KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
APRIL 23, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Tonight after WWE Smackdown, join me live with guest cohost Rich Fann from The Deep Dive edition of the PWTorch Dailycast to break down the show with live callers, an on-site correspondent, and the mailbag.
Last night’s (4/22) Monday Night Raw on USA Network drew a 1.70 rating, the lowest rating since Jan. 7 and down from last week’s 1.88 rating for the Superstar Shake-up and the 2.02 for the post-WrestleMania edition.
One year ago this week, Raw drew a 2.09 rating and two years ago this week it drew a 2.04 rating. The 2019 average so far is 1.86, down from 2.29 through this week last year and 2.27 through this week two years ago. In other words, this year so far is a sharp drop-off from what had been a steadying of ratings in 2018 and 2017 during this time of the year.
The April average so far is 1.85, down from 1.93 last month and 1.88 two months ago and 1.80 in January.
The first hour drew drew 2.680 million viewers, down 90,000 from last week. The second hour drew 2.296 million, down a sharp 400,000 from last week, and the third hour drew 2.146 million, also down 400,000 from last week. The first-to-third hour drop-off was 534,000, the biggest since Jan. 21.
That means while a modestly smaller audience tuned in at the start of the show, there was a cliff drop for the second and third hour. Viewers were not enthused by what they saw in the first hour, apparently, which featured the debut of A.J. Styles on the Raw brand.
In the Monday cable ratings, Raw finished behind two NBA playoff games on TNT (Jazz-Rockets, Bucks-Pistons) with 0.9, 0.8, and 0.8 ratings in the key 18-49 demographic, behind the 1.2 and 1.0 ratings in that demo for the NBA. In total viewers, the Rockets-Jazz NBA game drew 2.963 million and the Bucks-Pistons game drew 2.811 million, more than Raw’s best hour. Nothing else on cable drew 2 million viewers or more. The NHL’s top rated game (Capitals-Hurricanes) drew 992,000 viewers on NBC SportsNetwork.
SHOW SUMMARY: PWTorch.com’s Mike McMahon and Andrew Soucek open the show this week talking about Dustin Rhodes joining AEW and wrestling Cody at Double or Nothing. Other topics include CM Punk, Dean Ambrose, Impact’s Rebellion PPV, Mahabali Shera, and MLW, and then the guys take listener emails on AEW TV, Impact’s booking team, and more. Email the show for next week at email@example.com!
SHOW SUMMARY: Will Cooling returns with the second episode of The British Wrestling Report. He covers the sad news of Kid Lykos’s retirement, Jimmy Havoc preparing to leave British pro-wrestling, ICW moving the location of its Fear and Loathing supershow, what Wrestlerama suggests about OTT’s relationship with WWE UK, changes to WXW’s World Tag Team League, and how Pro-Wrestling EVE and Kamikaze Pro-Wrestling demonstrated British women’s wrestling’s strength in depth. He then goes through the highlights of his weekend watching Fight Club: PRO’s Dream Tag Team Invitational before ending with the latest NXT UK taping spoilers.
IMPACT WRESTLING TV REPORT
APRIL 19, 2019
TAPED IN WINDSOR, ON.
AIRED ON PURSUIT & TWITCH TV
REPORT BY JACK IRENE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Josh Mathews, Don Callis
On the penultimate episode of Impact Wrestling before Rebellion, The Lucha Bros must get past the team of Eddie Edwards and Eli Drake.
We kick off the show with a good recap of John E. Bravo’s involvement with the Johnny Impact/Brian Cage feud.
(1) SCARLETT BORDEAUX & FALLAH BAHH vs. THE DESI HIT SQUAD
The teams play the crowd early on as Bahh gets the crowd to sing Scarlett’s entrance music, and they make fun of Raj Singh’s lack of hair. Bordeaux comes in and Raj sends Rohit Raju in. The crowd roots for the woman but Raju stalls and sends Raj back in. She is forced to send Bahh back in as they dodge her. He cleans house but some crafty work puts Bahh on the canvas. They control the panda but end up running into each other allowing Bahh to score the hot tag to The Smokeshow. Scarlett teases a dive to the outside but Rohit interrupts. She opens up on him with a big hurricanrana and holds the ropes open for a huge Fallah Bahh suicide dive. She goes to the top rope for a big crossbody to the outside. She delivers a stinkface to Raj leading to Rohit to beg for one of his own. He closes his eyes and Fallah decides to give one of his own. Scarlett climbs the back of Bahh as they climb the turnbuckle for a banzai drop. Scarlett Bordeaux pins Raj Singh.
WINNERS: Scarlett Bordeaux & Fallah Bath. (**½)
(J.I.’S Thoughts: Call me crazy but this duo is incredibly fun as a tag team. With KM’s exit from the company, Scarlett seems to fill the role well adding a new dynamic to the team. The match was fun with comedy spots and a great crowd.)
– The Lucha Bros. warn Eli Drake and Eddie Edwards before their championship clash tonight. [c]
– The Deaners have a training montage to some groovy 80’s music. They debut next week.
– Eli Drake and Eddie Edwards discuss their match tonight.
– Tommy Dreamer cuts his typical passionate promo on Madman Fulton.
(2) MOOSE vs. DEZ
The crowd hates Moose as the bell rings in this David vs. Goliath battle. As expected, Moose uses his power early on. Dez gets some offence going with flashy kicks but pays for it after getting tossed like a lawn dart into the buckle. Moose continues to dictate the pace, tossing The Rascal around. Dez counters the Go To Hell with a rana but eats a pop-up clothesline. Moose asks Don Callis at ringside how he likes this domination. Moose continues to taunt but goes shoulder first into the post, allowing Dez to fly over the ropes but Moose catches him, slamming his head into the steps and launching him into his partners. Trey interferes but Moose tosses him, Wentz nails a kick to the head as Dez rolls up the big man for the shocking three count.
WINNER: Dez. (**½)
(J.I.’S Thoughts: This was a well-told story with Dez not getting an ounce of offence. It dragged on a bit in the middle but seeing Moose launch smaller workers around is pretty fun stuff. We will see how the story progresses from here.)
– Kiera Hogan is walking around backstage, but Rosemary tells her to go back to where she came from. They argue and Rosemary attacks Kiera, choking her with a chain. [c]
– Moose demands that Impact deletes the footage of Dez pinning Moose. Moose teases that he has partners.
– GWN Flashback Moment of the Week is Awesome Kong vs. Gail Kim.
– Tessa Blanchard is at Robert Irvine’s restaurant. Tessa says that Gail is only known for screwing a famous chef. She searches for Robert Irvine, spitting on people’s food, and disrespecting employees. The manager confronts her but she pours soup on him and sends him back out. This was a unique segment, to say the least. [c]
– Gail Kim gets off of the phone as Melissa Santos asks her if they will press charges. Gail understands that Tessa must learn the hard way, and she will teach her at Rebellion.
(3) MADMAN FULTON vs. TOMMY DREAMER
Fulton and Dreamer go back and forth immediately but Fulton gets the best of the exchanges. Kid Ref ejects Sami Callihan, but Fulton seems to do fine in his absence as he beats Dreamer to the ground. Dreamer connects with a hurricanrana of sorts sending Fulton to the outside. They engage in a Tommy Dreamer brawl at ringside. Fulton charges him but eats the post. Fulton drops Dreamer crotch first on the barricade and repeatedly slams him onto the apron. He continues to work the back as the crowd chants for the ECW Original. Fulton tries to put him away with some heavy slams but Dreamer continues to prevail. Fulton off the second rope misses a headbutt. Dreamer begins his comeback with some jabs, elbows, and a cutter. Fulton responds with a huge shot. Dreamer hits the DDT but rolls to the outside for a kendo stick. Fulton sits up and nails him with the Better Than Baron for the win. Willie Mack tries to save Dreamer but oVe is all over him. Rich Swann is out delivering cutters to both Crists. Callihan comes in with a bat and a Cactus Special. They grab Dreamer, wrapping his arm in a chair and smacking it with a baseball bat. Rich Swann watches as Callihan breaks Dreamer’s arm.
WINNER: Mandman Fulton. (**)
(J.I.’S Thoughts: This match was lethargic at times, but was exactly what you would expect. This served as more of an angle, adding some heat to the feud.) [c]
– RVD talks about what he has been up to lately and what brought him to Impact. He teases potential matchups as Brian Cage, Johnny Impact, and Fenix are shown.
– Another Deaners vignette, as they trade in their John Deere for a much more impressive John Deere.
– Rich Swann and Willie Mack are fired up about oVe’s actions. Swann walks off but Killer Kross comes in. Kross tells Mack that he keeps helping Swann out with no benefit. Mack goes off on Kross and challenges him to a match next week.
(4) MADISON RAYNE vs. TAYA VALKYRIE
Taya now resides in Slam Town, USA and sports some Johnny Impact shades. Taya knocks Canada and is glad she has moved from a country known for being apologetic. The Canadian crowd chants “We’re not sorry”. She does not want to work tonight so she tries to head out but Rayne catches her. She escapes but Jordynne Grace comes out and sends her back in. Rayne rolls Taya up for the win.
(J.I.’s Thoughts: This was hardly a match and Madison Rayne’s booking confuses me. She has already beaten Tessa Blanchard and Taya Valkyrie, two of the most pushed females on the roster. It just feels slightly weird even if the wins aren’t the most convincing. These wins are unnecessary and haven’t added anything to the feuds it has interfered with.)
– Rolando Menendez is at Johnny Impact’s home interviewing him. John E. Bravo is in the background cleaning his indoor pool. Johnny pokes fun at the “meathead” Brian Cage, mocking his smarts. Johnny claims to have power over Cage, being able to get to anyone that he cares about. Johnny says that Cage will never live up to his potential, and we will see that on April 28th at Rebellion.
– Back ringside, Cage confronts Callis, shoving him to the ground. Callis promises a special referee so Cage won’t kill him. He screams that Scott D’Amore will be the ref as he calls him frantically, as we get a cliffhanger for a commercial. We’re back and D’Amore angrily answers the phone. Callis warns him to head out immediately. Cage comes and threatens D’Amore now. Cage says Storm should be the ref, and D’Amore agrees. Storm looks confused. This was great.
(5) LAX vs. EDDIE EDWARDS & ELI DRAKE
Seeing Eli Drake here is a little weird knowing his current status with the company. The Lucha Bros enter as we head to commercial. The bell rings and Fenix and Drake kick things off. Fenix takes out Drake and Edwards as Pentagon comes in to do the same. Bad start for Drake and Edwards. Huge exchanges between the teams very early, including a superplex for a near fall. Drake and Edwards slow things down on the Impact Tag Champs. Fenix rolls into a Death Valley Driver/Knee Drop combo from Drake and Edwards. Pentagon breaks up the pinfall with a nasty kick to Drake’s face. Things get hectic as the Lucha Bros gang up on Drake. Fenix soars to the outside onto Edwards. Back in, They load up Drake for their finish but Santana is out. Ortiz follows for a distraction and Drake nearly wins the belts for him and his partner on a roll-up. Kenny enters the ring but Drake misses. Pentagon gets him up for the Fear Factor and The Lucha Bros retain. LAX brawls with the champs as they head backstage. Edwards grabs Kenny and hugs Drake. The show is seemingly about to end but Drake cheapshots him and nails him with Kenny repeatedly. He finishes off with a shot to the eye of Edwards for a call back to about a year ago and walks off with Kenny.
(J.I.’S Thoughts: This was a fun Lucha Bros sprint, with some drama towards the end. Drake ended up swerving which seems like it will have no impact on Rebellion, unfortunately.)
FINAL THOUGHTS (6 of out of 10): This show was up and down for me with some really strong points for the Johnny Impact/Brian Cage angles but was hurt by another pointless Madison Rayne fluke win. Hopefully, next week’s show will be a little less unspectacular.
WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
APRIL 23, 2019
LINCOLN, NE. AT THE PINNACLE BANK ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 P.M. EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
WWE continues its stay in the midwest tonight as Smackdown will emanate from the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb. The nearly six-year old arena last hosted Smackdown in September of 2016, just few months after the introduction of the current roster split. This will only be the fourth time the arena had hosted the “blue brand” and has never hosted Raw.
Here is what’s on the menu for tonight according to WWE.com:
Matches & Segments:
WWE Champion Kofi Kingston to battle Shinsuke Nakamura
Becky Lynch to come face-to-face with Charlotte Flair for the first time since WrestleMania
Will Roman Reigns be fired?
Smackdown’s New “Tenants”
Before we look at what’s on tap for tonight, here’s who has moved into Smackdown:
Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor
The following were announced on WWE.com only and not TV:
Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker)
The following were moved back to Smackdown as announced by the Wrestling Observer yesterday before Raw and took a year and a half it feels like to update WWE.com:
Aleister Black (technically he was never on Smackdown but wasn’t announced officially on Raw last week as the fabulous commentary team didn’t know if that were the case.)
Frank’s Analysis: Do me a favor please, WWE. If you make changes it’s fine, but at least announce it either before the show or acknowledge it upon the wrestlers’ entrance. Fans pay attention to things like this and if you don’t acknowledge that, it creates frustration. When watching a baseball game the announcers talk about a roster move before the game starts, don’t they?
I spoke a lot about the changes in yesterday’s primer. Today, I want to hit on Smackdown’s tag team division which took a big hit. With the Usos to Raw, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Hardys move into the #1 babyface team position. The issue is who are their opponents? You’re looking at Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura if they’re not broken up and moved back into being singles acts.. Then you have The Colons (Primo & Epico), The Good Brothers (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows), and Heavy Machinery. We don’t know what to expect from Machinery but the other teams I mentioned haven’t been and shouldn’t be expected to get a push. You can’t include Sanity because Eric Young is now on Raw and Alexander Wolfe is with NXT UK. It’s not that they were being used anyway, but still could have been elevated. It does free up Killian Dane who could help in the singles scene. The Authors of Pain lurk once Akam is ready to return from injury and could be moved to Smackdown.
I get the sense the women will be more heavily featured on Smackdown with the additions of Bayley, Ember Moon, and Kairi Sane. Vince McMahon tends to stay out of Smackdown writing which could bode well for all parties involved.
Non-Title Match: WWE Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Last week, Kevin Owens joined WWE Champion Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods of New Day and became an honorary member. He would call himself “Big O,” and completed his indoctrination I suppose by breaking Big E’s record of eating a plate of pancakes in under 5:37, girating his hips, and doing the New Day introduction in gorilla. They went on to defeat Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro when Kofi hit Rusev with Trouble in Paradise and Owens followed with his version of the Stunner to score the pin.
Tonight, Kofi takes on Nakamura in a non-title match. Owens and Woods will be in Kofi’s corner as Owens continues to be an honorary New Day member. Rusev & Lana will be in Nakamura’s corner. Nakamura spent a good portion of 2018 in the WWE Championship picture when feuding with then-champion A.J. Styles, now of Raw.
Big E didn’t seem to pleased to see Owens be an honorary New Day member as is evidence on his Twitter account:
Frank’s Analysis: It’s hard to know what to make of Big E’s post and Owens hanging out with New Day. Personally I don’t sense a heel turn for Owens as I think this is just to way to keep him occupied. Bear in mind he wrestled a triple threat at Fastlane and has worked mostly tag matches since his return in February. It could lead to Big E turning on the New Day though upon his return from injury. As far as the match tonight there’s not much to really say, other than it should be good. Everyone at ringside suggests there may be shenanigans and looking at these two opponents it would be nice to see them work without the distractions. We’ll see where this all leads in the near future.
Raw & Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch Face-to-Face with Charlotte Flair
In what has probably felt like an eternity to WWE, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair have not crossed paths on TV since WrestleMania (a long two weeks and two days ago…the horror). Becky of course defeated Charlotte and the hopeful mother-to-be Ronda Rousey in a triple threat match at ‘Mania in a Winner Take All match to walk away with both the Raw & Smackdown Women’s Championships.
Becky has since been contending with Lacey Evans, who earned the #1 contender-ship to the Raw title by defeating Natalya. Charlotte meanwhile defeated Women’s Battle Royal winner Carmella last week on Smackdown. From dealing with a “lady,” Becky will now deal with the “queen” and they go face-to-face in an in-ring segment for the first time since WrestleMania
Frank’s Analysis: You know WWE can’t help themselves. God forbid they give this feud a break which it desperately needed after everything they’ve been through since before SummerSlam last year. This is the challenge of Becky holding both the Smackdown and Raw titles. Had they had Becky win the Raw title and just move her to that show, and kept the Smackdown title on Charlotte, you could have separated them. They would have had their own matches such as Becky vs. Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, Ruby Riott, etc. and Charlotte vs. Ember Moon, Bayley, even Carmella for a short while. That could still be the plan as I don’t see Becky holding both titles for very long if they’re not unifying them.
Does Roman Reigns Get Fired?
In the final segment of Smackdown last week, WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon announced the biggest acquisition in Smackdown’s history. That turned out to be Elias. Elias came out and showed his appreciation to Mr. McMahon and went so far as to say he’s got his “finger on the pulse” in regard to what fans want (I’d tell you to stop laughing, but what’s the point?).
As he started to play a song he wrote, Roman Reigns appeared and the announcers acknowledged his now being a member of Smackdown. He came out and Superman-punched Elias. He would then do the same to Mr. McMahon, who appeared to question his presence. Reigns then grabbed the mic and said “I don’t care what he says. Smackdown Live is my yard now!” Here’s Roman Reigns in a WWE.com exclusive talking about moving to Smackdown:
Roman Reigns on joining SmackDown LIVE: Exclusive, April 16, 2019 - YouTube
WWE.com questions whether or not he’ll be fired for attacking Mr. McMahon. We’ll find out tonight.
Frank’s Analysis: It’s hilarious when they do stories like this because it’s not believable as you know he’s not getting fired. The only thing I can think of is if Vince wants to get sympathy on Reigns, an opportunity he flushed down the toilet by having him beat Drew McIntyre in nine minutes at WrestleMania, he could fire him in storyline in an attempt to get the fans angry and want to see Reigns reinstated because of how he was treated. Vince has certainly drawn a lot of heat for his treatment of Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston in the run-up to WrestleMania. It’s more likely Reigns is moved into a short-term feud with Elias.
Other Items to Anticipate:
• Paige announced Asuka and Kairi Sane as her tag team. In a convoluted segment, they teamed with Bayley and Ember Moon to defeat WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions The Iiconics (Peyton Rose & Billie Kay) and Fire & Desire (Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville). Bayley & Ember Moon continued their working as a team in defeating Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan at the WWE Network special The Shield: The Final Chapter. Look for Asuka & Sane to have a match on their own without teaming with anyone (maybe).
• In his continued onslaught of attacking people, Lars Sullivan attacked R-Truth following Carmella’s loss to Charlotte Flair. Look for Sullivan to lurk again if not have a match.
• IC champ Finn Balor defeated Ali in a non-title match. Perhaps it was me, but Ali had a few heel inflections throughout the match. I don’t think a heel turn makes sense for him, but he has lost a series of matches that in the past had lead to a heel turn for others.
• Buddy Murphy announced his coming to Smackdown before challenging Velveteen Dream for the NXT North American Championship. I could see a feud with Ali to start out, renewing their feud from 205Live.
• Daniel Bryan was pulled from several live events this past weekend due to an “undisclosed injury” according to multiple reports. He is advertised as a wrestler appearing on tonight’s show according to WWE.com. You hold your breath when you hear this considering he was forced into retirement for two years due to issues with his neck and concussions. Bryan recently dropped the WWE Championship to Kofi Kingston at WrestleMania, but hasn’t been seen on TV since.
Here’s a few WWE.com exclusives from last week featuring Bayley, Ember Moon, and Finn Balor talking about coming over to Smackdown. In addition check out Paige talking about why she teamed Asuka & Kairi Sane:
Bayley is ready for change: SmackDown Exclusive, April 16, 2019 - YouTube
Paige explains why Asuka & Kairi Sane joined forces: SmackDown Exclusive, April 16, 2019 - YouTube
Finn Bálor is excited to join Team Blue: SmackDown Exclusive, April 16, 2019 - YouTube
Are big things in store for Ember Moon on SmackDown LIVE: SmackDown Exclusive, April 16, 2019 - YouTube
Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website
The Pinnacle Bank Arena’s website advertises a start time of 6:45 p.m. local time. They advertise…get this…for the “first time ever,” Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton. Were they not paying attention to WWE programming in 2014? They also show Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan with Rowan which is doubtful is Bryan is still injured. Finally they have Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair in a match, which is somewhat possible as a dark match depending on what goes on in their in-ring segment.
205 Live will follow the main show.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!
SHOW SUMMARY: In this edition of the Wade Keller Hotline, PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a detailed full rundown and analysis of Monday Night Raw including Bray Wyatt’s reboot revealed, Money in the Bank developments including Universal Title match, Robert Roode’s reboot with a new mustache, Lacey Evans speaks, and more.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller is joined by cohost PWTorch senior columnist Bruce Mitchell. They began by taking live calls with a lot of initial reaction to the Bray Wyatt character reboot, plus Money in the Bank developments, the Superstar Shake-up continues without explanation, Cesaro beating Cedric Alexander and Robert Roode beating Ricochet, plus much more. Also, they talk with an on-site correspondent from Des Moines, Iowa including how EC3 was presents, plus the post-Raw off-camera main event. Then the Mailbag includes a wide array of Raw-related topics.
The Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast launched on Podcast One in July 2017. PWTorch editor and founder Wade Keller presents four shows per week, all available for free via iTunes other podcast apps for iPhones and Android devices.
Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-shows (via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, more)
POST-RAW: Keller and a guest cohost analyze WWE Monday Night Raw with callers, talk to a live correspondent on site, and answer email questions and read listener feedback.
POST-SMACKDOWN: Keller and a guest cohost analyze WWE Smackdown Live with callers, talk to a live correspondent on site, and answer email questions and read listener feedback.
Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcasts on Spreaker (via Apple Podcasts, Podcast One, more)
THURSDAYS: This weekly Flagship episode features Keller and a guest cohost discussing the big picture current events in pro wrestling in WWE, GFW, NXT, ROH, New Japan, and more along with a segment of email questions and listener feedback.
FRIDAYS: This features Keller’s weekly interview with pro wrestling’s newsmakers including current wrestlers, announcers, creative team members, and legends.
SHOW SUMMARY: In this edition of the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show, hosted by PWTorch editor Wade Keller, they discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Viceland’s Montreal Screwjob documentary that premiered last week in great depth, plus their reaction to The Shield Final Chapter special on WWE Network and where Roman Reigns should go from here, thoughts on the Dustin-Cody announcement for AEW’s Double or Nothing event and the Dustin preview video, the incognito return of C.M. Punk to the ring this weekend, The Viking Experience ending after one week, The Crockett Cup, and more.