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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 11, 2019
LAS VEGAS, NEV.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The AC/DC opening theme played. Then they cut to scenes of the crowd cheering as Cole introduced the show. He said the complexion of WWE changes tonight, starting with the first match.
(1) ROMAN REIGNS vs. SETH ROLLINS
“Here comes THE BIG DOG!” exclaimed Cole. Crowd sounded muted or apathetic as he came out. Cole explained the convoluted and nonsensical stipulation in this match – Reigns represents Smackdown, Seth represents Raw, and the winner gives that brand the first pick, but Reigns or Seth could be drafted to the other brand so they have nothing to fight for. So, of course, Graves said, “The stakes couldn’t be much higher.” Graves said Raw and Smackdown are in a “constant battle for brand supremacy.” Of course, nobody knows what that means since WWE rarely if ever talks about comparative metrics such as ratings and live attendance. As Seth came out, they went to Cole and Graves on camera at ringside. They explained that executives from USA and Fox are involved in the draft. Cole said a press conference announced earlier that Brock Lesnar would defend his WWE Universal Title against Cain Velasquez at Crown Jewel. He called it a “pay-per-view event” and didn’t say where it’s taking place. Graves said The O.C. face The New Day later.
(Keller’s Analysis: The whole draft explanation is just nonsense. Why would Seth or Reigns, even if they were guaranteed to stay with the brand they represent in this match, want to win only to assure a tougher better competitor stand in their way of winning and retaining titles on their brand?)
Graves said you want to draft high-character guys who represent you not just on TV, but also at live events throughout the week. (So The Fiend definitely WON’T be drafted, then, right?) He said you’re basically building a team. Reigns and Seth locked up and battled in test of strength for a slow build at the start. When Seth went for his “patented suicide dive” (as Cole called it), Reigns gave him a forearm. Seth came back with a flying knee attempt off the ring apron, but Reigns ducked and rolled back into the ring. They went nose-to-nose. Reigns shoved Seth. Seth punched Reigns. They exchanged more punches. Reigns threw Seth to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Seth had Reigns on the mat with a chinlock. Graves said if you’re a USA Network rep, you have to like the look of things. Reigns powered out with a lift-and-drop sitout single-arm powerbomb for a two count. Seth landed two dives though the ropes and then a frog splash for a two count. Seth stopped a Reigns comeback with a bucklebomb, but Reigns fired right back with a Superman Punch for a quick two count. Both were slow to kick out. When Reigns went for a spear, Seth countered the highly-telegraphed move with a Pedigree for a very near fall. It was basically three. The ref stopped before the shoulder-raise. As Seth signaled for another move, the lights went out and Bray Wyatt noises played. He reached up through the ring canvas and dragged Seth under the ring. “He’s dragging Rollins to hell!” exclaimed Cole. Fog came out from under the ring. Seth then came up holding his throat and gasping for air. The Fiend then peeked out from under the ring. Then his music stopped and the lights went out and the Fiend laugh played. The lights came back on and he was standing on the stage as lights flickered.
(Keller’s Analysis: With this level of special effects and cooperation needed from WWE’s production team, I feel like the Fiend is jumping the shark already. It doesn’t feel like he’s working against WWE management’s attempts to have order, but rather WWE management’s cooperation is necessary for everything he does to exist. I get there’s a lot of instances of “WWE production” being mysteriously in sync with wrestlers on run-ins and such, but if the Fiend is supposed to mysterious, it’s a gigantic leap in suspension of disbelief to think he can make all of the things happen that are part of his “unexpected” match interruptions. If they pulled back and it was more organic, I think it’d actually make him more effective. On another topic, Seth vs. Roman should be a big deal because it’s Seth vs. Roman, not because of some “first pick in the draft” stip that doesn’t even make any sense because neither Seth or Roman should even care about which brand picks first. This diminished the very idea of the two former Shield members wrestling that it was an opening on Smackdown with no interviews or hype other than the silly draft stipulations.)
WINNER: AEW in 12:00. [c]
-They showed the “Fox Draft War Room” where sixteen people acted cartoonishly distressed and fidgety. (My god, this is stupid.) They showed a less fancy looking USA Network war room. The acting was a little less cheesy here.
-They replayed the finish of the first match. Graves said per WWE rules, Seth wins via DQ because of what happened with The Fiend. (My god, this is stupid.) Cole and Graves showed the basic bullet points of how the draft will work on the screen, such as two picks for Smackdown and three for Raw in each round due to the length of each show.
-Stephanie McMahon walked out and complained fans weren’t booing. She stood on the stage at a podium and said for the first time, executives from Fox and USA would take part in the draft. She said the first pick by Raw was Becky Lynch. Smackdown’s first pick was Reigns. Cole said that was no surprise. Raw then picked The O.C. (A.J. Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson). Smackdown picked The Fiend. And then Raw picked Drew McIntyre. They showed the Fox War Room celebrating their Reigns pick with a cartoonish celebration with high fives and cheering
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a big endorsement of McIntyre after a shaky summer run of unexpected losses in big matches to be this high in the draft announcements. The idea that you can draft both Gallows & Anderson as a team and Styles who is primarily a singles wrestler together also makes this whole draft even more absurd. On another topic, why are people in the draft war room celebrating when their pick is announced. They made the pick. There’s no surprise. Are they just glad Stephanie read the name right? They reacted like a winning touchdown was scored. Instead, they could have shown the other war room reacting with dismay that a name they coveted was taken. This format didn’t work the more you think about it because the names were read in groups. So obviously as each brand made one pick, the other was informed that pick was “off the board” as they made their next pic. So the only celebrations or disappointments should have been when informed what the other war room did, not when what they did was announced. So, in other words… This is so stupid.)
-They went to Renee Young, Samoa Joe, Booker T, and Beth Phoenix on the panel. Joe said, “Renee it’s wonderful to be here. I’m glad you’re still keeping the lights on in your house.” (I bet Jon Moxley is getting paid more than Samoa Joe.)
-King Corbin walked out and said whichever show he gets drafted to, he’ll be a benevolent king who will share his riches with everyone. Then he laughed and said he won’t do any of that because he can’t stand the smell of filth coming off of all of them. “All hail King Corbin!” he said. Cole said “Shorty Gable looks to exact revenge next.”
-They showed scenes of Las Vegas. Then they went to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Buck talked about the Dallas Cowboys drafting him no. 1 overall in 1989. Buck asked what Aikman’s finisher would be. He said the piledriver. Graves said Cole is like Joe Buck because “despite being really good at your job, nobody can stand you.”
(2) KING CORBIN vs. SHORTY GABLE
Chad Gable is now officially Shorty Gable. That’s what the announcers calling him. That’s what his entrance graphic says. They showed Gable saying last Sunday that people can call him “Shorty or whatever you want, just call me the winner of the match.” Corbin threw Gable to the floor early and into the ringside barricade. Cole said either of these two would be a great draft pick. Corbin chokeslammed Gable onto the announce desk and they cut to a break. [c]
After the break Gable hit a German suplex, but lost his back strength on a third attempt. Graves said Corbin’s attack on his back earlier has become a factor here. Gable came back with an ankle lock mid-ring. When Corbin resisted, Gable jackknife covered Corbin for a two count. Corbin hit a quick End of Days to put a sudden end to the match.
WINNER: Corbin in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Okay, we’ve seen enough of this match. It wasn’t awful or anything, but it’s hardly worth keep going back to.)
-They went to the NFL Live panel. Tony Gonzales said it’s a big day for Smackdown. Terry Bradshaw said his no. 1 draft pick would be Dusty Rhodes. Howie Long said Bruno Sammartino would be his guy. Michael Strahan picked Ric Flair. They brought up Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, and Killer Kowalski, too.
(Keller’s Analysis: The first two weeks of Smackdown on Fox has established that the big names from the past and crossover athletes from other sports count, but the “in their prime” full time main roster wrestlers are just supporting cast meant to fill time. Unless they are women wrestlers, because WWE is all about empowering women!!! Couldn’t they have fed Bradshaw or Strahan a name or two from the regular roster to tout instead of wrestlers from decades ago?)
-Stephanie announced Randy Orton was headed to Raw. (That cements Raw as the B-brand, because Randy always is on the B-brand.) She announced Sasha Banks is heading to Smackdown. Stephanie announced Ricochet was picked by Raw. She revealed Braun Strowman was Smackdown’s next pick. Then Raw picked Bobby Lashley. They showed USA Network execs high-giving cartoonishly when they drafted Orton.
-They went back to the panel to react to the picks so far. Joe said Raw is picking “youth anchored by experience” with the Ricochet and Orton picks. Booker said Smackdown is spending a whole lot of money to get the top notch players like the Yankees do. Renee threw to a video package on the Strowman-Tyson Fury storyline. They showed Strowman talking on his phone backstage. He seemed very happy. Then they went to Tyson Fury yucking it up with some guy in a suit while shadow boxing. Graves said Fury vs. Strowman was announced for Crown Jewel on Oct. 31.
(Keller’s Analysis: The panel discussion would have been immensely more effective if the panel discussed who was the left on the draft board and why they thought Raw or Smackdown would benefit from picking someone in particular over the others on the board. Instead there were platitudes that felt like a bunch of meaningless words to fill time and loosely resemble what analysts say during actual drafts.) [c]
-They replayed Brock Lesnar’s win over Kingston last week followed by Cain Velasquez coming out afterward.
-Brock Lesnar walked out with Paul Heyman next. Heyman said his client couldn’t bypass this opportunity to enlighten everyone. He said a normal human being cowers at the mere thought of facing his fears, but not Lesnar. Heyman said Cain scored an unheard of first round RKO against Lesnar. He said Lesnar made no excuses. He said that’s the type of fighter Lesnar truly is. He said Lesnar conquers his fears, and he will do that on Oct. 31. Heyman said you can roll this clip back in a few week because it’s not a prediction, it’s a… at which point Rey Mysterio’s music interrupted. (Make note, technically, Heyman didn’t say it was a spoiler.) Rey came out with Cain. They showed freeze-frames of Velasquez back in 2010 at UFC 121 beating Lesnar. They went back to Lesnar and showed a close-up of the scar on under his eye from that fight. Cain said he’s going to give Lesnar a matching scar on the other side of his face.
(Keller’s Analysis: Remember when WWE’s biggest matches each year were part of building the WrestleMania brand that everyone could watch live or travel to see in person on Sunday nights in April instead of airing on Friday afternoons from a Kingdom whose regime buys the biggest specialty matches and occupies – for the part of the show they decide to show up for, at least – the best seats?)
-They showed New Day backstage as Big E yelled their catchphrase. [c]
-They went to the Fox college football announce team discussing the NFL draft. Graves said, “How cool is it having these Fox Sports guy give their input on this draft. It’s incredible.” (Sigh.)
-The New Day danced on the stage. They aired a Susan G. Komen video. New Day presented two breast cancer survivors pink replica title belts.
-Kofi ran to the ring with Big E and Xavier Woods tossing pancakes to the crowd.
(Keller’s Analysis: Zero follow-up at all for Kofi having lost his WWE Universal Title in a few seconds last week. He seemed as happy as ever.)
(3) THE O.C. (A.J. Styles & Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) vs. THE NEW DAY (Big E & Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)
Cole noted that there is no more Wildcard Rule in the draft. Graves said USA drafting The O.C. was a brilliant move because it was three-for-one. Gallows took Xavier down at the bell. Anderson threw him into the ringside steps seconds later. They cut to an early break. [c]
Back from the break, Kofi tagged in and rallied. Graves talked about Kofi’s “heartbreaking defeat” last week and how a win here could help him rebound and get back on the horse. (Kofi sure doesn’t seem heartbroken.) He landed a Boom Drop on Styles. After a flurry of exchanges, Kofi finished Styles with an enzuigiri. Cole said this could be the end of New Day as a team.
WINNERS: New Day in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Well, all is well now, everyone who was upset with how Kofi’s reign ended last week. They gave him a win in a six-man tag match. Let them have cake… and pancakes.)
-Cole threw to clips of the Fiend-Seth angle earlier.
-Stephanie said it’s time for round three. Raw selected Alexa Bliss. Graves was sad he can’t see Bliss on Smackdown anymore. The Fox draft room team were shown reacting with cartoonish dismay. Smackdown picked Lacey Evans. Graves called it a great pick and said Smackdown just got classier. Raw picked Kevin Owens. “Big pick for Raw,” said Cole. Smackdown picked The Revival. Raw picked Natalya. They showed the USA Network executives celebrating.
-They showed Charlotte stretching backstage. [c]
-A commercial said the draft continues on Monday’s Raw. Then more scenes of Las Vegas.
-Stephanie announced the fourth and final round of picks. Raw picked The Viking Raiders. Smackdown picked Lucha House Party. Raw picked Nikki Cross. (Couldn’t Raw have picked her with Bliss and saved themselves a pick?) Smackdown picked Heavy Machinery. And finally, Raw picked The Street Profits.
(Keller’s Analysis: Huh? Since when are NXT wrestlers in the draft? Or does hanging out backstage at Raw in recent months while actually wrestling on NXT mean they were Raw wrestlers?)
-The Panel reacted to the draft so far. Phoenix said Bray, Braun, and Roman means Smackdown execs have to be stoked. Booker said they’re all doing an awesome job. He said what stands out to him the most is Ricochet because he’s a major player and a top talent anywhere in the world. Renee said anyone who went undrafted in their available talent pool will declare where they want to be, so stay tuned to WWE.com.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. [c]
-Jay Glazier from Fox’s NFL coverage hosted an “Inside Scoop” segment. He said he’s used to delivering scoops. He suggested there could be a blockbuster trade if a brand feels they missed out on a pick they really wanted. He said Elias and Samoa Joe are injured and will factor in later. He said there’s been a huge emphasis on the Women’s Division so far. He said his pick is Sonya Deville. (What does that even mean?) His phone rang from a restricted number and it was his mom.
-They aired a feature on Tyson Fury.
-They aired freeze-frames of Charlotte beating Bayley at Hell in a Cell for the title.
-Bayley made her ring entrance. She came out to her music, but then it stopped and she looked emotional as she took off her jacket. Then she picked up a sharp tool and popped her blow-up balloons on the stage. Graves said, “She’s slaughtering her inflatable people!” Cole said those have defined her fun-loving persona for her entire career. Graves said it’s a temper tantrum since losing her title and is undergoing a metamorphosis. Cole said it’s a total change in personality. She had a new hairstyle, too.
(4) CHARLOTTE vs. BAYLEY – Smackdown Women’s Title match
Bayley was dominant early. [c]
Bayley blocked a top rope moonsault, then hit a top rope flying elbowdrop for a near fall. Bayley complained to the ref. Charlotte surprised her with a Natural Selection attempt. Bayley turned it into a small package for the win.
WINNER: Bayley in 12:00 to capture the Smackdown Women’s Title.
-Afterward, Bayley said, “Hey bitches, screw all of you!”
(Keller’s Analysis: That was right to the point. I want to hear more from her, but she’s already believable in her role that’s a stark contrast to the children-hugging smiling happy-go-lucky optimistic character she was in NXT and never quite fully tapped into on the main roster.)
-Cole said Raw will feature the next half of the draft. They showed a graphic on the screen of the pool of talent available for Raw draft night. (It included Samoa Joe, whom Jay Glazier said was part of the injured group not available for drafting, or so it seemed.)
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE really needed to do a better job establishing that half the roster wasn’t available to draft tonight. Beth Phoenix referenced it in passing mid-show, but otherwise, it left people really confused why Lucha House Party was picked before, oh, say Brock Lesnar or Seth Rollins.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Awful execution of the draft. There were some potentially good ideas, but in the end, it came cross as if it was executed by people who think wrestling is stilly and is meant to come across as a parody to avoid anyone thinks you take this fake stuff seriously. The lack of follow-up to Kofi’s big loss made anyone who got invested in his title reign feel foolish. He apparently didn’t care that he lost, or how humiliating that loss was, that he’s just back to tossing pancakes and dancing again.
RAW: Becky Lynch, The O.C. (A.J. Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson), Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Ricochet, Bobby Lashley, Alexa Bliss, Kevin Owens, Natalya, Viking Raiders, Nikki Cross, Street Profits.
SMACKDOWN: Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Sasha Banks, Braun Strowman, Alexa Bliss, Lacey Evans, The Revival, Lucha House Party, Heavy Machinery.