SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 18, 2022
NEW ORLEANS, LA AT THE SMOOTHIE KING CENTER
AIRED ON FOX
REPORT BY ALEX McDONALD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The show opened with the Smackdown video intro. Afterwards, they cut to a crowd shot as Michael Cole welcomed us to the show.
-Adam Pearce was in the ring. He welcomed the crowd to Smackdown. He then announced that Sonya Deville and Charlotte Flair will face Ronda Rousey and Naomi at Elimination Chamber tomorrow, after they sign the contract in the ring. He introduced Deville and Charlotte and they both made their entrances. Deville and Charlotte sat at the table set up in the ring. Deville wore a sling and Cole said it’s from the armbar by Rousey a couple of weeks ago. Pearce then introduced Naomi and Rousey. They made their entrances. Pearce went to explain the contract signing, but Deville cut him off. Deville then asked Pearce to explain because Naomi and Rousey need it. The four women got into an argument and finally Rousey told Deville to sign the contract. Deville and Charlotte signed, then Deville said it’s the last chance for Naomi and Rousey to get out of the match. Naomi told her to stop stalling, otherwise, she’ll turn the table over and use Deville’s head as a pen. Charlotte shushed Naomi, then said Deville has a stipulation. Deville said that Rousey mentioned she could beat her with one arm tied behind her back. Deville then pointed out that it’s written in the contract and will be a stipulation in the match. Rousey signed anyway and said she will tap dance on Deville’s forehead, but tonight, she has two hands. Rousey stood up and threw the contract at Charlotte, then Rousey and Naomi flipped the table over into the faces of Deville and Charlotte. Naomi and Rousey celebrated in the ring as Cole hyped Elimination Chamber for noon tomorrow.
(McDonald’s Analysis: That felt like the most awfully scripted thing I’ve seen on Smackdown in a while. And that’s really saying something. I didn’t like any part of this. After the stipulation and the fact that Rousey and Naomi made the heels look so stupid, I think Charlotte is going to pin Naomi tomorrow. I hope not, but this certainly seemed to point in that direction. This was not a good segment though. It felt horribly scripted and predictable. Next to nothing here was redeemable.)
-They showed a video recap of Ricochet beating Ridge Holland a couple of weeks ago. They then cut to Sheamus in the back with Holland. Sheamus asked how Holland let Ricochet beat him. Sheamus said it annoys him. He said Holland should give him a hammering he’ll never forget. Sheamus asked Holland if he wanted to be great like him. Sheamus said they’re going to take Ricochet’s bleeding head off. Sheamus then said fight night as their music hit in the arena. Sheamus and Ridge Holland made their entrance. They showed a graphic for Ricochet and Sheamus as Graves hyped the match. [c]
-Graves hyped Goldberg and Roman Reigns face to face later tonight. Ricochet’s music hit and he made his entrance. They showed a pre-taped interview with Ricochet. He said that Sheamus has been calling him a pest, but Sheamus is going to need a different exterminator.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Is this bad writing night? What the hell does that mean Ricochet? This is a huge part of the reason he isn’t taken seriously.)
(1) SHEAMUS (w/ Ridge Holland) vs. RICOCHET
Ricochet took Sheamus to the corner with a big dropkick followed by punches. Sheamus lifted Ricochet up but Ricochet rolled threw into a near fall. Sheamus clubbed Ricochet, but Ricochet recovered and knocked Sheamus to the floor. Ricochet ran through the ropes with a cannonball that took out Sheamus on the outside. Ricochet rolled Sheamus into the ring then climbed onto the apron. Ricochet got to the top rope and dove, but missed and rolled through. Sheamus hit a big knee and took down Ricochet. Sheamus took Ricochet to the corner, but Ricochet recovered with a flurry in the corner. Sheamus recovered with a knee, then a big back suplex. Sheamus locked on a headlock as Holland looked on. Ricochet countered with a jawbreaker, followed by a knee. Ricochet knocked Sheamus to the floor and went for a moonsault off the apron. Sheamus caught Ricochet and dumped him over the announce table with a variation of the fallaway slam. [c]
Back from break, Sheamus came off the top with a clothesline. Sheamus then hit the Ten Beats as the crowd counted along. Sheamus then clotheslined Ricochet from the apron back to the ring. Holland and Sheamus posed. Cole said it would be scary if Holland picks up Sheamus’ traits. Ricochet recovered with a tornado DDT and both men were down. Both men got to their feet and Ricochet hit a combo of strikes, then hit a springboard cross body, followed by a springboard clothesline, then a standing shooting star press for a near fall. Ricochet then hit a springboard moonsault for another near fall. Ricochet lifted Sheamus to his shoulders, but Sheamus hit a big elbow to the jaw followed by an Alabama Slam for a near fall. Sheamus climbed to the top rope, but Ricochet stopped him. Sheamus knocked Ricochet away but Ricochet ran back to the top and hit Sheamus with a very impressive Spanish Fly for a close near fall. Ricochet went to the top rope, but Ridge Holland distracted Ricochet. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, but Ricochet moved then hit the Code Breaker for the win.
WINNER: RICOCHET in 12:00
(McDonald’s Analysis: These two always have really solid matches. This was about as good as their match a few weeks ago. I liked the distraction finish backfiring. It felt slightly less predictable then what we’re used to. I know I complain about this a lot, but if they treated the IC title like it meant something, all of these guys would have something to do and the division could be really good. Sheamus, Nakamura, Ricochet, Zayn, Cesaro, Mustafa Ali, Holland, Boogs, and even Mad Cap Moss and Happy Corbin would be a super deep and talented IC Division. Sheamus should be pushed more than he is. All he does is deliver. He’s easily one of the most reliable people they have. Ricochet is solid in the ring, but he’s mostly flash. The funny part about that is the fact that he has no personality otherwise. It’s a shame they can’t find him a manager. That could go a long way toward helping.)
-Holland got into the ring but Sheamus shoved him down. Sheamus stared after Ricochet as Holland shook his head behind him.
-They showed a video recap of Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs on Sami Zayn’s “InZayn” show a couple of weeks ago. Kayla Braxton welcomed Sami Zayn in the back. She asked Zayn about regaining the Intercontinental title tonight. Kayla said that Boogs won’t be involved due to some unfortunate circumstances. Zayn said he had nothing to do with what happened to Boogs and the faulty wiring. He said that a lot of terrible things have happened to him over the last year, including losing the IC title. Zayn said they have kept him away from the title and kept his documentary from airing. He said he’s been arrested and he’s been in a wheelchair. Zayn called it the worst year of his life. He said he’s going to win the IC title and he told Kayla to get out of his face so he can center himself. There was a graphic on the screen for Nakamura and Zayn later on. Graves hyped the match. [c]
-Cole announced Undertaker for the Hall of Fame this year. He then threw to a video package that celebrated Undertaker.
(McDonald’s Analysis: The video package, as expected, was awesome. I feel like we’ve seen this one before though? Besides that, Taker deserves it obviously. Quintessential WWE Hall of Famer and Texas is the perfect place to do it.)
-They showed Roman Reigns in the back with Paul Heyman and the Usos. They showed a graphic for Goldberg and Reigns face to face later on. They then showed a graphic for Goldberg and Reigns tomorrow at Elimination Chamber. Graves and Cole called it a match two years in the making. They then cut to a video package that showcased Goldberg. The package then shifted to the current feud with Reigns.
-The Usos music hit and they made their entrance. Cole said he can’t wait for tomorrow to see the historic match between Reigns and Goldberg. They showed a graphic for Jey Uso against Ivar of the Viking Raiders, next. [c]
-The Viking Raiders music hit and they made their entrance. Cole mentioned that the Usos are the longest reigning Smackdown Tag Team Champions of all time. They showed the graphic for the Viking Raiders against the Usos at Elimination Chamber as Graves hyped the match.
(2) JEY USO (w/ Jimmy Uso) vs. IVAR (w/ Erik)
Cole said the Viking Raiders are without their headgear because the Usos stole them last week. Jey punched away at Ivar in the corner. Ivar fought back then shot Jey into the corner. Jey recovered, but Ivar took Jey down for a near fall. Ivar hit a side slam then went for a splash, but Jey moved. Jey then hit a superkick for a near fall. Jey hit a couple of punches then locked in a headlock. Ivar recovered then hit a big clothesline. Ivar taunted and hit a bronco buster without the buster and he climbed to the top rope. Ivar hit a big splash and went for the cover, but Jimmy Uso entered the ring and hit Ivar with the headgear.
WINNER: IVAR by DQ in 2:00
(McDonald’s Analysis: Time filler. That’s it. At least it wasn’t the super easy clean win Jimmy got over Erik a couple of weeks ago. I guess this was better than that. Overall though, I really wish they would come up with a different formula of building to a Tag Team title match. All of this is so old and tired at this point.)
-Erik hit the ring and knocked Jimmy to the outside. The Viking Raiders got their headgear back and taunted the Usos in the ring. Graves said that the Viking Raiders are geared up for the Tag Team title match tomorrow.
-They showed a recap of the segment between Mad Cap Moss and Drew McIntyre last week. In the arena, McIntyre’s music hit and he made his entrance. Cole referred to him as the Smackdown Warrior. McIntyre posed in the ring with the sword. [c]
-They showed another graphic for Reigns and Goldberg face to face tonight. They then showed a graphic for McIntyre and Mad Cap Moss tomorrow at Elimination Chamber.
-McIntyre said he used to live nearby and visited New Orleans all the time. McIntyre mentioned being in town when the Saints won the Super Bowl. He said he ended up in a cop car and the cop recognized him and told him to get out and keep partying with them. McIntyre said he’s been doing a lot of reflecting on his career because it almost ended recently. He threw to a video recap of the attack on him from Moss and Happy Corbin at Day One. He said the doctor told him he wasn’t going to make Wrestlemania. He said that two years ago he was going to slay a beast, he said last year he was battling for the WWE title, but this year, it’s personal. McIntyre said he needs help from the crowd. He said he started a hashtag. #MadCapMauling. He asked for the fans to send him ideas for what he can do to Moss. Happy Corbin’s music hit and he made his entrance with Moss. Corbin said McIntyre is asking for the fans to help bully his friend. Moss took the mic and said he’s great at using his environment. He said they’re going to be laughing all the way home because McIntyre isn’t 100%. He said himself and Corbin are going to finish what they started. McIntyre said that Moss has talent, but he made a mistake aligning with Corbin and going after him. McIntyre said that at Elimination Chamber, it will be the night the laughter died. Graves and Cole hyped the Falls Count Anywhere match for tomorrow.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Hearing McIntyre talk about what he’s been doing the two previous Mania seasons is depressing. They’ve made so many mistakes with him over the last year and a half. It’s very unfortunate. Anyway, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I liked the promo from Moss. When he’s not acting like a goof, he’s not bad. I’m interested to see what type of match they have with each other tomorrow. It would be nice to see Moss emerge as a real up and comer.)
-Kayla was in the back with Nakamura. She asked what Nakamura’s plan is without Rick Boogs. Nakamura said his plan is to kick Zayn in the face. He said that if Zayn thinks he can beat him for the Intercontinental title he really is “InZayn”. Nakamura’s music hit and he made his entrance. Cole said that Nakamura has been IC champion for 178 days. Cole then hyped the match. He said it’s for one of the most prestigious championships in sports entertainment. [c]
(McDonald’s Analysis: Of course Nakamura has been champion that long. He never defends the title! I could hold the IC title for 10 years if I never have to defend the thing. Also, I like that they mention the prestige of the IC title after they completely forget about it for six months. It’s incredibly frustrating.)
-They announced Big E will be driving the pace car for the Daytona 500.
-Sami Zayn’s music hit and he made his entrance. Cole said the match will happen right now. Graves announced the Smackdown two for one, Smackdown and Hall of Fame ceremony the Friday before Wrestlemania.
(3) SAMI ZAYN vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (c) – Intercontinental Championship Match
Cole and Graves touted the history between the two. Nakamura went after Zayn but Zayn ducked through the ropes. Nakamura went for a kick, but Zayn backed off to the ropes. Zayn got a headlock, then hit Nakamura with punches in the corner. Zayn whipped Nakamura into the corner but Nakamura jumped out with a kick. Nakamura then hit kicks to a downed Zayn. Nakamura then choked Zayn with his foot in the corner. Nakamura lifted Zayn over the top rope then ran up and delivered a kick to Zayn’s gut. Nakamura perched Zayn on the apron, then hit Zayn with a knee. Nakamura went for a running knee from the apron, but Zayn rolled back into the ring and Nakamura spilled to the floor. He sold the knee as Graves asked if Nakamura could get back into the match. [c]
Zayn rained crossfaces on Nakamura then put on a headlock. Zayn went for a series of covers for near falls. Zayn danced and taunted the fans cheering for Nakamura. Zayn hit a series of chops, then a running clothesline for a near fall. Zayn mounted Nakamura and hit a couple of elbow strikes, then put on another headlock. Nakamura fought back and went for an armbar on Zayn. Zayn fought through and rolled Nakamura over for a near fall. Back on their feet, Nakamura hit a series of strikes followed by a basement dropkick. Nakamura sent Zayn to the corner, then hit his weird baseball slide suplex combo for a near fall. Nakamura lifted Zayn and went for the reverse exploder suplex, but Zayn fought out. Zayn went to set up a back suplex, but Nakamura fought out. Nakamura came off the ropes but Zayn recovered with a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Nakamura rolled to the outside and Zayn stalked Nakamura. Zayn tried a dive toward Nakamura but Nakamura recovered with a kick. Zayn was down on the outside and rose to his knees. Nakamura measured Zayn and went for a kick, but Zayn moved and Nakamura’s leg hit the steps. Nakamura collapsed and sold the knee as they cut to break. [c]
Zayn kicked at Nakamura’s knee in the corner. Zayn lifted Nakamura to the top and went for an exploder, but Nakamura knocked him off. Nakamura dropped to the second rope and hit a knee for a near fall. Nakamura went for a kick, but Zayn ducked. Nakamura caught him with the other foot. Nakamura went or a Kinshasa, but Zayn moved and hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Zayn was frustrated. He stalked Nakamura in the corner. The crowd chanted “Sami sucks”. Zayn choked Nakamura in the corner but begged off. Zayn taunted Nakamura. Zayn went for the choke again, but Nakamura grabbed Zayn’s foot and backed Zayn off with strikes. Nakamura taunted Zayn then hit a big kick to Zayn’s head. Zayn went down, then Nakamura stomped at Zayn’s head. The ref pulled Nakamura off and Nakamura measured for a Kinshasa. As Nakamura closed in, Zayn rolled to the outside. Zayn grabbed the foot of Nakamura and dragged him to the corner. Zayn rammed Nakamura’s knee into the ring post repeatedly. Nakamura went for another kick but Zayn blocked it, then hit Nakamura in the bad knee. Zayn got the cover and the win.
WINNER: SAMI ZAYN in 17:00 to capture the Intercontinental Championship
-They showed replays of some of the key moments in the match. The ref checked on a downed Nakamura. Zayn celebrated in the ring.
(McDonald’s Analysis: That was really good. Sami Zayn is so talented and it shows when he can pull matches like this seemingly out of nowhere. They needed to fill a lot of time on this show and they wisely gave Nakamura and Zayn enough time to put together this match. Both are pros, and even Nakamura looked interested in making this match good. I liked the story they told with the injury to Nakamura and Zayn going back to it. It wasn’t cheating, it was just unfortunate for Nakamura. Good story telling. The only issue I have is the finish. Why couldn’t Zayn hit the knee then hit his finish for the win? It would have accomplished the same thing. No one wins with their finish anymore because they do these stupid roll-ups so much. Any of Zayn’s big moves after the same sequence would have been a better finish. It would be cool if a wrestler won a match with one of their moves every once in a while. That would make the near falls more believeable. That little nitpick out of the way, this was good. I’m very pleased that Zayn is IC champ again. I really hope he defends it more often than Nakamura did. I assume we’ll end up with Zayn and Knoxville at Mania, but maybe after that Boogs will beat Zayn for the IC title?)
-Cole threw to a video package on Black History Month. Afterwards, they showed Goldberg’s locker room door. Graves hyped the Goldberg and Reigns face to face segment later tonight.
-Ricochet was in the back with Aliyah. Aliyah said Ricochet was amazing. Ricochet ran through Sheamus’ accomplishments then said that Sheamus’ past could be his future. Ricochet said it was a great win. Sami Zayn appeared and said Aliyah should be talking about his win. He asked some others standing around if they wanted autographs.
-They showed a graphic for the Men’s Elimination Chamber match. Afterwards, they cut to a video package that hyped the Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber.
(McDonald’s Analysis: I would really be okay with any of these guys winning the Chamber. It would be a shame for Lashley’s reign to end so quickly, but I would love to see Seth Rollins or A.J. Styles win the title too. I really like Matt Riddle and would love for him to have a chance, but I don’t think this is the right time. I want to see his character change more and become more serious first. He could be a major player down the road and this could hurt that.)
-Roman Reigns’ music hit and he made his entrance alongside Paul Heyman. Cole touted his record-setting Universal Championship reign. They showed the graphic for Goldberg and Reigns face to face one last time. [c]
-Graves and Cole ran down the Elimination Chamber card with graphics. Not surprisingly, the last graphic was Goldberg and Reigns.
-Reigns stood mid-ring. Heyman handed him the mic. Reigns snickered and asked New Orleans to acknowledge him. The crowd cheered, mostly. “Roman” chants started. Reigns asked Heyman to celebrate him. Heyman took the mic and said this is the best part of his day. He said no one in the crowd knows what it’s like to stand this close to greatness. Heyman called it spiritually orgasmic. He said if you never got to see Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretsky, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady in their prime, then he has a gift for you. He said the 11th commandment on the Island of Relevancy is to not interrupt the wiseman’s promo. Heyman ran down Reigns’ nicknames then introduced him.
-Goldberg’s music hit and he made his entrance to a chorus of piped in chants. They did the old school Goldberg entrance with the security guards. Goldberg entered the ring and stood across the ring from Reigns. Goldberg picked up a mic, then dropped it. Reigns said he was going to give Goldberg a last chance to acknowledge him, but. Goldberg walked toward Reigns. Reigns smirked, then told Goldberg not to crowd him. He said he doesn’t think Goldberg understands that he’s in Reigns’ ring now. Goldberg said tomorrow, 12 o’clock. Goldberg said he needs to apologize to all the people, because he was wrong. Reigns isn’t next. When it comes to the Universal Championship “I’m next”.
(McDonald’s Analysis: The 11th commandment line was genius. This was fine for what it was. Short and to the point. Goldberg has been used well in this feud and you can tell that they’re cognizant of his deficiencies, especially against Reigns. The match tomorrow needs to be quick. Reigns needs to win quickly and decisively. That’s the only way this can be booked. Maybe Goldberg shocks Reigns with a spear or something, but anything beyond that is a bad idea. They need to continue to play to Goldberg’s strengths here.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: I really don’t want to nitpick this show as they did the best they could given the circumstances, but there were a couple of things that bothered me. First, it sounded like a good portion of Graves’ commentary was added in later as voice-overs, especially during some of the back stage segments. Second, there were a ton of video packages on this show. It felt like half of the show was video recaps. Last, and this one is something I’m over-thinking, but hear me out. Why bring attention to the show being taped? They keep saying tomorrow, which is fine. But why did McIntyre bring up the twenty hour flight when the show is at noon tomorrow and they’re in the ring at 9 PM? Any ten year old that can do basic math can figure out that doesn’t add up. Why do they insist on doing this? Just don’t draw attention to it and most people won’t notice.
On to the good, the wrestling on this show was better than normal. We only got three matches, but ironically, we got more ring time in those three matches then we do most weeks with six matches. I wish they would do that more often. Nakamura and Zayn along with Sheamus and Ricochet should be featured in matches like this more often along with the rest of the mid-card. If Smackdown tried, they could have a very entertaining and competitive Intercontinental Division. On top of that, giving those guys wins and good matches on Smackdown every week could work to heating some of them up for B-level PLE matches against Reigns. They would be one-off’s mostly, but who knows where things could go. Also, Reigns and Goldberg has been booked well and actually feels bigger than it really should, which is a credit to WWE at this point. I’m actually excited for the PLE tomorrow and honestly, there’s not really anything on the card I don’t care about. For me, that’s a win. I’ll have to watch the show after work, so I’ll avoid spoilers, but that’s the price we pay when they have shows on at noon in Saudi Arabia.
I can’t wait to see Stardust, I mean, Cody Rhodes on Smackdown next week.