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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
LIVE FROM KNOXVILLE, TENN. AT UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
AIRED LIVE ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
-Clips aired of Seth Rollins attacking Edge last week.
-Michael Cole gave a low-key introduction to Smackdown as the camera showed the crowd from a different angle than usual, high up and opposite the stage pretty straight on.
-Roman Reigns, the Usos, and Paul Heyman came out to his theme song. Cole and Pat McAfee commented on last week’s happenings with Reigns and Brock Lesnar and also “The Demon” Finn Balor. Cole said Reigns would face Lesnar at Crown Jewel next month, but first he has to get past The Demon a week from Sunday at Extreme Rules. (No mention of Crown Jewel’s location in Saudi Arabia.)
Reigns’s theme stopped as he stood in the ring with the Usos and Heyman. (We’re seven minutes into the show at this point!) Reigns asked the crowd to acknowledge him. Lots of boos and cheers. Heyman then acknowledged him and said he is awe of the greatness that stands before him tonight. He said the Tribal Chief ducks no challenger and defends his title every day, week, month, mega-event, “and every micro-moment of every day.” He said the Tribal Chief fears no beast, man, or demon, “but they call fear Roman Reigns.” He said Balor fears Roman, and the proof is he has to tap into his inner demons.
He said Brock Lesnar fears Roman Reigns. He said he has known Lesnar intimately on a professional basis more than his own family for 25 years. He said he’s never seen fear in the eyes of Lesnar in a wrestling ring, the Brock-tagon, or the operating table. He said last week, at MSG, he saw fear in his eyes for the first time.
He was interrupted by Big E. He came out with the WWE Title belt. Cole noted that Big E won the WWE Title on Raw on Monday. Big E celebrated on the announce desk before entering the ring. Fans chanted “You deserve it!” McAfee told Big E to enjoy it because he deserves it. Cole said his win was the culmination of ten years of work. As Big E and Reigns had a staredown and exchanged some words, Balor’s music played. Balor walked out as Cole plugged Reigns vs. Balor. They cut to a break.
(Keller’s Analysis: I sure hope Big E didn’t get the WWE Title in great part in order to give Reigns a win at Survivor Series over the WWE Champ as a way to avoid giving away Bobby Lashley vs. Reigns at the Survivor Series. The Saudi Arabia deal is such a mess. Because WWE actually feels shame or knows there will be a backlash, they don’t make a big deal out of the Lesnar-Reigns match even though it should be seen as a monumental announcement. We’ll see if they ramp up the hype after Extreme Rules, though.) [c]
(1) THE USOS (w/Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman) vs. FINN BALOR & BIG E
Cole said WWE official Adam Pearce made this match official during the break. Cole called this “a Championship Contenders” match. McAfee gushed about this being a gift of a match for fans. (He can go a bit overboard sometimes with his effusive praise of all things WWE.) Big E landed a running splash on Jey Uso on the ring apron. The Usos took over against Big E. Big E tagged in Balor after avoiding a corner splash by Jey. Balor rallied briefly, but the Usos took over after a blind tag. Jimmy dove through the ropes into Balor after Jey yanked him by his legs to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
-A commercial aired for NXT 2.0 with highlights of Tuesday’s episode featuring new faces and the wedding.
Back from the break, the Usos were still in control against Balor. McAfee said he doesn’t know if they’ll ever see Balor and Big E tag together again, so it’s such a treat. Balor eventually hot-tagged Big E after a Pelé kick. The Usos again took over against Big E. Eventually Big E hit a Big Ending just as Balor landed his top rope stomp Coup de Gras, with Big E getting the three count against Jimmy. “Never in a million years would I think this would happen on this Friday Night Smackdown!” McAfee gushed.
(Keller’s Analysis: McAfee is going to hurt his credibility if comes across as over-selling something. He just went too far by a level or two here. Something can be “cool” and “novel” and “exciting” without McAfee acting like aliens just landed and cured every disease on Earth and brought the dead back to life.)
-Reigns asked Heyman if he has something to say to him. Heyman said no. Reigns asked, “Are you sure there is nothing that I need to know?” Heyman said no. Reigns told Heyman to pretend he knows something and he is going to tell him again. Heyman nervously said he means what he’s about to say with all the respect in his heart and his soul. “I did not know that Brock Lesnar was coming to Summerslam,” he said. Heyman again emphasized that Lesnar fears Reigns. He said he knows it’s true, because why else would he make up a preposterous story that he knew he was coming to Summerslam. He said he deals with his fear by creating a false narrative. Reigns asked Heyman if he’s going to show up at Extreme Rules. Heyman said “no,” but he said it so quickly, it was suspicious. Reigns asked how he knows. Heyman said if Lesnar fears him, he’s under the impression he won’t show up at Extreme Rules. Reigns said he doesn’t pay him to be under an impression, he pays him to know in advance.
(Keller’s Analysis: Excellent segment. I sure hope that everything we see in these segments Brock Lesnar is also privy to. I don’t want a situation in the future where Lesnar isn’t aware of what’s being said. What Heyman and Reigns are saying in front of a camera has to be consistently conversations they are aware and comfortable with being seen by viewers worldwide.)
-Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura made their ring entrance. Cole hyped he’ll face Robert Roode next. McAfee said he’s electrifying and he assumed nothing will be different on the other side of the break. [c]
(2) RICK BOOGS (w/Shinsuke Nakamura) vs. ROBERT ROODE (w/Dolph Ziggler)
Boogs won clean with a running bulldog and a pump handle powerslam.
WINNER: Boogs in 2:00.
-As Nakamura and Boogs celebrated at ringside, Commander Azeez and Apollo Crews attacked them. “Where the hell did they come from?” asked McAfee. In the ring, Crews and Azeez looked down at them. Crews said Nakamura has made a mockery of the Intercontinental Championship. He demanded a rematch. Cole said, “Someone’s bitter.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Basic heels-attack-babyfaces angle to try to justify a match with special stips at Extreme Rules, but it’d have been nice if Crews had done something on TV to earn back some credibility since he lost the belt so easily.)
-They showed Happy Corbin whistling backstage. [c]
-They showed a postcard shot of Knoxville, Tenn.
-A sponsored clip aired of Happy Corbin and Logan Paul mixing it up verbally with Kevin Owens. They said Owens would fight Corbin next.
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Owens. Owens said he’s not happy, he’s mad. He said tonight he’ll use his anger as fuel to beat Happy Corbin, “which will then turn my frown upside down.” He said Corbin’s smile will be turned upside down. He tried to come up with what rhymes with smile, but got frustrated. He said after the match, he will be Happy Kevin.
-As Owens made his ring entrance, Corbin attacked him from behind. He was still in street clothes. He slammed KO back-first over the edge of the apron. He smiled and put his hat back on.
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance. [c]
-Cole narrated a video package on Bianca Belair. He said she is back at her Alma mater tonight and she’d have her homecoming later.
-Kayla Braxton startled Heyman backstage. She said her sources are telling her that Lesnar might be headed to Raw in the upcoming WWE Draft. He said he doesn’t know what’s more laughable, that he’d have insight into Lesnar or that she has sources. He said she can’t be with the wiseman so stop flirting with him. She just stood her ground and smiled as he yelled for her to leave him alone. Big E then startled him. Heyman applauded him for making the smartest decision of his life by realizing he wouldn’t have a chance against Reigns, so he cashed in against the WWE Champion when he was vulnerable. Big E said they would find out at Survivor Series. He said maybe it’ll be Lesnar or Balor if they take the title from Reigns first. The Usos then attacked Big E with a superkick and a beatdown. Reigns walked up behind them and seemed to approve.
-Seth’s music faded. He insincerely said it’s a shame what happened to Big E and someone should have helped him. He then talked about what it was like to beat up Edge last week. He said he heard a noise from Edge’s neck when he stomped him. He said words can’t do it justice and he threw to a video package of highlights. Then he gloated about what he did. He said people are side-eying him backstage and his employer is upset with him. He said it was a legal move in a legal match, so what’s the fuss. He said Edge knew the consequences of stepping into the ring against him. He said the fans goaded Edge into it. He wondered if Edge is emotionally capable of returning to the ring against him. He said he’s willing to face him one more time, but he’ll finish him one way or another.
-Braxton interviewed Becky Lynch backstage. She was in a loud yellow and black windbreaker jacket. She said she’s never been at a homecoming and she might check it out tonight. She said Belair has momentum, but momentum stops when it meets a strong opposing force.
-Carmella and Zelina Vega made her ring entrance. [c]
(3) CARMELLA & ZELINA VEGA vs. TONI STORM & LIV MORGAN
Early in the match, Carmella feared her nose was broken and she freaked out. Zelina dropped to ringside to check on her. They got counted out.
WINNERS: Morgan & Storm in 1:00.
-Liv asked if she just broke her nose. She said she’s not sorry at all because she’s tired of her running her mouth and then running away. She challenged her to a match at Extreme Rules. She said if she accepts, she’ll make her look as hideous on the outside as she is on the inside.
-The Street Profits cut a promo backstage. Montez Ford sang as Angelo Dawkins made that awful noise. [c]
-Backstage, Carmella was still holding her nose in pain. Vega said she’s still as beautiful as ever. Carmella told Pearce and Sonya Deville that their match is on at Extreme Rules. Vega said she wants to get her hands on Liv first, though.
-Balor stood backstage and said he didn’t grow up with a bloodline. He said was born into a family of railroad workers. He said he isn’t supposed to be there, but this is what he chose. He said he scratched and clawed and fought, and the Demon comes from inside. He said it’s a manifestation of everyone who has ever told him no or disrespected him. He said it unleashes a Demon who cannot be controlled. He said he doesn’t summon The Demon; rather The Demon summons him. He said the fires that burn inside of him burn hotter than those outside of him. They used a special effect to transfer his face to The Demon.
-“Holy hell, did you see that?” asked McAfee.
-Dominik Mysterio made his entrance. Rey Mysterio then came out and joined the announcers on commentary. [c]
-Cole announced that Reigns & The Usos will face all three reunited members of New Day on Raw next week.
(Keller’s Analysis: That would not be happening if AEW Dynamite didn’t beat Raw in the demographic ratings two weeks in a row.)
-Naomi asked Deville backstage if she has a match for her. Naomi told Deville that she has been more than patient and more than respectful. Deville said there’s not enough time on the show, but check back next week. Naomi said she doesn’t know what her issue is with her. She said she has been there longer than her and had more success. She said she doesn’t realize that she doesn’t quit. She said she will get her match one way or another. She got in Deville’s face. Deville stared back.
(4) SAMI ZAYN vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO
Sami took early control. Cole said a lot of people have described Rey as an overbearing little league dad. Rey said he just wants Dominik to be better than him. They cut to an early break after Dominik dove onto Sami at ringside. [c]
Dominik scored an early near fall after a tornado DDT. He then knocked Sami into the ropes and landed a 619 as Rey cheered him on at ringside. He then climbed to the top rope as Rey said, “Hurry! Faster!” Sami lifted his knees when Dominik landed. Sami then rolled up Dominik for the three count. Rey looked dismayed if not disgusted. Sami got in Rey’s face at ringside and said his son isn’t ready.
WINNER: Sami in 6:00. [c]
-A brief vignette aired of Belair visiting her Alma mater and surprising students at the University. She posed for a selfie with two students. She was masked, the students weren’t.
-Kane made a surprise entrance. [c]
-A commercial aired for the WWE Draft. It said it debuts next Friday on Fox and continued on Oct. 4 on USA. I think they aired that spot one week early.
-Cole plugged Nakamura vs. Crews for the IC Title and Morgan vs. Vega next Friday.
-Flames shot up in the ring as Kane lowered his arms mid-ring. Kane said it was his great pleasure to introduce Belair back to her hometown. Her family was going bonkers in the front row wearing “Wr-EST-leMania” t-shirts. She talked about Knoxville being so important to her. She said her dad taught her that if someone starts something with you, you better finish it. (Sometimes, actually, it’s better to choose your battles carefully and let living well be the best revenge rather than obsessing over finishing everything that someone starts who doesn’t deserve your time or further thoughts, but whatever.) She said Becky caught her off guard, but she’s been down before and always scratched and clawed her way back to the top. She said she’s going to take back her Smackdown Title at Extreme Rules. Kane said when she regains the title, they’ll have a parade for her. He presented her with a Key to the County. McAfee said it opens every door. Belair held it up and then said she wanted to celebrate Knoxville. She said it’s time to sing their song. She began the song, quite out of tune! The fans joined in and saved her. (Funny.) Becky’s music then interrupted and she walked out, mocking the song. Becky said Belair can be Knoxville’s champion, but she won’t become Smackdown Champion again. She said she’s never been to a homecoming before. She said Belair has a key, whereas she has “this championship on lock.” Belair asked why she’s there even though she doesn’t even go there.
Becky said tonight is Belair night and she offered a handshake. She said she came to show her some respect. She said these little girls and boys look up to her. Belair shook her hand. When Becky tried to walk away, Belair didn’t let go. Becky swung at her. Belair ducked and then lifted her onto her shoulders. Becky blocked it and delivered a Manhandle Slam onto Belair mid-ring. She smiled and left.
(Keller’s Analysis: Becky is having fun as a heel. The overall segment was well done. They continue to build Belair into a bigger star week by week, and she’s doing really well at every stage. She’s going to be a big star for a while for WWE.)