This episode from Kansas City, Missouri was centered on a very much anticipated face off between Velasquez and Lesnar, as well as a “Firefly Fun House” return. Hulk Hogan was there, Ric Flair was there too. But, my god, does the “Crown Jewel” stinking money smell bad all over the show. Anyway, we got a show to review so let’s get to it
Miz TV w/Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and their respective teams
The show opened right away with a Miz TV segment, featuring Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and their respective teams for Crown Jewel. Ric and Hulk started jaw jacking, which was hilarious especially with Ric Flair stuttering over half of his words. Hulk Hogan was fine too, trying to put over his team, as flair did to be fair. However, the rest of the promos were not as good, aside from a couple of good lines; the first from Sami Zayn to CHAD GABLE when he said “You can get on Ali’s shoulders but you will still be half the man Nakamura is”, to which Ali replied “let him say that, he doesn’t compete anymore, he is nothing more than a mouth piece” (ouch!!). Tensions eventually escalated, and a 6-man was set up with Reigns/Ali/CHAD GABLE taking on Nakamura/Corbin/Cesaro in the main-event.
I liked the Flair/Hogan interactions as clumsy as they can be sometimes, but the spirit of the PPV itself prevents me from feeling any kind of sympathy towards it. Also, i feel bad for these talented wrestlers being dragged in there because of the blood money. Overall this segment was fine as an abstract thing, but when you take the context into consideration, it really hits you in the mind how bad this whole thing is.
New Day vs Ziggler & Roode
First, i liked how WWE transitioned from a segment involving Hulk Hogan into the New Day’s match against Ziggler and Roode (insider jokes aplenty here). Speaking of said match, it was just a quick sub five minute match which ended abruptly after Ziggler rolled Kofi Kingston for the win. Post-match, The Revival (Smackdown tag champs remember?) came out for a betadwon, then Heavy Machinery came out to even the odds and stand tall with the New Day.
Who was served with this match/segment? no one. It was just a cheap plug to another makeshift World Cup, only this time it is about tag teams not singles superstars. WWE should learn from AEW how to treat your tag teams, who got almost one hour of in-ring time over on Dynamite with amazing quality. One more thing, this match has probably the most awkward line of the night when Corey said :”Look at the litany of superstars in that turmoil”. Wait!, there is the B team, Heavy Machinery, and Lucha House Party in there; How are these a litany of stars?. In general, Smackdown tag division, or at least its treatment, SUCKS!.
Cain Velasquez is backstage with Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero’s son DOMINIQUE (LOL).
A recap of Strowman’s feud with Fury which makes it seem a bit important.
Lacey Evans vs Local Jobber Cameron Conners
When Lacey Evans catwalked her way to the ring, i was expecting a decent opponent even if they would have an inconsequential match. However, this was a squash match against a jobber. She had some mic time beforehand, where she did her usual shtick, then she faked walking out on the match before returning and hitting Conners with a woman’s right for the win.
So, let’s break this down; this is a woman who has been on the main roster for nearly a year now, already had a title feud with Becky Lynch that spun over multiple months post-WrestleMania to the point where she was involved in the Universal title picture (yes! as a referee). Now, she is back to squash matches that she should have started with all the way back in January when she made her debut at the Royal Rumble. just like the match before it, who is rewarded by this?? does she get a title shot?. It is confusing at the moment.
A live interview w/Nikki Cross, nothing to talk about really here.
Firefly Fun House
Firefly fun House returned to Smackdown, with a recap of what happened a couple of weeks ago before it. Bray was dressed in black, mourning Rambling Rabbit with his puppets who were not kind in any way to him. Then he sprung back to life just to be eaten again by Mercy The Buzzard. This segment is very cryptic to me, yet still enjoyable to watch and very rich on references and easter eggs to catch. This makes me wonder how WWE managed to ruin such a great character, specifically when his match at Crown Jewel is bound to be a loss for him. There is no good to come out of that match, even with “The Fiend” somehow winning as the damage has already been done. Anyway, it still pops the crowd, so it was all fine and well.
Drew Gulak vs Kalisto
Did Drew Gulak piss someone off?!. Clearly he did, as for the second week in a row, he is a cannon-fodder for Braun Strowman and his “feud” with Tyson Fury. The match here doesn’t have any weight. Drew Gulak lost, got pummeled by Strowman, then Braun cut a promo. Hasta la vista!.
Bear in mind, this was basically the go-home angle for that feud and Fury wasn’t anywhere to be found. Make of that what you want!. I don’t care a bit about this match. Sorry!!
Daniel Bryan live interview w/Michael Cole
Again, smooth transition from WWE as they moved on from an angle heavily promoting Crown Jewel to someone who doesn’t like the PPV altogether. However, this was intriguing. Michael Cole asked D-Bry if the YES! movement is back as he seemed hesitated. Cue Nakamura and Zayn interrupting, with the latter cutting a decent promo trying to persuade the former WWE champion to join his ranks (possibly in Sami for Syria campaign!! LOL). Daniel reluctantly went to shake his hand then walked off the arena, all without saying a word. This was character work and crowd work at its most subtle and at its finest. At first, this babyface turn felt awkward, but it might become a big story after Crown Jewel. This was intriguing indeed!.
Nikki Cross vs Mandy Rose
This was as inconsequential as they come, with the only notable thing on it being Bayley and Sasha Banks on commentary. In fact, it was so notable that it distracted from the match completely, which was excused probably considering said match quality.
On the flipside, this was a win for Nikki Cross who doesn’t seem like a true contender, but the division is paper thin so they had to throw someone for Bayley to beat. At the moment, Smackdown women’s division should probably learn from NXT some tips about how to spin different plates. Overall, it was fine but nothing to drive things forward.
Cain Velasquez/Brock Lesnar face off
This was the big draw of the episode, an ADVERTISED face-to-face confrontation between WWE champion Brock Lesnar and his opponent at Crown Jewel Cain Velasquez. This started off as a Rey Mysterio promo, talking about his son who is gradually getting better (despite being fine and with him backstage) then hyping his buddy Cain Velasquez before an eventual interruption by Paul Heyman on the screen. We may got robbed of said confrontation, but the compensation was even better with Brock Lesnar having attacked Dominique again backstage and laid him out. This provoked Rey of course who rushed backstage with Cain.
Post-commercial, they were attacked in the training room by Lesnar with two massive F-5s to both Rey and Velasquez (on top of a prone Dominique). Before the main-event, Velasquez cut an angry promo in Spanish. So, this has to go beyond Crown Jewel, not for Cain, but for Mysterio. This has to lead to some sort of match or feud between Lesnar and Mysterio, as Velasquez feels now like a third wheel in a slow-burn story involving them. Kudos to everyone’s selling of the attack by the way. Hopefully, we are done with this at Crown Jewel to lead to Lesnar/Mysterio at some point.
6-man tag main-event: Reigns/Ali/CHAD GABLE vs Nakamura/Corbin/Cesaro
This main-event was formulaic, in its setup as well as its structuring. But, it was a very good one that had good action all around. Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan watched ringside as their teams battled in a match that was a preview of what will happen in Saudi Arabia. Ali was worked over for a bit, then Chad got a hot tag and ran wild, only for the heels to work him over. Then, he fought back and Reigns got the hot tag. He had a good mini-match with Cesaro, then came a final flurry of big moves and dives from everyone involved leading into a spear/450 splash combo by Ali and Roman for the win.
For once, this match was the best match on the show by a country mile which is clear and evident for any viewer. Second, it still is a plug for a PPV nobody wants to see aside from Dave Meltzer who would probably crap over it in his review and newsletter. Thus, the show ended with Hulk Hogan standing tall and his music playing, bookending a WWE TV episode in 2019. Just amazing!! (obviously sarcastic).
This episode of Smackdown was heavily built around Cain Velasquez/Brock Lesnar facing off, which made everything on the show feels less important by default. However, the angle itself was great so no blame for that. Still, no real development elsewhere, with inconsequential and below-average wrestling aside from the main-event which was great, though formulaic. Overall, we are heading to Crown Jewel, the least cared about PPV of the year so nobody needs to get their hopes up for it.
Final rating: 7.5/10