By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Aired live from Baton Rouge, Louisiana at Raising Cane’s River Center
We saw more footage of the series of murder attempts on Roman Reigns. He’s still not angry enough about it. Did they have Rowan and his weird doppelganger sit down last week because the guy is two feet shorter than Rowan?
Backstage, Roman was asked if he had anything to say to Rowan and Bryan. He said he did, but he’d save it for the ring. Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Kofi Kingston made his entrance to start the show proper. Before Kofi could speak, we got a video package recapping Orton and Kingston. After the video package, Kofi vs. Orton was confirmed for Clash of Champions again. Back in the ring, Kofi said that Orton likes to slither around the ring talking about him being stupid. He then asked the crowd who got their ass dropped out of nowhere last week. Kofi said he set out to prove that he belongs as a Champion, he said Orton made it personal when he took out his brother Xavier Woods.
Kofi said he enjoyed hitting the Revival with those chairs, and that at Clash of Champions they would run it back again so he could show Randy one more time that he’s not playing when you mess with this family. He said he would show Orton that he was ready years ago, and he’s ready now, and he would prove at Night of Champions why he’s the WWE Champion.
Orton interrupted and called him stupid repeatedly. He produced a letter that he claimed someone slid under his hotel door. He read the letter from a child, which revealed that Orton makes Kofi cry at night, and begged him not to hurt him anymore. Orton then revealed the letter was supposedly from Kofi’s son Kai. Orton said he wouldn’t be writing Kai back, because he doesn’t become pen pals with fans, he would simply go pay him a visit….right now.
Kofi ran to the back and he and Orton brawled through the backstage area near the stage. Orton eventually hit a Hangman DDT off a table backstage. He then chanted Stupid at Kofi lay motionless…[c]
My Take: Kofi’s delivery was pretty aloof until Orton mentioned his family, and then he got serious. I kind of wish he wouldn’t waffle so quickly back and forth between his rather carefree New Day character, and the serious family man out to defend his child. Wouldn’t the initial threat force a permanent change in attitude until Orton was dealt with? Otherwise, this segment was effective, as Orton proved he can easily bait Kofi with a forged letter.
Backstage, Big E was interviewed and asked about the state of Kofi Kingston. It was also revealed that he had a match with Orton later. He said Kofi would be ready to compete at Clash of Champions, but after tonight, he won’t be able to say the same for Randy. The announce team then threw to a recap of the King of the Ring Tournament so far. Ali then made his ring entrance, followed by Buddy Murphy. The announce team referenced his match with “The Best Performance Fighter” Roman Reigns, and his win last week over Daniel Bryan. The performance fighter line got a full cringe from me. Video was shown of Buddy Murphy being a backstage pushover.
1. Buddy Murphy vs. Ali: Buddy hit a big running knee and covered for a near fall…[c]
Murphy controlled the action during the break with some long holds, and shut down any attempt a comebacks quickly. He sent Ali head first into the second rope, but Ali turned things around with a slingshot into the corner. He hit Murphy with a soccer kick and then a suicide dive to the floor. Ali attempted a somersault DDT, but Murphy caught him and threw him out to the floor near the stage.
Murphy hit a somersault plancha onto the floor, and then tossed Ali back in the ring. He went for a meteora from the top, but Ali avoided it. He then hit a poisoned huracarrana for a near fall. Ali then climbed up top, but Murphy intercepted him with a kick and a powerbomb for a near fall of his own. Murphy then hit a brainbuster for another two count. Both men traded strikes, but Ali hit a tilt a whirl DDT and then a 450 for the win.
Ali defeated Buddy Murphy at 11:32
Ali shook Murphy’s hand after the match. The announcers questioned whether or not Roman would apologize to Bryan and Rowan. Backstage, Ember Moon walked up to Bayley. They refused to talk about SummerSlam, but Ember said Bayley is the face of the division, and it was because of her that she got a title shot. Lacey Evans was shown, and she claimed to be the face of the division. She said the entire division needed to raise it’s standards, and challenged Bayley to a match, which she accepted. The Miz made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Given all that Murphy has been doing lately, a loss to Ali there seemed like an odd choice. Especially since Ali has has basically zero going on lately. The match was very entertaining, but I have no clue what WWE is attempting to do with Murphy anymore.
Video was shown of Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura destroying The Miz last week. Miz said Sami was his new spokesman, and they decided to take it out on him last week on MizTV. He said Zayn portrayed them as to believers in the same philosophy, but he called Shinsuke a Champion and Sami a stage 5 clinger.
Miz continued to put over Nakamura, calling him the King of Strong Style, but said if he’s with Sami Zayn then he’s got a problem with him. He called himself the greatest Intercontinental Champion in WWE History, and credited himself with restoring the title’s relevance. He challenged Nakamura to a title match at Clash of Champions.
Sami Zayn interrupted, and called himself a liberator. He said Shinsuke feels better with this new relationship than he has for years. Zayn said he was uncomfortable with Miz talking about the Intercontinental Championship like it was his. He said it was Nakamura’s title, and he was the king of strong style, while the Miz was king of weak style, and he should respect him. Miz invited Zayn into the ring to beat some respect into him, which Sami refused. Miz said he was going to come out there and beat some respect into him.
Miz left the ring, and was blindsided and beaten down by Nakamura, who destroyed Miz while Zayn gleefully narrated how happy he was about it on the microphone. Nakamura then put Miz in the ring at Zayn’s request. Zayn said Miz had no respect for artists or artistry. He then picked up Miz, and told Nakamura to give him the Hollywood close-up he needs so bad. Nakamura then delivered Kinshasa as Zayn screamed into the microphone.
Backstage, Kevin Owens walked into Shane’s office, where Elias was sitting. Owens asked where Shane was, and Elias said he wasn’t there at all. Kevin looked like a lightbulb went off in his head, and he walked away. Bayley made her entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Zayn was obnoxious on the microphone, and it’s working for him and Shinsuke. The dynamic feels fresh, and it’s more than the sum of it’s parts so far. The Miz’s babyface run has been better than anyone could have expected, but the wind seems to be leaving his sails.
Lacey Evans made her ring entrance after the break.
2. Lacey Evans vs. Bayley: Bayley controlled the action in the early going and worked over Lacey’s left arm. There appeared to be a communication error as Bayley was unable to execute what appeared to be a roll up. Evans hit a body slam, but Bayley quicly recovered. Both women ended up on the outside, where Bayley hit a clothesline. Charlotte Flair walked out on the stage…[c]
Lacey Evans tossed Bayley into the post during the break, and continued to work over Bayley’s shoulder. Evans hit a splash in the corner, but mostly focused on the left arm and shoulder. Bayley used the ropes to reverse a hammer lock, and then hit a dropkick. Evans replied with a big boot and then stomped on Bayley’s arm. Bayley tied Evans up the ropes and landed some kick, followed by a knee strike.
Bayley then applied an inverted figure four in front of Charlotte, who looked unimpressed. Bayley looked for Bayley to Belly, but Evans avoided it with an arm drag. Evans climbed up top and hit a moonsault for a near fall. It wasn’t a perfect landing. Bayley recovered and hit a suplex off the barricade on the outside. Both women beat the count at 9 and traded pinfall attempts. They then traded blows until Bayley hit a Bayley to Belly for a near fall. I don’t think Evans even left the ground. She grabbed the ropes to break the pin.
Bayley avoided another splash and hit another suplex. She then hit an Elbow from the top for the win.
Bayley defeated Lacey Evans at 13:54
After the match, Charlotte stared down Bayley. Backstage, Bryan and Rowan were interviewed. They said they had yet to receive an apology, and said they would not leave the arena until Reigns personally told them he was sorry. In the arena, Randy Orton made his ring entrance…[c]
My Take: I now have a newly increased respect for Becky Lynch for getting passable matches out of Lacey Evans. She was noticeably under par there, and looked to have forgotten several spots throughout the match. Bayley worked pretty hard here to keep it entertaining, but they didn’t quite get there.
Big E walked to the ring with a purpose.
3. Big E vs. Randy Orton: Big E landed two big gut punches and tossed Orton to the floor. He then sent Orton into the steps and over the announce desk. Big E told him he had hell to pay and he was there to collect. Orton poked Big E in the eyes, but he recovered quickly and sent Orton over the barricade and into the crowd.Back in the ring, E covered for two.
Orton took control with some strikes, and tossed Big E into the corner post. He then began to focus his attack on the bad shoulder. Big E lit up Orton with two lariats from his good arm, but missed hard on a splash attempt on the apron. Orton gave Big E a back suplex onto the announce desk on the outside…[c]
During the break, Orton hit another suplex on the announce desk. As the show returned….Big E returned the favor. In the ring, Big E hit two overhead Belly to Belly suplexes, followed by a twisting belly to belly. The Revival then ran down to offer a distraction, which allowed Orton to hit an RKO and pick up the win.
Randy Orton defeated Big E at 8:21
After the match, the Revival and Orton delivered an assisted RKO.
Backstage, Chad Gable was asked if Shelton Benjamin was under his skin. Gable said Shelton should know better than anyone not to underestimate him, and later tonight he would be looking up at him. Shelton then walked up and acted like he couldn’t see Gable, and told Sarah Schreiber to tell him he was looking for him if she seems him. Elias is up next…[c]
My Take: That match made we want to see more of a serious Big E as a singles competitor. It wasn’t a work rate master class, but it was an effective match in that Randy Orton is the guy with help, and now Kofi is isolated with both of his friends taken out.
We got a video package of WWE 24/7 shenanigans at the Fox Sports event this past weekend. Elias was then shown sitting in the King of the Ring Throne, and talked about how the crowds would soon be hailing King Elias. He talked trash about Louisiana and the crowd, until Kevin Owens assaulted him and tossed him into the ring.
Owens hit an awkward stunner, and then left. Apparently Owens wasn’t interested in the 24/7 title. R-Truth was, though, and he ran out with a referee. Drake Maverick prevented him from making a pin, and made one of his own to capture the 24/7 Championship. Drake celebrated in an animated way and ran away up the stage. Gable and Benjamin is next…[c]
My Take: The 24/7 stuff continues to entertain some of the audience. It’s still definitely not for me.
Shelton Benjamin was already in the ring. Chad Gable then made his ring entrance.
4. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chad Gable: Shelton hit a spinebuster early on, and covered for two. He then fired Gable hard into the corner for another two count. Andrade was shown backstage watching the match. The match spilled outside. Shelton caught Gable jumping off the apron, and tossed him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Gable went for a moonsault after knocking Shelton from the top rope, but had to land on his feet. Shelton went for what looked like a powerbomb, but Gable turned it into a sunset flip for the victory.
Chad Gable defeated Shelton Benjamin at 3:52
After the match, the announcers said Roman Reigns would be confronted by Rowan and Daniel Bryan…[c]
My Take: The weakest of the first round King of the Ring Matches. I was hoping we’d get more of a showcase for Gable here, but they just didn’t get enough time.
Roman Reigns made his entrance. Bryan appeared on the monitor and told him to say I’m sorry. Roman polled the crowd, and they told him not to apologize. Roman introduced a video, and said if he needed to apologize, he would. The video showed Rowan from behind the crates that were tipped onto Roman during the first attack. Bryan got violently angry and slapped Rowan, demanding that he get out of his face. Bryan said he hates liars, and sent Rowan away.
Bryan stormed to the ring and said he had no idea that Rowan was involved, and that someone had told him to do it, but it wasn’t him. Rowan didn’t believe him, and hit him with a spear as the show ended.
My Take: We got something of a reveal this week, but now we have a new mystery as to who has been directing Rowan. The obvious answer is Daniel Bryan, but they seem intent on dragging out this mystery, so it’s plausible we may see someone else introduced as a possible culprit. In any case, I’m guessing we see Reigns vs. Rowan next week.