The John Report: WWE Smackdown Live 04/02/19 Review

Live from Baltimore, Maryland, this is Smackdown Live for episode #1024. 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.

The show began by talking about what was to come on the show including a look at the WrestleMania main event women getting arrested on Raw and the Bryan/Kingston contract signing to come.
Kevin Owens Show with Randy Orton and AJ Styles
Kevin Owens was in the ring hosting his “Kevin Owens Show” talk show. Owens talked about his two guests wanting to continue their legacies at WrestleMania. Owens introduced Randy Orton, who turned 39 years old yesterday, so happy belated birthday to him. Orton walked out in his ring gear and a vest. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton talked about WrestleMania.
Owens introduced AJ Styles, who got a nice pop from the crowd. Styles and Orton sat in leather chairs in the ring with Owens in between them.

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Owens asked Orton if he was proud of attacking Styles during his match against Kurt Angle last week. Orton said he was proud of interrupting a broken down Olympian against a guy who thinks he’s great and Orton said that he saved the fans from watching the match. Styles claimed that Orton has been there for 20 years, yet all he’s learned is one move. Orton said when you have a move that is that deadly, all you need is one move (the RKO). Orton ripped on indy guys wrestling in gymnasiums and armories while he was wrestling there for nearly 20 years wrestling in front of tens of thousands of people.  Styles said that when he was wrestling in gymnasiums, Orton was in WWE…getting suspended for failing drug tests. That drew a loud “oooohhhh” reaction from the crowd. Orton ripped on Styles saying that if he was good enough he would have been in WWE earlier. Orton said that now that John Cena has gone off to Hollywood, Styles has assumed the role as the corporate bitch. Kevin Owens left the ring, which was pretty funny the way he got out of there.
Styles and Orton got out of their chairs. That led to a brawl with Orton sending Styles face first into the table followed by a forearm. Styles hit a forearm to the face. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Orton avoided it and hit a RKO out of nowhere to drop Styles in the center of the ring. Orton posed to end the segment.
Analysis: That was great. The physical interaction was fine and gave Orton the advantage going into WrestleMania. The promos from both guys had a more personal edginess to them and a sense of realness with Orton bragging about his WrestleMania legacy compared to Styles wrestling in the indies. Styles also took a shot by mentioning Orton getting suspended in the past. Orton was suspended a few times. Most fans know that, so the fans reacted to them perfectly. There’s no need to over-complicate it or have them talk too long, which is a problem Raw has. Smackdown is more simplified. It works well.

The New Day guys were shown backstage with Kofi Kingston holding the WWE Title contract. That’s coming up later.
Aleister Black made his entrance.
All eight guys were in the ring for a tag team match.

The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso), Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev (w/Lana)
Ricochet got a rollup on Cesaro for two. Cesaro came back with a huge uppercut. Black tagged in with a moonsault press off the ropes onto Sheamus followed by a running kick to the face. The faces made quick tags as the Usos double teamed Sheamus in their half of the ring. Sheamus brought Jey to their corner and knocked Jey down. Nakamura in, Rusev with a blind tag, Rusev pulled down the ropes and Jey was sent over the top to the floor. Rusev whipped Jey shoulder first into the steel steps and into the barricade at ringside. Nakamura tagged in with a kick to the ribs of Jey. The heels continued to work on Jey outside the ring as the show went to break.
Rusev and Nakamura did a double team wishbone spot on Jey, who continued as the face in peril in this tag team match. Nakamura with a running knee to the ribs of Jey for a two count. Jey fought out of a headlock with a Samoan Drop. Jimmy got the hot tag against Rusev with kicks for everybody including a superkick to Rusev with Nakamura breaking up the pin. Ricochet dropkick on Nakamura, then they did a sequence where everybody hit big moves to clear the ring. Jey tagged back in, Usos double kick to the face of Rusev and a double superkick. Jimmy was legal again and he covered Rusev for the win after about 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso), Ricochet and Aleister Black

Analysis: *** That was a pretty good match. The last two minutes were pretty hectic after the hot tag and everybody hitting big moves. It was hard to play by play recap all of it because of how fast they were going out there. The Usos working together to get the win was fine with me although one of the other teams could have used positive momentum too.

The music of Alexa Bliss hit and she walked onto the stage. Bliss is the host of WrestleMania. Corey Graves was freaking out since that’s his gimmick when Bliss (or Mandy Rose) are on.
Bliss said that as the host of WrestleMania, she has to be there even though she didn’t want to be there. Bliss talked about how Rousey, Lynch and Flair have been released from jail and will main event WrestleMania while Kofi Kingston will get a WWE Title match at WrestleMania and Kevin Owens thinks he is a better talk show host than her. She didn’t think so.
Bliss said that Smackdown has lost the spirit of competition. Bliss noted that last week The Usos forfeited a match against New Day to allow them to win the Gauntlet Match. Bliss said that it was noble, heroic and so deserving of repercussions. Bliss announced that at WrestleMania, The Usos will defend the Smackdown Tag Team Title match against Sheamus/Cesaro, Rusev/Nakamura and Ricochet/Black.
The four teams got into a brawl in the ring. Ricochet hit a Codebreaker on Cesaro and Black hit a Black Mass on Cesaro. Ricochet hit a somersault dive over the top onto the other guys on the floor.

Analysis: That was expected because that match has been rumored for several weeks. It would be nice if it was a ladder match to give it a different feel. Bliss is the host of WrestleMania, but does that mean she gets to make matches? Apparently so. It would be nice if a McMahon family member announced it to make it a bigger deal, but using Bliss is fine I guess. She’s a good talker and obviously nice to look at too. No New Day in the SD Tag Team Title match is a bit of a surprise, so they’ll be focused on supporting Kingston.

The announcers were shown on camera and they talked about the women getting arrested on Raw. There’s more on that later.
The IIconics duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay entered the arena for something after the break.
The announcers shilled all of the WWE shows coming up during WrestleMania week. They also mentioned several of the big matches at WrestleMania as well.
The IIconics duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay were in the ring for a promo. They spoke about Smackdown Tag Teams at WrestleMania when talking about the men’s title match just made and their Women’s Tag Team Title match. They ripped on the other women’s teams in their title match just like how they beat Sasha Banks and Bayley last week. They said that they’ll win the Women’s Tag Team Titles and make WrestleMania…iconic. They stared at the sign.
Analysis: It was a quick promo by the annoying heel IIconic duo. I don’t mind their shtick, but I know some people hate them. I like that they are a true tag team. That’s good for the division.  I think Banks and Bayley will retain the titles at WrestleMania.

Replays aired from Raw last night showing Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair getting arrested leading to fights while they were handcuffed. The storyline is they were all released from jail. Their WrestleMania main event match is still on, of course.
The Miz made his entrance in his ring gear and he’s against Shane McMahon at WrestleMania. He’s in a 1 on 3 Handicap Match against the Sanity trio.
The announcers mentioned Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this Saturday. That was announced on Monday.
Following Smackdown tonight, a new episode of the Miz & Mrs. reality show is on USA Network.
The Miz said that WrestleMania means different things for different people. Miz said for Flair, Rousey and Lynch it means making history. Miz said for Kofi (there were “Kofi” chants) it means finally breaking through. For him, it means retribution. Miz talked about how he’s been able to take stock in who he is as a father, husband and son because now he’s the best version of The Miz. He mentioned Miz & Mrs. after the show, he said he loves his family and they are proud of the show while saying he loves his wife Maryse and his daughter Monroe. Miz said he’s more motivated than he’s ever been in his entire career. Miz talked about how in five days we will be at WrestleMania and he will beat Shane McMahon anywhere and everywhere. Miz spoke about how he used to fight for his father’s approval, but now he fights for his honor. Miz said Shane has a dad, so that makes him a son of a bitch. Ouch. Sanity’s music hit there.
Analysis: Good promo from The Miz, who is finding his way as a babyface after many years as a heel. The “son of a bitch” line at the end was a smart way to end it with some attitude. I liked the intensity that Miz showed in that promo.

The Sanity trio of Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe made their entrance. I think it’s one of the cooler entrances in WWE even though they aren’t on TV that much these days.
Shane McMahon’s music hit because the storyline is that Shane made this match. Shane was on the stage with a microphone in hand. Shane said he wanted to see this match up close and personal, so he made Greg Hamilton introduce him. That led to Hamilton introducing Shane as the “best in the world” as Shane requested. Shane said start the match.

Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe vs. The Miz
Young started for Sanity, Miz attacked with punches and knocked Wolfe and Dain off the apron. Young hit a neckbreaker leading to a break one minute into the match.
The match returned with Miz standing tall in the ring as Young charged at him and Miz hit a back body drop on Young. Miz worked over Young with kicks against the turnbuckle. Running knees by Miz against the turnbuckle and a clothesline on Dain. Shane told Miz that his match is now Falls Count Anywhere just like their WrestleMania. Shane asked for a picture of Shane grabbing “Mr. Potato Face” aka Miz dad at Fastlane.
The action spilled to the floor with Miz trying to fight back against all three Sanity members. Miz picked up Wolfe and gave him a belly to back suplex through a table, but Young broke up the pin attempt. They went brawling back to the technical area and Miz whipped Young into a trash can. Miz slammed Young into an equipment case and into a steel door. Dain got back into it as he whipped Miz into some lockers. Miz shoved Dain face first into an electrical box. Miz and Young went brawling outside the arena. Miz hit a running knee to the face of Young. Miz grabbed some box with wheels and rolled it into Young’s face. Miz covered Yong on the ground outside the arena and got the pinfall after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: The Miz
Analysis: **1/4 It was a decent match reminiscent of hardcore matches WWE used to do where guys would brawl to the backstage area. I like how Miz took out the Sanity trio systematically before finishing off Young. While it does make Sanity look bad to lose 3 on 1, the priority here was to give Miz momentum and show that he’s ready for WrestleMania, so I think that goal was accomplished. I think Miz winning at WrestleMania is the right thing to do.

After the match was over, Shane was shown getting into a car and he was driving away as Miz stared at him.
A police car showed up at the arena. Becky Lynch arrived in the car and thanked a cop for driving her there. Lynch walked into the arena as the show went to break.
Analysis: Nice cops in a different city, I guess.
A video package aired about Monday’s Raw featuring the trio of Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch that will be a part of the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championship WrestleMania main event. The video focused on their post-match brawl leading to the three women getting arrested. I was entertained by it although some of it was a bit comedic too. Anyway, read all about it in my Raw review here in case you haven’t read that yet.

Let’s Hear from Becky Lynch
Corey Graves was in the ring to conduct an interview and he introduced “The Man” Becky Lynch. Big ovation for Lynch, who entered in street clothes wearing her shirt that included a photo from her first “arrest” storyline.
Lynch grabbed the microphone, left the ring and stood on the announce table. Lynch said her arrest shirt aged well. Lynch said that she was thinking in the back of that cop car, what a difference a year makes. Lynch talked about a year ago she was the best of friends with Charlotte and Ronda Rousey was making her debut. Lynch said that it seemed like the stars were aligned to set up Charlotte and Ronda at WrestleMania. Lynch said that’s when she slapped Charlotte at SummerSlam, which changed everything. Lynch said she was determined to get into this year’s WrestleMania and look at us now. I think she stood there so they can continue to show the WrestleMania sign in the background.
Lynch said that this Sunday, the women are the main event of WrestleMania featuring The Queen vs. the Baddest Woman on the Planet vs. The Man. She said that her revolution that started last year at SummerSlam with a slap is going to explode this Sunday. Lynch said that next time you see her, she’ll be the champ that she always was…the double champ. Lynch pointed at the WrestleMania sign like the good employee…errr…independent contractor that she is.
Analysis: It was a solid promo from Lynch, but nothing that was out of the ordinary. She made a good point about things changing at SummerSlam because that was the turning point for her. Lynch was supposed to be a heel after she attacked Flair at SummerSlam, but the fans kept cheering Lynch and she remained the face. That’s when the crowd support for Lynch really became strong. Becky should win both titles at WrestleMania. I would be very surprised if the outcome is different.

Up next on Smackdown is an 18-Person Mixed Tag Team Match to promote both the men’s and women’s battle royals.
There was an 18-Person Tag Team match featuring men and women that are in the men’s and women’s battle royals at WrestleMania. A few of the entrances were shown on the heel team.

Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Naomi, Asuka, Nikki Cross, R-Truth, Carmella, Tucker and Otis vs. Andrade, Lana, EC3, Luke Gallows, Shelton Benjamin, Karl Anderson, Zelina Vega, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
Nikki Cross started with Zelina Vega and there was a distraction by Lacey Evans. Evans did her walk to the ring and then walked to the back. EC3 tagged in against Jeff Hardy, then Matt Hardy tagged in and wrenched on the arm of EC3. Hardy whipped EC3’s head into the turnbuckle repeatedly. Otis and Tucker hit a double team splash on EC3 against the turnbuckle. Otis hit his Caterpillar spot into an elbow drop on EC3 leading to a break.
The match continued with Naomi hit a jawbreaker on Rose. Truth tagged in with a jumping side kick on Andrade followed by a corner splash by Truth. Carmella went into the ring for a dance break with Truth. Anderson went into the ring with a forearm to Truth’s back. Naomi dumped Anderson out of the ring and everybody in the match started brawling. The bell rang to end the match. It went about eight minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: * This was supposed to get us excited about the battle royals, but I don’t think it was that successful.

Truth and Andrade went tumbling over the top to the floor. Asuka knocked Lana out of the ring. Rose and Deville kicked Carmella out of the ring. Asuka sent Deville over the top and kicked her to eliminate her. Otis went up to Mandy and did his flirting routine, so Benjamin whipped Otis out through the middle ropes. Cross tossed out Rose. Cross yelled at Benjamin asking him for a fight, but Benjamin chose to walk away. Benjamin went over the top to the floor with Cross on his back, so they were both out. EC3 sent Matt Hardy out of the ring. Jeff hit a Twist of Fate on EC3 and Asuka kicked EC3 in the face. Jeff tossed EC3 out of the ring. Asuka hugged Jeff and then Asuka tossed Jeff over the top. Asuka stood alone in the ring as the last person standing.
Analysis: It was a decent effort in terms of promoting the battle royals at WrestleMania. I don’t think really helped my interest level, though. I feel bad for Asuka being only in the battle royal, same with the Hardy Boyz and Braun Strowman from the Raw side. A lot of people in the battle royals could have been booked a lot better at WrestleMania. I think WWE could have made the battle royals feel like a bigger deal at WrestleMania by saying the winners get a title shot or something that seemed meaningful at least. Battle royals on their own just aren’t that interesting to me.

A video aired promoting Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins at WrestleMania. The announcers mentioned other WrestleMania matches as graphics were shown promoting the matches.
Kofi Kingston was shown backstage with Big E and Xavier Woods getting ready for the contract signing.
Samoa Joe made his entrance. He’s the US Champion that proudly carried the title with him to the ring. Joe faces Ali next.
The man known as (No Longer Mustafa) Ali made his entrance.

Samoa Joe vs. Ali
This not for Joe’s US Title.
Joe was aggressive early on with headbutts followed by a chop to the chest. Ali hit a dropkick to knock Joe out of the ring. Ali hit a suicide dive that sent Joe into the barricade at ringside. They went back into the ring with Ali hitting a Tornado DDT off the ropes for a two count. Ali sent Joe face first into the mat. Ali went up top and he jumped off with a 450 Splash, but Joe moved and Joe slapped on a Coquina Clutch submission. Joe took Ali to the mat and Ali passed out in the hold to give Joe the win after three minutes.
Winner by submission: Samoa Joe
Analysis: *1/2 Fun while it lasted, but a short match to put over Joe going into WrestleMania. The good thing is that a champ won a non-title match, which is rare. Ali has lost a lot of momentum he had before he was knocked out for a few weeks with a concussion before Elimination Chamber. Kofi Kingston took advantage of an opportunity and here we are. I like Joe as US Champ. Hopefully, Rey is able to wrestle at WrestleMania.

Daniel Bryan, the WWE Champion, made his entrance with the bearded big man Rowan by his side. The contract signing main event is next.
A Snickers commercial aired featuring The Miz and Charlotte Flair.

WWE Championship Contract Signing for WrestleMania
Daniel Bryan was in the ring sitting in a leather chair and the table was back in the ring. Rowan was by Daniel Bryan. Michael Cole was moderating this segment, so he introduced Kofi Kingston.
Kofi Kingston made his entrance along with his New Day buddies Big E and Xavier Woods. There were fans at ringside with “KofiMania” signs that were probably handed out. Kingston sat in a leather chair opposite Bryan as fans chanted “Kofi” repeatedly.
Bryan told Cole that he’s got it from here as fans chanted “Kofi” again. Bryan signed the contract for the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania. Fans chanted “Kofi Rocks” as Big E danced along with the chant. Bryan said he knows Kofi will sign the contract and he’s not there to stop Kofi from signing it. Bryan said he is there to educate the masses like he has always done. Bryan said this is for everybody as the fans chanted “Kofi Kingston,” which led to Bryan telling the fans to shut up. Bryan told Rowan that just like they were saying in the back, Baltimore is so ignorant.
Bryan said that the life lesson was to not be complacent the way Kofi has been complacent. Bryan said do not think a little bit success is good enough for eleven years and Bryan said “do not be complacent.” Bryan claimed he had another life lesson for us – don’t be a bystander in your own lives the way Kofi has been in his own life. Bryan said don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for other people push you to the top the way that Kingston has sat on the sidelines while Woods and Big E pushed him to the top while he sat and watched. Bryan repeated himself saying don’t be a bystander in your own life. Bryan said that the way they chanted “yes” for him is how they chant “Kofi” for Kingston now. Bryan said he knows that this love and adulation makes him feel stronger, but Bryan said that the reality is you don’t feed off of them, they feed off of you. Bryan said that they (the fans) need you to fulfill their fantasy in their life. Bryan said that they will discard you. There was actually an “Asshole” chant. Bryan said that’s what they’ve said to all the great truth-tellers throughout history. Bryan told Kofi this was the best it’s ever going to be.

Kingston grabbed the contract and stood up. Kingston said that for months, we’ve had to listen to Bryan, but now it’s time for him to shut his mouth and Kingston will educate him. The fans cheered. Kofi said that Bryan doesn’t know a damn thing about him. Kofi talked about how Bryan became WWE Champion within two years of coming to WWE and Kofi said he watched it and understood it. Kofi paused as fans chanted “Kofi” again. Kofi said he watched it and he said he’ll cut to the chase saying Bryan didn’t know him. Kofi said 11 years he didn’t get in a WWE Championship, but it’s okay because it led to this moment. Kofi: “You know that I am ready!” The fans chanted “you deserve it” for Kofi.
Kofi said that the one thing in common is that Bryan knows what all of this feels like. Kofi said that Bryan is scared as hell and he should be because he knows what comes next. Kofi said that what comes next is that he beats Bryan and he becomes the WWE Champion. Kingston signed the contract, gave it to Cole and that was it to make it official.
Kingston stood in front of Bryan showing a lot of confidence while Bryan remained in a chair and they had a final staredown leading to their WrestleMania match.
Analysis: That was awesome. I think when you do contract signing main events there’s an expectation that it’s going to end in a brawl, but they didn’t need to do that here. This was more about Bryan riling up the fans by ripping on them repeatedly, the crowd responded with “Kofi” chants for nearly ten minutes straight and Kingston fired back with a lot of confidence in the last three minutes. Kingston correctly pointed out that Bryan knows what it’s like to be in Kofi’s spot because of WrestleMania five years ago and it’s smart for Kofi to mention that because the fans think that way too.

I think the build for this match has been one of the best at WrestleMania this year and it’s the match I care about the most. The women’s triple threat match main event is also up there, but if I had to pick one, it’s Bryan vs. Kingston. I just think both guys are performing at such a high level in the ring, with their promos and I want to see if WWE goes all the way with Kingston becoming WWE Champion because that’s what should happen.
This ending to Smackdown was way better than the ending of Raw and I don’t think it was very close.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Daniel Bryan
  2. Kofi Kingston
  3. The Usos


The Scoreboard
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2019 Average: 7.04 (Raw is 5.46)
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 6, 7, 7.5, 8.5
2019 High: 8.5 (February 26)
2019 Low: 5 (January 15)

Final Thoughts
I give this week’s Smackdown a 6.5 out of 10.
It was a good show with some dull moments in there too. The two highlights for me were the Bryan/Kingston main event segment that reminded us of how awesome Bryan is at promos while Kingston showed a lot of confidence as well. I also really enjoyed the Orton/Styles opening that featured some great lines from both guys before they had a quick brawl.

There was a lot of talking, which was to be expected since it’s the last Smackdown before WrestleMania. I like the episodes with more in ring action, but I think most of the promos were well done.
Some of the matches like the 18-person tag team match felt like a waste of time and the way the finish was booked was really lame. The Miz in a 1 on 3 match wasn’t that interesting either. The 8-man tag team match was definitely the best match on the show.
This Smackdown was better than Raw and had a much better ending, so that certainly helps.

Here’s the WrestleMania 35 lineup for this Sunday, April 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

* Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championship (Winner Takes All): Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
* Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
* WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston
* No Holds Barred Match: Triple H vs. Batista (Triple H Must Retire if He Loses)
* Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles
* Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
* Falls Count Anywhere Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz
* United States Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
* Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (Angle’s Retirement Match)
* Intercontinental Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. “Demon” Finn Balor
* Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro) vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura
* Women’s Tag Team Championships: Sasha Banks and Bayley (c) vs. Tamina and Nia Jax vs. Natalya and Beth Phoenix vs. (The IIconics) Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
* Andre the Giant Men’s Battle Royal
* Women’s Battle Royal
* Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony Nese

Alexa Bliss is the host of WrestleMania, Elias is a musical guest, Yolanda Adams will sing “America the Beautiful” and Joan Jett will sing “Bad Reputation” for Ronda Rousey’s entrance.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.

John Canton
Twitter @johnreport
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