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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
SEPTEMBER 4, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY ARENA (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-A video package aired on the Roman Reigns-Paul Heyman reveal last week through his Universal Title win at Payback last Sunday.
-Cole introduced the show. Reigns’s music played. They fed loud boos into the arena, if there was any doubt how they wanted viewers to think about his new alliance and demeanor. Graves said he’s reached out to Reigns all week and considered him a friend, but he hasn’t heard anything from him. He said he is eager to hear answers to his many questions. Cole said the one thing Reigns said on social media is that he is the best performer of his generation and the belt is finally back where it belongs where it can have the most value. Graves said he wanted to know what Heyman has to do with this situation.
Reigns walked out with the Universal Title belt over his shoulder, with Heyman just a few steps behind. Cole talked about Reigns’s conduct, such as signing the match contract on his way to the ring and how opportunistic it was the way he pinned Braun Strowman to become champion. “Just when you thought I was out, he pulled me back in,” Heyman said. referring to Reigns. “Don’t make fools of yourself pointing your accusatory fingers at me for corrupting him, because I assure you it is him corrupting me.” (The screen glitched a bit; perhaps Retribution.) He said he was tossed aside into the shark-infested ocean of obscurity, only to be rescued, saved, and pulled onto the island of relevancy “by this man.” Reigns stared piercingly into the camera.
Heyman asked where the appreciation was for Reigns through life-threatening illness, but nobody thanked him. “When he needed just a little time off?” he said. “What did you do with his championship? A Fiend? A Fiend is not born to reign as champion. A Fiend does fiendish things. A Monster is not born to reign as champion. A Monster does monster things.” He asked what it would be like to tune into Fox News and see a Fiend or a Monster representing the Universal Title. He said Reigns represented what WWE is purported to be built on – family, tradition, legacy, the responsibility of being a champion, and the accountability of owning ones actions as a champion. And that is who this champion is.”
He said on Raw they had a triple threat match to determine who will face their champion at Clash of Champions. Heyman said everything they do with Reigns on Smackdown will be bigger, better, more sensational, more spectacular than anybody else who has ever come before him. “They did a Triple Threat, we will do a Fatal-Four Way tonight.” Heyman said the four wrestlers’ names don’t need to be uttered by him or Reigns, so he’ll leave it to “Anderson Cooper and Carmella’s latest boyfriend over there” (pointing at Cole and Graves). “My name is Paul Heyman, and I serve as special council to the tribal chief, your reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns.” Reigns barely blinked that whole time, but definitely looked sinister.
Reigns lifted the mic and said, “I’m a man of my word. I did exactly what I said was going to do at Payback.” He said he signed the contract, wrecked the Monster, and left as champion. He said at the Clash, he doesn’t care whom he faces. “Feed them in and watch them all get slaughtered, because this is my island. When you have this kind of power, all you have to do is show up and win. Believe that.” His t-shirt says “Show Up and Win.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Great initial presentation of heel Reigns with Heyman. The cadence and volume of Heyman’s delivery demanded your attention. Reigns is going to be a tremendous heel, and this was a teaser of how comfortable he’ll be in this role. I fear the ratio of Heyman to Reigns talking will be like this always, but I’m hoping we get something closer to 60/40 with Reigns developing his heel promos skills over time. There are a lot of disappointed kids looking for a new hero.)
-Cole hyped King Corbin vs. Sheamus vs. Big E vs. Matt Riddle in the Fatal Four-way. [c]
-A Connor’s Cure video aired.
-Backstage Jey Uso welcomed Reigns back. He said he made the whole family proud. He said he’s been calling and texting him all week, so what’s the deal. Reigns dismissively said, “I’m busy man, I’m busy.” Reigns gave Heyman a look and Heyman said “Yes sir” and swiftly walked away. Uso asked, “What’s the deal with Paul E? Do you trust him?” Reigns said he’s got everything under control, so just let him handle it. Uso offered him a chance to watch his back. Reigns blew him off. He said he loves him and hit him up and walked away. Uso yelled, “Let’s get a steak after the show!” He looked uneasy. Graves said something doesn’t smell right about this situation.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m intrigued already with Heyman seemingly like a nervous subservient to Reigns, rather than “the brains in charge” with Reigns just along for the ride. This is the Reigns I always envisioned would be the blockbuster generational star for WWE. I’m eager to see how this translates to his in-ring style during a match. [c]
(1) HEAVY MACHINERY (Otis & Tucker) vs. MIZ & MORRISON
Otis brought the Money in the Bank briefcase with him. They cut to a break a few minutes in after Otis and Tucker clotheslined M&M over the top rope to the floor. [c]
Back from the break, M&M were working over Tucker. Tucker made a comeback and hot-tagged in Otis. Soon Otis was on the defensive, though, as Miz and Morrison rapid-tagged against him. Otis made a comeback and landed the Caterpillar onto Miz. He followed with a second rope swing splash out of the corner for the win.
WINNER: Miz & Morrison in 8:00.
-After the match, Morrison grabbed the MITB briefcase and ran off with it.
-Backstage Big E and Drew Gulak were talking strategy when Lucha House Party joined them. There was a birthday cake in front of them. Big E announced that Xavier Woods was back hosting Talking Smack tonight, and it’s his birthday. Big E excitedly said he is ready to win tonight and cash in his Golden Ticket against Reigns. A worker told Big E that Xavier arrived. Big E walked to the parking area with a birthday cake. He called him “Woodsy, where’s your narrow ass?” Sheamus attacked him and gave him a Brogue Kick and rammed his head into the hood of a car. As officials arrived on scene and implored him to stop, Sheamus gave him a White Noise through the windshield of the car. [c]
-They showed Big E being tended by EMTs. They were immobilizing his head. He was conscious and breathing heavily. Graves wondered if the security guy was part of some larger conspiracy in sending Big E over there looking for Xavier.
-Kayla Braxton said Big E has suffered major lacerations and most likely other serious internal injuries. Sheamus walked up and said sarcastically it must be difficult to watch this. She asked if he set up this ambush because he beat him at Payback. Sheamus said he was just defending himself. He said maybe Big E just got some “bad information.” He said if you want to be in the main event and grab the brass ring, you have to stay focused. He said he is thinking of strategy, whereas Big E is just thinking about laughing and dancing with his friends. “It’s kind of sad,” he said. “This could have been the biggest night of Big E’s career and he let his old friends drag him back down again.” He perked up and said he has a big match later so he has to go and prepare. In the background the whole time, medics were lifting Big E onto a back brace. Sheamus walked back to Kayla and said it’s probably going to be a Triple Threat match again.
(Keller’s Analysis: This seems to either set up Big E for a surprise return later or it writes him out of contendership and intensifies a feud with Sheamus instead. If it’s a triple threat without Big E or another babyface replacing him, it seems obviously Riddle is winning.)
-A video package aired on the Jax & Baszler victory over Bayley & Sasha at Payback.
-Backstage, Alyse Ashton interviewed Bayley and Sasha. Bayley said they had never seen Jax and Baszler as a team before Payback, but now they’ve figured them out and they will prove it later. Ashton told Bayley that Baszler has tapped her out the last three times she was in the ring with her. Sasha jumped in to defend Bayley, asking who she thinks she is. She ran down Bayley’s resume of achievements. She said she’s her best friend through highs and lows, and they’ve changed the game together. [c]
-Kayla interviewed Adam Pearce backstage. He said Big E is on his way to being medically evaluated and they’re not sure of the extent of his injuries, and he will not compete later. Pearce said the Fatal Four-way will still take place and they are determining now who the fourth competitor will be. Heyman walked up to Pearce and asked for a private word.
(2) NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER vs. BAYLEY & SASHA BANKS – WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match
Sasha & Bayley came out first. As Jax and Baszler came out, Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro talked up Sasha & Bayley and made a joke at Big E’s expense. Jax tagged herself in at the bell by slapping Baszler’s back, so Jax and Baszler had some heated words, Sasha and Bayley attacked them. Then they knocked Baszler out of the ring and then threw Jax out of the ring. Sasha and Bayley went for slidekicks, but Jax and Baszler caught them and rammed them into the barricade by their legs. [c]
Jax and Baszler dominated after the break. They beat up Bayley for several minutes. Bayley clipped Jax from behind after a distraction by Sasha. Sasha tagged in and went to work on Jax. Sasha landed a Meteora on Jax for a two count.
Sasha and Jax fought on the ring apron, and Sasha slammed Jax off the ring apron with a powerbomb after Bayley snapped Jax’s head over the middle rope. Baszler, though, had tagged in and she went after Bayley. Bayley tagged out to Sasha who landed a running knees and scored a two count. Sasha went for a running knee against Baszler on the ring apron. Baszler moved and Sasha crashed into the ringpost. She sold a knee injury, but limped her way back onto the ring apron. Baszler clipped the back of her knee twice. Baszler dragged Sasha to mid-ring and went for a figure-four, but Sasha rolled up Baszler with a small package for a two count. Baszler went back to stomping on Sasha’s leg. Sasha cried out in pain. Cole said the ref has to consider stopping it. Bayley entered and gave Baszler a Bayley-to-Belly. Sasha crawled onto Baszler for a two count. She then applied a Bank Statement. Jax yanked Bayley off the ring apron, entered the ring, and kicked Banks, then returned to her corner.
Baszler crawled over and tagged in Jax. Cole said Banks is defenseless. Jax applied a stretch muffler, but Banks rolled through for a near fall. “Banks somehow is still in this!” Cole exclaimed. Jax climbed to the second rope, but Bayley yanked Sasha off of her shoulders. Banks slammed Baszler, but her knee gave out as she did it. Jax then leaped off the middle turnbuckle and bodypressed both Bayley and Banks for the three count. Graves said they are an odd couple and not friends, but when checks and championships are on the line, they’re dominant. Cole gave Sasha credit for fighting through her potentially severe knee injury, speaking of her like an announcer typically does for a babyface.
WINNERS: Jax & Baszler in 15:00 to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles.
-Medics entered the ring and tended to Sasha. Bayley told them to be careful. [c]
-Back in the ring, Sasha was having trouble dealing with the EMTs trying to help her. She shoved them away and said she doesn’t need their help. She couldn’t stand, though. Cole said she is a proud competitors. Sasha slid out of the ring as the EMTs retreated to the back. Bayley suddenly stomped on Sasha on the ring apron. Cole and Graves were shocked. She threw her against the ringside barricade aggressively and yelled for everyone to shut the hell up. She rammed Sasha into the ringpost. She then rammed Sasha’s leg against the ringside steps.
The beating continued. Graves said Sasha was defenseless. Cole said she couldn’t even stand up. Bayley threw her back into the ring. Bayley asked Cole if he’s happy now. “Is it Boss Time, Michael?” she screeched. Sasha was face down and knocked out on the mat. Bayley told Sasha she deserves all of that. Cole asked what she did to deserve that. Graves said it was a tumultuous friendship, but it didn’t have to come to this.
Bayley brought a chair into the ring and put Sasha’s leg in it. Sasha began to fight back with some up-kicks, but Bayley charged and KO’d her with a running knee. Cole exclaimed, “Enough’s enough, she made her point!” Bayley drove Sasha’s head face-first into the mat. She put Sasha’s head in a folding chair. Cole said someone needs to do something. He implored Bayley to stop. Bayley leaped off the ropes and stomped on the chair with Sasha’s neck vulnerable. She rolled out of the ring finally as EMTs returned to the scene to check on Sasha.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to see this finally happen. That was memorably intense. I look forward to Bayley’s explanation, and I look forward to Sasha stepped up into a top centerpiece babyface spot.) [c]
-A recap aired of Bayley beating on Sasha. They showed Sasha being loaded into an ambulance and being driven away.
-Cole and Graves reacted. Cole said they hoped to get an update on Sasha later. Graves said he’s known them since they started, and he’s taken potshots and made jokes and had fun, but he never thought Bayley was capable of this. Cole said he hopes to hear from Bayley why she did this.
-Sami Zayn made his ring entrance. They showed Sami’s return last week. Graves said Sami never did actually lose the IC Title. Sami scolded ring announcer Greg Hamilton for not addressing him as the IC Champion. Hamilton said it’s not in his notes. Sami grabbed a headset and addressed Marty in the production truck. He asked if they included Intercontinental Champion on the graphic. He didn’t like the answer he got. “I don’t think you guys are taking this seriously enough,” he said. He wanted them to re-do his entrance. Jeff Hardy interrupted and said Sami didn’t need to attack him. He said if he wanted an IC Title match, he just had to ask. Sami said that’s nice, but also confusing because he’s the IC Champion, not Hardy. He told Hardy he should ask him for a title match. Hardy said he doesn’t need to ask him anything.
A.J. Styles then walked out and asked how either of them can claim they’re champion when he’s the uncrowned champion. Hardy said if Styles is healed, he’ll happily defend it against him. Sami said that’s not how it works. Styles attacked Hardy. Sami joined, but Styles kicked him from behind. He set up a Styles Clash, but Hardy instead gave him a Twist of Fate. Sami then landed a Helluva Kick on Hardy. He grabbed “his” IC belt and scurried away.
(Keller’s Analysis: I thoroughly enjoy Sami’s heel act. Good to have his energy back.)
-Cole said they have breaking news. He revealed that Jey Uso would be the fourth wrestler in the Fatal Four-way.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like that substitution. Lots of possibilities there.)
-Matt Riddle made his ring entrance. [c]
-Tucker walked up to Otis in a panic over Morrison stealing his briefcase. Otis said he’s not worried because he keeps the contract in his lunchbox. He showed it. Tucker asked what he actually keeps in the briefcase. They cut to Morrison who opened the briefcase and found a sandwich. Miz told him not to eat it, but Morrison was tempted.
-Jey walked up to Reigns backstage and said he owes him one for getting him put in the Fatal Four-way. Reigns said he doesn’t owe him anything. Reigns said it’s about time they’re showing him respect. Jey said he’s going to win and face him at the Clash. Reigns told Jey he knows his brother would win, but “let’s see if you can get one on your own this time.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Reigns is basically imitating Orange Cassidy with his demeanor and body language!)
-King Corbin’s ring entrance began. He was lifted on his throne. He wanted the match called off because of blatant nepotism. Riddle charged and attacked him. Sheamus ran out shortly thereafter and attacked Riddle. Jey then attacked Corbin at ringside. Riddle threw rapid-fire kicks at Sheamus. [c]
-A Firefly Funhouse aired. He said he knows everyone is down because You Know Who lost his favorite toy, but he’ll cheer everyone up because he’ll be introducing a new friend next week. He cheerfully waved bye. His jingle aired.
-Alexa approached Nikki and apologized. Nikki said she forgives her. Alexa cut off her next words, hugged her quickly, and left.
(3) MATT RIDDLE vs. SHEAMUS vs. KING CORBIN vs. JEY USO – Fatal Four-way to earn a Universal Title match at Clash of Champions
A few minutes in, as Corbin yelled at the ref, Sheamus hit him from behind. They cut to a break. [c]
Later, Riddle went for a submission armbar, but Sheamus lifted and slammed Riddle to the mat. Sheamus applied a cloverleaf mid-ring on Riddle right afterward. Riddle crawled toward the bottom rope, but Sheamus dragged him back to the middle. Uso then kicked Sheamus in the head. Uso ended up landing a frog splash out of nowhere, after Corbin had thrown him into the LED board area a few minutes earlier, to pin Riddle right after Riddle gave Corbin a Floating Bro (although he largely overshot him, by design probably). Cole said the stage is set – cousin vs. cousin at Clash of Champions.
WINNER: Uso in 12:00 to earn a title shot at the Clash of Champions later this month.
-Kayla interviewed Jey in the ring afterward. She asked how important that victory was for him. He said, “Big Dog, I made the family proud, too!” He then said, “Lockdown – you know the rest.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I would’ve liked a little more from Uso there other than just going into his catch phrase. But he was excited and celebrated like he just achieved something big. I like this as a first match for Reigns as a heel. It makes sense and saved Big E and Riddle for later.)