KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
SEPTEMBER 10, 2019
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-The show opened with a wide shot of Madison Square Garden and then the lights dimmed and Undertaker’s ring entrance began. A fan in the front row, who seemed aware of a camera on him, got iconically bug-eyed as Taker’s music began. Phillips talked about Taker’s awesome entrance. Graves talked about back to back nights of Steve Austin and now Undertaker opening WWE programs. Taker entered the ring and looked around as fans chanted “Un-der-taker!”
Taker said he wanted to come out and “absorb all of this.” He said for 30 years he’s considered “these hallowed grounds my home.” He said he doesn’t know how many times he’ll get to come home anymore, but there’s one thing that he wants everyone to remember about this place: “The titans that were born here, the legends that made their names here, and the heroes that were created right here in Madison Square Garden.” He said it’s rewarding for him to know that he took a little piece of each of their souls with him. He said they will not be forgotten because the echoes of their memories will go through these hallways for all of eternity. He said now they usher in a new era of superstars. He was interrupted by Sami Zayn.
Sami obnoxiously danced onto the stage. Taker shot him a look as Graves asked, “What is this fool doing?” Sami told everyone to wait a minute. Fans sang his song. He pointed them toward the ring and talked about the illustrious track record of Taker. He said for 30 years, MSG has been Taker’s yard. He entered the ring with caution, telling Taker he has the utmost respect for him. He said even Undertaker should admit he shouldn’t be opening Smackdown Live at Madison Square Garden in 2019. Fans booed. Taker took a few steps toward him. Sami said he should have been opening the show. “When is enough enough?” he asked Taker. He said he knows that everything Taker does has been about paving the way for the future. “The future is here,” declared Sami. “The future is now. The future is Sami Zayn.” More boos. He said the unruly fans in New York City want nothing more than to see him take out Taker. Fans chanted “You suck!” at Sami. He said he is there out of respect. He asked Taker to turn around and leave this ring right now. Taker blinked a few times and twitched. Sami assured Taker that WWE is in good hands with him. “I give you my word,” he said.
Taker planted his mic into Sami’s chest and walked past him. Sami couldn’t believe he got Taker to leave. He quietly celebrated. Taker then returned to the ring. Cheers. Taker grabbed Sami’s throat and chokeslammed him. Taker’s music played and he walked toward the back. Graves asked when Sami is going to learn to shut up. They showed Sami face-down on the mat.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was fun. Good use of a special appearance by Undertaker, giving fans a feel-good moment. I’m also not against that setting up an angle leading to an Undertaker vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match some day.)
-Shane McMahon told Chad Gable backstage that his match with Andrade was unbelievable. He told him to keep it rolling. He said Elias broke his ankle and he can’t compete in the King of the Ring semi-finals. Gable said that means he gets a bye to advance. Shane said a guy like Chad doesn’t want a freebie and he wants to earn his way. Gable nodded yes. Shane said he hasn’t figured out who his opponent will be, but it’ll be someone from Raw or Smackdown, perhaps someone who has been eliminated already. Gable stoically said that was fine and walked away.
-Miz began his ring entrance. [c]
(1) THE MIZ vs. ANDRADE (w/Zelina Vega)
Nakamura joined the announcers on commentary. He answered questions from the announcers in Japanese. Graves said a wrestler of Nakamura’s caliber doesn’t need to learn English, but they should learn his language. Miz face-planted Andrade a minute in and mocked his tranquilo. Zelina distracted Miz. Miz fired at a charging Andrade with an elbow. Zelina snuck in an eye rake, giving Andrade an opening take over. With both men down a minute later, they cut to a break but stayed with the action on split-screen. [c]
Back from the break, after back and forth action, Miz backdropped Andrade over the top rope. He then wrecking ball kicked Andrade and threw him face-first into the announce table. Nakamura stood and stared at Miz. Miz stared back, then threw Andrade into Nakamura at ringside. Zelina had a meltdown. Zelina grabbed Miz’s leg to distract him; Andrade then connected with a spinning elbow for a two count. Andrade went for a moonsault, but Miz avoided it. Miz then turned it into a Skull Crushing Finale for the win. (He stumbled on the move and had to recover, so it was designed to look better than it turned out.)
WINNER: Miz in 10:00.
-After the match Nakamura blind-sided Miz with a Kinsasha, then stood over him and trash-talked a bit as his music played. Phillips plugged Miz vs. Nakamura at Sunday’s Clash of Champions.
-The announcers plugged a segment on Randy Orton-Kofi Kingston, plus Rowan plans to assert that he’s not a puppet.
-Backstage Shane asked Matt Hardy and Apollo Crews if they had seen Chad Gable. He made a height joke. Gable walked in and looked to be precisely the height of Crews and nearly Hardy’s height. The height jokes only work if he’s actually smaller than wrestlers like that. Gable asked if Shane has his opponent yet. Shane said he has picked one, and Elias “thoroughly approves.” Shane said Gable gets to take on him, the Best in the World, Shane McMahon. Gable looked saddened.
(Keller’s Analysis: Shouldn’t Gable have looked happy? I mean, it’s not like Shane’s an actual wrestler or anything? He’s a 50ish year old executive. I suppose he knows there is likely to chicanery.) [c]
-The announcers hyped Gable vs. Shane. Then they plugged Nikki & Alexa Bliss vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles at the Clash.
-Rose and Deville stood mid-ring. Rose talked about how Nikki will never look like her. “I’d be embarrassed to walk around looking like Nikki in public,” she said. “I’m beautiful and she’s ugly.” They showed a side-by-side of Mandy and Nikki on the big screen. She said handsome men opens doors for her, but slam them shut on Nikki. She said Nikki looks like an oversized rat crawling out of the Lincoln Tunnel. “How shallow is Mandy Rose,” asked Byron. Bliss’s music interrupted. Bliss walked out to her music and waited. Nikki’s music played and she charged to the ring and attacked Mandy. The ref pryed Nikki off of Mandy.
(2) NIKKI CROSS (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. MANDY ROSE (w/Sonya Deville)
Nikki climbed to the top rope. Sonya jumped onto the ring apron to distract her. Alexa yanked her down. Nikki leaped at Rose, but Rose moved. Nikki, though, avoided a Rose knee strike and schoolboyed her for the win. Saxton said that’s a “momentum shifter” for the tag champs.
WINNER: Cross in 3:00.
-The announcers hyped the Kofi-Orton segment and Rowan’s segment.
-They went backstage to Heavy Machinery making a smoothie. Otis loved his first sip A LOT! It looked really healthy – just a ton of fruit. [c]
-A Connor’s Cure segment aired.-Backstage Ember Moon walked up to Bayley. Bayley asked if she had a problem. Ember said a few weeks ago they talked about elevating the Women’s Division, yhe’s better than that. She said it’s because Bayley struggled to “stay relevant” as champion. Moon said she got pinned mby Charlotte last night. Moon told Bayley to save her energy for their match later. Bayley said she would and walked away.
(3) HEAVY MACHINERY vs. JOHNNY SILVER & ALEX KEATON
Saxton said it’s time for fun with Heavy Machinery. Graves asked what’s fun about Heavy Machinery. Graves asked if Keaton is the kid from “Family Ties.” Otis rocked his belly up and town anticipating a tag. Then he began lowering his trunks and did an exposed-belly version of the Caterpillar. Graves said he’s going to have nightmares. Tucker then entered and delivered the Compactor with Otis for the win.
WINNERS: Heavy Machinery in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Love seeing squash matches back. That gave Heavy Machinery a quick chance to have the spotlight and show off their personalities and signature moves without the 50/50 booking cliches of a “competitive match-up.”)
-Backstage Shane talked with a producer about how he needs the KOTR crown customized to “sit perfectly on my head.” In walked Kevin Owens. Shane said being the benevolent leader that he is, he has decided to get rid of the big fine he gave him. KO asked what the catch is. Shane handed KO a referee t-shirt. Shane said he knows how important KO’s family is to him, so he should think about that tonight. “Catch my drift?” Shane asked. KO looked conflicted.
-A video package aired on the Roman Reigns whodunit with a focus on Daniel Bryan and Rowan.
-Rowan made his ring entrance. Rowan stood in the ring and said all his life, people just don’t seem to get him. He said the fans think he’s controlled by somebody else. “Until last week,” he said. He said they need to look deep into his eyes to realize he’s a mastermind, a manipulator, and a schemer. He said all the fans see is “a big brute who terrorizes and brutalizes.” He brought up Roman Reigns. Then Roman’s music played and Reigns came out in his wrestling gear. He marched to the ring. Phillips said Rowan hatched a scheme and now he has to pay. Reigns hit Rowan with a Superman Punch. Reigns paused and let out a yell as Rowan recovered a bit. When Reigns charged at him at ringside, Rowan kicked him. Reigns fired back and threw him into the crowd. Rowan headbutted Reigns. They brawled. Security broke them up. Rowan then picked up “a fan” and powerbombed him into Reigns and the gaggle of security guys at ringside. Rowan yelled, “I have something to say!” Rowan then charged back at Reigns and leaped into him and security again. Rowan dragged Reigns up the ramp as Sonjay Dutt, Adam Pearce, and several referees tried to talk to him. Reigns recovered and jumped Rowan and punched away at him at the King of the Ring throne. Rowan reached up and grabbed the camera crane and shoved it into Reigns. Rowan asked if Reigns wants some more. He yelled, “Sunday! Sunday!” [c]
-The announcers ran down the Clash of Champions line-up.
(4) BAYLEY vs. EMBER MOON
Charlotte joined the announcers on commentary. Saxton asked Charlotte about Bayley struggling to be a relevant champion. Charlotte said Bayley is relying once again on Sasha to fight her battles. They fought at ringside early where Bayley got the better of Ember, knee striking her off of the ringside barricade. [c]
Back from the break, Moon kicked Bayley as she dove through the ropes at her. Moon went for an Eclipse, but Bayley ducked. Bayley then landed the Bayley to Belly for the three count.
WINNER: Bayley in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: They managed to get a commercial break in the middle of a four minute match with Charlotte on commentary. Yes, they showed the action during the break on split-screen, but that’s not showing confidence in those acts holding viewers.)
-Afterward Charlotte entered the ring and walked up to Bailey with her arms extended. Bayley smiled, then backed away as fans let out some “wooo’s.” [c]
-Kofi Kingston made his ring entrance. He said MSG will always hold a special place in his heart. He said ten years ago in this arena he decided to step up and prove against a top star why he belonged in WWE. He said he whooped Randy Orton’s ass all over the building. He said the icing on the cake is that when he laid Orton out and put his ass through a table, the entire arena and the entire city of New York was chanting his name. Fans chanted “Kofi! Kofi!” He said he knew then that one day he would be back at MSG inside the ring standing before them all as the WWE Champion. “That day has come!” he said.
He said he sees a lot of “young booties” in the crowd, so he wanted to show them what happened. The showed a clip of Kofi leaping onto Orton and driving him through a table. Phillips said that match put his name on the map. Kofi said that right there was just a small taste of what he’s going to do to Orton at the Clash this Sunday. Orton chimed in from the crowd (on the floor behind the last row of floor seats) with “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” He said he can’t listen to him go on about the one thing he’s done in the last ten years. He listed a bunch of big wins he has had in the last ten years. He said he’s going to take the title from him because Kofi has pretended to be something he isn’t from day one, whether it was a Jamaican with a phony accent with the those dreadlocks or whether it was that phony power of positivity bullshit. He was bleeped. He threw down the mic. Kofi dropped the mic and walked toward Orton. Graves said this isn’t the time because Kofi should savor his last four days.
Orton caught Kofi with a chair and yelled “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” at him as he bashed him some more. Saxton said Orton used Kofi’s emotions against him. Graves said this pattern is why Orton will end Kofi’s reign on Sunday. Orton set up a DDT off a table, but Kofi slipped free and pummeled Orton with a barrage of punches. Kofi picked up a chair and bashed Orton across his back with it four deliberate times before throwing the chair down. Kofi then reenacted the MSG moment by setting up a table. Orton recovered during that time and set Kofi on the table. Then he swung the chair at him, but Kofi kicked it out of his hands. The table actually broke at that point, making the table seem lamely pre-cut. Oops. Kofi noticed another table and positioned it as fans chanted “Tables! Tables!” He gave Orton one more chair shot, then leaped off the railing with a Boom Drop, sending Orton through the table once again. Kofi played to the crowd. Kofi stood on the railing and soaked up some cheers.
(Keller’s Analysis: The set-up for that was too long, but it was a cool callback and visual overall.) [c]
(5) CHAD GABLE vs. SHANE MCMAHON – King of the Ring semi-finals
Gable ducked a charging Shane and then gave him a stiff German suplex for a sudden three count. KO counted quickly. Gable ran around the ring and celebrated. Graves said, “That didn’t just happen!” Phillips said the way Shane screwed KO out of the KOTR match just came back to bite Shane. Graves said KO now has to explain why his kids can’t afford to go to college.
APPARENT WINNER: Gable in ten seconds.
-Shane said this match is now two out of three falls. Fans chanted “Asshole!”
Shane attacked Gable from behind and bashed him into the announce desk. [c]
Back from the break, Shane elbowed Gable and rolled him up. KO switched to a slow two count after slowly checking that Gable’s shoulders were down. Gable came back and landed a moonsault, but KO made a very slow count. Shane kicked out at two, but it was more like six. Shane grabbed a chair. KO told him that he can’t let him do that. He said all the fans are watching. Shane smiled and told KO to put it away because he doesn’t need it. Shane tried to kick Gable, but Gable applied his ankle lock. Shane was in pain in mid-ring. Shane tapped out.
SECOND FALL WINNER: Gable in 13:00 to advance to the King of the Ring finals.
-Fans chanted “You tapped out.” Shane attacked KO from behind. Shane then picked up a mic and yelled at him, “You’re fired.” He punched away some more at him with the mic and said “fired” a few more times.