LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 8/27: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of final night of King of the Ring round one, Big E vs. Randy Orton, Roman Reigns’ new footage, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor

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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
AUGUST 27, 2019
BATON ROUGE, LA AT RAISING CANE’S RIVER CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

-The show opened with a video recap of the Roman Reigns attempted homicide saga to date.

-Roman Reigns was shown walking down a hallway backstage. He was approached by Kayla Braxton. She asked if he had anything to say to Daniel Bryan and Rowan after they demanded an apology from him. Reigns said he did, and he’d address it in the ring.

-Tom Phillips welcomed the audience to the show over a subdued wide shot of the Raising Cane’s River Center in Baton Rouge. There were plenty of empty seats scattered about the lower bowl, clearly visible on camera. New Day’s music played and Greg Hamilton welcomed WWE Champion Kofi Kingston as he headed to the ring, tossing out pancakes. Phillips threw to clips of Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston’s feud to date.

Phillips confirmed that Randy Orton will challenge Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship in two weeks at Clash of Champions.

Kofi stood in the ring and soaked in a modest “Kofi” chant. He said Randy Orton likes to slither around the ring and talk about Kofi being stupid. “Tell me, who got their ass knocked out last week out of nowhere?” Kofi asked. Kingston said Orton made things personal. He said all he wanted was to prove that he deserved to be champion and hold the top spot.

Kofi said Randy and his new friends, The Revival made it personal by bringing Kofi’s family into it and trying to take out his brothers in New Day. He said it felt “so good” to bash Orton with a steel chair. Kofi said Orton is scared, because he saw the look in Kofi’s eyes. “When you mess with my family, I do not play around,” Kofi said somberly. He said he gets to prove that Orton has always been wrong about him.

“I was ready back then, and more importantly, I’m ready now,” Kingston said. Orton interrupted him on the big screen, yelling “stupid” repeatedly. Randy said he’d like to come out and show him how stupid Kofi really is, but he’s going to wait until Clash of Champions. Orton said while he was in his hotel room earlier, he was thinking of ways to show the world how stupid Kofi really is. He said someone knocked on his door and slid a letter underneath it.

Orton said he doesn’t usually read or reply to fan mail, but this piece of mail had heart and he wanted to share it. The letter pleaded with Randy Orton to stop hurting Kofi Kingston. It said Kofi cries at night because of what Orton does to him. The letter goes on to reveal that it is, in fact, written by Kingston’s son. “Touching,” Orton said.

Orton told Kofi he’s staying in the same hotel as his family and that he’s going to go pay his son a visit. Orton walked off screen. In the ring, Kingston dropped the mic and ran up the ramp, visibly upset.

The camera cut backstage and Kingston and Orton were already brawling in gorilla. They traded shots as officials tried to separate them. Orton eventually got the better of Kofi and gave him the hanging DDT off a table onto the concrete. He kept repeating “stupid” as he walked away. The show faded to commercial.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Kingston was almost entirely serious, which is exactly what this situation calls for. I very much could’ve done without the usual pancake toss, given the circumstances, but at least the meat of the promo was sans typical New Day humor. Orton’s letter wasn’t exactly original – I believe they did something very similar with Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles last year, but it worked for what it was.)

-Big E was shown leaving the trainer’s room. Kayla Braxton approached him and asked for an update on Kofi’s condition. She also informed Big E that he’s going to face Randy Orton later in the night. Big E said Kofi will be ready to go for Clash of Champions, but that he can’t say the same for Randy.

-Back at the announcers desk, Phillips, Graves, and Saxton went over the results of the King of the Ring tournament to date and showed the current bracket graphic. They discussed the final two first round matches, scheduled to take place tonight.

-Ali headed to the ring for his King of the Ring first round match. The announcers referred to he and his opponent, Buddy Murphy, as tournament dark horses. Buddy Murphy headed to the ring next. Phillips said he may be the hottest Superstar in the WWE. He threw to footage of Murphy’s win over Daniel Bryan and the subsequent attack on him backstage.

(1) ALI vs. BUDDY MURPHY – King of the Ring tournament first round match

Murphy and Ali slapped hands in a sign of respect. Murphy tossed Ali into the corner and Ali leaped over him and knocked him to the mat. Ali sent Buddy off the ropes and Buddy caught him with a big back elbow, then covered him for a two count. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.

On the small screen, Ali regrouped in the corner. Buddy Murphy gave him several boots in the corner. Ali returned to his feet and Murphy gave him a back body drop. He drove his knee into Ali’s back and gave him a kick to the back of the head. He covered Ali for another two count.

Buddy brought Ali to his feet. Ali fired off a few shots to the gut, but Murphy grabbed a head lock and dug in. Ali fought out with elbows to the mid-section. He charged at Murphy, but Buddy turned him inside out with a big clothesline. He covered Ali for a two count.

Murphy went for a back drop, but Ali countered into a cross body pin. Murphy kicked out at two, then immediately locked in another headlock on the mat. Ali fought out and shoved Murphy into the corner. Murphy tossed Ali into the middle turnbuckle head first.

Back to full screen, Ali caught Murphy with a pair of kicks then slingshotted him into the corner. He followed up with a big standing dropkick. Murphy rolled to the outside. Ali dove through the middle rope onto Murphy.Elias was shown watching the match on a monitor backstage. The announcers said he’d face the winner on next week’s show.

Meanwhile, Murphy tossed Ali clear over the top rope and to the floor. Murphy flipped over the top rope, wiping out Ali. He tossed Ali in the ring and headed to the top rope. Murphy went for the Meteora, but Ali moved. He caught Murphy with a super kick. Murphy returned to his feet and Ali caught him with a reverse-rana for a two count. Both men struggled slowly to their feet.

Ali climbed to the middle rope, but Buddy grabbed his leg and gave him a kick through the ropes. He hit Ali with a running sit out power bomb out of the corner for a two count. Murphy immediately hit Ali with a brain buster for another near fall.

Both men returned to their feet. They traded hard elbows, then kicks. Ali delivered a kick that sent Murphy tumbling onto the apron. Ali shot off the ropes and hit an acrobatic headscissor DDT through the ropes. He climbed to the top rope and hit the 450 splash for a three count.

WINNER: Ali in 10:00

Buddy Murphy shook hands with Ali after the match.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. Not quite at the level of Murphy’s matches with Reigns and Bryan in the last two weeks, but still very good. I question the decision to go with Ali here. Buddy has a lot of momentum coming off of two incredible weeks involved in a major storyline and his continued in the presence could have been a great story.)

-The announcers teased the final King of the Ring first round match, as well as more involving Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan later in the night.

-Backstage, the camera focused in on the Smackdown Women’s title. It zoomed out to show Bayley, who was approached by Ember Moon. Ember asked if Bayley was letting Charlotte get in her head. Bayley said she wasn’t. Ember said she’s still processing her loss to Bayley, but promised she’ll beat her next time. “Until then, no matter what Charlotte Flair says, she isn’t the face of the women’s division, you are,” Moon said. She applauded Bayley for providing her with an opportunity and said she raises the division.

Lacey Evans approached on the opposite side. She said Bayley, Ember, and the rest of the division need to raise their standards. “You, my dear, are bringing this title and the entire division down.” She said Charlotte was right about that, but wrong about who the face of the division is. She said it’s her. Bayley and Ember laughed. Lacey said she’d prove it in her match with Bayley tonight.

-The Miz’s music hit and he headed to the ring. Phillips said Miz was there to face Sami Zayn and then talked up the season finale of Miz & Mrs. The show went to commercial.

-After the break, Phillips threw to clips from last week’s MizTV where Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura attacked The Miz.

In the ring, Miz stood with a microphone. He said last week, Sami Zayn tried to paint the portrait of two kindred spirits. “Really?” Miz asked. He said Nakamura is a champion and Sami Zayn is a stage five cleaner. He said he’s on a losing streak and, instead of digging himself out, decided to latch himself onto someone else.

Miz said Zayn is riding Shinsuke’s coattails because he can’t do it himself. “If Shinsuke thinks he needs Sami’s help, he’s got a problem.” Miz said he made the Intercontinental title the most prestigious and relevant title in WWE. “I can do it again, “Miz declared. He challenged Shinsuke Nakamura to an Intercontinental title match at Clash of Champions. Sami Zayn’s music hit.

Zayn walked onto the stage in street clothes. He laughed and Miz doesn’t understand he and Shinsuke’s dynamic. “I am a liberator,” Sami said. He said Nakamura is feeling better than he has in years thanks to him. Sami said he thinks it’s funny that Miz keeps associating himself with the Intercontinental title. He said Shinsuke is a poet, and artist, and the king of strong style. He called Miz the “king of soft style.”

Zayn said he doesn’t expect someone as self-obsessed as The Miz to understand someone as kind and selfless as him. He said it’s time Miz had some respect beaten into him. Miz told Sami to do it. “That’s not really how it works around here,” Zayn said, “we don’t do things on your time just to please these idiots.”

Miz said he’d come out and beat some respect into Zayn. He took off his robe and left the ring. Zayn backed up the ramp quickly. Shinsuke Nakamura attacked The Miz from behind. Zayn jawed at him on the microphone and laughed as Nakamura beat him down.

Nakamura kicked and kneed Miz repeatedly in the chest, then threw Miz into the LED board on the ring. He backed up and gave Miz a Kinshasa into the LED board. Sami told Shinsuke to get Miz in the ring.

Sami said Miz has no respect for poetry or artistry. He held up Miz and Shinsuke delivered a second Kinshasa. Sami screamed with joy and raised Shinsuke’s hand.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good segment. Miz’s insults were poignant and Zayn was obnoxious and smarmy. Nakamura’s second brutal attack in as many weeks serves as a positive marker for his character, and I like the idea of he and Miz feuding for a while. Nakamura continuing his reign wouldn’t be a bad thing, and The Miz is almost always an above average Intercontinental Champion. It’s hard to go wrong here.)

-Elias was strumming his guitar on a couch backstage. Kevin Owens approached. Elias asked if Kevin knew how to knock, proclaiming that it’s Shane McMahon’s office. Owens said the door was open. Owens asked where Shane was. Elias said Shane isn’t there. Kevin smiled and thanked Elias.

-Back in the arena, Bayley headed to the ring for her match with Lacey Evans. Phillips sent the show to commercial.

Bayley stood in the ring as her music continued to play when the show returned from the break. Lacey Evans headed to the ring and taunted the crowd.

(2) BAYLEY vs. LACEY EVANS

Lacey shooed Bayley away as she removed her gloves. Lacey tried to kick Bayley to catch her off guard, but Bayley caught her leg. Lacey hopped into the ropes to force a break. Bayley called out “arm drag” very loudly and then proceeded to give Lacey an arm drag.

Lacey went for a waist lock but Bayley quickly pushed out of it. She dropped Evans to the mat and worked over her arm. Bayley tried to cradle Lacey into a cover, but Lacey failed to roll through properly so Bayley re-applied the arm lock. Lacey broke it with a body slam.

Evans tossed Bayley into the corner and delivered kicks. She went for her headstand drop kick, but Bayley moved out of the way. Both women tumbled to the outside and Bayley took Evans down. Charlotte walked out onto the stage and watched from afar as Phillips sent the show to commercial.

The show returned from break as the second hour began. Charlotte had made her way to ringside and Bayley was fighting out of a hold. Lacey quickly regained control and dropped Bayley to the mat. She twisted her arm and slammed it on the apron. She sent Bayley into the corner and hung her arm up in the ropes. Lacey downed Bayley in the corner and hit her headstand bronco buster. She continued to work over the arm.

Bayley stepped through the ropes to break Lacey’s grip on her arm. She twisted Lacey’s own arm around the rope and then gave her a big dropkick. Evans downed Bayley again then stomped on her arm repeatedly. Bayley returned to her feet and smashed Lacey’s head into the top turnbuckle. She hopped out onto the apron. Lacey tried to kick her off, but Bayley caught her. She re-entered the ring and hit a pair of big clotheslines on Evans.

Bayley gave Evans a high knee strike out of the corner and then applied the reverse figure four on Evans. Lacey reached the ropes quickly. Evans returned to her feet. Bayley went for the Bayley to Belly but Evans blocked it and took her down. Evans climbed to the middle rope then hit her leaping moonsault for a near fall.

Bayley rolled to the outside to recover and Lacey followed her. Bayley tossed Evans into the ringside barrier and then gave her a suplex off the guardrail. The women barely beat the referee’s count, just sliding in at nine.

After trading a number of roll ups, Bayley kicked Lacey in the stomach and connected with the Bayley to Belly. She covered, but Lacey got her hand on the bottom rope just before the three count. Lacey struggled to her feet. She kicked Bayley in the arm then hit the swinging neck breaker. Evans tried to roll over onto Bayley but Bayley got her knees up. Bayley caught a second Bayley to Belly then headed to the top rope. She hit a big diving elbow for a three count.

WINNER: Bayley in 16:00

Charlotte clapped and flashed a sinister smile as Bayley celebrated the victory.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This match had its moments, but it was too long for what it aimed to do. I appreciated the commitment to the psychology of Bayley’s injured arm, but Lacey Evans just isn’t experienced enough to effectively tell the story. She looked awkward, uncomfortable, and clunky throughout and left Bayley to improvise sloppily on more than one occasion. This got better as the match progressed, but it wasn’t particularly good.)

-Backstage, Kayla Braxton welcomed Daniel Bryan and Rowan. Bryan was sporting a t-shirt featuring a slot with Wolverine claws. Bryan said he and Rowan are upset that they still haven’t received an apology. He said they will not leave the arena until they hear “I am sorry” from Roman Reigns.

-Randy Orton headed to the ring for his match with Big E. Phillips sent the show to commercial.

Randy Orton paced the ring as the show returned from commercial. Big E’s voice filled the PA system as the crowd (halfheartedly) spoke along. Big E walked out, all business. He dropped his robe and title before even getting to the ring.

(3) RANDY ORTON vs. BIG E

Big E charged at Orton as soon as the bell rang. He punched him in the mid section and then tossed him to the outside. Big E drove Orton into the steel steps, then tossed him over the announcers desk. He quickly slid in the ring to break the count, then went back out to retrieve Randy. Orton poked Big E in the eye, but Big E tossed Orton over the barricade.

Orton climbed back over the guardrail and Big E tossed him into the ring. Big E slapped on the abdominal stretch, licked his hand and smacked Orton’s butt to the “New Day Rocks” tune. He dropped Orton to the mat. “You wanna play games? Let’s play!” Big E shouted at Orton.

Orton used Big E’s momentum against him and tossed him shoulder first into the ring post. He stomped at Big E in the corner. Big E shot out of the corner with a big clothesline. Orton positioned himself partially under the bottom rope. Big E climbed out onto the apron and went for a running apron splash, but Orton moved. Big E bounced off the apron and onto the floor below.

Orton slid outside and gave Big E a backdrop onto the announcers desk. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial. On the small screen, Big E rolled around on the floor as Orton rolled into the ring to break the count. He scooped up Big E and gave him a back drop on the announcers table again.

Back to full screen, Orton broke the count again and went to drop Big E on the desk a third time. Big E punched his way out and delivered his own back drop onto the desk. Big E tossed Orton in the ring. Randy hit Big E with a standing dropkick. He covered Big E for a two count.

Big E returned to his knees. Orton charged him, but E caught him with a belly to belly suplex. Orton popped up and Big E hit a second belly to belly. The Revival hopped up onto the apron out of nowhere. Big E knocked them both off. He turned around and Orton went for an RKO, but Big E shoved him away. He scooped up Orton for the Big Ending, but Randy slid down the back and shoved Big E toward the ropes.

The Revival popped up and punched Big E through the ropes. He stumbled backward into an RKO from Randy Orton. Orton covered Big E for a three count.

WINNER: Randy Orton in 10:00

The Revival hopped back in the ring and circled Big E with Orton. Orton told The Revival to lift Big E. They shot E into the ropes, then lifted him into a flapjack position for Orton to hit an elevated RKO. Orton posed on the turnbuckle with The Revival at his side.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid match. Big E is really great when he’s serious, and he was exactly that with only one minimal exception here. Orton seemed motivated and worked hard to sell E’s offense. The Revival’s interference gives Big E a legitimate reason for losing, and he didn’t look weak or dumb in doing so. This was a positive step for Orton and Kofi’s program and a good night for Big E.)

-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber stood with Chad Gable. She said people believe him to be the underdog in the King of the Ring tournament and asked if Shelton Benjamin has gotten under his skin. Gable said Benjamin should know better than to underestimate him. Shelton wandered on screen. “I’m looking for Chad,” he said, ignoring Gable. He asked Sarah to let Gable know he’s looking for him, then walked off. Gable looked toward Benjamin wearily.

-Elias was shown walking backstage with his guitar and 24/7 title. Corey Graves said he was headed to the ring after the break.

-Tweets promoting Ronda Rousey’s involvement in the upcoming 9th season of Total Divas were shown.

-Tom Phillips threw to footage from the weekend’s Fox Founders Day event involving Elias, R-Truth, Drake Maverick and the 24/7 title.

-Greg Hamilton introduced Elias, who sat in the King of the Ring throne wearing a crown and holding a scepter. He claimed he’d win the King of the Ring tournament. He ran down a list of legends who had previously won the tournament and said no one can wear the crown the way he can. “You’ve got to admit, this is a sight to see,” Elias said. He called the people in the arena “filthy swamp people.” Kevin Owens showed up behind the throne. He attacked Elias and punched him all the way to the ring.

Owens tossed Elias in the ring. Elias got a single kick in, but Owens gave him a Stunner. He stared angrily at Elias and left the ring as his music played.

The camera focused on Elias, downed on the mat in the ring. R-Truth snuck into frame and slid in the ring, referee in tow. He got a two count, but then Drake Maverick pulled him out of the ring. Maverick took Truth down, slid in the ring himself, and covered Elias to become the new 24/7 champion.

Maverick ran around the ring celebrating, falling face first on the floor at one point.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Thankfully, he completely ignored the 24/7 title. Truth and Maverick’s shenanigans were par for the course when it comes to 24/7 shenanigans. I dislike the fact that Elias got a win over Owens last week, tainted as it was, but is still involved in the 24/7 title division, losing to Drake Maverick no less. It brings Owens down, even if he isn’t directly involved or interested.)

-Chad Gable was shown stretching with resistance bands backstage. Phillips said his match would be next.

-Shelton Benjamin was already in the ring when the show returned from break. Chad Gable’s music played and he headed to the ring. The announcers discussed the “feud” developing between these two. Graves cracked a joke about Gable needing a booster seat to reach the throne (which may as well have come straight from Vince McMahon’s mouth.)

(4) SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. CHAD GABLE – King of the Ring tournament first round match

Gable fired off shots as soon as the bell rang. He shot Benjamin off the ropes. Shelton caught him with a big spine buster for a two count. Benjamin connected with a suplex. He mocked Gable, who took Benjamin down and caught him in a roll up for a two count.

Andrade and Zelina Vega were shown backstage watching the match. Phillips mentioned he’d be facing the winner on next week’s show. Meanwhile, Gable delivered a number of uppercuts and back elbows to Benjamin, followed by a rolling neck breaker.

Benjamin wandered to his feet and Gable hit him with a release German suplex. Benjamin popped up and hit Gable with a clothesline. Benjamin took down Gable again and locked in an ankle lock. Gable fought through it and sent Benjamin flying to the outside.

Gable climbed out onto the apron and rolled onto Benjamin, but Shelton caught him and threw him into the ringside barrier. He tossed Gable back in the ring and sat him on the top turnbuckle. Gable gave Benjamin a headbutt and knocked him to the mat. He went for a moonsault, but Shelton moved. Gable landed on his feet. Benjamin hit Gable with a big leaping knee strike. He scooped up Gable for a power bomb, but Gable flipped over Benjamin’s head into a sunset flip pinning attempt. He caught Benjamin for a three count.

WINNER: Chad Gable in 6:00

Gable rolled out of the ring, looking surprised that he won. The announcers showed an updated tournament bracket.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent match, but it was over rather quickly. The crowd, quiet already tonight, was not remotely into either of these guys and that made it hard to develop any sort of excitement or momentum moving from spot to spot. Gable and Benjamin are both talented wrestlers, and this showcased that, but their feud, so much as you can call it that, has been low-brow and petty, even for WWE mid-card standards. Gable needed to win here, so that’s a positive.)

-Backstage, Roman Reigns was shown walking slowly down a hallway. Phillips said we’d find out whether or not Reigns will apologize to Bryan and Rowan next.

-Roman Reigns music hit and he walked slowly toward the ring, slapping hands with fans as the announcers discussed their expectations of Reigns and the apology demanded from him. Graves vehemently stood up for Bryan and Rowan, while Saxton debated the merit of Bryan’s investigation.

Reigns circled the ring as Graves and Saxton continued to argue.Daniel Bryan and Rowan immediately appeared on the big screen. Bryan said it’s very simple. “Just say I’m sorry,” he pleaded. Roman looked around at the crowd and asked if he should apologize. The crowd said no.

Reigns said he had a video, and promised that if after, he still needed to apologize, he would. The video showed the footage of the scaffolding falling on Reigns. It highlighted a hooded figure in the background, walking off as the crates fall over. The man is tall, and sporting a long, red beard.

The camera cut backstage to Daniel Bryan and Rowan. Bryan screamed at Rowan slapped him in the face repeatedly. “I hate liars!” Bryan screamed, “get out of here!” Rowan walked away. Bryan demanded a microphone and walked toward gorilla.

Bryan said he trusted Rowan, getting increasingly worked up as he reached gorilla and then walked onto the stage. “That man has lied to me, and he has betrayed me!” Bryan said. He said someone told Rowan to do it, and swore it wasn’t him. Roman gave him a spear. Byron said he didn’t know what to believe anymore. Reigns left the ring as the show faded to black.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Huh? The footage wasn’t clear enough to display Rowan’s face with any clarity. Bryan’s willingness to turn on Rowan so quickly after going through the trouble of finding a look alike just a week ago seems entirely out of left field. It’s not as though we got a clear look at Rowan in the footage, and Bryan could’ve easily contended that it was the man they revealed to Roman last week. This didn’t make any sense. Bryan’s performance was good, but entirely senseless.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: The developments between Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton were the standout talking points from an overall weak effort. The show felt rushed, hastily booked, and the closing segment was entirely senseless, despite another commendable performance from Daniel Bryan. The Evans vs. Bayley match was sloppy and overly long, and the King of the Ring matches were good but largely forgettable. Smackdown has entered a bit of a rut.

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