. Murphy hit three kicks and stomped on Bryan’s toe. Bryan hit a series of kicks. Murphy hit the brainbuster on Bryan, but Daniel got his foot on the ropes. Rowan jumped on the apron. Bryan rolled Murphy up for a two count.
Murphy tried to kick Bryan, but Bryan ducked, leading Murphy to kick Rowan off the apron. Bryan rolled up Murphy again for another two count. Murphy gave Bryan a running knee and followed it up with Murphy’s Law for a three count.
WINNER: Buddy Murphy in 14:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Excellent match. Much like Murphy’s match with Reigns last week, this was fast paced, varied, and entertaining from start to finish. Murphy is earning himself a spot as a regular on Smackdown with these performances. I’m not terribly keen on Bryan losing clean, given that it’s something he does a little too often. Additionally, if he is eventually revealed to be Reigns’ attacker, one has to imagine he’s going to lose that feud pretty handily as well. Regardless, a match worth going out of your way to see.)
-The camera cut to the locker room backstage where Bryan and Rowan were holding their culprit. Otunga said his lawyer buddies told him that Bryan hired a forensic specialist to view the footage and interrogate everyone in the backstage area at the time of the accident.
-The Revival were shown walking down a hallway backstage. Phillips said they’d be in action after the break.
-The announcers recapped Buddy Murphy’s victory over Daniel Bryan when the show returned from commercial.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton stood with Buddy Murphy. Rowan attacked him out of nowhere. Bryan was screaming in the background, calling Murphy “lying trash.” Rowan gave Murphy the Iron Claw onto a road crate. He stepped on Buddy’s head as Bryan continued to yell at Murphy. Jamie Noble and an handful of other officials ran to the scene and chased Bryan and Rowan away.
-The Revival made their way to the ring, selling the effects of Kofi Kingston’s chair attack earlier in the night. Scott Dawson chastised the crowd for cheering the attack. He said New Day are cowards. Dash Wilder agreed. He said Big E and Xavier were still trying to walk out of Minnesota. Dawson said The Revival are challenging New Day to a Smackdown tag title match at Clash of Champions. Heavy Machinery’s music cut off The Revival. They headed to the ring
(3) THE REVIVAL (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) vs. HEAVY MACHINERY (Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic)
Dash Wilder and Tucker Knight began the match. Knight shoved off a headlock from Wilder and placed him in a bear hug. Tucker tagged in Otis. Tucker tossed Wilder to Otis and Otis continued the bear hug. Wilder broke free, but Otis maintained control.
Otis tagged in Tucker. Knight lifted Wilder for a suplex. Scott Dawson hopped into the ring. Otis lifted Dawson for a suplex. The duo hit stalling suplexes on the Revival, the clotheslined Dash and Dawson over the top rope to the floor. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, The Revival recovered on the outside. Tucker went out to retrieve Wilder and was coaxed into a double team attack. The Revival tossed him into the ring post then back in the ring. Wilder tagged in Dawson. Dawson gave Tucker a series of elbow drops and then raked his head against the rope. The Revival traded tags and continued to double team Tucker as the show returned to full screen.
Wilder put a headlock on Tucker. Knight used his power to slowly stand and step to his corner. Wilder pulled Knight’s hair and shoved him into the corner. He followed it up with a bulldog off the top rope. Dash tagged in Dawson. Dawson dove off the top rope, but Tucker rolled out of the way. Dawson tagged in Wilder, who tried to cut off Tucker. Tucker tossed him into the air then dove for the tag to Otis.
Otis cleaned house. He hit clotheslines on Dash and Dawson, then a spinning body slam on Dash Wilder. He set up for the caterpillar, followed by the big falling elbow. He tagged in Tucker and set up for the Compactor. Dawson returned to the ring and took out Otis by the legs.
Tucker dove on top of Dawson. Wilder scooped up Tucker into a roll up for a quick three count.
WINNERS: The Revival in 7:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Nothing much to say about this one. The crowd chanted “boring” throughout the first few minutes, but seemed to get into it once Otis got the hot tag. These formulaic TV tag matches are hard to get into. Heavy Machinery seems to have fallen off substantially in the last couple of months, and it shows, particularly in crowd reactions. Losing cleanly to a team that was just beaten down with a steel chair earlier in the night doesn’t help matters. This was nothing more than a way to get The Revival a clean win to set them up for the tag title match against New Day.)
-Backstage, Chad Gable was walking down a hallway when he was approached by Kayla Braxton. Kayla asked how Chad responds to being called an underdog in the King of the Ring tournament. Gable said he agrees. Shelton Benjamin peaked his head out from the locker room behind Gable. Gable said his first wrestling coach called him stupid and said he wasn’t good enough.
Benjamin stepped out of the locker room and placed a sign on the door, then walked away. Gable said he’d open some eyes during the tournament. He turned around and walked into the sign, which read “You must be at least this tall to participate in the King of the Ring tournament.” The line was positioned just above Gable’s head. “Funny,” Gable said.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Contrary to Gable’s comment, this isn’t particularly funny or entertaining. I realize that “he’s too short” is a common Vince McMahonism, but these types of angles just don’t work in 2019, and they haven’t worked in quite some time. Do better.)
-The camera shot Bryan’s mystery culprit from the floor looking up. He was still in the same chair, in the same position. Saxton said he’d be reveled later in the show.
-Back in the arena, The Miz headed to the ring. Tom Phillips said Miz would host MizTV with Sami Zayn after the break.
-The announcers showed tweets from a number of wrestlers and executives sharing excitement over NXT’s move to USA Network.
-In the ring, Greg Hamilton introduced The Miz. Miz welcomed the crowd to MizTV and said his guest requested to be part of the program. He introduced Sami Zayn. Zayn danced to the ring.
Zayn said he doesn’t care about Miz, or his show. “I needed TV time because I need to get some things off my chest.” Miz said Sami has had a lot of time to think while laying on his back, staring up at the lights. Sami laughed, and said Miz is right – he has been losing match after match.
Sami said he’s gotten trapped in the trap of greed, like The Miz and “all the parasites here.” Zayn said his path to redemption is through altruism. He said there’s so many people on Smackdown who need his help. Miz wondered who Sami could be talking about. Sami said one of them is ready to come out now.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s music played and he came to the ring. Miz asked why Shinsuke would want to associate himself with Sami. Zayn berated Miz for expecting Nakamura to answer him in English. “Do you understand the pain of a poet when he can’t articulate what is expressed in his soul?” Sami asked.
Zayn said he and Nakamura have a bond, and are two sides of the same coin. Zayn said if Miz wants to take to Nakamura, he needs to talk to Zayn. Zayn said they’ll speak to Miz in a language even he can understand. Nakamura kicked Miz in the back of the head, then gave him the Kinshasa.
Shinsuke continued to knee Miz in the head. He stomped away at him in the corner. Sami pulled Nakamura away. Sami backed Shinsuke in the corner and said “that was perfect, that’s enough.” Sami helped Miz to his knees, then winked at Nakamura. Shinsuke hit Miz with another Kinshasa.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was…interesting? I don’t really think Nakamura needs a mouthpiece, or a partner, but I guess this gives Zayn something to do. Sami is generally entertaining (albeit a little obnoxious) on the microphone, so I’m willing to give this the benefit of the doubt before totally writing it off.)
-After a commercial break, Daniel Bryan and Rowan were shown entering the locker room with their mystery culprit. Bryan said the night is about to get worse for the man, because he’s called for Roman, and “he’s about to find out.”
-Kevin Owens walked into Shane McMahon’s dressing room. Shane said Owens still hasn’t apologized for putting his hands on a WWE official. Kevin said he should know better, and that he apologizes. Shane said he’s still reconsidering. He said if Owens ever intentionally puts his hands on another official, he’ll be fired immediately. He asked Owens if that was clear. Owens said yes, and offered to shake Shane’s hand. Shane shook it off. “We’re not quite there yet, Kevin.”
-Back in the arena, the arena focused on the King of the Ring throne as Elias’ new music played and he walked to the ring. Kevin Owens followed as the announcers talked about Owens’ plea to Shane.
(4) ELIAS vs. KEVIN OWENS – King of the Ring first round match
Owens and Elias locked up in the center of the ring. Elias slapped on a headlock, but Owens shot him off the ropes and hit him with a shoulder tackle. Owens clotheslined Elias over the top rope to the floor. He ran to dive over the top, but Elias moved out of the way and Owens stopped himself.
KO headed to the outside and have Elias a chop. Elias tossed Owens into the ringside barrier. Elias tossed Owens back in the ring. Owens caught Elias with a release german suplex. Elias retreated to the corner. Owens hit him with the running cannonball for a two count.
Shane McMahon’s music hit and he walked down toward the ring. Owens looked on, confused. Phillips sent the show to commercial break.
Elias had Owens downed in a headlock when the show returned from commercial. Shane McMahon was now seated at ringside. Owens fought to his feet, but Elias took him down with a leaping knee to the face. He covered Owens for a two count.
Elias kicked at Owens and then tossed him into the corner, continuing to stomp away. Elias dropped Owens with a bodyslam for a one count He locked on another headlock. Owens powered out again. Elias shot KO off the ropes, but Owens caught him with a DDT. KO caught Elias with a boot and an elbow, then a dropkick off the middle rope. He followed up with a running senton.
Owens set up for the pop up power bomb, but Elias caught himself on the ropes. Owens leaped onto the top rope, but Elias caught him in electric chair position. He spun Owens around for a spin out power bomb into a cover. Owens kicked out at two.
Elias hoisted Owens onto the top turnbuckle and climbed up to meet him. Owens hit a number of shots to the gut, knocking Elias to the mat. Owens dove off the top for a senton, but Elias got his knees up. Elias charged at KO, but Owens dumped him over the top rope. Owens hit a diving cannonball off the apron.
Owens grabbed Elias, but Shane stepped in and backed him away. He removed his overcoat to reveal a referee shirt. He began counting Owens out. KO shook with frustration. He got in Shane’s face. Shane and Owens both got in the ring. Elias attacked Owens from behind.
Owens caught Elias with a super kick. He went for a stunner, but Elias pushed him away. Owens nearly ran into Shane. Elias rolled Owens up and Shane counted an incredibly quick three count.
WINNER: Elias in 14:00
Owens sat in the ring, baffled. Shane and Elias slid out of the ring quickly and celebrated.
(LeClair’s Analysis: The match was decent enough, which is about the best you can hope for out of Elias. Owens came out of this looking horrible. He groveled at the feet of Shane McMahon with no indication whatsoever that he was attempting to full a fast one, then he got beat and made to look like a fool. This is an absolutely horrible way to treat one of your top new babyfaces. Owens, who is supposed to be an anti-authority voice for the fans and the locker room, just emasculated himself in front of the boss over money and then got cheated out of a match. This is stupid. Full on stupid.)
-Backstage, Roman Reigns walked into Bryan and Rowan’s “holding” room. Bryan reiterated that he told everyone that Rowan was an innocent man. Bryan said he went to great lengths to exonerate Rowan and find the guilty party himself. “I found the man who nearly ended your career,” Bryan said. He pulled off the towel to reveal a bald man with a long red beard who looked a lot like Rowan.
All four men stared at each other silently. Bryan almost appeared to crack a smile. The show faded too black.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I get that they’re trying to do long form story-telling here, and I commend them for that, but these 30 second show closing angles are getting a little old and a little to convenient. This would’ve been a fine trick to play had they not spent an entire week building toward this segment. Hopefully next week we get a little substance.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A huge step down from last week’s show. There were two good matches worth checking out (Andrade vs. Crews and Bryan vs. Murphy), but the story-telling took a turn for the worse. The egregious handling of Kevin Owens tonight, coupled with the flat reveal of Roman’s alleged attacker is impossible to ignore. It puts an end to a streak of relatively frustration free episodes of Smackdown.