The John Report: WWE Smackdown Live 02/12/19 Review


Live from Toledo, Ohio, this is Smackdown Live for episode #1017. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you want to support us at TJRWrestling, here’s a Donate Link for our Paypal where anything you send will go towards building the site. I just lost a freelance writing job after three years with the site, so now is a good time to send something if you're able to do so. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.

The broadcast began with a graphic saying this show was in memory of WWE Hall of Famer Pedro Morales, who died earlier today.

A clip aired from the end of Raw with Vince McMahon announcing Becky Lynch is suspended for 60 days and she is being replaced at WrestleMania by Charlotte Flair, who will challenge Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women's Title.

Let’s Hear From Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair made her entrance in non-wrestling gear that was a black top showing off her physique and black pants. She was booed by the crowd because she's back to being a heel after about two years as a face.
Charlotte started the promo saying that since day one, she told us that this (she pointed at the WrestleMania sign) has been her destiny. Flair commented that her heart breaks for Becky, but it doesn’t. Flair said she thought she taught Becky better than that and to be dumb enough to get suspended. She mentioned Becky getting injured before Survivor Series and then she chose Flair to replace her. Flair said that Becky and the fans know that she is the backbone of this division, the fans booed and she called herself the franchise player. Flair called herself a winner.
Flair claimed that Mr. McMahon chose her because he made a smart business decision. She said that Mr. McMahon chose a future Hall of Famer over somebody that has had a few good months. The fans chanted “Becky” again. Flair said that the main event of WrestleMania is the biggest match of the year and you’re not going to risk it on a flash in the pan like Becky Lynch. Flair said you may not be happy about Becky being replaced, but you will be on your feet chanting “This is Awesome.” Flair encouraged the fans by telling them to boo her and they booed, then she did a bow saying “you’re welcome.” Flair said that she’s going to dedicate her WrestleMania victory to her best friend Becky Lynch.

The fans chanted “you suck” at Flair and she reminded them that she is headlining WrestleMania. Flair added that she’ll be at ringside to scout Ronda’s match at Elimination Chamber against Ruby Riott and Flair may have a new WrestleMania opponent. Flair pointed at the WrestleMania sign again. Flair’s music played and she left.
Analysis: I thought she did a great job with that arrogant heel promo. She’s a lot more comfortable as a heel and she showed it there. In the ring, she was fine as a face, but some promos were bad. In the heel role, she’s always been more natural. I know some people don’t like that Flair is the Raw Women’s Title match now, but I think it will end up with Becky Lynch joining the match as a triple threat, so WrestleMania is still going to end with Lynch winning the title that night. The surprising thing was there was no interruption.

The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown on camera welcoming us to the show.
Naomi and Carmella entered for a triple threat tag team match between the Elimination Chamber tag teams.
(Commercial)
There was a plug for a Gauntlet Match for entry into the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber. One member of New Day is substituting for Mustafa Ali, who is injured. The New Day trio were shown in the locker room talking about it.

There were pre-taped promos from the three teams in the Women's Tag Team Title match talking about how they are going to win the Elimination Chamber.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville vs. Carmella and Naomi vs. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
The losing team will start the Elimination Chamber match along with Sasha Banks and Bayley.
The Deville and Rose team got in some offense on Carmella. Naomi tagged in leading to a double team suplex on Deville for a two count. Naomi to the apron, kick to the head of Deville and the splits into the leg drop. Carmella tagged in, did some moonwalking and a headscissors takedown on Deville. Naomi tagged in against Rose to rekindle this rivalry. Rose ran away, tried to tag the Iiconics in, but they went to the floor. Naomi managed to hit a dive over the top onto Mandy on the floor as the show went to break.
(Commercial)
The match continued with Deville and Carmella hitting cross body blocks at the same time. Rose knocked Naomi off the apron and tagged in while Naomi managed to get the tag from Carmella anyway, so what was the point of that spot? Odd. Naomi hit a jawbreaker on Rose followed by a kick off the middle ropes. Naomi sent Deville to the apron and Carmella kicked her down. Naomi hit a split legged moonsault on Rose and covered her for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Carmella and Naomi
Analysis: ** The match was okay with some interesting booking that made the Iiconics look very smart by not even entering the match. Naomi was on fire after  the hot tag and got some revenge on Rose.

Post match, the Iiconics (who never tagged into the match) attacked Naomi and Carmella from behind. They tossed Naomi into the steel ring post. Royce sent Carmella’s face into Kay’s knee and then they whipped Carmella into the ring post. The Iiconics did their pose in the ring to celebrate.
There was a graphic showing how the Women’s Tag Team Title match will go with Rose/Deville and Banks/Bayley starting the match.

There were promos from the Raw teams talking about the women’s Elimination Chamber match for the Tag Team Titles.
Analysis: They spent the first 30 minutes of this show on the women’s division with that Flair promo and then this match as well as the post-match angle. I thought it was an effective way to promote the Women’s Tag Team Title match.
The Miz and Shane McMahon are the SD Tag Team Champions and they made their entrance for McMiz TV.
(Commercial)
There was a cell phone promo from Mustafa Ali saying that he is not medically cleared to compete at the Elimination Chamber and will not have an opportunity at the WWE Championship. He said nothing hits harder than that and nothing is more frustrating than your body giving out on you before your body does. He said it’s going to take more than Samoa Joe running him over, Randy Orton kicking him in the head or Rowan slamming him on a table (they showed the slam on the table). Ali spoke about how it’s not over.

Analysis: It’s a shame that he got hurt. He did work two of the live events this weekend, then got diagnosed with a concussion and was ruled out. They didn’t mention the concussion, but they just said he was hurt.

McMiz TV with The Usos as guests
The Miz and Shane McMahon were in the ring to host their tag team talk show. Miz mentioned that Shane is going to guest star on NCIS LA soon and Shane acted like he didn’t want Miz to tell them. Shane introduced The Usos.
The Usos made their entrance in their street clothes with some new Usos shirts. They stood up instead of sitting down in the chairs provided. The fans chanted “Usos” for them.
Jey said show some respect for the best tag team in the world. Jimmy wondered if it was the best team since they are a wannabe tag team trying to be the Usos. Shane said they are not trying to be The Usos, but they are the best tag team in the world. Jey asked if they ride together (no), train together (no), eat together (no), bathe together maybe if a guy is hurt (no). Jimmy said let’s do the tag team test. Jimmy knew Jey’s favorite color was red, pepperoni pizza was his favorite food and his favorite team are the San Francisco 49ers. That led to Miz and Shane doing their own version with Miz telling Shane the answers including Miz that his favorite minor league baseball team are the Toledo Mudhens, which drew cheers as a cheap pop. Miz mentioned that quiche was his favorite food, which Shane was surprised by and Miz added Maryse makes a good quiche.
Jimmy said nobody is talking about Maryse or quiche (like their daddy Rikishi) and Miz asked if they should talk about Mandy Rose. Shane tried to calm things down, so Jimmy slapped his arm out of the way. Shane said maybe he’ll hit Jey so hard that his brother will feel it. Jey took a microphone out of The Miz’s hand. Jey told Miz to shut the hell up and Jimmy said “when my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut” like Miz does. The Usos said they will be six-time tag team champions and said welcome to the Uso Penitentiary. Shane said that the only thing that’s real are those titles, which they held up in the air. Shane asked “ya dig, uce?” The Usos stepped back and then The Usos dropped Miz/Shane with superkicks. The Usos left standing tall while Miz/Shane were selling the kicks.
Analysis: That was a solid segment to promote the SD Tag Team Title match. The Usos standing tall at the end was booked well as they showed they are a great team and took advantage of the situation by hitting double superkicks. I don’t expect a title change at Elimination Chamber, but I like the Usos a lot, so if they win, that’s cool with me too.

There was a shot of the New Day trio walking backstage because one of them is in the Gauntlet Match.
A clip aired showing WWE celebrating Black History Month.
(Commercial)
Daniel Bryan entered with the WWE Title around his waist with the big man Rowan by his side. I like that Bryan has the recycling logo on his Titantron video now. Maybe he had it before, but I didn’t notice it. Sometimes during entrances I don’t look at the screen because I am writing.
Bryan did a promo saying that we need him as WWE Champion to show us how to lead our fickle lives. Bryan said that he did not want to participate in the Elimination Chamber match because it is painful, horrible and it will likely shorten his career. Bryan said that he has to sacrifice while saying that he didn’t want to be called a martyr, but his sacrifice is necessary for him to stay WWE Champion…and here comes New Day.

The New Day trio of Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods made their entrance with all of them in their ring gear. Big E gave Woods the giant sausage he was holding, teased that he would be in the match, but then Big E stopped Woods and Kingston stepped up as the New Day’s representative.
Analysis: I was hoping it would be Big E just to see him get a chance to break out a bit. It’s nothing against Kofi, who I like a lot, but I think Big E could be a really big deal as a singles act.

(Commercial)
The bell rang to start the Gauntlet Match at the start of the second hour. Two guys start, there are five total falls and then they enter the ring by random drawing. The winner gets to be #6 in Elimination Chamber on Sunday.

Gauntlet Match #1: Kofi Kingston (w/Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. Daniel Bryan (w/Rowan)
Bryan took down Kingston with a hiptoss followed by some palm strikes to the head. Bryan slapped on the surfboard submission on Kingston, but Kingston turned it into a pinfall attempt for two. Graves complained about how this is unfair for Bryan as well as the EC match on Sunday. Kingston got some offense in, but Bryan came back with a knee to the gut followed by another knee to the gut. Bryan went for a surfboard submission again with a different variation of it from before. They got back to a standing position with Kingston hitting a jumping back elbow for two. Bryan sent Kingston to the ropes, Kingston did the skin the cat to go back in, Kingston sent Bryan to the floor and Kingston hit a trust fall dive over the top to take out Bryan on the floor.
(Commercial)

The match returned with Bryan in control as a replay aired of him whipping Kingston into the steel steps. Bryan hit a running dropkick to the back of Kingston when Kingston was tied up in the ropes. Bryan sent Kingston into the turnbuckle, knee to the ribs again and Bryan suplexed Kingston onto the top rope. Bryan went up top and hit a knee to the back of the head while Kingston was caught on the top rope. Bryan went up top and missed a headbutt, which is a spot he needs to stop doing, but he landed fine. Kingston hit a jumping clothesline, boom drop and a somersault senton for a two count. Kingston up top with a cross body block on Bryan for a two count. Bryan with a drop toe hold that sent Kingston to the middle turnbuckle. Bryan set up Kingston by the turnbuckle followed by a running dropkick. Bryan set up Kingston on the top rope and wanted a belly to back suplex, but Kingston turned it around and landed on top of Bryan leading to a break. Bryan was holding his head after a rough landing.
Analysis: I know Bryan has been fine for the last year wrestling on a regular basis, but I don’t want to see him doing headbutts or rough landings off the top rope considering his concussion history. There’s no need to risk it. I don’t normally worry about that stuff because I have faith in wrestlers taking care of themselves, but in Bryan’s case, he should be careful sometimes.
(Commercial)

They were about 20 minutes into the match as Bryan nearly won by submission, but Kingston managed to break free. They exchanged strikes. Bryan with kicks to the chest followed by the kick to the head that connected, which is rare. Kingston with a headscissors takedown, they exchanged pin attempts and got multiple two counts. Bryan slapped on the LeBell Lock submission on Kingston’s right arm and Kingston managed to get to the bottom rope to break the hold. Bryan kicked Kingston out of the ring. Bryan went off the apron with a running knee strike on Kingston on the floor. Back in the ring, Bryan went up top, he jumped off with something (that was really nothing) and Kingston hit a dropkick. Kingston wanted Trouble in Paradise, so Rowan tripped up Kingston. Big E and Rowan got into a brawl on the floor. Woods kicked Rowan down. The referee ejected Woods and Big E from ringside, but not Rowan because he never saw it. Bryan got a rollup on Kingston for a two count. Kingston came back with a kick to the head, Rowan grabbed Kingston and tossed him over a barricade at ringside. The referee was busy looking at Bryan. The referee figured out what happened, so he tossed Rowan from ringside. Bryan rolled Kingston back into the ring. Bryan charged in with the running knee, but Kingston came back with the Trouble in Paradise for the pinfall win after 25 minutes! That drew a good pop from the crowd.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
The announcers put it over as an upset since Daniel Bryan is the WWE Champion.
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a great match with Bryan in control for most of it and then Kingston made the big comeback after Rowan was tossed to the back. I liked the story with Bryan going for submissions all the time, Kingston fighting back and then finding a way to win. I’m a bit surprised they went as long as they did, but it makes sense also because it makes Kingston look impressive and shows that he belongs in the WWE Title match. Bryan has no problem putting over guys over. It helps the Elimination Chamber match when he does that.

Jeff Hardy’s music hit and he made his entrance for the second part of this match.
(Commercial)
Gauntlet Match #2: Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy
They started at a fast pace as they battled on the floor with Kingston missing a running attack, but Hardy moved out of the way. Hardy connected with the running jumping leg attack to the face. Back in the ring, Hardy missed a Swanton Bomb off the top rope. Hardy knocked down Kingston with a forearm to the face. Hardy hit a double leg drop and Kingston came back with a rollup for two. Hardy went for a double kick on Kingston against the turnbuckle, but Kingston moved. They battled by the turnbuckle with Hardy wanting a suplex, Kingston blocked it and punched Hardy down. Kingston up top and he hit a cross body block on Hardy leading to Hardy countering to a two count. Kingston came back with the SOS on Hardy for the pinfall win. That went for about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston

Analysis: ** That was fine for the time given. Jeff was aggressive, but Kingston came back again. It’s a way to show that Kingston belongs in the WWE Title picture at least for this week. Hardy has the least momentum of anybody in the Chamber match.
Samoa Joe is up next.
(Commercial)
Gauntlet Match #3: Kofi Kingston vs. Samoa Joe
When the match returned, I could hear a director counting down from 5 to 1 and then Phillips spoke. Joe was in control with a running splash against the turnbuckle followed by a jumping kick to the face for a two count for Joe. Abdominal stretch by Joe followed by a stiff clothesline that got a two count. Kingston has been in the ring for 40 minutes. Joe slapped on a chinlock to give Kingston a breather. Kingston managed to send Joe out of the ring followed by a cross body block over the top onto Joe on the floor. Joe and Kingston got back into the ring at the eight count. Joe decked Kingston with another clothesline for two with Graves thinking it was one, but it was two. Kingston worked over Joe with punches and Joe came back with an atomic drop. Joe hit a running senton back splash on Kingston for a two count. Kingston went for a springboard attack off the apron, so Joe shoved him to the floor with a rough landing for Kingston. The referee counted Kingston out, but Kingston crawled back in. Joe twisted the head of Kingston with a chinlock with Phillips noting it was 45 minutes for Kingston. Kingston managed to get going with a running clothesline. Kingston went for another move, but Joe caught him with the Coquina Clutch submission. Kingston countered the Coquina Clutch with the Bret Hart-style kick off the ropes leading to pinfall win after about ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: **1/2 That’s three wins for Kingston and this time he looked exhausted as he sold everything well while getting in very little offense. The finish was the classic ending that Bret Hart used to beat legends like Roddy Piper and Steve Austin in his career. It’s clever to end it that way once in a while.

Post match, Joe hit a one armed slam on Kingston. When Kingston went to the floor, Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch again. Referees went down to the ring to break it up.

AJ Styles entered and he attacked Joe to cause him to break the hold. Graves said that Styles should thank Joe. Styles checked on Kingston as they went to break.
(Commercial)
The fourth match didn’t start during the break because Styles gave Kingston some time to get back to his feet. Kingston stumbled to his feet, Styles told him he didn’t have to do this, Kingston slapped him and said he wanted to fight him.

Gauntlet Match #4: Kofi Kingston vs. AJ Styles
There are about nine minutes left in the show. Styles worked over Kingston with punches followed by a backbreaker for two. Styles whipped Kingston sternum first into the turnbuckle for a two count. Styles worked over Kingston by wrenching on the left knee. When Kingston tried to fight back, Styles kicked him in the left knee. Styles with a snap suplex for two. Kingston managed to get two rollups for two counts and then a backslide cover for another two count. Styles hit a modified backbreaker. They battled by the apron with Kingston kicking Styles repeatedly. Kingston missed a running double knee attack because Styles moved and Kingston hit the steel ring post. Ouch. Rough landing. Kingston was getting counted out by the referee, but Kingston crawled back in the ring at nine with the fans cheering him. Styles grabbed Kingston, corner clothesline he wanted a hurricanrana, but Kingston held onto the ropes. Kingston went to the top rope and hit a Frog Splash to the back of Styles for a two count with Styles getting his right shoulder up. Kingston has been in the match for 60 minutes. Styles tripped up Kingston and slapped on the Calf Crusher for the submission win after about eight minutes for this fall.
Winner by submission: AJ Styles
Analysis: *** That was an entertaining sequence with Styles showing reluctance to finish Kingston off, but then he got it done with the submission win. Kingston was really good all match long and the 60 minute performance is very impressive.

Kingston was given a standing ovation from the WWE Universe as New Day helped Kingston to the back.

Randy Orton’s music hit. Styles looked at the aisle for him, but he was not there.
Gauntlet Match #5: Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles
Orton snuck up behind Styles and hit a RKO from outta nowhere. That drew a big pop from the crowd because that move is still so popular even with Randy as a heel. Orton covered for the pinfall win. For match time, let’s call it five seconds. The entire Gauntlet Match ran 61 minutes.
Winner of Gauntlet Match: Randy Orton

Analysis: I think we all knew that was coming with Orton out of nowhere when you look at the clock. Everybody but Styles was aware of it, of course.

Rating for the Entire Gauntlet Match: ***1/2 That is not the average. It’s the rating for the whole thing. Kofi Kingston was the star of the match obviously and I liked the way most of it was booked. I think they should have had another minute or two of the final part with Orton and Styles so that Orton could celebrate while the announcers could do a hard sell for Elimination. Other than that, I liked the booking of the Gauntlet Match.
Orton was announced as the winner. The win means that Orton will enter the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Title as the sixth and final entrant. End show.
Analysis: I’m going with Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE Title at Elimination Chamber. I think he might get some help from a returning Luke Harper as well. I would be surprised if there is a title change.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Kofi Kingston
  2. Daniel Bryan
  3. AJ Styles

 

The Scoreboard
7 out of 10
Last week: 7
2019 Average: 6.86
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 6.5, 7.5, 5, 8, 7
2019 High: 8 (January 8)
2019 Low: 5 (January 15)

Final Thoughts
I give this week’s Smackdown a 7 out of 10.
I’ll go with a 7 thanks to the hour-long Gauntlet Match in the main event. That makes it around the Smackdown average show for the year, but a 5 is more of an average score. I’d rather see something like that than a show with only three matches in two hours as we have seen in the past. Kofi Kingston had a great showing by winning three matches in one night and wrestling for 60 minutes. That’s very rare, especially on Smackdown.
The Charlotte Flair promo to start the night was fine. It was some cheap heel work to piss off the crowd, which she’s pretty good at it. The women’s tag team match was just okay. The McMiz TV segment was effective in terms of building to the Elimination Chamber SD Tag Team Match because it put over the Usos as more of a legit team than the short term Miz/Shane pairing.
I’m not sure if the Gauntlet Match was that effective in terms of getting the average viewer excited about Elimination Chamber, but there was quality wrestling for an hour to end the show, so that’s something I like to see.


The next WWE pay-per-view is Elimination Chamber on February 17 in Houston. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kofi Kingston
Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Miz and Shane McMahon (c) vs. The Usos
Women’s Tag Team Titles Elimination Chamber Match: Nia Jax and Tamina vs. Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville vs. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay vs. Carmella and Naomi
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Ruby Riott
Intercontinental Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) and Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor
Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Akira Tozawa
I thought Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio would be added, but there's nothing official yet.
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John Canton
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