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TJR: WWE Smackdown Feb. 19 Five Count: Kingston pins Bryan, NXT Guys Win Again and More

The WWE Smackdown Five Count is my way of writing even more about last night’s edition of Smackdown just like I did for Raw yesterday. I’m going to do this every week until at least WrestleMania and I will see how it goes. Check out last night’s Smackdown review here. I liked the show a lot and gave it 8 out of 10, which is tied for the highest show of the year.

As I mentioned in the Raw version of this column, the “Five Count” mention in the title is a way to cover five main topics from Smackdown. Plus, it’s a wink and a nod to King Kong Bundy as well as Big E in the NXT days.

1. Kofi Kingston pinned Daniel Bryan to set up the WWE Title match at Fastlane

The main event on Smackdown saw Kofi Kingston team up with AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy to beat WWE Champion Daniel Bryan along with Randy Orton and Samoa Joe. Kingston was worked over for some of the match, then Styles tagged in, he tagged out to bring Kingston in and Kingston ended up pinning Bryan clean with the Trouble in Paradise.

I enjoyed the match, but it also felt rushed a bit at 12 minutes. I think they could have timed the show a bit better so that they had 17 minutes for this match. This was the main event, so maybe cut back on videos promoting other things and focus on this match. That way they could have had a truly outstanding match.

It was noticeable that Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe barely did anything in the match, which is a shame because I like both guys a lot. Joe has had nothing interesting to do for months. It’s unfortunate since I thought he should have beat AJ Styles for the WWE Title last summer.

After Kingston’s win over Bryan, they had about 30 seconds left in the show for Shane McMahon to appear and announce Bryan vs. Kingston for the WWE Title at Fastlane on March 10. It’s what was expected, so I’m glad it’s official now.

Do I think Kingston will beat Bryan for the WWE Title at Fastlane? No. Maybe (Luke) Harper interferes to cost Kingston, but that would be repetitive after they did it with Rowan costing AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble. I think they can do something to give Bryan the cheap win to keep the feud going.

I would love to see the rivalry continue to WrestleMania with Kingston winning the title there. Why not? Kingston is a great worker that is popular with the fans and deserves it after 11 years in the company. I know the plan is for WWE to insert somebody like Kevin Owens, Bray Wyatt, John Cena or somebody else to challenge Bryan at WrestleMania, but sometimes you have to scrap those plans and ride the wave with a guy like Kingston. Do Bryan vs. Kingston at WrestleMania and have Kofi win the WWE Title. That’s what I would do.

The interesting thing about the rise of Kingston in the last eight days is that none of this would have happened if Mustafa Ali wasn’t sidelined with a concussion. Kingston took his spot and has taken off. If Ali was healthy, it could have been him getting this same push. As much as I like Ali, I think Kingston deserves it more and is a better overall performer.

 

2. The NXT Foursome continued their winning ways

The NXT foursome of Aleister Black, Ricochet, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano were all successful on Smackdown just like they were on Raw. The crowd was a lot more receptive in New Orleans for Smackdown compared to Lafayette for Raw, so that helped a lot.

Black won a match over Andrade that went about 10 minutes with a lot of back and forth offense. These two have wrestled many times before in NXT, which the announcers touched on a few times as they should. I liked the ending of the match with Black hitting the Black Mass kick out of nowhere to win. I’d like to see Andrade to get pushed more and I want to see him against Rey Mysterio again, but I don’t mind Black getting the win.

The team of Ciampa and Gargano got another big tag team win when they beat The Bar duo of Sheamus of Cesaro. I liked that there was a brief backstage promo between the teams to set the match up. The match was very good while also featuring a scary moment when Ciampa’s knee buckled after he hit a sunset flip Powerbomb out of the corner. That’s a move that caused Seth Rollins to tear his ACL in 2015 when he did it to Kane, so hopefully Ciampa isn’t hurt. Ciampa managed to finish the match with a rollup on Sheamus. These teams worked well together considering it was their first match as teams.

Ricochet’s match with Eric Young was the shortest of the NXT guys this week. Ricochet beat Young in about six minutes while utilizing his incredible arsenal of aerial moves after Young got the advantage earlier in the match. Ricochet’s 630 Splash is one of the coolest looking finishing moves in WWE.

As I covered in this news post, the plan is to keep Black, Ricochet, Ciampa and Gargano on Raw and Smackdown every week going forward. My guess is that they are full time on the main roster only after the next NXT Takeover in Brooklyn in April. At that point, they’ll likely get assigned to Raw or Smackdown with the Superstar Shake-up on April 15 and 16.

 

3. Mandy Rose was elevated by beating Asuka in a non-title match

Asuka hasn’t done much since the Royal Rumble, so WWE needed to find a new opponent for her. They went with Mandy Rose, who is apparently liked by the decision makers backstage, which is fine by me. I think Mandy has a lot of potential, but she is still learning as she goes.

This was a below average match for Asuka, which is rare. It’s just a case of two people not clicking that well. I don’t think Asuka has worked with Mandy that much and there were a few moments where it felt off. Mandy got the cheap win after faking an eye injury, which caused Asuka to back off, so Mandy sent her throat first into the ropes and won with the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish. Two rollup finishes in the same show is too much.

What I didn’t like was the spot with Lacey Evans walking down to the ring to distract Asuka, then the match basically stopped as Evans did her walk. Rose capitalized to take advantage. I know WWE wants to push Evans possibly to getting a title shot against Asuka at WrestleMania, but I don’t like when other people’s music plays during a match.

This should set up Asuka vs. Rose for the SD Women’s Title at Fastlane. I don’t expect a title change there.

 

4. Five matches in two hours is a reminder that Smackdown is the wrestling show

I review this show every week, so I pay attention to things like how many matches they have per week. A typical Smackdown episode has four matches in two hours. Some weeks they only do three if they want to have one match go 20+ minutes. This week they went with five matches, which really made me happy because the focus was on the in-ring product.

I enjoy Smackdown when it’s like how it was last night. Focus on the in-ring action, not a lot of promos and if you need to incorporate others, use backstage segments like they did last night. The show flows a lot smoother when you run it this way. This week’s Smackdown had three matches above average. Raw only had one, in my opinon. It shouldn’t happen like that when Raw is one hour longer.

As I mentioned above, I didn’t like that the main event was as short as it was, so I think WWE should have made it more of a priority to make it a longer match. When there are six guys involved plus a commercial break, there needs to be more time.

With all of this said, I hope Smackdown remains a two-hour show forever. I know with the move to Fox in October, that means it’s two hours, but there’s a possibility they could run another hour on Fox Sports 1 or maybe it because a FS1 only show in a few years that runs three hours. I hope not. Two hours is just fine.

 

5. Announcing another Usos vs. Shane/Miz match should lead to the Shane/Miz split

The opening promo segment saw The Miz apologize to Shane McMahon about losing the SD Tag Team Titles on Sunday, then Shane said it was okay and that led to The Usos insulting Miz by calling him a loser. Eventually, it led to a rematch for Fastlane.

I think there will be a split between Miz and Shane, probably at Fastlane. I know a lot of you guys reading this would agree with that opinion because we all know Vince McMahon loves to get Shane McMahon in a match at WrestleMania. It’s possible that Shane is the one that turns, but I think WWE loves Miz in the heel role and it’s what he is best at, so Miz turning on Shane after they lose at Fastlane makes a lot of sense. That would lead us to

Did the Usos get the Smackdown Tag Team Titles because their contracts are up soon? Probably. After all, their dad Rikishi tweeted something about them that included hashtags about how they are “soon to be free agents.” See for yourself.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuDoeBwAq7d/

I fully expect The Usos to walk into WrestleMania as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions and then have a good tag team match at WrestleMania. They have a strong tag team division on Smackdown, so there are a lot of options.

 

Quick Hits

– Charlotte Flair’s heel interview in the locker room was pretty good. She continued the storyline where she mentioned that if Lynch attacks, she’ll get arrested. Triple H said it on Raw. It’s a bit of foreshadowing for what will likely happen on Raw when Becky crashes the Ric Flair birthday party and gets arrested, which is right out of the Stone Cold booking playbook.

– One of the problems with nine titles between Raw and Smackdown is that it’s tough to focus on every title on the show. It feels as if the US Title held by R-Truth has disappeared from this show because he hasn’t been on TV for about a month. Why have so many titles if you are going to ignore them? Try to find something for the US Title.

– The Rey Mysterio feud with Andrade has also disappeared from Smackdown TV. My guess is they are going to save it for WrestleMania because they can have one of the best matches on the show if they get time. With rumors of Andrade being unhappy about his role in WWE in the last few months, putting him in a WrestleMania match with his idol Mysterio will probably make him happy.

 

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed Smackdown this week because there was a focus on the in-ring product while also doing an effective job of building up matches for Fastlane.

Let me know what you think of the format of this column, please. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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