Welcome to another WWE Smackdown Live Review. The big news of the day is that WWE NXT is moving to Wednesdays on USA Network starting on September 18. While Wednesday has always been NXT night on WWE Network, it’s more WWE content on primetime TV, which is good for the visibility of the brand. Anyway, we have all the details here.
Live from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, this is Smackdown Live for episode #1044. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present.
This week’s Smackdown began with Randy Orton making his entrance. The Smackdown announce team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and David Otunga (filling in for Corey Graves) hyped up what was going to happen on the show. Graves is on vacation with girlfriend Carmella apparently in Jamaica based on their Instagram photos.
They showed a replay of Orton joining The Revival in a successful attack against The New Day with Orton hitting three RKOs on the three New Day guys.
Randy Orton said that last week Kofi Kingston got RKO’d twice because Kofi is stupid. Orton said that on Raw they decimated New Day again and the best part was holding Kofi down while they injured Woods…why…because Kofi is stupid. Orton reminded us that the three most destructive letters in sports entertainment are RKO.
The New Day’s music hit, Orton turned to face the entrance, but Kingston was in the ring and he hit Orton with a Trouble in Paradise kick to the head. That’s payback for Orton attacking Kingston from behind. Kingston grabbed a chair and put it on the left foot on Orton. Kingston teased jumping off the middle ropes, but The Revival duo of Dawson and Wilder ran out for the save. Kingston kicked Dawson in the ribs, chair to the ribs of Wilder and Orton bailed. Kingston hit Dawson in the back with a steel chair as well with the heels retreating. The fans cheered for Kofi.
Analysis: It was a solid opening segment where they got a lot done in seven minutes. If it was on Raw it would have gone on for too long. On Smackdown, they make a better use of their time. Orton did some trash talk, Kingston got revenge with the surprise attack and Kingston came off as a smart WWE Champion because he was able to get rid of The Revival thanks to the chair. There wasn't much physicality with Orton and Kingston going into SummerSlam. That has changed now as they head to the rematch at Clash of Champions, which isn't official yet, but it's coming.
The same video package aired to summarize the Roman Reigns storyline over the last month. We get this on every Raw and Smackdown.
Andrade and Zelina Vega entered for his King of the Ring tournament match.
A graphic was shown with Phillips mentioning that NXT is coming to USA Network on September 18.
Shane McMahon was in his office and Kevin Owens walked in with Owens asking him why he called him there. Owens wasn’t happy about Shane fining him $100,000 and it dawned on him just how bad this is. Owens said that $100,000 is nothing to Shane, but it’s a lot to Kevin like a mortgage, his kids’ future and Shane knows that because he’s a good father too. Owens told Shane he wished he would reconsider. Shane said he’ll take it under consideration. Owens left.
Apollo Crews made his entrance for his King of the Ring match.
King of the Ring Tournament Round One: Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Apollo Crews
Crews with a running clothesline and then Andrade hit a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Running double knee attack by Andrade got a two count. Crews got an inside cradle for two. Crews put Andrade on the apron, Andrade wrenched on the left arm, Andrade up top, he jumped off and Crews hit a dropkick that drew a good pop. That was a nice spot. Crews was on the floor, Andrade jumped on him, Crews tried a Powerbomb, but Andrade countered with a headscissors into the steel steps.
Andrade went for a cross body block, Crews caught him and Crews lifted Andrade into the air leading to double knees to the ribs. That was a cool spot. Crews with a kick to the ribs, pump kick to the face and a leaping clothesline. The crowd was getting into it. Andrade with a back elbow to the head, but Crews came back with an Olympic Slam for two. Andrade with a boot to the face of Crews, then he went to the turnbuckle and Crews with a leaping kick to the face. Crews was selling a left arm injury, so Andrade sent him into the turnbuckle again, but this time the double knee attack failed because Crews moved. Andrade with an armdrag, kick to the face and Crews with an enziguri. Crews with a standing Shooting Star Press on Andrade for a two count. Zelina with a distraction, Andrade with a spinning back elbow to the head and a Hammerlock DDT for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Andrade
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very good match with Crews getting in plenty of offense, but Andrade got the win thanks to Zelina’s distraction. That’s a common finish for Andrade matches. I like how Crews got a chance to show off his athleticism and they had a very competitive match. If this was booked as a five-minute easy win for Andrade that would have been a disappointment. I'm glad that it was more of a competitive match with Andrade picking up the win thanks to some help.
The win by Andrade means he moves on to the quarterfinals to face the winner of Chad Gable vs. Shelton Benjamin. I think Andrade has a very good chance of winning this tournament.
There was a shot of Daniel Bryan, Rowan and a guy with a black towel covering his head. They were in a small room with the mystery guy sitting in a chair. Bryan told this person that he knows what they did, so they should not move from that chair or they will be very, very sorry.
Elias was shown walking backstage while playing his guitar with the 24/7 Title around the waist. Andrade found referee John Cone in disguise and Elias asked: “where is he?” Cone pointed at an equipment case. Elias opened up the case, he grabbed Maverick by the throat and told him to read a paper. Maverick read the paper saying that the 24/7 rules have been suspended for the evening because Elias has a match against Kevin Owens and there were no exceptions. The note was signed by Shane McMahon. Elias put Maverick back in the case, then Drake popped out of it saying he just wants to consummate his marriage.
Analysis: The riveting 24/7 Title storylines continue. It was more fun when R-Truth was the champion, but I guess that’s the point of having a babyface champion. When Elias loses it back to Truth or a face wrestler, the fans will enjoy that.
Up next is A Moment of Bliss with Charlotte Flair as the guest.
A Moment of Bliss with Charlotte Flair as the guest
Alexa Bliss and her fellow Women’s Tag Team Champion Nikki Cross made their entrance. They were not in their ring gear. Bliss said you can call them the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, which led to them doing their pose on the stage. They sat in their chairs. Bliss said that they are so humbled by their title reign. Bliss said that her talk show will still welcome the less fortunate that don’t have championships of their own. Bliss claimed her guest requested to be on the show. That led to 9-time Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair making her entrance.
Charlotte Flair entered looking nice in a business suit in short shorts and showing off her legs in the chair. Flair said she thinks this white chair was wrong and she pointed at the throne as being more of her style since she's "The Queen" after all. Flair said that Trish Stratus didn't pass her the torch, Charlotte took it. Flair said she is the Queen of All Eras and the face of the Smackdown Women’s division. Bliss said that some people may say that Bayley is the face of the Smackdown women’s division. Bliss said she wouldn’t say it, but some people might. Flair bragged about all the media appearances she does and says she is marketable, unlike Bayley. Flair said that Bayley is an afterthought, which his why the division and the title are an afterthought.
Bayley showed up for the predictable interruption with the Smackdown Women’s Title on her shoulder. Bayley said that Charlotte was making excuses, but at the end of the day, Bayley is the champion and that means she is better than Flair and that just eats her up inside.
Flair asked Bayley how people feel about her as the champion. Flair said that what everybody was talking about at SummerSlam was her versus Trish, not Bayley vs. Moon. That’s true. Flair said that she will restore the title’s prestige when she beats Bayley at Clash of Champions.
Bayley said if that’s the challenge, she accepts. Bayley said she can’t wait to do all these people a favor and shut Charlotte’s mouth. While Flair was seated in the chair, Bayley shoved her and Flair went down. Bayley left looking proud of herself.
Analysis: That was okay. I thought Flair was better in her promo than Bayley was because Flair had more to say. Bayley getting the upper hand by shoving Flair down was a smart way to give Bayley the advantage for now. I fully expect Flair to win the title because she is featured heavily on WWE’s Smackdown promotion for when they move to Fox on October 4. Flair was telling the truth when talking about doing the media appearances and that more people talked about her match at SummerSlam over Bayley. I think Bayley has done well as a champion, but it has not been a memorable title reign because of weak storytelling. Bayley's PPV matches with Bliss and Moon were just average. If Flair doesn’t win at Clash of Champions then maybe she’ll win it on October 4 on Fox. It’s probably going to happen soon. What will frustrate some fans is they are sick of Charlotte in the title picture, but I don’t mind it because she’s great and there is a lack of other options.
Buddy Murphy was shown in the locker room getting ready for his match. Roman Reigns walked into the room. Reigns wanted to know if Murphy was lying to him or to them (Bryan/Rowan). Murphy said he was pretty sure he saw Rowan backstage and he was only trying to help him. Reigns said if he finds out Murphy is lying again, Reigns will whoop his ass. Reigns left.
Analysis: They had an outstanding match last week. I enjoyed that a lot.
Daniel Bryan entered with his buddy Rowan by his side.
Buddy Murphy made his entrance. There was not much of a reaction to him.
Bryan did a promo calling Murphy a liar that is the worst kind of liar because he’s a cowardly liar. Bryan said that tonight, they will reveal who is the culprit to this tragedy that has been happening to Roman Reigns. Bryan claimed they will reveal that Murphy has something to do with it too.
Daniel Bryan (w/Rowan) vs. Buddy Murphy
Murphy with a running knee attack for a two count. Bryan escaped to the floor, then he got the advantage with kicks to the chest and a forearm. Bryan with a snapmare followed by a kick to the back. They got into a slugfest as they exchanged chops, Bryan ran the ropes and Murphy with a clothesline to send Bryan over the top. Murphy with a somersault dive onto Bryan on the floor.
The match returned with Murphy hitting a missile dropkick off the middle ropes. Bryan sent Murphy to the apron, Murphy up top and he hit the Meteora double knees attack for a two count. Bryan with a boot to the face, then he took down Murphy by the arm and slapped on the LeBell Lock submission on the left arm. Murphy got close to the ropes, so Bryan wrenched back on the right arm and leg of Murphy. When Murphy got his foot on the bottom rope, Bryan let go of the hold. Bryan worked over Murphy with hard kicks to the chest, Murphy avoided the roundhouse kick and hit a spin kick. Bryan set up Murphy upside down against the turnbuckle and then he hit a running dropkick. Bryan set up Murphy on the top rope and hit a belly to back superplex. Bryan kicked Murphy again, then a running dropkick and Murphy came back with a superkick to the head followed by a running Powerbomb for a two count. Bryan and Murphy exchanged forearm shots to the face, then Murphy with kicks, Bryan with uppercuts and Murphy came back with a backslide pin for two. Murphy with a knee to the face followed by a brainbuster for two because Bryan’s foot was on the bottom rope to stop the pin attempt. Really good stuff. Rowan was on the apron, Bryan rollup, Murphy superkick, Bryan moved and Murphy kicked Rowan. Bryan got a rollup. Murphy with a rising knee to the face followed by the Murphy’s Law slam for the pinfall win after 13 minutes. Rowan ran in right after the bell, so he was a few seconds too late.
Winner by pinfall: Buddy Murphy
Analysis: **** Huge win for Buddy Murphy! I was surprised by the result with Bryan doing the clean job like that. I thought maybe Bryan would lose by making a mistake, but it was a clean win for Murphy. That was a great match as expected from two outstanding wrestlers. It’s not as easy to have an awesome match when it’s heel vs. heel, but they made it work with a very competitive match from the moment the bell rang. Bryan nearly won with his submission, but Murphy kept coming back for more. I liked the story a lot. It was the second week in a row with a great match from Murphy since he had an awesome showing against Roman Reigns last week. It’s all about giving people time to have great matches like this one.
Murphy left the ring with a smile on his face after the biggest win of his career. Some fans were chanting for him, so you could tell he won over some fans with that performance.
There was a shot of the guy in a room with a towel over his head because Daniel Bryan told him to stay there.
The Revival were shown walking backstage because they have a match.
A replay aired of the finish of Buddy Murphy’s win over Daniel Bryan.
Buddy Murphy was about to be interviewed by Kayla Braxton, but Rowan showed up to attack him. Bryan yelled about how Murphy was a cowardly piece of trash. Rowan gave Murphy an Iron Claw slam onto a container. Bryan continued to trash talk Murphy.
Analysis: Based on the result of the match and that segment, it’s likely that Murphy will be a face now, which can lead to him continuing a rivalry with Bryan.
The Revival made their entrance. They were selling ring injuries after Kofi Kingston beat them up earlier with a steel chair.
Scott Dawson complained about the fans cheering about Kingston attacking them. Dawson said that New Day are cowards just like the fans are. Dash Wilder said that Big E wasn’t there because he was helping Xavier Woods walk. Dawson said to make sure that Woods and Big E are ready for Clash of Champions because they are challenging them to a Smackdown Tag Team Title match at Clash of Champions. Wilder wanted to say more, but Heavy Machinery entered for the interruption.
Analysis: The New Day vs. The Revival for the SD Tag Team Titles makes sense based on recent weeks of television. The Revival are Raw guys, but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker) vs. The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
Tucker with a bearhug on Wilder, who had the injured ribs. Otis tagged in, knee to the ribs and Tucker hit a delayed suplex followed by Otis hitting a suplex on Dawson as well. The Heavy Machinery boys gave double clotheslines to knock The Revival out of the ring.
Wilder was in control of Tucker with a headlock as the match returned from the break. When Tucker nearly broke free, Wilder grabbed him by the hair and hit a bulldog off the turnbuckle for a two count. Dawson tagged in, jumped off the ropes with nothing because Tucker moved and Otis tagged in against Tucker. Otis was on fire with a clothesline, spinning body slam and a corner splash. Otis hit his Caterpillar move into an elbow drop. Tucker back in, Dawson dropkicked Otis and Wilder with a flip into a pin attempt on Tucker that was good for the three count. It went about six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
Analysis: ** They had a solid match with the crowd coming alive for the offense of Otis. It was the right call to have The Revival win since they’re getting the title shot at Clash of Champions. Heavy Machinery has done well in the last couple of months, but they aren’t featured on TV enough.
Chad Gable was shown walking backstage with Kayla Braxton walking up to him with a microphone in his hand. She asked what he thought about being an underdog. Gable said that he is an underdog once again like he’s been most of his life. Gable said that King of the Ring is a great place to open some eyes. While he was talking, Benjamin put a sign on the Men’s Locker Room door saying you had to be this tall to be in King of the Ring. Gable saw it, then sarcastically said “funny” as he walked into the room.
Analysis: Gable is one of the most underutilized guys on the Smackdown roster. If they are not going to use him regularly, they should move him to NXT on USA Network because then he might get a chance to shine on that show. I assume Gable will beat Benjamin next week.
The Miz entered in a suit to host Miz TV with Sami Zayn as the guest. They are both Raw guys.
They showed a tweet from Triple H and other WWE superstars reacting to the news of NXT moving to USA Network on September 18. Everybody is excited about it, of course.
Miz TV with Sami Zayn as the guest
The Miz welcomed us to his talk show. He didn’t even plug his reality show after Smackdown, which was a surprise. Miz said that his guest requested this appearance and he introduced us to Sami Zayn.
Sami Zayn did his dancing routine as he entered in his street clothes. Zayn lost to Cedric Alexander in the King of the Ring tournament on Raw. Zayn entered the ring with Miz and the fans booed Zayn.
Zayn said he didn’t really care about Miz or this show, but he needed TV time because he has things to get off his chest. Miz said that Sami has done a lot of losing lately, so he’s had time to think while staring up at the lights. This is the same Miz that lost multiple times to Shane McMahon and barely done anything as a face, right? Okay. Zayn admitted he has been losing match after match for months now. Zayn said that he’s gotten caught up in the trap like people like Miz and parasites in the crowd that get caught up in greed, selfishness and ambition. Zayn said that any success he’s had is bigger than himself, he’s fought for causes, for what’s right and the path for redemption is through altruism – helping other people. Zayn said that there were so many people on Smackdown who need his help. Miz asked who and Zayn said one of them is ready to come out right now.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance with the Intercontinental Championship on his shoulder. Tom Phillips noted the long history between them and one of the best matches he’s ever seen at NXT Takeover Dallas in April 2016. I agree about that being a special match. It was Nakamura’s first WWE match and my WWE match of the year in 2016. Five stars, indeed.
When Nakamura got into the ring, Miz asked why would he need Zayn’s help when he’s the Intercontinental Champion? Zayn noted that Nakamura is Japanese and he is an artist – a poet! Zayn said that Miz can’t understand how hard it is for Nakamura to be unable to express himself in Japanese, but Zayn understands because he’s an artist and poet. Zayn said that he and Nakamura have a bond that nobody will understand from the day Nakamura set foot in WWE (referencing that Takeover April 2016 match). Zayn said that they understand eachother – they are two sides of the same coin. Zayn said from now on, Nakamura doesn’t have to deal with the pain of being unable to express himself, so if you want to talk to Nakamura, you have to talk to Zayn. Miz tried talking to Nakamura, but Shinsuke told Miz to talk to Zayn, so Sami said they had a language that Miz can understand. Nakamura kicked Miz in the back of the head.
Nakamura followed up with a running knee to the back of the head followed by knee strikes to the ribs. Nakamura with a running kick on Miz against the turnbuckle. Zayn told Nakamura that was perfect. Zayn held up Miz again and Nakamura hit a Kinshasa knee strike. Zayn celebrated by yelling “that is how you do it” while fans booed them.
Analysis: I didn’t see this alliance coming, but I like it because it will give Zayn some meaningful TV time. That doesn’t mean that Zayn will stop wrestling, but he can also be present at Nakamura matches. What was disappointing about this is that Ali beat Nakamura non-title recently, there was no follow up to that and now it looks like they are setting up Nakamura vs. Miz at Clash of Champions since every title is on the line. I’m just saying I’d rather see Ali vs. Nakamura rather than Miz in the IC Title picture again. If they decide to follow the brand split again after Clash Champions, there might be a move coming since Zayn is a Raw guy and Nakamura is Smackdown, so maybe Zayn will be Smackdown only. I don’t know what they are going to do in terms of enforcing the brand split and when they might do it.
Daniel Bryan and Rowan were back in their room with the guy that had a towel covering his head. Bryan said that Roman Reigns is coming and will learn exactly what this guy did.
Shane McMahon was in his office with Kevin Owens walking into the room. Shane said that the one thing Owens hasn’t done is apologize for what he did by putting his hands on a WWE official. Owens said he apologized for what he did. Shane said that he’s reconsidering his fine. Shane told Owens that if he puts his hands on a WWE official, he’ll be immediately fired. Owens wanted a handshake, but Shane said not quite there yet, so he didn’t shake the hand.
Analysis: The referee was Elias and not a regular official, but that wasn’t mentioned during that segment.
Elias made his entrance. I didn’t realize his theme song was so generic, but it is. Kevin Owens was up next as he stared at the King of the Ring throne that was on the stage. Owens was wearing his new “Stun Owens Stun” shirt for this match.
King of the Ring Tournament Round One: Elias vs. Kevin Owens
Elias with a running shoulder tackle. Owens came back with a clothesline to send him over the top to the floor. Owens followed him out of the ring and Elias whipped Owens into the barricade. Owens with a release German Suplex followed by Owens hitting a cannonball splash against the turnbuckle. Shane McMahon made his entrance, which drew boos from the crowd. Owens wasn’t happy about it.
The match continued with Elias grounding Owens with a headlock while Shane McMahon watched from ringside. When Owens broke free, Elias followed up with a jumping knee to the face. Elias worked over Owens with punches, kicks and a running knee against the ropes. Elias with a body slam. Elias slapped on a headlock, Owens got back up and hit a DDT. Owens followed up with a missile dropkick off the middle ropes and a running senton splash. Owens to the ropes, Elias put him on his shoulders and hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two. That’s a good move. Owens got back into it, he went for a Senton Bomb off the top, but Elias got the knees up. Owens sent Elias over the top to the floor. Owens with a diving cannonball attack off the apron onto Elias on the floor. Shane took off his jacket and shirt to reveal a referee shirt. Shane told the regular referee to leave the ring. Back in the ring, Owens with a superkick. Elias shoved Owens, nearly into Shane and Elias hit a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Owens with Shane doing the fast count to give Elias the win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Elias
The win by Elias means that he will face Ali or Murphy in the next round.
Analysis: **1/4 It was a decent match with a weak ending because I was hoping the Owens rivalry with Shane would end, but that’s not happening. Elias matches are never that interesting, no matter the opponent. I would have given this less time and given more time to some of the other matches on the show because this is was all about the cheap ending to screw over Owens. The backstage segments with Owens and Shane set up the finish because Owens was reluctant to strike Shane as the referee.
The commentary was ridiculous with Saxton correctly saying that Owens was cheated out of the win, Otunga asked how was he cheated and Saxton said, “did you not just see what happened?” Pretty much. He was cheated out of the win.
Roman Reigns was shown walking into the Daniel Bryan room where Bryan was with Rowan and the guy with a towel over his head. Bryan told Reigns that he tried to tell the whole world that Rowan was innocent, so Bryan went to extreme lengths to find the man who tried to end Roman’s career. Bryan took off the towel to reveal and older bald man with an orange beard like Rowan. This other guy had hair on the side of his head unlike Rowan, but they did look similar. Maybe they colored the dude's beard. I don't know. Reigns looked at them with a confused look on his face. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I like that they didn’t give it away yet. This Rowan lookalike will probably be revealed as Bryan's way of getting the heat off him, but not the actual guy that attacked Reigns. I’m a big fan of long term storylines. I also understand that some fans are going to be mad about it because WWE said that they would let us know who attacked Reigns, yet this was presented as a joke. If a heel like Bryan lies, so what? He's a heel. That's what they do. It’s a mystery angle too. There is no need to rush it. I still feel like the reveal will be that Bryan was the one that tried the backstage attack and the parking lot attack. There will be some random footage that shows Bryan in both places, which lead to a Bryan vs. Reigns feud. This has also kept Roman Reigns out of the WWE Title picture, which is a good thing as well.
Three Stars of the Show
- Buddy Murphy
- Daniel Bryan
- Andrade/Apollo Crews
7 out of 10
Last week: 8
2019 Average: 6.81 (Raw is 5.70)
Last 5 Weeks: 8, 6.5, 7.5, 7.5, 6.5
2019 High: 8.5 (February 26)
2019 Low: 5 (January 15, June 11)
I give this week’s Smackdown a 7 out of 10.
It was a pretty good show for the most part with the Murphy vs. Bryan match as the highlight that’s worth checking out if you missed it. I also liked the Andrade match with Apollo Crews. The other two matches were just average.
Most of the promos were okay with Charlotte Flair challenging Bayley and then we found out about Sami Zayn being paired up with Shinsuke Nakamura, which could work well for both guys. I liked the Kingston/Orton segment because they made the most of their time without running too long. The Bryan "reveal" of a Rowan lookalike wasn't much and it might piss people off, but I don't mind a heel lying to us and the mystery continuing. Last week’s show was better, but I still enjoyed Smackdown this week. With a better ending, it would have been higher than a 7 out of 10.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Clash of Champions on September 15. Here’s what we know so far.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
That’s it for official matches with more to come in the weeks ahead.