SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 25, 2022
HERSHEY, PA AT THE GIANT CENTER
AIRED ON FOX
REPORT BY ALEX McDONALD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
-The show opened with a video package on the happenings between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns since the Day One Premium Live Event. The video was narrated and very well done.
-After the video, Pat McAfee welcomed the viewers to the show as they showed a shot of the crowd. They then cut to a graphic for Lesnar and Reigns at Wrestlemania. The match has been announced for Night Two. They then transitioned to a graphic that hyped the contract signing that will take place later in the show. McAfee then threw to Michael Cole in the ring. Cole introduced Ronda Rousey.
-Rousey’s music hit and she made her entrance to a solid response. She high-fived fans on her way down to the ring. The crowd chanted “Ronda”. Cole took the mic and asked Rousey why she decided to return at the Royal Rumble. Rousey said she broke her hand at Wrestlemania 35, then broke her other hand during rehab. She said after rehab for the second hand, she became pregnant. Rousey then said that she worked out the timeline, and decided she wanted to come back. Rousey then said her mother taught her how to be a badass, and she wants to show her daughter the same thing. Cole then ran down Rousey’s firsts and previous accomplishments. He asked how it felt to win the Rumble. Rousey said that it was great, but she wants to tap out Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania. Cole then threw to still images of Rousey’s match at Elimination Chamber on Sunday. Before Rousey could respond, Charlotte’s music hit and she made her entrance.
-Charlotte took the mic and said she welcomed Rousey back last week. Charlotte also said she felt bad for Rousey with her hand behind her back at Elimination Chamber. She then said that she’s going to put Rousey in the Figure Eight at Wrestlemania and make Rousey tap for the first time. Charlotte said the silver lining for Rousey will be when she can go home and work on baby number two afterwards. Sonya Deville entered the ring and blind-sided Rousey. Charlotte slammed Rousey’s leg into the ringpost. Deville lifted Rousey up and taunted her, but Rousey suplexed Deville. Deville rolled out of the ring and went up the ramp. Deville and Charlotte stared at Rousey. Rousey stood tall in the ring and asked if that was all they had.
(McDonald’s Analysis: That was a little underwhelming. It’s fine in general, but I was hoping they would start to really ramp up the build for this feud. This came off a little clunky. As much as I like the change of pace with Cole in the ring, Rousey didn’t do a great job with that. She seemed to have real emotion when she talked about her mother, which was good. Overall though, she’s just very awkward and they didn’t do a good job hiding that. Also, they need to move Deville out of this. This is a Wrestlemania one-on-one feud. Deville doesn’t need to be involved any more.)
-Big E and Kofi Kingston were riding around in the back on an ATV. They showed a graphic for the New Day against Los Lotharios after the break. [c]
-Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville were in the back. Pearce asked Deville what she was doing getting involved. He also asked where her jacket was. Pearce told Deville that because of her actions and Rousey’s request, Deville will face Rousey next week on Smackdown.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Ok, maybe I spoke too soon. This should blow this off. I’m assuming this is to get Rousey some more ring work before Mania.)
-Los Lotharios made their entrance. They then switched to the kiss cam, where Los Lotharios kissed another plant. This one was slightly less obvious. Cole stated that both teams in the match own a victory in the rivalry. McAfee said everything about Lotharios says champions. New Day’s music hit and they made their entrance on the ATV.
(1) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. LOS LOTHARIOS (Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo)
Kingston started with Carrillo. Carrillo got an arm wrench on Kingston, but Kingston took over and took Carrillo down and got a near fall. Big E tagged in and New Day got a double team move for a near fall. Big E locked on the abdominal stretch. He hit Carrillo’s ribs as the crowd chanted “New Day rocks” in unison. Big E pounded on Carrillo as he tried to fight up. Kingston tagged in and they hit another double team move for a near fall. Kingston hit a missile dropkick. Garza distracted Kingston, Carrillo hit a kick and knocked Kingston to the outside. Garza tagged in and Lotharios attacked Big E, which knocked him off the apron. Lotharios went to the outside and slammed Kingston into the ring apron. Garza pulled off his over pants and Lotharios celebrated on the outside. [c]
Garza pounded on Kingston in the corner, who was in the tree of woe. Carrillo tagged in and Lotharios hit a double basement dropkick for a near fall. Carrillo put on a headlock but Kingston fought out. Kingston went to tag Big E, but Carrillo held Kingston back, then attacked Big E and knocked him off the apron. Garza tagged in and Lotharios hit a double team move on Kingston. Garza worked on Kingston’s leg, but Kingston fought out. Kingston took Garza down with a standing double stomp. The crowd chanted for New Day. Kingston and Carrillo both made tags. Big E hit three belly to belly suplexes on Carrillo, then hit his swivel splash. Big E set up Carrillo for the Big Ending, but he dropped Carrillo when Garza distracted him from the outside. Carrillo hit a superkick and Garza tagged in. Big E recovered and hit a slam on Garza, then tagged in Kingston. New Day hit the Midnight Hour, but Carrillo broke up the count. Carrillo took out Big E, and Kingston took out Carrillo. Garza and Kingston battled. On the outside, Garza fawned over the ATV. Big E hit a suplex on Carrillo. Kingston attacked Garza. Kingston rolled Garza back into the ring and came off the top rope but Garza caught him with a superkick. Garza went to the top rope. Big E mounted the ATV and threatened to run over Carrillo, which distracted Garza. Kingston recovered, then tagged in Big E. New Day hit the Midnight Hour on Garza for the win.
WINNER: THE NEW DAY (Big E & Kofi Kingston) in 11:00
(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, I guess they’re really trying to sell the Big E ATV action figure they just put out, huh? Another solid match between these two teams. The finish was silly though. Why would a babyface like Big E tease running over his opponent to distract the other team? Big E continues to fall since being WWE Champion. Hard to believe that was only about a month ago. I guess this feud is basically over now since the New Day has won two out of the three matches.)
-They showed the Usos in the back with Sam Roberts. They then cut to Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs riding around and advertising a Toyota Tundra. [c]
-They showed a Wrestlemania hype video and touted the event being thirty-six days away.
-The New Day was in the back on the ATV. Sheamus and Ridge Holland said they would run them out of the building. The New Day sped off and Sheamus threw down his hat in disgust.
-Sam Roberts was in the back and he welcomed the Usos. Roberts mentioned the contract signing. The Usos said it’s for the biggest match in Wrestlemania history. The Usos then turned their attention to the Viking Raiders. They said they would take them out and said they smell. The Viking Raiders ran in and attacked the Usos. The Usos ran off and the Viking Raiders screamed that they wanted a title match.
-Cole threw to a video recap of the match between Aliyah and Natalya a couple of weeks ago. The end of the video showed Xia Li saving Aliyah. Megan Morant welcomed Xia Li in the back. Li said she’s been waiting for this moment for her whole life. She said she worked hard in NXT to get to Smackdown. She said she’s nervous, but confident, because she’s the protector. She said that Natalya will need protection tonight. Xia Li’s music hit and she made her entrance. McAfee called Li’s entrance awesome. They showed a graphic for Li and Natalya. Cole hyped this as Li’s first match in WWE. [c]
-Natalya’s music hit and she made her entrance with the Guinness Book of World Records. They showed a random assortment of unimportant wrestlers watching on a monitor in the back.
(2) XIA LI vs. NATALYA
Natalya threw Li down by her hair. Natalya then stomped on Li in the corner. Natalya whipped Li into the corner, then went to send her to the opposite side, but Li leapt onto the rope, then leapfrogged Natalya, then hit a dropkick. Natalya recovered with a discus clothesline. Natalya hit a chop, followed by a snap suplex. Natalya pounded on Li, then put on an abdominal stretch. Li cried out in pain. Li used elbows to fight out, then an arm drag. The crowd chanted “Hershey’s chocolate”. Natalya went for a kick but Li caught it and hit Natalya’s leg. Li hit a series of kicks, then a modified suplex for a near fall. Natalya went for a Sharpshooter, but Li fought out. Li taunted Natalya and stalked her. Li hit a big spinning heel kick for the win.
WINNER: XIA LI in 4:00
-They showed a replay of the finish.
(McDonald’s Analysis: What was that? I assume they sweetened the crowd quite a bit for this because they were pretty dead. Other than the clear “Hershey’s chocolate” chant, which I don’t super understand, even given the area. McAfee tried to cover it up on commentary. This match was oddly paced and was not the best debut for Li. Maybe she was nervous? Giving Natalya so much offense was a poor choice. The throw/suplex that Li did looked good, as did her finish. Other than that, nothing special here and again, unfortunately, underwhelming.)
-Cole said that McAfee missed a great match last week and threw to a video recap of the Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura Intercontinental title match from last week. Sami Zayn made his entrance in a nice suit with the IC title. Cole said he’s been unbearable all week. Cole and McAfee hyped Zayn’s championship celebration up next. [c]
-Zayn was in the ring. There was a red carpet, balloons and a podium for his title. Zayn took the mic and sang oh, happy day. He then said that justice has been served. Zayn said that a massive conspiracy targeted him and robbed him of his IC title. Zayn then complained that this isn’t what he asked for, and the colors don’t match. Zayn said the old Sami would have said it was a conspiracy, but no longer. Zayn said that no matter what they throw at him, he can overcome all of it. Zayn asked the crowd to show respect to their new IC champion. Zayn said he has important business to address. He said he’s willing to give Nakamura a rematch, but he’s still picking up pieces of his kneecap, so he can’t challenge. Zayn then said he’s willing to defend against any and all comers.
Johnny Knoxville’s music hit and he ran down the ramp to the ring. Knoxville asked for a mic. Zayn fake laughed. The crowd chanted “Johnny”. Zayn introduced Knoxville. Zayn asked Knoxville what he’s doing there. Knoxville said he’s crashing Zayn’s premiere since Zayn crashed his. Zayn asked him to leave. Knoxville asked if Zayn threw out a challenge to anyone brave enough to wrestle him for the title. The crowd cheered. Knoxville said let’s do it. Zayn told Knoxville he doesn’t belong in the same ring as him. He said he knows that Knoxville is trying to get into his head, but he sees through him and it won’t work. Knoxville asked if Zayn wants to be a fighting champion. Knoxville asked if Zayn had enough balls. The crowd chanted “no balls”. Zayn dropped the mic and got in Knoxville’s face. Zayn went to leave, but stopped and attacked Knoxville. Zayn rained punches on a downed Knoxville as the crowd booed. Zayn set up Knoxville in the corner and hit a Helluva Kick. Zayn taunted Knoxville and refs hit the ring and pulled Zayn away from Knoxville. Zayn got away from the refs and hit another Helluva Kick on Knoxville. Zayn posed with a bundle of balloons and the IC title.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Sami is just so good at everything they give him. The comment about none of the decorations matching was really funny, even as a throwaway. My fear is coming true with Knoxville being a challenger for the IC title, probably at Mania. I get it, but it’s not my favorite thing for Zayn to do. Unfortunately, it’s not like he can defend against Cesaro in a great match at Mania. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. If WWE tried they could have a great IC title division. Imagine a properly built match between a face Mustafa Ali and Zayn at Mania.)
-They showed a graphic for Lesnar and Reigns’ contract signing again. Cole hyped the segment. [c]
-They showed a video for Black History Month that featured Titus O’Neil.
-Cole recapped the previous segment as clips were shown. Zayn was in the back with Pearce. He said he was sorry. Pearce said that sorry isn’t going to cut it because Zayn hurt Knoxville. Ricochet appeared and said he wants a title shot. Zayn told him to get to the back of the line. Pearce said he likes the sound of that. Pearce announced Ricochet and Zayn for next week on Smackdown.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Wow, Zayn will have tied Nakamura’s number of title defenses in only two weeks of being champion. This match should actually be pretty good if they give them time.)
-Sasha Banks’ music hit and she made her entrance. Shotzi was already in the ring. Cole hyped the history between the two women. McAfee called Banks a global superstar. Naomi’s music hit and she went to ringside to join commentary.
(3) SHOTZI vs. SASHA BANKS
Shotzi smacked Banks and yelled at her. Banks hit two suplexes, but Shotzi blocked the third. Shotzi hit a series of stomps and got a near fall. Cole said that Rousey said Naomi stole the show. Shotzi went for a suplex, but Banks fought out then hit a stiff looking Meteora off the top rope. Banks hit a new double knee spot. Banks then hit a Backstabber into the Bank Statement for the win.
WINNER: SASHA BANKS in 2:00
-Naomi entered the ring and sized up Banks. Naomi said that you’re looking at the next WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Cole hyped them as a team. Banks and Naomi did a custom handshake and danced.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Not that this is surprising or anything, but Shotzi is a nothing. I remember being really excited about her arrival and turn on Banks a couple of months ago. That feels like a lifetime ago at this point. I really wish they would find a way to use her, because there is some potential there. After Li’s showing tonight, maybe they should have put more energy into Shotzi. Either way, this division needs depth, and help. Naomi and Banks as a team gives them something to do for Wrestlemania. I’m not super excited about it, but if it gets Banks on the Mania card, I’m happy about it. If they go with Naomi and Banks against Carmella and Zelina Vega, Banks will have more talent then the other three women combined. That’s a shame.)
-They cut to Megan Morant in the back with Mad Cap Moss and Happy Corbin. They threw to a video of the botched move from Moss on the Alabama Slam at Elimination Chamber. Corbin laughed after the video. Corbin said that thankfully, Moss has a strong neck. Corbin said that tonight, Drew McIntyre has to deal with Corbin tonight. Corbin said that himself and McIntyre is a Wrestlemania caliber match. Corbin said that he’s going to stand up for his friend and show McIntyre who the true warrior is.
-In the arena, McIntyre’s music hit and he made his entrance to a great pop. McIntyre posed as Cole hyped the match. [c]
-Happy Corbin’s music hit and he made his entrance alongside Moss. Corbin took the mic and told McIntyre that this is a Wrestlemania caliber match. He asked McIntyre if he wants Corbin to embarrass him in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Corbin said it will make him happy to beat him to a pulp. Corbin said that Moss is an inspiration. He said Moss landed on his head and continued to fight. Corbin asked Moss to get on the apron and show everyone how great he is. Corbin said that Moss should take the match. He said Moss deserves the rematch and he can take McIntyre. Moss entered the ring. McIntyre turned to Moss and Corbin and Moss attacked McIntyre.
(4) DREW McINTYRE vs. MAD CAP MOSS (w/ Happy Corbin)
Moss ran and hit McIntyre in the corner. Moss sold his neck. McIntyre recovered with a Glasgow’s Kiss. McIntyre lifted Moss for an Alabama Slam but Moss grabbed the ropes. Corbin pulled Moss to the outside to safety as McIntyre smirked in the ring. [c]
McIntyre whipped Moss into the corner, but Moss recovered and took down McIntyre. Moss then got a shoulder tackle for a near fall. Moss stomped McIntyre in the corner. McIntyre whipped Moss into the corner. Moss tried to leap frop McIntyre but McIntyre caught him with a big kick. The two traded punches then McIntyre hit a clothesline followed by a pair of belly to belly suplexes. McIntyre then hit a neckbreaker. McIntyre kipped up and counted down. Corbin jumped on the apron and distracted McIntyre to stop the Claymore attempt. Moss thumbed McIntyre in the eye, then tossed him into the ring post shoulder first. Moss hit a DDT for a near fall. Moss pounded on McIntyre then came off the ropes but McIntyre countered with a Claymore for the win.
WINNER: DREW McINTYRE in 7:00
-McIntyre celebrated. McAfee said that Moss fought hard.
(McDonald’s Analysis: It’s a little uncomfortable that they’re turning that awful, almost catastrophic bump into a storyline. McAfee pumped up Moss again, which is interesting. The match actually wasn’t bad, but we’ve seen it so much at this point. I really hope they find a better way to kill time between now and Wrestlemania.)
-Cole threw to a recap of the opening segment with Rousey, Charlotte and Deville. Rousey was in the back with Morant. Rousey said that she’s going to show everyone what happens when authority figures step out of line. They showed a graphic for the Deville and Rousey match next week.
-Roman Reigns’ music hit and he made his entrance. McAfee said that it’s great to feel this again. The crowd popped huge at the sight of Reigns. Reigns was flanked by the Usos and Paul Heyman. Cole touted the 544 day title reign of Reigns. Cole recapped the ending of the match between Reigns and Goldberg at Elimination Chamber. McAfee called Reigns dominance personified. They showed a graphic for Reigns and Lesnar at Wrestlemania. Cole called it the greatest match of all time. [c]
-They showed a graphic for the Usos and Viking Raiders for the Smackdown Tag Team titles next week. They also hyped the IC title match between Zayn and Ricochet.
-Reigns stood in mid-ring and took the mic. He asked Hershey to acknowledge him. There was a loud mixed reaction. There were small chants of “Suplex City”. Heyman took the mic. He said that we have come to a point in history where we can’t exaggerate the enormity of the main event at Wrestlemania. He called it the biggest match in history. He called this the biggest Wrestlemania ever. Heyman said this is bigger then Hogan and Andre, Austin and Rock, and bigger then the night Lesnar and Heyman conquered the Undertaker’s streak. Heyman said Lesnar only gets half credit. He said that Reigns will conquer Lesnar. Heyman called it a winner take all title unification match. Heyman said that we are here to sign the contract from that match. Heyman pointed out the security. He said the security is there to protect Lesnar from his own impulses and to protect him from Reigns. Heyman said that’s what they call a cliffhanger. And they cut to break abruptly. [c]
(McDonald’s Analysis: Hell of a start. Heyman is in top form tonight. I wonder if he misspoke or if this is truly a title unification. They really haven’t marketed it that way thus far. They keep saying title against title and winner take all. I’m curious to see the follow up there.)
-They showed a graphic and hyped Vince McMahon on the Pat McAfee show.
-Brock Lesnar’s music hit and he made his entrance to a huge pop. Lesnar wore a cowboy hat and a huge smile. Lesnar circled the ring. McAfee called Lesnar the alpha male of our species, Cowboy Brock. Lesnar removed his hat and smirked at Reigns. Lesnar took the mic as the crowd chanted “Suplex City”. Lesnar introduced himself. Reigns glared at him. Lesnar said he has to contain himself. Lesnar said he is impulsive, but if Heyman thinks the security guards are going to keep Lesnar from attacking them they have another thing coming. Lesnar said he’s keeping himself from doing that. Lesnar said that he’s going to sign the contract and kick Reigns and Heyman’s asses at Wrestlemania, and get paid for it. Lesnar signed. Heyman said he’s tired of Lesnar’s disrespect. Heyman said that it won’t be a unification match at Wrestlemania because Lesnar is going to lose the title next Saturday in Madison Square Garden. Reigns went to sign, then stopped and picked up the mic. Reigns said that Lesnar doesn’t realize it, but the WWE title is his title and he’s going to smash Lesnar at Wrestlemania. Reigns said that everything is his from camera man. Reigns left the ring and said that the commentators are his because all they do is talk about him. The Usos exited with him. Reigns said everything is his, including the security in the ring. The security turned on Lesnar and Lesnar started to fight them off as the show cut off.
(McDonald’s Analysis: I won’t lie, I thought when Heyman said that Lesnar was going to lose the title in MSG, Cody Rhodes was going to debut. Wishful thinking I guess. Anyway, that segment was great. I know we’ve seen this match before, but we’ve never seen it like this. I’m very excited. Obviously, everyone who’s read my reports knows how I would book it. That aside, the way this segment was booked was genius and everyone shined here. In a big way. Reigns’ tirade at the end was perfect and on character. It seemed for just a second that maybe, Lesnar had gotten to Reigns, since he lost it a bit. However, it turns out, Reigns was completely in control as the security worked for him and Lesnar fell right into the plan. You can’t ask for much better than this as far as a closing segment goes. This felt important.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Heyman, Reigns, and Lesnar were the stars of this show and the best segment was saved for last. Luckily, it lasted almost 25 minutes, so it really saved this show. Rousey was very awkward in the opening segment and they smartly made her second appearance short and sweet. They need to find a way to ramp up that feud as it feels like it might fall flat. They have some time to fix it, so hopefully they make an effort to do so. Between Xia Li’s disappointing debut, the misuse of Shotzi and the new team of Banks and Naomi, I don’t know what the plan is for this Women’s Division moving forward. I complain about the mid-card a lot and I will continue to until they treat it properly. With that said, I’m glad Zayn is going to defend the title next week. We need that to happen more often. The loss of Cesaro this week hurts the Smackdown roster even more. Ever since the draft, this roster has been snakebit. I feel like they’ve lost over half of the people that were drafted to the show. I would be in favor of a post Mania draft to fix these issues. I know they like to do it in October, but this might be a necessary evil at this point. Wrestlemania’s main event is set and it’s a good one, but they have a long way to go to build out the rest of this card and make this more than a one match show.