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Smackdown Live in Norfolk: Gable’s Ascension to the Throne, Bayley’s Good at Being Bad & More

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After a brief recap of Monday Night RAW’s ending with Smackdown women’s champion, Bayley, dropping repeated steel chair shots across the back of RAW champion, Becky Lynch, Bayley’s music hits and the announce team is ready for an explanation.  Bayley gets a pretty good pop and chants of “Bay! Ley!” to start out. Bayley makes the promo about her loyalty to Sasha Banks and even about teaching loyalty and selflessness to the kids and the crowd starts to sour until she talks about beating “the most selfish” member of the women’s roster, Charlotte Flair.  The crowd likes that idea. 

The Queen’s music hits and Charlotte struts down to the ring. Charlotte actually agrees that she is selfish but, unlike Bayley is doing, she doesn’t make excuses; there’s no confusion or rationalization. This brings Sasha to the ramp and Charlotte makes the pre-emptive strike, knocking Bayley out of the ring.  Sasha rushes the ring but gets taken down for ground and pound. Two on one plus a steel chair and not even The Queen can stand up that. Bayley and Sasha congratulate each other on the beat down all the way backstage.

Reaction:  Good luck to whoever is trying to read the audience reaction to plot the course here.  They cheer Bayley even after attacking Becky. They boo Bayley for talking about loyalty. They cheer Charlotte for talking smack and beating on Sasha.  They cheer Bayley and chant “One more time!” as she beats Charlotte with a chair. Fickle. Fickle. Fickle. Fickle. Fickle.

Ali vs Elias

Ali takes a moment to inspect the King of the Ring throne on his way to the ring.  Elias uses it as a guitar stand.

Elias tries to muscle Ali but the quickness of Ali is too much for him.  Ironically, the turning point comes when Ali tries to fly and Elias makes him pay outside the ring.  Battered against the ring apron, entrance ramp, barricades, and summarily tossed into the timekeeper’s area like an inbound pass, Ali is in trouble.  Back in the ring, Elias picks the smaller Ali apart with high percentage moves like back body drops and a two-minute chin lock. Ali manages to turn it around for a moment with a suicide dive that sends Elias arm-first into the barricade.  Ali repeatedly goes after that arm but his own knee slows him down. Ali kicks out of a power bomb but Elias slams his left knee against the ringpost. Both men go up top but Ali backflips out of it to the floor. His knee staggers him but, when Elias comes off the top, it’s healthy enough for a superkick.  They both barely make it back to beat the count out. Ali attempts the 450 but Elias rolls clear and goes to work on Ali’s knee again. With his mobility taken away, Ali is easy pickings for the Drift Away.

Your winner by pinfall… Elias!

Reaction:  A solid match, heavy on storytelling.  It’s evident that they’re trying to make this year’s KotR stick out and elevating Elias is more likely to do this than doing the same for Ali with another high-flier (Ricochet) still in the mix.

Backstage, Kayla Braxton talks with Samoa Joe about his double-pin scenario against Ricochet and upcoming triple threat with Ricochet and Baron Corbin.  He says that it’s just a minor inconvenience and he merely came to Smackdown to scout his competition and issue a warning to any future opponents.

Aleister Black has trouble containing his emotions.  If no one is man enough to pick a fight with him, he’ll head down to the ring and find a fight for himself.

Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss vs Fire & Desire

Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose are introduced by their tag team moniker.

Mandy struts in front of Nikki to belittle her and even smacks Nikki with her blonde locks.  This get the one-time little sister of SAnitY who rolls on Mandy and Sonya, including a dive out to the floor on both.  A comedic exchange between Mandy and Alexa, followed by a missed pump knee by Mandy, and Alexa gets the hot tag. Mandy and Nikki brawling slows down the action between Alexa and Sonya but Alexa manages a DDT and ascends to the top turnbuckle.  Nikki’s on Mandy like a rabid koala and that distracts Alexa long enough for Sonya to get her knees up on the Twisted Bliss. Tag is made to Mandy and Fire & Desire pull of an ode to Total Elimination that picks up the win.

Your winners by pinfall (but not new WWE women’s tag team champions for some reason)… Fire & Desire!

Chad Gable is warming up in the backstage area when he’s interrupted by Samoa Joe.  Joe rolls out some short jokes on him but says that the worst part is that, even though the jokes are old and tired and Chad has heard them his entire life, they still hurt because Chad is “mentally weak” and that’s why he won’t succeed.  Joe walks off cackling

Randy Orton saunters out to the ring.  He says that, with Clash of Champions just two weeks away, the fans are just two weeks away from having a new champion.  He set a trap for Kofi last week and Kofi fell for it. The crowd chants for Kofi but Randy goes on to describe the sweet sound of Kofi’s skull bouncing off the floor.  For weeks, he has decimated The New Day and proven against the power of positivity. He plays clips from the past few weeks to prove his point.

He challenges Kofi to come out and “fight like a man.”  Kofi comes out and finds out that fighting “like a man” involves getting jumped by The Revival and dragged into the ring to be called “stupid” and stomped on. As The Revival holds him in place Kofi responds to Randy’s taunts with a low kick and never say die attitude until the fight is taken out of him by a Super RKO.

Reaction:  Since their last match started, Randy Orton has harassed Kofi Kingston’s family, taken Big E & Xavier Woods out of the equation, humiliated and emasculated him throughout, and drawn him into repeated traps to get laid out by himself and The Revival.  The deck is stacked for the “against-all-odds” Kofi victory at Clash. This would probably be the biggest (booking) win of his career and a sign that the office is fully behind Champ Kofi.

Our weekly Roman Revenge Rewind is up next.  We see Rowan walking away from the initial attack like a Discovery Channel sasquatch re-enactment and continuing the new Smackdown tradition of getting slapped in the mouth and not doing anything about it.  Roman spears Daniel Bryan for being a possible co-conspirator and gets a match against Rowan for Clash of Champions.

Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs Chad Gable

Zelina takes the mic for a not-quite-entirely-backhanded compliment as to Chad Gable’s ability and progress in the King of the Ring tournament.

This fires up Gable to immediately manhandle El Idolo with takedowns.  He falls right into the trap set by Andrade and Zelina, leaving himself open to strikes and getting over eager and dumped to the outside over the top ropes.  It’s back-and-forth, with neither man able to gain momentum until Gable gets rolling with a somersault kick, neckbreaker, and bridging high crotch suplex. Andrade turns it around with a boot to the face and gives the former Olympian a jumping stomp from the tree of woe’s top branch.  Gable kicks out at two. Trading waist locks throughout, Andrade goes for the Three Amigos but doesn’t get to finish when Gable turns it around for the Hat Trick! He doesn’t finish either as Andrade gets his third suplex. El Idolo goes up top for the moonsault, chases Gable with a second as he rolls away but ultimately gets a belly full of Gable’s knees.  Chad goes up for an Angle-esque moonsault but that only gets a two count. On a second attempt, Gable gets the O’Connor Roll Bridging German Suplex but referee Charles Robinson is distracted by Zelina Vega. Chad releases the bridge to alert Robinson but Andrade hits that back elbow of his and readies Gable for the hammerlock DDT. Gable reaches out, backdrops Andrade and then rolls underneath him to trap his shoulders for the 1-2-3!

Your winner by pinfall… Chad Gable!

Reaction: Well, my bracket is busted but I have no complaints.  I’d have thought that Gable would need at least one more round to get the people behind him.  After all, he’s been getting belittled (no pun intended) every week but hasn’t gotten Scrappy-Dappy-Doo fired up about it.  The crowd reaction to his pin of Andrade says he’s doing just fine and I can actually fathom him beating Elias next week.

Aleister Black vs Shelton Benjamin

Shelton Benjamin answers the open challenge of Black during the commercial break and it’s fast-paced from the get-go.  Shelton is scrambling to avoid Aleister’s strikes and answer where he can. Ultimately, Shelton attempts to turn a caught kick into a spinning heel kick but Black avoids that, too, capping this short contest with a Black Mass.

Your winner by pinfall… Aleister Black!

Reaction:  Short match to keep Aleister Black in the audience’s eyes.  Shelton is the level of athlete that can keep the match fast-paced to show off Black’s speed and precision.

Backstage, Sami Zayn is hyping up WWE Intercontinental Champion, Shinsuke Nakamura.  Meanwhile, WWE 24/7 Champion, Drake Maverick, is lost trying to find his way out of the building (and harm’s way.)  His lovely bride, Renee Michelle tells him that they’re trapped in the boiler room when the bottom rung of WWE’s roster begins to crawl out of every crevice in the room.  After avoiding multiple attempts on his title, Drake falls victim to Bo Dallas and sits dejected on the concrete floor with only his loving smokeshow of a wife to console him.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs “Andy Howard”

Sami Zayn pulls off one hell of a heel move by interrupting the sing-along portion of Nakamura’s theme because it isn’t about “you people” in Norfolk.  He incorrectly guesses Nak’s opponent’s name as “Andy Howard” but tells him that it doesn’t matter because, tonight, he’s The Miz.

Nakamura picks this poor schmuck apart without breaking stride as Sami provides his own commentary, culminating with shrill shill for the “Kinshasaaa!!!”

Your winner by pinfall… Shinsuke Nakamura!

The 24/7 Championship parade finds its way to the ring.  Curtis Axel bravely defends his tag team partner from Gran Metallik and The Singh Brothers (looking like The Young Bucks got adopted by Bret Hart) but fails to notice Drake Maverick.  School boy roll up and he’s once more the once again champ. 

Your winner by pinfall and new WWE 24/7 Champion… Drake Maverick!

Drake Maverick celebrates up the entranceway as Corey Graves advises against taking a limousine to a chain restaurant.  But there’s tomfoolery afoot! The King of the Ring robe shudders to reveal R-Truth hiding inside! He gets up behind Drake for a school boy of his own and the greatest 7-11 European TV Champion of all time regains his title!

Your winner by pinfall and even newer WWE 24/7 Champion… R-Truth!

Reaction: Two (and-a-half) for the time of one.  Sami Zayn annoys the crowd. Shinsuke looks vicious.  Drake & Co get their schtick in. All before the commercial break.

Daniel Bryan is walking the hallways and out to the ring, anticipating his meeting with and, ostensibly, an apology from Roman Reigns.  The crowd chants for “Dan-iel! Bry-an!” and the Earth’s champion is relieved to find people who believe in his innocence. He says that people may not like him and what he says but no one can say that Daniel Bryan is a liar.  He hates liars and he wants an apology from Roman Reigns; not just for accusing him of something he didn’t do, not just for spearing him in the ring, but for calling him a liar. The Big Dog comes out to the entrance ramp… but so does Erick Rowan!  He hits Roman from behind and sends down to ringside.

Roman is thrown into the steel steps and slammed chest first into the ring apron. Daniel Bryan runs to Rowan and pleads with him to stop but the big redwood tosses him aside with one hand and power bombs Roman into the ring post!  Roman struggles to get to his feet and, when he does, he gets an Iron Claw slam for it. He taunts Roman for believing that he was Daniel Bryan’s puppet. He challenges Daniel Bryan to get in the ring right then and there to slap him again like he did last week. He says that he’s proud of the pain he’s caused Roman and will continue to cause at Clash of Champions.  He sends Roman outside the ring and levels him with the steel rings steps that he then tosses aside like a cardboard box. Daniel Bryan does get up to slap Rowan’s face, reminding him that they’re friends. Rowan claw slams D-Bry through the announce table, repeatedly yelling that no one tells him what to do and that what they got was “just a taste.”

Reaction: While it wasn’t an out-and-out “Star is Born” moment for Rowan, it was more individual attention he’s gotten in his entire career.  It’s also the first night that the storyline hasn’t seemed like filler. Turns out that angry giants are more dramatic that forklift mysteries.

Smackdown Live in Norfolk will air later this week on Hulu.


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