Live from Louisville, Kentucky, this is Smackdown Live for episode #1029. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. This review is sponsored by ICOPRO. 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.
Smackdown began with the entrance of AJ Styles, who is a Raw superstar that is here on Smackdown as part of the Wild Card Rule that began on Raw on Monday night. The Smackdown announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton put over the Wild Card Rule as much as they could.
Let’s Hear from AJ Styles
Styles: “Oh God, how I have missed you, Smackdown Live.” Styles said that Mr. McMahon instituted a Wild Card Rule for Raw and Smackdown. Styles said that if you’re brave enough and fast enough, you can cross over to the rival brand. Styles added you can be a superstar that can crash a rival brand, so he knew he had to be the first superstar to do it. Styles said that Smackdown Live is still the house that AJ Styles built.
Sami Zayn showed up for the interruption. Zayn said he didn’t want to be there and he would rather be anywhere but there on his day off surrounded by a bunch of Kentucky fried hillbillies. Zayn said he knew he had to show up to call out Styles on his toxic ego that has spiraled out of control. Styles said that he’s glad that Zayn made it out of the dumpster that Braun Strowman threw him in and he said he smelled while telling him to take a shower. Zayn said he did take a shower, but it doesn’t come out that easily. Fans chanted “take a shower” at Zayn.
The New Day were up for the interruption with the WWE Champion Kofi Kingston making his entrance with Xavier Woods by his side. Kingston said that you guys were going to come out here for this party without inviting The New Day? Kingston mocked Styles for claiming this was the house that AJ Styles built. Kingston told Styles he doesn’t live there anymore, so what he wants to know is (they went into the ring) what is Styles doing there tonight?
Styles pointed out that he saw Kingston on Raw last night, so he figured he would return the favor to the champ. Woods told Styles to check yourself before you wreck yourself (in the immortal words of Ice Cube). Kingston reminded Styles that he is The Champ now. Kingston asked Styles what he wants to do about Kingston being in the ring with him right now.
Zayn told them to stop this right now. Zayn told Kingston not to offer Styles a WWE Championship match tonight. Zayn told Kingston he loves him, so he’ll tell him the truth while nobody else will including his best friend Woods. Zayn said that these people are not happy for him (the fans booed) and Zayn yelled at Kingston for wanting to please them. Zayn said that if anybody deserves a WWE Championship match tonight it is him. Zayn said that these people deserve a WWE Champion that will tell them the truth whether they want to hear it or not.
Kingston asked “Sam” what is that smell? The fans chanted “take a shower” again. Woods told Zayn he smells like his tenth-grade sock drawer. Kingston said that he defended the title against Daniel Bryan to show what happened at WrestleMania was not a fluke. Kingston said that he is a fighting champion, so he wants to put the title on the line against either of them. Kingston said it won’t matter which one of them it is because Kingston will remain your WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The New Day’s music hit to end it.
Analysis: That was an entertaining opening promo segment. I thought Zayn was terrific as the lone heel in the segment. Kingston has really done a great job with his promos as the confident WWE Champion. Styles mocking Zayn for his smell was funny too. It worked.
Kevin Owens was shown doing a cell phone promo sitting in his car. Owens said that today is his birthday, but he didn’t want to deal with this crap on his birthday. Owens claimed he was going home and said happy birthday to himself.
Analysis: Heels lie. Never forget.
Ali made his entrance for the first match after a break.
There was a video featuring Ali where he said even in your darkest of times, you have to search for the light because the light will show you the way. He said that as long as you see the light, you must find your way. Ali said that at Money in the Bank, that contract will seem too far away, but as long as he sees that contract, he’ll fight for that opportunity that got pried out of his hands earlier this year. Ali: “As long as you see the light, you must fight.”
Andrade entered with Zelina Vega, who did a pre-match promo. Vega said that in two weeks, much like the Kentucky Derby, thousands of spectators will watch the Money in the Bank pay-per-view where thoroughbreds will compete. She said that unlike the Kentucky Derby, there’s only one thoroughbred and he is with her. Andrade said he’ll win at Money in the Bank. He told Ali he’ll be envious of the success of Andrade.
Analysis: It’s the battle between two guys that had their names shortened this year. Both men are in the Money in the Bank ladder match too.
Ali vs. Andrade (w/Zelina Vega)
Andrade with a hard chop to the chest, Ali with a kick Andrade went to the floor. Ali went to the barricade, Zelina with a distraction and Andrade tripped up Ali to send him hard to the floor.
Andrade was in control with a body slam. Ali went up top and hit the Spanish Fly slam. Great move. Fans were chanting “Ali” when Randy Orton showed up with a clothesline on Ali. The match went five minutes and I only got to see about two minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Ali
Analysis: * I wish I got to see more of the match to properly rate it. In the US, they do the split screen where they show the action during the commercial, but here in Canada, it’s just a commercial. Due to that, I only saw two minutes of the match. If the match is going to get five minutes, why not show all of it without a break? That’s a frustrating thing about WWE these days. Anyway, Orton attacking saves either guy from doing the job and builds to MITB.
Orton went for a DDT on Andrade, Zelina saved Andrade and Andrade and Ali each hit Orton with kicks. Ali told Orton he’s not afraid of him. Orton with a forearm to Andrade. Ali ran the ropes, Orton popped him up into the air and hit a RKO. Andrade went for a springboard attack, but Orton hit him with a RKO too. Orton stared at the Money in the Bank briefcase above the ring.
Analysis: Those were some cool RKO spots to make Orton look strong. It’s incredible how popular that move still is after Orton has been using it for so long (and Diamond Dallas Page before him).
The announce team of Phillips, Graves and Saxton were shown on camera as replays aired of the Roman Reigns match against Drew McIntyre on Raw that ended with an attack from Elias and Shane McMahon.
A video package aired about Roman Reigns. It showed highlights of his journey from his start in FCW in 2010 to The Shield in WWE (late 2012) and his 2015 Royal Rumble win followed by some of his major title wins like WM32 in 2016 over Triple H. They showed Reigns beating John Cena at No Mercy 2017 and The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33 in 2017. The WrestleMania match happened first, but I guess it doesn’t matter. Roman’s Universal Title win over Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2018 was shown as well. A sad tone took over the video showing Roman’s October 2018 Raw speech where he announced he had leukemia and then his comeback in February letting us know he’s back. Three weeks ago, he returned to Smackdown Live and knocked out Vince McMahon with a Superman Punch.
Analysis: Reigns flew to Europe with the Raw crew on Tuesday morning, so he wasn’t at Smackdown this week. Some of the live events on the Europe tour feature the rosters from before the Superstar Shake-up. This was a way for WWE to still feature Reigns on the show. It was a good video.
Shane McMahon made his entrance.
There was a graphic reminding us of WWE’s work with Make-A-Wish and you can donate at wish.org/wwe if you want to help.
A clip aired from Raw when The Miz fought with Shane McMahon, but Shane managed to get away. They have a Steel Cage Match at Money in the Bank.
Let’s Hear from Shane McMahon
Shane said he’s out there to talk about the Smackdown Tag Team division. Shane said that last night on Raw, he was brutally attacked by The Miz in cowardly fashion using a steel chair. Shane wondered what kind of person hits somebody with a chair and said he found his actions deplorable, then made it easier for Kentucky saying disgusting. Shane said that at Money in the Bank, all anybody is going to hear is that the Best in the World Shane McMahon is once again victorious.
Shane said that the Hardy Boyz had to vacate the Smackdown Tag Team Titles last week since Jeff Hardy was injured at the hands of Lars Sullivan. (The injury was not really caused by Sullivan, but it makes for a good story.)
Shane wondered who would be worthy to be the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Shane said he found a worthy tag team that should be the next Smackdown Tag Team Champions and he introduced them…Daniel Bryan and Rowan.
Daniel Bryan walked down to the ring with Rowan as the fans booed them. Graves thought this was a great idea while Saxton complained about it saying they didn’t really deserve it. Bryan and Rowan shook Shane’s hand.
The Usos made their entrance even though they are Raw superstars, so it’s the Wild Card Rule in effect. Shane asked what they are doing there. The Usos said that the big dog Roman Reigns said that they can slide through whenever they want to. The Usos said that they are taking advantage of the new “Uces Wild” rule. Jey said that they worked too damn hard to put the tag team division on the map and you’re just going to give them away? Jimmy said that teams like The Usos, The New Day, The Bar, The Hardy Boyz earned those titles. Jimmy even said that Shane earned that when he beat them (with Miz). Jey complained about handing the titles to Spongebob and Patrick, Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead (names for Rowan and Bryan) and Jey said they should put the Smackdown Tag Team Titles up for grabs.
Shane said that sometimes you have to earn some things and fans chanted “Usos” for them. Shane said that the match is going to happen right now and he’ll enjoy Rowan and Bryan kicking their butts all the way back to Raw. Shane called for a referee to come out there right now, so here comes Mike Chioda. It’s up next.
Analysis: That was a great promo from The Usos. It was a lot better than the material they have had to work with on Raw. I think most of us assumed a multi-team match for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles, but I guess this is fine too because at least it’s a match to crown the new champions.
Finn Balor did a cell phone promo from Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland where he was home in Ireland visiting family. Balor said he was going to win Money in the Bank, win that contract and cash in. Balor said he’ll do something extraordinary when he becomes the Intercontinental Champion and WWE Champion. He said he liked the sound of “Finn Two Belts.”
Analysis: It was nice of WWE to let him go home to Ireland for a few days ahead of the European tour.
For the Vacant Smackdown Tag Team Titles: Daniel Bryan and Rowan vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)
Bryan started with Jimmy while Graves wondered if The Usos won would they have to compete on Smackdown regularly as the champions? There was no explanation for that. Jey tagged in with a hard whip that sent Bryan into the turnbuckle. Double team elbow drop by the Usos on Bryan. Rowan with a boot to the face of Jey followed by a body slam and a big splash. Bryan tagged in with a corner dropkick on Jimmy followed by a Rowan splash on Jimmy leading to Bryan getting a two count. When Jimmy tried to fight out of the heel corner, Rowan hit a running cross body block splash on him.
Back from break, Bryan charged with a running dropkick to the knee of Jey, who was in there now. Bryan with the kicks to the chest, Jey avoided the last one, tag to Jimmy and he hit Bryan with a superkick for a two count. Jimmy went up top with the Uso Splash, but Bryan got the knees up and slapped on the LeBell Lock submission to trap Jimmy in the middle of the ring. Jimmy nearly got to the ropes, so Bryan went back towards the middle in the hold. Jimmy got a rollup for two and then a superkick by Jimmy knocked Bryan down. Jey got the hot tag against Rowan with Jey hitting a kick to the head. Jey avoided a suplex, kick to the gut, kick to the chest, Jimmy with a blind tag and each Uso hit a superkick. Double superkick by the Usos. Jey with a suicide dive on Bryan on the floor. Jimmy up top with the Uso Splash for the one…two…and no…Rowan kicked out! Great nearfall. The Usos each went up top, but Bryan shoved Jimmy off the top to the floor. Jey with a superkick on Bryan. Rowan was sent out of the ring, he blocked a double suicide dive and Bryan hit a running knee to the face on Jimmy. Jey with a superkick on Rowan and Jey with a superkick on Bryan to knock him off the apron. Rowan picked up Jey and hit the Iron Claw slam for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall and New Smackdown Tag Team Champions: Daniel Bryan and Rowan
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a really good match with the kind of quality in-ring action you expect from any match The Usos are in. There were several believable nearfalls in the match and I thought the finish was set up well. It was smart to have Bryan and Rowan as the new champs since they are on Smackdown while The Usos are a Raw team. Plus, it also put over Rowan in a big way since he got the pinfall.
Post match, Shane McMahon was back at ringside with the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Shane awarded the titles to Bryan and Rowan. Bryan and Rowan celebrated with the titles while Shane clapped for them.
The Firefly Fun House video that was shown on Raw was also shown here. RIP to Rambling Rabbit, I guess.
Shane McMahon was back in the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcases saying he wanted to get out of Louisville. Shane talked about the winner of the Money in the Bank briefcase is almost guaranteed to become a champion. He said it’s brutal, physical and here comes The Miz.
The Miz attacked Shane from behind with a forearm to the back. Miz whipped Shane into the barricade at ringside two times. Shane went up the ramp with Miz going after him. The B Team duo of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (that used to be aligned with Miz as The Miztourage) showed up to attack Miz with punches and kicks. Miz kicked Dallas, punches for Axel and Miz whipped both guys into barricades. Shane came back with a steel chair to the back. Earlier, Shane asked what kind of man attacks another man with a steel chair. Heels are hypocrites. Shane hit Miz in the back with the chair again. Shane stood over the fallen Miz to end it.
Analysis: The build for Shane vs. Miz at Money in the Bank in a Steel Cage Match has been pretty good. I’m not that excited for the match itself, but at least they are continuing to build the story every show.
Daniel Bryan and Rowan were walking backstage with their Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Bryan said they are the Planet’s Tag Team Champions and they need to fix those titles. They walked up to Heavy Machinery with Otis saying “congratulations” to them. Bryan and Rowan just walked away from them.
Analysis: That’s a future feud most likely. There aren’t a lot of teams on Smackdown, so it will probably happen soon.
Ember Moon made her entrance for a tag team match.
The match started after the break. Carmella is back to the blonde hair look. I liked her brunette look better, but I wasn’t consulted about it shockingly.
Analysis: Carmella, Moon and Rose are in the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. This was originally a six-woman tag team match with Charlotte Flair on the heel side and Bayley on the face side, but it was changed. They change advertised matches all the time.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville vs. Ember Moon and Carmella
Carmella with a headscissors on Deville followed by a clothesline. Rose with a distraction, Deville tackled Carmella and Rose tagged in leading to a jawbreaker from Carmella. Moon tagged in with a dropkick and a clothesline on Rose. Moon hit a fallaway slam on Rose followed by a running hip attack and a cross body block off the middle ropes for two. Carmella kicked Deville, Rose with a pump knee on Carmella and Moon with an enziguri kick. Moon with a suicide dive, Deville took it for Rose and that led to Rose hitting a pump knee on Moon. The announcers put it over as a selfless act from Deville. Rose sent Moon back in the ring and hit a double underhook sitout slam for the pinfall win at around three minutes. On Instagram, Mandy called the move the “Bed of Roses” although they did not say that on TV.
Winners by pinfall: Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
Analysis: *1/4 The action was decent and then it picked up when Moon was in there because she is awesome. The story was that Deville took that bump for Rose to allow Rose to capitalize. Deville said Mandy deserved the Money in the Bank spot and did this for her in the tag team match, so the idea is that Deville is a good friend while Mandy will probably be revealed as more of the heel that’s just using Deville. I think Mandy winning Money in the Bank is possible. Bayley is probably my pick right now, though.
Paige made her entrance on the stage with the tag team of Asuka and Kairi Sane. Paige said she used to represent them when they used to actually mean something. Paige said she has traded way up with Asuka and Kairi Sane. Paige said they will rip through the tag team division starting next week with Mandy and Sonya. That was it.
Analysis: It sets up a tag team match next week on Smackdown…unless plans change.
Matt Hardy was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the backstage area. Matt said that Jeff had his surgery, it was successful and he’ll be back better, faster and stronger than ever. Truth walked up to Hardy saying he wanted to tell him something…but he forgot. Matt asked if it was about Lars Sullivan. Truth said that Lars is vicious, he’s unlike anybody else he’s ever faced, his hands are like death traps and if you get caught, you get got. Sullivan showed up behind Truth with Sullivan in his ring gear because that’s normal. Sullivan hit Truth with a headbutt. Sullivan grabbed Matt and whipped him into a bathroom door. Truth tried to attack, so Sullivan picked up Truth and gave him a Powerbomb through a table that was conveniently nearby. Heavy breathing from Sullivan ended that.
Analysis: That was another ass kicking to put over Sullivan, who has been booked like a dominant force in his first month on the main roster. Don’t expect him to lose any matches any time soon.
Aleister Black was in a darkened room doing a promo. He sits before us as our wrath and salvation. He said he must apologize to his opponents for his need to prevail at their expense for they are the embodiment of the sins that he speaks of. Black said that now that he has revealed this part of himself, he asks for forgiveness of his own sins that he will seek absolution for in the form of victory…victory that he shall take from you.
Analysis: It was another quick promo from Black to continue his character development. I assume he’ll continue in a face role, but this could be part of a darker side of him.
AJ Styles made his entrance for the main event. He challenges for the Universal Championship against Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank. Sami Zayn was up next doing his ridiculous dance routine. Kofi Kingston was up last as the WWE Champion with his buddy Xavier Woods by his side.
The three wrestlers stood in the ring for the championship match introduction from announcer Greg Hamilton. There were “Kofi” chants as the match began.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) vs. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn
Styles and Kingston sent Zayn out of the ring. Kingston hit a dropkick off the middle ropes on Styles followed by a splash off the ropes. Zayn back in, Kingston kicked him back out of the ring and Styles drove Kingston into the turnbuckle followed by a backbreaker. Styles worked over Zayn with hard chops to the chest. Kingston with a boot to the face of Styles. Kingston up top and he hit a Frog Splash onto the back of Styles for a two count. That looked like a rough landing since his knees buckled. The guy taking that bump has to lay out flat to avoid the knees getting hurt. Zayn back in, he worked on Kingston a bit and Styles with a clothesline on Zayn. Kingston hit a leaping clothesline on Styles followed by the boom drop double leg drop. Zayn tripped up Kingston by the ring apron. Zayn avoided an attack from Styles and sent him face first into the ring apron.
Back from break, Zayn was in control of Kingston. When Kingston went for a leaping attack, Zayn put him down with a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Styles worked over Zayn with punches and kicks. Zayn came back with a Tornado DDT off the ropes on Styles with Kofi right there to break up the pinfall. Kingston with the two boots to the face of Zayn, but Zayn came back with a huge superplex off the top rope on Kingston for a two count. That was a slow and delayed suplex that looked impressive. Zayn tried a superplex on Styles, but Styles slipped through to send Zayn face first into the top turnbuckle. Styles went up top with a hurricanrana to send Zayn across the ring. Styles with the Ushigoroshi knee to the back of the neck of Kingston. Styles went for a reverse DDT on Zayn off the ropes, but Kingston caught them leading to a SOS by Kingston on Styles while Styles hit the reverse DDT on Zayn. That was a creative spot. The crowd was really getting into this. Kingston and Styles got into a slugfest leading to Styles hitting a Pele Kick that sent Kofi into the turnbuckle. Styles went to the apron, he went up top, Kingston knocked him down and Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise kick to send Styles to the floor.
Kevin Owens showed up from the backstage area and he attacked Woods from behind. Owens lied about leaving earlier. Heels lie! Owens whipped Woods back first into the ring apron and he sent Woods into the steel steps. Zayn capitalized with a Blue Thunder Bomb on Kingston for two. Great nearfall! Owens wanted his buddy Zayn to win the WWE Title. Zayn picked up Kingston for a second Blue Thunder Bomb for two…again. Zayn hit another Blue Thunder Bomb for a third time that was only good for a two count for the third time. Zayn waited for Kingston to get back up, Zayn charged and Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise kick to put Zayn down for the pinfall win. It went 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an exciting and fun triple threat match, which is not a surprise considering how good these three guys are in the ring. The amount of believable nearfalls at the end of the match really helped to build up the excitement in the last few minutes. It was the second straight night where Kingston won a competitive match to retain the WWE Title, which makes Kingston look like a great champion. Something that bothers me about WWE triple threat matches is they are no DQ, yet we don’t see the heel wrestler Zayn going for weapons. You’re allowed to cheat, yet they go 17 minutes in a match without cheating. I miss when heels got to act like dirtbag heels more often. Kingston beating Zayn was the obvious finish since Zayn isn’t in a match at Money in the Bank while Styles is going for the Universal Title, so that meant Zayn was the right guy to beat here. Anyway, that was a great match. Nice job by all three guys.
As soon as the match was over, Owens walked to the backstage area while Kingston checked on Woods at ringside. Replays aired of the finish.
Kingston was checking on Woods when Kayla Braxton asked Kingston for his thoughts. Kofi said: “Kevin Owens is not in my head. All I have to say is this…at Money in the Bank, there is going to be hell to pay for Kevin Owens.” That was the end of Smackdown for this week.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kofi Kingston
- Sami Zayn
- AJ Styles
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2019 Average: 7 (Raw is 5.53)
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 8, 7, 6, 6.5
2019 High: 8.5 (February 26)
2019 Low: 5 (January 15)
I give this week’s Smackdown a 7.5 out of 10.
I thought this was a very good wrestling show because we got to see an awesome WWE Title match and a very competitive Smackdown Tag Team Title match as well. Smackdown is easier to book than Raw because there’s one less hour, which means less time for filler and when you have bigger matches that mean something, that certainly helps too.
The Wild Card Rule meant that four superstars could be on Smackdown, but there were actually five people: AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, The Usos and The Miz. Do The Usos count as one entity? I guess that’s the explanation for it although it’s WWE, so they suck at explaining things.
The build for Money in the Bank matches was okay. It was a much better show than Raw.
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Here’s the lineup for WWE Money in the Bank on May 19 so far:
Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. AJ Styles
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Baron Corbin, Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, Ricochet, Ali, Randy Orton, Andrade, Finn Balor
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Naomi, Dana Brooke, Bayley, Mandy Rose, Ember Moon, Carmella
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Roman Reigns vs. Elias
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lacey Evans
Steel Cage Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz
United States Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
Cruiserweight Championship: Tony Nese (c) vs. Ariya Daivari
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