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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 11, 2022
BIRMINGHAM, ALA. AT THE LEGACY ARENA
AIRED ON FOX
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
-They opened with highlights of Brock Lesnar fending off Roman Reigns and the Usos at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night followed by Lesnar taking a beatdown and Reigns standing over him and yelling, “Acknowledge me!” They used a filter or a video effect that actually made it feel like a really high-end video game rather than real life.
-Michael Cole introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd.
-Brock Lesnar’s entrance theme played. He came out looking a little less perky and ebullient than in recent weeks. Cole said he must be in a mood after being beaten and bloodied by the Bloodline at MSG. McAfee said “blood was spurting out of his eyes.” Cole plugged the Lesnar-Reigns main event at WrestleMania three weeks from Sunday.
Lesnar stood mid-ring and took a deep breath, then shouted, “Roman Reigns! You done changed the rules, boy. You’ve done changed the game.” He said for the last six days, he dragged his ass out of bed and looked in the mirror and saw the cut above his right eyebrow. He said you don’t draw first blood on Brock and live to tell about it. He said he’s there for blood tonight and he doesn’t care about WrestleMania contracts. He whipped his Raw Title belt out of the ring and nearly nailed McAfee in the head. He said he doesn’t care about WWE title belts, either. He called Reigns to the ring. He yelled to the back that he wants “blood for blood.” He yelled for him to get his ass to the ring.
Paul Heyman walked onto the stage and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, no booing, relax.” He said to cut to a commercial or something because it’s time to take the temperature down. He told Lesnar that if he never wants to listen to him again, listen to him now. He said he got smashed by the Bloodline and Tribal Chief. He turned and introduced Reigns while pointing to the back, but Reigns didn’t come out. He said Reigns is not there this evening. He said he knows him better than any human being on the planet. Lesnar told him to shut up. “If what’s is coming out of your fat, lying jowls is true and Roman Reigns isn’t here tonight, who’s going to protect you, Paul?” Heyman’s demeanor changed as Lesnar made his way toward the stage. Heyman ran as quickly as he could backstage. Lesnar chased him down.
They cut backstage to Heyman yelling for people to stop Lesnar. Lesnar plowed over several security guys, but that was enough to slow him down briefly as Heyman got in an SUV which then sped away.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was fun. Lesnar’s promo work continues to show how underrated his potential on the mic has been for all these years Heyman did all the talking for him. Heyman was great here. They didn’t extend the exchange longer than necessary just to fill TV time.)
-Cole and McAfee commented on a replay of Sheamus and Ridge Holland beating up Big E and Kofi Kingston, then bashing to pieces their ATV with sledgehammers.
-Megan Morant interviewed Sheamus and Holland backstage. Sheamus said they improved things. Holland said they’re expecting a proper fight. They had sledgehammers in hand. Then they introduced Pete Dunne, who has been rechristened “Butch.” Sheamus said that’s his nickname that they’ve always known him by. Dunne shook intensely and patted Sheamus on the chest, then left with them. Cole called him a new protege for Sheamus.
-Big E & Kingston made their ring entrance. [c]
(1) BIG E & KOFI KINGSTON vs. SHEAMUS & RIDGE HOLLAND (w/Butch)
As Sheamus and Holland came out with Butch, Cole said Kofi told him earlier they should be in jail for destruction of property. McAfee said the evidence is clear and it would hold up in court. Sheamus pounded Big E’s chest with forearms as he had him bent backwards over the top rope. Sheamus then leaped off the top rope, but Big E caught him and gave him a belly-to-belly leading to a one count. When Big E went after Sheamus from ringside, Holland approached. Kofi leaped onto him. Big E went for a splash on the ring apron, but Sheamus moved. Sheamus then gave Big E a knee to the chin. Big E went down. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Kofi and Sheamus were battling. Kofi landed a Boom Drop. There was no sign of Big E or Holland in the corners. Holland popped up eventually, but Kofi knocked him down. When Holland broke up a cover by Kofi, Big E charged into the ring and tossed Holland out of the ring. Big E went for a spear through the ropes, but Holland moved. Holland then gave Big E an overhead suplex onto the top of his head. Big E didn’t get up. Cole and McAfee stood at ringside and looked down at Big E with concern. Sheamus rolled up Kofi from behind for a two count. Kofi came back with a boot to the chest, then climbed to the top rope. Butch distracted Kofi from the ring apron. Sheamus then kicked Kofi in the head and he tumbled to the mat. Sheamus made the cover and scored a three count.
WINNERS: Sheamus & Holland in 12:00.
-After the match, Butch attacked Kofi in the ring. Cole said Big E couldn’t help out because he was being tended to by emergency personnel. Sheamus and Holland had to pry Butch off of Kofi. They stood together as Sheamus’s mjusic played.
(Keller’s Analysis: So that suplex by Holland broke Big E’s neck. Fortunately, he isn’t paralyzed. He posted a video from the hospital later in the night updating his condition, stating he can move his arms and legs, but he does have a broken neck.) [c]
— Ettore “Big E” Ewen (@WWEBigE) March 12, 2022
-A replay aired of Kevin Owens challenging “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to be his guest at WrestleMania on the KO Show. Then they aired the response by Austin that was posted to social media earlier in the week.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside who threw to footage of Ricochet beating Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Title last week on Smackdown followed by the Johnny Knoxville challenge. A new soundbite aired with Knoxville who said Sami was stalking and texting him all day on his personal cell phone. He then pointed to the sky showing Sami Zayn’s phone number on a banner behind a plane. He encouraged people to call him.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Sami. Sami was adamant that WWE shouldn’t have aired that. She asked how he’s preparing for his IC Title rematch against Ricochet tonight. Sami said he had no time to prepare because he had 10,000 text messages in the last few hours. He said he is not worried, though, because he has learned he can overcome whatever is thrown at him. He said Ricochet isn’t actually that good. He said he was in the right place at the right time last week because Knoxville wanted to help him lose his IC Title. He said Knoxville isn’t there tonight, though. He said Knoxville will be facing the IC Champion at WrestleMania because he’s regaining it tonight.
-Drew McIntyre made his ring entrance for the scheduled six-man tag match. [c]
-Back from the break, Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, Shanky, and Jinder Mahal were attacking the Viking Raiders. Drew walked to the back to try to intervene, but Mahal and Shanky charged out to cut him off. Cole said they had no interest in a match actually taking place tonight. Corbin walked out and eyed Drew, but Jinder grabbed Drew from behind. Corbin, Moss, Jinder, and Shanky attacked Drew and threw him into the ringpost. Then they threw him into the ring and stomped away at him. Jinder and Shanky held up Drew as Corbin set up a move, but Drew broke their grip. Corbin fled. Drew turned and clotheslined Moss out of the ring. He knocked Jinder to the floor. Then he gave Shanky a Michinoku Driver. He pulled out his sword from the corner. Shanky rolled to the floor. Drew pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said he’ll tear him apart at WrestleMania.
-Cole commented on clips of Ronda Rousey wrestling on Smackdown last week.
-Rousey made her ring entrance. Cole said she has a message for Charlotte next.
-A commercial aired for Raw saying Kevin Owens would respond to Steve Austin, plus an RK-Bro Championship Celebration. [c]
-Rousey’s music faded after the break. She said Charlotte showed her ignorance last week by calling her a One Trick Pony because she supposedly only had one submission hold. She said that’s like calling Mike Tyson a One Trick Pony because he only won by punching people. Fans chanted “Ronda!” She paused and smiled. She said where Charlotte sees just one armbar, she sees thousands of ways to get to that arm. She said the last couple of years, she’s been doing more than raising babies and milking cows; she said she’s been refining her anklelock that she learned from her first mentor in the ring, Kurt Angle. She said she can think of no better way to thank Kurt than to tap Charlotte out with it again at WrestleMania. Charlotte’s music played and she made her way to the ring.
McAfee said both of these women have incredibly high ring IQs and they’ll see the best of both of them at WrestleMania, but only one can walk out as champion. Charlotte extended her arms and walked around the ring, absorbing cheers. Rousey stared her down. Charlotte said their match at WM will the biggest fight of her life. She said the tap out last week didn’t really count because she had on high heels and a thousand dollar suit. She said Rousey took advantage of her. Rousey said she already tapped her out and she will again. Fans chanted “You tapped out.” Charlotte said, “I can’t hear you.” The chants got a little louder. Charlotte asked if Rousey thinks that’s funny because there is nothing funny about facing her at WM. Charlotte said Rousey is tough, but there’s a reason she is “the most decorated woman in sports entertainment history.” She said she doesn’t care about her new fancy anklelock. She said she’ll embarrass and humiliate her at WM and then she’ll make her tap out.
Rousey said she’d love to see that. She told her she’d give her time to take off her heels this time. Charlotte turned her back and walked to the corner of the ring where she waited for a stagehand to separate the ropes for her. She left and soaked up more “You tapped out” chants. Rousey told her to go ahead and walk away, but at WM she can’t walk away. She said she’s either going home with her arm or she’ll be tapping out. Her music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: That worked. This continues to work, in fact. Charlotte has been such an effective heel, no one wants to cheer her. Rousey has become just likable enough after a rough start, too. Charlotte’s outfits these days are top notch and really add to her main event act.)
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside. They replayed what happened earlier with Lesnar and Heyman. Cole said a frustrated Lesnar has left the arena.
-Naomi and Sasha Banks made their ring entrance. [c]
-A sponsored video aired of Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs going on a surfing adventure. They went into the ocean. Boogs said it was easier than he thought it’d be. Nakamura said he didn’t see him ever actually standing on his board. [c]
(2) NATALYA & SHAYNA BASZLER vs. SASHA BANKS & NAOMI
Carmella and Queen Zelina were watching from ringside. Naomi and Baszler battled for a while. Sasha hot-tagged in against Natalya. She knocked both Natalya and Baszler to the floor. Then she swung Natalya into Zelina and Carmella at ringside. Naomi dove onto Baszler at ringside. When Sasha returned to the ring, Zelina DISTRACTED her. Natalya caught Sasha by surprise with a discus clothesline for a near fall. Carmella DISTRACTED the referee as Zelina stood on the ring apron, but Banks reversed Natalya into her. Sasha then finished Natalya with a jaw-jacker.
WINNERS: Sasha & Naomi in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not a lot to it, but it put Sasha & Naomi and Carmella & Zelina on the screen at the same time for a few minutes.)
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside who commented on a replay of the Usos attacking Nakamura & Boogs from behind last week followed by a win over The Viking Raiders to retain their Smackdown Tag Team Titles.
-The Usos made their ring entrance. Cole said they’re going to “unlock the penitentiary” and reveal their WM plans next. [c]
-Back from the break, the Usos stood center ring. Jey said, “The Bloodline is now in your city!” They talked up holding the Smackdown Tag Team Titles for nearly a year. They said Smackdown officials don’t have anyone worthy of facing them at WM. Boogs and Nakamura came out to Nakamura’s music. Jimmy asked if they really want to face them at WrestleMania. Boogs’s knee was wrapped up and he was limping. Jimmy called him Peg Leg Pete. He said if he can beat Jey in a one-on-one match tonight, then they can have a tag title match against them at WM. Boogs agreed.
(3) JEY USO (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. RICK BOOGS (w/Shinsuke Nakamura)
Boogs unwrapped his knee and revealed his knee was just fine. He went on offense against Jey early including pressing him over his head ten times before slamming him. Jimmy stood on the ring apron to DISTRACT Boogs, but Nakamura intervened. Jimmy superkicked Nakamura, though. Boogs bent over and grabbed Jimmy. Jey rolled up Boogs from behind for a two count. Boogs then came back with a Pump Handle Slam on Jey for the three count. As Boogs celebrated and pointed at the WrestleMania sign, Jimmy bashed him from behind with his guitar.
WINNER: Boogs in 3:00 to earn a Smackdown Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not a lot to the match, and it diminished Jey Uso quite a bit if they ever have plans to have him be a singles opponent for Reigns, as is often speculated about. Then again, WWE trains viewers to have short memories about that type of thing, and Jey was “expecting” Boogs to be injured. Still, the Usos are part of the Bloodline and that feels like a loss that defines them down a notch.)
-Cole commented on highlights of the Ricochet win over Sami last week.
-Sami made his ring entrance. [c]
(4) RICOCHET vs. SAMI ZAYN – Intercontinental Title match
Back from the break, Ricochet made his entrance. Austin Theory then walked out to the ring, phone in hand. Theory made his way to the commentary desk as the formal ring introductions were made. Sami got in Ricochet’s space during ring introductions and the ref had to back him off. The bell rang 36 minutes into the hour. Theory eyed McAfee. McAfee stood up. Theory slapped the headset off of McAfee. McAfee leaped off the announce desk and tackled Theory. He threw him into the announce desk and then over the desk. He leaped off the desk again and aggressively pounded away at him. Theory backed away as Cole, the whole time, tried to calm McAfee down. Two officials came out and stepped between McAfee and Theory. Cole said he’ll get Theory in the ring in a couple of weeks, “so let it be.” McAfee walked toward the entrance area where Theory had retreated to. Theory was red-faced and breathing hard as McAfee approached. Theory tried to break past the two security guys, but they held him back. He retreated as McAfee smiled. They cut to a break. [c]
Cole said you can’t blame McAfee for blowing up and attacking Theory. He said he has a job to do, though, and he crossed the line tonight. He said he was escorted out of the building and he wondered if it would affect his broadcasting role on Smackdown going forward. Sami took control a few minutes in and settled into a chinlock. They cut to a wideshot of the arena from the upper deck as Cole noted their location and reset the stage of the stakes in this match. Ricochet fought back with chops and then a head scissors before kipping up. He then springboard forearmed Sami and played to the crowd. He followed up with a flying knee, but Sami blocked it. Ricochet landed a lift-and-drop roundkick to Sami’s head, then climbed to the top rope. Sami popped up and shoved Ricochet to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
They replayed the angle with McAfee and Theory. Cole again said McAfee was out of line and he’s not sure how this will affect his announcing career on Smackdown. (They’re playing that up a lot here, so it sounds like he might be taken off Smackdown at least until WrestleMania.) Ricochet scored a near fall when he countered a Sami suplex into a head scissors takeover into a leverage pin attempt. Sami came back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall a minute later. Sami landed a top rope exploder suplex a minute later. Both were down and slow to get up. Sami set up a Helluva Kick as he waited for Ricochet to stand. He charged, but Ricochet blocked it with a Recoil. He then climbed to the top rope and landed a 630 splash for the clean win.
WINNER: Ricochet in 17:00 to retain the IC Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: What aired was good, as you’d anticipate with these two. But with two commercial breaks and an angle at ringside early, it didn’t feel as substantial as the overall length of the match would suggest. Ricochet continues to get a solid push, the best of his run in WWE. Sami doesn’t suffer too much from losing here since he’s embroiled in a feud with Knoxville that will distract from this.)
-They cut back to the parking garage where Rousey and Charlotte were brawling. Referees and producers tried to intervene, but Charlotte and Rousey fought past them. Charlotte suplexed Rousey onto the hood of a car and then wrapped her up and bent her backwards with her fingers in her mouth. Producers finally separated them. Rouesy slid off the hood of the car onto the pavement as Charlotte finally backed away. There was no commentary for this. The show ended with a closeup of a fuming Rousey regaining her senses.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good show-closing angle to add intensity and some physicality to the Charlotte-Rousey match which, presumably, will be closing out night one of WrestleMania.)