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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 4, 2022
MIAMI, FLA. AT THE FTX ARENA
AIRED ON FOX
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
-They opened with Paul Heyman backstage who said Smackdown is blessed with Roman Reigns’s presence and the opportunity to acknowledge their Tribal Chief. Elsewhere, Ronda Rousey said she’ll show Sonya Deville that Smackdown isn’t just the name of the show. Deville said she’ll hand Rousey her first loss in her first-ever match on Smackdown. The Viking Raiders snarled and said they don’t play games, they raid and they’ll rip the Smackdown Tag Team Titles away from the Usos. Jey Uso asked Jimmy Uso if the Raiders will do that to them, but then Jimmy said they’re chances of beating them are the same as them fitting into a pair of skinny jeans. Ricochet said people call Sami Zayn lots of things, good and bad, “but after tonight they won’t be calling him (insert awkward laugh here) Intercontinental Champion.” Sami Zayn said Ricochet will learn why they call him a master strategist.
-As Sami Zayn made his way to the ring, Michael Cole introduced the show. They replayed last week’s angle with Johnny Knoxville.
(1) SAMI ZAYN vs. RICOCHET – Intercontinental Title match
Ricochet scored a near fall with a sudden victory roll on Sami. Ricochet’s athleticism shined until Sami dropped him with a hard lariat. McAfee said Ricochet wasn’t showing signs of nerves early. Sami settled into a chinlock. Sami suplexed Ricochet onto the back of his neck on the ring apron. When Ricochet tumbled to the floor, they cut to a break 9 minutes into the show. [c]
Back from the break, Sami was stomping away on Ricochet. Ricochet took Sami off the top turnbuckle with a hurancanrana for a near fall. Sami caught Ricochet mid-air and landed a powerbomb for a near fall a minute later. Ricochet landed a handspring backflip over the top rope onto Sami at ringside. “Flawless is how you describe that!” gushed McAfee. The replayed it in slo-mo. Ricochet climbed to the top rope and played to the crowd a bit, but Sami stood and shoved him to the floor. As Sami bent over to pick up Ricochet, Johnny Knoxville’s music played and he walked out and DISTRACTED Sami. Sami turned his attention to Knoxville. Ricochet then landed a leaping Frankensteiner for the win.
WINNER: Ricochet in 9:00 to capture the Intercontinental Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a big step up for Ricochet, who is the de facto no. 2 babyface on Smackdown’s depth chart behind Drew McIntyre in terms of full-time singles wrestlers. He had a chance to show off his athleticism in this relatively compact match. On the downside, his win was due to a distraction from Knoxville, so it ultimately was more about Sami and Knoxville than him. It’s not the best way to launch someone into a bigger push.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside who talked about McAfee’s interview with Vince McMahon that took place yesterday. A clip aired of Vince saying that he will be inducting Undertaker into the Hall of Fame and also Vince offering McAfee a chance to wrestle at WrestleMania. McAfee excitedly stood up and said, “Thank you, boss.” He then cut a fantasy promo as McMahon looked on. McMahon smiled.
-They showed the door to Mr. McMahon’s office. Cole wondered if they’d find out next who McAfee’s opponent will be. McAfee said he’s not in shape for it, but he’s excited. [c]
-Postcard shots aired of Miami.
-After replaying Ricochet pinning Sami, Sami threw a fit backstage. He noticed the camera and asked why they were following him. He told him to follow him to Dallas because he’ll see him at WrestleMania.
-Back to McAfee and Cole, McAfee excitedly said it appears Sami will face Knoxville at WrestleMania.
-Austin Theory walked out and introduced himself to the crowd. They booed him. He paused and said, “You guys love me; I get it.” He said wherever Mr. McMahon goes, Austin Theory goes. He entered the ring and asked McAfee why McMahon was on his show. Austin said, “He set up you! Ha ha. Nobody knows what that man is thinking.” He said he probably thinks Mr. McMahon likes him, but he sees him as a loudmouth. Theory asked what he’s going to do when his mouth is wired shut and he can’t eat without sipping it through a straw. Austin approached McAfee. McAfee stood. Theory revealed, “I’m your opponent at WrestleMania and I’m going to beat you to a pulp.” He slapped McAfee’s headset off of him and retreated. McAfee stood on the table and told him to come back there. He called him a bitch. Theory took a selfie. McAfee asked Cole, “Who is that, first of all?” He said he’s some McMahon little toy protege. He looked over for Jimmy Butler, but he said, “Oh, he just went to the bathroom.” He angrily said it was Cole’s fault. Cole calmly said he knew nothing about it.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is good use of Theory and McAfee. It is one of several special attraction type match-ups that make WrestleMania feel different than a typical WWE show.)
-Sasha Banks and Naomi made their ring entrance. [c]
(2) NAOMI (w/Sasha Banks) vs. CARMELLA (w/Queen Zelina)
Naomi took control at the start. When she climbed to the top rope, she looked over Zelina DISTRACTIING her which led to Carmella taking over. Carmella cinched on a chinlock and yelled. Carmella punched away at Naomi in the corner. Zelina tried to take a cheap shot at Naomi, but did so in over-the-top slo-mo fashion, giving the referee time to see her and stop her. Sasha then threw Zelina into the ringside steps. They showed Natalya watching on a monitor backstage. Cole said she’s always scouting. Naomi then landed her split-legged moonsault on Carmella for the win. Sasha and Naomi danced afterward.
WINNER: Naomi in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That quick loss did more to undercut Carmella as a credible performer than boost Naomi. It just made Carmella & Zelina seem like weak champs who will be easy to pick off. This all feels beneath Sasha’s status, but they needed to find a spot for her on the WM card. I’d have stuck with building up these two teams separately, not having a singles match that just undercuts the sense that it’s important. I know they have several weeks to go, but this was a very weak framing and execution of hype for the tag title match.)
-They cut to a card game backstage led by Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss. Corbin touted his history at WrestleMania, including winning the Andre battle royal and beating Kurt Angle. He said he’s on the hottest winning streak of his career and he will continue by beating a guy telling stories about sea monsters. Moss imitated Drew saying, “The other day I thought I saw the Lock Ness monster, but it turns out I just pooped in my bathtub.” Everyone laughed uproariously. They then turned to watch Drew’s ring entrance on a TV monitor in the ring.
-Drew McIntyre made his entrance. Cole said he didn’t understand why they keep antagonizing Drew like that. McAfee asked viewers to imagine being someone Drew doesn’t like.
-Cole threw to an extended sponsored commercial for a pick-up truck starring Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs. They went hiking together. Nakamura had a bag of trail mix. Boogs pulled out a gigantic Subway party sub that was about five feet wide. They went hiking amidst tall trees. Boogs began lifting a fallen trunk.
(Keller’s Analysis: I keep waiting for them to cross paths with Von Wagner sitting around a campfire.) [c]
(3) DREW MCINTYRE vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/Shanky)
They locked up at the start. Cole said they came up in the business together. Drew shoulder-checked Jinder to the mat and hit him with some chops. Jinder fired back with a throat strike and scored a two count. He applied a modified cobra clutch. Drew came back and tossed Jinder around, then landed a neckbreaker followed by a kip up. Shanky tried to interfere, but Drew ducked and threw him into the ringpost. Jinder grabbed a DISTRACTED Drew, but Drew countered him with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt. Next, he landed the Claymore for the win.
WINNER: McIntyre in 2:00.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed McIntyre mid-ring afterward. She asked if it bothered him that Moss and Corbin were laughing at his expense. Drew said he doesn’t give a damn what they think. “Nobody does!” he said. He said nobody in the locker room or in the arena likes them. He asked fans to show who wants to gouge their eyes out every time Corbin is on their TV screen. Kayla raised her arm when Drew called her out. He said he’s doing the world a favor when he takes them out. He said regarding Corbin’s winning streak that all good things must come to an end and he’s going to take him out. He pointed his sword at the camera as his music played.
-Backstage Moss asked, “What do you call the Smackdown warrior Drew McIntyre when he chickens out of his WrestleMania match? The Backdown Warrior.” Moss laughed, but no on else did, sensing tension in the room over what McIntyre just said in the ring. [c]
-A brief video package aired with highlights of the contract signing angle with Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar last week.
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-Boogs stood on the stage and introduced Shinsuke Nakamura as he played guitar. Nakamura began his ring entrance, but the Usos attacked them. Referees ran out to try to restore order. The Usos struck a pose on the stage and then Roman Reigns’s ring entrance began. Cole noted Reigns has been Universal Champion a record-setting 551 days. Paul Heyman handed Reigns his title belt and Reigns held it in the air as pyro blasted. Cole said there is no doubt this will be the biggest WrestleMania match ever. He wondered how having one champion will change the landscape of the industry. McAfee said it’s two immovable objects facing each other in Dallas in a unification match of the ages.
Reigns entered the ring and got more cheers than usual from Miami fans. He said at MSG, whoever steps up, he’ll smash. He said when it comes to Brock Lesnar, not everyone wants to see him make it to WrestleMania as champion. “But that’s not how I feel,” he said. “I want him to hand-deliver the WWE Championship to the Tribal Chief.” Heyman said, “It’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler.” Reigns asked if they should give Miami and the whole world a spoiler. Reigns said he’s like Baby Ruth around there. He said he calls his shot and he delivers every single time. He said last year he smashed ’em, stacked ’em, and pinned ’em just like he predicted. He said he will do it again. He said this year he is going to smash Lesnar, pin him, and then stand over him with the WWE Title and Universal Title belts held over his head. He said Brock will have no choice but to acknowledge him. He yelled it a few times to the fans. Cole said, “Brock Lesnar is definitely in Roman’s head.” Reigns calmed down and looked into the camera and said Lesnar will acknowledge him. McAfee said Reigns seemed to lose his composure. Cole said his world could be turned upside down at WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was good. It made the match feel like a big deal and emphasized the stakes were high, in part because of the massive ego of Reigns. It also played into the idea that Lesnar has Reigns shaken, even though he’s trying to exude confidence.)
-Cole said it was a big fight night on Smackdown, and it continued next with the tag title match. [c]
(4) JIMMY & JEY USO vs. THE VIKING RAIDERS – Smackdown Tag Team Title match
Cole said the Usos have held the tag team titles for 229 days, the longest reign ever for Smackdown Tag Team Title holders. The Raiders dominated early. The Usos took over a minute in after a blind tag. [c]
The Raiders were in control after the break. The Usos made a comeback with a superkick on Erik. They exchanged near falls. The Usos finished Erik with an assisted cutter.
WINNERS: The Usos in 9:00 to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid match start to finish. The attack on Boogs & Nakamura earlier points strongly toward them being the Usos’ challengers at WrestleMania.)
-They showed Big E and Kofi Kingston riding on an ATV last week on Smackdown. Then Big E and Kofi made their ring entrance. They were on the ATV again this week. [c]
-They showed Sonya warming up backstage. She pushed a producer away, not wanting to be bothered. She looked to be “in the zone” but a bit nervous.
(5) SHEAMUS (w/Ridge Holland) vs. BIG E (w/Kofi Kingston)
As the match was about to begin, Kofi honked the horn of the ATV and gyrated on it. Holland attacked him. (Is that a babyface turn?) Sheamus then attacked the DISTRACTED Big E. Sheamus drove the ATV away with Holland kneeling on the back.
WINNER: Match never started. [c]
-They showed Sheamus and Holland smashing the ATV with sledgehammers afterward. Cole said they’re doing it for apparently no reason.
-They replayed what happened with Sami, Ricochet, and Knoxville earlier.
-Kayla asked Knoxville if he accepts Sami’s challenge for a match at WrestleMania. He said Sami is the Intercontinental Chump and the match is on. He said he’s put his body through more insane situations than he could ever imagine. He said he’s not scared to get in the ring with a low-down dirty cheat like Sami.
-Backstage, Corbin and Moss were playing darts. Drew then showed up with the sword and rammed it into the dart board. Corbin and Moss fled.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside who reacted to Drew. Then they hyped Rousey’s first-ever match on Smackdown.
-A highlight package aired of the Rousey-Charlotte segment last week.
-Deville’s ring entrance aired. [c]
(6) SONYA DEVILLE vs. RONDA ROUSEY
Deville talked to referee Charles Robinson, reminding him of her authority. Rousey then made her ring entrance. Cole noted that Rousey had her knee wrapped after what happened last week. As the match was about to begin, Charlotte made her ring entrance. Cole said Rousey has to keep her focus on Deville despite Charlotte’s presence. As Rousey took it to Deville early, Charlotte leaped onto the ring apron to DISTRACT her. Deville clipped Rousey’s knee from behind. Charlotte joined in on commentary. Deville scored a two count and then settled into a head vice. Charlotte said she’s not concerned about Rousey at WrestleMania. “I am the mountain that she has to climb,” said Charlotte. She said Rousey is a one-tricky pony, and she knows how to reverse her armbar. McAfee said that’s why she is the champion. Charlotte said no one has ever tapped her out.
Rousey wrapped up Deville’s head with her legs while in the ropes. She had to break before five. She punched away at Deville in the corner, then gave Deville a Piper’s Pit followed by the armbar for the tapout win. They cut to Charlotte rubbing her chin. She said she’s not impressed with the armbar.
WINNER: Rousey in 3:00.
-Rousey eyed Charlotte at ringside. Charlotte stood and asked if she wants her. Rousey called her over. Charlotte made her way up the steps. Rousey invited her in. She then leaped onto Charlotte and applied an anklelock. Charlotte tapped the mat and yelled in pain. “What did Charlotte say about Rousey being a one-trick pony?” Cole asked. He said she’s got the armbar and the anklelock. Rousey let go and smiled. Charlotte limped away in a hurry as Rousey’s music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Rousey looked good in the few sequences she showed off in the match. Charlotte is playing her role as a top star “above it all” well, and WWE seems to be doing a good job positioning Rousey to succeed as a babyface heading into WrestleMania.)