This is a review of the WWE Network special called WWE Smackville. It took place in Nashville at a regularly scheduled Saturday night Smackdown brand live event (or house show). I don’t know the specific reason why WWE is doing it, but it could be because of the WWE Network relaunch that took place this week. I’m guessing this is a nice test for WWE to see if everything runs smoothly. The last live event special was The Shield’s farewell in April.
There are only two matches advertised plus an Elias “concert” so it’s not the full show. It’s just selected content from the live event.
One of the matches advertised was Shinsuke Nakamura defending the Intercontinental Title against Finn Balor. However, WWE posted this on Twitter about 30 minutes before Smackville:
During the week, @FinnBalor suffered an undisclosed injury. @WWE Medical has unfortunately not cleared him for competition tonight at #SMACKVILLE. It is unknown who or if @ShinsukeN defends his title tonight. Stay tuned as we learn more.
— WWE (@WWE) July 28, 2019
It was reported by PWInsider that Balor was sick, so that’s why he was removed. Plans are always changing in WWE, that’s for sure. Anyway, let’s get to it.
WWE Smackville – WWE Network Special
From the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee
July 27, 2019
There was a shot of the crowd inside the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The announce team calling the action for this special were Tom Phillips and David Otunga. They wondered if Shinsuke Nakamura would defend the IC Title against a different and that led to Nakamura making his entrance.
Shinsuke Nakamura entered with the Intercontinental Title around his waist. It was the usual set that WWE had for live events with a video screen that showed the entrances. Nakamura did a promo: “No Finn? No match.” He said he wins by forfeit. Nakamura told the referee to count Balor out, so the referee counted to eight when there was an interruption…with Ali making his entrance.
Ali made his entrance to a decent reaction from the crowd. Ali said that Finn Balor is not medically cleared and that he won’t get the title shot. Ali said he knows about losing out on title opportunities, so he challenged Nakamura to a title match right now. Nakamura agreed to it.
Analysis: Ali had a backstage segment with Nakamura two weeks ago to tease this as a new feud, so it makes sense to do this.
Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ali
Nakamura with a shoulder tackle followed by the “come on” taunt. Ali sent Nakamura out of the ring followed by a dive onto Nakamura on the floor. Ali went up top and hit a cross body block for a two count. When Ali went for a springboard attack, Nakamura kicked him to knock him down. Nakamura with a sliding dropkick to knock Ali down on the floor followed by a running knee lift by Nakamura. Nakamura remained in control in the ring with a boot to the throat of Ali to work him over a bit. Nakamura hit a front suplex followed by knees to the ribs. Ali countered a submission move into a rollup followed by Ali connecting with a dropkick. Both guys were down selling as the crowd got into it. Nakamura missed a corner charge, Ali with a kick to the face and an X-Factor sent Nakamura face first into the mat. Ali with a double knee attack against the turnbuckle. Nakamura jumped off the middle turnbuckle with Ali countering with a dropkick for a two count. Nakamura came back with a spin kick to the face, a kick to the neck and the sliding German Suplex off the ropes. Nakamura charged, but Ali stopped him with a superkick that looked great. Ali jumped off the turnbuckle with a Satellite DDT for a two count as Nakamura got his right shoulder up. Ali went up top, he went for the 450 Splash, Nakamura moved and sent Ali face first into the turnbuckle. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike to the face for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: *** Good match that was under ten minutes with some cool spots in the final few minutes. It was a fast-paced match as well. I liked the way Ali came close to winning a few times to show that he was a viable threat to win. They had an exciting finish too. I’d like to see the rivalry continue.
Samoa Joe did a promo in the parking lot saying that he didn’t have to lose in order to lose the WWE Title match tonight. Joe said he is walking into a target-rich environment, where he thrives and he said he’s going to put Kofi or Dolph down and he’ll be the new WWE Champion.
A commercial aired for WWEShop and SummerSlam on August 11.
Let’s Hear from Elias
Elias was in the ring with his electric guitar, who was greeted with boos. The guitar sounded good. Elias said that they need to get the volume right on his guitar and he said the audio guys need to get it right because it’s a special Smackville performance. Elias played the guitar for about two minutes. To his credit, he did a great job. He’s a skilled guitar player. He got some applause from the crowd.
Elias did his “who wants to walk with Elias?” bit. He said that everybody wants to walk with him, but where is the standing ovation and then he yelled at a fan to sit down because it was too late. Elias claimed he met music Johnny Cash in Nashville before. Elias got some cheap heat saying that Cash told him the Tennessee Titans will never win a Super Bowl. (Go Rams over Titans twenty years ago!) Elias said his song is for his good friend and mentor Shane McMahon, which drew boos. Elias told the crowd to shut their mouths, so they booed him. Elias claimed if you don’t do what he says then he’s not going to perform. The fans cheered, so Elias teased leaving…until he stopped leading to “yay” and “boo” chants from the crowd. Elias sat down on the stool saying he’s going to sing his song. Elias sang a song about Shane McMahon saying he should be champion, he’s the best in the world and he skyrocketed Elias’ career. Elias took out his phone because he answered a call from Mr. McMahon. Elias told him that Nashville is horrible and he hung up. Elias said that Vince McMahon told him he can have as much time as he liked. Elias kept on singing his Shane McMahon song while mocking Kevin Owens, so that was the cue for Owens to show up.
Kevin Owens was in the ring behind Elias, so the lights came back on. Elias complained about the lights going back on. Owens played on the guitar a bit. Owens punched Elias and Elias left the ring.
Owens told Elias to shut his stupid face, which led to cheers from the crowd. Owens told Elias he made a big mistake by mentioning KO’s name. Owens said he needs to have a match with Elias right now so he can show us what he’s going to do to Shane McMahon at SummerSlam. Owens called for a referee to sprint out there to start the match, so a referee ran out there to say the match is on.
Analysis: It’s not a surprise that the Elias “concert” would lead to a match. I’m shocked that the Elias performance lasted as long as it did.
Kevin Owens vs. Elias
Elias with a cheap attack to start and then Owens came back with punches. Owens with a running clothesline followed by a senton splash. Otunga claimed Owens should have been honored to be mentioned in the Elias song. Back in the ring, Elias hit a jumping kick to the face. Elias stretched the back of Owens around the steel ring post. Elias grabbed an armbar followed by the rope walk into a double knee attack into the face for two. Elias set up Owens on the top rope, he teased a superplex, but Owens fought him off. Owens with a headbutt to Elias and then Owens jumped off the top with a Senton Bomb for a two count. Owens went for a Stunner, but Elias countered with a knee to the face. Elias went up, the elbow drop missed because Owens moved and Owens hit a kick to the gut followed by the Stone Cold Stunner for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
Analysis: ** A quick match to put over Owens, which was the right decision in a match like this. Owens is in a high profiled match against Shane McMahon at SummerSlam, so it’s important to build up KO’s momentum. Elias rarely wins matches.
After the match, replays were shown of the key spots. Owens celebrated the win.
A video package aired about Kofi Kingston’s WWE Title reign beginning at WrestleMania, That title reign has continued for nearly four months. The video also focused on Kingston beating Dolph Ziggler and Samoa Joe in recent matches they had.
Kofi Kingston, the WWE Champion, was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber. Kingston complained about how he has beating Joe and Rollins in separate matches, but Kofi was okay with this because he wanted to become an all-time great WWE Champion. Kingston said he’s going to win, then he’s going to celebrate in “Nashvegas” with his New Day buddies Big E and Xavier Woods. Kofi gave pancakes to Schreiber and then he left.
Dolph Ziggler entered first for this triple threat match. Happy birthday to him. Samoa Joe was next. Kofi Kingston was up last with the WWE Title around his waist. Kingston tossed pancakes into the crowd as usual.
Analysis: Since Ziggler and Joe lost recent title matches, plus they rarely win other matches, you could argue about this match even happening and why they deserve another title shot. I think it’s just a case of WWE wanting to give Kofi some familiar opponents to beat. Plus, challengers get title shots at house shows…unless it’s Brock Lesnar. It’s just how WWE books those shows.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Samoa Joe
Kingston with a running dropkick on Ziggler to send him out of the ring, Kingston tossed Joe out of the ring and then Ziggler tripped up Kingston. Ziggler whipped Kofi into the steel steps. Joe slammed Kingston’s head onto the floor. Dolph and Joe decided to work together. Joe with a punch to the ribs of Kingston while Ziggler drove his boot into Kofi’s head. Joe and Ziggler with a double back elbow to knock Kingston down again. Kingston came back with a double boot to the face followed by a cross body block on Ziggler and Joe tossed Kingston out of the ring leading to a two count for Joe on Ziggler. That led to Joe and Ziggler arguing about things. Kingston got back into it with a double clothesline off the top. Elbow smashes by Kingston to Ziggler, dropkick, leaping clothesline and Kingston hit the Boom Drop legdrop. Joe went back into the ring with a Samoan Drop on Kingston for two. Joe wanted to do a superplex, but Kingston fought him off. Ziggler went to the turnbuckle, Kingston blocked a suplex attempt and Joe grabbed Ziggler. Ziggler with a sloppy DDT on Joe and Kingston hit a pinning attempt for two. They got into an exchange of pinfalls good for two counts. Kingston hit the SOS on Ziggler for a two counts Ziggler broke up the pin. Joe whipped Kingston hard into the steel steps at ringside. Joe tossed Ziggler on the smaller announce desk that was beside the ring. Back in the ring, Joe with a running back elbow on Kofi for a two count. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch, but Kofi countered with a jawbreaker. Joe blocked the Trouble in Paradise kick attempt and turned it into an ankle lock. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch, Kofi broke free and Ziggler hit a superkick on Joe for two because Kofi made the save at the last moment. Ziggler worked over Kingston with a headbutt followed by the Zig Zag for two since that is not his finisher anymore. Ziggler teased a superkick, Joe went back in the ring and hit an overhead suplex on Ziggler. Kingston rolled up Joe for two. When Kingston ran the ropes, Joe decked him with a clothesline. Joe wanted the Coquina Clutch, Kingston with a kick to the nose and Kingston with a Trouble in Paradise kick for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: ***1/4 That was fun. Great work by three pros that know what they are doing out there. Joe and Ziggler had their moments where it looked like they might win, but I don’t think anybody watching this thought there would be a title change. Poor Joe has lost way too many matches of late, but sadly that’s the way WWE books one of their best heels.
Kofi Kingston celebrated with the WWE Title for a few minutes, there was a plug for Kingston vs. Randy Orton at SummerSlam on August 11 and that was the end of the show.
This event had a runtime of 1:01:07 on WWE Network.
There were two matches over three stars, so that’s fine with me for a one-hour wrestling show. Was there anything must-see or truly groundbreaking that all WWE fans need to check out if they missed it? Absolutely not. It was a house show that showed three matches and there’s not much more to it. I would have preferred a women’s match instead of the Elias segment, but putting over Kevin Owens in that setting is cool too.
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