KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 18, 2019
INDIANAPOLIS, IN AT BANKERS LIFE FIELDHOUSE
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-Pyro shot from the entrance way as Michael Cole welcomed the audience to Smackdown on Fox. A graphic indicated the host city (Indianapolis) and Cole mentioned the show was sponsored by Progressive. Cole said they’d kick the night off with a championship match.
Greg Hamilton announced the first match would be for the Intercontinental Championship. The crowd cheered loudly. Roman Reigns entered to a strong reaction. Cole said he’s known as “the big dog” emphatically.
Cole and Graves went over the rest of the night, including MizTV featuring Bayley, and the women’s six pack challenge to determine Bayley’s number one contender. They discussed Reigns being the number one pick for Smackdown and how that reverberated throughout the locker room.
Shinsuke Nakamura headed to the ring with a hyped and energetic Sami Zayn. The camera pulled back to show a wide shot of the arena, the Fieldhouse’s roof aglow in Nakamura’s red lighting.
(1) ROMAN REIGNS vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/ Sami Zayn) – WWE Intercontinental title match
Nakamura stretched on the ropes. Reigns eyed him from the corner. The two men circled the ring, then locked up. Roman pushed Shinsuke into the ropes, then to the corner. The referee broke them up. Nakamura caught Reigns with a knee to the stomach, then dropped him to the mat with another. He began kneeing Reigns in the face.
Sami Zayn joined Cole and Graves on commentary as Nakamura shot Reigns into the corner. Zayn discussed he and Nakamura’s disappointment with Reigns being selected as Smackdown’s first overall draft pick. Reigns quickly recovered and slammed Nakamura into the turnbuckle. He shot Nakamura off the ropes, but Shinsuke caught him with a kick to the face.
Shinsuke bounced off the ropes again, but Reigns caught him with a Samoan drop. Nakamura retreated to the outside. Sami Zayn left the desk to help him. Roman Reigns hopped outside and darted around the ring to catch Nakamura with the Drive-by. Sami pulled Shinsuke away at the last second. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Nakamura head Reigns on the mat in a headlock when the show returned from commercial. Cole threw to a clip of Zayn distracting Roman during the break, leading to Nakamura taking control. Zayn was back on commentary.
Reigns fought to his feet. Nakamura set up for the exploder suplex, but Reigns elbowed free. Nakamura climbed to the middle rope and dove, but Reigns caught him with an uppercut. Reigns hit a big leaping clothesline. Nakamura retreated to the corner. Reigns hit his signature series of clotheslines then finished the sequence with a running big boot. Roman set up for the Superman punch. Nakamura ducked it and caught Roman by the arm, he spun him into an arm bar.
Reigns struggled in the hold, trying to reach the ropes. Nakamura transitioned the hold into a triangle choke. Reigns powered to his feet with Nakamura still attached. He hit a sit out power bomb for a near fall. Zayn was exasperated on commentary.
Reigns set up for the Superman punch a second time. Sami Zayn left the commentary table and hopped onto the apron to distract Roman. This allowed Nakamura to recover, catching Reigns with a stiff running kick and hanging him up in the ropes. Nakamura shot underneath him and connected with the sliding snap German suplex.
Nakamura set up for the Kinshasa. He charged at Reigns, who cut him off with a Superman punch. Reigns hooked the leg for a believable near fall. Reigns popped up, soaking in the energy from the crowd. He set up for a spear.
King Corbin appeared on the apron and hit Reigns in the back of the head with his scepter. The referee called for the disqualification.
WINNER: Roman Reigns by disqualification in 12:00
Cole clarified that Reigns and Corbin had words on social media earlier in the day. Corbin vouched to make Reigns pay for what his cousin, The Rock, did too Corbin. Corbin got in the ring and hit Roman with the Deep Six. Daniel Bryan’s music hit, and he rushed to the ring.
Bryan attacked Nakamura and Corbin. He dumped Corbin over the top rope, then hit Nakamura with a missile dropkick from the top tope. Nakamura rolled to the outside. Bryan shot off the ropes, but Sami Zayn grabbed his leg. This allowed Nakamura to climb back in the ring and hit Bryan with a Kinshasa. Nakamura, Corbin, and Zayn escaped together with Bryan and Reigns down in the ring.
(LeClair’s Analysis: My patience for the influx of non-finishes is wearing a little thin. This was a solid match throughout, and I liked that they presented it at the top of the show as a big deal. Cole and Graves did an admirable job selling this as a legitimate title fight and it had more of a sports feel than we typically see. That was lost relatively quickly, between Zayn’s antics and Corbin’s interference. I don’t know how exactly this feud is going to break down going forward, but I doubt I’m the only one who has no interest in seeing Reigns and Corbin matched up.)
-Cole and Graves talked over a graphic of the now solidified Smackdown roster. They agreed in their thought that Smackdown came out of the draft looking very strong.
-Backstage, New Day were shown in a locker room singing a New Day show tune. Tucker Knight appeared and tossed down a table. He said despite being opponents at Crown Jewel, they’ll be working together tonight. He said he wanted to lift Kofi’s spirits. Kofi said he has the power of positivity.
Otis came in with a large bowl filled with pancake powder. Tucker poured in a large amount of protein powder. Otis offered some to New Day. Xavier Woods said they can’t eat before their match because they’ll cramp up. “More for me then!” Otis exclaimed. He dumped the raw batter into his mouth, it ran down his beard and chest.
(LeClairs Analysis: If this isn’t somehow leading to Kofi snapping and turning heel, I just can’t fathom what they think they’re accomplishing here.)
-The show returned with Kayla Braxton, waiting for Baron Corbin as he walked down a hallway backstage. She asked for him to comment on his attack on Reigns. Corbin chuckled, put on his crown, and walked away.
-Back in the arena, Shorty (ugh) Gable headed to the ring. Michael Cole threw to a video package explaining why Gable has earned the nickname “shorty.”
(2) CURTIS AXEL (w/ Bo Dallas) vs. SHORTY GABLE
Curtis Axel patted Gable on the head when the bell rang. Gable and Axel locked up. Gable quickly wrestled Axel to the mat. Axel returned to his feet and backed Gable into the corner. Dallas grabbed at Gable, allowing Axel to gain the upper hand.
Axel dropped Gable for a quick two count. He applied a modified arm hold. Gable quickly fought out of it and caught Axel with a sunset roll up for a two count. Gable hopped onto the apron. Dallas tried to take him out by the legs, but Gable kicked him away.
Axel charged. Gable slid under his legs. Axel tried to grab Gable for the Perfect-plex, but Gable countered with a drop toe hold and locked in the ankle lock. Axel tapped out.
WINNER: Shorty Gable in 2:00
After the match, Kayla Braxton interviewed Gable in the ring. She asked about the disparaging comments made about Gable’s height. Gable said he thought he was being held back by his height, but he realized it’s okay to be exactly who he is. Gable thanked his detractors for forcing him to embrace what he is. Gable told people not to succumb to their insecurities. He said he’s Shorty Gable. “Actually, lets shorten that up – I’m Shorty G.”
(LeClair’s Analysis: Ugh. Shorty G? You’ve got to be kidding me. Look, Gable is getting over, but I refuse to believe that he couldn’t have done so with a respectable push and none of this nonsense. He’s not even all that short. In fact, he’s barely below average height for an American male. It’s stupid. It’s classic Vince McMahon bullying humor. They can do better than this and they simply choose not to. I’m glad Gable is getting television time, I’m glad he’s getting a push, but not like this.)
-At the announcers desk, Graves said he’s considering changing his name to Handsome G. Cole pivoted to the adversity facing Team Hogan at Crown Jowel, confirming that Seth Rollins will no longer be on the team due to his Universal title defense. They showed tweets from Ric Flair bragging about the development.
Cole and Graves, now being broadcast to the whole arena, welcomed Hulk Hogan via Skype. Corey Graves asked Hogan how he’s going to fill the holes on Team Hogan. Hogan said he’s been chasing Flair since Corey’s been in diapers. He said he’s got the whole locker room “racing to his side” to face Team Flair.
Cole asked Hogan who will be joining the team. Hogan said Shorty G and Ali have stood out the most, and that there will be an announcement on the new team captain by the end of the show. Cole thanked Hogan. Hogan cut him off and ran through this “whatcha gonna do” schtick.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was bad. Graves and Cole felt robotic and overly scripted. Hogan’s part looked like it had been pre-recorded. The crowd popped for Hogan initially but then fell silent. This whole thing rang incredibly shallow, hollow, and pointless.)
-Heavy Machinery headed to the ring for an eight man tag team match. The camera pulled back to show the crowd chant along as Big E delivered his signature New Day intro. The trio danced onto the stage, Kofi throwing pancakes from a massive plate. Cole said this was Kofi’s “road to redemption.” He sent the show to commercial.
New Day and Heavy Machinery were still dancing in the ring when the show returned from break. Cole said “this is the blue brand, the A show on Fox!” for no apparent reason. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler headed to the ring, followed by the Revival.
(3) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Xavier Woods, w/ Kofi Kingston) & HEAVY MACHINERY (Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic) vs. THE REVIVAL (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) & ROBERT ROODE & DOLPH ZIGGLER
Tucker Knight began the match with Dolph Ziggler. Cole touted their amateur backgrounds. Ziggler backed Tucker into the corner and delivered a right hand. He knocked Tucker down with a standing dropkick. Tucker popped up and hit a standing dropkick of his own.
Tucker tagged in Otis. Robert Roode ran in to help Ziggler. Tucker and Otis hit tandem suplexes on the team. Otis tagged in Big E. They split Ziggler’s legs and gyrated together. The Revival hopped into the ring. Otis and Big E hit tandem overhead belly-to-belly suplexes. All four heels regrouped on the outside.
Xavier Woods hopped in the ring and dove over the top rope onto the Revival. Ziggler and Roode grabbed Woods and hit him with a combination spinebuster and Zig-Zag on the outside. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Dash Wilder and Xavier Woods were the legal men when the show returned from break. Wilder hit a back suplex on Woods and tagged in Scott Dawson. Woods fired punches at Dawson, trying to reach his corner. He hit a step up enziguri. Woods crawled slowly to his corner.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode ran into the ring and knocked Woods’ partners off the apron, preventing a tag. Dawson dragged Woods to his corner and tagged in Dash Wilder. They head a double team backbreaker for a two count.
Wilder tagged in Ziggler. Dolph tossed Woods into the corner and set him up on the top turnbuckle. Ziggler tried for a superplex, but Woods blocked it. He fired punches on Ziggler’s back. Ziggler fell to the mat. Woods flew off the top with a missile dropkick. He crawled slowly to his corner. Dolph crawled toward his.
Ziggler reached Roode. Woods reached Otis. Otis took down Roode with a shoulder tackle, then took out Ziggler with a spinning body slam. Roode chopped Otis shook it off and gave him a head butt. Roode fell to his corner. Scott Dawson tagged himself in. Otis slammed Ziggler, then tossed Roode over his head.
Dawson ran at Otis, but got caught with a big clothesline. He set up for the caterpillar on Roode. He hit it, and the subsequent elbow. Scott Dawson flew off the top rope for a crossbody, but Otis caught him. Tucker ran in for the Compactor. He bounced off the ropes, but Ziggler caught his leg. Dash Wilder hit a springboard head butt into the back of Dawson, knocking him on top of Otis.
Dawson hooked the leg for a near fall. Tucker took down Wilder and Ziggler with a double clothesline on the outside. Dawson kicked Outis in the ring and tried to suplex him. Otis easily blocked it and lifted Dawson for one of his own. He stumbled back into his corner. Big E tagged himself in. Otis handed him off to Big E. Xavier Woods tagged himself in, climbed to the top, and he and Big E hit the Midnight Hour on Scott Dawson for a three count.
WINNERS: The New Day & Heavy Machinery in 10:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Fun match. This was primarily used as a vehicle to promote the “largest tag team turmoil ever” at Crown Jewel. As is the case with most New Day matches, much of the match was consumed by Xavier Woods being cut off from his partners, which can cause things to drag a bit. Thankfully, that section of the match was a bit shorter than usual. Heavy Machinery seem to be getting over well with the crowd. On the heel side, I like the duo of Roode and Ziggler. I hope that this team continues even in the aftermath of them losing the tag titles.)
-Cole and Graves teased the women’s six-pack challenge coming up later in the night. They also plugged MizTV with Bayley, then announced that Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan would team later tonight to face King Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton welcomed Daniel Bryan. She asked about his mindset going into the tag match after being attacked by Corbin and Nakamura. Bryan said he doesn’t care about being beat up, he doesn’t care about Twitter beefs, and he doesn’t care about grown men arguing about “who was drafted where and at what time.” He said he cares about his first fight on Friday Night Smackdown. “Roman and I are gonna take those two kings and put them in their place.” Bryan walked away.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Bryan is so good. Even in what I presume is a scripted promo, he’s concise and unapologetically Daniel Bryan. This sounded like something he’d say. He displayed passion and intensity. This is really a shining example of a simple and effective backstage promo to hype up a relatively unimportant match.)
-Bayley was shown walking down a hallway backstage. Cole said she’d join the Miz on MizTV after the break.
-The second hour began with a video package for Ali.
-Back in the arena, The Miz was already in the ring for MizTV. He was introduced by Greg Hamilton. He welcomed the audience to MizTv and said he didn’t want to waste any time. He said his guest has a bold new look, a fierce new attitude, and a shiny new attitude. He welcomed Bayley.
Bayley walked to the ring with Sasha Banks at her side. She looked around at the crowd with contempt. Sasha smiled and laughed maniacally. Bayley and Sasha took seats opposite of Miz in the ring.
Miz said he wasn’t aware Sasha would be joining them, but welcomed her anyway. Sasha said she was there to support her best friend. Miz started to state that Bayley defeated Charlotte Flair to become Smackdown Women’s champion. Bayley cut him off and finished the sentence.
Sasha added that Bayley is the first ever women’s grand-slam champion. Miz said Twitter exploded as a result of Bayley’s shocking behavior last week. He threw to a clip of last week’s Smackdown, highlighting Bayley’s transformation.
“Simple question, why?” Miz asked. Bayley contemplated her answer carefully. “I don’t owe you, or anyone an explanation,” Bayley said. Miz asked about the kids who idolized her. Bayley shrugged. “A champion who doesn’t talk,” Miz said, “who are you, Brock Lesnar?” Bayley smirked. Miz asked if Sasha was her Paul Heyman.
Miz continued to press. He asked if it was insecurities. He said no matter how many accolades she has, she always seems to play second fiddle to Sasha Banks. Sasha said Bayley doesn’t have to take criticism from anyone, especially from a guy who drafted in the fifth round. Miz said it doesn’t matter, because when he talks, people listen. He said he doesn’t need to change his look or slash some Bayley Buddies to be relevant.
Bayley said she didn’t do it to be relevant. She said she did it because that’s what has defined her for her entire career. Bayley said she gave and gave every week, and all the fans did was take. She said she was trying to be a hero and a role model. She said she was going to elevate the Smackdown women’s division and she accomplished that.
“At Hell in a Cell, when I lost my title, I was heartbroken and I was in pain and was anyone there for me?” Bayley questioned. She said no one was there to hug her. “I’ve put myself second my entire career to be a role model for their children.” Bayley said when she needed them most, they destroyed her. She said when she got to the back, no one was there to congratulate her.
She said she used to think the division lacked opportunity, but she realized the division is lazy and it lacks desire. She said she used to try to be what “they” wanted her to be. “I have outgrown them,” Bayley said. The fans booed loudly. “You want some inspiration?” Bayley asked. “Life sucks and then you die.”
Nikki Cross’ music played and she walked onto the stage. “That’s enough Bayley!” Nikki said the time for talking is done and the time for action is now. She told Bayley to go make herself comfortable. She promised to give Bayley a big hug after she wins the six pack challenge.
Dana Brooke’s music hit. She said she’s underutilized and overlooked. Brooke said that tonight marks a new beginning. She said flex appeal is on Smackdown. She asked the crowd to flex with her.
Lacey Evans’ music hit. She walked down the ramp, passing Brooke and Cross. Cole said the six pack challenge would be after the break.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Bayley’s explanation was fine. Like most of her promo work, it felt a little contrived and too heavily scripted. She and Sasha both stumbled over their words a bit, but tried their best to recover. Miz moved the segment along nicely. Given that the crowd wasn’t really all that into Bayley as a babyface, it’s hard to imagine that they’re really going to get heavily behind booing her. If anything, this change in character seems to have made her a more compelling character to cheer for. I strongly dislike the parade of challengers coming down to cut individual promos trope that WWE often uses in these situations. Thankfully, they limited it to just two. Cross just rattled off some cliches. Dana tried her best.)
-Carmella’s music was playing and all six women were in the ring when the show returned from commercial. Michael Cole set the table for the match.
(4) NIKKI CROSS vs. DANA BROOKE vs. LACEY EVANS vs. SONYA DEVILLE vs. MANDY ROSE vs. CARMELLA – Six-Pack challenge, winner gets a Smackdown Women’s title match
Cole explained that the first pinball or submission wins and that there could be no count outs or disqualifications. The six women stared at one another apprehensively, then pounced in various directions. Lacey darted to the outside. Sonya Deville took down Nikki Cross. Carmella rolled up Mandy Rose for a one count.
Rose and Deville worked over Carmella and Cross. Mandy hit a stalling suplex. She and Sonya rolled Carmella to the outside. They began double teaming Nikki Cross. Cross battled back and elbowed both Rose and Deville. Sonya attacked Nikki from behind with body shots.
Cross tossed Deville into the turnbuckle. Rose took down Nikki and tossed her to the outside. Deville and Rose left the ring to retrieve Carmella. They tossed her into the ringside barrier. Dana Brooke charged and took down both Rose and Deville on the outside. She turned around and got taken out with ar running clothesline from Lacey Evans.
Nikki Cross caught Evans with a dropkick from the ring. Carmella flew off the barricade, taking down Evans, Rose, and Deville. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Cole reset the scene over a wide shot of the ring as the show returned from the break. Rose and Deville were double teaming Carmella in the ring. Carmella caught Mandy with an arm drag, downed Sonya in the corner and hit the bronco buster. Cross returned to the fold and rolled up Carmella for a two count. Nikki tossed Carmella to the outside, onto Rose and Deville. Dana Brooke tossed Carmella into the barrier.
Nikki Cross ascended to the top turnbuckle and flew to the outside, taking down Brooke, Rose and Deville. She grabbed Lacey Evans, but Evans countered her momentum and slammed her into the steel steps.
Lacey returned to the ring with Dana Brooke. Brooke caught Evans coming out the corner and dropped her with a sit out power bomb. Dana climbed to the top rope and hit a rolling senton. Mandy Rose and Carmella broke up the pin attempt at two.
Rose and Carmella rolled around the mat, firing punches at each other. Rose caught ‘Mella in a jackknife cover for a two count. Carmella rolled through it into the Code of Silence. Deville broke it up with a running knee to the back of Carmella’s head.
Dana Brooke rolled up Deville from behind, but Lacey quickly broke it up. She hit Dana with the Women’s Right. Evans ran into a super kick from Carmella. Deville ran into a super kick from Carmella. Mandy Rose caught Carmella with a running knee. Nikki Cross caught Mandy Rose with a spinning neck breaker for a three count.
WINNER: Nikki Cross in 10:00
Cross immediately turned her attention to Bayley, who rose from her seat ringside. Bayley held the title up at Cross’ face.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Chaotic match. I’m not sure where Alexa Bliss is at, but her star presence was missed in this one. You quickly get a feel for how thin these women’s rosters are, especially on the babyface side. They really need to do some work to make credible challengers out of these women, but I doubt their commitment to doing so. Cross was likely the right winner here, and really the only woman of the bunch that makes sense as a challenger to Bayley right now.)
-At the announcers desk, Cole and Graves tossed to the “Progressive Match Flo”, which was just a basic hype package for Braun Strowman.
-After the break, a video package recapping the on-going feud between Seth Rollins and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt aired. Cole and Graves talked up their upcoming match at Crown Jewel.
-Braun Strowman headed to the ring. Footage was shown of Monday’s contract signing between he and Tyson Fury.
(5) DREW GULAK vs. BRAUN STROWMAN
Drew Gulak quickly backed himself into the corner as the bell rang. He asked for a microphone. He said that this is his Smackdown debut and he’d like a chance to introduce himself. He said he’s wrestling’s historian and a former Cruiserweight champion.
Gulak said if Strowman goes into Crown Jewel doing his usual thing, Tyson Fury will knock him out cold. Gulak said he doesn’t want that. He said he wants to help Strowman. Gulak said he created a 345 slide Powerpoint presentation focused on how Braun Strowman can beat Tyson Fury. He turned Strowman’s attention to the tron.
Strowman grabbed Gulak by the throat and threw him across the ring. He slammed him in the corner, then tossed him again. Strowman hit a big boot. Gulak tried kicking at Braun’s leg. Strowman was unphased. He tossed Gulak to the mat. Drew rolled to the outside.
Strowman looked around at the crowd, then left the ring and charged around the ring, slamming shoulder first into Gulak. He tossed him in the ring then hit a body splash in the corner. He followed up with a chop to the chest, then a powerslam for the three count.
WINNER: Braun Strowman in 3:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Well, it was a little funnier than your average squash match I guess. Nothing to really see here, though it certainly should quell the hopes of anyone hoping to see Drew Gulak used in any competitive capacity on Smackdown.)
-Cole and Graves talked up WWE 2K20. They threw to the video game’s star-filled commercial.
-Daniel Bryan headed to the ring for the main event. Cole sent the show to commercial.
-Baron Corbin’s music was still playing when the show returned from break. He and Shinsuke Nakamura stood opposite Daniel Bryan. Roman Reigns entered last and was introduced as the captain of Team Hogan at Crown Jewel.
Cole and Graves teased that Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez would stand face to face on next week’s Smackdown. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair are also scheduled to appear. Cole reiterated that next week’s show will air on FS1 due to World Series coverage on Fox.
(6) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/ Sami Zayn) & KING CORBIN vs. DANIEL BRYAN & ROMAN REIGNS
Roman Reigns and King Corbin began the match. Reigns immediately hit Corbin with multiple fists, then backed him into the corner for more punches. Corbin shoved him away, but Reigns took him down with an uppercut. He tagged Bryan.
Daniel Bryan hit a pair of running corner dropkicks on Corbin, followed by a bulldog. He began throwing “yes” kicks. Corbin ducked the last one and made a quick tag to Nakamura. Shinsuke caught Bryan with a kick to the stomach. They traded uppercuts. Bryan caught Nakamura with a rolling knee. He hopped up to the top turnbuckle. Zayn distracted Bryan, allowing Nakamura to kick Bryan off the turnbuckle. Shinsuke dumped Bryan to the floor. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Corbin hit Bryan with Deep Six for a two count when the show returned from break. He stomped away at Bryan, then knocked Reigns off the apron. Corbin tagged in Nakamura. Bryan countered out of a double team attempt. He caught Nakamura with a dropkick and sent Corbin crashing into the ring post.
Nakamura tried to take control, but Bryan flipped over the turnbuckle and turned him inside out with a clothesline. Bryan crawled slowly to his corner, trying to tag in Reigns. Corbin pulled Roman off the apron and threw him into the ringside steps.
In the ring, Shinsuke caught Bryan with a kick to the head followed by a running knee for a two count. On the outside, Corbin draped Reigns over the steel steps. He tried to sandwich Reigns in between the steps, but the referee threatened to disqualify him. Bryan shot at Corbin and took him out with a clothesline through the ropes.
Nakamura grabbed Bryan from behind, but Daniel rolled through in the Labell lock. Corbin made in the ring in time to break up the hold. He began stomping violently at Bryan’s head and neck area. Corbin tossed Bryan into the corner. He charged at Bryan, but Bryan moved. Corbin slid under the bottom rope, rounded the corner, and got taken out with a Superman punch by Roman Reigns.
Reigns sized Corbin up, then hit him with a spear through the ringside barrier into the timekeeper’s area. In the ring, Bryan began unloading on Nakamura with the “yes” kicks. He connected with the final delayed kick and brought the crowd do their feet.
Bryan charged at Nakamura for the running knee, but Nakamura hit one of his own. He set up for the Kinshasa. Bryan ducked it and hit the running knee for a three count.
WINNERS: Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns in 9:00
Michael Cole was quick to point out that Daniel Bryan got a pinfall on the Intercontinental champion. Bryan psyched up the crowd as Reigns returned to the ring to celebrate with Bryan. Bryan and Reigns shook hands. Michael Cole said goodnight, again reminding the audience that next week’s show would air on FS1.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. Bryan and Reigns work well together. Like most WWE tag matches, this broke down into a familiar formula of chaos at the end, but the crowd is so into Bryan’s offense that it hardly seemed to matter. As good as he was as a heel, it’s great to see him as a rejuvenated babyface again. I assume this likely sets up Bryan as the top contender for Nakamura’s title, while Reigns continues in a holding pattern until this Crown Jewel stuff is in the rear view mirror.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Did you guys know that Smackdown will be on FS1 next week? I initially intended to leave the announcement out of the body of my report and make a quick programming note down in this section, but WWE harped on it so incessantly throughout the night that it became impossible to avoid. I get it. WWE isn’t going to displace the World Series. Even still, it’s not a great look for the show to get bumped from network TV less than a month into its run. They’re loading up next week’s show hoping that the network switch doesn’t impact ratings too significantly, but I’d bet internally that they’re gearing up for a dramatic drop.
This didn’t feel like the official beginning to the new era of Smackdown. Week one on Fox was the introduction, week two was the draft. Tonight felt very much like they’d already settled into a sort of groove, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Much of the wrestling on tonight’s show was filler. The story-telling is still poor, the roster doesn’t look all that impressive or deep. This wasn’t a downright bad show, but I’d be hard pressed to consider it particularly good. The Shorty Gable stuff is bad, Kofi’s title loss amnesia is worse. The women’s division looks particularly thin, and the non-finishes continue. This was a stronger show than Raw, but that’s not exactly saying all that much.