KELLER INTERVIEWS ROB VAN DAM FOR FIRST TIME...
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KELLER’S WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 4, 2019
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-They did a sketch early where The Fiend showed up to scare one of the Fox interviewers.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice to The Fiend not only scaring the Universal Champion into a state of paralysis, but also being a company guy helping out with sketch comedy for the new network partner!)
-Charlotte and Ric Flair were interviewed outside on the blue carpet. Charlotte talked about WWE empowering women. Flair closed with a “woo.”
-New Day were interviewed at ringside, doing their full schtick.
-Kofi Kingston was interviewed backstage and talked about Dominic’s attack and wanting revenge for that.
-Paul Heyman closed with a promo hyping the title match.
(Keller’s Analysis: The overall vibe was that Fox Sports was all-in in promoting this as a big deal and it felt like a big deal to a point. But there was also mixed into that the sense that they weren’t taking it too seriously and were there to be entertained by tongue-in-cheek phony over-the-top outlandish pretend-characters and pretend-fighting. WWE seems to feel they need to do that, when in reality the entertainment is highest when that ingredient isn’t there mucking up the immersive potential when everyone plays it straight and offers some restraint on being just caricatures that play into what non-fans think pro wrestling is. But you could say that about a lot of WWE’s presentation, not just this pre-show.)
-Michael Cole said, “A new era begins. Welcome to the premiere of Friday Night Smackdown on Fox.” The camera showed a wide angle of the arena.
(Keller’s Analysis: The new set looks really fresh and high-end. There’s only so much you can do with the staging of a WWE TV show, and they didn’t reinvent anything, but it’s a good refresh. Staples Center is a great major league looking setting, just as Capital One Center was for AEW Dynamite on Wednesday night.)
-Vince McMahon’s music played and he walked out onto the stage with Stephanie McMahon. Fans sang along to his “No chance in hell!” lyrics. Stephanie said, “Welcome to history, welcome to Fox.” Vince said, “And welcome to Friday Night Smackdown!” with the grinding voice that defined early WrestleManias.
-The new Smackdown opening aired with Kofi Kingston, Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, Alexa Bliss, Randy Orton, Ember Moon, Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Mandy Rose, A.J. Styles, Carmella, Rey Mysterio, Bayley, Miz, Roman Reigns, Shane McMahon, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Sasha Banks, New Day, Charlotte, and some repeats mixed in. Then Triple H and John Cena snuck in. The theme song is AC/DC’s “Are You Ready (For a Good Time).”
-They went back to the arena for pyro blasting from the new entrance stage as AC/DC continued to play. They have the augmented reality graphics in use. The camera showed the arena bowl as Cole said 17,588 fans on hand to celebrate 20 years and night number one of Friday Night Smackdown on Fox. (He almost said “Smackdown Live,” think!)
-Becky Lynch walked out to her music and held her WWE Raw Title belt in the air. They went to Cole and Corey Graves at ringside. He said he’s had the privilege for 23 years to call WWE, but he’s never been more excited. Graves said the Universe is ablaze and, if you’re not excited, check your pulse. Back in the ring, fans chanted “Becky!” She said it feels so good to be kicking off the premiere of Friday Night Smackdown. She talked about her history with Smackdown and cited fans using their voices to raise her up. “Let’s say I repay you by kicking someone’s ass?” She was interrupted by Baron Corbin. He said, “Yes, the king is here!”
Corbin walked onto the ring apron and asked if she really thinks she’s The Man. She said, “Take one more step and find out.” Suddenly The Rock’s music played. Rock milked the moment well and made his way to the ring. When his music stopped, fans chanted, “Rocky! Rocky!” Rock said many moons ago, Rock uttered the phrase to some jobroni that changed the WWE landscape forever and changed the world. He said he was going to “lay – the – smack – down.” They noted on the screen that #SmackDown was the no. 1 trend on Twitter. He said Corbin looks like a broke ass Burger King on crack. He did his schtick with the fans saying it with him – “Finally The Rock has come back… [long pause]… home.”
Corbin interrupted Rock and said this isn’t his home anymore. He said he’s no longer The Great One. “As a matter of fact, you’re looking at The Great One, the most electrifying king in Sports Entertainment.” He told everyone to know their roles and shut their mouths. Rock chuckled and said just because he won King of the Ring doesn’t make him a king, and it shouldn’t make him want to walk around like a 35 year old virgin at ComicCon. Rock said Becky is The Man. “However, you don’t see Becky Lynch walking around carrying a pair of testicles.” Becky then said, “But if I did, they’d be a whole lot bigger than yours.” Fans chanted, “Becky!”
Corbin said, “My testicles are perfectly adequate.” He said he is superior to Becky and Rock and everyone in the arena. He said this city only has one king, “and it most certainly is not Lebron James.” Rock said, just so everyone is clear, he wants to know if he really thinks he’s superior to The Rock and The Man and Lebron James. He asked Corbin if that’s what he thinks. As Corbin begin to say yes, Becky interjected, “It doesn’t matter what you think!” Rock said Corbin is legit and badass and said he retired Kurt Angle, won King of the Ring and Money in the Bank. (What about that Andre the Giant Battle Royal?!?) Becky asked if he’s saying that Corbin is a “super tough dude.” Rock said this is an inclusive show where he engaged the people. Rock said in three seconds the fans are going to be chanting something at him every time they see him: “STD! STD!” Becky said, “I think that’s going to stick with you for life.” Rock said that will follow him to every arena.
Rock said he can tell Corbin is embarrassed, and that’s what happens when you insult The Man and The People and The Jobroni Beating Pie Eating and so on. Becky took off her jacket and Rock gave him a look. Corbin took off his fur robe. Becky and Rock took turns punching him. Becky landed a legdrop. Rock then landed The People’s Elbow and then a Rock Bottom. A loud “Rocky!” chant broke out. He finished with, “If you smell what The Rock is cooking!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Electrifying Rock right back in his groove. I bet that chant sticks with Corbin. Good rub for Becky, and Corbin has to be feel privileged to be the target of that verbal barrage and subsequent attack.)
-Graves called it a surreal moment. Cole plugged the WWE Title match main event between Koki Kingston and Brock Lesnar. They also announced Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan in a lumberjack match.
-Backstage Bayley and Sasha Banks were acting full of themselves. Cole said Charlotte & Becky vs. Sasha & Bayley was up next. [c]
-They showed Trish Stratus and Lita sitting in the crowd. The camera panned over to Maria Menounos, too.
(1) CHARLOTTE & BECKY LYNCH vs. SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY
Becky was already in the ring. Charlotte then made her ring entrance, followed by Sasha and then Bayley. Cole plugged the Hell in a Cell match on Sunday. The bell rang 25:30 into the first hour. Charlotte took control after some early chaos with chops to Sasha. Charlotte gave Sasha a boot to knock her to the floor. When Charlotte climbed to the top rope, Bayley was going to knock her off. Becky knocked her down, but when the ref scolded Becky, Bayley knocked her down anyway. They cut to a break two minutes in. [c]
Becky called after the break. Charlotte then tagged in and took it to Bayley with a Natural Selection. Sasha broke up the pin. Becky entered and stared down Sasha. They broke out into a hockey fight. Bayley jumped Becky. Charlotte joined. Four-way action broke out. Becky leaped off the top rope with a dropkick to Sasha. Charlotte moonsaulted off the top rope onto Bayley and Sasha at ringside. She looked to the crowd cheering her. Back in the ring, Charlotte put Bayley in a figure-eight for a tapout win.
WINNERS: Charlotte & Becky in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good for a rapid-fire short TV match with half of it omitted by a commercial break.)
-Eric Andrews was backstage. (Cole was sure to say *her* name, unlike years of ignoring the names of WWE’s own backstage interviewers.) She said it was an honor to be part of the broadcast. In walked New Day. They danced and gyrated their way into the picture. She asked Kofi about the main event and some saying he’s the underdog. Kofi said everyone always says he’s the underdog. “Being the underdog is what I do!” he said. “I climb mountains and I overcome the odds.” She asked if Big E and Xavier Woods were his posse. He said they are referred to as his boys, The New Day. Xavier said Kofi has asked to let them climb the mountain alone so he can prove to Brock that deserves to be your W-W-E-World-Heavyweight-Champion!”
-They showed Seth Rollins walking backstage with his Universal Title. Graves said he faces Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura next.
(Keller’s Analysis: Title belts for everyone!!!!) [c]
-They showed aerial shots of Los Angeles and Staples Center. They showed Tyson Fury, an undefeated heavyweight boxer in the front row. Graves said he literally ran into Dennis Rodman backstage and it was awesome. They showed scenes of the blue carpet activities including Triple H talking to media. They showed Mick Foley and Kurt Angle at ringside together.
-After Seth’s ring entrance, they went to Bray Wyatt looking very sinister before he broke into smily Bray. He welcomed Seth to the Firefly Funhouse. He said he wanted to introduce everyone to his home and his special friends. Abby, Mercy the Buzzard, Huskus the Pig, and Ramblin Rabbit. Rabbit was dressed up as Seth. He warned him not to get into the Cell with The Fiend. Bray said he didn’t know Rabbit was such a big friend of Seth. He said instead of telling Seth what he thinks is going to happen at HIAC, how about we show him. Bray then did ring introductions for the match with Ramblin Rabbit inside a small cage. Then Mercy the Buzzard was his opponent. Mercy chomped on the rabbit and suddenly stuffing flew at Bray. He winced. Rabbit was decapitated. Then Bray broke into maniacal laughter. Bray addressed Seth and said history has a way of repeating itself. Bray said they have hurt for so long, so now it’s his turn. “See you in hell!” he closed with. Cole said, “Some would say Bray Wyatt has a bit of a split personality.”
-Nakamura’s ring entrance then took place. [c]
-Hulk Hogan made his way to ringside. He hugged Rock’s mom and joined Ric Flair in the crowd. Cole talked about the Captains Tag Match with Hogan and Flair later this month.
(2) SETH ROLLINS vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Sami Zayn)
Nakamura went for an early armbar, but then Seth came back with two dives through the ropes. When Sami got near Seth, Seth walked him back and then re-entered the ring. Seth hit a slingblade. Graves said this match could derail his momentum heading into “this Sunday on WWE Network.” Seth kicked Nakamura in the head and then looked to the crowd and began to stomp the mat. As he set up his Stomp, the lights went dark. Seth had moved to the stage, but rather than leave, he stood and looked around. Nakamura was still in the ring and he looked around nervously. The Fiend then put Seth in the Mandible Claw. Then he threw him off the stage.
(Keller’s Analysis: Any bets on whether the bother to address the status of the interrupted match between the Universal Champion and Intercontinental Champion? It’s over, oh well. I am relieved they didn’t rush through Seth beating Nakamura) [c]
-A video package aired on the Shane McMahon-Kevin Owens saga.
(3) SHANE MCMAHON vs. KEVIN OWENS – Ladder Match – Loser Terminated from WWE
Owens charged at Shane in the aisle and beat him up. He set up the ladder and climbed it for an attempt at an early win. Shane yanked him off the ladder and gave him a Russian leg sweep. He then climbed the ladder. Owens threw the ladder at Shane, but Shane ducked the ladder flew to the floor. Cole gasped that it almost took them out. Owens beat up Shane, then lifted the ladder. Shane slidekicked the ladder into the face of KO. Shane put KO on an announce table and punched away at him. Then he hit him with the table lid a few times. Shane leaped off the top rope and landed a flying elbow onto KO’s chest. The table collapsed. They cut to a break. [c]
Back live, KO was back on his feet. Cole said he doesn’t know how KO is back on his feet, but he was. KO climbed to the top rope. Owens frog splashed Shane through a ladder that was bridged between the ring and ringside barricade. They showed fan reactions. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!” Cole wondered what happens if neither man could get up and climb the ladder. KO got up and set up a ladder. Shane entered and bashed KO’s feet with the chair. KO fell down and the ladder tipped over. Graves said if you can’t use your legs, you can’t climb the ladder. Cole said there are no DQ’s in a ladder match. Shane jabbed KO a couple times with the ladder. Shane then gave KO a Coast to Coast in the corner. “KO may be KO’d!” exclaimed Cole. Shane climbed the ladder. Graves got heavy-handed in saying this is the end of KO in WWE, which of course based on Vince McMahon’s transparent reverse psychology, gave away that KO was going to win soon. Cole asked how it must feel for KO’s kids and wife that KO is about to be out of a job. KO got up and powerbombed Shane off a ladder into another ladder propped in the corner. KO climbed the big ladder and took the briefcase down to win. KO got up and told Shane, “You’re fired!” And then he delivered a Stunner.
WINNER: Kevin Owens in 12:00 to terminate Shane McMahon.
(Keller’s Analysis: Just when I was beginning to warm up to Super Shane-O, this!!!)
-Kayla Braxton stood backstage. Cole mentioned her by name and said she was waiting outside of Brock’s locker room.
-A sponsored video package aired on the history of Smackdown.
(Keller’s Analysis: Yeah, so far this has hardly felt like a “celebration” of twenty years of Smackdown. This video highlighted some big moments over the years with big names big stunt moments including the final scene of the ring collapsing.) [c]
-They showed Bobby Lashley and Lana together on the blue carpet. Lita, Goldberg, and Trish were together. They also showed Becky posing with her belt and Cesaro walking around.
-Kayla (whose name was even shown on the screen!) interviewed Paul Heyman. He was riled up and impatient and told them to show the “relevant footage.” They showed Lesnar beating up Rey Mysterio and Dominick. Heyman said Rey was in Brock’s way and Brock got rid of him. He said Kofi is in Brock’s way, “so you do the math.” He said Brock is going to get rid of Kofi. He said it’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler, you’ll hear Brock introduced as the new WWE Champion of the World.
(4) BRAUN STROWMAN & MIZ & HEAVY MACHINERY vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE & RANDY ORTON & A.J. STYLES
Rapid-fire action for a few minutes. It settled in Braun vs. Ziggler with everyone else out on the floor. Braun then lapped the ring and checked everyone down on his way around the ring. He threw Ziggler into the boxer, Fury. Fury looked upset. Strowman smiled his way, then re-entered the ring. Ziggler caught him with a superkick. Strowman suddenly powerslammed Ziggler for the 1-2-3.
WINNERS: Strowman & Heavy Machinery & Miz.
-As Strowman began to celebrate, Fury leaped the barricade. About eight security guys ran up and cut him off and held him back. Graves said Fury has a rep for being a hot-head. Fans chanted, “Let them fight!” [c]
-They showed scenes of L.A., then recapped the angle before the break.
-Cole threw to a clip of 24/7 Title happenings earlier at Staples Center that aired on WWE’s YouTune Channel. Marshmallow bumped into Carmella and won the 24/7 Title when Heavy Machinery scared him with a bucket of chocolate. Cole said he’s already lost the title, so check it out on the WWE YouTube Channel.
-Bryan joined the announcers at ringside. Reigns made his ring entrance to what sounded like a muted audio signal. Bryan said, “They say the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” regarding teaming with Reigns. He said Rowan betrayed him.
(5) ROMAN REIGNS vs. ERICK ROWAN – Lumberjack Match
They cut to an early break after some shenanigans with lumberjacks. [c]
Rowan drove his knuckles into Rowan’s head after the break. Eventually Luke Harper walked out. Bryan charged after him. The lumberjacks began fighting each other. Reigns then did a running leap onto the huge crowd on the floor. Rowan rallied and applied the claw and tried to his claw slam. Reigns broke free and signaled for a Superman Punch. Harper interfered. Graves pointed out the no-DQ rule. When Bryan made the save with a running knee, Rowan tried to claw Bryan, but Reigns speared and pinned him.
WINNER: Roman Reigns in 9:00.
-After the match, Graves said the unlikeliest of allies found a way to work together tonight, but would things work out for them on Sunday. Bryan offered Reigns a handshake. Reigns hesitated. Bryan said just for one night. Fans began yelling “Yes! Yes!” Reigns took a deep breath and shook his hand. [c]
-They showed Rob Stone and Matt Leonard from Fox College Football at ringside.
(6) KOFI KINGSTON vs. BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) – WWE Title match
Lesnar made his ring entrance with Heyman first. Cole touted him as the most decorated combat athlete in history. He listed his NCAA, UFC, and WWE accolades. No mention of the IWGP Title! Then Kofi came out to the New Day music. Xavier and Big E joined him on stage, but then stayed there as Kofi danced to the ring and tossed pancakes to the crowd. They showed a huge augmented reality billboard with a tale of the tape comparison between the two. Heyman introduced Lesnar as “the Mayor of Suplex City.”
The bell rang nearly 52 minutes into the second hour. Not much time for a match here. Lesnar caught a charging Kofi and gave him an F5 and scored a 1-2-3. They showed Goldberg and Henry at ringside with their jaws dropped. “Sudden impact by The Beast!” exclaimed Cole. Graves said, “We are once again entering the era of The Beast.” Fans booed.
WINNER: Lesnar in 0:05.
-Rey Mysterio’s music played and he walked out, joined by Cain Velasquez. Lesnar looked scared. Graves said Cain is the one who beat Lesnar for the UFC Title. Cain walked up the stairs, left leg in a kneebrace over his jeans. Cole said Lesnar is shocked. He tackled Lesnar and pounded away at him. Lesnar rolled out of the ring to safety. Graves asked when the last time was anyone saw Lesnar retreat like that. Heyman gave Lesnar the belt and told Lesnar to show him who he is.
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