Welcome to another WWE Smackdown Live Review here on TJRWrestling with less than three weeks to go until WrestleMania. Here’s what Smackdown has advertised for this week: Kofi Kingston in a Gauntlet Match against five heels – Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Cesaro, Sheamus and Rowan. If Kofi wins, he gets to challenge Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title at WrestleMania…possibly. Also, Women’s Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks and Bayley are there to face The IIconics in a non-title match. The Miz will be there to address his WrestleMania match with Shane McMahon after Shane-O-Mac turned on Miz at Fastlane last week. We should know more about the WrestleMania card too.
Live from Indianapolis, Indiana, this is Smackdown Live for episode #1022. 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 with a shot of the live crowd in Indianapolis. The announcers mentioned what was coming up including the Kevin Owens “KO Show” talk show with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair as the guests. Also, Kofi Kingston in the Gauntlet Match.
The Miz made his entrance to a nice ovation from the crowd. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show with the usual bickering that they like to do.
Analysis: When WWE promoted this show a few days ago, they said that Kofi Kingston’s Gauntlet Match would open the show. Nope. Plans change, pal.
Let’s Hear from The Miz
The Miz was in a suit in the ring. He said let’s have a reminder of why we’re here, which led to a video package showing Shane McMahon attacking Miz at Fastlane and then explaining the turn on Smackdown last week. Shane announced that he’ll face The Miz in a match at WrestleMania.
The Miz talked about what this means to him while talking about shortcuts he took his career and ruining friendships. He spoke about how other than his wife and daughter, he has had a tough time keeping friendships. Miz said he had a genuine friendship with Shane McMahon. Miz talked about how it was all to prove himself to his dad, George. Miz spoke about how when his dad told him he loved him it was one of the greatest things that happened for him and it was because of Shane. Miz said that when convinced Shane to be his partner, people warned him about Shane. Miz said that he was wrong because at Fastlane, Shane attacked Miz from behind in front of his 68-year old father. Miz wondered what kind of human being would do that and then Shane put his hands on Miz’s dad. Miz said that is something Miz will remember forever when his dad was yelling for somebody to help Miz and Shane shoved George down. Miz said that Shane is rotten to the core like his father. Miz said Shane wasn’t best in the world, they’re the worst.
Miz ranted about how they may own this company, but they don’t own him. Miz added that they don’t own Kofi and that led to a “Kofi” chant. Miz spoke about how he wasn’t born privileged, he was born to flip burgers at his dad’s restaurant, but then he went on his own, he proved everybody wrong and he became a champion as well as the most must-see WWE Superstar of all time. Miz said he did that and he did it on his own. Miz talked about how hard he worked, he’s a proven success story and his dad didn’t give him love, he had to earn it. Miz said the fans didn’t give him respect, he had to earn it and it took 13 years, but he thinks right here, right now he has earned it. The fans chanted “you deserve it” there. Miz said “you’re damn right I do.”
Miz said that Shane deserves the one thing he singlehandedly earned all by himself…an ass whipping from The Miz at WrestleMania.
Analysis: That was a very good opening promo from The Miz that went about ten minutes. There weren’t catchphrases or jokes. It was a serious promo where he looked straight ahead to deliver a message to Shane that he’s going to kick his ass and the crowd liked him for it. Seeing The Miz as a face is still something I’m getting used to, but in terms of promos, there’s really no concern because he’s one of the best talkers in WWE.
The Women’s Tag Team Champions Bayley and Sasha Banks entered for a match. They get to be on any show with the titles as the champions.
A commercial aired for Total Bellas having their season finale on Sunday. I won’t watch it, but I’m happy the commercials will end.
The IIconics duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay entered with microphones in hand. Kay welcomed them to Smackdown Live. Royce said that they look strange instead of their win while Kay joked that it was like their parents tried to pay their way in an Ivy League school. Royce and Kay continued the insults while recapping everything. Royce said that The IIcoonics are the best team in the women’s tag team division, Kay said they saved the best for lave and it will be iconic.
Analysis: I don’t think the promo was that necessary. It was fine, but let’s get to the match.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce)
This is not a Women’s Tag Team Title match.
Royce tried to get away early, but Banks and Bayley prevented that from happening. Kay tagged in, Banks tripped her, Bayley tagged in and hit a running clothesline for two. Lacey Evans’ music hit, she walked down to the ring and Kay hit a knee to the ribs of Bayley. Evans went to the back. Royce tagged in, hit a knee to the back of Bayley and got a two count out of it.
Royce remained in control as he put her foot on Bayley’s throat while up against the turnbuckle. Kay tagged in and Bayley took her down by slamming her head into the mat. Banks got the hot tag against Royce with a dropkick, knee to the face, double knees against the turnbuckle and Banks hit the Meteora double knees off the ropes. Kay broke up a pin attempt. Royce got a rollup. Banks got a backslide pin attempt and then a knee to Royce’s head. Banks knocked down Kay on the floor. Banks with a kick on Royce. Kay grabbed Banks’ foot, Bayley ran towards her and Kay kicked Bayley down. Royce rolled up Banks with her body on top and Kay held onto Banks’ hand to prevent a kickout. The IIconics win after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce)
Analysis: *3/4 The match was okay. The finish was cheap with the heels cheating to win as expected in a non-title match. The IIconics winning was done to build them up as title contenders. At WrestleMania, it will likely be Banks/Bayley vs. Natalya/Phoenix vs. Tamina/Nia Jax vs. Royce/Kay. I don’t like four way tag team matches, but it is typical WWE wanting to get more people on the show.
Rey Mysterio was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the locker room. Rey brought in his son Dominic, who is all grown up now in his early 20s. Rey said he’s facing Samoa Joe for the US Title at WrestleMania. Dominic said he’ll be there at ringside to see his dad bring home another title.
Analysis: Good to see Dominic. He has been training to wrestle and I know he trained with Lance Storm in Calgary recently. I think he’ll be in WWE one day. Rey vs. Joe will be a good match, but I was hoping for Rey vs. Andrade one more time.
Kevin Owens entered for his talk show after a break.
PLUG TIME: I’ve got some retro WWF/E content to plug this week. The WWF in 2000 reviews are a lot of fun for me because they are great shows to write about. The April 17, 2000 edition of Raw was an awesome show that I rated 9 out of 10. It featured an all-time great Raw match/moment when Chris Jericho beat Triple H for the WWF Title and then it was changed due to an Earl Hebner fast count. The rest of the episode was really good too…The April 20, 2000 Smackdown review was posted this week. It wasn’t as good as the Raw episode from that week, but I still enjoyed it. My next 2000 Raw review will go up on Wednesday and then Smackdown on Friday. That’s the plan every week going forward…I have also been writing mid-2000s WWE PPV reviews. The latest review covered Great American Bash 2006, which was a terrible show featuring the first Punjabi Prison match. It was as bad as I remembered it to be. Anyway, please keep checking us out at TJRWrestling.net for all of the news, columns, reviews and retro reviews that we post all the time. Thank you.
The announcers went over the WrestleMania lineup.
KO Show Hosted by Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens was in the ring hosting the “new and improved” KO Show. He’s got a red tie covering his t-shirt and jacket. KO said that this year WrestleMania is about Kofi Kingston and he’ll be watching that Gauntlet Match very closely. Owens transitioned to talking about the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Owens introduced “The Man” Becky Lynch.
Becky Lynch entered to a big ovation. The crowd loves her, of course. Charlotte Flair made her entrance to boos from the crowd. The women were dressed in black just like Owens. Black is a popular color in WWE.
Kevin Owens went over his cue cards talking about some of the trash talk between Lynch, Flair and of course, Ronda Rousey. Owens talked about some of the things Ronda has said. Owens noted that Flair has said that Lynch’s 15 minutes are up and Lynch will go back to carrying Flair’s bags by SummerSlam. Owens mentioned that Lynch has said Flair was shoehorned into the match.
Owens said that nobody wants to see them talk anymore, but this is the Kevin Owens show. Owens said tonight it’s “Fight Becky Fight” and “Fight Charlotte Fight” which led to the women getting out of their chairs to have a staredown.
Flair said that she would beat the holy hell out of Becky. Owens said before Becky responds to that, Owens went to the apron and he asked Becky for a response. Lynch punched Flair in the face and Flair tackled Lynch. The women went brawling over a table that was in the ring. They got into a slugfest with Lynch punching Flair repeatedly. Flair whipped Lynch into the barricade. The fight continued at ringside with referees and security guys trying to break them up. The women beat up some of the indy guys working security. Lynch drove Flair against the announce table and the women were separated.
Analysis: It was okay. I like both women and KO a lot, but I think they needed to have Becky talk here. She didn’t say anything even though the fans hang off her every word when she speaks. I would have liked to see Lynch fire off some one-liners to get some positive reactions from the crowd. Owens played his role well. The brawl by the women was just average. Neither woman got the advantage and they got to beat up security like Rousey did on Raw, so they were booked in a similar way.
AJ Styles was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton, who is so short she makes Styles look really tall. Styles said that Randy Orton has had advantages that most people in WWE haven’t really had. Styles noted that Orton is great, which is why he’s been a multiple-time champion in WWE. Styles said that Orton is a first round draft pick while Styles is a walk on. Styles talked about how Randy said that this was his house and it sounds like Randy had the home field advantage. Styles said that he’s coming to WrestleMania not to build, but to tear the house down. Styles said he’s the “Phenomenal” AJ Styles and ended it by saying good luck to Kofi Kingston tonight.
Analysis: I think Styles vs. Orton will be one of the best matches at WrestleMania. My pick is Styles, but there might be a lot of faces winning, so WWE could opt to have Orton go over. It doesn’t matter that much really. I just want it to be a great match.
The WWE Champion Daniel Bryan made his entrance with Rowan. They are up after a break.
Let’s Hear from Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan, the WWE Champion, was in the ring in his wrestling gear and said that it’s an injustice to have Kofi Kingston in this Gauntlet Match. Bryan said that he knows what it’s like for The Authority to hold you down. Bryan noted that Kofi Kingston was chosen to be in the Gauntlet Match to replace Muhammad Ali and he was given an opportunity that he never earned. Bryan noted that in that Gauntlet Match and the Elimination Chamber match, Kingston lost and he has earned nothing. Bryan said that Kofi Kingston, unlike him, is nothing more than B+ player. Bryan said that to the fans “B+ is good enough” while telling people to put that on a t-shirt and other horrible stuff. Bryan said that B+ is not good enough. Bryan said no matter how much you chant Kofi (cue the “Kofi” chants), it won’t change the fact that he lost in the Gauntlet Match and the Elimination Chamber. Bryan said that Kingston lost at Fastlane as well.
Analysis: Bryan made a good point about how Kingston was just placed in the Gauntlet Match before Elimination Chamber. While Kingston has won the crowd over, it was also WWE having faith in him by putting him in the Gauntlet Match, then booking him to last one hour and the momentum has built from there. It’s been good booking.
The New Day trio of Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods made their entrance. Kingston walked down to the ring alone while Bryan and Rowan left the ring.
Cesaro and Sheamus entered to start the Gauntlet Match after a break. It’s the end of the first hour.
The match started with one hour left in this show.
Gauntlet Match #1: Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus
There was some mat wrestling from Kingston and Sheamus with Kingston applying an armbar. Cesaro was watching from ringside. Kingston sent Sheamus of the ring followed by a running dive over the top rope that knocked Sheamus down on the floor. When they went back into the ring, Sheamus hit Kingston with a knee lift to the face. Kingston came back with a spin kick to the face. Sheamus drove Kingston to the middle rope, he distracted the referee and Cesaro hit an uppercut to knock Kingston down. Graves said there’s no way Kingston will survive. Sheamus hit a running elbow to knock down Kingston leading to a break.
It was about ten minutes into this match with Kingston unloading on Sheamus with chops followed by a dropkick and a jumping clothesline. Kingston hit the Boom Drop double legdrop. Kingston went for the Trouble in Paradise kick, Sheamus blocked it, kick to the face by Kingston and a springboard cross body block by Kingston got a two count. After a Cesaro distraction, Sheamus drove Kingston throat first into the top rope followed by a backbreaker for a two count. Sheamus slapped on the Cloverleaf submission. Kingston countered with a rollup where he sat on top for a two count. Sheamus with a knee to the face for a two count. New Day and The Usos were shown watching the match on a big TV backstage. Sheamus set up for the Brogue Kick, Kingston avoided it and got a rollup for two. Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise kick for the pinfall win. It went about 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: *** Good match with Sheamus on offense for about 80% of it until Kofi found a way to make the comeback for the win. I don’t think anybody believed that Sheamus was going to win this, but I liked the way it was booked. The Trouble in Paradise kick was sold well by Sheamus.
Gauntlet Match #2: Kofi Kingston vs. Cesaro
Cesaro was up next against Kingston with an armbar. Kingston went to the apron, he punched Cesaro repeatedly and jumped off the top with a cross body block, but Cesaro turned it into a backbreaker for a two count.
Cesaro was in control as he stretched Kingston’s back across his knee. There were others like the Hardys and R-Truth joining New Day and Usos watching the match on a TV backstage. Cesaro did the Cesaro Swing on Kingston with about a dozen spins followed by Cesaro slapping on the Cloverleaf submission just like Sheamus did earlier. Cesaro followed up with a vertical suplex for two. Kingston kicked his way free and he hit the SOS on Cesaro for the pinfall win after about seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: ** The SOS is a move that Kingston usually doesn’t win with, but in a match like this where he must wrestle multiple matches, it makes sense that Kingston used it to win a match. Cesaro was in control for most of this match just like Sheamus was.
Rowan was up next while Kingston was down in pain.
Gauntlet Match #3: Kofi Kingston vs. Rowan
This third match began about 22 minutes into this Gauntlet Match with Rowan hitting a running splash on Kingston against the turnbuckle. Rowan sent Kingston to the floor and hit a running body attack that knocked down Kingston. Rowan whipped Kingston into the barricade at ringside. Rowan hit Kingston in the back and the referee disqualified him after about two minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: 1/2* It’s the classic booking where Rowan had no intention of winning and just wanted to hurt Kingston.
After the disqualification, Rowan picked up Kingston with a bearhug followed by Rowan sending Kingston into the ring post although you could see that Rowan’s hands are what hit the ring post. Rowan tossed Kingston over the barricade at ringside. Rowan picked up Kingston by the head, palmed his head and gave him the Iron Claw slam through the announce table. Kingston was down in pain while Rowan left. Meanwhile, Big E, Woods and others were upset while watching what happened.
Analysis: It was a predictable ass kicking from Rowan to weaken Kingston. As I said, that’s classic booking in a situation like this and just builds up more sympathy for Kingston while wondering how he’ll survive against two more opponents. The Iron Claw slam is impressive especially when it’s through a table.
Samoa Joe entered as the fourth man in the Gauntlet Match after the break.
There were two more names left in the Gauntlet Match: Samoa Joe (the United States Champion) and Randy Orton. Kingston must beat both to get the WWE Title match at WrestleMania.
Gauntlet Match #4: Samoa Joe vs. Kofi Kingston
Joe was dominant early on with a jumping kick to the head. Phillips noted that it was 33 minutes into the Gauntlet Match. Joe slapped on a chinlock, Kingston fought back with punches and Joe came back with a stiff clothesline to knock down Kingston, who did a flip bump and Joe got a two count out of it. There was another shot of wrestlers watching on the TV backstage. When Joe went for a Coquina Clutch, Kingston connected with a jawbreaker. Joe hit a uranage slam out of the corner for a two count. Kingston managed to take down Joe with a double leg takedown. Kingston missed a corner attack, Joe with a chop to the back and Joe teased a Muscle Buster, but Kingston slipped out of it and got a rollup into a pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: *3/4 It was the same story as the other matches with Kingston selling for most of it and then hitting one move to get the win. The rollup to counter the Muscle Buster was smooth.
After the elimination, Samoa Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch while up against the ropes. Big E, Woods and the other wrestlers were freaking out at what they were looking at, but they were banned from ringside. Kingston sold it like he was knocked out while referees showed up to break it up. Joe went to the back.
Analysis: It was the second straight match with a post match attack to make things even more difficult for Kingston. Good way to get him more sympathy.
Randy Orton made his slow walk to the ring as the last man in the Gauntlet Match. That match is after a break.
There was a WrestleMania commercial hyping up Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship.
The main event started after a break.
Gauntlet Match #5: Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton
The match started with Kingston in the ring for about 44 minutes at this point. Orton was in control as he whipped Kingston into the barricade. Orton told the fans that Kingston isn’t their guy and he called him “stupid” which is something from their feud from ten years ago. (The cause of the “stupid” yell from Orton is that Kingston was supposed to stay down to take The Punt, but Kingston got back to his feet, so Orton dropped him with a RKO. Orton responded by calling Kingston “stupid” and a lot of people remember it well.) Kingston whipped Orton into the steel steps. When they went back into the ring, Orton was back in control with some stomps to the ribs. Orton slapped on a chinlock to wear down Kingston. When Kingston tried a dropkick, Orton stepped out of the way and swatted Kingston down. Orton worked over Kingston with uppercuts, Kingston avoided a RKO and Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise kick that sent Orton across the ring by the ropes. When Kingston tried to crawl over toe cover, Orton rolled out of the ring leading to a break.
Analysis: That was a good spot that teased a possible finish only for Orton to roll out of the ring to escape.
Orton worked over Kingston, who has been in the ring for about 51 minutes with around nine minutes left in the show. They were by the turnbuckle with Kingston managing to hit a cross body block off the top for a two count. Orton hit a draping DDT off the middle ropes. Orton set up for the RKO, Kingston was slow to get back to his feet, when Orton went for the RKO, Kingston slipped out and applied the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Orton for the pinfall win after nine minutes. The five-man entire Gauntlet Match went about 53 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: **3/4 It would have been nice if Kingston got the win with the Trouble of Paradise kick so that it was a more decisive win, but I’m fine with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! too. I rate the whole Gauntlet Match at ***1/4 out of five.
Kofi Kingston celebrated in the ring with his New Day buddies Xavier Woods and Big E.
Vince McMahon showed up on the stage. He said it was a great moment. Vince said that Kingston will go to WrestleMania and everybody cheered. Vince told Kingston he was going to WrestleMania if he could beat one more opponent. The fans booed while Woods and Big E were mad about it. Vince wished Kingston good luck.
Analysis: There’s the expected screwjob from Vince McMahon. It wasn’t necessary, but that’s how WWE likes to book this stuff.
Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston
This is not for Bryan’s WWE Title. There are only about five minutes left in the show.
Bryan was on offense with several kicks to the chest of Kingston. Bryan set up Kingston on the top rope and hit a belly to back superplex off the top rope for a two count. The fans chanted “Kofi” as Bryan slapped on the LeBell Lock and Kingston got to the ropes to break the hold. Bryan worked over Kingston with kicks to the chest. Kingston avoided a roundhouse kick and hit the SOS for a two count. The SOS did not connect perfectly, but it still led to a believable nearfall that the fans bought as a potential finish. Bryan hit two corner dropkicks and Kingston countered a third dropkick attempt with a rollup. Kingston went up top going for a splash, but Bryan avoided it and Bryan stomped on the face of Kingston while pulling on his arms. Bryan set up for the knee in the corner as the fans chanted “no” at him. Kingston got back up, Bryan hit the running knee to the face and Bryan pinned Kofi to win the match after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: ** It was a valiant effort for Kingston after being in the ring for one hour, but he couldn’t get the job done. The expectation was that Kingston would get the win to earn the WWE Title match at WrestleMania. Instead, Kingston lost and that finish is going to piss off a lot of fans.
After the match, Bryan celebrated with Rowan while Big E and Woods ran out to check on Kofi. That’s where Smackdown ended for this week.
Analysis: This is just a way to delay the inevitable. If you have watched any WWE in your life then you can tell from the booking that Kingston is obviously getting the WWE Title match at WrestleMania. I thought they would make it official here, but we’ll have to wait for next week most likely or perhaps the week after that since there are two Smackdown episodes left before WrestleMania.
If it was up to me, Bryan vs. Kofi for the WWE Title would have been made official tonight. Newsflash: It is not up to me. I know people are going to be pissed off about it, but obviously, that’s the match they are doing. It’s just not official yet. Daniel Bryan did the Occupy Raw five years ago. Have Kofi and New Day “Occupy Smackdown” next week to get the WrestleMania match. I think it would be a good nod to Bryan’s history and the fans would love it too. Perhaps Kingston will have to win ANOTHER match next week to get the title shot.
I don’t know what they will do, but if you’re freaking out about it, calm down. They are doing Bryan vs. Kofi for the WWE Title at WrestleMania.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kofi Kingston
- The Miz
- Daniel Bryan
6 out of 10
Last week: 7
2019 Average: 7.08
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 7.5, 8.5, 8, 7
2019 High: 8.5 (February 26)
2019 Low: 5 (January 15)
I give this week’s Smackdown a 6 out of 10.
It was a bit of a step down from what Smackdown has been to start the year, but it was still a good show. The addition of Bryan in the main event against Kingston really took some steam out of this show because the crowd was ready to celebrate with Kingston and then it got taken away from them.
The rest of the show just felt average. There wasn’t anything that compelling. I liked the Miz promo a lot, so that was the best part of the first hour.
The next WWE pay-per-view is WrestleMania 35 on April 7. Here’s what we know so far:
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
No Holds Barred Match: Triple H vs. Batista
Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles
Shane McMahon vs. The Miz
Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (Angle’s Retirement Match)
United States Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
Andre the Giant Men’s Battle Royal – Braun Strowman is in it.
Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony Nese
Alexa Bliss is the host of WrestleMania. Michael Che and Colin Jost from Saturday Night Live are “special guest correspondents” at WrestleMania.
Drew McIntyre challenged Roman Reigns to a match. It’s not official yet, but it will be soon.
Asuka will defend the Smackdown Women’s Title against either Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Carmella or Naomi because those four women have a 4-Way match on Smackdown next week. It was announced in a post-Smackdown interview with Mandy and Sonya.
I assume the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal will be on the show. It hasn’t been mentioned yet.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.