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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
SEPTEMBER 24, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO, CA AT CHASE CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-The show opened with a video package recapping the angle between Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Roman Reigns, and Daniel Bryan. It ended with the closing scene of last week’s show, Rowan and Harper standing tall over the bodies of Bryan and Reigns.
-Tom Phillips welcomed the audience to the show as the camera swept across the front row at ringside. Erick Rowan’s music played and he walked slowly to the ring.
Rowan said what was shown in the recap package was a work of ark. He said some people draw, some paint, but he annihilates. He said his violence commands respect. The crowd pelted him with a “you suck” chant. Rowan said people used to see him as less than human. “That’s changed, because of an old saying – might makes right.”
Rowan said both Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan know he’s right. Daniel Bryan’s music cut him off. Bryan walked to the ring in his wrestling gear. He told Rowan to fight him right now if he wants respect. Bryan tossed the mic aside and Rowan removed his vest. A referee slid in the ring.
(1) ERICK ROWAN vs. DANIEL BRYAN
The referee rang the bell and Bryan charged. He and Rowan locked up. Rowan shoved Bryan into the corner, then took him down with a big clothesline. Rowan hit a running splash on Bryan then tossed him to the outside.
Rowan darted to the outside and took Bryan out with a running cross body. He slammed Bryan’s head into the ring post, then broke up the referee’s count at seven. Rowan tossed Bryan back in the ring. The crowd built into a strong “Daniel Bryan” chant. Rowan drove his knee into Bryan’s back repeatedly, then cranked at his head and neck.
Rowan brought Bryan to his feet. Daniel high a number of kicks to Rowan’s legs. He shot off the ropes, but Rowan took him down again. Phillips sent the show to commercial.
When the show returned, Bryan and Rowan were outside the ring again. Rowan continued to dominate. He scooped up Bryan and gave him a power bomb into the ring post. Rowan returned to the ring while the referee began to count Bryan out. Daniel used the apron to pull himself up. He broke the count at nine. Rowan immediately attacked, stomping at Bryan in the corner.
Rowan charged at Bryan, but Bryan caught him with a running dropkick to the knee. Bryan gave Rowan a pair of chop blocks. He wrapped Rowan’s leg around the ring post and slammed it repeatedly. He delivered a running dropkick to the injured knee into the ring post.
Rowan stood with the aid of the turnbuckles. Bryan hit a pair of running dropkicks. Rowan caught the third and gave Bryan a big power slam for a near fall. Rowan hoisted Bryan into a bear hug. Bryan fought free with forearms to the neck and shoulder. Rowan threw Bryan up and hit him with a power bomb for another near fall. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Rowan complained to the referee about the count and taunted the crowd. He dragged Bryan to the outside. Rowan dumped Bryan face first onto the barrier. He tossed Bryan back in the ring and watched as Daniel struggled to his feet. He turned Bryan inside out with another clothesline. Rowan climbed to the top rope and taunted the crowd.
Bryan struggled to his feet when the show returned to full screen. Rowan set him up for another power bomb, but Bryan rolled through it into a sunset flip. He couldn’t bring Rowan down, and the big man lifted Bryan to his feet by the neck. Rowan tossed Bryan into the ropes and charged, but Bryan pulled the rope down and sent Rowan crashing to the floor.
Bryan geared up and dove at Rowan with a suicide dive through the ropes. Rowan caught him. He lifted Bryan up, but Bryan slid down his back and drove Rowan head first into the ring post. Rowan rolled back in the ring. Bryan climbed to the top rope. He hit Rowan with a big missile dropkick to the back. Bryan delivered his signature “Yes” kicks. He covered Rowan but only got a one count.
Bryan climbed to the top rope again. He dove at Rowan, but got caught by the throat. Rowan lifted him up, but Bryan latched on and applied the guillotine. He brought Rowan to the mat and transitioned into the Labell Lock. Rowan reached the ropes. Bryan broke the hold to take of Luke Harper, who’d made his way to ringside off camera. He dropkicked Harper off the apron, then hit a suicide dive through the ropes. Harper went flying over the announcers desk, but stood immediately, unharmed.
Rowan grabbed Bryan from in the ring. He hoisted him onto the apron, then gave him an Iron Claw. Bryan’s foot got caught in the top rope, making for an awkward landing. The referee helped Bryan out. Rowan hit him with another Iron Claw for a three count.
WINNER: Erick Rowan in 17:00
Rowan and Harper cleared the announcers desk. Roman Reigns’ music hit. Harped circled the ring to meet him. Reigns used the ring steps for leverage and hit Harper with the Superman punch. He gave Rowan an uppercut, then hit Harper with the Drive-by.
Rowan and Harper quickly overcame Reigns and set him toward the announcers desk. Bryan returned to assist. Harper threw Bryan into the ring and set him up for the big clothesline. Bryan ducked and hit Harper with the running knee.
Rowan returned to the ring and grabbed Bryan for another Iron Claw. Reigns slid back in the ring and dropped Rowan with a spear. Roman offered his hand to Bryan, but Bryan pushed it away. He hobbled to his feet and asked for a microphone.
“All I want is a one word answer,” Bryan said, “do want to see me and Roman kick their disrespectful asses?” The crowd erupted in a “yes” chant. Rowan and Harper stared down Reigns and Bryan as Bryan’s music played.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good opening segment and match. I’m not about to let WWE entirely off the hook for the horrible angle that preceded it, but the last couple of weeks have been a positive turn and a commendable attempt to salvage something that had completely gone off the rails. As entertaining as Bryan has been as a heel, it seems most audiences still really want to cheer him and having him in that role is likely the best fit for this stage of his career. At this point, Rowan and Harper have done too much damage to Bryan for this to be some kind of swerve.)
-The announcers talked up next week’s WWE title match between Kofi Kingston and Brock Lesnar. Corey Graves said they’d have an “in depth look” at Brock Lesnar after the break.
-The announcers welcomed the San Francisco 49ers, who were seated behind their desk at ringside. George Kittle was sporting a vintage Rock t-shirt and carrying a WWE replica title.
Back at the desk, Tom Phillips threw to a video package highlighting Brock Lesnar’s career worth of destruction.
-The package gave way to Michael Cole, sitting in an interview set backstage with Kofi Kingston. Kofi said he likes to say it with enthusiasm. He introduced himself. Cole laughed and said he tried that once, but it didn’t turn out well.
Cole asked Kofi why he accepted Brock’s challenge. Kofi said he made a promise that he’d be a fighting champion. “This is just another chapter of me fighting, that’s it.” Cole asked how one prepares for Brock Lesnar. Kofi said you can’t really prepare for him, but he feels like he’s at the top of his game. Kofi ran down a list of the names he’s beaten in recent memory to highlight his confidence.
Michael Cole asked if Kofi felt pressure defending the title against Brock Lesnar on Smackdown’s premiere on Fox. Kofi said it’s an opportunity for him to at the forefront. “I’ve worked too long and too hard to get to this point,” Kofi said. He said he’ll beat Brock Lesnar and remain WWE Champion. “I feel real good.”
-Byron Saxton talked up the WWE title match over the show’s new match graphics for Fox.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This worked. It was short and to the point, but it said precisely what needed to be said without having a long, drawn out promo. Kofi is a massive underdog against Lesnar, but is in the midst of, by WWE standards, an impressive title run. He should be confident, he should be exuding some swagger and belief that he can beat Brock Lesnar. Cole asked the right questions, Kofi had the right answers.)
-Chad Gable headed to the ring. The talk devolved into short jokes, again. Phillips said Gable would be in action next.
Out of the break, clips of Corbin and Gable’s match on last night’s Raw were shown. Back in the ring, Gable had a microphone. Gable said Corbin told him no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always come up short. Gable said his run in King of the Ring was no joke. He said he had Corbin beat.
Mike Kanellis’ music cut Gable off. He made a short joke. He told Gable he came to Smackdown to prove to his pregnant wife that “size does matter.” Gable smirked.
(2) CHAD GABLE vs. MIKE KANELLIS
Gable grabbed Kanellis and tossed him with an overhead belly to belly the moment the referee rang the bell. Gable followed it up with a deadlift German suppler. He applied the ankle lock on Kanellis, who tapped out almost immediately.
WINNER: Chad Gable in 1:00
Gable celebrated. Elias appeared on the tron. “Hey shorty,” he said. Elias said he’s inspired by Gable’s success. He said he wrote a song for him. It was just a bunch of short jokes. Gable paced irritatedly around the ring.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m all for a Chad Gable push, but the short jokes are terrible. The Kanellis angle is terrible. This wasn’t good.)
-At the announcers desk, Tom Phillips ran down Carmella’s 24/7 title win on last night’s Raw.
-Charlotte was shown walking down a hallway backstage. She happened upon R-Truth, standing outside a locker room door. Flair asked if Truth had seen Carmella. Truth said he didn’t know anyone named Carmella. Carmella stepped out of the locker room, telling Truth that she’s okay.
Charlotte congratulated Carmella on winning the title, but said she hopes she’s focused on their tag match tonight. Carmella said she was. She said she and Bayley have been friends for years and this isn’t the Bayley she knows. Truth “woo’ed” at Charlotte, who walked away in disgust.
-Tom Phillips thanked USA Network for being home to Smackdown, and talked up the new era of the show, beginning next week on Fox. Corey Graves talked up the “season premiere” of Raw next week.
-Charlotte Flair headed to the ring. Carmella followed with R-Truth at her side. Tom Phillips plugged WWE 2K20 before Sasha and Bayley headed to the ring.
(3) CHARLOTTE FLAIR & CARMELLA (w/ R-Truth) vs. SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY
Sasha Banks and Carmella began the match. Tom Phillips confirmed that 24/7 title rules were suspended for the duration of the match. Sasha dropped Carmella with a hair takedown. Carmella recovered and shot Sasha in the corner, then moonwalked in celebration.
Sasha darted back and got taken down with a clothesline. Carmella covered Sasha for a quick two count. Sasha recovered quickly and delivered a hard right hand. She tossed Carmella to the outside of the ring and then tagged in Bayley. Bayley delivered two hard elbows to Carmella, then slammed her head into the announcers desk. She tossed Mella back in the ring.
Bayley continued punching away at Carmella, trash talking in the process. She tagged in Sasha. Banks applied a headlock as the second hour of the show began. Carmella fought out but Banks dropped her again. She tagged in Bayley.
Bayley continued isolating Carmella. She went for a body slam but Carmella countered and took Bayley down. She crawled slowly to her corner and made the tag into Charlotte Flair. Flair took Bayley down. then knocked Sasha off the apron. She gave Bayley an overhead slam, then a backbreaker out of the corner.
Bayley recovered and charged, but Charlotte caught her with a big boot. She quickly locked in the figure four. Charlotte bridged into the figure eight, but Sasha hopped in the ring and hit Charlotte with the meteora for a nice break up. Bayley made it to her corner and tagged in Sasha.
Sasha went for the back cracker, but Charlotte fought her off. Charlotte stumbled toward her own corner and Carmella tagged herself in. He climbed to the top and hit Sasha with a cross body. She followed it up with a side kick to the chin. Sasha fought through it and charged, but Carmella caught her again. Mella went for the pin attempt, but Bayley broke it up.
Carmella tossed Bayley to the apron and kicked her to the floor. Carmella went for a head scissor takeover into a crucifix pin, but it looked awkward. Sasha rolled through it and locked in the Bank Statement. Carmella tapped out with Charlotte watching on the apron.
WINNER: Sasha Banks & Bayley in 6:00
R-Truth pulled Carmella from the ring and put her on his shoulders, leaving through the crowd as the women’s locker room rushed to the ring to attack Carmella. This left Charlotte alone with Banks and Bayley.
Charlotte attacked both women. She initially gained control, but was quickly overcome. Sasha hit the back cracker on Flair. Becky Lynch’s music hit.
Lynch rushed to the ring. Sasha Banks retreated. Becky took down Bayley. Sasha returned, but Becky took her down too. She caught Bayley with the Bexploder, then tried to lock the Disarmher on Banks. Bayley quickly pulled Sasha from the ring to safety. Sasha and Bayley retreated up the ramp as Becky jawed at them from the ring.
(LeClair’s Analysis: The match itself wasn’t anything particular interesting. Carmella worked the majority of it, and she continues to be below average in the ring. I just don’t sense that there’s any heat on any of these angles. Charlotte is apparently supposed to be a babyface now, but she just stood by and watched while Carmella was submitted. Banks and Bayley don’t really have the heat you’d hope, and the reaction to a surprise appearance from Becky was strikingly quiet compared to what she would’ve garnered just months ago. This whole division continues to be held back by clumsy booking and storytelling.)
-Shane McMahon was shown backstage going over documents with his legal team. Tom Phillips said Owens is in the building and we’ll learn how McMahon is going to respond to his lawsuit.
-After the break, Ali headed to the ring. Sami Zayn entered next. He went through his usual schtick, asking the crowd to show respect for Shinsuke Nakamura. Shinsuke headed to the ring.
(4) ALI vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/ Sami Zayn)
Nakamura teased a test of strength with Ali when the bell rang. He kicked Ali in the gut and then took him down. Ali quickly recovered. He shot Nakamura across the ring with a missile dropkick. Shinsuke rolled to the outside. Ali immediately flew threw the ropes with a suicide dive. His momentum carried him head and neck first into the wall of the announcers desk. Ali popped up unscathed. He tossed Nakamura back into the ring.
Ali flew off the top rope with a cross body for a two count. Sami Zayn tried to grab at Ali, but Ali swiped at him with a kick. The temporary distraction allowed Nakamura to shoot Ali into the ring post. Ali bounced off the post and flew to the floor in a nasty looking bump. Phillips sent the show to picture-in-picture commercial.
On the small screen, Nakamura retrieved Ali and threw him back in the ring. He hit a diving knee on the apron. Back in the ring, Nakamura delivered knee strikes to the head and neck area of Ali. He cranked at Ali’s neck, then gave him stiff kicks to the arms and chest.
Ali caught a kick attempt from Shinsuke just as the show returned to full screen. He took Nakamura down with an enziguri. Ali hit a rolling face buster, then double knees into the Nakamura, who was reeling in the corner. Ali set Nakamura up on the top turnbuckle. Shinsuke shoved him off, but Ali backflipped and landed on his feet. Nakamura dove off the top rope, but Ali caught him with a dropkick in mid air for a near fall.
Both men returned to their feet. Nakamura caught Ali with a kick to the head. He got Ali seated on the middle rope and hit the sliding snap German suplex. Nakamura returned to the ring and set up. He charged for the Kinshasa, but Ali caught him with a super kick. Ali covered for another near fall.
Ali climbed to the top rope, but Nakamura cut him off with a leaping kick. Ali dropped down. Nakamura went for the reverse exploder, but Ali rolled him up for a quick two count. Ali shot off the ropes with a leaping tornado DDT. He climbed to the opposite turnbuckle to set up for the 450. Sami Zayn pulled Nakamura out of the ring.
The referee leaned through the ropes to scold Zayn. Ali dove over the referee and to the outside, taking down Nakamura. Zayn began jawing with Ali. Ali chased Zayn into the ring, but ran directly into a Kinshasa. Nakamura covered Ali for a three count.
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura in 8:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. Ali took some risks in the early going that could’ve ended badly, but he reigned it in as the match progressed. Nakamura seemed relatively motivated. These two definitely work well together, and given the way the match played out, I would expect to see them work with each other again soon.)
-At the announcers desk,Tom Phillips recapped the Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens situation, culminating in Owens’ $25 million lawsuit brought about last week. He threw to footage from the last couple of weeks.
-The announcers confirmed that Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns will team to face Erick Rowan and Luke Harper at Hell in a Cell.
-Big E’s voice filled the arena and New Day’s music played. Big E and Xavier Woods danced down the ramp and into the ring. B Team headed to the ring next. Woods danced and chanted along to their music.
(5) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs. B TEAM (Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas)
The announcers discussed the possibility of these teams being broken up in the draft as the bell rang. Xavier Woods and Curtis Axel began the match. Axel caught Woods with a kick to the stomach and then flossed. Woods recovered and took Axel down.
Axel caught Woods with an elbow to the head and tagged in Bo Dallas for a series of kicks. Dallas quickly tagged back out. Axel locked in a headlock on Woods. Xavier battled to his feet. Axel tried for a backdrop, but Woods flipped out of it. Bo Dallas tagged himself in and the duo were able to cut off Woods’ tag attempt.
Dallas crossed the ring and knocked Big E off the apron. He and Axel yelled out “B train” and did a lap around the ring. Big E joined in, excitedly. He caught up to Axel and threw him into the ring post. Dallas slid back in the ring. Woods rolled him up for a two count.
Big E returned to his apron. Woods made the tag. He scooped Bo up and Woods climbed the ropes. They hit the Midnight Hour. Big E covered Bo for a three count.
WINNERS: New Day in 3:00
New Day hopped the barricade to celebrate with the 49ers. George Kittle danced with Big E.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to this one, although I pretty much always get a kick out of Big E’s antics. I found his joining of the “B train” to be particularly funny. No harm here. New Day appears in front of the live crowd and gets a win over a lower tier team to fill time.)
-Backstage, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville were walking down a hallway. Mandy was talking about how she expects Australia to throw parades for her because of her magazine cover. After she handed out copies to a couple of people backstage, Sonya interrupted, saying they have a match. It was an odd exchange.
They stumbled upon Otis, who asked Mandy for a selfie. Mandy took one with him, reluctantly. Tucker Knight applauded Otis.
-Back in the arena, Asuka and Kairi Sane (sans Paige) headed to the ring. Phillips said they’d face Rose and Deville after the break.
Sane and Asuka were in the ring warming up when the show returned from commercial. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville entered next, with Mandy flaunting her Maxim Australia cover.
(6) ASUKA & KAIRI SANE vs. MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE
Asuka and Sonya Deville began the match as Corey Graves stumbled all over himself gushing over the signed copy of Maxim that Mandy handed him. Asuka fired shots at Sonya. Sonya grabbed a waist lock and took Asuka down.
Sonya went for a kick, but Asuka caught it and delivered one of her own. Asuka gave Sonya a shoulder tackle and then tagged in Kairi Sane. Deville quickly recovered, catching Kairi with an elbow and then tossing Kairi over the top rope. She tagged in Mandy Rose. Mandy flaunted her magazine in front of Kairi’s face. Kairi went to kick it away, but missed. She tried again, catching it the second time.
Sane chopped Mandy in the chest then threw her in the ring. Kairi downed Mandy in the corner and then walked the plank. She hit her sliding corner elbow for a two count. Mandy returned to her feet and distracted the referee while Sonya hit a cheap shot on Sane. Rose followed it up with a hard right hand for a near fall.
Rose shot Sane into the corner, but Kairi knocked Sonya off the apron. She shot through Mandy’s legs to make a tag, but Rose caught her by the foot. Sane kicked free and made the tag. Asuka dropped Rose with a kick. She hit the hip attack in the corner, then a bulldog. Asuka covered Rose, but Sonya broke up the cover.
Kairi returned to the ring and took down Deville. Mandy rolled up Asuka for a two count. Asuka shot up and returned to her corner. She tagged in Sane, then delivered a stiff kick to take Rose down. Sane shot off the top with the Insane Elbow for a three count.
WINNERS: Asuka & Kairi Sane in 5:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Asuka and Sane tried their best, but this was a clunky match that felt longer than it is. It felt like nothing more than a vehicle to promote Mandy’s magazine cover. The right team got the win.)
-Shane McMahon was shown walking backstage with his team of lawyers. Phillips said Shane would be in the ring after the break.
-After the commercial, the announcers previewed next week’s Smackdown premiere on Fox, including the Kofi Kingston vs. Brock Lesnar WWE title match, and the newly confirmed Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch.
-Shane McMahon was already in the ring with his lawyers when the show cut away from the preview graphics. He climbed the turnbuckle to soak in Greg Hamilton’s ring introduction. Shane McMahon invited Kevin Owens to the ring. “I’ll even let them play his music,” Shane said.
KO’s music played, but he entered through the crowd, hopping the barrier and climbing into the ring. Owens was handed a microphone at Shane’s request. He introduced Owens to his legal team. He said he’d come up with a proposition.
Shane detailed option one. He said he’d keep Owens in court for years using his vast resources. He said Owens wouldn’t have a job during appeal, after appeal, after appeal. Then he presented option two. Shane said that if Owens drops his lawsuit, he’ll reinstate KO on the spot and cancel the $100,000 fine. He offered Owens a clean slate and extended his hand.
Owens looked around at the crowd. “You’re a real idiot, you know that,” Owens said. Owens said the idea of a lawsuit makes him sick, but Shane being in the locker room makes him even sicker. “I can’t stand the thought of being in the same locker room as you ever again,” Kevin said. He said the lawsuit isn’t about money, it’s about getting under Shane’s skin. Owens said it’s about what everyone wants – seeing Shane’s ass get fired.
Shane asked him what he’s proposing. Owens said he wants a final match with Shane. If Shane wins, Owens is gone. If Owens wins, Shane is gone. “What’s the catch, Kevin?” Shane asked repeatedly. Owens said there’s no catch, he just wants a match that gives him a chance to hurt Shane as badly as he wants to hurt him.
Owens said this situation has been hanging over his head for too long. He said he listens to the McMahon’s talk about climbing the corporate ladder, so he’s going to suggest putting the fate of their careers in a briefcase hung above an actual ladder. Owens’ music played. Shane said “you’re on”, but his mic was already turned off.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Huh. First, Owens tried to grovel at Shane’s feet to have the fine dropped. Then he files a lawsuit that Shane promises to fight. Instead of fighting it, Shane basically just gives Owens exactly what he wants in exchange for dropping the suit. Except suddenly, the suit isn’t about money anymore, and the $100,000 fine doesn’t seem to matter much to KO now. Instead, he just wants Shane gone, and now we have a ladder match. In a vacuum, the match is fine and if Owens wins, it’s a relatively satisfying conclusion, Still, this angle has been a total mess for weeks and Owens, who was once the hottest character on the show, has been badly damaged.)
-The camera quickly cut backstage, where Kayla Braxton was standing with Becky Lynch. She asked Becky if she thought Sasha’s previous experience inside Hell in a Cell gave her an advantage. Becky said she better hope it does, because “what is Sasha without a head start?” Sasha appeared from around a corner and attacked Becky from behind.
The two brawled back and forth, throwing each other into walls and crates. Sasha took control and smashed Becky’s face against a chain link fence. Officials arrived and pulled Sasha away. The camera focused in on Becky, writhing in pain on the concrete floor. The show faded to black.
(LeClair’s Analysis: It didn’t feel like this had enough gravitas to warrant rushing through the KO/Shane segment. It wasn’t a vicious attack, just a straightforward backstage brawl that they could’ve put earlier in the show, or even next week on Raw. I’m not one to fault them for building a big match up, but this felt out of place.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Mixed bag of a show. Bryan and Rowan had a strong match and there’s some salvageable points to that angle moving forward. The women’s division continued to flounder, and KO and Shane got a solid blow off match in what has become a pretty senseless angle. I wouldn’t call the USA finale “going out with a whimper”, but there was certainly no “bang” either.