WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
(Search "wade keller" to subscribe in podcast app or CLICK HERE to subscribe in Apple Podcasts.)
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 10, 2020
EVANSVILLE, IND. AT FORD CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FOX
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-They aired the opening theme, then went to the live arena where the augmented reality scoreboard said they were at “Ford Center” (because, predictably, they’re excluding that they’re in Evansville, Ind. because it’s not cosmopolitan enough). Cole didn’t say they were in the city and nothing on the screen indicated what city they were in. (They’re such snobs. But Ford is a big car company, so they’re willing to put that up on the scoreboard. )
-Miz made his way to the ring for Miz TV. They briefly went to Cole and Graves on camera who talked over a replay of the Kofi Kingston win over The Miz last week followed by Miz attacking Kofi with Big E making the save. Cole said Miz was despondent over thinking he’d never get his hands on The Fiend.
-Miz TV: Miz introduced the segment as usual with the crowd chanting along. He said people are saying he has changed. Miz said he was just having a bad day last week, he hasn’t changed. He said Kofi was trying to cheer him up with positivity and trying to get him to smile, but you don’t always want to smile. He said sometimes when people want you to smile, you just want to punch them in the face. “And that’s exactly what I did,” he said. When some people cheered, he told them not to cheer that. He said he let his emotions and temper break through. He apologized to Kofi. He said he’s been going through a lot this month. He talked about what The Fiend did to his 18 month old daughter. He said he failed to gain an opportunity to take from The Fiend what he cherishes the most, the Universal Title. He said there is a bright spot, though. He said someone he considers a brother has returned. He introduced him as the biggest guest in Miz TV history. He called him the Prince of Parkour and the Shaman of Sexy, John Morrison.
John Morrison walked out to his old music. Cole said it’s been eight years since he’s been in WWE and he talked about his title history. When his music stopped, the arena was silent. Then there were scattered cheers. Then, after some encouragement by Miz, a “Welcome Back!” chant got a little momentum. Miz said he overuses the word sometimes, but “this is truly awesome!” He said he and Morrison are the greatest tag team of the century. Miz then threw to a video highlight package of Morrison in WWE. Then Miz welcomed him back from the bottom of his heart.
Morrison said it feels great to be back under the bright lights. “I don’t know what to say,” he said. He said WWE was filming a documentary on his comeback at the Royal Rumble and a special ring entrance with a bunch of Pomeranians, because in WWE “there can only be one big dog.” He said when he saw what Miz was going through and they had the talk when they were on a podcast, it was time for him to be there for him, one of his best friends. He said they talked again after what happened with Kofi, and he realized he’s disappointed. Pause. “In you guys.” He pointed at the fans. He said Miz has one bad day and they all chant “you suck” at him. Morrison said Miz has worked harder for 15 years than anyone else on the roster. He said nobody thought he’d make it as a WWE Superstar, yet he made it as a WWE Champion. He said despite that, he’s Miz’s dad’s fourth favorite wrestlers. Morrison said they ignored all of that hard work. He said Miz does what he does for them, not himself or his dad. “You don’t appreciate it,” he said. “You guys have never been in the ring.” He pointed at a fan in the front row and called one a “turd” and another “a douche bag.”
Kofi Kingston and Big E then came out to their music dancing and tossing pancakes to the crowd. Graves said he was enjoying Morrison turning a mirror on the fans like that. Kofi asked if he was really trying to blame “the WWE Universe” for turning their backs on him. Big E said Miz is such a bad actor, he couldn’t even get booked as the back-end of the human centipede. Kofi said he’d respect him more if he stopped at having a bad day. Kofi said everyone has had a bad day and that would have been respectable. Miz said what he respects that Kofi was WWE Champion for six months. Kofi smiled. Miz added, “I also respect the six seconds it took you to lose it.” He said he also respects that he chooses to smile and not go back after the WWE Title after losing it. Kofi said, “Once again, it was eight seconds, not six.” He said Miz is changing from Cool Miz to Obnoxious Annoying Miz. He said what that means is the people are correct when they say he sucks. For no apparent reason, New Day’s music played and then Cole plugged Kofi vs. Miz was up next.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s a relatively small gripe, but I wish WWE would write a reason into these segments for music to play. It feels too much like a play coming to end of a scene when out of nowhere, with no apparent prompt that everyone is finished, when the music of one of the wrestlers starts playing. It just screams to viewers “this is fake, it was all scripted, and the last actor said his last line so now we’re playing music to let you know the scene is over.” As for Morrison, he’s as socially awkward as ever, speaking to a rhythm of another universe. I’m glad Miz is heel again, and I’m thankful there was an actual turn. Kofi joking about losing in eight seconds and not responding to Miz pointing out he didn’t care enough to be sad or demand a rematch doesn’t take WWE off the hook at all for how awful they treated Kofi, and more so Kofi fans, with how that title reign was concluded.) [c]
(1) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Big E) vs. THE MIZ (w/John Morrison)
Morrison and Big E were on commentary. Cole asked Morrison if it’s a mere coincidence that his return happens just as Miz changes his attitude. Morrison said Miz hasn’t changed, the fans have. He said Miz is authentically himself, always. He told Cole if he had any friends, he’d know friends are there for each other. Graves told Cole to stop badgering their guest. Morrison asked Big E if he has a family. Big E said no he doesn’t, but that’s a personal thing. Morrison said that’s why he doesn’t understand what Miz is going through regarding The Fiend. Morrison asked Big E how many title shots Kofi gave him when he was champion. Big E said when Kofi became champion, they all became champion. Kofi dove onto Miz at ringside at 4:00. Miz shoved Kofi into the lap of Big E. Big E popped up and then so did Morrison. They argued. [c]
Back live, Kofi rallied and landed a Boom Drop as Morrison and Big E leaned on the ring apron at ringside. He played to the crowd. Miz blocked a Trouble in Paradise. Kofi came back with a crossbody block off the top rope for a two count. Miz came back with a DDT for a two count. Kofi came back with an S.O.S. a minute later for a near fall. Miz put Kofi in a figure-four a minute later. Kofi grabbed the bottom rope to force a break. Miz shoved Big E from the ring apron with his boot as Big E was tending to Kofi at ringside. Graves said he didn’t think that was wise. Miz and Big E jawed. Morrison then leaped off the ringside steps with a flip dive. Miz then gave Kofi a Skull Crushing Finale in the ring. Cole said Miz is more dangerous now with Morrison around. They replayed Morrison’s dive at Big E.
WINNER: Miz in 12:00.
-Cole said Lacey Evans vs. Sasha Banks “is going to finally go down.” Graves plugged Braun Strowman vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Cole plugged the main event tag of The Usos vs. Baron Corbin & Dolph Ziggler. Cole noted it’s the first time the Usos will be on Fox.
-Firefly Funhouse: Bray Wyatt told everyone not to be scared and invited the camera to be closer. He said, “I love you.” He smiled and said, “That felt good!” He said love is so special, but not everyone is worthy of it. “I’m looking at you, Daniel Bryan.” He said whatever the opposite of love is, that’s the way He feels about Bryan. He said lately, He’s been pretty naughty. “Real frickin’ naughty,” he said. He said at first He just wanted Bryan to remember. Quick clips aired of Bryan in the Wyatt Family. Then He wanted to change him. They showed Him pulling Bryan under the ring. He said now since Bryan wants to take His title, He wants to hurt Bryan. No puppets this week. [c]
-Cole hyped WWE Backstage on FS1 with The Usos coming up this week as special guests.
-Backstage, Sonya Deville enthusiastically told Mandy Rose she’s going to be in her corner rooting her on. Mandy said she just had to take care of one thing first. Deville said that’s fine, she’d see her there. Rose then opened a giant white box and peeked inside. I’m quite sure it wasn’t Erick Rowan’s pet since she smiled with satisfaction (unless she’s secretly a total freak).
-Elias stood mid-ring with his guitar. He said he wanted everyone to clap along for tonight’s song. He said it feels good, doesn’t it? “Roman Reigns, winning the Rumble. Not if Elias has anything to say. See, I got nothin’ against The Big Dog. He’s gonna lose like Randy, A.J., and Ricochet. Let’s not forget about Erick Rowan. Whatever’s in that cage, it can’t escape. It’s got to pretty horrifying to look at. Could it be worse than a Lana-Lashley sex tape. Probably not. Brock Lesnar thinks the roster is unworthy. He made that much clear. Well, Brock, it’s easy to hide behind that opinion, especially given the fact that you’re never here. How does Elias compare to a guy like Brock. For one, I’ve got a personalty, and unlike him, I’m not afraid to talk. So when I beat him for the title, I’ll gladly show Brock the door. But first when it comes to the Royal Rumble, I’m gonna show him what WWE stands for.” He thanked everyone for walking with Elias.
(Keller’s Analysis: Um, okay. I guess Elias is being eliminated by Lesnar in two weeks. The lyrics were clunky start to finish. That was pretty much word-for-word what Elias had to work with.)
-Tucker told Otis backstage that he knows how he feels about Mandy, but he has to let it go and focus with the Royal Rumble match coming up. Mandy walked in with that white box. Tucker told Otis it was time to go. Otis stuck around. Mandy apologized to him and gave him a cake that said, “I’m sorry.” It had a bulldozer toy on it. Otis seemed touched. She gave it to him, then left for her match. [c]
(2) ALEXA BLISS (w/Nikki Cross) vs. MANDY ROSE (w/Sonya Deville)
As Bliss and Cross walked to the ring, they showed a brief inset selfie interview where you could barely hear what they were saying. They said something about saying friends despite the rules of the Royal Rumble. The announcers talked about Otis’s reaction to Mandy saying he was sorry. Rose shoved Bliss in the face on a break in the corner. She shoved her a couple more times. Bliss snapped and went on the attack with a barrage of kicks in the corner. When Sonya stepped onto the ring apron, Nikki grabbed her leg. Sonya kicked her. Bliss then knocked Sonya to the floor. Rose then went after Bliss when her back was turned. They hit each other at the same time a minute later and both went down. Bliss took control, but then Heavy Machinery’s music played. Otis walked out with the cake, as Tucker tried to talk him out of it. Bliss looked at them, then Mandy rolled her up. Otis flickered his tongue at Mandy and then shoved cake into his mouth. Graves said he hopes Otis doesn’t have the wrong idea about Mandy.
WINNER: Rose in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m enjoying the Mandy-Otis romance, even though I think it falls into the category of guilty pleasure.)
-They showed Lacey Evans heading down the hallway for her match against Sasha next. [c]
-They showed the exterior of Ford Center. Cole said, “It is a rainy night here in Indiana.” He didn’t say Evansville. So for those keeping track: Indiana okay, Evansville embarrassing.
-Lacey came first. Then it was “BOSS TIME!” according to Cole. When Sasha’s music played, Sasha didn’t come out. Graves said it’s a great veteran move to leave Lacey waiting. Bayley appeared on the big screen and said Sasha decided to take advantage of an opening at a music studio in Los Angeles. Bayley said the only reason she’s there is that she’s champion and she is contractually obligated to be there. (Does that apply to Brock Lesnar?) Lacey said she’s ready to fight anywhere, “especially in the heartland of America.” (Where exactly would that be tonight, Lacey?) Lacey said since Sasha’s not there, how about she come face her for the title “right here, right now.” Bayley said Lacey can bark orders at her “like the overbearing mother that you are, but I don’t have to listen to you.” Lacey heard enough and marched up the ramp to find Bayley.
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside to react to the situation. Then backstage Bayley attacked Lacey, ramming her with a door and throwing her over and over into the brick wall. Bayley told Lacey to put on her mom jeans and go home. Lacey fought back and stomped away at Bayley. A ref pulled her off of Bayley and told her to save it for the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: So they advertise Lacey and Sasha and then deliver that? Something else must be going on.)
-Back to Cole and Graves at ringside, they pivoted to talking about “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan. They threw to footage from last week.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton (unidentified on screen) interviewed Daniel Bryan about what Wyatt said on the Funhouse earlier. Bryan said Fiend apparently wants a lot of things. He said he remembers everything from six years ago that happened between him and the Wyatt Family. He said he outsmarted him. Bryan said if Fiend wanted to change him, so be it, he does look and feel different, and he feels better and is more dangerous than ever. He said now The Fiend wants to hurt him. He said he has no doubt he will, but what The Fiend doesn’t understand is that he can’t break him. Bryan said what Fiend doesn’t like is that he knows that he knows that he can be beat and can be hurt. Suddenly on the TV screen behind Bryan, the WWE logo was replaced by Ramblin’ Rabbit who said he’s a big fan, and he has a secret on how to beat The Fiend. Bray then showed up and squeezed Rabbit with his “HURT” glove on. “Remember kids,” said Wyatt. “Snitches get stitches.” He laughed uproariously, then switched to a sinister look and growled, “Let me in.” The image turned to The Fiend briefly. Bryan soaked up what he saw for a few seconds.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like the hint from Rabbit that Fiend has a weakness. Is it the mask? Is it the red lights? Is it cinnamon sticks? Bryan is really good with these old-school style fired up babyface promos.)
-Braun Strowman made his ring entrance. [c]
(3) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Sami Zayn, Cesaro)
Cole talked about the history of the IC Title starting with Pat Patterson in 1979. Strowman dominated early as the announcers talked about how important this match is for Strowman heading into the Rumble. Sami pulled Nakamura to the floor to recover and then yelled at Braun. Cole asked if Sami ever shuts up. Cesaro shoved Braun into the ringpost. Nakamura then kicked Strowman into the time keeper’s area. “Suddenly Shinsuke Nakamura is in control!” said Cole as they cut to a break. [c]
Braun caught Nakamura coming off the top rope with a clothesline. Then he checked Nakamura to the mat twice. Then he splashed Nakamura in the corner and pounded his chest with a forearm. Cesaro stood on the ring apron, but Braun knocked him down. Sami handed Nakamura the IC belt. Nakamura swung it, but Braun ducked. Braun then powerslammed Nakamura for the 1-2-3. Braun celebrated afterward with a bloody nose, holding up the IC belt. Sami snuck in and yanked the belt away, then scurried up the ramp to give it back to Nakamura.
WINNER: Braun in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Decent match. Sami, Nakamura, and Cesaro make a good upper-mid-card heel trio.)
-A vignette aired with Sheamus saying, “Rise over Size. Embrace who you are. Since his arrival on Smackdown, Shorty G’s been saying a lot of things.” He said he met that “little rat” in the ring and showed him just how Smackdown is going to change. “I knocked him down, and he did not rise again,” he said. He said Shorty represents the ills and problems that have infested Smackdown since he’s been gone. He said “small” as if it’s disgusting. He said “small” isn’t to be celebrated, but rather cornered, crushed, and disposed of. He said last week, he proved size does matter. Sheamus said since his return, he’s ready to embrace chaos.
-Backstage Bryan noticed a red gift box. He opened it and inside was a deformed bunny doll with part of its skull carved out. Graves said Bryan’s got to be afraid of these mind games.
-Roman made his meandering long ring entrance. They replayed what happened last week with another attempt by King Corbin and Dolph Ziggler to shove dog food in his face, followed by the Usos save. Reigns said 2019 was a blessed year. He said lately, though, he’s been outnumbered, jumped, and embarrassed by Corbin and his crew. He said throughout his career, he’s always had back-up. “But this time, I didn’t need the help of friends. This time, I needed the help of my family.” He said family came back and helped him last week. He said 2020 is his year. He said he’s going on to win the Royal Rumble and headline WrestleMania for the fifth time. “Yes sir!” he said. He vowed to do it with Jimmy and Jey, the Usos, who have been by his side since day one.
The Usos then came out. They said it’s great to be back on the blue brand. They said it’s been tough being on the sidelines for five months, especially watching King Corbin with his Queen. He said they disrespected Reigns, and when you disrespect him, you disrespect the Usos too, and the whole family. Jimmy said kings come and go, but family stays together. King Corbin’s entrance interrupted them. He was carried to the ring with Dolph Ziggler leading the way. Corbin said Reigns deserved that beating because he cost him his shot at the WWE Championship. He said The Big Dog is scared to face him one-on-one, so he’s going to go hide in the Royal Rumble match. Corbin said if anyone is winning that match, it’s The King. Reigns said he’s not scared of him, and he’d like to face him one-on-one earlier in the night at the Rumble, then celebrate later the winner of the Rumble. He said then everyone will know who the man is. Corbin accepted his challenge, but he said after tonight, he won’t have any family because they’re about to handle The Big Dog’s two little bitches. The Usos dove onto Corbin and Ziggler at ringside. They cut to a break as the Usos and Reigns celebrated. [c]
-They announced that next week Morrison will face Big E.
(4) THE USOS (w/Roman Reigns) vs. KING CORBIN & DOLPH ZIGGLER
The heels were in control for the first few minutes. When the Usos made a comeback and Jimmy climbed to the top rope, Dash and Dawson ran out. Corbin then shoved Jimmy off the top rope as he was looking at the ramp. Ziggler then threw Jey into the crowd. They cut to a break as Revival celebrated. Cole wondered what he was paying those guys. [c]
Back in the ring, Ziggler ate a superkick from Jey, who went back to the top rope. He splashed Ziggler, so Corbin jumped into the ring and threw him into the ringpost. He then threw Reigns into the barricade at ringside. Reigns recovered and speared Corbin. The ref DQ’d the Usos for Reigns attacking a wrestler in the match.
WINNERS: Corbin & Ziggler via DQ.
-Reigns pulled the top off the ringside desk and set up a powerbomb, but Robert Roode returned and attacked Reigns. He threw him into the ringpost, then gave him a DDT on the floor. Corbin gave Jey a Deep Six on the floor. The heels celebrated and trash-talked Reigns. Roode then gave Reigns a spinebuster onto the announce desk. Next, Ziggler landed a leaping elbow onto Reigns’s chest. The desk collapsed. They heels celebrated as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: This likely sets up Usos & Reigns vs. Corbin & Ziggler & Roode. The Usos injected some fresh energy and star power to the show.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Decent show. Par for Smackdown these days, with good use of the returning wrestlers and enough Fiend content to keep the Fiend fans content.