PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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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:
— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) April 17, 2019
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:
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:
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!