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The End of an Era: Looking at the Final Smackdown Live on USA

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Our show opens with Erick Rowan, the anti-Rodney Dangerfield.  He gets no respect but he intends to do something about it. His monologue is cut short by his former intellectual peer, Daniel Bryan.  The Yes Man tells Rowan that, if he wants respect, he should fight him right then and there!

Erick Rowan vs Daniel Bryan

This is what a big man/little man match is supposed to be.  Rowan spends 80% of the match king the tofu out of Daniel’s shorts and Daniel makes up the difference by exploiting the weak spots on the colossus.  Even Rowan’s kickouts are at a one count. It’s a boss fight and we’re along for the ride. D-Bry manages to get The Lebell Lock on but Rowan gets to the ropes.  A wild Luke Harper appears but Daniel gets to him first. That allows Rowan to lift Daniel by his skull back into the ring and slam him down. Daniel’s leg gets trapped in the ropes and Rowan only helps the ref free him to deliver another Iron Claw for the pin.  

Your winner by pinfall… Erick Rowan

Luke Harper comes in the ring to pile on the punishment but Roman Reigns comes in for the save.  The heels take their licks but they double up on The Big Dog. The announce table is getting cleared but Daniel Bryan recovers.  He draws them into the ring and Harper takes the running knee. Rowan takes out Daniel but Roman hits a spear to chop down the redwood.  The bad guys powder and Daniel offers up the idea for a tag match: Big Dog and D-Bry vs Bludgeon Brothers at Hell in a Cell!

Reaction: They’re showing a lot of confidence in Rowan, giving him long matches with and wins over Roman and Daniel.  They’re doing little things like using his full name and having him call Daniel Bryan “Dan” in promos that suggest that they think he can stay healthy and be one of THE guys for a split brand.

A shot of the crowd shows us members of the 3-0 San Francisco 49ers, including QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, and tight end, George Kittle, who wore a Rock T-shirt following his impersonation posted to social media and approval from the Great One himself.

Michael Cole has a sit down with Kofi Kingston but first we get a video package reminding us that Brock Lesnar should be in jail or, at least, released into the wilds from whence he came with a tag on his ear.  Kofi tells us that he can’t plan for The Beast but he promised to be a fighting champion and to defend the title against one of the biggest stars of all time on a network premiere is a huge opportunity for him and the entire WWE.

Reaction: Kofi has surprised me with how long the honeymoon has lasted but, next Friday, it’s a new beginning. A monster threatens the reign of the good king and how great a hero would he be that vanquishes that monster should the good king fall to him?

Chad Gable comes out to address Baron Corbin’s short jokes by saying that his King of the Ring performance was “no joke.” He reminds us (through ill-timed and half-hearted “What” calls from the crowd) that he had King Corbin dead to rights in an ankle lock before he took the easy way out via disqualification. This brings out Mike Kanellis for some reason. Turns out that reason is to drop a short joke of his own and challenge Gable to a match to impress his manipulative, abusive, and seemingly unfaithful wife.

Mike Kanellis vs Chad Gable

Quick work here as Chad Gable hits an overhead belly-to-belly, an O’Connor roll German suplex, and clamps on the ankle lock for the tapout.

Your winner by submission… Chad Gable!

Gable is still in the ring when Elias comes on the big screen he’s got a song parody with short jokes thrown in that gets a few chuckles until he quotes Randy Newman’s “Short People (got no reason to live.)”

Reaction: Neither Chad Gable nor Elias have had the trigger pulled on them in the past.  One is going to have to put the other one over here and we’ll be worse off for the other one likely staying put.

After a recap of Carmella’s Carmeltdown and 24/7 title win last night, we get a look at Charlotte Flair walking the halls to find ‘Mella.  R-Truth insists that he has never heard of anybody named Carmella or a 48hrs 7-Eleven European TV Championship. (In all fairness, nobody has.)  Carmella assures him that Charlotte can be trusted. They go over who Bayley really is or isn’t and resolve to work together in tonight’s tag match.  Truth gives his “Wooo!!!” of approval.

Fun Fact: The very first episode of Smackdown aired when Bill Clinton was POTUS!

Charlotte Flair & Carmella (w/ R-Truth) vs Sasha Banks & Bayley

Very early on, Bayley has a moment where considers Carmella outside the ring and goes right into brawler tactics.  Boss & Hug tag back-and-forth to isolate ‘Mella. Charlotte comes in hot with big boots and slams. Carmella recovers to get a crossbody off the top and some superkicks in but the end comes when ‘Mella goes for a headscissor-to-schoolgirl transition that Sasha rolls through and gets the Banks Statement clean.

Your winners by submission… Sasha Banks & Bayley!

With the match over, the 24/7title is in play!  The women’s locker room empties and R-Truth throws ‘Mella on his shoulders to get out of dodge.  That leaves Charlotte alone against her greatest rival and the champ. The Queen attacks first but the heels take her down.  That’s how it goes… until The Man comes around! Becky Lynch comes down to the ring and hits a Bexploder on both Bayley and Banks.  Sasha is locked in the Dis-Arm-Her until Bayley pulls her out of the ring. Becky stands alone in the ring to talk trash at the retreating Sasha.

Reaction: There have been many iterations tried for and tried over the past few years but here it is: The Four Horsewomen of NXT (including a fan favorite Charlotte Flair) on top of WWE to show a network audience what they can do next Friday night.

Ali vs Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Sami Zayn)

Ali is too fast for Nakamura (and possibly his own good!) as he dodges everything the Intercontinental Champion throws at him and hits a tope suicida on the outside that nearly lives up to the name.  Ali is on display in this one, abandoning a top rope hurricanrana for a backflip dismount and, when Nak tries to dive, Ali hits him with a mid-air dropkick that pops the crowd. Nakamura gets his stuff in, too, and they do a great job on his sliding rope hung German suplex.  Ali Has the 450 lined up but Sami pulls Nakamura out. Undeterred, Ali hits a tope con helo over the referee to take them out. He gives chase on Sami, ringside, back into the ring, and right into a Kinshasa.

Your winner by pinfall… Shinsuke Nakamura!

Reaction: I want to see this keep going.  Sami Zayn is in his element with his current bit.  Nakamura is keeping the IC belt and himself visible.  Ali is not a gift to watch each week, he’s damn treasure.

Throughout the night, we see Shane McMahon strategizing with his lawyers.

The New Day vs The B Team

Curtis Axel starts out flossing on Xavier Woods but has to cut it short.  Once Axel and Bo Dallas get ahead on Xavier, they start up the “B Train” and take a victory lap.  Big E gets in behind them, though, and does what he loves to do: wrecks that caboose. Curtis Axel is sent headfirst into the barricade and The Midnight Hour gets ya boys their win.  New Day hops the barricade to celebrate with the 49ers as the hip swivels commence.

Mandy Rose has landed another magazine cover (Maxim Australia).  Sonya Deville is real happy for her and gonna let finish but she wants Mandy to focus on their tag match up next.  Heavy Machinery’s Otis asks for a selfie and she warily grants one. Tucker asks him where he’s been and he shows him the magazine for which they both express their appreciation.

Fire & Desire vs The Kabuki Warriors

It’s the battle of the fantastic tag teams that got saddled with terrible names.  The Fire & Desire theme should be switched up with Mandy’s sultry saxophone leading into Sonya’s aggressive theme.  During the match, Mandy takes the time to flaunt and taunt with her new magazine but Kairi kicks it and her around ringside.  Sonya saves her after a sliding clothesline but, when Asuka gets in there, Sonya doesn’t fare too well nor does Mandy. Insane Elbow puts Mandy away.

Shane McMahon is in the ring with the law firm of Dewey, Cheatum, & Howe to address Kevin Owens and his unlawful termination lawsuit.  KO comes out of the crowd (wearing apparel by Finn Balor’s new PE&K clothing line.) Shane gives him an ultimatum: drop the suit, be reinstated, and the $100K fine will be dropped… or continue with the suit and Shane will tie up the proceedings for years so that Kevin’s personal savings will be long depleted before anything comes out of it.  (Side note: It’s scary that this is the most realistic part of the feud.) Kevin reluctantly begins to reach for the handshake but stops short and calls Shane an idiot. It’s not about the fine or his job. It’s about getting Shane out of the locker room where he doesn’t belong. He says that Shane’s lawyers should draft up a new deal and they’ll settle it in a ladder match at Hell in a Cell!  Shane accepts and it’s on!

Kayla Braxton is talking with Becky Lynch about Sasha Banks’ advantage of having been in a Hell in the Cell match before.  Becky questions who Sasha even is without an advantage. Experience. Bayley at her back. A steel chair. Sasha always has some type of advantage.  And she gets one right then and there with a blindside attack. Sasha kicks and drags The Man around the backstage area and even grinds her face against chain link fencing to let her know how it will feel on October 6th.  The producers come out to break it up but The Boss slams the section of fence against Becky’s side repeatedly and the show ends with The Man clutching her ribs on the concrete floor.

Reaction: The chicken$#!+ heel is the easiest to hate but any heel has to be a threat.  Viciousness is a virtue for The Boss.

The final Smackdown Live on USA will air later this week on Hulu.


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