SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
NOVEMBER 12, 2021
AIRED LIVE ON FOX
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Note: I didn’t cover Smackdown live last week since I attended AEW Rampage in person in Minneapolis. This is my delayed report on the entire show.
-Opening theme aired. Post-Draft order is: Reigns, Sasha, Charlotte, Corbin, Shayna Baszler, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Usos, Hit Row, Roman, Jeff Hardy, Shinsuke Nakamura and Boogs, Naomi, Sasha, New Day, Drew McIntyre, Charlotte, Sheamus, Reigns again.
-Cole and McAfee hype Roman vs. King Xavier Woods.
-Sonya Deville stood mid-ring with the Smackdown Survivor Series women’s team. She introduced Shotzi, Natalya, Shayna Baszler, and Aliyah who were already in the ring. Then she introduced the team captain, Sasha Banks. As soon as Sasha entered the ring, she went after Shots. The rest stood between them. Then Naomi skipped to the ring to her music. Cole said she has major issues with Sonya Deville. She got in Sonya’s face. Baszler then yanked her around. Naomi threw punches. They all brawled. “Everybody seems to hate everybody!” McAfee exclaimed. They cut to a break mid-brawl. [c
(1) SASHA BANKS & NAOMI & ALIYAH vs. NATALYA & SHOTZI & SHAYNA BASZLER
Natalya and Sasha started battling promptly after the break. Baszler then tagged in against Sasha. Aliyah tagged in briefly against Baszler. Shotzi then tagged in against Aliyah. Cole gave a little backstory on Aliya. The heels isolated Aliyah in their corner and stomped away at her. Aliyah rolled out of Kirafuda Clutch and hot-tagged in Naomi, who rallied against Baszler. Natalya snapped Naomi’s head over the top rope from the ring apron and then snap suplexed her off the ring apron onto the ringside mat. She hit a third suplex inside the ring on Naomi and scored a two count. Baszler threw Naomi into the ringside barricade as they cut to a break. [c]
Naomi fought back after the break and crawled over for a hot-tag, but Natalya cut her off. She fought back and tagged in Aliyah, who landed a top rope crossbody for a two count. She stayed on offense with a flurry of moves and two counts. Natalya fought back and landed a Michinoku Driver for a two count. Sasha blocked interference from Baszler and Shotzi, including hitting a Meteora off the ring apron. Naomi hit a Rear View at ringside, too. In the ring, Natalya went for a sharpshooter, but Sasha reached in and snapped Natalya’s neck over the middle rope. Aliyah then rolled up Aliyah for the three count. Cole noted that Aliyah started with WWE at 19 years old and now won her first match on Smackdown. Sasha and Naomi seemed happy for her during their celebration.
WINNERS: Banks & Naomi & Aliya in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good first match on Smackdown for Aliyah. Cole really told her story well and touted her impressive showing. There’s no sign that Sasha has any heel tendencies left.)
-Backstage Sami said he’s the locker room leader. It was a close-up, so we didn’t see who he was talking to. He talked about the Survivor Series strategy. The camera panned back and showed that he was talking into a mirror about it being a time for unity, not division. Jeff Hardy was standing behind him. Sami asked meekly how much of that he heard. Hardy said he heard most of it. “What’d you think?” Sami asked. Hardy said it sucked real bad and laughed at him. Sami turned and walked away.
-They showed Reigns and Paul Heyman walking to the ring. [c]
-Megan Morant interviewed Aliya backstage about her win. She was fanning her face with her hands. She said she was on cloud nine. Deville said all this dancing is warranted and it’s amazing. She said, however, she has just been advised that she is no longer on the Smacidwon Survivor Series team. Aliya looked like she was about to throw up.
(Keller’s Analysis: Some overacting there at the end by Aliyah distracted from the moment.)
-They went to Cole and McAfee on camera who threw to a sponsored video package on the Reigns, Usos, Heyman segment last week.
-Kayla Braxton asked Roman for a word as they were about to enter the locker room. He said she was there to “either acknowledge the Tribal Chief or flirt with the Wise Man.” Heyman smiled. When she began to say why she was there, he said he didn’t care what she had to say. He went in the locker room and said she can talk with Heyman. Heyman wanted to up the ante for the Reigns vs. Xavier match. He said tonight Xavier will take a bended knee and acknowledge Reigns. Heyman said Reigns will take a bended knee if he loses. Heyman said there’s no games afloat, so if Reigns violates the stipulation, “you can strip Roman Reigns of the Universal Championship and banish him from Smackdown.” He told Kayla, “Now, doesn’t that make tonight’s show a lot more interesting.”
-They went to Cole and McAfee for a reaction. McAfee said there’s no way he was telling the truth there. “That would be my nightmare!” he said about a possible Reigns banishment.
-Rick Boogs introduced Shinsuke Nakamura. McAfee danced on the table. [c]
-Happy Corbin told Rick Boogs he’s made him so happy with his Viking jokes last week. He asked Madcap Moss if he has another Viking joke for him. “What do you call a Viking made entirely of carbohydrates? Erik the Bread.” They laughed uproariously.
(2) LOS LOTHARIOS (Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RICK BOOGS
Garza held Nakamura’s leg as he was entering the ring, then Carrillo kicked him. Then they both hit their double-team finisher for the win.
WINNERS: Lotharios when Garza pinned Nakamura in 5:00.
-Backstage, Adam Pearce and Deville were looking over a contract with NXT’s Von Wagner standing next to them. She said she made the change to make the team stronger. Sami Zayn then walked in and said, as Captain of Team Smackdown, he had some concerns about his teammates, in particular Jeff Hardy. Sami demanded Pearce remove him from the team. Pearce said maybe it is a great idea to make the team stronger. He said he will face Hardy later, and the loser will be removed. Sami said that wasn’t what he was saying at all and maybe he misunderstood him. A “Hardy!” chant rang out.
-McAfee commented on how talk “whoever that guy was,” which means Smackdown’s lead commentator either doesn’t watch NXT or they think it’s a good idea to make it seem like the Smackdown commentator doesn’t know who he is even if he does. [c]
-Charlotte stood mid-ring to talk about the match against Becky Lynch at Survivor Series. She said Lynch has gone from being the Irish Laskicker to The Man to Becky Two Belts to Big Time Becks. “Becky, who the hell are you?” She asked. “There is nothing natural about her, from your catch phrases to your orange hair to god knows what else, you’re just a fabricated champion.” She said she’s had her moments, but those came because of her. She said at Survivor Series, her new nickname will be Becky Uh-Oh. “Charlotte beat me, Uh-Oh. Charlotte’s so superior, uh-oh. I came back from having a baby too soon, uh-oh.” The crowd said “uh-oh” along with her.
Charlotte said she can beat anyone who steps through those ropes. She said she has become a star because of her. Her nickname should be “The Star-maker.” She paused and then was interrupted by Toni Storm.” She said the person she was just talking about defended her title on Raw just over a week ago. She asked Charlotte if she has defended the title in that time. McAfee said, “Uh-oh.” She told Charlotte to accept her challenge for her Smackdown Women’s Title tonight. Fans chanted, “Yes! Yes!” Charlotte said, “Absolutely not.” Cole said she might be a star-maker, but she’s not a match-maker.
(Keller’s Analysis: Charlotte seemed like a big star there. I’m not sure how beneficial it is, as they try to get Becky over as a heel, to have Charlotte taking digs at her, but that’s where they are this time of year.)
-Kayla interviewed Xavier about the steps Heyman added. He took off his crown and said he wanted to get real for a minute. He said Roman will bend at the knee because he’s about to storm to relevancy in the name of King Woods. He put his crown back in and went back into cartoon character.
(Keller’s Analysis: Did fans boo when he put the crown back on?) [c]
-Aliya was on the phone, lamenting being kicked off the team. Mustafa Ali said he relates to being on top of the world one second and everything crumbling down the next. Ricochet walked in and told Aliyah not to believe a word Ali is telling her. He said she was in the ring with legends in the making and she won, so just keep her head high. “Do you really think that?” she said. She walked away with Ricochet. Ali looked frustrated.
(3) SAMI ZAYN vs. JEFF HARDY
Sami came out to his new music (which sounds like generic music you’d use for a referee or ring announcer before a taping starts). Hardy was already in the ring. Cole and McAfee talked about leadership and how Hardy leads by quiet example, a stark contrast to Sami. Cole said a loss here for Sami would be devastating for him because of his “massive ego.” McAfee said losing to Hardy is something that has happened to a lot of people. At 2:00 Hardy charged at Sami at ringside, but Sami moved. They cut to a break with both down at ringside. [c]
Sami had Hardy in a chinlock after the break. McAfee said a spot in “one of the most coveted spots in team sports is on the line.” Hardy landed a top rope Whisper in the Wind for a near fall. They cut to fans going bananas for the kickout. Sami scored a near fall with a backslide. Sami used the ropes for leverage on a subsequent pin attempt, but the ref spotted it. Sami argued with the ref. Hardy spun him around and landed a Twist of Fate and then a Swanton for the win. Sami cried out in agony afterward, distraught over his loss of his place on Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. They taunted Sami with an updated Team Smackdown graphic on the big screen.
WINNER: Jeff Hardy in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This makes the Survivor Series a little less interesting without Sami in the match. He did a great job selling his despair after the match. The match itself was just fine.)
-Backstage, Hit Row cut a promo. The acoustics backstage were awful, but they talked about their sneakers and then began singing and dancing.
-Backstage, Jinder Mahal and Shanky reacted and then did their version off a musical rap performance. Jinder said, “Hit Row. More like Cringe Crow. Ha ha ha.”
-They showed Xavier Woods jogging in place and smiling in his king outfit. Cole then plugged the main event between Xavier and Reigns. “Will King Woods bend the knee? Or will Roman Reigns bend the knee?” said a graphic on the screen with animations depicting both scenarios. [c]
-A brief Xia Li vignette aired. “Coming soon,” said the screen, but no date.
-Kayla Braxton said everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Xia Li to Smackdown. She then interviewed Ridge Holland, asking about his effusive praise for Sheamus. He said he was speaking from the heart. He said Sheamus is his idol. He said until he saw Sheamus, he never knew he could make money hurting people. He said he wants to following his footsteps. Cesaro walked in and apologized for interrupting. He said he’s known Sheamus for a long time and they’re nearly brothers. “We didn’t just set the bar, we were the bar,” he said. He told Holland to be careful what he asks for. He said he is taking Cesaro’s place. He said he and Sheamus will be a more effective tag team than The Bar. He said if he has an issue with that, he can take it up with Sheamus next week when he is at Smackdown.
-They went to McAfee and Cole at ringside. They threw to a Raw Rebound segment.
-Reigns and Heyman made their ring entrance. Cole said King Woods is aiming to pull a monumental upset tonight and built up the embarrassment that could await him if he loses this match. As Reigns made his way to ringside, a fan taunted him with a cutout of my face (my Twitter profile picture). [c]
(4) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. KING XAVIER
After the break, Xavier Woods made his way to the ring. Cole said an Xavier win here could be the biggest upset of the decade. The bell rang 46 minutes into the hour. Reigns dominated for a minute until Xavier ducked a clothesline and dropkicked him to the floor. Xavier showboated and wouldn’t let Reigns cleanly re-enter the ring. He then kicked him and slammed him into the announce desk. Reigns took Xavier down with a right hand, sending Xavier to ringside to regroup. Reigns slammed him onto the announce desk. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Back live, Reigns remained in control. Xavier eventually made a comeback and scored a near fall after a face plant. Both were slow to get up as Heyman looked on with concern, but not panic. Xavier climbed to the top rope, but Reigns punched him to knock him off balance. Xavier fought back and leaped off the top rope, but Reigns caught him and chokeslammed slam for a near fall. After Woods avoided a charging Reigns, Reigns went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Woods then landed a springboard flying elbow drop off the top rope. As the ref counted the cover, the Usos yanked him out of the ring for the DQ.
WINNER: Xavier via DQ in 10:00.
-The Usos beat up Xavier at ringside and then rammed him over the announce desk with the ringside stairs. Heyman handed Xavier’s crown to the Usos, and they placed it on the head of Reigns who was kneeling in the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: This wasn’t the payoff WWE promised. Since Reigns got DQ’d, shouldn’t he have to kneel for Xavier, rather than just take a knee as the Usos put a crown on him? I suppose technically “Roman took a knee,” but the announcers didn’t acknowledge that the spirit stipulations they advertised all show were not adhered to. Sure, the stipulation was silly, but considered how unrelenting the hype was even with custom animated graphics portraying the two scenarios at stake, this was not a goodwill building payoff to a Smackdown main event.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: No strong negative or positive thoughts on this show other than the “bait and switch” on the main event finish. I think for what WWE set out to do, they accomplished just fine.