Venue: Huntington Center (Toledo, OH)
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, & Byron Saxton
It’s the last SmackDown Live before the Elimination Chamber; can they do a better job than their big brother did last night by giving the PPV some sort of energy? Fingers Crossed. Apparently ‘McMiz TV’ is debuting so that’s…something. ANYWAY join along with me for up to date recaps, results, random thoughts, and funny(?) jokes.
- WWE Champion: Daniel Bryan
- WWE United States Champion: R-Truth
- SMACKDOWN Women’s Champion: Asuka
- SMACKDOWN Tag Team Champions: The Miz & Shane McMahon
- Naomi & Carmella vs. The IIconics vs. Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose (*1/2)
- Gauntlet Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy vs. ??? (****)
-Graphic: In Memory of Pedro Morales 1942-2019. RIP.
-The ending of last night’s RAW plays: Mr. McMahon suspends Becky Lynch for 60 days and replaces her in the WrestleMania match against Ronda Rousey with…Charlotte Flair.
In-Ring Segment: WOOOOOOO!
Speak of the devil out comes Charlotte Flair to open the show proper. During her entrance the commentators hype the Gauntlet Match to see who will enter the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match last. Mustafa Ali has been removed due to injury and will be replaced a member of The New Day. Well that’s…not a fair trade but I’m okay with it.
ANYWAY back to Charlotte. Charlotte says that she’s the backbone of the Women”s division, whether the people or Becky want to admit it or not. Charlotte says Mr. McMahon chose her because she’s a smart business decision, a future Hall of Famer instead of someone who’s had ‘a few good months’. SH-SH-SH-SHAAAAADE. Charlotte vows to make the WrestleMania main event as great as all her other main events, and tells the fans to get the boos out of the way, and dedicates this main event to her best friend Becky Lynch. WOO! Crowd chants ‘YOU SUCK’, Charlotte responds with ‘WHAT?’, and says she has a front-row ticket to Ronda Rousey’s match at Elimination Chamber and insinuates she might interfere.
- A little awkward at the end pacing-wise, but a good promo from Charlotte. Definite shades of her Nature Boy father with the way she was shading the audience. Awesome.
–Naomi & Carmella make their entrance for the opening contest…which happens next.
-Just kidding after the break we get more Gauntlet Match hype and a brief shot of The New Day trying to figure out which one them will enter.
-Okay now we go to…wait just kidding we get pre-recorded comments from the SmackDown teams involved in the historic Elimination Chamber match on Sunday.
Naomi & Carmella vs. The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) vs. Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose
The loser of this match joins The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection in starting the Elimination Chamber match on Sunday for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. Royce chickens out early and tags in Rose, who grabs a waistlock on Carmella. Carmella reverses and awkwardly sells an elbow that never actually happened. Deville tags in and gets a two-count after a double team. Carmella grabs a front chancery, Naomi tags in and they connect with a double suplex on Deville. Deville backs Naomi to the corner and drives a whole lot of shoulders to the midsection. Naomi gets sent to the apron and kicks Deville, following up with a split-legged splash for a two-count. Carmella tags back in and flips through a snapmare, showing off with a moonwalk to add insult to injury. Carmella hits a tilt-a-whirl headscissors, Naomi tags in as well as Rose. Naomi chases Rose around, IIconics avoid getting tagged. Carmella stops her, Naomi splashes her as we go to…a picture-in-picture commercial! SmackDown rocks.
Rose tags out as quick as possible to Deville who gets splashed with a Bronco Buster by Carmella. Carmella kicks Deville, Rose grabs her hair and Deville connects with a spear for a two-count. Deville and Rose wear Carmella down, Deville settling into a bodyscissors after Carmella manages to kick out of all of their pinfall attempts. Carmella bridges and almost turns it into a pin but Deville kicks out and whacks her in the back of the skull. Carmella escapes and they take one another out with a double crossbody. The IIconics continue trying not to get involved. They are the smart ones. Carmella goes for the tag, Rose drills Naomi off the apron to prevent it. Rose drags Deville to the corner and makes the tag, but so does Naomi who’s up outta nowhere. Naomi with a Disaster Kick to Rose. Deville gets sent to the apron, Carmella superkicks her off, Naomi finishes it with a split-legged moonsault for the 1…2…3.
Naomi & Carmella defeated The IIconics and Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose when Naomi pinned Rose with a split-legged moonsault; Deville & Rose will open the Elimination Chamber on Sunday (8:58)
- An okay match but there was some weird awkward phantom hits and delayed reactions going on which took me out of it. Props to The IIconics for staying out of it the whole time though, they played it beautifully. They probably won’t but I would be OVERJOYED if they became the champs come Sunday. They are the most entertaining tag team in that division. (*1/2)
The IIconics beat down Naomi & Carmella, and stand tall like the brilliant duo they are.
-A video plays with comments from the RAW women’s tag teams. They are all pretty confident for the most part. Bayley noticeably has to cut a promo by herself, Sasha Banks nowhere to be found because she’s all injured and whatnot.
–The Miz and Shane McMahon make their way out to the ring. McMiz TV after the break!
-Actually just kidding, we get a selfie promo from Mustafa Ali, who is bummed about being taken out of the Elimination Chamber but he will not stay down no matter how people like Samoa Joe and Erick Rowan try.
In-Ring Segment: McMiz TV
Miz says he was doing a photoshoot last week for Miz and Mrs. while Shane was busy filming a guest spot on NCIS: Los Angeles. Shane throws some shade at Miz for telling everyone since he is already embarrassed for being on that show (I assume, anyway), then introduces their guests (and their opponents on Sunday): The Usos. The Usos don’t feel like sitting down and say they see a wannabee tag team who wants to be them, Shane says they don’t wanna be The Usos but they are the best tag team in the world. The Usos play a tag team game and get everything right, Miz and Shane do the same (with Miz whispering his answers) and name-drop some minor league Toledo team to pop the crowd. It’s actually a lot funnier than I’m making it sound. Miz brings up Mandy Rose, which straight PISSES The Usos off, and Shane threatens to hit one of ’em so hard his brother is gonna feel it. Miz tries to talk more smack and gets the mic snatched RIGHT out his hands. The Usos welcome them to the Uso Penitentiary. Shane says they will remain the champs and will see them Sunday. Usos respond with STEREO SUPERKICKS and the champs are DOWN.
- I did not do this segment justice in recap form, so check it out on YouTube once it’s there. This was really good, fun lines from both teams, and I didn’t realize how entertaining Miz and Shane are as a team. I’m more interested in this match than I was before.
-WWE Champion Daniel Bryan makes his way out, his grunge flannel-wearing best bud Erick Rowan by his side. Bryan says he knows everyone wants him to lose the WWE Championship on Sunday but they’re lying to themselves because they’re fickle. Bryan says they NEED him as WWE Champion. Jesus his ‘earth-friendly’ belt looks YUUUUGE on him, he looks like a child. Bryan doesn’t want to be in the Elimination Chamber match on Sunday but he’s willing to sacrifice…
-Bryan is interrupted mid-spiel by The New Day. Kingston throws pancakes to the crowd while Big E carries a big ol’ tube of meat over his shoulder. PUT THAT AWAY BEFORE YOU POKE SOMEONE’S EYE OUT. Kingston is chosen to be the one to join the Chamber match, and to open this Gauntlet Match!
Winner Enters WWE Championship Elimination Chamber LAST on Sunday
Daniel Bryan [w/ Erick Rowan] vs. Kofi Kingston [w/ Xavier Woods & Big E] vs. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
I’ve never recapped a gauntlet match before, this should be fun. Kingston takes Bryan down with a shoulderblock, Bryan bails to the corner to prevent follow-up. Bryan with a side headlock takeover, wrapping his leg around Kingston’s arm for extra leverage. Kingston escapes, Bryan escapes to the floor to talk strategy with Rowan, a master vintner. Kingston with a wristlock, Bryan backs him into the corner and belts him with a European uppercut. Kingston floats over Bryan and connects with back-to-back armdrags into an armbar. Bryan goes on the offensive with three knees to the gut off three Irish whips, then slows it down a bit to conserve his energy. Bryan goes VINTAGE American Dragon with a surfboard, including the ‘WHOAS’, but Kingston escapes and connects out of nowhere with a back elbow for the two-count. Bryan sends Kingston out, Kingston skins the cat and sends Bryan to the floor. Kingston follows up with a stage dive and it’s time for a commercial! Good match so far.
Bryan is back in control, having sent Kingston into the ring steps during the commercial break. Bryan tries to suplex Kingston back in the ring, Kingston fights him off and sends him head-first into the corner. Bryan knees Kingston in the gut and hangs him out to dry on the rop rope. Bryan heads to the top and connects with a flying knee to the back of the neck for the 1…2…KINGSTON KICKS OUT and Bryan can’t believe it. Kingston dodges a flying headbutt (C’MON BRYAN, WHY YOU DO THAT) and mounts a comeback, hitting the Boom Drop followed by a somersault senton for the 1…2…Bryan kicks out. Bryan flips out of the corner, Kingston catches him with a flying crossbody for the 1…2…nope. Kingston charges, Bryan sends him into the buckles with a drop toehold and puts him in a tree of woe for a baseball slide to the mush. Bryan covers, Kingston JUST gets his shoulder up. Bryan tries a flying belly-to-back suplex but Kingston shifts his weight and lands RIGHT ON BRYAN’S FACE as we go to picture-in-picture commercial. Both men struggle to recover, Kingston first with a lateral press but Bryan kicks out. Kingston tries a flying nothing, Bryan connects with a double underhook slam into a Cross Armbar attempt but Kingston keeps his knuckles locked so it doesn’t get the full extension and reaches the ropes. Bryan and Kingston trade chops, Bryan brings Kingston to his knees with a series of headbutts and hits a penalty kick for the 1…2…KINGSTON STILL WON’T QUIT. Bryan and Kingston trade multiple roll-ups, Bryan grabs the arm and cinches in the LeBell Lock. Kingston struggles and makes it to the ropes to force a break, Bryan sends him to the floor with a baseball slide and follows up with a flying knee from the apron. His chest is LIT UP. Bryan rolls Kingston in and heads to the top and gets caught on the way down with a dropkick. Kingston sets up for Trouble in Paradise, Rowan trips him so Big E goes after him. Rowan takes Big E down, Woods hits Rowan with a baseball slide, the referee kicks out THE NEW DAY from ringside but NOT ROWAN because he didn’t see Rowan doing anything wrong. Booooo. Bryan with a barrage of kicks, Kingston hits one of his own. Rowan grabs Kingston behind the ref’s back and throws him into the timekeeper’s area. FINALLY the referee bans Rowan from ringside as well! Bryan quickly rolls Kingston in, Kingston catches a running Bryan with Trouble in Paradise for the 1…2…3! DANIEL BRYAN HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!!! Jeff Hardy makes his way out as the next entrant…and cut to commercial.
Kingston sends Hardy to the floor with a dropkick after we return from the break. Kingston goes for a splash off the steps but hits nothing but barricade and Hardy follows up with an Air Sabu. Back in the ring Hardy misses the Swanton Bomb, but quickly regains control with an inverted atomic drop followed by the legdrop between the legs. Hardy goes for a basement dropkick, Kingston grabs the legs and rolls him up for the 1…2…nope! Hardy misses a corner rope-assisted dropkick and heads to the top. Hardy meets him with right hands, Kingston blocks a superplex and sends him tumbling back to the mat. Hardy quickly gets to his feet and crotches Kingston once again. Kingston once again counters the superplex and connects with a flying crossbody but Hardy rolls through for the 1…2…NOPE. Hardy goes for the Twist of Fate, Kingston counters with S.O.S. for the 1…2…3! JEFF HARDY HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!!!
No time to celebrate though as Samoa Joe is the next entrant and he’s looking meaner than ever. After a weird production snafu where you can hear the producer counting down we’re back live as Joe dominates Kingston. Joe with a corner splash immediately followed with an enzuigiri to the nose for the 1…2…Kingston manages to get his shoulder up. Joe blocks a hip toss and almost takes Kingston’s head off with a lariat for the 1…2…Kingston still has life in him and Joe is not happy about it. Chinlock time. Kingston sends Joe to the floor and follows up with a slingshot crossbody and both men are down. Both roll in at 8 and the match continues. Joe with another lariat, Kingston kicks out once again. Kingston’s corner mount rights is almost immediately stopped with an inverted atomic drop. Kingston manages to kick Joe away for a sec but Joe roars back with a senton to the back for the 1…2…KINGSTON KICKS OUT AGAIN. Kingston fights Joe off, Joe shoves Kingston off the top rope mid-springboard and he CRASHES to the floor Joe sits back waiting to accept the countout but KINGSTON MAKES IT JUST IN TIME and Joe settles into a head vice. Kingston charges at Joe, Joe with a Coquina Clutch. Kingston kicks off the buckles and counters with a roll-up, hold still applied, for the 1…2…3! SAMOA JOE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!!! An angry Joe attacks Kingston, locking in a Coquina Clutch on the floor while a host of officials come out and force him to release the hold. AJ Styles, the next entrant, runs down and breaks Joe off of Kingston, sending him running up the entrance stage. Styles checks on Kingston as we go to commercial.
Kingston rolls back into the ring, refusing to quit. Styles gives him time to regroup but tries to talk him out of it, saying he did his best. Kingston says to ring the bell, HE (LIKE BONESAW) IS READY AND HAS BEEN DOING THIS TOO LONG. He shoves Styles, Styles finally belts him with a forearm and goes to work. Styles connects with a backbreaker and covers, Kingston kicks out. Styles continues the punishment, working Kingston’s left knee over. Kingston fights back with punches, Styles kicks him right in the knee and it buckles, sending Kingston down to the mat. Styles follows up with a snap suplex, Kingston kicks out. Styles pleads with Kingston to stay down, Kingston refuses and goes for a series of roll-ups but Styles manages to keep kicking out. Styles catches Kingston with a backbreaker THAT F*CKING FOLDS THE DUDE IN HALF, JESUS CHRIST. Kingston can still walk surprisingly and they fight to the apron. Kingston goes for running knees but Styles dodges and he hits nothing but post. Down to the floor Kingston goes. JEEEEZ. Kingston rolls in AT NINE and he’s still alive in this one. THIS MAN HAS HEART. Styles goes back on the attack, albeit reluctantly, but Kingston blocks a hurricanrana from the buckles and connects with a splash on Styles for the 1…2…STYLES KICKS OOOOOUT. Styles counters the S.O.S. with the Calf Crusher and Kingston, left with no choice, taps out, ending his Cinderella run. KOFI KINGSTON HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!!! Xavier and Big E run down to help their man to the back, crowd giving him a standing ovation.
Styles readies up for Randy Orton, Orton sneaks up FROM OUTTA NOWHERE and hits Styles with the RKO for the 1…2…3! Hahahaha goddammit.
Randy Orton wins the Gauntlet Match, last eliminating AJ Styles with the RKO (44:20 or so shown)
- As soon as I saw that we were nearing the end of the episode I knew what the finish was going to be, and while the whole FROM OUTTA NOWHERE thing is his shtick it doesn’t mean I have to pretend to like it or be interested in anything Randy Orton does. So yeah whatever he enters last on Sunday but let’s get to the real MVP: Kofi BY GOD Kingston, who endured all sorts of punishment and looked like the most badass underdog ever during his hour and change in the ring. A true star-making performance, though he’s already a star so that’s a redundant thing to say, but it made him a legit threat heading into the Elimination Chamber despite being a last-minute replacement. Great stuff here and goddammit it made me realize how much I want The New Day to win the WWE Championship. Any of ’em, even Xavier. Okay mostly Big E, but I’ll settle for Kofi or Xavier in a pinch. Not enough good can be said about this one, it’s worth checking out. (****)
We don’t even have time to soak it in as the show ends almost immediately after the three-count. Womp.
Overall Thoughts: A great episode of SmackDown Live, with a high-stakes match taking over the bulk of the show time, and raising Kofi Kingston’s stature heading into Elimination Chamber on Sunday. It’s amazing how brisk a match/segment can feel when it actually involves folks you care about (except Randy Orton) as opposed to RAW last night with that neverending Finn and friends nonsense. Hot damn. I was hoping SmackDown Live would get me hyped for Sunday’s show and I think they’ve done just that. Props to you, Blue Team.
- Match of the Night: The Gauntlet Match
- Moment of the Night: Kofi Kingston shock eliminates Daniel Bryan, giving us a ‘OH SNAP IS HE GONNA DO IT?’ story to run through for the rest of the Gauntlet