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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 11, 2022
NEW ORLEANS, LA. AT SMOOTHIE KING CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FOX
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-They opened with clips from last week’s Smackdown of Ronda Rousey taking out Sonya Deville with an armbar and then staring down at Charlotte Flair at ringside.
-They cut to the camera panning the live audience as Michael Cole introduced the show. They went to Cole on camera next to Corey Graves, who was filling in for Pat McAfee who was busy covering Super Bowl weekend. Graves said he was happy to be there for a huge episode of Smackdown.
-Deville stood mid-ring, wearing an arm sling. She said they have a great show for everyone, but first she has to address the egregious, unprovoked attack on her by Rousey. She said people like Rousey and Naomi have no respect for authority. She said she doesn’t care if you’re Rousey or Naomi, there will be consequences for their actions. She said she petitioned upper management that Rousey be fined $100,000 and suspended indefinitely, effective immediately. Adam Pearce walked out and said she isn’t checking her email as she’s standing in the ring, but upper management has responded to her requests. He said it’s Mr. McMahon himself. He said it has come to her attention that she has been taking matters into her own hands and abusing her power. He said he cannot stand a WWE official who abuses power. He said her petition to fine and suspend Rousey is declined. Sonya gasped, “What?!” He said regarding her treatment of Naomi, she cannot lay a hand on her tonight. “If you disobey me, your job will be in serious jeopardy,” the note from Mr. McMahon concluded.
Naomi made her ring entrance. She was all smiles as she entered the ring. She asked Sonya what’s wrong and if she’s ever been reprimanded by her boss before. Naomi said Sonya can’t touch her, but Mr. McMahon didn’t say she can’t hit Sonya. She slapped Sonya. Cole said that had to feel good for Naomi. She left the ring and did some more trash-talking.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sonya continues to be a good on-air authority figure. Having Mr. McMahon mentioned as upper management who is her boss was a first, but I suppose it was always implied or assumed. This stip gives Naomi fans more hope that she’ll have an actual fair chance to unseat Charlotte later.)
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside again. Cole hyped the rest the of the line-up, now sponsored by a pizza chain: Charlotte vs. Naomi for the Smackdown Title, In Zayn featuring Sami Zayn interviewing Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura, and Goldberg in person.
-They went to a clip from last week of Big E and Kofi Kingston interrupting Los Lotharios during a Valentine’s Day photo shoot.
-New Day made their ring entrance. Cole plugged they’d face “the red-hot team of Los Lotharios” next. [c]
-Cole hyped the Elimination Chamber as they showed footage of the structure. Cole explained the match format.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo. Angel said they are the sexiest Latin lovers ever. Humberto said they’re fierce competitors. They called themselves Lethal Lovers before heading to the ring.
(1) LOS LOTHARIOS (Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo) vs. NEW DAY (Big E & Kofi Kingston)
Graves asked Cole if he knew what it’d be like to be so good looking, it was lethal. Cole said he never had that problem. As Lotharios walked out, they did a Kiss Cam. They went up to a woman in the front row and kissed her on the cheek on either side of her. New Day controlled early against Garza. Big E landed a running splash on Humberto on the ring apron. Kofi then dove onto both Humberto and Angel on the floor seconds later. They cut to an early break. [c]
Back from the break, they plugged that Raw would air on SyFy next Monday. Angel and Humberto were in control after the break. They replayed Humberto kicking Big E when he wasn’t looking to turn the momentum. Graves said Humberto and Angel are well traveled Lucha Libre stars. Kofi got the hot-tag and went after Humberto with a barrage of offense. He landed a Boom Drop and then went for Trouble in Paradise, but Humberto ducked and rolled up Kofi for a two count. Kingston tagged in Big E, who was DISTRACTED by Humberto going after Kofi on the ring apron. Kofi fended off Humberto, tagged in, and landed a flying double-stomp to Humberto’s chest off of Big E’s shoulders.
Later, Garza flipped onto Big E at ringside as Humbero landed a top rope moonsault onto Kofi for a near fall. Kofi eventually landed Trouble in Paradise on Humberto, then rolled up Angel. Angel, though, slipped out and leveraged Kofi down for a surprise upset pinfall win. Fans were shocked.
WINNERS: Los Lotharios in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action throughout. The upset win for Angel & Humberto was necessary for them to continue on feuding with New Day and have it feel at all competitive or relevant. They’re a good pair who deserve to be protected and pushed better. It’s still sad to see Big E go from centerpiece babyface on Raw to back in the tag mix on Smackdown.)
-Megan Morant interviewed The Viking Raiders backstage. She asked how they’ll rebuild momentum heading into their title match against the Usos at Elimination Chamber after losing a singles match last week. As Erik began to talk, the Usos jumped both of them.
-They showed Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns backstage. Reigns was being wired up for an interview. [c]
-A sponsored clip aired of Goldberg showing up to challenge Roman Reigns last week.
-Backstage, Cole interviewed Reigns. Heyman sat behind Reigns and looked on at him admiringly. Cole asked about the “reemergence of an icon.” Heyman thought he was talking about him. Cole clarified he meant Goldberg, and touted his winning streak and big win over “The Immortal Hulk Hogan.” Reigns said if he was in WCW, everyone would be winning because they’d still be in business. Cole said “a few years ago” (over five years ago, actually) at Survivor Series 2016, Goldberg beat Brock Lesnar in 86 seconds. They replayed highlights of the match and the finish. Reigns laughed and asked if they’re still talking about that guy. He said he’s old news. Heyman said, “I don’t care about him. I care about my Tribal Chief.” Reigns said nobody cares about him because he’s there now. He said nobody has done what he’s done in the last 35 years, “and if that guy came back, I’d smack him around too.” Cole said this match was supposed to happen two years ago at WrestleMania, but it never happened. He asked if there’s any extra pressure on him. Reigns said not at all. He said all the pressure is on Goldberg. He said two years ago he might have had a chance, but the whole world is different and he has changed. He said he’s unstoppable now. He said he smashes everyone because he’s the greatest of all-time. Heyman said what they’re about to say is not a prediction, it’s a spoiler. Reigns looked into the lens and said, “I’m going to Goldberg, Goldberg.”
(Keller’s Analysis: There’s only so much you can do with Goldberg to hype his matches, and showing him beating Lesnar over five years ago and noting his impressive WCW history is not a bad approach at all. It’s good to see Reigns and Heyman playing off of each other again.)
-Back to ringside, Graves narrated a video package on the Aliyah-Natalya storyline.
-Aliyah made her ring entrance, wearing her “Aliyah 3:17” t-shirt. Graves said Aliyah has won three times in a row, but she must beat Natalya by pinfall or submission to extend her streak next. [c]
(2) NATALYA vs. ALIYAH – Dungeon Match
Graves said Aliyah is over-matched in this match. Aliyah got in some early offense, but Natalya locked on a Sharpshooter at 2:00. Aliyah reached the bottom rope, but that didn’t force a break in a Dungeon match. Aliyah tapped out instead. Cole said Natalya had to feel great about that win.
WINNER: Natalya in 2:00.
-Natalya attacked her after the bell and set up another Sharpshooter, but Xia Li ran out for the save. She hit a series of forearms and kicks to Natalya. Natalya rolled to the floor.
(Keller’s Analysis: The Aliyah storyline was all to set up Natalya as a bully who Xia Li would stand up to, not to elevate Aliyah. Aliyah losing that quickly establishes she’s not actually anywhere near Natalya’s league.)
-Cole threw to a video package on Rocky Johnson as part of Black History Month, narrated by The Rock. They showed old footage of Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas winning the WWF Tag Team Titles. Then footage aired of young Rock. Rock said his dad trained him and he’d go on to follow his dad’s legacy by entertaining millions and millions of fans. A clip aired of Rock inducting Rocky Johnson at the WWE Hall of Fame 2008 ceremony. (Everyone looked so young then!)
-Sami Zayn came out for his segment. [c]
-They showed Charlotte holding up her title belt for the camera.
-They showed a clip of Johnny Knoxville writing “loser” on a poster of Sami Zayn in a WWE merchandise shop. He then threw “Sami Zayn Forever” shirts into a wood chipper in the street. He said Sami is going down and it’s not over. He was wearing a red jacket that said, “Johnny Knoxville: WWE World Champion” on the back of it.
-In Zayn: Sami sat in the ring for his “live podcast.” He told fans who were booing him, “No booing.” He said doing so would ruin the audio of his podcast. He said the topic was the subjectiveness of human consciousness. He said they’d dumb it down for the people of New Orleans, though. Rick Boogs interrupted by playing his electric guitar. Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. Graves said somewhere, Pat McAfee is standing on a table, making a fool of himself.
Sami told Nakamura he’s shocked he showed up. He said for six weeks, he’s been the no. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Title, but he’s been ducking him. He said next week they finally go one-on-one for the IC Title, and he can’t wait to see the look on his face when he beats him. Nakamura made funny faces in response. Sami accused him of secretly working with Knoxville to distract him. Nakamura asked if he’s seen the movie “Jackass Defeated” that they’re filming next week starring Sami. Sami called Boogs a meathead and a shaved gorilla with a guitar. As Sami went on and on, Boogs told him to shut up. Boogs grabbed the mic and got zapped and collapsed. Sami feigned ignorance. Nakamura went to check on Boogs, but Sami charged and kicked him. Sami gloated and celebrated before saying, “Aw, that’s such a shame.” Boogs held his wrist and flexed his hand in pain.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sami is such a joy to watch, elevating even pedestrian WWE content. I like the gimmick that he’s claiming he’s recording a podcast. Nakamura was strong here with his signature facial expressions. The mic being wired up to zap whoever touched it played nicely off of Knoxville zapping Sami.)
-They showed highlights of the angle last week with Drew McIntyre catching Madcap Moss trying to attack him from behind, then making him tell him a joke before delivering a Claymore.
-They showed a close-up of Moss’s black eye backstage. Happy Corbin told him he’s ready for his match against Cesaro. Moss said he had to sit it out, but he assured Corbin he could handle Cesaro on his own. Moss said he’s going to get his eye looked at by the doctor, and said hopefully that he won’t be cleared to face Drew at the Elimination Chamber.
-Happy Corbin made his ring entrance. [c]
(3) HAPPY CORBIN vs. CESARO
Corbin controlled the match methodically early. Cesaro made a comeback during a ringside brawl. He scored a two count back in the ring after a corkscrew uppercut. Next, he set up a Neutralizer, but Corbin avoided it. Cesaro charged, but Corbin caught him with an elbow. (That wasn’t timed well.) Corbin then finished Cesaro with an End of Days for the win. The ring announcer called Corbin “the undefeated Happy Corbin.” Cole confirmed he has been undefeated since becoming Happy Corbin this past summer.
WINNER: Corbin in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s just hard to take Corbin seriously dressed like he is, even if he has a winning streak. It feels so mid-card. Poor Cesaro has become a guy losing in two minutes on TV. I’m sure his paychecks make it hurt less, but the trajectory of his WWE career at times felt destined for something better than this.)
-Moss told a doctor that he’s having trouble seeing, so he thinks his match against Drew should be canceled. The doctor told him to open his right eye and tell him what he sees. Drew held his sword up to his face. Drew told Moss to tell the doctor he’s perfectly fine to compete next Saturday. Moss, under the threat of being beheaded, said his vision is better. Drew said he just talked to Pearce, and their match is going to be Falls Count Anywhere. He said anything goes in that match, then threatened Moss with his sword. Moss looked scared.
(Keller’s Analysis: So Moss admitted his eye was fine why? Because he feared Drew would behead him if he didn’t? Moss is playing this goofy character well, though.)
-Graves hyped that Goldberg would be out next. [c]
-Backstage, Goldberg told Cole not to take this personally and added, “I love you like a brother.” Cole then said very few people have accomplished what he has in the industry, but there are whispers that this might be one comeback too many. Goldberg said the problem is he’s listened to some of those people in the past and that’s taken him off his game, but he has realized he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. He said this comeback is going to stick and be everlasting and will call upon the old Goldberg.
Cole said this match was supposed to take place two years ago, and Reigns said he’s different than two years ago. Goldberg said for him, it hasn’t changed, he’s still the same Goldberg. He said what Reigns gets has been two years, ten years, 15 years coming. Cole said Reigns said he’s gong to make him acknowledge him and “Goldberg, Goldberg.” Goldberg said he acknowledged Reigns last week as his next victim. He said he will take the title from him and walk into WrestleMania as the champion and then take out Lesnar.
(Keller’s Analysis: Although that felt recited from a script, this was about as good of a segment as you could imagine from Goldberg. It acknowledged that he hasn’t been unbeatable and people are thinking this is one comeback too many. He also painted the picture that he’ll beat Reigns and then face Lesnar again at WrestleMania. That makes the outcome feel less inevitable, storyline-wise at least.)
-Graves threw to a clip of the Naomi angle with Deville earlier.
-Naomi made her ring entrance. [c]
-They showed a clip of Sheamus at a race car event in Los Angeles.
-They showed postcard scenes of New Orleans. Graves said tomorrow morning someone is going to have to peel him off of Bourbon Street.
-Cole and Graves hyped next week’s Smackdown: Reigns and Goldberg go face-to-face and Nakamura defends against Sami.
(4) CHARLOTTE vs. NAOMI – Smackdown Title match
Charlotte’s ring entrance aired. Graves said Charlotte has no doubt she will be defending her title at WrestleMania. They did formal ring introductions. Cole noted Naomi is a two-time Smackdown Title holder. “Big fight feel here tonight in New Orleans,” he said, not entirely convincingly. Grave said it’s difficult to strategize against Charlotte because she capitalizes against any error her opponent makes. Cole said Naomi doesn’t have to worry about Sonya, though, and that means she’ll be at her best. Charlotte did the Flair flip into the corner. Naomi knocked her to the floor and dove on her as they cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
The pace was quick after the break, with Charlotte landing a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a near fall. She showed frustration, then dragged Naomi around the ringpost while yanking on her hair. Graves said that type of aggression separates her from the rest and is why she belongs in the main event. Cole said she might be the greatest ever among WWE Women’s Champions. Naomi made a comeback and climbed to the top rope, then landed a blockbuster for a near fall. Fans popped. Charlotte reversed Naomi hard into the ringside steps. They cut to a break. [c]
Charlotte had Naomi grounded with a chinlock after the break. Cole said if Charlotte loses to Naomi, the plans to face Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania would change. Naomi leaped off the top rope, but Charlotte avoided her and then powerbombed her for a near fall. Both were slow to get up. Charlotte went for a moonsault, but of course Naomi moved and Charlotte landed on her feet (this happens every time now). Charlotte went for a standing moonsault, but Naomi lifted her knees and scored a near fall. That popped the crowd and Cole elevated the drama in his voice big time during the sequence.
Naomi went for a split-legged moonsault, but Charlotte lifted her knees and scored a two count. Naomi landed a sitout bomb for a leverage near fall. Both were slow to get up again. Naomi landed another split-legged moonsault for another dramatic near fall. Charlotte pulled herself to the ring apron. Naomi lifted Charlotte, but Charlotte snapped her neck over the top rope. Back in the ring, Naomi side-stepped a Charlotte big boot. Naomi roundkicked her in the head. When she went for a Rear View, Charlotte avoided it and landed her Natural Selection for the three count. Cole said, “What a freakin’ match!”
WINNER: Charlotte in 20:00 to retain the Smackdown Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Was that Naomi’s best match? The crowd was eating it up, and it exceeded expectations. They aimed to deliver an epic TV main event and I think they accomplished it. The announcers did about everything possible to create some semblance of doubt that Charlotte would inevitably win.)
-After Charlotte left, Sonya entered the ring with a smug smile. She began trash-talking Naomi. Naomi punched her. Charlotte then returned to the ring and attacked Naomi. Sonya stomped away at her. Ronda Rousey’s music played and she ran out for the save. Rousey knocked Charlotte out of the ring. Sonya went after Rousey, but Rousey turned around. Sonya pointed at her injured arm. Rousey set up an armbar, but Charlotte pulled Sonya to safety. Naomi and Rousey hugged mid-ring as Charlotte and Naomi regrouped.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’re taping next week’s Smackdown right after this show ended since they’ll all be traveling to Saudi Arabia next weekend for EC. Will they tape Sonya & Charlotte vs. Rousey & Naomi?)