WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 3/19:  Kofi to run the gauntlet, Miz responds to Shane, Sasha & Bayley pay a visit, Charlotte-Becky dynamics


MARCH 12, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton

Arena, and Items Advertised by WWE

WWE Smackdown returns to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IND. after appearing just five months ago.  The arena opened for business in 1999 and has hosted many WWE TV and PPV events.  One in particular stands out, and that was Survivor Series in 2012.  That night saw the debut of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins as the Shield.  They attacked Ryback and John Cena in the middle of their triple threat WWE Championship match against CM Punk.  The Shield went on to become one of the more dominant factions in the history of WWE.

Here’s what is advertised by WWE.com for tonight:

  • Kofi Kingston must win a Gauntlet Match to earn WWE Title Match at WrestleMania
  • The Miz to respond to Shane McMahon
  • Sasha Banks & Bayley pay a visit to Team Blue
  • What’s next for Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair

Gauntlet Match: Kofi vs. Orton, Joe, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Rowan

Kofi Kingston wants a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania.  He thought he had one at Fastlane, but he was removed in favor of Kevin Owens.  On the night of Fastlane, he thought he was being added to make it a triple threat match, but instead he wrestled a handicap Texas Tornado tag match against The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro).  Mustafa Ali was instead added to the WWE Championship match that evening.

Last week, Vince McMahon presented a WrestleMania WWE Championship opportunity to Kofi.  Before he offered said opportunity, they had a conversation as Kofi was flanked by his New Day partners Big E and Xavier Woods.  They talked about busting their a** and never complaining while being treated like garbage.  Kofi talked about never complaining about a “man like him” not getting a WWE Championship opportunity through the years.  He cited how he never had been trick-or-treating with his children and missed his son losing his first tooth.  He wanted to know what he had to do to earn a chance at the championship.  Here’s the YouTube clip as you should watch the promo again to get the full effect:

Vince talked about nobody including himself deserving anything, and that he created Raw & Smackdown & WrestleMania.  He mentioned he had a conversation with Daniel Bryan, and they agreed Kofi was a “B+ player” (a callback to Triple H & Stephanie McMahon saying the same thing about Daniel Bryan in 2013-’14).  Nonetheless he was willing to give Kofi a championship match, but only if he won a gauntlet match.  Tonight, he faces Randy Orton, U.S. Champion Samoa Joe, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Rowan.  Here’s Kofi in a WWE.com exclusive following the announcement of the match.  He’s very real and pretty accurate.  I wish all interviews on TV were like this:

I suggest everyone read PWTorch contributor & podcast co-host Cameron Hawkins’ article regarding Kofi Kingston HERE.

Frank’s Analysis:  For many years I pondered the idea of Kofi being in the WWE Championship picture, but those thoughts waned a bit as he spent the last five years with New Day performing their antics.  There’s no doubt that Kofi can go, and he and New Day being more serious last week and recently as a whole with this situation has put them in a better light.  The truth of the matter is he is someone that Vince usually doesn’t give an opportunity to hold the WWE Championship.  That thought process should change now, as the fans are clearly behind him and for good reason.  Putting obstacles in front of Kofi is fine but they should be careful how much they do so and know when it’s time to stop and give him his chance.   

The Miz Responds to Shane McMahon

Last week, Shane McMahon explained his actions at Fastlane in regard to his attack on his former tag team partner, the Miz.  To recap, he attacked Miz and his father as they came up short in their attempt to regain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship from the Usos.

He claimed he was tired of people coming to him asking what they can do for them.  He claimed the WWE fans have no idea what he does behind the scenes for them (we probably don’t but could you do me one favor and stay behind the scenes?).  He talked about being the “Best in the World” not because he won the trophy, but because he was born that way.  After several other points, Shane then announced that at WrestleMania he and the Miz will go one-on-one.

Miz was not at the show last week as he was home “recovering.”  He has been quiet on social media in regard to this situation, because I’m sure he’s overwhelmed with joy that the Browns got Odell Beckham, Jr. (good luck with that as he already wants to rework his contract).  Anyway, tonight Miz responds to Shane.

Frank’s Analysis:  Shane’s heel promo last week was mostly good, but it was not specific to his issue with the Miz.  He utilized issues with everyone that had been boiling up inside him for a long time rather than what specifically got to him with the Miz.  Perhaps we get some of that tonight when Miz responds if Shane interrupts.  In the big picture one thing I fear out of this is that it leads to Shane being a heel authority figure on Smackdown in the time to come, which for heaven’s sake we don’t need in 2019.  The show is moving to FOX in the fall and the McMahon family struggles could be a major focal point, for better or worse.

Sasha Banks & Bayley Come to Smackdown

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions the Boss ‘n Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) announced on Raw last night that they would be coming to Smackdown.

The IIconics have expressed frustration with the champs not coming to Smackdown, especially considering they were the finalists in the Elimination Chamber match to determine the champions.  They’ve been on Raw and NXT, but not Smackdown.  Here’s Peyton on Twitter and also the IIconics together on the Fastlane kickoff show.  Ironically, Beth Phoenix was at the kickoff show.  She & Natalya challenged the champs at WrestleMania last night on Raw:

Sasha & Bayley are finally fulfilling their promise of coming to Smackdown.  They’ve already been challenged by Beth & Natalya.  We’ll see if the IIconics throw their hats in the ring for a shot at the champs.

Frank’s Analysis:  I couldn’t help but notice a bit of heel tendencies in Sasha & Bayley last night, especially when Bayley asked Natalya & Beth if they wanted more time to prepare.  If they are in fact turning them heel it would strange as there were plenty of better times to do so in the past.  Nonetheless, it’s not out of the realm of possibility we get a cross-promotional multi-team match for the titles involving the IIconics, Nia Jax & Tamina, and Natalya & Beth Phoenix at WrestleMania.  That’s sloppy and even sloppy for me to type, but WWE likes to get as many people on the card as possible.   

Next for Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair

Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch will take on Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey in a triple threat match at WrestleMania for the championship.  The match is rumored to be the main event of the show.

We’ve gone around and round with this story with many layers added since Becky won the Royal Rumble.  Last week, Becky and Charlotte had a one-on-one verbal exchange in the ring.  Becky admitted she goaded Ronda into interfering in the match at Fastlane between her and Charlotte that allowed her to enter the match at WrestleMania (remember, the one she earned by winning the Royal Rumble and challenging Ronda, but then she got suspended and…oh never mind we know the rest).  Charlotte touted she hasn’t been hot for just six months, but for four years and was chosen to get the job done.  She declared herself Miss WrestleMania (if she said Mrs. WrestleMania would that mean she’s married to Shawn Michaels, Mr. WrestleMania?).  She said that WrestleMania is her main event, and Becky was taking so much credit for doing so little.  Here’s the back-and-forth which is worth watching especially for Becky calling Charlotte a “plastic-faced dope.”  My Irish wife certainly got a kick out of that:

Tonight, we’ll continue to get ready for this big match.

Click Here:

Frank’s Analysis:  I can’t take it with this match anymore.  There have been so many twists, turns, and changes that I just want to get to it already.  There’s only so much analysis one wants to do with a storyline, match, and what have you.  WWE had the match they needed when Becky told Ronda “I choose you” the night after the Royal Rumble.  We’re where we expected to be now, and thus we turn our attention in that direction.  One thing puzzles me.  They probably felt they needed to add the layers because there was a lot of time between the Rumble and WrestleMania, correct?  They also wanted to add Charlotte.  Tell me something how was WWE able to build a match over a year’s time in 2011-’12 between John Cena and The Rock without adding ridiculous layers and twists and changes?  I don’t recall suspensions or crazy to get ready for that match and they had a year.

Items to Anticipate Tonight:

  • R-Truth and Rey Mysterio defeated U.S. Champion Samoa Joe & Andrade.  Rey pinned Joe.  Look for the U.S. Title picture to start becoming clearer.  Ideally Rey faces Joe one-on-one, but a multi-man match is more likely as WWE has shown a propensity towards those matches for the secondary titles on the big stage.
  • Rowan & WWE Champion Daniel Bryan defeated Kevin Owens & Mustafa Ali when Rowan pinned Ali after a claw slam.  It’s hard to say where we are with Owens and Ali especially after they just wrestled for the WWE Championship at Fastlane.  I don’t anticipate them being inserted into that picture, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear direction for them.  There’s always the Andre the Giant Battle Royal for them at WrestleMania.
  • After a great promo last week, Randy Orton vs. A.J. Styles was confirmed for WrestleMania.  Orton talked about him really being the one to build Smackdown, considering he made his debut in 2002, became the youngest World Champion, and worked the Undertaker at WrestleMania.  A.J. talked about his being proud to work his way through the indie scene and be here in WWE with several others that were on that journey.  Orton couldn’t help talking about A.J. working for Dixie Carter and copying the nWo’s “too sweet” (referring to his days in the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling).  A.J. talked about the RKO being a rip off of WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page’s Diamond Cutter.  Hopefully they stay apart until WrestleMania, but I fear they may be involved in some tag team match on the way.

Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website

The Banker’s Life Fieldhouse’s website advertises a start time of 7:45 p.m. local.  They show the following matches:

  • Kevin Owens vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
  • A.J. Styles vs. Randy Orton

They also show Asuka, Rey Mysterio, and New Day appearing.  Just in case you didn’t know, the card is subject to change at any time.

205Live will follow the main show.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani or e-mail fpeteani@gmail.com.  Questions and discussion are welcome.  Thank you for reading!

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